Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 1, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 5



Mountain Views News Saturday, September 1, 2012



A Lesson in Family Communication

By Christoper Nyerges

[Nyerges has led survival skills and wild food classes since 1974, was the editor of Wilderness 
Way magazine, and has written 10 books. He can be heard weekly on Preparedness Radio 
Network. For more information, go to]

Working with the Department of Justice, Assemblymember 
Anthony Portantino has crafted a bill to make sure that 
safe and responsible gun laws are enacted in California. 
Today the state Assembly agreed and passed Portantino’s 
AB 1559 (69 to 0) that will allow California filmmakers to 
use certain weapons in their productions and reduce fees 
for multiple gun purchases. 

Under AB 1559, the Department of Justice will charge only 
one fee for all firearms purchased at the same time - eliminating 
double, or even triple fees for purchases on same 
day and at same time. With advanced technology, the need 
for duplicative fees is no longer necessary. The bill will also 
allow the entertainment industry to use certain weapons 
in TV and movie productions.

"This measure is needed by the entertainment industry to 
ensure that they do not run into trouble with laws that regulate 
gun ownership and gun possession in California,” explained 
Portantino. “The bill will allow film and television 
production companies the ability to legally import firearms for use in their productions. We 
have been working with the Department of Justice and will continue to do so to make sure 
that safe and responsible gun laws are enacted in California." 

AB 1559 now goes to Governor Brown for signature. If signed into law, the measure would 
go into effect January 1, 2014.

One Saturday, 
with no warning, 
my brother David’s 
friend, Paul 
Martinez, engaged 
my father in a 
conversation on the 
relative value of pop vs. classical music. This was 
probably around 1964, when Bob Dylan was the 
king of pop and seemed to be the messenger of 
the “secret messages” to the younger generation. 
All my older brothers could fairly accurately be 
called Dylan fans, if not Dylan worshippers. We 
all seemed to regard listening to Dylan as a more 
meaningful spiritual experience than sitting 
through Mass at Saint Elizabeth’s.

 No one remembers how it began, but it was 
a legendary conversation that lasted for hours. 
My father’s argument was that the music and 
lyrics of Bob Dylan were of no lasting value and 
the young people were simply too ignorant to 
realize it yet. Frank, my father, said that Dylan 
would be forgotten in a few years. He compared 
Dylan to Beethoven and Bach, and other 
classical musicians, and explained that Dylan 
was not in any way at the level of the classical 
composers. Paul wholeheartedly disagreed.

 Their conversation began in the living room 
where Frank would sit in his easy reclining 
chair and watch TV. Paul sat near him on 
the couch. Everyone in the household only 
became aware of their conversation when we 
realized they were still at it after about an hour. 
As the conversation’s volume level would rise 
from time to time, we could all hear what they 
were saying: “Of course you can put Dylan in 
Beethoven’s category,” said Paul in his deep and 
sincere voice. “Have you actually ever listened to 
what he’s saying in his songs?”

 “He just cackles,” said Frank, “and you really 
can’t even make out his words most of the time. 
And I’m not even talking about the words. And 
it’s only important, as you call it, if you take an 
hour to explain it all to me. I don’t need any 
explanation to know that Bach’s music really is 
good,” said Frank as Paul patiently waited his 
turn in this lively exchange.

 “Well, I’m not saying that Dylan and Bach 
and the other classicals can be compared 
directly. Obviously, they can’t,” said Paul, giving 
some ground to Frank. “But there is obviously 
something that millions of people are responding 
to that you aren’t seeing – or hearing. Dylan is 
not just music; he is also the message. So we’ve 
got to examine some of the words and see what 
he’s really saying.”

 This went on, back and forth, quiet and loud, 
for another hour. They opened up the record 
player and began playing select songs for the 
other to listen to. 

 We prepared the usual Saturday night dinner 
– something like hotdogs and baked beans and 
salad and some other vegetables. We took a 
plate into Frank and Paul, and we didn’t expect 
them to come into the kitchen as their debate 
entered the third hour.

 We heard silence and then the lyrics of 
Dylan. Sad Eyed Lady of the Low lands. Hey 
Mr. Tambourine Man. Blowing in the Wind. 
The Times They Are A Changing. After each 
short selection, there would be a brief silence, 
presumably as Paul removed the needle, and 
then they would talk about it. We couldn’t hear 
all the details. Then there would be a round of 
some of the classical musicians’ work, a silence, 
and commentary by Frank. 

 We cleared the table and washed the dishes, 
and I set up the chess board and began a game 
with a neighbor who dropped by. Our game 
lasted nearly an hour, and Robert won. The 
Dylan-Classical debate continued.

 And then, all of a sudden, Frank and Paul 
were standing in the kitchen doorway, shaking 
hands as Paul had to depart. My brother David 
hadn’t said much the whole night, but he never 

 It was late and Paul had to go home and so 
it was over. A stalemate, we presumed. No 
clear winner, each side having done their 
best to promote their own arguments to win 
over the other. But both Paul and Frank were 
unbudgeable and they each stuck to their guns.

 For the rest of us, the conversation about the 
conversation had just begun. 

 “Why doesn’t he ever have meaningful 
conversations with us,” David asked to no one 
in particular. “He engaged with Paul when 
Paul challenged, but shouldn’t he take it upon 
himself to engage us?” asked David. No one 
really cared, but it was clear in the conversation 
about the conversation that David didn’t really 
care about whose music was best. To David, the 
conversation was an example of a father who 
didn’t take adequate interest in his own children, 
but would take extra time and supreme effort for 
a very engaging discussion – but not with David. 

 I inwardly agreed with David, but I didn’t 
say anything. In some very primal way, I am 
sure that I longed to have a father who took an 
interest in me, who talked to me, who taught me 
things, who engaged me in his activities for our 
mutual benefit. I am sure that David had a good 
point that Frank should do these sorts of things, 
but I was not bitter about the fact that he did 
not do so.

 The rest of us had probably long ago accepted 
Frank for what and who he was. To me, Frank 
was neither good nor bad, right nor wrong – he 
simply was my father, doing what he did in his 
patterns of somewhat predictable behavior. But 
to David, Frank’s conversation was like a slap in 
the face, saying that he can take the time with a 
friend of the family, but would not take the time 
with his own children. At least that’s how I took 
David’s reaction.

 Depending on who you asked during the 
various conversations about the conversation in 
the weeks and months that followed, the entire 
event was amusing, meaningless, interesting, a 
waste of time, insightful, and/or demonstrated 
that Frank was capable of in-depth abstract 
thought and could maintain an intellectual 
conversation and hold his own for hours. 

 Though I generally disagreed with Frank’s 
premise, his performance definitely boosted my 
image of him. And likewise my image of Paul 
was greatly enlarged. Here was a peer of my 
brother who could debate with intensity and 
authority, and try to convince my father of a 
point of view which I held, but felt totally unable 
to communicate in any meaningful way. 



 NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has 
begun driving from its landing site, 
which scientists have named for the late 
author Ray Bradbury.

 Curiosity’s first drive on the Martian 
surface combined forward, turn and 
reverse movements. This placed the 
rover roughly 20 feet from the landing 

 NASA has approved the Curiosity 
science team’s choice to name the 
landing ground for the influential 
author who was born 92 years ago and 
died this year. The location where 
Curiosity touched down is now called 
Bradbury Landing.

 “This was not a difficult choice for 
the science team,” said Michael Meyer, 
NASA program scientist for Curiosity. 
“Many of us and millions of other 
readers were inspired in our lives by 
stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of 
the possibility of life on Mars.”

 Curiosity’s first drive confirmed 
the health of its mobility system and 
produced the rover’s first wheel tracks 
on Mars, documented in images taken 
after the drive. 

 Curiosity will spend several more 
days of working beside Bradbury 
Landing, performing instrument checks 
and studying the surroundings, before 
embarking toward its first driving 
destination approximately 1,300 feet to 
the east-southeast.

THAN 70 YEARS, Ray Bradbury inspired generations 
of readers to dream, think and create. A prolific author 
of hundreds of short stories and nearly 50 books, as well 
as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and 
screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers 
of our time.

 His groundbreaking works include “Fahrenheit 451,” “The 
Martian Chronicles,” “The Illustrated Man,” “Dandelion 
Wine,” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” He wrote 
the screenplay for John Huston’s classic film adaptation of 
“Moby Dick,” and was nominated for an Academy Award. He 
adapted 65 of his stories for television’s “The Ray Bradbury 
Theater,” and won an Emmy for his teleplay of “The Halloween 

 Bradbury has illuminated the lives of many Southern 
Californians for a half-century or 
more, with his frequent personal 
appearances at libraries and other 
public venues. On November 12, 
1971, on the eve of the arrival in Mars 
orbit of Mariner 9, the first spacecraft 
to orbit Mars or any other planetary 
body, Bradbury participated in a 
symposium at Caltech. In addition 
to Bradbury, the symposium panel 
at this landmark event consisted of: 
Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction 
writer; Walter S. Sullivan, science 
journalist for the New York Times; 
Carl Sagan, astronomer; and Bruce 
Murray, planetary scientist.

 In discussing the upcoming 
orbital insertion and what scientists 
expected to see on this first-ever 
close encounter with Mars, Bradbury 
read his unpublished poem, “If Only 
We Had Taller Been,” from which we 
have excerpted one stanza:

 Oh Thomas, will a race one day 
stand really tall?

 Across the void, across the universe 
and all,

 and measured out with rocket fire,

 at last put Adam’s finger forth; as 
on the Sistine ceiling,

 and God’s hand come down the 
other way, to measure man,

 and find him good, and gift him 
with forever’s day?

 This poem was subsequently 
published by A. Knopf in the 1973 
collection of Bradbury poetry entitled’ “When Elephants Last 
in the Dooryard Bloomed.” 

 The story of this historic symposium is told in the words 
of its panel members in the 1973 book, “Mars and the Mind 
of Man” by Carl Sagan (available at the Los Angeles Public 

You can contact Bob Eklund at:

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS