In a column I wrote for the Albuquerque Journal, I once mentioned in passing that Liz and I were standing at the checkout counter in a Walmart. This produced an e-mail from a livid, furious reader who pretty much accused me of just about every vile thing a human being could be accused of. (Sorry about that preposition at the end. Are we still getting our shorts in a twist about that?)

Anyway, that experience made me a little gun shy about mentioning anything that might have a positive word to say about Walmart. Then along came the Walmart-Whole Foods Smackdown in The Atlantic.

And I just couldn’t pass it up.

The Tribune Co. CEO in Chicago has put out a list of banned words that he doesn’t want to hear on WGN. Ever. Really.

Oh, wait, I’m not supposed to say that.

We write interesting laws in New Mexico. Let’s call them pretzel laws, laws bent into odd shapes.

Beginning July 1, you can carry a concealed weapon into a restaurant that serves beer and wine, but you still can’t bring your favorite Glock with you to a joint that has a full liquor license.

Everybody got that?

In a restaurant with beer and wine, you can bring your gun but you can’t drink. In a saloon or restaurant with a wide selection of your favorite orange vodkas, you aren’t allowed to carry your gun.

(Question for gun enthusiasts in restaurants: Does it make a difference if you’re having the fish or the beef? Is a gun like wine? Would it be declasse to have a Ruger in your pants while ordering the chicken pot pie? Is this an Emily Post question or does Guns & Ammo cover it?)

As usual in these situations, someone insists on being adult about the whole thing. Let’s get that out of the way right now.

Carol Wight, chief executive officer of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, offers down home common sense in the March 11 Albuquerque Journal ($sub. req.): “We still don’t believe it’s a good policy to have guns and liquor in the same vicinity.”

Poor Carol Wight, attempting to be a grown-up when we’re talking about booze and guns. Bless her.

Of course she’s right. Guns mixed with booze is a bad idea and I don’t care of you’re for or against concealed carry. (I’m agnostic on it myself. I don’t know of any epidemic of shootings in states that allow concealed carry, which suggests that the great majority of gun owners are responsible people. So if your combination plate just has to come with a firearm, well …  try not to gum up the trigger guard with your sopaipilla honey, OK?)

Now, back to the rabbit hole.

If someone has a Glock on his belt when he goes into a restaurant, how is the server going to know? If our concealed Glockster orders a beer, will he be frisked? Patted down? Will metal detectors come with the appetizers?

Then there’s the matter of beer and wine vs a full liquor license.

Does anyone really believe you can’t get as loaded on six beers as you can on bourbon?

Last week, James Ruiz hit a car in Santa Fe and killed two lovely teenage sisters. In the Journal story ($sub. req), there is this: “Ruiz allegedly told police that he had been drinking beers for several hours prior to the accident. His sample showed a 0.22 percent blood alcohol concentration, well above the state’s presumed level of intoxication for a driver, which is 0.08 percent, Department of Health spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer said Tuesday.”

Drinking beers. Oh, he was in a restaurant, too.

New Mexico creates odd laws.

Remember that in New Mexico we sell liquor at the same places we sell gas. I have long wondered how serious we can be about preventing DWI when we allow alcohol to be sold in the same place we sell gasoline.

Somebody needs to explain this to me. Maybe we could get together over burgers and a Beretta.

I don’t know why I looked at the “Comments” after I read Joel Achenbach’s Washington Post story on the disastrous consequences of an earthquake striking one of the world’s great urban areas. It was just a feeling I had. I’ve read enough “Comments” in other places to know that people can take great offense when you least expect it.

There was a time in my newspaper career when I joked that all you had to write was “Good morning” and somebody would get mad. Toward the end of that 32-year career, I stopped joking about it.

So I wondered if someone would take great offense at an earthquake science story.

Well, you silly goose, of course someone took offense.

He called himself “biffgrifftheoneandonly” and he wrote: “No … really? Duh. This is news? Must be a slow day at WAPO … why do I even bother to read this tripe anymore.”

Tripe? I thought. Earthquake tripe?

Then, as luck would have it, a few days later I happened upon the New English Review. Theodore Dalrymple had written an essay: “Thank You For Not Expressing Yourself,” an examination of the “Comments” phenomenon.

He wrote: “No subject is too recondite to provoke the insensate rage of those who disagree with the view the author has taken of it. Indeed, it sometimes seems as if fury leading to ill-mannered personal abuse and foul language is the predominant mode of disagreement in our society, at least among those who append their comments to an article that appears on the Internet.”

When my computer guru set up this blog, he said: “Let’s not do Comments.”

I said, “OK.”

Oh, not long after Achenbach’s “tripe” appeared, that 8.8 earthquake hit Chile.

No comment.

Saw this on Andrew Sullivan’s blog. It’s worth your time, even if you haven’t worked up enough gumption to read “Infinite Jest.”

When somebody writes something that makes you laugh out loud, it should not go unrecognized. John Kenney, in today’s New York Times, does just that.

I was driving on Loma Larga in Corrales when I heard the caller to KKOB say what so many others had only hinted at in the past year or so. I don’t remember what the “topic” of the moment was during the Jim Villanucci show that day. I’m not sure it makes a difference when the callers call. They tend to say whatever it is they want to say, regardless of the “topic.”

This one said he had a solution to America’s problems. He said we needed to send two or three million Americans to Washington to take care of the “problem.” Villanucci asked him what he meant. He said again that Americans needed to take care of the problem. Villanucci again asked him what he meant. Take care of the problem how?

The caller said: “Kill em! Kill ’em all! Take ’em out!”

I pulled over to the side of the road and listened for a few more minutes. In the past, I’d heard other KKOB callers hint at assassinating the president. It was not uncommon. But this was the first time I’d heard anyone come right out and say it.

I sat on the side of the road wondering how the assassination suggestion (demand?) made it on the air. I’ve been in those radio studios. I know they have a little button that may be used to engage the delay that prevents anyone from using George Carlin’s famous Seven Words. Those words might get the radio station a hefty fine from the FCC.

But encourage people to assassinate the President of the United States? No little button for that. That goes on the air.

Villanucci pleaded with his listeners not to say such things. But he didn’t do it because  such things are vile. He said he didn’t want listeners saying these things because he was afraid he’d hear from the Secret Service, as he apparently has in the past.

KKOB assuredly is not alone in the country when it comes to such daydreams. We all know talk radio is nearly 100 percent right wing. It commands the airwaves. We all know that rage and anger are the primary entertainment tools for talk radio. The problem is that the unhinged among us sometime take their cues from such encouragement.

In a Washington Post story on John Patrick Bedell, killed at the Pentagon after opening fire on police, Mark Potok, author of a Southern Poverty Law Center report on violent militias in America, said: “People are bringing completely groundless conspiracy theories into the mainstream, and they are doing it for purely opportunistic reasons. To some, it may be only a ratings game, but the danger is that some people actually believe these tall tales and a few will actually act on them.”

Then we have Joseph Stack, who had a complaint with the IRS. So he flew his airplane into an IRS building and in the process killed a Vietnam veteran nearing retirement. One Republican congressman came close to calling him a hero.

We’ve gotten to the point now where we put this stuff up on billboards, literally. On the blog, The Daily Beast, a slide show of hate billboards underlines the point.

Add to that the leaked Republican PowerPoint presentation encouraging fund raisers to use fear as a selling point and to paint Democrats as “evil” and a question arises: What the hell are we doing to ourselves?

It’s been awhile. September, I think. Liz reminded me often that it had been a long time since I posted anything on the blog. Then Frank, a cousin in Connecticut, e-mailed and said something about … September, I think.

Then I started to hear from former readers of the column I wrote for 28 years in the Albuquerque Journal. Are you going to blog again?

I don’t know that I have an explanation for why I stopped. Maybe because I’d grown tired of hearing the sound of my own voice. And you don’t have to look around the Internet much to see that we are not suffering from a lack of opinions. We seem to have enough to go around.

A good deal of the “blogging” I was doing didn’t involve the soap box factor anyway. It consisted of linking to news stories that caught my eye, a kind of amateur “aggregator,” if you will. A handful of friends can tell you all about that. Blog or no blog, they are the frequent recipients of these “aggregations.” (Isn’t it fun to make up words as you go? But then I’ve been away. Maybe they’re the commonly accepted currency now.) The chances are good that the “aggregations” will continue in this space, assuming of course I can remember how to link.

So I’d been thinking about warming up the blog again.

Then came that afternoon I was driving around Corrales and the West Side, tending to errands, channel surfing on the radio, tuning in for a moment to KKOB to hear what they were exercised about that day.

That’s when I heard the caller to the Jim Villanucci show say of the President of the United States and any other Democrat the caller disagreed with: “Kill ’em! Kill ’em all! Take ’em out!”

For about week, the memory of it rolled around in my head and wouldn’t go away. Finally, I thought: OK, I’ll blog.

Another story from the “free market,” where all is glorious if those meddlesome “socialist, fascist, commie” reformers would just let insurance companies dump people when the mood strikes. It’s all about money, friends, but we know that, don’t we?

Back in the day, when I wrote a column for the Albuquerque Journal, it was my privilege to write about a young couple who, after many struggles, built independent lives for themselves. They, in fact, were very much in love. Now comes a story from the LA Times that makes me wonder what the hell kind of people we have become.

« Previous PageNext Page »