Monday, August 31, 2009

Moving Pictures

As a youth, while I didn't go to "camp" like many other kids, I went to the family camp in Blanco, Texas. It wasn't a camp really, it was my cousins' country home (there were six kids total - 2 girls, 4 boys; two of the boys were slightly older than me and two were slightly younger.) So I spent a few weeks every summer with them, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, about a mile out of town on one of the most beautiful pieces of property imaginable. In a much earlier post I speak of their family selling the property; to the daughter of Tom Benson, BTW, which will give you an idea of the beauty of the property. It had the headwaters of a spring fed creek on it which in turn fed into the Blanco River. Once at a family reunion my daughter and I walked down the road to the rear of the property and "spooked" three does that were bedded down thru the afternoon.

I could write an epistle about the all the times we had without getting into serious trouble. Though we did "prank around" quite a bit. We hunted, fished, swam and ran loose and free. We had a tractor to ride to town, a State Park where we trapped ground squirrels, a Bowling Alley where we bowled with the pins being set by hand, a Drug Store that had the best Cherry Limeades you ever tasted, a Red & White Store that handled everything from dry goods to meat and produce and a theatre - The Last Picture Show just like in the movie. Just like in the movie.

Larry McMurtry's film of the same name could have been set and shot in Blanco during the time I was there. It is absolutely that accurate with regard not only to place but person. I suppose I was in my late adolescence and early teens when I began spending significant time there and I can assure you it marked me for life. I can remember my peers of the time, still know their names (some are long dead) and see them in the characters in McMurtry's portrayal of small town Texas in the late 50's. It was a time of my "coming of age", for while American Graffiti is another of my coming of age flicks, I truly identify with The Last Picture Show. I suppose that I'm really of a different era and have never gotten past it.

Perhaps that's because that past was at least in part carefree and without responsibliity. But sadly, we become adults, taking on adult responsibilities and frequently become bogged down in the mundane details of living that responsible life.

Damn, I miss the old days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

People who read People

Was looking at an old People Magazine Special Edition called Gone Too Soon and it seemed to me that it embodied quite a bit of what is wrong with our present culture. It's premise was to identify 65 celebrities who died far too young. It listed various categories of personality: People's Covers from '74-07 (a 33 year period), Entertainers, Musicians and Athletes.

The names listed were:
John Lennon, John Belushi, Princess Grace, Jessica Savitch, Karen Carpenter, Rick Nelson, Christa McAuliffe, Andy Gibb, Rebecca Schaeffer,Ryan White, Gilda Radner, Jim Henson, River Phoenix, John Candy, Kurt Cobain, Elizabeth Glaser, Selena, Jerry Garcia, Margeaux Hemmingway, Jonbenet Ramsey, Gianni Versace, Princess Diana, John Denver, Phil Hartman, Dana Plato, JFK Jr., John Ritter, Christopher & Dana Reeve, Steve Irwin, Anna Nicole Smith, Freddie Prinze, Brad Davis, Jon-Erik Hexum, Brandon Lee, Heather O'Rourke, Michael O'Donoghue, Alexander Gudunov, Chris Farley, David Strickland, Charlotte Coleman, Josh Ryan Evans, Robert Pastorelli, Matthew McGrory, Chris Penn, Elvis, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Freddie Mercury, TUPAC Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates, Rob Pilatus, Wendy O. Williams, Aaliyah, Lisa Lopes, Luther Vandross, Sergi Grinkov, Payne Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Cory Lidle & Keiko (the Orca from Free Willy).
Now I'm pretty sure there are people on this list that everyone who reads it will say were talented, enjoyable to listen to or to watch perform, admirable people who did die "before their time". I've long enjoyed the performances of several of them myself. But, that's NOT my point. It is, I suppose, rather: "What did they do for the greater good? How did they really make this a better world?" I was struck by the lack of names which could fit that category; names whose shortened lives could be considered as suitable to be admired or emulated. A few of the folks above are bolded, people I suppose do meet the requirements. I count by my very liberal interpretation of that definition 10 names; though truthfully, I'd rule out at least 4 of them.

Even at that, 10/65 is equal to a percentage of 15.384. When I went to school (before do-overs) failing was anything below 60%. Obviously I don't think People got it right. And since People is considered an icon of our society, I must believe society is failing in its message, likewise. From the past third of a Century, I could pull up a mile long list of folks that would better fit the definition of dying "too soon" but each can do that for themselves in their own retrospective.

It has long appeared to me that entertainment has become our new god and its stars our "lesser gods".

"May G_D have mercy on the soul of our present day society."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Covenants and contracts

Heard a sermon a while back about the 10 Commandments which went into the difference between a contract and a covenant. Some see differences in the structure, others don’t; I do.

And that got me thinking about the Bill of Rights of our Constitution and whether it’s a contract or a covenant between government and its citizens?
Because ----- Then
If ------------- Then
N'est-ce pas?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Shamrock

My Granddaddy started in the hotel and restaurant supply business in Houston back in the early twenties. More than moderately successful, he partnered with a man by the name of Frank Henshaw, they later opened restaurant equipment and supply houses around the state of Texas, based out of Southern Hotel Supply Co. Granddaddy's line of work, successes, and his effusive personality gave he and Grandma membership into what was then Houston's "Cafe Society".

By 1949, when Glenn McCarthy's Shamrock Hotel had it's grand opening he had been gone from Houston for maybe a year and a half; but, he wasn't so removed that I assume him to still be part of the "crowd" that attended the Hotel's (in)famous Grand Opening. Long after he passed and going thru his "treasure box" I came across a napkin from the Shamrock. Wish I'd have asked him more questions about those times. I do know he and Grandmother also frequented the Balinese Room in Galveston run by the Maceo's back in the day.

What does all this mean? Number two of my favorite films is Giant. I suppose because of the connection with Grandma and Grandpa and their early years. I imagine they knew more than a few of the characters depicted in the movie. Family legend even says Grandma used to play bridge with the sister of Howard Hughes. When I watch the movie it seems to return them closer to me. Gone more than 35 years now, I still miss them.