Under The Knife …. and Other Stories:

January16/ 2000

…. I was never “gone”; just standing over in the shadows watching all the foolishness falling all over its self.  OK, I was also “having some work done” AND finding out where all the non-Jacko mourners were hanging out.  …… BobLee relates a Tom Watson anecdote and has a word or three on the passing of “Uncle Wally” Cronkite.

Here’s the scenario ….. I’m strapped to an operating table with “Dr Frank” hovering over my face with his sterile exacto knife poised a millimeter from my good eye.  The gas man brings me out of deep sleep so Dr Frank can have me execute assorted eye movements while he snips and nips and tucks.  I open my eyes and see a bright light …….

In a somewhat foggy state from an hour of deep anesthesia, seeing the spotlight, I think I’m on stage at The Bank lounge at The Bellagio.  I start doing my set about visiting Victoria’s Secret.  Surgical assistant Lisa starts giggling over the part about the agrarian gentleman doing long division to avoid staring at the scantily clad mannequins.  I can just see the tip of “Dr Frank’s” exacto scapel a millimeter from my good cornea ….. he’s giggling too and the scapel is shaking.  As long as I’m getting laughs I keep going …..

The next thing I know I’m in recovery.  “Dr Frank” says everything went very well and my droopy eyelid is no more.  He has one question.  Did I really walk backwards thru Derm sending Malik Zulu Shabazz reports to EIB?  Of course I did.

With Missus in full Nurse Goodbody mode, I am making a remarkable recovery.  It was a procedure we had contemplated for several years to prevent extensive vision impairment in my golden years.  The expert staff at Dr Frank’s Aesthetic Facial & Ocular Center & Oyster Bar was excellent.


Prior to my surgical adventure we visited a world famous regional tourist attraction and answered THE #1 Question for lots of Americans …… “Where were all the people that didn’t give a damn about Jacko’s funeral?” …… They were visiting The Biltmore in Asheville.

    I think I had visited “The Biltmore” two other times but they were a while ago.  This time we met Missus’ brother and his family for a tour of the Vanderbilt mansion.  It was a Thursday in mid-July.  There were 6-7,000 visitors this particular day (at $40 apiece).  My friends …. It was the Caucasianist bunch of folks I’ve seen since the 1987 Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy.   A Lawrence Welk Polka Marathon has more Black folks.  The Tuscaloosa Rotary Club has more diversity than an average day at The Biltmore.  Not only were there no Blacks, there were no Hispanics or Asians.  I thought Asians were a stereotypical fixture at every American tourist attraction.

Of course the “crowd” was incredibly “civil” and well-mannered.  It may have been THE most civil crowd I’ve ever seen.  With Incivility now the national behavior norm I had  forgotten what its like to hear people saying please and thank you and excuse me.

Adjusted to the overt whiteness of the assemblage I started looking for “tatts” and piercings.  Limited to exposed areas, I DID NOT SEE A SINGLE TATT or metallic implant.  Hellfire …… there weren’t even any bumperstickers on the cars in the parking lots.  No HOPE & CHANGE ….. No SAVE THE WHALES …. No nothing.  Just 6-7,000 white folks moving around “The Biltmore” and doing all sorts of civil touristy stuff.  Lots of smiles and effusive pleasantries so folks weren’t like drugged or anything.

There WERE a couple of guys wearing “mandals” but most were wearing assorted “athletic shoes”.  The body shape spectrum ran the usual gamut of Medium to XXXXL but everyone fit thru the many doorways OK.

It was the audience demographics you might find at a summer theater production of South Pacific or Brigaddon. I really wanted to start questioning folks ….. “Don’t you people realize Jacko HAS DIED and The National Mourning has 6-8 weeks minimum left to go?”  Missus and Brother Larson both convinced me such a random polling would be very un-Biltmore.


It was Fall of 1978.  I was a semi-self important executive with The Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City.   I was taking several clients to a Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium.   We had a “suite” there of course!

As we are walking thru the VIP parking area, the clients were asking about Kansas City in that “let’s try not to insult fly-over country” fashion that Midwesterners so love!!  I turn to say “well actually there are a few celebrities of sorts here”.   Just as I say that I hear “Hi BobLee”.  “Oh, hi Tom”.  It was Tom Watson.   I did Tom an occasional favor via the hotel.  We were hardly friends but he knew me enough to say “hi” in a parking lot.  The clients, of course, freaked out.

Tom Watson ALMOST made all sorts of golf history on Sunday …… but he missed a 10’ putt.  It is the unfortunate nature of our society that his quite incredible four rounds of championship golf was instantly relegated to “he missed a 10’ putt on 18 and lost The British Open at 59”.

All things considered …… would it have been “better” to have given up several strokes earlier in the day OR have it come down to a single putt?   I don’t know that answer.  I think what Tom Watson accomplished was quite incredible …. But that’s just me.


The mainstream media world and those easily manipulated by it are in yet another Mega Mourn.  This time for Uncle Wally Cronkite.  Cronkite died at 93.  He was certainly a very well-known celebrity of the past 50 years of American culture.  I don’t question his renown or the civility of respect at his passing.  I don’t however hold him quite to the level of messianic extreme that many do.  But, again, that’s just me.

Uncle Wally was a dominant media star in a time when options and alternative points of view were non-existant.   Cronkite was as non-partisan as Tokyo Rose broadcasting her version of the news to lonely GIs in the Pacific.  We “believed him” because we had no one else telling us anything else.  Uncle Wally’s hard-left ideology became a roaring blaze in his later years.

Cronkite “got away with” for 30 years, exactly what his protege Rather was eventually humiliatingly run out of the business for doing.   Such were the realities of network news in the 60s-70s.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinion, nor do I care that they don’t.   RIP Uncle Wally Cronkite.


Did you mutter an obscenity
when Watson missed that putt on 18?

Missus did …. so did I.


  It’s the Grand Plan to produce three columns here every two weeks …. however I refuse to add to your doom and gloom.  A lot of us are scared spitless about what’s happening to America.  We’re all handing this in our own way.  I do it with exaggerated humor. 
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