Last weekend, while pausing at Starbucks to let the molten aluminum cool in my car engine, I saw a familiar sight: a sweaty dad and mom in their McDonalds food-splattered minivan, complete with three uncomfortable, dyspeptic children. Its high vacation season, and watching the poor couple try to get from Point A to Point B brought back many fond family vacation memories of my own.
In the 1960s, the way my family defined a vacation was driving astronomical distances to visit my grandparents in Denver. OK, maybe the distances werent astronomical from Minneapolis to the Mile High City, but when we were sitting on an aquamarine plastic Chevrolet Impala station wagon seat, breathing in my parents side-stream cigarette smoke, it sure seemed like a long drive. There was no onboard DVD player, there was no satellite radio, there was no in-vehicle amusement of any type except for Dads occasional injunction to Look At Some Natural Feature, like the Wall Drug Store in South Dakota.
One year, my father decided that we would take a massive Western tour, which included the obligatory stops at the Grand Canyon, Vail, Mount Rushmore, Moab and then on to see the grandparents. I was 14 or so, and had to sit in the convection oven back seat with my 10-year-old brother, which I note only to mention the obvious potential for brotherly violence.
After a few hours with my brother in the back seat and my parents smoking Winstons and Pall Malls in the front seat, I devised a plan to get even farther away from all of my distracting relatives: I built a fort in the far back space in the station wagon. Back there, the air was cleaner and there was less potential for territorial disputes.
When I was growing up, I read Archie comic books and other high literature such as Richie Rich, Nancy and Sad Sack.
Archie was a well-meaning dork, with a tic-tac-toe design etched onto the side of his head. He’d chase after Betty and Veronica at the malt shop, while Reggie and Jughead made wry observations, such as “I need another malt.”
In short, Archie was not that interesting, because, first, in 1969, these kids were so not like real high school students, and, second, who could relate to a guy with a tic-tac-toe design on his head?
All the high school students I knew were the older brothers and sisters of my friends, and they were busy listening to Steppenwolf, smoking weed and tending to their beautiful hair (here baby, there mama, everywhere daddy daddy). There were no malt shops. Just mall shops.
John Wayne once said, “I never trust a man who doesn’t drink.” To that end, his estate has marketed a bourbon called “Duke,” after the iconic actor’s nickname.
Duke University objected, legally.
They asserted that the drink could “diminish, dilute and tarnish” the image of Duke University, and lawyers for John Wayne Enterprises observed that the school “seems to think it owns the word ‘Duke’ for all purposes and applications.” So Wayne’s estate decided to sue Duke for being name hogs.
This has been going on, back and forth, between John Wayne Enterprises and Duke University since 2005.
Kye R. Lee/The Associated Press
Is he the worst president since World War II? It seems a little too soon to judge.
A Quinnipiac University poll last week reported which presidents have been the best and worst since World War II.
Barack Obama showed up in last place, with 33 percent of the respondents. He also polled as the fourth best president, at 8 percent, anemic but ahead of other power hitters like Dwight Eisenhower.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Eisenhower. He won World War II, making this poll question possible. No respect, right?
The art of picking a best president leaves historians scratching their heads. George W. Bush, who didn’t show up very well as a best president (1 percent) and second-worst (at 28 percent) has observed that you never know how historians will judge a chief executive, and it’s not up to him. He’s right.
As you can probably imagine, I get all sorts of mail here about my cartoons and blogs. Actually, most of it is positive, so I can’t complain too much. I read it, I disagree, and, if the writer is even remotely polite, I respond in some way. I even respond if they aren’t polite. I draw the line at any mail that has swearing in it.
That’s the New Politeness. No swearing.
Recently, I drew a cartoon about the Supreme Court ruling on cellphone searches. I drew Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin sitting at a table, quill pens at the ready. Jefferson says, “Relax … I’ll put the cellphone privacy stuff in later …” The cartoon was widely reprinted; it even ran in The Boston Globe, the cradle of the American Revolution. .
This was a scene that portrayed the three men working on the Declaration of Independence. The drawing was very closely based on a famous painting from the period. Several readers objected to this.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s confession that he is considering moving to California after his term is up made absolute sense, in the same way that one might feel after hearing Fidel Castro was thinking about getting a nice little condo in Miami.
Personally, I hope that Perry does move here, because, after all, it would illustrate precisely, in a Seinfeldian manner, what he’s all about: nothing.
After all, this is the same guy who seems to come to California every six weeks to poach businesses to bring back to Texas. Perry’s personal affect conveys insincerity anyway, which is why he didn’t get a lot of traction in his last presidential campaign. So, fine. Move to California. We’re big-hearted and welcoming.
Once Perry does get here, it is inevitable that he’ll then become more Californian, and that’s a good thing. Because right now he just looks and sounds like some sad Death-of-a-Salesman-from-Fort-Worth type, with too-combed hair and faintly plastic-looking suits. California, with all its faults, has a way of loosening up whatever’s tight in a person.
Jack Ohman/ email@example.com
Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman: McCarthyism
Axel Schmidt/The Associated Press
Actor George Clooney is rumored to be considering a run for governor.
(Cue movie preview announcer voice) “In a state where Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger served as chief executive, one man against the odds ponders the biggest role of his life: George Clooney is...”
Running for governor of California?
As a 53-year-year old heartthrob myself, I can see the attraction to the office. You get to live in Sacramento, hang out at Chops and schmooze with Sen. Ricardo Lara. That’d be way more fun than jetting around the world, filming major motion pictures, consorting with the world’s most desirable women, and palling around with Leo, Matt and Ben.
California has a long history of movie actors running for office. In addition to the aforementioned former governors, we elected 1930s song-and-dance man George Murphy to the U.S. Senate. Numerous actors and their spawn have held or tried to hold lesser offices. One who succeeded was Zelda Gilroy from “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” also known as Sheila Kuehl, a well-educated and able legislator, who is trying for a comeback by running for L.A. County supervisor.
Mylan Ryba/Globe Photos/ McClatchy-Tribune/Zuma Press
Casey Kasem, the voice of the syndicated show “American Top 40,“ died on June 15, 2014, at age 82.
In a pre-podcast world, back in the dim recesses of a 1970s media world that tended to unify rather than atomize, there were a few voices that were the narrators of a generation.
There were Wolfman Jack, Rick Dees (we hated “Disco Duck,” too) and a few others. But I remember Casey Kasem’s baritone. It was a familiar, genial, preternaturally happy voice on radio.
As host of “American Top 40,” a nationally syndicated program that most teenagers listened to then, Kasem dutifully marched us through No. 40 down through the tedium of the upper 20s, right on through down to the Top 10, and, finally, No. 1.
That announcement became a national guessing game among the blow-dried, feathered, baggy, platformed, flared teens of that era.
Chris Carlson/ The Associated Press
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari addresses supporters during an election night party at the Port Theater, June 3, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif. Kashkari has challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to 10 debates. Brown should leap at the opportunity.
Neel Kashkari, a serious person, fresh off defeating by three points a man who was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon into an airport, has challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to 10 debates.
Brown should leap at the opportunity. Let me explain.
Far-behind challengers always invite incumbents to debate. Usually, this strategy doesn’t work, and the more debates a challenger asks for usually indicates how very, very far behind they are.
Ten debates is a huge number, especially in California, where many voters really couldn’t be bothered to actually vote. But it won’t make much difference, barring some unforeseen Brown catastrophe.
Every time I hear the phrase, California primary, I have unpleasant memories from childhood. This is the first time I have lived in California and voted here; it was kind of exciting, in a way.
But I still had that feeling of melancholy and dread.
I associate “California primary” with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. I doubt anything will change that now for me.
On the morning of June 5, 1968, I got up for breakfast, which was always a bowl of Life. My mother was sitting and staring at a small, black and white television screen, repeating the phrase, “That poor woman. That poor woman. That poor woman.”
As California and the nation watched another armed lunatic unload clips of 9mm bullets into innocent bystanders in Isla Vista, killing three of them, here we are again having the same gun conversation.
As I have written before, I am a gun owner. I’m not into it, I just own them. I have pistols, shotguns and deer rifles. I inherited most of them from my father. I also have three grown children who are college students. Like the young women who were murdered, they go about their day on and around campus, not expecting that they could be shot and killed.
My question is this: Do I have to choose between guns and my children’s lives?
I’m beginning to wonder.
In Errol Morris’ new film, “The Unknown Known,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spends 103 minutes not answering any questions directly, unless the answers portrayed Rumsfeld in positive, heroic light. Morris also made another film in 2003 called “The Fog of War,” featuring a former defense secretary, Robert S. McNamara. In contrast, McNamara answered all the questions – particularly about his role in the Vietnam War – in such a painfully honest manner that the movie became an instant hit.
In 1987, Rumsfeld visited the newspaper I worked at in Portland, Ore., when he was traveling around the country to assess his chances to secure the 1988 GOP presidential nomination. At that stage, even the most prominent candidates are reduced to begging contributors for attention and meeting with editorial boards and reporters from the local newspaper, if they’re lucky.
The thing that struck me about Rumsfeld was that his nascent campaign seemed to be more about preventing Vice President George H.W. Bush from getting the nomination. Although, in Rumsfeld’s mind, of course, he would be the best candidate of all. After all, Bush was his archrival.
Both were young congressmen elected in 1966; both served in the Nixon administration as midlevel appointees, and then got real power in the Ford years: Rumsfeld became the youngest defense secretary ever at age 37, and Bush became CIA director and ambassador to China. Both men were on a collision course for the presidency, and it must have driven him insane to see Bush and his son become president.
I’m currently in the business of raising three millennials.
Trust me, it’s a business. I guess I’ve spent something like $100,000, more or less, in helping them. And that’s my half. My ex-wife has kicked in a similar amount, too. Less fortunate people I know have had to take out massive college loans, or their kids have. My two oldest have some student debt, but it’s chump change compared to an acquaintance of mine who took out $250,000 for their kids against their mortgage and then saw the housing market collapse.
Send Goldman Sachs the bill, right? Good luck. Just give them a bonus.
Maybe that’ll provide stimulus in the Hamptons.
OR7, the bi-locating Oregonian-Californian gray wolf who has been in search of a mate, has apparently settled down, according to his NSA-inspired tracking collar handlers at Oregon’s and California’s Departments of Fish and Wildlife.
I often have wondered whether there was a live wolf cam, or some sort of Tom Clancy-esque OR7 mission control bunker with huge display screens.
I have had a relationship with OR7. He was the dog I never had, and never had to walk. When I worked at the newspaper in Portland, I drew OR7 constantly. We ran a campaign in which OR7 was a presidential candidate. There were posters and bumper stickers. I took a measure of pride when OR7 received hundreds of write-in votes in Portland city and Multnomah County races. I turned him into a recognizable cartoon character.
I could project my thoughts and quirks – yes, I have quirks – onto OR7. He clearly is a kindred spirit. I imagined him drawing rudimentary pawprint cartoons on cave walls, or perhaps making comic remarks to ungulates he was about to devour.