• Kaboom
  • The Big Story
  • Port Town
  • Port Town
  • Port Town


  • February 27, 2017

    Lessons from The School of Knocking Hard…

    Lessons from The School of Knocking Hard…

    I’m old – 76 years and counting. This comes as a shock to me sometimes, because I tend to forget. Then I will catch my reflection in a store window as I walk by and it comes as a total surprise – every single time. What the hell, I think to myself. How in hell did this happen?

    And the answer, of course, is one day at a time – so slow you tend not to notice. You’re too busy living life to worry about the creeping little aches and pains that get a bit bigger with each passing year. Then one day, walking past the store window, it all catches up with you.

    What the hell!

    You look back at your life and you think – wow, that went quicker than I thought. And then you look forward to that day when it’s time to shuffle off the mortal coil, hand-in-hand with your contemporaries, and it seems like just a short little jog. It’s not that I’m afraid. I’m not. I’m just a little disappointed. It all went by a lot faster than I thought.

    And that brings me to my first piece of advice for all my young friends. An entire lifetime may seem like a long time now, but it goes by so fast it will take your breath away. You only have a few years on the planet, so make them count.

    My second piece of advice is don’t let them put you in a box. Who are “them?” Your parents, your teachers, your young naive friends, preachers, politicians, singers, actors, or other entertainers. This is as much a warning as a piece of advice. I hit all the potholes in life, I’ve done most of the things I’m warning you not to do. Love your parents, your grandparents, your uncles and aunts, but use their experiences as lessons not only in what to do with your life but also in what not to do.

    My third piece of advice is don’t waste too much time in school. If you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or a researcher, you will obviously need formal training, but those disciplines are trades – skills you acquire to make a living. Math and the physical sciences are aimed at understanding the world, they’re not the same things as arguing legalities or designing a better airplane. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much for education. We can’t make proper decisions unless we understand history and the world around us, but education is a personal choice and it doesn’t happen just in college. Be curious about life. If you want to understand how the world works, you will do so. The only question is whether you go into years of debt to learn it at college from professors –   most of whom have spent most of their lives in school, either learning stuff or teaching it to others.

    My fourth piece of advice is don’t take experts too seriously. Experts are mostly just people trained to spout the common wisdom, which sometimes is right, but often is not. Use common sense. Think for yourself. As you get older, you will look back and see how seriously flawed expert advice has been.

    My fifth piece of advice is have fun. Enjoy yourself. You are not guaranteed 70 plus years. People around me have died, stretching as far back as elementary school. Some of the young people I currently know may well die before me. That really sucks, but let’s face it, life’s not fair. Don’t be planning so much for the future that you forget to enjoy the present.

    And my very last piece of advice is to take everything I just advised with a grain of salt. You’re not me and I’m not you. Consider what I have to say if you like, but in the end make up your own mind and make your own mistakes. Be your own person – not who anybody else, including me, thinks you should be. It’s your life, live it, which is exactly what I am doing with mine.

    Meanwhile, I’m still learning from my old mistakes and moving on – hopefully a little smarter. I will make brand new mistakes, I’m sure, but not the old ones. My plan is to be around as long as possible, having fun and enjoying life.

    Wish me well in that endeavor, and I will do the same for you.

    — Your pal, George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • Lyrics, Poetry and Prose II

    A place to share some words of beauty, inspiration, and fun. Click on the name of the piece to get a video or more information. You have some favorites? Please share…

    And it’s knowin’ I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds
    And the ink stains that have dried upon some lines
    That keeps you in the back roads
    By the rivers of my memory that keeps you ever gentle on my mind

     Gentle on My Mind composer and singer John Hartford

    Papa loved Mama
    Mama loved men
    Mama’s in the graveyard
    Papa’s in the pen

     – Papa Loved Mama composers Garth Brooks & Kim Williams

    you boys can keep your virgins
    give me hot old women in high heels
    with asses that forgot to get old.”

    —  One of the Hottest poet Charles Bukowski


  • What I Don’t Stand For…

    I would like to get it straight once and for all. I am not a conservative and I am not a liberal. But people keep wanting to put me in one of those boxes, depending on whether I agree or disagree with them on specific issues. I am me. Some of the things I believe in are in line with conservative thought; some are in line with liberal ideas. Many of the things I believe are neither one.

    Who I’m Not

    Like most Americans, I am not pro-life or pro-choice. I am somewhere between those two extremes. I also am not willing to see children go hungry, no matter how irresponsible their parents may be. Children are entitled to love and support. Not so with their parents. Adults need to get off their asses and help themselves.

    I am also tired of people who claim to be on the side of working people, but who walk by janitors and tradesmen as though they are invisible. I am disgusted by politicians who take big contributions from the people who work for me (public employees) then grant those same people extravagant salaries, pensions, and job security whether they work hard or not. I want the politicians I vote for to represent me, not the people who work for me.

    I don’t smoke or take illegal drugs, but I think people should have the freedom to do so if they wish. I think prostitution is a terrible way to make a living, but I don’t think it should be illegal. Shooting heroin to get high, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, eating fatty food or being a couch potato may all be both stupid and unhealthy, but I don’t think they should be crimes. Some of these things should be regulated to protect children and the general public, but none of them should be illegal.

    We look down at Mexico for supplying illicit drugs, but we’re the ones consuming those drugs. American drug buyers are the ones responsible for the blood bath south of the border.  Mexico should be angry with us for destroying their country. Blaming Mexico for our drug problem is similar to busting hookers, but letting the Johns go free. It doesn’t compute.

    My bottom line is this: You can believe what you want and still be my friend. Just don’t insist that I walk in lockstep with you to stay in your good graces.

    Friends like that, I can do without.

    — George Cunningham


  • February 20, 2017

    Back in the Saddle Again…

    I never planned to be a writer. When I was a kid, I loved to read, but when it came to my hopes and dreams, they did not include sitting at a typewriter for hours on end while the sun was shining outside and there were adventures to be had.

    I fantasized about being a fighter pilot, a soldier, a good-guy gangster, an explorer, a private eye, a race car driver, a secret agent, and sometimes a deadly assassin, dispensing justice from the barrel of my gun.

    In my boyish daydreams, I wouldn’t write about other people. Other people would write about me.

    But at some point all that changed. I think perhaps it was my love of reading that finally did me in. Because when you keep reading about stuff and thinking about stuff, pretty soon you start having your own ideas about stuff. And you want to share those ideas.

    You see life going on around you and it’s sometimes ugly and sometimes beautiful, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, sometimes stupid and sometimes incredibly smart. So I ended up working as a journalist and I did it for more than 25 years at various newspapers.

    Some of it was lots of fun, especially in the early years, and some of it was terribly frustrating. An editor told me one time that the reason journalists became frustrated was that they are creative people in a semi-creative job. They are constrained by the facts, and by an artificial standard imposed by their employers to be “fair.”

    Forget objective. There’s no such thing. You write about a dispute between Smith and Jones. Do you tell Smith’s side first or does Jones get to go first? But when you work for a newspaper, you are supposed to at least be fair – even if Smith is a sweetheart and Jones is a jerk.

    As a journalist, you meet a lot of people – rich and poor, powerful and powerless – and they share their stories with you and you write about them. Through it all, you develop a sense of what’s real and what’s bullshit.

    I left daily journalism in 1995, and my wife Carmela and I spent the next 15 years publishing an electronic newsletter on West Coast ports. It was fun. Then I wrote a couple of novels and then the Port of Long Beach commissioned Carmela and me to write a history of the port. All those books are available for sale on Amazon.com

    A year and eight months ago, I had a minor stroke. I’m fine now, but I have to admit that it shook me up. It was a cosmic tap on the shoulder, a reminder from the universe that life does not go on forever, that the wolves are gathering in the tree line, and if there’s anything you want to say or do, you better get to it.

    I don’t work for a newspaper anymore, and I am free to write about the world the way I see it. It may not be the world as you see it, but that’s OK. In fact, it’s better than OK – it’s really good. Maybe I can learn a little bit from you and you can learn a little bit from me.

    So I’ve revamped my website – added a bio and other information – and I’m reactivating my blog. My plan is to write about life, love, and everyday events as well as some more serious stuff that just may irritate some folks. In fact, I kind of hope it does, and I hope you email me and tell me about it. I will share your opinion along with your name on the website, unless you ask me not to do so.

    If you would like to receive my postings once a week in your email, please let me know. And if you are getting the emails and don’t want to get them anymore, tell me that as well.

    Your name and email address will not be sold or shared.

    You can email me at george@georgeleecunningham.com

    Until Next Time,

    – George Lee Cunningham

  • Lyrics, Poetry and Prose I

    A place to share some words of beauty, inspiration, and fun. Click on the name of the piece to get a video or more information. You have some favorites? Please share…

    Neon signs a-flashin’, taxi cabs and buses passin’ through the night
    A distant moanin’ of a train seems to play a sad refrain to the night
    A rainy night in Georgia, such a rainy night in Georgia
    Lord, I believe it’s rainin’ all over the world
    I feel like it’s rainin’ all over the world

    Rainy Night in Georgia; Singer Brook Benton; Writer Tony Joe White

    Mairzy doats And dozy doats
    And liddle lamzy divey
    A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

    Mairzy Doats; Written by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston

    Oh, how we danced on the night we were wed
    We vowed our true love, though a word wasn’t said
    The world was in bloom, there were stars in the skies
    Except for the few that were there in your eyes

    Anniversary Song;  Composer Ion Ivanovici in 1880