Thursday, November 24, 2011


It is Thanksgiving morning, and as such the tradition – besides the ingestion of unhealthy amounts of calories – is to reflect and give thanks; to count our blessings.

Okay, I’ll play.

To start, I am just not the type to wax on about how good (or bad) things are. I have adopted a somewhat fatalistic view of things; that everything is going to unfold as it is supposed to, and blessings or lack thereof in my life are happenstance flows in the river of life. However, that does not – nor should not – stop me for taking a pause to reflect.

I am thankful for my son. I love Nick. He is turning into a fine young man, and I realize just how fortunate his mom and I are for that. His mom told me last night of a close friend of Nick’s who got a hold of a loaded gun that his mom had in their house, horsed around with it, and shot his friend in the head with it. That friend has a less than one percent chance to live, and the boy may be charged with homicide/murder. Two teenager’s lives irrevocably changed through one tragic event. It could have been Nick. I am eternally thankful it wasn’t.

I am thankful for my mom. I just called her. She is 84 now, and is suffering from dementia. Her life has been one well lived, and it is a blessing to be able to call and talk to her; to hear that calm, yet frail, reassuring voice that everything will be okay…even when it isn’t.

I am thankful for my job. It has been a trying year, as the default stress of my responsibilities has been added to in the form of unrealistic directives and personality clashes. Last month I was docked a day off without pay over trumped-up charges which were designed to wake me up. Well it did. I now slap a smile on my face, check the attitude at the door, and strive every day to give the company a return on their investment in me. And I just checked my checking account and my paycheck was deposited a day early. So despite the recent trying times, I am grateful to be gainfully employed.

I am thankful to my yoga instructor. She is a wonderful new friend that inspires and encourages me. I wish I had a hundred people like her in my life.

I am thankful for my health. Everything on the body still works.

I am thankful for my new group of friends gained though attending 12-step recovery meetings. We watch out for each other. Consider this a gratitude list.

I am thankful for the few close friends I have. Like my best friend Dawn. My day's not complete until we check in with each other. And My Man Mike - golf buddy and dear friend. Hit 'em straight Mike.

I am thankful to my siblings & nephews. We can at times be a dysfunctional bunch but there is always an undercurrent of love. Barb, Ken, Patty, Tony, Brian & Terry – I love you.

I am thankful that Jimmy Donovan is still calling the Browns games despite recovering from bone marrow surgery - 

I am thankful to live in an area that allows me to pursue my favorite pastime – golf – year-round. In fact, I think I will go hit the driving range as soon as I finish this story and hit a bucket of balls before I gorge myself. I will then return to my apartment and turn on my HD television, lay on my sofa and watch football. Thank you Vizio, thank you NFL, thank you futon.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


A while back I signed up for this Groupon thing, which I highly recommend ( Each day some kind of deal comes to my inbox for food deals, entertainment, whatever. I especially like the golf deals.

Anyway, a couple of weeks back I got a Groupon deal for yoga classes. Now, six months ago that would have been an instant banishment to the trash folder. But this time it was different. I clicked on the deal and saw it was ten yoga sessions for $29. I was intrigued. I pondered it then thought what the hell. Let’s give it a try. It had been years since I tried anything new, and part of my latest life journey is to meditate more, slow down, and just be happy in being me.

I clicked, submitted my card number and presto – new yoga student.

Last Monday was my first session – ‘Gentle Beginner Yoga’ it was titled. The instructor, Lee, was fantastic. So upbeat, so positive. My classmates were equally ebullient. They had, as I was to find out, strong auras. The whole place has a serene feel to it – soft, warm colors, soothing music, calm, inviting.

So I grabbed my mat, shucked my shoes, and waited for the session to start. Lee comes in and in her always-positive way, got us loosened up. Here was the first indicator that this was going to be tougher than I thought – I was as tight as a banjo string. Then she started to guide us through the various classic yoga poses – downward dog, table top, cobra, cat. She emphasized the breathing – in and out through the nose. Feel your center. Open your heart. Hands to the sky.

Next came positions for balance. Stand on one leg. Simple, right? Uh, no. I was a quaking, quivering bag of unbalanced nerves and institutionalized stress and tightness. Lee was flowing through the motions with swan-like grace. I looked like an old woman trying to beat a mugger off with a purse.

Thirty minutes into this ‘Gentle Beginner’ session and I was sweating like a whore in church. If this was ‘Gentle Beginner’ I shuddered to think what ‘Rigorous Advanced’ would consist of. I was hyperventilating and shaking.

A couple of the moves I simply could not do. My body was just not ready for that type of movement. I looked at Lee and mouthed an ‘I’m sorry’ and she just smiled, then said to the class in her calming way, ‘Yoga is about you. You decide what you can do and what you can’t. You are not judged here.’

That made me smile. And relaxed.

The session ended with 15 minutes of lying on the mat while soft, chakra-tinged music played and the lights off. I smelled incense. It was lovely. About ten minutes in and I felt someone massaging my lower legs. It was Lee. It felt wonderful.

We then got up and did a final shake-off of our muscles. Lee then said that, whenever yoga masters end their sessions they put their hands together and, as an acknowledgement of the inner spirit in me honoring the inner spirit in you, we turn, bow and say, ‘Namaste’.

When it was over, Lee could not wait to ask what I thought. I said it was very positive and that I would be back. She said wonderful, and to not give up. I went back last Thursday for my second session. This one was titled ‘Hot Vinyasa Yoga’ – which was similar to Monday’s session, but with space heaters. I lasted a half hour. I could not finish the session, but I am taking Lee’s advice. I’m not quitting. I just registered for Monday night’s class. I am motivated and inspired.

My flagging but growing spirit in me is in awe of the strength of yours, Lee.


Left Out

"I'm a lefty," Barack Obama joked  as he signed official papers as U.S. President.
"Get used to it."

Our country has a long, ugly history of discrimination aimed at certain groups – blacks, immigrants, gays. Religious persecution. Haves versus have-nots. It seems like we thrive on conflict; we have to have some group to demonize to feel superior. Well, this rant is not quite to that level, but there is a group of individuals that have quietly suffered in a world not designed for them…a world that specifically tries to make their experience trying.

I am speaking about left-handers.

I am a lefty. I am not ambidextrous. There is nothing I do right-handed, save one activity which I will not mention here due to decorum. Anything done with my right hand feels awkward, unnatural. Trust me – I have tried. When I was ten years old I tried to play golf with my dad’s right-handed clubs and ended up flipping the club upside-down with the toe on the ground so I could swing lefty. That worked. Years ago my then-wife (and fellow lefty) bought me a guitar. And since I had never even tried to play a guitar before, I figured I would learn right-handed. It just never worked. The rhythm hand for a righty is the right hand and I had no rhythm in that hand – my rhythm hand was busy pressing down strings to make chords. My brain rebelled. The guitar went into the closet. I should have just done what Jimi did - flip it over and play it left-handed.

There is a school of thought that says lefties are creative due to using their right brains. Half correct. We are very creative, but it has nothing to do with which side of the brain we tap into. It has everything to do with trying to deal with a world not created with us in mind. Case in point – a manual can-opener. You hold it with your left hand and turn the crank with the right hand – it is designed for righties. Watch a lefty try to use a manual can opener and you will understand what I am talking about. You start a car by turning a key with your right hand. And this is after you open the car door from the right side.

I am passive aggressive by nature so I’ve done a couple of things just to show righties what we have to deal with. For example, my home and office computers are set up lefty, meaning that the mouse has the buttons reversed and resides to the left of the monitor. I love to watch righties struggle with it as they hit a button and get that annoying ‘What’s this?’ popup on the screen….they think something’s wrong with my computer and they will look at me. I just say ‘Left-handed’ and smile.

When I bought my house nine years ago, which I designed from scratch, I designed the kitchen to be left-handed. I am sure the ninety percent of the population that are right-handed are doing a collective ‘WTF are you talking about’ at that statement, but trust me. I thought this through. Righties don't have to.

I have renters in that house now, and I have no idea if they’re right or left-handed, but there is a part of me that hopes they’re righties and are wondering at this moment, as mom is preparing Sunday breakfast, why she seems to have to make awkward moves to get around that kitchen. Because the owner meant it to be that way. When I go through a buffet line, and if righties preceded me, the vats of food show their marks – spoon on the right, the right side of the vat empty. I scoop my food up lefty and leave the spoon on the left, marking my presence.
A task as simple as writing is even a chore for lefties. Ever wonder why many lefties have that crook in their wrists when they write? It is because our hand is going over what we just wrote. If we are using a pen, that is why you see smudged writing. That is where the crook came from – we are trying to get our hand out of the way; doing whatever we can to adapt to your world. I choose not to conform. I hold my hand like anyone else would. Deal with my smudges. If it is some kind of official document, I put a napkin under my hand. 

I noticed there seems to be more lefties than there used to be. Thank goodness. I believe the statistic when I was young was that three percent of the world was lefty. Now it is up to about ten percent. And I believe that if there wasn’t religious persecution of us centuries ago (We were considered witches and burned at the stake. The Latin word for Left is Sinistra, or Sinister. The French word is Gauche, meaning clumsy or unrefined), and had teachers in the last century not forced lefties to write with their right hands and turned them into stutterers in the process, that percentage would be much higher. I would imagine it would be close to where it is supposed to me, which in theory would be half of the world.

And speaking of schools, look at a student desk. Righties get a nice extension to rest their right arm on. Lefties have to let their arm hang out with no support. Bastards.

So lefties of the world unite! Change your mouse buttons so you have to ‘left-click’ to open the menu. It is a small step but a good one to show these righties what we have to deal with. Don’t adapt - we've done that for long enough. 

Solidarity, my sinister brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lobster Boy

I remember when I was a teenager and the carnival came to town…I was maybe 18 at the time. Me and my girlfriend went and rode the rides, ate the carnival food and generally had a good time. Then our eyes caught a sign on the side of a tent - SEE THE AMAZING LOBSTER BOY - HALF MAN HALF LOBSTER! ONLY ONE DOLLAR!

Well, our curiosity got the best of us. I plunked down two bucks and we went inside the tent. And there sat a pitiable creature - a middle aged man who was born with a deformity. Instead of having a full set of fingers and toes, his hands and feet consisted of fused-together fingers and toes that, well, resembled a lobster. Thus the promotion. This poor man that life kicked in the teeth gave his canned speech about how he was born that way, that he is married and has three healthy kids. We were transfixed for about 30 seconds and then we had to get the hell out of there. He was, literally, a circus sideshow freak.

John Daly is the PGA Tour’s version of Lobster Boy.

Not that he was born with a deformity or had a raw deal tossed at him by life. But rather, because of what he has become on the tour. Big John burst on the golfing scene in 1991 when, as the ninth alternate, drove all night from Arkansas to Indiana to tee it up in the PGA Championship. Never having seen the course before, he relied on his caddy to give him yardages, bombed his prodigious drives past all the trouble, and ended up winning by three shots. A folk hero was born. Four years later he repeated the feat at the British Open, defeating Costantino Rocca in a playoff at, of all places, St. Andrews. Four years on the tour and he had already secured two major championships. He was a freak - far longer off the tee than anyone on the tour but also with a velvety putting stroke and solid short game. He added three other wins on tour to validate the major wins. He had talent.

But John was also a train wreck - four marriages, wrecked hotel rooms, alcoholism, domestic scuffles, suspensions from the tour, compulsive gambling, inexplicable blow-ups on the course, disqualifications, a reality show on the Golf Channel, weight issues, chain-smoking, lap-band surgery, hideous pants, hitting balls off of beer cans, hitting shots over horrified spectator's heads. Ironically, this just more endeared him to his legion of fans that saw him as the anti-establishment rebel that just grips it and rips it, finds it and rips it again. He brought the ‘Bubba Element’ to tour galleries - fans that couldn’t give a rip about whether he won…let alone compete. They just wanted to see him take out driver on every tee and bomb it. And he did. He would then shoot 77-81 and miss the cut by a mile…if he didn’t walk off the course first after purposely violating some rule or by pumping five balls into a lake.

Which is exactly what he did last week at the Australian Open. Five consecutive shots into a lake, trying to reach a par-5 in two. At last count he was hitting twelve when he decided that he could not finish, and walked off the course. He said it was because he ran out of golf balls. Well no shit if you're going Tin Cup on the twelfth hole when you know you have six more holes to play. It was a lame excuse that reflect lame behavior.

When the PGA Tour holds an event, the field of players is filled through a number of methods: Certain players are exempt, in other words, they are automatically invited, via their recent performances. This would include winners of recent tour events, the defending champion, the top 50 on the money list and so on. Then there are the ones that have to play their way in - these are called Monday Qualifiers - players that show up on Monday morning with maybe 4 slots to play for. The last group is what are called Sponsor’s Exemptions. This is a small group of freebie invitations doled out at the discretion of the sponsor of the event - they are usually used for local phenoms, maybe the head club pro at the host course. Anyone who can increase the paid attendance thus boosting the gate.

It is these Sponsor’s Exemptions that Daly lives off of. Daly last won a tour event in 2004. Once in a blue moon his name appears on the leader board, only to quickly vanish when the obligatory blowup occurs. He is not exempt from anything anymore, as he is ranked 666th in the world.

But sponsors love him. He increases the gate. He brings the Bubbas in.

In 2007 I served as a volunteer at the Ginn Sur Mer Classic in Port St. Lucie, Florida. A fringe PGA Tour event held in October, after the Tour Championship and thus after the ‘serious’ golf is done for the year. My job at that event was as a Marshal at the 16th tee - to keep the crowds quiet while a player was teeing off, and so on. The galleries were small; even the leaders couldn’t draw more than perhaps a hundred spectators. Then Daly’s group arrived. Five times the size of anyone else’s gallery. Fortified with, ahem, beverages, they whooped it up for their man…even though their man was on his way to missing the cut.

So why is this so bad? What’s wrong with letting a sponsor toss Daly an exemption so people can get excited about him being in the field?

Well, nothing, other than integrity and professionalism. Every other golfer on the planet has to earn their way into events. Every other player has to perform to maintain their exempt status. Thousands of players that were once good have seen their skills erode to the point that they can no longer compete on the PGA Tour, thus you no longer see them there. Not John. He gets a pass on his behavior and on the state of his game. He is doled out sponsors exemptions when other far more deserving players are Monday Qualifying.

His role has been marginalized down to suiting just one element - the morbidly curious. A two-time major winner, whose only redeeming value left to golf is to slake the thirst of those that cheer wrecks in NASCAR.

He is Lobster Boy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Republic Party

This happens every time. Whenever I post a political story, I vow that it will be the last one, usually because I am able to vent my spleen and be done with it. And politics, like religion, are very polarizing subjects; subjects that people take hard stances on and these stances can erode friendships. And frankly, I value my friendships more than being right.
But dammit, there they go again.
The ‘they’ I am referring to is the Republican Party. And specifically, certain members of it that have ingrained such an abject rejection of anything not fitting their paradigm, that they do not even call the Democratic Party by its proper name - which is, the Democratic Party. Instead they have gone shorthand and now refer to it as the ‘Democrat Party.’
Really? This is how you have to get your point across, by purposely butchering the name of the opposing party?
His Rushness does this all the time - “The Democrat Party’ did this or that. And now there is a new offender - the Republican’s newest Flavor of the Month, Herman Cain. Saddled with accusations by four different women of sexual misconduct, Cain has, not surprisingly, rejected their accusations. Fair enough. He is trying to win a nomination, and the modus operandi in that environment is to deny deny deny. Make the accusers prove their case, innocent until proven guilty and all that. He is entitled to that. However, in the process of denying any wrongdoing, he, of course, has to throw in the following:
Cain said there was a "machine" trying to keep a businessman out of the White House, and said Sharon Bialek was a "troubled woman" put forward by "the Democrat machine."

The Democrat machine.

So in Cain’s reasoning, not only are the charges false, but they are part of an overall conspiracy by some concocted ‘machine’ and that further, said ‘machine’ is of the ‘Democrat’ variety. Never mind the fact that most believe the initial story was leaked from the Rick Perry camp, which can hardly be categorized as having anything to do with Democrats. But it is quite a machine if the results of his Texas gubernatorial elections are any indicator.

The point here is the total absence of professionalism replaced by opportunism - if something’s wrong with a candidate’s past, why, it’s the Democrats fault. Cain allegedly slid his hand up some woman’s dress and tried to force her head down to his junk - the Democrats did it! Please.

Want to know what the Democrats are doing while this all unfolds? They are patiently sitting back being entertained by the immolation of Republican candidates. Herman Cain is not even on the Democrat’s radar yet - he’s just the latest of a series of flawed candidates the Republicans have trotted out and tried to prop us as the Answer To Obama. In other words, there’s no need for the Democrats to fire up any kind of ‘machine’ against him - he hasn’t even made it out of the intramural scrum yet.

Write this down - Barack Obama will be re-elected. And the reason is the Republicans cannot get their collective act together. They are disenfranchised with Romney, they have been hijacked by the fringe elements of their (Tea) party, and as such they are trotting out each candidate on a circadian rhythm as the one who will take Obama down. This is just Cain’s month in the barrel. I predict next month it will be Huntsman’s turn. And these two already follow the implosion of Gingrich, Bachmann and Perry. Christie and Palin won’t run. So if the Republicans think “anyone” can beat Obama, then by God, get ‘Anyone’ out there and have at it. If they think Obama is such a disaster of a president, then why can’t they coalesce around one candidate and be done with it?

I will tell you why. Because they know they cannot defeat Obama. 2012 is a lost cause. The candidates know it, especially the smart ones like Christie who have chosen not to be part of the mosh pit. Romney has to run because it's his second and likely last attempt at it. 2012 is his last hurrah...which is exactly what it will be.

Yes, Obama is vulnerable, but his vulnerability will be pitted against disarray. And that disarray will be represented by either a candidate they really do not want (Romney), or whatever other candidate emerges from the scrum unscathed. Well, good luck with that. The Republicans have a habit of either eating their young or running candidates one election (or two) too late.

But I will tell you that there is a scintilla of truth to Cain’s claim of a ‘Democrat Machine’. There indeed is one, but it is presently on idle. It will be fired up once the Republicans finally settle on a candidate. There's no need to engage it now. But just to be clear, it is the same type of machine that Obama has been battling (birth certificate ring a bell?) since the day to took office.

And sorry, Pizza Man, but the Republican candidate ain’t going to be you. The Republicans cannot trot out an alleged sexual offender as a candidate, whether the allegations are true or not. The stink has already stuck. And further, it is hard for me to believe that four different women are out to get you. This isn’t one disgruntled former employee that may have a history of emotional problems - it is four different ones. One accuser you can discredit. Lotsa luck with four (and counting, I am sure).

Oh wait I forgot - it’s the Democrat Machine causing this, not Cain's inability to keep his Jimmy in his pants. My bad. 

But anyway. Back to why I started this rant. These people cannot even call the Democratic Party by its given name, but instead truncate it to try to make it irrelevant. It fits with their all sizzle no substance approach to campaigning…and governing. Why, the problem is not us - it’s that other party who we have decided to change the name of.

At the end of the day, I have an implicit trust of the American people to see thought this and reject the abject pandering of…

The Republic Party.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Riff That Saved Rock

I love rock and roll. It is the soundtrack of, well, my life basically. Long as I can remember there was some kind of rock, whether it was bubblegum as a pre-pubescent teen, Elton John singing Rocket Man at the roller rink, or Black Sabbath groaning from my brother’s room. When I hear Maggie May I think of hitting puberty. If it's Boston's More Than A Feeling, it's copping more than a feeling from Marci Bartlett in an Ohio cornfield.
For my generation, rock was rebellion. It was a drastic left-turn away from the sound of our parent’s generation, which consisted of Sinatra and Streisand. It was mandatorily cool to rock. The fact that it got under our parent’s collective skin made it all that much better - “Turn that crap down!” was my dad’s favorite phrase when I was between 16 and 19 years of age. I sported tee shirts of all the concerts I attended - Blue Oyster Cult, Golden Earring, Deep Purple to name but a very few. It was a new, exciting sound.
I also realized that it had been around for about twenty years, having essentially started when Elvis stole the black man’s Delta Blues, swung his hips and made teenage girls cream their collective undergarments. But by the mid-seventies, it was still a fresh sound because it had regenerated itself a few times over - the British Invasion snatched the mantle from Elvis, who by then was busy making bad movies. Then the psychedelic sound reconstituted the 60s pop sound into a mind-expanding experience. The Vietnam War brought us the protest sounds of Crosby, Stills Nash & Young. And when I was in high school, Bruce Springsteen and his street troubadour style of gassing up the Chevy and getting the hell out of this dump of a town resonated with us teenagers wanting to tell our parents to shove it. Rock had a way of reinventing itself when it was necessary. 
The 1980s came and with it some new sounds - the punk scene gave us The Clash and U2, two very relevant bands that kept things tight. Then there was the synth-tinged, dancy stuff of bands like Psychedelic Furs, The Smiths and Depeche Mode. Not my cuppa tea, but still, interesting new sounds. But these sounds, in my mind, were fringe efforts. The mainstream of rock and roll was, unfortunately, starting to fall under its own collective excess. Pseudo-metal junk bands like Warrant, Cinderella and Poison were taking over the airwaves. These bands brought nothing new - they were a rehash of what was already done filled with vacuous lyrics. Springsteen talked about busting out - Warrant talked about busting cherries. Hairspray and spandex took over. It was a wasteland of cheesy music videos. Something had to give, lest the soundtrack of our lives turned into Driving & Crying or Stryper. There wasn't a decent rock song from 1987 through the end of that decade, save Guns 'N Roses. By 1990, rock was dying, being choked of all relevance and integrity.
Then, in 1991, a group of surly slackers from Seattle gave us the following riff -

Four power chords. F–B–A–D. Simple. Revolutionary.

And rock was saved. 
Suddenly spandex was out, flannel was in. Big hair was replaced by unwashed hair. Mosh pits were created. It was no longer about production; it was about plugging in the Gibson and letting it fly. Don’t need no mixing boards, don’t need no producer. Just let it rip. Keep it underproduced. Keep it raw. Keep the hairspray.
The Grunge Sound was born. Mother Love Bone begat Nirvana which begat Soundgarden which begat Pearl Jam which begat Alice In Chains. The sound spread from the epicenter of Seattle and bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Stone Temple Pilots built upon its new relevance. And it was a sound that was true to the roots of rock. It was in your face without making you wince at its silliness. It had the same punch as Elvis had in 1956 when he told people not to step on his Blue Suede Shoes.
Now, I understand that many may not like Grunge. That’s cool. It is a somewhat dense, depressing sound, not conducive to dancing or picking up chicks. But it saved rock. I shudder to think what would have happened had Kurt Cobain, despite all his eccentricities, had chosen not to say ‘Fuck this shit’ and didn’t try to keep rock from careening over the cliff under the weight of its own ever-increasing irrelevance. The lyrics of Smells Like Teen Spirit may have a certain amount of WTF-ness to them, but that didn’t matter. It was the sound that mattered.
A mulatto. An albino. A mosquito. My libido.

How time flies. That was twenty years ago. Thus I sense that rock may be ready for another seismic shift. The novelty of Cobain’s indulgent self-pity has long worn off and has been cloned so many times that it is now just a caricature of his original. I’m sorry, but Buckcherry just doesn’t do it for me. So the time may be ripe for another guy (or gal) to take the mantle and shake us out of our complacency. It’s time for rock to reinvent again.
Kurt said it back in 1991 - Here we are now. Entertain us.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An Influence Silenced

“A writer’s job is to tell the truth”

I was sitting here on a Saturday morning doing the enjoyable slow wake-up that a weekend morning affords. No job to rush to, no clock telling me where I am supposed to be or when. Cuppa coffee, check emails, get updated on the internet news.
And there it was –

Andy Rooney passed away.

92 years old, and only a month after his last installment of life inside his brain at his usual place at the end of the weekly 60 Minutes program. At that goodbye segment, Andy said he wanted to work until he died. Well darned if he didn’t. A career that began as a World War II correspondent ended over 60 years later, and then only a month after that, gone.

Awesome. What a life.

When I started my little free-lance writing gig for my personal pleasure that has manifested itself in this blog and a published book, I tried to tap into my own ‘style’ of writing. While I had/have numerous thoughts rattling around my brain, I had to find a style that expressed such thoughts in an entertaining, cogent style. Like many undertaking such a task, I fell back on my influences, and I developed one that was an amalgam of them – Hunter S. Thompson’s edgy first-person method of expression, Terry Pluto’s conversational style that feels more like a chat than a read…and Andy Rooney’s method of saying what everyone thought.

That quote at the top of this story is Andy’s. And while many would argue – rightfully so – that Andy did not always tell the truth but instead told his opinion, understand - he told the truth as he believed it. And he did it in such a way that, even if you disagreed with it, you still had to either ponder it or laugh at it, but never ignore it. He had a folksy style of looking straight into the camera and talking to you, and then would deliver his opinion in a style that would sometimes make people gasp. But it commanded your attention. It made you think. And it forced people decide, is Andy’s truth my truth?

Reporters state facts. My ex-wife was a reporter and she once told me her job was to state the who, what, where, when of a story then end it. But a writer? Writers seek truth. And truth is a moving target that is viewed through whatever prism the writer or the reader sees through. Case in point – last month I wrote a story titled ‘Common Sense’ where I made four declarative statements. These statements were the truth…as I believe it to be. Statements like, if abortions were illegal there would still be abortions, or less guns would mean less gun deaths.

These are statements that can – and are – debated, but the point here is they reflect what I learned from Andy. State your truth, explain it, then let people decide where they fall and let them decide if it is their truth as well. This is why I sometimes hear from people that I am way off-base in my thinking. I’m not. I’m just stating my truth.

And so did Andy. Perhaps better than anyone in our time.

And he did it in such an entertaining way that – ponder this for a moment – he was given three minutes at the end of the highest-rated news show on television for over three decades. His was the last word after everyone else had theirs. There were the stories for the week, and then there was Andy, and then the ticking clock of the 60 Minutes sign-off. That stalwart show that has stood the test of time ended it every week with this disheveled curmudgeon character telling us ‘Didja ever wonder…?’

For a writer seeking the truth, it does not get any better than that.

Goodbye Andy. And thank you.