♫ I’m Getting Used To You ♫

Last month I made a promise … and I broke it.  I rarely give promises, unless I am 99% certain that I can keep them.  And I could have kept this one … even made a note to do so … but, I forgot.  I could make some excuses, but instead I will simply say “I’m sorry” and try to make up for my perfidy.

Yesterday, April 16th, would have been the 48th birthday of Tejano singer, Selena (just for the record, that is pronounced Say-Lay-Nah).  Sadly, on 31 March 1995, Selena was brutally murdered by Yolanda Saldívar, a woman Selena had long considered a friend.  I won’t share the details here, but if you’re interested, Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive summation of the events leading up to the murder.  For today, though, even though I am a day late, let’s focus on her life and her music, shall we?

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez  was her full name, though she went by simply ‘Selena’.  She was a singer, songwriter, spokesperson, model, actress, and fashion designer. Called the Queen of Tejano music, her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century.

Billboard magazine named her the top-selling Latin artist of the 1990s decade, while her posthumous collaboration with MAC cosmetics became the best-selling celebrity collection in cosmetics history. Media outlets called her the “Tejano Madonna” for her clothing choices. She also ranks among the most influential Latin artists of all time and is credited for catapulting a music genre into the mainstream market.

Tonight, in honour of what would have marked her 48th birthday, I play for you I’m Getting Used To You.  Though left to my own devices I might have selected one of her Spanish pieces, our friend Ellen, the person to whom I owe apologies for a promise broken, rather indicated that she likes this one, and it is a beautiful song … sung by a beautiful woman.

I’m Getting Used to You
Selena

Wasn’t like me to fall in love
That’s just the way that I was
But now when I feel you holding me
Something inside just tells me you’ve gotten to
This heart of mine
And now I know it’s true ’cause darling I’m
Darlin’ I’m starting to find

I’m getting used to you
Ooh and I’m loving every single thing about you
I’m getting used to you
And I could never get used to living without you

Didn’t think that a love could mean that much
But you sure changed my mind with your touch
Never knew that my heart could need you so
Now I know that these arms can’t let you go
No they wouldn’t even try
‘Cause I’m sure that you’re the one that I
Oh one that I need in my life

I’m getting used to you
Ooh and I’m loving every single thing about you
I’m getting used to you
And I could never get used to living without you

Ohh [Repeat x3]

You’ve gotten to this heart of mine
And I know its true ’cause darlin’ I
Oh darlin’ I’m starting to find
You’re the one I need in my life

I’m getting used to you
Ooh and I’m loving every single thing about you
I’m getting used to you
And I could never get used to living without you
Ain’t no living without loving you

Songwriters: Diane Eve Warren
I’m Getting Used to You lyrics © Realsongs

♫ You Are Everything ♫

I wish I could take credit for tonight’s song, but alas … I cannot.  Once again, our friend Ellen has taken me to task for not making note of the anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s death yesterday, but at the same time, she gave me a way out, noting that I could possibly redeem myself by recognizing Mr. Gaye’s birthday today!  (I swear that woman is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to music!) She was even so kind as to make a couple of recommendations, and thus tonight’s song … You Are Everything.

Thank you, Ellen … and remember, the job offer is still open!

This song, written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed, was originally recorded by the Philadelphia soul group The Stylistics in 1971.  Then in 1974, Motown singing duo, Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye recorded the song, and that is the version I am sharing tonight, in honour of what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 80th birthday.  Wow — where do the years go?

Released as the second UK single from their Diana & Marvin album, the song reached #5 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1974, and also became the first official Motown single to be awarded with silver disc for sales in excess of 200,000 copies. It also reached #13 on the Dutch charts and #20 on the Irish Singles Chart. It was never released as a single in the U.S.  I wonder why?

Sadly, Mr. Gaye’s life and career were cut short one day shy of what would have been his 45th birthday when, on April 1, 1984, Gaye’s father, Marvin Gay Sr., fatally shot him at their house in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.  Yet another whose music enriches us, his life ended far too soon.

You Are Evrything
Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye

Today I saw somebody
Who looked just like you
He walked like you do
I thought it was you
As he turned the corner
I called out your name
I felt so ashamed
When it wasn’t you
Wasn’t you

You are everything
And everything is you
Oh, you are everything
And everything is you
‘Cause you are everything
And everything is you

How can I forget
When each face that I see
Brings back memories
Of being with you
I just can’t go on
Living life as I do
Comparing each girl with you
Knowing they just won’t do
They’re not you

‘Cause you are everything
And everything is you
Oh, you are everything
And everything is you
You are everything
And everything is you

Songwriters: Linda Creed / Linda Diane Creed / Thom Bell / Thomas Randolph Bell
You Are Evrything lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Good People Doing Good Things — Mr. Rogers

Once again, I take a short detour from my normal ‘good people’ post to honour someone who died 16 years ago today, but throughout his life was most definitely a shining example of a ‘good people’.

Mr. Rogers-header-3I’m fairly certain that I don’t need to introduce Mr. Rogers to those of you in the U.S., who have almost certainly seen Mr. Rogers on his children’s television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  I find no evidence that it was aired across the pond, however, so Mr. Rogers may not be familiar to our European friends.

Now, just being the host of a kids’ television show doesn’t automatically qualify one as a good person, but Fred Rogers went well beyond the call to entertain children, but also gave them something more, a sense of self-worth as well as a sense of security.

Mr. Rogers-header-2During the 33-year tenure of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he tackled a wide variety of topics, addressing some of the fears and anxieties that most children have, such as the first day of school, a trip to the hospital, death, divorce, AIDS, and war. He felt that children were far too intuitive to accept the normal response of adults to children, “don’t worry about it”, and that kids would worry anyway, so it was better to talk about these things, to explain them.

His calm demeanor was reassuring, and it was the real Fred Rogers.  He refused to change his persona on camera compared to how he acted off camera, saying …

“One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away.”

Fred Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Rollins College with a degree in music in 1951.  When he returned to his parents’ house, he found they had bought a newfangled contraption called a ‘television’ set, or ‘t.v.’ for short.  But he hated what he saw on the t.v.  All he saw was angry people throwing pies in each other’s faces, and he vowed then and there to use the medium to make the world a better place.Mr. McFeely-Mr. RogersAnd he did just that.  He tackled the tough subjects that sometimes parents are afraid to talk to their children about.  Shortly after his show began in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Mr. Rogers took on the topic in a manner that few could, by explaining that it’s okay to be sad when something like this happens, and that different people react differently to such sadness.  It is one of his most memorable and most-watched clips.Mr. Rogers-feet.jpgOn another notable episode, Rogers soaked his feet alongside Officer Clemmons, who was African-American, in a kiddie pool on a hot day. The scene was a subtle symbolic message of inclusion during a time when racial segregation in the United States was widespread.

In a 1981 segment aired in Season 11, Episode 4, Rogers met a young quadriplegic boy, Jeff Erlanger, who showed how his electric wheelchair worked and explained why he needed it. Erlanger and Rogers both sang a duet of the song “It’s You I Like.”  Years later, when Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999, Erlanger was a surprise guest to introduce Rogers. Rogers “leaped” out of his seat and straight onto the stage when Erlanger appeared.

He ended each show by saying …

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

Fred Rogers was a religious man, an ordained a minister of the United Presbyterian Church, but he left religion out of his show, saying he preferred his show to be inclusive, not to let any child feel left out or unwanted.  Rather, his theme was ‘kindness’, pure and simple.   Or, as many have defined it, ‘radical kindness’.

Daniel-Mr. RogersMr. Rogers did more than talk to kids each day, he advocated for them.  In 1969, Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. His goal was to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to proposed budget cuts. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in the media and in popular culture. He even recited the lyrics to one of his songs.

The chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, was not familiar with Rogers’ work and was sometimes described as impatient. However, he reported that the testimony had given him goosebumps, and declared, “I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” The subsequent congressional appropriation, for 1971, increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.

Years later, Mr. Rogers also swayed the Supreme Court to allow VCR’s to record TV shows from home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.Mr. Rogers-headerFred Rogers died on this date in 2003 of stomach cancer, but his memory lives on through the many children, now adults, who were touched by his words and acts of kindness for more than three decades.  He won numerous awards, including four daytime Emmys, a 1997 Lifetime Achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and, in 2002, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

As I said in the beginning, I don’t typically honour people in my ‘good people’ posts posthumously, though I did so once before when I featured Mike Ilitch  two years ago.  But our friend Ellen made this as a suggestion a few days ago, and as the anniversary of his death fell on a Wednesday, it seemed somehow right, for Fred Rogers was indeed a “good people”.

♫ Daydream Believer & I Wanna Be Free ♫

I had a Van Morrison song picked out for tonight until I heard the news that Peter Tork of the Monkees had died today after a 10-year battle with cancer.  Our friend Ellen sometimes gives me a bit of gentle ribbing when I fail to make note of certain important dates such as the anniversary of a favoured artist’s death, birthday, or date they last cut their toenails, so I knew I needed to do a tribute to Mr. Tork tonight.

peter-tork (1)

Peter Tork — Then and Now

According to Wikipedia …

The Monkees were a made-for-TV musical group whose comedic high jinks and misadventures were fashioned after the Beatles’ classic films A Hard Day’s Night and Help!

Their show debuted in 1966 and lasted only two seasons. But it did win an Emmy in 1967 for outstanding comedy series. The Monkees became overnight stars, producing a series of No. 1 hits such as “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer” and “I’m a Believer.” Their record sales in 1967 surpassed the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined.

I was never a huge Monkees fan, but they had a few songs that appealed to me.  I had a friend in high school, however, that was so enamoured of Mickey Dolenz that she named her first child Mickey, even though it was a girl. Tonight, I am breaking my tradition of playing only a single song, and playing two.  One, Daydream Believer, was/is their signature song, and another, I Wanna Be Free, is one that I especially like and that seemed a fitting tribute, somehow, to the death of one of their members.  Another band member, Davy Jones, died in February 2012 of a heart attack.

*Note:  Both sets of lyrics follow the videos; Daydream Believer has about 20 seconds of dead time at the beginning, but be patient, for it will play.

And so, in honour of Peter Tork …


Daydream Believer
The Monkees

Oh, I could hide ‘neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings
The six-o’clock alarm would never ring
But six rings and I rise
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes
The shaving razor’s cold and it stings

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

You once thought of me
As a white knight on his steed
Now you know how happy I can be
Oh, our good time starts and ends
Without all I want to spend
But how much, baby, do we really need?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up, sleepy Jean

Songwriters: John Stewart
Daydream Believer lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


I Wanna Be Free
The Monkees

I wanna be free
Like the bluebirds flying by me
Like the waves out on the blue sea
If your love has to tie me
Don’t try me, say good-bye
I wanna be free

Don’t say you love me, say you like me
But when I need you beside me
Stay close enough to guide me
Confide in me, whoa-oh-oh

I wanna hold your hand
Walk along the sand
Laughing in the sun
Always having fun
Doing all those things
Without any strings to tie me down
I wanna be free

Like the warm September wind, babe
Say you’ll always be my friend, babe
We can make it to the end, babe
Again, babe, I’ve gotta say
I wanna be free
I wanna be free
I wanna be free

Songwriters: Bobby Hart / Tommy Boyce
I Wanna Be Free lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Presidents Day ?????

Today is Presidents Day.  I considered ignoring the ‘holiday’ because we currently have no president worth honouring, but then I realized that the holiday is to celebrate all our past presidents.  While I could bore you with the history of the day, you can go to History.com  for a comprehensive history, so I decided to regale you with some presidential trivia instead.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to name a woman to his cabinet: Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins as his secretary of labor in 1933. She was previously a social worker who worked in settlement houses in Chicago and Philadelphia. During her tenure at the department, she established the Labor Standards Bureau and was a principal architect of the Social Security Act.

Warren Harding had the largest shoe size: Size 14. His slippers and golf shoes are still on display at the Smithsonian.

Theodore Roosevelt wore a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair during his inauguration: The lock of hair was contained in a ring that was gifted to Roosevelt by John Hay, who worked for Lincoln during his presidency. Roosevelt wore the ring at his second inauguration in 1905. A great admirer of his predecessor, Roosevelt had watched Lincoln’s funeral procession pass by his house in New York.

Gerald Ford was a fashion model in his youth (even appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan): He was talked into the job by Phyllis Brown, a woman Smithsonian.com describes as his “first love.” They appeared together in a ski resort spread of Look magazine in 1940, as well as on the Cosmopolitan cover in 1942. Ultimately, however, she wanted to pursue modeling while he wanted to begin his career as a lawyer, which ended their relationship.

Four presidents have received the Nobel Peace Prize: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama. Roosevelt was honored for his work on international peace, including on efforts to broker a peace treaty between Russia and Japan in 1905. Wilson was given the prize in 1919 for his work toward founding the League of Nations after World War I. Carter had already retired from the presidency but won the Nobel prize in 2002 because of his efforts on human rights resolving international conflicts. Mr. Obama was nominated for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said at the time.

George Washington owned a profitable whiskey distillery. Whiskey was one of Washington’s most important business ventures at Mount Vernon. At peak production in 1799, the distillery used five stills and a boiler and produced eleven thousand gallons of whiskey. With sales of $7,500 that year, it was perhaps the country’s largest distillery.

William Howard Taft became a Supreme Court Justice after his retirement. A graduate of Yale and Cincinnati Law School, Taft loved law but was unsure about politics. At the urging of his wife, Nellie, and mentor, Theodore Roosevelt, he reluctantly accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency, calling the presidential campaign “one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life.” After losing the 1912 election to Woodrow Wilson, Taft served as a professor of law at Yale and was later appointed by Warren Harding as chief justice of the United States, a pose he considered his greatest honor.

John Tyler had 15 children. Tyler was married twice. He had eight children with his first wife, Letitia. After she died, the 54-year-old president married the 24-year-old Julia Gardiner, with whom he had seven more children. Tyler wins the prize for being the most prolific of all American presidents.

Abraham Lincoln attended séances at the White House. Lincoln’s wife, Mary Lincoln, became interested in séances after their young son Willie died in 1862. At the White House, she engaged mediums, who conducted “spirit circles” or ceremonies during which those who attended could communicate with their loved ones who had crossed over into the next world. Mary was eager to believe in these mediums as it made her loss somewhat bearable, and she encouraged the president to attend a few séances, which he did. It is not clear if Lincoln participated to appease his wife or out of real interest and belief.

And a few really short tidbits …

George Washington’s false teeth were made from elephant and walrus tusks, gold, and ivory not wood.

John Adams was the first to live in the White House.

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.

James Madison was the shortest president at 5-foot-4 inches.

James Monroe was the last founding father to serve as president.

John Quincy Adams skinny dipped in the Potomac every morning.

Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot he taught to curse.

Martin Van Buren coined the word “OK.”

William Henry Harrison had a pet goat.

Franklin Pierce was arrested during his presidency for running over a woman with his horse.

James Buchanan was a bachelor and never married.

Abraham Lincoln is honored in the wrestling hall of fame.

Ulysses S. Grant was given a ticket for riding his horse too fast.

Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to use a telephone and his number was 1.

James A. Garfield could write with both hands at the same time in different languages. (Pretty impressive when you consider that today’s prez cannot write in a single language with any hand!)

Chester A. Arthur owned 80 pairs of pants.

Grover Cleveland was the first and only to be married in the White House.

Benjamin Harrison never touched light switches because he was afraid he would be electrocuted.

Grover Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Making him the 22nd and 24th president.

William McKinley was the first president to have mass produced campaign buttons.

Theodore Roosevelt was shot while giving a speech and finished his speech with the bullet in his chest.

William H. Taft was the only former president to serve as chief justice on the Supreme Court and swore in presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

Woodrow Wilson is the only president to have a PhD.

Warren G. Harding gambled away a set of White House china.

Herbert Hoover spoke Chinese to his wife to keep their conversations private.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, were fifth cousins once removed.

Harry S. Truman does not have a middle name. His parents gave him the middle initial “S” as a tribute to his relatives whose names started with the letter S.

Dwight D. Eisenhower installed a putting green in the White House and played over 800 games of golf while in office.

John F. Kennedy was awarded a Purple Heart, which he received for his service in WWII.

Lyndon B. Johnson was a teacher before becoming president.

Richard Nixon partly funded his first political campaign with money he won playing poker while in the Navy.

Jimmy Carter filed a UFO sighting in 1973.

Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans and placed a standing order of 720 bags per month to be delivered to the White House and various federal buildings.

George H. W. Bush loves wearing colorful, patterned socks.

Bill Clinton is a two-time Grammy winner.

George W. Bush was the head cheerleader at his high school.

Barack Obama collects comic books.

And now you know enough about Presidents Day!  Oh … and don’t bother to check your mail today, for there is no mail delivery.Presidents Day

I Have A Dream …

Today is a federal holiday in the United States — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Parts of this are from a post I wrote two years ago, for it said what I wanted to say then, as it does now.  So, while some of this post is recycled, so to speak, I have updated it and added a few things.  In honour of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

mlk-3Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 90 years old last Tuesday, had he lived. On this day, we celebrate not only his life, but also his legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL races, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2019.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth your time.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, more than five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. Instead, the past two years have found our nation backtracking on civil and human rights in a number of areas, ranging from discriminatory travel bans against Muslims to turning a federal blind eye to intentionally racially discriminatory state voter-suppression schemes, to opposing protections for transgender people, to inhumanely separating children from families seeking to enter the country.  I think Dr. King would be appalled if he returned to visit today.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here is a bit of trivia you may not know about Dr. King …

  • King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin.
    The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.

  • King entered college at the age of 15.
    King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.


  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial.
    Six years before his iconic oration at the March on Washington, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957. Before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to “give us the ballot,” drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.


  • King was imprisoned nearly 30 times.
    According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.


  • King narrowly escaped an assassination attempt a decade before his death.
    On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.


  • King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
    On June 30, 1974, as 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

Jolly Monday will return at its regularly scheduled time next week.

So Long, Paul — It’s Been … Interesting

There was a time when I thought Paul Ryan was a man of conscience, a decent man.  I don’t judge people … or at least I used not to judge people … by their political party affiliation, so it didn’t matter to me that Paul was a republican, only that he act in the best interest of the nation.  One of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, that I believed he had integrity came from a May 2016 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.  When Tapper asked whether he was supporting then-candidate Donald Trump, Mr. Ryan said …

“Well, to be perfectly candid with you, I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now.  I think what a lot of Republicans want to see is that we have a standard-bearer that bears our standards. I think conservatives want to know, ‘Does he share our values and our principles on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the Constitution?’ There are lots of questions that conservatives, I think, are gonna want answers to, myself included. I want to be a part of this unifying process. I want to help to unify this party.”

In August 2017, there was another moment when I believed perhaps he had a conscience and would finally stand firm against the abomination some call a president.  It was during the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, after Trump’s ignominious speech saying that some of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were ‘very fine people’.  Ryan, again interviewing with Jake Tapper, said …

“I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday when it sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least moral ambiguity when we need extreme moral clarity.”

Well, he talked a good talk, but when it came time to walk the walk, it was another story altogether.  Paul Ryan went on to become just as much a sycophant, a boot-licker, as his buddy in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.

And perhaps his perfidy had early beginnings that we just overlooked, for in a March 2017 interview with Rich Lowry of the National Review, Ryan said …

“So Medicaid, sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around — since you and I were drinking at a keg. . . . I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time. We’re on the cusp of doing something we’ve long believed in.”

Taking health care from the poor … something he’s been thinking about since college.  And Wisconsinites elected him to the House of Representatives nine times!  But then, Wisconsinites are gluttons for punishment, for they elected asshole Scott Walker to the governorship three times.

Ryan has received some ‘fond’ farewells from the press …

In truth, he leaves Congress after his Republican brethren were drowned in the biggest blue wave since 1974. He leaves Congress with his conservative ideals in tatters. He leaves Congress having consoled himself, as he remarked on December 3, “that in a democracy, sometimes you fall short.” – The Atlantic

Ryan’s burden [was] the fact that he had to work with a president who was his opposite in every measure but party affiliation, and it’s easy to think Ryan’s speakership was doomed from the start. – Roll Call

But now, as Ryan prepares to leave Congress, it is clear that his critics were correct and a credulous Washington press corps — including me — that took him at his word was wrong. In the trillions of long-term debt he racked up as speaker, in the anti-poverty proposals he promised but never passed, and in the many lies he told to sell unpopular policies, Ryan proved as much a practitioner of post-truth politics as Donald Trump. – Ezra Klein, Vox

Look, the single animating principle of everything Ryan did and proposed was to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted. Can anyone name a single instance in which his supposed concern about the deficit made him willing to impose any burden on the wealthy, in which his supposed compassion made him willing to improve the lives of the poor? So how did such an obvious con artist get a reputation for seriousness and fiscal probity? Basically, he was the beneficiary of ideological affirmative action. – Paul Krugman, New York Times

And to these tributes, I would like to add a few words of my own.

Paul, you had an opportunity to stand against a madman, to stop the madness before it set this nation on a path of destruction, and frankly, you blew it.  You started out, maybe, with some values and even a bit of integrity, but you sold your soul downriver the day you threw your lot in with the Donald Trump gang.  You could have argued against a tax bill that provided huge amounts of cash to those who already dine on steak, and gave nothing to those of us who struggle to put a chicken leg on the table.  You had the unique opportunity to speak out against horrible policies that have enabled the fossil fuel and other industries to further damage our environment, our very planet. 

So many times, all you had to do was say, “No, Mr. Trump, I will not support you in ______________” (fill in the blank with any of hundreds of examples).  You were a huge disappointment to the people who looked to you to use your power, your office, to stop Donald Trump from killing us, and instead you smiled, looked into the camera with your sad-puppy eyes, and lied to us.  You fell on your knees before King Trump and when he said “Jump!”, you asked “How high, sir?”  You sold us downriver and I cannot say that I’m sorry to see you leave Washington.  I wish that I could wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, but the truth is that, as Melania might say, “I don’t really care”.

A Dying Breed … George H.W. Bush

Yesterday, a man of respect died.  George Herbert Walker Bush died at age 94, just a few months after the death of his wife and soul-mate, Barbara.  I have never ascribed to a conservative or Republican ideology, and thus I often disagreed with many of Bush’s policies.  But I always respected the man.  George Bush was a good man, a man of dignity and compassion, a man who cared about this nation and the people who live in it, Republicans and Democrats alike.

George H.W. Bush was among the last of a dying breed.

5 living presidents

Left to right:  George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter

Until Friday, there were five living former-presidents, the men pictured above.  Each and every one of those men both gave and earned respect.  None were perfect, all made mistakes, but their hearts were in the right place and they unfailingly acted in what they believed was the best interest of this nation and its people.  Not a single one of these men put their own business interests ahead of the interests of the people they were to represent.  Not a single one of these men were so arrogant that they believed themselves better, more intelligent, or more important than any one of us.  They understood that they worked for us, rather than the other way around.

These men were thinkers.  They did not scream or rant in order to get their point across.  They were men of dignity, men of courage, men of respect.  Interesting word, ‘respect’.  True respect is earned, not given lightly.  George H.W. Bush earned the respect not only of the citizens of this nation, but of foreign leaders around the globe.  He was, despite his “no new taxes” promise that he had to break a short time later, a man of his word.  He was an honest man, a man of integrity.  When he spoke, he spoke the truth, or what was the truth to the best of his knowledge.

George H.W. Bush walked out of the Oval Office for the last time on 20 January 1993, after serving only one term, but he did not stop trying to make the world a better place.  More than ten years later, he and another former president, Bill Clinton, came together to lead aid efforts in tsunami-ravaged South Pacific disaster zones, and later in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.5 living presidents-2President Bush supported a wide variety of humanitarian causes throughout his life in areas of Abuse, Adoption, Fostering, Orphans, AIDS & HIV, Animals, At-Risk/Disadvantaged Youths, Children, Disaster Relief, Economic/Business Support, Education, Environment, Health, Homelessness, Human Rights, Hunger, Mental Challenges, Miscellaneous, Physical Challenges, Poverty, Sports, Women.

From 1993 to 1999, he served as the chairman of the board of trustees for Eisenhower Fellowships, and from 2007 to 2009 was chairman of the National Constitution Center.  In July 2013, Bush had his head shaved in a show of support for the two-year-old son of a member of his security detail, who had leukemia.  Bush-shaved-head.jpgIn 1993, Bush was awarded an honorary knighthood (GCB) by Queen Elizabeth II. He was only the third American president to receive the honor, the others being Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

All of these are parts of the whole, parts of what made George H.W. Bush a good man, an honourable man, a man who earned respect.  You didn’t need to agree with his politics to see that at the very least, he was a man of deep convictions, a man of conscience.

On Friday, the nation lost one of the last presidents we will likely ever see who was deserving of respect.  Four remain to remind us of better times, of times when leaders worked hard to ensure the safety and prosperity of everyone, not just a select few.  Times have changed, and George H.W. Bush was an icon of times past.  R.I.P., President Bush … you will be missed.

Good People Doing Good Things — Firefighters And Other Heroes

As of this writing, Tuesday afternoon, 44 people are confirmed dead and another 200+ missing in the deadliest fires in California’s history.  More than 7,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed, and that number, as well as the death toll, is certain to rise.  More than 8,000 firefighters have been on the job since Thursday, and the end is not yet in sight.  Today’s ‘good people’ post is dedicated to these men and women, as well as others who have been good Samaritans, have helped people in the face of this terrible tragedy.  Gronda … get your tissues …


firefightersNow, I can’t bring you any personal tales of heroism from or about firefighters just yet, for these guys don’t have time to tell their stories right now … there’s still a lot of fire that needs fighting and they are working past the point of exhaustion, sleeping an hour or two, then going back at it like … well, like fighting fire.  No need for personal stories … these men and women are heroes.  They are trying to save lives, property and land, even pets. firefighter rescues catAt last count, at least 36 of the firefighters themselves had lost everything they own to the fires.  They have seen their town, their kids’ schools, their doctors’ offices, banks and neighbors’ homes turned to rubble, and yet they keep going back into that fiery inferno toting up to 75 pounds of gear and equipment.  For hours, and hours with no relief.  I give them the highest five I can muster.  Since I don’t have their individual stories to tell just now, I am bringing some of them to you in pictures.FF1FF2FF3FF4ff5.pngFF6ff7.pngFF8A firefighter drags a hose as he battles the Camp Fire in Paradise


And then there were other heroes …

Allyn Pierce is an ICU nurse at Adventist Health in Paradise.  He and other co-workers first made several trips to help evacuate patients to safety, but after the patients were all safely evacuated, he and his two colleagues were heading to safety when suddenly they found themselves gridlocked in traffic, unable to move, with fire surrounding them on all sides.  This is the view from inside his truck …View from Pierce's carFlames licked at the side of his truck, and as Allyn watched other cars catch fire, he thought his was next. He even recorded a message for his family, “Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out.” 

Out of the smoke, there appeared a bulldozer that cleared a small space, but instead of going forward to safety … Allyn, who had already resigned himself to possibly dying, turned around and headed back into Paradise to see if he could help others!  Back at the hospital, he found that many of the townspeople had gone there seeking help, safety … refuge. Pierce's triage centerSo, he gathered a crew … doctors, nurses, police, paramedics … anyone willing to lend a hand, and they set up a triage center about 100 yards from the burning hospital where they did the best they could for people while waiting … for what?  Eventually, firefighters arrived and were able to clear a path and escort those at the triage center to safety.  Allyn’s only casualty was his truck … it melted.Pierce's truckBut the story doesn’t end here.  Pierce would later find out that he had lost his home to the fire.  After his story was told on an ABC News affiliate station, he was writing about his experience on Facebook when there was a comment from @toyotausa:

“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety.  Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honoured to get you a new one.”


Paradise Unified School District middle school was about to fall victim to the Camp Fire on Thursday.  The children were already at school when science teacher Mark Kessler heard propane tanks nearby exploding due to the excessive heat and he knew it was time to evacuate.  But how to get the hundreds of children out quickly and to safety?

Teachers, aides and bus drivers went into action, loading children into their own vehicles, buses, whatever vehicle was available.  A sheriff’s deputy directed them to the nearby town of Chico and told them to cram as many as they could into each vehicle and “seatbelt laws don’t apply”.  Even though the town of Chico was typically about a 20-minute drive, on this day it would take them several hours, plowing through smoke, burning debris, and flames on gridlocked country roads.  According to Kessler …

“There were trees burning on the side of the road. The smoke was so thick you couldn’t see. We had very traumatized teachers who were certain they were going to die in the car with their students.”

All of these people had homes and families in jeopardy from the fire, but instead of seeing to their own, they saw to these young students, brought them to safety and by Friday morning had re-united all with their parents.  How very brave and dedicated these men and women were.


I have no doubt that from the ashes will emerge hundreds of stories of extraordinary courage, acts of bravery … it is these that we should remember when the world shows us its darker side … these are the real people, the humanitarians who, when the chips are down, put others before themselves.  These are the people doing the good things, while others sit back and find fault. Thank you again to the men and women who are fighting so long and hard to save lives, homes and property.

♫ Leaving On A Jet Plane ♫

Yesterday marked the 21st anniversary of the plane crash that killed singer John Denver.  I was not aware of it yesterday, else I would not be a day late in playing this song, but friend Ellen informed me of the occasion yesterday afternoon.  Ellen also kindly pointed me to a video clip that seems appropriate to mark the occasion of Denver’s death at age 53.  The clip comes from Burt Sugarman’s show, The Midnight Special on August 19, 1972.  This episode was filmed less than three months before the presidential election that would see Richard Milhous Nixon begin a second term that he would not complete.  According to the IMDB …

John Denver guest hosted this Pilot (Episode 1) with guests that included: Mama Cass, The Everly Brothers, The Isley Brothers, Harry Chapin, Linda Ronstadt, Argent and Helen Reddy. The theme of this pilot was to encourage the youth that had reached 18 years to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election. The voting age had just been lowered to 18. The two biggest issues, at that time, were Watergate and the war in Vietnam. Among the musical highlights were Harry Chapin performing his hit “Taxi”, Linda Ronstadt sang her popular ballad “Long Long Time”, Helen Reddy sang “I Am Woman” and the Britsh group Argent performed their 1972 hit “Hold Tour Head High” [sic]. Wolfman Jack appeared on camera as the main host and announcer and previewed upcoming shows, which he would do for the series’ 8 year run.

In this clip, Denver is joined by ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot, formerly of the Mamas and the Papas, and the two do a duet of Leaving on a Jet Plane, a song that had been made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1967.  Interestingly, Cass Elliot would die of heart failure less than two years after singing with John Denver.

Denver wrote the song in 1966.  It turned out to be Peter, Paul and Mary’s biggest (and final) hit, becoming their only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.  This one surprised me, for I am a fan of PPM, but Leaving on a Jet Plane is not my favourite of their works.

At any rate … in honour of John Denver, a day late, I give you …

Leaving on a Jet Plane
John Denver & Cass Elliot

All my bags are packed
I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’
It’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’
He’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

There’s so many times I’ve let you down
So many times I’ve played around
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing
Ev’ry place I go, I’ll think of you
Ev’ry song I sing, I’ll sing for you
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
I’ll be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I won’t have to leave alone
About the times, I won’t have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

But, I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Songwriters: John Denver
Leaving on a Jet Plane lyrics © Reservoir One Music, Reservoir Media Management Inc, BMG Rights Management