Duped

And now you know the rest of the story.

That sentence, the tag line of famous broadcaster, Paul Harvey, would end his mini-biographies and histories about obscure facts of history or little known details of famous – or infamous – people familiar to the American public. It would not be uncommon for a listener to utter, Wow, after each episode, having just learned of some detail of an event or character trait of someone that often would utterly change his or her understanding of that event or person.

And yet, today, we seem to forget that there is always a “rest of the story”, lurking behind the headlines or latest utterances of TV or radio pundits. And the result is that we are being duped – day in and day out almost unceasingly. In our current desert of despair there appear very few oases of candor, honesty and integrity.

Recently, I’ve taken to listening to a number of Podcasts by Mike Rowe of the television show, Dirty Jobs, fame. Judging from his range of topics and assortment of guest conversationalists, Rowe seems to be curious and fascinated by a range of subjects, ideas and people. One recent podcast ( Click Here) featured Megyn Kelly, formerly of Fox Cable and now doing her own podcasts and speaking tours. Her conversation with Rowe was entertaining and enlightening. One particular comment, by Ms Kelly, in response to Rowe asking what did listeners and viewers really need to know about the news – how to be critical thinkers and listeners – caught my attention. Kelly’s response was that viewers probably didn’t know how much the news programs and talk shows desperately wanted to scare you and outrage you and to keep you that way.

In days gone by, many television news programs would feature blood and fire to hook viewers – “If it bleeds, it leads” was the motto. Now, it seems, it is fear and loathing…of one another. No, it is more a fear and loathing of nearly everyone and everything. How did this become so? How have so many become Howard Beales, screaming, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” in the film, Network? Click Here. Is it because, since the dawn of the 24 hour news cycle, our outrages and fears and hatreds have been created and fed? Have we become so trusting or reliant on News Personalities that we have lost all ability to think critically – to think for ourselves?

Are bad things happening? Absolutely. Is everyone out to hurt us? No. Can we change things? Maybe. But, the only way to find out is to try.

Think. Seriously, just think. And ask yourself why things are the way they are. If you see things have gone wrong, think how you can do something about it, rather than just complain.

Learn. Read, research, compare, verify. Don’t rely on one source. Learn the history.

See the humanity in one another. Here’s a challenge – and NOT a “tic-tock” one: No matter where you live – small town, country, large city; whether you live in a single home, HOA, an apartment building…whatever, invite 5- 8 people to get together for a meal. Everyone takes a turn hosting a dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. As a matter of fact, simple is better. At the end of the cycle of everyone getting together it is almost certain that you will have made several new friends. You will also have been exposed to different points of view (avoid the taboos: politics and religion!) and discovered some really interesting people. Keep these get-togethers going and you may be surprised at how differently your world begins to look.

Make it a point to be sincerely polite to people you come into contact with on a day to day basis.

And, most importantly, pray. Pray that God helps you to be a better person. If enough prayers are answered what a better world this can be.

Dragon’s Blood and Baez

A voice. An image. A face. A song from long ago. There is no telling what will turn a distant recollection into a torrent of memories. For me it was a smell. Rather, the smell – of New York City’s Greenwich Village in the Spring of 1968.

What turned the Mind Spigot on was – soap. Recently I’ve been trying various hand-made natural soaps from soap maker, Emily Seaver. It was one of these soaps, Dragon’s Blood, with its incense scent, that sent me back decades into a world that fascinated, but would only be observed.

New York was just a bit over an hour away by train, but what had started out as a shopping trip became the catalyst for a life-long love of folk music and an admiration for one of the eras most honest artists and voices.

Washington Square

Walking along Bleeker, Thompson and MacDougal Streets and through Washington Square Park ones senses were constantly bombarded with the sounds of bongos, saxophones, guitars, flutes and voices both sweet and ferocious singing of protest or love. The smell of subway steam rising through street vents mingled with the scents of every food imaginable. The sweet, earthy smell of roasting coffee permeated the street in front of Porto Rico Coffee and from the countless coffee cafes that lined the streets of The Village. And, through it all rose the stench of unwashed bodies, garbage and omnipresent drugs. New York in the 60’s. Nothing quite like it and never to be forgotten.

Venturing into a small, colorful shop along Thompson Street I soon realized that I had entered another world altogether. What would later be learned was a Head Shop, this little store was jam-packed with pipes, bongs, clips, etc., etc. Not only were these things of no interest, I really had no idea what they were for. Such an innocent! But, what did interest me was the dizzying (truly) display of incense. Now, this was something I was familiar with. Incense sticks and cubes of various fruits and scents filled shelves from top to bottom. What really caught my eye were small bags of loose incense – including jasmine, patchouli and every Catholic schoolboy’s favorite, frankincense. A whiff of that and for sure you would feel on your way to heaven! After buying a small packet, it was time to further explore the neighborhood.

Ritchie Havens

Cafe Wha?, The Bitter End, Bottom Line, Cafe Au Go Go, The Gaslight Cafe, The Village Vanguard. Handbills plastered on the sides of buildings and construction fencing advertised both coming and just past appearances of The Stone Poneys, Ritchie Havens, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell -live nyc Little Green, Jimi Hendrix, Odetta, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, Judy Collins (click on hyperlinks) and – Joan Baez. What were these places and who were these people? Coming from a very parochial background (in every sense of the word) I was not in my element. But, the Genie of Curiosity was out of the bottle and while, somewhat sadly, I never got to go to any of the above music venues I did embark on a journey to discover who those musicians were and what they were saying. One in particular has kept my admiration all these years – Joan Baez.

Joni Mitchell
Joan Baez

Now, Ms Baez probably has a few views that are, shall we say, not simpatico with mine. But, her steadfast aversion to war, her respect and empathy for the common man and the downtrodden far outweigh those possible differences and have allowed me to appreciate her artistry without the distraction of politics. Her voice and songs remain both beautiful and meaningful. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvDyq66_lWY , Diamonds and Rust, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptxxq5PUHEk and There But for Fortune, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKq-nVdiQ8U are just a few of Baez’ songs that endure.

There’s no going back of course. But, I wonder, what happened … to the promise and optimism of those days and that generation? I just wonder.

The Impeachment Antidote!

I can’t take it anymore!

Turn on the t.v and it’s there. Click on the car radio…it’s there. Glance at a newspaper when picking up a cup of coffee…gotcha! Is there no relief from everything Ukraining on my parade?

The “leaders” of our country seem bent on arguing, posturing, riling everyone up, fabricating and just being nasty. Many, if not most, of them have never done an honest day’s work in their life. Yet, they create one “crisis” after another and try to pit one American against another. Their world is not the real world.

To find a world where civility, integrity, hard and honest work and common sense are, well, common, all I have to do is take the short ride up to our home building site here in Staunton, VA.

Construction may be the great equalizer. You can either do it or you can’t. It makes no difference if you are young or older, big or small, male or female. Where you are from or what you look like is of no importance. If you can do the work or learn, that’s all that matters.

If you’re like me and can’t take the daily bombardment of crazy anymore, come along for a peak into the real world…the building of our home.

Eric Argenbright, Owner of E&A Home Builders, supervising and banging nails!

Buck, the lead man, showing new guy, David, the details of setting roof trusses.
This ain’t DC, lots of teamwork here! Kyle, David and Buck getting it done.
Teamwork making progress
Windows going in…and look what’s on the roof!
The roofing crew in action…men and women!
All that hammering upstairs doesn’t slow down Buck, Kyle and David from working on the living room ceiling!

Now, don’t you feel better? I do! Turn off the t.v. and radio. Watch some real work getting done, meet and talk to your neighbors and see how nice this world really is!