Thursday, August 3, 2023


Every once in a while, somebody will say, "yeah, Boyd, but which one did you love the most?  There were a lot of them, but which one do you think about the most?"  That's a challenging question.  Obviously, I think about it often, but do even I know the answer?

Some of them came to me because I was headed in the same direction they were headed, and it's nice to have somebody walk with you for a while.  These were a lot of fun, but they weren't my favorite because, as nice as they were, there just wasn't the passion I was looking for.  They were great companions for a while, though, and I'm very grateful for their time.

Some of them found their lives in a jam and needed somebody who had more than they needed, so they could have some of mine.  Those weren't my favorite, but they were right, I had more than I needed, and they were in a jam, so it worked out. 

Some looked down the road ahead and were really very worried about what they saw ahead.   They had a pretty good idea about how much they could take, and what was ahead looked like it was much more than that, so they needed a bigger, stronger friend to walk with them for a while and soak up some of the arrows so they could get to the peaceful part of the road, a little further down.  That's not my favorite either, but I didn't really mind, and they were right; I could absorb more arrows than they could, at least for that part of the road.  

Some thought I'd be very different from what I was.  They thought they wanted somebody like my dad, and while I can sound like him sometimes, I'm a very different person.  These were nice, but they weren't my favorite because they never really got to know me very well.  They moved on once they found out I wasn't what they thought.  

Some lived their lives drowning in a puddle of pain.  The world didn't always see it, but it was always there.  Sometimes, under the right conditions, I could act like a sponge and soak up some of that pain and wring it out away from them, and for a while, they could live free of the puddle.   Those could have been my favorite because it's really rewarding to see somebody in pain live without it for a while, but it was always just a while; no matter how hard I tried, the pain always came back and filled in where I had taken it away.  

I don't think I was ever supposed to love one the most.  I think I was supposed to be a bridge through uneven terrain for people who were afraid of what lay on the road ahead.  You're not supposed to stay on a bridge because that blocks the other people who need to use the same bridge.  Bridges can be really cool and really beautiful, but they're not a destination.  They're a way to a destination.

For the most part, I'm happy with the role I've played in all their lives.  There are some companions where I wish I could have done more, but that's kind of my nature; I always think I could have done more.  I never asked to be a knight-errant, but I've never been unhappy with the role.  Alonso Quijano lost his mind and became Don Quixote, but some would say he found it.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Where Do The Children Play?

Our mom's generation tells us about how they would put on starched cotton dresses with half a dozen petticoats and white kidd gloves and go shopping downtown with their friends.  Everything they could ever dream of was in three or four stores, and their entire school, which was the entire town, would have hamburgers and milkshakes and cokes at the Woolco lunch counter, and she'd talk about how great it was, and it was great.

My generation tells their children about how they put on the coolest stone-washed denim mini dress, half a bottle of aqua net, and twist beads and went with their friends to the mall.  Their entire school was there, and the kids from all the other schools and we'd meet in the foodcourt and have those corndogs they make in front of you and Orange Julius, and then maybe go play a video game, and we'd talk about how great it was, and it was great.

Our kids talk about how they'd call each other on Skype but not turn the camera on because their hair looked like shit, and they were wearing the same hoodie they wore the night before, and they'd log into Amazon and see what the prime deals were.  When we asked why they never go out, they said the mall is gross, and it's not safe downtown, and they'd talk about how shit it is, and it is shit.

We could have made a world for them where the malls were cooler than ever and shopping downtown was beautiful and safe for everybody.  We could have done it, but we didn't.  We tried to make a world like that, but your mom had that operation, and maybe I had a couple of affairs, and it's not our fault anyway; it's the woke liberals and the conservative fascists.  You don't know how hard it was to raise yu kids, and I fucking hate my job, but I did it for you! It's George Soros and Bill Clinton and Donald Trump--they did this; I was just trying to live my life, man; nobody told me it was gonna be like this.  Nobody told me it was up to me!

When you get my age, you start looking around, and that guy in Washington was in your pledge class.  That guy in the governor's mansion was on your brother's baseball team.  That chairman of the bank used to try and call your sister, and you took his ex-girlfriend to the prom.  We made this world.  It wasn't somebody else.  It was us.

Every day, I talk to guys who want to blame somebody else, some other party, some other culture, or some other part of the country.  It's a lot easier to sleep at night when you think it was somebody else who did this.  It's a lie, though; we did this.  

Our kids are graduating high school, graduating college, and some are hitting that thirty-year goalline.  Pretty soon, we'll be handing the ball off to them.  They won't know we're handing the ball off to them because you never realize you were carrying the goddamn ball until you're sixty and look back on what happened in your life.  This is the world we made.  This is the world they'll make.  Maybe they'll do it better.  

Oh, I know we've come a long way
             We're changing day to day
                         But tell me, where do the children play?

American Colonization Society

Some edits of "Birth of A Nation," of which there are many, end with a title card praising Lincoln and his plan to repatriate the Africans if only he had lived.  Lincoln was indeed a member of the American Colonization Society, one of the few topics slave owners and abolitionists agreed on.

Abolitionists believed the plan to return Africans to Africa was the kindest possible plan.  Since they were taken from there, returning them there offered the best possible outcome for these people who had been wronged by enslavement in America and the Caribbean.  Southerners supported the plan because if slavery ended, there would be millions of now-free Africans in their territory that might be angry about the treatment they received as slaves and pose a threat to the safety of their white former owners.  

These are people who really knew very little about Africa, and what they did know was a hundred years before.  In the 19th century, Ottomans and Europeans were divvying Africa up between them, and with the death of Shaka Zulu, there was nothing but each other to prevent it.  If you go to Africa now, most of the countries that are now Christian were colonized by Europeans, and the countries that are now Muslim were colonized by Ottomans.  Even in their own country, Africans were not safe from our control.

ACS members didn't consider that, with very few exceptions, most former slaves didn't know what part of Africa they came from and to whom they were related or owed allegiance to in Africa. So once they got there, there were rejected by both the whites and the blacks.  They were men without a country. 

The colonies set up by the ACS had even less funding than Rowanoak, and having lived in America for two hundred years, many of these people had lost whatever immunity they had to African diseases.  

Had Lincoln lived, this is probably the plan the country would have followed, either sending the Africans back to Africa or to areas set up for them in Central America.  It would have been a disaster and brought about a human crisis almost as bad as the war itself.

Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Mustard Seeds

There was no Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame for the first half of my life. The Jackson Touchdown Club met once a year in the ballroom of the Walthal Hotel and handed out awards to guys who used to play football. 

My father won it for "leadership." I guess he wasn't that great at football itself. My Grandfather won it for his 30 years as an SEC Referee, where he was also blessed with three fuzed vertebrae when an LSU player tackled him and the man with the ball at the same time and spent the rest of his life walking with a cane and listing to the right.  

The Touchdown Club was kind of a good ole' boy thing but a well-thought-of one. Their meetings usually consisted of about ten tables and maybe forty people. The one I went to Saturday had around sixty tables and at least a thousand people. There are very few places in town with a ballroom big enough to hold that crowd.

Michael Rubenstein started working in Jackson when I was in my later teenage years. He was from Boonville, but many people thought he was from New York because of his name. Rubenstein was a reporter for WLBT and quickly took over the sports department. All three stations had a sports department, but Michael decided to distinguish channel 3 and himself by simply working harder.

Rubenstein was kind of a solitary guy. I'd see him sitting by himself at the bar of George Street and later at Hal & Mals, but I almost never saw him pile into CS's with the rest of the WLBT News crew at the end of the ten pm broadcast. My friend Doug Mann used to get drunk and say, "Hey, Look! It's Bob! Bob Ballou!" Referencing the Desi Arnez song when Howard Ballou came in. Ballou took it in good spirits, but I'm sure there were times when he thought, "What the hell?" to himself.  

When Rubenstein took over at WLBT, the city had just built Smith-Wills stadium. Some people want to call it the Hank Aaron Stadium. I'm against that. Aaron was born in Mobile and played in Milwaukee and Atlanta. He had nothing to do with Jackson, whereas both Smith and Wills were well-known characters in our history.

Smith-Wills existed because Con Maloney was an Irish Catholic guy with a lot of drive, motivation, and money, and he wanted minor-league baseball in the capital city. I think the world of Con Maloney. He was a Millsaps boy who left the school with his feet running. They ran him to the State Senate and the boards of everything from Millsaps to Trustmark to St. Dominics. 

In the corner of the Smith-Wills complex was a high-school league field, and besides that was a tiny museum dedicated to Dizzy Dean. That was the start of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Michael Rubenstein had an active mind and a lot of ambition. He used his position as Mississippi's top sports broadcaster and the business connections he made through Con Maloney to start the idea of a "Sports Hall of Fame Museum" to take up a spot in the parking lot of Smith-Wills, that was at one time considered for another High School field.  

They showed the drawings for the proposed Museum on the television, and I thought, "Boy, that's gonna be a lot of money." Even then, I was getting jaded by guys showing off impressive architectural renderings for things that never happened. Mississippi didn't have a lot of money. Jackson didn't have a lot of money. Getting this thing built was gonna be a considerable challenge.

I underestimated the sheer tenacity of Michael Rubenstein. It took about six years, but the Museum was built. Next door to it, Jim Buck Ross started putting together his plan for an Agricultural Museum, and pretty soon, that part of Lakeland Drive was pretty impressive. Part of his vision was to evolve the Jackson Touchdown Club into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, which is where I was Saturday Night.  

A lot of Millsaps guys have been part of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame since its inception. Saturday night was important to me because it featured two guys who were at Millsaps when I was at Millsaps. Saturday, they announced the first recipient of the Bill Hetrick Community Service Award. Afterward, they inducted Coach Jim Page into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Jim has coached baseball at Millsaps for thirty-four years, starting not long after I graduated. That's a remarkable run. In the modern world of sports coaches, that kind of tenure is unheard of. When I met these guys, Jim played, and Bill watched and sometimes kept team stats. After that, we'd all end up at the Texas League Champion Jackson Mets games, usually on the third base side, where a guy with a cooler would bring you a beer. That's about all the luxury a man needs.  

Mississippi is a humble place. Jackson is a humble place. Millsaps is a humble place. Never underestimate us, though. Michael Rubenstein's passion project intersected with so many lives of the people of Mississippi. I've watched this story grow from the smallest seed. In Mississippi, you really need to stick around to see the end. The parable of the mustard seed can show up in unexpected places.

Official Ted Lasso