Who Done It?

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Didn’t mean for this to end up being my great American novel. It’s a long story!!

Arrest

Just happened to be my day off. Back in those days, we had rotating days off at the Post Office. It was a Thursday, the Thursday after Labor Day weekend – must have been 1998? – and it was my Thursday to be off. Sitting at my computer, hair loose & wet from a shower, I heard a vehicle coming up our long, gravel driveway. Got up, peered out the window. A Sheriff’s Deputy was approaching the house. My eldest son, Jesse, had left for work not very long before, so immediately my thoughts turned to the worst. I opened the door and stepped outside, with much trepidation, to greet the Deputy. “I have a warrant for a Robert …” then he stumbled over and badly mangled my last name. “No Roberts here.” “Can I see your ID?” “Sure.” I went to fetch my wallet and pulled out my driver’s license, handing it over to him. The Deputy studied it for a moment, then handed it back. “Well, I guess this is a bad warrant. Have a nice day.” Back to my PC I went, relieved that it had nothing to do with my son.

Maybe 45 minutes later, I heard the sound of tires on gravel once again. “Jeez Louise!” It was the Deputy’s car again. My house sat in the middle of 16 acres. Our front pasture bordered the road and a neighbor’s house sat across from it, also with a sizeable pasture. The neighbor had watched the Deputy come and go the first time, leaving empty-handed. The gentleman – I’ll call him “Mr. Neighborly” – jumped in his car and chased down the Deputy, returning to the Court House to get a new warrant issued. This time, in MY name. So, the Deputy comes up to the house. I once again greet him.

Deputy: “Richard Federici, I have a warrant for your arrest.”

Me: “What the … ? For what?”

“A dog shooting.”

“WHAT? Oh, I think I know what you’re talking about, but I have never shot anyone’s dog … ever!”

I found it hard to believe that someone could get arrested just on somebody’s say so. I remember thinking, “Can you just pick a name from the phone book and have them arrested?” And I said that to the Deputy. I also asked, “How can you arrest me without even questioning me? What if I was out-of-town the date of the incident?” We were discussing all of this as I sat in the back seat of his vehicle on my way to see the Magistrate. Before all that, he let me dry my hair. He was a nice fellow and sympathetic, but in essence, all he had to say was, “Tell it to the Judge!”

Wild West at the Homestead

Let’s back up to Labor Day, the date of the alleged incident. To the best of my recollection:

A Great Dane

The plan was to take the family out for a hike on Table Rock Mountain on Labor Day. Our dog, a border collie mix, decided it was time to go into heat. So, the night before the hike, our house was under siege by every male dog [aren’t we all] in the neighborhood. There was an all-night ruckus going on right outside my bedroom window … dogs snarling, barking, huffing & puffing, as they jockeyed for male supremacy, and, I guess, first dibs. It all sounded quite lively and downright vicious, and had a very detrimental effect on my sleep turning me into a snarling, barking, huffing and puffing sleep-deprived grump in the morning. Hike canceled! My now estranged wife – I have an estranged wife; she only has a very STRANGE husband – decided to go out and get a take-out breakfast as a little make-up treat for the kids, some of who accompanied her. They slipped out the back door to avoid the restless pack out front, hopped in the van, and drove off. Upon their return, the van was surrounded by the yapping crowd of dogs. The sliding side door of the van was opened, and a huge black Great Dane attempted entry. The dogs were pretty much in a frenzy. Wife & kids escaped through the front and made it safely back in the house. I asked my son, Adam, to see if he could disperse the pack who had now re-gathered out front. His novel approach to that task was to take a folding chair and catapult  it off the front porch into the midst of these barbarian hordes. It actually worked. All dogs took off for cover and disappeared, except for that huge black Great Dane, who just so happened to belong to that neighbor across the road, Mr. Neighborly. This little fella was known to run rampant on our property and on this very day was seen with one of our chickens hanging dead from his gapping mouth.

During all this time, dour old me was laying on the couch with a major headache. Not Daisy BB gunonce during any of these events of the morning did I step outside of the house. The Great Dane was insistent that he was staying put. “Just do whatever you can to get him to go,” I said to no one in particular. My son, Chris, then 12 years old, retrieved his Daisy BB gun and went to face the enemy. From the top of the porch steps he fired a BB down at the pooch’s feet. He backed down the front walk to the driveway, more afraid of the sound than anything else. It should be noted here that because of a line of tall evergreen trees it is impossible to see these events from the road. Chris followed the Great Dane sort of shooing him along until he was out in the pasture in full view of the road and the house he lives in just across it. At a distance of at least 100 feet, Chris fired another shot in his direction and he scampered off toward home. That was the last we saw of him that day, though he was back, rambunctious as always, within a day or two. But, for all intents and purposes, that was that. It was over. No harm, no foul. We never gave it another thought.

Until Thursday …

Get Me Outta Here

Sheriff’s car pulls up to the court House and takes me in to see the Magistrate. She looked over the charge; I reaffirmed my innocence. She responded that I would have to be held — in jail — unless I came up with $500 bond. I was incensed.

Me: “What! You’re going to hold me with bail for something I never did? For something I was never even questioned about? You couldn’t even get the warrant right!”

Magistrate: “Have to hold you.”

“Look, I don’t have the money. I’m not going to flee the Country over this bogus charge.”

“Sorry, we have to hold you.”

“I’m not fleeing, I have a wife & 7 kids back at the house.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m a land owner, I pay my taxes, you have got to be kidding!!”

“Sorry.”

“I have to pay you to get out of here because some guy says so? I didn’t do a thing.”

“Sorry.”

“You think I’m going to run over this BS? I work right at the Post Office …”

“OH! You work at the Post Office? OK, you can are free to go.”

Well dang! Who knew the Post Office held so much sway? I had POWER!

So, I made it to my court date, after a couple of continuances. One was a kicker. The guy accusing me was right there in the court room, yet, the Judge postponed it because of “failure to appear,” or something. I was told, because he didn’t answer to his name, he wasn’t there. I saw him. Sitting right there! At this point, I knew I was in for hell and that something was not right. What the heck just happened?

Court 1

I had hired a lawyer, still practicing today. He had told me that I would have been better off shooting the dog with a .22 and dragging him to a creek. That’s what he would have done, he told me. He also asked me if, as a last resort, he could call Chris as a witness. I agreed, as a last resort. It was crazy. my accuser brought a veterinarian from Hickory in as a witness, complete with X-Rays. They claimed the “bullet” had ruptured this and mangled that … the dog was dying because of his “injuries.” This was just impossible. A blatant, made-up testimonial. The Judge asked the plaintiff if he was sure it was me that shot his dog. “Yes, I am positive it was him. I see him mowing his pasture all the time. I know exactly who it was.” Another, blatant, made up lie! He even claimed, “I” was about 100 YARDS away from his dog when “I” fired. That was roughly 3 times further than Chris actually was. Another blatant, made up lie, but this one actually undermined his case. I guess it was last resort time, as much to my dismay, my lawyer then called my son as a witness. In short, “Who shot the dog?” “I did.” Not only because someone else admitted to the “crime,” but, the Judge, a firearms aficionado, stated at close, “there is no way a BB at 300 feet could do the damage portrayed in that X-Ray to a dog of that size. Case dismissed.”

End of story? Not quite.

Bad Boy or Good Boy?

So, Mr. Neighborly across the street, not satisfied with that result, decided – even though he was absolutely sure that he personally saw me shoot his dog – was going to press charges against Chris. To say I was teed off is a gross understatement. Before charges could be officially levied against my 12 year old, we had to endure an interview with some guy, name and title escapes me, to see if there was reason enough to proceed. Kind of like a Grand Jury – only just him. He had something to do with the schools – a mix between a guidance counselor, truant officer, and parole officer – I don’t know what he was. But, off we went one night for our interrogation. It was at Pleasant Gardens Elementary School, I believe [PG being a part of Marion] and lasted a couple of hours. I made the case that Christopher was an A student, active in sports, had no disciplinary history. I told him that he was only trying to protect his family and following my “orders” – things that should be complimented not punished – and that he had no desire to hurt the dog, nor did he. It was only a case of a young boy trying to find a way to shoo a huge, agitated animal off his property. What if, when the dog attempted entry to the side of the van, he had bitten my youngest child in the face? All for naught. I think we were just going through the motions; that his decision was already made before we walked in — I told you, something wasn’t right. “I find that there is reason to proceed.” Proceed we did.

Court 2

I wasn’t going to mess around this time. Now it wasn’t me, it was my son, and I did feel somewhat guilty for the actions of my lawyer in putting him on the stand. I asked around, “Who is the best lawyer in town?” Pretty much everyone responded with the same name, now deceased. In my limited experience in the McDowell County Courts, it was my observation that most of the lawyers were merely paper pushers. This guy was like a real trial lawyer. He dug up case law, interviewed thoroughly, and had a plan. He was actually going to present a defense. I felt that we were prepared. Still, I was VERY nervous. I had to sit in the courtroom and watch my son go through this. Poor Christopher.

Court date finally came. Mr. Neighborly was, strangely, sitting off to the left in a partitioned section of the Courtroom — WITH the Deputies. As I have said, something was amiss. I was called to testify … and testy I did become! I was appalled that there was no transcript from MY trial, because Mr. Neighborly had, during his time on the stand, contradicted that testimony several times. He claimed a van never went out or in the driveway, that he was on the phone talking and looking out the window the entire time. He claimed he could see Chris … not me … shoot from the porch [not possible], he changed the distance and so on. Our lawyer did ask him if there was any way he could have confused Chris for me [referring to the first trial]. While I was up there, the Judge had to tell me to behave, because I bluntly called the man a liar. Photos of a little puppy Great Dane were presented – how cute; so was one of our dead chicken. Our lawyer presented case precedents. Now, it was time for closing arguments.

The DA pretty much ignored everything and literally spun a yarn about what “really” happened. He went on about how Chris hadn’t actually done it at all. That I had forced my family to lie and that I had snuck out of the house with a gun and shot the dog. It didn’t make sense, was all a figment of his imagination, and I was fuming. On & on it went. He had just finished trying my son for a “crime” and now he was saying that I did it. What ever happened to double jeopardy? I was doing all I could do to contain myself and not blurt out something I’d regret. And, I might have done just that, but no sooner had the last lying word slanderously slithered out of the DA’s mouth when the Judge said emphatically, “Where I come from, if a dog kills your livestock, you shoot it. Case dismissed!”

My rear end must have flown about 3 feet up in the air. This, was finally over!

Addendum

Years later, the scene of the “crime” – Poor old Lassie can be seen, lower right, near the date stamp.

We all felt a great sense of relief. After hugs and thanks, I went to the office where one can file a false arrest counter suit. The clerk was getting me the papers, when who should walk by but, Mr. Neighborly. POP! I lost it. Got right in his face and ran up one side of him and down the other. All the pent up frustration just poured out. So did all the employees in the building it was so loud. We were pulled apart, and I remember someone saying to me in my ear, “You’re going to get yourself arrested.” Talk about creating your very own “Ground Hog Day”!. What a mess that would have been.

Anger & frustration released, I decided that we had won – twice – and the satisfaction of that would suffice. No counter suit filed.

Now, it WAS over!! CASE DISMISSED!

If only we had just gone to Table Rock! But, I have to wonder, where DID those X-Rays come from?


NOTE 1 – Prior to these incidents, there was no animosity of any kind – that I was aware of – between Mr. Neighborly & my family. In fact, I thought he was a good guy!

NOTE 2 – Justice prevailed. Due to the several anomalies recorded above, I had serious doubts that it would. I was getting the feeling that Mr. Neighborly & at least some law enforcement and/or court officials were cohorts. The results were even more rewarding because of that!

Note 3 – The story is recounted to the best of my recollection. Christopher, being younger & sharper, may be able to provide more detail and correct any that I reported incorrectly.


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Cowgirl in the Sand

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There weren’t very many gigs left. We were near the end of the line. I could be wrong, but at the time of this incident, I don’t believe we even had a steady drummer … just whoever was available. We were, truly, The Ritchie Family. Rich on keyboards, mandolin & accordion, Rich on guitar, another Rich on guitar. All 3 Rich’s sang.

We were playing at a place that had been a haunt of ours for years … the Arizona Saloon in Long Beach, NY. We were doing a weekend there, and it was Saturday night, so all our stuff – sans instruments – were set up already from the previous night. We arrived, did a little sound check and left the stage area with our guitars and stuff in their stands all ready to go. While we were waiting for 10PM to arrive – or, whatever time it was that we were supposed to start – we just mingled about, in the bar, out front of the bar, AT the bar. And that’s where the lead guitar player, Rich, and this author, another Rich sat. Chatting and sipping on drinks. I was to Rich’s left. The stage was off to our right. So, I could see the stage as we spoke. His head was turned toward me.

Some guy meandered up to the stage and was looking over the stuff. Not unusual. Yet, something struck me about his behavior and I kept an eye on him. Consciously, I really didn’t think much of it. Then, for a brief moment, my brain had a difficult time comprehending what my eyes were definitely seeing.

The fella was eyeing Rich’s guitar … I forget what it was … maybe a Stratocaster? All I know is that he had a “Question Authority” sticker on it. A nervous glance around the place, and then whoosh … he grabbed the guitar off the stand and fled out the back door of the club, which was just off to the side of the stage. I hesitated for just a second, not believing what I saw … Then, another whoosh. I was hot in pursuit.

Long Beach, NYHe ran down an alley way out toward the beach. I could barely see him in the darkness. Really, about all I could see was the cresting whiteness of the waves breaking at the beach shoreline. I was yelling every curse word I could muster – think I probably made up a few as I went along. Shouting threats. Always favorable to make the other guy think you are more crazy than he is.  I was gaining on him. All of a sudden, he gave up. Oh, he was still running for his life, but he tossed the guitar off to the side where it landed on the sand of the dunes.

Saved!

I used to do crazy shit like that. I mean, what if he had a knife and stopped and turned to stab me? Oh yes … that actually did happen once, only it was an ice pick. Another story.

OK … so there was  no “cowgirl, but there was a “guitar in the sand.” Had to get your attention somehow!

A Story About a Dog, a Mower, & a Big Toe!

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This Day in History: The Dog Eats my Toe! On this date 30  years ago – May 13, 1985, I came home from a softball practice just as dusk was settling in. The grass was just starting to get a little moisture on it, but I decided it was a great time to quickly mow the grass. Yes, in those days I was full of energy, much like my dreams are today! 😉 It was just a little area, but there was a knoll along the driveway. I could reach the mower down and pull it back up the slope. Bad practice, I know. So, I sat my two young sons, Jesse & Adam, across the driveway from me so that they were safe & could watch as I revved up the old mower. All was going along splashingly until – until as I pulled the mower back up, my foot slipped on the wet grass, I fell on my rear, and the mower – safety shut-off deftly disabled [more bad form, I know] – landed on “my left foot” [an excellent Daniel Day-Lewis movie, BTW]. There was no pain, just a numbing shock-like feeling. I watched, helplessly, as the mower rolled down the knoll and into the driveway where it came to a halt before trimming my sons. Getting to my feet, or foot, actually, I looked down and all I could see was a bloody mess. Half my running shoe was ripped off, the front half, and laying in the grass [nicely mowed, at least]. Could only assume that the front half of my foot was out there, as well. Hopped on my right leg into the house for assistance. I think Elaine called a neighbor to come over and take me to the ER. I was beginning to feel some pain. Cleaned it up a bit and found out I was very lucky. Top of my left big toe was gone, along with the tip, including some bone, but that was it. Wrapped it up and when my neighbor, Michael, arrived, plopped in the back seat, foot raised up and hanging out the window. It was really starting to throb by now. As I sat there awaiting the trip down the mountain to the hospital, I was looking out the window. My dog was playing with something … as a dog or cat does when they catch a mouse, or something. You know, kind of tossing it up and catching it a few times. And then … GULP! Hmmmmm …. I had just witnessed the eating of part of my body by another creature. Now, THAT was weird and something you don’t experience every day. After a lengthy ER wait, they finally fixed it up – scraped the bone fragments out and then just folded what was left over the top to form sort of a half of a big toe. To this day, if I touch the top of my toe, it feels like I am touching the bottom! Anyway, I thought of this the other day when I had to chase my dog down the road. Once, I was a very fast runner, but missing a toe, or even a good part of one, especially the big toe, causes a balance issue and I definitely could never run again like I used to … until the other day. Have I told this story before? 🙂

East Mountain House

On this very spot

Patriots’ Day!

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“If they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” … Captain John Parker

It can be forgotten, given our preference to 3-day weekends, but today is the REAL Patriots Day. On this day, April 19, 1775, 70-odd members of a small Massachusetts colony town, assembled in the cold, damp darkness of an April morning, awaiting their fates at the hands of the cream of the British army. On the eve of the American Revolution – The War For Independence – this was the precursor to the shot heard round the world that would occur just hours later at the nearby town of Concord. By the end of the day, the spark ignited by this measly force, trembling on the Green at Lexington, would have the British troops, mangled and bloody, fighting dearly for their lives on the way back to Boston. The Birth of a Nation occurred on this little patch of earth, preserved to this day, and surrounded by historic homes & buildings, known as Battle Green! http://www.mohicanpress.com/battles/ba01002.html

http://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm

Rage With the Sage!

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One of the most satisfying moments of my life was during the 7 year life span of my band – and I say “my” band” only because I was the only one to make it through the entire marathon; a couple of others almost did, but not quite, and all told there were 21 ladies & gentlemen who were a part of what at first was known as Friends of the Devil, after the Grateful Dead song, quite obviously, and morphed into Cottonwood Sage. In reality, we were actually a fairly democratic band, Everyone had about equal input in song selection, arrangements, set lists. I did get stuck with most of the booking and agent deals, which was most unfortunate, because I am a terrible businessman. And that was a seriously long-winded departure from my initial point. There’s a reason I call this Richard’s Meanderings.

Over the lifespan of probably every band there are highs and there are lows. A couple of our lows might include: 1- The wedding we did where one of the requested songs was the old Beatles song, I Will. For some reason, long lost to me, we never sufficiently rehearsed that song and butchered it like a rump of beef. Funny. I don’t think anyone noticed. And, 2- A night the crowd was so drunk that they cheered and danced to anything, and to prove the point, during our rendition of Neil Young’s mellow Long May You Run, our lead guitar player attacked his mic stand with the neck of his Stratocaster creating some major “a-melodic” feed back and screeching sounds. I know nobody noticed that one.

But this is about the satisfying high points, one in particular. Keep in mind, we recorded many of the gigs. Amazing how sometimes we thought we were spot-on and the tape was plain horrible. Others, the opposite was true. Not sure which was the case this one particular night, but it sure felt good.

Halloween Party at SUNY Farmingdale

We played mostly Long Island clubs and colleges, a wedding and party, or two, ventured upstate once, and down to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital another. We were pretty popular on the Island, very much so in Farmingdale. A little club there was a joint named Whiskey Red’s, and that became the base of our following right there. Eventually, we were invited to play at a little cabin on the Campus of SUNY Farmingdale by their agricultural department. It was a Halloween Party and a great time was had by all. And that led to a few appearances at the campus’ main concert venue, The Ram’s Den.

Sage1 (2015_03_29 07_24_21 UTC)

Cottonwood Sage

There was this one night, and this will finally complete my opening sentence fragment 4 paragraphs above this one, where we, it would seem, were smokin’! Everything was tight, harmonies right on, lots of energy … and the substantial crowd was just loving it. Energy from the crowd feeds the energy of the band which throws back on the crowd, increasing their energy, back to the band … resulting in all-around frenzy. I think we did three sets. The show was done. I left the stage and moseyed on over to the men’s room, which was toward the rear of the room. I could hear the commotion while in there. Pandemonium! Upon exiting, I looked back toward the stage. Between my vantage point and that stage was a smoke-filled, blue [from the stage lights], haze. The sound was deafening. People were standing on chairs and tables, stomping their feel, hands high holding beer bottles, just wildly chanting, “More, More, More”! It was hard to digest. This was for US? “Rage With the Sage!” Rage With the Sage! I was in awe. Wow, this was our 15 minutes of fame – one of many, perhaps, but the high tide, for sure.

We slowly all made our way back to the stage – from various locations in the room [mostly the bar], profusely thanked this most enthusiastic bunch of college kids, and played one more sweat-soaked set of the best music we could muster. I think everyone went home that night satisfied. I know that I did! There were a lot of nights over those 7 years. I will never forget this one!

Random Bits on Why I Cannot Accept Gay Marriage

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From the Source ~~~

manwoman

A few selected Biblical references [there are many more]:

Romans 1:26-28

 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones,  and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-1

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Mark 10:6-9
 
But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.
 

1 Corinthians 7:2

2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

Matthew 19:3-9

 Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?”  He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.


From a dictionary ~~~

mat·ri·mo·ny (mtr-mn) n. pl. mat·ri·mo·nies The act or state of being married; marriage. ——————————————————————————– [Middle English, from Old French matrimoine, from Latin mtrimnium, from mter, mtr-, mother; see mter- in Indo-European roots.] — 1 man + 1 woman = marriage. No way to get the “Mother” part in there without the “Father”. – RF


In its most basic form: God, or Nature, or the Force … whatever … created two genders. The ONLY way for the species to survive is for a union between one of each. That is why we have sex. If it didn’t feel good, we probably wouldn’t do it; and the species would die out. Gay “marriage” has no place in that. – RF


Full Text of Catholic Catechism Regarding Homosexuality – 1997

#2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

#2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

#2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.


Interesting take from actor Jeremy Irons: “It seems to me that now we’re fighting for the name, and I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that. I mean tax-wise it’s an interesting one, because, you see, could a father not marry his son?” When host Josh Zepps said incest laws would prevent such a relationship, Irons countered: “It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don’t breed, so incest wouldn’t cover that. Now if that were so, then if I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties, I could marry my son, and pass on my estate to him.” Irons added that “lawyers are going to have a field day with same-sex marriage.”


Washington Post – July 15, 2014 Less than 3 percent of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday in the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation. The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual. The overwhelming majority of adults, 96.6 percent, labeled themselves as straight in the 2013 survey. An additional 1.1 percent declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else.”

Conversely ~~~

USA Today – October 1, 2014 LGBT characters are growing in number on broadcast television, according to a report by media advocacy organization GLAAD. In the current TV season, lesbian, gay or bisexual characters make up 3.9% of the total number of series regulars on prime-time shows on the five broadcast networks, or 32 out of 813. That marks an increase over last season’s 3.3% (26 regulars) but falls short of 2012’s record high, 4.4%. No regular characters on broadcast prime-time shows are transgender. Fox leads the way among broadcast networks, with 6.5% of its series-regular characters being lesbian, gay or bisexual. LGBT characters account for an additional 33 recurring roles on broadcast shows during the 2014-15 season, GLAAD says in its annual Where We Are on TV report. On cable, GLAAD counts 64 LGBT series regulars, up from 42 in 2013-14, and 41 recurring characters on prime-time scripted programs in the current TV season, which is measured starting June 1.

Stats elsewhere show [also via GLAAD] that LGBTs are represented in approximately 40% of the episodes. Wow! Clearly, the idea of folks other than “straights” is being pushed way out of proportion to their actual numbers … thus, softening, over time, the public perception … and paving the way for acceptance of gay marriage. – RF


Can you like “Gay” but not “Gay Marriage”? When I was a kid, I grew up with 2 kids – who were brothers – as friends. Knew them since we were 6 or younger. Never had a clue then, but it turned out they were both gay. Back then, I didn’t know what gay even was … other than happy. Haven’t seen either one of them in many years, but to this day, I rank them among my closest friends. Heck, we grew up together. When I was in High School, I befriended this guy, kind of a loner – certainly a different kind of guy – in American History class. We became good friends and he started hanging out with the gang of kids I had grown up with in the old neighborhood. I think it was the next year, I was senior, and I came down with something and was laid up for a week or so. Well, this guy came over, sat by my bedside, lit candles, brought flowers. Turned out, I found out later, he had been in love with me! Shocker! We were still friends. Known many gay folks in my life, some friends, some co-workers, even a relative or two. I remember being in a Lesbian bar, back in the late 70s. My then girlfriend had been invited to this big party there and brought me along. I was the only guy in the place. Interesting experience. I actually witnessed a gal I had once had a crush on French kissing with another woman I knew. Never had any idea either of them was a Lesbian. I didn’t care enough to know. It really doesn’t matter to me. A few of the more masculine types in there elbowed me around the pool table and I began to get the idea I really wasn’t welcomed there, so I spent the rest of the night sprawled out on the hood of my car gazing at the starlit sky. But, a bunch of women in there were friends of mine. To this day, I have a beautiful painting hanging in my den [Greg Gutfeld has banned the use of the term “man cave”] that was a wedding gift from a now deceased gay friend. It never has mattered much to me. This is what I mean! That PC stuff gets to everyone. Even me. If you are against gay marriage, well damn, you must be an evil homophobe – a HATER. Well, no, you don’t actually. So, friends, just so you know what I mean … Clearly, I am against “Marriage Equality”. Yes, for religious reasons, partly, but for many others, as well, some of which I have articulated here on my blog. The image of 2 men having intercourse is not pretty, but anyway … I am NOT against gay people. We’re all people. And, when I meet someone, that’s all they are, a person. I like you or not based upon our interactions. Period. Would I say you are a HATER because you don’t like Catholicism? Civil Unions is as far as I’ll go. A real marriage, in my humble opinion, is between one man and one woman. Be happy, be gay. I don’t care. But a man calling another man “husband”; or a woman calling another woman “wife”? Hmmm … I don’t think the rest of us should necessarily be forced to accept such nonsense.- RF


And now, you either agree with me on some level or you don’t. So, please, if the latter, please refrain from calling me a hateful, homophobic, bigot … look in the mirror first.

And, with all that said – much more UNsaid – in our glorious governing document, the Constitution, it can not be found anywhere – it would seem to me – anything that might make this “union” illegal or unconstitutional. As a matter of secular course, it is live & let live. But no matter the law, freedom of religion IS a constitutional right. You can marry on to your little heart’s content, but on a religious level, it means nothing, and should not be forced upon a religious person or organization. Seems clear to me from what I posted above. I feel that is fair.

So, let’s all sing one together!

I Feel Pretty …

I feel pretty Oh so pretty I feel pretty and witty and gay And I pity Any girl who isn’t me today I feel charming Oh so charming It’s alarming how charming I feel And so pretty That I hardly can believe I’m real See the pretty girl in that mirror there? Who can that attractive girl be? Such a pretty face Such a pretty dress Such a pretty smile Such a pretty me! I feel stunning And entrancing Feel like running And dancing for joy For I’m loved By a pretty wonderful boy. Have you met my good friend Maria The craziest girl on the block? You’ll know her the minute you see her She’s the one who is in an advanced state of shock She thinks she’s in love She thinks she’s in Spain She isn’t in love She’s merely insane It must be the heat Or some rare disease Or too much to eat Or maybe it’s fleas Keep away from her Send for Chino This is not the Maria we know Modest and pure Polite and refined Well-bred and mature And out of her mind! Miss America, Miss America, speech!

 I feel pretty Oh so pretty That the city should give me its key A committee Should be organized to honor me(la la la la la la la la) I feel dizzy I feel sunny I feel fizzy and funny and fine And so pretty Miss America can just resign (la la la la la la la la) See the pretty girl in that mirror there (What mirror, where?) Who can that attractive girl be? (Which, what, where?) Such a pretty face Such a pretty dress Such a pretty smile Such a pretty me! I feel stunning (I feel stunning) And entrancing (And entrancing) Feel like running and dancing for joy (Feel like running and dancing for joy) For I’m loved By a pretty wonderful boy

… from Westside Story

A Smell to Remember … What IS that Smell?

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Was sitting at the drive-thru at a local restaurant here in Marion, Moondoggies. The place, besides being an eatery, is close to being a museum of 1950s-1960s memorabilia. So, as I was staring at the old Texaco sign on the side of the building, I was also observing the steady stream of traffic going down the 5-lane. Got me reminiscing … once it was just a little road … I so very much miss those simpler times … where a trip to “the country” was just a few minutes away from the Tappan Zee bridge in NYC.
The pond.

Monroe, NY

I miss the old Red Apple Rest and the Motel on the Mountain. Bear Mountain Lodge. Funny thing. My Dad moved to the “quaint little town of Valley Stream” – yes, I received my copy of the newly released “History of Valley Stream” recently – to be in the country. And in fact, though our new “country” house was just one short block from the New York City line, there was, indeed, a farmer’s house right in our backyard. Maybe a half-acre was all he had left.

What happened to the country lanes, the smell of freshly cut clover hay? Where are all the drive-in movie theaters, the mom & pop country restaurants, and those lone motels that didn’t have a Holiday INN sign … just “air-conditioned,” “color TV,” & “pool” signs? “Yeah dad, let’s stop here!” What ever happened to the days when every country shop in the Adirondacks smelled – and looked – just like a Cracker Barrel. Diners. Woolworth’s & the Five and Dime with the wooden floors and unique odor. Soda fountains & candy stores.
Monroe, NY

the pond … another view

Which brings me to Monroe, NY …. I was probably between 4-8 years old when my family used to go there as part of our summer vacation. We would stay at a small, rustic motel on a bluff overlooking the road. A road much like I imagined used to be what the 5-lane in Marion once was. Sitting on that front porch watching the sporadic car go by was just one of life’s many small pleasures. I do have quite a few memories of those days – with my Mom & Dad, baby brother [literally], Aunt Tess & Uncle Joe, and my cousin, Robert [like my big brother] – but being so young they are sort of surreal to me now. Life was so much simpler & quieter back then. I wonder what Monroe is like today? One memory I have is of a rat being in our room and nibbling on my brother’s bottle nipple. I think my Mom felt it run across her shoulder as she slept. Nothing like a rat in your vacation suite. There was a miniature golf course up the road. A blast. That’s where I did most all the golfing I have ever done. Ice cream and golfing … putt-putt … My parents helped me create some great memories. We’d go down to the pond to sail the vessel across the mighty seas – my cousin & I. The vessel was a creaky old row-boat. The difference wasn’t noted in the day.

 

Some of the memories, though, were created solely in my ever-active mind — like the little “imaginary” glade that belonged to the gnomes. There was a small toad-stool home, moss, magic. It was emerald-green, a tiny, confined little area near the pond, I think it existed – somewhat, a secluded glen – but ever since, I have had a recurring dream about that mythical, secret home of non-existent creatures – ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. To this day. I still get “a thrill up my leg” when I dream of this “place”. Must have discovered something around that pond that triggered this memory … probably a tadpole pool. 🙂
Gnomes' Glade

in my imagination …

But the best … the memory, the one that just sticks with me … is that smell. Not sure what it was … sweet clover? – perhaps. There was a herd of sheep grazing out in a pasture across the road from our rinky-dink motel [few, if any, large chains were around then – it was all Mom & Pop]. Seems I could watch them in their peacefulness forever. And, I did. But it was really all about that smell. It just wafted through the air, across the road, and to my appreciative nostrils. I don’t think I have ever smelled anything better – not that I didn’t eat, at least. And yet, I still don’t know, for sure, what it was. Once in a while, as I am driving, I get a brief, passing whiff of that smell. Instantaneously, I am brought back to Monroe, NY, at that old motel, as safe & secure as a kid could be, smelling that sheep pasture. It is like a magical mist surrounds my brain and gently massages it with soft wisps of fingertips. It is bliss. And then it’s gone.

‘Twas a time when we looked at and absorbed the simple beauty around us … now? 12 inches or so in front of our nose is about as far as we really look. Everything, our whole world, is right there in the damn phone. I have always disliked the telephone. Must of had a sense it would come to this!! “Oh well, another day has begun … ” And they all seem so complicated now, too!
And, that reminds me – as I continue to ramble – I have a distinct memory of waking up on a sunny summer’s morning, hearing the song sparrows outside my open bedroom window, probably 10 years old, and saying out loud to myself, as I wiped the sandman from my eyes, that very thing, “Oh well, another day has begun!” Now, I get to wondering just how many are left. Where does the time go?
Monroe, NY

I don’t know where this is, exactly, might be a country club’s golf course, but it is in Monroe, and it reminds me of the view I had from the motel, where the sheep grazed.

Taxed Enough Already

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I drive around in my old, beat-up Olds proudly displaying my TEA Party bumper sticker. One day last week a woman comes in to the PO – a daily customer – and says, “RICH! Are you a tea party?” I said, “Sure, want a cup?” She said, “NO, REALLY! Are you a tea party?” I said, “Oh, you mean THE TEA Party? Am I a Tea Party member? Tea PartyYes, I am. Proud of it.” “Oh,” she said, seemingly very disappointed, “I didn’t think you were like that. That’s not you. Are you REALLY a tea party?” She was obviously shook up. “Yeah, I really am.” “But, they’re the KKK, c’mon, you’re not like that!!!!” I was flabbergasted. “NO! They’re not the KKK. Where did you get that? It stands for Taxed Enough Already … limited government. That’s all. Nothing about race.” “Well, OK,” she said sheepishly, “but you’re not like that; it’s not you.” The next day she asked me again, and I had to clarify again. I can tell that she wants to believe me, but can’t … not fully. My question is this: How does one get this impression? Nothing the TEA Party has done reflects this kind of mind-set. Their rallies are peaceful, traditional protests. Oh wait! The MEDIA!!! I forgot about them. Always crying, at the drop of a hat, “RACISTS!” Don’t tell me the media doesn’t affect public opinion. And when that opinion ends up in my face … well, it pisses me off. And that’s my rant of the day.

~~ Originally posted elsewhere on September 9, 2012 ~~



Furthermore … We are a finicky people. We complain about our elected officials and yet we elect them. We tend to stick to party lines, unless epiphany blessedly occurs. We are a finicky people. We complain at the VA, the Post Office, the DMV. We complain of the roads & the bridges. We ask to be provided for, yet we are abhorred when we see the result of the bureaucratic, regulated, red tape. Still, we clamor for more government in our lives. A party comes along – one that is not really a party at all, actually – just a loosely-connected, grass-roots group of Americans that want to re-embrace the Constitution, limit the powers of the federal government, promote individual liberties & freedoms. In effect, address the concerns listed above. But, we are a finicky people. We demonize this party that is not a party. The Taxed Enough Already Party. The one that wants to educate the citizens so that they can claim their God given, government protected rights, so that the media once again takes on its adversarial stance, to force the separation of powers delineated in the Constitution. You know, finicky people … the Tea Baggers.

Saint Paddy’s Day!

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St. Patrick’s Day … a day of a delicious corned beef & cabbage [don’t forget the ‘taters] dinner, a bottle of dark Irish ale, and a reminisce of his poem as he prepared for his victory over Paganism:

I bind to myself today The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity: I believe the Trinity in the Unity The Creator of the Universe. I bind to myself today The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism, The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial, The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension, The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day. I bind to myself today The virtue of the love of seraphim, In the obedience of angels, In the hope of resurrection unto reward, In prayers of Patriarchs, In predictions of Prophets, In preaching of Apostles, In faith of Confessors, In purity of holy Virgins, In deeds of righteous men. I bind to myself today The power of Heaven, The light of the sun, The brightness of the moon, The splendour of fire, The flashing of lightning, The swiftness of wind, The depth of sea, The stability of earth, The compactness of rocks. I bind to myself today God’s Power to guide me, God’s Might to uphold me, God’s Wisdom to teach me, God’s Eye to watch over me, God’s Ear to hear me, God’s Word to give me speech, God’s Hand to guide me, God’s Way to lie before me, God’s Shield to shelter me, God’s Host to secure me, Against the snares of demons, Against the seductions of vices, Against the lusts of nature, Against everyone who meditates injury to me, Whether far or near, Whether few or with many. I invoke today all these virtues Against every hostile merciless power Which may assail my body and my soul, Against the incantations of false prophets, Against the black laws of heathenism, Against the false laws of heresy, Against the deceits of idolatry, Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids, Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man. Christ, protect me today Against every poison, against burning, Against drowning, against death-wound, That I may receive abundant reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left, Christ in the fort, Christ in the chariot seat, Christ in the poop [deck], Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I bind to myself today The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity, I believe the Trinity in the Unity The Creator of the Universe.

 ~~~ Saint Patrick

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

The Devil in Me

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The following experience has been one of the most traumatic of my life. Partly because of that, I am more unsure of the accuracy of my memory on this episode than of most episodes I have recounted. It was very emotional, humiliating, distressing … Consequently, I am not going to mention, by name, any of those involved. Conclusions & judgments are purely my own …

devilishIt was late summer, 1992. My family and I had moved to North Carolina the previous year with the intention of living in a restored farm-house in Green Hill, NC – a hamlet about halfway between Rutherfordton & Lake Lure – owned by a brother-in-law – and maintaining, to some degree, the 170 acres it was situated on until my brother-in-law and his family could have their own home built and move down from New York. He and his wife had hopes of building some sort of Catholic community on this property in the future. Why I was chosen for this endeavor was something of a mystery to me, and I asked about that before I left my job at the Postal Service in Sharon, CT and relocated my family some 700 miles south. Though Catholic by birth, I was hardly devout. I was told, in short, that it was felt that I was “on the path” and coupled with some limited experience with homesteader-type farming, my [now estranged] wife & I would make a good choice. After much discussion & deliberation, south we went.

Earlier that summer of ’92, some of my ex-bandmates came down to visit for about a week. We tubed down the Broad River, went to Chimney Rock Park, and had a little band reunion. It was a blast. It was a video tape of these events that indirectly caused me the grief that was to come. [half-naked on the river, long hair – perceived as drug users – and rock’n’roll – soft country rock and bluegrass, actually] OK. That’s the stage … Without notice to me, we were suddenly presented with a house guest. My brother-in-law asked a Priest friend of his to stay at our place for a brief period, essentially, I could suppose later, “to check me out.” So this man comes over … a Priest operating without a parish in Kentucky – a friend of mine would later dub him, “The Renegade.” For good reason! He seemed like a nice guy, at first. I believe it was a Saturday when he asked me if I could give him a ride to the Forest City Catholic Church, where he was intending to offer evening Mass along with the regular Priest of the parish. Not a problem. We got in the car and chatted. It wasn’t long before he began questioning me about some things I had dangling from my rear-view mirror … a Tiki-like thing someone had given me from Mexico, a 4-winds braided circle a Lakota friend had given me, a couple of other things I cannot recall. He started by accusing me of being a pagan. Why did I have such an interest in the American Indian? Don’t I know that they are heathens? You don’t worship the Devil, do you? The questions, a barrage of them, kept coming. My own personal inquisition had begun. I raised my voice as we reached our destination. He got out of the car and I drove home, unsure of what had just happened. My recollection of how he got back to the house is fuzzy. All I know, is that the next time I saw him I apologized. Not sure for what. He seemed to accept that and all was well. I thought. Perhaps, it was all just a misunderstanding. After all, he was a Priest! All my life I have had interactions with Priests … before, during, and after this experience. Save this one, all of them were positive influences on my life. Every Priest I have ever encountered on a personal level, except this one, was a great man … humble, instructive, understanding, blessed. So, in the back of my mind, as things unfolded, I kept thinking, “But, the man is a Priest. There must be a point to this. He must have my best interests at heart.” I guess it was the next day. I was sitting in the living room watching the VHS of the recent reunion I had with my bandmates. Some of my children might have been in there with me. The Priest came in and sat next to me.


“Who are those people?” “Oh, my friends and their wives and kids. And my brother, his wife, and kids.” “They don’t look like a good influence.” “Huh?” What do you mean?” “Well, all that hair. And, that music.” [ironically, my brother is now an ordained Catholic Deacon]


“Do you know that you are influencing your children to become homosexual?” “Huh, what do you mean?” “By you not sitting with them at Church.”


“Your wife wanted me here … she needs to separate from you.” “Huh, what do you mean?” “Yes, she is concerned that you are … blah, blah, blah …”


On it went. For 6 full hours. I am not exaggerating. 6 hours of this and worse. I cannot recall most of it. I guess I have blocked out as much of the memory as I could. But it was all in this vein … what a horrible person, in every conceivable way, I am. He poked, he prodded, he bullied. He told me, in so many words, that I was a useless human being. He was wedging a divide between myself and my family … and cloaking it with Catholicism. He kept on hammering. For the better part of this 6 hours, I was cool, calm, and collected. I tried to show restraint and respect. He must have a helpful point, after all, he is a Priest! He was tearing me apart and this is what I was thinking. Nobody who was present said a thing in my defense. After a long while, it began to get louder … and louder … and louder. I finally could not take any more of it. This was happening in a house full of children … mine. I went off to my bedroom and closed the door. He had followed me. The argument continued through a closed door. I had reached my breaking point. “Get out of here or I’m going to kill you!” He had pressed one too many buttons. Of course, I wasn’t going to kill anybody. It just came out. But he made a big deal about it. I guess I had just proved to him that he was correct. I am evil. I went to sleep thinking THAT!


Christian-cross-pictureSo, 2 or 3 weeks pass. He was long ago out of the house. The inquisition had taken place and I was now going to have to be tried, and I would assume, be burned at the stake following. I sat at a table with the Renegade. My wife was there, 2 sets of brother & sister-in-laws, perhaps a few others, AND, the Priest from Forest City – who knew me fairly well – presided. It was all very surreal. It was now going to be determined if I was worthy enough to continue to live in that house. The Renegade declared that I was, or was severely influenced by, the Devil; that I hated Priests; that I was a poor excuse for a husband and as a father. One set of brother/sister-in-law were there to defend me. Nobody else who was present said a word in my defense. Again. That was the gist. It’s all a blur to me. I never saw the Renegade again. I can’t even remember his name. To this day, I have never received an apology from those involved. Not a one. For a long time, I have carried a huge grudge and a lot of pain from this event. I have mostly put that in the past, but not all of it … it will always be with me to some degree. I still sometimes wonder, “Am I evil?” I am still Catholic and still respect the fraternity of Priests. I don’t know what that guy really was/is. I bought a house in Marion and headed out of Dodge.

Oh … and my verdict? The Priest from Forest City acquitted me of all charges, saying, and I paraphrase part of what he had to say, “Let’s start my dropping the Devil from all this. We are all in a fight against the Devil. Richard and I have had several discussions. He has never shown any feeling of malice toward me or the Priesthood.”

I am afraid that I have not done this experience justice. It was life-altering for me. I never have fully recovered and my life went to pot steadily from this point on. And some of his insinuations actually came to fruition. Do I blame the Renegade for all of it? Certainly not, but it was one of the most detrimental & traumatic exercises I have ever been unwittingly – and unwillingly – subjected to. OK — outta here …