Sometimes It’s the Little Things…

Watching the world though the eyes of our fourteen-month-old grandson, it is easy to see how those first memories that stick with all of us are so vivid and enduring. To those bright, blue eyes, everything is new, intriguing, and worth investigating.

Everything is memorable to a memory just in its early stages.

But I wonder, in this very different world from my time as a child, if he’ll miss out on some memory opportunities. Not the big stuff—birthdays, first days at school, first love—but the less significant albeit often most enduring experiences.

The other day I was teaching him several important life lessons, the lyrics to “great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” and “Comet, makes your teeth turn green. Comet, tastes like gasoline…,” when the memory of another anthem popped into my head. Something that he may never experience in the same way we did.

On the last day of school leaving Ashton School in Cumberland, RI, during that glorious bus ride home—without bus monitors, seat belts, or restrictions on jumping between seats—heading into the first days of summer vacation, all the way to our final stop—and not at the end of our driveway but at a central bus stop where we all scattered to our homes— we would scream at the top of our lungs,

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.”

We undoubtedly damaged the hearing of the poor bus driver as we repeated the chant over and over. The entire way.

I wonder if Levi will have such an experience.

Or, during the middle of the winter, waking to see snow falling at a healthy pace and the sound of WPRO radio and Salty Brine’s distinctive voice intoning, “No School, Cumberland.” Just those words seemed to keep you warm enough all day to play in the snow. As a side note, since it seemed even on cloudy days there was no school in Foster-Gloucester, I wonder if anyone ever finished a school year there?

Or the simple joy of wandering in the woods between Broadview Acres and Lippett Estates in Cumberland at the tender age of six or seven-years-old without raising any parental concerns or triggering the summoning of search dogs and police officers to track us down.

While I have no doubt Levi will experience many memorable moments, some of which will stay with him for a lifetime, I hope he does remember all the words to “Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” and holds tight to the memory of the simple things.

After all, traditions are the framing of our character.

Equal is not the Same

No one should be judged by the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their physical abilities, BUT their character, their treatment of their fellow man, or their judging of others by those same three criteria is fair game.

If equal means the same, I should have been a shortstop with the Yankees. After all, I can play ball. I can hit. I can chase ground balls. Why should someone else play that position if we are all equal?

Is it perhaps we are different and not the same yet still equal?

Life is not fair. If life were fair ugly billionaires who resemble Hobbits drawn by Picasso would never have the kind of women we see them married to. Women towering over them and sort of smiling. Mind you, I don’t blame the women but come on, we all know it ain’t love in most cases.

In our quest for equality are we sacrificing the qualities of our differences? The very word “quality” is contained within equality, indeed it makes up most of it.

Quaeramus aequalitatem in differentiis nostris (Let us seek equality in our differences)

Joe Broadmeadow

This focus on identifying ourselves with nonsense pronouns as a way of mitigating discrimination is like painting a crumbling house. It might look nice for the moment, but eventually it collapses.

The reality of our differences, be it male or female, black or white, tall or short, athletic or clumsy, cerebral or dull is not something any label—no matter how sincere the intent—can change.

We are all human. Our efforts should not focus on whitewashing our differences as a way to curb discrimination but focusing on addressing the historical continuity of ignorance that preserves such behavior.

The reality is not everyone is going to like you, respect you, agree with you, support you, or endorse your behavior, lifestyle, or attitudes. That is reality. All you can reasonably expect is they do nothing to interfere with your choices.

There are shades of human existence—internal differences we may not understand—that only require us to accept them. Not approve, support, promote, demote, degrade, or destroy. Just tolerate as we expect to be tolerated.

That is all we are owed by our fellow human, tolerance and an equal opportunity to be ourselves.

All you can expect from any form of government is the same; that they do nothing to interfere with your choices except when those choices adversely impact the good of society. And this includes a woman’s right to absolute and total control over her body and what should be the inviolable right to terminate a non-viable fetus.

Period!

For society to impose their will against anyone absent an overwhelming societal necessity—particularly regarding such an intimate and personal issue—is tantamount to reimposing slavery. Such an imposition is merely the bellwether of more restrictive acts against significant numbers of our fellow humans who may live in ways we do not understand.

Because we do not understand something doesn’t make it any less equal or valid to our choices.

There are over 300 million people in this country, More than 7.9 billion people on this planet. Chances our you’re going to dislike or find many of them offensive in their character or choices. What one has to bear in mind is this dislike and offense works in both directions.

Whether they call themselves she, he, it, they, or we, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “neither picks my pocket or breaks my bones.” As long as anyone lives a lifestyle or makes choices that neither “breaks society’s bones or picks society’s pocket” what they do is none of our business.

To Honor, Love, and Cherish…All the Days of Our Lives

As was inevitable, one of these special people passed away recently. Ray Moreau was the kind of person everyone should try to be. He and Theresa were, and will always be, the true rocks of the Broadmeadow/Moreau clan.

I wrote this piece several months ago and it still holds true today. If there are such beings as angels, one may no longer be here in this mortal plane but he will always be with us.

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Within every family there are those who are the foundation. In the Moreau and Broadmeadow families, Theresa (Broadmeadow) and Ray Moreau—to paraphrase from another story—were the rock upon which the family was built.

They were both born in 1928—although Ray is much younger because Theresa robbed the cradle— and have been married for seventy-one years.  Think about that for a moment…seventy-one years. Some people don’t live that long, let alone stay married to the same person.

But in their case, there was never any doubt it would turn out this way.

The Broadmeadow clan—Edward, Catherine (Szpila), Theresa, Rosemond (Alves), and Joe (my father and namesake)— were a prolific bunch with a plethora of off-spring. There were myriad cousins of all age levels. Whenever there was a holiday, special occasion, or just a nice afternoon, we always seemed to find our way to Bellmore Dr. in Pawtucket or Redgate Rd. in Cumberland once the Moreaus moved there.

Christmas was almost always at the Moreau’s. There’d be someone dressed as Santa handing out gifts for everyone.

Every year we would also have a family picnic.  I recall one incident which reflects the sense of humor Theresa embraced.  This particular year the party was at our house on Harriet Lane in Cumberland.

My father and I were getting things ready in the backyard just as Theresa and Ray arrived.  As we were walking out to meet them, my father sunk knee deep into the apparently overfilled septic system. He struggled to extract himself, with me doing what I could to help—which wasn’t much.

Theresa happened to walk around the corner at that exact moment. I could see by the look in her eyes she recognized the seriousness of the situation and ran back toward the front of the house, I assumed to get Ray and my cousins, Bobby and Dave, to help.

Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Which she did.

But before she actually let them help, she whipped out her camera and took a bunch of pictures. She was laughing the entire time we hosed my father off.

But it was during those difficult moments every family experiences that the true nature of Theresa and Ray shone through. Whatever the issue—health matters, divorce, unplanned pregnancies, death—they were there as a source of support and comfort.

They shared their own difficulties, surviving the passing of their two boys, Bobby and Dave. Yet even in their sons’ too short lives, they were remarkable parents and took much pride in their boys. And they experienced the joys of becoming grandparents.

Yet it is their enduring relationship of more than seven decades that is the most awe inspiring.

Back in the 60s and 70s cars came standard with front bench seats. Girls would often sit in the middle seat, near their boyfriend driver, as a sort of symbol of young love.

We all did it when we got that magic driver’s license.

So did Theresa and Ray. They only stopped when they bought a car that didn’t have a front bench seat.

Even the bizarre tradition of the padiddle (perhaps it was a local Cumberland or Rhode Island custom of unknown origin) of the two front seat lovebirds, close together on the bench seat, kissing each other when a car with one headlight out approached.

Theresa and Ray did that as well.

Words are incapable of showing the enduring love of Ray and Theresa Moreau. Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.

Now that they are in the twilight of their days, these images say it all.

We could all learn a lesson from these two special people. With people like Theresa and Ray Moreau gracing this planet, there is hope for humanity.

You’ve Got a Friend…on Social Security.

We went to a James Taylor concert the other night in Providence. Let me start by saying Taylor has not lost one bit of his voice or musical abilities despite reaching 74 years old. The fact that Taylor can still perform at this level is remarkable and encouraging, no matter how troubling it is that one of the most outstanding musical performers of my youth is now, well, old (even if the term is relative.)

This brings me to the point of this little piece. As we walked to our seats, I couldn’t help but notice that two-thirds of the crowd were on Social Security, and almost all the rest were closing in on that milestone.

Of those under fifty—the kids as we called them—I’m willing to bet they were there as drivers for those who now hate driving at night. Yet despite this aging crowd of fans—whose enthusiasm was no indication of their current level of longevity (although the standing ovations were perhaps shorter in duration and they sat down after the display of appreciation which was glorious)—Taylor sold the place out, as evidenced by the very few empty seats.

Columbia Records

In the past, I might have attributed the empty seats to too much pre-concert partying—particularly with the now more rational public perspective of the use of marijuana—but it is just as likely they didn’t live long enough to make it to the show.

Getty Images

That’s the reality of my generation’s time.

While it is true we unquestionably had all the coolest bands and musicians in recorded history, the sad fact is these tours may be more closely related to finality than simply marketing old acts.

There is a correlating diminution for the prospect of future reunion tours. Perhaps they might be called the “Those Remaining” tours.

As Taylor so beautifully sings, the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. I just wish this passage would slow down a bit instead of zooming by at what seems like the speed of light.

Jesus Take the Wheel…

While it may not be the most significant testimony to arise from the January 6th hearings, it certainly is the most illustrative of the maniac of a President that once burdened the country. And of course, in typical fashion, the same maniac and his fellow maniacal fanatics set out to deny and discredit the witness.

But when I heard the story, as often happens whenever I read about something, a song immediately popped into my head. For some reason, I enjoy the concept of putting a soundtrack to things. So in this case, when I read how the President tried to “take the wheel” and drive to the Capital where those armed rioters were not “there to hurt me,” the song Jesus Take the Wheel started playing.

Of course, the lyrics were adjusted to fit the story (kind of like how the former President and his minions always resort to ad hominem attacks rather than offering to testify under oath themselves.) So if you can sing this to the tune Jesus Take the Wheel it all makes sense.

“Jesus, I’ll take the wheel
Take it from your hands
‘Cause I can do this on my own
I’m not letting go
So give me my chance
I am the ‘effing President
Jesus, I’ll take the wheel”

vintage car parked besides green plants
Photo by Pamela Marie on Pexels.com

Rumor has it the Secret Service agents involved have offered to testify under oath. Great, let them. Then we can all take a measure of the witnesses, judge their credibility, and determine the value of their testimony like occurs in courts across this country every day.

Until then, let’s hope Jesus, or some other reasonably trustworthy entity, takes the wheel of the country and puts us back on the road, saving us from skidding into oblivion.

Jesus! TAKE THE WHEEL!

Ponder This

Why is it whenever any natural or manmade disaster occurs, or a tragic event unfolds, or a violent act is committed, or an innocent life is taken, or humans are deprived of their loved ones by calamity, people beseech, pray to, or petition their God—the one being who at least in theory could prevent such occurrences—to offer comfort to those afflicted?

silhouette image of person praying
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

It seems counterintuitive to seek such consideration from a being believed to be omniscient and omnipotent; the very abilities necessary to prevent such things in the first place.

I, for one, have a question for this being should I ever find myself in a position to ask it.

“God, why do you allow pediatric cancers and how come there’s never been one miracle in the history of the world where you grew back a limb?”

Pray if you like, beseech your god if it gives you comfort, but bear this in mind, this same being either couldn’t or wouldn’t stop it.

(Author’s note. The image is not who some might believe it to be. There are no photos from 2000 years ago so please take no offense)

I Have Seen the Light

How could I be so naive?

How could I not recognize the truth?

Of course the Democrats and the deep state pulled off the greatest fraud in American History.

Of course they managed to manipulate not one, not five, but every court that heard the case.

Of course they destroyed all evidence; every single last document, hard drive, or program.

Silenced every single co-conspirator (of which there must be hundreds of thousands if not millions.)

Masked every bit of a trail leading back to them.

And the only person who has seen through it all is the greatest President in the history of this country, nay the entire history of all leaders, Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump alone has stood firm in the truth.

Mr. Trump alone has dared shed light on the darkness of this conspiracy.

Mr. Trump alone has been telling us the truth all along.

And how is it I’ve come to see this light? Because Mr. Trump alone-despite the hundreds of witnesses, the numerous and false convictions of the January 6th patriots, the thousands of pages of falsified so called evidence-said it must be so.

I have seen the light, and I hope those Americans fooled by this insidious cancer growing on our American democracy are starting to see it as well.

For those of you who haven’t, look up sarcasm in the dictionary. Google it if need be.

Are You F#$%ing Kidding Me?

I came across this headline for an Op-ed piece in Newsweek, Uvalde Shooting Reveals Hollywood’s Deeply Flawed Take on the Police | Opinion by JESSE WILLIAMS AND JUDITH BROWNE DIANIS. I urge you to read the piece, so you’ll understand why I titled this “Are you F#$%ing Kidding Me.” https://www.newsweek.com/uvalde-shooting-reveals-hollywoods-deeply-flawed-take-police-opinion-1716254

But even if you don’t, just these first few paragraphs will illustrate why the piece is so outrageous, biased, and, frankly, misguided and dangerous nonsense.

“One thing is for certain — the myth of the police officer as the good guy with a gun, protecting and serving the community, is costing our lives. Police have been negligent or violent or both and lied about it for years, but this feels like a watershed moment in which the perception of the general public — shaped, among other things, by decades of positive portrayals in the media — is finally catching on to it.”

https://www.newsweek.com/uvalde-shooting-reveals-hollywoods-deeply-flawed-take-police-opinion-1716254

Again, are you kidding me?

Their point about Hollywood misrepresenting the police is correct, but it is hardly by making them heroes. Instead, Hollywood portrays officers in one of several generalities; alcoholic misanthropes, rule-breakers who ignore the law for the “greater good,” or Navy Seal-level marksmen who shoot five people while getting their morning coffee and remain on duty even as the dead bodies continue to pile up.

Hollywood portrays the realities of police work as well as they portray the realities of interstellar travel, it is all fiction.

The one point the authors did get right in their article—which clearly seems to favor eliminating the police as a viable solution for a better society—is that the public perception of the dangers of police work is out of proportion to the reality.

Policing is not the most dangerous job in America. Statistically, commercial fishing, logging, and roofers have higher rates of job-related fatal injuries. But statistics only tell part of the story. Cops get hurt or killed at work by people who intentionally harm them. While other jobs may be more dangerous, that risk is purely accidents or negligence. Cops get attacked and ambushed.

The authors also focus on the Uvalde, Texas incident as an example of Hollywood’s glorifying cops allowing them to conceal or obfuscate their actions or failures. Perhaps the authors might want to consider waiting until the entire investigation is complete before they jump to conclusions.

Hollywood portrays the realities of police work as well as they portray the realities of interstellar travel, it is all fiction.

Joe Broadmeadow

They are guilty of the same things they accuse the police of, pre-judging a situation absent any evidence.

However, the topic they raise is valid. Is the militarization of the police—something Hollywood does emphasize in many of their programs—a danger to effective police-community relations?

From that perspective—something I think needs to be discussed as part of the overall strategy to reduce gun violence in America—I would suggest you read this piece by Professor Arthur Rizer

Riser is the founder of the ARrow Center for Justice Reform and an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. He is a former police officer, federal prosecutor, and U.S. Army combat veteran.

Police Militarization Gave Us Uvalde

The adoption of aggressive, military-style tactics and weaponry has put American policing on the wrong track for decades.

By Arthur Rizer

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/police-training-militarization-mass-shootings-uvalde/661295/

The piece—written by someone who has the perspective of both a line officer and a military veteran, points out the clear and necessary differences between civilian law enforcement and military tactics. While the piece may anger many of my friends who are still serving as police officers or retired like myself, it points out that while supplying police departments with military surplus weapons was well intended, it has become a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Police departments must be equipped to respond to the reality of the nature and number of weapons proliferating on our streets. They sometimes need to use fatal force. But if we constantly reinforce through training and the police culture that every encounter is likely to be potentially fatal to officers, yet don’t adequately train them in other tactics and alternative methods to respond to situations, we end up with an army of occupation not a law enforcement agency.

The nature of violence in America—be it guns or otherwise—is a complex problem. Finding a solution to the problem will involve many different efforts. One is a thorough and honest evaluation of how we select, train, and deploy police officers.

Hollywood is strictly entertainment. It is not a source for a realistic portrayal of what officers face on the street or how they respond. Finding ways to change the insular us vs. them mentality between cops and those they encounter will take time and thought. Something we have not always done.

But articles like the one in Newsweek do equal if not more harm than the actions of a few officers. And while I would defend their right to publish the piece, I would also demand they at least attempt to make the article balanced and reflective of the complexities of the problem.

Cops are not perfect; they are human, and that is what we want them to be.

What Would Jesus Do?

At an appearance before a conservative Christian group called the Charis Christian Center, Rep. Lauren Boebert made an attempt at humor to illustrate her opposition to gun control. According to news reports accompanied by video, Boebert joked,

“They like to say: ‘Oh, Jesus didn’t need an AR-15. How many AR-15s do you think Jesus woulda had?'” she said. “Well, he didn’t have enough to keep his government from killing him.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert

https://www.businessinsider.com/lauren-boebert-jesus-didnt-have-ar-15s-save-his-life-2022-6

My first reaction is Boebert doesn’t need to make any attempt at humor. Her congressional record, public announcements, irrational train of thought, and general view of the world could be considered downright hysterical except for the fact she’s a sitting member of the Congress of the United States.

Clearly, she and others like her are one of the reasons many try to gain entrance into this country by any means possible. If someone like her can be elected to Congress then this country surely is the land of opportunity with minimal standards of intelligence.

One other point. Had Jesus—or any other “historical” figure from the pre-industrial past—produced an AR-15 (instead of, say, turning water into wine) to defend themselves from the government I might have to reconsider my doubt about divinity and the existence of God.

(Although if God does exist, and has a sense of humor, creating people like Boebert and others like her is pretty funny. I can hear the heavenly laughter now. “No, no really they elected her to represent them…unbelievable. Even I couldn’t pull off a miracle like that.”)

Listen to the Rhythm…

I have always enjoyed walking. It gives one a perspective on things we often miss while driving. I loved walking so much I once walked 2,184 miles along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. If you are one of the last remaining people in the world who I haven’t told about the hike, now you know.

When I walk, wherever I walk, I often play music in my mind as a sort of pace setter. On the trail—yes, that one—I developed some favorites depending on the weather and trail conditions. On those days when it was not too strenuous, the song Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull set a good pace. On tougher days, with more difficult terrain or the frequent downpour, Stay the Night by Jane Olivor would run through my head, setting a leisurely pace and keeping my mind off the misery.

The days of long trail journeys of several months’ durations are over for me. But walking is not. We still walk whenever we can. Be it a stroll along an Aruban beach, a Croatian city, a Moroccan Desert, or just along the street, walking is still a pleasure.

Another thing has changed, the soundtrack in my mind—brought about by our most frequent companion on our walks, our grandson Levi.

When it comes to pushing a stroller, it would seem the theme from the original Mickey Mouse Club—which Levi enjoys listening too along with the soundtrack from Encanto, La Bamba by Richie Valens, Bamboleo by Gypsy Kings, and Barbra Ann by the Beach Boys—is the perfect rhythm.

Where once my pace was set by “In the shuffling madness of the Locomotive Breath” I now walk this earth to “Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me…”

Why? Because I love it….