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Multiple New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems appeared at the Tulsa Central Library tonight. He is the featured illustrator for Tulsa City-County Library's 2012 "Books to Treasure," an annual event promoting the beauty of children's literature and introducing the community to popular book illustrators.
Mr. Willems answered audience questions and read three of his most popular books to the crowd: "Leonardo, the Terrible Monster," Elephant and Piggie series, "We Are In a Book!" and Pigeon series, "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!"
Afterwards we waited in a long line for each of the boys to get a book signed by Mr. Willems. The display case is showcasing some of the works of Mr. Willems.
Mo Willems signing one of his books.
Mo Willems signing a book for one of the boys.
Mo Willems along with Landon, Will and Drew.
Mo Willems' signature inside Elephant and Piggie book, "Can I Play Too?" Mr. Willems also signed for us, from the same series, "I Broke My Trunk!" and "Let's Go for a Drive!"
Oliver North was in town today signing his book American Heroes in Special Operations at Books-A-Million.
Oliver North signing a copy of his book for me.
American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North and edited by chuck Holton. Packed with color photos on every page, from what I've read so far the book is a good read.
Below the dedication to his wife, "For Betsy, The best shadow warrior of all," Oliver North signed "Don - My best! Oliver North."
Oliver North's tour bus.
This is Steve Jobs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held today in which the new iPhone 4 was announced. Jobs' personal net worth is about $5.5 billion dollars right now as he heads up and is the driving force behind Apple, Inc., which exceeded Microsoft in market capitalization in May of this year and currently stands at about $230 billion.
And, this is what Steve Jobs does when he actually has to look at the infinitesimally small print on an iPhone.
Steve Jobs again, speaking to the audience about the new iPhone 4.
But, when he actually has to use his new toy...off come the glasses! What is the point of this post? If a billionaire, tech-savvy, corporate head needs to flip up his glasses to look at his iPhone, then I don't want to hear any comments from my family, friends and workmates when I do the same thing!
I previously reported that a producer for a national TV/radio/internet personality had contacted me when his boss saw my Hillary Clinton collage at the top of the Drudge Report for a day back in May. Well, that "personality" was Dennis Miller who recently used the collage as the first background image for his new green-screen during his Bathrobe Sessions.
Miller's Bathrobe Sessions are informal, viewer mail driven, weekly webcasts filmed in his home while Dennis is still, literally, in his bathrobe. Here, Dennis is getting ready to lower his new green screen.
We don't get Dennis Miller's radio show here in Tulsa, so it's been really nice to hear his show and see his Bathrobe Sessions over the internet. Unfortunately, the Bathrobe Sessions are part of the subscription side of Miller's website, so their viewership is limited. Here, the green screen is being lowered for the first time.
Miller's eclectic intellect is unparalleled in talk radio. While well founded in conservatism, his show is a nicely balanced mix of current events, special guests, listener calls, comedy, satire and his own brand of obscure but always interesting trivia. He's worth checking out on the radio or on the internet.
Charlton Heston died yesterday at the age of 84 with his wife of 64 years, Lydia, at his side. I had the immense pleasure of meeting Mr. Heston and his wife in 1991 at an awards ceremony for President Ronald Reagan. Heston was incredibly humble and friendly and, if you didn't known him, you would have been unable to tell him apart from the other attendees. He was a man of unparalleled character and accomplishment.
Heston stared in heroic roles in epic films as Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956); Judah Ben-Hur in Ben Hur (1959), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor; George Taylor in Planet of the Apes (1961), "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"; Robert Neville in The Omega Man (1971); Robert Thorn in Soylent Green (1973); Capt. Matthew Garth in Midway (1976); and 120 other great films.
Heston attended Northwestern University until America was attacked at Pearl Harbor when he voluntarily enlisted in the United States Air Force. Heston was a B-25 radio operator and gunner stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Like hundreds of others in Hollywood of Heston's generation, he proudly served in our nation's military in stark contrast to todays coddled stars who the USO can't even get to entertain the troops let alone fight along side them.
Heston was admired and respected by Hollywood, serving as the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965 to 1971, the second longest tenure to date, and Chairman of the American Film Institute Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1982 and President from 1982 to 1999. In 2003, Charlton Heston was awarded America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Charlton Heston marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., where King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. (Above photo is Heston with Sidney Poitier and nut-job Harry Belafonte at the 1963 march.) But, Heston's favor with the Hollywood left (redundant?) dwindled when decades later the demand for equal rights which he fought for, became a cry for special rights. Combined with his staunch defense of the Second Amendment in the face of Hollywood's desire to pick and choose what rights apply and to whom, solidified the left's hatred of this great man.
Heston was President of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003. In 2000, at the 129th NRA convention, Heston proclaimed: "As we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those words again for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: 'From my cold, dead hands!'"
There's no way to do justice to a man like Charlton Heston in a few short paragraphs. However, some insight can gained from his own words. After the jump is a very telling speech he gave to the Harvard Law School Forum February 16, 1999, entitled, "Winning the Cultural War." I strongly encourage you to read it.
"Winning the Cultural War"
Charlton Heston's Speech
to the Harvard Law School Forum
February 16, 1999
I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people."
There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo.
If you want the ceiling re-painted I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.
As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty of your own freedom of thought...your own compass for what is right.
Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America,"We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you...the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.
Let me back up. About a year ago I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now I serve...I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile, crazy old man." I know...I'm pretty old...but I sure as Lord ain't senile.
As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated. For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr.King in 1963 - long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe. I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite. Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.
From time to time, friends and colleagues, they're essentially friends from Time Magazine, say how dare you speak your mind. You are using language not authorized for public consumption!" But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys - subjects bound to the British crown.
In his book, "The End of Sanity," Martin Gross writes that "blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every direction.Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something without a name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't like it."
Let me read a few examples. At Antioch college in Ohio, young men seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the process from kissing to petting to final copulation...all clearly spelled out in a printed college directive.
In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who had been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDs --- the state commissioned announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need not...need not...tell their patients that they are infected.
At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team "The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name.
In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery.
In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been placed in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely because their last names sound Hispanic.
At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black students. Yeah, I know ... that's out of bounds now. Dr. King said "Negroes." Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the March said "black." But it's a no-no now.
For me, hyphenated identities are awkward...particularly "Native-American." I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson is a thirteenth generation native American...with a capital letter on "American."
Finally, just last month...David Howard, head of the Washington D.C. Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking to colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, "niggardly" means stingy or scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and resign. As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of niggardly,(b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance."
What does all of this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression? Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe? It scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason. You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that and abide it...you are - by your grandfathers' standards - cowards.
Here's another example. Right now at more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut up about their findings or they'll lose their jobs. Why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city mayor's pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers. I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not you?
Who will defend the core value of academia, if you supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead, "Don't shoot me." If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion.
If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe. Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism.
But what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? The answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people. You simply...disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't. We disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom. I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King...who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might.
Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Vietnam. In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.
But be careful...it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be humiliated...to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience discomfort. I'm not complaining, but my own decades of social activism have taken their toll on me.
Let me tell you a story. A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so-at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer"- every vicious, vulgar, instructional word.
"I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF
I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF
I'M ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF
I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..."
It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyric brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore.
"SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY..."
Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said "We can't print that."
"I know," I replied, "but Time/Warner's selling it."
Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner's, or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk. When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself...jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors...choke the halls of the board of regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment...march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you...petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month...boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.
So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobedience's of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country. If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
I too have a dream, that liberal elitists and race-pimps will join in Martin Luther King's dream and stop focusing on people's skin color.
Whatever last vestiges of racism that still exist will never be eliminated as long as some people demand double-standards and special (not equal) treatment based solely on race. As long as some I-know-what's-best academic thinks it's OK for them to take race into consideration, there will always be some ignorant racist cracker moron who thinks they too should be allowed to consider one's race.
Only when we all finally join together to recognize that all men are created equal and should be treated equally...without exception...can the dream become a reality. Unfortunately, that won't happen as long as there are those who have more to benefit from the continued existence of racism than from its elimination. That goes double for the self-appointed hyphenated-American spokespeople who benefit more from a devolving sub-culture than from the advancement of the people they claim to represent.
[Image by Denny Dent.]
Dith Pran died today. I wish I had more time to write more about this extraordinary individual. Suffice it to say, when you coin the term "killing fields" and not from your comfy tenured chair in academia but, rather, because you walked through them escaping the Khmer Rouge, you have quite the story to tell. Not too many people's stories include the murder of fifty relatives and having to survive by eating insects, rats and human corpses.
The tenth anniversary of Pol Pot's death (possible suicide) is coming up this April 15th. I hope there's a hell, if for no other reason than so that S.O.B. will suffer eternal damnation...along with the other two individuals who were in a category all to themselves defining evil in the twentieth century (Hitler and Stalin).
A great American and founding father of the modern conservative movement died today, William F. Buckley, Jr., He founded National Review magazine in 1955, wrote a newspaper column syndicated nationally in over 300 newspapers, hosted Firing Line from 1966 to 1999, authored over fifty books and frequently lectured publicly. Buckley was also an accomplished pianist and harpsichord player. He was married to his wife Patricia, who died just last year, for 57 years.
I had the tremendous opportunity to meet William F. Buckley, Jr., in 2001. He autographed his then recent Let Us Talk of Many Things, a collection of 95 speeches organized by decade covering issues and controversies which shaped the politics and culture of our nation. If you haven't read any of Buckley's work and/or don't want to wade through a lengthy tome, this book is a terrific read as the speeches average only about five pages and vary so much in topic that there is plenty to interest anyone.
I remember occasionally watching Firing Line on PBS while still in grade school in the 70s (yes, I was that weird). I certainly won't pretend I understood everything, either the topics or his legendary vocabulary, but I could tell that William Buckley was someone from whom I could learn a great deal. Over the years, there is probably no other conservative thinker that I have read and listened to as much or as closely, although George Will comes close.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes of William F. Buckley, Jr.:
"I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University."
"Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view."
"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said."
1965, When asked what he would do if he won the race, Buckley issued his classic response: "I'd demand a recount."
When asked if he had "referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus," Buckley said, "If I didn't, I should have."
Leonard Bernstein complained about the smearing of the word "liberal," Buckley said: "Lenny does not realize that one of the reasons the 'L' word is discredited is that it was handled by such as Leonard Bernstein."
When challenged on President Reagan's intellect, Buckley said: "Of course, he will always tend to reach first for an anecdote. But then, so does the New Testament."
I never write about work, but the sordid tale of Judge Donald Thompson has pervaded the national news such that I feel obligated to note my connection. Thompson was today sentenced to four years in jail and ordered to pay $40,000 in fines for exposing himself when he ...um... pleasured himself with a pump while he presided over four trials in 2002 and 2003.
For those of you who are not aware, I am a practicing civil defense attorney in Tulsa which is immediately adjacent to Creek County and the city of Sapulpa where Thompson was a judge for almost 23 years. Over the years, I appeared before Judge Thompson on a number of motions. To the best of my knowledge and recollection...I lost every one of them. And, that's enough about that.
What amazes me, besides the un-freakingly-believable things he did, is that Thompson, 59 years old, married and father of three adult children, was given the opportunity early on to simply retire...no jail time, no probation, no fines, no penalty, just retire from the bench. He turned that down and, instead, risked 40 years in prison and $80,000 in fines and wound up with four years (eligible for parole after two), a $40,000 fine, loss of his $83,879 a year (a lot for Oklahoma) pension for life, registration as a sex offender and a good dose of national ridicule. Wow.
This is the Creek County courtroom where Judge Thompson presided and carried out his various other "activities"...I'm speechless.
Writing this post was difficult until I realized it was about two different overlapping stories: one unimportant all about me and one, the opposite, very important about people thinking only of others. The meaningful story follows immediately, while the me-me-me part, can be seen by clicking on "continue reading" at the end.
There are some sick twisted people in this world, but you wouldn't think there would be people so sick and twisted that they would protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers, yelling slogans and holding signs like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." While families are simply trying to say a final goodbye to their child, spouse or daddy, these protesters are in their face laughing, cheering and spewing their hatred. At least they were...until the Patriot Guard Riders stepped in.
The Patriot Guard Riders are a nation wide group of motorcycle riders with the mission of attending the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family where they show their respect for our fallen heroes and their families while shielding the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by protesters using strictly legal and non-violent means.
In conjunction with the 30th Anniversary of Rick Monday Saving the American Flag in center-field, Rick Monday's wife, Barbaralee Monday "Flag Babe," and her brother, James Casciari "Helmet Killer," are taking the actual flag that Rick Monday saved on a cross-country motorcycle tour while stopping to meet families which have been assisted by the Patriot Guard Riders. This is all being done to raise awareness and support for legislation to ban protesting near funerals. Some states have already passed laws, other states have pending legislation and there is also legislation pending in the U.S. Congress.
I met up with some Patriot Guard Riders early this afternoon in Claremore, Oklahoma. The riders there subsequently received word that the already delayed procession, then still in Missouri, was further behind schedule and would not be stopping in Claremore, but would still be stopping in Chelsea, Oklahoma, although much later in the evening. The Chelsea stop couldn't be bypassed because they were scheduled to meet with the family of a fallen soldier for whom the Patriot Guard Riders had previously attend the funeral. We all regrouped after two hours and headed for Chelsea.
After a little wait, the Patriot Guard Arrived. The first order of business was getting out the flag that Rick Monday had saved from being burned as a protest in center field of Dodger Stadium on April 25, 1976. It was a little faded and a little tattered but still beautiful. Barbaralee and James posed with the flag and the family of the fallen soldier. Next everyone was given the opportunity to sign a banner which will be displayed on July 4th at Dodger Stadium before being presented to Rick Monday. Barbaralee and James then signed posters commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Rick Monday's save. Barbaralee even called her husband Rick on her cell phone and he spoke to the family of the fallen solder.
It was readily apparent why the tour kept falling behind schedule. Everyone who wanted a picture either with the flag or with Barbaralee was given the opportunity. The same for autographs with personalized messages, hugs and thank-yous. Despite being woefully behind schedule, no one went away disappointed.
It should be noted that neither Mrs. Monday nor her brother, Mr. Casciari, are "riders" and that the tour has been incredibly exhausting on them both physically and emotionally. Despite this, they were very friendly and genuinely cared about all the people they met. They are passionate about getting legislation passed to protect families from protesters at funerals. They both proved themselves to be terrific people. Likewise, every one of the Patriot Guard Riders I met was friendly and helpful. It's people like these that make America great.
I've uploaded all of the photos I took to Flickr. Everyone is free to download and make copies as they wish.
I can't help but wonder how much an impressionable ten year-old Chicago Cubs fan who grew up to love the American flag was influenced by a certain center fielder who thirty years ago saved the American flag from being burned? From that boyhood moment to just two months ago seeing the heroic event for the first time to now holding in my hands the actual flag that Rick Monday saved. It was an amazing thing...then and now.
Barbaralee Monday signed a copy of the commemorative poster: "To the Danz Family - Thanks for being such terrific fans! Go Cubbies! God Bless." James Casciari signed: "To the Danz Family, True Fans! Cubs Rule!!" And, Barbaralee signed for Rick Monday: "Glad to see we have such wonderful fans."
After Rick Monday spoke to the family of the fallen soldier, they handed the phone back to Barbaralee who turned to me and asked if I wanted to talk to Rick Monday. The look on my face must have been something as some of the bikers around her cracked some pretty big grins. Yes, this ten year-old in a forty-year old's body would very much like to talk to Rick Monday. I told him about being a Cub fan and how much it meant to have one's childhood hero turn out to be such a great person and to be working for such a worthy cause. Monday said that it was simply wrong what they wanted to do the flag thirty years ago and it's wrong what the protesters want to do at funerals today. He also said that the true thanks go to the families of all the fallen soldiers.
So, if not for hate filled protesters and jihadist madmen, I would not have gotten to meet a great group of Americans, talk to my boyhood hero and touch a piece of history. What an odd cross-road of people and events.
My interest in Major League Baseball peaked when I was around 9 years old. While I probably couldn't name a dozen major leaguers today, I can still tell you the entire lineup for the 1974 and 1975 Chicago Cubs. One player in particular, centerfielder Rick Monday, will forever be in my memory. It was on this day, thirty years ago, during our nation's bicentennial, during an untelevised day game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers that two pieces of human debris took the field and attempted to burn the American flag...but they hadn't counted on Rick Monday.
In his own words:
In between the top and bottom of the fourth inning, I was just getting loose in the outfield, throwing the ball back and forth. Jose Cardenal was in left field and I was in center. I don't know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two people ran on the field. After a number of years of playing, when someone comes on the field, you don't know what's going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Is it because they're trying to win a bet? Is it because they don't like you or do they have a message that they're trying to present?
When these two guys ran on the field, something wasn't right. And it wasn't right from the standpoint that one of them had something cradled under his arm. It turned out to be an American flag. They came from the left-field corner, went past Cardenal to shallow left-center field.
That's when I saw the flag. They unfurled it as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to pay homage but to harm it as one of the guys was pulling out of his pocket somewhere a big can of lighter fluid. He began to douse it.
What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it's wrong now, in 2006. It's the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented.
So I started to run after them. To this day, I couldn't tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad, I was angry and it was wrong for a lot of reasons.
Then the wind blew the first match out. There was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium. The second match was lit, just as I got there. I did think that if I could bowl them over, they can't do what they're trying to do.
I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It's soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can't light it if they don't have it. So I just scooped it up.
After the guys left, there was a buzz in the stands, people being aghast with what had taken place. Without being prompted, and I don't know where it started, but people began to sing 'God Bless America.' When I reflect back upon it now, I still get goose bumps.
He's not the only one who still gets goose bumps. As if being the centerfielder for Chicago Cubs didn't make someone a big enough hero to a ten year old suburban Chicago kid...saving the American flag from two asshats forever put Monday in a whole new category and is one of the 100 Classic Moments in the History of the Game as determined by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
That same season, Monday hit a career-high 32 non-steroid home runs before the Cubs traded him and reliever Mike Garman to the Dodgers for outfielder Bill Buckner and shortstop Ivan DeJesus. Monday went on to win three pennants with the Dodgers, one as the result of Monday's ninth-inning home run in the deciding game of the 1981 NL Championship Series at Montreal before beating the Yankees in the World Series. Monday is also famous for being the first player chosen in the very first draft in 1965 after leading Arizona State to a College World Series title. He was a two-time All-Star with impressive numbers during his 19 major league seasons. But, Rick Monday will always be most remembered for what he did one Sunday afternoon thirty years ago today.
The famous photograph, taken by James Rourke, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize but, of course didn't win because it wasn't at all anti-American...maybe if they had succeeded in burning the flag. A Super8 16mm video of the incident taken by a fan surfaced in 1984,
but hasn't made it to the internet yet [see update below]. The whole article along with more photographs by Rourke and the play-by-play call made by Vin Scully on the radio that day is available at MLB.com.
[Update I:] In honor of the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday saving the American flag, the Los Angeles Dodgers recognized Rick Monday on Sunday, April 23 with a video tribute. If this link ever stops working, please let me know. I have a downloadable version but didn't want to post it for bandwidth purposes. However, if you click on the picture you can see just the portion of the video where Rick Monday saves the American Flag.
[Update II:] See Patriot Guard Riders Bring Rick Monday Flag Through Oklahoma for more information and pictures of the actual flag that Rick Monday saved!
To all those who have been looking for a print of the photo of Rick Monday saving the American flag in center field, you can now order one from AP through Pictopia.
Today Drew, his uncle David and I had a boys day out and went to the Wanenmacher's arms show, the world's largest gun and knife show covering eleven acres and more than 3900 exhibitor tables!
At the show, we got to meet ninety-one year old General Paul W. Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. He signed his book, Return of the Enola Gay, which had already been signed by the Enola Gay's navigator, Major Theodore J. Van Kirk. Tibbets also signed for us a photo of him and the Enola Gay.
General Tibbets is well known for having no regrets for his actions which comes as no surprise since, by most estimates, the dropping of the bomb saved a million U.S. lives and countless millions of Japanese lives which would have been lost in a full scale invasion of Japan. The argument can even be made that the dropping of the bomb was the greatest humanitarian act of all time. Can you think of another single act which saved more lives?
Interestingly, press releases of General Tibbets' visit to Tulsa had been sent to all the radio and television stations in town, yet none of them mentioned his visit. Does anyone believe if somebody from Hiroshima who survived the bomb blast had come to Tulsa that the media would ignore it? Or, if General Tibbets was an apologist speaking out against nuclear weapons? How sad that the someone of his historical magnitude gets the cold shoulder from the liberal media. If they can't rewrite history, they ignore it.
Last night we attended Luciano Pavarotti's Farewell Tour performance at the Tulsa Mabee Center. Even for a non-opera fan like myself, I must say that it was absolutely amazing!
The program consisted of eleven songs, an intermission and ten more songs followed by three encores. The main program included eleven Pavarotti solos, two duets with Cynthia Lawrence, six Lawrence solos and two of the Tulsa City Orchestra* by itself. Several of the evening's performances were immediately recognizable, many were vaguely familiar and all were incredibly performed.
Tulsa was the first of just three American cities on Pavarotti's forty-city Farewell Tour around the world after which he will permanently retire. From here he will go to the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California, and then the Office Depot Center in Sunrise, Florida.
[*Interestingly, the program credited the "Tulsa City Orchestra" but that phrase does not appear on any internet search engine. The well known Tulsa Philharmonic, Oklahoma's last full-time orchestra, ceased operations on September 12, 2002, due to financial problems which have similarly plagued orchestras around the country.]
Supreme Court Justice
Like most everyone else under 40, I've never known another Supreme Court Chief Justice other than Rehnquist. And, in my work as an attorney, primarily as a researcher and writer, I can tell you there have been few judges finer than William Rehnquist. His thirty-three years of service on the court and nineteen years at its helm have left an indelible mark helping to keep our nation on the right track. Whether blinded by politics or just unaware, most people will never know how incredibly fortunate we have been to have had our highest court guided by Rehnquist's unparalleled wisdom and judgment.
requiescat in pace
I just sat down ready to do a blog entry, work on some digital photos and do a little research on Westlaw for work. Such long weekend nights at the computer usually start, as they did tonight, with surfing over to Dahl.com to download the Friday radio show of Steve Dahl, 27 year veteran of Chicago radio, so that I can listen to it while I work.
I grew up in Chicago and listened to what was then Steve and Garry (Meier) starting in the early eighties. Steve Dahl had first gained national attention on July 12, 1979, for Disco Demolition which blew up a pile of disco records at the Chicago White Sox's Old Comiskey Park between games of a double-header. An unplanned rush of fans onto the field resulted in the Sox forfeiting the second game.
In 1981 Steve was fired from WLUP (The Loop) for "assaulting community standards." The appeal to a rock loving male high school student should be obvious. But don't get the wrong idea. The attraction of Steve or Steve and Garry was that they spoke their minds and made fun of everything in a manner that didn't insult the intelligence of their audience. Unlike, the talentless grade school potty humor of Howard Stern and his ilk, Steve Dahl's humor and commentary appealed to a more sophisticated audience.
During the latter half of the eighties when I was in college, Steve and Garry were sometimes broadcast on the AM which allowed me to pick up crackling broadcasts at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. When I went out of state for grad school, my dad would occasionally send me cassette tapes of the show that he recorded for me. Over the years he sent me about forty tapes, many of which got played many times over. It was just nice to hear about people and events happening back home. Even the commercials were enjoyable as they reminded me of home. In 1993 Steve and Garry parted their ways. It took me ten years of my intermittent listening to get used to Steve without Garry.
Sometime just before the turn of the century, after internet radio broadcasts and downloads become common place, I emailed The Steve Dahl Show several times and even made it on air once requesting that Steve either simulcast or make copies of the show available for download. The answer was always the same, that it was in the works. Finally, in 2002, copies of the show became available for download. Since then, I've listened to a show every two or three weeks, just enough to maintain my thinning connection to Chicago and days gone by.
Very recently, Steve made his show available via daily podcasting, a system originally designed for Apple iPods which automates the downloading process. Unfortunately, due to the increased popularity that podcasting brought the show, it finally came to the attention of the higher-ups that making the show available for download over the internet conflicted with Infinity, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC licenses. Accordingly, all downloads and podscasts have been suspended. Streaming is supposed to resume next month. Until then, I have three years worth of occasional downloads to listen to. Right now it's a best-of program broadcast on December 31, 2004.
Marlon Brando passed away yesterday. Some call him the Greatest Actor of All Time (I respectfully disagree). While his influence and impact on Hollywood cannot be disputed, I would classify the three-hundred plus pound thespian as a tragic slave to his desires. He was married three times--all pregnant at the time--father of seven, nine or more than eleven children (depending on the source) both in and out of wedlock and may have been $20 million dollars in debt at the time of his death. His son Christian shot and killed the boyfriend of daughter Cheyenne who, in turn, later hanged herself. Finally, in an April 1996 appearance on Larry King's cable interview show, Brando proclaimed this nugget of wisdom:
"Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of--of people who are suffering. Because they've exploited--we have seen the--we have seen the Nigger and Greaseball, we've seen the Chink, we've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino, we've seen everything but we never saw the Kike. Because they knew perfectly well, that that is where you draw the wagons around."
I don't know of another instance of someone so famous using so many racial slurs to insult so many proving themselves so ignorant and so bigoted and which will, no doubt, go so unreported during the next few days. Or, more accurately, continue to go so unreported since this occurred in 1996. John Rocker is a cultural sensitivity training instructor compared to Brando.