This, that and the other

03 morning brew rU0WGGbGg4c unsplashAmerica’s culture wars are on full display in our take-no-prisoners response to wearing masks to protect others from COVID-19. Our nation’s inherent tension between individualism and collective good has pushed us into different corners, even though polls find more of us are in the collective good corner by better than 2 to 1. The smaller but highly visible my-rights-are-more-important-than-your-health crowd stands firm despite warnings from top pandemic officials, some of whom offer different ways to think about the situation. Pretend we were living in London during the Blitz of 1940-41 when Germany bombed the city and other parts of England every night for 11 weeks. During the Blitz, the British government required nightly blackouts to hamper the German bombing effort. What if your next-door-neighbor insisted it was his right to burn lights, and bombers missed his house but destroyed yours? Would that have been a proper assertion of individual rights? Or, how about this excuse offered by mask supporters tired of COVID, “I don’t like wearing a mask.” This cynical rejoinder comes from a mask wearer also tired of COVID. “So, you don’t like wearing a mask in public for whatever reasons? Well, you are really going to hate your ventilator!”


Continuing on COVID-19, no one knows what our situation will be when Nov. 3 rolls around. Will we feel comfortable voting in person, either early or on Election Day, when lines are likely to be long in a presidential election year? Will enough election officials be comfortable enough to oversee the voting process?

Many Americans, including this one, are opting to vote by mail because of those very uncertainties. I printed my absentee ballot request from the North Carolina Board of Elections website, filled it out and mailed it in last week to the county Board of Elections. According to the website, I will receive an official ballot correct for the candidates in my precinct in September, to be mailed in before Election Day.

If I decide to vote in person, I will simply tear up the absentee ballot. Voters have many reasons to request absentee ballots — age, illness, travel, incarceration, physical limitations and more, but voters do not have to give any reason for requesting an absentee ballot, nor is an ID required. All that is needed is name, address, N.C. driver’s license number or the last four digits of one’s Social Security number to be checked against Elections Board records. If you are interested, the state Board of Elections website is

Speaking of elections, campaign season is heating up, and it is not pretty. In the presidential contest, outside entities — those that were legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 — are running all sorts of television ads on behalf of Biden and Trump, both positive and negative. The official campaigns are also running ads, which have the voices of Donald Trump or Joe Biden, acknowledging that they have “approved this ad.” A former candidate myself, I am always interested in political ads — whether they build up their candidate or tear down the other person, and how honestly they do so either way.

So far, I have seen several official Biden ads touting his experience and patriotism and at least one going after Trump’s record. Trump’s campaign is hitting Biden hard, with less emphasis on Trump’s achievements as president. All of this could — and probably will — evolve over the next few months, but we can all rest assured about one thing.
It is going to be a long summer and fall.

Living in crazy times: The Letter

02 futuregenThese are crazy times. So much upheaval. So many changes. So much anger. So much fear. And not enough love and understanding. There is no escaping the protests, tension, hostility, chanting, hypocrisy and unethical partisan political maneuvering in Fayetteville, Raleigh, our great state of North Carolina and throughout America.
It feels like the America I’ve lived in and loved for the past seven decades is turning into a country of contradictions where bad means good, illegal has no meaning at all, police are treated as criminals and the criminals are innocent, misunderstood and righteous souls. It’s where shootings and murder are accepted and criminals run rampant. The burning of cities and looting of businesses and destroying personal property are time-tested antidotes to improving humanity.

I have heard from many of our readers who share the same frustration. I understand their concerns and feel their hurt. These kinds of dire thoughts and worries carry a tremendous amount of parental anguish and guilt. We ask: What kind of America will we be leaving our children and grandchildren?

So, to all the parents and grandparents out there struggling with these concerns, please know you are not alone. This may help.

Below, I have reprinted a letter written by a loving father to his child. It contains a message that speaks volumes for many parents in our community who want to provide reassurance to their adult children that they love and support them while reaffirming traditional family values, convictions and lifestyles. As parents, they did the best they could. Now, out of respect, they will not interfere with their child’s family or future. They will remain the same loving and supportive parents they’ve always been.

Enjoy, and thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

The Letter

Names and places have been changed. This could be any city or town in the country.

Dear child,

Your mom and I are very concerned for you and your family’s safety in Seattle. With a call for unfunding the police on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time before the outrage, carnage and lawlessness cross into your private neighborhood with no one to protect you and your family. This concerns us very much.
The “peaceful” CHOP community downtown presents itself as the near-perfect sneak preview of what life will actually be like in an idealistic, lawless, Marxist and socialistic America. At this writing, two more young, black teenagers were shot dead last night.

You both are young and successful professionals and have worked extremely hard for what you have. You have given us a beautiful grandchild who has their whole joyful and innocent life ahead of them. Please, don’t put your careers on hold or your lives in jeopardy chasing an idealistic utopia that will never come to be. Seattle, New York City, Baltimore and Detroit are all casualties of this madness, and they will not recover any time soon, if ever.

Your mother and I prepared you for the real world by exposing you to real-life situations and teaching you honorable values — especially those that relate to honesty, decency, integrity and humanity.

This new idealistic and destructive cancel culture movement aims to stamp out and eliminate the very environment you were brought up in — the same environment that made you a successful and confident adult, a devoted spouse and the caring and loving parent you are today. Once canceled, what will replace it?

Rest assured, we do not want to run your life or tell you what to do or believe. We raised you to the best of our ability, and we are truly impressed with the person you have become. We are so very proud of you! Our only wish is for you and your family to be happy and safe and to continue to love us.

However, please do not judge us or fault us for not renouncing our government or our way of life, for not taking a knee during the national anthem and for not apologizing for honoring and loving the only America we have ever known.

Love you always!



The most wonderful time of the year — election season

04 N2008P18007C  It’s that most wonderful time of year — a time of sweetness, light and goodwill toward men. It’s the summer run-up to the presidential election of 2020. It’s a time for civil, reasoned political discourse. A time for love, a time for joy. A time for thoughtful conversations about the direction of government. A time when Americans of all political stripes link arms, sing “Kum Ba Yah,” and arrive at a mutually agreed consensus about where we want to go as a nation. Ha! Fooled you. None of the above. Let’s get ripping and roaring, tossing invectives, stink bombs and fake ads at the other side. As “Where the Wild Things Are” advised: “Let the wild rumpus begin.” Each side will accuse the other side of being in league with Satan. Both sides will screech, “This is the most important election in the history of America.” Every four years we have the most important election in the history of America. Someone needs to come up with a new slogan.

We will have a choice between another four years of Dear Leader’s curious antics and Joe Biden’s calmness. Personally, I am riding with Biden. If you are a true believer in all things Trump, this column is not going to be beneficial to your blood pressure. Kindly stop reading it. Go to your safe space on Fox or OAN. At least take some Phenergan to prevent nausea if you persist in reading this drivel despite the trigger warning that it will be unkind to Dear Leader.

Perhaps you have seen the picture of a dejected and disheveled looking Dear Leader walking from the helicopter after the Triumph in Tulsa rally. He appeared to be a Conquering Zero. Think of General Lee after Gettysburg or the Carolina Tar Heel basketball team walking off the floor after the loss in the Final Four to Indiana in 1981. He looked that bad, his red tie dangling forlornly, crumpled MAGA hat in hand. It was bigly sad. The blue wave turned out to be wall-to-wall rows of empty blue seats in the BOK arena. Apparently, some of the vacuum in BOK was created by teenagers with cell phones calling in fake reservations. The leader of the free world got punked by teenagers. If the White House can’t figure out how to deal with bored teenagers, what does that say about Dear Leader’s ability to deal with Vlad Putin and China’s Chairman Xi on matters more weighty than phony phone calls? Like the King of Siam said, “It is a puzzlement.”

Would you buy a used Pandemic from this man? Maybe you would. Maybe America will too. Despite Biden’s apparent lead in the polls, we all remember what the polls said about President Hillary Clinton before the actual election. Ain’t no guarantee that Biden will win. Dear Leader might well be like Bullwinkle J. Moose and pull another rabbit out of his presidential hat.

Trouble remains right here in River City with 40 million +  unemployed Americans. The COVID cooties have killed over 120,000 Americans as this column slouches toward the printing press. The Black Lives Matter remains front and center. The stock market is up despite the pain on Main Street. Someone wiser than I said that the Dow Jones average represents how rich people feel about money, not what is happening in the actual economy where people live. It’s a veritable constellation of crud. Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you Dear Leader?

  Let us assume for the moment that Biden gets elected. As William Butler Yeats once wrote, “’What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’” He will have a bit of a mess to clean up, beginning in January 2021. Joblessness, pandemic in double full bloom and troubles on the streets all await the next president. Fixing the mess reminds me of one of the 12 labors of Hercules. Hercules had been made insane by the goddess Hera. While he was crazy, Hercules killed his wife and family like the Overlook’s caretaker Charles Grady in “The Shining.” Once his crazy passed, Hercules was grief-stricken and wanted to make amends. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, Hercules was assigned a 12-step program of seemingly impossible tasks to gain redemption.

Hercules was given the job of cleaning out the Augean Stables in a single day. These stables housed thousands of cattle, sheep and horses. These critters produced a prodigious amount of poop. The stables had not been cleaned out for over 30 years. There was a lot of stable mucking to be done. A lesser man might have given up before even starting to shovel. Hercules believed in working smarter, not harder. He dug a giant ditch and diverted two rivers into and out of the stables. This successfully carried away three decades of poop. The Environmental Protection Agency did not exist then, so no federal regulations on the discharge of animal waste were violated.

 If Biden gets elected, he will have a fair amount of stable cleaning to enjoy. If Dear Leader gets reelected, even though he is a very stable genius, I suspect the stables will just collect more poop. Let the wild rumpus begin.

The end of Fayetteville’s economic future

05 markethouse For years — decades — both the Fayetteville City Council and the Cumberland County Commissioners have poured a lot of money into various organizations and plans to bring new business with well-paid employment to our area. These efforts have now been turned overnight into irremediable failure.

No properly managed enterprise, after conducting due diligence, will ever set up in Fayetteville. If the local police force will not protect their property and employees, having set this precedent, these businesses will go elsewhere. This is not hollow conjecture.

While the news of the rioting and looting in Fayetteville got lots of media attention, it is significant that there was no similar violence in surrounding communities. Rioting, looting and vandalism in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Clinton? Reportedly, the Aberdeen police department got intelligence of a planned event at their Walmart, but they deployed in force, and stopped the riot before it could begin.

Although our police chief has praised herself for the “restraint” shown by her police in the face of the looting, vandalism and assaults during the recent riot, there is going to be a consequence of this failure to protect property that will doom any future hopes for economic growth in Fayetteville. This must be considered at the police chief’s performance evaluation.

Another dire situation our police chief’s actions, or rather, inaction, has generated is “vigilante policing.” If the Fayetteville police will not commit to protecting this city’s citizens and their property, then these citizens will take up arms and protect themselves. The consequences will lie at the feet of the police chief. An unintended consequence of our police chief’s laissez-faire approach to protecting Fayetteville’s citizens and their property is the end of the anti 2nd Amendment movement. How can you keep a straight face arguing against “gun violence” when you are promoting wanton looting and vandalism? Since when was a Molotov cocktail not a weapon?

The examples set by our city’s leadership and police chief have branded Fayetteville as a poor choice to move to and set up a business. Business, and the investment money to set it up, will go elsewhere. That is the real debris that will have to be cleaned up. But can we expect our city leaders and police chief to accomplish this now?

  — Leon A. Goldstein

Fayetteville City Council and Mayor: No paint needed

I was raised in this city and grew to love it with all my heart. My working career took me to many places, Greensboro, Raleigh, Rochester, New York, Atlanta Georgia, and then back to Raleigh. I always said, when I retire, I’m going to move back to Fayetteville, North Carolina, a great city and state. I planned well and was fortunate to retire at the age of 59 and immediately moved back. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I hardly ever go to the grocery store that I don’t run into someone I know, and I enjoy that very much. I could almost make a list of those that I might run into at the Teeter. Several of their employees are always greeting me when I come in. “Hello, Mr. Wilson.”

 My childhood was spent at places like Honeycutt Rec. Center (as much as all day, either playing baseball, football or basketball, pool or ping pong). Who could ever forget George Crumbley (with his pipe) or Howard Chesire with all his athletic talent, or Roger Hobson sometimes being the umpire for some of the Little League games. Rowan Street Park, teen night dancing — I am not a good dancer, but really enjoyed watching those that were. Lamond Street Park and the pool we got to swim in once a week. Hay Street, and riding the escalators in Sears and The Capitol. Mr. Stein, owner of the Capitol, probably accused Gary and myself for maybe wearing the escalators out at the Capitol. Alexander Graham Jr. High School (7th, 8th and 9th grade) with Johnson and Underwood sports teams.

I used to thumb downtown to junior high every day for school. Funny thing, a police lieutenant would pick us up almost every day after he had dropped his son off at Fayetteville Senior High. I wish I could remember his name to give him credit here. The Carolina Soda Shoppe, a “real” orange aide, with a hot dog all the way. Breece’s landing, and going on Mr. Oscars big boat. Playing in the alleys of Holmes Electric, where my mother (grandmother) worked for $25 a week. You should have seen some of the big rats we would chase there. Fort Bragg, a place I have, and still do, always hold with the utmost respect for the men and women that serve this great country, especially those men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Going to Emmanuel Baptist church on Hull road every time the doors were open. I grew up with some great friends there.

The Market House ….what a nice symbol recognizing this great city. It’s our logo, if you will. In fact, there are paintings hanging all over this city, in homes, as well as many offices, painted by such great artists as Mary Nan Thompson and other talented artists. One of Mary Nan’s is hanging in my home. I personally have never thought of it as a place where slaves were sold. ... I personally have never seen anything, written or other wise, that might suggest that. All my life I have thought of the Market House as a place where farmers went to sell their produce and livestock — nothing more! I could be proven wrong, but I believe his group, Black Lives Matter, is simply an organization that is radical and it’s sole purpose is to loot and steal and create criminal and racial disturbance. Two of the three people that started it were both confirmed Marxists. Why not protest in peace, as Dr. Martin Luther King suggested. All Lives Matter. Christ proved that when he gave his life for everyone, regardless of color!

Now, according to our local newspaper, our city council is thinking about having racial slogans painted on Hay street, or even have the building demolished. Our looters and criminals have already tried to burn the building down. Thankfully, one criminal suspect got what he deserved by having put himself on fire ... justice served, I believe. My question here is, Where were the police or fire department? Very bad choice Mr. Mayor and Ms. Police Chief, very bad.

The other sad thing is that the merchants have worked very hard to make downtown Hay Street a place we could all be proud of. The only thing thing they got in return was their widows broken out and stolen merchandise.

I will personally have no desire to go back downtown to shop or visit one of the many nice restaurants located there unless there is a dramatic change. There must be a Market House standing, with no paint on the streets! Oops. I forgot. I will continue to support our Woodpeckers, I do love baseball. Hey Fayetteville residents, we do have
an election coming up very soon, please get out and vote.

If I am not mistaken, the Market House is protected by the fact that it is on the 1832 list of the National Historic Registry places, making it deemed worthy of preservation for its historical significance. Why were the police not present to help deter some of the damage done to the Market House? Voters, an election is coming up soon ... please remember that.

As this piece is being written, we have a fence around the Market House — for its protection, I guess? Tonight the City Council is meeting to determine if the building should be demolished and done away with.

This should be about police brutally, not race or racism. I am so very sorry that Mr. George Floyd lost his life; I hurt for his family and friends. However, race did not kill him ... a police officer that had no business being on the force ended his life. Hopefully, justice will prevail, and all the officers get the punishment they all deserve. I respect the fact that anyone could use their constitutional right to protest, unfortunately, there are many of these protesters that have used this as an opportunity to loot, steal and destroy — even to the point of burning down buildings and destroying people’s livelihoods. The virus is doing that quite well, it doesn’t need any help.

Demolishing the Market House, or painting the street with Black Lives Matter, would critically ruin this fine city I was privileged go grow up in. If we are going to do that, why not put the nasty, slutty bars back in the first block of Hay Street and finish the city off?

I say not!

Respectfully Submitted,
Jerry Wilson
Fayetteville Resident

Positives in bizarre and scary times

03 margaretLike millions of other Americans, I wake up every morning wondering what is going to happen today. How horrifying will the COVID-19 resurgence be? How and why has a protective health measure like covering one’s nose and mouth become a political statement? Will protesters be on our streets and will there be violence, damages and injuries?

It is a time unlike any other, at least in my lifetime.

The negatives of our collective situation are apparent to all Americans, and many of us are suffering financially and psychologically, individually and collectively. Each of us and our families approach this difficult time in our own ways, and none of us is certain we are doing it well. Every decision and every action seem — and are — a calculated risk.

It helps to think of silver linings, and there are some.

Since March, millions of us have been forced to slow down. Working remotely or not working at all has given us more time with our families, not all of it fairy tale perfect, of course, but opportunities to get to know each other in new ways. We are not side-by-side with our friends and coworkers, but we do “see” them through 21st century technology.

We are spending more time outdoors, because we have more time and fewer places, like gyms, to go. Walkers and bikers, both serious athletes and casual strollers and pedal pushers, populate our neighborhoods. We are listening to and watching for birds, with apps to identify birds by both sight and sound downloaded by the millions. Live-cam feeds of nesting birds have soared in popularity.

Cats and dogs are flying out shelter doors as Americans adopt them in record numbers.

Experts say we foster and adopt pets to help them, especially those who have been abandoned, but we wind up helping ourselves cope with stress and become more active as we care for our new charges.

We are learning that maybe, just maybe, we really do not need all the possessions and services we thought we did. This American did not have a haircut for more than three months, and while I was not thrilled by my shaggy tresses, I muddled through just like everyone else and was delighted when I finally did get a trim. Ditto for other personal services and impulse purchases not made because we are not out shopping as often as we were preCOVID-19.

And, glory be — Americans are cooking again. With restaurants closed or operating at reduced capacity, we have had to provide for ourselves, and many of us are getting creative. Sourdough starter is having a big moment, producing bread, pancakes, waffles and anything else bakers want to try. Many of us are cooking together, a first in some American households. The Dicksons’ summer obsession turns out to be finding the perfect tomato pie recipe, and we think we have it now.

More cooking means more groceries, some of them selected online and then picked up or delivered. No surprise then that grocery profits have spiked during the pandemic, as have those of other industries that make us more comfortable at home. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that also thriving are meal prep companies and prepared food outlets, cleaning and delivery services, liquor and wine stores, game makers and sellers, fitness equipment companies, landscaping and yard services, garden centers, and — guess who — mask producers.

Americans are also doing each other small kindnesses, and each of us has a story to tell about those. One that resonates with me comes from the Gallery X Art Collective in Murray, Kentucky. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the tattoo parlor is offering to cover up inked symbols of hate or gangs — free of charge. Says tattoo artist Ryun King, “Having anything hate related is completely unacceptable. A lot of people when they were younger just didn’t know any better and were left with mistakes on their bodies. We just want to make sure everybody has a chance to change.” Their phone is ringing regularly.

Such is the phenomenon that is 2020, which still has six months to go.

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