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JOHNNY STRABLER (The Wild One) meet GEORGE BAILEY (It’s a Wonderful Life)

JOHNNY STRABLER (The Wild One) meet GEORGE BAILEY (It’s a Wonderful Life)

This story is about the exuberance, excitement and passion of youth. Johnny Strabler and George Bailey were clearly excitable boys. George Bailey was played by Jimmy Stewart. All George wanted to do was to get the hell out of his home town of Bedford Falls. He didn’t want to settle for a mundane life like the rest of his family. George wanted to travel to exotic places, do exciting things and make his mark on the world.

Shit happened and he ended up staying in Bedford Falls, working at the family business, marrying his high-school sweet heart, buying an old, drafty house and raising a slew of kids. He never traveled to exotic places, did exciting things or made his mark on the world (outside of Bedford Falls). By the end of the movie, he learned the same lesson Dorothy learned in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”

Most of us were dreamers like George. We wanted more, we wanted to travel to exotic places, do exciting things, make our mark on the world. And like George, shit happened, and we settled for a life less than what we had dreamed. With any luck, you had some moments of exhilaration that touched on those youthful dreams, as you changed diapers, mowed the yard and paid the bills.

Of late, the streets are filled with passionate and exuberant youths. It reminds me of lyrics from the classic 1960s protest song by Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth.”

“A thousand people in the street

Singing songs and carrying signs

Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down…”

This tune, by Stephen Stills, reflected the angst in the streets of LA at the time. It was written about the closing of a rock club on the LA strip, but became a song for the times, as the fury against the Viet Nam war blossomed.

The kids on the streets today are equally passionate about the recent turn of events. Some of their disappointment and anger has a legitimate basis. Good for them…protesting, making your voice heard is a cornerstone upon which this country was founded.

Some of the protesting is based on emotion without a factual basis. And the violent protestors bring nothing to the table but response in kind. And unfortunately, some of the ‘song singers and sign carriers’ are professional, paid protestors. And finally, some are protesting in the same fashion as Marlon Brando’s character ‘Johnny Strabler’ in The Wild One. In it, Johnny was asked what he was rebelling against. He responded with, “What do you got?”

I’d like to remind the folks out on the street, that we have been here before. The country will survive, life will go on, things  may get worse, but they will eventually get better. I like to think that things may even be better than before.

Fifteen years from now that angry kid with a bandana masking his/her face, waving a “Not My President” or “Black Lives Matter” sign will likely be pushing a shopping cart with a kid or two in tow, looking for the best price on ground chuck. They will have become George Bailey. And there is nothing wrong with that.



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All In The Family
All In The Family Archie Bunker and Sammy Davis Jr.


The answer to why Trump won and can be found in two TV shows. All in the Family and King of Queens.  All in the Family was a 1970s sit-com featuring a middle-aged, blue collar, working stiff named Archie Bunker. Today, Archie would be classified as bigoted, racist, homophobic and misogynistic. He would be one of Hillary’s deplorable and irredeemable people. And yet, the show ran successfully for 9 seasons and touched on many of those controversial topics. Archie said ignorant, sometimes vulgar and hurtful things. But, the show demonstrated that in his heart, he was a good man that was loved by his family and friends, even the ones that were black, gay, women or hippies. And he was loved by America. Bravo named Archie Bunker, TV’s greatest character of all time. TV Guide ranked All in the Family as the fourth-greatest show of all time.

King of Queens was a more recent show airing into 2008. It was a family sit-com featuring a younger, blue collar, working stiff named Doug Heffernan. The show also ran for 9 seasons and earned high ratings from the TV industry. Doug was a parcel delivery truck driver. His co-worker and best friend on the show was a black guy named Deacon. Doug was not nearly as opinionated as Archie. Political correctness I suppose. In any event, they were just regular guys who loved their families, drank beer, bowled, played cards and worried about paying their bills.

Archie and Doug, and their families and friends were not deplorable, horrible people filled with hate. They were just regular people with whatever built in prejudices and opinions they learned from their upbringing. Clearly, some of those beliefs are wrong. Many of the episodes, especially in the All in the Family series, brought these controversial opinions to light and Archie changed.

Archie and Doug were typical working guys with typical working guy lives. Today’s working people are not much different. They worry about keeping their jobs, they are concerned about the safety of their families, the high cost of everything and what tomorrow will bring. The fact that some college student is over their head in student loan debt, needs a ‘safe place’ on campus or can’t find a comfortable place to urinate is not a priority.

These are the people who make up the bulk of America in what the politicians call fly-over country. These people are not racists and Nazis as the MSM would like you to believe. They are the people who work in factories that built your car, for construction companies that built your house, that drive the trucks that deliver your Amazon purchases, install your cable line or satellite dish so you can post your controversial opinions on Facebook, drill for the oil that makes the gas for the car you drive, operate the power companies that keep the grid working, cook your Big Mac or manage the Waffle House down the street.

These people watched as the economy sputtered, the middle class became invisible, the rich got richer, jobs were lost, wars were lost and terrorism increased on our shores. President Obama and Secretary Clinton both indicated that Hillary’s election would guarantee continuation of the Obama years. These folks are smart enough to know that “if you keep doing the same thing in the same way, you get the same result.” The same result was not acceptable.

These are the people, and their families who voted for Donald Trump. They were the regular people from fly-over country as well as the coastal cities. In fact, Archie and Doug lived in New York. Why did they vote for Trump? Because he connected with them. The Donald made ignorant jokes and statements that sounded a lot like something Archie Bunker may have made. But, Trump’s years of experience in dealing with people made this formerly liberal billionaire from New York City seem more like one of them than his opponent. They trusted him more than her. So they forgave him for saying stupid things and acting like an idiot.

Trump did not talk down to them or call them names. He didn’t bog them down with detailed specifics about complex world affairs, immigration and economic policies. “It will be tremendous. We will make America Great Again. Believe me,” he said. And they did, and they voted. No one knows how it will all turn out, but one thing we do know, the elitist liberal class took a spanking for not paying attention. Maybe they will listen now.



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We were on a cruise out of the country all last week and were “Off the Grid.” We did not know who won the election until late Wednesday.

When we hit a port in the US Virgin Islands my phone was blowing up with texts and Facebook posts about the election. There were so many messages and posts prompted by emotion and disappointment. They were laced with vitriol and anger. I found it to be the most perfect and lovely time to be away from home and ‘off the grid.’

My message to those who fear that the end of civilized society is at hand, you are forgetting who WE are. WE are AMERICA. We have been through this and much worse before. When many of you were not even a sperm cell swimming upstream in search of an egg, the political shit was hitting the fan. And yet we are still here.

Just a few examples are:

• An admitted communist-Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy on 11/22/1963. (Or the CIA, La Cosa Nostra and the shadow government did it.)
• An admitted racist, James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King on 4/4/68.
• A Jordanian anti-Semite, Sirhan Sirhan, assassinated Sen. Robert Kennedy on 6/5/1968.
• Thousands of violent Vietnam War protesters battled police in the streets of Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Similar violent anti-war demonstrations including bombings and shootings continued for years.
• Ohio National Guardsman shot and killed four Kent State students during a Vietnam War protest on 5/4/1970.

Close your eyes and try to remember a time when you were 18-22 years old and you didn’t pay attention to elections and politics. While you were playing beer pong, taking college finals, playing sports, or making a few bucks at a job, contentious bipartisan politics was happening. We had Watergate and the Iranian Hostage Crisis and 911 and we got through it.

If you are still so upset that you can’t even think straight because your side lost; remember we are AMERICA. We have been through worse. This too shall pass. Hang in there.

I will give you something to worry about if that helps. The real danger involves the people behind the curtain who are really running this country, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. You know, the military-industrial complex, the  Fed, the Bilderberg group types. They pull the levers that run the show. Yes, tough times are probably on the horizon, but not because of Donald J Trump. It’s much bigger than him.


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St. Louis-Murder City. Hard to believe we rated above New Orleans, Detroit and Baltimore. Yes, Baltimore. The city behind one of the best murder books, David Simon’s “Homicide-A Year on the Killing Streets” upon which a gritty, realistic TV show “Homicide-Life on the Streets” aired for several seasons. Not to mention, the recent Baltimore race riots following the Freddie Gray incident.

So the stats in the news say the 2015 murder rate in St. Louis, population 300,000, of 59.3 incidents for every 100,000 city residents was the highest rate of any American city. The 188 murder cases in 2015 represents an 18.2% increase from 2014 and a 66.4% increase from 2011. The majority of murder victims in St. Louis in 2014 and most of 2015 were young African-American males.

On the upside, we are still way behind the curve in the murder stats compared to the early 1990s during the gang wars over crack cocaine distribution. In 1993 there were 267 souls smoked on the streets of the Gateway.

What’s The Answer?

Some say we need more gun laws, we need less people carrying weapons. New weapon laws, or the ability to carry a concealed weapon will have no effect on a shithead, crack dealer or car-jacker hell bent on killing a rival gang member crack dealer shithead or stealing your car. They have never, nor will they ever, live by the laws and rules of a civilized society. And there is an organized, underworld business of illegal gun trafficking to sell these guns to the shitheads that keep them well armed and the killing fields active.

Is This Fixable?

This type of violence cannot be legislated away. This type of criminal activity can only be broken up by risk taking, courageous law enforcement officers either on the beat or assigned to undercover or covert task force, using surveillance, wiretaps, search warrant, stop and frisk and other tactics most liberals find reprehensible in this so-called free society.

As stated in the news of the day, many of the victims are black kids who never had a chance. They grow up without a family or social structure and they have role models like rappers. Our government makes promises about better schools, better opportunities, better jobs in their neighborhoods, but never delivers. We are conspiratorial minded, believe that the government thrives on these poor folks in a state of dependence for a voting block and for a means of control.

I drive through North City regularly and have lived and worked in North County for decades. I’ve seen the decay and white flight over the past 30 years increase. Please tell me what laws and state or national congressional actions over the past decade have made the poorest of poor lead better lives, improved the schools and lessened the temptation of a kid to join a gang in place of a family, sell drugs instead of get a job.

Morality cannot be legislated. New gun laws and more governmental regulations will not create the circumstances that foster the desire for the return to nuclear families and responsible behavior.

If the government really wanted to help, there would have been a revitalization with incentives for companies to put manufacturing and business back in the worst of the worst neighborhoods where it is needed most. The government would have done something with the slumlords, vacant houses and blighted neighborhoods that would help instill hope in the residents unable to leave that somebody does care.

In The End

Unfortunately, there is no government that is willing to do anything more than maintain the status quo and put Band-Aids on the problem when a transplant is needed.


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Abbie Hoffman

Abbie Hoffman, the 60’s leader of the counterculture revolution garnered thousands of supporters. They were primarily young adults of the age we see nowadays, only with their heads buried in their iPhone posting selfies. Abby urged his supporters to join a revolution to change politics as usual, to stop the Viet Nam War and essentially burn down the system and start over. Their tactics were dramatic, comedic and often violent. I think it is no small stretch, that our country is every bit as f##ked up now as it was when Abbie Hoffman was leading the charge against the establishment machine.

America’s place in the world is no longer recognized as the best and most solid nation. Our once vibrant inner cities have turned into ghost towns filled with gangs, drugs and hopelessness. The corrupt, union run, school systems have failed. They cannot perform the job of teaching and being a family to kids who have little or no social support system to show them right from wrong. Industry and good paying jobs have moved from hands-on production to sophisticated technology which requires education. Since the schools are unable to fill that need, unemployment brings more gangs, drugs and hopelessness.

Our roads and bridges running through our urban areas are falling apart. People with means have been fleeing the cities for decades. They leave and with them goes the taxes they would have paid to make improvements in the area. They leave behind those without means, to make it any way they can. And as some have said, “If society fails you, you make your own society.”

The military industrial complex and the political corruption that was targeted by Abby Hoffman and the Yippies in the 60’s and 70’s is stronger than ever. Outrageous activities like the obscenely expensive Mylan EpiPen, the corrupt Justice Department giving Hillary Clinton a free pass for her classified emails, illegal Mexican gun running in the ATF’s ‘Fast and Furious’ f##k up, illegal gun running in Benghazi, the lies and cover-up told to the American people on the Sunday news shows about Benghazi, the genocide in Syria, the terrorist attacks on American soil and an ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hits just keep on coming. And Obama is sending more and more ‘military advisers’ to these places. Did he not learn anything about the failure of the concept of wartime ‘military advisers from the history of Viet Nam?

YES…He learned plenty over the last two terms. He learned that ‘Hope and Change’ is impossible. He learned that the power of military industrial complex-the political machine, the lobbyists and the super-rich elite cannot be sustained without national and international conflict and war. Obama, the Clinton’s, Trump and all of those holier-than-thou clowns in Congress you see on the 24 hour news cycle are part of the machine.

If things remain the same, our third World War is coming. It’s just good business for the powerful elite running the country. You think our hands-off approach to the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and the artificial manipulation of the economy by the Federal Reserve is happen-stance? This is all part of their master plan.

The rise of a Donald Trump is a testament to the fact that so many are so fed up with the established politically corrupt machine and they want a different direction for the country. Trump may be an outsider to the political machine, but he has been an insider to the powerful and elitist groups running the country for decades and thus we can rule him out as the next Abbie Hoffman. Just because he is the lesser of two evils, still leaves him as evil.

Sure this sounds a bit paranoid. William Burroughs said, “Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.” Perhaps someone legitimate will come on the scene, call for change, and we will listen.

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Is Your Cell Phone Killing You?


Is Your Cell Phone Going To Kill You?

In my sci-fi novel, The Mercury Vapor Lamp Experience, electromagnetic forces (EMF) were used to facilitate mind control by aliens bent on saving the planet from the human species who were slowly, ecologically destroying it. Only a handful of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders were able to identify the threat and save the world.

Do you own a cell phone?  Thought so.  As in all of my writing, I spend considerable effort doing research. Despite what the government wants you to know, there is convincing evidence that exposure to electromagnetic forces alters normal physiological processes. It’s a pretty simple concept. The function of our heart, lungs, kidneys, nerves and brain are all dependent on electrical potentials at the cellular level. Remember that stuff from biology class about sodium, potassium, calcium and chloride ions and action potentials? Well, it is important after all.

I Want My Free Wi-Fi

I am sitting in a Panera Bread Company typing this, using their free Wi-Fi. There are some 25 people in here working on their laptops, tablets and texting or talking on cell phones. We are surrounded, even drowning in EMF. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, high voltage towers, cell towers, self-parking cars, automatic light switches and automatic toilet flushers. The new iPhone requires that we put wireless EMF receivers in our ears. What’s between your ears? You know, your brain, that very important organ that runs on EMF and properly functioning action potentials.

Ya Seen That Commercial?

There are commercials airing on most stations advertising radio frequency (RF) blocking wallets. These wallets are lined with an RF blocking product that keeps a crook from using an electromagnetic device to read your credit card information. It’s ironic that someone may find benefit in protecting their finances from intrusive EMF, but do little or nothing to limit their exposure to potentially harmful waves. So, if you are of a conspiratorial mind or are concerned whether your constant bombardment with invisible electronic waves poses a health risk, do your own research. Check out or for additional information.

Healthy Cell Phones

The kids who save the world in The Mercury Vapor Lamp Experience used simple EMF blocking technology and products that are affordable, available and easy to implement to limit their exposure to EMF. You may not save the world, but you may stay healthier, longer.

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Small minds on Facebook and Johnny Depp and Paul McCartney….Who Knew.

I recently had a run-in on the Facebook with a few fellows who didn’t like a comment of mine. It was a lively banter in which they called me names and threatened me. They live in STL, so I offered to meet them in person. As expected, it is so much easier to call someone out with a keyboard than in person. I suppose everyone has their comfort level and their’s is probably in their kitchen. Their childish antics reminded me of the Brad Paisley song about the guy living at home with his mom who, in reality is 5’5″ and chubby, but online is 6’5″ and a secret agent.  In any event, there is so much more interesting stuff out there than to engage on FB with small minds. I found some stuff that said Keith Richards is alive, Alien spaceship to be revealed if HRC is elected POTUS and that Stanley Kubrick’s movie “The Shining” was filled with clues about his filming of the moon landing. Just stumbled on this one. Johnny Depp is  a player of sorts. At least he keeps pretty good playing company.

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California Vice (Land) Part Two


California Vice (Land) Part Two

 Our travels took us to farming country in northern California. Weed farming. I had an idea of what we may find there because I watch the Viceland channel. Viceland is a cable channel that offers a wide variety of documentary and reality series style programming. Their focus is on the Millennial demographic, so you have a lot of weird stuff on it. One of my favorite shows is ‘Weediquette.’ In this series, the host, a guy named Krishna, (imagine that) explores different aspects of the marijuana culture. He basically gets stoned for a living. And a lot of that takes place in northern California, as well as Colorado and Oregon.

In California, the rules of growing weed legally were codified in the 2015 Medical Marijuana Regulatory and Safety Act which went into effect Jan. 1, 2016 and is called the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act. The act contains plenty of legalese and has a two year goal to put together the various regulatory agencies. And, getting a license to grow weed is costly. It can be thousands of dollars to get through the process to be cleared and obtain a marijuana grow license. But essentially, if you follow the rules the state has specified, you can grow a lot of pot. As a former police officer, the experience of seeing legal marijuana farms was bizarre.

Marijuana farming in California is an industry, just like traditional farming. Whether you are growing Sour Diesel or Soy Beans, both require land, barns, utilities, fencing, water, irrigation, fertilizer, pest/predator control and a lot of hard work. Just like traditional farmers, the pot farmers we met were responsible stewards of the land. Their land and their crop is their livelihood and they take it seriously. To successfully grow good weed, you have to be part horticulturist, geneticist, environmentalist and laborer. None of them we met were stoners. It is apparently way too difficult to prepare a 400 gallon pod of growing medium, or put up a ¼ mile of fencing while baked out of your mind. We met some retirees with medical marijuana licenses who legally grew a few pot plants in their vegetable garden. They tell me smoking a joint in the evening is no different than having a glass of wine or taking a Xanax.

Sure, there are negative aspects to the expanding weed culture. Some growers don’t go the legal route. Those who don’t own a farm often trespass on public or private land and illegally set up their grow operation. These are the folks that may be armed, place booby traps around their plants and are otherwise engaged in criminal activities. Hopefully, California law enforcement will eliminate these outliers just like they do in states where growing is not legal.

Hindsight has shown us that alcohol prohibition didn’t work and that heavy handed, federal government enforcement of a product that is generally accepted by the public, was a mistake. It is difficult to justify how the legal Cali growers, who are responsible, law abiding, environmentally friendly and, in my humble opinion, nice people, would face arrest and significant jail time in other states. The cop in me says, “If you’re growing weed in a state where it is not allowed, it may not be right or fair or what you want, but it’s still the law.” Then again, maybe John Lennon was right. “You say you want a revolution…”


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California Vice (Land)



California Vice (Land)

The wife and I recently spent some time in California. Having been to LA and San Diego any number of times, this trip took us to northern Cali. I had not been in northern CA since the early 70s when a friend and I hitchhiked up and down the coast highway, camped in Big Sur and spent some time in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. It was just a few years after Woodstock, and there were hippies in tie-die clothes carrying Peace signs driving around in multi-color VW. Jerry was still alive. The vibe was warm and fuzzy, filled with love, flowers and plenty of that sweet smell of weed.

We stopped off in the Haight last month. There were a few folks clad in tie-die, that didn’t look that much different than their 70s counterparts. But there were more dark clothed, leather clad, pierced and tattooed kids walking the streets. Some were panhandling on corners, some sleeping in vacant storefront entrances. Walking by these kids, listening in on some of the talk while in a cafe, I didn’t sense the happiness and love that was prevalent during my first visit. There was no one handing out flowers or flashing the peace sign.

We were in a shop and saw a display of standard red and blue bandanas. Mine was getting kind of ratty, so I pulled one off the shelf. The tag said, “Vintage Bandana,” $18.00. EIGHTEEN DOLLARS! You can buy the same square, cloth bandana at any truck stop for $2.00. Capitalism and retail marketing to tourists is fully operational in the Haight. The vibe was definitely different than back in the day. Maybe it was because the weather was a bit damp and cool, or I am old and curmudgeonly. Probably a combination of two.

We travelled through NAPA wine country for some tasting. I guess my old and curmudgeonly persona was fully operational. It was like stepping into a scene at the Bushwood Country club in Caddyshack. Each place was full of couples in their 50s or so. The men wore deck shoes, crisp, pleated shorts and Lacoste Polo shirts. Their wives or girlfriends were all in sleeveless sun dresses, very tan and looked artificially younger than their partner.

The wines ranged from $60-$300 and up per bottle. Some of the wines were described with such obtuse language as, ‘a muscular note of seasoned berry’, ‘a warm bonfire aroma’, ‘the scent of a blueberry cigar box’ or the ‘leathery notes of a saddle.’ Do you really want to drink something that smells like a saddle or cigar box? Clearly, I am no sommelier. In fact, I didn’t even know what a friggin’ sommelier was. In any event, it all seemed pretentious to a “Two-Buck Chuck” aficionado like me. At least we got a buzz from the wine tasting.

We had a better ‘Fruit of the Vine’ experience in Murphy’s, California. It’s a quaint, small tourist town that reminded me of St. Charles or Hermann, Mo. There were a number of winery tasting shops, small stores and restaurants. The people were authentic and the wine and cheese prices were reasonable. We got another buzz and enjoyed the atmosphere, a win-win.

From Napa wine country to California Weed country…California Vice (Land) continues on my next blog.




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Black Coffee, White Flight

Black Coffee…White Flight


Howard Levinson

February 11, 2015

I do a lot of writing at coffee shops; Panera, Starbucks, Picassos, Kaldis to name just a few. There’s Wi-Fi, caffeine, food and interesting people to watch and eavesdrop. You’d be surprised how many writers pick up quirky traits and mannerisms for characters that eventually end up in their books, from just this type of activity. I’ve done coffee shop writing written in just about every major city in the US. At a coffee shop in Atlanta, NY, Chicago, LA or Dallas, you will see nearly every type of human meandering in and out, a veritable Star Wars Cantina of diversity.

Recently, I found myself at coffee shop in the St. Charles County area. I was immediately struck by the lack of diversity of the patrons. These folks were ripped from the pages of a Bass Pro or Banana Republic catalog. I figured any minute, Mitt Romney would stroll in. I am sure there must be some flavor of customer other than vanilla at this place on some days. But on the day I was there, only soccer moms, dads and their 2.5 children, a few Bo and Luke Dukes, and a gaggle of women who would best be described as well past Cougar.

St. Charles County was one of the fastest growing counties in the US for several years running. I believe that part of that growth was due to the white flight from St. Louis City and North St. Louis County.  According to the “U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts,” St. Louis County’s mix is about 70% white, 24% black. St. Charles County is 91% white and 5% black.

Why the flight of the whites? Well…if your neighborhood succumbed to an increase in graffiti, gangs, government housing, an influx of large numbers of disenfranchised folks from lower socio-economic groups (aka minorities), a decline in the quality of the school district, an increase in crime and lowered property values, what would make you stay put?

I think this demographic shift describes St. Louis City and municipalities like Wellston in the 1950s and 60s, University City in the 1960s and 70s, and the subsequent white flight of North St. Louis County in the 80s. I’m not bashing St. Charles County or the white-flighters. St. Charles is clean, fresh, new and safe with good schools, roads and neighborhoods. Subdivisions where people know each other and look out for each other. It’s a great place to raise a family. It’s a lot like St. Louis City, Wellston, University City, Ferguson and Florissant were at one time.

The problems that boiled up in Ferguson and elsewhere in our area were inevitable as the distance between us grew. Maybe we can somehow close the gap, but as the riots, demonstrations and civil unrest continue, I don’t see anyone coming up with answers.