Daily Archives: July 26, 2011

Too Much Blame or Praise

Visiting blogs since starting this one has been an unexpected learning experience. The general impression that almost everyone is concerned about the state of the world and the nation wasn’t a surprise.

But the fortified positions, the polarization, the nagging thought that a lot of people would gladly enforce their viewpoints on others at gunpoint if they had the option, is troubling if accurate. The middle ground, the concept of a loyal opposition, even the concept of people still potentially being okay if they have different political, religious, differing gender viewpoints just isn’t out there anymore. No live-and-let-live in the mix.

The level of rancor between opposing opinions approaches a level where it wouldn’t be too shocking if, say, a 9/11 happened in an environment limiting US victims to a particular political or religious bias, and sets of blog dialogues appearing to express:

“What the hell! They were all Tea-Baggers!”


“What the hell! They were all pinko liberals!”

Or Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, Catholics, Baptists.

There are already posts on blogs I visit saying, “Let God sort them out.”

I can’t help wondering whether I’m the only one troubled by this.

I used to know a guy, a good man, who was also an alcoholic of the sort you’d rather not be too close to. Jay was his name, an ex-Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Air Corps, B24 pilot of um-de-umph hundred bombing missions over Germany during WWII. War hero.

By the mid-1960s Jay had a drinking problem bad enough to be placed repeatedly into the hands of the Texas Alcoholic Rehabilitation Commission to dry out. Finally, in those days a bright new shining light among the mental health medicos was the pre-frontal lobotomy, was chosen as the tool of choice for curing what ailed old Jay….. But the unfortunate side effects were that a lot of him ceased to be Jay.

But those wise medicos knew what was best for him, they’d read all the recent advances and articles, so they strapped him down to a gurney and inserted electrodes on his temples and shot the juice to him. Several times.

I’d heard about all this, thought it was fairly awful, but what the hell. A few months later I was among a group of young folks friends of his who got invited to spend a day on Galveston Bay cruising around in Jay’s cabin cruiser down there.

Jay was wearing a tee-shirt that proclaimed, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy”. And he did.

It finally killed him, alcohol, the lobotomy didn’t change that…. but he always believed, afterward, that it was a fairly shabby thing for society to have done to him, that lobotomy. Deprived him of his right to make his own mistakes. At least, it attempted to.

If you boil all that down and scrape the leavings off the bottom of the pot, that’s about the way I feel about the likely outcome of the undercurrents at work in this country.

Someone’s going to get the upper hand, one side or the other.

The ones left holding smaller bag might need a bottle to soften up the resulting enforced prefrontal lobotomies and attitude adjustments.

A Great Cultural Revolution

If old Jay were alive he’d probably buy a tee-shirt.

Old Jules

Give a Person a Fish

Hi blogsters:

I never see that phrase about fish without a flash of memory.

During the 1950s drought stock ponds were drying up all over the southwest.  There came a day a lot like this one, though it was probably warmer, when a kid named David Cagle and I were wandering around the ruins of cow country and came across a pond that was maybe five acres of surface and about three inches deep in water.  Every square foot of water had a fish flopping in it.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

A few hundred yards from the pond was an abandoned barn where we’d noticed an old galvanized washtub someone had probably used to water calves when there was still water, or feed them when there was still food.  We hoofed over to that barn and snagged the tub, waded into that fish and cow-mud calf deep throwing fish into the tub.

We glowed over that tub full of fish all the way home, him on one handle, me on the other, thinking how deeeeeelighted our folks would be with the treasure we were bringing them.

Both of us smelled a joyous combination of cow-mud and fish when we got to David’s house, went in through the kitchen door and watched his mama shriek even before she turned around and saw the fish.

“Get those fish out of this house!”

We got them out and she followed us into the yard to hose him down before she’d allow him inside.  Me, she ordered to take those fish with me and head down the road.

My own mom took a more circumspect view of things, mainly because she wasn’t home when I got there.  I cleaned myself up and filled the kitchen sink with all the fish it would hold and started killing and gutting them.  The job was far enough along to make quitting a moot point when she got home.

I gutted a lot of fish over the next couple of days, though I did move the operation out into the back yard.

My mom’s one of those kind of people who remember such things after she can’t remember her own name.  I’m not sure I’ve ever returned to her company during the past 50 years without being reminded of it.

Give a person a fish and he might not appreciate it, but he won’t starve until the fish is digested.

But give a person a fishing pole and he’ll almost surely hook an ear or nostril before it’s over.

Old Jules

Sons of the Pioneers–  Cool Clear Water

Woody Guthrie–Dust Bowl Blues