|April, 2010: My son, Joe III, turned forty on the first of the month. He is a fine young man who
understands compassion coupled with intelligence. Some people go through an entire lifetime
without developing these traits. I would elaborate on his family and his accomplishments, but I
understand that these pages are not private communication, and someone might be reading
who lacks the aforementioned traits. Congratulations, Joseph. We are very proud of you
I was honored to have a new anthem called Hymn of the Servant premiered by the Trinity
Presbyterian Church in Denton on April 18. They have a very fine choir for a church their size,
and I was very pleased with the performance. This congregation is known for accepting all
persons, regardless of race, background, or other factors that would make them less welcome
in many churches. I have never understood how some people can make a lifetime study of the
Bible and somehow manage to overlook or just ignore its simplest and most profound
message - Love one another.
There are folks who worry about illegal immigration from Mexico and its many problems. Their
concern is valid, but many have no compassion for those who choose to make this very
dangerous journey - coming from poverty and oppression - making an effort to better their lives
and those of their children. These same ones who lack compassion also seem to lack
intelligence. They actually think that we can build a wall on the south side that will prevent this
flow. Jay Leno once compared this project to building a bridge to Hawaii. Could it be done?
Possibly. How long would it take, and how much would it cost? Certainly more than we are
spending on the illegals - many of whom actually work and contribute to the economy.
The annual Denton Arts & Jazz Festival (last weekend in April) had me performing with Strictly
Dixie, the Mister Joe Trio, Mister Joe & Friends, and the FUMC Praise Band. It was probably
more than I needed to be doing, but I enjoyed every minute. Performances range from high
profile professionals to the local groups (of which I am a member). It is a great time for folks to
reconnect with old friends. Music is a wonderful excuse for having a party, and this is a very big
party - generally well-behaved. It is a credit to the city to have this event every year.
April, 1980: The pet rock fad that spread over our illustrious nation awhile back was
understandable only in light of the conditioning of our populace to buy anything that is different
and cleverly packaged. Dogs, being pretty much immune to these societal trends, should be
expected to take a more sane approach to a subject such as pet rocks; however, this is not the
case. Our animal, a rather energetic mixture of unknown varieties, has adopted as her favorite
playthings not bones, not toys, not sticks, but ROCKS. She buries rocks and carries rocks of all
sizes. So, if you have an old pet rock lying around that has never lived up to its expectations,
don't throw it away - give it to your dog.
The recent death of philosopher-playright Jean-Paul Sartre didn't attract much attention among
the populace in general, but his influence upon the great minds that have shaped our society
cannot be underestimated. The existentialist idea of every many for himself with disregard for
spiritual and moral values has allowed us to build big corporations, big weapons, and big
government (to mention a few), and the fruits of such thinking are some of our proudest
moments - Viet Nam, Watergate, and the U.S.-Iranian love affair.
A few evenings ago we visited the nearby university observatory where several telescopes
were in operation. Students had been assigned to the various instruments as demonstrators.
Naturally, the largest and best equipped scope was in the hands of someone who didn't know
how to find the moon without consulting an atlas of the heavens. This seems to be the case with
home musical instruments. The folks who have purchased the super monster pianos and
organs seldom know how to play Come To Jesus (in whole notes).
The observatory is located on government property that used to be a Nike missle base. I have
always felt comfortable about the deactification of this and other similar bases around the
nation and the general slowing down of the war effort in recent years; however, after hearing
about how our military botched up a fairly simple rescue attempt without ever meeting the
enemy, I'm thinking that we need to address the issue of defense more carefully. For the kind of
salaries these career people draw, more readiness and ability to follow through should be
expected. I'm certainly not criticizing the brave men who lost their lives in this ill-fated mission.
The question is - was the planning and support adequate? I think not.
RHYME FOR OUR TIME:
O give me a home with a thirty year loan
at a price that I can afford.
With rooms for the kids, a yard for the dog,
and a place for the junk that we've stored..
The prices of labor and lumber and brick
have really gone way out of sight.
No thanks to the banks, who grow richer and finer
with interest that just can't be right.
A man is real lucky, if he can escape
the deep rut of landlords and rent.
He still has a choice in this land of the free:
there's always a cave or a tent.