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Posted by on Mar 23, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 0 comments

Coping and ‘Agreeing to Disagree’ in a Disagreeable World

 

 

Compartmentalization: The Ideal Coping Mechanism for ‘Agreeing to Disagree’ in a Disagreeable World

 

Compartmentalization is a coping mechanism to preserve social connectivity while at the same time maintaining civility.

I think a better understanding of this concept — and putting it into practice more often — will help many people. It’s certainly helped me. Indeed, practicing compartmentalization has not only been immensely helpful, but it’s also allowed me to expand many of my relationships and benefit from those connections.

Let me explain how these thoughts and this post came about.

A few days ago, posts by friends from my poker days came across my Facebook feed. Even though it’s been several years since I’ve seen them in person, following Facebook and being exposed to their activities has allowed me to keep up-to-date on where they’re now working and what they’re doing. In a sense, it’s allowed friendships to continue, even though I don’t see them much anymore. That’s one of the joys of this social media platform, which is a continuous scroll of updates, interspersed with the occasional surprise.

Robbie K. Thompson and I began working together at the World Series of Poker back in 2008. He quickly rose through the ranks as a floorman-supervisor and was calling the action on the main stage, sometimes on television. Robbie and I are polar opposites on almost all political topics, but I’ve always respected him and enjoyed his company.

I’ve known Eric Daniel Comer for an even longer period, dating back 20 years. We worked at the Horseshoe together and did various tournaments in the South, side by side. Eric has a tremendous work ethic. I can’t recall a single unpleasant encounter with him.

Anyway, there was a political thread where I jumped in, claws out, scratching as usual. Robbie and Eric chimed in with some nice comments, even though we disagreed strongly on the topics. That incident was an important reminder to me that it’s not only possible but in many cases *essential* to try and find common interests and stay afloat on those conversational liferafts.

Whatever your political persuasion, there are times of shared solace and reflection. Most of us agree this social distancing period is such a time, in fact, THE PERFECT TIME not necessarily to “social distance” but rather to reconnect, share, and learn.

Compartmentalization is precisely what it sounds like. We place our thoughts and engage in discussions in compartments. Most of my closest contacts have a multitude of different interests — on politics, music, movies, sports, and just about everything else. It *IS* possible, and a joy, to share a laugh or learn a historical fact or hear about a new affordable Zinfandel from someone with whom I have no political or philosophical affinity.

I’m blessed to have many friends from all over the world, with different ideas than my own. Even though I’ve engaged in heated discussions with many, I can’t think of a single individual who I couldn’t be friends with in person, if given the opportunity.

I think we all benefit by sharing our passions, but also maintaining some boundaries. I shall continue to do everything within my persuasive powers to advance my beliefs and obliterate bad ideas, hopefully with logic and rationale. And, if I’m unsuccessful with some people, that won’t impact my opinion of them, not in the least.

We can disagree without being disagreeable. Thanks for Robbie and Eric for reminding me of this important lesson on this glorious Monday morning.

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Posted by on Feb 13, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Announcing My Lean in the 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucus

TEN POINTS OF LIGHT

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I’m conflicted.

For the first time ever, I’m still somewhat uncertain as to who I will vote for in a major election.

With Nevada’s caucus now ten days away, however, I now have a lean. I am prepared to announce this preference in today’s column.  This is a fragile choice subject to change. I’m no longer on the fence, but the fence is still easily within reach. I never understood voters who said they made up their minds right before the election, in the past. Now, I’m part of that “semi-undecided” group.

[1]  First and foremost, my voting decision and activism are entirely predicated upon one thing. I’m only interested in removing the evils and dangers of Donald Trump and any other political leader associated with his toxicity. My ideology is totally irrelevant to the discussion. And since I’m an ideologue, this is a significant departure in practice for me, something that’s very difficult to do.

[2]  Every Republican — from the president down to local judges — must be defeated. Period. Exclamation point. Any candidate with an “R” next to their name is an automatic — FUCK NO. Indeed, I wish there was a “FUCK NO” box to check. I bring this up because the candidate at the top of the ticket has a huge impact on down-ballot races. The coattail effect will be huge in 2020 (i.e., there will be very little vote splitting, I believe). So, we need to get the top of the ticket right, by choosing the best candidate who will help the other races (which means keeping the House and perhaps even flipping the Senate).

[3]  I strongly supported Bernie Sanders in 2016. He’s the closest in philosophically to my own politics. However, I have several serious and justified concerns with Sanders. While he has done wonderful things to educate millions of Americans about (democratic) socialism and he has energized many young people, I fear he may tarnish the movement from this point forward. I would be thrilled to be wrong on this point. But I’m not wrong in having concerns. If Sanders loses in the general election, Republicans would certainly maintain control of the Senate (ensuring another six years of McConnell) and there’s even some chance Republicans might re-take the House. If this happens, the consequences for our country and democracy would be utterly catastrophic.

[4]  I’m glad Pete Buttigieg is in the race. He’s a fresh face. He articulates a centrist Democratic position, and I’m good with that politically speaking (though I don’t agree ideologically). His surprising success and national exposure will go a long way towards broader acceptance. I wish Buttigieg was running as a congressman, senator, or something other than an inconsequential mayor. I like having him as a choice, but don’t see any chance of supporting him at the caucus.

[5]  I might get sick if Joe Biden wins the Nevada caucus. He reminds me so much of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. If I thought Biden had any capacity whatsoever to re-energize his candidacy, I might be persuadable to supporting him or at least reserving judgment. But there’s nothing to jump-start here. He’s the old car battery that’s been sitting in the Dodge out in the driveway that hasn’t started in four years. Biden served his country well and is a good person. But he’s nearing his public service expiration date and would be a bad choice for the nomination. I can’t think of a single person excited about Biden’s candidacy. That said, given the dysfunction and corruption of the DNC and the role of superdelegates, I’m not sure he’s done quite yet.

[6]  Elizabeth Warren will drop out of the race after Super Tuesday, on March 3rd. It’s sad really. She’s had a good ground game here in Nevada set up for more than a year. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t get a call or text from the Warren campaign asking me to come to see her speak or lend my support. I actually think Warren’s Nevada campaign has done a good job, and I have the frontline experience to say that. However, these first two primaries have been devastating and she won’t do well in South Carolina, either (which is next). I can’t see Warren finishing in the top three here, which is what it would take to get her back in the race.

[7]  I’m leaning towards supporting Amy Klobuchar in the Nevada caucus. I would measure this support at 60 percent certain. She’s more of a default choice at this point. She checks some key boxes — particularly on gender and being midwestern. I have some serious differences with Klobuchar on issues, but I’m willing to set those aside from pragmatism and practicality. Her third-place showing in NH was a breakout, and I really liked her speech afterward. That was the first time I’d seen Klobuchar catch any fire. I also like her personal story, which is now getting some press. She seems like the best chance to beat Trump at the moment, though I’m perhaps weighing the NH results too heavily.

[8]  Finally, all of this could change. I’m disgusted with the Culinary Union here in Las Vegas, which is demonstrably anti-Sanders. The disgraceful and corrupt practices of the Culinary Union in the 2016 race, rescuing Clinton’s campaign which was floundering, was scandalous. Right out of the old Chicago machine political playbook. Now, they’re trying to torpedo Sanders, astoundingly under the guise that universal health care (Sanders’ core issue) would disrupt the negotiated health care plans between casinos and their workers. In other words, “WE GOT OURS–SCREW EVERYBODY ELSE.” That’s the Culinary Union’s position. I’m generally a huge supporter of unions, but this backstabbing on universal health care smacks of perversion. Read on…..

[9]  If I arrive at my local caucus (The Lakes/ Las Vegas) and see the Culinary Union people there all wearing Amy Klobuchar t-shirts and marching around like Hillary Clinton’s failed flunky robots, I might bolt across the room and stand with the Sanders supporters in the caucus. I’m not sure how I will react. But I will have a very hard time standing with that union crowd against my ideological brethren. I hope it doesn’t come to this. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do.

[10]  If anything I’ve written causes you to rethink your position, then that’s good. I hope by sharing my own conflicts and decisions, this might help others going through the same thing. Thanks for reading.

VOTE BLUE!

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Posted by on Feb 10, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Movie Reviews | 0 comments

Midnight Cowboy — 50 Years Later

 

 

MIDNIGHT COWBOY (50 YEARS LATER)

A friend on Facebook asked me this morning why I chose Midnight Cowboy as a favorite personal movie. This does seem like an odd choice. It’s rather dark and depressing and not the typical film associated with inspiration.

I didn’t plan on writing this up, but since my answer wouldn’t fit into a simple post, I decided to create a new thread, and ultimately this article, which is admittedly very personal to me. I hope this will answer the question about Midnight Cowboy and its continued impact, 50 years after it was released.

Initially rated X when it was released, the film was shocking for its time. It was part of a tidal wave of cinematic creativity following the MPAA’s relaxation of restrictions and implementation of a rating system. I was eight years old when I saw it. Think of that in all its implications.

All movies are viewed with an impenetrable prism, and that prism is our own experience and perception. We filter all stimuli through our own screens, which inevitably distorts the reception of art. It’s why two people can watch the same movie — or hear the same song or look at the same painting — and come away with entirely opposite impressions.

My own prism clouds my judgment of Midnight Cowboy in a positive way. I had really cool parents, who exposed me to things when young that other kids simply didn’t see. They divorced when I was 2, but each took me to the movies, even R rated movies. Other kids were going to see 101 Dalmatians and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Meanwhile, my mother — a single parent in her 20s — was taking me to see films like Midnight Cowboy, Serpico, Patton, The Godfather. Same with my father, on weekends.

I mean, I was like 8 or 9 or 10. Those things make an impression. A powerful impression.

For me, Midnight Cowboy was really frightening at the time. New York City looked so scary. These two losers were selling blood, one was a male prostitute living in an abandoned tenement in Harlem. But there was also something quite beautiful about it. The love. The compassion amidst the chaos. The humanity on streets paved with indifference.

Now, let’s fast forward 45 years later and please listen to this story:

I don’t think I saw Midnight Cowboy again at least all the way through until an entirely accidental encounter and I’d like to share this because it gives such a (I hope) poignant perspective of how movies impact us.

My last working WSOP was in the summer of 2016. We worked 54 straight days with no time off, 16 hour days. Brutal on the mind and body. You have to go through it to understand. Trust me, the body and mind are wrecked. I came back home on July 16, 2016 and arrived at 5 am at home. 5 am. The sun was just coming up. Marieta had the door open to the house. She had just made morning coffee.

My mind was so wound up I could not sleep, so Marieta turned on the TV (at 5 am) and it was TCM channel and Midnight Cowboy was just starting with Harry Nielson’s famous “Everybody’s Talkin'” theme song. We sat there and for the next two hours watched this movie from start to finish that I had not seen in 46 years. I can’t describe it, but my memories of that morning are tearful. She had never seen it before, so this was oddly a joyous experience, being able to reconnect with something from my own past as a child and then watch Marieta as she too became absorbed by the oddest couple, Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

That was my morning on July 16th, 2016, which also happened to be Marieta’s 55th birthday. And the day began at 5 am watching Midnight Cowboy.

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Rants and Raves | 0 comments

My 2020 New Year Resolutions — Twenty Days Later

 

train crash

 

So, how are the 2020 New Year’s resolutions going?

Now so good, huh?

You’re not alone.  Here’s my 20-day update into the year 2020:

 

RESOLUTION #1: Lose Weight

People carrying a few extra pounds typically announce that they’re going on a diet when a new year begins. A week later, we’re at the All You Can Eat buffet pounding down a second slice of cheesecake.  Sure, we want to lose weight. But why kid ourselves? We’re not chasing a magic number. A weight scale shouldn’t be our barometer of happiness. Instead, our goal should be — to get healthier. To feel better. Losing weight shouldn’t be the end game, but rather one numerical consequence of striving for something higher. There are certainly ways to reduce one’s weight (so, I hear), but they aren’t always healthy. Some are even risky. Our top priority should be to enjoy life to the greatest extent possible. Sure, I’d like to drop a few pounds. But if I get through the year 2020 at 225 pounds (my current weight) and maintain my health, that’s a victory.

 

RESOLUTION #2: Travel Less

I love traveling. That is, once I get there. Unfortunately, the journey getting from point A to B is often a miserable experience. Flown lately? Been strip-searched by overzealous TSA agents? Paid nearly the cost of the air ticket for baggage fees? Been sardined into a middle seat? Sat beside the rapper yapper or the screaming infant? Leisure travel can be a tremendously rewarding experience. But traveling just for the sake of going somewhere and then returning home again is often more stressful than a typical workday spent at home. Especially if you’ve got kids or pets and have to board them (board the pets I mean). I hope to travel less in 2020 unless there’s a first-class hotel and wine involved.

 

RESOLUTION #3: Manage My Stress Better

Zen philosophy is becoming increasingly popular. I can certainly understand why. The problem with Zen is, it encourages us to disengage from challenges. I wholeheartedly reject this approach. Some things in life must be confronted. Always. Always. Always. And passion is the rocket fuel that lights the engine. Vested emotions and intensity can be a great motivator. Sorry, but Zen people don’t usually change the world. Action-minded people do. Those with passion do. I want to get fired up about life, not skate through it calmly. Forget worrying about rocking the boat. Rock the hell out of it. That’s my motto.

 

RESOLUTION #4: Drink Less Alcohol/Quit Drinking

If drinking is a problem in your life, then, by all means, do try to cut back and/or get some help. But let’s face it. Drinking serves as a wonderful bonding experience for many people. Without drinking, I doubt many people would be as close as they are. Booze is both a sugar cube and a truth serum. While this freedom can be dangerous when abused (and there’s lots of abuse), the loss of inhibitions can also be tremendously liberating. Think of it another way. I have a theory that outlawing bars (and forbidding drinking/intermingling of sexes) in Muslim countries frustrates the hell out of a lot of people, especially young men, and that’s what causes much of the world’s problems. Here’s a thought:  Open bars all over the Middle East.  Acts of terrorism would be cut in half.  Yes, I believe that. As for me, I plan on drinking exactly the same amount with the same frequency in 2020 as I’ve done in the past. I see no reason to make changes. And, to reiterate my point — some places in the world need a lot more drinking, not less.

 

RESOLUTION #5: Get Out of Debt

I’d love to be debt-free. I’d also like to be 25-years-old again and a member of the Rolling Stones. Fact is, when the date December 31st, 2020 rolls around, most of us are still going to be in hock up to our asses to the banks. We’ll still owe on our mortgages, own credit card debt, and have to beg some joker dressed in a golf shirt for a new car loan. I take a much simpler approach, a goal I can actually achieve. It’s this. Try and stop the bleeding first, which means not to take on any more debt. That’s the first goal everyone currently in debt should have, since our poor spending and saving habits likely got us into trouble in the first place.  Especially me.

 

RESOLUTION #6: Eat Healthier

I don’t believe in diets of denial. I want to eat good food and plenty of it. That means I won’t be ashamed of enjoying my large portions, my red meat, my loaded baked potato, my real butter, my rich desserts, my deep-fried foods, and pretty much whatever I want. That said, I refuse to eat fast food or consume prepackaged garbage that’s sold in supermarkets because that’s poison. And, I’ll never drink a soda, which is packed with sugar and chemicals. Never! So, that means I can enjoy just about everything else so long as it’s natural. A side note: I suffered a health scare late in 2019, so this might change — but all tests showed diet wasn’t a factor.

 

RESOLUTION #7: Be a Better Father/Husband/Friend/Son/Whatever

Sounds all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it. The mantra goes something like this — I don’t spend enough time with so and so, which means I must change. Says who? You work hard, right? You earn the bread, right? You love your family and friends and are there for them when they need support, right? I think it’s vital to be comfortable in our own skin. You also need your time, just for you. If people get offended by the things you say or do, maybe the problem lies with them — not you. Think about that. Be who you are and take time for yourself. You probably deserve it. And there’s no reason to apologize for feeling this way, just as those you care about also deserve their own time and space.

 

RESOLUTION #8: Go Back to School/Get an Education

I’m all for learning. But getting an education doesn’t have to cost you 30 grand a year. The education lobby and the lending cutthroats have warped our sense of reality. They’re loading up millions of kids with crushing amounts of debt, and then providing few tools to escape the chains other than slaving away for years to pay off the loans (this is entirely by design). Yes, I believe people should learn as much as they can, and get an education. However, it’s far easier to read a book on your own, or become part of a social club, or join an Internet group which provides opportunities to learn just as much. And, it’s basically all free. Self-learn. Take a guitar lesson online. Get a library card.  Volunteer to coach a kid’s soccer team.  I’ve done all three.  Learning shouldn’t be a once-a-year resolution. Education should be a lifelong mission that never ends.

 

RESOLUTION #9: Donate Blood/Give to Charity

This one will piss-off some people. I’ve donated blood before. Many times. However, many blood banks (and drives) are nothing but scams. Make sure the blood you give is really going to someone needy and won’t be sold off for a profit by some medical company. When it comes to donating time or money to a charity, be sure they do what they say. And check out the salary of the head honcho running the show (non-profits are required to make this information public). Some of the biggest charities in America are detestable, horribly-managed, money-making enterprises. I give to charity when I can. But I refuse to give anything to a charity that pays fat salaries to its executives or is based in ridiculously expensive cities like New York and Washington. Move the charity to someplace where operating costs are significantly cheaper so more good can be done. The point is — give, but with greater discretion. I also volunteer, once a week.  I wish I could do more, but this is the right balance.  I recommend trying to find your own balance, whatever it is.

 

RESOLUTION #10: Quit Gambling

You’re kidding, right?

__________

 

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Posted by on Nov 22, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics | 0 comments

Dallas’ Darkest Cloud: Growing Up in the Shadows of the Kennedy Assassination

 

kennedy assassination

 

Writer’s Note:  Today marks the 56th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Some 19 months before that tragic day, I was born in Dallas.  My family lived in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, where Lee Harvey Oswald also resided and was ultimately captured.  Today’s column reveals what life was like growing up in the shadows of the Kennedy Assassination.  A similar version of this article first appeared at this site in 2013.

 

I’m one of the few people alive who lived near the two most shocking tragedies in modern American history.  I say this with no sense of pride, but do wish to bear witness.

On September 11, 2001, I lived on the ninth floor of a high-rise condo building in Arlington, VA, across Interstate 395, directly overlooking the Pentagon, which became engulfed in flames that morning after being hit by a jet airliner in the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Ironically, Arlington, VA is where John F. Kennedy’s body now rests.

On November 22, 1963, the Oak Cliff section of Dallas was my home, only a few miles from where President Kennedy was assassinated and an even shorter distance from where Lee Harvey Oswald was later caught by Dallas police at the Texas Theater on Jefferson.

I don’t remember anything about that tragic day in Dallas.  I was too young to have any memories.

But everyone from Dallas around that time developed a deeper sense of awareness than most of what the assassination meant.  Sometime later, we came to our own opinions about what had happened.  We carried around scars, lingering long afterward.  That terrible moment in our nation’s history even gave Dallas an inferiority complex.  It forced some of us to try and go out and prove to the world that we weren’t like the assassin at all (who was actually from New Orleans and even lived in New York City for a short time).  We weren’t “the city of hate,” as many suggested.

 

**********

 

The Oak Cliff section of Dallas lies just to the south of downtown, on the opposite side the Trinity River.  It’s considered the city’s stepchild.

Oak Cliff only a few miles away from the big banks, tall buildings, and giant office towers that eventually became Dallas’ trademark.  It’s only a short ride from far wealthier sections of the city — including Highland Park, University Park, and North Dallas.  But it might as well have been light-years from the rest of Dallas society — the privileged upper class who glanced across the Trinity River and the giant flood plain and looked at Oak Cliff as “the other side of the tracks.”

My mother and father divorced early in my life.  They mostly grew up in and around Oak Cliff.  So did many other famous people you may know.  For example, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the iconic blues guitarist, was from Oak Cliff.  Long before then, the notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde hung out around the far western fringes of Jefferson Avenue.

For me, perhaps the most shocking common ground, however, is my parents’ connection to South Oak Cliff High School.  They were students at the same school where (now retired) NBA star Dennis Rodman later went and played high school basketball.  Pretty amazing to think my mother and father sat in the same classrooms as Dennis Rodman.

Today, Oak Cliff is just about all Black and Latino.  But back during the early 1960s, it was a vast melting pot of all ethnic groups.  Sort of a smaller Brooklyn.  No one seemed to have much money, but everyone got along fine.  We never had racial problems or the kinds of troubles associated with the Old South.  Although I moved away to Chicago and Albuquerque for a time (my father worked an air-traffic controller), we returned back to Oak Cliff again during the 1970s where I attended a half-White, half-Black school (T.W. Browne).  Race just wasn’t a big deal to us kids.  We even had lots of interracial dating.  Maybe the grown-ups thought differently about race than we did.

 

**********

 

I don’t remember ever seeing the actual house where Lee Harvey Oswald lived, nor do I know the exact spot where he senselessly gunned down a Dallas police officer named J.D. Tippet.  Oh, I probably rode my bike down those streets and later drove my car across the pavement where Oswald walked many times over the years.  But the passage of time is a giant eraser.  It tends to wipe out the things we don’t see.  Most memories fade slowly.

When I was a kid, I watched a number of movies that played at the Texas Theater.  One seat in the center of the auditorium was different than the others.  It was painted black.  That was the infamous seat where Lee Harvey Oswald was sitting when he was captured by police and tried to resist arrest.

Growing up, I also remember the tasty barbecue joint located next door.  It was called “Po’ Boys.”  That local dive served the tastiest sliced beef-brisket in the city, topped off with a spicy sauce, washed down by an ice-cold mug of root beer.  That was the best-tasting thing in the world when you’re 12-years-old, or 57-years-old.

Years later, I worked as a bartender at a restaurant downtown.  A husband-wife team waited tables where I worked and somehow managed to save enough money to lease the storefront where the old Po’ Boys had been and open up their own Mexican restaurant.  Their last name was — and I swear I’m not making this up — “Kennedy.”  Oh, the irony.

Whether it was watching movies or eating barbecue, no one ever brought up the name Lee Harvey Oswald, nor did we give much thought to the things that happened that awful day back in 1963.  No one that I around knew him, nor remembered him.  It was like he never existed.

 

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Some people think sports receives far too much attention in our society.  Perhaps they’re right.

But unless you’re around my age, or perhaps a little older, you will never be able to understand the significance of what the Dallas Cowboys football team meant to our city, and it’s people.  To most out there reading this who are from other cities and the fans of other teams, you have to try and imagine the terrible black eye Dallas suffered because of the Kennedy Assassination.

The worldwide anger directed at the city was (and is) completely unwarranted.  After all, the actual crowds that welcomed the President on that November day were friendly, even wildly enthusiastic.  Moreover, Kennedy wasn’t killed by a local right-winger.  He was murdered by an avowed Marxist who lived most of his life elsewhere.  The assassin also had no long-term links to Dallas, other than living in the city and its suburbs on two separate occasions.  At the time he killed Kennedy, Oswald had been living in Oak Cliff for about seven weeks’ time.

Yet, Dallas and its citizens were largely blamed as a whole for the crime of the century.

What happened in the aftermath of the Kennedy Assassination certainly didn’t help the city’s image in the larger court of public opinion.  Although the Dallas Police Department did a remarkable job at capturing Oswald quickly and linking the assassin directly to the crime with evidence that was overwhelming (within just hours), his shocking murder on national television only a few days later in the basement of the city jail by Jack Ruby, a strip club owner with ties to organized crime, made the world think of Dallas as an outpost in the wild west.

Fortunately, without intention, the NFL’s Cowboys came to deflect that image over the years.  They became good, very good in fact, at just the right time.  In 1965, the Cowboys began a record-setting string of consecutive playoff appearances.  To outsiders, they became a new symbol of a more modern city and a source of pride for everyone.  Much later, they even became known as “America’s Team.”  I think the adoration many people have for the Cowboys stems from people needing some sense of relief from the pain of those darkest days in the city’s history.  Back then, they were the shining star that allowed the city to heal from what happened.

 

**********

 

Growing up around where the Kennedy Assassination took place gives me a more sentimental attachment to the events of that day and the people who were witnesses of history.  But it doesn’t provide me with any special advantages as to suspecting who was really responsible.

After the Warren Commission Report was released, a cottage industry of conspiracies sprung up.  Some of the authors and investigators who penned various theories were well-intended, and even thought-provoking.  Others were total quacks.  In some cases, important questions were brought to light for the first time that needed to be asked, specifically about facts that weren’t covered in the Warren Commission Report.  Of course, the links between Oswald and Ruby to Pandora’s Box of possibilities — ranging from organized crime to the Central Intelligence Agency, to Fidel Castro, to the Russians — made for some entertaining speculation.

Now 55 years later, I think the evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone — as did Jack Ruby when he shot his target in a moment of passion.  While plenty of other theories were worthy of consideration at one time, we’ve now reached the point when no additional information, nor final conclusive answers, are likely to be forthcoming.  Perhaps the real story of what happened in Dallas that day was just as it was initially reported.  That’s not the answer many people want to hear.  But the truth isn’t always the most interesting of possibilities.

That’s probably the saddest tragedy of all, that the leader of a nation could be gunned down and history could be forever changed — not by the hand of a grand conspiracy — but rather from a simple inexplicable act from a loner.

The streets in Dealey Plaza and around Oak Cliff where the assassination and its aftermath took place remain virtually identical today, just as they were 50 years ago.  But for all those who were around during that time and who remember, nothing is quite the same as it was, nor will things ever be the same again.

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