Monday, February 27, 2017


If I never get on another airplane, that will be okay with me.  I am not afraid of flying, but simply have had enough of 30,000 feet in the air. Been there, done that so many, many times. No doubt part of my negativism has to do with today's airport scene, best described as serial aggravation.

When I do have to go to an airport nowadays, it's because I have to drop off or pick up family members or close friends. That said, all is not lost for it IS possible to have bright moments when waiting for arrivals. This is especially true if you are a “people-watcher” as I am.  It is both a learning lesson in civic behavior and an indictment of our manners. 

My colleague, David M, says I actually watched Wilbur and Orville run up and down the sandy hills of Kitty Hawk launching that slight bird they flew into the history books. Not quite, but I was airborne the day of the 50th Anniversary of Air Canada; how many decades ago was that? Glamour in flying is long gone of course. “Sardines in the Sky” is more like it as we get jammed into our silver cans ready for the wild blue yonder.

As for observing the Great American Public in airports, the first thing you notice is how fashion has become so unfashionable. It is light years different from the days when going up in an airplane was a combination of adventure and social event. People dressed if not in their “Sunday Best” something akin to that. (Hats and gloves were de rigeuer for the ladies back then.) Of course Sunday Best today means Less Grunge than the other days of the week.  “Dressing up” is of interest solely to historians.

Today's traveler places comfort above all. Sweat suits are in, even as showering is passe for many. Smiles are few. Best to put on your game face and be prepared for the frustrations coming your way. Seats are shrinking in size even as we ourselves expand. Knowing full well that there are no complimentary meals aloft, chow down before you board a plane. A sizable number of fliers prefer copious onions & garlic on their pre-boarding pizza. And hey, that's one reason why sweat suits are so in. Who would take the time to notice a tomato streak or barbecue splash on sweats when your very survival depends on getting away from that breath?

One of the true joys of flying in yesterday's skies had to do with the professionalism of stewardesses who were well trained, attractive and highly courteous. Today's “flight attendants” are underpaid, overworked and put-upon at every level. If you can do one positive thing to make up for all this, it would be to save one of your few smiles for them. You might even add “it's nice to see you” if you are pretty sure she won't faint from hearing a good word coming her way.

We can't change the whole messed up system with one smile, but it's a start and will surely brighten her day.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Another Look at Television

The late broadcaster Bill McCarter had a knack for spotting emerging talent.  In the early 1970s McCarter called me to identify one such named Brent Musburger, who was relatively unknown outside of Chicago and a few points west.

The other night I watched Musburger, nowadays very well known, calling his last basketball game. As usual he was a comfortable pal to be around, near or far. Brent loves sports, and because he usually knows what he's talking about, he enriched whatever game we were watching. There are some very positive things about TV. Brent Musburger was one of them.

Still the negatives about television are staggering.  Violence on the tube is overwhelming. Take another look yourself at the near-endless killings, explosions and mayhem that abounds. What can this possibly be worse for our minds, young minds especially? Some programs that purport to be “discussions” of issues are just more of the same.  Did you ever take a peek at the garbage that Maury Povich, Jerry Springer and their ilk serve up day by day?  Add to the mix Hollywood movies dominated by car chases, computer generated destruction, explicit sex, vulgarity beyond vulgarity. To the damage that television mayhem does to our own most precious resource, our children, add the fact that our product is exported all around the world. No wonder the image of our culture is so dismal overseas. You don't have to torture yourself, but please be aware of the extent of the damage being done.

Television is the primary influence in our time. TV, all by itself, is responsible for social change, more than all the legislation ever written.  You really can't change minds by writing laws. People will do what they want to do, one way or the other. Case in point are the advertising commercials depicting the races. It started with white men and women being socially linked with those of other races – usually a Hispanic, Hawaiian or other lighter skinned individuals, then as couples, then as parts of a mixed family. Gradually, and in a relatively short span of time, black and whites jointly filled roles previously restricted to the members of the same race.  So too with same sex couples. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion on whether this is good or bad, but the fact is changes in society have been caused by television. Again, the point is to be aware of this powerful impact.   

With our country being in such turmoil, real news versus fake news and countless opinions bombarding us day and night, each of us has to take personal responsibility for sorting it all out. Our own ethical compass and common sense are just about all we have. Not an easy task, for sure.  But we can't farm it out to any others, can we?