Nostalgia Tuesday Politics

Nostalgia Tuesday: YES WE CAN

Straight Outta Gotham

I’ve usually avoided talking plainly and openly about mainstream politics on this blog. It’s not that I’m not politically-minded. It’s just that I prefer to keep this place lighthearted and upbeat. And well, when you start talking politics….

But despite that, I’m going to go that direction now. I may ramble, so please forgive me.

In the fourth grade I wanted to grow up to be the US ambassador to the U.N. and figure out solutions to all the world’s problems. I planned on convincing the Russians to get together with the Italians to make nuclear powered Lamborghini Countaches instead of missiles. I studied Churchill and Lincoln so I could learn from the good guys. I read Mein Kampf so I could try to understand the bad guys. I browsed through almanacs and atlases like most normal people consume Us Weekly.

This is not to say that I wandered around the library at Wood Elementary with my rose colored glasses held together with Scotch tape and a Bob Dole commemorative pen in my pocket protector. While our Social Studies civics lessons may have told us how the political system was SUPPOSED to work, my politics were shaped just as much by Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Dennis Miller, Johnny Carson and Lewis Grizzard, who once said, “In North Carolina, they put slaw on barbecue and God sent them Jesse Helms as punishment.”

I was well aware that Washington was, is, and likely always will be an absurd town full of professional crooks and liars. (And not very good ones at that.)

I’ve always considered myself a conservative. But I don’t think that still means the same thing these days.

Being a conservative used to mean a strong belief in the separation of church and state. Being a conservative used to mean cutting spending THEN cutting taxes. (In that order.) It meant keeping the government out of your private life. Conservatism was the foundation of civil liberties, and the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect the people from the ambitions of their government. And those Amendments were demands, not suggestions.

But accountability and credibility are, and always will be, more important to me than any single piece of public policy. It’s about character more than it will ever be about ideology.

For that reason, before 2008 I had never voted for a Presidential candidate who won their election.

But this year I am celebrating.

Fairly early on, before the primaries were even in full swing, I knew that Barack Obama was going to be my candidate, and eventually my President this time around. And this is coming from someone who voted for John McCain TWICE before.

I fully understand that Barack Obama may represent an ideal more than a reality. (In fact, I was mightily disappointed with his vote on warrantless wiretapping towards the end of his tenure in the Senate.)

But I still have high hopes for the next 4-8 years. And I don’t just mean hope that we will climb out of the economic pit we’ve dug ourselves into, or that we might find some way to extract ourselves from the quagmires we’ve built for ourselves overseas.

I believe that this election proved that our nation rose up to voice its yearning for something better from the system, rather than just ambivalently accepting the lesser of two evils. I hope that we will find that the faith and trust we place in our elected leaders will be rewarded.

As always, I have my doubts and anxieties about our bureaucratic machine. But for the first time since I thought I was going to be directly involved in the process myself, I’m truly excited about the opportunity we have to do things right this time around.

… It’s a good thing I still have the Texas Rangers, college football and the music industry as outlets for my deep well of cynicism.

Good luck, Mr. President. Don’t let me down.

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: Washing Beets

Washing Beets

So I’m up in Kansas hanging out with Granny at the nursing home. They had beets at lunch the other day and we got talking about a day that I was visiting for the summer and helped her harvest the beets from her garden. And I remembered I had recently scanned the above picture from that day.

As you can tell by the smile on my face, this was BEFORE I had actually TRIED a beet.

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: Mix Tapes for Christmas


I loved this old boombox. Dual cassette decks with high-speed dubbing. I’d stay up late into the night recording songs I liked off the radio. (Back when they played more than a handful of songs each day.) I still have a big box of those old mix tapes in my music room. I need to dub a few of them over to MP3, because I really did have some great stuff.

The mix tape is a dying, and subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing … There are a lot of rules.

I searched around for a video that I love which explains this, but I couldn’t find it on the old YouTubes. This is as close as I could get:

Anyway, back to the picture. There are a few other little nostalgic nuggets worth pointing out.

  • Notice the rollerskating bear in Santa garb. Classic late 80s kitsch.
  • That Auburn Tigers cap was a mainstay in my collection well into high school when it was no longer close to white and probably supported an ecosystem of its own under the brim. I now occasionally wear a similar “Cotton Bowl Champs” variant. But it’s much cleaner.
  • Those golf balls were likely all lost by March.
  • The most sure-fire way to date this photo is probably the “fiber optic” tree sitting on top of the cable box.
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Nostalgia Tuesday: I Ain’t ‘Fraid of No Ghost Edition

On my eighth birthday my mom made me a Ghostbusters themed cake. On Saturday I turned 31 and something else spooky happened.

This year as a present to myself I turned off my phone and my BlackBerry. I turned off my computer. I didn’t check email. I completely disconnected. Several years have passed since the last time I had a day where I was completely unreachable. As wonderful as it was, I may have to make this a more frequent (perhaps monthly) occurrence. I know some people might find the thought of being without their iPhones or CrackBerries flat out frightening, but seriously, I found it delightful. It might surprise you how much more clearly you can think and focus yourself without the distractions. I highly recommend the experience.

Anyway, the spooky stuff…

Early in the morning, very much pre-dawn, I tossed my camera and tripod in the truck and headed west. The whole point of my “Day of No Distractions” was to clear my head do a little thinking and reflecting on the last year, and perhaps set a goal or two for this year. I find both driving and photography to help put me in that relaxed, meditative state of mind (especially when I’m able to get away from the city), so hitting the road in search of scenic locations is a little like doubling up on Nirvana for me.

Also, I know it’s super nerdy, but I was hoping to be able to take a picture at 3:51am, the exact time of my birth (adjusting for the shift from Eastern to Central time) — the moment I turned 31. I did it last year when I turned 30, and I was hoping to make it a tradition.

That was the plan, anyway.

I got away from the interstate when I got to Weatherford, and took Highway 180 towards Palo Pinto county. I hung a left on a state road that twists and turns its way through the dips and dives of the Brazos River valley. Another turn took me across a causeway, and eventually I found myself on a pitch dark county road in the middle of nowhere. At this point I was about 10 miles from the nearest ghost town.

Despite thoroughly enjoying the drive, I found it a bit disheartening that I couldn’t find jack squat worth trying to photograph. With the moon spending most of its time hiding behind clouds straight out of a vintage Scooby Doo cartoon, it was just too dark to shoot anything out there, even with long exposures.

I looked at the clock on my dashboard and grumbled something uncouth as the digits clicked over to the moment I’d been waiting for, and the only sight out of the windshield was pitch black.

Then, as if on cue, a brown “Historical Marker Ahead” road sign popped out of the darkness and into the path of my headlights.

Now, for those of you who live elsewhere, you have to understand that there are over 13,000 Historical Markers in Texas. They mark everything from the Alamo to “this field is only a few miles from a place where a guy ran a trading post for a few weeks in the 1850s before moving a few miles further down the trail where there was a creek with fresh water.” The vast majority of these signs are more like the second example than the first. So the odds of there actually being anything worth shooting at this marker were, quite frankly, pretty freaking slim.

But it was all I had, and the timing seemed almost providential.

I skidded the truck to a stop in the gravel in front of the sign and realized it was so dark I couldn’t even read the damn thing.

So I grabbed my camera, turned on the flash, and took a picture just to figure out what was too dark see. I blew up the image on LCD, and the first line creeped me the heck out.

So here I am, at the very moment of the anniversary of my birth, staring at a marker in the middle of nowhere that memorializes a guy born on my birthday.


(Here’s a link to a pic of the full marker, if you’re curious.)

I’m just struck by the eeriness of that first picture I took of the marker, though. That blue glow is probably just an odd, errant reflection of the lights on my dashboard. Although I had the window rolled down so I’m not sure what could be casting the reflection…

… it very well may be the ghost of Mr. Whipple reminding me not to squeeze the Charmin.

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: Bread Appreciation Part II

Bread Appreciation, Continued

As I mentioned previously, I most certainly owe a big debt of gratitude to bread and other bakery products because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. (About 5’10” and 230 lbs.) So for the second week in a row, Nostalgia Tuesday is dedicated to bread. (And because I’m surprised I missed this photo in the stack last week.)

With that said, parents today would probably freak out if they found their baby busy trying to shove a plastic bag in its mouth. Instead, my grandmother whipped out the Polaroid. And I turned out fine.

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Two-fer Tuesday

Dad - 1978

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, my dad recently retired after 45 years in the baking business. If you’re so inclined, go out and eat a pile of carbs at lunch today in celebration. (Of course, if you’d done this before he retired he’d probably have a little more coin in the 401K and I could have gone to an ivy league college. But we’re not bitter or anything.) Anyway, I just thought this pic of Dad and me was pretty timely.

I know the financial situation is pretty bad

On a completely different topic, I hear that the economy is kind of in the toilet right now. I know the financial situation is pretty bad, but don’t worry. I’ve got a shovel. I can dig us out of this hole.

And I’m sure we’re pretty close to rock bottom, so there’s nowhere to go but up from here.

(And you can trust me — if there’s anybody who knows “rock bottom” when he sees it, it’s a lifelong Rangers fan.)

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: The start of football season

Football season has just started. My fantasy teams are already getting their butts kicked.

So here’s a picture of me wearing a Dallas Cowboys shirt.

I’m not sure why my sister appears to be eating checkers. It couldn’t be because I’m feeding them to her.

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: Sorry I haven’t called…

Sorry I haven't posted much lately.

I’ve been busy. Yeah, you know, how it is. Work, work, work. Am I on a car phone? Yeah, how’d you know? Just got it installed this week. Yeah, I know NOBODY’S got one yet, but I’m just totally bleeding edge like that. Seriously, it’ll be THE hot shit in like 15 years. Oh hey, I’ve gotta go, the light has changed and this guy behind me is honking and screaming something about a “brother trucker.” Later, man!

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: Summer’s Over

View it Big

View it Big

In many places, teachers and students are headed back to school this week. That means no more horsing around outside with the kiddie pool. These shots were taken in Kansas, probably in 1983. By my uncle, I think.

However, or whenever they happened, I just love them.

Nostalgia Tuesday

Nostalgia Tuesday: The Meta Version

Dig my socks!

So here’s more proof that the photography bug bit me pretty early. Also, check out the socks!

And I’m surprised I was able to match these up, but here’s the corresponding shot from my camera:


90% of my memories of Granny look like this. I’m starting to wonder how much of my life was spent standing on the front porch of the farm getting my picture taken. The only real difference between this and most of the other instances is that she wasn’t using her Polaroid. Maybe this was Mom’s camera.