presso Eataly Milano Smeraldo

Although we really like the vet we use now, we still miss Flick. He was a past wrestler. He was quiet, calculating and kind. When he was dying of cancer he stopped by after-hours to treat a cow who had “wooden tongue” on his way to see his son play ball.

When I saw this picture it reminded me of the time he pulled a hip-locked calf and the heifer’s uterus followed the calf out into a mud puddle. Flickenger meticulously washed that uterus and pushed it back into the cow (now a cow). It weighed about a hundred pounds and the intricate nature of the thing made the cleaning process excruciating. I doubt he did it for the money. He did it for the same reason Ed Snowden exposed our fascist dictatorship for what it is, because it was the right thing to do.

An article in a farm magazine stated Iowa State recommends that any heifer that prolapses should be euthanized. This should indicate what public education is worth. It is worth doubting. That heifer was put in the fat lot. And later, after feeding her along with the other cattle, she was sold at the Waverly Sale. Her group of five brought top dollar out of 600 other heifers.

Our kids were encouraged to join 4-H  but we told them they should stay home and learn to raise livestock to suit the market, not judges from the university. The market knows best.

The World is Full of Decent People

I was at a stopping place and decided to go over and see what Gardiner was doing. I would have called but we couldn’t afford phones. In fact a pound of hamburger was beyond reach much of the time. Beans and rice contain all essential amino acids. A living wage in 1970 meant we were alive. It allowed us to appreciate the finer things like Ladybug Lane. Ladybug Lane was a place in the Oakland Hills that attracted ladybugs until it turned the landscape red. Maybe there were a lot of aphids there.

Bob was home and painting, as usual. We were a little like Van Gogh and Gauguin, a couple of impoverished painters. He said a couple of friends were coming down from Eugene and they were going over to The City for Chinese food, “Wanna come?” I fished through my pockets as if I didn’t know how much money I had. “Might work,” I said.

Pretty soon the Oregon guys showed up. We put all our money together and decided it was enough, so off we went. They had a car. We found a parking spot a few blocks from Chinatown. A cable car was approaching and I was the last one out of the car and missed the cable car. If I was in Hampton I would have gone to the Chinese restaurant and found my friends but finding someone in an undesignated Chinese place in San Francisco is like shrinking government.

I wandered around North Beach and Chinatown enjoying the sights, penniless, until I ran into Tom Moy, who I had known in Santa Monica years ago. Tom was a good friend at Samohi before we moved away. He and his girlfriend were on their way to get ice cream and they bought me a hot fudge sundae. Talk about being poverty stricken and enjoying the little things!

All too soon (a familiar face was comforting) we parted ways and I headed to the Broadway on-ramp that led to the Bay Bridge (As it turned out, my future step-dad worked on that and the Golden Gate. Wow. Seven hundred feet up without a harness.) There must have been a hundred people there hitchhiking. A big car pulled up and I was part of the mob that piled in.

As we crossed the Bay Bridge toward Oakland the front right passenger started mumbling something that showed panic. He tried to jump out and we pulled him in and shut the door. We tried to reassure him things were okay, but he tried it again as we headed north to Berkeley. The driver pulled over just in time so he didn’t fly out of a moving car and he ran down the side of the freeway and out of sight.

We continued on then exited and were let out on University Avenue in Berkeley. So I started walking with my thumb out south to my home in Oakland. It was past midnight by then and a gigantic Buick Electra pulled over containing three black kids. Sweet, invincible me said, “Sure!” and I hopped in. They asked if I had any dope or money and I confessed to possessing $56 that I was keeping because it was my rent money. The kid in the back seat with me pulled out a big pistol.

I never thought I’d use this phrase but, long story short, I told them I was a poor exploited proletariat like them and there were plenty of awful rich folks around who could better afford being robbed. Next thing I knew they had driven me to my house, we shook hands and I went in to go to bed.

I opened the door to my room and found the land-lady’s cat had made a disgusting mess on my bed. I curled up on a pile of laundry in the corner and went to sleep at about three in the morning.

It sure was nice of those guys to let me live and keep my $56.

Letter to Car and Driver

Dear Editor,

Jeff Sabatini is a bit confused when it comes to understanding the benefits of federalism. He states (May 2016 article on driver ed) that the lack of consistency in regulations from state to state make it difficult to measure which GDL (graduated driver licensing) laws are most beneficial. The opposite is true. Having states with different laws is the very best way to compare any government policy. The states with the most effective laws will naturally improve the whole as other states are forced to better themselves to maintain population (tax slaves).

Love, Fritz

Lonnie Mack, Equal Time

Country music was not just a refuge for Mack; his affection for it was genuine. In the ’60s, he was fond of organizing after-hours country jam sessions with like-minded rock performers. He recalled one such session in which he and Janis Joplin sang a duet on a George Jones song, “Things Have Gone To Pieces”, accompanied by Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar and Jerry Garcia on pedal steel. (From Wiki)

He bought the number 007 Flying V in 1958 and used it until he died 2 days ago. That’s no Joe Bonamasa, who had a steamer trunk full of guitars on his gig at the Surf a few years ago.


Local Issues (Revised!)


Nick, the editor of the Hampton Chronicle, found a glaring math problem in The Alternative so here is the revised version. I’m forever indebted to Nick for making me look like less of a fool (and Dawn too, who does it every day).

So I read the local paper and these glowing oddities jumped out and tried to choke me. I think, “really, people read this and accept it as just way it is.” Oh man.I could be a real happy man. I must have a bug like thumbinthedikeism. So I go on complaining in hopes that each individual who recognizes the waste in their world will understand that it is the same for everybody; that we are a group of our own. A group of victims. Eeeek! We are one of them.


Notes on the Local News

Every once in awhile the Chronicle has a couple of doozies. We are all busy, so oftentimes we can read a truly amazing news story and not think much more about it.

Last week there was a story about the Hampton Public Library and another story about a Mexican in an alley with a .22 caliber pistol. Both stories deserve further thought.

The bowing wall at the library is certainly tragic. Each Carnegie library is a testament to how creative minds and economic freedom enrich our world. Andrew Carnegie’s wealth didn’t just trickle down, it rained. There are 3,500 Carnegie libraries throughout the world.

With last summer’s graffiti incidents, I’ve got to mimic my punster brother-in-law and say the handwriting is on the wall. Maybe it is the frugal genes from my mom, maybe just a holdover from our farming beginnings in the 1980’s agricultural depression. But when I see that the library board already has $226,000 earmarked for an unnecessary improved parking lot and new courtyard, the discovery of the collapsing wall should inspire a new look at priorities. It would only take an additional $1,000 to restore the library.

I’ve never seen a lack of space to sit in the library. I could see how in nice weather, a space for kids to be read to or discuss books would be handy. But what about Bandshell Park across the street for that? It is already there and I’ve never seen it too crowded. A walk over there or from a parking spot would do a little bit in the fight against the obesity epidemic and it’s good for the soul. Crossing a street or alley is something we all have to do someday. It is a dangerous world and I can’t think of a better place to begin to learn how to navigate it than a town like Hampton.

I heard the mayor on the radio this morning talking about the library projects as a responsibility of the city that could compete with street repair. Let’s not forget that the library was built with private money earned through an individual’s ambition. It would further honor the memory of Andrew Carnegie to stay true to that vision and fund additions to the library with private donations. The paved parking lot and courtyard are not necessary infrastructure like the streets, but the wall is.

The story of the Mexican in the alley is as good an example of our bizarre legal system as any. A citizen of Mexico, here illegally, is imprisoned for a year because it is illegal for an illegal immigrant to possess a firearm. Instead of deporting the man we pay his room and board for a year, then three years of babysitting called supervised release? It sounds to me like he is a dangerous individual that hasn’t gone through the right channels to live in the U.S. His first crime was being here. The gun crime got him caught.

We paid a federal prosecutor, the city police, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement Removal Operations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to get this guy a room for a year. And prison cells are not cheap.

Just think of the savings if two officers drove the man to the border and then came home to protect and serve here.

I had a reader say recently that he likes my articles but people don’t care. I think they don’t care because the out of pocket costs of these individual events don’t amount to a hill of beans on their own. We don’t see the impact as being able to afford burgers instead of steaks on the grill, but that’s what it is.

Speaking of exercise and burgers, walk on over to Korner Bakery for the buns that make a burger better. Shopping locally should be about better products, not charity for local business.


Lionel Hampton

Back in the 70’s I hitched from California to New York City to visit my dad. We went to Central Park for a free concert and saw Lionel Hampton there. Made me wonder if we could be detected on the richter scale. The more fun a musician has, the better for their beneficiaries. This song is on an old album we bought from a weightlifter who got the entire inventory of vinyl from a radio station. Much of the ink is worn off and its on its third application of tape. Plays fine, though. Later that summer my sister visited Dad and they both enjoyed The Mothers of Invention at the same venue. I was 7 when they recorded this (thanks to jazz on the tube for the link):

Flag Draped Coffins

Image result for flag draped coffin

I got an email forward about flag draped coffins describing each step of folding the flag. It was quite enlightening and informative. These things always rub me in an uncomfortable way, though, because what passes as patriotism nowadays often results in unnecessary death of Americans. Hardly seems patriotic to do what destroys the lives of the ones whose country we claim to be patriotic about eh?

This is what I replied to the sender (and he agreed with me):

“Flag draped coffins reminds me of GW Bush’s love for them. He wanted to keep them all to himself and not allow the media to expose the carnage he created. I’m not an advocate for international courts and war crimes trials. I think war should be more carefully considered than to be subject to rules like a board game. Either have a goal, do it and be done or be decent human beings and respect life. GW is as good a subject for a war crimes trial as anyone if such nonsense has to prevail. There hasn’t been a flag draped coffin containing a soldier essential to US security in most of our history, including the two world wars. But it takes some critical thought to realize this.


I liked this part of your FW in particular:  The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, ‘Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still  our country, right or wrong.’ “