Dan Valentine – Moses parts the Red Sea, in Nashville

May 29, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Back to Nashville again and my one-night stand. (Never been fond of one-night stands. Who can stand that long?)

The doors of Operation Stand Down opened up. I had an MCI calling card on me with a few remaining minutes on it, in case an emergency should arise. Standing at a pay phone, I called my sister, Valerie, in France. Told her my predicament.

“Broke!!! Danny, how can you be broke?”

“I only have a few minutes on my card, Val.”

“Homeless! Danny, how did you become homeless!”

“Val, you’re using up my few remaining minutes.”

“Nashville! What are you doing in Nashville?”

(To be fair to my sister, I had said almost the very same things to my brother, Jimmy, when he was in need. If you’ve never been homeless, you don’t have a clue.)

“Money?!” she said. “I don’t have any.”

That was news to me. Last I heard she was a millionaire. Just like I once was. Well, stuff happens, as they say.

“Just $600! For the hostel here. For a month’s stay.”

Well, to make a long, minute-munching call short, she said she’d see what she could do.

Tossing my card in the nearest trash–no remaining minutes left–I made my way to the hostel where I had stayed for a month before going bust. I told Ron, the owner, my plight. Told him my sister was sending money. He offered me board and breakfast in exchange for helping out at the hostel.

That morning I had waffles with Nutella. Most enjoyable, to say the least.

I had a Net 10 cell phone, with minutes on it. Not usable for calls overseas. I phoned an old friend from my New York days. Don’t ask me why.

“Danny!!!” She was happy to hear from me. She is a composer. Very talented. She’s a graduate from the Manhattan School of Music. We were teamed together at the BMI Musical Workshop. We collaborated on what I think are some very good songs. Only one prob: She’s a multiple. Besides her wonderful, talented self, she has some six different, distinct personalities. Each with her/his own, individual name. Of course!

And only one writes music!

One personality acts as protector, one is an elderly woman, one is a little boy, one manages all the others. The last, a very important role–time-consuming!

Not to disturb anyone, I walked from the hostel, cell in hand, to the end of the block, telling her my plight of the last few nights, when suddenly a “crazy black man”, brandishing a baseball bat in his fist, came storming out of the bushes, screaming obscenities and more at me. My talking must have disturbed his sleep–what little sleep a homeless person gets. I could sympathize.

He was in attack mode. I backed away, told my former New York partner what was happening. She could hear him screaming at me. “Gotta go,” I said. “Call you right back.”

He chased me to the edge of the hostel grounds. Like a fool, I screamed, “Help, police! Someone call the police!”

A couple came out of one of the dorms. Saw me. Saw him. Stepped back inside.

Lesson learned: Never shout Police! Shout Fire!

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the enraged man shouted one or two more remaining things on his mind and walked down the street, out of view, with his bat.

Whew! Close call! I phoned my friend back. And she (the protector, the manager, pick one from a hat) said, “I’m sorry, Danny, but I can’t take the stress!”

She can’t take the stress?!!

“I’m at a very sensitive time in my life.”

So is I!!, to coin a phrase.

“I’d prefer it if you wouldn’t call. Take care, Danny.” Don’t take any wooden nickels.


A couple of days later I’m walking down a busy street in Nashville, close by Vanderbilt University, when I hear a booming voice in back of me. “Mutherf**kers, clear the way. I’m comin’ through.”

I recognized the voice immediately. It was him! Baseball bat in hand.

He walked by, not knowing me from Adam. Just another white man in a sea of white faces. The enemy. All of us, a major threat. One call on a cell and he could be arrested. For what? Pick a charge out of a white cop’s helmet. Whites are given warnings. I was. Black men are rounded up, locked up, and the key thrown away. It happens! That little bit of knowledge alone can make you crazy.

I watched him walk down the street, head held high, shoulders back, baseball bat in hand. Proud. Bottom of the ninth. Team down four-zip. Bases loaded. Two outs.

Without hesitation, all along the boulevard, couples window-shopping; coeds on their way to class (on their cells, tweeting, of course); businessmen and women scurrying to luncheons; camera-toting tourists, with sites to pose in front; they all cleared a wide, wide path for him.

Moses, baseball bat in hand, parting the Red Sea.

And I like to think: It gave him great joy!

Hired back, Mississippi teacher promises to continue leading prayers in classroom

May 29, 2010

Religious terrorists kidnapped the First Amendment while it was visiting Meadville, Mississippi, last week.

Local resident’s expressed support for the kidnappers.

The teacher whose job was on the block for leading prayers in violation of federal law protecting students from school-imposed religion, was hired back on a technicality:  There was no formal, written warning to her that leading prayers is against the law (though it’s in every teacher training program).

The teacher, Alice Hawley, promised to continue to lead prayers in class, in violation of the law.

The newspaper did not ask whether she will follow any laws in her classroom.

On the other hand, one might take some hope that a teacher who flagrantly flouts the law in this case makes the path clear for Texas teachers to flout the standards voted in by the Texas State Soviet of Education, who would nominally be colleagues-in-crucifying to Ms. Hawley.  If you can’t fire a teacher for violating the Constitution and rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, certainly you can’t fire a teacher for teaching history instead of Don McLeroy’s claim that the U.S. Constitution says the federal government can dictate religion to us.

Mississippi:  Fighting for its ranking among U.S. states, in educational achievement.  (Last place)

Republicans snub Vietnam vet (again – Connecticut this time)

May 29, 2010

Details here, with Gail Collins.

Memorial Day 2010: Fly your flag, study history, honor the dead

May 29, 2010

(Much of this post is encore material, from Memorial Day 2009.)

Please fly your flag this weekend, and especially Monday, to honor those who gave up their lives in defense of the nation and our freedoms.

Memorial Day, traditionally observed on May 30, now observed the last Monday in May, honors fallen veterans of wars. Traditionally, family members visit the cemetery where loved ones are interred and leave flowers on the grave.

Memorial Day honors people who died in defense of the nation.  Armed Forces Day honors those who serve currently, celebrated  the third Saturday in May.  Veterans Day honors the veterans who returned.

On Memorial Day itself, flags on poles or masts should be flown at half-staff from sunrise to noon. At noon, flags should be raised to full-staff position.

When posting a flag at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the full-staff position first, with vigor, then slowly lowered to half-staff; when retiring a flag posted at half-staff, it should be raised to the full staff position first, with vigor, and then be slowly lowered. Some people attach black streamers to stationary flags, though this is not officially recognized by the U.S. Flag Code.

On Memorial Day, 3:00 p.m. local time is designated as the National Moment of Remembrance.

Got another week of school? Here’s a quiz about the history of Memorial Day that might make a warm-up, provided by Carolyn Abell writing in the Tifton (Georgia) Gazette:

1. Memorial Day was first officially proclaimed by a general officer. His name was: A. Robert E. Lee; B. John A. Logan; C. Douglas MacArthur D. George Washington.

2. The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day was A. Virginia; B. Rhode Island; C. New York; D. Georgia.

3. The use of poppies to commemorate Memorial Day started in A. 1870 B. 1915 C. 1948; D. 1967.

4. The original date of Memorial Day was A. May 30; B. July 4; C. May 28; D. Nov 11.

5. Which U.S. Senator has tried repeatedly to pass legislation that would restore the traditional day of Memorial Day observance? A. John McCain B. Ted Kennedy C. Saxby Chambliss D. Daniel Inouye.

The answers, again provided by the Tifton Gazette:

OK, now for the answers. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 30, 1968 as Memorial Day in his General Order Number 11, issued on May 5, 1868. The purpose was to honor the dead from both sides in the War Between the States. Subsequently flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery on May 30 of that year.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the Memorial Day, in 1873. Southern states, though paying tribute to their dead on separate dates, refused to use May 30 as the official date until after World War I, when the holiday was broadened to honor those who died in any war.

In 1915 a woman named Moina Michael, inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” (by Canadian Colonel John McRae) began wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor our nation’s war dead. The tradition grew and even spread to other countries. In 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell the poppies made by disabled veterans as a national effort to raise funds in support of programs for veterans and their dependents. In 1948 the US Post Office issued a red 3-cent stamp honoring Michael for her role in founding the national poppy movement.

As stated above, May 30 was the original Memorial Day. In 1971, with the passage of the national Holiday Act, Congress changed it so that Memorial Day would be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Some citizens feel that turning it into a “three-day weekend” has devalued the importance and significance of this special holiday. In fact, every time a new Congress has convened since 1989, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has introduced a bill to the Senate calling for the restoration of May 30th as the day to celebrate Memorial Day.

In his 1999 introductory remarks to the bill, Senator Inouye declared:

“Mr. President, in our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer. My bill would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize the flag to fly at half mast on that day.

In addition, this legislation would authorize the President to issue a proclamation designating Memorial Day and Veterans Day as days for prayer and ceremonies honoring American veterans. This legislation would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation.” (from the 1999 U.S. Congressional Record).

Flat at half-staff, U.S.Capitol in background - from Flag Bay

Other sources:

Image of flag and U.S. Capitol from Flags Bay.

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