Can’t We All Get Along? No!

By Larry Teren

Rodney King once famously said, “can’t we all just get along?” No!

Nowadays, in the world of politics, its hard to find an international enemy not to pick on, Since detente in the early 1990’s, the Russians are allegedly our friends now that they gave up that Soviet business. Even when we want to slap them for doing things we don’t cotton to, we have to look the other way. There’s no fun watching a tennis match if you cannot look side to side to see how the other player is going to respond to the first one’s volley.

There used to be a time when one could rely on a good feud to keep him amused. Where have the Hatfields and McCoys gone when you need them?
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The Forty Year Summit

It finally happened. I got an email from a childhood friend that it was time to get together one evening and reminisce. Our families had shared a two flat in Austin on Chicago’s far west side He also said that he would invite another friend over whom I also had not seen in more than forty years. Can you imagine that- freezing the clock and then being able to roll back time as if several decades had not passed?
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Nothing But a Hound Dog

By Larry Teren

Hound Dog was written in 1952 for a much-forgotten female singer. It was reworked in 1956 to the more up-tempo hell-bent rhythm barked by the legendary King of Rock, Elvis Presley. It sold more than five million records and made an instant national star out of Elvis Presley when he sang it on the Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan television shows.
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Writer’s Block

I live in a suburban area on a very long street. It is actually two blocks connected as one separated by a long ago removed right-of-way set of railroad tracks. With the tracks gone it looks like a small prairie between the condominium building I live in and the one just east of us. But, it is a world of difference.

The other condo is for the rich people who can afford to go to live in warmer climes during the winter while mine is for those brave enough to deal with the snow and patient enough to handle parking restrictions between November and March.

They have a tennis court; we have azaleas planted in the back garden. They have a uniformed doorman; we, a buzzer to let you in. The village put a stop light at their entrance to facilitate getting in and out of their compound. At our street connection, we wait for traffic to dissipate and pray that someone doesn’t try to speed up and clip a car as they rush to make it to the safety lane.
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Mr. Sheen’s Sticks and Stones

Charlie Sheen is fired by the production company that owns his very popular television show because of alleged acts of abuse in several areas. He goes on a rampage declaring he will get even. He arranges a multi-city visit for live lecture performances. The one in Chicago is sold out fourteen minutes after tickets go on sale. The television network that broadcasts his show now wants him back and tells the production company to leave good old Charlie alone and that they will take care of him. Why all of a sudden the about face? Because another major rival television network is negotiating with Charlie to give him a new show with him as the producer.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, in the height of the movie studio era, if a contract player was caught by the press cheating on his or her spouse or living in sin with another person, his contract was immediately terminated. If it was a star who made big bucks for the studio, his or her transgression was kept secret. In today’s world, there ares no secrets. No one cares about infidelity or alternative lifestyles. But, the moment a group threatens to boycott because someone made comments about those that comprise their membership, all the celebrity has to do is apologize and all is forgiven. Because it is business.
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Sibling Rivalry

There never has been any sibling rivalry among the five in our family. My kid brother came along when I was already fourteen and my older sister fifteen. We treated him like a prized toy. The two sisters in the middle liked the fact that they were no longer being babied by Ma.

The only time I can think of where things got nasty between my older sister and myself was an incident that occurred when I was two years old. I have to take my parents word on this. Supposedly, my three year old sister (who should have know better, right?) objected to my wanting to play with the same heavy metal spinning top that she was using. So, to make her point, she banged me on the head with it causing excessive bleeding and a visit to the hospital emergency room. I can assure you that there is no scar, lump or recurring pain to remind me of it. I do remember that top. It was the type that had a twisted metal stick. When you pushed down on it, it played musical tones and spun.

However, I have had the pleasure of observing sibling rivalry at its worst among clients who had family owned businesses. At least four situations:
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A Victim of Circumstances

A Victim of Circumstances

Curly of The Three Stooges used to plead plaintively that the mess he was in was due to being a victim of circumstances. It usually just got him a knock on the head or a poke in the eyes.

For baby boomers life seems to be always going in this direction, too. As we age, more and more things happen that we have no control over. It could be a trip due to momentary clumsiness that ends up in a visit to the hospital emergency room. Or all of a sudden the car starts to fall apart and you don’t have enough money to buy even a decent used one without breaking into the retirement income.

It could be the frustration of seeing the next generation in your family tree is not turning out the way you wanted them to. Or all of a sudden people in your age bracket are dropping like flies.
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Driving Me Crazy

Ma never learned to drive which is why I inherited the job of going to the pharmacy to get the latest scheduled pick-up of any of her eight medicines. It also meant that I got the honor of taking her shopping on designated days.

Dad drove until his eightieth birthday on which as he got out of the car and walked up the stairs into the house, managed to fall down and break both ankles. He came back to the scene of the crime maybe three times in the course of the next six years and nine months as he spent the rest of it in a twenty-four hour care facility.
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Baby Boomer Power

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) indicated that baby boomers seem to be watching television more than other age groups. This is creating havoc on Madison Avenue, home to the world famous ad agencies. The corporate thinking men want to believe that it is better to cater to a younger crowd because they are more willing to spend money. But, what are you going to do if they aren’t watching the shows broadcast on prime time?

American Idol has been around since 2002. It has been a bellwether for ratings supremacy. According to WSJ, The median viewer age for this current season is 43.8 years. This is less than two years short of the official starting age of baby boomers.

NCIS, the number one hit of last year, had a median viewing age of 57.4! Twenty years ago, the top shows had a median age of the mid thirties. What’s a network to do? How do they cajole baby boomers who already have bought most of the toys they want into spending excess dollars? Especially when Boomers are worried about having enough to last them once they retire.

That’s enough about that. They pay the network and advertising executives way too much money so let them have sleepless nights. I’m content with and What I really wanted to talk about is how I got to reading the Wall Street Journal.

It was by accident, I promise you. You see, my mother gets it delivered to her house every day. She didn’t subscribe- my brother did. He gave it to her as a present. Why? Because he thinks it is the best newspaper in America. So, now she gets it along with the Chicago Tribune. It’s what you call a safety valve because who knows how long the Tribune will still put out a printed edition.

It’s a reality that will come into being within five years or less. You want to have the newspaper sitting in front of you while you eat or whatever, you’ll need to print it out from your computer. Online is where it’s at, baby. This fact is changing the scope of news production. The Linotype guys are going the way of the dinosaur being replaced by people who know how to use Adobe Photoshop and it’s clones in laying out web generated screens full of news and advertisements. This is also wreaking havoc on the printing unions who are scrambling to redefine membership requirements and the new job descriptions.

When I was a young adult back in the 1970’s, I took a certain elitist pride in having a magazine such as The Atlantic Monthly and others like it mailed to me. My brother even convinced me in the following decade to subscribe to The New Republic. Back then, a person would patiently wait to get a hold of intelligent thoughts put in writing on various subjects even if it meant that by the time you read it the subject was old news.

Today, there is no such luxury. We are dialed into the heartbeat of the world instantaneously. We no longer want to receive in the mail articles of information on events that happened a week earlier. Three more crises would have already happened in the meantime that would have usurped all our attention. Andy Warhol once famously spoke about everyone getting their fifteen minutes of fame. Today, fifteen minutes is about it with little recall.

As Baby Boomers, though, we want a piece of the world we used to live in and all the modern improvements that become available. We’ll decide what to watch on television and the network executives be damned! After all, the doggone home entertainment box was invented on our watch.

An Arresting Development

The other day I got a phone call from my cousin’s son telling me that he has been reading my stories blog and thought he had a good one to tell. You see, Jake lives in New York and had a recent run-in with the cops.

Jake, his wife and the two youngsters were out for a joyous ride to visit family in New Jersey. (That’s where he went wrong in the first place.) A half hour into the trek, they approached the toll booth in the Midtown Tunnel and gave the attendant the necessary coinage. Immediately, an officer who was hanging out with the toll taker took a hard look at the windshield of Jake’s car and with his Superman eye strength noticed that the registration paper indicated that it was now expired. He rushed out of the booth and made them pull over.

Jake’s wife was driving the car so the officer asked for her driver’s license. She pulled out a learner’s permit. The policeman then asked Jake to show his license. He had one, but it was from out of state and suspended. He then asked for a registration card which they could not find and for his insurance card, which turned out to be… you guessed it- expired.
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