Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rockin' on Down the Road!

by Pa Rock
Traveling Fool

I rented a little Ford Focus from Enterprise this morning in Kansas City, Kansas, and had a pleasant drive to West Plains, Missouri.  The car is so small that I hit my head any time I enter or exit, but Enterprise swears that it is an "intermediate" sized car.  God help whichever of Snow White's dwarfs get one of their small cars!

But, all bitching aside, this car has the coolest feature that I have ever encountered in a rental - satellite radio!  Tim spent some time finding NPR for me, but I said to hell with that, I want to listen to the oldies.  I listened to over three hours of sixties music on the ride down through Missouri, and sang along to almost every song.  The time just flew by!

The satellite provider was Sirius, which my dad used to pronounce "Cyrus."  He bought stock in the company and it did well for awhile, but then suddenly the price dropped and he lost money.  The price went south about the time that Sirius brought Howard Stern on board for millions of dollars.  That infuriated Dad who always said that things went to hell when Sirius hired "that knucklehead!"

But, all knuckleheads aside, I really, really like satellite radio and may have to invest in the service when I get to the farm in West Plains.  I would like to have it in my house and hooked to a couple of outdoor speakers to entertain me while I work.

Grandson Boone and I stopped by the farm this afternoon.  I hadn't been out there since my initial visit in the summer.  I'm happy that I bought the place, but there is so much to be done once I get there - indoors and out.  My first year will entail lots of extremely hard work - and the years following will be just ordinary hard work!

Dinner out later tonight, back to the farm tomorrow to begin some serious planning.  Why do I have to go back to Arizona?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Corey Feldman's Life with Vampires

by Pa Rock

I have just finished reading Coreyography, the autobiography of former child star Corey Feldman.    The book chronicles nearly four decades of the author’s life in the entertainment industry.  It is an amazing tale, apparently penned without the aid of a ghostwriter, a feat that shows he is as talented at the keyboard as he is in front of a camera.

Coreyography  is a hell of a ride, beginning with the death of the other Corey (Haim), and then veering back to the author’s earliest childhood memory – the day he filmed his first commercial at the tender age of three.  Feldman’s narrative leads readers through victimization by his parents, sexual abuse during his adolescent years by adult men, stardom, love affairs, drug addiction, arrests, multiple stints in rehab, the slow rebuilding of a career, and fatherhood.

The book could have easily been entitled Corey Feldman’s Mother Issues because a significant portion is an angry indictment of his mother’s parenting practices and general behavior.  He describes his mother as a woman who lived off of the salaries of her two oldest children – and sucked most of that up her nose.    According to the author, his mother partied all night, slept all day, and was concerned only with pleasure and taking care of herself.  He tells of his mother ignoring the needs of her children, constantly cursing and berating him, beating him with a dowel rod after he was fired from a movie, and forcing him to take diet pills (speed) when she was concerned that he was becoming fat. 

In one of the most heart-rending tales in the book, Feldman shares a story about a surprise party that the Executive Producer of The Goonies, Steven Spielberg, planned for the movie’s director, Richard Donner.  Donner was making it generally known that he was anxious to finish the movie so he could head out to his retreat in Hawaii and get away from all of the child actors.  Some of the youngsters had talked about how much fun it would be to go to Hawaii and be there waiting for Donner when he arrived.   Spielberg also thought that would be fun.  He arranged to fly each kid and an adult sponsor to Hawaii to surprise Donner at his house.

Feldman felt that his grandmother deserved the trip because she had supervised him in Oregon during the filming of The Goonies, but his mother wasn’t going to miss out on a free vacation.  Sadly, but not necessarily surprisingly, she showed up late for the trip to the airport and they missed the flight.  Spielberg put them on a later flight, but the boy missed the party, the culmination of many months of hard work. He said that he never forgave his mother for that incident.

Toward the end of the book, Feldman appears to try to cut his mother some slack, but his rage toward her still resonates across the pages.

And dad, a musician who lived away from the family, doesn’t fare much better in this memoir.  At one point the teenage Corey moves out of his mother’s home and settles into a one-bedroom apartment with his father.  Dad becomes Corey’s business manager and generally, in the young actor’s opinion, proceeds to damage his career and put him on a track where he will never reach his full potential.   (Dad is also described as being proud that he has reached a point in his relationship with his oldest son where they can smoke pot together.)  When Corey eventually goes to Court seeking emancipation at the age of fifteen, his father declines to agree to the request until Corey reimburses him for the money he supposedly lost while neglecting his own career for the benefit of his son.  He settles his claim in return for the actor’s total savings of forty thousand dollars.

A second title for this memoir could have been Meal Ticket, a term Feldman uses multiple times in the book to describe his primary function within the family.

Corey Feldman was in several memorable films during his childhood and adolescence including Gremlins, Stand by Me, The Goonies, Lost Boys (my personal favorite), and License to Drive.  His memoir relates a wealth of personal anecdotes from those days of fame and shows how those experiences helped to shape the troubled young man that he became.

Death plays a prominent role in this accounting of growing up in the entertainment industry.  The sad deaths of Corey Haim, River Phoenix, Sam Kenison, and Michael Jackson, all friends of Corey Feldman, each impact his life in significant ways.  But it is the death of innocence that forms the overarching theme of this work.  Readers are exposed to the sweet little boy filming a Christmas commercial for McDonald’s and then watch is silent horror as he slowly works his way into a career and lifestyle that ultimately consume him.

One other title for this book could have been Corey Feldman’s Life with Vampires.  In an ironic instance of life imitating art, the young vampire hunter from The Lost Boys  spent years in the real world being sucked dry by those closest to him.   Many of the people he should have been able to love and trust used Feldman, shamelessly and relentlessly, for money, sex, drugs, and access to the industry.    His fame seemed to feed everyone but himself.

This is a sad book, yet one which is extremely riveting.   I will pass my copy along to my favorite screenwriter with the personal plea that he never raise my granddaughter anywhere near Los Angeles.   There’s one thing about Los Angeles I would not be able to stomach - all the damn vampires!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Who Moved the Airport?

by Pa Rock
Traveling Fool

It is Thanksgiving Day and I am back in the Ozarks with family.  For that I am truly thankful.  Most of the leaves have turned brown and are on the ground, but a few still cling tenaciously to their branches.  The temperature outside is a crisp, yet delightful, forty degrees.  It is so nice to be out of the monotonous desert of Arizona.

My plane landed at Kansas City International Airport about an hour ago.   Just after touchdown our flight attendant got on the loudspeaker and welcomed us to Kansas.  Then, as if to confirm that she was a graduate of the Arizona public school system, she announced her hope that we all enjoyed our stay in Kansas!

That Brownback feller must be a real go-getter.  Acquiring KCI from Missouri is a major coup!  What's next, Sam, the Kemper Arena  or the Starlight Theatre?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Morons with Bibles and Guns

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

If Jesus were to parachute in during this holiday season, I suspect he would likely be mortified at some of the absurdities and hate crimes being perpetrated in His name.

In the days leading up to President Kennedy's fatal visit to Dallas, Texas, the city was plastered with 5,000 copies of a "wanted poster" featuring Kennedy's face and an accusation of treason.  The charges included being lax on communism, appointing anti-Christians to federal government positions, and lying to the American people about his personal life.

Now a group calling itself the Christian American Patriot Militia has reportedly (according to put a manifesto on Facebook saying that people have the authority to shoot the President.  The rambling screed accuses President Obama of disrespecting the Constitution, and states that the authority to kill him comes from the Second Amendment - apparently because Mr. Obama is "levying war on the United States and aiding and comforting our foreign enemies."  They add that "The Second Amendment gives us the right and duty (authority) to engage the enemy of the United States that does so with the design to reduce us under absolute Despotism."

The posting goes on to exhort people to join their organization.

Just because they are incoherent crackpots doesn't mean they can't be dangerous - or inspire others who are dangerous.

The FBI and Secret Service need to give the members of this organization the attention that they are so desperately seeking.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Power of Music

by Pa Rock
Radio Head

I just caught a portion of a radio interview yesterday morning in which a fellow was speaking of the educational impact of the news.  He was quoting research that said in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, people who relied on Fox News for their information were the least informed.

Color me surprised!

He went on to say that listeners to National Public Radio (NPR) were among the very best informed.  And while I strongly suspect that to be a true statement,  the interview was taking place on NPR.

I have two radios in my home, and one in the car.  All routinely are tuned to NPR, and I sort of schedule my life around their programming.

Yesterday I changed that up a bit.

I was having a particularly stressful day.  I had two cysts removed from the shoulder blade the previous Friday, and I was not able to remove the nasty dressing (because it was on a part of my body that is impossible to reach) - thus bloody sheets - thus laundry every morning.  Also that particular morning, as I was planning a rush trip to the doctor to get his assistant to change the dressing, I got in my car, way before daylight, only to discover that it wouldn't start.

There is one place to go for car repairs on base.  It is three blocks from my house, and they will not come to you - you must take the car to them.  My regular mechanic is just off base and has no wrecker service.  To get a wrecker onto base, you must meet it at a particular gate and ride onto base with the vehicle.  That gate is over two miles from my house.

It was going to be a helluva day!

I walked to work - about five blocks, called my insurance company to arrange for a wrecker, and had a friend drive me to the entry gate where I stood outside and waiting for over an hour.  When the fellow finally showed, he was in a pickup!  (My insurance company had decided to run a battery check first and save a few dollars.)  Fortunately, they guessed right - my money was on an alternator replacement. But, if they had been wrong, I would have had to stand outside for another hour while a wrecker found it's way to the base.

USAA, you suck.

But back to the radio story.

After the nice fellow in the pickup truck got my car started, I drove off-base to my mechanic's shop, and he checked everything out immediately and put in a new battery.  While I was in his shop, on Monday the 25th of November, three full days before Thanksgiving, I was entertained with wonderful holiday music coming off of his radio.   I asked about the station, and as I drove off - to the doctor's office - I deserted Diane Rehm and began playing the wall-to-wall holiday tunes on my car radio.

And my attitude magically lightened.   The stress began to evaporate, the angry edge disappeared.  I could literally feel my troubles lifting and floating off to Oz.

My mood was so good that it didn't even bother me when the receptionist at the doctor's office told me, after an unnecessary 45-minute wait, that the doctor was out and that the only available medical assistant didn't know how to change a dressing.   That was a lie, of course, but I didn't even care.  I drove back to work whistling to Frosty the Snowman and Little Drummer Boy and not giving a damn about greedy doctors who can't work five days a week and trained medical assistants who lack the skills to change a bandage.

This morning I went back to the medical center and the doctor himself changed the dressing (without any political tirades), and by the time I got back to my office I was happily whistling John Lennon's So This is Christmas!

Music truly does have the power to sooth the savage beast!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday's Poetry: "America"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Richard Blanco is the young Cuban-American poet who read one of his original poems, One Today, at President Obama's second inauguration this past January.  That beautiful work was featured in this blog.  Today I have selected another work by Mr. Blanco as a tribute to Thanksgiving.  In writing about the poem, the poet had this to say:
My Cuban family never “got” Thanksgiving. It was one of those traditions without translation. For Cubans, pork isn’t the “other white meat,” it is the “ONLY white meat.” This poem originates from one of my earliest memories of the clash between the two cultures that shaped me.

Please enjoy - and please pass the turkey!


by Richard Blanco 

Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered
at least half a dozen uses for peanut butter—
topping for guava shells in syrup,
butter substitute for Cuban toast,
hair conditioner and relaxer—
Mamá never knew what to make
of the monthly five-pound jars
handed out by the immigration department
until my friend, Jeff, mentioned jelly.

There was always pork though,
for every birthday and wedding,
whole ones on Christmas and New Year’s Eve,
even on Thanksgiving day—pork,
fried, broiled, or crispy skin roasted—
as well as cauldrons of black beans,
fried plantain chips, and yuca con mojito.
These items required a special visit
to Antonio’s Mercado on the corner of Eighth Street
where men in guayaberas stood in senate
blaming Kennedy for everything—
the bile of Cuban coffee and cigar residue
filling the creases of their wrinkled lips;
clinging to one another’s lies of lost wealth,
ashamed and empty as hollow trees.

By seven I had grown suspicious—we were still here.
Overheard conversations about returning
had grown wistful and less frequent.
I spoke English; my parents didn’t.
We didn’t live in a two-story house
with a maid or a wood-panel station wagon
nor vacation camping in Colorado.
None of the girls had hair of gold;
none of my brothers or cousins
were named Greg, Peter, or Marcia;
we were not the Brady Bunch.
None of the black and white characters
on Donna Reed or on the Dick Van Dyke Show
were named Guadalupe, Lázaro, or Mercedes.
Patty Duke’s family wasn’t like us either—
they didn’t have pork on Thanksgiving,
they ate turkey with cranberry sauce;
they didn’t have yuca, they had yams
like the dittos of Pilgrims I colored in class.

A week before Thanksgiving
I explained to my abuelita
about the Indians and the Mayflower,
how Lincoln set the slaves free;
I explained to my parents about
the purple mountain’s majesty,
“one if by land, two if by sea,”
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the “masses yearning to be free,”
liberty and justice for all, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we would have turkey,
as well as pork.

Abuelita prepared the poor fowl
as if committing an act of treason,
faking her enthusiasm for my sake.
Mamá set a frozen pumpkin pie in the oven
and prepared candied yams following instructions
I translated from the marshmallow bag.
The table was arrayed with gladiolas,
the plattered turkey loomed at the center
on plastic silver from Woolworth’s.
Everyone sat in green velvet chairs
we had upholstered with clear vinyl,
except Tío Carlos and Toti, seated
in the folding chairs from the Salvation Army.
I uttered a bilingual blessing
and the turkey was passed around
like a game of Russian Roulette.
“DRY,” Tío Berto complained, and proceeded
to drown the lean slices with pork fat drippings
and cranberry jelly—“esa baba roja,” he called it.
Faces fell when Mamá presented her ochre pie—
pumpkin was a home remedy for ulcers, not a dessert.
Tía María made three rounds of Cuban coffee
then Abuelo and Pepe cleared the living room furniture,
put on a Celia Cruz LP and the entire family
began to merengue over the linoleum of our apartment,
sweating rum and coffee until they remembered—
it was 1970 and 46 degrees—
in América.
After repositioning the furniture,
an appropriate darkness filled the room.

Tío Berto was the last to leave.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Death Takes Three and Other Tales

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It was an historical coincidence of sorts.   That day fifty years ago when President Kennedy died - November 22, 1963 - also saw the demise to two literary giants.   Novelist and Christian philosopher C.S.Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, and numerous others) died in London shortly before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley (Brave New World and others) met his mortal end in Los Angeles a couple of hours after the assassination.

That same day an up-and-coming tennis star by the name of Billie Jean King was celebrating her twentieth birthday.

A day later, November 23, 1963, witnessed the premier of the British science fiction television classic, Dr. Who.  The first episode was so swamped by news of the Kennedy assassination, the the BBC re-ran it a week later just before airing episode number two.  The series ran through 1989 before being cancelled.  It was brought back in 2005 and is still being broadcast to this day.

And less than three months after the assassination, on February 7th, 1964, the Beatles arrived in America.

The world was changing.  It felt like a time warp of Dr. Who proportions!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Greed Head Doctors Attack Obamacare One Patient at a Time

by Pa Rock
Medical Consumer

A few weeks ago I wrote an angry piece about my primary care physician having an anti-Obamacare quote by Ann Coulter posted on the wall of his exam room.  My issue wasn't that the doctor had no right to his own political opinion because clearly, like all of us, he did.  My primary complaint was that by not flaunting that opinion until the patient was in his inter-sanctum of the exam room, the patient was automatically at a power disadvantage.  It is hard to aggressively rebut a man who literally has control over your life.  My secondary objection was that the intelligence of anyone who quotes Ann Coulter must immediately be called into question.  Is this guy too dumb to be practicing medicine?

Since that time I have had two additional visits with physicians - and both of those medical providers brought up the subject of Obamacare.  (I suspect that when they see a fat, old white guy, they make an assumption that I must be a member of one of the Tea Party locals.)  It is clear to me that many physicians have chosen undermine the Affordable Care Act by whining to their patients.  That is a shameful and despicable way to behave - and politics at its sleaziest.

The first incident involved an opthamologist who remarked to me, during an eye exam, that soon Obama would have complete medical records on everyone.  When I didn't take that bait, he changed the subject.

The second was made yesterday by a medical doctor who as he was removing a cyst from my shoulder blade.  The young man (around 40-years-old) was of Middle Eastern descent with a name I couldn't pronounce.  I was lying face-down on his exam/operating table, and he had numbed the spot with several extremely painful shots.    The doctor had already made his incision when he said this (and I am quoting verbatim):  "So, let's talk politics.  How do you feel about Obamacare?"

There are so many ways to answer that question, but choices feel limited when the man doing the asking is digging into your back with a scalpel.

"Doctor,"  I moaned.   "A few weeks ago I was in a doctor's exam room in this very building and found a quote by Ann Coulter on the wall."

"A quote?"  He asked.  "What did it say?"

"It was an anti-Obamacare quote, and I thought it was very inappropriate."

"Oh.  Well I guess we are all entitled to our opinions."

I ignored that observation and it was quiet for a few minutes as he pulled two cysts out of my back.

Then the young doctor began to work at redeeming himself.  "I think it would have been better if the plan covered everyone."  I agreed with that and told him so.  He continued, "I just wish he would have consulted us first."  I ignored that remark knowing that all groups had been asked for input - even the  medical community - which was a primary reason that law is so weak.

And then, as he was patching me up, my physician began to wax personal.

"My father," he said, "grew up poor in a Middle Eastern country.  He was the first person in his family to go to college and he became a doctor.  People from his village would drive four hours to visit him in the city for medical care.  They were all very proud of him.  There wasn't much money, so often they would pay him in produce or livestock."  It turns out that eventually his father went on to become a professor of medicine at a university.

The Middle Eastern country was Iran.   (I asked.)

I liked the family history and felt that went a long way to humanizing the physician who was groping for a way to defend his greedy stance toward Obamacare.

My wound appears to be healing well, and if there are no setbacks by the time of my follow-up in December, I will reward my doctor's fine efforts with a pair of fat hens or maybe a little goat.   I'm going to call this new plan Rockycare!

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK Assassination Commemorative Publications

by Pa Rock
Shameless Collector

Sometime last summer I came across a magazine dedicated to the assassination of President Kennedy - and more than likely also dedicated to turning a few bucks.  I bought it and spent a couple of hours reading and remembering - and looking at photos of the First Family from my youth and the events of the fateful day in Dallas.  Within a few weeks several other magazines with the same theme had also hit the newsstands, and before I realized it, I had started a collection.  The publications are all in mint condition, and some day I will pass them along to my grandchildren so that they can use them for show-and-tell, or term papers, or peddle them as collector's items on the 100th anniversary of the shooting in Dallas.

My collection includes Kennedy Assassination by A.M. Specials, People Magazine dated 25 November 2013 with the cover story "Jackie's Private Agony," Jack and Jackie:  Remembering Camelot Fifty Years Later - also by People Magazine, and JFK Assassination by HCE Publications.

The pile on my coffee table is also home to a reprint of The Dallas Morning News of 23 November 1963 with big headlines and large photos of President Kennedy and the new President, Lyndon Johnson -  and a contemporary publication from USA Today titled JFK Special Edition.

The Atlantic published a tribute edition with the title JFK In His Time and Ours,  and TV Guide had its own version with a magazine simply called John F. Kennedy.  Time Magazine checked in with JFK:  His Enduring Legacy, and there was even an entry into the commemorative market by Vanity Fair with their special publication:  Kennedys.  The Smithsonian Magazine, always a class act, created a special publication called JFK:  The Ultimate Guide.

There was a magazine put out by a group called i-5 Publishing that bears the title Kennedy:  His Life and Legacy.

My classiest find for this project was a coffee-table boxed book by Life Magazine titled The Day Kennedy Died.  Included with the book is a reprint of the Life Magazine original edition that focused on the assassination of the President.  (I found it at Costco.)

Finally, National Enquirer has had one regular edition dealing with the Kennedys and two special editions - the second of which I found just today.  The regular edition was dated 4 November 2013 and had a cover story (which I have written about before) entitled "Cold-hearted Ambassador Caroline Kennedy Cashing In on JFK Assassination" - in which the supermarket tabloid got apoplectic because Caroline had sold off some of her parents things.  (Been there, done that.  I hope her auctioneer was better than mine!))

The special editions from National Enquirer are both slick and surprisingly nice-looking magazines,  The first deals with the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy.  It is titled:  Who Killed the Kennedys?  The second, which I purchased at my local grocery store today, is focused strictly on President Kennedy.   It's title is Kennedy Assassination.  (Both of the Enquirer specials bear the lead "From the Secret Files of the Enquirer."  Those secret files might just be more shocking and titillating  than J. Edgar Hoover's!)

The lady ringing up my purchases today at the store stopped when she came to that magazine.  She held it up and asked, "Where were you that day?"  I replied that I was in high school sitting in the study hall during lunch hour.  "Well," she continued, "How did you learn about it?  Did they announce it over the PA?

PA?  PA indeed!  (The only thing electronic at my little high school were a couple of electric typewriters and the wall clocks.

No, ma'am, they didn't announce it over the PA.  They just emailed the videos to our iPads and life went on!  

Fifty Years on Down the Road

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Many significant activities and events have occurred in my lifetime including several wars, the space race and moon landings, AIDS, the Challenger disaster, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite nations, the advent of personal computers and instant communication through email, the rise of terrorism, the election of a black man as President of the United States, and the Arab Spring.  But of all of the history that I have witnessed, only three events stand out with such clarity that I can remember exactly what I was doing when they occurred.

One of those three momentous events was when Neil Armstrong took the first step onto the moon – the first human in all history to set foot on solid ground that was not part of the Earth.  That was the summer of 1969, and I was attending ROTC summer camp at Ft. Riley, Kansas, where I was working my butt off from well before daylight to well after dark every day.  It was hell, but the moon landing was one event that drove some positive energy through mosquito –and-chigger-infested Camp Forsythe where we were billeted. 

Another monumental event happened on September 11, 2001, while I was in Columbia, Missouri, attending a graduate social work class at the University of Missouri.  My class was on the seventh floor of Clark Hall, and I was at a window staring out across the Mizzou campus when a classmate walked in with the news of the first tower being hit.  Soon the instructors put a television out in the hall and all of the students from all of the classes gathered around and watched in horror as the day unfolded.  That afternoon a small group of us (and one professor) went to a lunch that we had planned the week before.  It was at an ethnic restaurant on Ninth Street called Osama’s.   Obviously, I won’t ever forget the name of the restaurant.

But it was another event, one that pre-dated the other two, that had the most shock value and staying power – and that was the assassination of President Kennedy, which occurred fifty years ago today.  I was a sophomore in high school sitting in the study hall with my friends as the lunch period wound down.  An older student who had been home for lunch and had seen the news bulletins on television brought us the news.  Later that day our superintendent, Bill Spears, had a school assembly when he made the official announcement.  There was disbelief, some confusion as to how to react, and finally some hugging and crying.  Mr. Spears kept school in session that day, but he did make the rounds talking to school board members.  (I know that because my father was on the school board at that time.)  The superintendent and board made a decision to cancel school on the following Monday, the day of the President’s funeral.

Years later when I was principal of that same little school, Coradell Alexander, our beloved music teacher who had been on staff about thirty years, told me her recollections of that day.  She said that Mr. Spears had sought the advice of the faculty on what should be done.  She said that the teachers were all mystified because none had ever been through an event like that before.

The Kennedy assassination was a transformative moment that changed the lives of all who were old enough to comprehend what was going on, and, in a larger sense, it signaled the emergence of modern times.   The tragic shooting brought us all into the swirl of events as they unfolded in front of the never-blinking eye of television.  We were there watching as Ruby killed Oswald, we saw John-John saluting his father’s flag-draped casket on the horse-drawn catafalque, we watched as Haile Selassie, Prince Phillip, Charles de Gaulle and hundreds of other dignitaries walked in the funeral procession, and we were there, solemnly sitting in front of our televisions, as Jackie lit the eternal flame at JFK’s Arlington grave.

We saw it all.  We were part of the experience.  We mourned as individuals and as a nation.

My god, where have the years gone?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poverty and Smoking

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The MSN homepage always has an array of interesting news stories that change throughout the day.   One thing the site often does is to come up with “top ten” lists, usually based on available public records of one sort or another.  Yesterday the MSN page featured a list of the ten poorest states in the union – a list based primarily on per capita incomes and unemployment rates.  The states that made that list, from tenth to absolute poorest, were:  Arizona, Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, West Virginia, South Carolina, Idaho, and Mississippi.

(The two of those that I found surprising were Arkansas with the uber-rich Waltons, and yuppie-infested New Mexico, but obviously those pockets of dollars aren’t yet enough to off-set the empty pockets.)

Today’s list was the ten states most addicted to tobacco.  They were listed alphabetically:  Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  Six of those ten overlap onto the list of poorest states.  Of the poorest states that didn’t make the tobacco addiction list, two – Utah and Idaho – have substantial Mormon populations who eschew smoking.

So while a strong correlation does not prove cause and effect, it would seem clear that there is some connection between poverty and smoking.  Perhaps it is a lack of education due to one’s economic circumstances, deficits in critical thinking ability as a result of limited educational opportunities, stress and anxiety due to economic hardship, or general bull-headedness that might result from having a blue collar wrapped around a red neck.

One connection would appear to be certain, however:  It will be hard for a person to move out of poverty while paying four to five dollars for a pack of smokes!  I quit when they hit fifty cents a pack – and never looked back!