April 30, 2013 — When I graduated from the ninth grade at Washington Junior High School in Fresno way back in June 1965, they put together a yearbook of sorts in which they asked every student what they wanted to be when they grew up. I cheerfully responded I wanted to be a novelist, and I was the only person in the whole school who expressed any literary ambition, but my writer dreams got put on hold.
You see, five months earlier I’d gotten my first guitar as a Christmas present — an $89.95 sunburst, two-pickup, solid body, mail order beauty made by Harmony from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog, a very playable knockoff of the much more expensive Fender Jazzmaster. (The vintage pickups from that guitar are highly collectable these days.) After watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the music bug bit me hard, just like it had millions and millions of other teenage, wannabe, moptop guitarslingers all around the world. The first incarnation of my first band, the Ravens, had five ninth-grade guitar players. That’s right, just five guitarists. No bass. No drums. We were terrible.
April 30, 2013 — Time marches relentlessly forward, and we are quickly losing what’s left of America’s Greatest Generation. We all should pause and take the time to recognize each of our friends and neighbors born in the years after World War I who suffered through the Great Depression only to find themselves involved in a World War after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
That attack marked our country’s entry into World War II, and in less than four years the United States and its allies totally defeated the fascist regimes in Europe and the island imperialists in the Pacific.
April 23, 2013 — A year before my mother turned 50 she decided she was going to run a marathon. She had never been a runner, but she said if Oprah could run a marathon, so could she. So she bought several books and a new pair of running shoes and began running every day. I listened to her laugh about how slow she was, how she could barely finish her distances without stopping to walk, how runners in their 80s passed her on the trail, but she kept at it and, like anyone who keeps practicing anything, she got better.
I’ll never forget the summer night in her living room when she found out she had been invited to run the New York City Marathon with the American Cancer Society. We screamed and danced in circles around the couch. A few months later, I had the incredible and unforgettable experience of cheering on my mother as she crossed the finish line in New York City. It was the first of many magical racing experiences for both of us.
April 23, 2013 — I know my opinion on this topic will probably stick hard in the craw of many gun owners here in Lassen County, but I don’t care — I’m wading out into these swirling, controversial waters anyway.
Last week, a bill that would have expanded background checks for firearms purchases failed in the U.S. Senate by a 54-46 vote, with supporters falling just six votes short of the required 60-vote threshold. More on that later.
I know it’s hard to talk with National Rifle Association supporters about the topic of gun control. For the most part, I’ve found them hard and fast in their response and their beliefs, and they won’t budge a bit from their constitutional right stance. And, believe it or not, I completely understand the slippery slope basis of many of their arguments.
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