“My House

Is a very, very, very fine house.”  At least Crosby, Stills Nash and Young thought their’s were when they sang about it or them.  But they were rock stars and could afford the best.

I don’t know if my house will ever qualify for three very s.  I’d say it’s worth about 1.5 now, or at least it will be when everything is painted and/or put where it belongs.  Some of my stuff belongs in the trash and if that’s where it belongs, that’s where I intend to put it.

Maybe, one day, my house will be a very, very fine house.   I doubt it will ever get to three very’s.  I’m not a rock star and while I’m comfortable, nobody would call me rich, especially since that’s not my name.  But being in Boy Scout Camp for the past few days has given me a new appreciation for houses in general and mine in particular.  At night, I like to soak in a hot tub and read a book.   I can do that at my house.  The woods don’t have hot water, tubs or electric lights.  The camping lantern does attract bugs and the woods don’t have window screens either.

Electric lights push back the darkness.  Room darkening shades push back the light.  It’s a lot easier to sleep past 5:15 AM in my house than in my tent.  My house has central heat and room air conditioners.  Climate control in my tent?  Well, I have several sleeping bags, so how warm it is when I’m asleep depends not on a thermostat, but on which bag I brought with me.  Oh, I can put the tent flaps up or down too.  My house is also quieter than a tent.  Thunderstorms seldom wake me up at home.  In fact, I usually cannot hear a rainstorm when I’m inside whether the storm is now equipped with new, improved thunder or not.  And the only creature who can get at my food when I’m in my house is me.

So why did I go to Boy Scout camp last week?  Why have I gone for each of the last 22 years?  Well, one reason is I used to get a laugh from my doctor when I showed up in his office in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals and announced I was there for my summer-camp physical.  I no longer get a laugh with that act.  I’ve pulled it too many times to expect another laugh, so I don’t expect one.  Yes, I’m too old for summer camp; I was too old for summer camp when I started going.  The camp won’t even let me in unless I bring a Boy Scout Troop.  I checked.

I like most of the boys and most of the adults too.  I’ve seen one guy there for 22 years and never seen him anywhere else.  On the ferry up there last week, I saw a guy who looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him until I got to camp and he was one of the leaders in the next campsite.  I like a good many of the activities in the camp.  I don’t like the food.  I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid and nobody goes to Boy Scout Camp for the cuisine. 

I guess part of camp’s attraction for me is I can act like a boy in camp.  Teddy Roosevelt said of his trip to the Amazon after his presidency, “It’s my last chance to be a boy.”  It’s also because I can handle anything that comes up in camp and I’m free of many adult responsibilities.  There are no bills to pay in camp; no telephones; no e-mail, not even any Internet.  No TV either.  And I do get to read, but it’s in the daytime in my camp chair, instead of at night, and in my tub.  And that’s a reasonable substitute.


Michael Jackson died.  I didn’t know that.  Did you?  I was hoping the story would go away by now, but it hasn’t, so I might as well weigh in on it; everyone else has.

Michael Jackson died fifteen days ago, on June 25th.  His death is still in the news.  He died twenty-five years and two days after his last top 40 song hit the Billboard top 40 charts.  That song was #38.  To quote James Thurber, “You could look it up.”  I know you could, because I did.  So for the past 25 years, Michael Jackson has been famous mostly for being weird, plus for two instances in which someone publicly accused him of being a child molester.  More than anyone else since Elvis Presley, dying was the best thing Michael Jackson could possibly have done for his career.

There’s an old saying in public relations; it’s okay to die, but never screw up on a slow news day.  Michael Jackson may have died in a slow news year.  The coverage of his death has been astounding and considering how important he was to the grand scheme of things, the coverage of his death has been appalling.  I think Congressman Pete King was appalled at the coverage and because of that, he overreacted to it.  I’ve known Pete since before he was a Congressman.  If we ran into each other, we would each say hello and we’d stop and chat for a few minutes if time permitted.  We did the last time we saw each other.  I think calling Jackson a pervert and a molester was an overreaction.  The singer may very well have been those things, but there’s no proof of it.  He may just have been a battered psyche who was denied his childhood and denied himself his adulthood to compensate.  I think Pete was appalled at so much coverage of something so trivial and said what he did in an attempt to shock the public into realizing how overblown and silly this whole spectacle was, and still is. 

The other day, during my lunch hour, I got to see a small part of the wall-to-wall coverage of his funeral, the cortege coming from the cemetery to the Staples Center.  Live TV coverage of nothing happening is something we should not do, even though we can.  

Could we please stop this now and pay attention to something important, like how far President Obama’s jaw dropped when he saw a pretty young woman walk by?  I can’t be the only person who longs for the time when trivial pursuit was a board game and not a synonym for journalism.