Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Shoe's on the Other Face Now

Who throws a shoe? Honestly! (Apologies to Austin Powers.)

The Presidency is a dangerous business. Almost 10% of everybody who has ever held that office has been assassinated. Others have had close calls. Others still have simply died in office. Compare that to your line of work. Doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Consider that, during his “farewell tour” of Iraq, President Bush narrowly escaped full facial impact with not one, but two, Rockport walking shoes. Appeared to be about a 10 ½ D, traveling at somewhere around 40 mph. And he wasn’t even wearing a helmet.

Now, some have found the violent assault on the American President amusing. In fact, one lady being interviewed by a TV reporter, laughing, said “He threw one for the world”. Another person suggested the shoes be immortalized by having them bronzed.

CNN’s Michael Ware, reported “Opinion is divided – in support and in condemnation of this action”.

David Letterman, speaking of the President’s impressive lightning-quick reaction that kept him from being nailed in the face, said “I don’t think Bush has dodged anything like that since the Viet Nam war”. Later in the show, somebody chucked a pair at Dave.

Watching the video of this historic moment, I too was impressed with Bush’s agility. He may be the only president we’ve had in my lifetime that was capable of making those effectively thrown missiles miss their intended mark. I imagined what would have happened if previous presidents had been in his place.

Clinton, of course, was accustomed to having articles of clothing thrown at him. But he was never very nimble, and would likely have been carried out with at least one stiletto stuck in his forehead. Hillary would probably have removed the other one and walked barefoot to ride with him in the ambulance.

Bush 41 would have had a coalition of support that would have never allowed this to happen. Matter of fact, that reporter would likely have surrendered his shoes when he walked in the door.

Reagan. He took a bullet! Even a pair of Shaq’s shoes wouldn’t have awakened him from his nap.

Jimmy Carter? Nobody would throw a shoe at Jimmy Carter.

Gerald Ford, I’m afraid, would have been the first POTUS we lost to footwear. Sadly, the culprit might not have even had to remove them. Ford would have just tripped when he walked into the room and strangled himself on the laces.

It is accurate to say that I have not been among President Bush’s greatest fans, but I do want to go on record, right here, right now, condemning this atrocity. I mean, you just can’t go ‘round tossing brogans at the President of the US of A. I like to think that, had I been there, I would have stepped up and taken those shoes up-side the head for my country. Which leads me to wonder “Where was the Secret Service?”

Those dudes are supposed to be ready & able to take a bullet for their boss, and here the poor guy had to artfully dodge two articles of footgear on his own? Those things could have caused mass destruction right there in Iraq. And some of you doubted the weapons were there. The whole thing reeks of conspiracy if you ask me.

I understand the shoes have been confiscated by federal authorities and will be held as evidence. Rest assured that all “foot-age” of this event will be reviewed and studied for decades. A commission will be established, but the findings will probably not be released in our lifetimes. Books will be written. Movies will be made. Songs will be sung. An American legend was born this weekend.

Laugh if you will, but this was George W. Bush’s finest hour. Years from now, we all will remember where we were and what we were doing on the day those fateful shoes were hurled at the head of our very own head of state. And, great president that he is (was), he made ‘em miss.

By far, the smartest, and coolest, thing GWB has done in his eight years in office.

© 2008 Rick Baber

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rock 'n Roll Never Forgets

NOTE: If you're not from Batesville, Arkansas, this will mean very little to you. Just a word of warning....

Old rockers never die.

With too many irons in the fire, I’ve been out of the loop longer than I like to think about. But then, there are only so many hours in a day, and spending a good portion of them sleeping has always been one of my life’s passions.

Occasionally though, mama will drag me away from the computer to someplace other than our local Native American gaming establishments, and usually I end up glad she did.

Such was the case this past Saturday night when I was (apparently) the last usta-be rock singer in Arkansas to discover the remarkable talent of a guy named Darren Ray. Well, that’s not entirely true. Only a week before, I’d heard him at Cherokee Casino (West Siloam Springs) with his other band, “Big Bad Bubba”, but I was, let’s say, too distracted then to pay much attention. At this private party though, Darren was performing with his other band, “Big’Uns”, in a small venue. People, let me tell you, this old crooner was blown away. That guy had a set of pipes like I haven’t heard anywhere in a very long time, and the band itself was tight as a jug. They covered everything from Delbert McClinton’s “Every Time I Roll the Dice” to Michael McDonald’s “Takin’ it to the Streets”, and everybody involved hit every note. Then they ended up with a Beatles set, culminating with “Hey Jude”, that even had Republicans swaying and singing along. And here in Northwest Arkansas, there’s a lot of those.

So, as they were loading out, doofus that I am, I had to go up and tell ‘em how good I thought they were – keeping them from getting their work done and getting home for just a while longer. Turns out Darren also performs with my ex-brother-in-law, Travis Kidd (Tulsa, OK). That was pretty cool. But the lead guitarist looked somewhat familiar, so I also bothered him to discuss the glory days and found out that the six degrees of separation thing really does exist. His name was Ed Nicholson, and he had been playing around, basically, forever. I quickly discovered that he was from Harrison, Arkansas. When I told him I was from Batesville, the names of musicians from the area he had played with came rolling out: Andy Buschman, Gib Ponder, Mary Henry, Danny Dozier…just the ones we had time to talk about before I finally recalled through my party-fuzzed haze what it’s like to try to load out with people bugging you, and started backing across the empty room toward the door. Ed told me he had only recently spoken with Andy on the phone – and I wondered how Andy had enough wind to do that while he was running. Always running. He must use a cell phone.

The meeting gave rebirth to a longtime fantasy I have had about getting all the old musicians from the Batesville area (and the new ones, too) together for some kind of big rock ‘n roll reunion concert. Would that be cool, or am I the only one that’s interested? Maybe some charity could use a few bucks that could be raised from such an event. Or, maybe that’s already happened at some point and nobody told me about it….?

I have always maintained that there is no place on the planet that has produced as much musical talent, per-capita, as Batesville (and the surrounding area). I could list all of them I remember here, in bold print, but I’d surely embarrass myself by leaving too many out. Surely, such an event would draw a respectable crowd, even if you only consider the families produced by the musicians involved. Kids. Grandkids. Oh my God, some of you are OLD! How much extra would it cost to have an elevator installed to get up to the stage? Maybe a few ambulances standing by, just in case?

When I recall the time we worked like dogs cleaning out the old, practically abandoned AC Gym to do a show, and all the people that showed up there; the crowds that used to come up the hill on Saturday night to the Salado Community Building or to Cave City or to the Jaycee building down by the bayou; and the way we used to curse the fact that there was just not much to do (anything changed?) – I can’t help but think my little rock ‘n roll fantasy isn’t such a bad idea.

Living two hundred miles away, and being the most disorganized person in the world, I would not be able to put such a thing together myself. I’m hoping there’s some other old timer reading this, with a lot of time on his/her hands, thinking he or she might just be the one for the job.

Who knows? Maybe it could turn into a yearly tradition. “The Batesville Whitewater Revival”?

Your thoughts?

© 2008 Rick Baber