Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When ‘the turk’ comes to visit you

In pro football, the man who tells a rookie or free agent to “bring his playbook,” and see the head coach, because he’s about to be cut from the team, is known as “the turk.” It’s a thankless job but it’s usually happens to young players on the edge of their career.
When it happens in the corporate world, businesses rely on security; they dispense with the cute nicknames.
“The turk” came to my house Tuesday and did not leave it a happy place. My wife, a 20-year employee of a major DFW Fortune 500 corporation, was given her walking papers and kindly escorted from the Human Resources Department to her desk and then to the door – all in the span of an hour. Apparently the number of boxes she filled lengthened the departure; others (hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of others) took far less time to exit. All of them did it quietly even though extra security and police were visible in case someone took the entire experience personally.
As if there was any reason to do so. After all, it was only peoples’ lives at stake; now reduced to mere curious statistics within Internet news stories and blogs.
Twenty years is a long time to remain with one employer. It used to show solidarity with the corporation’s mission and purpose as well as a high degree of competence and skill by the worker. Together, they worked to produce the strong driving economy that brought this nation to the top of the economic mountain.
Today, our country does not sit atop the mountain; we barely can climb the molehill. Corporate greed and malfeasance among our financial institutions has cratered a strong economy into a whimpering shell of its former self. People demand apologies from private school basketball coaches for the outcome of stupid games yet do not seek, with the same ferocity, apologies (plus the tanned and jailed hides) of executives behind this collapse.
They just sit by and wave as the turk passes over their portal, akin to the old Jewish holiday of Passover and the story of the Israelites freed as slaves from Egypt.
Once upon a time in America, longevity and seniority stood for something; it meant quality of work, commitment to the job and devotion to the business that provided the livelihood. Today, all those attributes really don’t mean much. Too many businesses have decided to go as low as the pay scale can allow and employ the notion that damn near any breathing human being can do the same job for half the price – either here or halfway around the world.
And now the practice for so pervasive and so matter-of-fact, it has become its own verb – outsourced. And the bottom line has finally reached that level – the bottom. At least it has in this household.
I have been amused by the notion that job creation through small businesses can erase this burgeoning employment deficit; but in truth, it’s a fallacy. No number of nail salons, donut shops or itty-bitty storefronts can compensate for the wholesale, toxic dumping of the American workforce – wearing blue and white collars. And if the economy is counting on the consumer to spend his-her way out of the oncoming depression, how can that happen when there are fewer and fewer families able to spend anything … because they don’t jobs that really pay?
Now my household is like many, MANY others in this nation, in this state, in this region, in your neighborhood. We sit at the kitchen table and try to sort out what the hell to do now … now that “the turk” has had his say.
Over lunch on Tuesday, I tried to employ the “turk” sports analogy in order to make her feel “better” – if such a thing would be possible. I explained its possible origin going back to author George Plimpton and his seminal work, “Paper Lion,” and how in the movie, “Major League,” a red tag in the player’s locker signified the same thing – a giant “Not Wanted” sign for all to see.
Her eyes began to water up again, a tear for each of her years of service, and asked, “Do they do that for players after 20 years?”
No, dear, not in the America I used to know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All you need is LOVE

“Going to the chapel
And we’re gonna get married
Going to the chapel of love.”

– The Dixie Cups

When my wife and I were married 7 ½ years ago, the ceremony was conducted by a minister, who wasas gay as you could imagine, and involved in a long-standing marriage with his partner. His being homosexual did not affect our decision to gert married whatsoever; it wasn't a guide nor deterrent to our future. The vows exchanged were just between us – regardless of what others said, felt and desired.
Hell, my son spenidng the night in the Navarro County Jail for a past seat-belt violation posed more of a problem than anything else.
But the minister being married to a man????????? Puh-lese!
So I view any debate (past, present or future) over so-called “gay marriage” as a crock of crap. I simply don’t understand all the hue and cry against permitting two people – two souls, two hearts – from enjoying the same legal protections as a man and a woman.
Is the ability to procreate the singular barrier for acceptance? Because, as we all know, you don’t have to get married to fuck and have children. Conversely, not all married couples have kids; not all of them SHOULD have children. That's a tunnel-visioned judgment call.
To see and read BOTH sides of this issue – about California’s bullshit Proposition 8 (an abomination to be sure because it denies a right granted by the courts), Rick Warren saying a prayer (it was JUST a fucking prayer - not an Executive Order), gay adoption (I know MANY gay couples who make better parents than so-called straight couples) or how society is headed to Hell in a handbasket (like unprevoked war and genocide is even comaprable) – makes my head (and heart) hurt.
When you boil the issue down to its core, it is about one thing – love. In too many incidents, not enough of that commodity is being exhibited.
Look, I have no problem with a “religious” ban against such practices. If a church does not wish to marry same-sex couples, it is the rightful prerogative of that institution to do so; there’s simply NO room to complain or protest. If you belong to a church; then you follow its teachings … or else, get the hell out. Them there's the rules.
But marriage is really a legal/secular contract. A justice of the peace (regardless of religious or political affiliation) can do the exact same damn job, the result of which is registered in a courthouse and whose dissolution runs through that same secular course – no minister to be seen. No church can say a freaking peep.
Here’s a fact of life – you can’t legislate love (no matter how often some Neanderthal-thinking legislators try to do, especially HERE in Texas, often the Republic of Idiocracy). You cannot demand automatic adherence to another person’s (or group’s) dogma when it comes to the individual heart – before the ceremony … or prior to a divorce. But we've got folks, thinking with their wallets for political gain, trying their damnest to tell others what in the fuck to do with their lives when they can't properly run their own.
And before I am inundated with a flood of Biblical spew, to the contrary, spare me your righteousness. Christians cannot even agree among themselves about the “meaning” of Biblical passages. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many denominations, or pastors, with their own viewpoints about the same exact wording. And, lo and behold, all too often, it is do as I say, not as I do ... right Rev. Haggard?
God gave men and women the power to reason but … love isn’t reasonable. Hate, the polar opposite of love, is just as unreasonable. For so many to spew so much hate, over feelings of the heart, is beyond my mortal comprehension. Frankly, it sucks and it's embarrassing.
What I DO understand are a person’s rights, and in this country, everyone has the right to be happy. Being married to the person of your choice should be such an inalienable right. If you deny that particular right, it won’t be long before someone, or some group, decides to deny more of your rights – to travel freely, to speak freely, to hold religious belief freely. One misstep can place you on a greased slide downward – without any control as to when it stops.
"And there was no one left when they came for me..."
If you believe your marriage, and that of anyone else in this land, is adversely threatened because people of the same gender want to live in a bond of love, then, folks, then your union is already damaged. And it’s TOO fucking late to blame other people for your problems.
My wife and I will celebrate our eighth anniversary in September, and our ninth Valentine’s Day together. We enjoy that Hallmark holiday because of what it signifies – love for one another.
Regardless of who you are. Gay, straight, mixed-up, screwed-up or whatever.
You have the God-given right to be HAPPY!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The future of newspapers

I posted this on the Dallas Morning News website - on what that paper ought to do to survive in the future:

The very word - newsPAPER - is what it should be. There will always be a niche audience for a newspaper because it contains SO many things impossible to obtain online in terms of information/entertainment.
- Try doing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle on a Kindle or on your computer screen.
- Try reading the comics, circling that pop-up ad when you go to the grocery store as a reminder or clipping that flat-screen for the coupon exchange (heck, most groceries won't accept computer-generated coupons for fear of illegitimacy).
Sadly, the older generation, that was raised on newspaper content, developed the technology to keep the upcoming generations from using that same resource. Same is true for public education - the oldest among us profited and prospered from it but then ruined that same institution for our children and grandchildren.
Community newspapers (in which I worked for 30-plus years) will always be around because they better serve smaller markets with totally local news. A more intense focus on local and state coverage (not available anywhere on the Internet) with print-based exclusive copy (available ONLY in the paper) might draw more readers.
Frankly, one can get scores of business opinions from the web and international news is splattered everywhere you look and read.But not the happenings in Dallas and the region, or for Texas. Instead of Charles Krauthammer's babblings, or even Mark Davis' tired rantings about everywhere-but-here items, try telling Dallas area readers MORE about what is happening in THIS state (sorry, but forget Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, etc.).
It will require a major change in thinking among the hierarchy - going from the major national-international voice of the Southwest to JUST being the voice ... of Texas.
Stop wasting payroll sending reporters to NFL playoff games that do NOT involve Texas teams ... why was that necessary on the same day it was announced the paper won't be covering the local/area major league baseball team with its own staff?
Why cover plays or opera in Santa Fe or New York when concerts or cultural events in DALLAS get almost NO attention of print press????
Why have someone AT the Detroit Auto Show (us old-timers know it as such)? We do NOT live or die by that industry?
I would like to know MORE about happenings in West or East Texas or in Austin, San Antonio or Houston. I'd like to read (in my arthritic little hands) from voices in those cities BEFORE anyone in Providence, Philadelphia or Miami.
It is doing to require a completely different approach to how you do business and how you cover the news. It MIGHT mean you need to examine your smaller brethren in the smaller burghs of this fair state ... and how they survive and how they serve their readers.
Because, in the end, our society is NOT well served by a dying newspaper industry - and those who advocate such as simpleton idiots! We NEED more places to learn about what is happening around us - NOT LESS!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why I ain't blogging

For those who actually take the time to read this (all 3 of you), I have been absent - by choice.
I am a professional (albeit retired) journalist and I enjoy when I see my work on newsprint - a haunting and increasingly dinosaur of a conception. I like it when I can fold the page and actually touch my finger to the nasty ink.
It feels real then. This .... does NOT!
Besides, I got much more feedback when peopel took the time to open a newspaper and read the damn thing. I will have such an experience tomorrow in the Dallas Morning News (from an early posting about our late dog, Blarney) and I will feel satisfaction. I can clip it out, paste it into a scrapbook and know that something REAL was written.
And I know I am a select member of a group that CAN write fluently and coherently. On the blogosphere, any idiot with a computer can post and no one is there to edit the language, punctuation or content.
I still have some hardened opinion and I might share them in the coming days...but blogging isn't my "thang."
I am a writer.
Pen to paper.
Typerwriter to paper.
Laserprint to paper.
In real terms.
Not this.