Sunday, August 29, 2010

Atlas Shrugged: What Are Your Questions?

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

It had been about a week earlier. His son had walked into the office and had seen him reading the book.

"What are you reading Dad?"

"Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand."

"What's the book about?"

"That's a good question son. I'll let you know when I can articulate a good answer."

His son had let it go at that for then but Leigh knew that he had to come up with an answer because he knew his son wouldn't let it go for too long. That was just the way his son was and that was a good thing. Leigh needed to start a discussion about the book with his friends pretty soon too. Some of them had either already read the book or were in the process of reading the book like he was.

What is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand all about? How do you present a half-way decent summary of the book that might start a discussion about it? What do you tell your emerging adult son or daughter for instance or older people like the group of friends that you discuss things with on line?

Do you tell them that it is a novel that is over a thousand pages in length? Probably not. Most people won't read a novel that long. Do you tell them it is almost like a bible for the Tea Party movement, that movement that is causing so much of a stir in current politics? Maybe, if they happen to be interested in politics. But many, both younger and older, aren't interested in politics. They are more fed up with it than anything else. That is true even if reading the book is like reading about President Obama, the Democrats, and what some think they are doing to America. A thousand pages is still alot to read.

What if you told them that the book was written by an atheist and part of her intent when she had the book published way back in 1957 (53 years ago) was perhaps to take what she perceived as the Judeo-Christian worldview that Americans had at the time and turn that worldview completely upside down? That might be interesting in a way for some but for some current Christians for example, they might say, "Why should I waste my time reading the book?"

How about the fact that emerging adults in India are buying the book like crazy? The reason for that seems to be that they are rebelling against the traditional culture of India and Atlas Shrugged is providing the heroes they think they should imitate in that rebellion. How about it? Maybe, if American emerging adults were rebelling. But many are not. Some are just plain looking for work and once they have found it are becoming like the parents in America's rebellious 1960's. Their children, who were rebelling against their parent's lifestyle of Personal Peace and Affluence, were the ones that were perhaps finding Atlas Shrugged to be a good read. History repeats itself. It has to. Nobody listens.

Or, like with the Tea Party movement. Many of them were those rebellious youth of the 1960's. Now, fifty years later, they are in their sixties. They are now the retirees of America and they have different reasons for rebelling against what they think is a personal attack on them in current politics. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand has now awakened them to rebellion once more. But we need to be careful when talking about them or any other political group nowadays. The current culture is one of extreme polarization. You can't talk about the possibility that many of the different political groups might have good points as well as bad points. Even when talking with close friends, if the subject of politics comes up, you are either "for" or "against." Moderates for example, those who have the ability to "walk between" different groups and get things done; they are just so much political dead meat nowadays. But I digress.

What is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand about? Is there someone out there that actually wants to get below the things on the surface and really find out why the heroes of Atlas Shrugged are heroes? What power do they possess over the reader who really gets into this thousand page novel? It has been read by many in the last fifty years. But between the years 2000 and 2008 the book averaged 160,000 copies a year. In 2009 over 600,000 copies were sold in that year alone. Now true, that was the year that Obama and the Democrats got majority rule in American politics. But still, there has to be more to this book than just a storyline that seems to mirror the evils of the current politics of the Democrats. Why are the heroes heroes? What sort of person is the book teaching readers to imitate? Are they exemplary heroes? Are the villains and the victims of the villains really good examples of what could happen to the reader in real life if he or she was not careful and didn't become or stay in some way like the heroes?

There is another thing, the bigger picture. Outside of the book, and outside of the philosophy of Objectivism which Ayn Rand teaches in this novel, when these heroes and villains and victims are put up beside those of other existing worldviews, other narratives, is there a worldview that is still better, that perhaps makes Ayn Rand's heroes and victims and villains perhaps look like counterfeits of the real thing? Or has she got some of it right and other parts not so right? I wonder. Or am I asking the wrong questions altogether?

"Too many questions," thought Leigh. But yet many of them were the questions that he had when he had been reading the book and everything that surrounds it in current media. He also knew that the author of the article in the August 30 edition of National Review who had written about Ayn Rand, with her picture on the cover, had just not answered many of the questions that Leigh had.

"Enough writing for now," thought Leigh as he put down his pencil and closed his steno pad. "You're only beginning Chapter VII of Part Two and you have another five hundred pages to go. This is the chapter that the National Review author had gotten through and then didn't read any further. Much of his article had then switched to Rand's previous novel, The Fountainhead. "I need to keep reading past this chapter," Leigh said to himself. "There are family and friends that have read the whole book and had really gotten something out of it. What they found I may be finding too. But I need to finish the book. I care about them and Truth."

Then Leigh looked up and saw a new addition to his Gmail. It was an email from one of his friends that was reading the book and who was ahead of him in that reading. That friend would be part of the discussion on line. He had provided Leigh with good input for the discussion. This email was more than he had expected, in a good way. Now Leigh could get back to the book...

"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ayn Rand - Where Will She Lead Us?

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

It was a Sunday morning, early, and the wife had just gone out the door on her way to her church.  It was quiet, dead quiet, just the atmosphere needed to write.  It was a good thing because I could not get the thought out of my mind.  So I turned on the computer, went to the discussion list web site and put in a search word in the archive of emails. There it was...
"I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead before I was 21 and almost flunked out of school reading the two books.  Could not put them down.  Her writings have stayed with me ever since and have had a significant impact on my political thinking all of my adult life."
I had written a reply back then, not asking my friend why the profound impact.  But instead I had asked what the questions should be from someone who had not read the whole book yet.  As of yet my friend has not replied to my post.  But that is okay.  He probably will eventually, in his own way.  In the meantime his statement had become one more reason to keep reading.  Back then I had read a bunch of preliminary stuff first - background info on the author and the book.  Then I had just started reading Leonard Peikoff's Introduction to the book.  Now I am just starting Chapter X on page 273.
I don't have a problem putting the book down when I need to.  But like I had written in my reply to my friend back then, reading this book was going to be like running a marathon to me.  Better explained, for me it has become like my old days as a staff sergeant in the Army.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there was PT in the morning - Physical Training.  Part of that was the Unit Run when we all ran in formation like you see in military movies if you have never been in or around the military before.
More often than not I was either the Pace Man at the front right of the formation.  Or, I was the one out on the left side of the formation, by myself, calling the Cadence. It might be a formation of twenty soldiers or a multiple formation of over a hundred.  You might run three miles. Or like when I was stationed in Panama, you might do a run of ten to twelve miles.  How do you run that far on a small post like Fort Clayton?  You do it by running from the front gate to the back gate and by going up and down what I believe was called "Hospital Hill" more than once.
What was the purpose of a marathon like that?  The obvious thing was good exercise.  But more important, perhaps most important, was unit cohesion, staying together as one body, one force, no matter where the Commander took you or how long the run was.  The cadence calling kept  everyone together and in rhythm. The pace kept soldiers from dropping out to a very small number if any. The Commander out front with the guidon bearer holding the unit flag high kept everyone focused on what had to be done - go all the way no matter what. After the first two miles you did not pay attention to the pain anymore.  You just kept going. God, I loved it.  In my memory's eye I am still there...
C one thirty rolling down the strip,
Airborne daddy goin' to take a little trip.
Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door.
Jump right out and count to four.
If my Main don't open wide,
I've got another one by my side.
If that one should fail me too,
Look out Saint Peter 'cause I'm a comin' through.
Never was Airborne like the 101st out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  I never jumped out of a plane like the Cadence Call above describes.  But I sure loved a good Unit Run.
Unit Run, marathon, or reading a keep going until you finish.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand...1,069 pages...piece of cake for an old Pace Man and Cadence Caller.  But how do you pace yourself through a book like this?  Well, what might the questions be that need answering?  They might be like the following:
1.  Who was Ayn Rand?
2.  What is the essence of the philosophy that she is teaching using the genre of a novel?
3.  How does the story line relate to 21st Century America?
4.  Can you define the term co-belligerant?
5.  How is the significance of the question, "Who is John Galt?" played out in the story line?  So far, up through chapter nine, the question has been asked twelve times in various settings by different people.
If you need to pace yourself reading this book, answering the fifth question as you read will help.  If you need to focus on something, the question, "Who is John Galt?" is the flag held high beside Ayn Rand as she leads you through her words at the front of the formation.
Where will she lead us?  That is still the biggest question.  We may not know until the very end of the Run, the end of the book.  We will see...time to get into chapter ten...
"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Who Is John Galt?" - The Ayn Rand Reading Begins

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

"Who is John Galt?" There was that question again. What was it, the sixth time now that that question had been asked in the book?
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in Philaburbia.  It was muggy out, really muggy. So it was good to be in the office in front of the big fan.  It was slowly drawing the cool air from the other room into mine. There wasn't any window in my office so the window-mounted AC unit was in the office next to mine where there were a couple of windows.  The ceiling fans in both rooms helped to circulate the AC into me as well.
I was finally reading the book the boss had wanted me to get into.  It was the 50th Anniversary Edition of Ayn Rand's book, Atlas Shrugged.  It was a Signet book published in paperback - 1,079 pages of a smaller print than I was used to.  How had I gotten roped into this story anyways?  I've never read anything much longer than 300 pages.  But here I was, up to page sixty-four so far, and there was that question again, "Who is John Galt?"
It had been a few weeks back when the boss had unexpectantly walked into the office.  He had this look of seriousness on his face and he was carrying this book in his right hand.  He dropped the book on the desk in front of me and asked, "Ever seen or read that book before?"
"No sir I haven't. Is there something special about it?
"Well, you might say so.  This book was published way back in 1957. That's fifty-three years ago. But yet, on yesterday it was ranked in the sales ratings as number twenty-four.  It's been in the top 100 books sold on Amazon for over two hundred days now.  Wouldn't you tend to think that that was a bit strange for a 1957 novel that is over a thousand pages long in paperback?
"Yes sir, I guess I would."
"Well, I need you to look into it for me.  Do the sergeant's work for me like you've always done so well in the past."
He and I had been in the military together.  He had been one of my officers in a few units in which we had served.  The boss and I had always worked well together.  He'd do the officer work. I'd do the sergeant work, and together...well, we had a habit of doing successful missions most of the time.  And those few where we weren't that successful..well, it hadn't mattered anyways. Someone else had always stepped in and got the job done, usually from another unit in the same area of operations.  So he was asking me to be his sergeant again.
"How do you want me to handle this one boss?"
"Start with the usual sources and go from there.  I got a feeling that while you're doing your normal methodical background stuff that you'll hit on something that others may not be seeing so clear."
"What do you mean boss?"
"Well,  one of the reasons why this book is selling so well right now is that there are some popular radio and television personalities that are holding it up as the book to read if Americans want to see what's happening to our country right now.  I don't think you pay all that much attention to these media stars so it doesn't surprise me that you hadn't heard about this book before."
"So, are we just more or less following along in their footsteps?"
"No, no, know me better than that.  I've been finding out as I talk to some of my old friends that this book has been popular almost from day one in 1957, a long, long time before these TV and radio people got a hold of it.  And I think, that even when this particular time period in American history has changed to where this book is not held up so much in the media as the book to buy, that the book is still going to be something that future generations of readers will study.  I think this book is a classic, but not in the usual sense like we think of Shakespeare or Tolstoy or even someone American like a Steinbeck. So dig into it Leigh. Keep me posted as much as you can. There's no rush on this. For this one we'll take our time and do it up right.  And one more thing Leigh..."
"Yes boss. What's that?"
"I know you'll do this anyways but let me emphasize the fact that we need to be objective about this job. Huh, being objective about Objectivism. That is Rand's philosophy behind this book as you'll find out. How about that for a play on words?  Well, you know what I mean. Put your personal leanings aside and look at this one from all the angles, okay?"
"Not a problem sir. Can do easy."
Then he walked out the door, leaving that book in front of me.
So I had begun the background work.  I hadn't wanted to get into the book until I had some kind of idea of what might be making it so special.  I started with Wikipedia like I do most of the time.  It's not always accurate and many times you can see the writer's bias, but it was still an okay place to start.  There was the entry on Ayn Rand the author.  Then there was an entry for Atlas Shrugged itself.  They even had a separate entry that had all the main characters in it, one after the other with a summary about each.  Then of course there was an entry about Ayn Rand's philosophy called Objectivism. There were also entries on other books that she had written.  Some readers, way back in the fifties, had liked her book, The Fountainhead. So they had been easily drawn into reading Atlas Shrugged as well.  The Fountainhead had even been a 1949 Hollywood movie starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.
The boss had been right. There was much more to this than meets the eye.  So next I headed for the local bookstore at the mall.  I found what I figured I would. There were the novels in the fiction section and the non-fiction books explaining more about Objectivism in the philosophy section.  Then I thought, "I wonder if they have something like Cliffs Notes for Atlas Shrugged?"  They had the Spark Notes version instead. That was only six bucks - not bad.  When I went to the other bookstore that sells the Cliffs Notes they were temporarily out of them. But they had several for The Fountainhead in stock. I passed. Maybe I'll look more into that book later in the research.
When I got back to the office to do more research on the internet there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me.  The Spark Notes version that I had bought in hard copy was on line, free to read.  The Cliffs Notes version was also on line, free to read, with some of the material in audio format. I could listen to a short summary of the book. I read just about everything in the Cliff Notes and the Spark Notes except for the chapter-by-chapter discussion parts. I figured I'd get into that as I was reading the book.
Now I was in the book. It had taken me about ten or fifteen pages to get used to reading a novel again. I had been a non-fiction reader for too long.  But as soon as I started reading the first section with Dagny Taggart in it, I was sucked in.  Could this character be the illustrious Ayn Rand in fiction form? Had she put herself into the story line?  And what did that question mean, that question that the minor characters were asking when their moment of glory in the book seemed to come to an end in certain sections?
"Who is John Galt?"  Well I guess I'll be finding out as I go along won't I. (MUSIC IN)
"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Before Leigh Irwin Came to Be: Chalet Eagle Looks At Ayn Rand

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

It was a quiet afternoon in Philaburbia.  It was very muggy out and I was very glad to get back to the big fan in my office. I had been to a local food place within walking distance (exercise I now need badly). I had had the "two eggs on a bagel" choice along with something cold to drink. While eating that I had finally finished a book that I had been reading since March. Now I figured it was time to finally get back to a subject that had been written about by my predecessor, or maybe better said, the person that invented me and this blog.  I looked back at what he had written on April 25th, 2010 in an email discussion list. I wondered whether the friends from back then would still want to discuss it. Then I thought maybe others would be interested as well.  So as a kind of a reintroduction to the subject I have included what he wrote below. But this time there are a whole bunch of links included for those who want to know more about what is being discussed.
(begin quote)
In writing about how I was introduced to Ayn Rand first let me give an overall acknowledgment. If it was not for the Lord leading me to discover L'Abri, the ministry of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, I wouldn't even be talking about people like Ayn Rand. I would be too busy with everyday life, not believing that it was my place to even discuss such a formidable and intellectual person as this author of the once-again-much-read book, Atlas Shrugged.

I also acknowledge my brother Warren. He is almost six years my senior, and like many younger brothers sometimes do, they follow along in the footsteps of their older siblings, either intentionally or unintentionally. I don't remember the circumstances years ago when Warren mentioned the writings of Ayn Rand and how they interested him, but that morsel of thought has always stayed with me. That morsel was like a seed that is now expanding into a tree of study that seems to have a life all its own.

Then there is the most recent re-introduction to Ayn Rand through a ministry that has worked hand-in-hand with the teachings of the Schaeffers and L'Abri but does quite well in its own right separate from them. That would be Mars Hill Audio and the work of Ken Myers. His bimonthly audio journal that comes out in CD form, where he is always interviewing a plethora of interesting people, has always caused me to think deeper about life and the meaning we each try to make out of that bigger picture on which we can never quite understand but wish we could.

Also, there is need of acknowledgment for a few things of recent years that have caused me to become what some may call an Information Junkie. Like many I spend a great deal of time on the personal computer. That first step leads to another, exploration of the World Wide Web, what I call The Wild, Wild West of the 21st century. With it comes tools like Google and Wikipedia and YouTube, and yes even Facebook. They give you enough frontier to explore that can keep you busy for hours if you have those hours. I do not. I have to be careful with my time like most. But there is a thirst there that never seems to be satisfied and they provide much of the water that seems to take care of that thirst.

Then there is Alvin Toffler, another formidable character of this era, who should be studied, perhaps right along side Ayn Rand because of the influence he has had, not only in the United States, but worldwide. As a developing futurist back in 1970, His original claim to fame was the book Future Shock. It woke people up to say the least. He and his wife Heidi have written several books, but the next one of importance was The Third Wave, published in 1980, and billed as the sequel to Future Shock. It was this book, in the Spring of 1981, that caught my eye. I found it in a bookstore in paperback. It was more than three hundred pages long but I couldn't put it down until I had read the whole thing. In my limited experience as a reader of books back then and now, this obsession about a book had never reared its head before, nor since. I am a student of the Bible, and always will be, so that is my magnificent obsession with a book. But for some reason, this particular book grabbed me at this time in my life.

Right now I am going through Toffler's newest work, Revolutionary Wealth, published in 2006. Why? I remembered The Third Wave and I wanted to see what he was writing about concerning the future now. This is especially since the economy went south, the present U.S. administration can not seem to be the miracle worker too many people expected him to be, and voters are trading in their Blue and Red t-shirts for some color that symbolizes the word Independent. But guess what?

The Tea Party movement, that independent political group which is heavily in the news, is in many ways Libertarian in their politics. Well, back in the day, when Ayn Rand was still alive, it was the Libertarians that bought into the world view written in novel form in Atlas Shrugged. She did not like them being on her side at all and always chided them whenever she could. But she is not alive anymore to do that and the Libertarians are back into Atlas Shrugged again, for better or for worse we do not know.

Also, when thinking about this economic disaster of recent times, and the politics that has erupted along with it, there is another Ayn Rand connection here. There is one person, right in the middle of our recent economic past, that was closely connected to the philosophy of Ayn Rand and this connection she herself did not mind. In fact he wrote pieces for her publications, before he became Chairman of the Federal Reserve. I am speaking of Alan Greenspan.

In getting back to Alvin Toffler though, which is a kind of a personal connection for me, there is an article from 1964. It is an interview of Ayn Rand that has been described as one of the more telling conversations that can help the average person to really understand who Ayn Rand is and what her philosophy called Objectivism is all about. The person who did this landmark interview was a younger, less famous, Alvin Toffler.
What is uncanny about all this, in a personal way, leads back to the work of Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri. The intellectual vocabulary that any discussion of Ayn Rand includes, is like opening up Schaeffer's Trilogy - The God Who Is There, Escape From Reason, and He is There and He is Not Silent. Both Rand and Schaeffer philosophically speak of such wide subjects as Metaphysics, Morals, and Epistemology. With Rand perhaps you would throw in another major subject, which the Libertarians are looking at - Economics. Rand did not like politics but when you throw in economics you can not help but go there.

So, we will see what happens with this growing tree of thought that is blooming into words here at Chalet Eagle. We will see how far we can go with it for now until we are lead to move on to something else of interest. I am not an expert. I am not a teacher. All I am is a fellow traveler looking for truth and perhaps to help others along the way to perhaps find truth.
(end of quote)
It has taken a while to get started again on this subject. The preparation for that restart has involved the creation of me, Leigh Irwin, a type of fictional character, and this blog.  Perhaps when you think about the fact that Ayn Rand's most read legacy used the genre of fiction, maybe you will understand why my creator did what he did. The subtitle of this blog is, Where Fiction Meets Reality - Head On. Does that help to make sense of it all? Anyhow, not to worry. For how all this is going to somehow work is still one of life's persistant questions for me as well. Enough said for this go round :-)

"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)


Friday, June 4, 2010

Memorial Day In The Hospital

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

It was a quiet Monday morning in Philaburbia. I was spending the long weekend in the local hospital waiting for the next step in my treatment for Atrial Fibrillation.  I had been there since late on Wednesday the 26th of May, away from my computer, away from everything except rest.  I didn't know what the weather was like outside except what I could see through the window. It looked like a sunny day.

This was my first time with what is more easily understood as an irregular heartbeat.  The upper heart beats rapidly and the lower part of the heart can't keep up.  Then because the heart is not pumping right your blood pressure goes down.  You get faint and dizzy and any exertion on your part only makes things worse.

You get yourself to the hospital because something else more dangerous may happen.  Because your heart is not working right blood clots can form in the bottom of the heart.  Then one of those clots may break free into the blood stream.  It can end up in your brain causing a stroke.

So there I was in the hospital.  The procedures done there in the first couple of days brought back a regular heart beat.  Then I had to wait out the weekend until Tuesday to have a Cardiac Stress Test and a Pulmonary Functions Test. Finally, on Thursday, I went through a Heart Catheterization.  None of the tests showed anything conclusive so I am back home with a couple more medications to add to those I already take.

Big words, these different tests, and nothing to laugh about. For it is causing some more changes in my life. It is time to seriously look at the diet and to go into that exercise program that includes a swimming pool and getting back to some of that hoorah! training I was taught so well in the military.

..."the military..."

That brings me back to Monday which was Memorial Day.  On that day it was time again for we the living to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  There were many words written and said on that day.  There were parades and patriotic speeches...all good things.  We need to remember.  We need to be thankful.  We need to look at our own little corners of the world, no matter how materially well off we may be or not and ask the question:

"How different would life be for me and those I love if they (the military) had not done what they did?"

It is another of life's persistent questions that needs to be looked at on a regular basis with a heart and mind that hungers for an answer, that hungers for real truth.

I told the boss that I would not be in until Monday. But if I feel strong enough this morning I need to get back to work. I have too much on which to catch up both at work and at home.  I hope it isn't too humid today. But hey - if it is, I'll just handle it.

"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tea Party in Philaburbia

PHILABURBIA, Pennsylvania, USA.  "A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

It had been a bit overcast yesterday morning outside the Blue Fountain in Philaburbia. I was having the normal breakfast - eggs, home fries, wheat toast, a cup of coffee, and a glass of ice water...very important, the ice water.

I was reading the Opinion section of the local paper.  One of my favorite columnists, David Broder, the Dean of the Washington press corps, had written a piece. In this paper it was entitled, "Locked in an Ideological Box."  I found out later that the article had originally appeared in the Sunday version of the Washington Post under the title, "The Obama Effect - Are you With Him or Against Him?" [note 1]

It had only taken me reading the first few words to spot what I thought I might find in his column:

" electorate increasingly responsive to an activist conservative movement operating inside the Republican Party."

Then who or what he was talking about was made even more clear:

"Most evident in the periodic eruptions of tea party support for right-wing candidates for governor or senator,..." (italics mine).

"Tea party"...I wonder what's going to happen with this whole tea party thing?  It's already a movement across the country, small right now next to the two major parties. But it's growing.  Is it just a blip in the historical horizon of America or will it really develop into perhaps a new ideaology, a new way of thinking?  Or will it bring back some of the old ideaology, the old way of thinking?  In some ways it looks alright. But in other ways it's just plain scarey.

Well, whether I like it or not, the new boss wants me to check it out. Why? I don't know for sure entirely. Maybe he knows like I am quickly learning that the roots of this very different tree run deeper than most people realize.

I wonder?  Will my family and friends even read what I write? Well, the Lord knows what I'm doing. That's all that matters. Sure hope the sun comes out shining this morning. Maybe I'll check the local weather report...

"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

Hey, check out this episode of Guy Noir on You Tube.  You'll hear what the first and last paragraph of this piece would sound like if Leigh Irwin were on the radio. [November 22, 2008 episode]

Note 1: When you click on the link to the Washington Post story it might ask you to "subscribe."  It won't cost you anything. You just need to give a little information to have a username and password where you can get into the site basically anytime you want to.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leigh Irwin Meets Guy Noir

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye." (MUSIC FADE) [27 Nov 2004 script]

For those that have not had the privilege yet, these are the words that you hear on the radio when you listen to a particular segment of a program called A Prairie Home Companion, old radio at its best created by Garrison Keillor and his great crew. I listen to it on the weekend when I am out and about in our car. The program is on National Public Radio (NPR) and the station I listen to is WHYY out of Philadelphia. You should really listen to it if you don't already. It has stirred my imagination for years.

Of course I am old enough to remember when radio seemed like it was the only thing there was, along with going to the movies of course. The age of television was just beginning but vintage radio still kept our attention. My brother Warren and I would listen to shows like Dragnet, Gang Busters and Gunsmoke. You did not have a television screen in front of you. The screen was in your mind. You had to use your imagination. And oh what that screen could reveal! Garrison Keillor and his excellent crew are still very good at turning it on for me.

There was talk of him retiring this year. He is 67 now. They had some fun on the show doing segments where his "replacement" had come to take over. But the latest read on the website for the show from GK goes like this:

"We're discussing another Prairie Home cruise for 2011. I am working on a new Good Poems collection, and a memoir of 1966, a Guy Noir mystery, and have gotten a second wind on a Lake Wobegon screenplay. So life goes hurtling on." [A Note From GK About Retirement] He got some great comments back from fans about clearing up this question. You ought to read them. It will give you an idea of how much this show means to average people like you and me. [Comments 34]

So why all this about a radio show and who is Leigh Irwin anyways?

Back in the day when the family lived in or around Jamestown, New York my dad was on radio. It was the local station, WJOC [now WKSN] and he was an announcer of sorts. If I remember correctly he did short shows that had to do with local news and weather. Well, he chose as his radio name Leigh Irwin. Where did it come from? My middle name is Leigh and my brother Warren's middle name is Irwin. Dad loved his boys. He is 92 right now, by the way, and he's still kicking, down Tennessee way.

But there is something else here though, beside the fact that you shouldn't start a paragraph with the word "but." I have always wanted to write and the pen name that I've always wanted to use was Leigh Irwin. It fits. There is a little bit of me, a little bit of my brother, the love of our Dad for us, and surely a whole lot of Mom, God rest her soul. She's in Heaven now. She went Home in 2001.

So, in the future, be on the look out. Because you just might hear (or read) the following words:

"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But in a small office, just north of Philly, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

Hey, ever heard (and seen) an episode of Guy Noir on Try it right here. Enjoy :-)

God bless ya'll,
Allan Leigh Winger