I was never a huge circus guy as a kid, probably because I wasn’t a very good athlete – although the acrobats did impress me. Of course, being feet from large wild animals was thrilling! (except for the smell!) And being a ‘semi-professional’ magician (starting in the Fourth Grade) I was drawn to performers like clowns – even considering crossing the makeup line and becoming a clown magician myself! I’d read of Harry Houdini, and how he got his start in traveling carnivals performing feats of strength and ‘oddities’, like being able to pick up needles with his eyelashes while hanging inverted! (How one does this for an audience – who knows?)
But what really got my attention were the oddities, the Sideshow. The beginnings of the traveling circus. People and animals with disabilities or birth defects – Siamese twins, women with beards, two headed snakes – that sort of thing. Obviously, middle-America in the early 1800’s needed some kind of diversion, right?
And this is precisely why the circuses are ending. If one wants to see an elephant, there are thousands on You Tube. The same for magic, people with birth defects and feats of strength. No longer must one wait in line for tickets, endure the crowds, animal smells and over-priced popcorn to see such things. The circus can come to you! And there are TV, movies, shows – all stream-able to your TV, computer or cell phone.
Jeff Cooper sometimes spoke of seeing the elephant. In the olden days, a farm youth (as most were prior to 1920) had little or no exposure to life outside that which was on the farm. Birth, death, butchering, harvesting, hunting, planting – all hard physical labor. But little else.
When a boy ‘came of age’, his father would shove a few dollars in his pocket, point him to town, and tell him to go ‘see the elephant’. The circus was coming to town! The boy would dutifully go, see the elephant, the sideshow, perhaps have some liquor and engage in games of chance. If he had any money left, he might find a woman of ill-repute with whom to ‘spend some time’.
It was all about a rite-of-passage. Learning something about the outside world.
But, in today’s instantaneous electronically-connected world, there is no rite-of-passage. Boys (and girls) learn about sex from the Internet. Not exactly seeing the elephant.
No wonder instant gratification is the motto for the Millennials.
And we as a society are lesser for it.
Go see the elephant before the circus closes forever! Reportedly, they will stop using elephants by 2018. of course, the circus will end before that…
Find a woman?
Sometimes, you are digging in the wrong place!
It was FIFTY YEARS AGO (1967!) that my interest
obsessive-compulsion in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy began. That, coupled with my family history in police work lead me to security and investigation work, an associates degree in Police Science, and my private investigation business. Followed by a career as a credit card fraud investigator.
But I always came back to the JFK thing. As a ‘hobby’.
It began when I was in high school, newly disabled, complete with a pair of crutches and my right leg in a steel brace. For a year. I’d read the condensed ‘report’ in the high school library, and soon walked the two miles to the university library.
And I found the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission exhibits and testimony. And proceeded to read them all.
See, not compulsive at all!
Years passed. Books and films critical of the Warren Report came out, And I devoured them – to the best of my ability. And kept notes.
But, there was one problem. I had no copies of the 26 volumes in my home. I couldn’t afford them, and my parents would not spring for them. (I think they were $185 at the time).
This meant many a trek to the university library, and having to deal with my regular high school work, my family, friends and life. What a P.I.T.A. ! 🙂
Time passed. I still occasionally dabbled in the JFK stuff, when my marriage, fatherhood, auto accident, etc. didn’t get in the way. I DID recognize I could be obsessive about it and would voluntarily pull back when I felt it suck me in for more than a few days
But, I never had my own 26 volumes. And the price went up when they went out-of-print. Even with the advent of the Internet, it just seemed they weren’t available.
I recently had a birthday. Good friend Biff, lauded often in these pages, and I met for coffee, and he gave me a birthday present!
Apparently, I was digging in the wrong place on the Internet! Now I can return to my obsession in peace! With my forty or fifty Warren Commission critic’s books, the few by apologist’s, the Internet, my notes, and MY 26 volumes!
(Maybe life would have been simpler had I eaten the bad date?)
What have we learned from the events of this week?
We cannot control others. (as if we didn’t already know this!)
Politicians are maddening.
The World is crazy.
People pass away when they do. Something else over which we’ve no control.
Carrie Fisher. Many of us feel sad because we liked her irreverent spirit, and The Star Wars character. She was way too young.
And, of course, death reminds us of our own mortality.
Debbie Reynolds. Debbie is of course, more of my parent’s generation. But I grew up on many of her movies, and have an special fondness for Singin’ In The Rain. The dancing. The music. The comedy.
And the fact it came out the year I was born.
Debbie’s demise was no surprise to me. Nature says parents should not outlive their children. Except sometimes they do.
Both my (ex)wife and I did. Stating this is unpleasant is the understatement of a lifetime.
I understand how Debbie’s age and grief could precipitate strokes. And I felt for her. And mourn her passing.
We’re it not for blood pressure medication, I would be in stroke territory myself. And for a few years after the accident, I thought it a distinct possibility. And maybe hoped it would happen.
We’re on the cusp of another New Year. Hopefully, better than the last. You know what I’m going to say:
HOLD THOSE CLOSE WHOM YOU CARE ABOUT, AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM – ESPECIALLY YOUR KIDS!
YOU NEVER KNOW…
I’m disabled. For a number of reasons, including lymphoma. I don’t make much money on disability. I’ve an old, beater car, without working A/C. I rent a room in which to live. I’ve no romantic relationship in my life. I have chronic pain issues. They will never get better.
Sometimes, as above, I whine about these things. The holidays do not help.
But, The Universe usually doesn’t let me sit on the pity pot too long…
Some time back, I reached out to a friend-of-long-ago on Facebook. And, he never responded. Oh, well. He was a college classmate, who became my boss (for a time) then a good friend. And we lost track of each other because of Life.
I was always a little envious of him. In college, he was in good shape, having just left The Marines. He
was handsome. Sparkling blue eyes, a shock of black hair, chiseled jaw and a permanent five-o’clock shadow with a blue/black beard undertone. He kinda resembled the adult cartoon character Archer. And his wife was gor-geous! (Maybe that was the most envious part?)
Well, I finally heard back from him on Facebook!
We all have our ‘stuff’. He is no different.
He’s divorced, and NOT friendly with his ex. (I am with mine.) He, too is on disability, brought about by his military service. He has a type of chronic leukemia. Not necessarily lethal, but in need of regular treatment. (Which he now receives).
And he told me he had been homeless for ELEVEN YEARS!!!
He is now working with other homeless veterans to help them get back on their feet and find places to live.
And to think I was whining earlier…
Not as many men wear suits as were worn say, in 1956 (The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit). Times and styles change.
However, between business concerns (excluding casual Fridays), and certain social events (weddings, funerals, etc.), it is sometime appropriate to don one.
(I own exactly that – ONE. I’d own more, but just don’t have the needs or funds – Guffaw)
As with so many other social skills, I was not taught HOW to wear a suit! Not how to tie a tie (I was taught that), or polish shoes (I still do that – it relaxes me) but, where does one put stuff, exactly?
The Art of Manliness blog comes again to the rescue!
The whole point of wearing a suit is to create a sleek, smooth look for yourself. So you don’t want to ruin that dapper silhouette by stuffing your pockets with too many accouterments, and in such a way that they create unbecoming bulges in your clothing. Hauling around a bunch of stuff not only distorts the proper shape of your suit, but can also distort its fine fabric, putting unnecessary wear and tear on the material.
Instead, when it comes to carrying your formal/professional EDC in a stylish way, the name of the game is minimalism and balance. You want to pare down the things you carry with you, and distribute them evenly throughout your pockets.
Your wallet should be thin and compact, and placed in one of the inside breast pockets of your suit jacket, rather than in the back pocket of your trousers where it will push your jacket out. If you still find a wallet too bulky to carry, then a slim money clip, with just a few bills and a credit card, can fit in the front pocket of your trousers.
A pen can also go in this inside breast pocket, though some suits have a special slit for it to sit.
Your phone can be put in the other inside breast pocket. If you’re doing a money clip in your trouser pocket instead of a wallet in the jacket, then the phone will lack a counterweight up top. But unless your phone is very heavy and large, it’s not likely to unbalance the way the jacket hangs on you.
A big set of jangling keys will create a significant bulge in your trouser pocket, so when you’re wearing a suit, strip down your keychain to just your house key and car key on a single ring. Or always carry all your keys in a device like this one which minimizes their space and noise.
Your other trouser pocket can hold a plain handkerchief (here’s 6 reasons every man should carry one). While a pocket square can sometimes pull double duty as a functional hankie, you usually want a nicer, fancier one for the outside breast pocket on your suit, and a utilitarian one for blowing your nose.
And that, gents, is pretty much all you need to tote around on your person when you’re suited up. Other things like gum or a pocket knife could go in a briefcase or bag if you’re carrying one. Your phone could easily be put away in a bag too; after all, one’s suave appearance cannot only be ruined by carrying around too much bulge-creating stuff, but also by taking out a particular piece of it and checking it every two minutes.
♫ “When I’m Sixty Four”♫
Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
If it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck & Dave
Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?
(apologies to Paul McCartney)
My dear friend Bob Hall passed away February last. He had suffered complications from diabetes (first losing a big toe, then the lower half of a leg), then ultimately acid reflux lead to GERD, and then esophageal cancer. The last few months of his life, he was eating through a feeding tube. Lost half his weight, and was fighting pneumonia which finally took him.
I had known Bob, first as my investigation boss at Tom Ezell & Associates; later as my boss at Legendary Guns of the West (where I worked part-time), since 1981. More than being a boss, he was a dear friend. We saw each other through the stuff of life. I’ve a stepbrother – Bob and I are much closer.
He was always honest and true to me. His trademark was nothing is so serious that a joke cannot be made about it. Irreverent humor – Firesign Theatre and Monty Python quotes were often exchanged between us.
He was a crack shot and loved to go ‘to the desert’ to go shooting. Even in his final days, using a walker. And he passed his love of guns and The Second Amendment to his wife and daughters.
He didn’t want a somber funeral.
I heard from one of his daughters that this Saturday (yesterday) was to be his memorial celebration. A caravan of his friends and family went to the desert to one of his favorite shooting spots, did some eating, shooting, then spread his ashes.
Bob’s favorite things, family, shooting and grilling – combined!
I was honored to have been invited, and was honored to bring and shoot my 1911 – a National Match slide on a Vega frame, with lowered Bomar sights, a Micro bushing, and Swenson ambidextrous safety, hand-fitted by gunsmith Burke Hill. Which Bob sold to me in 1983.
I dubbed her The Bob Hall Signature Model. My roommate calls her Bobbie.
It’s been probably 20K rounds, and except for occasional cleaning, lube and replacing the recoil spring @ 3000 rounds, not much has changed. She remains a tack driver.
Essentially a race gun (c) 1977.
And she is my companion when the Phoenix weather permits.
Bob sold her to me for a pittance. He never profited from guns he sold to friends. And I had to make payments to him, I was so poor! (having been a new father at the time.)
It’s only fitting I take her to what Bob called Burro Town to shoot her one more time.
So, about eighteen of us gathered yesterday. Did some shooting – ate BBQ chicken with all the fixings. (including cherry cheesecake – Bob’s favorite!)
Then, we stood in a circle and shared memories of Bob. There was tears and laughter. Then Anita (Bob’s wife) asked those who wish to to take some of Bob’s ashes and place them about Burro Town*.
Then, we shot a simultaneous volley in his name. All of us using guns once owned by him!
This is the photo the family chose to place on the food table. Bob hated having his picture taken.
(*It was named Burro Town by Bob, due to the wild burros that wander the region. Usually, we see a few. Yesterday, they were absent.)
But we who loved him were there.
In our last episode…
I had gone shooting with friends, and marveled at the significantly lighter trigger of my friend’s Smith & Wesson .38 snubbie.
Having carried my electroless nickel S&W 442 for going on 22 years, with the stock 14 pound trigger(!), I thought it might be time for improvement.
SO, I order a Wilson Combat spring kit through Brownell’s (for a whopping $9) and excitedly awaited it’s arrival so I could swap out the springs and share in the love…
I received it in about four days, found my brand X gunsmithing screwdriver, and went to remove the S&W sideplate. Two screws in, I discovered that screw #3 was NOT loosening! Not too much of a surprise, as the cheap screwdriver shaft was turning in the handle (!), and I had never had the sideplate off. Ever.
I own a second (better quality) gunsmithing screwdriver. However it remains beneath a pile of unpacked boxes. And between being disabled, having back problems (and just not wanting to) there it remained.
Suggestions were made for screw-loosening oils, but without a decent tool, it wasn’t going to happen…
My roommate said she had a quality gunsmithing screwdriver, and offered it for my use. I jumped at the chance. But Life got in the way. For almost two months. Sigh.
FINALLY, I had the tool and the time. And access to the You Tube videos regarding J-Frame Smith smithing. And I began the task at hand.
That stubborn screw continued to be stubborn – but not impossible. 🙂
The sideplate was finally removed, and with some minor difficulty ( I repeat, I am NOT a gunsmith), the mainspring has been replaced!!
And the trigger pull went from fourteen pounds to a whopping EIGHT!
I’ve not yet replaced the trigger return spring (Wilson give me three from which to choose!) and the instructional videos have instruction regarding stoning certain surfaces to smooth them up. I’m not certain I’m up for that. As Inspector Harry Callahan said, “Man’s got to know his limitations.”
FTC – I bought all the screwdriver sets (except my roommate’s), the spring replacement kit and the revolver. Go and buy your own!
I’m speaking of this Republic.
With Rome, it was either when the Ottoman Turks took Byzantium (Constantinople) 1453 AD or when a barbarian deposed the last western Roman emperor 476 AD (ancient history About.com)
My Western Civilization professor said it began with (and I’m quoting here) “Moral decadence and pleasures of the flesh!” (to the cheers of the 400 or so horny underclassmen)
What is/was the beginning of the end of this Constitutional Republic we know as The United States?
The Whiskey Rebellion? (1791)
The Civil War? (1861)
Federal income tax (1913)
Direct election of Senators? (1913)
Establishment of the Federal Reserve? (1913)
The National Firearms Act (1934)
Or is it an amalgamation of these and many other things, eating away at our Constitutional substance, punctuated by further federal government oversteps such as Ruby Ridge and Waco? No-knock warrants, followed by airport searches and sobriety checkpoints. Massive surveillance of our electronic communications. Prohibitions of Speech seen as ‘politically-incorrect’. The killing of Blacks by police – whether or not legitimate actions – spun by self-serving propagandists into an ersatz race war?
Now followed by widespread racial civil unrest, punctuated by acts of terrorism against civil authority.
I’m certain all ‘civilizations’, be they primitive neolithic cultures like the American Indian when the White man first laid eyes on him, or the Romans, or the Christian Turks all thought they would endure forever.
And so have most of we Americans.
I guess the true question isn’t what was the tipping point.
It’s what do we do NOW?
as recently posted by The Queen of Snark (in part)
(…) In the wake of the Istanbul bombings, the people in charge of wrapping the world in foam padding are trying to figure out more ways to make us perfectly safe. Apparently this will put a security checkpoint at the edge of the airport grounds to screen you before you get to the security checkpoint inside which will screen you to get on the plane. It’s screeners all the way down!
…and if they move screening back to the airport access road, they set off a truck bomb in the traffic jam rather than a backpack bomb in the terminal.
The reductio ad absurdum of this, of course, is to avoid creating the security bottlenecks that make such target-rich environments by putting a TSA checkpoint outside every front door in America.
(and here’s the money line)
There’s just no practical way to nerf the world.