Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Current Pet Peeves

-Driving behind the numbskull who goes 45 in the passing lane....and has no intention of moving over into the right-hand lane.

-People who pronounce the t in the word often.

-TV sportscasters who feel it necessary to use "catch phrases" and "cutesy" terms to describe the highlights. Bucket-and-the-bruise....give me a break.

-People who take your drive-through order at McDonald's and think you can understand their mumbling.

-People who talk so loudly on their cell phones in a public place that you want to stuff a sock in their mouth.

-Spam... both kinds.

-People who think they are so important that they have to tint the windows on their "really fine" 1989 Oldsmobile.

-People who find it necessary to run up or down an escalator and knock you off to the side.

-Parents who make fools of themselves (in many ways) at kids sporting events.

-Guys who find it impossible to wear a shirt into a convenience store....even though the no shirt sign is on the door.

-Women who think smearing lipstick over most of the lower half of their face is attractive.

-The disclaimers on drug ads that warn of all sorts of horrible side effects.

-All of the stuff you are charged for on your cell/telephone bill that makes absolutely no sense.

-People who talk on their cell phone, smoke, eat, and try to drive at the same time.

-People who think all rules of life are made for someone else to be concerned with...not them.

That's not all of them....but I feel a little better.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Weekend Roundup

-Who among us, that's over 20 years old, was not saddened to hear of the death of Don Knotts? I'm not sure what he would have considered to be his dream job, but Knotts brought so much joy into the lives of the American public as the legendary Barney Fife, that he certainly had acquired his dream job as far as most of us were concerned. Some of the episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, are burned into our consciousness as a society. He was Barney. And "One-Bullet Barn" will forever be at the very top of the list of memorable early television characters...along with Lucille Ball's Lucy, James Arness' Matt Dillon, and a few others. I have a son who's at college laying the groundwork for an acting career. If he should be talented, and more importantly fortunate, enough to acquire a part that allows him to bring one tenth of the joy to people that Mr. Knotts did, I will be as happy as a dad can be. Thank you Don Knotts. And, thank you God for putting him in a position to do what he did best.

-The Winter Olympics are over. I wasn't nearly as into them this time as I have been in the past. There was little to get excited about. If the American hockey team had been mildly successful, it would have livened things up. If one of the expected "Wunderkinds" Bode Miller, Sasha Cohen, etc. could have lived up to their billing, NBC brass certainly would have been happier. And we just have a devil of a time finding someone who can ski fast and hit a target with a rifle..don't we? Wow...how exciting is that biathlon thing? And, unfortunately, we won't see Apollo Anton Ohno....don't forget the Anton...now until 2010. That is, unless somebody starts a short-track, roller-derby league.

-I'm hearing that if you have a group of more than 20 people, you can forget about a group outing at a Cardinals game this year. And, starting Wednesday, the Cardinals will be calling everbody on their group outing waiting list to tell them that they can't accomodate them for the coming season. The Grizzlies should reap a huge benefit from the opening year of the new Busch.

-Mardi Gras in St. Louis--Two incidents of damage to property, 200 arrests for minor offenses...mostly underage drinking. Pretty tame. Let me know when it gets rowdy...maybe I'll check it out.

-I was in a trivia contest at the offices of Leinicke Design in Manchester on Friday night. Craig and Connie Leinicke are friends who operate one of the top graphic design and print production firms in the region. Our team won! Woo Hoo! When you win one of those things, you invariably come up with an answer or two that even you are surprized to get right. And there's one that you can't believe you couldn't come up with. For me, it was not remembering the theme song to the Gomer Pyle TV show...I thought it was Hogan's Heroes. And, the one I got right...."What kind of paper was developed in 1857...but wasn't successfuly marketed until 1867?"--(This one was tricky because all of the people on hand were in the printing and graphics business)--Answer: toilet paper

-I had my first extended conversation with an evacuee of Hurricane Katrina Friday night. My wife and I were having a cocktail at a west St. Louis county establishment, and we managed to start up a conversation with a chap sitting nearby. This guy is better off than most of the people who fled the hurricane. He's staying here in St. Louis indefinitely and trying to land a job at Boeing. He's a military veteran...in his late 20's I'd guess...with one bad leg, the result of a partially-opened parachute while on duty in the Middle East. He's in the process of completing his education via the GI bill while the rest of his family, against his urging, is rebuilding their New Orleans home. I asked him how he wound up in St. Louis. He said when the hurricane was headed for N.O. he got in his car and headed north on I-55. St. Louis is where he was too tired to keep going. He's been here ever since. Unlike a lot of the evacuees, he's moving on with his life and trying to make it on his own.

-Interesting to read that possible Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is probably the favorite of a majority of Democrats in 2008. But Democratic strategists are suggesting that she is unelectable because of something called "Clinton burnout". They say all of the old Clinton baggage will be front-and-center again should she get the party nomination. They say Whitewater and all of the predictable stances on issues will not allow her to capture enough of the public's imagination to win. Some of the usual Democrat funding sources are holding back from committing to her because of her perceived "can't win" status.

-And while we're at it...Who will the Republicans run in '08? McCain? Giuliani? Rice? Allen? Wide open at this point.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hockey Schlockey!

The headlines on the sports pages around this part of the world are about the disastrous day for North American hockey at the Olympics yesterday. The Belleville News-Democrat headline is North American Nightmare. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn't make as big a deal of it with Underachieving North Americans Ousted. Papers in most of the NHL markets have similar banners.

Here in the US, we're not happy with the Finn win over Team USA. In Canada, there are reports of anguished citizens threatening to jump off the nearest building after Team Canada's loss to Russia that took them out of medal contention. Of course, they live and die with their hockey north of the border. The bulk of the population in the US couldn't name more than two players on our team.

Team USA General Manager Don Waddell (GM of the Atlanta Thrashers) said after yesterday's loss to the Finns...."We're out of the tournament, but it's not like we have to blow it up and start over". I would tend to disagree. So, I have a few humble suggestions for the braintrust at USA Hockey for the 2010 games in Vancouver.

Let the kids play! The last time we had a team that we really got excited about was the 1980 "Miracle" team. Of course, that was a bunch of young guys that put their heart and soul into the games...and therefore overachieved to win the gold. When we send a bunch of grizzled pros...(i.e. 43-year-old team captain Chris Chelios) A. we know what to expect from them and usually get it. B. They know what to expect from themselves, and usually give it. C. They have a big salary in the NHL to come back to, no matter what they do at the Olympics. D. They are usually physically beat up from the regular NHL season by the time the Olympics roll around in February. E. We have older, slower, under-inspired players in a tournament...and on a larger ice surface... that puts a premium on speed, skill, and enthusiasm. Duh!

After yesterday's loss, Mike Modano...one of our grizzled veterans...seemed to care more about berating the management of the team, and the way the players were treated, than being concerned that the players might have embarassed themselves and let down the country's hockey fans. He said USA Hockey didn't arrange for player travel, hotels and other amenties that pro athletes are accustomed to having. Was he going to Italy to play hockey...or take a vacation with his family? He said it's time for a change in the management of the US effort. Maybe he's right...but that should include a hard look at who's putting on the USA sweater too.

Let the other countries send their old NHL guys. We should suit up a team of the best American college players and minor league kids trying to make a name for themselves. Maybe two or three of the players could be first or second-year NHL guys who still have some youthful enthusiam. At least they might consider representing the US a "true honor" and likely wouldn't be jaded or blaze' about it from having been there before.

I don't know about you, but I could get excited about seeing the "underdog Americans" playing in the Olympics. I actually think it would be good for the TV ratings too. We could expect inspired play. And, we would be putting a team on the ice in the tradition of the greatest moment in US hockey of all time. Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, and the rest of the "miracle" team could be proud. We might even institute an age limit...like noone over 25. That way the GM of the US team would have a legitimate reason for telling the "old guys" to stay home.

Appoint a permanent coach....someone cut from the same mold as the late Herb Brooks. I'm sure you could find a respected college or pro coach to take on that job. That way, you would have someone who is concentrating on the Olympic tournament from early in the college and pro hockey season to evaluate players and keep tabs on a likely roster. The guy would have to be a motivator and a disciplinarian, much like Brooks. Now, we use an NHL coach who jumps into it last minute...and just knows the players from what he's seen on occasion in NHL games.

Our coach should get these guys together for a couple of weeks of practice during the summer and early fall so they can get to know one another as people and teammates. Then they can go back to their college and/or pro teams until a couple of weeks before the Olympics when they could have some practice/exhibition games that would help them gel as a team.

One other thing about having a US team like this....winning would be so sweeeeet! (remember '80). Lower expectations means higher satisfaction. And if we don't win? Hey, we're not winning the way it is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Is America Slipping?

The headline is the thrust of this set of questions that may not have specific answers. But, the Winter Olympics, and our country's less-than-excellent showing, has me looking back on the last 50, or so, years and wondering....

-Does the U.S. have the same type of dominance that it once had in just about everything?

We seemed to always be first...or at least in a tie for it...in almost any field of endeavor. Sports, business, education, and, of course, war come to mind. We became used to being on top in the Olympics, commerce of all kinds, and just about anything else where our people and resources were pitted against those of another country, or countries.

In recent years, it seems to me, that has all changed. Some of the examples in the sports world where we are just another player...

The Ryder Cup (golf's great competition between the U.S. and Europe)
The aforementined Olympics..(both Winter and Summer...even the sports we used to dominate, i.e. basketball, track, baseball, softball, are much more competitive than in the past)
Baseball..(Latin America has been the dominant producer of talent in recent years)
World Cup Soccer (The women have been good, the men haven't)

As for business, we are still the dominant economy in the world, but not to the degree we were accustomed to in the mid to late 20th century. Auto manufacturers in Europe and the Orient are producing arguably better cars and pricing them competitively. We all know the problems of the major automakers in Detroit. Heavy industry seems to be moving off our shores to other parts of the world. Even the highly technical industries are finding homes in other countries and thriving because of the cheap, but intelligent, labor forces there.

Even in war, coudn't it be said that we've been rather inefficient and suspect? Since World War II things haven't exactly been a breese. The Korean, Viet Nam, Gulf, Iraq, and current global war on terror aren't exactly reasons for victory celebrations.

Why is this happening? Or am I just over-protective of our country's erstwhile "number 1-in-everything" status? Is this just a product of the more intimate planet earth? A place where we are all a lot closer together than we were 50-75 years ago. The earth's citizens are all a lot more educated and up-to-speed with technology than in the past. Most everyone, with the exception of the most depressed third-world nations, is on the internet, and informed instantly of world events by television, radio, computer, and cell phone communication.

As much as anything, I would say we've exported our society, and our lifestyle, to other continents and countries to the point where they appreciate, and can excel in, the same activities we do. So, in that case it's not surprising that we should have to be more competitive to remain on top.

Should we accept that the world is catching up and, in many cases, passing us in our formerly one-sided activities? Should we be happy that the rest of the world is not really "the rest of the world" any more? Should we say..."Good for them!" or should we look at ourselves and wonder what we're doing wrong? Can we be more passionate about our education, sports endeavors, and business lives? Do we need to be?

Our country and society has been built on the opportunity and freedom to achieve individually, and collectively. Shouldn't we be always striving to be number 1 to prove that our way of doing things is the best? Mediocrity...and settling for it... is nothing to be celebrated.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Do You Buy It?

If you watched 60 Minutes.. as I did.. last night, you were treated to a story, reported by Scott Pelley, entitled A Global Warning. Pelley's piece asserts that the Arctic ice cap is melting. More importantly, it indicates there's nothing that humans can do to stop it. Among other things, the story attributed the problem to greenhouse gases. It said that the polar bear population is likely to go extinct because they can only hunt seals on glacial ice surfaces. Also, by the end of the century sea level will likely rise by three feet worldwide. And, if that's not enough, hurricanes and cyclones will continue to be intensified by the rise in ocean temperature. Of course, it cites the latest in scientific evidence, and opinion based on it, in drawing these conclusions. The text of the report is found at www.cbsnews.com ...if you missed it.

Well, how's that for gloom and doom? Apparently, my eventual grandchildren had better think about putting their houses on stilts if they choose to live anywhere close to sea level. I'm all for finding alternatives to fossil fuels. Yes, to environmentally friendly...when it makes sense...ways of doing business. I'd vote for saving polar bears from extinction. And, who would relish the idea of more hurricanes like Katrina?

After watching the report, I was left with one question. Did Pelley, the scientists, and 60 Minutes get it right?

The expert most prominent in Pelley's piece is a man named Bob Correll, (actually, Dr. Robert W. Correll) who Pelley reports is "among the world's most prominent authorities on climate change." Correll is chairman of a group of 300 scientists from eight nations that comprise the Arctic Council and International Arctic Science Committee, and who commissioned the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Correll is a Senior Fellow with the American Meteorological Society. In Pelley's report, Dr. Correll was not equivocal in any way when he stated that no matter what happens with regard to global use of fossil fuels, the Arctic ice mass will continue to melt and all of the above mentioned consequences are likely to happen. No matter what?

That type of assertion from a person touted as an expert is staggering, but always brings me back to the phrase..."follow the money".

If there is an Arctic Council, and an International Arctic Science Committee, and who knows how many other councils and committees devoted to an international problem of this magnitude, who is getting paid to do what...and say what? Who would lose income if these councils and committees went out of business? How many study grants and government-funded university weather research programs would go dark if there was no perceived global climate doomsday ahead? If they were to determine that Arctic warming was just a product of global weather cycles, how many professors and scientists would suddnely lose a job? How many bureaucratic paper-pushers would be out of work without the weather hand-wringing?

But then, would it make sense for one of these highly-regarded scientists to say that the problem was beyond the scope of human control if it wasn't? Wouldn't that effectively work to minimize the problem and the amount of money thrown at it? Why would Correll seemingly sabotage the effort to change coporate and political minds regarding fossil fuel usage, and possibly eliminate more study and weather research with such an assertion?

That's why, to me, Dr. Correll's statement that the Arctic ice mass will eventually melt no matter what is the most interesting part of Pelley's report. Other "gloom-and-doomers" have warned in the past that we had "better do this"....or "this, that, and the other will eventually happen". What is Bob Correll's motivation? Is he looking beyond the melting of the Arctic ice and hoping that changes now might eventually...(hundreds of years from now?)...restore order to the planet? Is he using the national stage to be the one who said "I told you so" when future journalists look back to see who had it right in 2006? Or, does he feel only guilt will motivate real behavioral change in the masses? Or, is he just being as honest as we'd like someone to be when put in that position? Whatever the motivation, he is certainly taking a different approach than others have in the past.

CBS, 60 Minutes, and it's reporting team have rightfully gained a reputation as a left-leaning, self-important organization bent on being an instrument of social, and political, change. As much as anything, that should give us cause to question Pelley's report, and how the final copy and edit was decided upon. But, having been in the news business myself for a number of years, the facts presented, and the opinions offered by the scientists, in A Global Warning were, in my opinion, sobering and sincerely impactful. There seemed to be a legitimate effort to present the information from a people perspective...not a political one. Credit was even given to the Bush administration's heavy financial commitment to environmental studies and efforts to fund alternative fuel programs, even though it was said that the White House declined an interview for the piece.

I suppose I've presented more questions than answers. I'm not sure there are answers. But, the one question we all have to answer is....Do we, as humans, have as much impact on this planet, and it's weather, as we think we do? Or, more importantly, as Bob Correll thinks we do.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Straight Talk

-Two recent episodes have me thinking more about something I wrote about a few weeks ago. If you go into my archives, you'll find a couple of posts where I rant about the potential negative effect that blogging, message boards and chat rooms are having on our society. (The Electronic Curtain-1/10/06 & Test of Character-1/13/06) The tendency toward dishonest communication in these internet "societies" has me believing more and more that there is a bleed-over effect into everyday life. When are we real, when are we not?...is the basic idea.

The firing?/resignation? of basketball coach Quin Snyder at the University of Missouri in Columbia appears to be a case where a smidgin of honest communication could have saved the day. From what I have read, there is every reason to believe that noone in that whole scenario was capable of straightfoward, honest, face-to-face communication.

You'll recall that Snyder resigned. Then there were meetings regarding how his "resignation" would be handled...pay-offs etc. Then it was revealed that athletic director Mike Alden sent a representative, Gary Link, to "assess the coach's mental state". Snyder later said that Link told him that he would be terminated at the end of the season, and that the AD, Chancellor, and key members of the Board of Curators were on board with the decision. Representatives of all of these parties...or those parties themselves...all denied prior knowledge of a deal to fire Snyder. A special investigation ensued. The investigation basically said the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that the matter was closed.

Welllll... I just have to wonder if because we've become so accustomed to shooting e-mails back and forth as a method of formal business communication, (even though it shouldn't be) and because we've become comfortable with this detached method of interaction, that it has changed us. I would say it has transformed us to the point where we rarely confront a person, or issue, in a head-on, honest way. Was the Mizzou thing, as a result, handled by people crippled by the inability to honestly communicate with co-workers?

If AD Alden would have gone to his coach himself, and "assessed the situation", he could have saved himself a lot of grief....and maybe in the end his job. I don't think Alden is out of the woods on this deal. He may still get canned because of the confusion created by the poor communication, and the University's liability to Snyder for the payoff. Of course, the stink that rose from the mess doesn't do anything to his image, or that of the school, in the minds of his bosses either. In the end, he may face his own demise because he chose to send an e-mail in the form of an underling (Link) to do his bidding.

Another case has me thinking in the same vein. VP Dick Cheney shoots somebody while hunting. The incident is kept silent for many hours before coming to light through the media. Cheney spends the next several days explaining why he didn't have his aides and office staff notify the media sooner....why the Sheriff's department didn't notify anyone....and why it seemed like such a hush-hush matter until it was clear that the victim would be OK. You have to know that Cheney's people were having all kinds of secret, and likely exhaustive, meetings about how they would handle the whole thing. How can we make this go away? How can we soften the damage?

Again...I propose that, in general, we have moved to a time where doing the forthright and noble thing as a matter of course has become forgotten. Of course, I'm talking about a politician here. So, mitigating the damage is commonplace in that arena. But, nevertheless, my basic point remains. We are sadly becoming accustomed to playing anonymous mind games with our fellow humans...and not dealing with the other guy up-front and honestly.

We are, with each day, and with each easily-facilitated, anonymous communique taking on more resemblance to the Wizard of Oz....manipulating the machinery, making the smoke and fire roar, and talking through a reverberating and falsifying apparatus.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How Much Time Are You Prepared to Waste?

-I received one of those e-mails that "makes the rounds" today. Some will think it trite. I think it's one worth sharing. I tend to think about things such as this much more as time marches on. Here it is....

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable. A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement ham-shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it. I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital" he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles." "You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years. "Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part. It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays." "I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear." "Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more onthe really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. "Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time." "It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning! "You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs andwoke my wife up with a kiss."C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast.""What brought this on?" she asked with a smile. Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles.

Corny? Maybe. But when you get to be 55, like the man in the story was...and like I am...you start wondering how many more marbles you'll be able to take out of the jar. And you start to hope at the end of each day that you didn't waste it.

If you're 25, 35, or 45 and wonder the same thing at the end of your day, congratulations! You're doing better than I did. What's on your plate for tomorrow?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day...Bunk or Beautiful?

-So, I guess I'm one of those guys who thinks that Valentine's Day is a "manufactured" holiday for the sake of selling cards, flowers, candy and restaurant dinners. I'm like every other guy who grumbles about being shamed into celebrating the love I have for those in my life by spending money on something. Really though, I usually feel somewhat ashamed each year when the holiday reminds me that I should do this more often on my own.

Here's the big question. How did this turn into a day when men are supposed to shower women with gifts and feel guilty if they don't. Shouldn't a woman feel equally ashamed if she doesn't lavish her man with power tools or 6-packs of Bud Light?

Valentine's Day seems to have gone from a day when I decorated shoe boxes in grade school that my classmates (and hopefully the cute girl in the next aisle) would put "be my valentine" cards in...(by the way, if you got a really big one from the cute girl...then you were "going steady" or something)...to a day as an adult when you say to yourself..."I guess I better go by the Hallmark store and pick up a card and some chocolate strawberries before they're all gone".

Luckily, I have married a woman who doesn't get too wound up about the whole thing. Boy, I love her. I'm glad I got her that card. I wish I would have taken her out to dinner...well, there I go...feeling guilty again.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Weekend Stuff

-I keep telling myself I'm really not interested in the Winter Olympics...but I sat and watched the whole prime-time offering by NBC last night. Why do I care? I'm not even sure. It must have something to do with the presentation by NBC...and the passion displayed by the kids trying to win a medal. Most of the time I couldn't care less about ski jumping or short-track speed skating. But, my heart sank when Apollo Ohno (that is his name right?) fell in his semi-final heat in the 1500 meters last night.

-I thought the opening ceremonies Friday night were so-so. It seemed to be the result of a bunch of people sitting around having a capuccino and saying..."Hey, it would be cool to do this...and.. Hey, what about trying that?", and then doing it. Some neat visual stuff...but no real continuity to any of it. I was blown away, as always, by Pavarotti belting out Nessun Dorma. Every time I hear it I get goosebumps.

-Is it just me, or does the great (and when I say great, I mean it) Bob Costas seem a bit under-enthusiastic for the Olympic broadcasts? You will never see me be critical of Bobby, because I consider him the best there is, but I have to wonder if he wants to be in Torino.

-Too bad about Michelle Kwan. Those 25-year-old bodies just aren't what they used to be.

-I found myself actually liking the kid...The Flying Tomato...after he won his gold. Seems to be a decent youngster raised by a nice family.

OK...enough of the Olympics.

-Suddenly, the Illini are human. Too much of their success seems to be dependent on whether Dee Brown and James Augustine have a good game. If the other team has a defense that can contain those two, they are obviously very beatable. They seem to be playing at the level most people expected before the season. Hopefully, Bruce Weber can get them back on track.

-So, what's going on with Mizzou? First they say Quin Snyder quit, then they say they're negotiating a deal. If he quit, does he still get a pile of money to leave? Apparently, his people are saying he was told by one of Mike Alden's lackeys that he wouldn't be back after the season anyway. So, the university is likely on the hook for some kind of payoff. I would like to have been a fly on the wall at that negotiating session.

-I still think Kevin Stallings would make a good choice for Mizzou. But, I'm not hearing his name mentioned anywhere. Why not? Maybe he's happy where he is at Vandy and has made it known he's not going anywhere. If so, I hadn't heard it.

-The Blues are playing their best hockey of the season. Too little, too late of course. But, now they take a couple of weeks off for the Olympics. There will be no trades made until after the Olympics. My understanding is that's a league rule. After that, the fire sale likely will continue up until the trade deadline March 6th, I think.

-Apparently the public doesn't care much that Steve Martin's Pink Panther isn't getting great reviews. Panther led all others at the box office this weekend taking in nearly $22 million. Harrison Ford's Firewall, also mentioned in my previous post, finished in fourth at $14 million.

-Speaking of million... How about $300 million? Tuesday's jackpot in Powerball. That would buy me out of a few mistakes. It would be nice to have the money and time to do a few things that I want for a change. I'm sure you're in that boat too.

-27 inches of snow in New York? Wow! The Statue of Liberty better get some insulated boots.

-Author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, dies at 65. In Australia, they closed several tourist beaches along the popular Gold Coast because of a massive feeding frenzy involving more than 100 sharks. Coincidence?

Friday, February 10, 2006


-I know randomizing is an awkward term....but it seems to fit the bill when I'm going all over the place with various topics and opinions. So, let's use it this once.

-Apparently a couple of movies I've been looking forward to spending money on, might not be worth it after all. Steve Martin's "Pink Panther" and Harrison Ford's "Firewall" are not getting very good revues. A review in the Post-Dispatch describes "Panther" as "not quite a bomb". (Whoa!) And "Firewall" is getting mixed reviews in a quick scan of the internet. One review says Ford is too old and physically feeble to bring off the character that he portrays in the movie. Come on, give the guy a break, he's not doing too bad for someone 64.

-As much as I'd like to not believe it, I tend to think Wayne Gretzky is more involved in the Rick Tocchet gambling probe than he'd like us to believe. Janet Jones Gretzky has denied placing any bets on her husband's behalf and says he has never bet on anything in his life, aside from the occasional bet at the race track. What keeps coming back to me, is the reaction that Gretzky had when asked about his wife being implicated in the investigation on the day the news came out about Tocchet. When asked by a reporter if he knew that his wife was named in the investigation, Gretzky seemed to me to have a "prepared response" to the question. He looked like he knew it was coming. He said something to the effect...."Really?...you'll have to ask her about that." It wasn't a bad response to the question...but, to me, it came out so quickly after being asked...and was so poorly acted...that it seemed fake and disingenuous. If you were totally surprised by a question like that....wouldn't you look somewhat startled for a few seconds...collect your thoughts...and then say something? He didnt' do that. He seemed to spit out a rehearsed answer. Now, whether he did so because he knew he was up to his hips in trouble...or he was just protecting his wife at that point remains to be seen. It's certainly possible that I'm reading more into it than is there. I'd rather be wrong about this one.

-I had the chance to do some fill-in news anchoring at KTRS last night. I ran into Station Manager Craig Unger in the hallway and asked him why "The New and Improved Big 550" would put up billboards all over St. Louis and mention nothing on them about being the new home of Cardinals baseball. He said the station has teamed with Schupp Advertising on the campaign that will include billboards, TV, and bus-boards before it's over. He told me to "stay tuned" that some pretty interesting and clever additions to the campaign will be rolling out in the next few weeks. He also told me that because the station has a new lineup of talk hosts, they would not carry any of the Cardinals pre-season games that are played on weekdays. But, they will do something kind of interesting. Occasionally, at the discretion of the hosts, they may pick up some of the play-by-play for an inning...half-inning...or maybe just an Albert Pujols at-bat. This might be good...might backfire...in my mind. Cardinal fans may feel a little bit "teased" by that sort of thing. And you don't want to tease those die-hard Redbird faithful.

-I was sorry to see that Maureen "Mo" Woodrome has resigned her post as Executive Director of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce. I've enjoyed my dealings with her, and she is a classy person. She brings a lot of instant credibility to whatever she does. It's no accident that membership in the Chamber is up significantly in her couple of years at the helm. It will be difficult to find someone to fill her shoes, although Kathy Kaiser, who does excellent work already for the Chamber, would be a good choice. Best of luck to Mo in whatever her next challenge turns out to be.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mouthing Off

-Any sensible person would say at this point that there is no chance that Quin Snyder will be coach of the Mizzou basketball program beyond this season. So, the speculation has begun among fans, alumni, and casual observers about who his replacement will be. I have heard Dana Altman, the excellent coach at Creighton U. in Omaha, mentioned as a leading candidate. He, however, has shown no previous inclination to leave his current post. I would suggest they take a hard look at someone who could likely do a great job there and calls our area home. Kevin Stallings, the 7th-year coach at Vanderbilt, one-time Collinsville high All-American, would likely be interested. Kevin has done an oustanding job at Illinois State and Vandy. He would restore some much needed credibility. And, with his Norm Stewart "hair-do", he'll be an instant hit with those who miss ol' Stormin' Norman.

-I'm probably the only guy in America that feels this way, but I was uncomfortable watching Madonna writhing around on the stage with a bunch of people half her age on the Grammy show last night. There was something smarmy, and mildly pathetic, about it to me. And the 45 seconds, or so, that I watched her, was the only time I even bothered with the Grammys. American Idol and the Blues game warmed the tube for me. I know this makes me sound like an old fart, but the new music scene has very little appeal to me. Very little.

-I hope whoever it is that winds up owning the Blues will give Mike Kitchen a close look when they hire a coach. Kitchen has won more games with the current squad than anybody could expect. The recent win streak is evidence that, despite the ownership and management chaos, he has been able to keep the players focused on playing good hockey. That says something to me.

-It appears the NHL scandal...as far as hockey fans are concerned...will be about two main points. Did anyone involved with hockey bet on hockey, or fix any hockey games? And, what sort of involvement, if any, did Wayne Gretzky have in this whole mess? Gretzky is the ultimate sports hero of hockey...particularly in his native Canada...and people there would be devastated if he gets his reputation sullied in 'Tocchet-gate".

-All the furor over a cartoon? I understand it is against Islamic (law?) to depict Muhammad in any way, but these riots wouldn't happen without somebody in high places promoting and condoning them. Meanwhile, there's an American woman somewhere in Iraq begging to not have her head cut off. Somebody has a screwed-up sense of right and wrong. Right?

-It seems every day now there is a story that forces us to shake our heads and wish we weren't fellow human beings with someone. The latest person to slither into this category is someone named Judy Armstrong-Pickens. She is accused of putting her own blood pressure medicine into the i-v of her kids while they were being treated at St. Louis Children's hospital in 2004. Her 4-year-old son died. Her 5-year-old daughter was sickened, but survived. If she's guilty of this crime, she could not be punished severely enough. At least, not under our current laws. What puts this kind of stuff in someone's head?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

King Funeral/NHL Scandal

-A couple of things have me interested today.

First, was it a funeral, a political convention, a bash-Bush rally, a media event, a song and dance recital, or a civil rights rally? Depending on what portion of it you may have seen, you could be convinced that the funeral of Coretta Scott King was any, or all, of the above. It lasted six hours.

The evening news shows last night focused on the opportunities so willingly and shamelessly taken by some of the speakers to rip on the President for his perceived weaknesses on civil rights issues. The least bashful of the bunch was the Reverend Joseph Lowery. The long-time Bush detractor used his time in the spotlight to throw out some pointed criticisms of the Iraq war policy and the fed response to hurricane Katrina. I'm sure Bush knew it was coming. He even hugged Lowery after the "word-stoning" was over. There were others who piled on too.

My problem with these comments isn't that they were made, but the setting in which they were delivered. To his credit, President Clinton got up to remind everyone that there was a real human being's body in the casket in front of them and they were there to honor her. When some of the speakers, particularly Lowery, lowered themselves to political diatribes, they were choosing to take the focus off of Mrs. King's life and legacy, and put it on other things. This dishonors the lady in my book, and does nothing for the speaker's credibility.

Of course, you might say she and her husband were all about political and social change. It was what their lives were all about. And, for the most part, you would be right. But most of their accomplishments were not enjoyed at the expense of honor and dignity. Dr. King's commitment to non-violent civil rights achievements, and his family's iconic position in this country's history, were not glorified by such political pettiness. Martin Luther King seized the opportunity, at just the right moment, to lead a revolution in this country. Unfortunately, there was nothing revolutionary, or tasteful, about the political "messiness" of his wife's funeral. Was it the send off she would have wanted? Doubtful.

-Secondly, I'm somewhat saddened by the news that broke Tuesday implicating Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach, and former NHL player, Rick Tocchet in a gambling ring. We're already hearing that the fingers of this investigation are just beginning to spread out. No less than Wayne Gretzky, through the implication of his wife Janet Jones, is already forced to comment on the situation. There are rumors of mob ties, law enforcement ties, other players and owners being involved.

To state the obvious, this whole thing is shaping up as another huge PR disaster for the NHL, which needs it like another whole in it's already "swiss cheese" head.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Good Day!

I'm guessing one of the more interesting personnel decisions...among the many made by the new management team at KTRS...has been the decision to continue, or not, the daily appearances by the venerable Paul Harvey. This thought occurred to me as I listened to some of his mid-day show...Paul Harvey News and Comment... while headed out for lunch recently.

Mr. Harvey...and if any broadcaster deserves the respect of being called "Mr.", it is he... sounded every bit his 87 years-of-age. He did not sound well. I have no way of knowing if he's ailing, but usually the way someone sounds while speaking is a pretty good indicator of well-being. Mr. Harvey sounded very old...very tired.. and at times confused. That's not like him.

Of course, Paul Harvey Aurandt (real name) has already been through one long stretch of illness which put his career in jeopardy. Many thought he was too ill to continue living...let alone broadcasting. This was 4 or 5 years ago when I was employed in the newsroom at KTRS. We continually fielded calls from listeners wondering where their favorite broadcaster was, and how he was doing. We were pretty much kept in the dark by the moguls at ABC Radio, so we had few answers. All we knew is what we heard through the standard network channels...that he was having voice trouble...and would be back when it cleared up. The rumors had him gravely ill, and likely not to return. As I recall, he was away from his microphone for the better part of a year. I don't know how much of the gravely ill stuff was based in fact.

But, come back he did. And he's been going pretty strong for the last number of years while defying his advanced age. Why he still gets up in the middle of the night and heads for the Chicago radio station where he writes and reads every day only he can tell you. It must have something to do with love of the work, and feeling like he's "on a mission".

Harvey claims to have been raised in radio newsrooms. He worked in a Tulsa radio station while in college. And, during the 40's, spent some time at KXOK in St. Louis where he met his wife...Angel he calls her...Lynne (Cooper) Harvey. It's an honor to me that we both spent time on the same AM 630 waves... even though in different eras. He moved on to Chicago where he started doing the ABC Network broadcasts that he's become famous for in the 1950's. Mr. Harvey's resume' of radio accomplishments is too long to detail here...but, you'll remember that he was presented with the Presidental Medal of Freedom in November by President Bush in recognition of his outstanding career.

Back to the KTRS decision. I'm guessing that the recent effort to energize and re-tool the on-air product included a heated discussion or two about Mr. Harvey's role in the programming picture. I would like to have been a "fly on the wall". I don't have the numbers, but I would bet that his listenership is heavily weighted toward the over-50 crowd....maybe even more heavily weighted to the over-65 population.

New PD, Al Brady Law, could not have wanted to include a 15 minute segment of Paul Harvey's senior-targeted news product in his mid-day picture. He probably wouldn't have wanted even the 5-minute morning News and Comment, or The Rest of the Story shows either, even though these programs are some of the few such locally "sell-able" products left on network radio. And, even though Mr. Harvey's listeners are some of the most set-in-their-ways, fiercely loyal, and predictable in radio history.

The whole emphasis now at "The Big 550" appears to be toward attracting the highly prized 25-39 segment of the 25-54 demo. Paul Harvey, as wonderful as he may be as a writer and deliverer of his product, doesn't do that. This makes me think that KTRS's contract to carry ABC news includes language that guarantees air time for the Paul Harvey offerings. I seem to remember an announcement within the last year or so that KTRS had re-upped it's ABC contract which included Paul Harvey news. This would have been well before the big ownership change and shift of the Cardinals to AM-550. The programming decision makers there now may be stuck with Mr. Harvey, while making believe that they are happy. They already have shifted the 15-minute segment to 11:45am from straight-up 12-noon. The current set-up will likely be the case as long as the KTRS/ABC marriage continues....or as long as Mr. Harvey is around. It wouldn't have been a strong PR move to dump him now after all of the other "relationship with the listener" issues the station has to deal with in the wake of firing most of the on-air staff.

I hope, after hearing him in recent days, that Mr. Harvey's health allows him to continue for a while.

Catching Up

Here you will find my humble opinion on several things from Super Bowl Weekend...not necessarily all sports-related.

-"The Game" was OK...nothing all that memorable. I think John Madden was overly kind in his analysis of certain aspects of the game. I thought the officiating was tentative, and in several instances just wrong. Seattle got the worst of several key calls. Madden should have said so. He did point out that he disagreed with the call that went against Matt Hasselbeck when he was called for a penalty while making a tackle after an interception. But, I would have expected more outrage at some of the "questionable" decisions by the men in stripes. Especially from Madden.

-Neither quarterback had a good game...but Pittsburgh's Roethlisberger made plays in key situations. Hasselbeck didn't. In fact, when Hasselbeck's receivers stopped dropping passes enough to get the team in scoring position, he couldn't get the ball into the end zone. He was particularly bad at the end of the first half when he ran off way too much clock in accomplishing nothing. It looked to me like Holmgren was not happy...but wasn't going to make a big scene at the Super Bowl.

-My favorite commercial was the "Cave Man" Fed Ex spot. I actually laughed. Not many others made me even smile. I thought A-B's beer spots were just OK. Of course, the GoDaddy.com spots will certainly do a lot for visits to that website again this year. Hot Girl, plus the promise of more skin on the website...you get the idea.

-The Rolling Stones are probably still good in a concert situation where they can get the crowd wound up with their rock-and-roll classics. But, the audio was too good on TV yesterday for me to appreciate their performance. They just can't play in that situation to a live audience, and a TV audience, and do justice to both. And, they've never been pretty boys....and now they're old too. Difficult to look at. Jagger still gives it his best energy though.

-Did you understand any of what Stevie Wonder said at the end of his pre-game set? Something about embracing peace and love before being anhialated.... I think.

-Thank God Aretha rescued Aaron Neville during the national anthem. I thought Horatio Sanz did a better job immitating Neville on SNL than Neville did himself. Pathetic. Where's Jose Feliciano when you need him?

-ABC's presentation of the game was mediocre, at best. I thought there were a lot of poorly chosen shots of the game itself. The graphics used to introduce the players were supposed to look like an old time radio...I guess...and didn't work. You could hardly read the print. And, right after the kickoff there was one shot where the camera was shaking all over the place and for some reason the director couldn't get off it. It went on for what seemed like ten seconds. I was about to puke.

-The Blues won another game Saturday...and against a very good Dallas Stars team. One might start to think that they should have been playing some of these younger guys from the start. Since the Doug Weight, and Mike Sillinger trades, the team seems to be playing with a lot more energy. And guys like Lee Stempniak, Mike Glumac, Jay McClement and Dennis Wideman have a lot more talent than anybody suspected. Now there's not another Blues home game for over a month... March 7th vs. Colorado. That's right... a month! 3 games out of town...followed by the Olympic break...then 3 more out-of-towners before getting back to Savvis.

-The kid that was killed in an Arkansas shoot-out on Saturday deserved to be taken out. But, for the sake of science, I wish he had been arrested and put on trial. Maybe if we did a little psycho-analysis of kids like this we could get an understanding of what kind of twisted mentality goes into what he did. Going into a gay bar..swinging an ax... and shooting some people who did nothing to harm him. Then kidnapping a woman...killing her...shooting and killing a cop...and then a shootout with police. They say the high school dropout had studied and glorified Nazism. Figures.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Too Old for Today

I'm starting to write this one not knowing exactly what my opinion will be by the time I'm finished.

I read this morning that Dame Judi Dench...the wonderful British actress...was denied a guest spot on "Today", "Good Morning America" and "The View" recently because she was too old. At least that's the opinion of Harvey Weinstein the co-founder of Miramax films who is trying to promote a new film...
Mrs. Henderson Presents.. which stars Dench. She's 71 years old.

According to Weinstein the classy Brit was snubbed because she didn't fit the demographics that the producers of these shows were going for with their audience. Well, I can sort of understand that. And I certainly think producers of a show should be able to make the call on who their guests are. But, to not want an Oscar-winning...and currently Oscar-nominated...actress on your show for age reasons seems to be a little self-defeating.

Do these people think that noone in their target demographic has parents or grandparents? Do they also think that noone in that age group is able to stand 3 minutes of on-camera time of someone outside their own age group? I doubt it. I tend to think there's a little more to it than Mr. Weinstein would have you believe.

I would be willing to bet that as great an actress as Judi Dench is, she must be a poor talk show guest. I'm certainly not in a position to know, but I would think the possibility is pretty strong that she comes off as "stuffy", "erudite", "aloof", or possibly all of the above when she's not in an acting situation. The few times I've seen her "out of character", and working with her own personality, she has struck me that way.

So, as much as I'm becoming sensitive to the plight of the aging population, and as much as I dislike the gearing of everything our society does to the 25-39 age category, I don't have much of a problem with these shows not welcoming her with all possible pomp and circumstance. Mr. Weinstein is just upset at not getting a large dose of free publicity for his project anyway, I'm sure.

Do you think these shows would have passed on 75-year-old Sir Sean Connery if he were available? Not likely. So, I guess my opinion is, no big deal.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Star..Except Around Home

I just finished a wonderful conversation with one of our area's most talented and world-renowned stars. She is a performer sought-after by the very top opera houses on the planet. She is receiving rave notices wherever she opens her mouth to sing. She is Christine Brewer.

Many in our neck of the woods have no idea who she is...let alone understand how big a name she is in the world of opera. After all, St. Louis isn't exactly the opera center of the universe. But, a visit to her website will start to give you an idea just what an unbelievable talent she possesses, and how she is thought of in places where opera is a major part of the cultural scene. http://www.christinebrewer.com/

Check out this review of one of her recent New York performances...

The essence of these three days lay elsewhere: in Christine Brewer's Isolde. Given the hardships of Wagnerian singing, devotees tend to negotiate, forgiving certain vocal shortcomings for compensating assets. Ms. Brewer is the most complete Isolde I have heard in many years. The sound and the reserves of power are there, but so are the musical poise, the delicacy when required and the explosive passion free of any coarseness or overstatement. Whether Ms. Brewer could have sustained this remarkable performance over a single evening I don't know, but this was an Isolde to remember...At the end, Mr. Viola's image of Tristan - rising underwater, arm outstretched - was touching. But with my attention fully fixed on Ms. Brewer's radiant "Liebestod," I saw it, I am afraid, only out of the corner of my eye.
Bernard Holland - New York Times (Dec. 7, 2004)

And another from London...

Brewer, whose voice is, quite simply, one of the greatest in the world, had delivered the song with such blazing intensity that the usually sedate Wigmore audience burst into spontaneous applause.
Tim AshleyThe Guardian - London (March 23, 2004)

It's somewhat understandable, and frankly Christine rather likes it, that she is largely anonymous in this part of the world. She can move around without being bothered by someone seeking an autograph, or a short conversation with a "star". She can go to the grocery store, or visit a class at Marissa grade school (where she used to teach) without being pestered. She is also someone that we would be able to meet on the street and feel like we've known for a long time. That makes her even more of an asset to the area. She's just good people.

I had Christine as a guest on my radio show a number of years ago. She was just beginning to make a name for herself in the opera world. She told me how she wanted to raise her daughter before really "going after it" with her singing career. How many people would do that? To put a tremendous talent "on hold" for the sake of doing the right thing by her husband and child before reaping all the rewards of stardom had to be tough. It's true that many opera performers don't become stars without a fair amount of "seasoning" of their voice...but Christine likely could have been traveling the world with her talent at a much younger age.

I spoke with her today in hopes of arranging a recital for the benefit of the auditorium project at Lindenwood University's Belleville campus. Her schedule is such that it's not likely we'll be able to make that happen for a few years. But whenever we do, it will be a very special event. And, I'm very much looking forward to working with her on the project....when, and if.

Christine Brewer
-Nominated for 3 Grammys this year in the opera category
-Featured performer on at least 15 operatic CD's during her career
-Calls Lebanon, Illinois home

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Color vs. Black & White

Let's get something out of the way before I write anything else. I am a Caucasian. That will immediately render anything I say mostly meaningless to the non-Caucasian portion of any audience that might read this. That's too bad, because I'd like to think I can see an issue without my own color clouding the picture. Maybe not.

We've all seen the arrest on TV by now. Of course, I'm talking about the apprehension, in St. Louis, of a fellow named Edmon Burns. Four police officers punched, kicked and stomped the guy until they could get cuffs on him. Here's where I will begin working with second hand facts...and not what I've seen with my own eyes. Reports indicate that this guy had filled up his tank in Maplewood and took off without paying....I think they're calling it a "gas and go". Well, he proceeds to lead the Maplewood cops on a high-speed chase into St. Louis city before they get him cornered. The police ram his car. He rams the cop car. He gets out of the car. The 3 cops from Maplewood are joined by a fourth cop from St. Louis city. The beat down begins. They cuff him. It's all caught on video tape by news choppers. It turns into one of those "flash point" stories on which everyone has an opinion.

Unfortunately, the opinions, and those offering them, are all too predictable. Noone seems to need to wait for the stories of all parties to come out. Everyone thinks they know exactly what happened, why it happened, and what should, or shouldn't, be done about it. They can be judge and jury based on the TV news video.

The local African-American community says it's another piece of evidence as to why they should totally mistrust the cops. They say there was no justification for the way this "poor little guy" was treated. They say the cops had no reason to wallop this guy senseless before cuffing him and leading him away. They say the cops should be punished, fired, or both. They say this guy should be justified in suing somebody. The protests are loud and stereotypical of many we have seen before in St. Louis and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, there are several media types and others who've appeared on the news reports following the incident who jump to the defense of the cops...also without waiting to know exactly what the details are. They make up excuses for why the cops did what they did. They say "maybe the guy was trying to spit on them"..."The guy had tried to ram their vehicle"..."The guy was a bad guy because of his record" " He was running from the law so he deserves what he gets"....and other such notions.

I'm here to say...it's not all black and white. At least not yet. First, let's remember that one of the cops was an African-American. Doesn't that change the way those who are so terribly offended by this incident should view it? Or does any person, no matter their color represent the white community if they put on a police uniform? Maybe that's something I didn't know. What if the guy had run into a school bus full of minority kids and run it off the road killing a bunch of them? Would they feel the same way about him then?

Secondly, did the people who are apologizing for the cops not see the same video I did? Once they got this guy on the ground, was there really a need to kick, stomp and punch the buh-Jesus out of him? Can any reasonable, non-biased person believe that four police officers couldn't have subdued the guy with less force than what was used. The guy was not Shaquille O'Neal...or anyone who looked like he was capable of overpowering more than one person. He was obviously not armed.

It appeared to me...(can I be wrong about this?)... that the guy was going to be punished by these cops in some way for doing what he did before he got to the police station. I'm sorry...but that's not their job. Their job is to subdue and arrest, not punish. That's what the courts...as sorry and frustrating as they tend to be...are for. Now, if you want to forgive the police officers for a bit of over-reaction to the situation, I could be convinced to do that. This perpetrator, Mr. Burns, was not cooperating. He was obviously in a bad place with his mind-set. And the cops had a right to fear what he might do. Police officers are charged with a tough, and largely thankless, job. And making the right decision 100 percent of the time is not easy.

So, if there are good guys and bad guys in this story, I tend to lean in the direction of the law enforcers...and not the law breakers. But then, nobody should have to feel threatened by the mere presence of a cop either. And that brings us back to color.

Would there be any protests...or calls for punishment...or outraged cries of foul... if this culprit had been a white guy? Of course not. Because justified or not, the black community is fearful of, and threatened by, the presence of police officers. The non-minority population tends not to be.

Color. We all have one. (Some more obviously than others) We are still learning to live in the color of our skin. We still tend to have pre-set minds based on it. But please, why can't we wait for more of the facts of the story to emerge before writing our own ending? Hopefully, the local media will supply the rest of the story and not just fan flames in their ratings game.