Questions, questions and more questions (and a few answers).
Over the past couple weeks, I've received dozens of emails, most asking the same question(s). I usually respond to every email, but it's basketball season and, in his essay "Why I Write," George Orwell said that writers are inherently lazy, and did I mention that it's basketball season? So I'll give general answers to the two questions I've received most in the past few weeks. The answers are: Yes, it kinda sucks; and No, it's not my call. As for the third question that I get, let's just say that I'm loyal to a fault and leave it at that. As for the other questions:
•Tom, you've written in the past that you grew up in poverty. Accordingly, do you give money to people standing on the medians at intersections?
The answer to that is no, I almost never do. I know it sounds like a cliché, but many times I have offered to buy people something to eat or drink and they look at me like I have snot on my shirt (which, I suppose, is always a possibility). I almost always get turned down.
One summer day, I had a cold (unopened) bottle of Diet Pepsi in my car. I offered it to a woman and she said (and I'm not kidding), "I don't drink diet soda." Well, I guess it's a good thing to maintain one's standards when standing in the middle of the street in 100-degree temperatures, asking for money.
I've gone to Casa Maria to help make sandwiches and I donate to the Community Food Bank all the time. I've put gas in people's cars. (I love those stories. "I just need $14 so I can buy enough gas to get home to Las Cruces, New Mexico. But you don't have to put it on your credit card. I'd rather just have the $14 in cash so I can pay for the gas myself." (Yeah, right.) For some reason, I just feel that I've gotten burned too many times by the street-corner people and that messes it up for everybody. The other day, I was getting off the freeway at Speedway Boulevard when a guy came up and knocked on my car window. I rolled down the window and he said he was trying to get some money together so that he and his girlfriend could get a hotel room.
I gave him my best "GTFOH!," which, with the proper vocal inflection, always produces a stunned silence when coming out of the mouth of an old white man.
•What's your favorite soundbite so far from this political season?
I have to admit I get quite a kick out of Ted Cruz claiming that, were he alive today, John F. Kennedy would be a Republican.
First of all, I find it amazing how remarkably unlikeable Ted Cruz is. It's as though he spends 27 hours each day working on being a jackass. There's no way he can be elected president. Look at the people who have been in that office over the past half-century. Politics aside, both Bushes seem like nice guys. Ronald Reagan was very likeable, as was Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter was a decent fellow and I defy you to name even one person who could beat Bill Clinton in an election if Clinton were able to run for president again. You have to go all the way back to Richard Nixon to find somebody who is even close to being as disliked as Ted Cruz.
Plus, he's wrong all the damn time. And mean as a snake.
People always make a big deal about the fact that Kennedy slashed taxes. What they conveniently leave out was that the top rate was over 90 percent; it had been raised that high during World War II and just stayed there during the Eisenhower years. Lowering it didn't make Kennedy a Republican; it just made him an exerciser of common sense. No way would JFK be a Republican. And, for that matter, neither would Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or probably even Ronald Reagan.
•Tom, are you done whining about the removal of the much-despised red-light cameras?
I am. Mathematically speaking, there are at least as many below-average drivers as there are above-average ones. All I can say is that they won and we lost.
Someone who knows about these things has told me that in the first month since the cameras went dormant, there was a significant increase in the more-serious, middle-of-the-intersection type collisions at Oracle and River roads. But people getting T-boned by red-light runners is just part of the price we pay for freedom ... you know, constitutionally speaking.
•What do you think of Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller' new svelte look and with you being a basketball coach and all, why don't you give it a try?
I think he looks great. I know where he works out; they'd probably let me work out there if I asked. I'm pretty sure that they don't have an aesthetics policy.
Finally, farewell to Abe Vigoda, whom I loved on Barney Miller. It has always been my fervent hope that I would live long enough to where I would start looking like Abe Vigoda. By my best reckoning, that would be at least another 22 years of really hard living.