Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, September 4, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 13

Mountain Views News Saturday, September 4, 2021 OPINION 13 
Mountain Views News Saturday, September 4, 2021 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 



Stuart Tolchin 
Dinah Chong WatkinsAudrey SwansonMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 

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Time marches on but I don’t know if I can keep up 
the pace. During my years at UCLA, starting sixty years ago, 
seemingly the only Black students were the varsity football 
running backs. Oh I almost forgot. Rafer Johnson was a 
very visible student but of course he was the 1960 decathlon 
Gold Medalist in the Olympic Games. Truthfully, in those 
days when no one spoke of White-Privilege, I felt very privileged 
to attend classes with a world-famous person. 

Was it that I was so “lucky” to be in such a place? As I have written many times 
before, my first major piece of luck was to be a White Male born in the United States. In 
those days UCLA was almost tuition free and by living at home and working at Bob’s Big 
Boy I was able to afford college after being the first person in my immediate family to 
not only graduate High School but to go on and attend College. (There is a story that my 
mother, during the depression almost graduated High School but had to quit because 
the family could not afford the fifteen cents for carfare. Who knows; I wasn’t there.) 

Stories relating to past generations are connected to a realization I had while 
watching the second half of the UCLA game. As in past games I loudly commented that 
the female song leaders clearly provocative dances intended to arouse enthusiasm were 
very inappropriate especially in these “Me Too” times. My comments were overheard 
by some women sitting in front of my friends and I. The women patiently explained to 
me that the dancing was, in fact, highly appropriate. They explained that the women 
chose to participate in the spectacle for their own reasons and the dancing was an example 
of female empowerment. 

My friend, seated next to me, at this time broke into the conversation and asked 
if I was familiar with the female rap song W A P. I’m sure that many of you imagined 
readers, especially those of you below fifty are already familiar with the song which was 
famously popular last year. If you are not familiar with the song I suggest you check out 
the lyrics and the video on the web. I am not even comfortable explaining what the letters 
W A P stand for. Upon becoming familiar with the song my first reaction was shock 
at the explicitness, vulgarity and rawness of the entire performance. On the way home 
from the game we stopped at my 46 year old daughter’s home and I brought up the song 
with her. She explained that I was so behind the times that I did not realize that the 
song was so “last year” and today does not generate much controversy. Her view was 
that although she could understand why I was shocked the song simply demonstrated 
the contemporary realization by women that they are in charge of their own bodies and 
sexuality and that they are no longer restricted by the male dominance of the past. 

I tried to explain to her that her own maternal grandparents were shocked by 
the fact that her mother and I lived together prior to our marriage. By this time my 
daughter was no longer interested in the conversation and with a kind of exasperated 
look thanked me for stopping by but explained that she had work to do while the baby 
was napping. Since then I have been obsessed with thinking about my reaction to the 
song. I am still appalled by the song and view it not as an expression of feminine empowerment 
but see it as the expression of a generation that no longer expects to be 
around for much longer and believes that now is the time to reach out and free yourself 
to do whatever you can imagine. There is no time for romance; it is as if in my life we 
have gone from free love to no love. Just get what you can while you can! Yes, probably 
I’m just an out of touch old prude (I hate to think of myself that way.) Perhaps I will 
pretend to understand and approve in order to seem like I’m with it in order to be acceptable 
in the eyes of young people. But young people rarely even look at old fogeys 
like me. 




Since Tim Burton arguably started the trend of Superheroes in the 
movies, generations of lightening-welding, crater crushing, inter 
dimensional transporting beings have given us what we often fantasize 
of during rush hour traffic - super powers. 

But if you’ve watched the 2021 film, The Suicide Squad, you’d no

tice that most of the heroes don’t have superpowers, rather they 
rely on weapons of mass destruction and for the Millennial - a rat wand. Even the hybrid 
King Shark, with his tiny conehead and big teeth, doesn’t go beyond much more 
than chomping on humans on land as well as at sea. Sure, he’s strong enough to pick 
apart a platoon of rogue soldiers like a bucket of chicken wings, but without X-Ray vision, 
he has to eat them raw, sushi style. 

Which brings me to think about the inherent powers we have. Not abilities, or talents, 
but essences that are part of us yet, out of our control. They may not be super, or even 
advantageous even, but let’s give them their due. 

We all know of “that guy”, that lucky son-of-a-gun who has won the lottery two, three 
times. The guy who always finds an extra prize in their cereal box. The guy who snags 
a souvenir t-shirt at the Home Game when the t-shirt cannon swings over in his direction. 
My former boss was that kind of guy. Undeservingly, he would pull into the space 
where the parking meter still had an hour of paid time, buy cheap ink brush paintings 
only to have the artist became wildly famous years later, and once at lunch, find my 
missing diamond engagement ring baked into a muffin I served him - having thrown 
out 8 other burnt ones baked in the same batch. 

My mother has a sixth sense, more attuned when I was younger - she had a knack for 
being in the wrong (for me) place at the wrong (for me) time. I was working for her in 
China, during a period when the country was underdeveloped - no media, no entertainment, 
no restaurants, just soul numbing, Soviet-style, state-run enterprises.
I took the chance once, to fly to Hong Kong, the bastion of Adam Smith’s “Wealth of 
Nations” for an unauthorized weekend of mild-mannered debauchery and fifty dollar 
pancakes. After getting my fill of Coke, pizza and Angel Soft toilet paper, I boarded 
my flight back to Beijing. As I walked towards my seat, way in the back, I passed my 
mother sitting in first class. Unbeknownst to me - she too was returning to work on 
that very same flight. I shielded my face with a very expensive export version of People 
magazine, I hoped the cover of Mark Harmon, The Sexiest Man of the Year wouldn’t 
catch her eye. Whether she gave me a pass or didn’t realize I was out of the country 
playing hooky, she never mentioned anything the next morning, when I came in at my 
usual time - late. 

If I won the lottery as frequently as I got a “side parker”, I’d be slumming in outer space 
with Jeff Bezos in his decidedly phallic-shaped rocket, The New Shepard. You probably 
have a shared experience with a “side parker”, the type of driver who ignores the empty 
parking lot and decides to park beside you as you pull in. Like a moth to flame, I attract 
random drivers who I guess, want to be close to me. I’m still trying to figure out how 
to monetize this power. 

So for the superpowers we wish for - flight, invincibility, strength, telepathy, but don’t 
have, let’s remember the good side of “everyday powers” - they don’t require us to 
squeeze into a gut busting, spandex-tight superhero suit. 

Email me at dinah@aletterfromabroad.comRead more at: 



If there’s one place I really hope to ascend to, it is to 
be attached to the door of your refrigerator. 
Well, not me literally. Rather my column ripped from 
the pages of the Mountain Views News and attached 
to your refrigerator door. (I recommend attaching 
said column to your refrigerator with a magnet strategically 
placed over my photo.) First, you don’t want 
to cover up any “content”. Second, and more importantly, 
you don’t want to risk scaring small children 
if they see my countenance in their efforts to secure a 

popsicle! (I guess showing my face could be a good diet aid though.) 

Actually, I’m serious (if that’s possible?). I strive to equip you, the reader, 
with clever, hopefully funny, motivational snippets of feel good rhetoric. 
With the hope it assists you in not only enjoying life a wee bit more, but 
also help others enjoy life a wee bit more. (Be sure to cover up my face on 
the fridge.) 

My friend, a rather “Dahring” fellow sent me this list of wonderful snippets 
many of us can immediately adopt into our “live life better” lexicon. 

My doctor asked if anyone in my family suffered from mental illness. I said, 
"No, we all seem to enjoy it." 

I thought the dryer made my clothes shrink. Turns out it was the refrigerator.
Being an adult is the dumbest thing I have ever done.
Just once, I want a username and password prompt to say, "close enough."
Hold on while I overthink this. 

I don't have grey hair. I have wisdom highlights. (And I don’t have much 

My bucket list: Keep breathing. 

Camping: Where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person.
I'm a multitasker. I can listen, ignore and forget all at the same time!
Retirement to do list: Wake up. Nailed it! 
I won't say I'm worn out, but I don't get near the curb on trash day.
Sometimes it takes me all day to get nothing done.
I don't trip, I do random gravity checks.
Losing weight doesn't seem to be working for me, so from now I'm going to 
concentrate on getting taller.
Day 12 without chocolate ... lost hearing in my left eye.
Common sense is not a gift. It's a punishment because you have to deal with 
everyone who doesn't have it. 

PLEASE KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Nothing to do with the virus. I'm just 
a grouch. 

I came. I saw. I forgot what I was doing. Retraced my steps. Got lost on 
the way back. Now I have no idea what's going on. 

When you can't find the sunshine ... be the sunshine. 

And I hope to run into you. 

9/11 – AND BEFORE? 

Early on the morning of September 11, 
2001, I was a newly minted warehouse 
supervisor for a farmers cooperative. 

I can remember almost exactly where 
a customer’s truck was parked when 
I overheard him telling one of my coworkers 
something or another about a 
plane crash up north. 

A few minutes later, I received an urgent 
(landline) phone call from my 
wife. She had been watching NBC’s 
“Today” show and saw breaking coverage 
of the suicide attacks on the Twin 
Towers (and other targets). 

In my first few weeks as a supervisor, 
I made a practice of submitting a daily 
report about warehouse activities. 
I remember my September 11 entry 
unashamedly stated that I chose not 
to crack the whip on my staff that horrible 
day, instead allowing everyone 
a chance to come to terms with their 
shock, grief, anger and anxiety. 

We humans have a knack for preserving 
such milestone tragedies in amber. 
We remember exactly where we 
were and who we were with when we 
learned about JFK’s assassination, the 
explosion of the space shuttle Challenger 
or Kurt Cobain’s death. 

The incremental steps that can lead to 
disasters? Not so much. 

One day blends into another as the decisions, 
shortcuts and rationalizations 
of our unexamined lives affect us and 
those around us. 

True, some people are introspective 
enough that they can retroactively acknowledge 
regrettable patterns (think 
“Cat’s in the Cradle”), but most of us 
feel blindsided and start finger-pointing 
when things go wrong. 

It’s ridiculous to think that the bullying 
we unloaded on Billy last Friday 
(or was it last Thursday?) could ever 
snowball into his committing suicide. 
But such things happen. 

Election time again? Okay, pull the lever 
for the candidate with the biggest 
smile, flashiest celebrity endorsements 


and wildest 
promises. Collect 
your “I Voted” 
sticker. Then 
act surprised 
when the city, 
state or country 
falls apart. Lath

er, rinse, repeat. 

We get a little more desensitized every 
time we “dodge a bullet.” If we’ve 
made it so far without fixing the brakes 
or having the house wiring inspected, 
why not kick the can down the road a 
little farther? Oh, yeah – all that hassle 
with the fire engines and the Jaws of 

We know the shock of stepping on the 
doctor’s scales, even though the individual 
indulgences that contributed to 
our weight gain are long forgotten. 

If we’re one of many people enabling a 
substance abuser, we can act innocent 
when they wind up in prison or the 

We pass up a local mom-and-pop store 
“just this once” so many times that 
mom and pop eventually hang up a 
“Going out of business” sign. 

Unless we keep a detailed diary, we 
couldn’t really enumerate all the ways 
in which we’ve frittered away the last 
five or 10 years; but in times of crisis, 
the fruits of our non-labors become 
painfully obvious. We haven’t learned 
a new skill/language, gained any new 
friends or made a lasting contribution 
to the community. 

Etcetera, etcetera. 

As 9/11 anniversary follows 9/11 anniversary, 
I hope our citizens and institutions 
will always remember the 
victims of the sneak attack. I hope we 
will always be vigilant about terrorism, 
whether foreign or domestic. 

But I also hope we can live deliberately 
every day – discerning good from evil, 
calculating unintended consequences. 

That’s how we can really obtain a happier, 
fairer, safer world.