This week I am remembering that it’s been fifty years since the assassination of Robert Kennedy. I wrote about this on Wednesday. That brought to mind Dion’s classic song. Robert isn’t included in the title, but he is remembered in tear-inducing final words of the song.
Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.
We must continue to carry the flame.
I want to acknowledge that today is D-Day. That’s important to remember. It is especially on my mind this year as I am reading a book on the literary and art scene in Paris between 1940 and 1950. It was not long after D-Day that Paris was liberated, though the war would go on for another year. But more on that down the line.
What is on my mind today is what happened fifty years ago. On June 6, 1968 Robert Kennedy died. He was shot in the early morning hours of June 5 after declaring victory in the June 4 California presidential primary. I had a paper route in those days, and as Don McLean sang about how he and his paper route intersected with events in the larger world, so did I and mine.
On Wednesday June 5 I got up, as I always did in those days, at 5:00 a.m. to fold my papers and I was not completely awake. The assassination was late enough that it was past the deadline for the main front page news story, but still early enough that the editors could pull out the promotional material above the masthead and replace it with a large headline: “Kennedy Shot” and a few paragraphs about what was known at the time. Below the masthead was a headline that reflected Kennedy’s victory in the California primary. It was very disorienting and it took me a little while to process what had happened.
I have a hard time believing that it has been fifty years. It has been though. And it was one of those events that changed the course of American society.
There is a story going around, a story that has been going around for some time, that Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame was a Navy Seal, and that he wore long sleeves on his television show to hide his tattoos.
The problem with the story is that it simply isn’t true. The story is pervasive enough that the privately-run Navy Seals web site, navyseals.com, devotes a page to debunking the myth. The go-to site for urban legend accuracy checking, snopes.com, offers a long entry debunking various Mr. Rogers myths, including the Navy Seals and tattoo stories. Snopes states:
Although he was friendly with the children in his viewing audience and talked to them on their own level, he was most definitely an authority figure on a par with parents and teachers (he was Mister Rogers to them, after all, not “Fred”), and his choice of dress was intended to establish and foster that relationship.
The Wikipedia entry for Fred Rogers describes how he want straight from college to television work. (Not that Wikipedia is to be trusted in every instance, but this entry is well annotated.)
If you need any more proof, check out the movie trailer for the upcoming Fred Rogers documentary. It shows scenes of him in short sleeves playing on the street with youngsters, not to mention a brief moment picturing him underwater in the pool wearing only swim trunks. Not a single tattoo in either case.
This is, perhaps, much ado about nothing, but I am guilty of spreading this urban legend, so I wanted to set the record straight.
The song speaks (sings) for itself, but this selection was inspired by the Prickly City comic strip.
I have to apologize. The blogger in the cartoon below? That’s me. I recognized myself immediately when I first saw the cartoon. That hurt. But I suppose it’s a good thing that I did recognize me.
I’m hoping that I can say that was me. I want to believe that I’m not that way anymore. I was that way, though. Just ask my friend Lynn, with whom I would meet for coffee before Terry and I moved south. Lynn, I apologize. That’s not a good way to treat a friend.
This cartoon comes, by the way, from the TED talk 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation given by public radio host Celeste Headlee. I highly recommend it. It has had more than nine million views, and there’s a reason for that.
And in my case I trust that reading my blog is not necessary for friends to learn about what is happening in my life.
Over the weekend I stumbled on and caught most of a PBS special about Maya Angelou. I knew she was an amazing woman, but I didn’t realize how amazing. Here is the poem she wrote for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Words of hope in unsettling days.
This Holy Near song is from 1993 and the video is from 2012, but both are as appropriate as ever today. There is an inspiring message of hope here.
A thought on this day of sadness, depression, and despair:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
That is the truth. It is the best we can do for now.
Thanks to my good friend Tahoe Mom for the reminder of this passage.
After the election I noticed the title of an NPR podcast from Weekend Edition. It was about escapist fiction to take your mind off of the election results. Just what I need, I thought. But what was the book editor recommending? Dystopian fiction. Why? Why? That’s not what I need.
Recently, while downloading Kindle samples for books I saw in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, my Kindle Store web app displayed Dystopian Societies as the first category of suggested titles. Why? Why?
Fr. Phil used up in Morgan Hill used to preach about this. Why envision a dystopian society when we can just as easily envision a utopian society, he asked. Yes, “utopia” means nowhere, but we can make “nowhere” into “now here.” Remember the Belinda Carlisle song “Heaven is a Place on Earth”?
My friend Tahoe Mom writes of hope:
Advent, a time of waiting. A time of anticipation. A time of Hope. This year more than any I have experienced in a long time, I am in need of Hope. Hope for Light in a time of darkness. Hope for Love in a time of hatred and bigotry. Hope for Laughter in a time of sadness and bewilderment. Hope for Peace in a time of threat. … I must also live in the moment given me already, claiming the promise of Hope for Light and Love, Laughter and Peace.
Please my friends, let’s put our energy not into a dystopia but into heaven as a place on earth. Let’s focus on light, love, laughter, and peace here and now.
I wrote a while back about a Hispanic-focused food company called FUD. I said that such a company name looked odd in the Anglo world of business and marketing. That’s because in that context FUD means “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” It’s what your competitors want to instill in your customers about your products. But in the world of Hispanic food products, FUD = food, and that’s how it’s pronounced.
The name of the company comes from the combination of the words “bingo” and “Bambi” (at least according to Wikipedia) and the mascot is a cute (I suppose) white bear that slightly resembles the Pillsbury Doughboy. “The English word bimbo, with its negative connotations, has no cognate in Spanish,” says Wikipedia.
Bimbo is now the largest bakery company in the United States. The actual Bimbo brand is only marketed to the Hispanic community. But Bimbo Bakeries USA brands include:
- EarthGrains breads
- Nature’s Harvest breads
- D’ Italiano breads
- Ballpark hot dog buns
- Entenmann’s pastries
- Francisco breads
- Oroweat breads
- Sara Lee breads and products
- Thomas English muffins and bagels
You have to read the fine print on the product Web sites to see that these brands are part of the Bimbo family. And in fact Bimbo does not manufacture all of those brands in every region. As part of the purchase of Sara Lee in 2011, Bimbo had to sell brands in certain regions. For example, in 2013 Bimbo licensed the Sara Lee and EarthGrains brands in California to Flowers Foods.
It’s a weird, weird world of marketing today.