Thank You, Cokie

She passed on Tuesday at the age of 75.

Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs.

The story goes that her older, 3 year old brother couldn’t pronounce “Corinne” when she came home from the hospital, he called her Cokie, and that was that.

She had a keen, life-long deep understanding of politics, especially here in the United States.  She grew up in politics — her father, then her mother both held seats in the US House of Representatives from Louisiana — and chose the path of chronicling the many stories around public affairs rather than governance.

Not only did she choose a life in the “fourth branch”, but her voice and balanced, thorough analysis of issues — and broad public appeal therein — guided her to become one of the “Founding Mothers” of National Public Radio, and more broadly, one of the women in leadership roles in public journalism.

She was so good on NPR that commercial leader ABC hired her as well. She reported from both outlets for more than three decades.

Her voice remained steadfast and consistent in our public discourse, and even in recent years as she had begun to step back, I always felt a certain calm and certainty of what was true when I heard her speak on whatever the topic of the day was.

I was shocked when I heard the news of her passing on Tuesday morning while driving to work.  On the commute home at the end of the day, I was fortunate to hear on another public radio station, Classical KDFC, the afternoon DJ Robin Pressman pay tribute to Roberts with a dedication of the first 5:00pm Commute Song (what KDFC calls “The Island of Sanity”), Felix Mendelssohn’s “On Wings of a Song 34 #2”.

Cool to hear that peaceful, uplifting music anytime, especially as nod to one of the great voices of our time.  Thanks for your insights and wisdom and positive effect on our national conversation, Cokie.  

Would that we can honor you as Rachel Martin suggested on Up First today, when she closed with what was perhaps your simple credo for living:  “Do the work. Be fair. Be kind. And lift each other up.”   

AMEN.

More on Cokie Roberts found here.

More on Cokie Roberts as one of the Founding Mothers found here.

 

 

Song of the Week

Listening to several songs this past week that were from music I listened to decades ago.  Many of those songs’ lyrics still ring true for me today.  I feel the old feelings I had when I first heard the music, listened to the tunes over and over, until I knew all the words.

And so I had the idea to bring those lyrics back, to share some of them, share a song a week with the words that spoke to me at the time, still do today.  Often it was inspiration, and still carries that weight; other times it was just good story, or something I could otherwise relate to.

Beginning this week, every Thursday, I’m going to post lyrics from a song; maybe I’ll share a little personal background as well.  And if I can find the tune on YouTube, will include that link too.

Not sure what the first song will be.  But I’m pretty excited.  I hope this weekly practice provides a boost.  I know it will for me.

More GOOD.

Labor Day 2019

I think about Labor Day and a lot of different thoughts go through my mind.

What’s the origin of the holiday in this country?  “Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor, ” according to Wikipedia.

What, if any, is our U.S. Labor Day’s association with International Worker’s Day on May 1st?  Turns out that “May Day” is linked to an ancient traditional festival time in Europe, and similar labor movements in that region selected that date to also associate with honoring and further the cause of workers. That occurred around the same time in Europe that it did here in the U.S.

I think about the early 20th century novel, “The Jungle,” and the fictional account of very real working conditions in the meat packing industry in the northeastern U.S. around that same time period.

How far have we come with regulations and minimum wages in that time, to give rank and file workers safer conditions and enough income to live a reasonable life?  Lots of data, some objective results, but plenty of subjective opinion on those topics to be had, for sure.

Then I consider the hardest, most physically demanding jobs and who does that work.  Think about the people that work in extreme physical conditions, so that others might benefit from seasonal produce or the freshest catch.  How difficult is that work?  How much do those folks make?  Would I want to do that work?

I think about people I know that do white collar work and make good income; some are associated with organized labor, some are not.  I consider the various aspects of work today, and the manner in which plenty of white collar, high-skill workers also can be exploited and might benefit from organizing. 

Throughout the world we can say that collective bargaining has been good for workers in the industrialized world over the last one hundred and forty-odd years. We can also say that wages have increased, working conditions have improved, and society on the whole enjoys a higher standard of living along that same period of time.

Sure there’s still more work to do.   But I’ll spare you the red star or the fist clenched in the air.  We have to say that the owners and the governments and society in many countries have supported the workers’ cause, to everyone’s benefit.

In my humble view, Labor Day should be a day when we remember and appreciate all those workers, of all shapes and sizes and trades, all the rank and file whole make our economy churn.   Those that, through there hard work, make our country a better place to live.

We should appreciate, and honor labor, on Labor Day,  and everyday.

labor-day-750

More on:

Labor Day

May Day

The Jungle

AFL-CIO

Collective Bargaining

READ.

I can remember way back to childhood. There was a campaign, “Reading is Fundamental.” It promotes literacy. And I remember 3rd Grade book reports. How many “Encyclopedia Brown” books could I read? It seemed like a lot.

But then I also came to realize reading made me fall asleep. My folks read at night. Sometimes for a while. I never lasted too long.

So fast forward half a life, I still like to read, but I also tend to fall asleep before much time passes.  That’s the curse I live with.  Such as it is.

Meanwhile, my smokin’ hot wife reads about a billion times more than I do.  Not quite, actually, but it SEEMS that way.  She set a goal of reading a dozen books this year.  How many has she read this year so far?  TWENTY-FOUR.  She’s smokin’ hot, and smokin’ SMART too.  I love that, along with many other things about her, of course.

All that fluffy love aside, my wife’s reading actually motivates me to consider reading more often, even if I don’t do it nearly as often.  Sleepy or not, I’m reading more because of this motivation.

I also have a couple of good, long-time friends that both read ALL THE TIME, it seems.  The read like other people listen to music.  But these guys listen to a lot of music too.  These two are the types of guys that have read everything they are interested in at the library.  What’s more, they ask the librarian when new books are due in.  They’re THAT way.  I love these two guys and they, like my wife, provide good fundamental reading motivation for me.

So this weekend, or any ol’ time you have a little extra time — even if it’s just ten minutes — try picking up a book and reading a few pages.  Even if you fall asleep, it’ll be GOOD.  Because Reading is STILL fundamental.

 

Tostilocos, Doritolocos, Goodness

Tostilocos, Doritolocos, ahhhhhhh, what? Culinary Goodness from the ground level, from the street, from the everyday.

Found this basic content via NPR and a series they produced a few years back:  Borderland.   It’s still available in their archives, and narrates various aspects of the busy southern border between Mexico and the United States.

As part of that feature series, one of the highlights (for me anyway) was this very Mexican and American street snack.  The article called them Tostilocos (because the recipe called for using Tostitos brand tortilla chips).   Whether you use Tostitos or Doritos or any other similar bag of flavored tortilla chips, it’s gonna be a legit snack blending north and south, and down-home authentic for sure. The introduction from the piece spells it out:

Tostilocos. Tosti, as in Tostitos. Locos, as in crazy.
Origin stories vary, but the snack has proliferated in Tijuana — and has crossed the border into Southern California, too.
Vendors like Fidencio Rodriguez set up outside schools, at the beach and next to long lines of people crossing the border.
9 ingredients. About $3 on the street.
Here’s how you make it:
SALSA VERDE TOSTITOS (snack bag size), (CUT LENGTHWISE);
PEPINOS (CUCUMBER) AND JICAMA; CUERITOS (PICKLED PORK RINDS),
CACAHUATES (FRIED PEANUTS),
CHACA-CHACA (TAMARIND CANDY),
CHILE SAUCE
CHAMOY (PICKLED FRUIT) SAUCE,
SQUEEZE O’ LIME
fr: TIJUANA, MEXICO.  Sold on both sides of the border.

In this era of vocalized attitudes of nativism and anti-immigration in these United States, it seems appropriate to give similar voice to the counter opinion. Diversity and being inclusive and celebrating all flavors and colors and peoples, that is in fact a core strength of America, THAT should be respected and honored and protected.

Try the Tostilocos.  It might just take you over the top if you weren’t already so inclined, to celebrate and seek to protect our very precious way of life, blended uniquely here in America. A mixed bag of goodness.

[photo credit:  NPR]
[for the whole Borderland series, go to this URL: https://apps.npr.org/borderland/%5D

I Didn’t Know This About Sushi

[NOTE:  This excerpt taken from the always AWESOME Seth Godin blog.   Full credit to his experience, insight, and great writing.  I read his piece, got the underlying message, but also learned something about Narita airport, sushi, and where to get the good stuff.]

“One of the best airport restaurants I’ve ever encountered breaks my first rule of airport eating. The sushi bar at gate 30 of Narita airport is a special place (though I wish they didn’t serve tuna).

The rice is extraordinary.

The nori is crisp.

The service is efficient but friendly.

They have wonderful vegan rolls, flavorful shiso, and yes, it’s hard to believe but true: real wasabi, grated to order.

My guess is that the very best sushi restaurant in your town doesn’t serve real wasabi. But I digress.

When I was there a few months ago, I apologized to the entire staff.

I apologized to them on behalf of every traveler (many, if not most, from my country) that was dredging this extraordinary product in soy sauce, bathing it from top to bottom in the style created to mask the flavor of generations-worth of mediocre, lazily-created sushi.

The Japanese equivalent of putting ketchup on your food in a fine restaurant.”

Lesson:  I’ll never saturate another piece of sushi with soy sauce.  I promise.

 

 

 

We The People…

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”