Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

So noted murderer Ray Lewis (allegedly) has stepped up to give his valuable life advice to Colin Kaepernick, the player who exercised his right as an American to not stand up during the National Anthem last football season and hence cannot find another job in the NFL. It seems that Ray-Ray took it upon himself to perform a video selfie directed at Kaepernick, and I must say it is gold, Jerry. GOLD! Here’s a link to the video if you’d like to watch it. However, if you’d rather not I’ll break it down for you . . .

0:00 – 0:11: “How crazy is I’m just leaving set at Fox and I’m getting all these texts and stuff about all this Colin Kaepernick stuff and all this stuff?”

As usual, Ray begins with questionable grammar, leaving out important prepositions like “at” and repeating simple terms such as “stuff.” Oh, and of course we can hear the ass-kisser in the car laughing hysterically at everything he’s saying.

0:11: “Let me explain something to you. I’m gonna keep it real simple with this.” 

This is right out of Ray’s playbook, treating his listeners like dummies, because in order to explain it so we can understand it he has to keep it simple. Wouldn’t want Ray-Ray talking over our heads, now would we?

0:30: “Kap, I pray for you more than you can ever imagine. Your name is in my Bible!”

Wait. What? I’ve read the Bible a few times, once for a class in college, and not once do I recall seeing the words, “Colin Kaepernick.” Then again, Ray is on such good terms with God (he/she allegedly got him out of a murder after all), that perhaps he/she let Ray make some modifications.

0:35: “My brother, everyone else can speak for you but until you speak for yourself and demand what you want to do with your life, it’s totally on you. It’s crazy that you always see people trying to respond.

Uh, OK? He lost me with that last part. And the only crazy person responding is Ray Lewis.

1:00: “I’ve made mistakes in my life. But I promise you if you look at my track record, I’ve never made the same mistake twice.”

Ah, now it’s all about Ray because we knew it would be. And the families of Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting might disagree with the whole “never made the same mistake twice” thing.

1:15: “I’m in the streets everyday. EVERYDAY. So while people talking ‘What’s with this?’ and ‘Why Ray say this?’ and ‘Why Ray say that?’ Ray ain’t saying nothing!”

Boom! Ray is now talking in the third person, another personal trademark. And what does he mean about being in the streets? Maybe he means his driveway, like this one in front of one of his houses:

However, I do agree with him when he says he isn’t saying anything.

1:30: “And that’s why I take each and every one of these kids. And that’s why I take them away from their environments and give them something else to see in life. And that’s why I played the way I played.”

Do the police know Ray Lewis has gone from killing people (allegedly) to stealing children? And what does all this have to do with the way he played?

1:50 – “What you do off the field, don’t let too many people know.”

Finally, Ray Lewis gives out some useful information based on his own personal experience and history. Good Lord.

Seriously, Ray Lewis has to be the most unself-aware human being on planet Earth. Dude lied his way out of a double-murder (allegedly), got a jury to believe he lost the blood-splattered suit he was wearing the night those two men were stabbed to death, has 6-kids by 4-women and still claims to be a Man of God and the counselor to all the poor souls who need his advice.

I can’t believe Fox Sports still employs this clown.

Note: If you need a refresher on the whole Ray Lewis murder thing, here ya go:

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So a friend of mine from the Eastern Seaboard told me an amazing story recently about an amusement park in New Jersey that was open from 1978 to 1996. It was called Action Park, and to say this place was dangerous would be an understatement of the highest order. 6-people died at the park in 18-years, and average of 1 every 3 years, and the injuries were in the hundreds if not thousands.

The park is legendary amongst Jersey folk, and people like my friend are proud to say they survived it. In researching the park I came across this quote from a man who attended as a kid:

It was almost like our Vietnam. It was like another step in the quest to manhood. Guys would come back and they’d just have these stories of terror. One kid I knew had a broken ankle — he was on a ride that caught on fire and he had to jump off.”

Good God.

This hellhole was also known as, among other things, “Traction Park” “Accident Park” and “Class Action Park,” and you’ll soon see why. What follows are real stories and tidbits regarding the Death Trap known as Action Park:

In 1979 Action Park opened one of the first wave pools in the country. On its first day open it was estimated over 100 swimmers had to be rescued from the wave pool. Park officials attributed this to a lack of experience in the pool by park goers, because of course they did. A staff of 12 Red Cross certified lifeguards were on duty at all times, and numbers as high as 30 saves per lifeguard per day were recorded. Tragically there were 3 confirmed deaths in the wave pool.

In 1985 the park opened a slide called The Cannonball Loop. Take a look at this monster:

Kid looked like he was going about 80-mph.

 

Remember that this is a slippery slide, not a coaster. Kids went through this without safety gear. Sweet Jesus that looks dangerous. Also fun. And get this – during testing of the Cannonball Loop dummies were sent down and they were decapitated. The attraction was adjusted until the dummies came through with heads intact and then park employees were offered $100 to test it out themselves. Thankfully, no one died on this monstrosity but some people did become stuck. Before it was finally closed for good a trap door was installed into the loop to retrieve riders that became stuck in the top of the loop. The first summer it opened it had 110 reported injuries, including 30-fractures and 45-head injuries. Good times!

At one point they opened up a skate park in Action Park. It was open for only one summer season before they deemed it too dangerous and it was shut down. They were so scared that people would use it after hours that they plowed over it with dirt and set up a picnic area on top of it. Dangerous indeed.

The infamous Cliff Dive was very cold, and also very deep. Legend has it that the bottom of the 40-foot pool had to be repainted white one summer because lifeguards were unable to see drowning swimmers against the black floor. Insanity, man. Check it out:

It’s a fact that 911 calls were so frequent at Action Park (an estimated 5-10 trips per day) that the owner of the park purchased additional ambulances for the township of Vernon, NJ. Hey, that’s a civic-minded man right there.

Shockingly but not really, Action Park had some difficulty in retaining their insurers. Since they could not legally operate without insurance they set up their own fake company in the Cayman Islands. Owner Eugene Mulvihill pleaded guilty to setting up the company, copped a plea, got 3-years probation, and paid $300,000 in fines. He was supposed to sell the resort but, incredibly, he never did.

One of the biggest problems at Action Park was its employees. Legally you needed to be 16-years old to operate a ride in New Jersey, which already seems a tad young. However, Action Park had many employees as young as 14-years old. That’s not the most amazing fact I read though – it seems it was not uncommon for operators of all ages to be on duty with cans of beer in their hands. What could possibly go wrong, man?

Employees would often use park attractions after hours, and believe it or not they didn’t always operate them properly. One thing they would do was shove tennis balls into the speed governors of the cars at their Motorworld Speedway, a section of Action Park. The governors were designed to limit the speed of the vehicle to 20-mph, but after the tampering they could reach speeds as high as 50-mph. Of course, sometimes they’d forget (or not) and leave the tennis balls in, then sit back and watch the hilarity that ensued as an 8-year old kid drove a miniature car 50-mph around a little track. Oh, and by the way, without a helmet.

Helmets schmelmets.

One of the parks biggest and most dangerous attractions was the notorious Alpine Slide. The slide was a sloped and swerving cart ride. The track was built out of fiber glass, and riders would roll down in flimsy carts with no protection, using a defective handbrake as their only means of control. Riders would often get scrapes and burns on the fiberglass. In fact, friction burns were so common that paramedics would be waiting at the bottom of the slide. And burns were not the only danger – despite the crack team of underage and possibly drunk park employees manning the ride, slow riders were often in danger of being rammed from behind by the next set of riders. Unsurprisingly, Action Park’s first recorded death occurred when an after hours park employee flew off of the Alpine Slide and hit his head on a rock, killing him instantly.

Weee! Uh-oh.

One of the reasons Action Park stayed open was because they actually had an on-site infirmary. Unless you had a broken bone you wouldn’t go to the hospital and your injuries wouldn’t be reported. That’s either ingenious or insane, but probably a combination of both.

Here’s a good tidbit. In 1982, owner Mulvihill told a New Jersey newspaper that his park is “gonna be better than Disney World!” That same year a 15-year-old drowned in the Wave Pool and a week later a 27-year-old was electrocuted on a ride called the Kayak Experience. True story.

What can I say, man? We were tougher back then I guess? Seriously, I talk about the Wussification of America more than anyone but Good God this place was wild, insane and all sorts of crazy.

In other words, just the kind of place my friends and I would’ve loved.

Too sad.

Dolls, death and little kids. Chilling, man.

ZimbabweA pastor has been killed after he was eaten by three crocodiles while trying to walk on water, it has been claimed. Jonathan Mthethwa was trying to show his congregation how Jesus walked on water by crossing what is locally known as Crocodile River on foot, according to local reports.

However, he did not make it across the river in Zimbabwe.

The pastor, from the Saint of the Last Days church, managed to get around 90-ft into the river, the paper reported, before trying to climb onto the surface of the river.

Eyewitness Deacon Nkosi told Zimbabwe Today: ‘The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week. He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by three large crocodiles in front of us. We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week. They finished him in a couple of minutes. All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water.”

First off, I’m trying hard as hell not to laugh at the fact that the gators passed on eating the underwear, I really am. But can you believe the gators passed on eating the underwear? Gators, man. Even they have their limits. But seriously, Pastor Jonathan Mthethwa, I’ve always questioned this line of thinking where faith is concerned. “Hey, let’s really push God to the limit! I’m going to grab this rattlesnake to prove I have faith! The Lord will save me!” Well, maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll just wonder why you didn’t use the common sense he gave you as he watches you die a painful death from internal hemorrhaging. I mean, God helps those who help themselves, amirite?

Note: This reminds me of the old story about the man who was in his house as flood waters rose outside his door. A guy in a boat came by and offered to help, but the man said, “No thanks, God will provide help for me.” As the water rose, two more men in boats came by and were told the same thing. Eventually the man drowned, and when he stood at the pearly gates  he had this conversation with God:

Man: “I believed in you and had faith you would help me. Why did you forsake me?”

God: “I sent three boats for you. What else did you expect, man?”

(Source)A psychic fatally stabbed himself in the heart while trying to prove his immortality. Clairvoyant Theprit Palee, 25, was performing a folk ritual to honour ancestral spirits when he tried to impress spectators by pressing a sword into his chest in a bid to appear superhuman. But tragedy struck when he accidentally plunged the blade into himself. Horrified onlookers watched on as crowds of rescuers attempted to revive him but he later died at hospital.

Man, tough look for Theprit Palee, huh? There’s nothing worse than killing yourself while trying to prove your immortality. That really blows. Kinda shows you how the ol’ ancestral spirits feel about Theprit, amirite? Yikes. And shouldn’t a psychic have seen this coming? Do your job, psychic.

You all know my love for the old TV series The Rifleman. Lucas McCain fights for all that is righteous, man. On a whim I decided to research how many bad guys Lucas killed in the 4 1/2 year duration of the show. The answer? 120. That’s 2.5 per episode. And of course, somebody documented them all in the video below. Yikes! Other Rifleman fun facts:

Chuck Conners, who played The Rifleman, played both professional baseball and basketball.

Johnny Crawford, who played the son of his widowed father Lucas in the show, began his career as a Mouseketeer.

Finally, I owned the Rifleman toy as a kid. Thanks Mom and Dad! 

Anyway, check out all of The Rifleman’s kills. Wild stuff.

assassin

Kim Jong-nam wrote to Kim Jong-un in 2012 asking his half-brother and the recently anointed dictator of North Korea to spare his life and that of his family, the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service revealed on Wednesday.

It comes as new pictures of a woman alleged to have been linked to the assassination team that killed the older brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Kuala Lumpur have been released by Malaysian media.

Kim Jong-nam, 45, died on Monday after collapsing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting to board a flight back to Macau, where he was living in exile.

Listen, I’ve never been a big fan or murder and stuff but any assassin who pulls off a stone cold assassination in the middle of an airport while wearing a sweatshirt with “LOL” on the front has my instant respect. It’s like “LOL, I just killed a guy.” That’s just diabolical, man. Plus she looks sort of cute, so she gets extra points there too.

PS- Is it too late for me to start being more empathetic? Probably is, right? Never mind.

PSS- Not many blogs add the tags “Death”, “Humor”, and “Things I Love” onto their stories all at once. That’s what separates me from your average blogger. On a related note, if you’re a regular reader you’re as weird as I am.

So some dude named Leslie Ray “Popeye” Charping passed away recently and obituary-texas-fatherhis daughter was left in charge of writing his obituary. Turns out she wasn’t a fan . . .

“Leslie Ray ‘Popeye’ Charping was born in Galveston on November 20, 1942 and passed away January 30, 2017, which was 29-years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.”

“At a young age, Leslie quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive. Leslie enlisted to serve in the Navy, but not so much in a brave and patriotic way but more as part of a plea deal to escape sentencing on criminal charges.”

“Leslie’s hobbies included being abusive to his family, expediting trips to heaven for the beloved family pets and fishing, which he was less skilled with than the previously mentioned. Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides his quick witted sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.”

“With Leslie’s passing he will be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend.”

Leslie’s passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.”

Wow. I’d have no words if I wasn’t a famous quick-witted blogger. That’s just brutal. I take it daughter was left out of the will? And why did she say he lived 29-years longer than expected? Why did she expect him to die in 1988? I’m confused and I need more information, damn it. Anyhoo, ol’ Popeye is accused here of the Triple Crown of asshattery – drinking, drugs, and womanizing. Thank God I can only be accused of three one of those. But honestly, who hasn’t joined the armed forces to escape criminal charges? Don’t most judges sort of give you that as an option? That’s what I thought.

But hey, at least she gave him credit for being amusing during his sober days, so there’s that. Still, a brutal obit. Just brutal.

Note to self: Write own obituary post haste.

whatdidijustread

Here we have some badass American WWII pilots posing for a casual photo. Wait. Is that a skull? Yes, a Japanese skull.  It was common practice for American soldiers to take body parts as “war souvenirs” and “war trophies”. Teeth and skulls were the most commonly taken, although other body parts were also collected. Yeah, you don’t wanna know. Anyway, look at the youthful, vibrant faces of the All-American boys. Juxtapose that with a dead man’s skull with a helmet on it and you have quite the stunning visual.

japenese_skull_1944

Here’s an example of what made her great.

960

Neoplasms are tumors, but you knew that already.

[click to enlarge]

mapneo

Losing Tim

Posted: September 27, 2016 in Death, Inspiration, Life
Tags:

Today marks 18-years since I lost one of my best friends, Tim.TimBeckMike

I first met him when I was in high school. I played basketball at Paint Valley and he played for Bishop Flaget. Honestly? At first I hated the guy. If you think trash talking began in the 90’s you’d be mistaken. Tim had it down to a fine art in 1974.

It was one of those deals where you wanted to be mad at the him but it was difficult because you were too busy laughing at him.  Bottom line though, we respected each other.

As time went by we found ourselves running into each other more and more. We both worked at a State Park in the summer, doing odd jobs around the lake like mowing, picking up trash and cleaning bathrooms. It gave us a lot of time to talk about life, sports, politics, and most importantly, music.

Beatles music.

Tim is the only person who I ever felt appreciated the Beatles as much as I did. We’d talk for hours about them, arguing about song lyrics or album covers, the relevance of certain songs, who was the most talented Beatle. I was always a Lennon guy, he leaned towards McCartney. We used to argue about which was the greatest Beatle album. He always said it was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and I always argued for Abbey Road.  We could never come to an agreement on that one, arguing for hours on end over which was the greatest album.

I remember once when he came up with the idea that he and I should do a radio show. We sat down and had it all planned out. The format, ideas for different shows, everything. It was to be a 3-hour show from 10-1 on Saturday night. We were going to argue about music and different songs, compare cover versions of songs, play Beatles stuff backwards, point out songs that were clearly rip-offs of earlier tunes, we had it all figured out.

Tim knew everyone in town, so it was no problem to arrange a meeting with the head of the local radio station. The only problem was, when we met with the guy he’d already asked around about us. Turns out there was zero chance this guy was going to unleash us on the unsuspecting masses. We even told him we’d make a demo tape for him, but in the end we had no chance.

Seems our reputations had preceded us, damn it.

Tim was honest to a fault. If you didn’t want to hear the truth he wasn’t a guy you wanted to have around. It wasn’t uncommon to run into Tim, and if you hadn’t seen him for awhile he’d say something like, “Jesus Shoe, you’ve gained some weight, right?” or “Man, you’re losing more hair every time I see you.”

You know, pleasantries like that.

Listen, I’m not going to sugarcoat things here. Tim rubbed some people the wrong way. They didn’t appreciate his brand of honest, straightforward candor. As for me, it was exactly what I expected from a friend.

And often times that honesty was exactly what you needed. I remember running into him years ago, after I’d flunked out of college and was working in a local factory. I hated my job, was unhappy with my life, and was generally making everyone around me miserable. Tim took one look at me and said, “You look like hell. What’s wrong?” I told him I was fine but he wasn’t buying it. He said, “No you’re not. You hate yourself because you know you can do better. You need to get out of that fucking factory.”

ShoeTim98

And I did.

He was exactly right and I knew that, but sometimes it takes a friend to say it out loud.

Over the years we grew even closer as I became a teacher and coach and he worked as the chairman of our local political party as well as holding other jobs in local and state government. My family had been active in local politics my entire life, so it was one more thing we had in common. We did a lot of work together with local government, and because of Tim I got to meet President Bill Clinton and several other important political people.

Bottom line, he was exactly what I needed – honest with me when I needed it most, pointing out my faults without exception, and accepting me for who I was, warts and all. What more could anyone possibly want in a friend?

It was the early summer of 1999 and I was vacationing in the Outer Banks when I got a call from my father. He said he’d heard some bad news regarding Tim and that I might want to give him a call. I did, and after the usual greetings we had the following conversation:

Me: “Hey, I heard you got some serious news yesterday. Are you OK?”

Tim: “Well, only if you consider being told you have 12-weeks to live serious. Otherwise I’m great.”

Good God. Leave it to him to make light of the most morbid situation imaginable. But seriously, you know what he was doing, right? He was worried about my feelings. He’d heard the worry in my voice was trying to make me feel better.

Think about that. That should tell you all you need to know about him.

Over the next few weeks Tim gradually deteriorated despite seeing the experts and doing all the things recommended medically. It was difficult to watch, and he handled it much better than the rest of us, believe me.

Later that summer we talked him into going to the first game ever played in Cleveland’s new football stadium. It was a preseason contest against the Minnesota Vikings, on August 21st. We knew he didn’t have much time left but he sucked it up and agreed to go. He was down to probably 130 pounds, maybe less, and was feeling awful. In fact, he was spitting blood into a paper cup on the way to the game.

I remember he’d gotten a rather severe haircut before we left, and I kept telling him he looked like a Nazi war prisoner. He was so thin and gaunt, and that combined with the haircut made his ears look twice their normal size. At some point one of our wives started calling him “Wingnut” and it stuck for the rest of the weekend.

After checking in at our hotel, Tim and I got a cab to the stadium. For some reason we only had two tickets so the ladies stayed behind. After arriving we realized our seats were in the nosebleed section, w-a-y up top. It immediately became clear that the walk up there wasn’t going to be easy for Tim. He was already out of breath, and we’d barely started. No way he was going to make it.

Finally we saw an elevator, but it had a “V.I.P. Only” sign on it and was being guarded by a humongous man with a shaved head and arms the size of tree trunks. I walked up and explained the circumstances, hoping the guy would see our situation and cut us a break. But, it was the first game ever played there and the guy was under strict orders. He was having none of it.

Suddenly, Tim was there:

Look at me. I can’t walk up there. It’s obvious I’m dying. Help me out.”

At that point the guy stared at Tim for what felt like an eternity, then nodded his head in the direction of the elevator, punched in a code and said, “Get on.”

And we did. Then Tim looked at me, smiled and said, “Might as well use it to my advantage while I can.”

We finally made our way to our seats and sat down. Now, anybody who knew Tim will tell you he was a flirt with the ladies. He definitely had a weakness where beautiful women were concerned. That said, a few minutes later a hot blonde took the seat right next to him. He glanced over, did a double-take, and said, “Well, hell-ooo. How YOU doin’?

I could only stare and shake my head. Here he was, days away from dying, skinny as hell, hair sticking up all over, spitting blood into a paper cup, just so damn sick.

But still flirting with the girls? Hell yes.

On September 26th my wife and I had a political fundraiser at our house for my cousin Mike, a State Senator at the time. I believe it was a Sunday. There were 25-30 people there, and towards the end of the party Tim walked in. The place grew completely quiet, as many of the people there hadn’t seen him in weeks or even months and were stunned at his appearance. I remember our Scottish Terrier, Poe, coming out of the bedroom and looking at Tim. Poe normally stayed in the bedroom when we had large groups of people over, as he wasn’t crazy about big crowds. This time, however, was different. He walked over to the chair that Tim has just sat down in, jumped up on his lap, and began crying and licking his face. For the rest of Tim’s stay Poe wouldn’t leave his side.

Somehow, Poe knew.

The next evening I got the phone call nobody ever wants to get, and I immediately went over to Tim’s house.

I’ll always be thankful for the fact that I was able to spend a few of his last minutes with him.

I’d lost friends before, but they’d all passed suddenly. They never had a chance to think about what was happening, no time to say goodbye, no time for anger or sadness.

Tim had time for all of those things.

The thing is though, over those last 3-months I never saw him angry. I never saw him play the victim, never saw him feel sorry for himself, never saw him scream at God and ask why. Around me at least, he carried a quiet dignity that was remarkable. I respected that so much.

Once, towards the end, I mentioned this to him. I said that if I were in his position I’d be tempted to avenge very person who ever did me wrong, at the very least tell them how I felt before I left this earth, really let them have it.

His response?

“That’s because you’re an asshole. I am too, but something like this makes you see things a little differently. Why waste time on negative stuff like that? Life’s too short.”

Coming from him at that moment, truer words were never spoken.

I’ve not always been successful, but ever since he said that I’ve tried to not waste time using negative energy in my life. It seems a cliché, but you really do have to try and be the best person you can be every day. Like he said, why waste precious time?

He was only 42 when he died, and that was way too soon. And as difficult as it was to watch him suffer, at least he got to say his goodbyes to those he loved, especially his daughter Becky and his son Mike. That’s a kind of blessing, right?

After Tim’s funeral, we went out with some mutual friends and basically reminisced about him. It was an emotional day, and afterwards I just wanted to get home, spend some time alone and relax.

I went down to my basement where I had a bar, my library, and my music collection. I made a drink, sat down on my couch and laid my head back, just trying to unwind after a trying day. When I finally looked up, though, something caught me eye. A CD had fallen from one of my shelves and was on the floor, right in the open, where it had inexplicably landed right in the middle of the room.

The album was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

It seems that Tim had gotten the last word.

I walked over and picked it up, put the CD in the player, hit play, and listened.

What follows is my take on an old tale I heard years ago when I was a kid. Perhaps it was an Urban Legend, I can’t be sure. I just used the basic crux of the original story, all names, places and details have been created by me. Remember, this is my first attempt at true fiction so cut me a break. Hopefully, if people like this one, there will be more to follow . . .

Bobby Fallow was on the inside, doing time for the incredibly stupid crime of coffin_0robbing a gas station. He was desperately in need of money so he stole a gun from an uncle, put on a dumb George W. Bush mask, and went into a BP station in a town about thirty miles from where he lived. He proceeded to scare the bejesus out of the 50-something woman working the counter and made off with a grand total of $117.74, which he immediately wasted on booze over the next three days.

Bobby’s big mistake was bragging about his haul to his friend Gary, who had the brains of a blobfish. Gary’s father used to put it this way:

“You could put that boy’s brain in a flea’s ass and it would bounce around like a BB in a boxcar.”

So yeah, dumb.

The only guy in town dumber was probably Bobby, since he made the fateful decision to tell Gary he’d knocked over a damn gas station for $117.74.

Long story short, a couple days later the local po-po showed up at Bobby’s door and led him away in handcuffs. A court appointed attorney could do nothing to help, nor did he put forth much of an effort in the process.

So, eight freaking years, maybe five if Bobby could keep his nose clean and not piss off the wrong gang banger.

For Bobby, that was five years too long. He had to get out, man.

Midway through his second year of hell, he was transferred to the prison mortuary. Yeah, guys died in prison, more than you think, especially in a facility as big as the the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as the Alcatraz of the South. With well over 6,000 prisoners, the facility was one of the biggest in the United States.

The idea came to Bobby early, probably in his third week working in the prison morgue. As he stood watching a hearse pull away, taking some poor soul’s body to a cemetery off prison grounds, the idea hit him like a jolt of electricity from Gruesome Gertie, the name given by inmates to the old electric chair used to execute death row inmates.

I can get in a coffin and ride right the hell out of here.

Of course, there were some obstacles to overcome, the least of which was having to endure riding for God knows how long with a dead body lying beside him.

Bobby actually tested this once, when he was alone with a freshly filled casket and before the hearse arrived. He opened the lid, took a deep breath, and crawled right in. He then closed the lid, not all the way of course because he was terrified he’d lock himself in.

The good news was he fit.

Yeah, it was creepy as hell, but any fear he had of riding with a dead body for awhile was outweighed by the thought of glorious, mind-blowing freedom.

After lying in his cell night after night, going over the details in his mind, a plan was hatched. Clearly though, he’d need help.

Henry Cartwright was the old man for whom Bobby worked in the morgue, and he was not only a lifer but a snitch. If Old Man Henry got a whiff of the plan it would over before it started.

Bobby did have a friend inside he could trust, however. That man was Benny Bajolière, a dude from Bobby’s hometown of McNary, a little town of 215 people smack-dab in the middle of Louisiana and known primarily for its Lecompte Pie Festival.

Benny worked in the prison library and brought books around to the cells, so Bobby and he always had a few minutes a couple times a week to talk and catch up. Benny was a little older and smoked like a chimney, so between the squeaky wheels and Benny’s hacking cough you could always hear him and his book cart coming.

Benny also had connections within the prison walls and could get Bobby just about anything he wanted, from cigarettes to hooch. Bobby loved the Pruno, a sort of prison wine that would make you forget, if only for a little while, that you were in the most dangerous prison in the United States.

But here was the best part about Benny – he was set for release in a two months.

Over the course of their next few visits, the details were worked out. On the first Friday after Benny’s release date, Bobby would crawl inside the last casket of the day to leave Louisiana State Penitentiary. Benny would be waiting outside, follow the hearse, and after everyone left the burial site he would wait until dark and dig up his friend.

A month before Benny was to be released he was to be transferred to a halfway house, where he would ostensibly be prepared to ease back into society. After that he’d be officially released, and the first Friday thereafter he’d aid Bobby in his escape from the hell that was the Alcatraz of the South.

So, with that Benny Bajolière became Bobby Fallow’s lifeline. All Bobby could hope for was that Mr. Bajolière made good on his end of the deal.

Needless to say Bobby Fallow watched the calendar like a hawk. He knew Benny’s release date was approaching, and he waited patiently to put his plan into action.

On the Friday following Benny’s release date, Bobby prepared for his escape. After finishing his shift in the morgue at 3:00 pm, he went back to his open cell and sat nervously awaiting his move. About three hours later and after putting a previously prepared dummy under his bed sheets, he left his cell and walked down to the morgue. Using a morgue key he’d stolen earlier, he entered.

The place was without windows and was as dark as night, but he’d brought a book of matches to light the way. He found the last coffin in a row of four, knowing it would be the last one leaving, around 6:30 pm. Grabbing the lid handle and blowing out the match, he climbed in.

He’d timed it perfectly. After less than a half hour of lying next to a cold corpse, he felt the coffin being lifted and slid into the back of a hearse. After what seemed like hours but was in reality less than a half hour, Bobby could feel the coffin being removed from the hearse and lowered into the ground.

And then, the terrifying sound of dirt being shoveled onto the casket. After perhaps 20-minutes, it stopped.

Bobby Fallow was now buried alive.

Fighting the urge to scream and attempt to fight his way out, he took short, measured breaths as to conserve as much oxygen as possible. It was hot, cramped and pitch black.

Although Bobby tried his damndest not to think about the dead man lying next to him, it was a nearly impossible task.

He closed his eyes, and for the first time in years, he prayed. He prayed that Benny would be true to his word, and more importantly be on time.

After all, Bobby had calculated there would be enough oxygen in a closed coffin to last about five hours.

All he could do was wait.

And so he waited.

And waited.

How long had it been? Three, four hours? It seemed like an eternity. And then, a revelation – Bobby had a pocket watch. He just had to see how much time he’d been down there, under the ground.

With much difficulty he slid his hand down and gently pulled the watch from his pocket. He pulled it up near his face, but of course could see nothing but the inky blackness he’d been looking at for the past few hours.

For a few minutes he listened, hoping to hear the faint rustle of Benny digging his way down to rescue him. Oh, how they’d laugh and tell the story later, how Bobby was in such a panic-stricken state until Benny showed up as promised.

Alas, nothing. It was as still as death.

It was then Bobby remembered the matches. He reached down again, this time into his shirt pocket. He knew he couldn’t have a lit match in a closed casket very long because he was low on oxygen, but he just had to see the time. He just had to, as a form of reassurance as much as anything. Hell, he probably hadn’t been down there nearly as long as he thought he had.

Everything was going to be OK.

Still, to be certain he had to take one quick look.

He lit the match and took a quick glance at his watch.

Only 8:30.

He’d only been in the coffin for two hours. Just two measly hours. There was plenty of time, and help was most certainly on the way.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he started to blow out the match. But then, something compelled him to look to his side, into the face of the dead man beside him.

And there, staring back, was the face of Benny Bajolière.

So I watched the documentary “15 Septembers Later” on the History Channel 9_11_signlast night, and there were several bits of information I’d missed over the years. A lot of new information has been released over the past 5-years or so, and some of it is pretty incredible. Maybe you’ve already heard this before, maybe you haven’t. That said, below are the 9 things that I did not know:

  • Sadly, because authorities at the World Trade Centers didn’t want anyone getting up there to throw things off, in particular themselves, the doors to the roofs of the towers were chained shut. At least one helicopter with rescue personnel and equipment was hovering there, waiting for people to appear so they could save them.
  • The FFA National Operations Manager, Ben Sliney, grounded 5000 planes that day without asking anybody at the White House or anybody in the government, a great decision because we had no idea how many terrorists were out there on planes, waiting to take over. And oh, by the way? It was his first day on the job.
  • Captain William Hutchinson was the last person that saw Flight 93 that day. He was a fighter pilot and he was dispatched to chase the airliner. He made visual contact but, running out of fuel, he had to turn back. As he turned to leave he watched it began its nosedive.
  • Other fighter jets were sent into the air with orders to bring down any airliner that didn’t respond to radio contact. However, none of the jets had weapons aboard. They weren’t seen as needed over 2001 American soil. So, the pilots were told to bring the airliners down without being told exactly how. The pilots understood they were to ram the planes, and were prepared to do so. One female pilot explained that she’d planned to hit the passenger plane in the tail, and if she wasn’t killed on impact she’d then eject.
  • Only 20 people survived the collapse of the towers, while 2763 died. That’s a .007% survival rate. Of those survivors, 12 crawled to safety and 4 were rescued later.
  • Two Marines showed up at Ground Zero the day after the collapse and were told the debris pile was too dangerous and that nobody was allowed on it. Ignoring orders, they went in, calling out for survivors. They discovered 2-people and rescued them. One of the Marines, Jason Thomas, left immediately afterwards and told nobody, not even his immediate family, that he was involved. Just recently, he came forward.
  • Finance firm Cantor Fitzgerald lost the most people of any company that day, losing 658 of their 969 employees. Although 0nly 32% of their people lived, the company survived and is thriving today.
  • In the 9/11 Commission’s lengthy report, 28-pages were originally missing. Years later when they were finally released, officials stated they were withheld because they were “embarrassing to the Saudis”. We know that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and evidence pointed to Saudi nationals funding the plan. In addition, information on the hijackers behavior and whereabouts in the months prior to 9/11 has never been released. We only know that some of them trained in Florida. We don’t know who paid their bills or anything. They spoke poor English and had never been to the United States. How did they pull off such a sophisticated attack?
  • It is estimated that 200-people chose to jump that day, rather than face death in the flames of the building. One firefighter, Danny Suhr, was killed when a jumper landed on him after “falling like a torpedo” from the sky, breaking his neck. The priest who gave him last rites was later killed by falling debris.

Note: When I was in Florida recently I stayed in Venice, near where some of the hijackers trained to fly. I read an article in the paper that told the story of a local sheriff at the time. He was called to a hotel because a little dog had bitten a man. Upon arrival, the owner of the dog, a woman, said her dog had never bitten anyone before and she was scared he’d be taken from her. The sheriff then went to the man’s apartment to check on him. Although he’d called and had his hand wrapped in a towel, he told the sheriff he didn’t want to press charges. That man was later found out to be one of the hijackers. Upon hearing this, the sheriff remembered he’d looked past the man into the apartment that day to see four other men sitting at a table, looking at blueprints. The sheriff thought nothing of it, thinking they were engineers or something. Chilling. On a related note, dogs know, don’t they?

“I dropped a tear in the ocean. The day it is found is the day I’ll stop missing you.”

Nine years ago, on September 8th, I lost the best little friend I’d ever had.

I first laid eyes on Delaney in early December of 2000. She was a 4-year old rescue and my wife and I had to go pick her up from the Dayton Scottish Terrier Club of America. She was unrecognizable as a Scottie. Her hair was long and unkempt, totally full of knots. When we reached down to pet her she would immediately hit the floor, going flat on her stomach. She just assumed she was going to be hit.

Del had been terribly abused by her owners. She trusted nobody, and would growl and shy away from anyone who tried to touch her. It would be over a year before she would even lick your hand. She had no idea how to love or show compassion. When we brought her home to meet her new brother Poe, she growled and nipped at him, generally making his life miserable for several months.

Over time, Del learned that we weren’t going to hurt her. She slowly and gradually warmed up to us, but it seemed to take forever. When she finally opened up to us, her incredible personality was revealed. She was a feisty, tough, animated, energetic little girl, albeit one with a giant chip on her shoulder. She had the most amazing eyes and expressions that just spoke to you. When she wanted something, she never hesitated to let you know with a yelp and a nudge of her nose. In fact, she came quite proficient at using that nose as a battering ram. If a door was left even slightly ajar, you could soon expect Del to come barging in to see what you were up to. To make matters worse, she taught her brother the same trick.

Del was a fighter. She didn’t back down from anything, whether it be a bigger delsleep11dog or a terrible disease. Ten years ago we took her in for a vet appointment and found that she had an abdominal mass inside of her. We’d had no idea. She’d been at the beach all summer and hadn’t shown a bit of discomfort. Her spleen had to be taken out, but she was as good as new in a month or so.

Then, in the fall of ’07 Del fell ill again. This time it was cancer, and she had to have a 9-pound tumor removed from her little 25-pound body. After surgery, pancreatitis set in and it was really bad. She was at MedVet for several days, and at one point the doctor told us that we shouldn’t hold out much hope, that Del didn’t have much of a chance, probably wouldn’t make it through the night. She could barely hold her little head up, and we basically said our goodbyes.

But as I was leaving a young vet called me aside and whispered this:

“Don’t give up. She’s a hundred times stronger than you or me. I can tell.”

And he was right.

The next morning we called expecting the worst, but incredibly we were told she was sitting up. Stunned, we went to see her and were thrilled to see she was much better. The doctors were shocked and Del was quite the little celebrity among the vets and staff at MedVet. Everyone was just amazed that she’d fought through it and came out alive. Del was a little miracle dog. She came home a few days later and just kept recovering until she seemed as good as new.

Unfortunately, the cancer came back and this time it had spread to her bladder. In January 2008 we were told that Delaney had 4-months to live. You would never had known it as she was as perky and vibrant as ever, hopping around, standing on her back legs asking for treats, just generally being Del. The 4-months passed and she was still going strong. Once again Del was beating the odds. Then, in late August, she started showing signs that things weren’t right. She started to decline quickly, eventually stopped eating and our local vet told us that it was time.

We lost Delaney on September 8th, 2008. She was nearly 12-years old, and I held her as she passed. She was wrapped in an old robe of mine that she loved so much. You know, I learned more from her than anyone can imagine. Her determination, resiliency, and lust for life were inspiring. Once she learned that we loved her, her loyalty, compassion, boundless energy, and sheer will-power made her a remarkable pet and the perfect companion.

She’s been gone for 8-years now, but she will never, ever be forgotten.

I loved that little dog so much.

David Huddleston, a noted character actor who was most famously known david-huddleston-deadfor the titular role in “The Big Lebowski” died Tuesday at 85. His wife, Sarah Koeppe, told the Los Angeles Times that he died of heart and kidney disease in Santa Fe, N.M.

Huddleston’s character in the 1998 “The Big Lebowski” epitomized the types of characters he was known for — big dons or capos and tempestuous men. Although he is in only a few scenes in the film, he crosses paths with Jeff Bridges’ Lebowski character, aka “The Dude,” after a group of gang members attack “The Dude” mistaking him for Huddleston’s millionaire Lebowski. Though the film was not a hit when it first premiered, it has since become a huge cult sensation with a devoted fan base.

Well, hell. I’m just devastated over here. The guy who played Big Lebowski is dead? Say it ain’t so. Crushing news. That’s one of my favorite movies ever, period. Who’s next, John Goodman? Steve Buscemi? For the love of God, Jeff Bridges?

Now if you’ll excuse me I need a minute.

The body of a tourist has been recovered from a ravine after he fell while picuvisiting the ancient site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes.

Oliver Park, 51, ignored safety signs and warnings from wardens and went into a restricted area close to the edge of a cliff on Wednesday, officials say.

They say he tried to pose for a photograph of himself leaping as if in flight but lost his footing.

Rescuers found the body on Thursday and took it to a local police station. Police said his body would be taken to a morgue in the city of Cusco.

Does it make me a bad person that I laughed out loud when I read the line “He tried to pose for a photograph of himself leaping as if in flight but lost his footing.” Good God, that’s comedy gold right there. See, he was posing as if in flight and he was soon actually in flight. Isn’t that like irony or something?

Anywho, listen to the wardens, kids.

Note: It took him a day to find his body? Deep ravine, dude.

Note 2: They took the body to CostCo? That’s weird. Oh, Cusco. Never mind.

hgu2 hgu

SALUDA, S.C.—One man’s funeral is the talk of the town in Saluda, as 90-year-old Lonnie Holloway was buried in the front seat of his car along with his most prized possessions.

“I’ve been in the wrecker business 30 years and this is the first time we ever buried anybody in their car,” said Rodney Minick of Saluda Body Shop.

While some family members say they did the burial because they knew it was Mr. Holloway’s last wish, others say they disagreed but went along because they knew it’s what he wanted.

“I don’t like it but he told me a long time ago. He said ‘Sallie Mae, I’m going to be buried in my car.’ I said ‘Holloway, don’t make me ashamed’ and he said ‘If that’s going to make you ashamed, you’re going to have to be ashamed.’ I hope he made it,” said Lonnie’s sister Sallie Harris.

After the car was put in the ground, it was covered with a concrete slab to keep the the guns and the car from being stolen.

So ol’ Lonnie Holloway requested to be buried in his beloved 1973 Pontiac Catalina along with his guns, and I’ll be damned if his wife didn’t go through with it. Be honest, how many of you have wives that would fight you on this? Or maybe agree, then after you die just bury you the old-fashioned way? Not Mrs. Holloway, man. True to Lonnie’s request all the way. And hey, Sallie Harris, you don’t have to worry because Lonnie made it all right. And he made it in style, sitting behind the wheel of a sweet ’73 Pontiac Catalina.

Note I – Hey, Rodney Minick of Saluda Body Shop, there’s a reason you haven’t buried anyone in their car before, and that’s because you’re in the wrecker business. Der.

Note II – Good call on the concrete slab. Better safe than sorry.

Note III – I just noticed this story is 7-years old. Looks like I’m on top of things like always.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t close to dying this morning, but I thought I was. I just wanted to draw you in with a tantalizing title, and if you’re reading this it apparently worked. Here’s how it all went down . . .

It was a normal Friday morning like most others. Rise at 6:00 AM, shake out the cobwebs, shower, turn on the news, check my email, blah-blah-blah. About 7:20 AM I grabbed my backpack and headed out the door to my car. I was opening my car door when it happened . . .

My head suddenly became a buzzing, reverberating, electrified, spinning dervish of confusion. My teeth were rattling, my ears were tingling, my tongue felt like a woodpecker was going at it, my lips felt like I’d chewed through a live wire, and my entire mouth felt as if it was inhabited by a gang of angry bumblebees. In addition, I’m pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head for a second like one of those cartoon characters who’d been electrocuted. There was also a strange humming sound that seemed to be emanating from my very core.

Horrifying thoughts raced through my quivering cranium. Had I been tazed? Had an aneurysm popped in my brain? Had I inadvertently stepped on a downed electric wire? For the love of God, was I having a stroke? My mind was reeling. Looking around wildly, I sort of staggered/dropped into my car seat, looking for my cell phone to dial 911. Where the hell was it?

Suddenly I remembered – I’d stuck it in my mouth so I’d have a free hand to open the car door.

And the ringer was off.

And it was on vibrate.

And someone was calling me.

Good Lord.

On a positive note, I’m pretty sure I’m growing hair again.

[New York Post]: A mysterious planet that wiped out life on Earth millions of years ago could do dieit again, according to a top space scientist. And, some believe the apocalyptic event could happen as early as this month.

Planet Nine — a new planet discovered at the edge of the solar system in January — has triggered comet showers that could bomb the Earth’s surface, killing all life, says Daniel Whitmire, of the University of Louisiana. Fossil evidence has suggested most life on Earth is mysteriously wiped out every 26 million to 27 million years. Whitmire claims Planet Nine’s passage through a rock-laden area called the Kuiper Belt is responsible for the “extinction events” of past earth and it may be ready to happen again.

Boy, this Daniel Whitmire’s a piece of work, huh? Just casually dropping the news that we’re all going to be dead before May. Couldn’t the dude hold a press conference, maybe inform the world leaders or something? Anywho, no more worrying about those bills, kids. Screw ’em. And that person you’ve always wanted to kill? Today’s your lucky day.

See ya on the other side!

PS – Then again, he is a scientist in Louisiana. I think you can be a scientist down there with an 8th grade education. Bro probably works out of the back of his pickup with some beakers, a Mattel microscope and a bunsen burner. Maybe we’re good.

This map is resized to reflect the mortality rate of children under 5-years old.

map2

I know, greatest blog title ever, amirite? You’re welcome.1

Anywho, this is something that’s been on my mind lately so I thought it was time to unleash.  I do understand folks have different opinions on these types of things, so apologies in advance to those about to be offended.

Alrighty then. Let’s take a deep breath and begin with my list of dos and don’ts of dying . . .

The Don’ts

For the love of all that is holy, if I die in a fiery car crash do not put up one of those roadside memorials at the scene of my demise. For the life of me I don’t understand or comprehend why people do this. Why would I want flowers, signs, notes, teddy bears and God-knows-what-else at the location where my head went through the windshield or steering column went through my oral cavity? Thanks but no thanks.

Do not dedicate a sporting event to me or say that you won a game for me. Doesn’t it sort of cheapen a life when we use it as inspiration to win a basketball game? Good Lord. And don’t point to the sky in honor of me after a big touchdown run or game-winning shot either. Besides, you might be pointing in the wrong direction. The same goes for black armbands or buttons with my picture on there. On the other hand, a really cool t-shirt might be nice. Note to self: Design “Shoe Death Party” t-shirts post haste.

Do not get on my Facebook page and talk to me as if I’m still here. That’s just creepy. Telling a funny or inspirational story (if there is such a thing) about me is fine, but please, no “Dave, a horsefly landed on my nose today and I knew it was you paying me a visit” or some such nonsense like that. I mean, really? On the other hand, depending on the person that horsefly on the nose might just be me after all.

Do not go overboard with the sympathy thing. There’s nothing worse than somebody who barely knew the deceased standing there wailing as if they were best friends.

Do not show up at my funeral if you didn’t like me when I was alive and kickin’. I shall have a list of my enemies posted at the door with strict instructions for my friend Tom to beat the crap out of you if you do. And he will do it.

The Dos

Do let me go. If I’m on my death bed with no hope of making it, for God’s sake let me go. Pull the damn plug as they say. I’m a firm believer in assisted suicide in these cases. Just let everyone say their goodbyes, whisper to me how awesome I was in life, pat me on the head, go have an adult beverage and tell funny stories about all the stupid things I did in my life. It saves money, time and grief for all involved, most importantly me.

Do cremate me, please. I’ve never been comfortable (but who really is?) with the ritual of lining up to view the dead body. Despite what people always say, the deceased never looks good. They look dead. And tell the truth. Aren’t you always slightly afraid the person’s going to open their eyes and look right at you? If you didn’t before you will now. Anyway, just put a really flattering photo of me smiling and looking good from back in my heyday. Wait. Did I ever have a heyday? Never mind. Then just take my ash-filled urn with you to all the big parties or bars you go to, sit me on the middle of the table, and clink your bottle on me from time-to-time. Just don’t get drunk and leave me at the bar. I’d hate to end up in the dumpster behind Jerry’s West.

Do play good music at my memorial (Is memorial the right word? It won’t be a viewing because there’ll be nothing to view. A wake? The mind reels). The Beatles, R.E.M., The Avetts, Zevon, a little Alice Cooper, The Eels, you know the drill. No “church music” if you will. No offense, folks, but everyone will be a little down anyway, so “Bringing in the Sheaves” ain’t gonna help. Besides, I don’t know what a sheave is so I don’t want it brought in. Alice’s “Muscle of Love” on the other hand . . .

Do let my friends stand up and say a few words about me. I’m talking about the friends who have loved me unconditionally, even when I’ve been an uncaring ass who has made some incredibly stupid life decisions, usually involving women. You know who you are, and I know you’ll speak the truth. More importantly, you’ll know what to leave out.

Finally, and I really have to be careful here, it bothers me when I go to a funeral and the preacher turns it into a sermon and even an alter call. I have a couple problems with this. Number one, there are many people there who aren’t normally a part of the congregation, so it’s sort of a captive audience if you will. It seems like the preacher wants to take advantage of this to do his thing. Well, not everybody attending wants to hear it. They didn’t come to hear you preach. They want to hear about the person who died. Is that too much to ask?

Secondly, it seems to me to be a sort of emotional blackmail to ask people, when they are at their lowest point emotionally, to make a major life decision regarding something as important as religion. Shouldn’t decisions like that should be made by those whose heads are level and minds are clear, and not in such a vulnerable state of grief?

It seems to me the proper thing to do would be to talk about the deceased, tell some stories about his life and what made him or her special. That’s what I want to hear. Then, maybe inform folks that there will be a religious service following if they want to stick around? Just throwin’ it out there.

I guess an exception to this would be when it’s a specific request of the deceased, but even then I think it’s a bad idea.

I really can’t think of a way to wrap this up, other than to say I hope to hell it won’t be relevant for a long time. It reminds me of that George Carlin quote when he was on Carson back in the day. George was 39 at the time and Johnny asked him what he wanted people to be saying about him in a hundred years. Carlin’s answer?

“I want them to say ‘That man is 139-years old.’”

My feelings exactly.

If I do go, though, I hope it’s quick, maybe like one of my favorite poets, Dylan Thomas. His last words:

“I’ve had 18 straight whiskies……I think that’s the record.”

That would be my second favorite way to go.

PS – disclaimer

It all began at a stoplight. I glanced out my car window, into the graveyard, and saw the headstone.

Not many people know this, but I enjoy cemeteries. I love walking around and reading the headstones and the things people have engraved on them. Whether the deceased had chosen the words themselves or some relative did it for them is really irrelevant, it just fascinates me endlessly to read what people want to put in words over a place where a dead body is buried.

Man, that was a weird sentence.

Anyway, when I’m out of town and a graveyard is nearby I usually try to find the time to take a leisurely stroll through it, just checking out the headstones. You can really find some interesting stuff, trust me. So today when I saw the headstone, I just had to take a look. And boy, did I hit the jackpot. I became so fascinated by what I found that I actually did some research on the man on the headstone, and I gotta say I wish I’d known Mr. Dominick A. Lockwood.

But first things first. Here’s what originally caught my eye:

1a

Awesome, amirite? Great pose. But what did it mean? It became immediately obvious that Dominick had a great sense of humor, plus I loved the quote at the bottom:

1b

When the illusion of the body disappears, love, the true reality of being, remains.”

I couldn’t find this quote attributed to anybody, but it’s great stuff nonetheless.

And now for the sides of the headstone. Check these out:

1c 1d

Love these. His children (yes, children) with him on one side, the peace sign on the other. Spectacular.

But who was this guy? I just had to find out.

I became so intrigued with Dominick and his headstone I began digging a little deeper (not literally, so chillax), and boy did he not disappoint. He was everything I imagined, and some things I could never have imagined. Let’s just say he was quite the character. Among the revelations:

  • He was an eccentric, lovable multi-millionaire attorney and real estate magnate in The Poconos (where I was visiting and saw the headstone) who hung out in both the opera and dive bars.
  • He kept a Christmas tree on top of his car until Easter, telling friends it made the vehicle easier to find in a crowded parking lot.
  • He wore his trademark bow tie even during a hunting trip, explaining that the deer would find him more approachable than a guy with a flannel shirt and gun.
  • He sported two wristwatches — just in case he wanted to know what time it was in Germany or Switzerland.
  • He once took out a newspaper ad to announce that he was not running for a political office.
  • He’d call a friend every day at 6:00 AM and announce, “It’s going to be a beautiful day” even during blizzards and thunderstorms.
  • He shopped for unusual Christmas presents for friends and strangers at flea markets and wrapped gifts in paper shopping bags or newspapers — with a bow.
  • He fathered three children after the age of 58.
  • He only ate every other day.
  • He rode his bicycle to work in a Brooks Brothers suit and saddle shoes, his wild hair flapping in the wind.
  • When the neighborhood Elementary School was about to close in the mid-1990s, he offered to buy the school so it would stay open.
  • He would consummate business deals with merely a handshake, old-school style.
  • He would stop on the street and randomly do what he called “The Warrior” the yoga pose that is on his headstone.
  • He said, “You should speak to everyone you see. Especially the women.”

Dominick died in 2002 when was struck by a truck — driven by a man visiting town to testify as a traffic accident reconstructionist. It happened in the middle of Main Street at the beginning of the workday. He was three days shy of his 76th birthday.

Ironically, in 1971, his father also was killed walking across a Pennsylvania street, at age 72.

It’s weird how you can stumble upon a headstone, become intrigued by it, do a little research and really feel as if you know a guy, you know? Even 11-years after his death, Dominick is having a positive impact on complete strangers.

I came across one last bit of information as well. I found that after his death, a woman left a letter on his grave. She wrote that many years ago she had contemplated suicide, but a daily smile from Lockwood let her know that at least one person cared about her.

When you are that lonely, a smile can save your life,” she wrote. “And it did save mine.”

I guess we never know how big of an effect our actions can have on others, you know? And can’t we all learn a little from Dominick A. Lockwood?

November 22nd, 1963

Posted: November 22, 2015 in Death, Life
Tags:
JFK sailing off the Massachussetts coast.

JFK sailing off the Massachusetts coast.

It was 1963, and I was in second grade. Coming from a strongly Democratic family, we’d gone door-to-door in 1960 in support of John F. Kennedy, the charismatic young Senator from Massachusetts who went on to be elected President of the United States in 1960. As young as I was, I still remember watching him on television and feeling that he was so much different than the other politicians. Keep in mind I was, because of my family, pretty aware of the political landscape in our country. Hell, I can remember the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960 and I was only 4-years old.

Anyway, I can vividly recall that Friday in November, 1963 when a knock  came on the door of my classroom in Twin Elementary in Bourneville.  I was in row 2, seat 2. My teacher, Mrs. Hughes,  walked to the door and listened for a few seconds. For some reason, the classroom became completely quiet. Somehow we sensed something in the air. I distinctly remember Mrs. Hughes sort of toppling a bit and leaning against the door jamb upon receiving the news. Then she turned, deathly white, and walked to the front of the room . . .

Kids, I have terrible news. Our president has been assassinated.”

I remember my friend Jeff, who was sitting in front of me, turning around and asking me what that meant. I have no idea how I knew for sure, but I told him that somebody had killed John F. Kennedy, our president. Our president was dead.  I don’t remember the rest of the school day, but I do remember going home after school and being surprised that my dad was home, sitting on the couch watching the television. I also remember that for the first time in my life, I saw tears in my father’s eyes.

Two days later was a Sunday, and after church Dad and I drove to Columbus to get lunch for the family. This sounds incredible today, but believe it or not the closest McDonald’s was at what is now the Southland Mall. Anyway, I remember standing in line waiting for our food, outside. Inside there was a small black and 1white television that had been set up so people could watch the JFK coverage. As I recall they were cutting back and forth to the Dallas Courthouse. Soon, Lee Harvey Oswald was shown being escorted through the basement of the Dallas Police Station. As I watched, Jack Ruby stepped up and shot him in the stomach. Dad tried to cover my eyes but I’d seen it all. I remember some people in line cheered, but dad told me later in the car that it wasn’t a good thing, that it was another murder and perhaps we’d never know what really happened now. He couldn’t have been more right. We still don’t know for sure.

I’ll never forget the funeral procession, how brave and strong Jackie Kennedy seemed to me, and young John John saluting his father’s coffin. It was such a sad, sad time. There was just a dark cloud cast over everything.

And even at so young an age, I sensed the world was different after those few days. A certain innocence had been lost, and lost forever.

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