Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Lucky Lindy" was a bigamist; Neil Armstrong a bore

So as an antidote to so many stories of so many men behaving so badly, I was reading a book about Neil Armstrong, our premier astronaut who, it seems, never even once entertained a single dirty thought. Thus, his biography is a bit of a bore. 

No orgies, no binges, no excess, no salacious episodes where he invites aspiring female comics to his hotel room so he can liberate his penis.

Armstrong, who died in 2012, never once sought to capitalize on his historic fame. A man celebrated for in July 1969 being the first to step on the desolate surface of the moon lived his entire life as if he’d never find any human fulfillment in Vegas.

I kept waiting to learn if he ever cut loose and maybe snacked on a Twinkie.

But the Jay Barbree book, “Neil Armstrong: A Life in Flight,” was not without merit. For instance, I scored a dandy brain barnacle about another American icon.

A brain barnacle is what I call trivial facts powerful enough to survive a cranial power spraying. Once grasped, they never departs. Guaranteed, this one is something I’ll bring up every time I hear the name Charles Lindbergh.

Turns out Lindbergh was a bigamist. And not a little bigamist. He was a big bigamist.

“Lucky Lindy” fathered 13 children to four women!

Sounds more like “Get Lucky Lindy.”

Who knew a man who became famous in 1927 for the first trans-Atlantic flight had so much in common with so many 21st century NBA stalwarts?

I learned this after reading how Armstrong was honored when Lindbergh showed up July 16, 1969, to watch Apollo 11 lift off for the moon. I was surprised Lindbergh was still alive in ’69. He seemed to me to spring from an entirely different epoch. But I was mistaken.

He was 25 in ’27, thus 67 at lift-off. He’d die three years later of lymphoma complications in Maui, where he spent his final years — and he’d been getting laid years before landing in Hawaii. 

Yet his life after the flight that made him famous was spackled with darkness. How much of that was a reflection of having had his 20-month-old son, Charles Jr., kidnapped and murdered is one for psychological speculation.

I was moved to look up Lindbergh to confirm my recollection he was a Nazi sympathizer.

He was. A moralizing anti-Semite, he campaigned vociferously against FDR and any argument America should enter WWII on behalf of Britain and proudly wore the Order of the German Eagle presented to him by Hitler henchman Hermann Goring. 

And through it all he espoused the sanctity of holy matrimony and derided womanizers for their petty infidelities.

Here, apparently, the pilot was just wingin’ it. Because in addition to the six children he had with his life-long wife Anne Morrow, he fathered seven more to three European mistresses. On his deathbed, he wrote letters to the women imploring them to preserve his silent hypocrisies beyond the grave. 

As the truth began to emerge, Reeve Lindbergh, his youngest daughter wrote, “This story (of her father’s double life) reflects absolutely Byzantine layers of deception on the part of our shared father. These children did not even know who he was! He used a pseudonym with them (To protect them, perhaps? To protect himself, absolutely!)”

So that’s the warts ’n’ all story of one of the most venerated men in American history, just another male icon laid low it seems by unstemmed surges of excess testosterone. 

And I’m left to wonder if the only way to keep men grounded is to send us all to the moon.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

The deadly echo of "Now is not the time"

(462 words)

I’m growing nostalgic for the days when at least one hometown witness to slaughter would tell reporters, man, I never dreamed something like this could happen here.

We’re reaching a point where it’s happening every where, all the time to every one.

It’d be a dereliction of duty if every governor of every state didn’t have in his or her “A” file a written-in-advance statement mourning the loss of (pick one) 50/25/10 (pick one) worshippers/concert goers/grade schoolers ready to recite to the press.

“Our prayers are with … investigation will proceed … come together … first responders … now is not the time …”

Now is not the time.

Now is not the time.

More and more, “now is not the time” is sounding like a Satanic echo.

For God’s sake, when will the time come? How high does the stack of innocent bodies have to be for the alarm to sound?

We’re supposed to be reassured when Trump and the NRA point out (correctly) that the only thing that stops a bad man with a gun is a good man (or woman) with a gun.

True. Johnnie Langendorff is a hero. He ran to the sound of gunfire to eliminate a lethal threat.

So to those of you keeping score at home, the final is 1-26.

And now we’re hearing reports he may have eaten his final bullet so who knows how that effects the point spread.

I always like the part when law enforcers announce, hallelujah, this wasn’t terrorism, like we should feel relief it wasn’t ISIS, but just another angry white man with lots of grudges and guns. 


Texas attorney general Ken Paxton says the solution is for more church goers to start packing. 

Assuming he’s a Christian, it sounds like he’s putting more faith in Smith & Wesson than he is in Jesus.

I’d like to ask Paxton if he believes allowing North Korea and every other nation on earth easy access to nuclear weapons will make us all safer.

It’s an extension of the same logic.

I’m linking below some of the ideas I’ve put forth on reducing gun violence. Some are sensible, some are wacky, and some are merely provocative. At this point, I simply want to see something -- anything -- done that’ll budge us off our lethal dead lock.

I believe if we continue to do absolutely nothing, it’s a lock our futures are filled with more dead.

Trump says this isn’t a gun issue. He says it’s a mental health issue. And he’s half right — and, oh, how I wish he could be at least half right even just half the time.. 

It is a mental health issue.

By continuing to do nothing at all, we’re proving we’re all out of our minds.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Movember story of why I shaved my 'stache

I foolishly thought I was years beyond altering my appearance to secure the love of a pretty girl.


And now if I happen to be standing at the bus stop next to anyone wearing an “I’M WITH STUPID” t-shirt, I’ll be without dispute.

What happened is as plain as what’s under the nose on my face.

Yes, I let a girl talk me into shaving my mustache because she swore it would make me appear more handsome.

Amazing I’d fall for that, right?

As if!

But this girl is just so beautiful. She’s sweet. She’s mischievous.

She’s 11.

I believe it will solve a lot of the world’s problems if every little girl wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night knowing she has her Daddy wrapped right around her little finger.

I think too many wonderful women lack confidence.

The other side of the gender coin is too many men have way too much confidence over meager achievement.

It’s the reason in my talks I never fail to include this truthfulness about the major difference between males and females: “Women look into mirrors and see flaws no one else can detect. Men look into those same mirrors and see perfection … no one else can detect.”

In fact, the essential inspiration for that wisdom is Val and myself. My wife is beautiful but thinks she isn’t.

I think I’m handsome … and I am!

Cappuccino-colored eyes, crooked grin, a manly scar or two. And for 34 years a devil-may-care mustache that reflected my personality; part go to hell, part heaven can wait.

I loved my mustache and would always defend it anytime someone criticized it as being too cheesy or too porno (which, depending on the critic, I choose to view as a compliment).

I always had my mustache’s back — and I mean that in every sense.

But it was different when Lucy said she thought I’d look better without the ‘stache.

“Dad, I think you’ll look much more handsome without it,” she said. “You have such a nice face. You shouldn’t cover so much of it up.” 

I spoil my daughters. Not with money, certainly, of which I have squat. No, I spoil them with affection and attention. Whether they one day lament my indulgences weren’t of a more material bent is a moot point.

I gives what I gots.

So, yeah, at her strategic and persistent urging, I shaved a part of my face I only previously shaved for driver’s license photo ID stunts.

I did it for her.

Shaving the upper lip felt strange, like taking off my pants in public. A decades-old mustache changes the structure of the face by diminishing the lip.

I knew Val would hate it, but with her encouragement I believed Lucy would love it.

So I was dumbfounded by the dismayed look on her face as she climbed off the school bus and saw my shiny new face.

“You look terrible!” she said.

But didn’t you say I’d be even more handsome?

“I was wrong,” she said. “Oh, boy, was I wrong.”

Then she laughed, a cold, cunning laugh. I felt stupid.

Had I been played? Was she testing her skills at manipulating her old man? Had my appearance been a pawn in her game?

I don’t know.

But this I do know: I’m going to think long and hard if a pretty little girl says I’ll look more handsome with a shaved head.

Related …

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Twick 'r Tweet! Best of October

Following me on twitter @8days2Amish is like spending time deep inside my head only without all the hangovers.

• It’s unfathomable to imagine how much better off the world would be if every time we felt moved by a good intention we acted on it.

• Trump 1st lady kerfuffle ratifies wisdom of Willie Nelson who said, "There are no ex-wives. There are only additional wives" 

• I’m on a quest to read the nutrition label on communion wafer package to learn calorie count for body of Christ.

• What did the Kansas vulture say when his long lost son came home and asked what’s for dinner? “Carrion, my wayward son!”

• My most earnest wish is to impress upon my daughters the devout importance of being empathetic for the struggles of our fellow man. Instead, all I've done is to impress upon them the devout importance of trying new items on pizza. #WorldsBestDad

• If "Papadopoulus" were a drinking game I'd have been all gooned up hours ago. 

• Paul must be confused. When I was young and my heart was an open book, I never said live and let live.

• Those who prophesize celeb deaths come in 3s can rest easy. Tom Petty's greatness qualifies in triplicate.

• Difference between Petty and Springsteen: Petty had one really bad song ("Wasted Life." Springsteen had one really bad decade.

• Our dreams of ever seeing a Traveling Wilbury's reunion tour have suddenly become even more remote.

• The last Tom Petty song on the last Heartbreakers album is "Shadow People," a song about disaffected loners shooting up a bunch of strangers.

• Ever since his April death, any time a celeb like Petty dies find myself wondering "So, what'll Don Rickles have to say to him?”

• An AK-47 is capable of shooting 600 bullets per minute and right now someone is in the name of progress working to develop the AK-48.

• This is part of Vegas investigation where whole country breathlessly awaits news whether shooter's car did or did not have a Trump bumper sticker.

• I wonder how many clever headline writers from the '60s included the word "unhinged" when describing Jim Morrison & The Doors.

• Reason Mick Jagger sometimes seems bitchy is coz while he's 1 of 10 coolest people on planet, he realizes he's only the 3rd coolest Stone.

• I’ll no longer tolerate so much social media ignorance from so-called "friends" who should know better. They're not cookies. They're bakies.

• It contradicts logic that a man whose name is pronounced Vin SKULL-y would shun a decent hair piece.

• If you're livin' in New Orleans and your nickname ain't Fats then you ain't really livin'. #RIPFatsDomino

• I’m not saying I believe in ghosts, but I no longer go on the 3rd floor of the Tin Lizzy after dark.

• I’m pioneering a new parenting technique where I only love child being nicest to me at the time. I call it "Conditional Love.”

• Peace will remain elusive until humans recognize the ironic folly of calling most intensively defended regions "De-Militarized Zones.”

• Good morning Facebook! Looking forward to another day of you bringing the world closer together while simultaneously tearing it apart.

• Harvey Weinstein reportedly in sex rehab. It'd be funny if all the counselors were smokin’ hot.

• Everything I read about Trump's call to soldier's widow reminds me of scene when Sgt Frank Drebin tried to console Nordberg's wife.

• I know we're raised to believe when we die we go down to hell or up to heaven. Me? I hope when I die I get to where I'm going by waterslide.

• The last phone number humans will collectively remember is 867-5309.

• I hope Harvey Weinstein is around to see the movie they make about Harvey Weinstein & I hope it stars Paul Giamatti & wins a bunch of Oscars.

• We now have verified audio admission that #HarveyWeinstein is a pig who mistreats women. Boy, am I glad I didn't vote for him for prez.

• In order to lend precision to your putdowns, descending order of IQ stupidity is Moron (50-69), Imbecile (20-49) & Idiot (below 20) #moron 

• True confidence is to be 65, look like this & think, yeah, beautiful young women sleep w/ me 'cause I'm just so damn sexy. #HarveyWeinstein

• Dallas has a grassy knoll. St. Vincent College Bearcats in Latrobe have Noll-y grass. #ChuckNollField.

Related …

Friday, October 20, 2017

Opioid scourge in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

It was 4:45 yesterday afternoon. I was home and Val could sense I was beginning to feel anxious. I had somewhere I had to be.

Was I late for Happy Hour?

No. I was late for prayer.

In some ways I was late for an Unhappy Hour. 

I’d accepted an invitation to attend a prayer service in recognition of the opioid abuse crisis that’s poisoning all America. It’s happening in big cities and small. And it’s happening right here in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Fred Rogers was born here in Latrobe in 1928 and devoted much of his 73 years to ensuring the well-being of his beloved hometown. He did this while simultaneously doing the exact same thing for the entire planet.

The Greater Latrobe Ministerial Association chose to host the service under the bright autumnal sunshine in the Fred Rogers Memorial Park under the smiling gaze of Fred’s statue.

It was appropriate for reasons I suspect I alone knew.

See, I know a secret about Fred Rogers, one I’ve been reluctant to share since, oh, about 1994, when I was paid to share it with 6 million strangers.

Fred Rogers did time in rehab. 

That was the story I wrote for National Enquirer.

I remember in vivid detail how I secured the facts. I’d been sipping beers with Paul and Jimmy Plazza, the late owner of The Lantern, a popular Latrobe tavern that once sat on the spot that’s now the senior living facility where my dear mother spent her last year.

The bar phone rang. It was Val calling to say my Enquirer editor called with an assignment about Saint Fred. I was instantly dismayed. I correctly figured it would be something unflattering which my revealing would make me a pariah among certain elements of Latrobe society.

As you’re about to learn, none of those elements were right then drinking hootch in The Lantern.

I told Paul. Sitting and overhearing about four stools down was Dickie Kemp. He died a few weeks ago, relatively young — I don’t think he was 60 — of natural causes after many years of indulging abundant vices. We all liked Dickie very much.

He heard the name Fred Rogers and piped right up: “Fred Rogers? I was just in rehab with his son. I met Fred when he’d come to visit. Great guy. What’s the story about?”

I pulled a fifty out of my wallet and told Dickie to slide on down. I’d be buying all night. Just like that, I had my “A” source. I just sat and listened to him tell me his story of how he was kicking one addiction while I was abetting another.

The thrust of the story was how the scourge of drugs can happen to even the most loving of parents. But the best part was how Fred, an ordained Presbyterian minister, set up an impromptu ministry right there in the rehab rec yard.

“When we saw him, everyone started cracking up and mocking him. A lot of these guys were hard core junkies,” Dickie said. “But one-by-one, every one of these low lifes went up to him and started telling him their stories. And one-by-one, they all started bawlin'. He just had so much compassion. He was saving lives.”

Did you see Sunday's “60 Minutes” report? I can’t remember being more appalled by a news story.

Most of the news that appalls is instigated by some low life. What’s happening with Congress, the DEA and their drug distributor overlords is being conducted by scores of people with respectable pedigrees. They’re educated, attend church, serve on boards of prestigious charitable organizations.

And they’ve sold their souls to medicate ours.

Are we all doomed to live in an age when the low lifes are the leaders?

That evident greed so tips the scales over common humanity makes me for the first time ever proud to be poor.

My pastor told me she was recently summoned to the hospital to inform three young children their 29-year-old mother had died. The kids will be raised by their grandparents. Their father ODd years ago.

An attending friend told me he knew of the deaths of six classmates in the last few months. He’s 38.

Every single day the local obituaries feature another smiling face of someone too young to die.

This is Latrobe, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the town we’ve chosen to raise our children.

So what do I hope to accomplish? I don’t know, but I hope prayer helps.

I do know it’s all hands on deck.

There were about 30 people there Thursday. I hope double that are there for the next one Dec. 14 at Latrobe Presbyterian Church.

I fear a day is approaching when the dead outnumber those still left to care.

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