People yell. Who cares?

These days I am still not running on all cylinders. Well, my truck isn’t. Perhaps I am not doing so as well.

I went for a routine, more or less, appointment yesterday with the neurologist at the Houston VA Hospital. I have developed a routine of traveling to the hospital by Greyhound bus rather than in my own vehicle. It can get expensive.

Luckily, the Houston Metro Rail runs near the Texas Medical Center. I can stop at one of the transit centers and catch the 1 bus to the VA Hospital. And vice versa.

The trip went okay, I made it back home in time to watch “Justified.” I did have one of those flashes of anger that kind upset my day.

I was at the Downtown Transit Center in Houston, just about a block from the Greyhound station. I was walking on the platform, going nowhere in particular, “just waitin’ on a train,” as Jimmie (the Yodeling Brakeman) Rodgers wrote and sang. All of a sudden, this loud voice boomed in my ear.

“HEY,” It was if this guy with the loud voice had a bullhorn in his hand.

When I turned around I saw this muscular black guy in his 30s or 40s — I will explain why I make that distinction in a moment. I must have had a puzzled look on my face because I was certainly puzzled.

“You were in my way and I hollered ’cause I wanted you to move,” said the guy, walking with a woman, not at all a beauty queen.

“You didn’t need to yell, I’m not deaf,” I said, yelling, not nearly as loudly as he.

I have no idea why this guy felt he needed to holler at me. His face couldn’t have been no more than a foot behind my ear. Catching a glance at this guy who was then standing on the platform with his companion, it seemed as if he was either angry or was perhaps just an angry guy.

Some guys are just mad or get mad at the drop of a hat. I was like that once, a whole lot like that, for a good while. It was a manifestation of depression, a psychiatrist told me, when I realized after spinal surgery that I was seriously depressed. “Depression is anger turned inside out,” the doctor said. Maybe so, but what is an umbrella turned inside out? Uh, don’t know that one either.

The wandering loud guy may have just had a bad day. Or a bad life. Maybe he just doesn’t like white people.

Race relations is a rather complicated matter in my case. I grew up in East Texas which is more like the Old South than the West. Hell, my great-grandfather fought in the Confederate Army. If you think about it, that’s pretty recent, relatively speaking. As I grew up, went to the Navy and worked with and became friends with people of all colors and ethnic groups, race became a bit less complicated.

But I also have realized some folks don’t like you because of your color. Wow! It took me a good part of my life, to discover a truth that millions others grew up knowing first hand. Stupid ass honky!

I don’t go around thinking about whether this person or that likes me or detests me. Well, maybe with some people. I have definitely been wrong about what people think. But here I am near 60. So I think: Why should I care?

It’s like the expression on a coffee cup my sister-in-law, Barbara, gave me upon graduating college some 35 years ago. I loved the sentiment then and still love it. It said: “Excuse me. You have obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a shit.”

There it is.

 

Willie: My heroes have always been funny

It seems so seldom that I laugh these days. I need to laugh more. Maybe I should move to Colorado.

A week or so ago Willie Nelson did make me laugh. Willie was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC. Kimmel’s show was in Austin all that week for South by Southwest in Austin, the annual conference and festival to make more people pay attention to Austin. Willie’s joke:

 “A guy is coming out of an antique clock shop with a new grandfather clock as a drunk comes stumbling down the street. The guy bumps into the drunk, falls down, and busts the clock all to pieces. The guy gets up and says to the drunk, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” The drunk says,”Why don’t you wear a wristwatch like everyone else?”

I laughed. Shotgun Willie and Jimmy even sang a funny duet.

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In recent times I noticed Willie’s voice struggling. That’s nothing. Some would say he always struggled with his voice. But I never felt that way. His voice sounded masterful on this performance, like it did when I saw him live 45 years ago, and again 35 years ago. I don’t know why his voice was so much smoother, especially now that he’s in his 80s. Maybe he smoked a big fat hooter prior to coming on.

Whatever the reason, I thank Jimmy and my man, Willie, for an entertaining few moments.

Bad Boys better hide, COPS is coming again

Last week the Beaumont City Council approved an agreement with Langley Productions “related to the filming of the Beaumont Police Department for the television show ‘COPS.'”

If you live on Pluto, COPS is the show on which police from various cities and counties throughout the country exhibit scads of police officers encountering mostly law-breakers. Many of those perps seem to either wear no shirt or a sport a “wife-beater.” Some of those suspects may even be wife-beaters.

This is the second time the long-running TV show has visited Beaumont. While the folks from COPS stayed for whatever period, the previous stay only resulted in a small chase in a neighborhood which resulted in one friendly perp was arrested.

I watch the show every now and then, such as now when the satellite system here is acting strangely. I have to admit they encounter the interesting, the pathetic, everyone it seems other than the innocent. Always at the end of every encounter, it seems, the police officers appear to impart a “moral of the story.” That is among the outcomes of the show that I really dislike. I also do not like the actions of a great many officers. This is specifically related to their command-giving and their telling suspects not to “resist” when sometimes it appears the police officers’ actions may lead to “resisting.” Police chases are also a subject that I could pontificate on from here to then.

When police chase a subject, he may not know who the person is that is running. Sure, the person chased might be a murderer. But in some cases, the person runs for what he or she may perceive is a large jam to avoid. Of course, once the officer starts chasing, then technically the offense increases.

I’ve said it before and I know law enforcement officers who admit that it is a personal affront for some one to run away from then. This is especially the case when officers have to chase someone on foot.

Oh and something else that drives me up a wall is what I am watching. A suspected prostitute they arrest her for DWI after failing a couple of sobriety tests by a narrow margin. I just hope I am not suspected of DUI because, even sober and I no longer drink and drive, I would definitely fail these stupid field tests. My diabetes has taken a toe-hold on me, no pun intended, but I have hammertoes on my left feet. One has an ulcer that I have tried to clear up for two months. That’s just not working and I will have surgery next month on my toes to hopefully correct them. Either way, there is no way in hell I’d pass any kind of “roadside gymnastics,” as Gary Trichter, a certified DUI/DWI attorney in Houston, calls it.

I would raise the thought that problems now faced in the country with what seems to be an explosion of police shootings could be due to the COPS factor. I can’t prove it. And it may be years before that is either proved or disproved.

Please don’t think I dislike cops or cop shows. Some of my favorite shows are police-oriented, some live, some recreated and some pure fiction.

Nevertheless, COPS will be back on our streets sometime soon for better or worse. Our police will continue you their often dangerous jobs perhaps playing for the camera, but hopefully not.

Law and disorder

A mean streak is running through society. That happens now and again. Remember the hardhats of the 60s and its unofficial anthem, “Okie From Muskogee?” No matter that Merle Haggard who co-wrote and performed the popular C & W tune insists it was a satire on the “America Love it Or Leave it crowd.”

That is as good as any reason for what seems to be non-stop flailing of young black men by police. Right now I’m hearing on CNN about a black man being found hanging from a tree in Mississippi. What is this, the 1920 Cracker South? We don’t know why the man, a convicted felon, was found hanging from a tree. Is it an old-fashioned lynching or some pissed off gang members of color?

Don’t get me wrong. Those of us happy, misguided, optimists who thought the warm fuzzy feeling just after Barack Obama was elected the first black American president certainly have the reason to feel let down. The right-wing sound machine and the Internet has managed to make the angry white Americans even more pissed off. I see it. It can’t be denied.

But why cops are beating the crap out of or shooting dead young black men may not be what it seems. Oh yeah, some cops equate young black men with “perps.” You don’t see that on “Cops” where a cop tells a perp he is cuffing “don’t resist” even though the suspect is so powerless underneath the police that he has no opportunity to resist. But read this disturbing story about mean police who, if their actions weren’t so deadly would be called “Keystone Cops.” Sorry for the very dated reference but you can get the drift.

These guys are equal opportunity thugs who happen to wear uniforms. They are generally the dullest pencils in the box, hired for political reasons. Add in some instances are taught by trained killers who have left the military for greener — as in money — pastures.

The 24-hour media focuses solely on black men or rather black kids because it raises hackles. And it should.

But there is something even more sinister than racist cops, if you can imagine it. These are cops, some of whom are serial killers and they still ride in their cruisers carrying their high-powered weapons.

I’ll stop here. Just read the excellent Rolling Stone story about a very disturbing American police department. I read it and I was shocked. I mean, seriously. I was so pissed. If you have half a soul you will feel that way as well.

Is that a handgun you are packing …

“I’m warming up my signing pen: Texas Legislature Ready to Move Forward on Open Carry Bill,” — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Well, isn’t that just special? Our governor Tweeted this on Sunday and it does seem like Texas is a few paces away — metaphorically speaking — from having more guns out in the public than cow pies.

The Texas Senate approved its version of a comprehensive handgun bill that touches many of the aspects of openly carrying pistols, many of which are not new. But, toting a handgun openly in public itself being new, the Senate legislation among numerous other provisions would codify the “school marshal” program as well as establishes some new punishments for both citizens and businesses.

Kids, you damn well better get that homework in on time!

A companion bill is being crafted in the Texas House which, for now at least, would allow the possession and openly carrying of handguns on college campuses. Whether the law itself, allowing those licensed to carry concealed handguns in plain view, is not somewhat full of holes some opponents claim the “campus carry” provision is a recipe for disaster.

It seems likely that what new Texas governor Abbott eventually signs will displease many and not just the anti-gun crowd. A portion of proponents for open carry are not particularly your “half-a-loaf” bunch. The most ardent supporters for open carry was for openly carrying anything, anywhere at anytime.

The most vocal and, perhaps to some, scary, of this group are those who carry long guns such as shotguns and rifles. The latter in this category includes semi-automatic rifles as as the AR-15 and AK-47. The open-carry-on-steroids group are likewise the most puzzling of the pro-gun group. In Texas, most people in most places can carry shotguns or rifles if they aren’t prohibited locally. While pro-nut gun advocates may seek a constitutional amendment for the right to carrying long guns, which would require voter approval, the fear factor this group causes could come back to bite them — or shoot them — in the butt.

Firearms appear to rally many of the crowd who believe the President is already from Kenya and wants to establish a dictatorship. Who knows what next, perhaps even take their white women. But not everybody who favors having guns think “shootin’ arms” should be everywhere all the time. You may count me in that group.

One problem I foresee is how to assuage fears which might instantly surface upon seeing that the good ol’ boy carrying a .357-Magnum, the quiet man packing a Colt .45 who appears as if he stepped off the “Men of ISIS” layout in Syria Today, or the large Bro sitting in the corner who looks like he could pound you in the dirt even if he wasn’t carrying a .40-caliber. Yes, stereotypes all and you know we don’t possess those.

How will you know someone carrying a handgun in a shoulder holster really is licensed to do so? Blind faith? And I’m not talking about the first British “supergroup” comprised of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Ric Grech and Steve Winwood. Are you going to ask some man in a sub shop whether he is just exercising his Second Amendment right or is he planning to hold the place up?

It is about to get interesting as Texas likely reverts to the Old West. I think I will just order in.

Good gourmet burger? Beets me.

Mine eyes have seen less glory in the last two decades due to aging, heredity or for whatever reasons that might develop. I started out with prescription glasses but eventually found I could do just fine with cheap reading glasses that somewhere along the way have been dubbed as “cheaters.”

I usually take my glasses along if I anticipate reading. Often times I don’t take them and later wish I had. Then sometimes it doesn’t really make a big ice sculpture whether I do or don’t need classes.

Most times I have glasses when I visit a place to eat that I have not previously visited. There is no telling what type of font or print size on a menu one might find nor may one predict the lighting. Even with glasses, especially cheaters, I might not possess the ability to read a menu with ease. Who knows what one might order.

But last week while staying at a Marriott near Houston’s Galleria I did not have a clue where I wanted to eat or what I wanted to eat. I was by myself, I was on foot — I have been told by a doctor to stay off my feet for more than a month ago due to a foot ulcer — so I likewise chose not to venture far.

As it turned out, there was a little strip center just around the corner from where I was staying. It was actually across the street from the huge mall but I had already taken one tour, at least partially, through the center. So I was pretty tired and was hungry.

I try not to eat more than a burger a week, it being my favorite, for weight and health issues. Although, sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Using such irreversible logic, I decided upon a darkened little restaurant called the Burger Palace and Bistro.

The sign on the window made mention of its being Houston’s best destination for 100 percent Akaushi American Kobe beef. That pedigree being mentioned I could see dollars slowly fading from my debit card. Having been a hamburger cook at a 4-star flea market cafe — hey when I say “4-star” what they hell does it mean anyway? — I could cook a burger that would make Wendy and Ronald McDonald go into hiding.

Now all sectors of the farming and ranching industry these days put out all kinds of smack about their food. An old friend from high school works as a PR guy for a statewide farm association and he is on the warpath with the anti GMO folks. Me I could care less. Two things food is basically about. One is sustenance. The other is taste. Then, somewhere down the line is health. And yes, I agree, that is three. So sue me!

I must’ve been lost somewhere down the line. But all these foreign names for beef don’t impress me. That is why I chose the Mitsubishi, sorry, I mean Akaushi, which is a strain of Japanese cattle. Kobe originally meant beef sold by tall, dark professional basketball players. No, just joking. It’s a city in Japan, silly.

Once inside the Burger Palace, back to no glasses, I could hardly see what was on the menu. Out of the 50 or so imported beers, I did make out “Estrella Damm” as the kind of light Spanish beer I might like to have with or before my dinner. It was a nice light beer, reminiscent of Olympia, which was the only American beer I could find worth a damn in Asia back in the Navy. And way back before Oly became synonymous with Old Milwaukee,

Speaking of the Navy, I visited a few ports in Australia back when I rode a destroyer in the Western and Southern Pacific. That nation had some delightful oddities in their food and it had nothing to do with chewing rough kangaroo feet. Australians had some great variations on food we ate as a matter of routine in the U.S. Among that cuisine was fried eggs or pineapple slices on their hamburgers.

Australians also were very fond of beets — they call them “beetroot” — and found them to be a very fitting additive to a hamburger. I ate eggs and pineapple on Aussie food, but I never tried beets. It just didn’t seem right. Not on a hamburger. Not in my stomach.

But last week in the Burger Palace and Bistro, at 2800 Sage Road, #1100, I tried beets on my burger, called the what else? the “Down Under.” Here is what comes on your burger, mate:

“Grilled Pineapple, White Cheddar, Roasted Beets, Fried Egg with Duck Fat or olive oil & Homemade Aioli.” Aioli is a garlic-flavored yolk sauce. I don’t know if there was any “duck fat” on it. I hope not.

But it was a very delicious burger. The beet left a reddish color to the bun and the gooey-ness made the sandwich somewhat difficult to navigate as a hand food. But it was just as good eaten with a fork.

The burger, which I ordered with a side of upright fries, was $10.95. The imported beer and tip came out to about $20. It was kind of pricey for a quick meal alone. But This seemed to be favored by couples and small groups.

The menu displays a variety for just about anyone’s pallette including vegans. Just tell them to leave off the duck fat.

The Burger Palace and Bistro
2800 Sage Rd., #1100
Houston, Texas 77056
(713)877-9700
Monday-Saturday 11a.m.-10 p.m.
Closed: Sunday

Hither and yon. Or how the hell did this post possibly turn out this long?

Here are some thoughts flowing hither and yon in my linguini today:

To tell the whole story in a bottle will take too long. Shall I just say that I spent the night in Houston and had a cardiology appointment yesterday at the VA Hospital? It amounted to talking with a physician’s assistant who said I needed another echo-cardiogram. Why couldn’t they just tell me to get the test? I already had one echo and it showed I had some enlarging on the right side of my heart. The cardiologist I had dealt with previously said an enlarging on the right side wasn’t anything needing attention right then and there. The doctor’s suspicion was that it had to do with my sleep apnea. I had recently received a new CPAP machine,  a computer memory card I sent the sleep folks said I was still showing a high incidence of sleep apnea. Jeez Louise. It’s always something. I’m facing possible toe surgery and any kind of surgery does not make me do flips of joy. And neither does any kind of heart abnormality make me want to dance.

Continuing my story, I found that using the Houston Metro light rail is a pretty good way to get around in conjunction with the bus. That is at least true for most areas I normally travel around Houston. The rail is expanding with two lines under construction and two others planned. Right now the system is a 12.8-mile route that includes stops ranging from the northern part of the city to just outside the I-610 Loop South along Fannin Street. Just prior to the Loop and Red Line terminus is a stop just outside NRG Stadium and the “old” Astrodome.

I found living in and around Dallas for a time that good public transit systems keep time with little deviation. Dallas became a much better city to navigate once the light rail was finished. It has been years since I rode a city bus up there. Houston also has a decent bus system, hopefully the expansion of light rail will make the transit system gel much better. As it is now, I am able to get around on buses in Houston and jumping off at rail stations to take me to another point somewhat faster.

The wheels of the bus go ’round and ’round … though not too quickly. I’m talking about Greyhound in Houston, not Houston Metro. I rode the bus to Houston and back to Rose City – a tiny spot on I-10 — just east of Beaumont in Orange County. It is designated the “Beaumont-Vidor” bus station. I have no idea why they moved the station way out in the middle of nowhere from what was, at least a bus station, on Magnolia Avenue in Beaumont.

My bus back yesterday got going 30 minutes late. It isn’t a big surprise. Some people at the Houston Greyhound station are, well, let’s just say they aren’t pleasant people. They wanted me to show my ID three times before boarding the bus. It would have been four times had the security person been at his area. I waited a minute or two, he never came, I just walked in. The Greyhound lady, who must have had a rough commute on her broom that morning, said those tickets printed at home as I presented can be easily copied. My question, the little bucks one gets off the price, what really is the advantage?

Once the bus was about to leave — a new driver getting OJT with the driver who drove on my trip to Houston — the decision was made for a late-coming Mamma, her baby and the baby Mamma’s Mamma. Baby Mamma asked one dude if he would move so she could sit down with her little baby. He said no, which he really shouldn’t have done. But the Baby Mamma then unleashed a shrill attack on the stubborn dude, calling him all kinda ghetto names. First, the experienced driver told the two parties to get off the bus. Nobody wanted to move, so the invisible security guy came up inside the bus. He was joined by some other guy who looked as if he might be a U.S. Marshal or a undercover cop and finally got the parties off the Greyhound without any rough stuff. But the Greyhound folks decided after talking to the guy who had argued with Baby Mama to let him back on the bus. Meanwhile, Baby Mamma, Baby and Baby Mamma’s Mamma were “outta there.” What a freaking mess! Can’t we all just get along?

Well, I’m back in B-town, what I don’t call Beaumont. I am about ready to leave this place, but that’s another story for another day.

Oh, at least Greyhounds have electric plugs to recharge phones and other devices these days! And both Greyhound and Metro have mobile apps. Not the best in the world, but somewhat decent.

Poor impulse control? No impulse control? Whatever!

Impulse is a word that appears as imparting more bad than good. It would be my guess that people these days seem to associate the word in its psychological form and specifically dealing with “poor impulse control” as in criminal acts. Specifically, the criminal acts – thanks to TV programs such as “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” associated with sex.

But impulse, that dealing with human behavior, is not always negative. Indeed there are some wonderful aspects of life that are constructed due to impulse. Of course, circumstances in which impulse may be great in the same manner may be, well, let’s say not so good. Take for instance life in one of its basic forms: birth.

While it is true that birth control has slowed down the numbers of babies resulting from the impulsive act of, as Bob Seger so aptly put it, “the Horizontal Bop.” So called “unprotected sex” not to mention faulty birth control methods still produce the little “surprise.” Some might see that little surprise as surprise!:) or as surprise:/OMG!

Not to get off the point, but doesn’t unprotected sex seem as quite a harsh expression? The phrase evokes showing up to the bed encased in a latex body suit. Or maybe a suit of armor. Let’s say you are just sitting there slowly rusting away from the humidity of the room while awaiting for the fair damsel to arrive with the key to her chastity belt. Quaint.

It also would be interesting to see studies of children of those with “poor” impulse control. Do they have a plan for everything ranging from taking a shit to having the car serviced?

I heard the Steve Winwood song “Roll With It” today while sitting in the IHOP and the title made me think of my impulsive life, good and bad, but mostly good. I never suspected, by the way, that I would do a phone interview with one of that song’s writers. Will Jennings has written or co-written for what seems like a “Who’s Who” of popular music. He co-wrote most popular songs recorded by Winwood, after the artist’s younger years spent with the group Traffic. I interviewed Jennings after he received Song of the Year honors at the Grammys for “Tears In Heaven,” which he co-wrote with Eric Clapton. Jennings came across as warm and unpretentious, which his friends from the college he attended and taught – my alma mater Stephen F. Austin — said were typical.

Oh, while I’m name dropping, most who know me understand I was far from a George Dubya Bush fan. However, I am proud of having interviewed him when he was head of the Texas Rangers baseball team. I was unmolested by handlers and Secret Service, which were prevalent while covering several events while he was president. I was actually part of the press pool a couple of times during visits he made home to Crawford, Texas. And I did get wet once. Pool, wet, get it? That was from waiting in the rain for the Secret Service to do their sweep of the church where I would attend services with the first family. In between baseball and the presidency, I also covered I don’t know how many events while GWB was governor. The same goes for Ricky Bob Perry.

I have had many good times doing the impulsive. And I never did anything to land me in prison. Well, let me rephrase that. I was never imprisoned for anything and kind of leave it at that.

And I did a few impulsive acts I wish I hadn’t. They mostly cost me money or made me feel awkward the next day. I will kind of leave that at that.

Just remember, my friends, there is no explanation better than leaving matters at that. Or maybe that isn’t so. It’s all according to how your boogaloo situation stands, you understand, as if you ever heard “Clap for the Wolfman.”

Today’s mystery guest is ______?

It is time for NAME THIS GLOBAL FIGURE. We (me) provide a photo of some random person who might only be known in some obscure nation (no hard feelings that nation) and you guess who it is. The answer will be provided somewhere down the page. Are you ready?

20120716_kolinda-grabar-kitarovic_rdax_375x250

This lovely is not only attractive but is also a highly-educated former diplomat who speaks four languages fluently and has a basic understanding of three more. She is now:

A: Starring in an upcoming Ethan and Joel Coen adaptation of “Gone With The Wind.

B: Appearing in this year’s “Sports Illustrated” Swimsuit edition.

C: President of Croatia.

D. The first woman to win the Professional Bullriders Assn. title.

 

Okay. I know which one I would pick, mostly because I made up the quiz and also know the answer. That is said to be a good combination as such.

I know this will really blow your socks off. But she is “C. The President of Croatia.” Wait, you mean there is really a Croatia? Why yes, my stupid friend. Croatia is in Central and Southeastern Europe. It was a part of Yugoslavia until declaring independence in 1991. Pictured is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who took office one week ago as the first woman president of Croatia.

Grabar-Kitarović  holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb. She was also a Fulbright Scholar at the George Washington University, a Luksic Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a visiting scholar at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.

The president held varied positions in government including Croatian ambassador to the U.S. and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy of NATO.

And yes she speaks Croatian, English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently and has a basic understanding of German, French and Italian.

She likes to drag race, skydive with commandos and speak while huffing helium in her spare time. I just made that up.

Madame President, 46, is married and has two kids. Sorry guys who wanted to marry a president who likes to drag race.

 

Great name, ugly ship

Adm. Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt was a visionary to some during his tour of duty as Chief of Naval Operations. To others he was a pariah. Zumwalt led the Navy from May 1970 to July 1974. As a matter of fact, he left that post — one he assumed as the youngest CNO in Navy history — only a day before I took the oath to join.

The CNO was known for his looser regulations regarding hair and beards on sailors and beer in barracks vending machines. But he had the thankless job of keeping the Navy in tact during the end of the Vietnam War. That was a time marked by racial riots and widespread drug use among sailors.

I came to admire Zumwalt both during my time in the Navy and up  to the 40 years since. I noted in his biography that the future CNO was a destroyer officer and CO before eventual promotion to flag rank. Although I only served one year, including one western and southern Pacific cruise, on a “tin can,” I was hooked on the older ships’ lines and profiles. So I can’t help but wonder what Zumwalt would have thought about the class of destroyers that would bear his name.

131028-O-ZZ999-102

The way ships and whole classes of ships are designed usually take place over a number of years. The DDG-1000 class, which is of the Zumwalt line, began to take shape four or five years after he died in 2000. The ship is a guided missile destroyer that came out of the DD(X) program. The “DD” designation are the identifiers of hull numbers for destroyers that were built up until 1980 when the last Spruance-class ship was commissioned. The ship on which I served was a Gearing-class destroyer which was first laid down in 1944 and eventually launched in 1946. The Agerholm, my home away from home in 1977-78, was the oldest active duty destroyer serving in the Navy at that time.

The Zumwalt is scheduled to join the fleet next year. Two other destroyers are being built in that class, the USS Michael Monsoor and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson. The former ship is named for Master-at Arms 2nd Class Monsoor, who was a SEAL posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. Johnson, of course, was the president of the US from 1963-1969, and a World War II Navy Officer.

No doubt, the Zumwalt and its class will be among the most technologically engineered warship in history with advanced electronics and weaponry. She (as ships are referred to) will be 210 feet longer than the WWII era ship on which I served. The widest point of the ship will be double that of as the Agerholm’s width. The “official” speed for the Zumwalt is about the same for all Navy ships, around 30-35 knots, as actual speeds are classified. A big difference between World War II–Vietnam destroyers is in crew size. The Zumwalt class will carry almost half as many crew members. Another big difference is both in missions and armament to carry out those missions.

The old DD-826, my ship, was primarily in the anti-submarine warfare business. It fired torpedoes both through tubes and from rocket launchers. In the early 60s it was the first ship ever to fire a nuclear-powered anti-submarine rocket, or ASROC. With the ship’s two “big guns,” the two 5-inch/38 cannons, the ship could engage in offshore gunfire support. She did so in both Korea and Vietnam. The ship was hit by North Korean gunfire.

The USS Agerholm fires a nuclear-tipped torpedo from a rocket launcher in  1962. Fifteen years later I would ride this beaut

The USS Agerholm fires a nuclear-tipped torpedo from a rocket launcher in 1962. Fifteen years later I would ride this beaut

The Zumwalt carries a variety of missile launchers including those for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles, ASROC, 155mm cannons, among others. The ship can likewise carry two helicopters.

The electronic sensing systems on board are probably too complicated for me to even talk about, if they are not classified, which they probably are. This leaves the design for me to squawk about.

The Zumwalt class will be that of “stealth” destroyers. Take a look at the picture and you will find that DDG-1000 looks nothing like your father’s or grandfather’s tin can. The strange lines and angles of the ship will likely leave enemy radar-watchers without a clue that probably the most lethal destroyer in naval history is coming. It will be a problem for our aggressors. It will be a bit exasperating for me, as well.

You see, all the weird design is, well, I hate to say it, but it is truly butt ugly. Through history, ships have been objects of beautiful design, even if these objects are meant to kill and create havoc. A naval ship is something more than a machine or tank. It, she, or she it, guys (and gals) live on these ships for years or more at a time. Some of us sailors call her home, to paraphrase Jimmy Buffett. These ships also act as an art work of our country. Often, we invite locals from other nations onboard to visit the attractive ship from other lands. People from Australia and New Zealand thought ours was a nice-looking ship, I remember them saying. Even the Red Chinese sailors we encountered in Jakarta stood and looked admiringly at our ship.

Given, you wouldn’t want to see your ship sunk by an enemy missile. My ship was sunk by a “friendly” missile. It should have bore a happy face :). But I have seen the pictures of my ship several hundred feet down on the Pacific floor off the coast of San Diego. The Agerholm was sunk during missile testing in the early 1980s. More recently I’ve seen a video of the actual attack, which would have likely blown me to smithereens whether I was at battle stations or chow. I don’t really like to watch the video or see the pictures of our ship at the bottom of the ocean.

So it is a great idea to have a stealth ship. We want to outrun, and hide, from the enemy. Perhaps some day they will have an ability to build attractive “warships” again. Until then … well, sorry Bud.