Living (and dying) on Tulsa time

 

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The Black  section of Tulsa burning during the race riot  of 1921.

 

Maybe Colin Kaepernick is right. Maybe it’s finally time to admit that there are so many racist cops killing black men, it can’t be ignored anymore.

I grew up in Tulsa. I was saddened by but not surprised when a Tulsa police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man named Terance Crutcher. Tulsa police say they are investigating, but it’s apparent from the chilling video of Crutcher being shot while he held his hands in the air that it was yet another senseless murder of a Black man by a cop who will probably get away with  it.

Like many big cities, Tulsa is a dangerous place to live if you’re Black. Tulsa, and Oklahoma in general, have a dark history of racial killing, from KKK lynchings to the 1921 Tulsas race riot, when thousands of whites stormed into the Black section of Tulsa, killed 300 people and burned the black neighborhood to the ground. It was a massive attack on the Black  population, including aerial assault from airplanes dropping incendiary devices on roofs. Many of the victims were buried  in a mass grave. It was hushed up, swept under the rug, and mostly forgotten.

Growing up in a white Tulsa neighborhood in the 1960s, I had no idea it had even happened. I had no idea that being Black in Tulsa was life threatening. But then, I don’t remember any Black students at my high school. I do remember one afternoon when a Black man knocked on our door and my mother took me into the  bathroom where we hid until he went away.

I didn’t  know just how bad it really was until the early 1980s when I went to work as a writer at the Muskogee paper. Reporters who had been covering the cops for years whispered about the cops targeting and killing young Black men on the street routinely. They knew how to get away with it. If people at the newspaper knew about it, why didn’t they try to expose it?

It was a different time in the 1980s. Things were really corrupt. The editor of the newspaper and the police chief were buddies. The chief supplied our office parties with confiscated liquor. Part of the narrative that went around was that the cops carried an extra gun, a “drop gun” to plant on the dead victim. The fix was in solid. Blacks were hunted in some towns for sport by the cops. Being on the street a night was all it took to get you killed.

It was many years later before I understood how much this must have upset me. When I started writing short stories, one of  the first I  wrote was about racist cops running wild and killing Black men on the street. I was using writing as therapy, to try to get it out of my head.

But it seems it just won’t go away. This  latest killing in Tulsa is just the most recent in a never ending string of killings, and it won’t be the last, not by a long shot (pardon the pun). If you don’t understand why Black people in America are in the street with signs, why pro athletes are kneeling during the national  anthem, and why cops are more trigger happy than ever, it’s time to wake up and smell the bigotry and injustice.

No, not all cops are bad. But the good cops still cover for the bad ones, the ones that are committing  cold blooded murder. Is it going to take another big deadly race riot, like  the one in Tulsa in 1921 before we wise up?

A New Low

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I don’t think I could forgive myself if I didn’t  speak up about this nasty presidential election that is unlike any I’ve seen. And I’ve seen a few. Harry Truman had just become president when I was born. Yeah, I’m old. The first time I voted for president was in 1968,  the year of the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. It was Hubert Humphrey vs. Richard Nixon. I voted for Humphrey, and for the past half century, I’ve voted in every presidential election.

But I’ve never seen a campaign like this. I’ve liked and disliked different presidential contenders, but  until this election I’ve never feared that someone would be elected. But please God, I pray, if you exist, don’t let Donald Trump become the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet.

Donald Trump is a racist, a liar, an egomaniac. He’s a pompous boor, a con man, a vanity queen. I’m not sure he can tell the difference between reality and his own bullshit. He’s unfit to be a dogcatcher. He’s filled with hate, derision and bigotry for everything about America that isn’t white.

Here’s what’s even worse, that racism is still widespread enough in our country to propel him to the nomination of a major party. No, not all his supporters are racists, but they are a big bloc and without the support of racists, he wouldn’t be in this race. I mean, less than eight years ago when Americans elected the first African-American president, we had cause to believe that we had progressed against the forces of racism. Guess not.

The big ugly truth of this election is that racism is alive and well in America. When Trump started putting out his racist clarion calls directed  against Latinos, African-Americans, Women, Gays and even the handicapped, the racists came running. They’d been seething and fomenting for eight years over the indignity of having a Black president. They’re locked, loaded and white. Trump’s base is lily  white. None of America’s minorities support him.

Just hating Hillary is not a good enough excuse to vote for this monster Trump. You  have to be a full-on  bigot to back this blowhard.  I know Hillary isn’t the most appealing person to seek high office. Frankly, I wish the first woman president  (please, God, please)  wouldn’t have gained name recognition by being the wife of a president. But she’s smart, experienced and qualified. Three things that can’t be said for Trump. If Hillary lapsed into a coma tomorrow, I’d still vote for her, because the very idea of Trump being president is unthinkable. I’d vote for slime mold before I’d vote for Trump. His being a candidate is embarrassing. A Trump presidency would be disaster.

I’m truly disappointed we’re at this point in America. The rest of the world thinks Trump is a ridiculous clown. Sure, Putin and the Russians would love to see an idiot in the Oval Office. So would the Chinese, the North Koreans, and the Iranians. All our country’s enemies are hoping Trump gets elected. But that doesn’t bother his base, which is fueled by hate and conspiracy theories.

I think this is a crossroads in American history. We are now a multi-cultural society but a large portion of white people cannot accept the fact that they’re no longer in charge of everything. They want to take America back, like a hundred years back. In this election, we will either move forward by electing our first woman president, or we will return to the dark days of white supremacy by putting a racist in the White House.

 

Free at last- almost

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I’ve blogged once before about how much I dislike cable tv packages. Basically, you don’t get to choose which channels you receive. You’re sold a package, which includes your local channels and a bunch of cable channels, many of which you never watch. It’s like going to the grocery store to buy some apples and grapes and being forced to buy liverwurst and anchovies also, even though you know you won’t eat them. As a consumer, that makes no sense at all. What would make sense is a cafeteria system that allows you to buy  just the channels you want. But the cable companies are never going to do that. Why should they when they get your money for a mixed bag of goods?

So for years now, I’ve been plotting to escape my cable company. As my bill kept rising, almost month by month it seemed, I became even more determined to dump Cox Communication. But how?

Here’s how I did it. First of all, I’m proud to say that several weeks ago, I called Cox and canceled all my cable tv from them. It felt pretty good. And yes, my tv options have changed, but, on balance, I couldn’t be happier with the new way we’re watching tv.

I now stream my cable channels from Sling. It’s $20 a month for 25 channels. It’s yet another package deal, but most of the Sling channels are the ones we watch anyway, like CNN, ESPN, History, TNT, TBS, HGTV, and A and E. With Sling, changing channel takes a little longer, but the price is way less than I was paying before for most of the same channels. Of course, you have to have the ability to stream to do Sling. If you don’t have a smart tv, you can get something like an Amazon Fire Stick  and plug it into the HDMI slot on your tv and presto, your tv now comes in on your wifi.

For local channels, I bought and installed an outdoor digital amplified antenna. Getting it up was a trip. The antenna cost less than $20 on ebay, but it came unassembled. I spent most of a day putting it together, puzzling over the enigmatic instructions obviously written by someone with a limited knowledge of English. Yes, it was made in China.

Once I had it together and up, I connected it to my tv and it picked up 34 channels with a sharp picture, including my local ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX and CW stations along  with a bunch of other channels, mostly broadcasting anciently old stuff like Andy Griffith, Gilligan’s Island and Newlywed Game. But it was all free tv, coming in on the airwaves, just like in the 1950s. It was like I’d come full circle.

To replace our premium channels, we’ve subscribed to Amazon Prime and Netflix. They are well worth what we pay for them, less than $20 a month. They offer a vast selection of movies, tv and  music.

We now spend about $40 a month on TV, about one-third what we were paying before. And we have better viewing options than before.

I’d like to say we’re free of Cox at last, but we still buy internet service from them. But by early next year, we hope to change providers and be completely free of the cable company. That will be a good day.

The truth is, cable tv is rapidly become old technology, and will soon be relegated to the same place as cassette music tapes, VHS video and buggy whips. The  cable companies  should be moving toward streaming, but they continue to flog their service, which has remained basically the same for 50 years. Cable tv is a dinosaur, about to become extinct. If you want to save money and have a better entertainment experience, streaming is your bright new future.

Never, Never, Ever Give Up

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1919 – Walt Disney is fired from his newspaper job for lacking imagination.

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1926 – Lucille Ball is told by her acting  coach that she’s wasting “her time and ours.”

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1936 – John F. Kennedy runs for president of the Harvard freshman class,  and loses.

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1960s – Steven Spielberg is rejected by the film school at USC.

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1962 – The Beatles are rejected by Decca Records.

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1973 – Hillary Clinton fails the District of Columbia bar exam.

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1977 – Oprah  Winfrey is fired from her news job for being too emotionally involved.
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1985 – Steve Jobs is fired from the Macintosh division of Apple.th73JMV7IZ

1996 – J.K. Rowling is turned down 12 times for her Harry Potter manuscript.

Never, never, ever give up.

 

 

The New Commandments

As we approach the new year, it’s time  to think about resolutions, ways we can be better. I don’t know why, but recently I’ve been thinking about how to live a good life. After some reflection, I’ve come up with 10 new commandments which, if followed, would make anyone into a good person.

The Old Commandments

I know many Christians revere the 10 commandments brought down from the mountain by Moses, but I’ve always thought that those rules of life are outdated for the way we live our lives now. I think it’s time to update the commandments for our times. So here are my new 10 commandments.

  1. Be kind to others. Sounds simple, but it’s not so easy. Life is filled with frustration, which leads to irritation, anger and bad behavior toward the source of the problem. Controlling yourself and being nice can be a challenge.
  2. Respect and preserve nature. We’re destroying the planet, our only home and safe haven. We’re killing the plants and animals at a record rate. We’re polluting the air and water. We’re changing the climate. Unless we become better stewards of nature, our time as a species is coming to an end. We have to learn to share the planet with and nurture all living things as well as the planet itself.
  3. Share some of what you have. If you’re fortunate enough to have more than you need to sustain yourself, give some of what you have to those who are hungry, cold, homeless or sick. Wealth is a curse, not a blessing.
  4. Love somebody. A life without love is a barren life. Find somebody who can put up with you and share your life with them.
  5. Be passionate. Find something you care about deeply and pursue that passion with all your energy.
  6. Accept yourself, accept others. We’re all different, but we’re more alike really. Find a way to overcome hatred, both self-loathing and intolerance for those who are not like you.
  7. Be happy. Happiness comes from within you, not from outside sources. Focus on the good things in your life. Endure the bad things with dignity and grace.
  8. Work hard. Make a good effort, push yourself and see what you can achieve. There is satisfaction in daily toil and struggle.
  9. Explore the planet. Don’t spend your whole life in one place. Revel in the beauty of what’s out there, whether it’s a walk in your neighborhood or a sojourn to distant wonders.
  10. Forgive. People do bad things to other people. That’s a reality we all have to deal with. You can either cling to your anger for the injustices heaped upon you, or you can let it go and be free of it.

Who am I to offer this lofty advice? I’m nobody, an old man who has often failed  to live by my own beliefs. These new commandments are not easy to live by. I’d say they’re far more difficult than the Mosaic commandments. Graven images? No problem. Don’t kill?  I’m perfect on that one so far. But I struggle mightily with most of the things I’ve listed as my formula for living a good life. But the fact that I struggle shows that I’m trying to do better, to grow and become a better person. And I think  that’s what life should really be about.untitled

Is Life Random?

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For years now, when the first weekend in August rolls around, we make the 50 mile drive to Eureka Springs, Arkansas for a city wide yard sale. Never mind that’s it’s usually about a zillion degrees that weekend, or that in recent years there seem to be fewer and fewer sales, Eureka is a such a charming artistic town, we’re willing to melt into our shoes for a few hours while prowling through other people’s junk.

So my wife Ann, daughter Samantha and I happily drove around for hours in the heat in a car with no AC, and I ended up buying only one thing, a book by Donald Miller titled A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. I bought it at a yard sale at a place called the Village Writing School. I’m not sure why I bought it. Sometimes, you do things for reasons that aren’t clear. I’d never heard of the book or the author, even though he’s a NYT bestselling writer. Mostly I picked it out of the many books there because I had an intuitive moment, and intuitive moments don’t happen to me that often, so when one pops up, I try to be receptive.

No, intuition isn’t my thing. I leave that to women, mothers, psychics, mediums, and all those attuned to the cosmic message. Actually, intuition kind of goes against my core beliefs. I’ve always thought that life is random, that we’re like dust motes floating on the breeze.

Intuition is evidence that our existence isn’t random, that there is some kind of order in the universe, that things happen for a reason. Lots of people believe that’s the way it is but I’ve never been one of them.

Occasionally, though, something happens that is so serendipitous, that it makes me question the randomness of everything. And when that happens, it always catches me by surprise and gets my brain sparking.

So I took the book home and as often happens, I let it lay around for a while. I do that a lot and I’m not sure why. It’s not like books are like wine or cheese and will get better with age. Maybe it’s because I’m a picky reader, and I reject most of the books I start reading. And even though I’d had a small intuitive moment when I found the book, I really don’t have much faith in my intuitive ability. Intuition, or the lack of it, has often failed me. For example, when VCRs first came out, there were two formats, VHS and Beta. I, of course, bought a Betamax. I had a 50-50 chance of getting that one right and I blew it, despite pretty good odds of getting it right, even without any help from my atrophied intuition. Failures like that have made me skeptical that intuition works, at least for me.

Finally, though, I picked up the book and started reading it and it spoke to me directly in a way that made my mind race and even do a few cartwheels. Donald Miller is a fine writer, funny, insightful, touching, and thought provoking. But best of all, this was a book about how to be a good storyteller, and that’s been an almost obsessive drive for me nearly all my life.

I’m about halfway through the book now, and I’m reading it in sips, savoring the words, stretching it out as long as I can. The book has made me stop and think about some big things. Like what are the chances of finding something that opens some portals for you at a yard sale 50 miles from home, a random purchase based on a hunch that you had little faith in?

I know it doesn’t sound like much. I found a book that turns me on. Big deal. But new insights are a big deal.. As our opinions get hardened by time, finding something that challenges your ideas and gets you thinking is a kind of epiphany. Most people seek out information that supports what they already think, and no new ground is broken when you keep plowing the same old patch of dirt.

And I know it’s a small thing, but having this book fall into my hands seems like the exact opposite of a random event. It seems like it was meant to happen, like the book was lying there waiting for me to come find it, that it was custom written for me, that Donald Miller wrote the damn thing with me in mind. Of course, I know that’s not true but that’s how it feels, and that feeling doesn’t come along very often.

Maybe, just maybe, it all isn’t totally just hit or miss. I still think life is mostly random, that we’re just bouncing around like pinballs, lighting up lights and ringing bells without a clue how we did it. But it’s nice to know that occasionally, there’s magic mixed with the mayhem.

Icing ISIS

It’s hard to understand how a group of barbarians like ISIS is allowed to exist. Americans are united on this one: ISIS needs to be crushed. So why are these thugs still extant?

It’s time to go over to Syria and Iraq and do what Americans do. Kick ass.

But we’re a war-weary people, so sending the military might not be the way to go. I think I have a better way.

But first, some strategic thinking. How big a force do we need to wipe out ISIS? Well, how many fighters does ISIS have? The estimates range from 20,000 to 200,000. The CIA thinks the number is 40,000. Russia says 70,000. The Kurds, who are engaging ISIS in their front yard, say 200,000. A prominent think tank placed ISIS numbers at between 100,000 and 200,000.

So we need an expeditionary force of at least half a million.

I call for volunteers to go annihilate ISIS, and I think I know who’s ready and willing.

640px-Sofia_MilitiaThere are 100,000 militia members in the U.S. They are trained,  ready and their trigger fingers are itching for a real fight. Most of their paranoia so far has been directed at the federal government, but it would be easy to redirect their fury at ISIS. They’re already armed, so all they need is transport to within shooting distance of ISIS.

Of course the National Rifle Association boasts 5 million members. If only 10 percent of them joined the fight to ap_nra_president_charlton_heston_ll_131025_16x9t_384eliminate ISIS, we’d have our army of half a million from the NRA alone. Lord knows they have the guns and ammo. .

Every army needs a mobile force, a cavalry. There are 40,000 members of biker gangs in the U.S. They’re rough, tough and ready to rumble. They’re armed and dangerous. Send them and their bikes over and give them some meth and turn them loose.

hells-angels-bikes-for-kids-27712_1How about some urban guerrillas? Recruit from the 1.4 million young  hooligans in America’s inner city gangs. Even if you only got 10 percent of these hardened, street-wise, tough guys, that’s 140,000 foot soldiers with attitude.gang20members

Where else can you find some violent bad asses who are willing to kill people? America’s prisons, or course. We have more than 2 million criminals in jail, more than any other country, even China, which has four times our population. But that’s another issue for another blog. Back to wiping out ISIS. Send homicidal convicts.  You don’t even need to offer reduced sentences or

Inmates stand in a gymnasium where they are housed due to overcrowding at the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino, California, June 3, 2011. The Supreme Court has ordered California to release more than 30,000 inmates over the next two years or take other steps to ease overcrowding in its prisons to prevent "needless suffering and death." California's 33 adult prisons were designed to hold about 80,000 inmates and now have about 145,000. The U.S. has more than 2 million people in state and local prisons. It has long had the highest incarceration rate in the world. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY)

any inducement, other than a field trip to the Middle East and a chance to kill, kill, kill.

In all, the militias, NRA, motorcycle gangs, street gangs, and jail inmates total 8,544,000. If our goal is 10 percent recruitment, that would be over 850,000. Goodbye ISIS.

Of course, there are some that argue that you can’t get rid of ISIS, because it’s not a physical force, it’s an idea. And it’s true that even if you eliminated ISIS, the same kind of fundamentalist assholes would probably pop up under a new name.

But wouldn’t it feel good? Sure some of our fighters will die, and some would get injured and it would end up costing a few billion. But nobody else is stepping up to take on ISIS. It’s time to ice ISIS. We have way more crazies that they do.

Better Watch Saul

 

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Monday will be the finale of the first season of Better Call Saul, and I’m really unhappy to see it end because it’s been a quality viewing experience. I think it may have the best writing of any show currently on air.

Just in case you don’t already know, Better Call Saul is a spin-off of the wildly popular and excellent Breaking Bad. It’s also a prequel, beginning before attorney Saul Goodman’s association with Walter White. Like Breaking Bad, it’s can’t-look-away storytelling that will have you watching the clock on Monday night just salivating to find out what happens next.

Bob Odenkirk is tremendous reprising his Breaking Bad character, a slick, ingenious, but shady lawyer who runs lots of TV ads. But the dynamic is a little different this time, because when Better Call Saul begins, he’s a struggling attorney recently graduated from law school.

mikeAnd there’s another old friend from Breaking Bad, Mike the ex-cop (Jonathan Banks) and his character’s role is expanded to include some compelling backstory elements. Better Call Saul introduces some new characters. Michael McKean portrays Saul’s older brother, a successfulmckean attorney and a partner in a big, powerful law firm, but also a crackpot. Saul has a friend, attorney Kim Wexler, played by Rhea Seehorn who you might remember from a brief stint on the unfairly better-call-saul-season-1-character-portrait-kim-seehorn-590canceled sitcom Whitney.

If you liked Breaking Bad, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t be drawn in to Better Call Saul. It has similar story elements, compelling characters, great acting, and the intense blue skies of Albuquerque. AMC deserves congratulations for coming up with another winner in its string of quality dramas. Some of the finest drama being created now is on television, and Bettter Call Saul is an example of this.

You can catch the final hour of this great new series Monday, April 6 at 9 p.m. central time on AMC. Old episodes from the first season are available at amctv.com.

Happy Birthday, Eric Clapton!

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Happy Birthday, Eric Patrick Clapton. It’s hard to believe that today you turn 70. Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, March 30, 1945. It’s amazing that “Slowhand” is still with us. He’s survived being abandoned by his mother, heroin addiction, alcoholism, a failed marriage, car crashes, being arrested, and the death of his young son. But he’s still wailing on his Strat, and I hope he’s playing for many more years.

70 Things You Might Not Know About Eric Clapton

  1. He’s a bastard. By that I mean illegitimate. His mother got pregnant by a Canadian soldier training in England in 1945. The family kept it a secret and Clapton was raised by his grandparents, and he was told his mother was his older sister. But at some point in his childhood he figured it out. He never met his father.
  2. He was kicked out of art school and worked with his grandfather in construction as a plasterer, bricklayer and carpenter, until he began making enough money as a musician to sustain himself. He later bought his grandparents a cottage and gave them enough money so that his grandfather could retire from construction.
  3. His first hit was “All Your Love” with the Yardbirds, but he quit the band just after because he was only interested in playing the blues, and didn’t like the pop sound and direction the band was taking.
  4. One of his best friends was George Harrison and he and George would get together and jam and do acid. George wrote “Here Comes The Sun” in the garden at Clapton’s house. The friendship was compromised when Clapton fell in loveecgh with George’s wife Pattie and she and Clapton were married in 1979 and divorced in 1984.
  5. In 1969 Clapton almost became a Beatle. During the recording of “Let It Be”, tensions were high, and George quit the band for a few days. John Lennon was enthusiastic about inviting Clapton to join the Beatles and was quoted as saying that “if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday we ask Eric Clapton to play.” Harrison did return.
  6. He was also friends with Jimi Hendrix and they used to go around to clubs in London and sit in with the bands. One day he saw a left-handed Fender Stratocaster at a music store and bought it to give to Hendrix. He took the guitar out to the clubs that night hoping to meet up with Hendrix, but couldn’t find him. The next day, he heard that Hendrix was dead of an overdose.
  7. imagesSH30D2H7Clapton became deeply addicted to heroin in the 1970s, spending at the height of his habit about 1,000 pounds a week on the drug.
  8. His first guitar was a German-made Hoyer, which he received as a birthday present when he turned thirteen. But it was so cheap and hard to play, he almost gave up.
  9. Eric’s second guitar was a Washburn, which he bought at a flea market with money he stole from his grandmother’s purse. The Washburn was destroyed when his half-brother Brian sat on it.
  10. In grammar school, he received a few whacks for asking a girl, “Fancy a shag?”
  11. The house he grew up in had no electricity and the toilet was outside.
  12. The first record album Clapton bought was Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
  13. Clapton’s first band was The Roosters, formed in 1963.
  14. His second band, Casey Jones and the Engineers played only seven gigs.
  15. Clapton’s nickname “Slowhand” came from the fact that he used light gauge strings on his guitar and they would often break and the audience would have to wait while he put on a new string.
  16. His first time to meet the Beatles was in 1964, and Paul played him a version of a song he was writing call Scrambled Eggs, which was an early version of Yesterday.
  17. Clapton’s first Gibson guitar was a cherry red ES-335 he bought with money he made with the Yardbirds.
  18. When Clapton quit the Yardbirds, he was replaced by Jeff Beck.
  19. When Clapton joined John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in 1965, the bass player was John McVie, who later formed Fleetwood Mac.
  20. In 1965, Clapton sat in on some London recording sessions with Bob Dylan, but was unimpressed and labeled Dylan a “folkie.”
  21. While playing with the Bluesbreakers the famous graffiti “Clapton Is God” was spray painted on the wall at the Islington underground station.
  22. Clapton and some friends ran off to Europe in 1965 and ended up playing at the Igloo Club in Athens. When Clapton imagesPMCZQSVDtold the manager he was thinking about going home, the manager told him if he tried to leave he’d cut off his hands. Clapton escaped by saying he was going to the toilet and then rushing off to catch a train, leaving all of his equipment behind.
  23. In March 1966, Clapton celebrated his twenty-first birthday with a costume party. He wore two costumes at the party, a gorilla and a penguin.
  24. Clapton loved comic books growing up and on the cover of a Bluesbreakers album, he is seen reading a Beano comic.
  25. Drummer Ginger Baker talked Clapton into forming Cream with bassist Jack Bruce. Clapton wanted to add Steve Winwood on keyboards, but Baker and Bruce opposed the idea.
  26. Clapton’s first trip to America was in 1967 with Cream, where they played a TV show in New York City and joined a “be-in” in Central Park.
  27. In San Francisco in 1967, Clapton played the Fillmore, and met people like Owsley, the famous maker of acid, and he and David Crosby smoked pot and dropped acid together.
  28. While in Los Angeles, Clapton was staying with Stephen Stills in Topanga Canyon, and the police raided the house and he was arrested and hauled off to the  L. A. County jail. After some strings were pulled and he swore he didn’t use pot, he was released.
  29. After returning to England, Clapton was asked to play on the new Beatles album, The White Album, and he performed the guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
  30. After Cream broke up in November 1968, Clapton was asked by MIck Jagger to join the Rolling Stones for a TV show they were taping. Clapton joined the performers, but the show was never released.
  31. Ginger Baker warned Clapton that the police were planning to bust him for drugs and he left his London residence where he was living with a host of friends and went into hiding. The police arrested everyone at the house the next day.
  32. Using the money from the success of Cream, Clapton bough an Italian style villa near Ripley for 30,000 pounds. It was called Hurtwood and Clapton would live there off and on for many years.
  33. Clapton started jamming with Steve Winwood and after a period of time, drummer Ginger Baker started showing up, and Blind Faith was formed.
  34. On June 7, 1969, Blind Faith played the first rock concert ever in Hyde Park, London. It was a free concert to an audience of 100,000.
  35. Blind Faith kicked off an American tour with a performance at Madison Square Garden on July 12, 1969.
  36. Clapton’s choice to hang out and travel with their opening band, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, alienated him from Winwood and Baker and Blind Faith was finished by the end of the American tour.
  37. In September of 1969, Clapton played a concert in Toronto with John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band.
  38. It was Delaney who introduced Clapton to the music of J.J. Cale who would become an important influence. Clapton would later collaborate with Cale on an album, The Road to Escondito, and following Cale’s death, Clapton organized a tribute album.
  39. Clapton wrote “Layla” and “Bell Bottom Blues” about Pattie Harrison, and went off to Miami and lived in a house at 461 Ocean Boulevard while he recorded the album, with Tulsa musicians Carl Radle, Dick Sims and Jamie Oldaker.
  40. While in Miami, Clapton went to hear the Allman Brothers, and he was blown away by Duane Allman and invited him to play on the album titled Derek and the Dominoes.
  41. Part of Clapton’s treatment for recovery from heroin was working on a farm, doing menial labor, shoveling cow manure, baling hay and chopping logs.
  42. Clapton has often been involved in practical jokes and pranks, one of his favorites being food fights. At his wedding to Pattie, the five-tier wedding cake was not eaten, but thrown at everyone there.
  43. Although Clapton, escaped his addiction to heroin, he quickly replaced it with excessive consumption of alcohol and lived and played drunk for years, much of which he does not remember.
  44. For a time in the 1970s, Clapton and Pattie lived at Paradise Island, Bahamas, and he often went out to local bars and challenged men to arm wrestle. He often lost with his right arm, but never found anyone who could beat him with him powerful left arm.
  45. ecClapton agreed to join his Tulsa friends for a concert in their hometown. While on the plane there, he became drunk and argumentative, and when the plane landed in Tulsa, the police were waiting for him and arrested him and put him in jail. The cops wouldn’t believe him when he told them he was the renowned guitar player, until he talked them into bringing in a guitar and having him play it. After his jailhouse audition, he was released.
  46. Clapton was recruited by a movie producer to perform in a live comedy show in Ireland with other celebrities like Sean Connery, Shirley McClaine and John Huston. Clapton played a clown and pranked McClaine by hitting her in the face with a pie during the bit.
  47. In 1976, Clapton traveled to San Francisco to be a part of The Band’s final performance, the movie of which was titled “The Last Waltz.”
  48. Clapton wrote “Wonderful Tonight” at Hurtwood while he was waiting for Pattie to get dressed to go out to a party.pb
  49. Clapton and Pattie were married in Tucson, Arizona, on March 27, 1979, three days before his thirty-fourth birthday. Clapton wore a white tux, a $200 cowboy hat, and cowboy boots. Pattie wore an Ozzie Clark cream satin dress.
  50. In March 1981, Clapton collapsed in Madison, Wisconsin while on tour and was rushed to the hospital. Huge consumption of booze and codeine had created five bleeding ulcers. He was in the hospital for six weeks. He was advised to stop drinking.
  51. In January 1982, Clapton entered a clinic in Minnesota for treatment for alcoholism. Following treatment, he was advised not to work for a year, but he was back on stage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa only four months after leaving the facility.
  52. In 1984, Clapton recorded a collaboration album with Phil Collins. The recording took place at Montserrat in the Caribbean.

ruth53.In 1985, Clapton’s daughter Ruth was born to Yvonne Kelly, a studio manager in Montserrat with whom he had an affair. The birth was initially kept secret because the mother was married.

  1. In 1985, Clapton played the “Live Aid” concert in Philadelphia.
  2. In August 1987, Clapton’s son Conor was born. The mother was Lori del Santo, an Italian woman he had lived with for a while in Milan.

56.In 1986, Clapton played a concert at a ski resort in Wisconsin. His opening band was Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. After the show Clapton got on one of the four helicopters waiting to take them to Chicago. Vaughan got on another of the helicopters with two of Clapton’s crew and his agent. That helicopter crashed, killing everyone on board.

  1. In March 1991, Clapton’s son Conor fell from a hotel window in New York and was killed. Clapton later wrote the song “Tears In Heaven” about his son.
  2. Clapton’s grandmother, Rose, died just before Christmas in 1994.
  3. In 1995, Clapton established the Crossroads Center in Antigua for the treatment of addiction in the Caribbean.
  4. In the mid-1990s, Clapton had a brief fling with Cheryl Crow.
  5. In March, 1999, Clapton’s mother died in Toronto.

62.To fund the Crossroads Center, Clapton auctioned off about 100 of his guitars, which sold for a total of $4.52 million.

  1. In the autumn of 2000, Clapton’s assistant and lover Melia McEnery announced she was pregnant. His daughter Julie was born June 15, 2001.
  2. In the spring of 2002, Clapton helped organized a memorial concert for George Harrison, who had died in November 2001.
  3. Clapton and Melia were married January 1, 2002. A second daugher, Ella Mae, was born on January 14, 2003.imagesOI485Q0K
  4. In 2004, Clapton organized and staged the first Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas.
  5. A second auction of 88 of Clapton’s guitars raised $7.43 million for the Crossroads Center.
  6. Another daughter, Sophie, was born February 1, 2005.
  7. In 2014, Clapton announced he was finished touring. In 2015, he announced a new tour.
  8. In 2009, Clapton’s wealth was estimated at 120 million pounds.

Risky Business

diver

I don’t understand the rules about taking risks. They just don’t seem to make sense to me. Some things that are very dangerous, that could get you killed, are fine. Other things that are no more than a mild risk are illegal. The rules of risk seem random.

mountainAmericans are free to engage in lots of high risk behaviors. We can climb mountains, race cars at more than 200 mph, sky dive, run with the bulls, ride bulls, cliff dive, surf the big waves, hang glide, parasail, scuba dive, sail alone around the world, bungee jump, cage fight, or handle poisonous snakes.

People are allowed to do the most bizarre things. Have you ever seen David images7GHVCKXIBlaine bite a chunk out of a glass, chew it up and swallow it? I couldn’t help but notice that no SWAT team showed up and hauled his ass off to jail for eating glass, even though common sense would tell you that’s not good. But no, that’s considered entertainment.

You can do any of these things without the government trying to stop you or punish you.

Other things, not so much.

images0LQVPVSVIf you’re caught not wearing your seat belt in your car, you can get a ticket. In many states, if you ride your motorcycle without a helmet, you get cited. In 21 states there is some requirement to imagesWJZHVDFVwear a helmet to ride a bicycle.

Our leaders have decided these activities are too dangerous to be left to common sense. I guess common sense isn’t that common.

Is not strapping yourself into your car equal to the danger of scaling Mt. Everest? No way, not even close. Should you get a ticket for the low risk act of jaywalking, but not for diving off a cliff? Illogical, I’m sure the late Mr. Spock would agree.

There are other, less obvious risks the government ignores like smoking, drinking, gambling, football, and convertibles. Their reasoning on these things, though they won’t admit it, is that you have a right to do them even though they may be harmful, because big money is being generated by them. This makes me wonder if heroin would be legal if big business got behind it and you didn’t do it within 50 feet of the entrance to a building. But it’s clear that the money motive plays a role in what risks are allowed.

Like Nixon, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I’m not talking about children or the mentally challenged. I’m not talking about acts that could have consequences for others, like driving drunk. But if you are a mentally competent adult, shouldn’t it be up to you to decide what risks you take? What right does the government have to decide for you? Isn’t risk taking part of the pursuit of happiness?

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. You may have heard that famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. I can think of no more foolish consistency than the way politicians treat with the issue of allowed risks. If Emerson is right, their brains are tiny.