A subtle blend of politics, sports, and music blended together and seen through the eyes of a young adult.
It’s been over a month since my last blog post, and I feel kind of guilty, as I promised everyone that I was back and would be posting more often. At first, I thought my coming posts would be about the magic of Disney and how the internship down in Florida was the best thing I’ve done so far in my life. While that is true, I started to develop a blog post instead that focused on how I got to the point in my life where I felt like moving down to Florida for seven months and postponing college and my normal life for a summer and a semester would be a good idea. I feel like my back-story could be somewhat interesting to some of you, especially those who have been reading my blog on here for a few years now. People seem to know my political ideology and the basic happenings of my life, but how did I become the person I am today?
I took a writing class here at UW-Madison and came to know the professor pretty well on a personal level as time went on. After I returned, I met up with him for a beer and started to talk about my time down at Disney World. After a few minutes, he raised his hand and asked me a question that made me truly think about where I am right now in life: “This all sounds like great fun, but why did you actually go down there? Did it actually change you like you’re saying it did?” He wanted to hear instead about my past and the events that led me to applying to the Disney College Program before he heard about my time in Florida, and he wanted to know why I became the person I am today. He wanted to know my history, the events in my life that shifted my personality and/or trajectory in life. What were the most important things to me, and who had helped to shape me so far? I left later that evening thinking about the things he had to say, and he had encouraged me to write a mini-memoir-like piece of writing to see if I could explain in words my short life story.
The piece ended up being an almost therapeutic output for me, as I wrote down things that not many people know about myself. I plan on posting it on the site within the next couple of weeks, finishing some areas that need polishing and deciding what to or what not to share and post on this blog. I’ve gone through some stormy stuff already, and I’m sure people much older than me reading this will have gone through some of the same things.
It’ll be a little bit of a longer piece, shying away from the usual topics that I address on my blog and becoming more of a personal essay, revealing some life events that literally only one or two other people know about. Maybe some of you will be able to say, “Yeah, that happened to me when I was your age too,” or some of you might be disappointed or shocked with some of the stories that I have. I may be only 21, but I’ve been through some heavy stuff already in life, some being self-inflicted and stupid when looking back on them.
Either way, I hope you’ll find my personal stories at least somewhat interesting. I’ll post them within the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for them if you’d like to read about them.
P.S. I visited Key West back in October with some of my Florida friends and can now say that, besides for New York City, the tiny island is my favorite place in the world to visit.
March 3rd, 2013
A lot of you may be wondering where I’ve been. It’s been ten months since I last posted, and no, I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. However, I have been all over the country, quite literally. From May until this past January, I lived and interned down in Florida at Walt Disney World, and I’d call what happened down there a semi-life shift. I’ve read a lot about people who choose to move out of their “natural habitats” or places where they’ve lived for their whole lives and what ends up happening to them. I believe I experienced something like that for the seven months I was down there. So many different things happened to me that changed my outlook on life in general, but I still retain a significant amount of who I was before I lived in Florida. I’m back now, and I’ve met new friends and gotten back into the swing of things. I just wanted to write this little post to tell everyone that yes, I will blog on here again, and I actually have a lot to share. My original plan was to blog every month from Florida, but things just got too hectic and fun for me to really sit down even once a month to chronicle everything that was going on during my first break from school in my life and my adventures in a completely different world halfway across the country from where I had grown up my whole life. I’ll be updating my blog way more often now, as I want to share what occurred during my time in Florida and what my hopes for the future are. If you think you’ll then keep up with my blog, awesome. If not, power to you. I’ll be posting my first post-Florida chronicle-blog soon, so keep an eye out for it!
Tonight I decided to turn on the TV and watch the gubernatorial debate. Man, that was a horrible decision.
I saw one thing, and one thing only: Walker refused to answer any questions asked of him this evening.
Many of them were simple, such as: “Why are you so proud of gaining 23,000 jobs in the last year when that number is still the lowest in the entire Midwest?” or “Why do you have a legal defense fund set up for you if you claim you are under investigation?” I mean, those are pretty simple questions. At least give us somewhat of an answer, like most politicians. Instead, he refused to answer the questions and spun his responses onto totally different topics. When the moderator tried to get Walker back on track multiple times, he still refused.
Governor Walker, answer the questions asked of you by the people you govern.
This concept was made clear in the debate tonight. Ever since he took office, Walker has attacked, attacked, and attacked again people that don’t agree with him. If anyone wants to refute this claim, go take a drive on highway I-94. For those who already have taken the journey from Madison to Milwaukee on this route, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: the billboard that reads “Weapons of Mass Destruction? Crazy Liberals!” with the picture of a Looney Tune-like character looking like he’s on acid. This says one thing to me: people, probably Tea Party zealots, are so desperate into ramming through the idea that liberals are evil people that they have to put up a pathetic sign like that on a major highway. How childish is it to do something like that? And, may I point out, I don’t see any liberal billboards like that around anywhere in this state.
And that brings me to a conclusion I have made over the past few months: people on the left might not always be right, but they do not (in general- yes, people like Nancy Pelosi do this, but there are ten times as many people on the left who don’t) demonize people like conservatives do. Take this website for example. I have not met a conservative commenter who has not attacked liberals and called them uniformly “evil and the slime of the earth” (WFB is a prime example. Why do you refuse to call Democrats Democrats and instead only call them Dumocrats?). While there are liberal commenters who have also done the same thing and attacked conservative commenters and launched personal attacks, there are also a few who refuse to participate in petty name-calling. But, looking at the bigger picture, the Tea Party is the point that I am trying to get at here. I want to compare the Tea Party to another certain group that shared many of their same beliefs (hint for history buffs: I’m referring to a foreign state-run group that was active during the first time Czechoslovakia ceased to exist), but I don’t want to get that extreme. Tea Party members demonize everyone that is different from them, and if you don’t have the exact same views as them, you’re “American-hating socialists” or “don’t love the American flag and hate everything this country stands for!” If someone can find a Tea Party member that doesn’t fit this description, I would love to meet him or her. I want to respect Tea Party people and their views, but when all you do is preach hate and have no respect for people who don’t share your exact views, that irks me. It basically boils down to an issue of respect: you don’t respect me, don’t expect to get it back from me. Doesn’t that go along with what the Golden Rule says? The biggest fact that pisses me off with these people though is the fact that they call Obama and all other liberals Socialists, yet some of them survive only because of Socialist policies! What programs am I talking about you say? Social Security and Medicare. Those two policies are the epitome of socialist ideas, yet, if someone were to try to repeal the programs and get rid of them, all of America, including Tea Partiers, would cause riots and say the government was launching massive attacks on their rights. Sooooo many of these Tea Party people will need massive help with their health care bills later on life, and they will have no problem with paying for that through Medicare. So they can protest against Obama all they want, but if he were to truly take their advice, their medical bills would be getting a lot more expensive.
(I want to clarify something: I am not saying all Tea Party people are wrong in their view points or evil, as I even have some Tea Party-supporting friends who have some views that I can sympathize with (I know, right?!?!? Me, friends with a Tea Partier?!? You don’t say!). I also am not saying that all liberals are perfect and never demonize people who have different views from them. Nancy Pelosi is a perfect example of that—I can’t stand that woman and her personal, petty attacks on many people. But, when you boil it down, I truly do believe that, when you compare the Tea Party and their followers with left-leaning people, the Tea Party causes civil war to break out. When Jim Doyle was governor, you didn’t have neighbors all of a sudden hating each other because of their political views.)
To further the case that the far right and Scott Walker’s camp also love to launch petty personal attacks beyond normal personal attacks, just look at the new ad he’s running that basically says “Tom Barrett condones baby beating because he let “his” police force misreport all kinds of violent crimes, such as people who beat and kill babies.” How can you justify running an ad like that? It’s like Willie Horton version 2012. It’s a simple, petty, outrageous, and frankly disgusting parallel to draw, and if anyone wants to disagree with me on that, fine, your choice. I question your morals though if you do. Tom Barrett does not condone baby beating and murder and all that. No one who is legally sane would condone that, yet Walker is trying to say Barrett does. Come on people, how is that even allowed to fly in today’s society? How is Walker able to make that claim without massive backlash from the general public?
I’d also like to ask Walker supporters to justify this: why does Scott Walker claim he is not under criminal investigation, yet he has a criminal defense fund set up for him (likely by the Koch brothers)? Why else does anyone need a criminal defense fund if they aren’t under investigation? I can understand businesses having this in order to fully combat phony lawsuits and all that, but the governor of Wisconsin does not need a defense fund unless he is being investigated. It’s common sense. Anyone want to explain to me why Walker is still trying to get people to believe this? (Mark my words: he’ll end up having to resign like Tricky Dick Nixon did.)
Switching to another angle, I wish this recall had never happened. I wish Scott Walker had not gotten recalled, and I wish he would have been able to serve until 2014 without facing another election (I think he should be able to serve out his whole term, and then we can fully gauge how much he has damaged this state that I have grown to call home). I am so adamant in this view that I didn’t even sign the recall petition because I think this is a waste of time and a way to further fuel the Civil War that is engulfing Wisconsin right now.
Yes, you just read that right: I do not support the recall effort against Walker with my whole heart, and I’ll tell you why. Point blank, Walker will win the recall election next Tuesday. However, he won’t win for the reasons that he’ll claim he won. Walker will claim that his win is a mandate from the people, that Wisconsin has spoken and loves him and trusts him to keep running the state. That is all bullcrap-- he’ll win because he has created such a cult of followers around him that they will come out in flocks to vote for him when compared to his opponent’s supporters. Democrats aren’t fired up enough by Tom Barrett, and he will lose because of this. It’s that simple—Walker will win only because his supporters are much more pumped up and excited about keeping him in office when compared to Barrett’s supporters. And this is why I’m pissed off that the recall happened: Walker will basically claim that this is a sign from God about how he is the anointed one to lead Wisconsin out of the Dark Times. And that is dead wrong. The people of Wisconsin that don’t support him simply won’t come out and vote against him because a lot of them are “meh” with who is running against him (still confused why Feingold didn’t run), and that is the only reason he will win next Tuesday. The win will then give he and Tea Party fanatics across the country momentum that I’d rather them not have, and it could hurt come November. On top of that, I’m just kind of pissed off enough to the point that I think people that have “voter’s remorse” because they voted for him and then got screwed over by his policies should have to deal with their choice. You voted for Walker and then got screwed over?! Well that sucks—deal with it! I know that’s a very pessimistic and pissy attitude, but they made their choice and they should have to deal with it for the next 2.5 years. Launching a recall is a petty way to get what they want—deal with your choices and embrace them. Don’t complain that you’re mad because you got blindsided—you’re problem, and yours alone.
I think I’ve said enough for this blog post. I’ve said the majority of what I wanted, and I’m sure certain commenters will have a heyday with this post. But that’s fine with me. At least it’s initiating conversation. And with that, I have simple requests with comments made here: don’t launch personal attacks against other people, don’t call other people stupid or “dumocrats” or whatever, and stay on the topic of this post. With that, thanks for reading and respecting my views, even if we happen to disagree.
P.S. Don't call me a liberal, because I am not a liberal. I am a person with both left and right-wing views and policies, but I tend to agree more with left-wing views and policies. And yes, that position can exist. If anyone wants to discuss with me my personal views, left or right, let me know and I can either publish a separate blog post detailing my views on many of today's issues or e-mail me directly.
Story time about today’s election:
I have a very good friend in one of my creative writing classes here at Madison who is about as completely opposite on the ideological scale as me, and we got talking today in class, as it is Election Day. She at first asked whom I would be supporting. Or, rather, she made explicit attempts at saying I would be voting for Kathleen Falk, as “that’s what all dirty liberals will do,” she said with a wink. I said, no, I actually dislike Falk very much. I think she’s a flake that wouldn’t stand a chance against Walker.
Following that, I then told her I would be voting for Tom Barrett. As soon as I said his name, she scrunched up her face and said, “Really? Why would you do that? He’s left Milwaukee in complete shambles!”
“Really?” I said. “Can you explain to me exactly how that works out?”
“Well, you know, there’s that ad on TV that says he has,” she responded.
“Wait, so you are basing you whole belief of Barrett’s failure on some silly political ad that isn’t even correct?”
“Yea, Walker wouldn’t lie you know. He’s committed to moving this state forward, just like he already has been doing for even a year,” she said.
With that, I just laughed out loud and rolled my eyes. “Moving this state forward? How?”
“Well, he lowered unemployment for one.”
“D., do you know that Wisconsin has the worst job creation rate of all 50 states over the last year?”
“Oh yea, but that’s because of Doyle’s policies. It’s not Walker’s fault.”
“Really. Did you also know that the only way unemployment goes down when job creation fails is that people have been unemployed for so long that they don’t count as being unemployed under the statistical guidelines?” I asked her.
“That’s not true.”
“Yes it is, D. That’s the only way it can happen.”
“Well, there has to be another reason. Walker is doing everything he can to move this state forward,” she said.
“Ok, D., you’ve asked for it now. Lemme tell or ask you some things. Are you aware Walker cut $1.6 billion dollars from public education in the last budget? Are you aware that the so called “balanced budget” isn’t even really balanced because there was a shortfall in tax revenue?” I asked.
“That’s not true,” she said. D. had started to shift uncomfortably in her seat.
“Yes it is. Are you aware of the war on women he’s raging? How he doesn’t think women can think for themselves anymore?”
“That’s not even true at all. That’s a big load of liberal b.s.”
“You do know that now to get an abortion, a woman must consult with multiple doctors to make sure that no one else is forcing her into getting one? How is that not saying women can’t think for themselves?”
“That’s not the same thing,” she said.
“Or how about how we are going back to 1950’s sex education because “abstinence is the only correct form of sex ed? Yea, that really worked for Palin’s daughter, huh?”
At this point, D. had turned quiet and just listened to what I was saying.
“Are you aware of how corrupt Walker actually is? How he claims the unions and Democrats are so evil because they are getting all their money from out of state, even though the vast majority of his funds are coming from out of state? Or the whole John Doe investigation going on right now? Do you even know what that is right now?”
She shook her head no.
“D., he even repealed the Equal Pay Act for women. If you and I were at the same job and you got paid less than me just because you are a woman, you would now have to sue through the federal courts, which is way more expensive and time consuming. That’s not a blatant war on women? You know, why do you even like Walker?”
She paused for a second before answering. “Well, you know, because he is saving tax payers lots of money and moving Wisconsin forward.”
With that, I just laughed and stopped talking to her about it. She clearly had no obvious reason for voting for Walker besides mommy and daddy had told her to.
This whole little incident shows me how uninformed many Wisconsinites are, and how blind they are to the Nixonian techniques that Walker and his team of goons are using nowadays. It wouldn’t surprise me if massive voter fraud occurs a month from now in order to have Walker kept in office. Or maybe not outright fraud, but some b.s. like what happened last year where 14,000 votes just “appeared” late. The point is, the vast majority of people voting for Walker are uninformed and naïve or just not that intelligent when looking at the facts. Use your head people. I’m being blunt, but when facts stare at you in the face and you still deny them, your just being a Joe McCarthy.
I haven’t written anything for a while because I’ve been quite busy personally and I’ve been waiting for this whole John Doe thing to be blown completely wide open. While I’m still as busy as ever, the whole John Doe thing is now starting to become a monster that I believe will eventually someday be known as Walker-gate.
Anyone who is still defending Walker at this point is downright unintelligent. I’ve tried to think of ways to say that nicer, but I just can’t. The man is clearly involved in the illegal things that have been going on since the time he was elected to County Executive, and almost no one can honestly believe otherwise. So far, 4 of his aides/people he put into positions of power have been indicted on various counts of corruption, fraud, and money laundering. Two of them sicken me the most, as I have a friend who is in the Air Force and I don’t tolerate anything that has to do with ripping veterans off. Great people Walker chooses to trust running county/state programs, huh?
The simple fact that Walker’s former assistant chief of staff is involved with this whole scandal makes the story to seem pretty much over- Walker knew about the vast majority of the things that were going on. It would be ludicrous to think that he wouldn’t have known about all these things, as shown by how close to him some of these indicted people were/are.
All that the prosecutors need now is evidence to charge good ol’ Scotty with some charges of corruption, voter fraud, bribery, or other various illegal crimes and throw him out of office. Recall? Think more like resignation.
What kind of evidence could they use to do this? Supposedly, according to one of his former aides, there was a massive network set up on the side that Walker’s aides ran to talk about all the illegal things they were doing, i.e. campaigning on county time, taking kickbacks, soliciting support, etc. A major part of this network was numerous amounts of e-mails sent back and forth between people within it. Supposedly, some of these e-mails claim that Walker knew what was going on and was giving instructions accordingly. However, the funny thing is that these e-mails have magically disappeared. According to former aides, orders were given to disable the network and delete and erase all traces of it once Walker started his campaign for governor, or right after he was elected governor. If one of these aides testifies about these e-mails or can somehow produce them, that’s game over.
Scott Walker should stop with his gimmicks as well. He’s trying to play Mr. Innocent and emphasize the fact that he is cooperating with the law. Really sir? Why’d you just hire two defense lawyers then? An innocent man who shouldn’t have to prove anything (as he’s claimed he is) has no use for defense lawyers. Something is fishy here….
Going along with that, a phenomenal article was published in the Journal Sentinel yesterday explaining some quotes Scott Walker made back in 2006. During that year, a former aide of Governor Jim Doyle was charged with corruption and found guilty. When it was made public, Walker made a HUGE stink about it, saying Doyle should be held accountable because it was his aide that was charged. Walker went on to say that anyone even remotely close to the Governor is his responsibility, and he used this line to attack Doyle before losing the eventual GOP nomination. Hmmm, wait a second. Scott Walker said that if a politician’s aides are found guilty of breaking the law, they should be held accountable? WHAT?!
Yea, good job being a hypocrite Scotty. 6 years ago, Walker stated that politicians should be responsible for their aides’ behavior and resign if they break the law. Walker, however, has done the exact opposite of that. Instead of accepting responsibility and resigning, Walker is denying and staying right where he is. Seems like a bit of a flip-flopping, law-breaking, long-nosed Nixonian if there ever was one!
Either way, Walker will, eventually, be charged in this John Doe thing if they can find the electronic evidence. When it happens, the whole house of cards that Walker has built over the last year will come tumbling down. I just hope there’s a good politician, a uniter, who will be able to swoop in and heal the divides that Walker has created.
Kathleen Falk isn’t it. Tammy Baldwin isn’t it. Tommy Thompson or Russ Feingold, I’m looking at you at people just like you. They aren't perfect, but man, they brought people together if people would just listen to them.
P.S. Glad to see Tom Brady suck the big one last night. I don't care for Eli too much but I still hate Brady and his Cheating Coach more than anything.
People who know me pretty well will know that my favorite time of the year is coming up. The Christmas season that is upon us is the time I cannot wait for, and I start to celebrate as early as I can. Yes, I am one of those people who turned on 99.1 WMYX as soon as they started playing Christmas music. However, up here at Madison, not very many people share my enthusiasm for Christmas, and this includes my roommates. I was luckily able to convince them to let me set up our Christmas tree already, so with that, I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and a great start to the 2011 Christmas Season! P.S. Enjoy the Christmas music as well if you'd like!
It was back in 2008 when revelations broke that President Obama’s past reverend said phrases that seemed to smite White America, with the most blatant one being “God damn America.” While I do not support those comments at all, I think I can make a similar statement about something else going on in the news right now: God Damn Joe Paterno.
Now, some people might think that phrase to be extremely harsh. To me, it’s not harsh enough. Instead of going down in history as the greatest college football coach, Paterno will now be remembered forever as the coach who lacked any kind of moral sense to help innocent children.
It’s been released that when Paterno find out about the allegations against his defense coordinator Jerry Sandusky, he simply told the AD at Penn State and then did nothing else. He never went to the police, he never went to the Board of Directors at Penn State, and he didn’t even talk to Sandusky about it at all- he let him be, and he even allowed him the use of an office owned by Penn State. If you knew a guy who was accused of raping a 10-year-old in a shower, would you want anything to do with him, and would you really have stayed silent and lived life like nothing had happened? Yea, me neither.
This whole “do nothing” approach puts into doubt Paterno’s moral code. If someone reported to you that they had witnessed the rape of a young boy, I’m pretty sure you and everyone else would go to the police immediately. Even if you didn’t go that far, I would at least hope that you would banish the perpetrator from ever setting foot in your workplace and totally isolating him for life. Paterno, on the other hand, simply did nothing besides tell some Penn State officials. The very fact that the man allowed Sandusky to still use Penn State facilities after he knew Sandusky had raped a boy is beyond comprehension for me.
What sickens me even more is the overflow of support for Paterno that has been going on at Penn State, whether it was the students camping outside of his house last week before he got fired, or the riots that broke out after he got fired. Seriously, are you freaking kidding me?? These students are rioting for a man who indirectly supported a sick child molester. If Bret Bielema were ever accused of raping a child or of knowing about a coach who did so and did nothing, you would see me on the frontlines of protestors to get his butt fired. The students at Penn State who are still supporting Paterno are honestly just being idiotic, as I cannot begin to understand how you can still support a coach who has no moral sense or direction of what is good or bad anymore.
On top of all that, if anyone reading this still supports Paterno, let me ask you this: if you’re child got raped by a local coach and another coach found out about it but did nothing, how would you feel? Would you still support the silent coach, or would you want to rip his head off with your own two hands?
Joe Paterno’s tenure at Penn State has come to an inglorious end, and he has no one to blame but himself. He could have avoided all of this back in 2002 if he had just gone to police and quarantined Sandusky until the police could take over. His grave was dug by himself, and I have lost almost all sense of respect for the man. Just because he was a great football coach doesn’t mean he can do what he did. God Damn you Joe Paterno.
In November of 2012, President Obama should easily be defeated if the Republican Party had any brains left in their organization. There- I’ll say what no one else on here wants to admit. Obama, for all the right reasons, should be a one-term President who should get voted out of office in an electoral landslide. “Should” is different than “will” however, as the Republican Party is once again illustrating why it is old, creaky, full of blow-hards, and needs to be replaced by a newer, more- in-touch-with-mainstream-America party, such as the Libertarian Party. Obama has gone from the darling of America to the punching bag of anyone who wants to whine and moan about anything, yet he will still probably be elected to a second term in 2012. Why? I already told you so: the Republican Party is full of fools that are so to the right of mainstream America that hardly any Independents will vote for them.
Take who the front-runners for the Republican Presidential Candidate are. The biggest and most idiotic of them so far would, hands down, be Rick Perry. First of all, he is a military deserter-turned Bible thumper-turned macho Governor of Texas. Sound familiar to anyone? Oh, yea, our last disaster of a president followed that same routine. Rick Perry is Dubya 2.0, which would spell disaster for America if he were elected President. The guy is literally just dumb- anyone seen his debate performances? I’m pretty sure Sarah Palin knows more about current affairs than he does. He’s also very rude (watch the debates if you want to try to counter that claim) and racist (look up what was written on a rock at the entrance to his ranch for 20+ years). And, to all the Tea Party lovers, who supposedly are the blood-born patriots of this country, do you not remember the threats that Perry made where he said he would secede Texas from the rest of the US? How is that patriotic?!?! The next worst candidate would be Michelle Bachman. I literally don’t even know how she would expect to be nominated, considering she barely gets re-elected every two years. On top of that, she’s even loopier than Palin was, and she tends to create the worst Photo Ops that I have ever seen. Corndog, anyone? Her knowledge of basic American history is also sub-par, and I’m pretty sure she would fail if she went on the “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader: American History Version” show. She also has no basic plans for American foreign policy, and that’s kind of a big deal with everything going on in the Middle East and with China’s growing power. Also, there’s Mitt Romney, but let’s be honest here: the evangelical part of the GOP is never going to let a Mormon be their candidate in this century.
The one shot that the GOP might have with defeating Obama is Herman Cain, but now he’s becoming the new Bill Clinton in terms of his problems with sexual relations. The guy seems smart, and he would be a blast of fresh air to Washington- a businessman with no previous political involvement? I would even look twice at him. But, the new stories coming out about how he sexually harassed a bunch of women back in the late 90’s might derail his campaign. (Personally, I think the accusations are kind of BS. These happened how long ago and NOW these women are speaking out about it? I mean, come on, talk about milking your “victim” status a little bit. Even if they are true, this should’ve come out right away.) On top of that, Cain’s apparent lack of any kind of foreign policy (he didn’t even know China had nukes) is a bit scary in this day and age.
With that, Obama should have no problem with getting re-elected in 2012. It won’t be another landslide or a campaign full of the vigor that 2008 had, but he will most likely pull it off. His opponents are just too weak, and with the slight economic upswing that is starting to occur and his massive foreign policy victories, he’s finally starting to build a healthy resume. Will I be volunteering for his campaign like I did in 2008? Probably not. Will I be super-exited about the election like I was in 2008? Probably not. Will I vote for Obama? Probably, as he would do an incredibly better job at being the leader of our nation compared to the GOP candidates. Unless Jesse Ventura decides to finally run for President, I already have a pretty good sense of who I’ll be voting for come a year from now.
In other news, who else is getting super-pumped for Christmas?!?!?
So, my first year of college has been over for a little less than a month, and the summer is just upon everyone. Looking back, my interests have changed a little, and what I am now pursuing at Madison has also changed. As I'm sure people who have read my blog can see, I am planning on majoring in History and Political Science. What people might not know is that I have also decided to pursue a third major, English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. Last semester, I took an Intro to Creative Writing class and was able to write a few short stories. As I haven't updated the blog in awhile, I thought I would share my first short story that I ever wrote with you guys. I used it to also get into an upper-level creative writing class, so I hope you guys like it as well. It is based on an actual historical event, but I'll let all of you figure out which one it is based on . . . . Enjoy! (As a sidenote: this story contains some slang that might be considered "rude" or "improper" to some people. It is essential to understanding the essence of the story though, as I'm sure you will see. I warn you in advance.)
There's A Bad Moon On the Rise
My momma and grandma always said that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know if I believe that now, but I know didn’t a long time ago, back when the Ku Klux Klan still ruled the area where I lived. They said Jesus watched over everything that happened in the world, and when he determined it was time for something to happen, it would happen. Maybe that’s why my Momma was able to accept my brother’s death better than me. Or maybe it was because she was used to the racism that was fostered in the Cradle of the Confederacy. You know, the areas of the Great Plantations and the Brave Rebel Soldiers. Hell, she probably thought that being called a “nigger” was normal back in them days, but I don’t believe that at all anymore. Not one bit. Especially not when you have one of us in the White House now. Yes, the times have a-changed. They’ve changed so much that I’ve finally decided to put a story down on paper that I have repressed for decades. My wife thought it would be good therapy to get this weight off my chest. Hopefully, my Momma would’ve been proud of what I have to say. But then again, this is about what happened to my brother Earl, and she didn’t have a lot to do with what happened that one summer. Unlike Momma, Earl didn’t believe that everything happened for a reason.
I was born in the year 1945, when Hitler was defeated and the United States became the most powerful country in the world. My father had married my Momma right before he went off to fight the Nazis in Italy, but he was soon killed by their troops and she became a veteran’s widow. A year before that, my brother Earl had been born, but to a different man. A white man at that too. So, after the war, Momma was faced with a few money problems. Earl’s father offered to let her move in with him and start a relationship again, but he only wanted her and Earl in the house. His excuse was that he didn’t have enough money to support two kids and a girlfriend, but I think it’s really because he didn’t want a little “full” black kid running around the house. Grandpa told me that he and Grandma never really liked the guy. He gave off a bad vibe that reminded them of some of the more moderate but still opinionated whites from down South. So Momma and Earl moved in with him in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I was shipped down to Mississippi to live with Grandma and Grandpa Moses.
Over the next nine years, I barely saw or heard anything about my momma and Earl. He was my mulatto brother, a distant mirage to me. When I turned ten though, Momma wrote to Grandma and requested that Earl come down every other summer for a month so the two of us could get to know each other. I didn’t understand why Momma didn’t want to come down and see me too, but Grandma soon explained why Momma would never step foot in her home state again (let’s just say she had a run-in with the KKK when she was still growing up). However, for the next four years, something always happened that screwed up Earl’s trip to the Magnolia State, and he was unable to come down. My long-lost brother had still never met me, and I had never met him. But finally, in 1958, I was able to meet Earl.
I remember the day perfectly— I was even wearing my favorite shirt, a white t-shirt with a little dark blue stain down on the left side of it from when I always went blueberry picking with Grandpa Moses. I waited at the bus stop alone, as Grandpa had had to leave for work twenty minutes after Earl was supposed to get here.
“Damn buses always run late nowadays. I’m sorry boy, but I cain’t stay and wait fer your brother. You gonna hafta walk home with ‘im, and you make sure he knows his ways down here. It’s a lot different around them here parts of the country, compared to tutti-frutti land up there in the North. And do not stop fer candy at Bratcher’s store. It rots your teeth and he don’t appreciate us Negroes in there,” he said, right before getting into the driver’s seat of his rusty old truck. He had had it since the war, but he didn’t have the money to get a new one yet.
For the next hour, I sat at the bus station in the colored section and waited for Earl’s arrival. I had only seen a picture of him once, so I was apprehensive and nervous that I would miss him when he stepped foot onto the Mississippian concrete. In the photo, he had a heavenly cream color to him, like caramel, and he was wearing a white fedora with a huge smile on his face. In these parts of town, a black boy would never be caught with a hat like that on, so I had to make sure I told him not to wear it round here if he brought it.
I also couldn’t wait to ask him a few questions that I had in mind about Momma. I wanted to know who she really was or if she ever asked about me, that kind of stuff.
When his long and silver Greyhound bus finally pulled into the station, I slowly got up from my bench and walked towards the unloading area. I could tell it was his bus, as a little sign with the words “Coloreds from St. Paul/Minneapolis” was taped to the side of one of the front windows. I thought that was funny; even buses coming from the North separated us according to our skin color.
I waited anxiously for the next few minutes as the bus driver unloaded the riders’ luggage from underneath the bus. There was not a single black kid wearing a white fedora, and I thought it would be hard to find Earl in the crowd. Many people had the same skin tone as he did, and I felt a tinge of jealousy as I thought about my lousy luck.
Suddenly, I felt a hand on the back of my shoulder, and I swung around to face my older brother. He was standing there in blue jeans and a white shirt, with black Chuck Taylor’s covering his feet. A Milwaukee Braves hat graced the top of his head, covering his short black hair and shielding his eyes from the blinding sun. I stood in awe for a second, taking in the sight that was Earl. He was my relative, my blood. I wanted to say something to impress him from the get-go, so I decided to play cool and sound smart.
“Say, aren’t you from St. Paul?”
“You betcha. And I still live there now with Momma. She said you already knew that?” He looked around at the Southern fauna that surrounded the bus station, lapping up every detail with his eyes.
“Of course I knows that.” Oh yes, my old Southern grammar. How I miss the days of my imperfect talk! I had since gone to college up in Minnesota, but I still look fondly on the old dialect that used to slip out of my mouth. I still use it every once in awhile, but my wife always scolds me whenever I get talking like I used to. “But see, what I don’t git is why you have a Braves hat on. Milwaukee ain’t no St. Paul or Minneapolis.” Grandpa Moses had told me all about his time spent in those three cities during World War II, where he had worked as a sheet-metal worker before returning back home.
“Brother, you have a lot to learn. The Twin Cities don’t have any baseball team, and I ain’t gonna cheer for no Yankees. Milwaukee has Hank Aaron on the team anyways, and he’s one of us coloreds. The Braves are the closest team to me, so why not cheer for them?” He raised his hat and smiled his tight, long lips into the same smile that I had seen in the photograph. For a fourteen-year-old, he was remarkably tall too, and he peered down at me slightly as he spoke.
“Of course. We don’t git much baseball talk round here, but I do like them Brooklyn Dodgers a mighty lot. They had Jackie Robinson for awhile, so my allegiance lies to no one but them.” That had been true. Whenever the radio was turned on in our house, Grandpa Moses always tried to tune it into the Dodgers games.
“Well, be careful what you call them, Brother. They moved to Los Angeles you know.”
“You don’t say?” I would have to tell Grandpa as soon as I got home; I didn’t think he had even known that the team had moved. There had been considerable talk, but we never knew for sure if the Team of the Coloreds really moved to Hollywood. “Well anyways, I am Curtis Turner, your long forgotten brother!” I said the last part with a smile to make sure that Earl took it as a joke, and he returned my greeting with a hug. We were brothers, and we were blood and colored. I didn’t care if he had some of that White blood in him; we both had the same momma.
On the walk home, I took Earl the scenic way. It was three in the afternoon, so we had a while before we needed to be home for supper. I first took him into the little town where we got our groceries from, Greenwood. I pointed out the colored store where we went, and I told him to stay away from the certain white buildings in town. As I was explaining the difference between the white and black areas, Earl looked at me and asked, “Do they call you “niggers” down here all the time? I mean, why do they have so many separate facilities for people just based on skin color? We have a couple up in St. Paul, but nothing like what you’ve been showin’ me.” I looked at him with a skeptical glance. He stared back, and he wasn’t retracting his question.
“Are you serious, Earl? Don’t Momma ever tell you what it’s like down here? How different it is from up North?” I stood there with my arms crossed, a hostile touch in my voice. I felt bad for talking so maliciously to a brother who I had just met, and an older one at that, but I just couldn’t believe my ears.
“Well, Momma said to be careful what I say around the whites and to just take the slurs that they’re gonna throw at me, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.”
“What do you mean ‘this bad’?”
“Well see, in St. Paul, we don’t have a lotta schools that are separated by skin color. All us children go to school together. The whites, the blacks, even the Asians and the Latinos. We don’t separate up there in my part of town. In some other schools, mostly the private ones, it’s still black an’ white, but tha’s about it in terms of major differences. We can go into the same movie theaters, restaurants, or Woolworths that the whites can. ”
“Why you talking like me? I thought they taught y’all proper English up there.” Earl’s slow glide into Southern-style talking had irked me, as he was a Northerner who shouldn’t be using it.
“Well, I speak both ways back at home. At school, I speak like I’m supposed to, but at home I speak like Momma does. You know she still has the Southern accent.” I didn’t know, as I hadn’t seen Momma in ages.
“Tha’ right? Well I’ll be damned. A Northern Negro with a little bit of Southern blood in ‘im!” I hugged Earl real tight then, and the brotherly bond started to spring between us. “But anyways, yeah, the whites down here aren’t like the whites from where you are. They don’t really care for us Negroes, and they believe in the doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’ Or at least that’s what Grandpa Moses tells me when I asks him ‘bout it. And yes, Earl, they call us that name down here a lot.”
Earl nodded his head, satisfied with my answer. I thought Earl was better educated than me, being in those fancy schools in the North, but I guess he still didn’t know some of the simple things of life. We were all humans down here in the South, but we were as separate as the fingers on the hand of God.
“Hey Earl, can I ask you a few questions about Momma?” I said to him as we strolled the streets in town.
“Sure Curtis. Ask away.”
“Well, does Momma ever say anythin’ ‘bout me at all? I mean, does she ever wonder about me down here?” We stopped walking and sat down on a bench in front of Mr. Lotson’s tool store.
Earl looked at me for a second before shooting his eyes downwards, kicking a pebble while trying to figure out how to respond.
“Well, she does mention you every once in awhile. I ask her all the time why you can’t come up and live with us. I don’t understand why Pa won’t let you. Momma says that she wants to pay for you to come up and visit us all soon.”
I fiddled with my hands while looking across the street as Earl spoke. Momma never even really talked about me as much as I thought she would. All I wanted to do sometimes was meet her and ask her why she made me sacrifice for the rest of the family. Wasn’t I just the little kid?
“What does she like to do?” I asked Earl after a few seconds of silence.
“She likes to take me out sometimes for ice cream with my friends, and on some Saturdays we go to the movies. You ever go to the movies down here Curtis?” Earl asked while looking at me and smiling.
I never got to go to the movies down here. Every time Grandpa had tried to take me, we always got turned down because the theater was “full to capacity.” At least I got to buy ice cream with my friends every once in awhile when Grandpa would come home with a few spare nickels. No parent ever took me though; it was just me with my friends everywhere I went.
“No. Cain’t,” I said quietly.
We sat in silence again for another minute before Earl finally spoke up. I could tell he sensed my disappointment by the way he was sitting and how he was trying to sound when he spoke.
“Curtis, it ain’t your fault that Momma had to send you down here. She wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for Pa. If I could, I would love to have you live with us. Maybe you could go to college up by me when you get older?”
I snorted as he said this, laughing and clapping my hands before saying, “Earl, I ain’t goin’ to no college. You know how the schools are down here. I wouldn’t be able to get in even if I tried.”
“You never know Curtis. And one more thing I just thought of. I want your opinion.” Earl turned sideways towards me and put his hands on the bench between us. “Momma always says that everything happens for a reason. She says that no matter what happens, good or bad, it is suppose to happen for a specific purpose. What do you think about that?” Earl crossed his arms and leaned back against the armrest of the bench.
I thought for a second about what Earl had said before responding. Everything happened for a reason? No, I didn’t believe that. I might’ve gotten sent down here to live with Grandpa and Grandma, but there was no certain reason why I woke up at seven o’clock every day or walked down Clearwater Road on my way to school.
“I don’t believe that. Sounds to me like somethin’ she learned from goin’ to church too much. You know, that idea about how Jesus is in control of everythin’ and he makes the actions in people’s lives happen for a higher purpose. My Sunday school teacher taught me that. Like I says though, nope, don’t buy it. You go to church?”
“Yeah, Momma’s very religious. You’ll see when you visit someday. And just to let ya know, I agree with you,” Earl said with a wink.
Momma might have kept Earl instead of me, but I couldn’t hold it against him. I just nodded back and turned my lips upwards a little bit. We sat back and stared at people, laughing and pointing out certain styles of dress or items they were carrying. Earl and I were growing closer, and I liked having him around. He was different than my other friends; it seemed like I could hold smart conversations with him about anything.
Eventually growing tired of people watching, we got up and I continued to give him a tour of town.
After I had showed him around, we went onto the back roads where all us Blacks lived. We still had three miles to go before we got home, so I pointed out all the landmarks to him as we passed. Some held good memories for me, and some gave me the downright heebie-jeebies.
“You see that house over there? Yeah, Shirley Jones lives there. She likes me,” I said to Earl with a grin on my face. “When we gets to having a car at home and I’m old enough, maybe Grandpa said I could take her out for a ride. Wouldn’t that be swell?” Earl nodded his head, silently looking around him all the while as we walked on the narrow dirt road.
As we came to a bend in the road, I suddenly stopped. A chill ran through me, ruffling all the hairs on my body. We had come to the towering willow tree by Everett Jackson’s house, and the light of the late afternoon struck it in a sinister way.
“Why we stoppin’?” Earl asked me when he noticed he had walked ahead of me. He looked to what I was glancing at and tried to size it up for something special. “Curtis? Whatchu doing? Come on now, lemme in on the secret of this here tree. I don’t see nothin’ too special about it.”
“They lynched him here last week.”
“They what last week?” Earl froze to the spot, just like his ancestors had a hundred years earlier when they heard the bark of the bloodhounds.
“They lynched Roger Smalls last week Thursday on this tree. You can still see the tire marks in the yard from where their trucks were during the lynching. Man, you shoulda seen it. It was a nasty affair; worse than I had ever heard of before.”
Earl stood stiffly where he was, a small drop of sweat dropping onto his shirt from under his baseball hat. “I didn’t believe it when Momma told me the stories of the hangings.”
“Lynchings,” I said.
“Yea, the lynchings, whatever you wanna call ‘em. So you’s telling me that they killed a black man here on this tree last week with a huge crowd gathered round to see? Curtis, that’s just not right. Goddamn.” He was slipping in and out of the Southern accent again, which was starting to get very amusing.
My eyes suddenly unglued from the tree and transferred their view over to Earl’s face. He stood glancing up at the tree. “Hey Earl, careful ‘bout using that language around here. White men don’t like it when we cuss like you’re doing, and Grandma and Grandpa give me soap every time I even say ‘damn’.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Curtis. Didn’t mean it; just slipped right out.”
“No, it’s okay. Just don’t want you getting in trouble your first day out here.” He still had twenty-nine left, and I didn’t want him to get stuck sucking soap in the outhouse.
“Yea, whatever you say. But what did Roger do?”
I explained the story to him as I had heard and seen it. Roger had been accused of looking at Eugene Wallace’s wife, the third grade teacher for the white kids, on the road in town one day. That was enough to upset the whole white community of Greenwood, and they dragged Roger outta his bed at night, beat him, and then lynched him on the tree. The KKK had even made an appearance, sporting their ghostly white robes and shooting shotguns off in the air. The commotion and sight of a murdered man had scared the crap outta the Jackson’s, so they came to stay with us for the night. A picture of it had been featured in the white supremacist paper, Long Live the Rebs, or so Grandpa had told me. He had seen a copy of it lying in the trash bin in town, and he took it home to see what the whites had to say about Roger’s “crime”. I saw it when he was done reading and had thrown it on our table in disgust. The picture was of Roger hanging from the tree, and a huge crowd of whites was smiling below him. A few kids could even be seen running around in the photo, and a blonde teenager seemed to have a piece of Roger’s bloody shirt in her hand. Such souvenirs were items to brag about with the white people.
After I was done telling the story, Earl just kept looking at me in disbelief. “I knew it was bad down here, but not this bad. I didn’t know we ain’t even supposed to look at white women.”
“No, sometimes that’s okay with some of them. It’s just that Mr. Wallace is a real vicious Negro-hater, and he don’t stand no Negro looking at his wife. He catches you doin’ that and you’ll be strung up just like Roger was,” I said.
“So when we go into town, should I just avoid all eye contact with the white women? ‘Cuz that ain’t what I do back in St. Paul.”
“Like I says, it’s just Wallace that’s really that bad. But yea, let’s just say to avoid eye contact with the white women as much as possible. ‘Cause you definitely a long ways from home, brother.”
We kept walking after that. As soon as the willow was out of sight, warmth returned to me. I found this quite weird; that a tree with its feelings and long branches could reach out to me and ensnare me didn’t surprise me though, as it must’ve been the spirits of the past that were helping it. Grandpa Moses always talked about these spirits right before bed, which I didn’t tend to like much because of the nightmares they caused. But over the years, I had learned from him that these spirits of the past were the souls of murdered black men, going all the way back to the days before the South rebelled and had caused fellow countrymen to shoot and stab at each other. He said that especially right after a lynching, the spirits were strongest, as the life was still being held within the trees. Whether in the bayous or the swamps or even the plain black neighborhoods, the spirits roamed, and I had to always be careful whenever darkness fell. It was still somewhat light out, but I was still a little uncomfortable with this encounter with the spirits. I would have told Earl all about this, but he probably would’ve just laughed at me and said it was all Southern folklore that the white men had made up to scare us blacks.
“Hey, you see that break in the trees up ahead?” I asked, peering around another bend in the unpaved road and pointing to a clearing in the forest.
“Yea. What’s so special ‘bout it?”
“Follow me.” I took off at a sprint, which caught Earl off guard as he struggled to catch up. He dropped his suitcase behind a few tall weeds and followed suit. We went running through the Cherokee roses and the emerald green Virginia creepers, and the grass, as tall as our knees at some points, licked and tore at the hairs of our young teenage legs. Wild white oaks and dark brown gum trees peered down at our impromptu race to nowhere from above, and investigative skunks and possums tore their heads from what they were doing, glaring at us intruders in their home. The setting sun’s rays mixed with the early moon’s glimmer and knifed through the leaves above, creating an eerie effect to anyone who could see us at the moment. We looked like old ghosts running through the forests of the Deep South; we looked like our ancestors as they ran from the land that took their blood and spit out only humiliation and beatings in return. We looked like the silver bullets that came from the muzzles of Confederate infantrymen’s guns, only to learn later that they had fought and fallen in vain. We looked like the sickles that had cut sugar and cotton on this land many years ago, as the swishing blade made a glint in the dusky twilight. We were running to see what they had fought for long ago.
After running for almost three-quarters of a mile, I finally stopped at the edge of a clearing, sweat trickling down my face, shirt sticking to my back as if it was the glue holding together the precarious state of our union in the South. Earl stopped as soon as I did too, for he had still been slightly behind me as we were racing.
“Dang, son. You run like the wind’s coming after you. Where’d you learn that?” Earl said in-between pants and gasps for air.
“Negro, you know we talented like this.” We both looked at each other before bursting out in laughter and collapsing into heaps on the ground. Turning over onto my back, I stared up at the darkening sky, with all of its stars splashing across it like the heavens were being created before our eyes.
“Hey Earl, you realize these are the same stars that you see up in the North?”
“Yes sir, I do. The teacher at my school loves to go on and on about astronomy.”
“Astronomy? What is that?”
Earl looked at me for a second with a bewildered look before answering. “Yea, astronomy, you know. The study of the stars and planets and the Moon?”
“Oh, I git you now. But I don’t know what any of those groups of stars are called. All I know is the Drinking Gourd.” The Great Northern Star. The Savior and Guider. I pointed it out in the sky, outlining it with my finger.
We continued to lay there in silence and looked up at the cosmos for a few minutes. Suddenly, I remembered why I had led Earl to this clearing.
“Hey Earl, follow me again.” We both got up slowly, wiping the dirt and grass off of our shirts and jeans. I led him to the edge of the clearing, near the other side from where we came in. After passing through the line of willows, we were on the banks of a small lake. Off to the left, maybe a couple hundred yards, was a clump of oak trees, all silhouetted against the setting sun. The last bits of today’s sunlight were fighting their way through the leaves of the trees, pushing and jostling each other to hit our eyes first. It was a beautiful twilight sight, with each ray of the disappearing ball of light vividly sketched out through our surroundings. A light mist was rising off the water, mixing with some of the light, and it looked like will-‘o-the-wisps were rising from the smooth surface of the lake. The aura around us once again took on a haunting feel.
“You ever seen anything like this up in your parts?” I asked Earl, who was standing on the banks of the lake with his mouth agape. When I got no response, I felt satisfied. At age thirteen, I knew the significance and glory of being humbled by nature. I suddenly grew older in the course of a few minutes. I grew past my time; I was too old for my body. I felt like an old man showing his child the wonders of the natural world.
Slowly, but steadily, Earl started to hum a tune that I knew. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I had heard it on the radio at some point. Then, all at once, I knew the tune. When it got to the right part, I started to sing along: “Near the village, the peaceful village, the lion sleeps tonight. Near the village, the peaceful village, the lion sleeps tonight.” At first, I thought the song was utterly and downright weird to be singing at this time. When it had become a hit on the radio, Grandpa Moses had explained to me the real meaning of the song and what it was about: an ancient lion-king warrior from the Zulu area of Africa. I got a story from him about the legend, and ever since I had liked to hear the song. This time though, I could not see how it related to our current mind frame. The song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” dealt with a folk tail from Africa; what did it have to do with the South and us?
We stood there humming and singing a few more lines before Earl stopped and sat down. I was curious to find out why he had sang this out-of-place tune, so I joined him.
“Earl, can I ask you a question?” Earl looked at me and nodded his head. “Why in God’s name did we just sing that song?”
Earl didn’t answer for a while. He just sat on the squishy bank, water soaking his jeans and feet. Eventually, when it had almost gotten completely dark, he finally gave me a response.
“Think for a second Curtis. That song might be some popular American radio hit right now, but look at what the words are actually saying.”
I was baffled by what Earl was trying to point out. “What the words are actually saying? Aren’t they just the story about some African folklore tale?”
Earl smiled at that. “Let’s say I was tryin’ to find a deeper meanin’ behind the words. Think for a second, and imagine that the objects in the song represented certain parts or people of our society. Who or what do you think would be the lion? Or what do you think the village represents?”
I thought Earl had gone off his rocker, but I played along. “Umm, well, is the lion representing an actual lion?” Earl shook his head. “Oh come on Earl! I ain’t no smarty-Northerner like you! Tell your little brother what the heck you talkin’ ‘bout!” I got one last laugh out of Earl with that.
“The lion, Curtis. It represents a certain part of the society that you especially live in. Think about how the village is peaceful until the lion comes into the village. Who do you think the lion represents?”
I thought for a few minutes as Earl stared again at the lake, and then it dawned on me. The smile that crept across my face told him I understood, and we both stood up together. All of a sudden, Earl started to belt out the first two verses of the song once again. This time, his voice was much richer; it was a deep-baritone, and he sounded like he should’ve been on the radio. I tried to join along, but my voice cracked several times. I gave up my quest of trying to sing and just listened.
A gunshot then rang out from the other side of the lake. The sound traveled over the water with a thundering velocity, ripping our current mindsets away from us and stomping on them when they hit the ground. We turned around and bolted out of there.
Once we were back on the main road, Earl grabbed his suitcase while looking a little ruffled. I was sure he wasn’t used to random gunshots at night, but I sure was, and I knew what it meant. I just told him not to worry about it, and we half-walked, half-ran the rest of the way home.
When we arrived home, Grandma dropped everything she was doing and ran to Earl. She had never met him either, so she got all emotional on Earl. “Oh, Lord a-mighty, oh oh! I can’t believe my other grandson is finally here with us! You are too skinny though. Your momma must not be feeding you enough.”
“Well, well, well. If it ain’t my grandson Earl. Pleasure ta meet ya. Too bad it couldn’t been earlier,” Grandpa said with his toothy grin after Grandma had released Earl.
For the rest of the night, we sat at the dinner table, discussing stories of when Momma was our age, what life in both the South and North was like, and explaining to Earl why we had an outhouse instead of a bathroom inside the house.
After dinner, it was time for bed, as Grandpa wanted us up early to go to church in the morning. I’m sure to Earl the whole day had been a blur; he had just met another half of his immediate family for the first time, and he had experienced a part of the South, all in the matter of a few hours. Hopefully, I thought, tomorrow would be just as good. However, little to my knowledge, the lion was coming to interrupt the peaceful village, and the village would never be the same again.
We woke up in the early morning, blinding sunshine breaking in through the windows and beating our eyelids. Both of us got dressed and did the usual morning routines before sitting down at the table to eat our breakfast of scrambled eggs and grits. Grandpa Moses then sent us on our way to church, but not before telling us to watch out for any kind of trouble that wanted to join us.
As we walked out of our neighborhood, two of my friends, Zeke and Tone, met up with us. They were dressed in their spiffy Sunday morning attire as well: polished black shoes, iron-pressed slacks, and a spotless white button-up. The look on both of their faces when they arrived told me something was up though.
“Hey, Curtis, who’s dis?” they both asked.
“This is my older brother Earl. He’s from St. Paul, by Minneapolis.”
“Say what? You gotta brother? Hot damn, since when?”
Earl looked at me funny. He must’ve remembered yesterday when I told him not to swear. I just gave him a shrug of my shoulders and raised my eyebrows before explaining our short history together.
“Damn. Didn’t even know you had a momma,” Zeke said. “But anyways, we ain’t going to church today. We gonna go do somethin’ else. Somethin’ fun maybe.”
“Well, Grandpa Moses said that we’s supposed to go to church, and I ain’t disobeying him. You know what the Lord say about not listening to the Older People.” I shook my head, but it was to no avail.
“Lighten up, man. You gots company here. Let’s go take a stroll in town, maybe even get us some bubblegum at Bratcher’s store.” Tone’s face started to turn into a big smile as he said this.
“Well, I dunno about that,” I said. “Grandpa Moses told me yesterday to stay the heck away from that place, and you all know what happened to the last Negro boys who went in his shop.” Little eleven-year-old Ritchie had gotten literally shouted out the door by Bratcher’s wife, and no black person had gone back since. They say the crime the young one committed was asking to buy some white chocolate.
“Oh come on, don’t be such a sissy. Yo’ brother ain’t gonna be here fer long anyways, so why waste time makin’ him go to church?”
“No, it’s okay ya’ll. I do it every Sunday up where I’m from, so it’s okay,” Earl said.
“Shee-it, lookie what we got here. A good ol’ Carpetbagger who speaks like a real Negro! You don’ say!” With that, Zeke reached around Earl and slapped him lightly on the back. Sometimes, Zeke needed time to warm up to some new people. I guess Earl wasn’t one of those new people.
“Say, you say you’re from St. Paul, right?” Tone stared at Earl as he nodded his head. “Well, I gots a question fer you then. See, my daddy say that in the North, the whites and the blacks, they mix. They don’t pay attention to no skin color. Everybody’s equal up there. I think he’s crazy and I don’t believe it. Dat true?”
“Well, not exactly. Some white people don’t like us coloreds, but there sure are a lot that do. We also don’t got a lot segregation up there, and whites and blacks go to school together even in some places.” Earl put a little bit of hesitation on the first word. He then pulled out his wallet (a boy with a wallet? We had never seen that before) and produced a picture. You see this? I go to school with these kids.”
Tone snatched the picture out of Earl’s hands and stared at it, mouth agape. He was so baffled by what he saw that a dragonfly could have flown up and landed on his tongue without him knowing. The picture itself appeared to be of a small classroom, with seven black kids and twelve white kids.
“Yea, that’s me right there in the middle,” said Earl. He was right in between two white girls, wearing that white hat again that contrasted with his skin so sharply.
“By God. You sittin’ next to white people! How that true?” asked Zeke. Tone was still too puzzled and surprised to say anything.
Earl just laughed a little bit before answering. “Of course it’s true. Wanna see something else even better?” He then pulled out another picture, this time of a white girl. She appeared to have dazzling light hair, and her complexion was spotless. Think of a much younger Marilyn Monroe and you’d understand this girl’s beauty.
“Now what the hell is that?” Zeke let slip out. He instantly brought his hands to his mouth, showing he understood what he shouldn’t have said.
“Man, watch yo’ mouth!” Tone said angrily.
“Sorry. But I mean, why in God’s name do you have a pitcher of a white girl in your wallet?”
“Well, she’s my girlfriend,” Earl said slowly. The rest of us took two steps back from him, all three of us now raising our eyebrows with open mouths.
“Whoah, whoah, whoah. You telling me you have a girlfriend. Who is white? Not black, but white?” I said. Neither Zeke, Tone nor I could believe what my brother was telling me. “Funny joke, Earl. Now tell us what’s really going on.
“I ain’t kiddin’ with ya’ll. This is my girlfriend, Monica.”
The rest of us just stared at Earl for another few long seconds before Zeke put his hand up in the air and gave Earl a high five.
“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout brother! Man, you Carpetbaggers know how to live. You telling me ya’ll not only talk to white women up there, but you have them as your girlfriends?” Zeke thought it was too good to be true.
After Earl nodded his head again, Tone’s lips suddenly curled into a sly smirk. “Hey, if you’s can talk to white women up there, why don’t we say you go talk to Bratcher’s wife and buy our gum?”
“Oh come on now, Tone. You know what happened the last time that woman encountered a Negro in her store. I don’t want nothin’ happenin’ to Earl. ‘Specially ‘cause we supposed to be in church. If we actually is gonna do in there, we all need to go together,” I said.
“If he ain’t a sissy, he’ll do it.”
“Yea, I ain’t no sissy. I’ll do it. I don’t get why you guys are so scared of even talkin’ to the whites ‘round here,” Earl said defiantly. Apparently, he hadn’t been too scared by the lynching story or gunshot from yesterday.
After Earl had put the pictures back in his wallet, the four of us hitched a ride on the back of Ol’ Man Thomas’s truck into town. The potholes in the unpaved roads bumped and tossed us all around in the back, but we all laughed innocently and naively. When we got to the black restaurant that was across from Bratcher’s General Goods Store, we thanked the old man and hopped off.
“Alright, so there’s his store. Understand one thin’: he keeps the store “open” to both whites and blacks, but he don’t like us Negroes at all. So whatever you do, be careful when you talkin’ to his wife. I’ve heard she’s a little bit nicer than he is, but I dunno fer sure,” Zeke said.
“Wait a second. You guys have actually never gone in here, even though you talk about it all the time? Why it even across from a colored restaurant?” Earl looked around at all of us as we shook our heads. I was still debating whether to tell him that he should just call off the whole thing and accept being called a sissy, but he appeared to be too tough for that.
“Well alright. Wish me luck,” Earl said.
The next five minutes went by excruciatingly slow. The three of us waited in a booth across the street in the restaurant, sucking up twenty-five cent chocolate milkshakes. My heart was racing faster than ever, even faster than when we had raced through the forest yesterday. Something in me wanted to get out of there at that moment. Get out, grab Earl, and run home. Making him walk into Bratcher’s store was bad, but making him talk to a white woman? Let’s just say I was mighty worried. I played with my straw and bent it into various shapes as Zeke and Tone talked about whether or not the United States would ever launch our own Sputnik. For being young black boys educated in the Southern education system, the two of them were mighty keen on what was going on in the world around us.
Finally, the three of us heard a door slam open across the street. Out spilled Earl, followed by Mrs. Bratcher. She had the look of the devil on her face, and it looked like she was waving something shiny in her hand. I looked closer and realized what it was. The three of us rushed out of the restaurant, leaving our unfinished milkshakes behind. Earl came rushing to us, then past us, then back in the direction of my house. He was sprinting so hard that it looked like he wanted to be the next Jesse Owens. As he passed us, I caught a look of terror on his face. I’d seen it before on other black men’s faces, right before they were about to be lynched. The expression chilled me as we stood there. After he passed us, Mrs. Bratcher tried to chase him for a few yards, but she knew it would be pointless to go after him. She then turned around and looked at the three of us. With her sweaty, bright red face and apron strings flapping behind her like a tail, she looked live the Devil incarnate.
“You niggers know who that boy was?” We didn’t answer. Our eyes shot to the ground. My vision fell onto a small ant running across the gravel where we stood. What was he running from, I wondered?
“I better not hafta ask you again, you little niggers.”
Zeke slowly answered with his head still down: “No. We don’t know ‘im. We promise.” The woman walked over and swiped at Zeke’s chin. She grabbed it, forced it up, and looked him square in the eyes. Except Zeke wasn’t looking back at her. He knew what would happen if he did. His eyes were focused on the white clouds running across the sky instead. I could feel my own hands shaking as she did this. My eyes had shifted from the ant on the ground to the revolver in her hand.
“What’d you say to me, boy?” She raised the revolver and brought it to Zeke’s forehead. “What’d you just say, you monkey?” Spit flew from her mouth and landed on Zeke’s face. He flinched slightly.
Before he could get the rest out, Mrs. Bratcher pulled the gun away from his forehead, let go of his chin, and then struck him in the gut with the butt of the gun. “You don’t talk to me like that, boy. You nothing like me. You ain’t even supposed to be touched by me. Bet I got you all excited now, didn’t I?”
Zeke wheeled backwards and keeled over, too out of breath to even open his eyes.
She then turned to the other two of us, and we quickly averted our eyes to the willows across the street. “I have a message fer you, and maybe your friend who just ran off. If he, or any of you other niggers fer that matter, ever come in my store and try to hold a conversation with me, I first shoot you in the leg, then drag ya’ll to be lynched. I make myself clear?” She said this all in a manic, high-pitched voice that sounded like it came straight out of a crazy person.
We just nodded our heads to let her know that we understood. Tone and I didn’t want to get our breath stolen from us like Zeke had.
“Good. Now go tell your half-breed friend that just ran off to never step foot in town again, or else I’m coming fer ‘im. And then ya’ll will be next,” she said, pointing a finger and digging it into Tone’s chest. I could tell his heart stopped for a moment as he prayed nothing else would happen. Sweat poured off of his forehead and onto his white shirt, crinkling it and making it stink. His black shoes had succumbed to the nature that we were standing in as well. Grass stains claimed victory triumphantly.
“Now all ya’ll git up and git outta here afore I put a bullet through the little bit of a brain that you niggers have. Go!” Mrs. Bratcher screamed manically. Tone and I picked Zeke up and wrapped both of his arms around our shoulders. We walked off in the direction that Earl had gone as fast as we could, and we never turned around. I could feel Mrs. Bratcher’s eyes staring into our backs, burning holes right through our shirts.
When we were about half of the way back to my house, Tone and I set Zeke down so we could both catch a breather.
“You’re brother’s dead. Dead as a goddamn doornail,” Zeke said softly. Tone and I turned to look at him. It was the first thing he had said since he was attacked. He was sitting on the ground, head shaking constantly. “You better start calling the undertaker.”
With that comment, I pulled him around and slapped him as hard as I could across the face. The sound echoed in the nearby forests, waking up the birds and causing them to fly out of their nests. Zeke looked shocked, and Tone just turned away so he didn’t have to see what came next. Or what he thought would come next, but it never did. Zeke’s mouth formed a frown and he blinked hard a few times, but then he looked away.
“You know, you didn’t stop ‘im from goin’ in there either. You played right along,” Zeke said, even quieter than before.
In that instant, I was sorry for what had just happened. I was as much to blame as Zeke was for whatever was going to happen to Earl now. I would have to tell Grandpa Moses when we got home, and Earl might even have to leave early. All this for talking to a white woman.
“I’m sorry Zeke, I know.” We both shook hands and gave a silent nod to show we were fine, and that we were all at fault here.
Afterwards, we continued our trek home, but Tone and Zeke left me as we came across their houses. I continued alone, only thinking about what Grandpa would say when I returned
As I entered the yard, I could see Earl sitting on the porch in Grandma’s rocking chair, slowly pushing it back and forth. He was staring out into the willow tree in our modest front yard, our yard out there in the boonies of Mississippi. I could only imagine what he was thinking about, and I slowly scaled the front steps and stood next to him. We stayed like that for a few minutes before Earl finally said something.
“You gotta show me what the bayous look like. I hear Momma was born on the bayou ‘round here, and I wanna actually see one for myself.”
I continued staring at the same willow tree that Earl was looking at. “Yea, I can do that. Let’s do that later.” All I wanted to do right then was stay where I was. But I couldn’t just stay quiet. “Earl, look I’m really-“
“Shut up, boy.” Earl quickly jerked his head at me. The stern look on his face terrified me, and I thought he was going to rip into me verbally. But the look slowly melted away into a look of genuine happiness, confusing me as I saw the transformation. He must’ve noticed the look on my face, because he said, “I ain’t worried brother, no problems. I’m just tryin’ to give ya crap.” With that, my worries faded away. “I knew somethin’ like that was bound to happen. I just wanted to fit in with all ya’ll.”
He went on to tell me how he went in the store, searching for the bubblegum at first. Earl had looked around the shop for a few minutes before he came to the gum. He grabbed it and went to the counter and asked Mrs. Bratcher how much it was, and then what flavors she all had. After she had responded, Earl said he tried to ask her if she had any good flavors of suckers behind the counter. Realizing that Earl was staring at her and trying to start an actual conversation with her, she turned into a “crazy fiend,” according to Earl, and reached for something under her. Fearing the worst, Earl bolted out the front door and ran home before he could find out what she was chasing him with.
After I told him what had then happened after he had escaped the scene, he just chuckled and kept gazing ahead. One of the bigger branches of the willow seemed to be sagging under an invisible weight in the light summer breeze, begging for help from the trunk of the tree. I found Earl’s lack of worry both scary and heroic, but I just stood there saying nothing.
“Why she become so violent though? It’s like I was about to do something so bad or somethin’,” Earl asked.
I thought for a second how to explain her. “There’s a rumor ‘round town that she actually came from the North and wasn’t always a racist. She met her husband at a college that they both went to in Kentucky or somewhere, and she fell in love and married him. When she came down here to live with him, she was still someone who talked to Negroes and didn’t seem to have much against us.
“Things started to change once she arrived though. People say that Bratcher hit her all the time at home whenever he found out she talked to a Negro in their store. His violence must’ve eventually taken a toll on her, and she hates when black people come into their store now. Grandpa says Bratcher’s abuse caused her to be plain scared when any Negroes are around her, so maybe that’s why she was so violent with us. All I know for sure though is she was mighty angry when she came out, and she is for sure a big racist now.”
Earl absorbed what I had said and nodded. His eyes continued to study the tree and its movement in the light breeze.
“Well, we ain’t no fortunate sons, are we brother?” Earl said as he stood up from the chair suddenly. He then walked down the steps of the stairs and wandered onto the lawn. He stood there looking up at the sky for a few moments before saying, “I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain? You know, coming down on a sunny day?” His question made no sense to me, so I didn’t answer. My silence alerted him to this fact, and he smiled while looking at me with one eye shut still.
“You’ve never heard that ‘spression before? Think about it for a second, Curtis.”
I thought long and hard for a while before finally giving up. “Earl, why you speak in all these big words and riddles? Yesterday it was that song, now it’s some expression that you know and I don’t. Down here, we don’t talk like that. We cut short and straight to the point with no riddles.” I had said it so fast that I couldn’t be sure if he understood. Earl just smirked and resumed his staring contest with the sky.
“You mean metaphors? Well, let’s just say if I was you, I wouldn’t be lookin’ out my back door anymore. There’s gonna be a bad moon arisin’ tonight.”
We never ended up telling Grandpa Moses what happened. Instead, we agreed to just tell him we were all sweaty and burnt out from a race we had while coming back from church. He bought it, and we gave each other a silent “hallelujah” look when he walked away from us.
As we laid in bed that night, anticipation and fear grabbed hold of me. I knew that the whites always stole the blacks from their beds at night before lynching them, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if, all of a sudden, a man came bursting in through my window, grabbed Earl, and escaped back into the night. Earl had been snoring ever since we had gone to bed, but I just couldn’t do the same. His casual attitude towards what had happened today made me both alarmed and jealous. I was horrified with what had happened to us afterwards, but I couldn’t believe how he seemed to shrug it off. Maybe his experiences in St. Paul with white people gave him some confidence that I didn’t have, but St. Paul was still mighty different than anywhere in Mississippi. A black person doesn’t sleep down here in the South after something like that happened, so Earl was in a league of his own. Only person I knew that could look fear in the face and punch it was Eisenhower, and he was getting old now anyways.
I rolled over onto my side and stared at Earl’s sleeping face. I started to hum “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” again, thinking once more about what Earl had said about the song. He read so far into things, yet he seemed so shallow on the surface: he tried to come off as “just one of the gang,” like me or Tone or Zeke. We weren’t that educated yet, so he seemed light years ahead of us. I rolled back over and stared at the ceiling. The moonlight poured into the room, creating weird shadows and figures that danced across it. I tried not to imagine the shadows reaching down to snatch us both up and away, but the thought was glued to my small thirteen-year-old conscience. When I finally was able to fall asleep that night, Mrs. Bratcher haunted me in my dreams, screaming and chasing me with her shaking revolver in hand.
The next few days went surprisingly normal. I debated whether or not I should tell Grandpa about what happened, because I didn’t know if Earl was still safe staying down here. But then I told myself that Mrs. Bratcher didn’t even know who Earl was, so how could she even find him if she wanted to? The thought put me at ease, and I passed the following days by showing Earl the bayous around the area and an old Negro cemetery where Black Civil War vets were buried. We played ball with Tone and Zeke and the other boys as well, and everything seemed to be going well. That is, until the bad moon rose and the lion reared its ugly head.
The last time I saw Earl alive was on the fourth night of his visit. It was around midnight when we heard a pounding on the front door, curious as to who would be visiting Grandpa Moses at such a late hour. Earl and I were still up, as we had just gotten in at eleven o’clock from sitting outside in the back yard. He had wanted to see the Southern-tinged Moon and all its glory. It looked different to him, and he said he couldn’t wait to see how it looked when the doldrums of summer arrived.
Earl and I stopped talking to each other and listened quietly as we heard Grandpa roll out of bed to go see who could be awake and bothering us at such a late hour. We both got out of our beds and cracked the door ajar, peering through it at the front door.
Once Grandpa arrived at the door, he unlocked it, leaving the chain still hooked into the side of the wall. He opened it as much as the chain would allow before saying, “May I help you?”
What I heard back in response chilled my bones, and it still gets me to this day: “Yea, Moses, we looking fer your nigger boy. I only thought you had one, but my wife heard you got two now. That true, monkey man?” It was Roy Bratcher, and that meant all hell was about to break loose for Earl and me. We immediately shut the door and tried to open my window so we could make a run for it out back. I had broken it about two weeks before Earl came though, so it was jammed and wouldn’t open. Bratcher must’ve heard the ruckus, and we heard him kick the front door down as we started to scramble across the room.
When the window wouldn’t open, Earl looked at me with a horrified glance. He knew Bratcher was coming for us because of what had happened.
Every single detail of the next two minutes would be forever burned into my memory, as they were the last time that I would ever see Earl breathing. Bratcher slammed open the door of our room, searching for his victim. His eyes first rested upon me, and he violently grabbed my arm and twisted me around.
“Jonas was in the backroom of the store when your boy came in there, Moses. Maybe he can help me figure out which one to take. This him, Jonas?” I looked behind him and saw his brother-in-law standing behind him with a shotgun, holding onto Grandpa.
“No, that nigger’s too small. Maybe it’s that other one?”
With that, Bratcher dropped me and walked over to Earl. Earl shrunk down into the corner of the room, his arms rising above him as he sank to the floor.
“Please don’t hurt me, sir. Please!”
Bratcher let out a cold, hollow laugh that bounced around the room. “Nigger, I ain’t gonna hurt you! Only gonna have some fun with your black ass! This’ll be a night you’ll never ferget!” The cheerfulness in his voice turned my blood ice cold. He reached out and snatched Earl from the ground. “Boy, you get up,” he said, prodding a revolver into the small of Earl’s back. It looked like the gun that Mrs. Bratcher had been waving at us. “This is the last time you ever try to speak to a white woman, nigger! Goddamn!” He seemed to have a crazy edge to him, just as his wife did. Each sentence that he said came out faster and with more substance to it.
“Please, I have money. I’ll give you whatever you want!” Grandpa Moses cried out. He started to lose control as Bratcher led Earl out of the room and towards the front door. He broke loose from Bratcher’s brother-in-law and grabbed onto his arm. Bratcher turned toward him and pistol-whipped him in return. Grandpa swung around and limped backwards a few steps, clutching his bloody lip and looking around in a daze.
“All of ya’ll are just the same. It’s time to teach you a lesson. Johnny ain’t gonna be good tonight, boys!” Bratcher said as he led Earl out the door.
I wanted to run outside, to follow Bratcher and stop him from taking Earl. But the mixture of my cowardice and Grandpa Moses’ dizziness kept me rooted to the spot. Bratcher’s brother-in-law put a shot into the air as they walked off down the steps, letting anyone around know who was in charge right now.
When I heard Bratcher’s truck engine rev and start to drive off, I shook off my stupor and ran to the front door. The bad moon was rising in the night sky, and it shined eerily off of Bratcher’s cherry-red truck. It smiled down contently on the vehicle, never letting the truck out of its grasp. I could see Earl in between the two of them, riding off into the night.
No. This can’t be happening, I thought as I fell to my knees. Tears started to pour out of my eyes, cruelly teasing me as they splashed onto the porch. All I could do was stare down at them as the truck disappeared, and the only thought in my mind was of the tree in the Jackson’s yard.
For the next two days, we didn’t hear anything about Earl. Our own little nightmare wrapped us in its bind, never loosening or letting go. Claustrophobia had descended on our house, but we could do nothing but stay within its grasps. Grandpa, Grandma, and I didn’t even bother leaving the house or going outside to try to see if anyone knew anything. Whenever something like this happened around here, any black who went looking for their murdered friend or neighbor or spouse was also strung up on a tree. We were afraid that we would be taken next and exposed to Bratcher’s crazed glare and torturous schemes. We knew he was part of the local KKK, and that just spelled trouble for any Negro who got in his way.
I couldn’t even imagine what was happening to Earl. I tried not to think about it, but the image of Bratcher snatching him and forcing him into his truck kept replaying over and over in my head. Anything I tried to do ended in frustration, as I couldn’t even concentrate on playing marbles with Zeke when he came over because of the worry and despair that was coursing through me.
The neighbors around us started to come over slowly instead, telling us what they had heard. Because we were so far out in the boonies, no one had heard much besides for what the townsfolk were saying whenever they went into town. One of my grandma’s friends said she had seen Bratcher drive off towards his farm, while another said she had heard that one of the people in town saw him stop at a gas station with something huge wrapped under a tarp in the back of the truck.
No one wanted to report it to the local police. We all knew how racist the local sheriff was, and we knew he wouldn’t do anything about the murder. On the second day, he instead came to us, which surprised us mighty when the doorbell rang and he was standing on our porch.
When Grandpa opened the door, he gasped and took a few steps backwards. He was icing his lip, as his injury had gotten no better since Earl’s abduction.
“Whoah, calm down there boy. I am just here to validate a report I got this morning,” the sheriff said with a smirk. Grandpa looked sideways at me with a confused glance before speaking back.
“What report, Ned? And from who?”
“Nigger, don’t use my first name.”
“Apologize, Moses.” Silence again. “Apologize and call me sir, nigger!”
“Sorry, sir. What report?” Grandpa Moses said as he wiped spit particles off his face.
“Tha’s better. Anywho, Mrs. Jackson from down the road came in this morning saying a boy of yours got taken in the middle of the night?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Jesus, Moses. A boy of yours got taken and you ain’t gonna report it?”
“Why should I? I knew yer force wouldn’t do nothin’ ‘bout it anyways.”
With that, the sheriff turned red in the face. “Goddamn it, Moses. You better learn how to talk to your superiors, or else I gonna beat you.”
Grandpa stood defiantly in the door. His stance had changed since his stumble when he had opened the door.
“Well, I’m here to confirm that your boy is missing, ‘cause we technically is supposed to go on a manhunt for him then.”
“You ain’t gonna go on no manhunt fer ‘im, and you know it.”
“Answer the question, boy.”
“Yes, tha’s right. Bratcher came over here two nights ago and took my grandson Earl Tenney.”
“Well, well, well. Bratcher, huh? I’ll go talk to him and see what he has to say.”
Grandpa spit at the sheriff’s feet, curling the edges of his mouth down into a frown. The sheriff just looked down and then smiled.
“You know Moses, your one of the niggers that I rather like than dislike. If you really want my help, you can call up. Just ‘cause I don’t like too many of your kind don’t mean I still wouldn’t consider lookin’ for your boy. Can’t guarantee anything though, ‘specially losing a black boy and all. Just learn where your boundaries and stay within them.
“But I’ll be on my way then. Stay peachy, Moses. And keep your doors locked next time,” the sheriff said, walking back down the steps after winking at us.
As Grandpa Moses shut the door, he hobbled over to his chair in the corner of the room. He sat down, put the ice on the floor, and rested his head in his hands. Soft sobs started to pour out of him, shaking his body ever so slightly. I’d never seen him cry before, and I didn’t know how to respond. I stood there, rooted to the spot.
The news that we had been waiting for came the following afternoon. Grandpa was out back cutting wood, and Grandma was in the kitchen burning bacon saying, “It happened for a reason. It happened for a reason. It happened for a reason.” I was trying to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the porch to keep my mind off of Earl, but it wasn’t working. As I was looking out at the same willow that Earl had seemed mystified with, I heard a car engine coming down the road. I got up from the chair and peered out across the yard. I saw it was the sheriff’s car again, and I wondered what he was doing back already.
He parked the car in the road, opened the front door, and took his hat off. The sheriff put it on his roof and then lifted a shoe up onto the hood of the car in order to tie an undone lace.
“Hey, boy. Your name is what again?” he suddenly called out to me.
I said nothing at first, but he stopped tying his shoelace and slowly looked up at me. “Curtis, sir.”
“Damn right you answer when called to. Go in and fetch your granddaddy for me. He’s gonna wanna hear what I have ta say.”
I walked slowly out back to go get Grandpa Moses. I suspected the sheriff had nothing real to say and that he only came by to harass us some more. I shouted to Grandpa that the sheriff was here and that he wanted to see him. Grandpa mumbled something under his breath, put the ax down, and then ambled to the front yard with me.
“You stay here, Curtis. I’ll go see what he wants,” Grandpa said to me as he headed towards the sheriff. He was standing there by the car, hat back on his head, sun glistening off his sunglasses, arms crossed, and leaning back on his heels. I couldn’t tell, but it looked to me that he had a smirk on his face. I walked back over to the porch and sat down, carefully watching the two older men to see if I could get any clues out of how they looked.
For the next few minutes both of their backs were to me as the sheriff leaned against the car and Grandpa stood next to our mailbox. I thought at one point that I saw Grandpa’s shoulders slouch and arms start to fall to his sides in exasperation, but I didn’t know for sure. When they both turned around and the sheriff said he would be on his way now, the look on Grandpa Moses’ face was blank. I had never seen a man like that before, and I had never seen anything like it on Grandpa’s face.
He walked towards the front porch slowly before sitting down in the rocking chair. He continued to stare straight ahead without saying anything, and I got a sudden bad feeling in my stomach.
I let Grandpa stay silent for a few more minutes before either of us said anything. The buzz of the quiet but hot summer afternoon hung in the air and battered my ears, and the heat caused me to wipe away the sweat on my forehead when it had gathered. Grandma dropped a pan in the kitchen, and Grandpa sprung back to life.
The words didn’t register with me. “Huh?”
“He’s dead.” Grandpa slowly turned his head towards me. “Your brother is dead. Earl is not alive no more. The sheriff said two boys found ‘im earlier today.”
I had to sit down on the front steps as he told me all this. My knees had lost all feeling, and my stomach turned into rocks. In that moment, I stopped breathing, and the whirlwind of the past week went flashing through my mind. I had assumed Earl was dead when he didn’t come back, but it didn’t really hit me till right then and there. You know, that feeling that you get when you know something is inevitable but you still cling to the little hope that is left anyways? I wanted to know more though. “What’d the sheriff tell you, Grandpa?”
Rocking back and forth gently, Grandpa continued to pretend that he was in his own, isolated world. The words finally came to him, and he told the story of the past couple of days, courtesy of the sheriff:
The sheriff had gone back into town yesterday and arrested Bratcher and his brother-in-law. Grandpa said he was surprised at that, mostly because our sheriff was one of the biggest supporters of white power out there. I guess he wasn’t that evil though, and he meant what he had said to Grandpa about helping out. It was the first time Grandpa had heard of the sheriff helping out any Negro, but Grandpa said that the sheriff probably thought the kidnapping of a boy from out of state could create a big stir in the papers, and he wanted to avoid this. But anyways, he locked them up and asked them about Earl.
At first, the sheriff said they were mum, and he kept them overnight. Then, earlier this morning, two boys were fishing off of one of the crybaby bridges over the Noxubee River when their fishing poles both got caught on something. They tugged and pulled until the found what the fishhooks were attached to: human flesh. Both boys immediately dropped their poles and ran back home. Their parents called the sheriff, and he went down to the river to see for himself what was really in it. Sure enough, there was a body floating in the murky water. He got a tow truck to come and drag the body out of the water to try and identify who it was. The sheriff then said the sight was the worst thing he had ever seen before, and he had fought against the Japs in World War II even: the body was bloated and wrinkly, and the face was so disfigured that he had trouble deciphering the difference between the boy’s mouth and nose. His right ear was missing, and his head was severely deformed. The rest of the body seemed to be sculpted in a haphazard way; most of the boy’s bones seemed to be broken or smashed in. There was no way he was going to be able to make an identification, but then he found a ring on the boys left hand with the initials “ET” on it. He said he remembered that Grandpa had had a boy in from out of town named “Earl Tenney,” so he went back to the jail to question Bratcher and the brother-in-law some more. When he walked through the door with the ring in his hand, Bratcher’s brother-in-law apparently froze and locked up in place where he had been pacing around the jail cell floor. Bratcher just smiled and had said, “Well, mighty fine ring you got there, Sheriff.” According to the sheriff, it was at that moment that he knew for sure that the body was Earl’s, and that Bratcher was guilty for whatever he did. He was so happy with himself, the sheriff said, that he even spilled the beans on what happened the night he took Earl.
After Bratcher and his brother-in-law had taken Earl out of our house, they had first brought them back to Bratcher’s store. In the backroom, they questioned Earl repeatedly about what he said to Mrs. Bratcher and why he doesn’t understand “nigger code.” They kept beating him with the gun, and they even pistol-whipped him a couple of times in the face. Bratcher said that when they were done with him, they could tell his nose was already broken, as blood poured out of it onto the floor. Bratcher then hit Earl again so hard that he blacked out, and his excuse for doing this was because Earl kept bleeding on his store’s floor. Apparently, the two men were planning on just “roughing him up a little bit,” but Earl kept being defiant with how he was answering their questions. Bratcher said that Earl kept stating that he’d been with white women before, and that he was just as human as Bratcher. Each time he answered something like this, he either got the end of his pistol to his nose or cheekbone, or the brother-in-law’s shotgun butt to the ribs and legs. Because of this defiance, they decided to take what they were doing one step further. After they had mopped up the “nigger shit” (in their words, according to the sheriff), they laid Earl in the bed of a truck, covered him with the tarp, and then drove off until they reached the gas station at the edge of town. They stopped inside to get a few Cokes, and when they came back out, people were milling around Bratcher’s truck. He had strutted over to it and asked everyone what they were doing round his vehicle. When Joney Crocket pointed out the blood dripping from the bed of the truck and the lump under the tarp, Bratcher had just smiled and told her that they had “just caught and killed a deer.”
Once they were done at the gas station, they decided to take Earl over to Bratcher’s family farm, which was right on the banks of the Noxubee River. When they arrived they didn’t know exactly what they planned on doing. All they knew for sure, said Bratcher to the sheriff, was that they didn’t plan on letting him go anytime soon. To wake him up, Bratcher had his brother-in-law whap Earl in the head with the back of a shovel, further damaging his face and skull. After that, Earl never had a chance to say anything. Supposedly because of his defiance to their questions and his “dumbness” for talking to Mrs. Bratcher, they messed him up. Over the course of the next hour, they beat him repeatedly in the head, ribs, and back with shovels, guns, hoses, and finally a pitchfork. They then crushed his legs with a garden hoe, used Bratcher’s fishing knife to remove Earl’s ear, and then gave him one last kick in the head that was hard enough to dislodge his left eye. With what little life Earl had left in him, Bratcher and his accomplice then carried Earl down to the river, shot him between the eyes, and tied a cotton-gin fan around his neck with barbed wire before tossing him into the Noxubee River.
Bratcher told the sheriff that he had no remorse at all for what he had done, and that “the nigger had it comin’ to him.” When asked why Bratcher spoke openly of the whole thing, he just shook his head and said, “It ain’t no crime. I might as well tell the story ‘cause it’s a good one at that.”
As Grandpa finished telling me all of this, the world spun around me. The horrific things that the two men had done to Earl caused me to start to feel what I had eaten for lunch in the lower parts of my throat.
Grandpa Moses just kept eyeballing the willow tree out front after he had explained everything to me. I stood up and tried to walk around while taking in what had just been told to me, and process that Earl would never be supporting the Milwaukee Braves ever again, or singing “The Lions Sleeps Tonight” with me, or even running in the forests. I had to sit down, and it was just in time, because as soon as my body felt the porch steps, I blacked out.
The next week was a blur. The national media got a hold of the case, and they made the subsequent speedy trial and funeral for Earl into a national show where “good vs. evil unfolded in the Deep South.” Our mother ended up coming down, and this was the first time in God-knows how long it had been since I had seen her. She embraced me lovingly when she came home to us, and we didn’t let each other go for another twenty-four minutes. I couldn’t stop thinking about what Earl had told me though, and I never really tried to get close to Momma while she was back in town.
The trial, in my mind, helped to galvanize the country in supporting the oncoming Civil Rights Movement. For some reason, the judge of Tallahatchie County had decided to try the men within the week, but only in front of an all white jury. The three days of testimony were heated, and the courtroom stank of fear, prejudice, lack of compassion, and pure hatred. In the end, the nation was shocked when the jury let Bratcher and his brother-in-law off without a hitch, despite the fact that they had admitted what they had done and had not repudiated it since then. The two of them walked out of the courthouse with raised hands to a chorus of cheers, and I never put my faith in the justice system of the South ever again.
The funeral was a somewhat different matter. After hearing what had happened to Earl, Momma wanted Earl to have an open casket so the world would know what the South had done to her little boy. Thousands upon thousands of people came from all over the country to see Earl’s swollen and disfigured body, and many ended up fainting in front of his coffin.
After I had viewed Earl one last time for myself, I stumbled out of the church where the visitation was being held and let all my hatred and blue devils out of my system with one massive heave-ho. The smell stank in the humid Southern air, but I couldn’t help it. Seeing a human being in the state that Earl was in forced me to shove up through my body the grits from that morning, and along with it came a few other things. After wiping up, I sat back down on the church stairs. Zeke and Tone had just arrived, and they came over to sit by me and talk to me a little bit.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Tone said.
I just looked at my hands and the church steps. My eyes started to water up.
“Yeah man, it just ain’t right,” Zeke said.
“Yeah, first they torture your brother, and then they get let off.” Tone stated the obvious. I continued to play with my hands and picked up a twig to scratch at the ground.
Zeke started to pace around on the sidewalk, clenching his fists and pounding his knuckles into his hands. He kept shaking his head while muttering something under his breath that I couldn’t make out. “Man, who calls that justice?” Zeke finally said, his voice starting to rise. “We have to do something. Maybe--”
Zeke’s words had finally gotten me to speak. “Zeke, sit down. If you do anything stupid, we’ll only be as good as them and we’ll play right into their hands. Think.”
Zeke and Tone gave me a weird look at that before saying, “Whatever, man,” while shaking their heads.
We continued to sit there for a few more minutes, watching the sky cloud up. It was two in the afternoon, perfect time for a midsummer’s rain shower.
“Well, I’m heading in. Looks like it’s gonna rain and I gots’ta pay my last respects. You coming Tone? Curtis?”
I shook my head and let the two of them walk back into the whitewashed church. I looked to my left and noticed the gleaming black hand rails. They had specks of white paint intermixed and splashed on them from when the painters had whitewashed the church.
I got up and walked a few paces ahead on the unpaved road. The news cameras were here, so I decided to walk off into the land next to the church. Wandering for a few hundred yards in tall grass, I eventually stumbled upon the banks of the Lake de Swantaun Fogairty. As I stared across the glistening brown water of the lake, I noticed how still everything had become. It brought me back to the night that Earl and I had stood on the banks of the other lake, singing our song.
I dropped to my knees and let everything pour out of me, shouting up at the sky through tear-streaked eyes and pounding my fists into the sand. I picked it up and threw it in the air, watching it come straight back down with no breeze. After doing this a third time, the sand got caught in a slight wind, and my hysteria subsided for a second. I looked up into the sky, and the heavens opened up their arms and poured their sorrows all over me.
Who’ll stop the rain? I thought to myself as my good suit started to become soaked. I didn’t mind though; I just wished Earl was here.
I stood up and peered across the lake again, and this time it was choppy and uneven in the ever-increasing winds. I started to turn around to take the long road home, but then I heard a faint sound from across the lake, one that was haunting and hard to believe.
Could it be the spirits of the past? I strained my ears to listen. I took my shoes and socks off, letting the sand declare war on my brown feet. I rolled up my pant legs and waded into the lake. The sound drifted across a little bit louder as soon as my skin made contact with the water. As I got to the point where I was now waist-deep in the lake, my ears picked up the unmistakable rhythm. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was coming at me from across the lake in waves of sound and rain. I could only smile and fall backwards, letting the lake momentarily consume my body.
Earl was still here with me, and no matter what the white folks or the black folks did, I decided to keep living my life and not hand victory to those who tried to hold me down.
“Hey Earl, you think everything happens for a reason?” I said when I had resurfaced.
The wind blew back his response.
Over the past few days, in between studying for finals I have been glued to the New York Times’ and CNN’s website to keep up on what is going on with the whole bin Laden thing. I was watching TV all Sunday night when the death of bin Laden was announced, and I can say that I witnessed the historical moment when Obama announced that Osama was dead. I stayed up until probably 3:30 AM that night, wanting to make sure that I didn’t miss any of the details. Being a history buff, this event fascinates me. There are two things, however, that are kind of irking me.
One of them would be that the Obama administration cannot seem to get its story straight. First it said Osama was armed, then it said he was unarmed but “still resisted capture” (No duh, if a bunch of US Navy SEALS come bursting through the door, you aren’t just going to walk out with them). The administration at first also said there was a woman killed who had been used as a human shield, but then it said that, no, there were no human shields, and the only woman who got shot was one of bin Laden’s wives, and she only got shot in the leg. GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT! The administration is putting a dampening effect on what should be a groundbreaking victory for the US; by not getting its story straight, the administration seems to be a bumbling mess, further evidenced by Leon Panetta’s misstatements yesterday about the photos of bin Laden being released. Which leaders me to my next point . . . .
Release the pictures. Seriously. As simple as that. Obama is not releasing them because he fears that the pictures “will really piss some people off.” Well, I’m pretty sure the people that would be pissed off at the pictures are already angry, because you cold only get inflamed from these pictures by being pro-bin Laden. Only terrorists or sympathetic Middle Easterners could really get upset by the photos, because I’m 95% posititve that everyone else on this planet does not regret the killing of this man who has slaughtered thousands of innocent Americans, Middle Easterners, Europeans, Africans, and Asians. He has literally killed people on almost every continent. So, to me at least, this is a piss-poor excuse as why they are not going to release the photos. Either way, I believe he’s dead, and you’ll always have people supporting conspiracy theories, even if the photos were released. But come on- we as Americans deserve to see this scumbag with a bullet hole in his head. We sacrificed thousands of our people in the African & Yemen bombings and on 9/11 because of him, so we deserve to see these pictures. Just let us seem them. We as Americans have the right to see this man dead, and I think the White House has no right to keep these photos from the public. The man is dead, end of story. Now let us see the pictures of him in his lifeless form. Please.
But hey, at least we got him. I guarantee you he’s not living in paradise like he thought he would be.
So, as I’m sure everyone else has realized, I haven’t done a “real” blog post for a while, and I figured that I should do one now. However, I don’t have that much time to write an “in-depth” post, so I’m just gonna write some blurbs about my thoughts on recent happenings:
While I believe that fighting 3 wars at one time would be downright disastrous, I find it sadly ironic that the one war we won’t fight is one that the African Union and the coalition of Middle Eastern leaders gave us the “ok” to intervene in, and the one war where the people of the country really wanted help from us. At the same time, I know last week that people were arguing about whether or not we should arm the rebels. I have one opinion on that: hell no. Anyone else know history and what has happened to us when we give arms to rebels? We armed rebels in Somalia in their fight against Ethiopia, and then that turned around on us when we tried to go in to that country in 1993. We sent arms to Saddam Hussein in his fight against Iran during the 1980’s, and I’m sure every person alive during Reagan’s term remembers the Contra rebels scandal. Or how about when we also armed the Taliban (once again, in the 1980’s) when Afghanistan was invaded by the USSR? The year is now 2011, and the Taliban are still using our own arms against us. Just not a good idea to arm rebels based on our track record . . . Also, many people are criticizing Obama on ordering the airstrikes on Libyan soldiers and on Gadhafi’s compounds. Well, there’s this thing called the War Powers Act that was passed by Congress in 1973 in response to Johnson’s and Nixon’s methods of fighting the Vietnam War. This act requires that within 60 days of authorizing force against another country, the President would have to notify Congress of this action and explain to them why he was doing so. If Congress approved of the action, they could vote to endorse it and the mission could continue. If Congress didn’t approve of the President’s military actions, then they could vote to stop these events and it would force the President to withdraw whatever forces were doing the fighting. So, everything that Obama has been doing so far has been legal in regards to ordering the airstrikes.
The Election from April 5th
First off, congrats to Hemmer on being elected to the Merton School Board. Just please, don’t do anything that would imperil the learning environment of the students of the Merton School District. Best of luck with your new job!
Secondly, I find the recent developments of the Supreme Court race amusing, worrisome, and angering. I find them amusing because, I kid you not, I told my friend the day before the election that if Kloppenburg came out with an early lead after the initial results, some kind of magic thing would happen and Prosser would actually be declared the winner. What happens? Low and behold, votes were “mistakenly” forgot about and were “found” later. Really? Like, seriously? Even if the votes had come out for Kloppenburg, I still wouldn’t have believed it! 7,000 random votes just “happen to be forgotten”?!?!? I might believe it more if the person who forgot it wouldn’t have already been a part of two political scandals and had already been investigated by an elections review board before. The clerk, from Waukesha County, had been a main player in the State Legislature Scandals of 2001, and she only got immunity from the scandal because of her compliance on the stand during the trials. On top of that, an elections review board had flagged her for violating the State Election rules before: investigators found that instead of issuing election results from the state-owned computer at her office, she instead took the results home and reported them from her own computer. The review stated that doing this was seriously fishy, and that doing this from her home computer made the results way more vulnerable to security breakdowns, which could allow outside sources to manipulate the results. So, something just doesn’t sit right here. Either she’s a total liar who just created 7,000 votes and got them certified by the Democratic assistant clerk, or she is completely and totally inept at her job. And yea, some people might point to the fact that a Democratic assistant clerk already certified the votes. Well, ask Illinois about certifying votes that have later been proved to be false and phony. I am seriously starting to question the credibility of ALL Wisconsin state politics, and it’s getting really old to see the whole state of Wisconsin being bashed on every national TV station. Saying that, I also have to point this out: if anyone is honest, they have to admit that if the votes had been “found” in Dane or Milwaukee county for Kloppenburg, the Republicans would cry foul. So the conservatives who criticize the liberal response should take a look in the mirror themselves. You can’t disagree with that statement if you are being honest! This whole episode has also been angering just because it’s caused me to become so sick of politics. Issues today have been painted as being purely “black and white,” with NO middle ground whatsoever. The 1950’s mentality of “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us” is returning, and I really am just sick of it and want nothing to do with it. This coming from someone who is going to major in political science and had hoped someday to be involved in the political workings of our state/country. The vileness and hatred being tossed around in politics today is just depressing to anyone following it, and it just is making our country look pathetic to the international system.
P.S. Article citing everything I said here: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/article_6386782e-614f-11e0-97e5-001cc4c002e0.html
I have to tread carefully on this issue. All I have to say is this: we offered to help the Japanese control their nuclear reactor before it got out of control and they told us to screw off. Their nuclear reactor then starts to meltdown and THEN they want our help. I also did not see some huge Japanese relief effort for New Orleans and the surrounding areas when Hurricane Katrina hit and ravaged the area. Our own government didn’t even respond in the same manner and magnitude that we are responding to Japan, which I find really pathetic. Honestly, yes, we obviously should be concerned for the Japanese and help them and pray for their well-being. At the same time, they are a thriving, developed country that did nothing to help us in times of national disaster and that tried to turn away our help when they initially thought they didn’t need it. I am NOT saying that we should not help Japan; I am simply saying that I find it kind of astounding in terms of the response to what happened with Japan when you compare it to what happened to our own people after our natural disasters.
Government Shut Down
Feels like 1995 again . . . . . . .
NFL Lock Out
Seriously, pro football players and the owners are all greedy bastards. Put your qualms and selfishness aside! Making 6 figures alone is a lot of money! A lot of you make 9 or 10 figures!
I’ll be broke this summer when I get home and start driving again.
Advocating the use of cocaine- yeah, you’ve lost all relevance.
The Brewers So-So Start
Meh, go Twins!
There’s my two cents on recent happenings!
So, with everything on this site being pretty much 100% political and partisan, I thought I would switch the topic up. Anyone else psyched about this upcoming baseball season?!?!
Now, earlier in the day, my friends and I were talking about the season and they started to give me crap. All of them were either Brewers or Cubs fans, but I said I was a Twins fans but also like a few other different teams. They gave me weird looks at that and asked me for an explanation. So here are some of my insights into a few teams in the MLB:
The next team that I cheer for is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Why do I cheer for them you may ask? Simple: they came from Brooklyn and I’ve been to their stadium and loved it. New York City is my favorite place in the world to visit, and hopefully I can actually live there someday. So, that means I would logically cheer for a team from New York, right? Wrong. I despise the Yankees beyond belief. Any team that gets championships by buying their players instead of developing them is a crock, so I hate them. And the Mets stole Johan Santana away from the Twins, so I don’t like them. Now, the Dodgers on the other hand were in Brooklyn until 1958, when they left for Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills. Therefore, I still consider them a “New York” team. On top of that, when my family and I visited the city back in 2005, we went to a game there and I loved the stadium and team. Ever since then, I’ve rooted for the Dodgers.
Another team I cheer for is the Boston Red Sox. I started following them in 2004. I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but they were down in the ALCS to the Yankees 3 games to none. Somehow, they ended up winning the next 4 games and came back to win the series and beat the Yankees. They then went on to sweep the Cardinals in the World Series 4-0, and the Cardinals are a despised division rival of the Brew Crew. But the major reason that I like them is, as stated before, because of how they came back to beat the Yankees and how they have a huge rivalry with them still to this day.
A fourth team that I cheer for is the Washington Nationals. Last year for spring break, my family and I visited DC and we went to one of their games. I’ve liked them ever since, and it’d be cool if this would finally be the year that they have a winning record.
But what about the Brew Crew you ask? And this is what I have to say: if I hadn’t lived in Milwaukee, I wouldn’t care at all for the Brewers. All of my friends are huge Brewers fans too, and I like to just kind of cheer for other teams sometimes because I can get annoyed with their arrogance (which is totally unjustified- the Brewers honestly suck besides for 2008). So, I’ll still root for them, but I feel very little connection to them and I will cheer for any of the other four teams that I mentioned if they play against the Brewers.
But like I was saying, the Twins have to be my favorite MLB team. Gotta love em.
And some of you might ask why I like 4 teams?
Well it’s simple:
You know when you walk into a restaurant and you see a TV on and it’s between two teams that you couldn’t care less about? Now, most of the time, I can at least watch a game that I have an interest in! I also just love those 4 teams, so it’s cool to be able to follow 4 different teams and get so in-depth with the MLB season.
Anyone else excited for the season to finally be starting?!
After having not posted anything for a while, I figured I would make this brief. I’ve been paying attention to all the blogs on here the past few days, and I’ve been trying hard not to comment or post a blog post myself. Because the ignorance, hate, and sheer idiocy that is being found within this site is just astounding.
First of all, I am actually up here at Madison and have seen what is going on. I noticed how, when Faux News supposedly showed the protests of Wisconsin, that there were palm trees in the background.
I noticed how even the state police have called these protests the most peaceful of the last 100 years in Wisconsin.
I noticed how a blogger called Walker and pretended to be David Koch and got Walker to reveal his true self to the world.
I have noticed the tens of thousands of WISCONSINITES protesting at the Capitol. The charges that all the protestors are from out of state is complete bull crap. Grow up if you say that. And for all of you that DO say that, I challenge you to actually come down here and speak with everyone and see where they are from.
I love how people on this site are preaching without ever being here or really even know what is going on. And the claims that union people are rich? Are you serious? Get your head out of your butt and look at the facts.
The bill that passed tonight is a direct attack on the working and middle classes of Wisconsin. There is simply NO OTHER TERM that can describe it. It is not about balancing the budget at all, as stripping the bill of its financial parts proved.
So please, to everyone who is posting on here claiming to know about what is going on up here in Madison in regards to the protests, please just stop. Because you don’t know what is going on unless you’ve been up here. Which to all you Walker-lovers, I can guarantee that you haven’t
And you cannot say that Walker hasn’t been lying through his teeth since February 17. As said before, this has nothing to do with the budget. It has everything to do with pure union busting. And, once again, union workers are not rich. I honestly don’t know where people get that delusion.
Thank the lord for the 14 Senators. They tried to debate and compromise with the Republicans, but the Repubs just ruled with an Iron Fist and wouldn’t listen, so they Senate Dems had no other choices. God Bless Them
And by the way, the Republicans have been passing these bills illegally. They have not been following standard procedure in calling votes, and they pass these bills at night when hopefully less people will notice. I didn’t know we were in middle school at the state government level.
And I can at least take pleasure and comfort in the polls that are coming out. Walker’s approval rating, in just 2 months, has already slipped into the 40’s and 30’s, depending on which poll you look at. Don’t believe me? Then go look it up. I’d provide the links on here, but you people would still just refute it.
There is also an article on the New York Times’ website that talks about how no one is wanting to do business in Wisconsin anymore because of this. So, great job Walker! Instead of having Wisconsin “open for business,” the only person that wants to do business here is your Koch buddy.
This state is seriously screwed right about now unless EVERY state government official learns the value of compromising.
So, all Heil Walker until January 2012. Even if you want to make a new Triumph of the Will, the time couldn’t come sooner when we see you walk out of the Capitol doors for the very last time.
P.S. I’ll probably get attacked for comparing Walker to a dictator and Hitler. Well, remember what the Tea Partiers said about Obama and Hitler? ‘Nuff said.
I was a typical American who loved football and thought soccer was probably the most boring sport to watch in the world.
I am now still your average American who loves American football, but I think that “regular” football (a.k.a. soccer) is also a terrifically interesting sport to watch.
What caused this huge change in opinion? Thank the World Cup and my recent travels to Europe:
After I graduated on a Saturday in June, I left the states the following Monday to travel to Denmark, Germany, France (don’t ever go there!), and Great Britain. Many exciting things happened on my trip overseas, but for this blog, I am choosing to focus on the soccer-related stuff that happened.
In Europe, soccer is HUGE. I mean, everyone plays it. Literally. And, I happened to be lucky enough to find myself over there while the 2010 World Cup was happening. I am also someone who is now obsessed with Africa and all things African, so the fact that the World Cup was being held in South Africa made it that much better. But anyways, I came to Europe with the average American thoughts on soccer: it’s boring to watch two teams run around a huge field for ninety minutes, and it’s especially boring because the match might end in a draw. But, as I travelled throughout Europe, I found myself talking to more and more soccer fans, and going into more and more soccer stores, and sitting down to watch more and more World Cup matches. The sense of patriotism that people have when they watch their national teams play in the World Cup was amazing over there, and people lived and breathed just to watch their team compete. Soccer is a way of life to most Europeans; many regard the stars of their teams like Catholics regard the Pope.
I started to become intrigued with the teams that played, and I started to dig further into the “inner-workings” of many teams and their players. I also discovered that watching a 90-minute game of soccer can be very interesting, as long as you have an interest in at least one of the teams. (It’s kind of sad to say, but I now find that watching soccer can be much more interesting than many baseball games. Sorry Prince.) The fans that these games attract are also amusing and hilarious, and there are so many die-hards out there. But, after looking into the teams, I discovered that soccer has also literally saved nations and brought them together. Example: The Ivory Coast, located in Western Africa, was in the middle of a bloody civil war a few years back. Atrocities abounded, and the end of the war seemed to be nowhere in sight. However, a soccer player from the IC, named Didier Drogba, was sick of what had become of his home country (Drogba is a huge star for the Chelsea soccer team, located in London, England). So, Drogba returned to the Ivory Coast and pleaded his case to the leaders of both sides of the conflict. He, acting in vein of a president or foreign leader, helped to draw up the peace accord between the two sides, and he effectively helped to bring an end to the civil war in the Ivory Coast. Now, how many US athletes can say that they’ve done something like that? Yea, I think like zero.
But anyways, I found myself completely caught up in the games for the remainder of my time overseas, and I followed the action furiously when I returned in late June. I am not a fan of the Spanish team though, so I was disappointed when the Netherlands lost to them in extra time in the World Cup final. I am now fully interested in soccer and all of its worldwide stars, and the sport offers so much for everyone. Every country has its own league, and there are literally hundreds of teams to choose from when picking whom you want to follow and cheer for. Soccer is also the universal sport, whether America wants to admit to it or not. You won’t find kids in the slums of Haiti or shanty towns of Ghana or villages of Vietnam playing basketball or baseball or football. No; you will find them playing soccer. Soccer is the sport that connects everyone, and America should wake up soon to it. If not, we risk falling behind all nations in terms of the sports that we support, and we will find ourselves completely clueless in the evolving sports world of the 21st century.
As I’m preparing to head off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall for my first year of college, excitement is the main thing that I am feeling. At the same time though, a little bit of bitterness has crawled its way into my mind because of a policy that UW follows. Whether you want to believe that Madison follows this policy is up to you or not, but it is for sure 100% the truth. And, I’m sure some of you have heard that colleges nowadays are more likely to accept female and minority applicants, and I have a story that simply proves this policy/theory to be true.
Flash-forward six months. My friend will be attending UW-Whitewater for the next two years of his life, and he might transfer to Madison after his sophomore year. Madison turned him down and gave him no reason why, but they said that they would put him on a waiting list and get back to him in early June to see if he could be admitted into the University. There has still been no response from Madison for my friend, and it’s pretty rude to leave someone hanging in my opinion. I was a little mad that my friend hadn’t gotten into Madison, but I told myself that a lot of other deserving people didn’t get in either. That was until I heard of another fellow classmate that got admitted to Madison.
Now, I’m not trying to belittle this individual, but I am saying that she does not deserve to be going to Madison when people like my friend got turned down. This girl got accepted into Madison, and she did it with her race and gender. Simple as that. Let me state that I am not racist or sexist at all, but I am a realist, and she got in because she is a woman-minority. This classmate, having known her for awhile, is a very nice girl, but she is definitely not one of the “hard working students” that Madison claims to have. She had a 2.2 GPA while in high school, a low-20’s ACT score, and one extra-curricular that she participated in. So let’s review this: she had a 2.2 GPA, a low-20’s ACT score, and one extra curricular with little to no volunteer work. BUT WAIT! She is female, and she is a minority race! So, the people at Madison ignored her academic and volunteer credentials and accepted her into the university solely based on her gender and race. At least that’s what I’m assuming, based on when I look at what she compiled while in high school.
So, just to review: My friend is a white-male, with a 3.51 GPA, 26 ACT score, and numerous extra-curriculars and volunteer hours. My other classmate is an Asian-female, with a 2.2 GPA, a low-20’s ACT score, and one extra-curricular with almost no volunteer service. Just based on this info, whom do YOU think should have been admitted into Madison? Do you think what actually happened would’ve happened if these two people would have had to give their race, or even gender?
This situation led me to challenge something that I had previously believed. Affirmative Action is one way to deal with the racism that is still alive and thriving in America today, and I do believe that something has to be done to combat it. However, with more and more cases coming to court because of Affirmative Action, I am starting to question how it actually works. (Interesting side fact: Clarence Thomas, the controversial Supreme Court justice, was admitted to his Ivy League college because of Affirmative Action. But, when he got into the work world and into the court systems, he denounced Affirmative Action and said he was looked at as “second-best” because he had used it to get admitted to an Ivy League school. So, Thomas, arguably the second-most-powerful African-American figure in the federal government, flip-flopped on AA. He used it to help get him to where he is now, but then he spoke out against it once he had his current position. Confused? So am I. Pick up his book to learn more about it.) Affirmative Action definitely is needed in some states (The South, anyone?), but it is hurting states in other areas of the country. Now, I’m talking specifically about what race and gender roles have to do with college admission, but Affirmative Action allows this “racial acceptance” to occur in colleges. There have been two US Supreme Court cases challenging the legal standing of doing so during the admission process, but the Court has unfortunately upheld the issue in both cases. This leads me to one conclusion then:
If I ever get into politics in any way on the national level, I want to introduce a bill that will ban any public college or university from asking for the race of its applicants whenever people apply for admission. I think that it is downright wrong and unfair that colleges, in some cases, are accepting minorities over non-minorities, regardless of their credentials. Now, at the same time, some minority students are absolutely BRILLIANT. I will be the first to admit that Asian students are probably the smartest race in America. But, at the same time, there are too many cases, like with my friend, where people get screwed over because of their skin color and race. Something has to be done, and I think banning public colleges and universities from asking for an applicant’s race is a good step towards once again putting all applicants on a level playing field.
It's been awhile since I've posted, and I have good reasons. Mainly due to the fact that I just graduated high school and spent 2 weeks in Europe, it's been a hectic time for me. Since I've returned, I still see that the Blogging Atmosphere is still as acidic as ever, so that's just fantastic. But anyways, I have many posts that I will be publishing over the next couple of days/weeks, so stay tuned!
I Still Remember
For all of you music buffs out there, that is the name of an essential Bloc Party song (they are SUCH a good British band, please look them up!). But, for the purpose of this blog, it has to do with something else. Something much more relevant to this site and to American society in general.
“It is Ok to spread hate and venom towards Obama because he deserves it.”
That is a Republican creed nowadays, and the Tea Party is helping to keep it alive.
I Still Remember
Back in the Bush Years, it was UNPATRIOTIC to criticize Bush. It was UN-AMERICAN to question your government. You were PRO-TERRORIST if you disagreed with any of Bush’s policies.
Many Republicans today are criticizing Obama left and right, even though they screamed and made all kinds of fits whenever Bush got criticized.
How does that work out?
Apparently, people today in general just seem to be really hypocritical.
On both sides (A&J)
They get pissed off when people criticize the politicians who they like, but then they turn right around and knock on the people that they don’t like.
Why do you think that most Americans want nothing to do with politics, or simply just do not care about what goes on in the world of Washington, D.C.?
It’s because of all the negativity surrounding it. Like an oozing glob of sulfur, the American public hates Congress. Straight up. Not to the side. Get it? Good.
And another thing.
Just because your older and “have more experience” doesn’t mean that you are smarter or can put down others who are younger than yourself. You all know exactly what I’m talking about.
a reason for the format of this post as well.
Discover it if you will
I am a Christian, and I believe in God and Jesus and love for all. However, it really pisses me off when people claim that they are "morally-right Christians." As in they say that they practice everything that's in the Bible word for word, and they use it as a guide for daily life. If they only actually READ the Bible and adhered to all of its laws, the world would be in disarray. So, here's a nice comment on what the Bible REALLY says, courtesy of a friend of mine:
"For all you Bible Lovers. . .a few questions.
1. When I burn something on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the lord. Lev 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned by Exodus 21:7. In this day and age what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness Lev 15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. Lev 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves (both male and female) provided that they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you help us settle this?
7. Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20 or is there some wiggle room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair cut, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?
If anyone could shed some light on these questions, please let me know. And, isn't this picture so true when you really stop to think about it? Have an open mind. . .
In class the other day, groups of two were supposed to come up with a plan to effectively fight terrorism. This is a basic plan that my partner and I came up with:
Option 5: Defending our Homeland, While Addressing Roots of Terrorism
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001 aroused a unified sentiment to fight terrorism. Prior to these attacks, Americans did not seem to really care a whole lot about the topic of terrorism, since our interests were not affected by it. However, following the attacks, when thousands of innocent deaths were incurred, a light began to be drawn on terrorism. The American people had the unified feeling of defending our own country, since our own freedoms had been intruded upon in the attacks. Now, almost ten years later, America is much more awake to the topic of terrorism, but not a lot has changed. We are waging two endless wars over seas that are meaningless, and the world’s perception of us as a country has diminished because of the tactics that we have utilized to get to where we currently are. World leaders point to using the U.N. as a means to solve our differences, but they have proved to be ineffective. On top of that, we believe that terrorist organizations are growing and feeding off of anti-American sentiment, which is the fuel for their fire. Because of this, we are choosing to focus on defending our homeland and addressing the main causes of terrorism by providing financial and monetary aid, not with direct military intervention.
What should we do?
- We will scale back our military presence abroad- that means getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan and handing reconstruction efforts over to the UN. We will of course assist them in this by offering financial support.
- We will strengthen the CIA, NSA, and other security agencies in order to gather information about terrorists faster and better.
- We will allow the government to wiretap the communications of suspected terrorists as long as they have a court-issued warrant and reasonable evidence as to why they should get a warrant.
- In order to quell some cries against us in the Middle East, we will force Israel to give up some of their land in order to make a Palestinian country.
- We will remove troops from Saudi Arabia- they do not need to endanger their lives for oil.
- We will work even harder and spend more money on developing alternative energy sources so that terrorists cannot be funded by oil companies anymore.
- We will end financial and military support for governments around the world that abuse the rights of their people. This includes North Korea and Iran especially.
- We will launch a 21st century “Marshall Plan” throughout the Middle East and Africa. Through this, we will work to improve the lives of everyday civilians through education, a better infrastructure, available food and water, quality housing, etc.
- We will fully sign and enforce every provision of the Geneva Convention accords and UN international law.
- We will not condone any kind of torture. However, if agencies opt to torture suspected terrorists, the government will have no hand in it, and it is up to the agency to punish agents who use torture to obtain information.
- We will try suspected terrorists in military tribunals.
- Military action will only occur in dire instances, such as the overthrow of a very stable and legitimate democratic government or a terrorist attack on our homeland.
- We will create a new anti-terrorist unit of the government. One area that they will cover will be how to defend the country in case of a nuclear, biological, or chemical terrorist attack. The other area will deal with field operations: highly trained American operatives will operate undercover and take out terrorists in foreign countries before they become a direct threat to the US.
- The world that we live in is unpredictable. An imminent terrorist threat could occur at any time. Whether it is Iran launching a nuclear attack against us, or whether it is the “Christmas Day Bomber”, terror attacks could happen instantaneously. The country needs to be ready and on its toes to stop any terror threat that is on the onset.
- With increased intelligence, the United States will have a much easier time keeping tabs on known Al Qaeda members. Not only will this increased intelligence benefit the government, but it will also be beneficial to the overall public, for they will have an increased sense of security.
- By working to develop alternative energy, less dependency on Middle Eastern oil will be had. Therefore, raging oil prices won’t have an affect on domestic gasoline prices. Lots of anti-American sentiment has stemmed from America’s greed in taking over the oil industry. If we can find a way to not be so dependent on oil, the angry attitudes regarding it will not be so profound.
- The reinitiating of a 21st Century version of The Marshall Plan would help to create pro-American sentiment, rather than anti-American sentiment. When it was initiated in Europe following the conclusion of World War II, it did wonders for restoring and rebuilding post-war Europe. If a secondary version were instituted in the Middle East, the rebuilding process could be more easily attained, and U.S. Military presence would no longer be necessary.
- In our minds, torture is an unnecessary form of extracting information. We feel as though there are more humane ways of going about interrogating suspected terrorists. However, there is nothing in our power that can be done to prevent agencies from torturing its captured suspects before we can stop them.
- Trying suspects in military tribunals rather than in civilian court has a much smoother flow. Because these foreigners are not American citizens, they should not have the American right to a trial by jury. These terrorists are foreign criminals; therefore, they should be treated as so.
- The creation of an anti-terrorist unit will only further develop the government’s way to protect our own country. By increasing intelligence and preparation, we can ready ourselves for an onset attack. Increasing intelligence will also assist to take preemptive action against a terror threat. If an attack is imminent, the military can launch a strike to dismantle the attack before it is able to be carried out, thus further enhancing our protection.
Counterpoints/Arguments Against This Option
- Completely leaving Iraq and Afghanistan could plunge the country into a bitter civil war, and the UN cannot always be trusted to rebuild war-torn countries.
- By strengthening our intelligence agencies, we are giving them more power than they should have. American citizens' rights could be at stake, and the intelligence agencies could twist facts to target only people that they deem important.
- Making Palestine would most likely severely strain relations with Israel. American Jews would also be outraged, as they would probably see the act as being pro-Palestinian.
- Troops are in Saudi Arabia for a purpose, and it is to protect the oil over there. If they left, terrorists could exploit oil companies, and the same companies could jack oil prices up, wrecking havoc on the US economy.
- The Marshall Plan was specifically designed for Europe. Such a plan could not work in the Middle East, and it could also backfire and create more hatred for the US, as we would expand our influence in the region with all types of aid besides military.
- By agreeing to every law that the UN passes, we are constraining our ability to fight terrorism because of the rules that we would have to follow.
- The government has the full power to stop its agencies from torturing suspects, so they shouldn't pretend to be "unable to stop it from happening." On the flip side, torture might sometimes be necessary to extract valuable information, and it therefore should be allowed to be used on suspected terrorists.
- By trying terrorists in military courts, we are not giving them the full rights that they should enjoy while on American soil.
- Military action should be available in other instances. If we are not able to attack countries before they attack us, we will lose a countless number of American lives that could have been prevented had we went on the offensive.
- The anti-terrorist unit could become too big and abuse its power. The agents could go rogue and start killing on their own, or the new creation of a government agency would be unnecessary.
- This plan would cost massive amounts of money. Isn't the government already in enough debt?
A couple opinions on questions that relate to war. . . .
Should public opinion play a role in the decision to go to war?
I believe that the public opinion should play a decently-sized role in the decision to go to war. In some wars, the draft is instituted as a way to beef up our military. In cases like this, American men are forced to give up their lives so that they can fight for our country in the war. Because so many men end up giving their lives, or at least being drafted, I think that the public should have a big role in determining whether the US should go to war or not. People are being forced to give up their lives, so why shouldn't they have an opinion as to whether we go to war or not? Or, in other cases, where the draft is not instituted and people are not giving up their lives, public opinion shouldn't be weighed as much. But, the financial aspect of either of the wars has to be looked at as well. Any time that there is a war, the American people have to fund it with their taxes. By using taxpayer money to support the war, Congress and the President should have to listen to the public because it is their money that they are spending. If citizens don't want their hard-earned tax dollars going to war-spending, then they shouldn't be putting the money towards it. In wars like the Vietnam War, for example, the president also should have listened to the public more. The majority of the public was not for the war, and the troops that came back from Vietnam were treated like crap. If the American public does not support a war, the troops won't be thanked and respected as much, and outrage will break out across America.
How should those who are opposed to the war on religious, moral, or political grounds be treated?
If there was a draft, I do not believe that these people should get out of serving for their country. I mean, sure, don't make them fight, because it'd just be useless forcing them to fight a fight that they didn't want to or didn't believe that they could. Instead, have them do other things to support the war effort, such as becoming a non-combative medic or a "desk or office" job. This way, they would still be helping the country out with the war, but they would not be directly fighting in it. If there is not a draft going on, I think that these kinds of people should be completely respected. If someone is opposed to a war because their religion tells them that it is wrong to kill others, then that's alright for them to hold that belief. Americans should not hold it against people when they cite religion for protesting a war. People can also oppose the war based on moral or political beliefs, like with the outcry over the 2nd Gulf War. These people should also be treated with respect as long as they are not disrespecting our troops. It IS possible to protest the war but still give our soldiers tremendous amounts of respect.
Do presidents even have time for debate on the issue before taking military action?
Even in today's "super-fast" society, they better make time to debate the issue of taking military action. Take the 2nd Iraq War for example. George W. Bush had time to talk everything out before he declared war on Saddam. The UN and just about every other country in the world was not convinced to go to war with Iraq, yet Bush didn't want any debate- he was fully committed to pulling the US into a war with Iraq. War is not just a simple thing that presidents can pull us in and out of. The nation should be 100% behind a war for it to work at full capacity, and that was not the way America was in 2003. Presidents today definitely need to have time for debate when considering military actions because they need to make sure that the American public wants it and Congress supports it. Declaring wars should not happen overnight; therefore, debate is needed and should be welcomed when the topic of war comes up.
Should the President, acting as Commander in Chief, be able to use military force without the consent of Congress?
This is a very simple question, so it deserves a very simple answer: NO! The Constitution specifically grants the power to declare war to CONGRESS, not the PRESIDENT! The President does not have the power to send forces overseas without permission of Congress, yet many have, such as Johnson and Reagan. These actions are simply unconstitutional due to the fact that they are not consulting with Congress, who specifically has the power to declare war and send troops overseas.
Do countries have a moral obligation to come to the defense of the defenseless?
This question is a very tricky one to answer. In the case of the US, yes, I feel that we do have a moral obligation to help the defenseless. However, this does not always mean doing this by using force. For example, in Haiti, we could just be giving them monetary aid instead of sending in our army. Our army should instead be focused on protecting ourselves or other countries who are under "literal violence." One example of "literal violence" would be Darfur. In Darfur, people are killing innocent men, women, and children for absolutely no reason except for their ethnicity, and this is an atrocity to mankind. The US said back in the 1940's that something like the Holocaust should never happen again. Well, guess what- it's occurring every day. And the US is doing nothing to stop it. This is why it simply amazes me when people defend the Iraq War by saying that we are there to "help out its people." That's the biggest load of bullcrap that I've ever heard. Do they not remember that Bush used the excuse of WMDs to go in there and only changed his reason after the WMDs were nowhere to be found?! And if we are in there to protect the people, why aren't we in Darfur? Or Rwanda? Or Sierra Leone? Or Tibet? Or North Korea? O, yea, that's right: none of them have oil! The US does not help out the defenseless for the most part; we only defend those who could have some kind of benefit to us. My bottom-line with this question is this: if a country has the money and goods to start a war to defend the defenseless, then they have a full moral obligation to do so. If they cannot support a war financially or economically though, then they shouldn't have to. It might sound bad, but a country should look after its own people first.
- A Change in Topic (101)
- I'm Back! Post-Florida Update (34)
- I Said What?! (Don't Worry, My Old Views Are Still Here Too) (48)
- A Short Little Conversation with a Walker Lover (107)
- Walker-Gate: Wisconsin's Most Recent and Developing Scandal (165)
- Here's To a Happy Beginning To The Holiday Season! (25)
- The Shame of Joe Paterno (57)
- Long Time, No See (120)
- A Short Story: "There's A Bad Moon on the Rise" (33)
- Release the Photos. We Deserve to See Them. (76)
- More A Day in Ion Square posts