About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Friday, June 22, 2007

“A Serious man; to be treated with respect…”

Kansas City Star 6/24/2007

Copyright © 2007 by Ralph Couey

Larry Johnson’s frank interview with Jason Whitlock has predictably raised eyebrows, and in some cases, hackles among the Chiefs Nation. Part of the reaction has to do with the usual response that a blue collar fan base has when a perceived millionaire complains that he’s not making enough money. The other reaction has to do with Johnson’s brutal pragmatism toward the profession, or game, where he earns his keep.

Up till now, we fans have expected to hear the language of cold, calculating business emanating from the front offices. Oh, we hear the platitudes about the value of a particular player to the organization and the community, but I think we all realize that the people who run these teams at times look at their locker rooms with the same coldly appraising eye used by a cattleman eyeing his herd. Now we hear those same coldly calculating words, only it’s coming from a member of the herd.

Larry Johnson is an anomaly. There really hasn’t been anyone like him for quite some time. “He runs angry” is the description we hear most often. Although he has nice moves for a big man, he is never afraid to take on a linebacker, daring the opponent to stop him. Christian Okoye was also a big, bruising runner. But to the press and public he was always “a nice guy.” LaDanian Tomlinson is a “nice guy.” Emmit Smith was a “nice guy.” Johnson, in contrast, is the dark side of The Force. He is Darth Vader, saying, “I find your lack of faith disturbing” to coaches who suddenly feel short of breath.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Worst Hard Time*

Black Sunday
Dodge City, Kansas
Ford County Historical Society, Dodge City, KS

*Book Review, Amazon.com

Copyright © 2007 by Ralph Couey
Written content only
The Dust Bowl.

Those words describe a catastrophic era in American history. More than that, they convey a sense of hopelessness, the oppressive cloud that drifted through the lives of people already laid low by the depression. The years between 1930 and 1938 saw record drought and heat, this on the heels of wild undisciplined land management, saw the soil of the central plains take flight on the winds, and along with the soil, the dreams and hopes of the people.

As the greatest generation ages and passes from this life, the memory of those years has begun to fade from our collective consciousness. Today, when people think of The Dust Bowl, they think of an unparalleled assault on humans by nature. Very few understand that the cause lay mostly with poor farming techniques and speculation agriculture that left the soil open to the incessant winds. And fewer still can speak with any intelligence of the cost in human lives.

Timothy Egan, a reporter for the New York Times authored a book entitled “The Worst Hard Time.” It is a history of those years, true. But Egan goes deeper into the human tragedy and at the end of his 312 pages the reader not only understands the historical events, but acquires a seemingly personal relationship with the individuals and families who were made to suffer.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Darkest Part of Night*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, April 16, 2009

Copyright © 2007 by Ralph Couey

When the phone rings at 2:30 in the morning, it’s never good news. It's not the lottery or prize patrol. Nobody is calling to salute your character or stroke your ego.

Most of us have experienced it; that moment when we are yanked unceremoniously out of what was a deep, restful sleep by the jangling sound of that accursed marvel of modern technology. For a moment, you are disoriented, caught between dream and reality. Then, startled to full wakefulness, you lunge for the nightstand and fumble for the handset. Usually, it's a wrong number. After a brief conversation you hang up, drop an expressively colloquial bomb or two, and go back to sleep.

But, life is uncertain and fragile. And one dark night, a disembodied voice turns your life upside down. On the other end might be a child in trouble, a relative sick or dying.

Or, a police officer steeling himself for the delivery of some very bad news.