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Archive for the ‘Ghosts’ Category

You really don’t want to ask any questions. It’s actually spelled Gregory Canuzopoli, and if the expression, “crazy as a bed bug” is familiar to you, it easily describes ‘E-roe-gerg Lop-oz-u-nac. While not in charge of the produce department at ‘my’ A&P, Greg was the heart and soul of the wall of lettuce, carrots, egg plant and any other vegetable you might be seeking. This was long before the days of pre-packaged salads or even bottled salad dressings. It was the day of vegetables that came in from local farms, and if you needed any information about preparation, Greg was your man. I swear he had more recipes in his head than Betty Crocker ever had in her cookbook. He also had the remarkable ability to speak English backwards, including the names of everyone who worked in “my” store.

Nick Capizzi was the produce department head; however, it was difficult understand this. Nick was tall and lean, quiet and extremely efficient in his job. Greg was always the one giving orders here and directing traffic there, questioning this supplier, or telling another that his goods were…shall we say, not as good as they might be? I believe Nick tolerated more than enjoyed Erogerg because whenever Greg launched into a spiel, whether it was with a supplier, Sy, Dick, or an unwary customer, Nick would merely shake his head and turn his back – although I must admit to seeing his shoulders shake with laughter on more than one occasion. Greg could pronounce every employee’s name backwards and in a voice that could be heard throughout the store. At just over five feet tall, it was the voice that made up for the lack of stature. Thick coal-black hair and what was once called a “Moustache Pete” growth under his nose; Greg was the clown prince of produce. Did I learn anything from him about the grocery business? If so, it would have to have been, “Keep your sense of humor at all times because the customer may not always be right, but he or she is always the customer.”

Dana Parks managed the meat department. There were no pre-packaged meats. Frank Perdue was still a kid on his uncle’s farm in Virginia without a clue regarding the chicken business. When chickens arrived at the store, they came in boxes of a dozen, featherless, headless, and packed in ice. It was up to the butchers to chop them into their various parts and lay them out in the display case. The same was true for beef, pork and lamb. The beef came as quarters; the pigs were whole, and the lamb was usually split down the middle. Easter meant hams, sometimes fresh and sometimes canned, but compared to what one finds in today’s supermarkets, we were in the pioneering days. Fresh fish? Never heard of it. If you wanted fresh fish, you went to a fish store because it wasn’t part of the A&P’s product line.

Dana was one to always ensure that customers knew he was “the man.” Although I never saw him wield a knife in the “back room” where all of the butchering took place, Dana’s white smock was always blood covered, and he showed it off with pride. Tommy Cunniff, one of the other butchers, would joke about Dana not knowing one piece of meat from another, but never to Dana’s face. Perhaps the most humorous event that concerned me occurred when I was stocking shelves opposite the meat display case one day. I could hear Dana mumbling to a customer about a smoked ham he was trying to sell her. “Are you sure this is a good one?” the elderly lady asked. Without missing a beat, Dana replied, “The Dick Bishop hams are the best we’ve ever received.” I dropped the case of canned tuna, damn near peed my pants and made a bee line for the back room. The lady bought the ham. It was the first time I ever called Dana Parks a son-of-a-bitch, but it certainly wasn’t the last time he made me laugh.

That pretty much wraps up the cast of characters with whom I worked at the A&P on my very first ‘real’ job. I held that job for my last two years of high school, working full-time during the summers and part-time when school was in session. I held onto that job all the time I was in college, working Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturday. I watched the introduction of Swanson frozen dinners and a number of other innovations. At times, I managed various departments when others were on vacation…yes, even the produce department. For a period of several weeks, I actually managed the entire store, but I wouldn’t want to do it again without a bit more training.  I dealt with customers who were aces and customers who were asses, but in every case I always remembered that we weren’t the only game in town so the customer better leave happy.

It was always my contention that every high school graduate should have to work retail for a couple of years before heading off to college. It gives you a perspective it’s difficult to get elsewhere. You meet and begin to understand people from every social and economic stratum, and you learn; oh, man, how you do learn.

All of those colleagues are long gone now. When I think about them, I miss them. Yes, there were times I thought of them as miserable bastards. Had I been more mature, I should have regarded them as tremendous teachers and mentors for, in truth, that’s exactly what they were to a 16-year old kid who didn’t know his ass from his elbow.

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Do you remember any of yours? I’m quite certain you had one, two, three, maybe more along the years when you were growing up. They were the people you went to when whatever you had in mind was not for the ears of your parents…or even your friends. They were teachers, custodians – we called them janitors back then – or maybe even…heaven forbid…a school administrator of some kind. These were the people where there were almost no boundaries, no topic of your concern too touchy to be discussed. They weren’t friends because these people wouldn’t gossip. They weren’t parents because they didn’t judge. They were sounding boards who, if asked might give advice; if not asked would just nod their heads or pop in a question that you hadn’t considered.

I began thinking about this the other day when I received a message from a friend of mine. She was forwarding the memorandum from the President of Babson College, notifying everyone on campus that Bill Cruickshank had died. That name means nothing to you, but to me it was the passing of an era. You see, I knew Bill for more than 20 years; I worked with him, sometimes side by side; other times from a distance. Bill wasn’t “Mr. Chips;” no, he was more like a reincarnation of Roger Babson, the College’s founder. Well, that’s not true either because I don’t believe Mr. Babson would have given you the shirt off his back the way Bill would do. Bill was 90 when he died, which ain’t a bad run as age is concerned. He’d graduated in 1949, coming back from WWII with a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster and a Bronze Star for valor. We were on a retreat once and had some time to go to the beach. It was there that a saw a couple of the machine gun scars that Bill had. You see, he was gunned down and left for dead in a French farmyard. The farm family took him in and nursed him back to health, but I’ll tell ya, I saw where those bullets had hit him and I have no idea how the hell he survived…but he did…and that was Bill. He didn’t teach, but he worked like hell with his alumni class to raise money for scholarships. More than 200 students benefited from Bill’s hard work and the largesse of the Class of 1949. Those 200 will never forget him; that’s for damn sure. There’s a lot more to say about Bill, but I’m just going to leave it with my tears and a friendship that will never be forgotten.

There are different kinds of “Bills” at every level of education. Remember Miss or Mrs. So-and-so in the fourth grade, the one you could go to whenever you had a problem you couldn’t solve by yourself? And Al, or Sam or Mr. Jackson, the janitor who could dispense wisdom any time you sought it. Today, those same people would probably be arrested for some stupid damned crime or other if the even said, “Good morning” to you. In many ways, there’s a sadness as to how things have changed.

I remember that in high school the one man I could always approach was the assistant principal, Joe Cogan. He was the disciplinarian of the school, and for most people who had to see him, it was not a pleasant experience. To use the vernacular of today, Joe was perfectly capable of tearing a new one for the unruly student. He had another side, however, and that was dispensing good advice to those who sought it. Joe was also the baseball coach, but he taught one hell of a lot more than how to hit a curve or field ground balls. He was a “life” teacher, the most important kind of all.

As an undergraduate, at Northeastern University in Boston, there were a couple of people sought out by many students. I never knew how that grapevine worked, but it seemed as if you had a problem, you could go see Dean Harold Melvin or Professor Raymond Fennell. Funny thing was that Dean Melvin was a full-time professor and Ray didn’t teach a damned thing to the best of my knowledge…but boy, could they dispense wisdom to help bring order out of your chaos.  Ray survived a heart attack, and this was back in the early fifties, when heart attacks were far less survivable than they are today. “When you knew you were going to be alright,” someone asked him one day, “what went through your mind?” I was in my third year so I was still pretty soaking behind the ears, but I have never forgotten Ray’s reply. “Out my window were trees and I remembered thinking how green the leaves were. I hadn’t remembered that they were that green. And I didn’t remember the sky being that blue. Now that I’m recovered, I appreciate the colors around me more than I did before the heart attack.”  When I had my first heart attack in 1990, I was laying in a bed at Mass General. My room was on the eleventh floor, so I didn’t have any trees to see, but I remembered Ray’s comment about the sky. He was right; it did look different. I could also see up the Charles River and look out on Fenway Park…and I thought of Ray, and I thought of how things that I took so much for granted could become so different when you go through a life-altering experience.

The people I knew; the people I went to as an undergraduate; the people, who worked with me years later at Babson, are all gone. And now Bill is gone too. There will be others to take the place of Linda Adams, who dispensed her wisdom through the cloud of cigarette smoke above her head. There will be someone new with a weird electronic object on his or her desk to replace Professor Jack Hornaday who attracted students like a magnet, but I won’t know who they are. I’m out of that business, and good riddance to me. My memories of those people I’ll take with me, but damn, they sure were great “life” teachers in addition to their regular jobs.

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Perhaps it’s disloyalty; perhaps it’s nothing of the sort, but I still have acquaintances, classmates if you will, who seem to believe attending an annual high school reunion is a great thing. I don’t know whether or not it’s some form of sadomasochism, self-flagellation, or what, but I can’t really think of one thing I have in common with those folks who I knew 62 years ago.

Every year, it seems, this one or that one contacts me by snail mail, e-mail, or telephone – few of us text or tweet; some of ‘them’ won’t even use a computer – and tells me the date and time of the next reunion, ending with, “I really hope we’ll see you there this year!” I never say it but the chances of them seeing me at a high school reunion are about as good as the chances that a snowball would have in Hell!

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not quite the anti-social son-of-a-bitch you might think from the first two paragraphs. I’ve had breakfast or lunch with several of my high school classmates. These have been people of whom I have very fond memories or considered to be ‘good people’ when I was in my teens. We’ve shared a few laughs and, in some cases, even a few tears, but I believe that getting together with a large group, many of whom I didn’t care for at all, would be a complete waste of time. One of those high school classmates came to my house when my wife was dying. She brought an afghan she had knitted as part of a “quilts for cancer” knitting group to which she belongs. It bore a personalized tag, stating that it was made specifically for my wife. I love that quilt, and I love that classmate for her kindness and thoughtfulness. We don’t see each other on a regular basis; matter of fact, I owe her an e-mail. Isn’t it strange; she and her husband live one town away, but we have our own lives to lead and our own friends from other times, other places?   I have a college classmate who sets up small lunches from time to time and those are generally fun times, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to get together with the entire section of 17 people who were in my major. Nope, I’ll pick the folks to have fun with and to hell with the rest of them.

I have the feeling that people who remember their high school years with fondness have conveniently forgotten the bad times; falling in what we thought of as love on an annual-semi-annual-quarterly- monthly-or even weekly basis, only to have one’s heart shattered over and over again. Then there were the long-suffering athletic losses that seemed to mean so much at the time, but that mean absolutely nothing two years after graduation. Each day could be filled with terror if one was afraid that the teacher might call on an unprepared you. Screw that; these are memories I can do without. There were the bullies and the bullied; the cliques to which one might belong one week and be ostracized from the next. How totally different the memories are from our collegiate or life experiences.

Rather than classmates, the people whom I really remember from school were the teachers; the good; the bad; and yes, the ugly. As a matter of fact, I could probably take you back through my grammar school days and tell you what impressed me about teachers and what I learned from each and every one of them…I promise I won’t do that.

Ironically, I went to a reunion this past June. It had nothing to do with high school or the college I attended. It was a reunion of the people with whom I worked. I hadn’t seen most of them in nearly 20 years. We had gathered because one of our own was being honored. He was the former President of Babson who was being presented with the College’s highest honor, The President’s Medal. This was a man each and every attendee recognized as a worthy recipient. I don’t believe we ever worked harder or enjoyed it more under his watch. I knew over ninety percent of the people in the room; those I didn’t know were the spouses of some of my colleagues…but I knew a hell of a lot of them also because that’s the way we were; we were a family. The evening was filled with laughter and funny stories. We were faculty, administrators, staff, and even a senior or two. Several faculty members came by to say that my granddaughter had been in their class and were highly complementary about her academic qualifications. It was the type of reunion that I enjoyed because these were the people with whom I had spent the last years of my working life. This was my reunion class; not the people with whom I graduated from high school or college. We had moved on, made other friends, and shared other memories.

I’m happy for those people who still share bonds from fifty or sixty years ago. I wish them well in their efforts. As for me, I prefer to live – with the exception of my recent journey back – I prefer to live in the now; to see what tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year will bring. With luck and God’s Blessing, it will bring new people and new adventures. It will certainly bring new and exciting technologies and those are always a joy to behold. I’d like to own a 3-D printer before I die. Please don’t ask me why because I haven’t a clue. It just sounds like fun! To my friends at RHS ’52, enjoy your times and your memories together. Maybe we can get together on the other side.

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A gentleman with whom I am acquainted – well, I assume he’s a gentleman; never know these days – teaches philosophy at a local private school. For a number of years he was the headmaster of said school, but then he decided to get a real job – as I have been told on too many occasions to count by teaching faculty from here to hell and gone – and became an “educator.” Since I went neither through a liberal arts curriculum nor did I attend a Jesuit institution…the only two collegiate programs where philosophy seems to be a mandatory requirement…I was never exposed to philosophical thought. After several conversations with said gentleman, I began to realize just how sadly lacking my education has been. Were this to happen today, I could probably turn around and sue my undergraduate institution for not providing a compendious educational program, but to attempt this after having been absent the classroom for more – well more – than half a century, I would doubtless be throwing good money after bad. That is not philosophical thought; just common sense.

All of the above having been said, I am going back to school! “So what?” you ask, to which I respond, “When you stop learning, formally or informally, you’re dead and just too ignorant to lie down.” It’s never too late to learn. There are several reasons I believe this, the first of which is that I would like to be able to discuss philosophy on a more intellectual level with my acquaintance. Another reason is that, as was said earlier, without philosophy, my education is lacking and incomplete. I plan to take the same approach with journalism at some point, sadly having been denied the opportunity to pursue any formal training in that area. There may well be other subjects available through the Internet, but right now I’m settling on those two. A third reason for doing this is that I find of late, television programming is (a) idiotic; (b) idiotic; (c) idiotic; or (d) all of the above. It is with a certain degree of guilt that I must also admit that my reading list has begun to lapse into the mystery/murder/thriller genre, and it would be nice to get away from that for a while.

I will not pontificate on what I have learned to date. To do so would be to prove the adage, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln appears to have a quote for every occasion; that is another of his great ones. Let me just say that now that school has adjourned for the summer, I will have a few months to study philosophy and perhaps be able to carry on a reasonably less pompous conversation with my acquaintance when he returns to school and to the gym next year. Oh, that’s right, I didn’t tell you; we met at a gym. You meet the most interesting people in some of the strangest of places. Think about it…talking philosophy in a gym; discussing labor law…in a gym; conversing about politics without coming to blows…in a gym; I have even managed to get my utility company to bill me electronically…by speaking to someone at the gym,  thus proving that nearly all things are possible given the proper environment.

One of the things that I find truly amazing about the Internet is the amount of course work in various field that I can study without having to enroll or pay money, that last being perhaps the primary reason I do not hold a terminal degree from Grand Canyon, Southern New Hampshire, or one of the many online programs that are available; well, that and the fact that I’m on a fixed income. However, I’m not certain I wish to take online courses that are going to tax me beyond my limited abilities. To gain the basics of understanding of a subject with which I have no familiarity may well be as far as I wish to go, but go I will because, in this case anyway, I know someone who is an authority on the subject…and I’m a brain picker!

Think about this for a moment: You have died and on your first whatever in Heaven; I will assume you have gone to Heaven and not any of those other places, but on your first night, you are given the opportunity to dine with five other people of your choosing…and…there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion following dinner. Yes, I know, if you’re dead you probably won’t eat, yadda, yadda, yadda…give me a break, will you please? Who would you choose? Remember Mitch Albom’s book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven? This isn’t like that. You pick five people; they may be people you have admired because of their contributions to the world…Mohandas Gandhi, Budda, or Confucius. It might be you’ve admired great warriors like Genghis Khan, Hannibal, or Alexander. I have to tell you that I would be very hard pressed to pick just five people with whom I’d like to exchange ideas. Recently, I watched – yes, back to television again, but this was Netflix or Amazon or one of those – a piece on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Their fight for the rights of women might have put one of them at my table, but then I watched a piece on Jefferson and…well, you know what follows. Our world has been filled with those who could rightfully demand a place at your table or mine. What about our own ancestors; would they be a choice? If you have an interest in philosophy, would you have Epicurus, Aristotle, John Locke, or Plato at your table?

I can [and will…as always] offer a bit of advice on how to choose your dinner companions. Years ago, I taught a course in creative problem solving. The first step in what was known as the problem-solving wheel, was to identify all of the “messes” that required your attention. From that, your job was to identify the problem that first required your attention; which of the messes had to be cleaned up first before you could move on. In selecting that problem as the most important, I asked students and teams of students to answer one question when they felt they had identified the problem that they would attack. The question was, “Why?” If you can answer the question, why, five times in a row and receive a satisfactory answer each time, chances are you have the correct problem to attack. Perhaps that’s the question you should ask about your dinner partners. Why do you want Abraham Lincoln, for example? After you have given your complete answer, ask the question again and again and again, and one more time. If he stands the Five Why question, then he probably belongs at your table.

I leave you with this advice…use the Internet wisely; find out who attends your gym; and stay tuned for more about my foray into philosophy.

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In Corinthians 13:11, it says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

“When I became a man…”

I suppose that by necessity we must all become men…of one kind or another. I am not certain, however, that becoming a man, or a woman for that matter, means putting all of our childhood thoughts behind us. Heck, when we become parents, most of us, at least for a while, revert to talking like a child, particularly to our babes in arms; truth be told, we even do that when we first become grandparents – and isn’t that most embarrassing when a nurse walks in and hears us cooing and oooing over our first grandchild. If you have yet to experience that particular joy, there is a real treat awaiting you.

“…I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

“Why” and “how” I sometimes ask myself. No question that we must do it. Our reasoning has to become more complex because as we grow our world becomes more complex, particularly since our exponentially expanding technology has compacted our world to the point where we are in touch with one another so rapidly that before we can LOL, we’re COEO.

Call me a sentimental old fool if you will, but I miss much of the time when, as Barbra Streisand sang, “Can it be that was all so simple then…” and I think, “Yes,” it was so much less complex. No one had the power to end mankind with the push of a single button. If someone had measles or chickenpox, we were told to go visit them so we could catch it young and get it over with. Our heroes were Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and even Jimmy Doolittle. Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga wouldn’t have been very well accepted when we were in our childhood, so yes, “…time [has] erased every line.”

At nineteen, I was still a teenager, but I drove across this wonderful nation of ours, stopping to see Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and mountains the size of which I had never seen before. On the verge of entering my third decade of life, I still found it difficult to accept all of the snow atop Mount Rainier in August or how much darker and more foreboding the Pacific felt when I swam in it. Does that mean that I hadn’t left my childhood completely behind? Who knows? If you wish to compare me to some kid who graduates MIT at fourteen, yeah, I guess I was a bit behind the times… but those certainly were fun times.

It’s tough being forced to grow up. I think of the children who lose a parent early on and are put in a position of becoming man or woman of the house, and I wonder how I would have reacted had I been placed in that turmoil. My answer is that you just have to do it. I recall my time in basic training in the Army. We were the extremes in age in our company. We had youngsters of seventeen and people of my age – 22 – and even older…Kemper Callahan was, I believe, 28 and held a doctorate in forestry. It was, to say the least, a motley crew. There were times when the younger ones behaved as veterans and other times when the older ones behaved like children. As an example, you don’t tell a sergeant to go find someone else to unload the milk for the mess hall just because you have a master’s degree in some obscure field. Sergeants-do-not-care-about-your-academic-credentials, particularly when they have drawn night duty and have to get a milk truck unloaded at three o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately, I was the acting barracks sergeant [still a trainee, however] and the mess hall was next to our barracks. My platoon wound up standing at attention in February outside company headquarters, and I spent an hour inside convincing the company commander that it would not be in anyone’s best interest to court martial the “yes sir, we all know he’s an asshole” and to let the academic idiot graduate from basic training and move on with nothing more than a notation in his file to keep him on a very short leash… an adult acting as a child!

Ah, the memories…”Memories may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget…” This year will mark the sixth anniversary of my wife’s death; same day; same date; it will be particularly painful because, as it is this year it was on Father’s Day that it happened. I choose not to forget the pain of that day nor will I ever…and that’s only right and just. I do choose to forget other painful memories. I can’t tell you of the painful days of the many surgeries I’ve undergone. For the most part, “…it’s the laughter [that] we remember whenever we remember the way we were.”

 

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You’re going to have to forgive an old man if he misinterprets some of the horse manure that floats from the halls of Congress into the media below…or is it “onto” the media below. It really doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot, but it seems to me that Congress is supposed to enact legislation for the benefit of its constituency; you know, the people who elected them. I don’t know where it says that they are supposed to go looking for ways to mess up an incumbent administration or cast aspersions on the Office of the President…keep an eye open, sure, but not beat a dead horse until the entire animal smells like what’s comin’ outta the south end.

The US mission in Benghazi was attacked by a group of who-knows-who [wink, wink] on September 11, 2012. The attack was fatal and killed a number of people. There were insufficient resources to defend the mission. That is the fault of US intelligence. That those resources weren’t there is the fault of US intelligence and the military not working together. That no one in the US Department of State or in any US intelligence agency OR any US military organization OR in any branch of government didn’t believe there would be an attack on the US somewhere in the world on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack is sheer idiocy. Every mission, embassy, military post on foreign soil, and tourist who is travelling on September 11th of any year, should be prepare to be treated as a target. Anyone not considering this deserves whatever happens to them. What the hell has to happen for people to wake up to the fact that America is at war on its own soil as well as abroad.

The Republican House of Representatives is dissatisfied with how the Benghazi attack (a) could possibly take place in beloved Libya; (b) who should take the blame for the attack…not the attackers themselves, mind you, but who is to blame from the American side; (c) has been falsely described by the White House according to House Speaker John Boehner. To get to the bottom of all of this, Speaker Boehner is appointing a “select” committee to “… investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, accusing the Obama White House of “misleading the American people” by withholding emails on Benghazi – emails that only just surfaced this week despite a 2013 subpoena.” According to the New York Daily News, Speaker Boehner stated, “This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.” Hey, Jack, the American people know what happened and the families of the victims don’t require constant reminders that they don’t have a loved one anymore. Build a goddamned bridge and get over it.

On the basis of Mr. Boehner’s House controlled half of the Congress, perhaps Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, should appoint a select committee to determine who is responsible for the erroneous information that precipitated our invasion of Iraq. Perhaps the Senator could subpoena then Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to testify where all of those wonderful and fraudulent photographs came from that “definitely” showed Iraq with weapons of mass destruction. We might have bring former President George Bush and his string-puller, Dick Cheney to the Halls of the Senate to tell us why 4,487 American soldiers died in a war that was (a) unnecessary; (b) a personal vendetta on the part of George Bush; and, (c) a bold faced lie.

Speaker Boehner is being led around by the nose by his aggressive Tea Party Republicrats. He has fallen in line with a group of crazies who will do anything, use any reason, and tell any lie to discredit the incumbent administration in order to gain an edge in the 2016 elections. Is the Obama administration withholding some information about Benghazi? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Did the Bush administration openly lie about the weapons of mass destruction that preceded the invasion of Iraq? Without question they did.

Benghazi is now a footnote in the history of the United States. We have not learned from it. We will probably be just as complacent on September 11th 2014 and then wonder why a mission, an embassy, a military outpost or fort was attacked. And leaders from the minority party will blame the leaders of the majority party and more horse shit will fly around the Halls of Congress. Meanwhile, important legislation will languish in some committee or other because either Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Reid believes it will give brownie points to the opposition. Is this any way to run a nation? The idea of a two-party system [try to forget about the Tea Party for just a moment here, puh-leze] of government is wonderful. It’s wonderful as long as the two parties understand that their role is to move the country ahead in pursuit of goals that will help the nation. It doesn’t matter which party wins as long as the nation benefits as a whole.

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If we ever required further proof that Congress is comprised of a bunch of idiots, we received it over the past few days as the members have raked GM CEO Mary Barra over the coals. Excuse me congressmen and women, take your heads out of your collective butts and look at the person you’re grilling. How long has she been in charge at General Motors? Can you say January 31, 2014? Now, be careful; this could be a trick question…when were all of these cars with the faulty ignition switch manufactured? What was that? Did you say between 2002 and 2007? Was that your answer? Well congratulations! Now, for your final and most complex and perplexing question…Why the hell are you asking the current GM head these questions and not asking them of the people who were in charge when the shit hit the fan?

I’ve listened to Barbara Boxer – “woman to woman” – Kelly Ayotte, Ed Markey, Diana DeGette, Marsha Blackburn, and Tim Murphy, among others, who have been merciless in their questioning of Barra, who assumed the role of CEO three months ago. What the hell is wrong with these, stupid, stupid people? When someone asked if she had reviewed the 200,000 documents submitted by GM to the congressional committee, Barra honestly answered “No.” Hey folks, how many of you could go through that number of documents in the time that she’s had available. In case you missed it, she’s been busy trying to clean up the mess that was left for her.

If you want to question someone, why not start with Rick Wagoner, the chairman of GM from 2000 to 2009. Wouldn’t you agree that the defects occurred on his watch, not Barra’s? How come you don’t have him on the congressional hot seat? Do you think he’s been through too much by being asked to resign by the White House after he bankrupted GM? Don’t forget, bankrupt or not, the son-of-a-bitch walked away with a $10 million retirement package. And you assholes are crucifying Barra for something that happened before she became the face of GM? How about issuing subpoenas for Fritz Henderson, Ed Whitacre, or Daniel Ackerson? Why not fry their collective butts on television? Do you all feel less threatened by the 52-year old Barra than you would by the members of the old boy network?

It was quite interesting to note that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official, David Friedman, had a relatively easy time of it when he testified after Barra. While 20 members of the panel speared Barra at every opportunity, only 13 questioned Friedman about why NHTSA didn’t become involved when the accidents began piling up with GM cars. Once again, I would postulate that there is a fear in Congress about attacking a still-male-dominated business and political environment.

There were so many photo-ops during the hearing, with Ed Markey and others holding a sample of the faulty ignition switch up for the camera that I wanted to puke. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Barra, sitting alone and at a table unadorned as she held her own with the fools seated on the dais in front of her.

If they are still in office, I invite the members of this committee to call Mary Barra back to testify in three years. Let her explain how the problem has been solved; let her say, “as a woman to a woman” to Barbara Boxer; let her interrupt Diana DeGette every time she opens her mouth to speak; let her slam all of those who have tried to crucify her in this mockery of a congressional hearing. Then and only then will Mary Barra’s true managerial excellence demonstrate itself to a bunch of half-assed politicians who couldn’t run a two-dollar lemonade stand.

 

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