I heard it from Cosell

I broke up with my girlfriend at the time on December 1, 1980, a breakup full of drama. I’m not at all sure I would have remembered the date except what happened subsequently.

It’s not that she FORBADE me from watching Monday Night football, but it wasn’t something she liked to do, so I tended not to watch it that often. But with her gone, I practically HAD to watch MNF, just as I had to leave the dishes in the sink for HOURS before washing them, playing music that she hated, and so on.

So, it was in the throes of glorious “I’m watching football at 11 o’clock and you can’t say a damn thing about it” when I hear Howard Cosell announce that John Lennon had been shot and killed. Almost immediately, I flip on my radio station of choice, Q104, to hear what they had to say. The information, now well-documented, came out in dribs and drabs, as breaking stories usually do.

I had to call my friend Karen. Karen was/is my oldest friend, who I’ve known since kindergarten. She was a greater Beatleologist than I was. In sixth grade, she wrote a short story in our newsletter about meeting the Beatles which was very good, and not just by sixth grade standards. She’d been in the music industry ever since, from working in a record store to working for various record labels. She was thrilled that she would be promoting Double Fantasy, the new Lennon/Ono album that had been out for only a few weeks. But her line was busy.

I called my ex-girlfriend and told her the news, which she appreciated.

Periodically, I’d call Karen, while listening to the radio, but her line was still engaged. Finally at 2 a.m., I reached her. She heard my voice and just cried for ten minutes, then told me she’d call me back soon.

That morning, I went to the record store (Just a Song or Strawberry’s) to buy Double Fantasy, but there wasn’t a copy to be had. So I bought Rock ‘N’ Roll.

The following Sunday, Yoko requested 10 minutes of reflection at 2 p.m. The store I worked in, FantaCo, locked the door for those 10 aching minutes; a couple of the old-time customers who were Beatles/Lennon fans opted to be locked in as well.

That month, and indeed for several months thereafter, there were certain songs that were just too difficult to listen to. One was “(Just Like) Starting Over”, the first single from the album that was rendered just too painfully ironic. The other was the song of the season, “Merry Xmas (War Is Over)”. Whatever his failings, John was working for peace. In fact, it was rumored that in 1981, he would be working on the anti-nuke campaign. So his shooting death made the song unlistenable for a good long while.

The sudden deaths of people we don’t even know can have profound impact on most of us, different from the deaths we expected. We still can be surprised somehow by anticipated deaths, people slowly going into decline, and of course, we still grieve. But quick and violent deaths of people one has come to admire (for me, Lennon, ML King, JFK) always made me feel unsettled, as though life were just a random crapshoot.

As I indicated here, I had a great identification with John Lennon, more so than the other Beatles, more so than just about anyone that I did not know personally. So it wasn’t just the death of an icon, or the end of my youth, or other such analyses that I read at the time. It ws as though a little of my own identity died.

There’s a commorative publication that LIFE magazine put out recently of pictures throughout John Lennon’s life, that I saw at the local drugstore rthis week. Many of the photos I had seen, but a few I had not. It was $10.95, and I almost bought it. But I really didn’t need the reminder. Twenty-five years ago; I remember it as though it were 25 days ago.
Friend Fred, who was living just across the river from me at the time, also remembers.

Lennon covers to aid Amnesty International.

Too many Dilberts on this bus

From friend Anne:

A magazine recently ran a “Dilbert Quotes” contest. They were looking for people to submit quotes from their real-life Dilbert-type managers. These were voted the top ten quotes from the Dilberts we work for in corporate America, circa 2004:

1. “As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday, and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.”
(This was the winning quote from Fred Dales, Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, WA)

2. “What I need is an exact list of specific unknown problems we might encounter.”
(Lykes Lines Shipping)

3. “E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business.” ]
(Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)

4. “This project is so important, we can’t let things that are more important interfere with it.”
(Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)

5. “Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule.”
(Plant Manager, Delco Corporation)

6. “No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We’ve been working on it for months.
Now go act busy for a few weeks and I’ll let you know when it’s time to tell them.”
(R&D supervisor, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing/3M Corp.)

7. Quote from the Boss: “Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.”
(Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation)

8. My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died on purpose so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday.
He said, “That would be better for me.”
(Shipping executive, FTD Florists)

9. “We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees.”
(Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)

10. One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough.
He said, “If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!”
(Hallmark Cards executive)

Feingold for President

I’ve decided I will be supporting Russ Feingold for President in 2008.

You may wonder why I would support anyone this early, particularly someone who is not a declared candidate. But he’s making all those all-but-declared candidate noises, setting up means of collecting contributions and the like.

So why Russ Feingold? For one thing, he seems to make up his mind before consulting a pollster, unlike the 2004 Democratic candidate for President.

He opposed the war in Iraq at a time when doing so was not very popular, and he voted in the Senate against our involvement. When he spoke a few weeks ago on ABC News’ This Week, he spoke forcefully about how the administration’s case for war didn’t make sense. He noted, and I believed it then and now, that the war in Iraq is fomenting terrorism, not stopping it. He’s also been a proponent of finding a way out of Iraq before the recent flurry of “me-too”ism.

He stood alone in his opposition to the vile so-called USA PATRIOT Act. (And for information about the none-too-desirable reauthorization of the bill, which may be voted on as early as TODAY, check here.)

He is the co-author of the McCain-Feingold bill to try to limit campaign spending. If it has not been a complete success, with so-called 527s popping up to get around the bill, it seemed to have curbed some of the abuses.

He appears to be his own person. He broke with most of his fellow Democrats and voted for John Roberts for chief justice. But he hasn’t eliminated the possibility that he will be a part of a filibuster if Sam Alito turns out to be the kind of extremist that the early signs suggest.

If he runs, he’ll have some so-called negatives, among them:

He’s Jewish. That’s not a problem for me, but it may be an issue for some of the leaders of the Democratic party who fear offending some segment of its base.

He’s been divorced, twice. Nelson Rockefeller’s one divorce followed by remarriage really hurt him when he ran for President in the1960s, but Ronald Reagan’s divorce was hardly an issue when he ran in`1976 and beyond. How the situation affects Feingold, I just don’t know.

I came to my decision before I discovered one fact that is personally fascinating; he’s five days older than I am. Same month, same year, same astrological sign.

Of course, if he ultimately chooses not to run, I’ll look elsewhere, but no one else particularly interest me, and I have absolute antipathy for some of the possibles bandied about.

Coming soon: my Vice Presidential pick.

Ice dancing, motherhood, and the American flag

It’s rather like a soap opera with a dash of politics thrown in.

Tanith Belbin, resident alien, and Ben Agosto, U.S. citizen, is the team that provides the United States with the best chance of medalling in ice dancing at the 2006 Olympics in a couple months. Tanith, a Canadian, applied for U.S. citizenship in 1999, but the process is such that she wouldn’t be an American until it was too late for the Games.

A member of Congress wrote legislation allowing Tanith’s citizenship process to be expedited. However, the mother of one of the other competitors complains to her Senator, one Hillary Clinton, to the effect that a foreign national should not be given special treatment. Ironically, the only reason that the U.S. will have three ice dancing teams instead of two at the Olympics is that a team skating for the United States came in second at the World Championships. That team? Belbin and Agosto, of course. (The Worlds have different criteria for nationality than the Olympics.)

The legislation, which was attached to another bill, was defeated, but Tanith and Ben have hope that the item will revived and attached to another bill.

Will Tanith Belbin gain her citizenship before January 10, the deadline for picking the Olympic teams?

Will Ben Agosto recover from the painful injury that is keeping them out of competition in Japan this week?

Will Belbin and Agosto be on the Olympic team?

Will David Mitchell (the son of the complaining mother) and his partner make the team, with or without the competition of Belbin and Agosto?

Lost, the quiz

My near-twin Gordon did this on his page, and I thought I’d try it. Thing is:
I’ve never seen Lost. Ever. Well, for about five minutes when Julie Bowen appears in a flashback with Matthew Fox. So what does this really mean?

You are Kate. Breathtakingly beautiful, seemingly
pure of heart, and you can even sew your own
curtains! You listen to Patsy Cline anywhere
and know how to work a farm. Your past haunts
you. An accused criminal, are you innocent or
guilty? The only thing thing we know you’re
guilty of is not giving Charlie the attention
he needs.

Which Lost Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Meanwhile, two stars of the show are arrested for being under the influence of alcohol, twenty minutes apart. I suppose living in a tropical paradise seems romantic, but the work and the isolation are starting to take its toll. I know Rodriguez started this season; how about Watros?

And in another sense of Lost, the usually apolitical Fred Hembeck who REALLY lost the 2004 election.