Newspaper Columns Written by Malcolm “Mack” Gibson

BONUS BASEBALL FLASHBACK ! APRIL 2014

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE (April 28, 2014): It’s springtime, 2014. The Astros are in the cellar. All is right with the world. But we still love them. Not because on any given night they might start a kid from the carwash in left. Or because April means another shot at the worst record in baseball. No. Because despite the futility of their efforts, in them we still see a glimmer of hope. The kind of hope we learned at ball fields of our own. In my first decade, our diamond was a place with rusty bleachers and a few old soda cans…

MEMORIES ROLLED BACK

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: My mother died 15 years ago. There were things I should have said to her, but didn’t. I wish I had another chance. She used to push me in a baby carriage, dragging my older sister along, for two miles from our house to Herman Park in Houston. After traversing the sidewalk along busy Bissonnet Street we’d arrive at our destination, the statute of Sam Houston on his horse. My sister called it the hoppity hop, which instantly became part of my family’s lexicon. Not long ago the statue came to mind unexpectedly. It happened while I was…

PAUL SIMON: FOR EMILY, WHENEVER I MAY FIND HER

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: I marvel at how indelibly I recollect certain images and sentiments from my high school and college days. The most poignant usually channel the optimism I felt about the future. Though later buffeted by reality, their clarity still resonates. The speed and intensity with which they come flashing back is a blessing and a curse. A line from a song, or a whiff of a special perfume, can produce a smile or a tear. I think it’s because back then each day held the promise of something new. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, but all things…

INSPIRING MOVIE HAD REAL-LIFE COUNTERPART

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: It’s graduation season. The time when college seniors worry about their future. And so it was in 1967. In that year’s award-winning movie, “The Graduate,” Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) returns from college with his diploma and a problem. He wants his future to be different than the affluent, automated life of his parents. At a haute welcome-home party a family friend advises Ben to remember one word about his career — “plastics.” It would become the clarion call for a generation of college students, including me. We understood the metaphor. We saw our parents’ society, like plastic, as…

DREAMS AND REALITY MEET AT THE BRYAN MUSEUM

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: Dreams and reality seldom cross paths, except at the intersection of 21st Street and Avenue M in Galveston. There, in the two-story vintage Bryan Museum, a collection of rare artifacts portrays how the dreams of Texas settlers clashed head on with the brutal reality of the frontier. That collision comes to life on the first two floors where all manner of regalia, weaponry and documents recount the violent history of Texas and her heroes — Crockett, Bowie, Travis and Houston to name a few. But, tucked away in the cellar is a display telling a story of…

WORKING CLASS NEEDS A RUNG ON THE LADDER

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: In a ramshackle house in Middletown, Ohio, a rust belt town in decline, a young boy cowers in the arms of his older sister. A drunken brawl rages between their mother and yet another step-father. Dishes crash. Sobs waft. The girl considers calling their grandfather for help on the secret phone line he’s installed in their toy box for times like these. This is the violent world of young J.D. Vance. Thirty years later he would tell about it in his 2017 best seller, “Hillbilly Elegy.” It’s about the demise of America’s steel industry. But more importantly, the…

TROIS BELLS SE RAPPELENT DE CE QUI EST IMPORTANT

Parfois, la meilleure chose à la télévision est une publicité pour les anciennes chansons. Les maisons de disques pensent que nous allons les acheter parce qu’ils nous font sentir bien. Je n’ai jamais acheté, mais je regarde toujours. Il n’y a pas longtemps, les «Three Bells» des Browns sont venus. C’est une histoire de la naissance, du mariage et de la mort du petit Jimmy Brown, tous mémorisés par des cloches d’une petite chapelle. Cela m’a fait penser à des choses simples comme le son d’une cloche peuvent nous rappeler ce qui est important dans la vie. Sur ma course…

AGE OF AQUARIUS MIGHT HAVE ARRIVED

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: The latest in man’s search for cosmic kin is the discovery of seven Earth-size planets orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1. Using new technology, astronomers not only confirmed the existence of the new solar system but its potential to support alien life. At 40 light years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth, the planets are a stone’s throw in extraterrestrial terms. However, it wasn’t their proximity that captured my imagination, it was their constellation. Aquarius. I first encountered that name 49 years ago, while a student at the University of Texas. Then, like today, anger was boiling in…

RICE COACH CRAFTS WINNERS THE OLD FASHIONED WAY

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: In the world of big-time college football, true student-athletes are an endangered species. Pressure to win at any cost has put coaches and administrators under the gun. At some schools, curriculums and admission standards have been compromised. Athletic prowess has trumped intellect. Not at Rice University. In the world of head football coach David Bailiff, the real test is signing quality athletes when the freshman GPA average is 4.08 and 83 percent of applicants are turned away. But, he relishes the challenge. I met Bailiff at a lunch meeting of the Houston Mortgage Bankers Association. He was…

OLD SONG STILL STIRS MEMORIES OF YOUTH

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: What is it about old songs that gets to us? Maybe it’s because they have the power to transport us back to better times. It’s odd how a song will bring to mind one image out of thousands of possibilities. Usually it’s because of a special person or occasion. Over the years, I’ve attended my share of special affairs, usually with women in fancy clothes. The venues were posh, dinner clubs and soiree’s. Some worthy of a song, I suppose. But, the one song that is special to me is not about all that. It’s about a fifteen-year-old…

FRIENDSHIP IS THE ELIXIR WE NEED

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: Our political system is sick. Just when you think the patient is recovering, another wave of bile bubbles up. Is it any wonder that fewer of our best and brightest are willing to risk the truculent tweets and sardonic sound bites of a public life? It wasn’t always like this. The year was 1960. No one was more aggressive in advancing his political beliefs than the conservative author, columnist and commentator William F. Buckley Jr. And yet, at his death in 2008, he counted most of his former opponents as friends, a phenomenon sorely missing in the…

YOU CAN’T BUILD BY DESTROYING

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: I don’t know why politicians make personal attacks. They must think it wins votes. Not mine. If my children had blamed bad grades on their teacher’s character flaws, I’d have sent them to their rooms. We should do the same to mud ­slinging politicos. We all know a different opinion doesn’t make a person evil. An attack-ad vilifying someone for an offhanded remark, usually taken out of context, is wrong. Worse, it misrepresents to the world what’s right with our country. Most Americans are fair. We are resolute in our beliefs, but don’t hit below the belt. No…

WORDLESS GOODBYE LASTS A LIFETIME

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: There’s nothing good about goodbyes. So the European Union learned several months ago in Brussels when Great Britain said its adieus. Goodbye to unity, hello to nationalism. Brussels taught an equally harsh lesson to Napoleon two centuries earlier. Defeat at Waterloo, 10 miles south of town, meant goodbye to imperial life forever. Another farewell happened there on a warm summer night in August of 1969. It was a parting of a different kind. I was one of thousands of college students heading home after summer jobs in western Europe. Brussels was the embarkation point of choice. It…

ANDY DEPARTS, BUT MAYBERRY LIVES

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: ​Andy Griffith is gone. It hurts the heart of every baby boomer. He was one of the last to go, after Barney Fife, Goober Pyle, and Aunt Bea. ​But, even in their absence, Mayberry lives on. Not because of reruns. Not because of Mayberry Days in Griffith’s home town of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. No, because it’s a place where people still do the right thing. ​When you find your fender dented and a note on your windshield, it’ll be a Mayberry number. When a dispute is settled over a cup of coffee and a wedge of pie…

UNDERDOG BETS FUTURE ON COFFEE SHOP

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: In the movie “Hoosiers,” before taking the floor in the championship game against its big-city rival, actor Gene Hackman told his small-town basketball team from Hickory, “I love you guys.” We all love an underdog. This lesson came home to me at the Heights Ashbury Coffee Shop on 19th Street in the Heights. It was 1 p.m. on a Saturday. I ordered a decaf latte and asked the barista how business was going. “Well, I’m not sure,” Matt Toomey replied with a grin. “I just bought the place this morning.” Sitting outside under his hand-painted, psychedelic sign, I…

THREE BELLS REMIND ME OF WHAT’S IMPORTANT

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: Sometimes the best thing on television is an ad for old songs. The record companies think we’ll buy them because they make us feel good. I’ve never purchased any, but I always watch. Not long ago “The Three Bells” by the Browns came on. It’s a story of the birth, marriage and death of little Jimmy Brown, all memorialized by bells from a tiny chapel. It made me think of how simple things like the sound of a bell can remind us of what’s important in life. On my morning run I take a neighborhood street. Trees arch…

LESSON ON AN AUTUMN BEACH

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: It is autumn on the Island. The crowds are gone. Winter is looming. A north zephyr buffets us, hand in hand, along West Beach. Ahead an auburn sunset settles over Galveston State Park. Rows of pillared houses stand tall and dark, storm shutters drawn. We hold each other close against the bite of the late October gusts. The aura is peaceful, like our own little world. Few venture out of their cars and homes to walk the beach or brave the harsh winds. The roar of the surf sets the stage. We concede our subservient role. Strange…

PLAIN TALK CAN BRING US TOGETHER

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: Relationships can jump the track. By the time you wake up to the danger it’s too late. The parties are so alienated from rehashing old arguments they cannot work together to find solutions. The best hope is a new beginning. A clean slate. But, with one new rule: Be aggressive to the issue, sympathetic to the person. And so it is with race relations. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean you are a bad person. If we stopped the personal attacks from both sides about past misdeeds, we could focus on the future with open minds. Most…

WORDS UNSAID

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: A venerable legal maxim states “Words alone never justify violence.” Forty years ago their absence guaranteed it. In my first month of law practice a father and his teenage son came to see me. The boy had been sued for divorce. Our meeting was brief and the father spoke for them both. A week later, I learned from the wife’s lawyer that his client would not allow mine unsupervised visits with their infant son. When I called my young client with the news, he took it calmly. A few hours later on the 10 o’clock news I heard,…

HOW OUR NATIONAL CHARACTER WAS LOST IN SPACE

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: As I listened to the TV announcer describe Endeavor’s final lift off I was struck with a sense of loss. Not because Houston won’t be the center of space exploration any more, although that will hurt. Not because humankind’s quest of the unknown has slipped into neutral, or worse stalled out. But, because we’ve lost our nerve. There’ve always been good reasons not to go into space. In 1961 we were mired in a winner take all arms race with the Russians, our spirits and coffers low. They taunted us with their Sputnik and tested us by orbiting…

THE AMERICAN BRAND, TRIED AND TRUE

Americans are obsessed with labels. But, is it branding or bragging? In this age of shameless self promotion, the line blurs. When I was a kid parents preached that hard work, not hard sell, built reputations. Those were the days of quiet heroes like Hank Aaron who “let his bat do his talking”, and Neil Armstrong who took “one giant leap for mankind” then disappeared from view. Both are still household words. It’s not that twentieth century Americans rejected self promotion. We embraced silver tongues, like Will Rogers. Our favorites, however, didn’t promote themselves so much as their ideals. That bred…

ARCHITECT WALKS NEW PATH AS ARTIST

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: In the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” architect Tom Hanks described to a nationwide radio host what was special about his late wife: “When I touched her hand it was like coming home…only to no home I’d ever known. It was like magic.” Architects are like that. Sensitivity amid a maelstrom of hard hats and steel beams. I learned about this delicate balance in an unusual way. Alex Arzu worked at the architectural firm next door. A twenty-seven year old man newly minted from U of H School of Architecture, the marble floors and granite walls of the Decorative…

YOUTH IS ONLY STATE OF MIND, UNTIL IT’S NOT

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: In the classic song “Yesterday, When I Was Young”, which has become synonymous with the singer Roy Clark, he laments “The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned I always built alas on weak and shifting sand.” I thought of this song recently, not because I heard Clark sang it on an oldies commercial, or because he’d been reported dead, another internet hoax. But, because I ran into a young athlete whose grand ideas had been unwittingly swept away by time. He had cheated the reaper out of twenty years by rigorous exercise. His friends…

WHEN HUMAN SPIRIT BUILDS A BRIDGE

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: In the movie Dances with Wolves, Kevin Costner made peace with Sioux warriors by riding alone into their camp to return an injured Indian girl. A simple act of faith which overcame all barriers. With our nation divided along seemingly irreconcilably lines, unable to communicate in any language, I am reminded of a personal encounter not unlike Costner’s. It was the day after Katrina hit New Orleans. Some 250,000 refugees were arriving at the Astrodome in Houston by bus. I’d volunteered and was walking to my car at dusk when I came upon an elderly African American woman…

TWO LANE HIGHWAYS ARE SLOWER, BETTER WAY TO GO

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: I like two lane highways. When they pass through a town they have real names like Walnut Street—not Business 10. Next time you drive a rural Interstate notice the service road. Chances are it was an old two lane highway.  They don’t even call the Interstates highways anymore, just numbers like I-10. Interstates all look the same. You can see straight ahead for miles—no hills, plenty of time to plan, or scheme. No surprises. Two lane highways have hills and wander through forests. The sight line is rarely more than a few football fields. You can buy a…

THE BLUEBOOK ON THE TRUCK WAS MEMORIES

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: According to automotive experts, SUV’s devalue at 10% per year—all but mine. And I’m the third owner. I bought it new for my daughter’s high school graduation present. It had a big red bow. She took it to college in Cincinnati, and to summer jobs along the way. It was filled with parking stubs from the campus garage. I’d help her load up the truck and move from place to place, then I’d catch a plane home. Each time she’d drop me at the airport and drive away, blond mane billowing. Then she moved to Manhattan, where…

TEXAS MEANS A SECOND CHANCE

“He’s down on his luck. Give him a chance,” my father used to say, values learned in a small West Texas town during the Great Depression. At a time when lessons from that era are being relearned daily, it strikes me that the information age is a hindrance in many ways. In my father’s day when someone new came to town no one did a background search or checked the NCIC files—such things didn’t exist. Bankruptcy, judgments, even jail time were not an automatic barrier to entry unless the new comer had failed to mend his ways. You may say…

SHORTCUTS WON’T CUT IT ANYMORE

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: I’m a marathon coach. Each July hundreds of thirtysomethings brave the heat to begin six months of training for the Chevron Houston Marathon. Most of them finish. Reconciling the dedication of these runners with our country’s loss of its competitive edge is an enigma. I’ve concluded that we lag not because our young people are lazy, stupid or lack qualified instructors. It’s because we’ve forgotten to teach them that, in life, you can’t cut the tangents—the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line. We taught this generation to reach goals by the smartest path…

SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER, ALSTON’S STRIKE OUT STILL RESONATES

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: Seventy-five years ago today, September 27, 1936, baseball Hall of Famer Walter Alston started and ended his career as a big league player: One at bat, one strike out, and one error. After his lone day at first base for the St. Louis Cardinals, Alston went on to be one of the top ten managers in baseball history as skipper for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. It took Alston eighteen years to make it back to the bigs. He managed at every minor league level along the way, encouraging young stars and consoling those who weren’t. After pondering Alston’s…

QUIET CLERK SPEAKS VOLUMES

HOUSTON CHRONICLE AND BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: In the new TV series, “Touch,” a boy who can’t speak uses magical powers to help others. I thought this premise unlikely, until I met a young woman named Lisa. Needing one of those dime shaped batteries, I stopped at a Walgreen’s in Houston. She was dressed in a blue uniform, on her knees, stocking shelves. I showed her the old disc. She took it and motioned for me to follow. I struggled to keep up. On the far wall was a collection of tiny Everready’s, distinguishable only by their microscopic serial numbers. Lisa was…

NOTHING TEACHES LIKE A WALK IN ANOTHER’S SHOES

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: In the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” an inmate escaped wearing the warden’s shoes, prompting actor Morgan Freeman to ask “How often do you really look at a man’s shoes?” For me the answer was never — until I saw a young girl making good her own escape. It happened in a gym with polished floors, retractable seats and a parking lot of SUVs. That’s how fifth grade basketball was played south of the freeway in Houston. Her team arrived in a station wagon — a coach and six black players from north of the interstate, an invisible wall. My…

MUSICIAN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: Ulm, Germany. 1884. A five year old Jewish boy receives two presents. From his mother, violin lessons. His father, a compass. A brilliant musician, but a petulant pupil, he chafes at the mechanical exercises mandated by his tutor. He asks to play his own compositions. When his request is denied, his face flushes yellow with rage and he flings his chair at the teacher, who never returns. The full measure of Al’s musical talent is not realized until age thirteen when he falls in love with Mozart’s sonatas. Years later he would say to a friend about…

LONG FRIENDSHIP GOT TRUMPED BY POLITICS

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: A good friend died the other day. Years ago we began with the same political views. Independent was the label we preferred. No dogma. No narratives. No political correctness. Then came Trump. We thought he was the right medicine for our country. A guy who wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. Who befuddled political pundits by having supported both Democrats and Republicans. Who drove the media nuts. You could put him nose to nose with Putin. He would never crack. We listened to him as we carpooled to work. It felt good. We reveled in the idea…

LOCAL BARISTA SERVES UP MORE THAN COFFEE

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: In the fall, the cottonwoods and maples of Dripping Springs, Texas are awash with golden brown and brilliant orange. With the change of seasons, the tiny town is at peace awaiting the arrival of cool weather. Behind the counter in the Starbucks at Voss and San Felipe, Trevor Jones remembers Dripping Springs. He grew up there. His parents worked hard to support eight children, she as a school bus driver and a mechanic, he as an air conditioner repairman. His most vivid memory is the autumn of his eighth grade year. It was a season of discontent. When…

LAUGHING MAN GIVES US HOPE

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: A man looks both ways then slips onto a subway car in Boechout, Belgium. Shaved head, earphones, and a three day stubble, he is holding something under his jacket. As the train pulls out, the commuters eye him closely. This is Belgium. When he withdraws nothing more sinister than an iPad, they look away in relief. The man stares at the screen and starts to laugh. His shoulders roll. Heads turn back. A passenger glances up from his phone. Soon the man is laughing so hard he’s gasping for breath. The commuters begin to snicker. His laughing…

INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE DOESN’T HIDE TRUTH

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: Europeans quibbling over the Euro debt reminds me of how their feuding could have spelled disaster of a different kind. It happened one day at Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Bognor Regis on England’s south coast. I was working a summer job in the amusement park. I ran the tilt-a-whirl. Next to me was a Ferris wheel four stories tall. From atop the giant wheel on a clear day you could see across the Channel to Calais. We had a lot of French tourists. The French and English don’t get along. The former tolerate the latter for liberating their…

HOW ADVERSITY MADE THE MAN

GALVESTON DAILY NEWS: At a high school in backwater Brethren, Michigan, Jim, a fourteen year old African American boy trembles in his seat. His hands perspire as he holds a poem he has written called Ode to a Grapefruit. Thinking it too good to be original, his teacher has ordered Jim to validate the work as his own by reading it before the class. Any high school freshman would be scared. For Jim it’s sheer terror. He hasn’t uttered a word in school since he arrived eight years ago from Arkabutla Township, Mississippi. There he had lived in a four…

GO CAT GO TO TUPELO

MISSISSIPPI MAGAZINE: “Trample the weak, hurdle the dead” at Elvis’s hometown marathon. As a Houstonian, finding a marathon to run over Labor Day is daunting. The sanity line is Mason-Dixon. Anything south could involve an I.V. Then I found Crazy Jimmy’s Tupelo Marathon, where insanity is revered. It was a hot ticket in more ways than one. As a glutton for cut rate punishment I couldn’t pass up an 83 degree start, $60 fee, and slogan “Trample the weak, hurdle the dead”. But, in the end, Tupelo delivered much more. Now, getting from my hometown to Elvis’s in northern Mississippi…

FRIENDS TO THE END

MARATHON AND BEYOND MAGAZINE: Reflections on the end of 20 years with a running partner. A friend of mine died today. He was my running partner for 20 years. I watched him go through a long divorce and fight a bout with cancer. He was a trooper. We were exactly the same height and weight so our bodies reacted the same on long training runs. We ran every race together. As younger men we were of one mind as competitive runners, always scheming to better our race times by trying the latest shoes, clothing and training techniques. But, over the…

FOR REAL ANSWERS, LOOK BEYOND THE SPEECHES

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: In the sixties it was peace and love on one hand, the Vietnam War on the other. I was patriotic and ready serve. Yet, my favorite Beatles song was “All You Need Is Love.” That conflict became embedded in my psyche. It recently surfaced in an unusual way. Her car was parked hard against the curb on the service road of a freeway.  It was near the Galleria in Houston. The haute part of town. It was hot. A tire was flat. The jack lay on the concrete. Standing on the sidewalk, inches from the thundering traffic, stood…

EVERYONE LOVES A CHAMPION

    It’s not every day you fall in love with a marathon champion. It happened to me as I hobbled down the side walk after the Chevron Houston Marathon.  For a super hero who had just dazzled 100,000 fans, she was surprisingly approachable. As she strode past me flanked by policemen and race officials, she glanced at my finisher’s medal and gave me a quick nod. Although she competed at a far different level, for a split second we were equals, and more. I was smitten. But, this was not the stuff of romance. Just an affirmation between athletes of…

ECHOES AT SUNRISE

I didn’t cry when my father died. A kind man but a mean drunk, I judged him only by his limitations. That is, until my limitations as a distance runner cast him in a new light. It happened at 5 AM on a two lane blacktop during the Texas Independence Relay. Eight runners…200 miles…33 hours straight, retracing the 1836 route of the Mexican army between victory at the Alamo and defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto. From Gonzales, population 350, to Houston, population 3,500,000, the race is a running tour of rural Texas, through farming towns like those where…

DEMOLITION OF A HOUSE CANNOT ERASE A HOME

BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE: In her Grammy-award-winning song, The House That Built Me, Miranda Lambert sings about returning to her childhood home. I know you can’t go home again. I just had to come back one last time. This soulful ballad reminds me of a day when I rediscovered my boyhood home. Not by traveling to my hometown, or examining old photographs. But, on an early morning run. I had covered only a few blocks when I saw a yellow front end loader parked in the street. It roared to life and began crawling up the driveway of a one story red…

THE BEACH BOYS FORGIVE IN TIME FOR ONE MORE SAFARI

Air is rare at the high end of Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. Only hip hop gangsters and metalheads get to fly that close to the sun. But, three weeks ago something startling appeared in that air space. It wasn’t a bird or plane. No. It was the Beach Boys! Rising like a phoenix from the wasteland of modern pop music these venerable vinyl vets debuted at Number 3 with “That’s Why God Made the Radio”. The band’s 29th studio album marked their 50th anniversary. God himself could not have been more surprised. Good Morning America featured the ageless Boys…

BARNYARD BULLY LEARNS A LESSON IN FOREGIVENESS

In the movie Invictus, Morgan Freemen, as Nelson Mandela, admonishes an angry young disciple bent on revenge for prior attacks on the South African leader: “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.” Not long ago the wisdom of this axiom came home to me in an unusual way. The Hotel Granduca Houston looks like the backdrop for a Warner Brothers movie–four stories of Tuscan stucco. On a hot summer afternoon, a sports car accelerates through the ivy covered gateway, top down, ignoring the valet only signs, and skids into the first…

ARCHITECT CHANGES YOUR POINT OF VIEW, ONE CASTLE AT A TIME

“So Long Frank Lloyd Wright” is a wistful ballad by Simon and Garfunkel lamenting that “Architects may come and architects may go and never change your point of view.” Last week I met one who did. Richard Bewley, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has built twenty structures along Galveston’s beachfront. I caught up with Bewley on a scorching day on Pirates Beach West. We sat under my umbrella for shade. A graying man in a floppy hat, shielded by khaki pants and sleeves, he told me of his love affair with coastal architecture. The long time Methodist Sunday school teacher has given…

APPLE, AMERICA WILL MISS JOBS

When I heard Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, I knew that we, like Apple, were the poorer for it. Sure, Apple stock went down, but that’s not the reason. And our image as global tech leader took a hit, but that’s secondary. What hurts most was that we lost a winner—and we’ve none to spare. Jobs took on IBM in the 1970’s with a high school degree and a Buddhist haircut.  Although the silent majority and flower children were locked in a death grip, from that maelstrom emerged an unlikely counterculture of entrepreneurs for whom “winner” was still…

WALK A MILE IN ANOTHER MAN’S SKIN

It was a warm November afternoon in 1959. John Griffin had hitchhiked without success for ten miles along the highway from Biloxi, Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama. He needed a restroom in the worst way. A custard stand with an old unpainted outhouse behind came into view. Griffin rushed to purchase a small dish of ice cream. When he’d finished he asked the white attendant, “Where’s the nearest rest room I could use?” The attendant looked at Griffin’s dark skin which African-Americans call pure brown. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Let’s see. You can go up there to the…

A POLITICAL FIASCO TEACHES A LESSON IN HUMILITY

A day after the seismic shock of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, I sat at a table outside my favorite eatery pondering where we go from here as a nation. For the winners, the election was a windfall opportunity to turn the country on a dime. For the losers, the hard reality that not only did they lose the contest, but that their world vision was rejected by half their countrymen. As a Republican, I should have been feeling smug. No more taxing the rich to support universal healthcare and “economic equality”. I wanted to feel vindicated. People will once again…

WWII DIARY REVEALED FATHER I NEVER KNEW

In the 1983 classic film “Field of Dreams,” Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella built a baseball diamond in his corn field. Long-deceased major leaguers, including his estranged father, returned from the grave to stage exhibition games. When he saw his father as a young man, Kinsella exclaimed, “My God, I only saw him later, when he was worn down by life. Look at him. He has his whole life in front of him. I’m not even a glint in his eye.” Kinsella was given one more magical chance to heal old wounds by showing his father, for the first time, how…