My Front Door

My new home was on a red clay road about 120 feet from my front door. The rest of the roads were paved this was the only dirt road in the little town. For some reason residential development was not yet  completed on the road which ran around both sides the Bayou for several miles and then across a concrete bridge and around the far side of a connecting bayou. Waterfront property was the last to be built out. I suppose that is how we could afford the modest little flat top house we built. Being on a dirt road in the summer time was never a problem for me; it meant I could go barefoot without burning blisters on the scorching summer asphalt.

 

There was a swamp between the dirt road and the Bayou. The swamp did not know it would soon be transformed into a small park with boat ramps, picnic tables fishing docks and a dredged up beach. The swamp was full of swamp life. It had snakes, owls, toads, raccoons, opossums, squirrels assorted bird life. It was a Mecca of escape for an 8 year old boy who could go on safaris of varying lengths armed with weapons of self protection. There were no roads in the park yet because it was a swamp so everything was on foot. So I could pretty much shoot at anything that was there, animate or inanimate without fear of adult intervention. I was in effect a Tarzan without predators, top of the food chain. It was my hundred acre woods.  There were moccasins which I foolishly delighted in agitating, but taught me valuable lessons. It was the ultimate learning lab-. in the days when phones had dials and a long cord was a real value add. The houses had TV antennas. The cars had big grills and fins and the boats were still largely wooden-in those days having a jungle across the street was pretty cool. And it progressed to civilization at the same pace I did.  Each year we improved a bit.

 

 

I use the collective as the city had a modest development budget for the park so did not discourage those boys who wanted to help with axes, saws and animal eradication. I quickly discovered that I was no killer; coming close to a moving target with a BB gun was about as ruthless as I got, except for the Lions and Tigers and Bears that magically appeared and disappeared proportionate with my allocation of BB’s. But I did learn how to properly take down a large tree, how to build a dam, how to harvest oysters and catch crabs and how to swim.

 

In 5 years time the swamp became a nice little park. The oyster shells were transferred to the roads and crushed to provide a “surfaced” two lane linkage to the clay road. The crabs were largely depopulated, as were the other varmints that needed habitat to raise their breeds. New critters that were infinitely more interesting anyway began to come and stick their toes into the water in April, and the rest in May and throughout the summer. I became a legal lifeguard at age 16 having apprenticed for several years. There is something almost biblical about being a life guard. First you got to sit in the highest chair in the park. And all the girls came to you with their curiosity about your knowledge and life guarding skills. They wanna know if you could really save their lives in the event of a natural disaster or a cramp. You got paid to get tanned (instead of going to a salon) and you were required to look at girls. Damn, it was the perfect job and only a 2 minute walk from my front door. I was still Tarzan. It was ok to play the transistor so I was up on all the songs and all the DJ’s. This made me a hit with some of the girls and led me to my second job which was 5 minutes from my front door in the 2nd floor studio of the town’s lone radio station.

 

Later in life I would tell my children bedtime stories that were centered around the days events. This was a skill I learned on talk radio before it became a conservative haven. I learned it at the little radio station on Saturday Morning Teen Talk. We would play music that the owner provided and answer the phone calls and talk to teens. We talked about whatever they called about so it really honed my conversational skills.  

 

Then I got my driver license, the road got paved, and I and my universe expanded beyond my front door exponentially.

Jazz Baby

” Baseball is a very simple children’s stick and ball game, but with infinite chess-like combinations. And jazz is this music, founded by African-Americans, those who have had the experience of being un-free in this supposedly free land, and what did they create? The only art form that Americans have ever invented, and that is this jazz music, out of which, nearly every other form of music that we enjoy today owes itself. Rap, hip hop, R&B, soul, rock all have their ancestry in jazz music.”

Ken Burns

http://www.pbs.org/jazz/about/about_behind_the_scenes2.htm

I fell in love with Jazz in High School after having studied music at FSU and UF. I studied  classical and cultural music, marches, symphonies, popular and eclectic, and it is Jazz that I came to  adore and play the most. There is not a distant second. I played trombone and Bass Fiddle.

I am a bit of a purist and would opine  that the best Jazz ended by 1970 and now we mostly have imitators or survivors. (and Jazz is all about innovation) Very little new stuff emerges. The beginning of the end was rock and roll which I loved in the 50’s and 60’s. So great R&R singers like Little Richard, Elvis and Jerry Lee began the move away from real innovation and opened up the world of the electric guitar and the keyboard which allowed anyone to pick it up and record. And then the Beatles invaded and opened the flood gates for recording bands that began to dominate the market in the late 60’s and early 70’s. By the 80’s there was a lot of synthesized “music” and the card carrying union musician ability to earn a living vanishes except for pockets in major urban areas.

 I want to be a sideman
Just an ordinary sideman
A go along for the ride man
Responsibility free
I wanna fill behind the vocal
Double on flute
Jam on the blues
I wanna go and join the local
Buy a dark suit
Stock payin’ dues
I want to maintain my book
In neatly numbered order
I wanna listen to Lester Young
On my recorder
I want to play while the people dance
I wanna press my own coat and pants
I wanna ask for an advnace
I wanna be a sideman
I wanna be a sideman

Jazz ranges in complexities from basic boggie woogie and blues to improvisational innovations. It ranges in entertainment from simple tonal children’s verses to wildly   chaotic atonal original and unique 8 bar spur of the moment inventions. It is casual and it is formal but it is often original and in the moment.

 

When I think of New York, Chicago, Noleans and Paris in the 1950s I think of the greatest Jazz ever played and would love to take a trip back in time to listen to the masters as they reaped the harvest of the seeds sown in the early Twentieth Century. I will go to these cities and more in subsequent posts.

Top 25 To Blame

We all look to blame someone(s) for the meltdown. Here Time magazine has done a good job of rounding up the (usual) suspects and ranking them in order of level of responsibility. I think what is most interesting in this article is that it appears to be actual journalism and not painted with the liberal bias commonly associated with Time. Then they screw it up by offering a poll for us to step in and vote with our emotions, as if shear public opinion had any real capability to accurately assess culpability.

 

If ya don’t want to read the whole thing here’s a down and dirty top 10 weighted by level of responsibility. .

 

Angelo Mozilo  Countrywide

Phil Gramm                  Republican

Alan Greenspan            Democrat

Chris Cox                     SEC

American Consumer     Us

Hank Paulson               Goldman Sachs/Republican

Joe Cassano                 AIG

Ian McCarthy               Beazer Homes

Frank Raines                Democrat

Kathleen Corbet           Standard & Poors

 

 

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1877351_1877350,00.html

 

I don’t think it’s a political analysis as much as it is a reflection of just pure greed that much of the elite (and the rest of us with 401K’s and IRA’s) got caught up in. I suppose we can blame Bush because it was on his watch. But we can also blame Clinton and the democrats because they were part of it too including the junior Senator from Illinois.

 

 

 

 

Why Am I Conservative?

I think my answer is a simple one. I have worked in government and my former spouse and current one also. I have worked as a convener of Government organizations at every level and I understand it well. I do not believe that bigger government is the best course for democracy. I believe government’s highest priority is to keep its citizens safe and free. Not attempting to elevate everyone to the same level but just allowing them all the same opportunity. 

Historically the Democratic Party has vastly weakened those people it traps with benefits. ie welfare, & unions. The great welfare state perpetuated by LBJ and the dems was the worst thing that government could do to try and elevate the have not’s to haves. It disincented family life and responsibility and mired the recipients into decades of dependency and slums (affordable housing). It encouraged fraud and sloth and is as un-American as is possible. People just gave up working for welfare.

And the dems just kept making it worse and trolling for votes in their captive populations wanting to expand programs with general revenue that allowed for the spirit of ingenuity to disappear and hope to boil into rage and riots.

Unions that once served a purpose devolved into the same snake pit trapping workers into dead end careers as they eliminated competitive wage and work, incenting companies to go off shore or to recruit foreign manufacturing that was not mired in union dysfunction.  

As the liberals got more mired in the lack of incenting pride and accomplishment the mainstream media widely applauded their foibles as doing the right thing, after all can there be too much of a “good thing?”

I saw it first hand. I sat in the government meetings and listened to the rhetoric that was all about vote’s not good public policy. “Don’t reporters have to be liberal to be balanced?” When the media sells lies to the public and bombards them with (not even half truths) their service to the country suffers, and America’s spirits weaken. Industriousness sits without practice as we wait for someone to do for us.

You can see it in the sports leagues with the kids and parental interaction. There was little if any participation of welfare children in the competitive leagues (that I saw over 20 years) that help to build character and teach team work to the youth. As an example, the league that developed Doc Gooden was once a model program, a source of community pride, and the dads got out to the park and worked with the kids providing role models and sparking true hope and desire. That league disappeared with the proliferation of public welfare. It was sad to see.   

Did we learn from the debacle of welfare, is it changing? Yes! And for a short while I was encouraged. Now I am afraid we will march back down that road, just paint the tapestry with different brushes.

That is why I became conservative, I worked for what I got and I taught my kids the value of a work ethic and they all saw first hand that government feeding was not the way to go. Business folks will work hard to address problems and foster the spirit of ingenuity and incent family values. It is in the best interest of a free society to have health and happy workers that talk of family values and keep hope and love alive.

Is either system perfect? Obviously not! I am angrier with years of corporate corruption than I can say but it is clearly both parties who shoulder the blame for allowing unchecked greed to dictate the sorry course that led us to where we are today. And it was a small percentage of thieves that took advantage of those of us who should have caught them. Democracy allows for good and evil to co exist and so it does. On a more universal scale good and evil are world wide. Humanity needs collective policing but not welfare.