Today is the day. Fifty-three years after the event. I remember it. Do you?

It’s weird watching the documentaries commemorating events I remember. It’s the Kennedy assassination this month. Just about every station, network and cable, are doing specials on John F. Kennedy. For us, it’s a trip down memory lane. Or nightmare alley.

I was 13 when Kennedy was elected. I watched the inauguration on television, the first of many inaugurations I would watch. It was the greatest inaugural speech. I was naïve enough to believe he wrote it himself. And I was impressed by his hair, the best hair of any President before or since. Especially after 8 years of President Dwight D. Eisenhower who was very bald.


In 1963 I turned 16 and started college. Kennedy was shot in November and the world changed. I’m sure every person old enough to know what was going on remembers where they were the day they heard the news. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was a landmark event, a turning point in history, a turning point in our personal histories.

I was in the cafeteria at school. I had a cup of tea in my hand and was about to sit. The public address system in the cafeteria went on. There was a lot of noise, but gradually it grew quiet. A news report. It took a few minutes to recognize what they were saying, to form a context. Someone had shot the President.

A few minutes later, everyone fell silent. Hundreds of undergraduates, sitting, standing. No one moving, no one talking. I stood at the table. Frozen. I never sat. I stood in the same spot for over an hour. Clutching that cup of tea, cooling in my hand. Until the voice on the loudspeaker said “President Kennedy is dead. The President is dead.”

Gradually, everyone drifted away. Subdued or silent. I found my boyfriend and we wandered around for a few hours. We didn’t do anything. Just roamed the campus, dazed. This kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen, not in the United States. Eventually, when it was dark, I went home. My mother wanted to know where I’d been and I said “Just wandering around.” She didn’t believe me. She should have.

LBJ Sworn In As President

Kennedy was “our” president. He looked good. Young, attractive, different. I hadn’t been old enough to vote for him, but I was old enough to know what was happening. I watched the debates. My friends and I discussed it. It was exciting. My mother kept referring to him as “such a young man.” At thirteen, a 43-year old guy didn’t seem so young. Those were the days, eh?

For the better part of the next week, all the channels on television — there were only seven — 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 — had wall-to-wall coverage of the funeral. Endless replays of the assassination. The subsequent shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. The beginning of the conspiracy theories that still swirl around this piece of history, though at this point I don’t care whodunnit 50 years ago. There are a many unsolved crimes in history. Just add this to the long list.

I went to hang out with a friend. We took long walks to get away from the endless, morbid reiteration of the life and death of John F. Kennedy.

Gradually, life returned to normal, whatever that is. Lyndon Baines Johnson was in office. It was all about civil rights and Vietnam. I finished college, got married, wound up in the hospital and had my first near-death experience. There would be a lot more assassinations in the near future. Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X. I never got used to them, but I stopped being shocked. Which is shocking.

The 1960s were not about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. This was the decade of war, the draft, anti-war protests and civil rights. When flunking out of college meant you were going to Vietnam and maybe you wouldn’t come back. Strange how quickly we forget, replacing history with mythology.

November 22, 1963 was the end of political innocence for everyone, Democrats, Republicans, everyone. An abrupt turning part. The beginning of the road we find ourselves on today.

A president — our president — had been assassinated. Kennedy wasn’t the only U.S. President to be assassinated, but he was the first in modern times. The first TV president. A young, handsome guy. Especially important to my generation, a symbol that the torch really had passed to a new generation. We took that call to arms seriously.

It’s hard for me to look at politics today, see how petty we’ve become. Kennedy’s assassination was an end and a beginning. He was the last President to get a pass on his personal life. The first president to use electronic media to win an election. It was the beginning of a political divide that keeps getting deeper with each passing year.

Politics isn’t about real issues anymore. It’s insinuation, innuendo, and rumor. How narrow-minded and hateful we’ve become. It will pass I suppose. All things do. But when? For more than half a century, we’ve been marching down this ugly road to which I see no end.


Garry Armstrong, reporting

We tuned in the Pats-Giants game with 1:47 left and the Brady Bunch facing a sixth straight loss to New York’s Big Blue. It didn’t look good. The Giants appeared to have the Patriots’ number. Again. Ready to end another New England run at a perfect season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a first down against the New York Giants during the first quarterat MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 15: Tom Brady celebrates a first down against the New York Giants during first quarter on November 15, 2015. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady was firing bullets under pressure but the clock was ticking down. What magic could the Pats use? 4th down and 6 seconds left. The Pats would try a 57 yard field goal while a stiff wind played havoc.

It was over … unless the New England evil empire had something up its slippery sleeve.

A deflated football? Secret microphones to pick up the Giants’ audio? Nude cheerleaders confusing the Giant coaches? Spies on the Giants bench? Valium in the Giants water?

The crowd roared as Stephen Gostkowski tried what would surely be a failed field goal. The kick was steady. The ball sailed high in the crisp November night.

Photo: Boston Globe

Photo: Boston Globe

It slanted left … narrowly making it through the uprights. The announcers weren’t sure whether or not it was a score … even when replays confirmed the kick was good.

What happened?

drone spy

In a blur, I learned the truth. Invisible Drones using penetrating laser beams had directed the football’s arc. The Pats have pulled off another one.

Stay tuned for more details on “Drone Gate.”


Horrible. All the deaths, all the murders. What terrible things we do to one another. Unspeakable.

To all of you who rather than offering condolences or words of comfort chose instead to use this moment to point out how media hasn’t given enough “air time” to other, equally despicable acts of violence in other parts of the world … well.

french flag flying

What can I say about that?

Do you feel the amount of attention press gives to an act of terror in some way makes it better or worse? There’s no rating system for tragedy. The fundamental problem remains. Human beings can’t seem to stop slaughtering one another. And now, apparently we’ve lost the ability to experience empathy.

For those of you who felt obliged to point out the inequity of news coverage, as if this has something to do with anything or that increased press attention actually fixes anything — rather than offering sympathy or at the very least, shutting up — shame on you.

There’s something wrong with you. Something in you is broken.


I’m walking around laughing at the gigantic fuss, furor, and scandal over the latest invasion of our privacy. I think this months villain is Microsoft. Last month it was someone else. Government? Corporations? Amazon? Google? They are all spying on us. You knew that, right?

So last night, when we were nicely tucked into the most comfortable bed in the world, I said to Garry:

newspaper1“Can you think of any government anywhere, or any time in the history of humankind, during which governments have not spied on their citizens or subjects?”

He honored me with a thoughtful few seconds before answering … or maybe he was just twiddling with the remote control.


“I think the way it works is this. First, we invent heads of state. Kings, presidents, emperors, whatever. Next, they invent a secret police so they can keep on being the head of state. The only thing that seems to change is the technology. And the quality of the dungeons.”


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“I think it’s a mistake to try and monitor all those emails and phone calls. I mean, they are just going to be buried under data. Lots of jabbering kids yakking with friends, people arguing with customer support, and boring conversations by people like us. We never say anything interesting on the phone. We hardly talk on the phone at all. Our email is pretty dull too.


black and white wires power lines

Americans have an ongoing need to be outraged about something. We require a constant level of civic hysteria, maybe to keep from being boring. Scandal keeps ratings up and gives talk show hosts something to joke about. It gives liberals and conservatives something to accuse each other of doing, even though every administration has done pretty much the same stuff and always will.

I’m wondering how long this is going to stay on top of the news. It has been years … at least five so far and I see no end to it. Apparently it never gets old.


Nothing will change. Governments spy on citizens. Citizens are outraged. The outrage is ignored. Eventually, everyone moves on — until it pops up again.

I’m having trouble getting myself worked up over this.

I remember Richard Nixon. I even remember J. Edgar Hoover. I’ve read history. I know traffic cameras track us. If anyone is looking for me — or you — I’m sure they’ll have no trouble finding us.


My government spies on me. Corporations spy on me. Everyone collects my personal information and uses without my permission. That’s the price I pay for being connected and computerized.

They were spying on us during the 1960s, albeit less efficiently. They were spying on my parents and their friends in the 50s and 40s.

Obama didn’t start this. Bush didn’t start it. FDR didn’t start it. Abraham Lincoln didn’t start it. It’s been going on as long as there have been governments and it will never end.


Trick Questions

A Pulitzer-winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece – about you. What are the three questions you really hope she doesn’t ask you?

Here’s the original answer. Same question. Same answer. Different picture.

This must be the interview which celebrates my having won the Blogging Pulitzer, right? No? Has there been a mass shooting in town — and I’m the shooter? The Blackstone has angrily overflowed and washed my house away?


72-WNEX Radio_023The aliens have landed and are shacking up in the guest room? The aliens tried to land, but couldn’t find a suitable spot to set down, the driveway being full of cars?

The President is visiting us because he’s run out of foreign countries with which the U.S. is, was or will be at war?

Really — I’m past the age where I have anything left to hide. What could anyone ask about which I haven’t already written and published in a post?

So bring it on. We are media savvy in this household. Ain’t nothin’ you can ask that we can’t answer!


Now, we are definitely ready for our closeup!

We’ve been agonizing about this for months especially since the “new” car has been having problems. We bought our PT Cruiser in 2007. Finished paying for it a year and a half ago. Been luxuriating since then in not having a car payment.



But each winter, when our driveway becomes the bunny slope of our personal ski resort — which would be more fun if either of us were ski bunnies — the car won’t get us up the driveway. Not even when there’s just a little bit of snow, much less a big one or a blizzard.


With tonight predicted to be the first hard freeze of the year and winter lurking in the background, we bought a car. Not a brand new one.

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The price of new cars has gone way above our pay grade, but we got a newer car. With four-wheel drive.

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We spent most of the day at the dealer … which is why I was missing pretty much all day. We were talking. Negotiating. Then signing papers, talking to the insurance agent, signing more papers. Then, more papers … and then … it was ours.

It’s a 2012 Jeep Patriot. Red. Cute. Bob Mielke, who now lives here, had the wit to bring a camera when they delivered the car. Yes, they delivered the car and drove away the old one. Here are Bob’s pictures.

Blow ye north wind. We have a car that will make it up and out of the driveway, even after the snow flies. We will need to pay for it, of course, but life carries a price tag … and we needed a car.



The news has been slow around here. Just regular stuff. Accidents, government stupidity and incompetence, scandals of the famous and wannabes. Politics as usual. Autumn.

It got me wondering about today’s prompt — what we would want of all the possible results — from blogging.

Why do you blog?


A friend asked me why I blog. Which is the same as asking me why I write and take pictures. I felt like asking her why she breathes because writing and shooting is like breathing to me, but instead, I asked her why she plays golf.

She is a fine sportswoman and can’t imagine living a life in which she can’t play or compete. That’s as much who she is as her face.

I write because I have a head full of words. I take pictures because I see them wherever I go. These things are as much part of me as my face or my feet. I can no sooner not write as not breathe.

Go figure.