BACK IN THE SADDLE — BY GARRY ARMSTRONG

“The Saddle” was a TV studio, WCCA-TV. Worcester Community Cable Access television. It was nirvana for a retired TV news reporter. I was the guest.

Getting ready for the show

The hostess was Liz Myska, a lawyer who is also severely visually-impaired and an advocate for the visually-impaired. Dressed in a bright summer frock which set off a charming and winning smile, I felt instantly at ease as with Liz as we met and chatted with our Covid 19 masks which made conversation a bit difficult before taping the show.

Liz asked if I could “handle the 26 minute interview.”  I smiled. I could hear Marilyn’s laughter off-camera.

It was a piece of cake. Liz, working off our pre-show chatter, dove right into the “what inspired you to pursue a career that obviously has been satisfying” question. A great lead off because it enabled me to go in many directions.

Satisfying versus successful. Satisfying is more personal. Successful means you assume something and are talking, perhaps bragging about “the greatest hits” in your life. That can be very uncomfortable unless your ego is in charge.

Liz’s question enabled me to double back to my childhood and the background for the learning I got from my parents. Their blue collar earnings never diminished their belief in right and wrong.

 

They believed in education We always had books, magazines, newspapers, reference material, a variety of musical instruments, and, of course, the radio. All of which allowed me to indulge my fantasies, something that has always been an integral part of my life as I close in on 80 years.

Liz shared stories about her youth and a similar incentive to pursue dreams. It became the foundation fabric of our lives. The interview had turned into almost an intimate conversation. That is the absolute target in a well done interview.

Liz listened to me, following as I digressed multiple times as is my habit. She smiled, anticipating a funny twist that would come as I wrapped up an anecdote. I relaxed even more.

Inevitably, the interview came to dealing with major disabilities in the professional world. I was and am the severely hearing-challenged guest talking to my severely sight-challenged hostess. It was a first for me.

I always had felt it necessary to explain how disability makes life difficult, personally and professionally. No need for any such “setup” chatter with Liz. I dove into stories about my difficulties covering trials because of poor amplification in aging courthouses.  Liz just nodded as I told about beseeching judges to make attorneys and witnesses speak louder and clearer.

She laughed when I told her about the ripple effect with veteran judges (who I also implored to speak louder and clearer) chastised prominent attorneys for mumbling. Liz (who is also a lawyer) and I were on the same page about really listening to people as a reporter and an attorney, looking for layers beneath the surface. Liz’ smile was infectious as she talked about the difficulty in getting reticent clients to be open and honest. We talked about the “trust trait” — how you must have it if you need people to believe and accept what you are saying.

Liz nimbly brought the trust factor issue to our current national state of mistrust, doubt, and cynicism. We shared sighs about how those in positions of power — including reporters and lawyers – must accept the challenge to do the right and moral thing. To alleviate the moral and ethical decay that challenges our lives.

I was about to offer another thought but the show was over. 26 minutes had vanished in a moment.

Marilyn gave me a thumbs up for my work. It felt good. Always does coming from Marilyn who doesn’t let love get in the way of critiquing my work.

Marilyn was a star too. She wasn’t feeling well but agreed to accompany me for the interview. She did it as my navigator and also as my loyal source of support. It was a long and difficult day for Marilyn just being on her feet. Her mobility issues were tested by walking to and from the studio, then immediately afterwards, a lengthy shopping trek to pick up groceries.

Two leftover pretzels

Finally, last night, Marilyn chose to make delicious pretzels. The soft, warm ones like you buy at the mall. It is one of my favorites, which meant more hours on her feet since it’s a yeast recipe.  Marilyn’s feet were not happy with her last night. Nor was her back.

The canes we used were helpful. Marilyn who really has trouble walking and, me, with simple old age pains have found the canes help steady us and keep  us from falling. Despite our efforts, our bodies were clearly not pleased with our day. It was long and for Marilyn at least, was one activity over the line. Maybe two.

Today, we are paying the piper for my star turn on television. It didn’t used to be this way. How did the years go by so fast?

JUSTICE IS BLIND, DEAF, AND FREQUENTLY DUMB AND RACIST. OTHERWISE, IT’S JUST FINE. – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #77


It’s another round of provocative questioning from Fandango. Today’s question involves blind justice. 

I have never believed that our system of justice was genuinely just. I don’t think a lot of our laws are just and didn’t think so even when I was a child.

How could a country founded on slavery have real justice? We had to have a war to free those slaves, but that wasn’t enough. Everything we’ve tried to do to create equality has failed. Blind justice? Deaf, dumb, racist — and for sale for the right price. It has always been obvious that those who have enough money get away with murder. The poor were lucky to escape prison for smoking a joint.

Now, of course, smoking joints is mostly legal, except at the federal level where it is still a crime and there are tens of thousands, maybe millions of pot smokers in jail for something that’s now legal. Then there are millions of poor people, colored and pale in prison because they couldn’t afford a decent lawyer.

It doesn’t mean that none of the poor or brown or black or tan people didn’t commit a crime. Maybe they did, but considering all the other issues — poverty, color, being in some other way “different” or in the wrong place,  it’s hard to tell. Add that to district attorneys who are determined to get guilty verdicts because that’s how they get promoted. Here and everywhere in this country, our system of justice is “pay as you go.” I know that race is a big issue, but I think the real bottom-line evil is money. Rich folks don’t have to obey the same laws we do. If, by some chance a very wealthy person gets nicked by the cops for something — like massive fraud, for example — they have that special color that enable freedom for even the worst criminals: money, which in this country, is green.

A really rich black person will win over a very poor person of any other color person because money almost always wins. We are shocked to our boot straps when the rich lose in court.

Americans believe that greed is good, that there’s no such thing as too much money, that we all deserve as much as we can get any way we can get it. It’s not in our constitution, but it’s deeply part of our culture.

If we don’t get past it, we will wind up a species without a planet, let alone a government.