Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy 80th, Elvis



It's not every day I write about Elvis Presley. There's been such an obscene amount of oversaturation. In their song, "Rock n' Roll Babylon," '80s band Love and Rockets began with the lyrics, "All those Elvis records circling the earth I think I've said four times over were you present at the birth?"

But Elvis, if he were alive, would be 80-years-old - elderly - today and I think that's worth commenting about. In his prime, Elvis Presley was the picture of wild, unbound youthful energy. Teenage girls would lose their panties for the guy and boys still sporting acne on their faces wanted to be him.

Of course, Elvis's image and style evolved over his career. Then he died and after all the stupid idolatry, the public image went to hell. He was parodied, stereotyped, reduced to a joke with ridiculous rumors about how he was still alive and working at the Kwikie Mart. In 1989, tabloids were still printing new lurid revelations about his drug use and sex life - something that never would've happened when he was alive. It's hard to believe in our oversharing era, but Elvis fiercely guarded his privacy and if anyone in his entourage talked to the press, they were gone. After he was dead, they talked.

"The man's never gonna get a rest," I said.

But after all these years, I think the dust has settled. We're at a point where we can put aside the fanaticism, cliches and tabloidism and consider Elvis from an artistic perspective.

He was a perceptive, magnetic and original performer who knew instinctively how to communicate with an audience and command the stage. Like Sinatra, he didn't write his own songs, but he could take possession of a song, interpreting the piece as if it were something autobiographical, a personal drama.

I see Lennon and McCartney, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant as his heirs. Of course, they were also heirs to Chuck Berry, Little Richard and about every early rock n' roll and blues singer going back to Ma Rainey.

My mom had a big ol' stack of 45 records from her childhood. There was one I'd listen to ad nauseam - "All Shook Up." I was 8-years-old and I tried to imitate the cool, masculine voice on the record. I'd have my sister, Angie, introduce me: "Here is Jeff Guy singing, 'All Shook Up.'"

That August, Elvis died and I discovered, "Oh, that's the guy who sang that song." I'd heard the name Elvis Presley and knew he was some kind of entertainer, but didn't know the big story.

My parents were up late, watching TV specials about Elvis. It wasn't until Michael Jackson died that I understood what must have been going through their minds. When a bigger-than-life icon from your youth - someone whose been a constant in your life - dies, even if you weren't a fan, you feel a loss. A piece of your childhood is gone and you're reminded of your own mortality.


There's been a lot of bullcrap over the years. People have blamed Elvis for getting rich and famous, copying black rhythm and blues music. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin...they all gave their own interpretations of black music and they have all credited those influences. There has been crossing over between black and white music probably for as long as the two groups have been in America. Despite what's been said, Elvis wasn't the first. White crooner Bing Crosby and hillbilly singer Jimmie Rodgers were working with Louis Armstrong back around 1930. Now there's Eminem, Kid Rock, Rage Against the Machine. It goes on.

In the '80s, Elvis caught a lot of criticism for abandoning rock and roll for ballads in his later years. I think first and foremost Elvis was a singer and entertainer. He loved all genres of music and was non-discriminating in his tastes. It didn't matter if a song was written by Leiber and Stoller, Bob Dylan or Rodgers and Hammerstein. If it was pleasing to his ears, Elvis would sing it.

Besides I don't think his later stuff was all that bad. It wasn't as revolutionary or culturally significant as his early Sun recordings and there was shlock, but there was also some great, underrated stuff. The songs about heartbreak and lost love were his way of communicating what was going on in his life without saying it outright.

How much can you ask of a person? Sure I have fantasies of Elvis recording an album with Louis Armstrong in the '50s and Keith Richards in the '70s, but I think he gave a lot more as an artist than people can reasonably ask for.

Yes he got fat, sloppy, drugged out, but he was human. He wasn't a god like people have blown him up to be, he was a man. He had flaws and greatness, weakness and strength. I say, forget the mythology and white noise. Just see him as a man and an artist.

"The image is one thing and the human being is another." Elvis Presley, from a 1972 press conference.

From the first performance by Elvis and bandmates Scotty and Bill on the Louisiana Hayride. 1954


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Clonazepam and zombies


Kaka drawing. "The Thinker," 1913
5 a.m. Coffee black, no riff raff as I sit in the kitchen, hands in detatched-like motion. I’m wearing a bathrobe, black T-shirt, socks and plaid lounge pants. I guess I could live in lounge pants and drink beer all day if I weren’t so wired with chaotic motivation.

Soon I’m in my car. The radio in my mind starts signaling premonitions of perdition at the worksite. I’m contemplating creation, worrying over what I’ll invent today. What if I endure the stress of achieving something and risk losing my grounding under onrushing vanity? “God, please don’t let me get past myself.”

What would I do without a job to bring needed balance and a sort of terrorism to my life? There’s a moment when I die a little after entering the parking lot across the street from the old building I work in. It’s said to be haunted, as unaccounted for slamming and voices coming from the attic have been reported late at night by employees burning the midnight oil.

Ignition still running, heat on, I pray in a desperate voice much like Jimmy Stewart did in that scene at the bar in It’s a Wonderful Life. “Please God, you know I can’t let anyone down.”

P/C Production capacity

I'm the only one in my department, the others taking time off and it all rests on me.  Veronica sits at her desk near mine but she’s of a different department. I play a YouTube video of a horrible song. I’d heard about 30 seconds of on NPR’s Marketplace as I turned left on Fifth Avenue.

“Let’s get physical, physical.” Veronica laughs and unable to take it anymore, I delete the whole thing. It was gross, all those men in the plastic looking gym, their junk hanging out for all to see.

I look at lists, jot tasks on pink Sticky notes, check email, charge my Android phone, study designs.

Sometimes when I feel lots of pressure, I recite the Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing…”

And sometimes I sing. Loudly and bad on purpose.

“Umm, have you ever heard Meatloaf’s 1977 album, Bat Out of Hell?” I ask Veronica, thinking maybe she hasn’t because she’s young. In her early 30s, I’d guess.

“Of course,” she says.

I WANT YOU I NEED YOU BUT THERE AIN’T NO WAY (lilting in the voice) I’M EVER GONNA LOVE YOU SO DON’T BE SAD, DON’T BE SAD (pause, breath) 'CUZ TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD

“Perhaps others heard me,” I say.

“We heard you way over here,” Erika in graphic design says jovially.

“When I die,” I say, “they can play this song at my funeral.”

Piano keys. Later I beat my hands lightly against the desk as the song plays quietly. Sing a few words. “You Cath-o-lic girls start much too late…You got a brand new soul, mmm, and a cross of gold.”

Pope Francis is in the news as he often is. (Mom told me when she was a kid, J. Edgar Hoover was always in the newspaper.) Veronica tells me she’s Catholic, but not a practicing Catholic.

“Neat,” I say. “Lots of history in the Catholic Church.”

“Lots of shit in the Catholic Church,” she says.

Then I get lost in work, feeling thrills and agony, not losing myself. I’m told I have grace and good customer relations.

Zombie show

I think what a good thing it was that I took my medication this morning. Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine, a psychoactive class of drugs with amnestic, sedative and hypnotic qualities. It is not Xanax, but is of the Xanax family. One thing I really like is how Clonazepam was mentioned in that zombie show, The Walking Dead. I watch it Sunday nights with Maria and her family, much like we used to gather to watch Breaking Bad.

Sometimes when driving home to Maria, Max and Gabby, the song pops into my head. “..cuz all I want to do is cash my check and drive right home to you,” the theme song to the early ‘00s sitcom, King of Queens, as sung by Billy Vera, a working musician since the ‘60s who also had a hit in the ‘80s with “At this Moment” from the sitcom Family Ties, as regarded the romance between Alex and Ellen before Tracy Pollan was replaced with the wooden Courtney Cox, one of many jump the shark plot lines to befall the NBC comedy, which aired Thursday nights following The Cosby Show.

Back home and I focus as my son, Max, tells me about the report he did on the pyramids.

“The Egyptian pyramids were bigger than the Mesoamerican pyramids,” he says. “The Pyramid of the Sun is on the Street of the Dead in Mexico. The Aztecs started building it in around 100 AD. They think it was a temple for some god, but it’s a mystery.”


It could set the mind reeling.

Bill Murray, 1982. First Letterman appearance. "The new Newton John thing."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014


(7:45 a.m.)

Still dark here in the living room as I sit here, sipping coffee. It's my favorite mug, the one with pictures of my two kids on it. Christmas tree is resplendent - blue, green, red, golden lights. I heard my kids, Max and Gabby, get up this morning, stirring around.

"Guys, we'll wait 'till Mom gets up to open gifts."

"We know that," they say.

"Let's not wait Mom up because she was up late last night, wrapping gifts and making cheesecake."

Kids are getting older. Max turned 13 in September. They can wait. Heck, I think I hear Max in his room, communicating with friends on Minecraft right now. Gabby sat on the floor, looking at the tree and presents for a long time, but now she's probably reading a book. She always puts on her glasses & looks a bit like the librarian her mother once was when she reads.

(Later)

Gifts open now. Maria making homemade waffles.

My friend, Joy, is a psychologist and she likes to bake. She has all kinds of helpful hints for managing holiday season stress. Kids are overstimulated this time of year, she says, and thinking back to the highs I got as a child, I believe it. "It's okay to feel sad," she told me. "This time of year tends to inspire a lot of self-reflection and sometimes that can take you to a dark place."

For me, it was somewhere around November 2011. My old journalism instructor and adviser Les Anderson had recently died. He was kind of like a dad to us all. Definitely our best friend. Sadness swiftly altered into a temporary high as I saw friends I hadn't been with in a while, felt a rage of nostalgia and got lost in the intoxication of my own creativity - I had improved remarkably in 20 years. (Possibly.) Then euphoria alchemized into what seemed a dark irreversible hell. The concrete basement of our old house was said to be haunted, as was my own personal library - the room where my son said he had seen a mysterious character he named "Plaid-pants man" materialize and diminish with the atoms.


I'm sure Ebenezer Scrooge felt a wave of depression as the Ghost of Christmas Past took him to all those scenes where he effed up in life. Anyone would. I can just see him, knowing what's going to happen, saying, "No don't go there" and when it's over - "You're stupid! Couldn't you see? It was right in front of your eyes all the time."

I'd say I'm cautiously happy right now. Moderately all right may be a better description. Sure I was pissed when my drama queen of a daughter complained about standing in the "cold," ringing bells for the Salvation Army. "Go in with Mom and go shopping then," I said. Later, Maria and I both talked to the kids about how it wouldn't hurt them to think about people less fortunate and give some to others

But I'm happy with Max and Gabby this morning. They were appreciative of all their Christmas presents even though, to me, the presents under the tree didn't look too plentiful. I've actually been in living rooms on Christmas Day, seen kids get a shitload of presents and when they asked if there were more and told that was it, they exclaimed, "Darn!"

When I was ringing the bell outside Walmart, a fellow came up to me. "How much do you get paid for this?" he asked.

"I don't."

"You mean you volunteer for this?" he said, disbelief all over his face and up and down his light voice.

He shook my hand. Firmly.

"You're a rich man," he said.

I'll be damned. Imagine that. Me, J.Guy - a rich man?

I heard singer/songwriter Nick Lowe interviewed on Fresh Air with Teri Gross a couple of nights ago as I drove the dark highway. He wrote this song for a Christmas album he recently recorded and I really liked it. It's the kind of song Johnny Cash would've done.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve



Somewhere this moment in the big sanctuary of a Big Church, my wife, kids & in-laws are are at a candle light service celebrating the Dear Savior's birth. I couldn't join them because some new developments in my job kept me working longer than I had anticipated. This work involved a twenty-something man who stabbed another twenty-something man to death. The fight had to do with some kind of romantic entanglement and I don't know specific details. The District Attorney said he's filed more cases this year than in all his 16 years as a prosecutor. "Merry Christmas," he said.

Jukebox played Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," followed by Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." I view this song by Satchmo as appropriate for Christmas. It's full of hope for a --

better world. My favorite line is about the babies. "They'll learn much more than I'll ever know." I've always found it interesting how this song was released the same year Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" came out. Both sides of a world in perpetual motion.


Then U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Nobody will ever top Darlene Love, but this is good and don't we need all the good things we can get? Like a short, aglow Christmas tree inside a lonely window. If it's there, I think the lights are like hope and hope can exist in tiny windows, just as it can in the church. I picture my family now with the glorious display - "Carol of the Bells" playing. I think of the lit up sacks lining the driveways of the Ridgewood District tonight in my hometown, Jett, Kan. (pop. 4,000) in the early '70s.

In those days, my family had celebrated on Christmas Eve night at my grandma Mac's house. Then we would open presents at home on Christmas morning. They say every family has Christmas traditions (at least those in America who celebrate Christmas) and this was ours. Anyhow, at Grandma & Grandpa's house, it became a tradition every year to take a picture of the kids (siblings, cousins) sitting around the Christmas tree. This started around Christmas, 1974. I always thought it was neat how the grandparents always had a real life Christmas tree. My family had a fake one, but then the old people were always more rustic. No air conditioning, clothes hung on a clothes line (in the garage during winter).

Lately, my mom has been thinking her mother is still alive and I don't correct her. "She's not doing so well," she says, concern in her voice. "Grandma - she's doing great," I say. "She's quite healthy. Back to her effervescent self." "Really," Mom says, smiling as if she's relieved. "I'm happy to hear that."

I told the nursing director at the facility where Mom lives that the old guy with the whitish gray beard who came to see her was most likely her brother, just like she told them.

Sitting here at Leroy's, the dive bar near the Chinese laundry, frat houses and public radio station in the district outside Wichita State University. Shocker game last night was too much for some people like myself, prone to anxiety - 80-79 in overtime. I was at home. Made it there around 8 p.m. Watched the Heat Miser from the 1974 Christmas special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. "Dad loves this stuff," my wife, Maria, told our daughter Gabby. Max, our son, was in his room, playing Mario Party.

There's a small Christmas tree in the window of Leroy's, underneath the ancient neon Schlitz sign. Lights give me hope, make me think of seeing my family and whatever is out there for the world.




Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Parody Letter 2014

(Later on, we'll perspire as we dream by the fire.)                   Dec. 20, 2014







Dear _______,

Ho! Ho! Ho! I'm Santa Claus & I better not have seen your name on the naughty list this year. Okay, it's not really Santa Claus, it's me, J. Guy. Sorry I tricked you, but I get so full of Christmas spirit this time of year & this year, we're going to have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny Kaye. Please be good children, have sweet dreams of sugar plums & toy soldiers & always remember what my mother told me when I was a little boy, 8-years-old: "If you don't straighten up, you're gonna get reindeer shit in your stocking."

Oh my, and what music am I listening to now? "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from the Nutcracker Suite. Little ballerina pas de deux of the sugar plum fairy who came and hit the streets looking for soul food and a place to eat. My favorite part is Tchaikovsky's line about "all the colored girls go doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo."

It's been a busy year, having reached the milestone of my 200th blog and working as a foreign correspondent covering the "situation" in Syria for which I won the Holbrook-Grayson Award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my appearance on Fresh Air with Teri Gross, but I talked to Teri about it at Pope Francis's mission, backstage at the Patti Smith concert. Teri and I are good.

The Guy family hung out with our friend, Kirk Cameron at the Duggar Family wedding. It was so beautiful the way Ben and Jessica reserved their first kiss for the altar. Cockadoodie on all those dirty bird liberals who said the picture looked like "Christian porn." What did JimBob mean when he said he shot a quiverfull inside Michelle's clown car?


Our son, Max, is thriving as a Boy Scout, diligently working to earn merit badges and helping little old ladies across the street. Also, he's quite adept at killing Nazis, while playing Call of Duty. He is now employed as a paper boy, for which he is earning rave reviews. While spending a bit of his paycheck on games, the bulk of it, he puts away in the bank "for college" as he aspires to develop video games, much like the pot smokers from the brilliant film comedy, Grandma's Boy.



Gabby, our strong-willed little girl, begs us to visit our Humanitarian/Filmmaker friends in California, the Kennys, so we can go to Disneyland again. Gabby has mild asthma and during one nighttime attack said, "I'm Big Wheezy." Her new nickname - Big Wheezy, which would be a good name, should she ever embark on a career with the Mafia. Gabby keeps little drawings and stories in book she wrote entitled, "crap i made." Also, Gabby has learned how to pick the door lock when her mom is on the toilet.


And speaking of her mom, my lovely wife, Maria, got enraged a bit while Christmas shopping at JCPenney. A woman with a "smoker's face" cut her off in line with her shopping cart and Marie got more irate than a Tea Partier staring at a black baby Jesus. Sitting behind the wheel of our family Santa Fe, Maria waited. The woman exited the front door. "YOU OLD BITCH!!" Maria shouted and sped off. I was mortified. "Would Santa Claus do that?" I asked. I do hope the YouTube video doesn't ruin Maria's chances of being appointed to a vacant seat on city council.

Earlier this year while the children were on spring break, we took a family vacation to Philadelphia and visited Maria's cousins - the twins, Dennis and DeAndra. They own a lovely Irish establishment called Paddy's Pub. There was a water stain image of the Virgin Mary and a woman known as "The Waitress."

Maria & me

And in other family news, there is Maria's uncle Bart. You see, Uncle Bart weighs around 375 pounds and his prodigious buttocks have left severe indentations on couches & recliners, some of which have broken under the weight of his corpulence. Anyhow, he'd pass these gross old man farts & we'd always laugh about the long trail these bursts of intestinal gas had to travel to exit the sphincter feature of his body. But it's not funny anymore. Uncle Bart had a disease of the colon this year and since your colon is related to farting, one musn't laugh. Uncle Bart had Hirschsprung Disease, a condition of blockage in which the nerves needed to allow passage of bowel contents are missing. We were afraid Uncle Bart would die like that guy in the episode of The Sopranos, who had a heart attack while sitting on the crapper of the Bada Bing Club. The good news is Uncle Bart is doing much better since the surgery. He endured insensitive fat shaming from his doctor, but he is on a gluten free diet now, which can majorly decrease the odor and frequency of one's intestinal gasses.

Also in the family, Maria's grandpa's cousin died, much like a drowning rat would if it fell into an uncovered bat of Christmas pudding sauce.

                                                    
                                                 
Mom, Max, me, Gabby

Peace, joy & remember I Am America and so can YOU

J. Guy


P.S. I remember Christmas as a little child circa 1972 watching a children's TV Christmas special about the little drummer boy. It was nice and he bore a resemblance to Damien, the demon child from The Omen.



Well, it had to happen sometime. Our good friend Dave Letterman is retiring & Darlene Love's annual performances of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on the Letterman show will be a thing of the past. Here's a good place to end it. Thank you, Dave, Darlene, Paul & everybody.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Suck decade




So my buddy, Tim, must've been high, drunk on Miller Lite or something & he was screwin' off on his iphone from an undisclosed location in Amsterdam or some place of that nature. Shares some shithole of a YouTube music video (circa 1985) on the stupid Facebook. The nasty little man with a guitar pops out of the TV and kicks the cigarette out of the couch sitting loser's hand. Yup, this is good. Oh look, open the fridge and the band of minuscule men are rock'n like you can still rock in America - oh yeah, all right - "Might as well go for a soda, nobody drowns & nobody dies."

What in the hell? Some anti-drug song like that old lady, that "Just Say No" astrology consulting old chick would like?

I hate the 1980s. I think it was a shit decade. Worst of the 20th century.

In an alternative universe, the hostages would've been released early and Jimmy Carter would've been elected to a second term, the solar panels would've remained on the White House roof, MTV would've never been invented and the Minnesota-bred suburban-violently young-sloshed & pissed-bastardly-magnificent Replacements would be heralded as the greatest musical act of the decade.

But we don't live in that world. Never did. The whole godforsaken decade started with my favorite rockstar getting killed and my least favorite "great communicator" getting elected President.

Hall & Oates had a string of hits in 1982. Fuck Hall & Oates.
Anyhow, that's when I had to grow up. I was born when I was born and living my teen years in that ghetto of a decade was my lot in life. My dad got to have adolescence in the '50s, Mom in the early '60s. They had American Graffiti. I didn't even get Dazed and Confused.

There's a sort of plasticity, a phony, non-real quality to the '80s. The social consciousness of 20 years earlier wasn't just out of style in the '80s, it was repudiated, looked down upon, as if it were not only naive, but stupid to be concerned about poverty, nuclear weapons, racism, the "greenhouse effect," or women's rights. Making a contribution was about selling your soul to the corporation. College wasn't about debate and enriching one's self intellectually, but a step-ladder toward buying a Porsche. Instead of a President who looked like a movie star and inspired young people with world transformative ideals, you had a real life movie star President (albeit, a B-lister) winning the affections of would-be Alex P. Keatons by promulgating shallow ideas about greed, wealth, self interest above all others, imperialism and faux "morning in America" patriotism.

Pop culture was a reflection of that fictive conservative chic quality. Pop songs about materialism. MTV image trumping musical substance. Vacuous pop songs all around, the most glaring monstrosities released in the worst year of my life - 1982. Big hair bands that were an ersatz version of '70s hard rock. Movies and TV shows that glorified the lives of yuppies.

I said 1982 was the worst year of my life. I remember one day in seventh grade, I dared sit at the "popular kids" table. This guy - the kind of guy who liked to nickname his dick and trash all the girls he claimed to be banging - told me, "Get out. Take a hike." A girl was sitting there, watching, saying nothing and to this day I can't conjecture whether she approved or not. "Okay, I'll leave." Shit like that, you remember the rest of your life. Any time I had a bad day in junior high or high school, which was often, that son of a whore was always in the mix somewhere. I understand he's a devoted family man now, a good Christian. All reformed. He actually had the audacity to send me a facebook friend request and that'll never happen. It's okay, God'll forgive him.

Am I just projecting my own inner turmoil on an entire period? I concede that may be some of it, but for the most part, I'd say it was just coincidence that the worst year in my life happened to also be the worst year in the history of pop culture.

If you want to go down to the heart and soul, the deepest core of the '80s, I don't think it's Michael Jackson,  the Berlin Wall coming down, MTV, Reagan, Big Hair bands or any of that.

I think it's Rick Astley.

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna say goodbye." Ever been rickrolled? Sounds dirty and it is in a banal, joyless and de-evolutionary sort of way. It's vapid, devoid of soul, disposable, suffused with synthesizers and in its own way, fascist and evil. Rick  Astley, D-list, flash in the pan, nothing but a big annoying voice like grunt  huffing from within a rectally planted microchip lost in moussed, protuberant hair.

Rick (shitting) Astley. The decade deserves no better.







Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014


U.S. 23rd infantry. 37 mm gun in action. France, 1918.


There's a scene in the movie, Born on the Fourth of July, that really sticks with me. It's early in the movie when Ron Kovic is a boy watching veterans in a Fourth of July parade. He stares into the eyes of an old man wearing his World War I uniform, a sad look on his face. I've always wondered what kind of life shattering experiences from youth must have haunted this man in his old age. There have been millions of people with such stories. PTSD wasn't invented after the Vietnam War. I'm sure it's existed since war began. Thousands of years since primitive man started fighting with sticks and stones. The weapons are now multiple times more potent and lethal. Young men and women a generation younger than me are now coming home irreparably damaged from war.

It's interesting that Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is also the birthday of one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut. He was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. Vonnegut was imprisoned in an underground meat locker, which spared his life during people who survived the Allied fire bombing of the historic city of Dresden. During the tumultuous '60s, he would go on to incorporate the horrific event  in his novel, Slaughter House Five.

I've thought about war a lot this year with it being the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the 100th anniversary of the first world war. I've read Cornelius Ryan's journalistic account of the D-Day invasion, The Longest Day and I hope to at least start reading Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August about the start of World War I.

It must have seemed like Armageddon.

Lately, I've been thinking about a quote from former President, Commander-in-Chief and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. It's something he said upon being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2002. 
War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

I'm tired of seeing the world devastated by war, tired of seeing lives shattered and shortened. It's a crime that there are impoverished, homeless, jobless, drug addicted veterans in this country. They shouldn't be so removed. On the whole, Americans don't have enough skin in the game. War is a crime, a murderer. Hopefully, one day - I'm sure I'll never live to see it - America and the world will give it up.

I talked to a couple of Korean War veterans last week who recently went on the Kansas Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. They recalled crowds applauding them at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. A boy about 8-years-old and smiling from ear to ear eagerly shook their hands.

"I sure hope he never has to go to war," one of the old men said.