Questions will linger

OK, let’s see where we stand with this tragic mystery.

A music superstar, Naomi Judd, has just died of what her daughters and her husband have termed “mental illness.” Judd’s husband has issued a statement declaring there would be no further details provided on the cause of death. He has asked for the public to respect his family’s privacy.

I, too, am shocked and saddened to hear of Naomi Judd’s death. I am not a huge fan of The Judds, the name of her twosome with her daughter Wynona. However, I grieve for them and for the terrible loss they have suffered.

My point is simply this: I believe the family of someone who built a huge career and following from an adoring public should be a bit more forthcoming on the circumstances of that superstar’s death.

You have asked the same questions as I have been asking since I heard the terrible news. What precisely took this woman from the public entertained? How does “mental illness” produce a physical malady that can prove fatal?

I also am quite certain that some reporter eventually is going to learn the details of what happened over the weekend and will reveal it to the world.

I don’t pose this inquiry out of malice. Or out of morbid curiosity. Indeed, additional information about the illness that claimed the life of a genuine music superstar — and well-established public figure — could produce what they call a “teachable moment” for those who are suffering from mental illness.

That all said, I am now going to pray privately for the family Naomi Judd leaves behind.

Mickey, Pluto ‘go at it’?

Ted Cruz is truly a reprehensible excuse for an elected public official. Consider the idiocy that flew recently out of the Texas Republican U.S. senator’s mouth.

He suggested that Disney characters — cartoon characters — could end up performing sex scenes. At some sort of forum, Cruz hinted that Disney Corp. could have Mickey Mouse and Pluto “going at it.” He was picking up on the GOP’s culture war against Disney.

What the hell is Cancun Ted talking about?

This bozo has an astonishing streak of lunacy that bursts forth with all too much frequency.

Ted Cruz cannot be taken seriously … for anything!

Will Smith: exhibitionist

Count me as one of millions of Americans who was disgusted at the petulant display by the actor Will Smith the other evening at the Oscar ceremony.

You no doubt know what happened. Comic Chris Rock made some snarky joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, about her shaved head, saying something about “GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Smith got out of his chair, strode across the stage and smacked Rock in the puss.

Will Smith has been hailed as a loving husband and pilloried as a show off.

Count me among the latter group of Americans. I didn’t see it happen in real time. I didn’t watch the ceremony. I heard about it the next morning.

Will Smith demonstrated an exhibitionist streak that is, well, quite unflattering.

I can think of a dozen better ways to handle such a matter. Smith was seen laughing initially at Rock’s quip, while Jada was seen rolling her eyes and acting disgusted. Maybe it’s just me, but it looks to me that Will picked up on the cue Jada was flashing and acted according to her reaction, not his own.

One way he could have handled it would have been to sit there, scowling; I would bet real money the TV cameras would have picked up on that and flashed it around the world. After the ceremony, he and Chris Rock could have had a private moment backstage, whereby Smith could have told him what he yelled in public, which was to “keep my wife’s name out of your fu**ing mouth!”

He didn’t do that. He chose instead to make a spectacle of himself.

I guess it’ll take a while but at this moment I cannot see Will Smith in any context in the future without thinking of what he did that night at the Oscars.

Not a good look, Will

Given that I didn’t watch the Oscars ceremony Sunday night and that I didn’t really care two hoots about any of the films or actors being honored, I was surprised to learn this morning after rolling off the rack about the “real story” of the night’s event in La La Land.

Will Smith smacked Chris Rock in the face over a stupid joke that Rock made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

That became the top story on the TV news shows today. To which I said … huh?

My take is this. Will Smith should not have pranced onto the stage and smacked Rock, a guy I do not consider to be much of a sympathetic character. He could have kept his emotions in check and perhaps had a “frank” and “manly” discussion with Rock after the show.

But … he chose instead to make a spectacle of himself, to get his name plastered on headlines around the world.

Oh, and then to supplant another story that really is worth telling, which was the Best Actor honor that Will Smith won for his role as Venus and Serena Williams’s father in “King Richard.”

Enough on that. I need now to concentrate on issues that really matter … like the bloodshed in Ukraine.

Sen. Cotton the wimp

Tom Cotton this morning revealed himself to be what many of us have known for a long time. The U.S. senator from Arkansas is a wimp, a weenie and, dare I say it … a coward.

The Republican appeared this morning on ABC News “This Week” program. He was grilled by George Stephanopoulos, who asked Cotton three or four times a simple, straightforward question about the “leader of your party,” Donald John Trump.

Why can’t Cotton condemn the GOP “leader” for calling Vladimir Putin “savvy” and a “genius” for invading Ukraine and putting virtually all of Europe in potentially dire peril.

Cotton would answer the question. He kept telling Stephanopoulos that he should invited The Donald to appear on his show, presumably to let him answer the question himself as to why he keeps cozying up to his pal Vladimir Putin.

It was a remarkable demonstration of cowardly evasion from a U.S. senator who gets paid to talk to media representatives and to convey messages to those he represents on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Cotton didn’t go there. He choked.

Carlson denigrates SCOTUS pick

Tucker Carlson, the noted Fox News blowhard, said the following the other day in response to President Biden’s historic nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Let’s say you wanted to humiliate and degrade it and undermine its ancient institutions,” he said. “Well, you might take the single most important appointed position in the entire government and announce in public that you were filling that position on the basis of appearance. Not on the basis of skill or wisdom or fealty to the founding documents of the United States but on the way the person looks.”

OK, young man. Let’s be clear about something. President Biden didn’t select Judge Jackson solely on the basis of her “looks.” He told us going into this nomination process he would find the most qualified candidate out there to fill the post to be vacated soon by Justice Stephen Breyer, who is planning to retire at the end of the court’s term. Biden found a superb judicial candidate in Judge Jackson.

For Carlson and other right-wing dipsh**s to denigrate the skill, the judicial temperament, personal background, body of work and legal knowledge of a qualified jurist is reprehensible on its face.

Tucker Carlson sickens me to my core.

Halftime show: not the greatest ever

Am I allowed to say that I do not care for rap music without being labeled all kinds of bad things?

I said so last night as an assortment of rap and R&B artists performed at halftime of the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. I posted the comment on Facebook and, sure enough, I got plenty of push back on my comment.

My comment simply was that the show was “seriously overhyped.” I stand by that comment. A couple of responses, though, seemed to suggest that my old-man status had blinded me to the need for greater cultural diversity. Well … I beg to differ.

I told one of the respondents that I need no lecture on social justice of cultural diversity, that my comment only took aim at rap music. It ain’t my thing, man! A member of my family told me this morning that “I didn’t expect you to like it.” He knows me well, pointing out that I grew up on rock ‘n roll music and, to be brutally honest, I remain devoted to what is now called “classic rock music.”

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Lamar Kendrick and 50 Cent all have made a tremendous impact on modern music. I get it. I am all in on artists who have something to contribute. I also realize that this ol’ world is full of folks who prefer their music over the music I enjoy. More power to ’em.

It’s just that special event marketers have this annoying habit of going way over the top in promoting these events, seeking to attract as many viewers as they can. I believe they did so in hyping the halftime show at Super Bowl LVI.

Oh, and the game? It was quite good … even if the wrong team won.

Whoopi deserves grace

Whoopi Goldberg has stepped in it, which she does on occasion. Her gaffe this time constituted a serious misunderstanding of world history.

So, because of her mistake, ABC-TV has taken her off “The View,” the popular daytime talk show she co-hosts, for two weeks. The network wants her to reflect on what she said on the air this past week.

What did she say? She said the Holocaust was not a race-related crime against humanity. Hmm. Let’s ponder that for a brief moment.

The Holocaust was launched against European Jews because Adolf Hitler said that Jews constituted an “inferior race” of people. Got that? Thus, the genocide resulted in the murder of 6 million Jews before and during World War II.

Goldberg apparently doesn’t see the Holocaust in racial terms. She is an African American woman who sees the issue on the basis of what people with black skin have endured. She called the Holocaust an “evil” act immediately after declaring it wasn’t a racial crime.

I am not going to toss stones at Whoopi Goldberg. I do not want her banned from TV. She has apologized sincerely for the offense others have taken from her statement. I accept her apology. I just hope Jewish Americans do as well.

I see her statement as an utterance that required a lot more nuance and understanding of historical fact about what could be considered human history’s greatest criminal act. Hitler’s own comments tell me he committed a heinous race-based act.

How to sell the event venue …

Amarillo downtown

My friend and I had a brief, but animated, discussion early this afternoon about the upcoming vote on Amarillo’s proposed multipurpose event venue.

We are on the same page. We both support what the city has proposed. We both think it will work wonders for the city’s economic well-being.

Three of the five members of our City Council disagree with us. They seem to want it to fail. They decided this week to put the issue to a citywide vote.

But as we visited today at her place of employment, I found myself getting worked up.

My fear is this: The voters are going to say “no” to the MPEV because they don’t understand what it can do; they are “afraid,” I told my friend, of trying something new, of thinking beyond their comfort zone, of looking at the immense possibilities that lie ahead.

My hope is this: Those who support the MPEV and believe in the city’s project — as I do — will organize a grassroots effort designed to lay out in detail how to market a sports and entertainment venue that can become the draw its supporters claim it will become.

The MPEV can be far more than a “ballpark.” Yes, we have this independent minor-league baseball team — now called the Thunderheads — playing in a rat hole of a stadium at the Tri-State Fairgrounds. MPEV critics keep reminding us that the Thunderheads cannot fill that place up, even with the generous ticket giveaways they offer.

Gosh, I wonder why. Oh yeah. The place stinks. It’s been patched up with the construction equivalent of Band-Aids. It really and truly needs to be torn down. With a gleaming new baseball venue in the heart of downtown Amarillo, I hope the razing of the dump formerly known as the “Dilla Villa” can — and will — reduce it to so much trash.

As for the MPEV, there needs to be some seriously creative marketing brought into play.

Can we not find some creativity in this community that is capable of putting together a 21st-century promotional campaign designed to attract events to a venue that its supporters hope will help reshape the downtown district?

I remain squarely committed to this venue. I’m not a marketing guy. I merely believe in thinking big. It’s time we thought bigger than we have in this city.

What’s more, let’s not be coy about what a defeat of the MPEV will mean to the rest of the downtown revival project. The downtown convention hotel won’t be built and without the hotel, there goes the need for the proposed parking garage.

Sure, Xcel Energy has begun work on its new office tower. The rest of it, the work that’s supposed to attract more people in search of something to do after hours? It’ll be gone.

And do we really and truly want to start over after we’ve gone so far already?

The Hulkster says he’s sorry … now


Et, tu … Hulk Hogan?

The list of big-mouth celebrities who say things they shouldn’t say has grown by one very intriguing personality.

Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, said some things years ago that have just come out. The pro wrestling association that hired Hogan, World Wrestling Entertainment, has essentially terminated him. It’s taken the Hulkster’s image off its website.

Hogan says he’s sorry.

Granted, it wasn’t one of those “If I’ve offended anyone … ” apologized straight out. He said he’s sorry. No qualifiers. No mealy-mouthiness about it.

I’m glad about that. Then said this, in a statement to People magazine: “This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise. I am disappointed with myself that I used language that is offensive and inconsistent with my own beliefs.”

This is not who I am?

You hear that occasionally from celebrities who say offensive things. They disavow the comments, as if someone put them into a trance and put some sort of post-hypnotic spell on them to make them say things they otherwise wouldn’t say.

I fear that whatever Bollea-Hogan said — and I haven’t seen precisely what it was — that he meant it at the time.

Did he change his view of individuals, or groups of individuals?

I have no idea.

But when you make patently offensive statements and you sully the reputation of your employer — which might sound strange when referring to an organization that promotes fake “wrestling” and showcases women as sex objects — well, then you pay the price.

As an old friend and colleague once told me: You cannot unhonk the horn.