Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Layers Of The Past—A Road Is More Than Just A Road

In the two months since my dad died, I’ve had some contact with relatives I’ve not had any interaction with for many years.

Not having much to do with family over the years, I’m still deciding to what extent I want to engage these folks.

Dad’s death seems to have dug up layers of the past.

Should I pave them over or not?

I was driving on Washington Avenue here in Houston a few days ago and I encountered this literal example of layers of the past.

Everything we do and everything we say has context. Each place we go is someplace visited by others before we arrived.

Layers of the past and the context in which words and actions occur can be dug up by taking the time to recall events in our lives, or to recall the history of a specific place or circumstance.

Layers of the past can be dug up events we have no control over such as the death of another person or running into an old friend on the street.

Layers of the past can be dug up by a public works street repair crew.

Metaphor and the physical world give each other meaning.

A road is more than just a road.

Expand your view of existence by seeing things both for what they are and for what they could possibly represent.

With a little effort this is a capacity that every person has the abilty to accomplish.

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just Kids Wins National Book Award—Woolly Mammoth Reflects On Life And Loss

As I noted a few days ago, Extinct, a Woolly Mammoth, is the newest contributor to Texas Liberal.

Extinct has been reading of late  Just Kids by the performer and artist Patti Smith.

This book tells the story of Ms. Smith’s youthful friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

Mr. Mapplethorpe, a well-known photographer, died of AIDS at age 43 in 1989.

As a Woolly Mammoth, Extinct knows all about the passing of time and about the value of longtime relationships.

Longtime friendships offer a measure of reply to death.

There is at least an illusion of permanence when someone knows us as we change with the years.

There is also memory.

The depth of memory when we know a person very well after many years allows us to transcend the passing time.

Just Kids was recently selected as the winner of the National Book Award.

I suggest that you read Just Kids. Just Kids is an instructive book about life, relationships, and death.

Extinct feels the same way about this book. Extinct has seen a lot of life and death.

November 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

An Autobiography In 220 Words

A possible autobiography of who I am. 


1970’s— First Realizations

1. Other kids are not always nice.

2. While it may seem counter-intuitive, humor does not make friends, but it does earn respect.

3. Intellect gets you noticed and has a deeper value as well.

Though it was not yet clear what that deeper value would be.    

1980’s—More Realizations

1. Women, gays, blacks, and self-defined punk rockers make reliable friends. At least they did for the person I was becoming.

People on the outside, if they are not too angry to connect, can be of great help to each other.  

2. Knowledge is not inherently power. It depends on whether what you know can be applied.

Knowledge, however, does allow you to navigate life easier. It provides the context needed to understand everyday life. 

This is how I came to a more generalized approach to thinking, instead of a detail-orientated type of thinking.   

A general approach to life must be found. You won’t most often find specific answers.


1. How do I balance a strong personality with an ideological commitment to collective action? How I do communicate that personal independence and collective action do not conflict?

2. How can I be as inclusive and open to others as possible, while still holding strong views? 

1994—Met future wife.

2000’s — Always More To Consider

1. How do I best communicate my values? What is the widest definition of communication I can use to assert my values?

2. Just as knowing history helps you understand the present, longstanding friendships give your life context and meaning        

3. Effective communication and good relationships require much self-discipline.

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Central Questions, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Uncategorized, Welcome To TexasLiberal | , , , , , , | 22 Comments

An Absence Of Political Memory

A recent New York Times story about the Rhode Island primary started off this way–

“For the first time anyone can remember, this small state is relishing its role in the presidential primary cycle.”

I’m not certain how many people reporter Abby Goodnough interviewed to reach this conclusion, but the Rhode Island primary was a big deal in relatively recent memory.

In 1976 Democrats Jimmy Carter of Georgia, Jerry Brown of California and Frank Church of Idaho campaigned hard in Rhode Island.

(Photo is of Senator Church.)

Coming into Rhode Island, Governor Carter had the clear lead in the nomination fight. Governor Brown and Senator Church entered the race late to see if they could catch up with Mr. Carter.

The 1976 Rhode Island primary was held on June 1. 

While winning after starting late not seem likely in today’s nominating process, Hubert Humphrey had won the 1968 Democratic nomination despite ignoring most primaries. A victory after a late entry seemed possible in 1976.  

Rhode Island was one of the first primary involving Carter, Brown and Church.

All three candidates came to Rhode Island. I shook hands with all three and had brief conversations with Mr. Brown and Mr. Church. I was 8. I remember meeting the candidates as if it were last week. I recall Walter Cronkite discussing how little Rhode Island was playing such a large role in the process.   

Governor Brown won Rhode Island in 1976. It was not enough. Governor Carter had a lead that could not be overcome.

Ms. Goodnough could not find anybody in Rhode Island who recalls the 1976 Democratic primary? No political science professor or Democratic party official? It was a big deal at the time. 

Or maybe it’s true that nobody does remember.

No matter–The past has relevance. 

The past is context for the present. It gives our lives meaning to know that something came before and that we are part of something larger than just the present moment.

The past is alive. It is always open to new interpretations and it is with us when we consider why things are as they are in our lives.     

I read Ms. Goodnough’s article and for just a moment I wondered if my own memories were correct.

They are.

The past exists if even people can’t be bothered to recall it, or even if they won’t do the work required to remind us that more exists than just the story of the day.

Please click here for other Texas Liberal political history posts.  

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments