Friday, March 31, 2017

Nat Browne 1895 - 1978

Since my dad was born late at night in a sod hut with no clocks on the Cherokee Strip of Oklahoma Territory in 1895, the family wasn't sure if the date was March 31 or April 1. They opted for March 31, thereby sparing the newborn a lifetime or April Fool jokes. So today he would have been 122 years of age. Not a lot of us who are more or less still breathing have a dad born in the 19th Century, even those of us well past Medicare eligibility, but I'm not nearly as unique as he was. Here's a requiem of his life I wrote four years ago:

In 1978 I was working in a Los Angeles office when my mother called from New Mexico to say my father was dying. “You better come now. He’s going,” she said. The man was 83 years old and in poor health. I had been expecting my mother’s call. I muttered my assent, closed the office door, put my head down on a desk and wept. An elderly secretary brought me half of her lunchtime sandwich, her consoling kindness only provoking more tears.

That night I was in a half empty Boeing 727 which seemed to whisper thorough the desert sky en route to Albuquerque as passengers dozed in the dimly lit cabin. I was thinking of other flights, the ones of my childhood in Alaska when I rode with my dad when he flew mail, freight and people to villages along the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers down to the Bering Sea. His airplanes didn’t whisper. They roared and rumbled like angry gods.

My ears would ring for hours after a flight in dad’s Bellanca, Waco and Stinson powered by thundering Pratt & Whitney engines. Sometimes I sat in the still warm pilot’s seat after a flight, listening to the metallic click and tink of heat stresses working out of the engine while an unseen gyroscope in the instrument panel whirred to an eventual stop, the ringing in my ears adding a musical note to a cadenza of cooling machinery.

That was in the late 1940s and dad was not a young man.  He was 54 when he married my mother and later adopted me after my mother was confident the marriage would last.

He’d had quite an airborne career by that time. The number on his airman’s certificate was #712.  Orville Wright had been issued #1.  Dad dropped out of dental school at Baylor University in 1918 to join the Aviation Section of Army Signal Corps, then the nation’s air arm. The war ended before dad could fight the Hun, but he did manage to keep Oklahoma and Texas safe from the Kaiser’s army.

After the war he bought a surplus Army trainer known as a Jenny, the nickname of Curtiss Aircraft’s JN-4 trainer, and sold rides at county fairs all over the south and midwest. By 1925 he had accumulated enough experience to qualify as a test pilot for Swallow Aircraft, which was building an early version of the flying wing, an ahead of its time airplane the German Luftwaffe copied when designing a rocket powered fighter late in WW2.

Swallow sold its assets to Clyde Cessna, William T. Piper and Olive Ann Beech 1927.  Dad went to work for Ford Airways in Dearborn, Michigan, where he flew Ford Tri-motors between the midwest and New York. Then Ford got out of the airline business and sold its airplanes to other carriers, but by that time dad was off to other adventures, which eventually led him to South America and later Alaska -- after a failed attempt to make a solo flight from Seattle to Tokyo in 1932.

Please forgive a digression. During dad’s stint with Ford Airways, Henry Ford himself took New York office supply manufacturer Jim Rand of Remington Rand for an airplane ride with dad as the pilot. Rand was in the market for a Tri-Motor as a present to his wife, the equivalent of giving a spouse her own jumbo jet today. Rand bought a Tri-motor and hired dad to fly it, but Rand’s wife, who was not well, died the very day dad delivered the airplane to New York’s Roosevelt Field on Long Island.

About that time a man named Ralph O’Neill, and his friend and former Harvard roommate Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, approached Rand to invest in an international airline they were starting. The proposed company would fly a route from New York to South America and be named NYRBA Lines, an acronym for New York-Rio-Buenos Aires Lines. Rand became a backer. Dad was sent to Buenos Aires as NYRBA’s chief pilot for its South American operations.

Prior to going to South America, dad was sent on a tour of the U.S. in a Tri-motor to publicize the safety of air travel by giving elected officials, reporters and famous people who attracted reporters along for a ride, Will Rogers and Amelia Earhart among them. The publicity paid off. NYRBA got its charter, a mail contract, and flourished until 1930. That year, in a series of political machinations with the postmaster general -- in short, bribes -- competing Pan American World Airways nabbed the mail contract and forced NYRBA into a shotgun marriage, offering dad a job as lowly copilot where he had once been the boss.  The postmaster general was later indicted for accepting payoffs, but the damage had been done to NYRBA Lines.

Dad declined the Pan Am offer and took flying jobs here and there until 1932. That year he attempted to fly non-stop from Seattle to Tokyo for $25,000 put up by the city of Seattle and Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper as a prize. He was even given a gold watch to present to Emperor Hirohito.

Fate had other plans. His airplane crashed during an attempt at air-to-air fueling over Puget Sound, as Boeing Field was not long enough to permit a takeoff with the amount of fuel his airplane needed for the transpacific flight.  The plan was to take off with his tanks half full with the rest being supplied by another airplane in flight.

He carried a helper named Edward Muldowney in the back of the cockpit to handle the weighted hose from the fueling airplane flying above.  Once the transfer was completed, Muldowney was to bail out, as the flight was supposed to be a solo effort.

Both planes made two successful practice flights, but the third ended in disaster when the fueling hose snagged the tail of dad's airplane and yanked it off, causing the overloaded aircraft to roll over and fall apart in midair. Dad and Muldowney parachuted out. They were picked up by a boat as the wreckage sank to the bottom of Elliot Bay, along with Hirohito’s gold watch.

After a brief hospitization, Dad recovered and bought a one of a kind all metal airplane called a Thaden T-2 and sought his fortune in Alaska. Fate again intervened in the winter of 1933. The Thaden was wrecked when its skis struck a snow covered log on landing in Chitina, Alaska, bending the airframe beyond repair. The fuselage was recovered in the 1980s by retired Eastern Airlines captain William Thaden, the son of the manufacturer, and is now on display at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California.

Dad found the wherewithal to buy a Waco (pronounced walk-oh) YKS and flew bush routes out of Valdez, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Bethel during the late 30s and early 40s, which is where he was based when he married my mother.

It was his fourth marriage. “I am the fourth and final Mrs. Nat Browne,” my mother announced. “Please, honey,” dad responded. “You make the future sound so dull.”

The marriage lasted 35 years through thick and thin economic times, mostly thin. There was a government contract to map potential radar sites in Alaska for the Air Force during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, a mining venture that bankrupted him, a heart attack, and his final employment in a foundry owned by his son-in-law in the Los Angeles area. He’d had a daughter and a son by a previous marriage. The boy was killed during the 1920s when a car struck the bicycle has riding. My step-sister was my mother’s age and had two kids of her own. This made me an uncle by default the moment I was adopted. Some uncle. My niece was two years older than me.  My nephew was my age and could beat me up, and did.

Dad made his final flight in 1958 when selling the last of his airplanes, a Piper Super Cub, an aircraft light enough to glide a considerable distance in the hands of skilled pilot if the engine quit. His engine did quit three times during that flight, forcing dad to land on river sand bars each time. Dad traced the cause to particles of dirt that had clogged the vented caps of the two gas tanks in the wings, creating a vacuum that stopped the flow of fuel.

“See there? I learned something new on my very last flight,” he cautioned me when I was learning to fly and had more confidence than sense.  He also gave me the most valuable counsel I’d ever received about flying when I was complaining about an airplane that was difficult to control: “The worse the airplane, the better the pilot.”

The 727 began a gradual descent approaching Albuquerque. The whoosh of air over the fuselage diminished.  The fasten seat belt sign blinked on.  Flight attendants turned up the cabin lights and patrolled the aisle making sure passengers were buckled in.  Sleeping passengers awoke and stirred as the jet bounced on landing.

I was met at the airport by a neighbor of my parents who drove me to their mobile home in Santa Fé, sixty miles away. Mom was in no shape for the drive.  “Your father died,” the neighbor said the moment he met me. 

Gee, thanks. 

“He likes spreading bad news,” mom later explained.  So I noticed. Glad I could I could make someone’s day. Anyway, I was emotionally a zero by that time. Numb.

Sometimes I believe in an afterlife, sometimes I don’t.  If there is one, I hope there are airplanes in it, and fathers to fly them.

Send comments, critiques and hate mail to

Thank you for sharing this with me. Wonderful piece. -- Kaanii

Mike, I have always loved this story about your dad and his flying excapades. One day maybe you'll write about the miner who kept "tinking" your little metal hat with stones.  I've always enjoyed your stories, and even your mother's memories, starting from the time you would read them to me over the phone.-- Shannon

The hat pinging occurred when i was working at a mining operation in western Alaska dad leased after he quit flying commercially. I had to wear an aluminum hat around heavy equipment.  One of the guys on the crew like to ping pebbles off it.  We were easily amused at that camp.

Loved this, ty for sharing -- Julisari

Very well done. Thank you for sharing.-- Bob G.

Thanks... always love your stories about your mom and dad.  -- Sum

Thanks for the piece you sent today.  Your writing is stunning, the detail so important in painting the picture of great memories.  I am sorry for the loss of both of our fathers, but I am infinitely grateful for my being able to remember so many wonderful times.  These memories make their absence. -- Zoey

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Yes, it can happen here.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- George Santayana.

I doubt if Donald Trump is familiar with that quote, but he should be. The past includes a plan for the mass incarceration of dissidents approved by a man Trump claims to admire; an amiable blockhead named Ronald Reagan.  I worked for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento when Reagan ran the show between naps.

While Trump is a blockhead, he's not an amiable blockhead.  He pouts too much to be an amiable blockhead.  Yet Trump and Reagan have one thing in common other than blockheadedness: the nature of their hired help. Trump has his basket of deplorables;  Bannon, Miller, Spicer, Conway and company. Reagan had 138 of his basket cases indicted on federal charges.

One of Reagan's deplorables was the late Luis O. Giuffrida, Reagan's first director of Federal Emergency Management Agency and a transplant from his days as governor.

In the late 70s Giuffrida was the director of something called the California Specialized Training Institute in San Luis Obispo. CSTI is a sort of state agency grad school for middle management cops, firefighters and emergency services officials. It also became a training facility for countering domestic unrest under a grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration during Nixon's presidency, including planning for the mass incarceration of rioters, known dissidents, and left wing loudmouths with enough influence to cause problems for the law 'n order adminstration.
Part of my Office of Emergency Services gig was giving a talk at CSTI every month about state and federal resources available to cities and counties during disasters; earthquakes, floods, that sort of thing.

You might find this a bit tedious, unless you're a conspiracy buff in a tinfoil hat, but if you're interested in a course of action an ill-advised President Trump may take, you might be interested in precedents from the Nixon and Reagan administrations:

"The following text comprises footnote 23 in Chapter 8 of The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States, by Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall, South End Press, updated edition 2002.

In 1980, with the advent of the Reagan administration, FEMA was used as the vehicle for creation of a quasi-secret, centralized "national emergency" entity, headed by a federal "emergency czar." Appointed into the latter position was Louis O. Giuffrida, the former national guard general and counterinsurgency enthusiast who had built up the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) and contributed heavily to the Garden Plot and Cable Splicer plans of the late 1960s and early '70s, before going on to serve as a government consultant during the repression of  [the American Indian Movement] and during the 1979 "counterterrorism conference" held in Puerto Rico, among other things.

While FEMA's charter called for planning and training activities concerning "natural disasters, nuclear war, the possibility of enemy attack on U.S. territory, and incidents involving domestic civil unrest," Giuffrida focused his agency's energy and resources entirely upon the last category.

By January 1982, this emphasis had led to the preparation of a joint FEMA-Pentagon position paper, entitled "The Civil/Military Alliance in Emergency Management," which effectively voided provisions of the 1877 Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting military intervention in domestic disturbances.

In 1985, Giuffrida quietly resigned, taking most of his crew with him when he went. Since then, FEMA has been more-or-less back-burnered, its core political activities incorporated under the mantle of the FBI.

For further information, see Reynolds, Diana, "FEMA and the NSC: The Rise of the National Security State," Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 33, Winter 1990."

But wait.  There's more.


The Associated Press
July 26, 1985

WASHINGTON — A House committee unanimously adopted a report today that accused Louis O. Giuffrida of misconduct in directing the nation's disaster relief agency and recommended further investigation by the Justice Department.

Mr. Giuffrida announced Wednesday that he was resigning effective Sept. 1, but he contended that there was no connection to the Congressional investigation nor to one by the Justice Department.

The Science and Technology Committee, on a voice vote, approved the findings of its investigations subcommittee, which spent 18 months looking at Mr. Giuffrida's direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

No further action is required by Congress, but Representative Harold L. Volkmer, Democrat of Missouri, the subcommittee chairman, said, ''I hope and trust that the Department of Justice will be vigilant in carrying out the recommendations that the report contains.''

The emergency agency coordinates relief efforts when the President declares a region a disaster area. It also trains emergency personnel, coordinates civil defense and works on contingency plans for any national emergency. The agency, which has 2,600 employees, has been headed by Mr. Giuffrida since February 1981.

The report said there were conflicts in testimony and a Justice Department review for possible perjury.

The report found mismanagement by Mr. Giuffrida and others in several areas, including favoritism in contracts on which there was no bidding, approval of renovations for personal living quarters, travel at Government expense by Mr. Giuffrida's wife, acceptance of political dinner tickets from a contractor and questionable payments to a contractor.

Some of the charges also involved Fred J. Villella, the No. 3 official of the agency until he resigned last August.

The report said Mr. Giuffrida should repay $5,091 for airline tickets for his wife, who accompanied him to Mexico City and on an 18-day trip to Europe.

The report found ''overwhelming evidence'' that Mr. Giuffrida and Mr. Villella had been responsible for ''extravagant, excessive and unnecessary'' modifications in an agency building to turn it into living quarters for Mr. Villella.

Seem familiar?

Anyway, Mr. Giuffrida died in 2012 at age 92. The California Specialized Training Institute still exists as a function of the Office of Emergency Services and is mainly concerned with natural and man-made disasters, with half its annual budget coming from FEMA. If the OES staff has plans for the mass imprisonment of rioters, dissidents or just plain left wing loudmouths, it isn't broadcasting them.

But given the nature of the current administration in Washington, and the OES dependency on federal funding, it just might.

And yes, it can happen here.  

# # #

Send comments, critiques, corrections and hate mail to

It always do. -- Lowell D.

Damn..... What do you expect when you elect a movie star and a game show host to the office of president? I think you just answered that question.  -- Lynda

I like to think that Reagan will be remembered for this sentence he probably never uttered:   "Nice meeting you...What's my name again?"  -- Gerard

We really had no choice in the latest election.  Both Clinton and Trump were from the bottom of the heap. That said, Hillary and that thing she lives with were just to connected to the bottom of the barrel for my taste.  She is one of the most vile creatures living.  I have no words for Trump.  I worry about my children and grandchildren on what the future will bring.  -- Carol

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Same Song, Two Singers

Here are to two recordings of the same song by two singers I played when I was a radio disc jockey in a past life. First, the original sung by the then teenaged composer and balladeer Laura Nyro, who died early 20 years ago.  

LAURA NYRO wedding bell blues - YouTube

I'd play the second version on a different night, playing the songs just after a station break. That was about as close as I could get to either singer in reality, sadness.  I'd clamp on a forced baritone and announce:  "You are listening to fifty thousand watt  K ... F ... B ... K. serving the far west from Sacramento,"  and immediately segue into the record.Then I'd go back to emptying waste baskets, rewriting wire service copy, keeping the transmitter legal, or running to the bathroom down the hall and running back while zipping up before the record ended.

Some of the songs Laura Nyro wrote became hits for other performers; Barbra Streisand, Chicago, The 5th Dimension among them.

She died in 1997 at age 50.  So now she'll always be the beautiful Jewish-Italian girl whose talent blossomed from that of a teenaged piano banger to a millennium aged soul untainted by a show business scandal, a messy public divorce or two, or a stint in a drug and alcohol rehab.   

But she did seem troubled in a quiet way, expressing her malaise in song, like a mourning dove, and was probably impossible to be around without wanting to open your wrists a paring knife or lying down in traffic. So what's not to love?  I adored her. Didn't know her, but adored her. Or my imagined version of her. What else is adoration but an illusion, a self-induced insanity, but a pleasant one.

And here's the other version sung by Marilyn McCoo of the 5th Dimension.  Her voice matched her beauty.  I had a crunch on her too.  I mean, what more or less straight male who still had a pulse could not help but be a little in love with Marilyn McCoo?

"Wedding Bell Blues" by The 5th Dimension - YouTube

Ahhh, radio. With the exception of NPR, radio dangles from the lower rungs of the entertainment monkey bars, down there with pole dancing and party clowns, where success is gauged by the size of the U-Haul van announcers drive from gig to gig in the middle of the night before the sheriff and the collection agents know they're leaving town.

I sometimes felt like the guy in the joke who followed circus elephants in parades with a shovel and a wheel barrow, one whose wife would say, "For God's sake get a decent job!"  His response: "What?  And leave show business?"

Actually, the then Mrs. Mike Browne was my most loyal listener and I did have a lot of fun. It was productive, too. Radio put me through college, a marriage, a divorce, a pilots license and an unsparing assessment of my own limitations, which are legion, as the former Mrs. Mike Browne could attest.  So it was only natural that I go to work for the California state government.

As for the formerly honorable KFBK, which has been on the air continuously since 1922, it's become an all-talk blabfest, like many AM stations when FM radio's signal, better suited to music, began kicking AM radio's butt in the ratings. KFBK now cynically stars a fat draft-dodging OxyContin addicted gasbag named Rush Limbaugh as its main attraction. He and his imitators provide a forum for angry idiots to call in, vent their misinformed spleen, and achieve a few moments of the proverbial 15 minutes of fame.

As Limbaugh's spirit guide, Donald Trump, would Tweet: Sad.

Comments? Corrections? Hate mail? Contact

When as a kid I joined the Columbia Record Club and had to make the choices of my initial bonanza of vinyl LPs, one that I chose was an anthology that included some great stuff, including a track from NRBQ, and a track from Laura Nyro, neither of whom had I heard of before then. That was my introduction to this extraordinary talent and beautiful lady, may she rest in peace. Her Wikipedia article is quite informative. I also liked the Fifth Dimension and Marilyn McCoo. – Trog

I think I still owe the Columbia Record Club $3.95 from 1956. – MB

While reading this, I kept hearing Tom Petty sing "The Last DJ"  – Tammy  

What a great contribution you've made as a radio DJ, and the freedom to select music on your own terms. Sadly, the oligarchs of our collapsing music industry still don't get (much less care), why more than $6 Billion was lost in this 'feast or famine' field about two years ago. But, Laura Nyro was a special artist. I remember her fondly as a little boy when she offered to take me on a horse and carriage ride around Central Park, to which my parents happily agreed.  Carriage rides around the park helped stoke Nyro's creative energies, according to her, and it was usually around midnight that she preferred to take advantage of those rides.  I was invited during a late afternoon in the early Spring in 1967. The memory of her is priceless to me. She treated me like a child prodigy and exalted king in one fell swoop. I will never forget it!
 – Richard 

Thank you for the compliment and that incomparable reminiscence of yours about Our Star. – MB 

Made my morning. By the way, you have great taste in music and singers.
– Beaty

Aw shucks. Thank you. MB

That song is one of those that when you are reminded of it, it sort of spreads out in your brain and is caught there, playing in your head several times over the next few days. I know the words to that song; learned them long, long ago.  Now they and the melody will linger again for a while. I sure remember Marilyn McCoo. She has a great voice. "One Less Bell To Answer" is another one I remember well.  Thanks for the good piece of writing, Mike.  Just like always. – Zoey

Please delete this address.
Brian Papstein
Mover of Mountains
KINS FM, KEKA FM, KWSW FM (Destination Radio) & KURY AM, KURY FM

Brian, it's nice to see you didn't squander your third generation inheritance, and even expanded it.  But Mover Of Mountains?  Oh my.  I don't think there's a Conspicuous Humility In Broadcasting Award. but I bet you'd qualify if there was. Anyway, I've complied with your directive, sir.  – MB  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trumpolini In Action

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

* On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.

* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.

* On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.

* On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.

* On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.

* On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.

* On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”

* On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.

* On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.

* On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.

* On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.

* On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.

* On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle 

* On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.

* On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.

* On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.

* On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.

* On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.

* On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”

* On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.

* On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.

* And today, the wall and a Muslim ban.


Address any comments, critiques and hate mail to

To the left-liberal (Prof. Camille Paglia's term), to cut government spending on almost anything is a sin. The left-liberal never asks the question "How are you going to pay for that?" unless the topic is (1) a tax cut, or (2) the military. Now you can probably add a third: border walls. With everything else-- entitlements, parks, the arts, publicly-funded abortion-- they consider it reprehensible even to ask the question "How are you going to pay for that?" If one does, the response is outrage at one's callousness: "How can you possibly talk about money at a time like this? Those people (animals, plants, the planet, museums) are suffering!" Never mind that annual government spending is well on course to exceed gross domestic product. It is refreshing, even amazing, to see the left-liberal suddenly discover the existence of constitutional concepts like states' rights and limitations on executive power, now that the federal executive is not one of their own. A good place to start ratcheting down hysteria about government "cuts" is to abolish base-line accounting, in which any decrease in the scheduled rate of spending increase is termed a "cut." The real-world standard is Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), in which the term "cut" is reserved for those situations where we actually mean to spend fewer dollars on an item this year than we did last year. It's much more honest, and much less panic – Trog

There’s just too much material in the aether. DT’s ‘dt’s, the angst I’ve attached to all of those edicts, the erosion of anything resembling stability, downgrading of America’s democracy to flawed status, and so on. Do we stay to do battle…to resist…or find a more stable, progressive nation to accept us? How long does it take to learn a Scandinavian language? 
Is it good or bad that I’m so stubborn and wouldn’t ever yield to tyranny? I’m new to that path, but I’ll find out, won’t I? -- Larry

In the "war" between Trump and journalists, journalists are winning, at least among those people who recognize bull crap and a jackass when the hear and see it. – Brat

Apparently President Trump never read Mark Twain's counsel: “Never pick a public fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” MB

The working person in this country has been marginalized and eviscerated for many years and this didn’t occur overnight. It started with the Reagan administration and has systematically continued until now. The majority of the listed government agencies are bureaucratically bloated and useless. And even the ones that appear to be useful no doubt suffer some of the same issues. Do note the one on fossil fuels was also cut. Maybe it’s time to start over with them. At any rate what will get better is jobs and jobs are what it’s all about. Unions, I belonged to one for 35 years and still receive benefits. Unions have lost power because there are few jobs. We get jobs we get power. It might be painful for awhile but think of the people who’ve lost their lifestyles and didn’t deserve it. What future is there for young people with no jobs? I am as apprehensive as anyone about all this but the past administrations have done nothing but sell us out to foreign entities and make wars. It’s time for a change and I ain’t wussin’ out now. Give the guy a break and see what happens. – Wht

There is hope! The damned republicans will only support Trump until they realize his stupid decisions will also affect them and not just their neighbors. – Gerard

And today, the announcement of cutting EPA positions. Did you read about the EPA scientists who have been busy downloading scientific data from the website in order to preserve it?  -- Brat

We're fucked.  -- Lynda

You should read the article in The New Yorker about how the richest of the rich already have places where they've squirreled away arms, ammunition, food, water, etc, in case of an apocalypse. So where does that leave the rest of us? HELP!  -- Beaty

People will go blind trying to keep track of things DT says, does, explains, re-explains, doesn't explain, fails to do, does stupidly, retracts, and brags about.  And that's just this week.  He's got four years.  I am quite sure the media will jump on this bandwagon like never before, and Trump has a lot of learning to do about what to say, when, and how.  Now, judging from past behavior, I doubt another four years of schoolin' will get that done, so I am pretty sure that in order to keep a vein from exploding in my neck, I am going to avoid quite frequently any television that focuses on him, and the rest of the time look at it as comic relief.   Better to do that than to stress about what might happen here and around the world if he doesn't sort through his vocabulary and deliver something useful - and I'm digging through items I might need at the Army surplus store just in case he doesn't.  I'm only comforted - and mind you, "comforted" is used loosely here - that our American soil is never run entirely by any one man.

I didn't vote for Trump OR Hillary, so I am sure I'd be nearly as disillusioned, scared, and frustrated with Hillary stepping into office, and though the criticisms would look completely different, they would be just as profound.

I am still reeling over the fact that DT and HC are the best finalists America could come up with.  God help us.  -- Zoey

So awful; great compilation of horror here.  -- Julisari

I've donned my Activism garb, have been visiting Senator's offices, and following The Indivisible Guide with a group of fellow Progressives. My heart aches. -- Bach Lennon

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Requiese In Pace

My mother would have celebrated her 102nd birthday on New Year's Day. She was 72 when the above picture was taken in 1986. She died 11 years later from the effects of a stroke and went down fighting. She even had an intense dislike for the soft euphemisms of death, such as “passed away,” and would challenge anyone who used it in her presence. “You mean he died?” she'd ask, eyebrows arched.

Yes,” the other party would sigh. “He passed away.”

No. He died” mom would insist. None of this fuzzy-brained business about “passing away” or “going gentle into that good night” for her.  Being an arch realist she preferred a much less smarmy ”kicked the bucket” if a euphemism was unavoidable.

She was feisty that way. She attributed her combativeness to having four brothers. Her brothers claimed her quick temper was due to her being born in 1914 during what was then called The Great War, and they were quite skilled at provoking her into proving their point.

She was born Clara Halverson in Craig, Alaska, on Prince Of Wales Island close to the Canadian border. Her father, Lars – or Louis – was an émigré from Norway who'd apprenticed as a cobbler but who went to sea when in his teens. Her mother, Annie Johnston, was descended from the Tlingit tribe of coastal natives and a sailor from Cornwall. The sailor sailed back to England and left her to be reared by her maternal grandmother. She was 15 when she married my grandfather, then 30, who owned a general store and a floating cannery that served the fishing fleet plying the waters of the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska.

In the 1920s the family moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, and later to Tacoma, Washington, where Grandfather H. established a gas station on US 99, and later a retail fish market, smokehouse and cannery, and bought property to build rental housing.

Mom graduated high school in 1932, the year a pilot named Nat Browne competed for a $25,000 prize for a non-stop solo flight from Seattle to Tokyo. She glimpsed the 37-year-old Browne amid a cluster of reporters and city officials as he departed Seattle's Olympic Hotel. She thought he looked like a forest ranger, but was rather old. His attempt failed during a refueling accident over Seattle's Ellliot Bay. He recovered from his injuries, moved to Alaska, and mom forgot about him.

Everyone in the family who could work did work. Her two older brothers took jobs in southeastern Alaska. One was killed during cave-in at the Alaska Juneau Mine in 1937. The other worked on fishing boats and earned a captain's rating.  Mom became a teen entrepreneur, setting up a roadside stand on Highway 99 selling produce and honey. A pretty girl, she also modeled clothes for department store ads in the Tacoma paper, later landing a job as a clerk for Weisfield and Goldberg, a local jewelry store which now has 16 locations in 4 western states under the name Weisfield's. 

This was when the adage “The customer is always right” universally applied. Companies would hire shopping agents to test the patience of retail clerks and weed out those whose manner was less than courteous – no matter what.  A job was a very precious thing to have in those Depression era days. Knowing that dozens of unemployed young women were ready to replace her curbed my mom's fighting instinct as a verbal counterpuncher. 

Sometimes the punch was not just verbal.  A jealous woman, upset by her husband's persistence in asking mom to dance during a performance of a touring swing band at Tacoma's American Lake, grabbed mom by the shoulder. "That's alllllll I needed," mom recalled.  She flattened the other woman with a clip to the jaw.  Her two older brothers, both fighters, were at the same dance.  They were proud of her. Just a family of brawlers.

She married the first of three husbands in 1935 and gave birth to my brother, Kenny, the following year. Prior to the wedding ceremony her brothers stood around commenting on her temper, shaking their heads and saying, “Boy, that'll never last.” It didn't. The marriage ended until 1941.

That year mom returned to Alaska to start anew, taking a job in Anchorage as a scheduler, clerk, ticket agent and general factotum to four air services. She met, was charmed by, and married the man who became my biological father. That marriage didn't last either. According to her, he had a habit of taking things that didn't belong to him. He also liked a variety of female companions. That tore it. So there she was, a single woman with an infant at home and another kid living with her ex-husband's family in a distant city. She'd also had it with men.

Then Nat Browne flew back into her life. Somehow he overcame her nettlesome mistrust of all things male, married her and adopted me. The marriage lasted 32 years through thick and thin economic times until he died from natural causes in 1978 at age 83. She scattered his ashes in a clearing of flowering jack oak trees in the Sangre de Cristo mountains above Sante Fė, New Mexico, where they'd been living in mobile home park.

The mobile home park's management did a foolish, foolish thing. It pissed her off by arbitrarily increasing fees with little or no notice. Mom took up a banner and went to the barricades.  She joined forces with the American Mobile Home Association and assailed the state government to improve tenants' rights.

She was tenacious. Once she thought she'd been excluded from a legislative hearing. She angrily banged on doors in the marbled halls of the capital in search of the sniveling cowards she knew were deliberately avoiding her.  An official opened a door and said, “Uhhh, Mrs. Browne? The hearing is in here.”

About that time a man approached her. “I've picked the last three lieutenant governors of this state,” he said. “Would you be interested?” She declined, saying she had a husband at home who was not well. The man, heir to the Phillips 66 petroleum empire, said he understood.

Mom returned to the Pacific Northwest after dad died. She took a job in a Native American bookstore and enrolled in a program that paired seniors with college students at Western Washington State University, living on campus among the college kids. It kept her rejuvenated, active and involved.

She was especially interested in writing, having written a book length manuscript about her life in Alaska. An agent shopped it around in the 90s. A mainstream publisher was interested, but only if mom could make a publicity tour to market the book. By that time she had died.

I was present for her last days in a Seattle hospice. She was unable to speak or move very much. I'd sit by her bed reading a book while she slept. Now and then I'd look up to see her gazing at me, her once clear blue-green eyes clouded by age and morphine. I had the feeling she was critically examining me for signs of improvement.

I miss her.

Requiese in pace, mom. Rest in peace.


Comments, critiques and hate may be sent to

Your mother looks like everything you said about her. Beautiful, combative, formidable. What a wonderful piece! I'm sure it would have made her proud, despite the fact that she may have looked at you to see if you'd made improvement. Indeed you have. And keep on doing so. – Linda 

Beautiful piece.   I bet your Mom's book would have been delightful.   She had lots of adventures.  Sounds like she was feisty and full of humor.  Acorn, you did not fall far from the tree.  – Tammy

One more time:  You gotta get yer writing to an agent.  It's wunnerful.  Happy NY.  – Tim

Absolutely wonderful, thank you for writing/sharing – Miriam

What a tremendously loving history and tribute to your Mom. I read it wishing that she could read it also, but then, believing as I do that my father watches over me every day, I decided she knows every word of it. 

My father died in my arms in 1994.  He had a wonderfully colorful life and a character that I wish could have been cloned and put into every man.  I miss him too.  I miss him like crazy.

I don't think, by the way, that your mother was looking at you wishing for improvement.  Seems a woman as savvy as she was knew that people stumble along the way in life and it's not how badly you do it - it is, indeed, how you get up from it.  And Mike, you got up just fine.  She knows. – Zoey

Wow! What a wonderful piece! – Pamela

I remember you telling me about your mother, and I remember when she died.  I think I would have been scared shitless of her, but I would have admired her, too.
-- Shan

Reading the celebration of your mother’s life, I noticed that your grandparents were plying northern waters around the same time as M. Wylie Blanchett who wrote, The Curve of Time, have you read it? I also wondered if your dad ever knew Art Woodley, the father of friends of ours.  Happy New Year.  -- Marilyn

Yes, my dad knew Art Woodley. We flew in his Pacific Northern Airlines Constellations annually between Seattle and Anchorage in the 1950s. It was a six hour flight. I would sometimes be allowed to ride in the co-pilot's position and actually fly the airplane. At age 12. After one such incident, my dad grumbled. “Were you flying this thing? The last 50 miles were rougher than hell.”
Can't do that now. Make a move toward the cockpit and you'll be stomped into Contadina by unnerved passengers and jumpy flight attendants. MB


Quite a character. Like mother like son, I would say. – Gerard.

We were a lot alike, and that did not always make for family harmony. She claimed she got bad temper by osmosis from me.  MB


This was beautiful. Great writing. – Brett

Quite a compliment, Lady Brett. Thank you. MB


I trust she'd have approved of that piece of writing. I would have liked your mom. I, too, hate euphemisms for death (and other things). When someone really pisses me off by trying to make death pretty, I go to the other extreme and use the crude expression "shit the bed." – Linda F.