↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → love

The Wonder of Elvis

Elvis Presley was a wonder in so many ways.

Youthful cutting-edge song writer and musician, he combined mountain folk music with country, blues, and gospel, with substantive themes and meaningful words, creating his own powerful sound with bi-racial bands that captivated people around the world. Come to think of it, in some ways like Ray Charles, a similar creative genius who also went on to make his own unique blues and jazz sound (also drawing upon sacred music) during the same time.

Both men created, captured, and represented certain turning points in American culture in their music.

But Elvis was more than a musician of meaningful songs. He also wrote, directed, and starred in dozens of movies, for which he wrote or performed some or all of the sound tracks. Like his music, Elvis movies are about simple life themes, like love, relationships, community, commitment, family, patriotism, public service, and God. Gosh his movies are corny, with clunky acting, but they carry important and positive messages Americans could sure use a dose of today.

In the 1950s, when Elvis was debuting, American women were married to the scarred men who had returned from the battlefields or the military training grounds of World War II. A lot of these men were tough, hardened either from the Great Depression or from their military experiences, or both. Romantic thoughts or gestures, tender touches, gentle words with their women were pretty scarce then.

Along came Elvis, singing to these women about loving and relationships they could only dream of, representing a model man they could only hope for. In his way, Elvis taught men of his generation how to respect and treat women right, mostly by singing about the kinds of feelings women had and how men could aspire to satisfy them.

Women screamed and swooned, and men wanted to be his friend.

Meanwhile, other entertainers were singing about banging in the back of a car, and most popular music hasn’t moved too far forward since. OK, it is true that later on Elvis developed that hip thrust, but he let it stand on its own without any words to back it up.

He was a good soldier, literally, volunteering for the US Army at a time when most of the people being drafted to serve in combat were less privileged young men without access to lawyers or school deferments. His military service was mostly symbolic, but inspiring. Asked by a reporter in 1971 what he thought about the anti-war protestors, he responded that he was just an entertainer and would rather keep his opinions to himself.

In private Elvis was no Lothario. Reportedly chaste and deeply religious, his child was born exactly nine months to the day after his marriage to Priscilla. No fooling around or cutting corners.

After developing his own sequined and bejeweled stage look, Elvis wore a freakin cape, and yet still commanded the adoration or respect of everyone around him, be it president of the United States or hard bitten businessmen. He was authentic, real. A humble, simple country boy. With a big shiny gold belt under his coat!

He was relatable, because he was real.

“Before Elvis there was nothing,” said John Lennon of the Beatles.

“When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I was transported,” said crusty Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, no pushover or soppy romantic.

Elvis’ impact on the development of music was unequaled.

Embodying so many unique, separate, divergent, and ultimately convergent strands of American identity, Elvis was a wonder no matter how you analyze him. He represented the best of America, the best of its values.

Elvis is still be the King of Rock and Roll, four decades after prematurely reaching the Promised Land. His generous spirit lives on, albeit appreciated by fewer and fewer. No one since has attained his heights or impact on popular culture.

America could use a pop culture figure like Elvis today. Someone to bridge the gaps between us, to help inspire and unify us, to sing to us about our best qualities, about love and gentleness.

We need and miss you, Elvis.

The things that make life fun

Music, family, food, friendship, art derived from craftsmanship, Nature, aesthetics, and so on are things that make life fun.

The best things in life are free, and aren’t really things: Love, friendship, trust, integrity, honesty. We can have as much of these as we want, and very often they only require giving a little to get a lot in return.

I am not Italian, but when I used to hang out with Italians, I finally learned what “food” really, truly is. Restaurateur Andy Zangrilli of State College trained me in two of his restaurants as a line chef, from salads to sautee, when I was fresh out of high school. Andy owns Gullifty’s and other landmark restaurants around Pennsylvania, and prided himself on making all of his food from scratch, including pickling and smoking his own pastrami and corned beef, as well as making his own prosciutto and some cheeses. It had to be done just right, or not done at all. And when the food was done right, it was like hearing angels sing. As a dad and husband who enjoys cooking, I try to bring some of Andy’s amazing recipes to life in our own home. No complaints yet!

Today’s news was just filled with all kinds of rich targets: RyanCare vs ObamaCare, news that an Israeli teenager has been arrested for committing the lion’s share of the email and phone threats made against Jewish institutions across America over the past months (and NOT “white supremacists”), my old Penn State chum and good friend Seth Williams being indicted for bribery as DA of Philadelphia, and so on.

Never at a loss for words or strong opinions, I would naturally have more to say on these subjects than I should. And you know what, this is also the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs spring conference, too, and I will be going to that. So I guess that is where I am going to let the mind and written word go next.

Wildlife biologist Ben Jones of the PA Game Commission will be speaking tomorrow night, a can’t-miss opportunity for those of us who love nature, wildlife, and conservation. I will be joining a lot of friends and colleagues this weekend at this gathering, and that’s what I am going to focus on here:

Enjoy your friends and family, my friends. Life is so precious and yet so tenuous. At my age, we all too often see good people gone in a blink of an eye. People who brought us smiles, and laughter, joy and love, warmth and companionship. These are treasures, though we cannot weigh them out or count them. Yes, there is a time for ego, debate, values, culture, and possessiveness, and anger, and hurt, and revenge, and so on, but this weekend….for me it’s about friendship.

It is one of those “things” that make life worth living. For a tiny price, it can be had in truckloads.

I love you, America

Writing negative headlines and about negative subjects burns out a person. Tough to outswim the drowning pool of negative politics, negative culture wars, negative attacks on individual liberties.

We naturally want to be positive, to enjoy some humor, to laugh, to be human, natural, not consumed with unhappiness and unease.

Tough luck, as our civilization wallows in materialism and the fantasy that the bank account is always full. Fact: Our national bank account in every way is empty, and the overdrafts are eating us up. Result: Unhappy people, anxious people, worried and fretful people. All they built and contributed towards is being pulled under in the drowning pool.

The fact that a black president is leaving office with a legacy of racist riots he has stoked is really sad. How can we get excited about politics and culture when every day we see this man, Hussein Obama, so full of love for himself, and yet so full of acid hate for America?  He hates my love. He hates what I love.

See, I love America. When I see our flag waving passion wells up in my chest and my throat, because it fills me with pride. When I see people so consumed with hate for all I love, well, it leaves me unhappy.

And yes, I categorically reject that most racist of all racist assertions: I am happy because of my “white” privilege. My skin tone has nothing to do with my thinking. The only people who think it does are racists.

Have you seen the video of the Black Lives Matter racists swarming a college library, assaulting Caucasian kids and attacking them for being racist, because they are “white”?  That right there is the very definition of racism. Pretty much only one place this can all end, and it isn’t good. Racism is just bad stuff. When the racists themselves accuse others of racism, then it is doubtful that the love can flow. The hate is, well, it is the old racialist hate that is tough to stamp out.

Where the heck is “Let the Love Shine from Aquarius, with those big Afros? What happened to Cat StevensPeace Train?

True, I am add libbing here, taking some liberties with the words and metaphors, but if you are reading this, you know why. That 1970s sense of universal love being just around the corner was pretty strong then.

Loving people know this, and they know better, but they seem to stand by and say little, if anything, while the drowning pool picks up momentum.

I love America. I love my fellow citizens, with all their various skin tones and viewpoints. Genuinely, I love them, because their optimism and hope for a good future is the righteous inspiration America always ignites.

Hopefully, one prays, the old Biblical passages about hate turning to love will come true, soon. America is a wonderful nation, pretty close to a perfect nation, certainly the best nation of all that ever were or ever will be. It is worth holding together.  I hate hate; I hate racism.

I love you, America.  Good luck, honey.

A man who loves his nation

How refreshing to witness a leader who loves his country speak passionately about protecting his people.

Netanyahu was speaking for Israel, and also for America, which is leaderless.

One just hopes that enough elected officials can get up enough steam to stop America’s current administration from facilitating Iran getting the nuclear bomb.

Otherwise, the next 9-11 attack won’t be about planes into buildings; it’ll be about entire American cities being vaporized.

I love America. That is why I fight for her

I don’t doubt that the people on the left “love” America.

What I also know is true is that their definition of “love” of America is 100% the opposite of mine.

My love of country is frequently called “jingoistic” in online debates, a term once used by America’s arch-foe, the Soviet Union, and their treasonous allies planted on American soil.

The left’s “love” for America is for its rich opportunity to be turned into a fantasy utopia, the likes of which Marxists have been pursuing one way or another for over 100 years.

Leftists would take all of our material success until now, and convert it into state-controlled property, to be doled out sparingly to everyone equally.  That policy failed awfully in the Soviet Union, but as someone once close to me used to say, “Communism failed only because the Soviets did not implement it correctly.  It is otherwise a great thing and still ought to be pursued.”

The Soviets failed, and the Berlin Wall fell (25 years ago), because a tidal wave of individual hope for freedom and liberty continually corroded state power; eventually, the system just leaked throughout its faulty pipes.

The left would ignore all that and return us to those dark days.  Oh sure, they don’t say the days will be dark.  Neither did the Soviets, and neither do the Chinese or the North Koreans – they all say things are just rosy.

I love the America that was founded in 1776 and 1787 and 1794 and 1812 and 1867 and 1922 and 1948 and 1954 and 1964 and…….Yes, America as it was founded had the tools built into it to overcome the many challenges the young nation inherited (slavery and abolition) and later worked through (women’s suffrage, Negro voting rights, etc.).

America is not perfect – what nation is? – but America is perfectly designed and built to successfully process all challenges.

The challenge we face now is the same we faced when the Soviets had their agents working to damage us on the home front.  We face domestic political opponents who really do not believe in the America as it was founded.  They do not really love America, as it was created.  They are like little Benedict Arnolds, riding through the countryside at night, doing their utmost to un-do all the goodness.

I and tens of millions like me, however, we do love America as it was founded and as it has progressed since its founding.  And we will not sit idly by as our great nation is “transformed” into something unrecognizable.  Our fight is as much with liberals in the Democratic Party as it is with liberals in the Republican Party, and there are plenty there, too.

Speaking of the traitor Benedict Arnold, he was caught by two ragamuffin Patriot soldiers, more militiamen than regulars, and he offered them huge sums of money if they would but let him go to his British handlers waiting for him not far away.  Our two boys were destitute of money, but not of spirit, and in their ragged clothing they held him at the end of their loaded barrels and marched him back to patriot lines.

Today, people like me, no matter how much money is thrown at us, for or against us in supportive politics or opposition politics, we are going to keep on fighting to bring back the America we once knew – The America that offers full and equal prosperity to all who are willing to work hard and contribute to a society bound by Constitutional obligations and opportunities, and nothing more, or less.

Love your mother, love America

It’s Mothers Day, and you should love your mother. America is our mother. Show her love, support her, fight for her. And if you don’t like her the way she has been taking care of the American family since 1776, then guess what, she’s not your mom and you should probably go find a different place to call home, a different country to call the Motherland. She doesn’t need to be transformed and you aren’t appreciating her.

Political correctness run amok

As unbelievable as it is, mainstream media are now posing the question of motive behind the Boston bombing. Really.

What’s so sick about PC is that the more obvious something is, the less you are supposed to talk about it. Well guess what….there’s no PC here.

Like millions of Americans, I love America more than any political party, more than any social nicety, more than I fear being labeled by anti-American activists living amongst us, namely the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate that operates at the highest levels of American government and which aggressively censors and cuts off debate about the role of Islam in America.

CAIR is public enemy number one, and I’m happy to say it. They will cover up the motive behind the two Muslim men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing. That’s wrong and it must be confronted.

Choosing Love

Modern life is full of oddities, like having a heavy, meaningful discussion about family relationships with a friend, by text, by cell phone. Yesteryear, such communications were reserved for campfires, dim corners of bars, hunting camp late at night, and other out-of-the-way places and moments in life. They happened once a year, maybe. Now, technology creates a sense of anonymity and immediacy, some might say carelessness, that elicits the deepest emotions in the plainest, least number of characters allowed in a text box.

It got me thinking about how it is possible to find love in unconventional places and in unexpected people. Convention says that humans are supposed to expect, and receive, love from their birth families. Love is where you find and make it, of course.

My friend’s brother recently wrote an email to his entire family, asking them to leave him alone, telling them that staying in touch with them caused him more pain than pleasure. Because their parents enjoyed one of those brutal years-long divorces, everyone was scarred from a young age. This 30-ish year-old man has decided to shake off the past and embrace his future with his wife, child, and in-laws.

Naturally, many of his family members are hurt by his emails. A melee of emails ensued, back and forth between this young man and his family members. What impressed me is how matter of factly and clearly he explained his feelings. Of course, most of the family members made it all about them, how hurt they felt, what about their kids (his nieces and nephews), etc. In all of the emails shared with me, I saw not a glimmer of empathy among his family. And they are all decent people.

Off in a distant, far-flung corner of the Mid-West, a young man is starting over emotionally. Finding the love he feels he never received from his birth family now with his wife and child, he has curled up to heal, like a wounded animal or warrior, sleeping off a ferocious fight. If his birth family members love him, they will let him sleep.

Hollywood makes movies about super heroes with super powers, the ability to bend steel, or read minds. Fantasy, yes, and foolish. Because, what strength it takes to merely survive day to day for so many, to get past old hurts, to put one foot in front of the other, to get up and go to work, to smile when crying would feel better, to hold someone when being vulnerable is a risk. These are super-human traits. Surviving is fantastic, and laudable.

You are in good company, Sam. So many of your fellow Americans want to start over, and you found the strength to do it. America is going through a tough time, bringing lots of emotions to the surface in all communities. I salute you and wish you success. And you have my pledge to watch over your little brother. He is a good man, and I care about him.

Happy New Year, Everyone

Although 99% of my subject matter is usually politics in some form or another, there are times when words should fail and feelings must dominate. Thus it has been these past eight days, consumed with irreplaceable family time, visits with dear friends and distant family, and with no time or stomach for debate or bickering. Charles Dickens challenged his readers to find some time to respect and love one another, to take a break from the mundane and instead exalt the simple pleasures of life. And unless a person is a Scrooge, how can we not happily embrace this time of the year, and but smile at those around us?
Happy New Year, everyone. May your new year be successful, pleasant, and filled with the love and respect of those you care about. Here’s to you…