An Anniversary

garySo today is an anniversary. Not a happy one, and not a sad one either.

My dad died five years ago, and I’m not broken up about it or sad or anything else. It’s just interesting to me to note the passing of time. My dad and I had (and probably even moreso now still have) a very complicated relationship.

There were never classic father and son moments. There was no real practical wisdom shared. He never taught me about the birds and the bees or showed me how to tie my shoe. He did teach me the infield fly rule. He took me fishing once, and he let me stay out of school so we could go see Beetlejuice on opening day. So I guess those are good memories.

Either way, Gary’s been gone for five years now. Time’s a weird thing, and stuff like that makes you grow up. So I guess that’s the big lesson that my dad taught me: how to grow up.

It’s a damn shame that he had to die to teach me that lesson.

RIP Merle Haggard

merle-pistolsWhen people talk about what a poet Hank Williams was, or what an outlaw Johnny Cash was or what an amazing piece of Americana Willie Nelson and his music represent, they aren’t talking about those artists. Those notions are what we’ve been told about through marketing campaigns and revisionist history. When they mention the poet, the outlaw or something that is so quintessentially American they are actually talking about Merle Haggard.

merle-e1459973885459He was a great songwriter who captured what a lot of people were feeling at any given moment. He sang songs for the convicts, for the poor people who were struggling to find the American Dream, he spoke up for those who felt threatened by the social upheaval in the sixties and he even spoke out against the Iraq war ten years ago.

Hag was complicated, rough, ornery and angry. Hag was sweet, kind, simple and sentimental. Hag was a man.

He probably meant more to country music and the idea of it than he’ll ever get credit for. Rest in peace.

Irony

This morning I watched a documentary on North Korea. One pretty interesting scene was where the film crew was taken to a commercial district to highlight the clean and modern storefronts and living quarters that showcased the many options that were available to the average North Korean citizen and how it all was a shining example of the Juche principles.

The filmmakers quizzed workers about products and came to the realization that the district, the apartments, the products and the workers were all a ruse. A cleverly constructed lie to outsiders and citizens that these things are normal and attainable and that everyone can live just like this if they remain loyal to the Dear Leader and the principles of Juche.

“How could people believe that,” I asked myself.

Then I realized that I was asking myself these questions while sitting in the middle of Biltmore Park.

On the Charleston Shooting

Here’s an idea: instead of everyone sharing and posting the same image of the person who senselessly slaughtered a group of worshipers in Charleston last night, let’s do our best to remember and honor those who lost their lives.

This picture is of SC Sen Rev Clementa Pickney, one of the nine who lost their lives last night at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston SC. He has been described as the “moral center” of the SC Senate by colleagues and died last night while planning a conference for his church.

In the coming days and hours a lot of people (and probably even me) will spend time talking about race In America, about gun violence, about how we treat murderers and there will invariably be discussion about security in churches. Those discussions are fine and worthwhile, but let’s not make the person who shot these people more famous and well-known than the people who died. This story isn’t about the one terrible person, instead it’s about the nine beautiful souls that were lost.

I don’t talk a lot about my faith because it’s really nobody’s business but my own, but my most sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and all those who were touched by the lives, witness, good deeds and fellowship of Rev. Pickney and the eight others who lost their lives.