Category Archives: History

Luxury riders

I’m back. Time for that story.

St. Patrick’s Day 1989 was on a Friday. Everyone at Arabi Park Middle School was looking forward to the final bell that day, since it would mean the beginning of one week off, the unofficial spring break, even though it wasn’t called that.

That night would be another of Arabi Park’s dances for the 7th and 8th grade students. Want to talk about awkward? Your intrepid blogger was the poster child for awkwardness. I didn’t have the guts to ask any girl to dance, and I often started crying by the end of the first hour.

Many girls were turned off by that, but I don’t blame them. They were 12 or 13, what were they supposed to do? Fortunately, Rosemarie Renz (now Huguet), who is my longest-standing friend on earth (37 1/2 years), was always nice enough to dance with me once or twice, and eventually, Stacie Dauterive (Seube), the young lady whom I had a crush on at Arabi Park, also danced with me near the end of the night.

Stacie was beautiful then and is now. But she has a wonderful heart. That’s why I really had a crush on her. Her sister, Andree (Addison), has that heart of gold, too.

I can’t say enough great things about Rosemarie. I hurt sometimes that we lost touch after 7th grade when I went to Brother Martin. Part of me wishes I would have stayed at Arabi Park fo the eighth grade and gone to Archbishop Hannah, the Catholic high school in St. Bernard Parish (county) with her.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1989, the APM student council sponsored a raffle. The winner would win a ride to the dance in a limo and would be able to bring five other people with him or her.

Let’s just say I spent as much money on trying to win the raffle as I would buying music credits during a long day at Buffalo Wild Wings. And $20 in 1989 was a lot more than $20 in 2019.

My classmates noticed I was going after the limo ride hard. During an afternoon class, I kidded with Toni LaRocca and Allison Richardson about inviting them to ride if I had won.

My heart weighs very heavy thinking about that right now. Allison Richardson (White) passed away in 2008 from cancer. Toni was extremely close to Allison, as was Stacie and several other girls in my classes at APM, and they are still devastated over a decade later.

If I could press the rewind button, I would certainly have invited Allison and Toni to ride. Rosemarie too.

That last sentence tells you I won the raffle. Shawn O’Neil informed me in the gym during a mini-carnival going on after classes ended.

Shawn never went to dances at Arabi Park. I tried to entice him to come with a spot in the limo, but he wisely said no.

I knew I couldn’t invite Stacie. She was going with Glen Weaver, her boyfriend throughout APM. She met her husband, Jeff, at Andrew Jackson High.

Jason Malasovich was going to ride, of course. It was an all-male crew: Jason, Jared Couture, Brandon Miller, Jack Bastoe, Joe Monaghan, and myself. Jared, Brandon and Jack were in classes with Jason and I, and Joe lived near Jason in another part of Arabi.

We met at Jack’s house since it was the farthest from the school, not too far from the bowling alley in Chalmette. The ride was fun. The dance was a repeat of the past, save for two things.

First, my mother was a chaperone, and Joe danced with her.

Second, I danced with Stacie’s mother, Kathy, who was then a teacher at Carolyn Park Elementary School, about five blocks from my house. She said I should dance with my mother, but I declined.

Confession: if I ever got married, I would be quaking in my boots over dancing with my mother. She is quite aloof and afraid of physical contact. I can name at least 50 people I have hugged more than her in my lifetime. Let’s see: Peggy, Caitlyn, Brenda, Dorinda, Liz, Lisa, Dawn…I’ll stop there for now.

The Dauterive family resided on Badger Drive, only 200 feet from St. Robert Belarmine Catholic Church, whose school I attended from kindergarten through fifth grade. After Katrina, Stacie and Jeff moved in with their sons to 905 Badger Drive, while her parents, Rene and Kathy, moved to Baton Rouge.

Rene owned a very successful plumbing company in St. Bernard Parish while I lived there, and he took care of our house at 224 Jaguar Drive. I’ve joked with Stacie and Andree that I want to bring Rene to Russell so he can fix the American Legion post’s plumbing problems for my parents, as well as those at 1224 North Brooks. Fortunately, there is a fine plumber in Russell, Donnie Boxberger, so we’re covered.

Two schools of thought on my fellow limo riders 30 years later. First, the guys were the right choice, because it avoided any awkwardness I would have had with girls. The other is I should have invited at least Rosemarie, because she and I had been friends for so long and she was always so nice. But Jason and I had been friends before APM as well, so he was a great choice.

I attended one more APM dance in late April. My mother did not allow me to go to the one in May, and rightly so, because I failed to turn in an assignment on time. I was very fortunate I was not forced to go to summer school. I could have been failed for not turning it in on time, but I was allowed to turn it in the following Monday for a D. On June 2, 1989, I was jeered out of Arabi Park twice, first at school, then by a passing school bus as I walked back to 224 Jaguar.

I don’t blame any kids who were unhappy that I was going to Brother Martin. I rubbed it in their faces for the last 3 1/2 months of the 1988-89 school year. I thought I was on another plane because I was going to a school in the New Orleans Catholic League and they weren’t. I was not welcome back on campus during 1989-90.

Sadly, Arabi Park closed in the late 1990s when St. Bernard Parish’s school system consolidated some schools. The shell of the old school stood until Katrina wiped it away.

I lost touch with so many until discovering them on Facebook in 2014, 25 years after I left for the school at 4401 Elysian Fields in New Orleans. I saw Jason last August when he was in town with his lovely family. I hope I will see more Epton (before it’s too late in Foots lingo).

After the dance ended, I got home in time to watch the second half of LSU’s NCAA tournament game vs. UTEP. The Bayou Bengals enjoyed a fine season with All-America freshman Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), but the Miners had future NBA standouts Tim Hardaway and Antonio Davis, plus the coaching acumen of the legendary Don Haskins, the same Don Haskins who led an all-black Miner team to victory over Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky team in the 1966 championship game.

Many in Louisiana were salivating at the possibility of LSU playing Indiana and the hated Bobby Knight in the second round, but UTEP won 85-74.

If you’re wondering why LSU was playing so close to midnight Central time, here’s the dish.

Prior to 1991, CBS did not televise every tournament game prior to the Elite Eight. In the first and second rounds, CBS would select the games it wanted to show nationally, then the NCAA would put the other games up for bids. The NCAA produced the games and provided the announcers, and games were either televised by ESPN or a local network. In the Sweet 16, CBS selected two games a night, and the other two that night would be on locally in the areas of the participating teams.

In 1991, CBS took over all games, and contests before the Elite Eight were regionally broadcast. It stayed that way through 2010.

In 2011, CBS split the broadcast rights with TBS, TNT and TruTV, meaning every game would be televised nationally.

I’ve got a sinking feeling LSU will be one-and-done 30 years later, thanks to all the scandal surrounding coach Will Wade, who is suspended and may be fired. The field will be revealed at 1700. Not that I’m going to fill out a bracket.

Enjoy what’s left of your St. Patrick’s Day and weekend.

Feb. 25: Filipinos and football

When I was much younger, February 25 produced two moments I’ll always remember hearing about when they first took place. They happened a year apart.

The first was in 1986, when Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines, ceding control of the island nation to Corazon Aquino, who held the plurality of votes in the country’s presidential election.

Marcos, whose loyalists assassinated Aquino’s late husband, Ninoy, in August 1983, attempted every trick in the book to rig the election in his favor, the same way Nicolas Maduro did in Venezuela last year, the same way Robert Mugabe did in Zimbabwe in 2008, the same way dictator after dictator has done through time.

Fortunately for Filipinos, Marcos was not as stubborn and stupid as Maduro has been in Venezuela, and he and kleptomaniac wife Imelda got the hell out of Manila. Sadly, they received asylum in the United States, which had been the biggest supporter of Marcos’ brutal regime, simply because Marcos abhorred communism. It was fine from 1966, when Marcos took over, through early 1972, but became very problematic when Marcos declared martial law later that year and made himself president for life.

Aquino’s victory brought full democracy back to the Philippines, and the country has largely been peaceful for the last 33 years. Corazon Aquino’s son, Nonoy, is now president.

February 1986 was a volatile month. The volatility started January 28 when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff at Cape Canaveral, killing six astronauts and school teacher Christa McAuliffe. Two other countries besides the Philippines were rocked by violence in that month: Haiti, where Baby Doc Duvalier was overthrown and fled after 15 years of rule (and after over 30 years of Duvalier family rule); and Sweden, where Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated outside a Stockholm theater.

March 1986 was better. LSU made an unexpected run to the men’s basketball Final Four, and the Bayou Bengal baseball team rose to #1 in the polls on their way to their first College World Series.

Exactly one year after Corazon Aquino brought hope to a nation, a college football team had all hope taken away.

The first thing my brother and I did when we got home from school February 25, 1987 was turn to ESPN. After watching the morning news that Wednesday, we knew something big would happen.

Indeed, the football program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) was handed the NCAA’s Death Penalty, meaning the Mustangs would not be able to play at all in 1987. The NCAA opened the door for SMU to play only road games in 1988, but two weeks later, the school announced it would not return to the field until 1989.

SMU became the third major college to have a big-time sport shut down by the NCAA.

Kentucky had its men’s basketball program shuttered in 1952-53 by a gambling scandal which involved two of the best to ever play for Adolph Rupp, Alex Groza and Ralph Beard.

In August 1973, the NCAA whacked the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) for numerous violations, including cash payments and falsifying transcripts. The violations were so severe the NCAA wanted to expel USL from the organization, but instead, the Ragin Cajuns’ men’s basketball program was shut down for two seasons, and the school’s other programs were ineligible for championships in the 1973-74 and 1974-75 school years.

SMU was guilty of numerous egregious violations of NCAA rules under coaches Ron Meyer (1976-81) and Bobby Collins (1982-86). Hundreds of players were paid, the biggest no-no according to the NCAA. Eric Dickerson, the Hall of Fame running back with the Rams and Colts, was given a sports car to sign with SMU after he had been all but locked up by Texas A&M. Another stud running back, Craig James, was offered money, and his girlfriend (later wife) was given a cushy job in Dallas; the move kept James from leaving Texas and playing for Bear Bryant at Alabama. They weren’t paid the most, but they became the most famous players to be caught, since they were standouts in the NFL and played on an SMU team which went 11-0-1 in 1982 and finished second in the polls behind Penn State.

My brother and I were used to scandals involving college athletics. Two years prior to the SMU case, Tulane shut down its men’s basketball program due to point shaving by numerous players. All-American John “Hot Rod” Williams was tried but acquitted, and he went on to a lengthy NBA career.

Tulane president Dr. Eamon Kelly intended to never, ever bring back men’s basketball, a decision which drew scorn from the local media, including The Times-Picayune, the city’s newspaper. The T-P’s esteemed columnists, Bob Roesler and Peter Finney, blasted Kelly for his rash and harsh decision, saying while the cancer needed to be cured, it did not require the patient to be killed.

SMU football returned in September 1989. Less than three months later, so did men’s basketball at Tulane.

Today was the 40th anniversary of the cancellation of the Bacchus parade due to a strike by the New Orleans Police Department. Ron Howard, who was then starring in Happy Days, was scheduled to be Bacchus, but instead he rode on a float in the Superdome at an event for krewe members.

Don’t ask me about February 25, 1995. Let me just say I was in a place I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

It’s almost February 26, so that’s all for now.

Exploits of a 12-year old

I swear I need to discipline myself to post every day during 2019, no matter how short or how silly it might be. Actually, short posts might be better considering I have the tendency for posts which fall just short of the length of War and Peace.

I didn’t get to Kansas City until 1915 last night. I had to stay behind in Hays due to an eye exam with Dr. Stacey Jones at 1415. It was the last time I’ll visit her at the corner of Canterbury and 22nd in Hays, because in January, she and her husband will open their own ophthalmology/dentistry private practice in downtown Hays across the corner from the Hays public library, Fox Theater and James Motors. I’ve been seeing Dr. Jones since moving to Kansas in 2005, and she has picked up right where my ophthalmologist in Louisiana, Dr. Martin Schoenberger, left off. Both have been great caring for my vision.

I ended up sending out 73 Christmas cards. So, far one has been labeled returned to sender. One person was not happy that I looked up their address and sent a card. Peggy, Caitlyn, Brenda, Dorinda and a few others, some of whom were middle school classmates of mine in 1988 and ’89, were much happier. They’ll stay on the list for 2019. The complainer won’t.

Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of my only memorable athletic achievement.

I played youth basketball for the local playground, Carolyn Park, for three years in the 1980s. My last year was in the 1988-89 season, when I played on Carolyn Park’s 11-year old team (I was 12 by time the season started, but since I had an October birthday, I played with the 11-year olds, as did my Arabi Park Middle classmate, Jason Malasovich). The goals were only 8 1/2 feet high, and the free throw lanes were trapezoidal shaped like they were in international basketball at the time, albeit narrower than what was used both internationally and the NBA.

On the afternoon of Dec. 18, 1988, Carolyn Park played Versailles, which was located at the junction of Paris Road and St. Bernard Highway in Chalmette, not too far from the ferry landing where the boats which ran between Chalmette and the Algiers section of New Orleans would take on cars.

There were six playgrounds in St. Bernard Parish. Carolyn Park was the farthest west, taking in the community of Arabi, which stretched from the city limits of New Orleans about two miles to the east. Three–Vista, Versailles and Rebel–were in Chalmette, the largest community in St. Bernard. Bournemouth (spelled the same as the city on the south coast of England) was in Meraux and Violet, and then Kenilworth took in the eastern third of the parish.

Carolyn Park didn’t have its own gym, so the game was played at Bournemouth. Four nights earlier, my team played Kenilworth at Bournemouth’s gym, and I had a decent game, scoring six points and blocking a shot from behind. I blocked the shot from 12 feet at its apex and it flew out of bounds. I could hear my mother and brother cheering that one.

Jason was one of three very good players that Carolyn Park team had. The others wer the guards, Chad Nuccio, son of our coach, A.J. Nuccio, and Trey Guillot, who later enjoyed a stellar baseball career at Holy Cross before pitching for Tulane. I wasn’t athletic enough to be a starter, but I came of the bench and did what needed to be done, mostly rebounding, good defense and points here and there.

In the game vs. Versailles, I scored on a pair of jump shots from the foul line in the second period, and it helped Carolyn Park lead 30-15 at halftime.

In the second half, Versailles came back. It had a couple of future high school varsity starters, Brett Tessitore (Archbishop Hannah) and Michael Marques (Brother Martin); Michael was in my graduating class at Brother Martin, and his dad and my dad worked together at Air Products and Chemicals.

Foul trouble nearly crippled Carolyn Park. Five players fouled out, including Chad and Jason. I would have been on the bench the entire second half, but the starter who played my position, Alex Dupre, fouled out with three minutes left. I knew it was his fifth foul, and coach Nuccio sent me into the game.

As the fouls began to pile up, I got so angry I slammed the ball with 90 seconds left. It was right in front of an official. I should have been given a technical foul. He let it go. He must have known I was frustrated.

With 30 seconds left, Carolyn Park was down to four players. Basketball rules allow a team to play with fewer than five if players foul out or are ejected, but you cannot start a game with fewer than five.

I thought I would be gone with another foul, but it turned out I had three. With 12 seconds left, Versailles missed the front end of a one-and-one (the double bonus was not adopted in high school basketball until 1995-96), leaving it ahead 45-44.

Trey pulled down the rebound and sped down the left sideline with a beautiful left-handed dribble. His layup was off the mark.

The rebound came down to the right side of the lane to #14. ME.

From seven feet away, I put an awkward-looking jumper.

It skimmed the backboard and fell through with two seconds left.

Versailles called timeout. I was mobbed by my teammates and coaches. All we had to do was defend and my shot would be the winner.

Versailles threw a long pass which was tipped and bounced harmlessly away. Carolyn Park won 46-45.

Of course, I got a hugely inflated head over the shot. I bragged about it the next two days at Arabi Park. Thankfully for Jason, Shawn O’Neil (who was a damn good player for Vista) and my other classmates, school let out that Tuesday for the holidays.

The shot went to my head. I played like crap the next two games, and my dad suggested after the second, a 19-point loss to Rebel, that I quit because I wasn’t committed.

The Thursday after Christmas, I wasn’t feeling well. I was battling a cold, and I had to wear long sleeves under my jersey. Carolyn Park played Bournemouth all the way at Kenilworth at the other end of the parish.

I was on the bench in the first quarter. In the second quarter, I went off.

Ten points in six minutes. I went to the foul line for the first time that season and swished both shots. I played the entire second half and finished with 14 points in Carolyn Park’s 53-34 victory.

The night before my big game, Shawn O’Neil held his 12th birthday party at Showbiz Pizza in Algiers, across the Mississippi River from St. Bernard Parish. Showbiz was Chuck E. Cheese’s competitor in the 1980s, and both places advertised heavily on the four main New Orleans television stations. Chuck E. Cheese was on the Metairie-Kenner line on Veterans Highway in Jefferson Parish.

Shawn’s dad insisted on taking the ferry to Algiers. I begged him not to. I HATED HTE FERRY. I hated it. I knew all about the infamous incident in 1976 (exactly one week after I was born) when a drunken ferry pilot did not see a huge tanker crossing the river in St. Charles Parish. The boats collided, and all of the cars went into the river. Of the 94 people on board the ferry, 78 perished.

My mother took the ferry often to visit her mother, who lived in Algiers from 1970 until her death in 1992. It made some sense before October 1988, when the second span of the Greater New Orleans Bridge (now the Crescent City Connection) opened. When it was one bridge and there were only two lanes of traffic in each direction, an accident could cause delays of up to six hours in some cases.

I tried to get girls in our class at Arabi Park, especially Stacie Dauterive (now Seube) invitations, but the O’Neils said no way.

Jason and I had to play in a Christmas concert in New Orlean’s’ Jackson Square with the Arabi Park Middle band the day before I hit my game-winning shot. It was chilly and windy. Good preparation for my future life as it turned out.

Shawn, Jason, Stacie and a few others from Arabi Park were on my Christmas card list. I would give anything to see all of them. I’m very happy that rift has been repaired. It was pretty ugly when I left Arabi Park after seventh grade for Brother Martin. I lorded Brother Martin over them much worse than that game-winning shot, and it was little wonder why they were glad to see me continue my education at 4401 Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans.

Apparently, forgiveness is a four-letter word to some I’ve known through the years. Sad.

November ends with a flurry

I spent SIX HOURS at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa yesterday, more time I’ve spent there in a single day in a long, long time. Finally, the restaurant has new tablets to play trivia after saying for over a year it was getting new ones. The first one I used locked up on me after 20 minutes, and I was logged off the second one a couple of times, but after 1415, I was good.

Robb and Theresa showed up for a couple of hours. I hadn’t seen Robb since the day before my birthday, which is a long time, although I’ve gone longer without seeing him.

Three big pieces of news happened yesterday. Well, two big pieces happened and one didn’t.

The one that didn’t involved Kansas State and its fossilized football coach.

Bill Snyder is still the football coach of the Wildcats, despite calls from most respected members of the media in Kansas and Kansas City and most Wildcat fans for Snyder to call it a career.

Snyder was expected to meet with K-State athletic director Gene Taylor Wednesday. No meeting. Then Thursday. No meeting. Then Friday. No meeting. Today, Snyder is acting like he will be the coach in 2019, hosting recruits at the Vanier Football Complex, the impressive facility at the north end of Bill Snyder Family Stadium which was considered nothing more than a pipe dream when he was hired 30 years ago Friday.

Kevin Kietzman, who hosts the 1400-1800 show on WHB 810 AM in Kansas City weekdays, has advocated for Jim Leavitt, the former South Florida coach who was once an assistant under Snyder, to be the new Wildcat leader. Leavitt, currently the defensive coordinator under Mario Cristobal at Oregon, had a brutality charge leveled against him in 2009 which led to his ouster at USF. The details are murky, and while he would not be my first choice, he is far more palatable than the option Bill Snyder wants.

Of course, Bill Snyder wants his pride and joy, son Sean, to be his successor. Sean Snyder was an All-American punter under his father during Bill’s first four seasons in Manhattan, and has been at K-State ever since. He has NEVER been an offensive or defensive coordinator. He has NEVER even been a regular position coach, instead coordinating the Wildcat special teams for the last 26 seasons (Sean was kept on by Ron Prince during his three seasons).

If Bill really wanted Sean to succeed him, he should have given him full responsibility over one side of the ball when he returned in 2009. Better yet, Bill should have encouraged Sean to branch out and become a head coach somewhere else. He could have done it at one of the four Division II schools in Kansas (Fort Hays State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State, Washburn), or a Division I school (FBS or FCS) outside the Power 5.

Instead, Sean has stayed inside the cocoon working for daddy, refusing to even INTERVIEW for another position. It smacks of pure nepotism. It’s as if Sean believes the head coaching position at K-State is his birthright. It isn’t.

This reminds me of the situation at Texas after Darrell Royal retired in 1976. I wasn’t born until the middle of the 1976 college football season, so it doesn’t remind me per se, but I read about this in the early 1990s.

Royal lobbied the Texas Board of Regents hard to name his defensive coordinator, Mike Campbell, as his successor, but the board rejected Royal’s suggestion and instead hired Fred Akers, who coached defensive backs on the Longhorns’ 1969 and 1970 championship teams. The reason: Akers left Austin to be the head coach at Wyoming in 1975 and ’76, leading the Cowboys to the Western Athletic Conference championship in the latter season. Campbell had no head coaching experience. Akers went 86-34-2 in 10 seasons at Texas, but was fired after going 5-6 in 1986.

I believe Snyder will coach the Wildcats through spring practice and fall camp. He’ll lead the team in the season opener against Nicholls State (the team which beat Kansas in this year’s season opener). He will announce his retirement to the team at halftime. When the game is over, Snyder will be carried off on his player’s shoulders. When the team reaches the locker room, Bill will find his wife, Sharon, and the two will walk straight out of the Vanier Complex into a waiting limousine. Sean will go to the press conference and announce he’s in charge.

It might be a little far-fetched this could happen without Taylor and K-State President General Richard Myers knowing, but stranger things have happened.

If you’ve read my blogs, you’re aware I don’t worship Snyder like many in Kansas do. In fact, I find him to be grossly overrated. But I won’t go into detail again.

The thing which DID happen to affect the sports scene in these parts involved Kareem Hunt, who went from NFL rushing champion to unemployed in the space of 11 months.

The Chiefs star was released at 1900, six hours after TMZ released video of a February incident in the lobby of a Cleveland hotel which saw Hunt push away, then strike, a 19-year old woman. Hunt lied to the Chiefs and told Clark Hunt, Brett Veach and Andy Reid the incident was nothing to worry about and it wasn’t serious.

Hunt obviously did not listen when his high school history teacher lectured on Watergate. Yes, what Hunt did was terrible and he should have been punished. But covering it up and openly lying about it got him in much more trouble than he could have dreamed of.

Had Hunt told the truth, he would have likely been suspended. That would have been the bad news. The good news would have been he probably would still be employed by the Chiefs, who undoubtedly would have paid to get Hunt the help he needed to prevent this from happening again. He might not have been able to use the team facilities to keep in shape, but I’m sure the Chiefs would have reimbursed the expenses of a private trainer and gym membership.

Hunt is a PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE. In the United States, professional athletes are under the microscope constantly, which says this country is screwed up, but they know once they put on an NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL uniform, they are immediately subject the same scrutiny as an amoeba under an electron microscope.

Kareem Hunt has nobody to blame but Kareem Hunt for his unemployment. He won’t be unemployed long, because undoubtedly some team will claim him on waivers. If the Browns have the chance to claim him, he’ll be playing behind Baker Mayfield beginning next season, since (a) Cleveland GM John Dorsey drafted Hunt in Kansas City, and (b) Hunt grew up in Willoughby, an eastern suburb of Cleveland.

The much more important news of Friday came at 2230, when it was announced George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed away at 94.

Death is always sad, but in this case, nobody will be sad for too long. President Bush lived a wonderful life, and now he is joining his soulmate, Barbara, who passed away earlier this year.

What did President Bush not do? Fighter pilot in World War II. Oil tycoon. U.S. Representative. Chairman of the Republican National Committee. US Ambassador to the United Nations. CIA Director. Vice President. President. Father of a President, Grandfather. Great grandfather.

Of course, there will be a state funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, the same way one was held for Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford (Richard Nixon declined the state funeral, instead holding a simple service at his presidential library in. Yorba Linda, California). Then Bush will be buried next to Barbara at his library at Texas A&M, meaning the Bushes will be about the 13th and 14th most prominent figures buried on the A&M campus, trailing all the Revile mascots through the years. Just kidding.

I’m guessing George W. Bush will speak at the funeral. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama might. I don’t know about the current Commander in Chief. Given the elder Bush’s love of sports, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few sports figures speak in College Station. Among my guesses would be Nolan Ryan (George W owned the Texas Rangers before he was elected Governor of Texas, Ryan played for the Astros, and now he’s an executive in Houston), Justin Verlander (George HW and Barbara were often spotted in the very front row behind home plate at Minute Maid Park during Astros games) and Jimbo Fisher.

RIP, President Bush. You’ve earned that right and then some.

Midway through the second quarter of the Big 12 football championship game, Texas leads Oklahoma 14-6. SIX POINTS in 23 minutes? Did the Sooners leave their offense in Norman?

Oops, check that. Sooners just scored a touchdown. Now 14-13 Longhorns with five minutes left before halftime.

Revisiting November 1978 (again)

I stand by my post of 19 November 2018. Harvey Milk had very close ties to Jim Jones and The People’s Temple, and Milk had a lot of help from Jones and Temple members in getting elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

I received a comment on the 19 November 2018 post, calling me a homophobe. The person did not have the guts to give his or her name.

Fine. That’s your right, sir or madam. It is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The First Amendment also protects my rights to say Harvey Milk is not someone deserving of a state holiday. Harvey Milk Day is every May 22 in California. If Harvey Milk has a holiday, then why doesn’t Ronald Reagan, who served two terms as Governor of California AND President of the United States?

I do not care that Mr. Milk was homosexual. That was Mr. Milk’s business and his business alone. People can be homosexual all they want. I don’t care. It isn’t affecting me. I’d rather children be raised by two loving homosexual parents than by a heterosexual couple which sees the man abusing the woman or vice versa.

What I do care about is Mr. Milk, along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone and many other power brokers in California and other places (read: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC) let Jim Jones dig his tentacles deep into them, blinding them to a man who brainwashed so many then killed them.

The 40th anniversary of the murders of Milk and Moscone by Dan White was this past Tuesday. What Mr. White did was exceedingly evil. Cowardly. Dastardly. Yes, Mr. White had every right to be angry with Mr. Moscone for double-crossing him by not re-appointing him to the board upon advice from Mr. Milk. It did not give him any right to illegally enter San Francisco City Hall with a gun and shoot two men in the head at point blank range. Mr. White escaped the gas chamber only because he came up with this ridiculous “Twinkie Defense,” claiming junk food altered his mental state and his brain told him to go murder Moscone and Milk.

I have eaten tonnes and tonnes of junk food in my lifetime. Not once have I felt the urge to harm someone, let alone murder them, after eating Twinkies, Fritos, Doritos, Oreos, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Zapp’s potato chips, or any other form of junk food. It was too bad Dan White was able to walk out of prison after serving just five years.

White committed suicide in October 1985. Too bad it occurred in the garage of his house in San Francisco, not in the gas chamber at San Quentin.

I didn’t learn about Mosocne and Milk’s ties to Jim Jones until the early 1990s, long after both were senselessly murdered by White. If I had been old enough in November 1978 to know about Moscone and Milk’s ties to Jones, I certainly would have written a letter to the editor of my local newspaper calling White an evil bastard for committing the murders, but also urged people not to be so quick to martyr Moscone and Milk, because they had dark secrets they took with them to their graves.

That’s it. End of discussion. Readers, you are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. But let’s be civil about it.

November 18–don’t save the date

For the first time since a lost weekend 13 1/2 months ago, I am in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In fact, I’m at the same hotel in St. Peters, about 50 kilometers west of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. 

I had no intentions of stopping in Kansas City this time. I thought about dropping anchor in Columbia, but felt good enough to keep going. I made sure not to eat after breakfast so I had the proper appetite for White Castle. 

I went to two different grocery stores in St. Peters, Schnucks and Dierberg’s. Selection is much better than anything in Kansas City, except for the bread, and certainly better than anything in Hays, Salina or Wichita. I still cannot find the poppy seed hot dog buns. I bought the last pack in Columbia last week, but struck out in St. Peters tonight. Try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have to stop in Columbia to see if they’re restocked at Schnucks. 

November 18 holds bad memories for a lot of people.

On November 18, 1997, I got into a very petty and very ugly argument with Rebecca Borne (now Brennan), whom I had a crush on throughout my time at LSU. It was over class presentations, and I got very upset with Rebecca when her group wasn’t able to make their presentation on time. Her group wanted to go before my group, and I told her I wouldn’t do it. The instructor, Laura Klaus, tried to calm me down, but I was over the edge. I skipped my 0900 class and hurried to the athletic department, where I lost it. 

There were two historical events on November 18 which are best forgotten. 

Sunday was the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, when Marxist cult leader Jim Jones ordered 900 followers in Guyana to drink Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide. Those who refused to drink the deadly cocktail had the cyanide injected into their veins. Prior to the mass suicide, Jones’ henchmen murdered U.S. Representative Leo Ryan (D-California) and members of an NBC News crew. 

Jones was enabled by Harvey Milk, the infamous homosexual member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and San Francisco mayor George Moscone. Milk and Moscone shared Jones’ radical leftist views, and through Milk and Moscone, Jones charmed his way into the inner circle of President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Vice President Mondale, future San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who was then the Speaker of the California Assembly, as well as Hollywood elite, namely Jane Fonda and her anti-war zealots.

Just how far to the left were Jones, Milk and Moscone? Their leading opposition on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors came from Diane Feinstein. Yes, THAT Diane Feinstein. Apparently, Feinstein was too “conservative” for the likes of the grossly corrupt Milk, who lied about his service in the U.S. Navy (he claimed he was dishonorably discharged for his homosexuality, which was totally false; he was honorably discharged) and demonized anyone who dared oppose gay rights ordinances in San Francisco and legislation in Sacramento. 

Before Milk could be humiliated for his close association with Jones, he and Moscone were assassinated nine days after the Jonestown massacre by former Supervisor Dan White, who was forced to resign from the board due to financial difficulty and was denied renomination, thanks to Milk’s badgering of Moscone. 

Seven years after Jonestown, Joe Theismann’s football career ended in horrific fashion when he suffered a grotesque broken leg when his Redskins hosted the Giants on Monday Night Football. 

On the fateful play, Harry Carson grabbed a hold of Theismann’s arm, but missed. As the Redskins quarterback sighted his Hall of Fame wideout, Art Monk, Lawrence Taylor caught him from behind.

Taylor’s knee crushed’ Theismann’s tibia and fibula. LT was so horrified he frantically motioned to the Redskin bench that Theismann was really, really hurt.

Theismann’s career ended right then and there at RFK Stadium. The Redskins recovered to win Super Bowls XXIII and XXVI under Joe Gibbs, whom I regard as the best NFL coach I’ve seen, since he won three Super Bowls with four different quarterbacks: Theismann in XVII, Jay Schroeder and Doug Williams in XXII, and Mark Rypien in XXVI. Can you imagine if Gibbs would have had Dan Marino or John Elway for his entire tenure, at least after Theismann? It wouldn’t have been fair. 

Thirty-three years to the day after Theismann’s career ended, Alex Smith’s career might well have come to a screeching halt. 

Smith suffered an injury described as bad as Theismann’s in the Redskins’ loss to the Texans Sunday. If I were him, I would retire; he’s set financially, and he will do a tremendous job as an analyst should he choose that path. 

There was happier news Sunday. 

Leslie Edwin Miles is once again a college football coach. Miles was introduced Sunday as the new leader of the Kansas Jayhawks.

The best thing about this? Besides Miles coming to Lawrence, it’s we didn’t hear too many idiots wanting to bring back Mark Mangino. Mangino is a steaming pile of feces as far as I’m concerned. 

I’ll have more on Miles in an upcoming post. Right now, I’m beat. Good night. 

Celebrate Christopher Columbus!

Happy Columbus Day! Yes, Monday was the OBSERVATION of Columbus Day. Today is the ACTUAL Columbus Day. The New World is 526 years old. Next year it can apply for tax-exempt political group status. Bad joke I know.

Why the hell did LBJ sign the bill in 1968 to move the holiday observations to Monday? What’s wrong with a Wednesday holiday? The celebration of Independence Day didn’t move to July 2 this year when the 4th was on Wednesday. Memorial Day not being on May 30 as it was through 1970 (except when Monday falls on the 30th, which it did in 1977, ’83, ’88, ’94, 2005, ’10 and ’16) and instead being on the last Monday of May does a great dishonor, in my humble opinion, to the men and ladies who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Heck, Veterans Day is always on November 11, and it also honors the millions of living veterans. They deserve their day,  yes, but those who have departed this earth need to have a special designated day, too, not just a Monday to make it convenient for a three-day weekend.

This doesn’t apply to Labor Day, which always has been the first Monday of September.

The app I have been using to track sleep quality said I snored for a total of 10 minutes last night. Hopefully it was just noise from the CPAP. But I feel just fine. I woke up at 0730, the perfect time for today.

It is nasty. Very nasty. Rain everywhere. Chilly. But that’s better than it being 80 and raining. The Chiefs are in Foxborough Sunday night  (if you live in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas or western Missouri and don’t know it yet, you are living under a rock), then are on Sunday night the NEXT week to host the Bengals. That means sports fans in Kansas City can make both the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race in the afternoon and the football game in the evening. YIPPPIEEE!!!

The rain will definitely affect the big high school football game in Overland Park tonight between Bishop Miege and St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’ stadium at least has some bleachers on the visiting side, unlike Miege, where fans from Rockhurst had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder two weeks ago. A game of this magnitude should be at a larger facility. Children’s Mercy Park, looking in your direction…or what about Kansas’ stadium in Lawrence?

What do I do with this weather? At least until I go to Minsky’s this afternoon. Maybe I’ll see Tori Smith (nee Weber) at Buffalo Wild Wings. She got married last month to her longtime beau Micah. I sent her a (inexpensive) gift from their registry even though I wasn’t invited. I would have (politely) said no anyway. It has nothing to do with the last two wedding receptions I’ve been to. Just wasn’t in the mood.

Last full day of my 42nd year began at 0916.

The meaning of Epton…before it’s too late

Wondering why I use Epton instead of “before it’s too late”? Here is the explanation.

Bernard Epton was a Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives for seven terms, first elected in 1968 and staying on through the 1982 session. He chose not to run for re-election to the Illinois House in 1983, instead entering the Chicago mayoral race.

As a Republican in a city which had been dominated by Democratic machine politics since the Great Depression, Epton faced a steep uphill climb. Few paid much attention to his campaign during the primaries, instead focusing on a heavyweight battle on the Democratic side.

Chicago mayoral elections are now non-partisan, but they were not in 1983. Therefore, the three most visible candidates would have to battle one another, with only one advancing to the general election.

The incumbent mayor, Jane Margaret Byrne, was the first woman to be elected mayor of one of America’s 10 largest cities. In 1979, she upset Michael Bilandic, who became mayor upon the death of Richard J. Daley, the Boss of Chicago, in December 1976. Bliandic’s inaction during a January 1979 blizzard and Byrne’s subsequent hammering of Bilandic over the issue of snow removal helped her win.

Richard J. Daley’s son, Richard M. Daley, then the District Attorney of Cook County, where Chicago is located, threw his hat into the ring with the support of many of his father’s old supporters and ward bosses.

The third major Democratic candidate was U.S. Representative Harold Washington, vying to become the city’s first black mayor. Washington obviously was much farther to the left than either Byrne or Daley, and he began running for mayor during the first year of his first House term. He was re-elected in 1982 to Congress because his House district was, and still is, overwhelmingly black, but he was drawing the Congressional salary without doing very much on Capitol Hill, instead campaigning for the one job he coveted.

The black vote carried Washington to a narrow victory in the Democratic primary. It figured in the overwhelmingly Democratic City, Washington was home free, right?

Not quite.

Many of the old-line Daley loyalists threw their support to Epton, not wanting a black man to occupy the mayor’s office. Some of Epton’s most conservative backers produced a commercial which ended with the line “Epton…Before It’s Too Late”.

Epton himself was very uncomfortable with the racial overtones of the campaign. He was a liberal and was active in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. However, the racially charged campaign continued all the way to the end, where Washington won by a very narrow margin.

Washington won by a more comfortable margin in 1987, but he collapsed and died of a heart attack in his office the day before Thanksgiving 1987. Epton died only three weeks later.

I didn’t follow the election as it happened in 1983, since I was too young to understand. However, I read about it two years later as Washington was in the midst of his first term.

That election came up in a course on Louisiana politics during my first semester at LSU in the fall of 1994. The professor, Louisiana legend T. Wayne Parent, one of the country’s foremost political scientists, tried to explain how the closed primary system worked, since many in Louisiana, especially those who didn’t start voting until 1975 or later, had only know the open primary, where all candidates run on a single ballot, and if nobody gets an outright majority in the first election, then a second primary (or general election or runoff) is held.

Dr. Parent explained how Washington advanced to the general election even though he did not get a majority over Byrne and Daley. He couldn’t quite remember the Republican candidate, so I shouted EPTON! He and my classmates were amazed.

Louisiana politics was one of my three favorite classes at LSU. The others were involving constitutional law during my last full year there. If I could do it all over again, I think I would have done much better in a lot of my classes. I’m not blaming my autistic spectrum disorder, but I think it didn’t help.

Sunshine State Sicko

A sick living organism walked into a high school in south Florida today and killed 17 people and wounded many others using an AR-15 rifle. The vermin pulled the fire alarm to force students into the hallway so he could acquire more targets.

The school is in northern Broward County, a little more than 26 miles (42 kilomteres) southwest of where Dawn is moving to. I’m sure this made her shudder.

The walking piece of fecal matter was caputred alive, unlike Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the lowlife scum who perpetrated the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999. Harris and Klebold were yellow-bellied cowards who didn’t want to face justice, so they shot themselves after ruthlessly executing Rachel Scott, Cassie Bernall, Dave Sanders and 10 others, while wounding dozens more and leaving many survivors with permanent damage.

I’m not getting into the gun control debate. I know it won’t change anybody’s mind one way or the other.

Of course, the entertainment industry is all over social media begging for gun cotnrol, while those on the other side like Laura Ingraham, Dana Loesch, Tomi Lahren and the man occupying the White House are all calling this the work of a sick mind, and that gun control would have not stopped him.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said it best when he tweeted that this is not the time or place for politics. The thoughts and prayers should be with the victims of this horrific crime.

It has been said the shooter had exhibited warning signs on social media that he would do something drastic. That’s where the big difference with Columbine lies. If there were Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites in 1999, would Harris and Klebold have been brazen enough to broadcast their intentions? And if so, would authorities in Littleton been able to prevent it? We’ll never know.

I hope Harris and Klebold are rotting in hell, along with the Virginia Tech shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, Charles Whitman from the Unvieristy of Texas Memorial Tower shooting in 1966, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins (who acutally killed Sharon Tate), Ted Bundy, and the pride of Emporia, Mark James Robert Esssex, the infamous New Orleans sniper.

Speaking of New Orleans, there were two shootings along the parade route Tuesday. One person died, and two others were wounded. Maybe it is time for the major krewes–Rex, Zulu, Endymion, Bacchus, Orpheus, Proteus–to threaten to pull their parades off the street unless things are done to tighten security for the people who attend the spectacle. That might sound like giving in to the criminals, but it has to stop.

How can some human beings be so evil? I wanted to use some really bad language, but I promised Peggy and many others I would not, starting today and hopefully continuing for the rest of time.

The vast majority of humanity chooses good over evil. Sadly, the fecal matter that chooses evil gets all the attention.

Mardi Gras: why did I bother?

It’s just another Tuesday in most of the United States. Most high school basketball teams in Kansas are in action tonight, although Russell High is not one of them. Norton is back on the court tonight vs. Hoxie, and I’m making the 120-mile trek to see Peggy. It means a late night, but I don’t have much work to get done tomorrow morning, so it won’t really put me behind.

In south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast all the way to the Florida panhandle, it is Mardi Gras, the day where people dress in silly costumes and celebrate the last day before Lent, the 40-day period where Christians are supposed to repent for their sins and make sacrifices. It also means no meat tomorrow, nor for the next eight Fridays. It used to be Catholics had to abastain from meat EVERY Friday, but starting in 1967, meat was supposedly okay on most Fridays, especially in the United States and Canada. Some more traditionalist countries still require abstience from meat every Friday, including Ireland and Great Britain.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is two big attractions in the same city.

One is the French Quarter, where hundreds of thousands of strangers from across the world rub elbows–and many more body parts–getting drunk and having a good time. Pretty much anything goes in the Quater during Carnvial, except complete nudity, sexual acts, and violent crime. The police know they’re not going to get anywhere by arresting every woman who flashes her bare breasts, becuase they would make enough arrests to fill every jail in Louisiana, not just New Orleans. I have never understood why women would show their breasts for plastic beads which cost four cents per pair at the Mardi Gras supply store.

The other main attraction are the parades, where the laws apply and are strictly enforce. Don’t try flashing on St. Charles Avenue; if you do, you’ll have free accomodations in the New Orleans lockup. Parades are supposed to be family friendly, with ornate floats decorated around a central theme, marching bands and other groups which are common sights to those who have been to the pagents more than a few times.

I went to many parades during my formative years. Now that I’ve been gone from Louisiana for 12 1/2 years, I look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.

There used to be several parades in St. Bernard Parish (county), the suburban area east of New Orleans where I grew up. I marched in a few of those parades when I was with the Arabi Park Middle School band in the sixth and seventh grades. The worst was marching in one on a Tuesday night, not getting home until after midnight, then having to go to school in the morning. There were also a couple of parades where the temperatures were below freezing, and that was pure misery. In warmer weather, the band uniforms were tortuously hot. I’m glad I got out of marching band in high school, because I would have hated to have to sit in the bleachers at football games in those hot things.

My parents, brother and I used to go to all of the parades in St. Bernard. There was a parade on Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Arabi, named after the westernmost community in the parish, the one where I grew up. Every Fat Tuesday, the four of us would park in an open lot at the corner of Judge Perez Drive and Rowley Boulevard, and we could wait in the car until the parade passed by. When the parade was ready to come by, we walked to the median (called the neutral ground in New Orleans0 and watched the floats and bands passed. We always ate Popeye’s fried chicken, fitting since the first Popeye’s opened in 1972 at the corner of Judge Perez and Rowley.

The last Krewe of Arabi parade was in 1987. In 1988, we started going to the Krewe of Argus parade in Metairie, the largest community in Jefferson Parish, west of the city. Finally, in 1991, we went to the big kahuna, the Krewe of Rex, who is known in the city as the King of Carnival.

My parents were not keen on us going to parades in New Orleans proper. There was much crime on the parade routes, especially at night, and they had seen it first hand in their early days of marriage. We went to Mid-City from 1986 through ’91, but that was a daytime parade in an area of the city which was nowhere near as dangerous as some areas of St. Charles.

We went to the Krewe of Ednymion, one of the so-called “Super Krewes”, for three years in the early 1990s. The first two years, we stood on Canal Street in the same place we held for Mid-City, then shifted to Orleans Avenue near the start of the parade in 1992. In 1993, my dad and I alone went to Poydras and St. Charles to see Endymion, but we left before the first float arrived.

In 1994, Endymion was the first parade I went to alone. I saw a few of my adult friends at a tavern near the start of the parade route, and that is where I had my first taste of alchol, not counting communion wine.

Ray Maher had the bartender at the Parkway Tavern slip bourbon into my Coca-Cola. I tasted something funny right away, and I immediately washed it out. Ray and the older guys hooted and hollered about that one and reminded me of it for the next 11 years. I am grinning about it right now, but 24 years ago, it had me a little concerned.

Ray and several of my adult friends in New Orleans are members of the Krewe of Thoth, which has the longest route of any Mardi Gras parade.

Thoth starts much farther west than most parades that roll along St. Charles Avenue. It starts at the corner of Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-i-TOO-las) and State Streets by the Missisippi River and goes north on Henry Clay to Magazine, and then to Napoleon, where it follows the route taken by Bacchus and most other Uptown parades (not Rex, which starts at the corner of South Claiborne and Napoleon to head south towards St. Charles). The Thoth route takes in numerous hostpitals for people with special needs, and Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s elite pediatric faciltiies.

I atteneded Thoth in ’92 and ’93 with my dad, then ’94 alone. The good thing about Thoth’s starting potnt was there was plenty of parking at the Audubon Zoo, which was not that far of a walk to Henry Clay Avenue. In those days, the parade started at the corner of Henry Clay and Magazine and headed south towards Tchoupitoulas, so I would go down Henry Clay and see eveyrone I knew before the parade started.

Every time I was at Thoth, I was bombarded with beads, doubloons and cups. There was a scramble among other parade goers for the trinkets. Looking back, I should have let them have most of it.

The 1994 Thoth parade is the last one I ever attended. Two days later, Mardi Gras came and went with me sitting at home. By Mardi Gras 1995, my life was in total turmoil, and I was seriously considering the end. I had a terrible go of it at LSU that year, and I wondered if life was worth living. However, most of it was self-inflicted.

If I ever returned to New Orleans, Thoth would be the ONLY parade I would consider attending. And even then, it would be only 50/50.

Bacchus and Endymion, the parades which feature celebrity guests, are too big for my taste. I can only remmeber John Goodman and Chicago appearing in Endymion one year. I can’t tell you who was there in the other years. This year, Rod Stewart rode in Endymion with former Saints player Steve Gleason and current player Alvin Kamara. J.K. Simmons was King of Bacchus.

Sorry, I don’t need to see celebrities in person to feel my life has meaning. I got my fill in July 1992 when I happened to see Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging in downtown St. Louis during their campaign.

During the rest of my years in Louisiana, I often had sporting events to keep my mind away from Mardi Gras, whether it be LSU baseball games or high school events. When Mardi Gras fell late in the calendar (late February or early March), it happened to be on a day when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association scheduled basketball playoff games. The LHSAA would grant south Louisiana schools the option to play the game Monday or Wednesday of that week, but in north Louisiana, the games went on as scheduled, and many south Louisiana schools had to give up Mardi Gras to drive four to five hours for a game, then make the long return trip. Fortunately, the players and coaches could sleep in because there was no school on Ash Wednesday.

Sadly, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, traditionally the last parade of Mardi Gras, has not held a parade since 1991, due to a boneheaded ordinance by the late Dorothy Mae Taylor, who insisted all krewes must prove to the city that they do not discriminate based upon race or religious orientation.

Comus and two-other old-line krewes, Momus and Proteus, quit parading, although Proteus returned in 2000 after a seven-year hiatus.

Most of Comus’ members–all male, all white, all Protestant–are also members of the Pickwick Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private clubs. How exclusive? Drew Brees can’t get in after winning a Super Bowl, simply because he’s a native of Texas. Warren Buffett? Nope. Bill Gates? Nope. Donald Trump? Nada.

Rex’s members are members of the secretive Boston Club. Until the ordinance, Rex was also all WASP, but now the krewe admits blacks, Catholics and Jewish men. The original ordinance would have forced krewes who wanted to parade to be coed, but that was removed to allow the all-male and all-female krewes, which are most, to parade as long as their racial barriers came down.

Not that I care. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and money with it anyway.

Zulu has been rolling for over two hours now, and Rex for over an hour. Yippee. It’s just another day for me.