News From The Woods - January 15, 2013


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published January 15, 2013

"New Year 2013"

Thank God! It's finally over. 2012 was a very bad year for me and my family. I won't go into the gory details because most of you already know about all the medical issues my wife Jane and I have had to endure this past year.

Of course we don't know what this year will bring. The American Political scene doesn't look like it will improve much this year, and that's a damn shame, because we are the people that voted those people IN. It's not just the president, it's Congress, the House of Representatives…… the whole ball of wax! Washington just doesn't seem to get it. We Americans are not making ridiculous demands, we just want our country back. We do not want our grandchildren to be paying for poor decisions made by our generation. I agree there are many interconnected issues which create a very complex situation, but something MUST be done before the entire nation implodes. As I see it, a major problem is political posturing and an unwillingness to make concessions or even consider compromise.

For instance, with all the violence happening in the heart of America, a compromise on gun control COULD be considered. I live in the heart of the Ozarks, where every other neighbor is a game hunter. We have LOTS of weapons here. You'd think the level of violence would be greater here, but most of these people residing here have a deep respect for firearms (and each other). We were brought up that way. We have the same television channels as everyone else so our kids have the same opportunities to watch violent programs that warp their minds and compel them to grab up some guns and run out to the nearest mall, school, or theater. We DO have violent crimes here, and some of them involve weapons, but I feel safer living here than I do if I were living in a large city.

Facebook is an amazing social phenomenon. In the space of just a few years millions of people have signed up and daily voice their opinions. Some of them voice their opinions hourly. Many of them voice their opinions vehemently. All it usually takes is a post about politics, religion, or guns. Many of my Facebook friends will comment sanely on these posts (pro or con), but some of my otherwise "normal" friends will leave comments that, frankly, shock me. I thought I knew them better than that. Obviously not. So I refrain from further comment after the Flame Wars start up. This is the main reason I have not commented on the recent rash of gun control comments brought about by horrific shooting sprees across the nation. These aren't terrorists. They are the kid next door in many cases.

People are posting "Take away all the guns!" This is just plain stupid. I've been around guns all my life. My father was a gun enthusiast, and a World Champion skeet shooter in 1936. I was brought up to respect guns… and people. Not ONCE has one of my guns jumped from the rack and randomly started shooting. I am of the opinion that if you take away all the guns from law-abiding citizens, only the criminals and cops will have guns. The closest a cop lives from my house is miles away. If someone were to attempt to break into my house while I am here, I guarantee you I will have a weapon handier than a few miles away. I'm not one to brag about my guns, or take them out and flash them around. Why? Because it's the way I was raised. I was taught that there are only two reasons to take the gun out: to clean it or to use it.

I once met one of those show off's at the Hilton Inn's Copacabana Club in Tulsa in 1975. He was a "wanna' be cop"…… He could not qualify to enlist in law enforcement, so he got a personal bond and became a security guard. He was hired by the fraternity that also hired my band to play their rush party. Long story short - the guard, so full of himself, just HAD to show off his six-shooter and in the process of reloading it after passing it around he accidentally shot me. It changed my life forever…….. Almost ruined it. But I was very lucky, and only a few blocks away from a hospital, and they just HAPPENED to have a hand specialist on duty in ER that night. But you don't hear me saying "Take away all the guns" because I know it was NOT the weapon but the idiot wielding it.

But I DO agree that extended ammo clips and militarized weapons are not a "must have" for a deer hunter. I can bring down a deer with a .30/.30, thank you very much. We really don't need automatic weapons for hunting any more than we need rocket launchers or hand grenades (pond fishing notwithstanding). But for some, controlling these tools of overkill spells the beginning of the end! This has little to do with the right to bear arms.

In a similar development, the medical marijuana issue has been completely bastardized and caught in the middle of the marijuana legalization issue. This is not really about that. THIS is about bringing relief to those suffering from a wide variety of medical ailments. There are too many who have already been helped to deny there is something to this. I agree that medical marijuana MAY lead to future relaxation of the entire pot issue, but that is not the primary reason I support it. I just hate to see people suffering. If a natural herb can relieve the effects of chemo or assist in dealing with glaucoma, I'm for it.

But I digress. The HEART of the issue here (and the reason for my writing this in the first place) is that we are becoming a nation of polarized peoples. There is little gray area anymore. No one is willing to maturely discuss the pros and cons of ANY issue without going to the extreme. I am certainly no expert on any of the above issues mentioned, but I would pay attention to an adult discussion on them, completely free of passion.

Another problem is who to trust? Every issue has a Spinmeister behind the pros and cons. By the time the public gets the watered-down and completely biased misinformation, you just don't know who to trust. People for years took Snopes literally as the "voice of reason" concerning urban legends and such, but then we learned that even the people who run Snopes (Mr. and Mrs.Snope?) have an agenda. Do you completely trust CNN? I certainly don't… any more than I do Fox News. I won't even delve into the deep dark secrets of government-controlled manipulation here. I'll save that for another article.

No….. I would just like to somehow FEEL better about America in 2013. But I know I have no control over that. About the only thing I can do to contribute to "my way of life" is to write songs about it. Just reading that last sentence makes me feel lame about myself. I wish I could do more. I wish I could be a Champion for the People. But I am smart enough to realize I'm small potatoes. So I write songs about the way I feel. I guess it could be worse…… I could just do completely nothing like most of the Sheeple in this country. And of course I can rant about it on Facebook but I doubt if that has any real effect on the masses, seeing that I only have a couple of thousand Facebook friends.

No, I think THIS year I will concentrate on my family and how to increase my income from "barely living" to "almost middle class". After all, it seems that what's left of the middle class are rich people compared to my earnings. And I cannot blame the country for my choices. I chose the music business, and when it didn't pan out, I got into recording. Then, when every snot-nosed wanna-be on the block started recording themselves on their lap tops, and recording studios went down the drain I jumped over to video… JUST in time for the "video lap top revolution"… so now every guy/gal with a camcorder is a "professional". In my business experience just doesn't count any more. It's a shame, but there it is.

Fortunately, at the ripe old age of 66 I am still kicking (with a new hip, even) and so I can content myself by living off of Social Security (while I still can) and continue to pursue my love of recording and playing music. There are still a few of my old clients that recognize the value of my experience and I get some business now and then, so it's not all bad. As a matter of fact, it's pretty damn good. I'm too old to worry any more about recognition in my field, and I have decided to donate all my musical and visual assets to the people of Arkansas, seeing as how I never made much real money off of any of it anyway. But I DO want to share my wealth of the arts to the people. I guess it's just the way I was raised.

I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy 2013.


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