KingMidget's Ramblings

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I Have Never …

My grandmother grew up in Switzerland.  At the age of 18 she came to America, settled in Sacramento and married the man of her dreams.  He died a few years later while she was pregnant with her second child and my grandmother never married.  She had an incredible vegetable garden in her backyard and made great rhubarb sauce and the best garlic bread.  She didn’t like it that my brother and I drank so much milk.

She also cried during the playing of the National Anthem because it meant so much to her.

Me, not so much.  Coming of political age in the era of Reagan-Bush, I had a lot of problems with what our country was doing outside its borders.  While I always stood for the Anthem when it was appropriate, I did so reluctantly and with less than positive thoughts about my country in my head.

Besides the political issues I had back in the 1980s, I have never liked our National Anthem.  It is a song about a war and that a piece of cloth survived the war.  It is not about how beautiful our country is, how wonderful our people are, it is not about anything other than a war and a piece of cloth.  I’d much rather America the Beautiful was our National Anthem and was played before every sporting event, if such a thing has to happen at all.

There was a change a few years ago, where the National Anthem wasn’t as bothersome to me.  A few years ago, I went to a Giants game after some horrible thing had happened and rather than having a singer sing the song, the entire crowd was invited to sign the National Anthem.  It was one of the most moving events I have ever been a part of.

But these things change and so to finish the thought started in the title of this post … I have never wanted to stand for the National Anthem less than I did last night.

I went to the Sacramento Kings game.  The flag went out across the court, the singer was introduced, and I wanted to stay in my seat.  The players on the Kings stood and linked arms.  The visiting team stood as well.  I wanted to kneel.  Why?  Because the President of our country has turned this into such a massive political crapfest, a test of patriotism as defined by him and his lunacy, that I want nothing to do with it.

I love my country, but the flag is a piece of cloth that means virtually nothing to me.  What matters to me vastly more are the rights and principles upon which this country was founded.  The rights to free thought and expression and assembly.  The right to not be forced to think what others think.  Marcus Breton, a columnist for the Sacramento Bee who I regularly disagree with, wrote a piece in today’s edition that pretty much speaks to what I think the problem is.

The leader of our country has decided that he has a right to try to force his brand of patriotism on the rest of the country.  That he has the right in the crudest terms possible to stifle dissent and differing opinions.  Our President, and yes he is our President.  He is not their President, he is not President of only the people who voted for him.  He is our President.  He is seeking to fan the flames of rage and hate and intolerance to further his divisive, vengeful political agenda.

I stood last night because I was surprised at my internal reaction to the idea.  I wasn’t ready for it.  The next time, I won’t.  I will remain in my seat or I will kneel.  I will not stand for the national anthem again as long as this man is our President.  Patriotism is something much deeper than a multi-colored cloth and a song.


What Might Have Been

What might have been were you to have lived?

You would turn 53 today.  Your already thinning hair would probably be all gone now.  You’d be bald as your father has been for years.  But still skinny as a rail.  You would have seen your mother pass instead of the other way around.  And you’d be here now as your father, in his early 90s is finally giving in to his age.  Maybe you would have kept the property in Lincoln so he wouldn’t have to sell it just a few months ago.  Maybe he’d be with you now, in a room in your house.  Telling his stories incessantly and watching his grand kids become adults.  Maybe.

What might have been had you not been left on a gurney in the hallway because you were young and healthy?

Maybe you’d be married.  Maybe to Kathy.  Maybe the two of you would have kids of your own and you would be a father several times over and not just to her son, to whom you were as good a father as one could hope for.  Maybe you would have had a little girl and a boy to go along with Kathy’s Little John.  I can’t imagine somebody as quiet and calm, level-headed and responsible, loving and good, being anything other than a great dad to whatever kids would have entered your life.  If it wasn’t Kathy, it would have been another woman – one of the luckiest women alive who would have seen through your quiet reserve and known of the incredible man you were.  Maybe

What might have been had you survived a heart attack at the age of 30?

There would have never been a Jon’s Mountain named in your honor.  Instead, there would likely still be nothing more than a trail and a clearing and 40 acres of wilderness 8outside of Downieville where you could go to escape it all, first by yourself, then with your kids.  Maybe I would have gone up to that spot with you one day instead of waiting years after your passing and the opportunity to visit your mountain with your dad.  Maybe, nothing would have changed except for the lack of a dedication that wouldn’t have been necessary.  Maybe.

What might have been were you alive today?

I can only imagine what your thoughts would be of a Donald Trump presidency.  Of the Giants winning three World Series.  Of what is happening now with our friend Jennifer, who is fading into the dark world of aggressive early onset dementia.  I can only imagine where your profession would have taken you.  What you would have done with the last 23 years.  I can only imagine so many things about where and what and who you would have become in all of these years that have passed.

I do not have to imagine, however, some things.  That you would still be a good man, somebody I would gladly call a friend. I know those things.  Most definitely.

You are missed. We may not think of you daily anymore as we live our lives all these years later. But have no doubt, you are missed. In the little things that make up a life, we wonder, I wonder, what might have been. And what has been lost because you are no longer with us.

* * * * *

I’ve written about Jon before on this blog, but I was reminded of him again when Kevin Brennan posted about Crosby, Stills & Nash. About their CSN album released in the late 70s.  Jon was, if nothing else, an irredeemable fan of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Other than Suite Judy Blue Eyes, what I remember most about the group is CSN.

For a couple of years after college, I lived with Jon and along the away, I heard a lot of the group and this album.  If somebody now mentions Cosby, Stills & Nash, I think of Suite Judy Blue Eyes and I think of Jon and a set of other songs I didn’t keep track of for years until Kevin posted his post. Listening to this album again, I was taken back to a time so long ago.  It’s hard to imagine this was 30 years ago.

Of Jon and I. He was alive. And vital and real.

And he is no more, taken far too soon from a world where he would have been nothing more than a worker bee, a cog in the wheel, but a great human being nonetheless because he was such a good and decent man.

A Moment

The Middle Fork of the American River along the Quarry Trail.


A Song For Today

This album came out back in 2004. My kids were nine and six at the time. I don’t know that I was an immediate fan of the album.  (And yes, I still refer to them as albums. Deal with it.) At some point, the songs started getting regular play on the radio and other listening devices in the ol’ castle. And I had those kiddos with their big ears who liked everything I liked back then. And they started rocking to this stuff pretty quickly.

I remember having a conversation with a co-worker who had kids a little younger. The issue was when do you as the parent and listener allow your kids to listen to songs with “bad words” in them. When do you open that door? It was this album that cracked that door open for our kids. Sure seems like such a small issue now, all these years later.

Anyway. Enjoy. This song requires maximum volume.

“Yeah.  He’s nuts.”


“Ummm,” the woman on the phone paused and then sarcasm creeped into her voice.  “The President.”

“Okay.  Who is this?”

“I can’t tell you my name.  I’m not supposed to be talking about this …”

“Where does the authority come from to discuss the President is nuts?”

“Listen.  I have a job.  I’m doing the best I can.  I can’t be quoted.”

“What’s going on in there?”

“It’s crazy.  He’s unhinged.  All he does is watch the shows.  He turns so red and then rants and raves.”

“Yeah … yeah …”

“And then he pulls his phone out.  Nobody can stop him.  We can’t turn off the TV.  Kelly has tried to take his phone away from him.  Tried to get him to run his tweets through a few reviews first.  But he’s the President and he won’t listen  And then he starts tweeting.”

“Can I quote you?  Can I cite you as a source?”

“No!  But I can give you some other sources.  They’ll tell you about the meeting yesterday when he went ballistic about NBC.”  The woman is starting to lose her breath, like she’s running.  “And Comey.  He never stops about Comey.  And Mueller.  And Russia.”

“Come on,” the reporter begs.  “I need your name.  Stand up.”

“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?  I’ll lose my job.”  She pauses.  “I’ve probably said too much already.  Talk to these people.”  She gives me a few names.

I call them.  They all confirm what the woman told me.  The President is crazy.  He’s uninformed and out of control.  But none of them will agree to me using their names in a story.  They are afraid.

So, I write my story.  It is one of many that have come out over the last few months, built around anonymous sources who claim to be deep in the White House and who claim to be concerned about the President, the fate of our country, and so much more.  So concerned that not a one of them will stand up behind the allegations they are making.


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