I Don’t Know What We’re Protesting

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Mending Wall, Robert Frost

I sit at the keyboard this morning, thinking about the NFL protests that occur during the National Anthem, knowing that I’m not knowledgeable enough to write anything meaningful on the subject. Nothing more meaningful than words of Robert Frost, for certain. Mending Wall addresses a lot of society’s ills.

I actually like a little civil disobedience. College students blocking the entrance to buildings. Sit-ins. Marches. I like them. Shows a little life. A little spirit. I like a peaceful refusal to participate in the norm as a form of protest to show disagreement with some law or practice. Emphasis on peaceful. Civil disobedience should lead to civil discourse, in an ideal situation, to gain understanding of the various views. The stronger the disobedience, however, the greater the reluctance to engage in discourse. Alas, the NFL protest has created more confusion than it has illuminated an issue.

The NFL protest is not about the flag, or veterans, or really even the country. The timing of the protest makes that an easy, but non-existent, correlation. To be clear, had I been advising the protest, I would have encouraged the participants to avoid protesting during the National Anthem. The message of the protest is being lost in the manner of the protest, and that’s unfortunate. Additionally, no one is talking about what the protest is about. The message simply isn’t getting out to the masses, and that leaves the masses to come up with their own beliefs of why the protest is occurring – or to just accept whatever belief the President develops. Now we’ve got Jerry Jones linking arms with his team and taking a knee, and Aaron Rodgers talking about linking arms for “love and unity.”


Rodgers, in an interview earlier this week, said that the Packers had a good meeting on the subject – the specifics of which he wasn’t going to discuss because it was a closed-door team meeting. And that’s the problem. No one is actually talking, and the message of the protest is being lost in the manner of the protest.

Disobedience has to lead to discourse.

Have a good weekend.





All That To Say

I don’t remember which Christmas it was. I know it’s not an attractive character quality, but I’ve always been a bit jealous – perhaps more skeptical – of grown people who say, “I”ll never forget the Christmas when I was 9! I got an Atari 5200 and 4 – FOUR – Panama Jack shirts!” I just don’t think grown people can keep track of that type of thing. I told you it wasn’t an attractive quality.

Anyway, I don’t remember the Christmas, but one of my favorite presents ever was a Panasonic cassette tape player AND recorder. Not one of the slim, palm-sized ones either. No, this one was the size of book. The kind that you put the cassette tape in the top, with a cheap microphone that would also work as a speaker if you plugged it in to the headphone jack, and you had to push play AND record at the same time to record anything. It was utilitarian and I loved it.

On several Friday nights, I sat 3 feet away from the TV and recorded the audio of The Dukes of Hazzard. Scrambling to push ‘Pause’ when the show went to commercial so that I wouldn’t waste tape on Dove soap and their claim of being “99 and 99/100 percent pure clean!” It’s how kids of my generation developed our keen sense of timing regarding commercials. People in my house get all tense when I change the channel during a commercial break. “Turn it back! Turn it back!”, they scream. “Relax, offspring. I’ve got this,” I calmly reply. And then I tell them to get a little closer to life’s edge, but they don’t understand such. They just don’t want to miss any part of Bizaardvark.

Through the week, I’d listen to the recording, along with episodes of Gilligan’s Island that I recorded also. This was before VCRs, and way before TiVo. I like to think that I pioneered recording live television with this recording technique in the early 80s.

The Christmas that I got the cassette player/recorder, I got two cassette tapes. Both were by Alabama; My Home’s in Alabama and Feels So Right. So it must have been the Christmas of 1981,since Feels So Right came out in February 1981. I know. Some of you weren’t born. I’m sorry you missed all the fun.

Anyway, when I wasn’t listening to the episode of Gilligan’s Island where the space capsule splashed down near the castaways and ended up in the lagoon, the songs from these Alabama albums made their way through the little 2-inch speaker with a range of about 3 notes and a distortion factor of about a million.

Drinkin’ was forbidden in my christian country home.
I learned to play the flattop on them good ol’ gospel songs.

I’d listen to one side, then flip the tape over and listen to the other.

Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We get together anytime we can
Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We play together in Mother Nature’s band

When I had listened to My Home’s in Alabama enough, I’d put Feels So Right in the player and listen to it. I’ve always liked songs that told a story and, for me, Feels So Right is a better collection of songs than My Home’s in Alabama for stories. I still don’t know what “Fantasy” is about, but the stories wrapped inside “Burn Georgia Burn”, “Ride the Train”, and “Hollywood”are phenomenal. Well, maybe the Cotton Queen from Atlanta didn’t like her story.

We went to the Grand Ole Opry a couple of years ago and took the tour after the show. You get to walk on stage and stand in the circle. They tell you that you can stand in the circle, step to a cold microphone, and sing a few lines of your favorite song if you like. I sang “drinkin’ was forbidden in my christian country home. I learned to play the flattop on them good ol’ gospel songs.” And then I stepped aside.

When it comes to early Alabama, I like to think that I’m bona fide. I didn’t know many other 11 year olds who knew the words to “Woman Back Home”.

All that to say, Jason Isbell’s version of “Old Flame” is spectacular. Haunting. Just phenomenal.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

It’s an Everything Bagel

A/K/A, A Hodgepodge

Belated happy start of the college football season! This week’s picks, for entertainment purposes only:

Auburn (+5) at Clemson
It’s almost impossible for me to not type “Clempson”. It’s just how I was raised. My PE coach in middle school played football at Clemson. On the wall in his office hung half of a Clemson helmet and photograph of his college team. I don’t think that he was on the ’81 National Championship team, since he had coached PE for a few years before I got to the middle school in the early 80s (yes, I’ve lived through some awesome decades). Maybe he did. Someone from Tarrant will let us know. Anyway, this will be a close game or, hold your coffee with two hands, Auburn will win by 3 touchdowns. Auburn can run the ball, they play great defense, Daniel Carlson is automatic for the people…Auburn is a good team. Clemson and Auburn played teams with less depth and talent last week, so it’s hard to know for sure, but I’d take Auburn plus the points.

Fresno State (+44) at Alabama
Years ago, only a few brave souls north of Nashville dared to visit the panhandle of Florida and the Gulf Coast of Alabama during for the summer. Now they come in droves. On Saturdays this summer, the 80 mile stretch of I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery stayed bumper to bumper – in both directions (Saturday is check-in/check-out day for beach rentals and, therefore, heavy travel days).You were doing well to make that drive in 90 minutes, but at peak times it was closer to a 3-hour drive. Partly due to never-ending construction, but mostly due to peeps from Michigan and Indiana and Illinois and Ohio – the whole Big 10, visiting the Alabama and Florida beaches. I tried to work in a line about the war of northern aggression, but it’s either too soon, too early in the morning, not a good line, or I’m not good enough to pull it off. Anyway, people from the north come, complain about the heat, humidity, traffic, everything being fried, and the accents for a week. It’s a lot of fun. The response used to be “yes, we are aware of the heat and humidity, please just spend your money and go home.”

Anyway, this game is kind of a “same but different” scenario. The State of California has barred state employees from traveling to other states that hold varying political and social beliefs. I honestly don’t know if it’s gay marriage or immigration — neither of which Alabama has embraced as tightly as California — but California employees aren’t supposed to spend state money traveling to states that don’t agree with what California believes. Except, in this game, Fresno State is taking home with them $1.4 million. So, it’s more of a “yes, we are aware that we disagree on some political and social issues of the day, here’s your check $1.4 million and a checkmark for your loss column. Now you can go home.”

I actually like Fresno State plus the points in this one, simply because this Alabama offense can’t score 44 points. Alabama wins, probably by 4 or 5 touchdowns.

UAB at Ball State (-14)
Great return to college football for UAB last week. There was a great crowd at Legion Field last week (45,212), but not just in numbers. There was excitement and energy and an almost palpable sense of pride in and around the stadium last Saturday. The team is made up of newcomers and, largely, of players who needed a second chance. Scrolling through the roster, other universities and colleges were listed beside a great number of the players, indicating that they played somewhere else before coming to UAB. Many had lost the opportunity to play at their previous schools due to injuries that didn’t heal quickly enough or due to bad grades or due to whatever. They needed time away from football to work and to concentrate on themselves. At UAB, they found that opportunity.

Someone asked me this week if UAB could be competitive in their conference, and I believe that they can. UAB didn’t just start practicing in August. They’ve been working, training, and studying film for a long time. There’s a difference in practice speed and game speed, and that will take some adjustment, but I believe that they can be competitive. I think that they’ll be competitive against MAC appointment Ball State (David Letterman went to Ball State) this weekend, but I think Ball State wins at home.

Georgia at Notre Dame
Great out of conference game for Georgia. I don’t know what the line is, but I like Georgia to win a close one, less than a touchdown. Either way, get your check UGA and go home.

There you go. Someone let me know when Coach Floyd played at Clemson. I believe it was probably mid to late-70s, but I really can’t remember. I know it was a color photo on his wall, so it was at least after the advent of color film.

Gotta run. Have a great weekend!