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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fringeville #171: Well there’s a first time…and other random bits.

It’s Veteran’s Day. Please take a moment to say a prayer of thanks to those who serve, now and in the past. If you’re not the praying type simply be thankful and find a way to express it.

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Well, there’s a first time for everything.
I posted what follows on my Facebook pages yesterday because it was an uplifting experience in a time of great angst, both personally and for many of us in the social and political climate that exists today:

...It's one thing, and an important thing, when a candidate comes to your door and asks for support.

It's another when one shows up after the election to thank you for supporting him.

It just doesn't happen. They may call. They may write a note. That's terrific, truly. But they don't knock after winning, in my experience. Until tonight, that is, when PJ Biscontini showed up at my door in the freezing cold to thank me for supporting him in his run for Plains Township Commissioner.

We talked quite a while and with each passing, freezing cold minute, I was more impressed.

Does America still produce great young people? Well, this young man is your proof. There are great things in store for him one day. I never voted for anyone other than a Republican once I was elected to County Committee. I believe, as my good friend Renita Fennick taught me, you either belong to something or you don't. I did, and I did so passionately.

Now, I am unaffiliated. An island of one. I take each person as I find them, and if they measure up I will vote for them not because they do or don't belong to a party... but because they are the best person for the job. PJ is the first Democrat I have voted for in a long, long time.

Keep your eye on PJ. He loves Plains, professes to have no higher ambitions, but fate has a funny way of tapping the talents of the best of us. You've heard this before, and it's a cliché, but it's also true: This guy's going places.

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I am reading A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston, a birthday present by Popki. It is a surprisingly good read (I am not one for celebrity books) and it has managed to stir a lot of old memories of my childhood. Some good. Some probably forgotten for good reason. He paints his life in a series of small snippets …scenes, if you will …and I am enjoying it immensely.

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The Harvey Weinstein story has opened the floodgates. Every day another powerful person stands accused of anything from sexual harassment to sexual assault. It’s become the shark attack story of 2017, with one critical difference: The sharks aren’t along isolated stretches of beach here and there being sensationalized by the media. No, not one bit.

These damned sharks are everywhere. It’s going to get worse, because America is a gigantic beach for these particular predators.

Our sexuality is complicated because the drive to procreate is deeply instilled within us. Keeping the species going is kind of important. Most of us learn to master or at the very least control our sexuality. But for others, especially when power …political, economic or career …is involved, a beast is unleashed.

Yes, we all flirt, some just a little bit, and some quite a lot. Most of the time it is harmless, and we pretty much stick to the rules. A man compliments an attractive lady on her dress, and perhaps smiles just a few seconds longer than usual. A woman leans in close and lightly touches a man’s arm during conversation. But the game has rules, and most people instinctively adhere to them. We don’t wag our genitals at the opposite sex as a display of power or force ourselves on others.

Those transgressions are no problem for powerful sharks. What they do is indefensible. The sharks aren’t just the rich, powerful and famous we read about each day. There are probably some in every community. Perhaps this will be a watershed moment when predatory behavior becomes intolerable. One can hope. Our very nature, however, makes this a problem for all generations. I don’t know what the solution is, but perhaps a start is recognizing that we’ve lost our way. We are flirting with total hedonism, where anything goes and personal responsibility no longer exists.  We can hope that we’re turning a corner. Again, one can hope. I’m not ready to give up on us. I hope you’re not, either.

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The NFL kneeling thing.

I fully support the player’s rights to kneel during the anthem. I also fully support the choice of those offended to boycott the NFL if they see fit. It’s America. Have at it.

If I ran the NFL, I’d have seen this coming after last year. I’d have simply reworked the pregame festivities a mite. The players would come out after the anthem.

Simple solutions seem to escape the NFL Commissioner, but it is his League to run as he sees fit. He’s stuck for the rest of this season, but the damage has been done. Everyone is losing here.

I understand what the players involved are trying to do. But you don’t build widespread support for a cause by alienating large chunks of the population. You find a way to get everyone behind you. It’s a hell of a lot harder. It’s not flashy. But it works.

I remember when drunk driving was something that was accepted as part of the way things were. When we were kids, we used to shout “Happy Jack! Happy Jack!” whenever our parents ended up behind a drunk driver.

I also remember driving home one night in the late 70’s/early 80's and coming around a bend in Kingston Township to find a car blocking both lanes of the road. A man was passed out behind the wheel and his car, still running, was resting, unscratched, against the guard rail. I knocked on a nearby door and asked a man who opened his second floor window to call the police. When they arrived, they thought it was funny. (I think they knew the guy.)

As they put him in the cruiser (one officer to drive him home, the other to drive his car) I realized my car battery had died. I’d left the lights on so anyone coming around the curve had some warning that there was an issue. When I asked for a jump, I got some grief from one of the officers who grumbled while he helped me get my car going again. I never forgot that. I was the pain in the ass and the guy bombed behind the wheel of his car was a source of amusement (who got a ride home and a free car drop-off).

Hey, he was just a Happy Jack.

Things started to change when a California mother, Cari Lightner, lost her daughter to a drunk driver who hit her 13-year old and left her dead at the scene. The driver was a repeat DUI hit and run offender.

This devastated mother started Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Over time, society’s views on driving impaired shifted dramatically. The days of the police being the designated driver for a DUI are, I believe, long, long behind us.

That’s how it’s done, folks. When you see something drastically wrong, you work hard to bring everyone on board. Unify, don’t divide. That’s the lesson that isn’t being heeded. That’s what the NFL players need to do.

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I’ve prattled enough.

Be good to each other.

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My motto is be good to each other. In that spirit, keep it clean on the comments. Personal attacks, nasty language, and any disdain of chicken wings will not be tolerated.