Chanticleer #22

I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up. 

Henry David Thoreau


November 8, 2000


A few “morning-after” (or “morning-during”?) observations:

While watching the election commentaries last night, I found it interesting how many talking heads would talk in terms of the presidential race being “too close to call” …. and then attempt to call it. I say if it’s “too close to call” … DON’T!

This morning I saw a tape of Bush campaign chairman Don Evans stating that, despite the re-count in Florida, he “hopes and believes” Bush will be the winner. Regardless of Mr. Evans’ sincere belief, however, I doubt his comment will affect the re-count. In the end, the electoral college results will derive from a counting of votes, not beliefs.

Speaking of counting … I’ve also heard reports that both campaigns have “dispatched” senior campaign officials to Florida to “monitor” the re-count. A bunch of funny images come to mind concerning the soberly dour Warren Christopher, Gore advisor and former Secretary of State for Jimmy Carter, standing over poor little Mary Sue Bodine of Backwater, Florida …. “21, 22, 33, 34, 45 …”. Does anybody know what skill sets are necessary to “monitor” a vote count?

Does anybody know what the margin of error is in the vote count? (I’m only half-joking.)

UPDATE: un nombre, Hombre?

In the previous Chanticleer Calls, I told you about the name-changing tactics of Tomas Eduardo Wesson, candidate for Dallas County Constable for Precinct 6 known previously as Thomas Edwin Wesson. Precinct 6 is, of course, predominantly Hispanic.

Mr. (sorry, I mean Señor) Wesson (Rep) lost to Mike Dupree (Dem) by a count of 19,616 to 6,176.

A rather decisive repudiation, one might infer. However … there were still over 6,000 voters who reacted positively to Mr. (sorry again, Señor) Wesson’s, uh, “message.” I wonder how many of those 6,000 votes came from conscientious, deliberate votes for Señor Wesson (see, I’m trainable), vs. how many came from straight Republican ticket voting, vs. how many came from Hispanic voters who played into his political nom de plume.

Recalling the words of H.L. Mencken … “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”


At the risk of further embarrassing my daughter, I’ve put off confessing something that I feel I need to admit. And it’s partially her fault.

Last July, she and her cousins spent a few days visiting my brother and his wife in Phoenix. While they were gone, she asked me to record a live concert on HBO by the “boy band” heartthrobs ‘Nsync. As the dutiful dad, I did indeed. But I made the mistake of sitting down and actually watching the beginning of the concert.

And now I have to confess … My name is Steve. And I’m an ‘Nsync fan.

Big time.

I don’t know as if I can really explain why, but I suspect it has to do with the combination of their music, their choreography, the fact that their choreographer is only 18 years old, the “live-ness” of their concert, and the reactions of the thousands of girls attending the concert. Or I should say, the SCREAMS of those at the concert.

I won’t attempt to justify or analyze why I’ve worn out their mini-disc over the past three months driving to work, working out in the yard, traveling in airplanes, or writing Chanticleer Calls as I’m doing now. Certainly they derive a lot of their music, harmonies and dancing from the originally-pigmented Michael Jackson, with some homage to a rap influence, with extensive use of syncopation and sophomoric lyrics.

I’ll admit that I initially thought a lot of their ‘dancing’ – which includes myriad head bobs and weaves, hand flips and turns, arm chops and waves, etc. – was just plain silly. However, taking it all into the context of what they do and who they do it for … it works.

And I think I have to admit that I’m envious of their talent, their inhibition, and the reactions they evoke. One of the reactions they intentionally seek is … they specifically exhort their fans to SCREAM!.

I probably wouldn’t mention this except that a couple of months ago I found myself screaming – quite uncontrollably – while I rode the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas. (Coincidentally, I was at Six Flags only because Stacy invited me to attend the Hanson concert there with her and her friend Candice. After all, to Stacy, Hanson is still HANSON, and everybody else is – with due respect to Chevy Chase – not.)

When I got off (the roller coaster) I realized how exhilarating and therapeutic it felt to just let go and SCREAM!

So why not, every now and then, find something to SCREAM! about?


Eagle-eyed Chanticleer reader MG called my attention to a couple of items on the Editorial page of the October 28th Dallas Morning News. That prompted this much-too-long-to-be-published letter, but it felt good to get it out of my fingertips.

As one who attempts to critically discriminate those differences that make a difference from those that don’t, I must mark a large E for Error on your Scorecard of October 28, 2000, re: Dancing on Graves. You advise to “close the doors immediately” on a disco that’s been built “just outside” the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. You profess, “It dishonors the memory of so many innocent people who died to make this area a site for fun and frolic.

Without knowing what distance constitutes “just outside,” I would ask a simple, practical question: How far away is far enough – five hundred feet? A thousand feet? (Do your editors feel there’s some kind of correlation here with the size of a buffer zone between a topless bar and a Northwest Highway neighborhood?) A mile? Ten miles? If you start down that slippery slope, you may soon be asking, “should there be ANY sites ‘for fun and frolic’ anywhere in the whole country of Poland?”

Two other articles in the same paper might bring some perspective to this issue.
You noted that an Israeli orchestra broke a long-standing cultural taboo by playing a piece of music by Richard Wagner. [SS: See Chanticleer Calls #15] Wagner, who died six years before Hitler was born, was said to be Hitler’s favorite composer, thus his music became symbolically linked to the Nazis. Can one appreciate Wagner’s music without embracing Nazi ideology or denigrating the memory of its victims? Apparently, after 55 years, Israeli musicians believe it’s time to say, “yes.”

In her commentary, Lee Cullum commented on the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, specifically in Old Jerusalem. Both Muslims and Jews (and let’s not forget the Christians) hold many sites within the walls of Jerusalem as “sacred” and “holy”. Clearly, as long as two warring groups cling to ancient beliefs that the same plot of land is “holy” to each, and as long as individuals within these groups cling to the ancient belief that it is “holy” to die for a “holy” cause, we should expect the violence to continue. After all, if one truly “believes”, then one behaves in accordance with that belief. Beliefs lead to behavior. Until groups, and specifically the individuals within those groups, are willing to update their ancient beliefs, their ancient behaviors will continue.

I visited Jerusalem last June, accompanied by an elder guide appropriately named Ezekiel. Ezekiel took care several times to tell me that Old Jerusalem has been destroyed sixteen times, and rebuilt seventeen times. So he cautioned that I should exercise just a bit of skepticism as I paused before the ‘traditional’ “holy” places. These, he explained, represented the places where “tradition holds” that certain events happened.

And so we have – and will continue to have – “holy” Jewish people killing “holy” Palestinian people, and “holy” Palestinian people killing “holy” Jewish people over “holy” land, and “holy” temples, and “holy” walls, according to traditionally-held “holy” beliefs.

I’m suggesting that we might all benefit if your editorial writers, and we readers, and the Poles and the Jews and the Palestinians, recognized that words such as dishonor and holy apply to ideas and notions conceived and perpetuated by humans – not as attributes or qualities ’embedded in the land, and walls, and temples, and discos.’

If it’s so easy for most of us to recognize that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, why is it so difficult to likewise ‘get’ that “holy is in the eye of the beholder”? Until we, and they, ‘get’ this, Jewish and Palestinian and Polish and American eyes will continue to be violently taken, one for another. Ancient beliefs lead to ancient behavior.

AND FINALLY – Economy Class Syndrome

Equally-eagle-eyed reader JC from Dallas forwarded this Reuters’ report from Yahoo News.

LONDON (Reuters)  A bride-to-be collapsed and died from a condition known as “economy class syndrome” just minutes after getting off a flight from Australia to London, British newspapers reported on Monday.

Emma Christofferson, 28, developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot associated with long distance flights, while traveling home to London from the Olympic Games (news – web sites) on a Qantas flight via Singapore.

The Marks & Spencer sales assistant complained of feeling unwell on the last part of the 12,000-mile (19,310 km) trip and collapsed in the arrival hall at Heathrow airport. She died 10 days ago, before reaching hospital.

The condition is frequently caused by long periods spent in cramped conditions. Tightly packed seating — such as that found in the economy class section of airliners — can restrict movement and trigger the blood clot illness.

A post mortem confirmed the cause of death as DVT, in which a blood clot in the leg works its way into the heart or lungs. Sudden death is a likely outcome.

A spokeswoman for Qantas was quoted as saying: “The safety of our passengers is always of paramount importance and we refer to the possible effects of flying in our in-flight magazine.”

It advises passengers to move their legs and feet for three or four minutes per hour to improve circulation.


Speaking of … zero-tolerance policy, did you happen to see the episode of that tv show “Judging Amy” in which this very topic was treated? There was an African American high school boy who was arrested for possession of a gun at school. John came from a divorced home, and his single mom often had a hard time coping with her two kids and her lot in general. Thus, John had to be responsible early in life. John was an excellent student and athlete. His coach had promised to act as a confidant for him, a trusted adult figure. Coach told John he could talk to him about any worries or concerns in total confidentiality.

As it turns out, it was the result of John’s confiding to Coach the reason he had the gun at school that John was arrested: Coach reported John to the principal who immediately called the police. No one bothered to ask John why he had the gun. After all, zero-tolerance means zero-tolerance. Period. No questions asked. No exceptions.

Of course, once in the hearing, the school’s attorney argued the value and importance of maintaining zero-tolerance and cited facts and statistics similar to those that must be mentioned in the … DMN article. Amy is painted as an open-minded, thinking judge. True to her character, she asked John to tell his entire story; no one had asked up to this point. He said that the night before, his mother had been at her wits end; she may have been drinking; and she was extremely despondent, upset, and depressed. John knew the gun was in the house and was scared she might do something to herself or to him or to his brother with the gun, so he took it out of her drawer and brought it to school in order to protect his family. He put it in his locker. He confided this upsetting situation to Coach, looking for advice, perhaps, and help. That is when Coach turned him in. “….but Coach promised I could trust his confidentiality…” When asked why he did not take the gun directly to the police station, he relied, “An African American walking into a police station with a gun would never leave.” (or something like that) – in Dallas