Paula Deen the butter queen

“Hey, Y’all!”

I know most of you have heard Savannah cooking guru, Paula Deen, utter that phrase at least once while flipping through the channels on your television. Well, apparently those aren’t the only words in her vocabulary. And what started an explosion of nationwide anger was one particular word that slipped from her lips one too many times.

Yes, it seems that Ms. Deen has jumped out of her own personalized frying pan into a really hot fire. A few days ago, the massive empire she’d built from the ground up began to crumble, like the crispy and flaky batter on the fried shrimp that’s served at her brother’s restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s.

First, the Food Network canned her. Next came Smithfield Foods followed by Walmart. Even Caesars is yanking Paula’s name from the buffet line at four of their restaurants. And more companies are keeping a close eye on the events as they unfold. QVC and Target are currently “evaluating” the situation.

So how did this disaster begin? Well, sometime last year, Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s restaurant, filed a discrimination and harassment lawsuit against both Paula and her brother, Bubba Hiers, co-owners of the establishment.

In the filing, Ms. Jackson referenced inappropriate goings-on, such as when Jackson asked Ms. Deen about what she wanted servers to wear for an upcoming wedding party. Ms. Deen allegedly replied, “What I’d really like is for a bunch of little n*****s to wear long sleeve white shirts, black shorts, and bow ties.”

Jackson’s other issues included Bubba Heirs showing her pornography on the office computer, assault and battery, and a hostile work environment.

The Deen camp probably anticipated the fallout from the public hearing or reading the details of the case, so their attorneys asked the judge to issue a gag order back in early 2012. No dice. Chatham County Superior Court Judge Louisa Abbot denied the request. And the snowball began to slowly make its way downhill.

And that’s where we are today, with Paula Deen making bizarre apologies that seem to paint her as the victim in this nightmare situation.

Public reaction to the Deen situation has been mixed. Her diehard fans are rallying behind her. In fact, sales of Deen’s cookbooks are on the rise, and business at her downtown Savannah restaurant still sees long lines of tourists waiting to get inside to try out the “As Seen On TV” fare. Uncle Bubba’s Oyster and Seafood Restaurant on Wilmington Island is also as busy as ever.

However, there are plenty of people who aren’t happy with the Butter Queen’s use of the n-word. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, though, has made the statement that he thinks Paula Deen can be redeemed and he’d like to be the one to help her make amends.

I will say this…Paula Deen grew up in the south and her childhood was in a time and place where things were far different than they were for most people in other areas of the country. I can say this because I, too, grew up in the south and have seen “things” with my own two little pea-pickin’ eyes. In fact, some of the “old ways” continue to this day.

Now, I’m a new transplant to Ms. Deen’s neighborhood, but I can sort of understand the situation and how some of the older generation in this area still live and operate as if time stopped 50 years ago. For example, I needed some help around the house when we first moved in—general labor, yard-raking, etc., so I hired some people I located in the “help wanted” ads.

Well, I and the crew worked our butts off in the southern heat and humidity, and when it came time to break for lunch I invited everyone inside to join me in the a/c, and for sandwiches and something cold to drink. One of the gentlemen, an older fellow, said he’d like to have his lunch in the backyard under the shade of the trees. I wouldn’t take no for an answer, though. It was just too darn hot outside. Besides, have you seen the bugs down here. Holy cow! They’ll make a snack out of an arm or leg in nothing flat.

After we finished lunch and headed back outside, the man called me to over to thank me for lunch and for allowing an old “colored fellow” inside my house. His comment stopped me in my tracks, as you can imagine. Then he went on to say he’d never been inside a white man’s house in his entire life. He’d never eaten a white man’s food. And he’d never in all his life seen a white man invite a “negra'” (his word, not mine) man to enter his house through the front door.

Well, my new friend and I became buddies and he promised to take me fishing sometime in the future. Of course, he’s still a bit wary of the whole thing. After all, he’s never had a white guy in his boat. He even apologized for it being a small aluminum craft with no motor. I assured him that I can operate a paddle with the best of them.

Anyway, it would be nice if we could all put the past behind us, along with hateful words and ugly speech, but I doubt we’ll see that in my time, unfortunately.

But isn’t it funny how we all came from Africa (some of my ancestors were sold as slaves to the Egyptians), which means every single one of us are related, but are now separated by the mere color of our skin.

Personally, I think we should all just go fishing and forget about our troubles, even if it’s only for one day. What do you think?

*By the way, we’ve dined at Uncle Bubba’s and the food was pretty good, especially the shrimp. We did not, however, see a single server dressed in white shirts, black shorts, and bow ties. I’m just saying…

NSA Spies

A funny thing happened on the way here this morning. The day started as usual, with me turning on my computer, checking emails, a quick peek at Facebook, a hurried glance over the day’s headlines, and logging into my site.

Well, imagine my surprise when, as I reached my log-in page, I bumped into a pimple-faced young man wearing thick, round spectacles, a sky blue button up shirt (pocket filled with an assortment of pens and mechanical pencils), faded jeans, and white sneakers. His pale complexion flushed when he turned and saw me behind him. Of course, I immediately asked what he was doing at the entrance to my website, pressing a juice glass against the door. Well, let me tell you, that nervous young fellow commenced to stuttering and stammering like his tongue and lips were completely out of synch. And, since his right ear was the color of over-ripe cherries, it was obvious that he’d had it pressed against the bottom of the glass, listening.

On the floor next to the geek’s feet were a dozen or papers, all laying at various angles, like he’d been shuffling through trying to find a particular page. Before the stranger could object, I reached down and grabbed a couple of the lined sheets, and I was startled by what I saw written in bold, blue ink—The Graveyard Shift. Past keywords…guns, ammunition, dead bodies, rigor mortis, police, bad guys, terrorists….

Well, being the clever detective that I am, I immediately figured out the guy was spying on my website. Another glance down the page and I discovered my Verizon cell number. And then I saw credit card activity, email addresses, passwords, and NSA… That’s the National Security Agency. The Feds. I had to look away because this was making me ill. Not only was the guy spying on my website, he’d been monitoring my every move, which explained the bump I heard on the front porch last night (he was probably outside our windows, peering in to count the number of blueberries I’d placed on top of my 8pm snack of yogurt and fresh fruit).

I knew I had nothing to hide, but the thought of government computer geek secret agents watching me as I go about my daily business is a bit troubling to say the least. I started to think…hard. Were they also monitoring my water usage. Are they counting my flushes? How about watching me in the shower? Do I use too much shampoo? Can they read my mind? Am I a soap-waster?

Do the NSA super-secret squirrels know about the piece of chocolate I ate yesterday. I know it’s against doctor’s orders, but it was calling my name. After all, it was that delicious dark chocolate from Trader Joes that I like so much.

You know, I’m all for keeping U.S. citizens safe, and I’m willing to go the extra mile to do so. But we already have TSA agents feeling up old ladies and pawing through our unmentionables. We’ve been forced to become the timid and submissive air traveler who cannot complain about crappy service out of fear of being booted off a flight or being placed on a no-fly list. We have cameras at every street corner, on nearly every telephone pole, spy drones that look like hummingbirds, and satellite photography that’s so powerful it can zoom in on the hair on a gnat’s rear end. We’re told what and how much to eat, and our favorite TV shows are interrupted so someone can tell us this is all for our own good.

Instead of watching hard-working, honest Americans, how about finding out why it is that we’re forced to pay crazy-high taxes so politicians and the IRS can spend the money on lavish parties, conventions, trips, and gifts for themselves. The government spends our money like there’s a never-ending supply of the stuff (Their philosophy…don’t worry, if we run out of cash we’ll simply raise taxes on the people who make less than we do).

And then there are things like this that really burn my biscuits…

– $30 million spent on catfish inspections by two separate agencies, while Homeland Security spent $66 million to do the same thing on the same catfish. Why not hire some of those noodlers we see on TV? Those folks make a weekend out of playing in muddy water, reaching their ham-hock size hands beneath stumps and logs to retrieve catfish the size of small rhino’s. And they do it for free, and I’ll bet they know just as much if not more about catfish than the average guv’ment man or woman.

– The military spends more than $1 billion each year on 159 contractors that translate foreign languages. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy assorted copies of Rosetta Stone and distribute them to some of the catfish-counters who might then have a real job?

– The National Technical Information Service sells reports to other federal agencies, 75% of which can be found online for FREE!

And, of course, there are the pocket change items, like the $90,000 spent to upgrade security at a spring training camp for professional baseball players.

So I have an excellent idea, U.S. government spy-on-me-folks, how about turning the camera lenses around and let the citizens watch you guys for a change. Then again, I don’t think I want to see what you guys do behind closed doors. It’s already bad enough seeing what’s made public.

 

Crying Wolf

I’ve been wondering exactly when the big transformation took place. You know, when the police became the bad guys and the bad guys became heroes.

Apparently, the switch happened one night while I was in my bed sleeping. Never saw it coming. Totally unexpected. Yep, one minute we’re all truly appreciative of the police and the dangerous job they do, protecting us from the evils of the world, and the next minute thousands of people had been transformed into “sheeple,” believing and following whatever wacko conspiracy theory passes their way. Nope, never saw it coming. And the false flag conspiracy theories are definitely coming, one after another after another after another. And it doesn’t matter what happens in the world, the theorists have a way to tie it to the police, the government, to Obama, to Bush, to anyone and everyone except the people who actually did the deed. In their minds, the police are always, without fail, wrong, or guilty of some huge, elaborate cover-up scheme that even Tim Burton or Stephen King couldn’t dream up in their wildest dreams and nightmares.

The conspiracy theorists have even gone so far as to accuse the U.S. government of fabricating and unleashing the recent devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. They’ve also accused the state of Connecticut of attempting to pass legislature that would cover up the real truth about the Sandy Hook shootings. Many have claimed the entire incident was backed by the U.S government as means to take away firearms from private citizens.

Then there were the Boston bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers. These two terrorists killed and maimed hundreds of people, yet many people in the U.S. are saying they are innocent of the crimes, and that the elder brother was murdered by the police as an attempt to instill fear so they can take away guns and move the country toward a police state. A Facebook page dedicated to the younger brother states the two men were set up by the U.S government. They were paid actors who were to take part in a government-backed emergency drill. The site makes the claim that the two were given backpacks containing fake bombs, but were forced to flee the scene when the bombs detonated. The “free Jahar” site has over 8,000 followers. And let’s not forget the “he’s too pretty to be guilty” fans of the younger terrorist.

Law enforcement is also taking a big hit from the theorists. No matter the situation, the police are always at fault, with theorists accusing them of staging crime after crime in order to frame innocent people, or in some cases, murder innocent people.

Just yesterday, local, state, and federal officers were at a private home in Florida, conducting an interview with an associate of the elder Tsarneav brother, when the man, a mixed martial arts pro, attacked and stabbed one of the FBI agents. Officers then shot and killed the suspect. Well, the internet is buzzing off the scale today with all sorts of conspiracy theories and accusations about police misconduct. For example:

– police always shoot first and ask questions later

– no doubt the FBI agent lost his temper and killed the guy

– totally a set up. The FBI agent cut himself with a knife to give him an excuse to kill the man

– he knew too much about the government so they murdered him in cold blood

Well, the list is quite long, but most comments are similar in nature. Moving on to the next headline. Two men brutally attacked and butchered a British soldier in the streets of London yesterday. One of the men admitted to the murder on camera, while holding a large knife and meat cleaver in his bloody hands. Theorists have already claimed the British government was behind the attack.

The Aurora theater shootings – Yes, they claim the government was behind James Holmes’ shooting spree. Another attempt to take away guns from private citizens.

There’s just no end to the theories. And there’s no end to cop-bashing. In fact, it seemingly gets worse each day, with some media fueling the fires. Don’t believe it? Well, mosey on over to Alex Jones’ website, Infowars and you’ll get a big ole belly full of conspiracy theories.

I read a really nice article yesterday on the website Poe’s Deadly Daughters, where author Sandra Parshall discusses how writers may be contributing to the cop-bashing atmosphere. Parshall often writes thought-provoking articles and I think this is one of her best. Of course, I may be a bit biased since this one is about and sort of leans toward the defense of police officers.

In the article, the author talks about how many writers of various genres tend to portray the police as bumbling idiots, incompetent investigators, and law-breaking psychotic rebels who never follow rules. Parshall also correctly points out that writing cops in this fashion has become the norm across the board, which also makes the characters quite predictable, and predictable writing translates into a boring read. Readers are tiring of boring books written by authors who use the same tired cliche’s book after book after book, especially when many other writers are also using identical tired and predictable out of control cop characters and plots in their books.

The same can be said about claiming a conspiracy theory behind every single thing that happens in the world. We’ve almost reached the “boy who cried wolf” stage, where no one will believe anything, even when it’s the truth.

Next thing you know, the government will be claiming to have sent a man, or woman, to Mars. Yeah, right. We all know that whole moon walk thing took place in a Hollywood studio next to the grassy knoll set. Two buildings over from where the RFK and MLK assassinations were filmed.

 

Cop's like old hound dogs

It started with an explosion and ended with applause, when an ambulance carrying the seriously injured Boston Marathon bomber pulled away from a home in Watertown, Ma. And that’s when a new round of anti-police chatter started to hit the internet, talk that I’d been loosely monitoring since the bombing first occurred on Patriot’s Day in Boston.

First it was, “If the police had done their jobs this would’ve never happened.” And, “Look what our tax dollars buy us, a bunch of out of shape fat people who run around with their guns drawn, trying to look good for the cameras.” “Why didn’t they find the bombs before the race? The only thing those idiots can find is a doughnut and an overtime check.”

When the smoke cleared and while the families began to grieve for their lost loved ones, and the nearly two hundred wounded were receiving treatment for their devastating and life-changing injuries, the next volley of complaints about police actions began to pour out across the web.

“Now we all know what martial law looks like.” “The government knew this was going to happen and did nothing to protect us.” They (the government) knew about this and thought they could handle it, but couldn’t.” “The Obama administration staged the whole thing.” “Actors were used to create all the media images. The real suspects were whisked away to Saudi Arabia in military planes.”

As the week progressed and authorities engaged the bombers in a shootout and pursuit where explosives, including another pressure cooker bomb, some anti-police comments began to suggest the police were cowards, hiding behind military-style clothing and gear. And some believe the two bombers are innocent, that the government is framing them.

“Over nine-thousand cops to find a 19-year-old college kid? He made them look like fools in their little dress-up play army uniforms.” “After all the lies and incompetence by these government agencies and media you still believe he did it? Come on, people!” “Next stop on our road towards a police state.” “Just as usual. The government overreacts and wastes taxpayer dollars.” “Those cops all have 30 round magazines in their scary guns. How many bullets do you need to kill two guys?” “Hundreds of millions of dollars? for two guys? really?!?” “For the life of me, I don’t understand how/why this endeavor warranted a virtual army of police, FBI, and military personnel. Hundreds of them, along with dozens of vehicles, SWAT teams, and a virtual arsenal. It seems like over-kill to me. Sorry.”

“Are you kidding? Look at all those fat cops getting paid overtime to stand around looking important.”

“The authorities needed to be seen act and pin the outrage on someone. These guys have been used as “patsys” to take the rap for someone else. Much like Lee Havey Oswald took the rap for the shooting of JFK. People believe anything the media tells them. The secret services of all major countries lie and manipulate Joe Public ad infinitum -Just to keep those in control of everything the freemasons and illumianti in their ivory towers. Now we have USA jingoism on the streets which is nauseating as well.”

“The crowd cheering a this is disgusting. How do they even know this guy is guilty? He has not even been charged with any crime yet”

And then there was the TV news media that reported numerous bits of information without first confirming it. Unfortunately, several had to backtrack several times. It was all very confusing to the viewers, and it led to many false Tweets and blog posts. I watched one CNN reporter who was very much trying to report only facts and no speculation, but Wolf Blitzer constantly attempted to twist her words to make the reports seem more exciting and dramatic. After each of Blitzer’s attempts to distort her words, the female reporter interrupted with, “No, Wolf, that’s not what I said,” and then she’d carefully restate her comment. Still, Blitzer tried again and again to make the reporter’s words into something totally different, and she again would correct him. Watching CNN’s coverage of this event was painful.

NBC did a good job of keeping the facts in front of the audience. Fortunately, I had my own sources that kept me informed, which also verified NBC’s coverage, and often disputed CNN and other media reports, including the New York Post. However, one NBC reporter told the audience that all cops are taught to shoot to kill. That, my friends, is totally FALSE. Police officers are taught stop a threat, never to kill. They’re trained to shoot “center mass,” the center of the target. And that’s because when aiming for the center you’re more apt to at least hit some portion of the target.

At one point, there was so much anti-police rhetoric floating around I decided to offer a brief comment on my Facebook page, which was being followed by several people during the situation as it unfolded last night. In fact, I believe I actually heard of the capture moments before it was reported on television. Anyway, here’s what I wrote last night regarding the police and their gear and clothing.

Imagine for a moment that instead of clacking away at your keyboards, pumping out the next great mystery, thriller, or romance novel, that your job is to suddenly grab a weapon and go door to door in an unfamiliar neighborhood, searching backyards, homes, basements, attics, dark crawl spaces, sheds, abandoned houses, and roof tops for a man with nothing at all to lose.

The wanted man is scared and has already killed four people—one of whom was a police officer-and absolutely has no fear or qualms about killing you. He more than likely has explosives with him. He even ran over his own brother when making his escape from a shootout with police.

The suspect has the advantage…he knows where he is and he knows where you are, and when you’re approaching. Every step and every breath could be your last, and the only thing you have for protection is your swat-like clothing, Kevlar helmet, and gear, which is especially useful for providing a bit of concealment. Hopefully, it will stop a bullet or two, but you know it won’t protect you against a bomb blast. Still, you move forward.

Sounds very dangerous, doesn’t it? Yet, many people still complain that officers assigned to dangerous duty dress in military-esque protective gear. They also complain that police use armored vehicles. Well, what would you have them drive up to a scene where known bombers and mass murderers are hiding, a Volkswagen Beetle?

It’s best to allow the pros do their jobs in the safest manner possible. Besides, most of the complainers don’t have the slightest clue what it’s really like “out there.”

So I say this to all the people sitting in dark, damp basements, in their dirty, sweaty underwear, while staring at a computer screen hour after hour. Yes, you, the folks who are quick to type barbed shots about the men and women who protect your rights and your soft, doughy hides. That includes you, too, the guy who complains about use of force and why police officers are leery of approaching criminal suspects without a weapon in their hand. I say this…head down to your local police department, apply for a job, go to the academy, put on a uniform and badge, and then find the first bomber, terrorist, murderer, cop killer, baby rapist, drunk biker, knife-fighting meth-heads, you see. Next, leave your gun in the car before running straight into the danger, headfirst. What? There’s more of them than you? The odds are 50 to 1? They have weapons? There are 150 badly injured people. Kids are dead? Blown to bits? People are screaming? Two of them are shooting at you? You don’t know where the shots are coming from?

You’re scared? Call the cops? But, you are “the cops.” There’s no one for you to call. You’ve got to take care of the situation. What’s that? A bullet just struck your head? Your backup was killed by rifle rounds that penetrated their cars? And the others were just hit by a homemade explosive device. What a shame. Turned them and their vehicles into shreds of flesh and metal confetti?

Gee, if only you guys had some of that funny-looking gear that so many people complain about. You know, maybe a helmet to protect your head, and an armored vehicle of some sort that would protect them from explosives and rifle rounds.

Maybe, just maybe, if you spent a few hours in the shoes of the men and women who saved Boston and Watertown from more death and carnage, well, just maybe you’d have something to complain about. Until then, you really should be thankful there are people who are brave enough to do the job. As many of you say…I’m just saying.

*To all who participated in the hunt for the cowardly bomber brothers, thanks for all you do. To all of you who complained about the police…don’t worry, if the day comes and you find the need to dial 911, they’ll still come to save you. It’s what they do, no matter how many times you kick them.

Law enforcement officials tend to the Marathon bomber’s injuries post capture – ABC image

*To all our friends and former neighbors in Boston, we’re glad you’re all safe and sound. We were worried about you.

*Our condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this senseless attack.

Also, our condolences to the family of MIT Officer Sean Collins.

There was a time

I fondly remember the good times, back when stores stocked large glass jars filled with various pieces of brightly-colored penny candy and two-cent sugar cookies. When Dr. Pepper was a treat. Sticks were used as guns, horses, baseball bats, and farm implements to pull behind imaginary tractors. Boys played hard and long, until rings of sweat and dirt formed circles around their necks. Girls wore Saddle Oxfords and dresses. And Dennis “The Menace” Mitchell nearly drove good ‘ol Mr. Wilson to the loony bin.

The lunch counter at the drug store offered full-dressed hot dogs (mustard, cole slaw, and chili) for a quarter. For an additional nickle you could get a glass of Coke, and, if you asked nicely, the clerk would add a generous squirt of cherry flavoring.

Ginger Ale, chicken noodle soup, and a chest smeared with Vicks was what your mom gave you when a cold settled into your body.

We wore hand-me-downs and our mothers saved Green Stamps. The A&P was the grocery store, and the guy at the gas station pumped your gas, checked your oil (which was almost always a quart low), and cleaned your car windows. Our “company” dinnerware came from inside detergent boxes, and we found real toys buried deep inside boxes of cereal and Cracker Jacks.

Eggs came from chickens, not the supermarket. And we found bottles of milk on our doorstep. My grandfather drove a truck, delivering blocks of ice to homes all across town. My grandmother worked in town, at a Five and Dime store that sold little white bags of cashews that were kept warm in a glass case heated by a bright light bulb.

My father worked as a bookkeeper at the time, and I was fascinated by the speed his fingers flew across the push-buttons on the mammoth-size adding machine sitting near the corner of his desk. After each succession of numbers he entered, he’d pull down a large handle attached to the side of the machine. Sometimes, he’d let me pull the handle. I didn’t know what purpose it served, but it was fun to do just the same.

My mother was a stay at home mom whose main purpose in life, I thought, was to keep us fed and healthy. She also washed our clothes and dishes. In her spare time she filled little books with Green Stamps, painted by-the-number pictures, worked crossword and jigsaw puzzles, and relentlessly watched her soaps. The Edge of Night was, I believe, an addiction she couldn’t shake.

AM was the only option on the radio, and black and white TV’s were equipped to receive only 13 stations. We were lucky if we got four of the thirteen, and that was only when a rainstorm was approaching. The only ceiling fans were in businesses. Some stores, though, boldly advertised “Ice Cold Air Conditioning Inside!”

The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I remember my father thought their music was ridiculous. My mother, though, thought they were cute (she remained, however, a devoted Elvis fan until the day she died). There was The Lone Ranger, the Mickey Mouse Club (RIP Annette), Lassie, and The Rifleman, and, of course, Steamboat Willie, the original Mickey Mouse.

My great-grandparents lived on a farm with no running water, no bathroom, and no heat. They cooked and stayed warm by using a wood cook-stove in the kitchen and a potbelly cast-iron stove in the “settin’ room. Metal grates between the downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floors allowed an occasional puff of warm air to rise through, offering a scant bit of warmth to the rooms above. During the winters the adults piled so many layers of heavy patchwork quilts on us that we were practically immobilized for the duration of the night.

The days were much longer back then, or so they seemed, and we occupied our time with bike rides to the creek to catch crawdads, or we’d make the long trek through the woods and to the vast field of tall, dry grasses and wildflowers, where the evil witch lived in the Bates-Motel-like house that stood in the center of the meadow. Well, we all fantasized that surely only a witch would live in such a spooky, weathered dwelling that was in desperate need of whitewashing. None of us ever saw her, though. Actually, in all the times we stood there watching the house, we never saw any sign of movement whatsoever. But we knew she was there, and we knew if we’d taken a single step closer she’d have zapped us into oblivion. That, we knew for certain.

We, the kids of my neighborhood, had no qualms about walking to a friend’s house, even if the friend lived on the other side of town. Sure, we’d have to cross the concrete bridge over a muddy river, and we’d have to make our way across a few busy streets. Sometimes, our imaginations led us astray, forcing us to wander down to the riverbank where we’d see who could skip a rock the most number of times across the water’s surface. The longest skip also won accolades from those who hadn’t quite learned the art of locating “the” perfect skipping rocks. But boredom would set in and we’d soon be back on our way.

Since the drugstore was the halfway point in the trek, a stopover to check out the latest Batman, Superman, and Archie comics was a must. We’d enter the store through the front, but we exited through the back so we could see the men coming and going to and from the back alley poolroom. The place was off limits to women and kids, which made it a challenge to sneak peeks inside when someone, a banker, the owner of a retail clothing store, or even the local sheriff, opened the door. The sounds from inside were thrilling to us, because we knew they weren’t intended for our ears. So we savored the “clacking” of breaking pool balls, men swearing, deep, rumbling laughter, and the country-croonings of Hank, Buck, Dollie, and Willie streaming non-stop from a juke box.

We’d stay out all day playing with our friends—football, army, cops and robbers, baseball, and all the other things boys did before there were computers, video games, and widespread school shooters, child rapists and murderers, kidnappers, and the like.

We were at home before dark. We took a bath. Ate dinner. Watched a little TV, listened to the radio, read our ten-cent comic books and Hardy Boys mysteries, drew pictures, and went to bed at a reasonable hour. The next day we’d start all over again, without worrying that someone was going to explode a bomb at the finish line of our foot-races. We weren’t concerned that someone would shoot the neighbor’s baby in the face. There were no drive-by shootings where our grandfather was wounded while seated in his favorite front porch rocker.

Kids felt safe in school. Police officers were our friends and protectors. We didn’t call them names or throw things at them.

I’d only seen a couple of guns—the ones carried by police officers and the .22 my grandfather kept for shooting rats at the feed store (the owner paid him five cents for every rat killed). Sure, lots of people owned them—guns, not rats, but they used them responsibly.

Walter Cronkite never once reported about some wacko killing people and eating their body parts.

We didn’t hear vile language on the radio or TV. Soldiers and cops were our heroes. So were our hard-working parents.

Teens didn’t kill their parents. Teens didn’t rob old folks and then knock them to the ground.

We didn’t hear of murder-suicides nearly every week. People didn’t simply walk into a school and start killing kids.

Dogs didn’t kill people.

People didn’t attack people on public buses.

No one was pushed in front of moving trains.

There was no worry about poison in restaurant food.

Soldiers didn’t divulge classified information.

Families ate meals together, and it wasn’t fast food.

School was for learning, and we did. Kids didn’t feel as if the teachers owed them a passing grade for merely showing up. We had to study and work for good grades. And teachers were the bosses, not the students.

Being a U.S. citizen truly meant something back then, and we weren’t afraid that some half-crazed man-kid in North Korea would start lobbing nuclear-tipped missiles all over the globe.

We didn’t worry about suicide bombs.

Pressure cookers were for cooking, not killing.

We didn’t see people blown to bits on our own precious soil.

Sure, there was a time when I felt safe.

But it’s certainly not today.

And, unfortunately, tomorrow’s safety is not guaranteed.

*Bottom two images – ABC and CNN

 

Oliver survives

Twenty-three stab wounds and two badly mangled ears were the result of what started out as a leisurely afternoon stroll in his own normally quiet neighborhood. Oliver began his walk on Courthouse Road, and when he reached Bevills Hills Mobile Home Park he decided to turn in and have a look around. What happened next was something horror movies are made of.

Oliver barely made it onto the mobile home park property when he encountered 23-year-old Benjamin Fullwood and his two pet pit bulls. Without warning, Fullwood immediately sicced the two pits on the unsuspecting pedestrian. The dogs brutally attacked, repeatedly chewing, tearing, and gnawing at Oliver’s flesh. Witnesses, including several children, were appalled at the sheer violence of the charge. But the bloodshed didn’t stop there.

Fullwood produced a knife and joined his dogs in their attack on their defenseless victim, stabbing Oliver nearly two dozen times, landing most of the blows in the neck and leg area.

Bystanders dialed 911 and sheriff’s deputies arrived in short order, but the damage was done. Oliver was severely injured and bleeding profusely from his wounds.

Fullman initially lied to the deputies, stating that he’d merely punched the victim, but the deep stab wounds told a different story. Of course, the crowd of witnesses also told a different tale of the unprovoked, senseless attack.

Deputies arrested Fullwood and transported him to the local jail where his bond was set at $25,000. He also ordered the defendant to stay away from Oliver and his kin. Fullwood has an extensive criminal history that includes theft, weapons offenses, arson, and cruelty to animals.

The good news is that Oliver is expected to make a full recovery.

It’s still unclear, though, as to why a grown man would so viciously attack a passive pet pig named Oliver, unless the wandering porker was a witness to illegal activity committed by Fullman, and he was afraid the pig would squeal…

Oliver’s doctors say they expect him to make a full recovery

*Update – Benjamin Fullman has been released on bond.

Benjamin Fullman mugshot – ECSO photo

And, Oliver was released from the animal hospital Saturday morning after this posting. His owner says there’s a special place in his heart for Oliver since it was a new valve from a pig’s heart that gave him a second chance at life.

The "eyes" have it

I had eye surgery yesterday, and I went into the operating room able to see out of my right eye. Sure, my vision wasn’t the best in the world, but I could see. Still, the operation was a necessary evil. I had no real options.

Today, the eyesight is far worse than before the operation, and the surgeon is stumped. He doesn’t have a clue why blisters have formed on the surface of the eye, reducing my eyesight to mostly blurs and fuzzy images. Also, the pressure in my eye was dangerously high post surgery, but as of this morning it was back within a normal range. Still, my vision is horrible.

Normally, this probably wouldn’t be a big deal because a person could function with one good eye until the bad one healed. I’m not that fortunate, though.

You see, several years ago I responded to a domestic call where a man had beaten his wife quite badly. Well, I arrived and set about the task of arresting the drug-fueled behemoth. We went at it, toe-to-toe and blow-to-blow, until I finally got him on the ground in a prone position with his hands behind his back. I’d snapped one cuff in place and was about to apply the other when the wife-beater’s brother came up from behind and struck me on the side of my head and forehead with a piece of 2×4. I never saw it coming. In fact, the next thing I remembered was waking up in the hospital ER.

Co-workers told me that when they arrived (someone dialed 911 to say I was in trouble) I was unconscious, but had somehow managed to handcuff both men before passing out. I don’t remember anything about it, though. A witness told investigators that after I was struck I stood up and suddenly turned into a wild man, fighting both men at once. In short order, I’d pounded them into submission, at which time I cuffed them both. Then, according to the witness, I collapsed as if someone had flipped a switch, shutting me down.

Anyway, as a result of my injury, I lost most of the vision of my left eye. The 90% vision loss was permanent.

So, as a result of that incident and the trouble from yesterday’s surgery, I’m pretty much left feeling my way around. To type this piece I’ve had to enlarge the page until there are only a few giant blurry words visible on the screen.

Hopefully, the doctor can get a handle on the troubles and I’ll soon be back to normal.

Until then, my blog posts may be sporadic. I will, however, post a review of Southland tomorrow. It’ll be a little later than normal, but I’ll see that it’s there at some point in the day.

For now, though, I’m going to take a break from the computer.

“See” you all later.

1140 Hours – February 17, 2013

“Slow night?”

“Pretty much,” Collins said, as he leaned to the passenger seat to retrieve his hat and what was probably once a full thermos of coffee. “Same old crap over on Elm Street—”

“They at it, again?” said Officer Martin. “What’s that, the third time this week?”

“Fourth, actually. He finally put her in the hospital this time, though. Broken arm, probably a fractured cheek, and a concussion.”

“Let me guess. He didn’t mean it, and she said it was an accident,” said Martin as he poked his hands between the rear seat and seat back. A quick look under the seat and he was done. No hidden contraband left behind by any of the thugs arrested on the previous shift.

“Everything okay?”

“Clean, as always,” Martin said, moving to the driver’s seat to begin the routine—checking the lights, radio, siren, shotgun, and a quick calibration of the radar unit.

“The usuals were out and about in “The Bottom.” Lots of traffic down there too. I stopped a few cars as they were leaving.”

“Anything?”

“No, if they were holding I didn’t see it,” said Collins. He stood beside the patrol car holding his hat and a half-empty gear bag in his right hand, waiting patiently for Martin to finish the mandatory pre-shift vehicle and equipment inspection. “There was a new guy hanging out with the crowd on Reynolds Street. Never seen him before. Tall, really dark skin, hair’s in long braids, and a gold star on one of his front teeth. I stopped and talked to him. Most of the guys scattered, but he never flinched. Smart mouth on him too. Had an accent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Sounded a little like that old guy who works at the motor pool. He’s Haitian, right? Anyway, the new guy said he was Popcorn’s cousin from New York. Claimed his name was Reggie Jackson. He also claimed he lost his ID last week.”

“Think he’s the guy bringing the stuff in?”

“Could be.”

“I’ll head down there in a few minutes to keep the pressure on. Maybe I’ll get lucky.”

“Maybe so,” Collins said. “Well, if you’re all set, I’m going inside to finish writing up my reports and go over a few notes. I’ve got court in the morning. You?”

“No, but I do have to be at the range at ten for qualifying.”

“Man, is it that time of the year already?”

“Yep. They haven’t let you know when you’ve got to shoot?” Martin asked.

“Not yet, but I’m sure it’ll be on one of my days off, as always.”

“The brass don’t know any other way.”

“I guess not,” Collins said, giving his old friend a pat on the arm, a habit he’d never been able to break. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow night. Stay safe out there.”

“Always.”

0001 Hours – February 18, 2013

“All south-side units. Shots fired corner of Reynolds and Parker. One suspect down, possibly wounded. Caller reports several men in the street fighting. She believes there are numerous guns involved. I heard four shots fired while the caller was on the line. Rescue has been dispatched.”

“10-4,” said Officer Martin. “I’m en route. Have the ambulance hold back a few blocks until we have a chance to see what we’ve got.”

“10-4, 1234.”

0002 Hours – February 18, 2013

“All south-side units. I’ve got a second shots-fired call at 219 Jackson. Caller is advising that it’s her husband and he’s standing in the front yard, totally nude except for a pair of sweat socks, firing his shotgun at passing cars. She states the husband has been off his meds for two days.”

“10-4,” said Martin. “See if someone from Precinct four can take that one until we clear from The Bottom.”

“1234 to 1245, 1263. You close?”

“10-4, 1234. 30 seconds out. I hear gunfire already. I think we’re going to need some assistance with this one.”

0348 Hours – February 18, 2013

“Thanks for coming back to help out.”

“No problem. You’d have done the same,” said Collins. “Besides, I hate paperwork. And, ten minutes earlier and it could’ve been me instead of you taking those rounds.” Collins reached over to pat Martin’s arm. “The doc says you should be fine in a few weeks, though. Maybe even back to work in a couple of months. Depends on the rehab.”

“Well, this is one way to avoid going to the range on my day off.”

Collins’ lips split in a slight smile. “I think I’d rather spend a few hours at the range than five minutes in this place.”

“Honestly, me too,” said Martin. “Me, too.”

1400 Hours – February 22, 2013

Officer Collins sat in the second row, holding his hat in his trembling hands. He was listening, but not hearing the words the chaplain spoke to a standing-room-only congregation. Officers had come from as far away as California to pay their respects.

Collins used his sleeve to wipe a lone tear from his right cheek.

Ten minutes earlier and it could’ve been him.

 

Christopher Dorner: Murderer

The rapid staccato sound of gunfire was reminiscent of similar sounds accompanying film clips of the Vietnam war. Only this war unfolded on U.S. soil near Big Bear Lake, California. The shooters—police officers and a man believed to be former LAPD officer/fugitive Christopher Dorner.

You all know Dorner’s story, a tale where he described himself as a victim of the LAPD’s racist good ‘ol boy system. So I won’t go into those details. Instead, I want to focus on Dorner the murderer of innocent citizens and police officers. Dorner, a man angry at his former department, and, apparently anyone in law enforcement who didn’t let him have his way. A cold-blooded murderer of the worst kind.

And then there’s Christopher Dorner, a man many are calling …a hero. Someone who stood up to the LAPD and his superiors. A hero because he didn’t back down, taking his personal war straight to the enemy, facing them head-on, using guns and ammunition to murder his opponent(s). Dorner, a man who crept up on an innocent man and woman, murdering them in cold blood simply because the woman’s father represented Dorner in the proceedings that cost him his badge. Yeah, that’s a hero all right.

Back to the people who praise Dorner and his spree of murders. A quick search on the internet will lead you to Facebook pages in his honor, featuring comments of praise and encouragement. Urging him to kill more police officers. Comments such as:

“This guy is a HERO, someone to stand up against un-constitutional cops and to stop Tryanny. GOD SPEED DORNER!”

“…chris from me, take out as many as you can cause they have no plans on hearing your case, God Bless you brother, Do your thing son.”

“Keep fighting the good fight, man.”

“Keep fighting Christopher!”

“…If you Support the man’s Movement then good for you …”

“Mr Dorner I hope u see that as far as most of the citizens are concerned your name has been cleared. My only hope is that u flee the country and find a place to regain a life and live happily. It’ll b sad to see u die they’re not worth your life.”

“You shot a cop you do it again with out getting cought and i will tip my simbaro to you.”

“I don’t think he shot anyone!! I believe they set him up!! And now its on!! Good luck sir!!”

“i salute u and ya mission no innocent people i f u can help it goddess god bless”

“Very pathetic police force we have in the USA. Disarm these pathetic pigs now.”

“All police precincts are KKK organizations. I hope he gets away with it.”

“He is a hero.”

These comments are just a few of the thousands out there praising Dorner for killing police officers and anyone else who stands in his way. Many of the comments indicate the poster’s joy at the notion of police officers dying. Many express their own desire to have enough courage to kill a few officers.

I ask you, after seeing these comments, is there any solid reason to wonder why police officers are wary when approached by people they don’t know, especially during violent and/or confrontational situations?

Well, Christopher Dorner just may have met his end yesterday in that burning cabin on the side of the snow-covered mountain. Personally, I can only hope the charred body that was found inside is positively identified as Dorner. Besides, life in prison for him would have been grand. Many of his fellow thugs and killers would have seen him as a true hero for killing cops, and they would have catered to his every whim. He’d have had inmates cooking meals for him, cleaning his cell, washing his clothes, shining his shoes, and tending to his other “needs.”

I’m not a big fan of the death penalty, and it is normally my preference to see most killers sentenced to life in prison without parole. I say so because I believe life in prison is far worse than execution, which is a peaceful ending for someone who caused so much pain and grief to others.

As for Dorner, however, I say good riddance to someone who was nothing more than a murdering coward.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims in this case.

*Top photo – CNN

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Don’t forget, the new season of Southland begins tonight!

Gracie Watson: Reincarnated

All alone, in a secluded section of Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, is the grave of little Gracie Watson. Born in 1883 to W.J. and Francis Watson, formerly of Boston, Gracie, an only child, lived only 6 short years. During her short life, Gracie quickly became well-known and deeply loved by Savannah residents and tourists alike.

W.J. and Francis managed the Pulaski Hotel, catering to Savannah’s elite society, a group Francis longed to be a part of. Guests and visitors were often greeted and entertained at the Pulaski by little Gracie. She was a shining star in the lives of many.

In 1889, Gracie contracted a severe case of pneumonia, an illness from which she never recovered. Two days before Easter of that year, little Gracie succumbed to the sickness and departed her life on earth. Her parents were heartbroken, as were the residents of Savannah.

Gracie’s body was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery.

W.J. became deeply depressed and left the Pulaski Hotel for employment at the Desoto Hotel on Madison Square, but his term there was brief, as he and Francis decided to leave Savannah and return to Boston.

Before leaving town, the Watsons commissioned Savannah sculptor, John Walz, to sculpt a statue of Gracie out of Georgia marble. Today, the statue is surrounded by a black iron fence to protect it, and Gracie’s grave, from vandals.

It has been reported that Gracie is still seen and heard today, as she visits and plays at the graves of other children. Her laughter is often heard by employees of a bank that sits on the site where the Pulaski Hotel once stood. Visitors and residents alike have reported seeing Gracie playing near the bronze sundial located at Johnson Square. To this day, visitors to Bonaventure Cemetery still leave crayons, coins, and other items at Gracie’s grave-site.

I’ve visited Gracie’s grave site, and found myself drawn to it and the story of the little girl who once touched the lives of so many. I also found myself staring at the statue of Gracie, wondering what it was about the cute little girl that captivated me. Then it hit me, so I hurried home and began to search for one particular photo. I pawed through stack after stack until I found the one I sought. Holding it in my hand, well, I simply couldn’t believe what I saw. Was the photo I held a picture of Gracie Watson, the little girl who died in 1889? The person in the picture certainly bore a strong resemblance to her. The only problem, though, was the photo I held was taken sometime around 1982, or so.

I quickly placed the photo beside a photograph of Gracie Watson, and, well, you tell me. Is it a match close enough to be Gracie reincarnated?

I contacted the modern-day “Gracie” (she’s an adult now) to ask her opinion, and she was stunned when she saw the photos. “It’s like looking at…well, me. She looks like me when I was a child,” she said.

We continued to chat, reminiscing about the times when the early photo of her was taken, and about the days since. The conversation eventually turned to Gracie’s dress. I was reminded that the little girl in the photo above (right) had worn a blue outfit quite similar to the one in Gracie’s statue, when she’d posed for an elementary school class photo. To add a further twist to the story, her pose that day was identical to that of Gracie’s statue—no smile, facing slightly to the right.

I’m still searching for that second photo, and I should have it somewhere, because the little girl in it is my daughter. I remember that day as if it were yesterday…or was it a day in the 1800’s that I recall so vividly? Maybe I’ve been reincarnated, and not Gracie. I wonder…was I, in a former life, once the manager of a Savannah hotel? Was it I, a reincarnated W.J. Watson, who passed on historic genes. Or, does Gracie live on through my daughter?

Hmm… I wonder…

*By the way, I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation, or not. Or, if you’re into superstitions, voodoo, or crystal balls and numerology. If so, you might be interested in knowing that the above article consisted of exactly 666 words.

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Boo!