I was born in Warren, Ohio, and spent much of my youth growing up in Bedford, a suburb of Cleveland. Being a fan of the Browns and Indians wasn’t just something to do, it was a part of life. A agonizing, gut wrenching at times, part of life. And yet, we all still wore the title, Browns Fan, with pride and a odd sense of scruffy dignity.
That all changed for me a couple of days ago when the Browns decided to trade Richardson for a #1 draft pick to the Colts. Yes, Trent’s numbers were not all that great, but only a #1 pick? To a team that will likely make the playoffs? Insane. I know the talking heads are saying this could be a win for the Browns long term. To a once die-hard fan though, it’s just another slap in the face by an organization saying ‘we will better next year.’ Only next year never comes.
There comes a time when every fan has the concept of ‘It’s not about the fans, it’s about the bottom line’, thrust down their throat. In this case, not only are Cleveland fans expected to deal with this, again, they are also being asked to foot the bill to renovate the stadium that they just built 14 years ago!
Enough is enough. No more Browns apparel. No more Browns nicknacks. No more money, period, going to support that once great organization. No more.
From this day forward I am 100% a fan of the teams of my adopted town of Seattle. Done.
Good luck Cleveland, you’re gonna need it.
If folks remember, I wrote a short little blurb on my other blog about the folks I know that frequent my favorite watering hole, Berts. One of our members passed away earlier this month. This continues that story.
Michael “Sargent Major” Marshall passed away on Jan 3rd at the age of 71 and was laid to rest on Jan 10, 2013. During his time in the military he was awarded over 30 medals and commendations, including the Purple Heart and the Gallantry Cross (Vietnam). One of his personal crowning moments, I believe, was when he was awarded a meritorious service medal by President Obama last year. He carried that picture of the two of them everywhere, never bragging mind you, just damn proud.
Sargent Major exemplified the ideal of ‘gentle strength.’ Built like a pencil thin reed, he would bend when life threw heavy winds his way, yet he managed to support all of those around him. Once the winds passed, he would snap back to full strength, ready to take on the next. Kind and generous, sometimes to a fault, he was still a man you didn’t want to get on the bad side of. A true leader, in every sense of the word. To be honest, all he would have had to do was ask, and I would have followed him anywhere.
They say that funerals are for the living. I believe that. I mean, the departed are on to whatever the final adventure brings. Funerals are anchors for the grieving. A solid connection to the departed, a way to say goodbye and yet hold on.
Sargent Major was baptized as a Baptist, yet he converted to Buddhism many years ago. You would not have known this by his service, where his family praised God and Jesus for his salvation. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mind. The peace of mind he found came from his meditations on the teachings of the Buddha, as well as the words of Jesus. How do I know this? Because we talked of it at length. And yet his family needed to ignore that part of his life. For themselves, more than for Micheal, they needed to go to sleep later with the comforting thought that their beloved father, husband and uncle, was safe in the arms of their Lord.
Funerals are for the living.
I will miss Sargent Major a great deal. I will miss his stories. I will miss his wisdom. I will miss that wink. Most of all, I will just simply miss the man. I feel like he had so much more to teach me. I will not mourn though. I will instead continue to be grateful that our lives somehow crossed. I will hold the Buddha’s words close, “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”
‘Til we meet again Army, this is Navy, signing off.
Preface: I was going to post this later. But a very close military friend of mine passed away last week. I decided to post this now, before his funeral, so that his tribute that I write later, remains his. And trust me, he approves of “this ad.”
The right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights reads as follows: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Did you all catch that? There is nothing in there that says we have a right to have assault rifles to kill deer. So please quit using that as a reason to ban assault rifles.
It does not say that we have a right to have 30 clip magazines.
It does not say that we have a right to have multiple guns.
It does not say that we have a right to purchase guns without fear of registration.
What it does say, in plain English, is that we have a right to keep and bear arms. Period.
Why? Why would our forefathers allow this? Because if it were not for an armed militia, this country would not exist today. That is simply a fact.
Our Bill of Rights gives every citizen the right to keep and bear arms not to go hunting, but to insure that what ever the current government is, is held accountable for its actions. I’m sorry people, but that is exactly what that right provides.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t be aware of misuse? Hell frickin’ no. As a law abiding citizen, I should be more aware. Should we close down gun show loop holes? Hell yes, to a point. Should we be more aware of who is buying guns? Yes, before they buy, not after. Mentally ill people? Please. We don’t let them drive, they should not have guns. Cooling off period? Heck yes. Registration for all gun owners? Hell frickin’ no.
Wait, what? I, mister democrat, peaceful loving soul that I am, is not for registration? No. No I am not. And I’m not, because of the 2nd amendment. Read it again. Shall Not Be Infringed. Now read it again, with an understanding of the people, and the time, of when it was written.
Look. People kill people. And yes, guns make it easier, like I’ve pointed out. But until we decide to throw away everything this country stands for, and was built on, the fact of the matter is that guns are not for only hunting or sport, they are for keeping our government in check. And if that ever changes, I will be the first person looking for another place to live.
Before I continue, let me make one thing very clear. As an ex-military man, hunter and avid shooter, I’m a strong supporter of our second amendment. I have an unwavering belief that is it the right of every sane American to keep and bear arms. This country would not be here today had the colonists not had arms to repel borders once the Revolutionary War started. That is fact. And I am 100% certain that our founding fathers had that fact in mind when that was added to our constitution. I own guns, and I will continue to do so until they pry them from my dead hand.
That said. It is time for responsible gun owners to stop the charade. Guns do kill. It is the only reason they were made. They do not heat a house. They do not till the farm. They do not weave wool. They kill. They kill enemies. They kill game. They kill innocent kids, whose only “crime” was going to school.
I am calling on the NRA to do the right thing. Support laws that insure that only responsible gun owners will own guns. Lose the idiot phrases. Lose support for weapons that are only designed for mass destruction of life. I’m a hell of a shot. I know that I can protect my family with the .45 and .380 hand guns that I own. I don’t need a fully automatic machine gun shooting armor piercing bullets at 100 rounds a minute to do so. Compromise. Close the gun show loop holes. Close the behind the scenes transfer of guns. I’m willing to wait a month to buy a new gun to insure my background is completely clean. You should be as well.
Yes, the world is full of evil people. And yes, those evil people will end up doing what ever they can to carry out their evil intent. But we need, as responsible, sane, gun owners, to get behind anything that will insure we don’t give these idiots an easy way to carry out that evil intent.
My heart, my ache, my soul goes out to the parents that lost everything today. I can’t imagine, nor do I want to, what they must be going through now. The time has come for all hate, all violence to end. We need to get this under control now, or I fear that the prophets will be proven right.
I can’t believe this happened, but in the space of just over a week 2 very influential men in my life died. One helped to shape me while I was younger, while the other one affected my life in later years. I’d like to take a moment and share a little of their humor and wisdom if I may.
Uncle Barry, a soft-spoken southern gentleman with a titanium will, passed away a few days after suffering a stroke. If I know him the way I think I do, he probably willed himself to pass on, rather than become a burden to his family. I’m pretty sure the thought of having to be fed, etc. would not have set well with him.
When I was much younger, around 12 or so, Uncle Barry, Aunt Charlotte and cousins Sorrel, Cindy and Benny came to visit our family in Bedford, Ohio, from their home in Gainesville, Florida. One night we decided to have a campfire in our backyard. Our yard was huge and went all the way back to a wooded ravine. After the campfire we all started to hike back up to the house. When we hit the back porch Uncle Barry told Sorrel and I to go back and check on the fire, make sure it was really out. We complied, headed back down and checked the stone cold fire. Satisfied with the results, we started back. What we didn’t know was that Uncle Barry had snuck back and hidden himself in a grove of pine trees. When we passed his hiding place, he let out one of his patented wild animal growls. To this day thinking about this makes my heart race. Two things came out of this. One, I knew it was possible for me to break a 10 sec 100-yard dash and two, my sometimes stoic, always intelligent Uncle had a wicked sense of humor.
Another time I remember was when he listened to me play the saxophone. I was working very hard on trying to copy Boots Randolph’s Yakety Sax song. I thought I had it nailed, but when I played it for him the comment I got was, “Well, you’re no Boots but I guess it’s okay. Needs work though.” Now some folks would say that was cruel, but that’s not the way he meant it by any means. Uncle Barry had a very pragmatic view of the world. He was involved in the agriculture dept. at University of Florida in Gainesville as a professor at first, I believe, then on to other spots. Scientific and exacting, he expected as much from others as he expected from himself. Being satisfied with something was fine, for a while. He taught me to always try harder; To enjoy the fruits of ones labor, but to always remember to plant more fruit.
Merv Buttel, a father-figure as well as a friend and brother, died a few days after my Uncle. Merv had suffered a heart attack earlier in the year, and his death was a result of the damage that had occurred then. According to Cherre, he fought right to the end after he promised her he’d be okay, but it just wasn’t meant to be. This says more about the man than any words could ever do. His word was/is his bond, and death be damned.
I first met Merv and Cherre when I took a 1996 HD Heritage in for some paint work at a motorcycle shop they owned in Columbus, Ohio. This simple act of wanting new paint led to a friendship I will always treasure. Oh, it also led to lots of pieces parts for my scoots. :-) At one point I decided I needed an S&S carb and chrome lowers for my baby. Cherre ordered the parts and I showed up on my appointed day to have them installed. Merv directed me to the back of the shop and had me bring the bike in and put it on a stand. He then smiled and said, “There’s your parts and you can use those tools over there. If you need me I’ll be over yonder.”
After a lot of trail and error and help, I finally got the carb on. Next came the lowers. After removing my old ones I tried putting the new ones on but they wouldn’t fit. “Hey Merv, these lowers don’t fit” “What do you mean, they don’t fit. Of course they fit you just ain’t doin’ something right” “I’m tellin’ you man, these ain’t going to fit” “Do I have to come over there and do it for you?” “Yes, that would be nice” “Grumble….Okay look…” At this point he stopped to look at the lowers, turning them over in his hand. He looks at me and grunts. Then he yells to Cherre, “Rhee? You ordered the wrong lowers, these here are for a RoadKing.” And then we set about tuning the carb which almost burned his beard off when it backfired. Karma. Merv’s reason for having me do the work btw? He thought I had the ability and if you have the ability to do something for yourself, you damn well better do just that.
Several years later, the whole gang rode to DC for the Run to the Wall. This is the event where 600,000 of your closest biker buddies all meet up in the Capital over Memorial Day to show support for vets and our POW/MIAs. To say this event is emotional is the understatement of the millennium. On Saturday, after touring the downtown area, we got lost heading back to our hotel. We ended up stopping in an area, that some in the group affectionately called “Crack Alley,” to try and get our bearings. After speaking with some of the folks that had gathered around the bikes, Merv said he had an idea of where we were and we set off again. Weather was turning sour and Merv clearly didn’t really know where we were, he just wanted out of this area. He not only had Cherre with us, riding her own scoot, but his daughter Stacey was on the back of his. At one point I see a sign for the 495 and shout. Next light Merv tells me to take the lead and I was off. An ivy-cold rain had started to come down and I had visions of trading the cold rain in on a cold beer and warm clothes. Head down, I pushed on faster. I see the exit, we get off and pull into the lot. As I was getting off my scoot Merv came up to me pissed as hell. “Don’t you ever do that again” “What man, I got us here” “Son, I had Stacey on the back, Rhee was following, and none of us were riding in our comfort zone. When you lead a ride, you ride to the skill level of your group. Not only do you not outrun your headlights, you sure as hell don’t outrun your followers. You do that again and I will whip your ass.” And he walked off to his room to put on dry clothes. Nothing else was said about that, but once again the old man taught me a valuable lesson.
I could go on, but this isn’t meant to be a biography on these two guys. It’s about dealing with the loss of them. And it’s about dealing with our own guilt. If only… Man, we need to strip that little phrase out of all of our brains. If only I… If only he… If only she… Pointless. How we all deal with personal loss is, well, personal. One thing is common. Men like these touch a lot of people’s lives in very positive ways. We all have “Uncle Barry” or “Merv” stories. Stories that make us laugh and cry and think. I can tell you from personal experience that not a day goes by that one of my actions wasn’t a result of something they taught me. That’s the immortality we all should seek.
As all of our families go on with the healing process I urge us to reach out to each other. Call. Write. Visit. Because when I try to make sense out of all this I see Merv pointing to all of you and saying to me, “There’s your parts. There’s your tools. If you need me I’ll be over yonder.”
Hang on kids, it could be a long one.
It was a hot one in Seattle today. I know, 89 does not qualify as hot compared to the rest of the country, but for us it’s frickin hot. We are not well equipped here to deal with multiple hot days. A/C is lacking in most places and to be honest, as much as we complain, we love what is our normal weather. Just don’t let that get out.
After the brutal day, much like what this part of the country is known for, we got a wonderful evening. Temps fell and sitting outside became a joy. Clear skies, slight breeze and the smells. Man. Look, I’m being honest here. We have the best smelling air in all of the US. I’m not kidding. When we do go home, part of what I look forward to most is coming back and just smelling the air. It’s clean and crisp, yes, but there is… something else. It’s hard to explain. Most folks that come to visit say something about it, but they never really get it. You live out here for more than a couple of years though, and you can’t live without it.
So any way, I go outside on our “patio” and just sit. Bug light is on, a pale yellow light is cast over the grill and chairs. I sit. I smell. I start to remember. Boy, do I remember.
My family comes from back east, PA and OH to be exact. My parents grew up in a small town in PA called Union City. I have so many fond memories of both families, but for this I’m going to talk about my mom’s parents. Meme and BumBee. Actually, I’m not sure of the spelling, but you get the idea. Story goes I couldn’t say Grandma or Grandpa, so Meme and BumBee were ‘born.’
My grandfather used to take me fishing out to French Creek. He taught me patience, but more importantly, he taught me to love canned fish and baseball. You know what I’m talking about. Sitting by a small stream, line in the water while you listen to baseball on a radio. Get hungry, you open a tin of sardines and life is good.
My grandmother taught me…man. She made me who I am today. Which brings me to the point of this post. I remember sitting on Meme’s back porch on summer nights, bug light lit, playing Rummy. Not only did she teach me how to play the game, she taught me about life. She taught me how to be calm. She taught me what it means to say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I was wrong’ and actually mean it. She taught me right from wrong. And she did all of this under a pale yellow light, sweet smell of slightly damp earth wafting in and treating me like an equal, not a goofy little 10 year old kid.
My brother Brian was even closer to her than me. Our dad left the family in August, I went into the Navy in September, and Brian was suddenly left alone with our mom. I love our mom, but that was a lot for him to take. Meme stepped in and gave him the anchor he needed. I’m glad to say it worked, because he’s become a man I am more than proud to call my brother.
So, I’ve come in from the patio. Left the bug light behind. But Meme? I felt you there with me tonight. I felt your unconditional love. I felt your joy that I’ve taken your habit of having toast and coffee for breakfast. I felt your disappointment that I didn’t get you a great-grandkid in time. I felt your pride that I recall your stories of being wooed on horse-drawn carriages. I felt that you understood how much in awe I was of you that you went from horses to bikes to cars to planes to seeing a man on the moon. More than anything though, I was reminded of just how much I miss you, and the wisdom you gave while playing a simple game of cards.
Freedom Is Not Free.
I have this tattooed on my arm. I live it. I believe it. I also believe that freedom for some is not freedom for all. This country was founded on the simple idea that all are created equal and we all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This has led me down some “Catch-22” situations. What if someone else’s pursuit makes me uncomfortable? What if I don’t agree with it? They have the right to their own opinions, right?
Not if it hurts others. And that’s the rub. I’ve never been able to effectively express that concept. Luckily I don’t have to anymore. A friend of mine, Wayne, wrote a short essay on this very topic, with the Chick-Fil-A controversy as the basis. You can read it on his website here: http://www.owldolatrous.com/?p=288
I urge you to take a moment and read it. You may believe in the words, you may not. That is up to you. As far as I’m concerned though, it’s way past time to stop the hate.