Sleepless and drunk on world news as the beat goes on

The sirens were loud and objectionable, much like so many newspaper and television opinionists, when they first awakened me just beyond 11 o’clock, about three hours after I had lowered my eye lids on Friday night.

patti dawn swansson

They are wailing again, two and a half hours later, disturbing my sleep for the final time.

This is the worst part of living downtown. The noise. Although I normally find the small hours of the morning a time for peaceful reflection, it is different this night. More sirens. My upper body is in conflict, with pain in my shoulders suggesting I’d participated in a sporting endeavor not so long ago, and I feel hung over, which isn’t possible given that a pint of the nectar last passed my lips on Tuesday, about dinnertime. All I’ve done in the three days and four nights since is research, write and watch TV.

Perhaps I’m drunk on the news, much of which is sour and somewhat scary.

When I was a kid, we feared the Soviet Union, convinced it would lob nuclear bombs in our direction. There was a nut named Nikita Khrushchev in the Kremlin. He was the boogeyman of my youth. Now it would seem that the boogeyman lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C. Donald Trump has provided ample evidence for me, and others, to consider that he is off his nut. A crazy man with nuclear codes. No doubt he frightens citizens beyond the boundaries of the United States, perhaps not as much as many of his own people, though.

For the most part, I’d ceased contemplation of nuclear war in the 1970s. Now, with Trump presiding over the 50 United States and territories that include a weather-ravaged Puerto Rico, which he largely ignores, apocalyptic thoughts sprout again as North Korea flexes its military might and the president responds by ratcheting up the rhetoric of war.

If he has surrounded himself with women and men of sane, rational thought and structure, not to worry. Except, as he emphasized this week, his is the only “attitude” that matters. He vows to do “what’s right for the world,” because North Korea is “really a world problem.” I imagine North Koreans see Trump as “really a world problem.”

My mind is in scurry, darting to and fro, from Trump and nuclear warheads to people who like to play with guns…to ruinous, deadly wild fires in California…to ruinous, deadly weather in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico…to a ghastly sexual harassment/assault scandal that has toppled a Hollywood movie mogul…to the hate and hostility being spewed on social media, most notably Twitter. So much chaos and destruction of life, property and hope. So many days of despair.

Nothing can be done about Trump, fire or hurricane weather, and there seems an unwillingness to holster gun play, but women have risen up against sexual predator Harvey Weinstein and those of his ilk. Also Twitter. A 24-hour boycott of the social media platform by many women has spawned a promise from Twitter to be better. Less uninvited, vulgar sexual improprieties. Less hate language. Less violence. Less nudity. Less obscenity. Alas, no mention of zero tolerance.

That beat shall go on as surely as the wailing outside my window.

The sirens. The sirens. They persist. But what is there to be alarmed about? All of this is just the world being the world.

Mr. Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins go to Washington and call on President Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House…

I’m very pleased to have the Pittsburgh Penguins here at the White House, which, by the way, is a dump. A real dump. Really run down. Bad. But I’m very pleased to have the Penguins here anyway. This is a great team. Great team. Skate beautifully. Shoot beautifully. Truly wonderful at hockey.

And look how many of them are here! There’s never been this many hockey players in the White House at one time. There’s at least twice as many here today as there were to see Obama last year. Maybe more. Great turnout. Biggest crowd ever. They stretch all the way to the East Wing. Did you know that half of the Penguins stayed home last year? That’s true. They stayed home. Not this year, though. They wanted to meet Trump.

You know what I like best about hockey players? You know what I like best? They aren’t sons of bitches. And you know what athletes who aren’t sons of bitches don’t do? They don’t take a knee. They stand for our great flag and our great country and our great military and our beautiful national anthem. The Star-Spangled Banner is a beautiful song. Gorgeous song. Isn’t it a gorgeous song? Why would anyone want to disrespect that?

I understand one hockey player raised a fist during the anthem the other night. That’s right. Raised a fist. That’s not as bad as taking a knee, but they should still fire the son of a bitch! Fire him. Get him outta here! That’s what my great friend Jerry Jones would do. He’d fire his ass. Jerry gets it. He knows Trump is right. If that hockey player—and I don’t know his name, but I can guess his skin color—continues to disrespect the anthem and the flag, I’ll have to send Vice-Puppet Mike Pence to the next game to stage a protest walkout. It’ll cost the taxpayers a ton of money—a couple hundred grand at least—but you can’t put a price tag on our beautiful flag. No price tag.

But I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that, because hockey players aren’t like football and basketball players. They’re happy to be here. Just look at all those smiling faces. So many of them. Great crowd. Record turnout. They love their Trump. That’s why Melania and I are so delighted to welcome them.

And, by the way, I want to set the record straight on something: Melania is the First Lady, not Ivana. I don’t know what Ivana was thinking when she called herself the First Lady on NBC. Fake news! She was my first wife, but she isn’t the First Lady. Is Marla gonna want to be First Lady, too? Everybody wants to be Trump’s First Lady. It’s amazing. Amazing. Crazy. But there can only be one First Lady, and everyone knows it’s my daughter Ivanka.

Who’s the real First Lady, Ivan or Melania or Ivanka?

I don’t think they have a First Lady in hockey, do they? Probably not. It’s a man’s game. They still allow hitting, not like the NFL. The NFL’s not the same game anymore. Hit someone and it’s 15 yards! Penalty. Can’t touch anyone. Flag football. Hockey’s not like that. Full of tough hombres. I watched a game once and couldn’t believe it. So tough…so tough. Couldn’t believe it. Tough hombres.

I was talking to the team captain, Sidney Crosby. He comes from a small town on the east coast of Canada. Very small town. Smaller than my hands. I shook his hand and you know what he said to me? He said, ‘My oh my, President Trump, what big hands you have.’ That’s what he said. What big hands I have. Big hands. Biggest hands he’s ever seen. So all that stuff that the evil media has been writing and saying about my hands, fake news!

The media’s so unfair to me. And they’re unfair to the Penguins, too. Especially Sidney Crosby. So many in the fake media have been critical of him for coming to visit Melania and I at the White House. So unfair. I told Sid the Kid—by the way, that nickname Sid the Kid…I think it’s the greatest nickname I’ve ever come up with for an athlete. I guess other people have used it over the years, but I never noticed it. Never heard it. I named the Broad Street Bullies, too. I named lots of them. Most of ’em. The Great Gretzky. Named him. The Rocket. Named him. The Finnish Flash. Trump named him. Because Trump knows hockey. Not many people know this, but did you know that no NHL team has ever won the Stanley Cup with a Mexican on the roster. True. No Mexicans. My name is on the Stanley Cup—it’s the biggest type face—but no Mexicans. None. And that’s one of the ways we can make America great again…by keeping Mexicans out of hockey.

This has been a great day for the Penguins. Special day. Especially for Evgeni Malkin—he’s the first Russian to come to the White House who we haven’t had to hide. Gino knows I’m a friend. You know that, right Gino? Sure he does. All the Russians know I’m a friend. I’m the reason they don’t have to defect anymore to come over here and make millions of our beautiful American dollars. I ended the Cold War. Stopped it. Ordered them to bust down the Berlin Wall. Told them to ‘tear down this wall.’ Famous quote of mine. Look it up. True friend of the Russians. All immigrants, really. There are very fine people on both sides of the ocean. I married two of them.

I’d like to stay and spend more time with Gino, but I’ve got a tee time with my very good friend Bob Corker. We’re gonna golf and discuss day care. So I’ve got to scoot. Melania and I want to thank the Penguins and let them know that there are some nice parting gifts for them on the way out. They’re beautiful, soft towels. Gorgeous towels. I brought them home from my trip to Puerto Rico. Fabulous towels. Best towels for sopping up a hurricane.”

About Vietnam and Las Vegas…a president in Puerto Rico…Tom Petty and the Traveling Wilburys…rude noise on The Voice…learning about Will & Grace…October baseball…and shining in 2019

Random thoughts before the candle goes out and the sun comes up…

I spent the entirety of my Sunday watching the final six installments of the Lynn Novick/Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War and went to bed emotionally spent and softly weeping.

Such atrocities. Such carnage. Such an unnecessary waste of human life.

I awoke 5 1/2 hours later, at 1:30 a.m. Monday, and clicked on my TV. I began weeping again. Another atrocity. More carnage. More unnecessary waste of human life, this time on our side of the world, in Las Vegas.

You wake up in the morning knowing the world will have changed overnight, but you don’t expect this kind of change. Fifty-eight people taken to the morgue. Approximately 500 whisked away to the ER at five different Vegas hospitals. That’s almost 600 people killed or cut down. By a man who, due to silent voices in his head and a disturbing, horrific sense of right and wrong, took a piece of pure Americana—a country music festival—and buried it in pure evil.

The physical toll is shocking, the worst human slaughter in modern-time United States. The emotional fallout is much greater.

Approximately 22,000 innocent, happy concert-goers are victims. Their friends and loved ones are victims. First responders are victims. Doctors and nurses are victims. Jason Aldean, on stage closing the Route 91 Harvest Festival when bullets from high-powered weapons began to rain down from a 32nd-floor room in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and other performers are victims.

So the country to the south has been crippled. Again.

The Olympic Mountains

When I look out the main window of my humble home on a clear day, I can see the United States of America. Literally. The Olympic Mountains are off in the distance, standing tall and firm across the Juan de Fuca Strait in Washington state. It’s a peaceful, picture-postcard setting, totally at odds with the chaos, confusion and killings that occur far too often behind them.

It’s easy for us on the north side of those Olympic Mountains to feel smug and say these types of mass murders are “an American thing,” but do we really want to go there? Americans are our neighbors. Our friends. Even if we find them a tad loud and obnoxious when they visit, they’re North American kin.

Besides, it’s not like we’re immune to the depravity of minds that either snap or plot evil in Canada.

It was only nine months ago, remember, when a young man strolled into a Quebec City mosque and opening fired. By the time he walked out of the Islamic Cultural Centre, six people lay slain and another 19 were wounded.

It’s all so sad.

One of four students dead in Ohio.

The Vietnam War documentary, which aired on PBS, is a superb, enlightening and gripping work from Novick and Burns. It is a harsh reminder of the violence that prevailed during the 1960s and early ’70s—it definitely wasn’t all flower power, groovin’ and great rock ‘n’ roll like some Baby Boomers would have you believe—and I’m sure it opened eyes to the shameful deceit, cunning and flat-out criminal activity of people in the White House. The most heart-tugging and tear-inducing segment for me was the sight of students lying on the ground, dead, at Kent State after the Ohio National Guard had gunned them down. Innocent kids, killed by their own government. I can still hear the haunting refrain “four dead in Ohio” in Neil Young’s classic protest song Ohio. Sigh.

Speaking of government, did U.S. President Donald Trump actually tell people in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to “have a good time” and toss them paper towels? Well, yes, he did. Oh my.

Okay, it’s about Tom Petty. My favorite Tom Petty stuff was the stuff he did with Nelson, Otis, Lefty and Lucky, aka the Traveling Wilburys. Now, with Petty’s passing this week, there are only two of the Wilburys left—Lucky (Bob Dylan) and Otis (Jeff Lynne). George Harrison and Roy Orbison had preceded Petty to the big rock concert in the sky. Petty (Charlie T. Wilbury Jr.), Dylan, Lynne, Harrison and Orbison only recorded one album together —Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1—and it’s brilliant. Those boys could really get after it. There’s a second album (I have the both on vinyl), but Orbison had already left us.

The Traveling Wilburys: Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison.

My favorite Traveling Wilburys tunes…

  1. Handle with Care
  2. End of the Line
  3. Rattled
  4. Not Alone Any More
  5. Poor House

Gave The Voice a try last week, but, sorry, I cannot watch if Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson are sitting in two of the four judges’ chairs. They both seem to be of the misguided notion that the show is about them, not the contestants. The hokey Adam Levine-Blake Shelton bromance wore thin about six years ago, but Cyrus and Hudson make the show unbearable. Click.

I’m told Will & Grace are back on TV. Hmmm. I didn’t know they had left. So, because I missed them during their first go-round on the small screen, I thought I’d give the new season’s first episode a look-see. I must say, that was a funny show. And imagine my surprise. There are gay characters. Who knew? Must check it out again. (Sidebar: Debra Messing has gorgeous hair. Love the color, which also happens to be my color.)

I love October baseball, even if I don’t have a cheering interest. Actually, I found myself root, root, rooting for the New York Yankees in their wild-card skirmish with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. I’m not sure what that means. I mean, I’ve always been an ABTY ball fan—anybody but the Yankees. So why was I cheering for them? I think I need to book some time on Dr. Phil’s couch.

If I was still in River City, working in mainstream jock journalism at the Winnipeg Sun, I’d be required to attend a hockey match this very night between the hometown Jets and the Tranna Maple Leafs and pretend it’s important. I’m glad I’m no longer in River City working in mainstream journalism.

According to my October horoscope, “2019 will be your time to shine.” Excuse me? 2019? What the hell am I supposed to do until then?

%d bloggers like this: