Archive for May, 2012

“The Beat Goes On!”

May 25, 2012

Late one Saturday night in May of 1998, while managing a group of radio stations in Youngstown, Ohio, I felt a wild tickling in my chest. It wasn’t remotely painful and might even have been considered mildly pleasurable were it not for the fact that my Dad had died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 52. Such family history made me more cognizant of potential personal peril in this area than otherwise may have been the case. This saved my life.

With complete blockage of two main coronary arteries and dangerously high percentages on two others, a ten hour quadruple bypass bought me a measure of time long enough to see eleven grandchildren (each one smarter than the other ten) grow and flourish. These last 14 years also witnessed abandonment of a three pack a day cigarette habit, the adoption of much healthier dietary practices and, most unbelievable of all, the loss of over 40 pounds of waddling weight through regularly daily exercise. That’s me you see on 425A every weekday morning from Live Oak right up to the fence and back. Coming down is easier than going up. And, even though I’ve never felt better, I regularly undergo annual stress testing. This time, that’s what saved my life.

Spotting an almost undetectable aberration, my cardiologist explained that, although there was a computer generated analysis predicting only 5% blockage, there was “something that bothered him” and a full angiogram study was worth serious consideration. This soon proved that the practice of medicine is, in its finest form, a combination of both art and science. I herein thank my son-in-law, Richard Seiling, for this insightful observation.

For those unacquainted, I should briefly mention that an angiogram is no casual walk in the park, day at the beach or teddy bears’ picnic. One is securely strapped down as a needle and thin tube are run straight up into your heart for the insertion of telltale dye. Then they shoot interior pictures, but you don’t have to smile.

On May 23rd, Eileen and I celebrated our 48th Wedding Anniversary with a trip down the hill to St. Agnes Hospital and a rendezvous with a most prescient Dr. Michael Gen and his merry band of astoundingly professional assistants.

The following is personal correspondence I just sent to family and friends:

“I have returned from an unexpected overnight stay at St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno after a fortuitous angiogram yesterday morning revealed over 90% blockage in my Left Anterior Descending Artery, more popularly known as “The Widow Maker.” This precipitated the insertion of two stents and a more careful study of the rest of the heart. Bottom line seems to be that my 1998 Youngstown bypass now is pretty much shot, with three of the four grafts completely gone and a fourth barely functioning. There is the possibly of yet another stent in the not too distant future. I’ll know more after my next appointment June 14th. C’est la vie. So, the GREAT NEWS is that a completely unsuspected and immediate “LAD” threat is enormously diminished, but the CONCERNING NEWS is that I’m now told I must have experienced a “silent heart attack” sometime in the last few years as the Youngstown bypasses collapsed, rendering around 10% of my heart “deadened.”

And that’s what initially freaked me out the most. A SILENT HEART ATTACK??? Yes, and the stunningly attractive administrative associate who detailed the situation offered — in explanation — these exact words, “Dead meat — no beat!” Honest! I feel much better now, having been assured that the initial graphic image of an ancient cheeseburger lying a-mouldering in my chest like John Brown’s body has been thoroughly dispelled and that “no longer functional muscle tissue” (my words) has been more or less absorbed by a comparatively healthy surrounding environment.

And so here I am as the beat goes on, still crazy after all these years (along with Paul Simon), hoping this testimony might remind all of us (myself included) that all those things it takes time to learn and accept are extraordinarily important in such lives as we lead. And yet when the end must come, I still fantasize blissfully toppling down into eternity from the towering heights of a well-worn bar stool, my face on the floor frozen in lasting, perpetual, satiated smile. But that’s me — reserving the right to — upon ever more age limiting occasions — not practice what I preach.

“Remembering Remembering”

May 18, 2012

“I’m not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.” — Willard “Mitt” Romney — May 17, 2012.

What Republican Presidential Candidate Romney couldn’t recall were words spoken only weeks ago on Sean Hannity’s radio show when Mitt proclaimed that President Obama wants to make America “a less Christian nation.”

But total recall is not one of Governor Romney’s strongest suits. When recently confronted with uncontested allegations by five former school mates from Cranbrook, an elite Michigan prep school, that he had personally led a vicious bullying attack on another classmate found guilty of “being different”, Romney blurted, “I don’t remember”. And as far as that “being different” deal is concerned? Mitt just had to chuckle. “I certainly don’t believe that I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”


As a proud graduate and President of the Student Council at Cathedral Academy in Syracuse, New York, back in 1959, I must emphatically observe this is outrageous nonsense. Although boastful of Irish ascent, I went out of my way to avoid “wearing green on Thursdays” (other than March 17th) since that might signal I was “queer.” Back then, “queer” meant a bit as “gay” does now, but in a much meaner, more slashing fashion. “Queer” defined the dangerously deranged, particularly in Catholic School. That added the eternally damning label of “Mortal Sin” to the unholy mix — never mind what went on in the Rectory.

But Mitt’s not alone with his memory challenges.

In 2004, American Author/Historian Gore Vidal (quintessentially “queer” and mighty proud of it) wrote his brilliant “Imperial America: The United States of Amnesia”, the primary point being that, as a people, we tend to forget what we should most remember. Oops. Not good.

Right around the corner is Memorial Day 2012, a day set aside to honor our fallen heroes, recalling those who have given their all, offering themselves in ultimate individual sacrifice for our collective American freedom. It is most fitting and proper that we do. I suggest it may be of even greater value that we seriously reflect upon our own responsibilities in the waging of American wars. It is a debt owed by the living to our consecrated dead.

We’re getting there.

Public opinion against our continuing military efforts in Afghanistan now equals opposition to the Vietnam conflict at its highest point in the early ‘70’s. But the same mind set which brought us Vietnam, Iraq, and a full decade in Afghanistan now regards Iran as another golden opportunity worth more billions every profit-laden week – a mind set which blames our current Federal deficit on a President who inherited an unmitigated disaster in progress when he assumed office in January of ‘09 — a mind set now stunningly unmindful of “George the Conqueror.”

George W. Bush will be, according to all Republican sources, not remotely involved in this year’s campaign, nor will he be asked to contribute anything more meaningful than his complete absence from this year’s Republican Convention in Tampa Bay. Out of sight — out of mind.

As soon as “W” pronounced his support of “Mitt” last week to a group of reporters hounding for a quick sound bite, he immediately disappeared behind a suddenly closed elevator door, leaving all to wonder if the darn thing was even going up or down.

Wealthy whispers are reaching a roar. “He was never a real Conservative!” “He was dumber than we hoped.” “His brother would have known better!”

Poor George — doing as told — now there to scold.

Try to find friends who remain staunch supporters of Barack Obama’s predecessor’s policies or openly remember if they ever were.

Ask how they felt about heading into Iraq in the first place — guided by what is now universally recognized as intentionally altered information as we witness 4,408 American dead, 33,184 American injured, two trillion American dollars squandered and 100,000 Iraqis killed since the initiation of “Shock and Awe” in March of 2003. Do they recognize that along with Afghanistan adventures through 2008 and billions upon billions in tax cuts primarily for those already rich, none of it was paid for?

Inquire as to the whereabouts of “George the Invisible” and relentlessly ponder the undeniable suppression of traditional American conscience.

For without such questions, there can be no answers.

In these United States of Amnesia.