Lazy Saturday Reads


Good Morning!!

Yesterday we had a sort-of mini-family-reunion at my mother’s house in Indiana. We wanted to get a bunch of us together to celebrate my mom’s 89th birthday. I’ve been here for a few weeks already. I had to stay a little longer than I was planning to after my mom broke her wrist.

My brother and his wife and two sons are visiting from Boston, another brother came with his son from Illinois, my sister and her husband came from Indianapolis, and my niece and her husband and son also came from Indianapolis. Only one of my sisters wasn’t here.

It was a lot of fun. We broke out mom’s croquet set, and sat outside talking for hours. My brother John (the one from Boston area) cooked a fantastic meal of grilled steak, roasted potatoes and veggies, and salad; and afterwards we had a birthday cake that my niece from Indy had designed. Across the top was a pastry scrabble board with words like “grandma, mother, birthday on it. (My mom is a scrabble and crossword fan and she recently started a scrabble group with two of her friends).

The day was a reminder to me that family is just about the most important thing in life. I didn’t get that when I was younger and just wanted to get away to a more interesting place; but as I get older, it feels more and more true. Now I understand why my grandparents organized big family “reunions” when I was a kid. In our Catholic family, everyone had lots of kids and we would have huge get-togethers with 30+ kids all running around wildly and adults drinking eating and reminiscing.

But enough about me, let’s see what’s happening the news.


We lost a legendary musician yesterday. Rolling Stone reports: Soul Legend Bobby Womack Dead at 70.

Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.

The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.

Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes,pneumoniacolon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

Read the rest at the RS link.

Read a collection of tweets in praise of Womack from The Guardian: Stars pay tribute to the great Bobby Womack.

At the Washington Post, Simon Waxman of the Boston Review has a worthwhile op-ed about the continuing scandal of the Washington Redskins’ refusal to deal with the inherent racism of their team name: The U.S. military’s ongoing slur of Native Americans.

Resistance to the Washington Redskins team name has ebbed and flowed over the years, but thanks in part to letters from 50 senators to the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, and last week’s decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind the team’s trademark registration, the campaign to get rid of it has renewed urgency.

Snyder has shrugged off complaints about the name, even claiming that “redskins” is a “badge of honor.” Team president Bruce Allen, protesting too much, says the name “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

The team and the NFL are under a great deal of pressure right now,

But even if the NFL and Redskins brass come to their senses and rename the team, a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians — an injustice perpetuated not by a football club but by our federal government.

In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden.

Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished? For the same reason the Washington team is the Redskins and my hometown Red Sox go to Cleveland to play the Indians and to Atlanta to play the Braves: because the myth of the worthy native adversary is more palatable than the reality — the conquered tribes of this land were not rivals but victims, cheated and impossibly outgunned.

The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.

It’s an excellent essay. I hope the powers that be will get the message.

Another op-ed at The New York Times argues against popular claims that marijuana is an effective treatment for untold numbers of illnesses: Politicians Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data. It appears that the NYT has fixed it’s website so that you can’t copy and paste anything anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article by Catherine St. Louis. It’s quite interesting and compelling.

What the hell is going on down in Mississippi. I haven’t been following the story closely, but this is stunning: Tea party leader Mayfield dies in apparent suicide.

Attorney Mark Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.

Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home to use in a political video against Cochran in the Republican Senate primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Ridgeland police said they received a 911 call at 9:03 a.m. from a woman who said her husband had just shot himself.

Officers responded to the home on Cherry Laurel Lane in the Bridgewater subdivision at 9:07 a.m. and were directed by Mayfield’s wife to a storage room in the garage.

Officers found Mayfield lying on the floor with a single gunshot wound to his head, according to a Ridgeland Police Department statement. Police found a “large caliber revolver” near the body. “The death is classified as a death investigation-pending, due to an awaiting autopsy to be performed at an undetermined time.” ….

Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested by the Madison police Department last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.

Much more at the link.

Even more bizarre, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: McDaniel Campaign Staffer Blames Tea Party’s Leader Suicide On Political Opponents.

The strange and ugly Mississippi Republican Senate primary turned tragic when Mark Mayfield was found dead Friday. Mayfield was a lawyer and board member of the Central Mississippi tea party and one of the alleged conspirators in the case surrounding the break-in and photographing of incumbent Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home.

Mayfield’s death was an apparent suicide, according to reports.

On Twitter, one high-level McDaniel staffer, policy director Keith Plunkett wrote:

“A good man is gone today bc of a campaign to destroy lives. To all “so called” Republican leaders who joined lockstep: I WILL NOT REST!”

More tweets at Buzzfeed.

I’m going to end there, because there are numerous relative milling around me wondering why I’m typing on a computer instead of joining the group. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links on the comment thread.


41 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads”

  1. Delphyne49 says:

    So happy you are enjoying family time, BB!

    I enjoyed the Post OpEd about the slur of Native Americans by the military, especially the last 2 paragraphs from the excerpt – they rang so true.

  2. Fannie says:

    Good Morning – we love hearing about your Mom and family. It all sounds like fun times, and memories in the making. Happy Birthday to Mom, and how cool, her scrabble cake. I realize too, that sometimes I have taken things for granted, and sometimes I feel that many in my family don’t understand me. I like to think, no matter what, I love them, and try to say so from time to time.

    I loved waking up this morning, getting the newspaper outside, and looked up to see hot air balloons above the house. Had to capture it all with my camera, while everybody else in the neighborhood was sleeping in, I was walking the block and snapping photos. What fun in the early morning.

  3. List of X says:

    I read the essay about the military names. What I did not see mentioned in the essay, is whether the Native Americans actually find this offensive. And does the US military actually have a tradition of naming their hardware after the people they fought against at one point, like maybe after British generals of Revolutionary war, German generals in WWII and WWI? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s the case. The military does have a tradition of naming their military bases after confederate generals, that much I know. In my opinion, that might be more offensive than naming a helicopter after a tribe.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I didn’t know about the Confederate generals but, to be honest, I don’t think anything that was done to the leaders of the Confederate sedition is analogous to the government’s treatment of Native Americans.

      • List of X says:

        Oh, I agree, it’s not even close. But this is a question of whose name is more appropriate to use for naming – a seditionist against our country, or a victim of genocide by our country.

  4. Sweet Sue says:

    BB, your time with your Mom and sibs sounds blissful.
    It really is all about family and friends, isn’t it? Like you, I wish I’d understood that a long time ago.
    As to Mayfield, sneaking into a nursing home and robbing poor Mrs. Cochran of whatever dignity she has left, was the lowest “tactic” I’ve ever seen and, as you did, I lived through the entire “Arkansas Project” so that’s saying something.
    Makes me wish there was a hell.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Glad to hear your having so much fun BB! Hope your mom continues to mend well!!

  6. dakinikat says:

    Seattle entrepreneur defends minimum wage: “These idiotic trickle-down policies are destroying my customer base.”

    • NW Luna says:

      Great article!

      CEOs used to earn 30 times the median wage; now they rake in 500 times. Yet no company I know of has eliminated its senior managers, or outsourced them to China or automated their jobs.

      …though I could wish that Seattle was not the fastest-growing city. It’s already too big, but no there’s turning back.

      • dakinikat says:

        I know how you feel.

      • babama says:

        Yes! Thanks for the link. I had read part of this earlier, Good for him, though I found the tone a bit grating, at this point I don’t have much fondness for arguments based on the best interests of the billionaire class. I’m fed up with thinking that says we can only change or progress based on what’s in it for us as individuals. We are all interconnected, part of a larger body. How about do the right thing for the sake of the greater good? I know I’m not the audience he was writing for, but geez, I’m sick of the selfishness of the 1%. Put me in the camp that thinks capitalism has become too metastatic to be “managed” anymore. My spirit and heart are for a benign transition, though my mind thinks differently.
        I am in North Seattle for a month right now, housesitting for daughter and minding teenage grandson. OMG, what the heck has happened? I was here six months ago, but it seems suddenly things have gone into overdrive. Where’s the money coming from and who has it, because I sure see plenty of poor people everywhere I go? Buying groceries, looking at the cost of housing and utilities, I don’t see how a body could get by here even on $15 an hour and have anything left to spend on “small business”. Let’s talk $20-25 if one means a ‘living’ and not just a ‘surviving’ wage.
        I’m from here, I learned to drive here, took grandson to the Spaghetti Factory the other night, drove through Ballard and along the waterfront and barely recognized where I was at times. Growing up here, the growth and development was constant, I always say it profoundly affected my worldview. Now it seems as if its gone to a whole ‘nother level of big city. Reminds me of what’s happened to Vancouver. I’m grateful I got to grow up here in the golden age, it sure ain’t what it used to be. In a week, my wife is coming and we are going to start looking for our long planned and saved for “move back to WA” home. This is where we want to be, but now I’m not so sure where or, where we can afford. We are hoping for an acre or few north of Seattle, I-5 corridor, foothills, my dream is San Juan Islands.

        • NW Luna says:

          I was born in Seattle … yes, it has really changed. Nearly unrecognizable now. There is a higher % of wealthy-class people here compared to the average city its size, likely due to Amazon, Microsoft, and related companies. Then all the low-paid service jobs. Ballard and other formerly sleepy residential areas now have building after building of apt complexes and condos. The public transportation keeps getting worse. Gotta pay for that trillion-dollar tax writeoff Boeing gets, so not enough to spend on transportation. Or higher education. The libraries are still good, though.

          Ahem…have you looked at prices in the San Juans recently?

  7. Sweet Sue says:

    As to what’s important (family and friends) and what is not so important, I just found out that the author of “How Not To Look Old” and “How Not To Look Fat”, Charla Krupp died almost two years ago at the age of fifty eight from breast cancer.
    I swear I don’t mean this in any bitchy way, but, maybe, looking old or fat or both is the not the worst thing in the world. The things that we obsess about, as women, that turn out to be so inconsequential and take up so much precious time– this puts me in mind of Suzanne Somers and her fruitless quest for eternal youth.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Obama Gets Blunt: The Problem is Republicans and Their Failed Trickle Down Fantasies

    should’ve woke up and said this and done something years ago … but oh, well

    • NW Luna says:

      Too little, too late. This is how Obama should have talked on Day 1.

      • RalphB says:

        I doubt it’s ever too late to open up and be honest, if you’re in politics. There’s always a little hope that something good can come from it.

    • babama says:

      I’m not at all surprised, I think it was destined to play out this way, he was in a double bind from the start. Consider all the racist hate that’;s thrown at him, day after day. If he’d been anything other than a moderate, conciliatory, compromise seeking black man from day one white people would have lost their s**t even more. Say what you will about his timing but who can say his efforts haven’t exposed the GOP for who they are? Because of my life experiences I’ve known for a long time, but apparently a lot of other white people haven’t gotten the memo. Well, who can say it’s not delivered and staring them in the face now? Read it people! I’ll tell you what gets me is all the d**n progressives, creative class, and dude bros who wanted him so bad and now are whining and moaning and don’t have his back. I think it’s a shame and a disgrace! Over the years I’ve come to support President Obama more than I expected I would, not least because he’s been a good advocate for families like mine (lesbian, married, mixed race, working folk). I think he’s more decent and compassionate than he gets credit for and those qualities go a long way with me.

      • dakinikat says:

        I’m glad to see him embrace authenticity and finally do and say what he wants. Better for all of us. Those old republican dudes had it in for him from day one.

        • Sweet Sue says:

          As they had it in for Bill Clinton. It’s not the color of your skin, it’s the consonant-D-after your name.
          Clinton was a bigger threat to the Neanderthals because he was truly talented and cared about the middle and working classes from day one.

  9. NW Luna says:

    Enjoy your family, BB, and thanks for telling us about the celebration and fun times together.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you, Luna. All the guests have finally left for now. My brother and his family will be back next week.

  10. RalphB says:

    Brazil got past Chile by the barest skin of their teeth! Them losing would have been huge.

  11. RalphB says:

    Without their biter, Uruguay doesn’t look so good.

  12. RalphB says:

    Had to happen eventually…

    Don’t shred on me: TX music lovers mock gun enthusiasts with Open Carry Guitar Rally

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s a great article. Thanks! Most people don’t realize that Indiana is also the birthplace of the KKK and the John Birch Society.

    • Beata says:

      I have tried to explain to people on blogs that many of the ultra-right-wing laws that have been passed elsewhere happened first in Indiana, years before other states. We are like the testing ground for these laws. But no one really pays any attention to what happens here. It is a bad state to live in unless you are wealthy, male and Republican.

      It upsets me that my home state is so closely associated with the KKK and the John Birch Society in the minds of people outside Indiana. I come from a pioneer family that settled in the Indiana territory before it became a state. They were Quakers and anti-slavery. In the early days, Indiana was an important part of the Underground Railroad and my Quaker ancestors were part of it. I come from that Indiana heritage, not the KKK element. I have never known anyone who is or was a Klan member. Hoosiers are not all racist right-wingers like some people think. When I was growing up, we had good Democratic Senators Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke. Over the years, we have also had strong Democratic House members like Lee Hamilton and Frank McCloskey. On the Republican side, former Senator Richard Lugar was an excellent statesman. Although I never voted for him, I am proud of much of the work Lugar did on foreign policy issues.

      I love my state. My family roots here are very deep. Indiana is a beautiful place. I live in rolling hills that are filled with flowering plants and trees in the spring and gorgeous colored foliage in the fall. And my neighbors are truly neighborly. To be “neighborly” is what it really means to be a Hoosier. But I hope to leave Indiana some day for a more liberal place where I don’t have to be scared about what our state government is going to do next “under the radar”.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hi Beata,

        I love Indiana too, but you expressed my feelings a lot better than I can. It is a beautiful, friendly place–people are so much warmer and kinder than on the East Coast. I really don’t see Indiana as a right-wing state. I hope the current situation is temporary. People are conservative here but most are good folks and not full of hate.

        My Grandmother’s family was here before the Civil War–they came in a covered wagon. I don’t know if that was before statehood or not. But this is the place my Grandmother wanted to return to after years of living in my Grandfather’s home state of North Dakota.