Springsteen did an ad for the Super Bowl that has been controversial. The ad is almost like an extension of some of the footage shot for his movie ‘Western Stars’.

In the ad, Bruce says that ‘we need the middle’. He seems to be appealing to people to be willing to listen & absorb thoughts from your political opposite and be willing to compromise towards the middle. It’s an ad for Jeep, and shot in Kansas where there is a small church that is purportedly the exact geographical center of the lower 48 of the United States. So his metaphorical center is underscored by the geographical center. Springsteen fans seem to be suggesting, and I don’t necessarily disagree, that there can be no compromise with the extreme right. It is they who must come off of their positions. 

But I give Bruce some room here. He is a deeply thoughtful person. And so much of his music over the years has been around the idea of what America is and means to the average person. 

I don’t believe this myth of America, but Bruce does I think. And it obviously worked for him. He came from a very modest home and became rich and famous and that is the embodiment of the American dream. And he is a bit older than me and that generation largely is more patriotic in the real sense—not in the artificial way the right uses the concept of patriotism to justify their abhorrent words and actions. 

So I wasn’t too  bothered by the ad. Let him try. Some of Springsteen’s fan, at least from what I can infer from social media posts, are pretty far to the right. Which amazes me considering his music and lyrics and his long-time support of democratic politicians. And his obvious disdain for Chris Christie and Bush and Trump. But whatever. 

And, this story gets more interesting. Turns out The Boss got dinged by a couple state park rangers for DUI last year and Jeep has now pulled the ad. But here’s the thing. He blew a .02, way way below the legal limit of alcohol of .08. The cops just pulled him over because he had stopped to sign some autographs for fans while out on a motorcycle ride. One of the fans offered him a shot of tequila and he took it and the Park Rangers apparently saw. So they wrote him up. Of course he will get off, but there seems to be a campaign to embarrass the boss. I predict it will roll of his back like water off a duck. Dude has one drink, still way legal, while out riding on a sunny day. Nothing to apologize for there. 

I am nearly completed with moving my personal and business account from Schwab to Fidelity. After that scoundrel Charles Schwab donated millions to Donald Trump’s campaign, I had no choice but to leave. The problem is of course that 1) changing banks is a major hassle and 2) Schwab’s customer service is fucking amazing. Fidelity’s, at least in these first few encounters, not so much. Pathetic really. So I must choose between the superior service provider and integrity.  

Donald Trump has officially been acquitted in his 2nd impeachment attempt by a Senate vote of 57 – 43. No surprise but worth noting. The Senate Republicans are all cowards. Complete and absolute full-on political Limp Dicks. They are useless and should be publicly scorned—but instead they will be rewarded for their fealty and re-elected to their powerful positions where then can continue the important work of fucking over the American people. 

I remembered a great passage from Thoreau’s Walden and it made me think of my cousin. 

I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in. Who made them serfs of the soil? Why should they eat their sixty acres, when man is condemned to eat only his peck of dirt? Why should they begin digging their graves as soon as they are born?”

Henry David Thoreau

I was raised spending a good bit of time on the family farm, which was owned and run by my Uncle Bobby—mom’s brother. I had two cousins very close in age and together we were Bobby’s shadows on weekends and summers. We all loved the time on the farm and all benefitted greatly from the inherent tangible and non-tangible skills one acquires from the multi-faceted nature of running a small farm. We were taught to be useful. A very important but often overlooked trait that we would all would do well to remember. Being useful essentially guarantees employment and security — this versus merely acquiring knowledge or credentials but not understanding or having the willingness to convert that knowledge to being of some use to someone. To be able to trade that knowledge for something tangible to feed your family. 

Steve, one of the cousins, was one year younger than me. Steve had an attachment to the farm that was a notch above Shawn and I. By the time we got to high school, I started missing some weekends and parts of the summer to play baseball tournaments or tennis tournaments; basketball and football. Shawn stayed closer to the farm but never had the same passion for it as his brother Steve.

So Steve never left other than two years in the Army right after high school. While I went in the Navy and did not return to live in the midwest for 30 years and Shawn moved south, first for college and then to start a family, Steve slowly took over the running of the farm. Like Bobby, he works a side job for income and spends every other available moment working on the farm. It sounds romantic, but it is a constant grind. Hard work, made harder by shifting economics that favor large agri-farms. As Bobby’s body began to weaken and fail him, he amplified his already prodigious drinking habit. Where he used to drink beer slowly all day, perhaps drinking a 12-pack every day over the course of 8 hours or so, even while working, he now turned to whiskey and vodka. One of the last times I saw him coherent, I walked into the farm kitchen around 9:00 am and he offered me a glass of vodka. Of course you don’t say no to drinking with Bobby, so I had a glass of warm vodka with him.

When Uncle Bobby died, he left the farm to Steve in his will. This was known and planned as the desire by the whole family was to keep the farm intact. It was a $2M gift and a very charitable noose around Steve’s neck. He is forever bound to that farm. Farmers rarely take a day off, let alone a vacation. Steve did a few times, while Bobby was still alive, but now he is there every day. Even with free assistance from his dad and occasionally Shawn and Shawn’s son Cole, running a 500 acre farm with cattle is a life draining endeavor. Many farmers do make good money, far more that the average household income, but mostly those are larger farms and often the income is bolstered by buying and selling cattle or equipment or leasing land to others. Or in many cases, taking handouts from the government farm subsidy program. But mostly, farming just grinds you down to an early death after a life of hard work and hard drinking with the same friends day in and day out. 

Steve, as far as I can tell, is pretty much following the same pattern. He is perpetually deeply tanned and strong from the farm work, but you can already see the effects from the drinking and the relentless pace of activity. A big big part of farm life, at least in OH, revolves around drinking. And this is hard drinking, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And not just a few after work, but during the work day as well.

I’m going on record to say that one of the cool things about COVID is how many women are just letting their hair return to natural color. And I think it looks great. My mom, sister and a few co-workers have gone silver and grey and they all, at least from my view, look better. 

Our little project to help families in need in Namibia has been very successful. Sue informed me the other day we have delivered 67 baskets of food and supplies to a few dozen families. She is still working through donations and of course there are many many families in need. But good to know we are doing something. The few times I have posted about it have resulted in our getting additional donations from people.

I have started joining in on some writing groups—trying to get discipline into my approach to the re-write of SV2SA and finishing the 1st draft of Webb. The question was posed, ‘why do we write’. I had not ever really thought about it I guess. I have just have always been writing something. Stories, poems, books, letters, journal/blog. I suppose It’s really storytelling that interests me. And the challenge of telling the story in the most compelling and interesting and entertaining way as possible. Finding exactly the right words and in the right sequence and cadence. That’s the draw. And the hard work of it in general. And the feeling that words and stories have some permanence. Non-fiction writing has value in storytelling, but also as bringing additional clarity to writing. In conversation, we can often make statements that are less factual out of ignorance or a desire to advance our argument illegitimately. But to put our thoughts in writing is to subject them to further scrutiny and a higher burden of authenticity required. 

I got out for dinner Friday night with a friend at Giovanni’s. It was nice. Will cook in here tonight. I’ve started painting some interior rooms of the house along with help from someone who likes to paint and needs a little extra income.

The weather is meant to turn mean and ugly starting tonight. Vicious cold and some snow and wind. I am so far tracking just slightly behind the 100 mile walking goal for February and it might be tough to hold schedule over these next few days. High is forecast for 18 degrees Monday and Tuesday and only slightly warmer later in the week. So we’ll see how we get along.

Visuals from this week past are pretty slim as there is just not much going on. Ole Pops is always a good subject though. Since there was nothing interesting enough for a feature image, I chose a picture of me and Terri and Shannon from last year when we went to see ‘Young Frankenstein’ in Columbus. Fun night. 

No other news of note.

Humbly submitted.

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