The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

“We’re not gonna fix it.” ~ Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN)

That was the gist of Tim Burchett’s response to the killing of three, nine year old children and three members of the staff at The Covenant School, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Given that there have been more mass shootings in America in the year 2023, than the number of days, and given that mass shootings have become a sort of ho-hum, what else is new kind of event, I’ll give Burchett some credit for telling it like it is. Not gonna fix it.

I tell my wife more or less the same thing every time there’s a mass shooting and she says, “They really have to do something about these guns.”

My response to her is always , “They won’t. This is how it is and this is how it’s going to be. The NRA owns the cowards in the Republican Party.”

Yep, I agree with Burchett, but not for the same reasons that he put forth. After, “We’re not gonna fix it,” I hopped off the Burchett bullshit train.

Burchett elaborated by making a nonsensical comparison of school shootings to suicidal Japanese soldiers in World War II. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation, and we’re not going to fix it,” Burchett said. “Criminals are gonna be criminals. And my daddy fought in the second world war, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese, and he told me, he said, ‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘if somebody wants to take you out, and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.’”

Does that tell anyone how bad it’s gotten when a sitting member of Congress compares a World War to an epidemic of school shootings? It’s an absurd flight of fancy that flies in the face of reason and in fact flies in the face of history.

What Burchett left out in his World War II analogy was the inconvenient fact that American soldiers, in the face of a fanatical enemy, took on the horror, the punishment and the casualties and did something about it. They didn’t throw up a white flag and say, ‘nothing we can do about it.’ If America and its brave soldiers had shared Burchett’s can’t do attitude we’d all be speaking Japanese right about now.

It’s quite possible that Burchett’s “daddy” might be looking down and shaking his head in disgust over his son’s cowardice and defeatism.

Why don’t we just take Burchett’s attitude at face value, stop making laws and repeal every law on every book? Despite laws, people commit murder, they steal, they vandalize and they sure as shit speed and text while driving. Think of the possibilities if we follow Burchett’s lead. Think of all of the policing costs, court costs and costs of incarceration we could save. What a bonanza!

Ah, but Burchett wasn’t done. He opined that we, as a nation need to pray on it, “I think you got to change people’s hearts. You know, as a Christian, as we talk about in the church, and I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a revival in this country” Well, glory, fucking, hallelujah, there you go, it’s that simple. Let’s have a good old fashioned national evangelical tent show and God will make it all go away.

I’m starting to be of the opinion that maybe there should be a religious test given to people who run for office. No, not in the sense that’s popular with the right wing, that in order to run for office one should be an upright, God fearing Christian. I’m of the opposite opinion that if you want to run for office and you think this country “needs a revival,” then maybe you should be disqualified from office. I firmly believe that next to guns and fascism, religion, and specifically Christianity, is one of the greatest threats to America. It’s clear that in America, the three, fascism, guns and Christianity, often travel hand in hand in hand.

During his interview Burchett had a tone deaf moment, because, that’s what Republican politicians do. Burchett was asked, “What else should be done to protect people like your little girl from being safe in school?”

“Well, we homeschool her,” he responded with a shrug. “But you know, that’s our decision. Some people don’t have that option and frankly, some people don’t need to do it. I mean, they don’t have to. It just suited our needs much better.”

Translated that means, ‘Oh, the little woman has to work? Sucks for you then. Buy the kiddos some body armor.’

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The fifth in a series of occasional posts about tripping along U.S. Highway 395.

Bridgeport is our home base for three days and two nights. We’re keeping it simple. In a town as small as Bridgeport, with few businesses, and some of those closed for the season, the choices are nominal. So keep it simple, baby.

Dinner on the first night is leftovers that we brought from the previous night’s dinner at home. Cora and I aren’t about throwing away food so we packed it in the cooler to be heated up in the microwave. There’s a small communal dining area with a microwave in the Cain House where we’re staying. We heat up the leftovers and suddenly it doesn’t smell quite as good as it did the first time. In fact, it might be as rank as nuked leftover fish (something that’s a mortal sin in the workplace lunchroom). Luckily we’re the only ones in the dining room when the stink bomb goes off. I imagine the next guest in will be wondering who stashed a dead body in the dining room.

There are two drive-in fat vats in Bridgeport. A place called The Barn, is burgers, Mexican and the usual selection of dairy desserts. Jolly Kone is burgers and dairy.

There are a couple of sit down places in Bridgeport, The Rhino Bar and Grill, and The Bridgeport Inn. Like I said, we’re keeping it simple so we stick with The Barn both nights.

The Bridgeport Inn advertises itself, in a neon ECV sign, as a Clamper hangout. What exactly is a clamper? That’s a good question, and I’m not certain that I’m qualified to explain. I’m not certain that anyone is qualified to explain, unless that person is a bona fide Clamper. I mention the Clampers because out here in Gold Rush Country, the Clampers are something of an institution.

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“ … your position and power in life do not matter: no one is above the law … “ ~ South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson following the conviction of Alex Murdaugh.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” ~ Donald J. Trump, January 23, 2016.


If the two statements above seem to you to be at odds with each other, well, you’re right.

Can’t go a week without hearing some version of the former statement, “Nobody is above the law.” It’s usually delivered with a self satisfied harrumph and can come from just about any mouth; politician, pundit, law enforcement official, or just the average citizen. Van Jones said it. Gloria Allred said it. John Yang, Leon Jaworski and, ironically enough, Andrew Cuomo said it.

We’ll come back to the quotes a bit later, but first, let’s get to Donald Trump’s recent bloviation, delivered on Saturday via his chicken shit media platform, Truth Social (“truth” is a seldom found commodity on that platform).

In a statement delivered all in caps (because that’s how Donnie rolls), Trump said that he will be arrested (correction: ARRESTED) on Tuesday by the New York D.A. over his alleged hush money payment to porn star, Stormy Daniels. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Trump ended his statement by urging his followers to take to the streets and protest. We saw this movie on January 6th, 2021 and it didn’t end well. In fact, it hasn’t ended. January 6th is the never ending story without apparent resolution.

But Trump wasn’t done. Feeling the need to pour more gasoline on the fire he went back on Truth Social, and posted, “WE MUST SAVE AMERICA! PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”

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Dateline 5:30 AM in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Mother Nature is crying a river – an atmospheric river.


Cry Me A River. The song is a classic. The original version sung by Julie London, that is.

“Now you say you’re lonely
You cry the long night through
Well, you can cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you”

You have to be a geezer, or on the cusp of geezerdom, to remember your parents listening to Julie’s soulful, dusky rendition of the torch song written by Arthur Hamilton in 1953. Or maybe you’re an aficionado of the torch song genre; Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Rosemary Clooney, Bessie Smith.

You can listen to Cry Me A River anywhere; your car, your home, the backyard cookout.

But do you want to get the full effect? It’s near closing time in the wood paneled hotel tavern. It’s dim lighting; a few weak lamps, and candles in red globular candle holders, flames flickering wearily as if they wish to be done with their night’s labor. You’re seated on a stool, upholstered in red leatherette. The place is empty, but for the couple at the corner table, and they’re just staggering out of their seats. They’re headed upstairs to do the dirty boogie. He’s a traveling salesman, cheatin’ on his wife. Her? She spends her evenings in that dank bar, huntin’ traveling salesmen. Now it’s just you and the bartender. He’s at the other end of the bar, polishing the mahogany surface before closing out the till. There’s a squint in his left eye from the curly-Q of smoke drifting up from the butt of an unfiltered Camel dangling from his mouth. He glances at you impatiently from time to time. You’re boozy, swaying your head to the melody while you stare down into the bottomless well of your third gin martini. Your collar is loose, tie all a kilter. Your fedora is pushed back on your head. Haven’t shaved in a couple days. You want a cigarette, but you smoked your last an hour ago. The song ends, the joint goes as quiet as a church on Monday morning. You drain your glass and your head bobs down, chin resting on your chest. The bartender looks over. In his Bronx accent that’s sharp as a straight razor, he shouts, “Hey Mac, I’m gettin’ ready to close up.”
You look outside through a veil of cigarette smoke and the tavern’s thick glass window at the dank rain soaked streets. Street lights reflecting off the puddles. The streets are as desolate as your heart. A Yellow Cab splashes through a puddle and disappears into the dark of the city.
“C’mon Frank, my baby just left me. One more. For the road. For her.”
“Alright, but that’s the last. I’ll tell you what, Mac. Since you’re havin’ hard luck, I’ll make it a double. On me. But finish it up quick – ya hear”

That’s how you listen to Cry Me A River.

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This week John, of Journeys with Johnbo, leads the Lens Artists Photo Challenge with his topic, The Road Most Often Taken. John is speaking metaphorically. He writes, “I want you to think of your favorite type or style of photography as the road you’ve chosen to take most often.”

Quite honestly I’ve been all over the photographic map. Landscape used to be my go to. And then I visited the S.F. Botanical Garden and got hooked on plants (photographically speaking). Then it was urban photography and architecture. Or was it oceanscapes? Then I got buried in cemeteries. My road has more forks than my kitchen drawer.

My current passion is monochrome. Now, whenever I go out and shoot, I do so in color. But I also stop to consider what a shot might look like in black and white or sepia. I might compose a shot a bit differently if I think there’s promise in editing in monochrome. Cemeteries, old buildings, people and relics? I almost always shoot with monochrome in mind.

Places and things left to the whims of time fascinate me. When I’m traveling, I’m always looking out for an old barn, a building in some stage of dilapidation. I’m drawn to the detritus of the ages.

During a road trip in the autumn of 2021, I left Hannibal, Missouri, headed for Springfield, Illinois. I stopped for breakfast in Louisiana, Missouri, on the bank of the Mississippi River. Near the riverbank are the remains of an old ice house. Built in 1924, it burned down eight months before I passed thru town.

Louisiana, Missouri

Just outside of Virginia City, Nevada (those old enough to remember the old western, Bonanza, will remember Virginia City, and old Sheriff Roy Coffee) are the remains of an old wagon.

Virginia City NV

Last fall, my wife and I traveled to Bodie, California, a ghost town in the true sense of the term. I posted about Bodie recently. Below are a saloon (on the left) and a barber shop (note the barber pole design on the far right).

Saloon and barbershop

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The fourth in a series of occasional posts about tripping along U.S. Highway 395.

From Sonora Junction, Highway 395 heads due east before dipping to the south and finally cutting back east to enter Bridgeport. Crane your view to the right and you see the picture of green, brown and yellow grazing land backdropped by the Sawtooth Range of the Sierra Nevada. You could be looking at a location for a western movie.

Grazing cattle with the Sawtooth Range as a backdrop

It’s two lanes into Bridgeport but once in the town proper the street widens to accommodate angle parking. The parking signs instruct drivers to back into the parking spots. It’s odd. For me anyway. Apparently odd for others as well, as cars are parked at some very creative angles.

Downtown Bridgeport is slightly more than three straight, albeit long, blocks of 395 before the highway leaves town and curves to the south. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss a few motels, a hotel, a drive-in burger joint cheek by jowl with a Mexican drive-in, a meat market, a deli/food store with little in the way of selection unless you’re into the three food groups, beer, hooch and snacks. One filling station and convenience store and a little shop hawking Native American artifacts. There’s a bakery and there’s Ken’s Sporting Goods where you’ll find your hunting rifle, fishing gear and some advice on where to put that gear to use. If you’re looking for a soccer ball, well, you might find one about 80 miles north in Carson City, Nevada. Oh, and on a snowy day in winter, you’re out of luck – road’s closed.

Below, two views of the Bridgeport Valley


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