Obama’s Middle East


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Where to start? Arbitrarily, here … After several terrorist attacks and a declaration of war by Osama Bin Laden, President Bill Clinton lobs a couple of cruise missiles into Afghanistan and hits a pharmaceutical building.
Fast forward … 4 hijacked airliners crash into various places in the US killing 3,000 people. Right then & there, I vowed I was done with Democrats and regretted my vote for Bill Clinton. I had already skipped my one & only ever Presidential election. Just couldn’t pull the lever for either Al Gore or George W. Bush. From this day forward, I became a most respectful man toward our relatively new President Bush. I would vote for him in 2004.
Faced with one of the greatest massacres in American History – and on our own soil – Bush responded with the Wars in Afghanistan, and, later, in Iraq. It should be remembered that the 2nd was entered into with bi-partisan support. Of course, later with 20/20 hindsight, the catchy little phrase, “Bush lied; people died,” became trendy among the Democrat left in this Country. There was no lie, but what does that matter? World-wide faulty intelligence was to blame. End results were, however, that Bush won 2 wars in Iraq … first against the Iraqi Army, in short order, capturing Saddam Hussein in the process, and then, an unexpected war against the insurgency, otherwise known as al- Qaida in Iraq.
By the time our current President Obama took office, things were pretty much under control. Obama & his VP, Joe Biden, would later claim that Iraq was stable and would go down in history as one of the Obama Administration’s greatest achievements. Yes, they really said that … and more. At that point, Iraq became Obama’s War.
And then, as promised, Obama had our military withdraw from Iraq. No doubt in my mind he could have reached an agreement with Iraqi leaders to leave a substantial, stabilizing force behind, but it was not to happen. Thus, a nice little power vacuum. And so was born The JV.
Benghazi (2015_03_29 07_24_21 UTC) (2015_05_03 19_44_34 UTC) (2015_07_26 15_19_56 UTC)Meanwhile, Hillary had her little “reset” stunt with Russia go awry. Arab Spring was a mirage. Israel has been alienated at every turn. Despite the left’s gurgitations about no more nation building., we take out Khadafy in Libya and create the next tumultuous state. Remember Benghazi! The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. And Syria became a bloody mess, partially exacerbated by Obama’s infamous do-nothing “red line.” Oh, and, the growth of the Islamic State, ISIS, or, ISIL, or, their proper name, The JV. I mean, is this all a bad joke?
Not funny. Russia takes Crimea and invades Ukraine … *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
Suddenly, 1 — yes, that’s ONE – hour prior, a Russian general informs us in Bagdad that Russian airstrikes will begin in Syria and we had better get out of the air. One freakin’ hour. Fairly humiliating, I would think. So, Syria is a complete mess. Thanks, Obama. Migrants, refugees, whatever you choose to call them are streaming northward and westward by the millions. What to do? A lot of fingernail biting, I guess.
And here I go forgetting all about that sad sack of a nuclear arms deal with our new “friends” in Iran.
What now looks like an unholy alliance forming in the Middle East – Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran – makes a hot bed a Hell. Thanks again, Obama. I suppose we just have to wait and see. Have fun, Next President!
Now, I know, I am no Middle East expert … I may be, according to some of my “critics”, a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, an Islamaphobe, a close-minded ignoramus, a worthless piece of s—t, and, most recently, a paranoid schizophrenic. Take this all with a grain of salt. Perhaps, the cradle of civilization is one big Nirvana.

A timeline ~~~

Jimmy Carter [D] — On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran and took approximately seventy Americans captive.

Bill Clinton [D] — On February 26, 1993, WTC in NYC attacked by a powerful truck bomb killing 6 and wounded over 1000.

Bill Clinton [D] — On June 25, 1996, 19 American soldiers killed by a truck bomb in Saudi Arabia.

Bill Clinton [D] – On August 23, 1996 Osama bin Laden declares war on the US via the Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.

Bill Clinton [D] — On August 7, 1998, US embassies attacked in Tanzania & Kenya, killing 200 including 12 Americans. afterwards, US strikes back with cruise missiles with little effect.

Bill Clinton [D] – On October 12, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked in Yemen killed 17 sailors and wounding another 39.

Bill Clinton [D] – On September 10, 2001, Clinton said, “I’m just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden … He’s a very smart guy. I spent a lot of time thinking about him. And I nearly got him once. I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him.” On September 11, 2001 – in large part because of Clinton’s inactions & failures – 3000 people were killed in NYC, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

George W. Bush [R] — On October 7, 2001, the US launches its first serious retaliatory strikes against the Taliban & al Qaeda beginning the war in Afghanistan. Later, with huge bilateral support, the US attacks Iraq, quickly dismantling the Iraqi forces and capturing Saddam Hussein, before being bogged down with an insurgency. A successful military surge was implemented in 2007 – 08.

Barrack Obama [D] – 2009 – 11, authorizes huge troop withdrawals from Iraq directly contributing to the widespread growth of ISIS, who he routinely underestimates, and loss of most of the gains achieved by the surge.

Barrack Obama [D] – to Present – well, just pay attention to the news.

God help us.



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… Battle of the Wilderness …


… Inspiration for LOTM’s Massacre Valley?

A large force of British regulars tramps down an old Indian trail which serves as their roadway. Resplendent in their bright red uniforms and polished steel accoutrements, they provide a rich visual counterpoint to the lush greenery of the surrounding virgin forest. Accompanying this arm of the Crown are many colonial militia, women, sutlers, and the like. But for the tramping of feet, the jangle of equipment, the songs of the birds … there is silence.


 Suddenly, near the rear of the column, a small band of Indian warriors emerges from the darkness of the woods. They cut down several of the British. They disappear. A grenadier company – the cream of each British regiment – forms up and fires at a nearly invisible enemy. The march resumes. There is firing upon the right flank. A party of Rangers & Indian allies pursues the unseen foe into the forest. To no avail. Confusion & panic begins to permeate the ranks …

Seemingly, the above description is right out of Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans, and its depiction of the Fort William Henry massacre. But is it? Fast forward to …

Hidden in the forest within the depths of the trees, and on both sides, are hundreds of Indian warriors. They begin a fusillade of fire which tears into its increasingly terrified targets. The British fire blindly. As comrades fall, and their attempts of their own defense prove futile, panic spreads. Troops huddle in a mass, desperately attempting to reach the safety of the center. Gunfire, women’s shrieks, smoke, war whoops … it all equals death to the bewildered British. All sense of order is lost. Officers desperately attempt rally, or even orderly retreat. It is useless. Warriors swoop upon the mass. Proud British might has been reduced to rubble in the unfamiliar confines of the wilderness …

Still think we’re speaking of The Last of the Mohicans? It is easy to see why. These two portions of our account of an historical event, though separated in time by 3 days, very closely approximate the filmmakers’ vision of the Fort William Henry massacre. [Please see our FORT WILLIAM HENRY … The Siege & Massacre for the true story!] In some respects, as pointed out in our On the Trail of the Last of the Mohicans guide booklet, it resembles James Fenimore Cooper’s version, largely based on the panic-stricken refugees’ early reports of the affair … people like Jonathan Carver of Massachusetts. Yet, it isn’t. It precedes the Fort William Henry siege by two years. It does not occur in the colony of New York, but rather in that of the Penn’s Woods, Pennsylvania, in the early stages of the great French and Indian War.

Call it what you will, the Battle of the Wilderness, the Battle of the Monongahela, or simply Braddock’s Defeat, as it is popularly known, it is very much not any scene from The Last of the Mohicans. It centers not around Fort William Henry, guarding the passage way of the Lake George/Lake Champlain corridor, but rather about a great French fortress, Fort Duquesne, standing guard at the confluence of two mighty rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela – joining forces to form one grand river way, the Ohio. It was a critical juncture in the frontier. Holding this point meant control of the Ohio River Valley and the fur trade & Indian alliances that came with it.

View of Fort Duquesne as it must have looked in 1755 … Diorama photo courtesy of Table Top Studios

Chains of forts sprouted up around the frontier extending the lines of communication from New York to Fort William Henry, from Quebec to Fort Duquesne. Each little garrison became an isolated outpost serving not only as frontier guardians, but as supply depots and campaign launching points. Thus, destruction of links in these communication lines severely hampered, if not crippled, operations of the enemy. So it was that Major General Edward Braddock, then 60 years old, led an expedition against the French strategic stronghold, Fort Duquesne. Though well versed in military tactics, Braddock had never before led troops in battle. Carrying huge siege cannon with him, this didn’t figure to be much of a battle anyway. The fort would fall.

The French, too, knew this. They had neither the manpower or supplies to survive an extended siege by the British firepower being lugged their way from Maryland’s Fort Cumberland, over 100 miles of wilderness away. Duquesne, very near the location of a previous, short-lived, structure originally constructed by the British, before being driven off by superior French forces and rebuilt, would be only the first to fall, for surely a domino effect would occur throughout the region. The other forts were smaller in size and garrison. It was simple. To maintain dominance in the area, to strengthen alliances with the native population, Duquesne could not be allowed to fall.

Manning the fort was a recently swollen garrison of some 600 or more French & Canadians, with plenty of artillery in its massive bastions. Yet, it was readily accepted that it could not stand against the columns of British now known to be creeping, ever so slowly, their way … numbers that were falsely reported to be as high as 4,000 men. So it was that a body of men comprised of 36 officers, 72 Regulars, 146 Canadian militiamen, and 637 Indians, from the assorted allied tribes of Hurons, Potawotomis, Ottawas, Shawnees, Missisaugas, Iroquois, Delaware, and Mingos, all under the command of Captain Daniel-Hyacinthe-Marie Lienard de Beaujeu, were dispatched from Duquesne on the morning of July 9, 1755 rushing to intercept the approaching British as they were fording the Monongahela at one of two crossings. For reasons not fully known, they were late. The British crossed both fords, in force, unmolested.

The column of British meandering their way through unfamiliar wilderness to lay siege to Fort Duquesne read like a who’s who of Colonial British America – George Croghan, Horatio Gates, Robert Orme, Sir John St. Clair, George Washington, Thomas Gage, Daniel Boone. These, and others, made their uncertain way through the forest with Braddock. They lugged both field and siege cannon, as well as a train of supply wagons, further slowing the progress. All in all, perhaps 1600 men were in the field, consisting of 2 Regiments of British regulars, the 44th, under the command of Colonel Sir Peter Halket, and the 48th, commanded by Colonel Thomas Dunbar. Accompanying these regiments were 200 sutlers, wagoners, and other armed “hands,” a group of volunteers, 40-50 women, and a few Oneida Indian allies. One private in the group bore the name – a wonderful LOTM tie-in – of Duncan Cameron.

Let’s back up three days earlier, to July 6, 1755. This is the day skirmishing took place that is described in the opening paragraph above. This was the first contact between the opposing forces of this campaign, and when Fort Duquesne commander Captain Claude Pierre Pecaudy, sieur de Contrecoeur, first learned of the presence, in the immediate area, of this rather large British assemblage. Awed by the display of artillery, it was decided to attack the force on the move, rather than await their arrival at the fort. The next two days passed without incident. The 7th was spent by Braddock’s men excruciatingly slowly skirting some swampland. On the 8th, they passed through a 3 mile long valley, with heavily wooded hills on both sides. It appeared a perfect ambush place, and Braddock had the heights scoured by flanking parties. Nothing happened.

Dawn came on the 9th of July. It wasn’t till sometime after 9AM that Captain Beaujeu’s mixed French and Indian force left Duquesne. By that time, Braddock was crossing the fords. By noon, it was completed. They were safely across the Monongahela. Braddock had expected an ambush the day prior, back in the valley. It never came. Surely, the French wouldn’t miss another opportunity. Yet, again, no ambush was forthcoming during a time of British vulnerability. Braddock and his officers decided that it must be that there was to be no ambush. Obviously, the French had decided to make a stand at the fort. Braddock’s force was now about a mile from the river.

It was a complete and utter surprise … for both sides! It was an accidental collision in the woods. The English now had a false sense of security. The French were still intent on a crossing ambush and were rushing, pell- mell, to the fords. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gage led a vanguard force of some 300. They rounded a bend in the narrow road, with a rise of land to their right. Scouts came rushing back with the news. The French were just ahead. The French force, taken equally by surprise at the appearance of the scouts, opened fire. Gage ordered his force into line and they fired several volleys in the finest European tradition. At a distance of about 200 yards, it was mostly a futile display. At least one ball, however, found its mark. French commander Beaujeu fell dead. Momentary disarray permeated the French body, but it didn’t last long as second in command, Captain Jean-Daniel Dumas, quickly rallied his men. The Indians streamed down both flanks, under cover of the forest, took aim from behind trees, and raked the British with enfilade fire. The French regulars took position across the road to the front, most probably in a pre-dug trench. [If there was a trench, it was obviously not dug on the spot. Perhaps, a French work party had dug it, in the days immediately preceding, to delay British siege supplies on the “road.”] It was described as a massacre.

The French had deployed in a crescent shape and were virtually unseen. From the forest, from the trench, and from the rise of ground, they poured down lead on the British advance party. The besieged began to give way. Gage attempted an orderly withdrawal, but lagging behind, was a work party, still advancing. The retreat crashed into the advance, adding further to the confusion. It was only 15 minutes into the battle and a fifth, or more, of Braddock’s army was in utter disarray.

It got worse. The baggage train followed the work party. The seething mass of terrified men, mingling almost aimlessly, now had whatever hope of escape they might have had blocked by their own supplies. Officers desperately tried to maintain order throughout the battle. The chaos was becoming uncontrollable. The horses of the train began to feel the panic. They, too, became uncontrollable. The war whoops of warriors added to the surreal atmosphere of death and destruction.

Meanwhile, Braddock, with his staff, including George Washington, and the bulk of the army, having finished the fording of the Monongahela, heard what they at first thought was skirmishing up ahead. As the nature of the seriousness of the affair became apparent, Braddock led the bulk of troops forward to join the fray. For the second time, a collision occurred on the narrow pathway. As the mingled and mangled vanguard, work party, and baggage train attempted desperate withdrawal, their comrades rushed forward to their aid. Two forces of equal momentum bearing down on one another. All the while, the French and Indian crescent spread out, and after an hour’s time, had about completely engulfed the army of Braddock.

Four times, Braddock had his horse shot out from under him. His officers bravely urged the men to stand. Many officers were shot down by their own rebellious troops. Instead, they huddled. They attempted to burrow to the center. It was slaughter for the British regulars. At one point, 2 6-pounders, that had accompanied the vanguard, were turned against them upon capture by the French. Many of the American militiamen reverted to forest warfare and attempted resistance. Mistaken for Indians, some were killed by their own allies, the British regulars … what relative few were actually returning fire. For two more hours the British attempted to cut their way out of the trap. In vain, a meager attempt was made to seize the rise of ground. It failed.

Deterioration continued, despite the best efforts of Braddock. Mortally wounded, he still attempted rally. The envelopment continued. It was close to becoming a complete encirclement from which there would be no escape. The wagoners, et al, most prominent of whom may have been Daniel Boone and Daniel Morgan, were gone. They had chosen to live to fight another day. Most, if not all, organized resistance ceased to exist. The body of men, those surviving, finally, after enduring 3 hours of hot lead, hideous screams, and death all around them, broke and fled through the opening to the rear not yet closed off by the French. Casualties were horrific. Nearly all the officers and about two-thirds of the fighting men were dead or wounded. Of Braddock’s staff, only Washington was alive and relatively well. The rout was complete. Left in its wake, were artillery, guns, ammunition, wagons laden with supplies, horses, cattle, Braddock’s papers & personal effects, a chest of gold, and dead men … perhaps 500 of them. Pursuers caught the stragglers, captured them, tortured them, killed them. The carnage reached all the way back to the Monongahela River crossing. There, it was abandoned. Pillaging the dead and wounded became the order of the day.

Back at Fort Duquesne, a prisoner whose life was spared, recalled this, a final snippet from right out of The Last of the Mohicans:

After sundown, I beheld a small party coming in with about a dozen prisoners, striped naked, with their hands tied behind their backs, and their faces and parts of their bodies blackened; these prisoners they burned to death on the bank of the Allegheny river, opposite to the fort. I stood on the fort wall until I beheld them begin to burn one of these men; they had him tied to a stake, and kept touching him with firebrands, red-hot irons, &c., and he screamed …: the Indians, in the mean-time, yelling like infernal spirits.

And what of Duncan Cameron, the private? He survived, and his eye-witness testimony adds much to our present day interpretation of the event. He says, simply, of the aftermath: At Night when the Coast was clear, I got me out of my Hiding-place.

One Reliable Estimate of the Casualties

Officers & Staff 96 26 36
Troops, etc. 1373 430 484
French 200 8
Indians 600 20

It was a shocking debacle. A superior force was nearly annihilated by an enemy barely half its size. The repercussions, though temporary, were tremendous. The French maintained exclusive control of the forks of the Ohio and the all important Ohio Valley. They had demonstrated their might by crushing a more numerous foe, convincing the united tribes of whom to call Father. Fort Duquesne stood proudly still.

One more thing. Had the fort fallen in 1755, it is very conceivable that Fort Niagara would have followed suit and the French, abandoned early on by their Indian allies, rolled up back into Canada. Very possibly, the siege at Fort William Henry might never have happened. There very well may never have been a The Last of the Mohicans tale to tell!

Point State Park – the site of Fort Duquesne in
present day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Point State Park, a National Historic Landmark, is at the tip of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. The 36-acre park is accessible from the east and west by I-376 and I-279, from the north by PA Route 8, and from the south by PA Route 51. In 1758, Fort Pitt was built on the site of Fort Duquesne after the retreating French burned it in the face of superior approaching forces. One of the three restored bastions now houses a museum, the Fort Pitt Museum, which details the history of that era.

On the retreat to safety, General Braddock
succumbed to his wounds a few days after the Battle.
Along the Braddock, or Wilderness, Road [above, with monument on the rise to the left], he rests to this day!


A Moment in Time at Crow Agency …


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The unzipping sound of a tent flap in the darkness was the first sound of this early morning. I stumbled out into the cool, fresh eastern Montana air. Bumbling around with my flashlight, I managed to get a pot of coffee started on the old propane Coleman stove. Then went off to relieve myself.

We were at Crow Agency, Montana … home of the Crow Indian Tribe, mortal enemies of the Lakota interlopers to their homeland. That is how 6 of them came to be scouts for the 7th U.S. Cavalry, led by General [brevet] George Armstrong Custer, back in 1876. This little campground was just to the east – maybe a little north – of the famous Last Stand Hill where Custer and about 50 of his men were found mutilated … and very dead. But, at that moment, it could have been in my back yard. All was dark & silent, except, for the sound of coffee beginning to percolate. I just sat in silence, absorbing the smell of those brewing coffee grinds.

Poured myself a mug full of the awakening beverage, and then, that zippering sound again. Out rolled my oldest boy, Jesse — then 6 years old. This was 1987. We quietly chatted. Then, the sky began to brighten, ever so slowly. It is very likely that my two other urchins, Adam & Christopher, popped out of the tent about this time.

The day before, we had driven and hiked around the battlefield which stretches some 3 miles along the Little Bighorn River. One of the things that struck me, as we were on foot among the markers – [they are not headstones, though there is a National Cemetery in the Park, but rather markers that denote where bodies,  in some cases specific bodies, where found by the burial parties] – was that you could almost feel the flow of the battle. Those markers make this the most unique National Battlefield in the Park system. Little Bighorn – or, Custer’s Last Stand – is a pristine & peaceful place. Yet, for two days in June it was dusty, loud, violent, and bloody. The dichotomy cannot be ignored.

Little Bighorn sky

courtesy of National Geographic Magazine

The morning sun began to rise. We had a clear view from our campsite up to Last Stand Hill and Battle Ridge beyond. The markers glistened. There was a beautiful orange glow cast upon the site. It was quiet, we had our comforting coffee, it was a glorious sunrise. And we were gazing upon an iconic location where a scene of lifelong interest had taken place. Now, in my reflective mind, it was coming to life.

It was a recipe for our own private nirvana. To this day, those moments were among the most calming I have ever known. Wish I could bottle it: some quiet solitude, a cup of coffee, a dash of children, sprinkle in some sunrise, and a scenic and/or historical site to jump start the imagination. Perfect, to my taste!

Gatherings for the Ages!


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Almost spontaneously, after being innocently suggested by Eric Hurley (Soldier #2) on our Bulletin Board several months ago, the idea of a Mohican Gathering grew out of a love for the film, a desire to see the locations, and, probably most of all, a gnawing craving to meet one another …

So began our first informational page about the Great Mohican Gathering of 1998. In 1999 we saw another Gathering come and go … one that would be very hard to top. Never ones to turn our backs to a challenge, we turned our thoughts to a Third Annual Great Mohican Gathering. Whether it, the 2000 Gathering,  was more successful or not is a matter to be determined by those who came. The 2001 Great Mohican Gathering is behind us, and now the Gathering of 2002 rates as still another smashing success …

2003, unfortunately, had to be “postponed.” And, in 2004 the Gathering continued the hits kept on coming!


1998 “We came from Indiana & Illinois. We came from Florida, Texas, California and Oregon. We came from North Carolina and the Alaskan frontier. We came from across the Atlantic. Some came only in Spirit. It didn’t matter, for WE came, and we could almost FEEL the presence of those who had wanted to. We came together without anyone making a profit. We came without really knowing WHO it was we were coming to meet. We came to the unknown. Why? Why would virtual strangers, most of whom knew each other ONLY through that intangible realm known as Cyberspace, send their money to who-knows-where for T-Shirts, CRP Packages & movie tickets, pack their bags, and drive, or FLY, to some non-existant place called MohicanLand? This is a question to ponder, much like “The meaning of life,” but we’ll save that for another time. We imagined a dream. We trusted one another. We put a plan together. We MADE it happen! The lure, the one common thread we knew we all shared, was “The Last of the Mohicans”, in its broadest sense. The mystique of that film, of that cast, of those mountains, of even the novel, and certainly, the history was strong enough to make us put aside any fears and turn an unruly mob of merry Posters into an Event we will long remember. So many, though, who helped to foster that dream, and many others who will stumble upon it after the fact, were not able to attend. And so, as the ever-diligent Program Guide Editors pointed out in the GREAT Program Guide (and, it WAS!), we remember you, and dedicate this page to you (along with, of course, those who actually attended). It probably would never have happened without you! A mighty thanks to Rebecca, Victoria, Lynne, Joy, Neuromancer, Bill, Petra, Heather, Joe, She-Who-Tracks …, Norm, Carmen, Katja, Major Bray, Mike, Gretchen, Kathy, Georgette, Kiki, Juanita, Morwenna, and, of course, the illustrious Dr. Mary! (Did I forget anyone?) This Gathering is behind us now … It was a glorious time, but bittersweet, for it was SAD to have to say good-bye. You know? The Gathering firebar 1999 “Did you ever imagine this when you first started?” That question has been asked of us many times, regarding many different situations. The answer is always, “No.” From gaining inspiration from a movie, to tracking down the film’s locations, to laying out a guide booklet, to finally having it printed, to creating a web site through which to sell it, to seeing that web site expand far beyond our wildest dreams, to all the cast contacts, to all the fine contributions from people we had never before known, to watching as a real live virtual community sprung up before our eyes and called itself MohicanLand – the combined personality of which extends to The Gathering – to seeing the interactive part result, spontaneously, in a Great Mohican Gathering last year that was to become a lifelong memory for 38 lucky people … An amazing odyssey. It’s been creative, fun, challenging … and endearing. We have, with the love and support of so many of you, overcome huge obstacles placed in our path. We have laughed till we’ve cried & cried till we laughed. How could another Great Mohican Gathering, in 1999, be anything but a disappointment, a letdown … With the spontaneity gone, would it, COULD it, ever be a success? Or would the Trail finally run out?

Eric & KidsThe answer, as 52-some odd folks can readily attest to, is that the Trail can be seen disappearing well into the horizon. We have gathered again, we have trekked the trails that crisscross the beautiful greenery, the blue-tinted mountains, the rushing rivers, that make up MohicanLand. We have had, for the SECOND time, a GREAT Mohican Gathering. All the camaraderie, the joking, the poking & retorts … all the shared love of a movie and time … all the creative juices that we can proudly say makes our Board a most very special place … the joy, the scenery, the calm, the music, the wonderful personalities … the totally incongruous mix of people that SOMEHOW fits together to make it all click … it all came together a second time, and it worked! There is a magic about these Gatherings that comes from within each and every individual that attends. That’s what truly makes it all viable. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all for making the 1999 Great Mohican Gathering such a grand success …

It was nearly a year in the making. Almost immediately, following the ’98 event, the planning began. The Gathering is NOT a one man, or woman, show. Ilse Maan, our Dutch Trader, took on the work of designing & producing a unique T-shirt to help commemorate the event. Jo Tishler, a hold over from last year’s 3 Little Piggies, teamed with a fourth, Sarah Zentner, to create a beautiful & informative Program Guide to help to orient everyone to the proceedings. The Mighty Mohican Mama, Marcia Meara, set up our splendid Chimney Rock deal, including the infamous Bunkhouse, put together the welcome packets, and handled the organizing of the raffles, among other things. We heartily thank you all for making our job so much easier. It wouldn’t have happened without you. Then, of course, there’s Soldier #2, Eric Hurley, who each year blesses the event with his bubbling personality, good-will, and on the scene perspective of the filming at almost every location that we visit, John Evans with his collection of props from the film, Susan Houck with her Celtic music, John Harkins with his longhunter outfit, Emily McGowan with her 35mm preview of LOTM – donated for future Gatherings – Adrienne Brown and her magnificently sculpted Hawkeye doll … so many things brought to display or donated to raffle. And then, there’s each & every person who attends, bringing their own special charms & personality, that all blend together to create that magic … Yes, it always comes back to those who come … that is, indeed, what it is all about! Group At Linvillefirebar 2000

We could begin the telling of this tale in very much the same way the past two Gathering events were recounted. In fact, we could probably get away with using the same WORDS, practically verbatim … Ahhh, but that would be cheating! And, in fact, this Gathering, in the year 2000, was very much different from previous events. It would seem, that all three Gatherings to date have had their own unique personalities, despite the obvious similarities. The first one was new … and short. The second time around, we expanded to a third day, visited The River Walk, and had a very special guest in Eric Schweig. Then, the third rolled around. The second had been pulled off to near perfection. Could it be matched? Well, the sign up list grew … and grew … and despite a last week shuffling of attendees due to cancellations, near cancellations, and last-minute sign ons, the roster was at an all-time high. Amongst those putting The Gathering together, this was a cause of some trepidation. How in the world would we handle a group of 80, far surpassing either of the past two Gatherings – in fact, nearly equaling both of them COMBINED – on the trails that lead through Mohicanland? How would a 30 or 40 vehicle caravan ever stay together through the twists & turns of Mohicanland’s back roads? And then, even though there were many returnees from the previous groups, there were even MORE newcomers! Would we jell? Would the camaraderie & friendships; the good-humor & good-will still be center stage? Or, instead, would it simply deteriorate into a “tour” of film locations?

We’re glad you asked!

firebar 2001 

In a darkened theater, some 90, or more, pairs of eyes are fixed on their duty … the screen in front of them. On the horizon, for the morrow, is a hike along the Cliff Trail of Chimney Rock Park, but there it is, larger than life, before us right now. Uncas has been killed. One of the most poignant moments of a stirring film is unfolding. A lifeless lover has been tossed from the cliff by a ruthless villain. The remaining partner, dazed and confused by the horrors of frontier warfare, has come to grips with her ever downward spiraling situation and has, finally, taken control. She will plunge over the cliff to join Uncas. That villain, Magua, startled by this development, beckons Alice to come back …

[voice from the theater] “I’m coming honey!”

Funny, I don’t remember THAT particular line … I’ll have to go back and check the script.

The film rolls on … a father violently reaps his revenge. Yes, Chingachgook, father of Uncas, has caught  up with the Huron war party and stands face to face with his adversary … Magua. A brief, but brutal, struggle ensues and Magua collapses, broken & dead, on the rock, as Hickory Nut Falls gushes by. His head smashes to the ground, blood gurgling at his mouth. The audience cheers. After all, he IS the villain!

“Thank you, very much!”

Huh? Surely, THAT line’s not in the film! No, it’s not. But on this night, it is there, clear as day. It is the voice of “Magua,” emanating from right there in the center of the theater, come to life. We found we really were watching the film with Wes Studi …

… And that’s the kind of Gathering this was!

In a darkened theater, some 90, or more, pairs of eyes are fixed on their duty … the screen in front of them. On the horizon, for the morrow, is a hike along the Cliff Trail of Chimney Rock Park, but there it is, larger than life, before us right now. Uncas has been killed. One of the most poignant moments of a stirring film is unfolding. A lifeless lover has been tossed from the cliff by a ruthless villain. The remaining partner, dazed and confused by the horrors of frontier warfare, has come to grips with her ever downward spiraling situation and has, finally, taken control. She will plunge over the cliff to join Uncas. That villain, Magua, startled by this development, beckons Alice to come back …

[voice from the theater] “I’m coming honey!”

Funny, I don’t remember THAT particular line … I’ll have to go back and check the script.

The film rolls on … a father violently reaps his revenge. Yes, Chingachgook, father of Uncas, has caught  up with the Huron war party and stands face to face with his adversary … Magua. A brief, but brutal, struggle ensues and Magua collapses, broken & dead, on the rock, as Hickory Nut Falls gushes by. His head smashes to the ground, blood gurgling at his mouth. The audience cheers. After all, he IS the villain!

“Thank you, very much!”

Huh? Surely, THAT line’s not in the film! No, it’s not. But on this night, it is there, clear as day. It is the voice of “Magua,” emanating from right there in the center of the theater, come to life. We found we really were watching the film with Wes Studi …

… And that’s the kind of Gathering this was!


A  personal reflection ….

Imagine … imagine you are in a company of perhaps 80-100 soldiers. You are sent into battle with comrades you have trained with, laughed with, cried with. Your company suffers very heavy casualties. The next time you muster up, there are perhaps only 50% of you left. You look around. Many friends are gone. Imagine …

I felt very much like that as I planned & prepared for this Gathering. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing; wasn’t sure I even wanted to proceed. Yet, something kept driving me, and though I was looking forward to “getting it over with” more than anything else, I proceeded forward into what I felt was the unknown. Certainly, I was looking forward to seeing some of the familiar faces I’ve come to know & love, and I definitely felt that I owed it to the “newbies” to show them a good time, but other parts of me felt it probably would have been better to just let it lay, with the Wes Studi-themed Gathering 4 the Grand Finale of it all! The events of September 11, 2001 also played a part … a large part … in the dismal outlook. It took months for me to somewhat shake the horrible feelings of that day and begin to feel like a Mohican Gathering might even remotely seem appropriate. Those feelings aside, I believe that once committed, stay the course … and so the Great Mohican Gathering of 2002, with much assistance from fellow Mohicanites, was allowed to be born.

As the time drew nearer, I had flashes of excitement, periods of the blahs … no matter how hard I tried to just go with the flow & let it be whatever it would turn out to be, it kept coming back to, “well, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.” It seemed, too, that Murphy’s Law was settling in, and just about everything that could go wrong did – delays, unexpected expenses, key cancellations – and all that compounded the gloomy feelings. In one way, it all very much felt like the first Gathering in 1998 – so much was unknown – yet for me it was lacking in that overall sense of euphoric excitement. And it all – or, mostly all – boiled down to so many missing faces as the root cause! It would have been oh-so-very-easy to allow the past dispute & ugliness to pervade & let the Great Mohican Gatherings die a rather unseemly death … tombstone & all … ala the old Mohican WWW Board. But like the old Mohican WWW Board, which has found rejuvenating life & exuberance in a new, revamped format … well, I’ll let the Gathering of 2002 tell its own story … but, before I do, some key moments & unknowing inspirers:

  • Diane Bunch writing an innocent E-mail to me where the unspoiled excitement of a soon-to-be new Gatherer allowed the freshness & enthusiasm of the Gatherings to once again seem possible to attain

  • Jayne Langan stepping forward as a worthy successor to head up Ariel’s Auction, allowing the Gathering to remain something more than simply a good time

  • Ann Colby & her never-dying positive outlook

  • Kate Penman rejoining the cause & helping to push for participation in Ariel’s Auction with an impassioned plea

So, I went on down to the Geneva, in Chimney Rock Village, on Wednesday evening, June 19, carrying with me much consternation, trepidation, a little hope, and a brand-new Gatherer, Ariel Segal who I had just picked up at the Greyhound terminal in Asheville. The hope began to swell, and the fears to subside, as we pulled into Hickory Nut Gorge on a early summer’s late afternoon. The sun drenched cliffs were a welcome, and invigorating sight, the familiar feel of The Gathering Place at the Geneva, filling with raffle items of all descriptions, not to mention folks I really cared about, all began to jell, beginning to create that special mix of Gathering magic that has been the Gathering’s trademark.

I returned home that night feeling a lot better about things, and then …


Dear Rich and the Mohican Group:
Russell and I would like to express our appreciation to the Group for your gracious warm welcome at your annual gathering last month.  We had a wonderful time.  The bar-b-que was delicious, many thanks to those that organized and to all that gave us gifts, the bar-b-que sauce, Vermont syrup, apple butter, etc. etc. (and yes, Russell persuaded me [to] carry the left over short bread and ginger snaps on the plane home)!   You can take the man off the rez, but you can’t take the rez out of the man!
You are a great family.  May the Great Mystery continue to guide and protect the paths of you and your loved ones.  

… Pearl and Russell Means

firebarMore Gatherings, more photos, more details, at: http://www.mohicanpress.com/mo02000.html

Who Done It?



Didn’t mean for this to end up being my great American novel. It’s a long story!!


Just happened to be my day off. Back in those days, we had rotating days off at the Post Office. It was a Thursday, the Thursday after Labor Day weekend – must have been 1998? – and it was my Thursday to be off. Sitting at my computer, hair loose & wet from a shower, I heard a vehicle coming up our long, gravel driveway. Got up, peered out the window. A Sheriff’s Deputy was approaching the house. My eldest son, Jesse, had left for work not very long before, so immediately my thoughts turned to the worst. I opened the door and stepped outside, with much trepidation, to greet the Deputy. “I have a warrant for a Robert …” then he stumbled over and badly mangled my last name. “No Roberts here.” “Can I see your ID?” “Sure.” I went to fetch my wallet and pulled out my driver’s license, handing it over to him. The Deputy studied it for a moment, then handed it back. “Well, I guess this is a bad warrant. Have a nice day.” Back to my PC I went, relieved that it had nothing to do with my son.

Maybe 45 minutes later, I heard the sound of tires on gravel once again. “Jeez Louise!” It was the Deputy’s car again. My house sat in the middle of 16 acres. Our front pasture bordered the road and a neighbor’s house sat across from it, also with a sizeable pasture. The neighbor had watched the Deputy come and go the first time, leaving empty-handed. The gentleman – I’ll call him “Mr. Neighborly” – jumped in his car and chased down the Deputy, returning to the Court House to get a new warrant issued. This time, in MY name. So, the Deputy comes up to the house. I once again greet him.

Deputy: “Richard Federici, I have a warrant for your arrest.”

Me: “What the … ? For what?”

“A dog shooting.”

“WHAT? Oh, I think I know what you’re talking about, but I have never shot anyone’s dog … ever!”

I found it hard to believe that someone could get arrested just on somebody’s say so. I remember thinking, “Can you just pick a name from the phone book and have them arrested?” And I said that to the Deputy. I also asked, “How can you arrest me without even questioning me? What if I was out-of-town the date of the incident?” We were discussing all of this as I sat in the back seat of his vehicle on my way to see the Magistrate. Before all that, he let me dry my hair. He was a nice fellow and sympathetic, but in essence, all he had to say was, “Tell it to the Judge!”

Wild West at the Homestead

Let’s back up to Labor Day, the date of the alleged incident. To the best of my recollection:

A Great Dane

The plan was to take the family out for a hike on Table Rock Mountain on Labor Day. Our dog, a border collie mix, decided it was time to go into heat. So, the night before the hike, our house was under siege by every male dog [aren’t we all] in the neighborhood. There was an all-night ruckus going on right outside my bedroom window … dogs snarling, barking, huffing & puffing, as they jockeyed for male supremacy, and, I guess, first dibs. It all sounded quite lively and downright vicious, and had a very detrimental effect on my sleep turning me into a snarling, barking, huffing and puffing sleep-deprived grump in the morning. Hike canceled! My now estranged wife – I have an estranged wife; she only has a very STRANGE husband – decided to go out and get a take-out breakfast as a little make-up treat for the kids, some of who accompanied her. They slipped out the back door to avoid the restless pack out front, hopped in the van, and drove off. Upon their return, the van was surrounded by the yapping crowd of dogs. The sliding side door of the van was opened, and a huge black Great Dane attempted entry. The dogs were pretty much in a frenzy. Wife & kids escaped through the front and made it safely back in the house. I asked my son, Adam, to see if he could disperse the pack who had now re-gathered out front. His novel approach to that task was to take a folding chair and catapult  it off the front porch into the midst of these barbarian hordes. It actually worked. All dogs took off for cover and disappeared, except for that huge black Great Dane, who just so happened to belong to that neighbor across the road, Mr. Neighborly. This little fella was known to run rampant on our property and on this very day was seen with one of our chickens hanging dead from his gapping mouth.

During all this time, dour old me was laying on the couch with a major headache. Not Daisy BB gunonce during any of these events of the morning did I step outside of the house. The Great Dane was insistent that he was staying put. “Just do whatever you can to get him to go,” I said to no one in particular. My son, Chris, then 12 years old, retrieved his Daisy BB gun and went to face the enemy. From the top of the porch steps he fired a BB down at the pooch’s feet. He backed down the front walk to the driveway, more afraid of the sound than anything else. It should be noted here that because of a line of tall evergreen trees it is impossible to see these events from the road. Chris followed the Great Dane sort of shooing him along until he was out in the pasture in full view of the road and the house he lives in just across it. At a distance of at least 100 feet, Chris fired another shot in his direction and he scampered off toward home. That was the last we saw of him that day, though he was back, rambunctious as always, within a day or two. But, for all intents and purposes, that was that. It was over. No harm, no foul. We never gave it another thought.

Until Thursday …

Get Me Outta Here

Sheriff’s car pulls up to the court House and takes me in to see the Magistrate. She looked over the charge; I reaffirmed my innocence. She responded that I would have to be held — in jail — unless I came up with $500 bond. I was incensed.

Me: “What! You’re going to hold me with bail for something I never did? For something I was never even questioned about? You couldn’t even get the warrant right!”

Magistrate: “Have to hold you.”

“Look, I don’t have the money. I’m not going to flee the Country over this bogus charge.”

“Sorry, we have to hold you.”

“I’m not fleeing, I have a wife & 7 kids back at the house.”


“I’m a land owner, I pay my taxes, you have got to be kidding!!”


“I have to pay you to get out of here because some guy says so? I didn’t do a thing.”


“You think I’m going to run over this BS? I work right at the Post Office …”

“OH! You work at the Post Office? OK, you can are free to go.”

Well dang! Who knew the Post Office held so much sway? I had POWER!

So, I made it to my court date, after a couple of continuances. One was a kicker. The guy accusing me was right there in the court room, yet, the Judge postponed it because of “failure to appear,” or something. I was told, because he didn’t answer to his name, he wasn’t there. I saw him. Sitting right there! At this point, I knew I was in for hell and that something was not right. What the heck just happened?

Court 1

I had hired a lawyer, still practicing today. He had told me that I would have been better off shooting the dog with a .22 and dragging him to a creek. That’s what he would have done, he told me. He also asked me if, as a last resort, he could call Chris as a witness. I agreed, as a last resort. It was crazy. my accuser brought a veterinarian from Hickory in as a witness, complete with X-Rays. They claimed the “bullet” had ruptured this and mangled that … the dog was dying because of his “injuries.” This was just impossible. A blatant, made-up testimonial. The Judge asked the plaintiff if he was sure it was me that shot his dog. “Yes, I am positive it was him. I see him mowing his pasture all the time. I know exactly who it was.” Another, blatant, made up lie! He even claimed, “I” was about 100 YARDS away from his dog when “I” fired. That was roughly 3 times further than Chris actually was. Another blatant, made up lie, but this one actually undermined his case. I guess it was last resort time, as much to my dismay, my lawyer then called my son as a witness. In short, “Who shot the dog?” “I did.” Not only because someone else admitted to the “crime,” but, the Judge, a firearms aficionado, stated at close, “there is no way a BB at 300 feet could do the damage portrayed in that X-Ray to a dog of that size. Case dismissed.”

End of story? Not quite.

Bad Boy or Good Boy?

So, Mr. Neighborly across the street, not satisfied with that result, decided – even though he was absolutely sure that he personally saw me shoot his dog – was going to press charges against Chris. To say I was teed off is a gross understatement. Before charges could be officially levied against my 12 year old, we had to endure an interview with some guy, name and title escapes me, to see if there was reason enough to proceed. Kind of like a Grand Jury – only just him. He had something to do with the schools – a mix between a guidance counselor, truant officer, and parole officer – I don’t know what he was. But, off we went one night for our interrogation. It was at Pleasant Gardens Elementary School, I believe [PG being a part of Marion] and lasted a couple of hours. I made the case that Christopher was an A student, active in sports, had no disciplinary history. I told him that he was only trying to protect his family and following my “orders” – things that should be complimented not punished – and that he had no desire to hurt the dog, nor did he. It was only a case of a young boy trying to find a way to shoo a huge, agitated animal off his property. What if, when the dog attempted entry to the side of the van, he had bitten my youngest child in the face? All for naught. I think we were just going through the motions; that his decision was already made before we walked in — I told you, something wasn’t right. “I find that there is reason to proceed.” Proceed we did.

Court 2

I wasn’t going to mess around this time. Now it wasn’t me, it was my son, and I did feel somewhat guilty for the actions of my lawyer in putting him on the stand. I asked around, “Who is the best lawyer in town?” Pretty much everyone responded with the same name, now deceased. In my limited experience in the McDowell County Courts, it was my observation that most of the lawyers were merely paper pushers. This guy was like a real trial lawyer. He dug up case law, interviewed thoroughly, and had a plan. He was actually going to present a defense. I felt that we were prepared. Still, I was VERY nervous. I had to sit in the courtroom and watch my son go through this. Poor Christopher.

Court date finally came. Mr. Neighborly was, strangely, sitting off to the left in a partitioned section of the Courtroom — WITH the Deputies. As I have said, something was amiss. I was called to testify … and testy I did become! I was appalled that there was no transcript from MY trial, because Mr. Neighborly had, during his time on the stand, contradicted that testimony several times. He claimed a van never went out or in the driveway, that he was on the phone talking and looking out the window the entire time. He claimed he could see Chris … not me … shoot from the porch [not possible], he changed the distance and so on. Our lawyer did ask him if there was any way he could have confused Chris for me [referring to the first trial]. While I was up there, the Judge had to tell me to behave, because I bluntly called the man a liar. Photos of a little puppy Great Dane were presented – how cute; so was one of our dead chicken. Our lawyer presented case precedents. Now, it was time for closing arguments.

The DA pretty much ignored everything and literally spun a yarn about what “really” happened. He went on about how Chris hadn’t actually done it at all. That I had forced my family to lie and that I had snuck out of the house with a gun and shot the dog. It didn’t make sense, was all a figment of his imagination, and I was fuming. On & on it went. He had just finished trying my son for a “crime” and now he was saying that I did it. What ever happened to double jeopardy? I was doing all I could do to contain myself and not blurt out something I’d regret. And, I might have done just that, but no sooner had the last lying word slanderously slithered out of the DA’s mouth when the Judge said emphatically, “Where I come from, if a dog kills your livestock, you shoot it. Case dismissed!”

My rear end must have flown about 3 feet up in the air. This, was finally over!


Years later, the scene of the “crime” – Poor old Lassie can be seen, lower right, near the date stamp.

We all felt a great sense of relief. After hugs and thanks, I went to the office where one can file a false arrest counter suit. The clerk was getting me the papers, when who should walk by but, Mr. Neighborly. POP! I lost it. Got right in his face and ran up one side of him and down the other. All the pent up frustration just poured out. So did all the employees in the building it was so loud. We were pulled apart, and I remember someone saying to me in my ear, “You’re going to get yourself arrested.” Talk about creating your very own “Ground Hog Day”!. What a mess that would have been.

Anger & frustration released, I decided that we had won – twice – and the satisfaction of that would suffice. No counter suit filed.

Now, it WAS over!! CASE DISMISSED!

If only we had just gone to Table Rock! But, I have to wonder, where DID those X-Rays come from?

NOTE 1 – Prior to these incidents, there was no animosity of any kind – that I was aware of – between Mr. Neighborly & my family. In fact, I thought he was a good guy!

NOTE 2 – Justice prevailed. Due to the several anomalies recorded above, I had serious doubts that it would. I was getting the feeling that Mr. Neighborly & at least some law enforcement and/or court officials were cohorts. The results were even more rewarding because of that!

Note 3 – The story is recounted to the best of my recollection. Christopher, being younger & sharper, may be able to provide more detail and correct any that I reported incorrectly.

Cowgirl in the Sand


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There weren’t very many gigs left. We were near the end of the line. I could be wrong, but at the time of this incident, I don’t believe we even had a steady drummer … just whoever was available. We were, truly, The Ritchie Family. Rich on keyboards, mandolin & accordion, Rich on guitar, another Rich on guitar. All 3 Rich’s sang.

We were playing at a place that had been a haunt of ours for years … the Arizona Saloon in Long Beach, NY. We were doing a weekend there, and it was Saturday night, so all our stuff – sans instruments – were set up already from the previous night. We arrived, did a little sound check and left the stage area with our guitars and stuff in their stands all ready to go. While we were waiting for 10PM to arrive – or, whatever time it was that we were supposed to start – we just mingled about, in the bar, out front of the bar, AT the bar. And that’s where the lead guitar player, Rich, and this author, another Rich sat. Chatting and sipping on drinks. I was to Rich’s left. The stage was off to our right. So, I could see the stage as we spoke. His head was turned toward me.

Some guy meandered up to the stage and was looking over the stuff. Not unusual. Yet, something struck me about his behavior and I kept an eye on him. Consciously, I really didn’t think much of it. Then, for a brief moment, my brain had a difficult time comprehending what my eyes were definitely seeing.

The fella was eyeing Rich’s guitar … I forget what it was … maybe a Stratocaster? All I know is that he had a “Question Authority” sticker on it. A nervous glance around the place, and then whoosh … he grabbed the guitar off the stand and fled out the back door of the club, which was just off to the side of the stage. I hesitated for just a second, not believing what I saw … Then, another whoosh. I was hot in pursuit.

Long Beach, NYHe ran down an alley way out toward the beach. I could barely see him in the darkness. Really, about all I could see was the cresting whiteness of the waves breaking at the beach shoreline. I was yelling every curse word I could muster – think I probably made up a few as I went along. Shouting threats. Always favorable to make the other guy think you are more crazy than he is.  I was gaining on him. All of a sudden, he gave up. Oh, he was still running for his life, but he tossed the guitar off to the side where it landed on the sand of the dunes.


I used to do crazy shit like that. I mean, what if he had a knife and stopped and turned to stab me? Oh yes … that actually did happen once, only it was an ice pick. Another story.

OK … so there was  no “cowgirl, but there was a “guitar in the sand.” Had to get your attention somehow!

A Story About a Dog, a Mower, & a Big Toe!



This Day in History: The Dog Eats my Toe! On this date 30  years ago – May 13, 1985, I came home from a softball practice just as dusk was settling in. The grass was just starting to get a little moisture on it, but I decided it was a great time to quickly mow the grass. Yes, in those days I was full of energy, much like my dreams are today! 😉 It was just a little area, but there was a knoll along the driveway. I could reach the mower down and pull it back up the slope. Bad practice, I know. So, I sat my two young sons, Jesse & Adam, across the driveway from me so that they were safe & could watch as I revved up the old mower. All was going along splashingly until – until as I pulled the mower back up, my foot slipped on the wet grass, I fell on my rear, and the mower – safety shut-off deftly disabled [more bad form, I know] – landed on “my left foot” [an excellent Daniel Day-Lewis movie, BTW]. There was no pain, just a numbing shock-like feeling. I watched, helplessly, as the mower rolled down the knoll and into the driveway where it came to a halt before trimming my sons. Getting to my feet, or foot, actually, I looked down and all I could see was a bloody mess. Half my running shoe was ripped off, the front half, and laying in the grass [nicely mowed, at least]. Could only assume that the front half of my foot was out there, as well. Hopped on my right leg into the house for assistance. I think Elaine called a neighbor to come over and take me to the ER. I was beginning to feel some pain. Cleaned it up a bit and found out I was very lucky. Top of my left big toe was gone, along with the tip, including some bone, but that was it. Wrapped it up and when my neighbor, Michael, arrived, plopped in the back seat, foot raised up and hanging out the window. It was really starting to throb by now. As I sat there awaiting the trip down the mountain to the hospital, I was looking out the window. My dog was playing with something … as a dog or cat does when they catch a mouse, or something. You know, kind of tossing it up and catching it a few times. And then … GULP! Hmmmmm …. I had just witnessed the eating of part of my body by another creature. Now, THAT was weird and something you don’t experience every day. After a lengthy ER wait, they finally fixed it up – scraped the bone fragments out and then just folded what was left over the top to form sort of a half of a big toe. To this day, if I touch the top of my toe, it feels like I am touching the bottom! Anyway, I thought of this the other day when I had to chase my dog down the road. Once, I was a very fast runner, but missing a toe, or even a good part of one, especially the big toe, causes a balance issue and I definitely could never run again like I used to … until the other day. Have I told this story before? 🙂

East Mountain House

On this very spot

Patriots’ Day!


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“If they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” … Captain John Parker

It can be forgotten, given our preference to 3-day weekends, but today is the REAL Patriots Day. On this day, April 19, 1775, 70-odd members of a small Massachusetts colony town, assembled in the cold, damp darkness of an April morning, awaiting their fates at the hands of the cream of the British army. On the eve of the American Revolution – The War For Independence – this was the precursor to the shot heard round the world that would occur just hours later at the nearby town of Concord. By the end of the day, the spark ignited by this measly force, trembling on the Green at Lexington, would have the British troops, mangled and bloody, fighting dearly for their lives on the way back to Boston. The Birth of a Nation occurred on this little patch of earth, preserved to this day, and surrounded by historic homes & buildings, known as Battle Green! http://www.mohicanpress.com/battles/ba01002.html


Rage With the Sage!



One of the most satisfying moments of my life was during the 7 year life span of my band – and I say “my” band” only because I was the only one to make it through the entire marathon; a couple of others almost did, but not quite, and all told there were 21 ladies & gentlemen who were a part of what at first was known as Friends of the Devil, after the Grateful Dead song, quite obviously, and morphed into Cottonwood Sage. In reality, we were actually a fairly democratic band, Everyone had about equal input in song selection, arrangements, set lists. I did get stuck with most of the booking and agent deals, which was most unfortunate, because I am a terrible businessman. And that was a seriously long-winded departure from my initial point. There’s a reason I call this Richard’s Meanderings.

Over the lifespan of probably every band there are highs and there are lows. A couple of our lows might include: 1- The wedding we did where one of the requested songs was the old Beatles song, I Will. For some reason, long lost to me, we never sufficiently rehearsed that song and butchered it like a rump of beef. Funny. I don’t think anyone noticed. And, 2- A night the crowd was so drunk that they cheered and danced to anything, and to prove the point, during our rendition of Neil Young’s mellow Long May You Run, our lead guitar player attacked his mic stand with the neck of his Stratocaster creating some major “a-melodic” feed back and screeching sounds. I know nobody noticed that one.

But this is about the satisfying high points, one in particular. Keep in mind, we recorded many of the gigs. Amazing how sometimes we thought we were spot-on and the tape was plain horrible. Others, the opposite was true. Not sure which was the case this one particular night, but it sure felt good.

Halloween Party at SUNY Farmingdale

We played mostly Long Island clubs and colleges, a wedding and party, or two, ventured upstate once, and down to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital another. We were pretty popular on the Island, very much so in Farmingdale. A little club there was a joint named Whiskey Red’s, and that became the base of our following right there. Eventually, we were invited to play at a little cabin on the Campus of SUNY Farmingdale by their agricultural department. It was a Halloween Party and a great time was had by all. And that led to a few appearances at the campus’ main concert venue, The Ram’s Den.

Sage1 (2015_03_29 07_24_21 UTC)

Cottonwood Sage

There was this one night, and this will finally complete my opening sentence fragment 4 paragraphs above this one, where we, it would seem, were smokin’! Everything was tight, harmonies right on, lots of energy … and the substantial crowd was just loving it. Energy from the crowd feeds the energy of the band which throws back on the crowd, increasing their energy, back to the band … resulting in all-around frenzy. I think we did three sets. The show was done. I left the stage and moseyed on over to the men’s room, which was toward the rear of the room. I could hear the commotion while in there. Pandemonium! Upon exiting, I looked back toward the stage. Between my vantage point and that stage was a smoke-filled, blue [from the stage lights], haze. The sound was deafening. People were standing on chairs and tables, stomping their feel, hands high holding beer bottles, just wildly chanting, “More, More, More”! It was hard to digest. This was for US? “Rage With the Sage!” Rage With the Sage! I was in awe. Wow, this was our 15 minutes of fame – one of many, perhaps, but the high tide, for sure.

We slowly all made our way back to the stage – from various locations in the room [mostly the bar], profusely thanked this most enthusiastic bunch of college kids, and played one more sweat-soaked set of the best music we could muster. I think everyone went home that night satisfied. I know that I did! There were a lot of nights over those 7 years. I will never forget this one!

Random Bits on Why I Cannot Accept Gay Marriage


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From the Source ~~~


A few selected Biblical references [there are many more]:

Romans 1:26-28

 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones,  and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-1

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Mark 10:6-9
But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

1 Corinthians 7:2

2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

Matthew 19:3-9

 Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?”  He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.

From a dictionary ~~~

mat·ri·mo·ny (mtr-mn) n. pl. mat·ri·mo·nies The act or state of being married; marriage. ——————————————————————————– [Middle English, from Old French matrimoine, from Latin mtrimnium, from mter, mtr-, mother; see mter- in Indo-European roots.] — 1 man + 1 woman = marriage. No way to get the “Mother” part in there without the “Father”. – RF

In its most basic form: God, or Nature, or the Force … whatever … created two genders. The ONLY way for the species to survive is for a union between one of each. That is why we have sex. If it didn’t feel good, we probably wouldn’t do it; and the species would die out. Gay “marriage” has no place in that. – RF

Full Text of Catholic Catechism Regarding Homosexuality – 1997

#2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

#2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

#2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Interesting take from actor Jeremy Irons: “It seems to me that now we’re fighting for the name, and I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that. I mean tax-wise it’s an interesting one, because, you see, could a father not marry his son?” When host Josh Zepps said incest laws would prevent such a relationship, Irons countered: “It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don’t breed, so incest wouldn’t cover that. Now if that were so, then if I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties, I could marry my son, and pass on my estate to him.” Irons added that “lawyers are going to have a field day with same-sex marriage.”

Washington Post – July 15, 2014 Less than 3 percent of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday in the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation. The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual. The overwhelming majority of adults, 96.6 percent, labeled themselves as straight in the 2013 survey. An additional 1.1 percent declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else.”

Conversely ~~~

USA Today – October 1, 2014 LGBT characters are growing in number on broadcast television, according to a report by media advocacy organization GLAAD. In the current TV season, lesbian, gay or bisexual characters make up 3.9% of the total number of series regulars on prime-time shows on the five broadcast networks, or 32 out of 813. That marks an increase over last season’s 3.3% (26 regulars) but falls short of 2012’s record high, 4.4%. No regular characters on broadcast prime-time shows are transgender. Fox leads the way among broadcast networks, with 6.5% of its series-regular characters being lesbian, gay or bisexual. LGBT characters account for an additional 33 recurring roles on broadcast shows during the 2014-15 season, GLAAD says in its annual Where We Are on TV report. On cable, GLAAD counts 64 LGBT series regulars, up from 42 in 2013-14, and 41 recurring characters on prime-time scripted programs in the current TV season, which is measured starting June 1.

Stats elsewhere show [also via GLAAD] that LGBTs are represented in approximately 40% of the episodes. Wow! Clearly, the idea of folks other than “straights” is being pushed way out of proportion to their actual numbers … thus, softening, over time, the public perception … and paving the way for acceptance of gay marriage. – RF

Can you like “Gay” but not “Gay Marriage”? When I was a kid, I grew up with 2 kids – who were brothers – as friends. Knew them since we were 6 or younger. Never had a clue then, but it turned out they were both gay. Back then, I didn’t know what gay even was … other than happy. Haven’t seen either one of them in many years, but to this day, I rank them among my closest friends. Heck, we grew up together. When I was in High School, I befriended this guy, kind of a loner – certainly a different kind of guy – in American History class. We became good friends and he started hanging out with the gang of kids I had grown up with in the old neighborhood. I think it was the next year, I was senior, and I came down with something and was laid up for a week or so. Well, this guy came over, sat by my bedside, lit candles, brought flowers. Turned out, I found out later, he had been in love with me! Shocker! We were still friends. Known many gay folks in my life, some friends, some co-workers, even a relative or two. I remember being in a Lesbian bar, back in the late 70s. My then girlfriend had been invited to this big party there and brought me along. I was the only guy in the place. Interesting experience. I actually witnessed a gal I had once had a crush on French kissing with another woman I knew. Never had any idea either of them was a Lesbian. I didn’t care enough to know. It really doesn’t matter to me. A few of the more masculine types in there elbowed me around the pool table and I began to get the idea I really wasn’t welcomed there, so I spent the rest of the night sprawled out on the hood of my car gazing at the starlit sky. But, a bunch of women in there were friends of mine. To this day, I have a beautiful painting hanging in my den [Greg Gutfeld has banned the use of the term “man cave”] that was a wedding gift from a now deceased gay friend. It never has mattered much to me. This is what I mean! That PC stuff gets to everyone. Even me. If you are against gay marriage, well damn, you must be an evil homophobe – a HATER. Well, no, you don’t actually. So, friends, just so you know what I mean … Clearly, I am against “Marriage Equality”. Yes, for religious reasons, partly, but for many others, as well, some of which I have articulated here on my blog. The image of 2 men having intercourse is not pretty, but anyway … I am NOT against gay people. We’re all people. And, when I meet someone, that’s all they are, a person. I like you or not based upon our interactions. Period. Would I say you are a HATER because you don’t like Catholicism? Civil Unions is as far as I’ll go. A real marriage, in my humble opinion, is between one man and one woman. Be happy, be gay. I don’t care. But a man calling another man “husband”; or a woman calling another woman “wife”? Hmmm … I don’t think the rest of us should necessarily be forced to accept such nonsense.- RF

And now, you either agree with me on some level or you don’t. So, please, if the latter, please refrain from calling me a hateful, homophobic, bigot … look in the mirror first.

And, with all that said – much more UNsaid – in our glorious governing document, the Constitution, it can not be found anywhere – it would seem to me – anything that might make this “union” illegal or unconstitutional. As a matter of secular course, it is live & let live. But no matter the law, freedom of religion IS a constitutional right. You can marry on to your little heart’s content, but on a religious level, it means nothing, and should not be forced upon a religious person or organization. Seems clear to me from what I posted above. I feel that is fair.

So, let’s all sing one together!

I Feel Pretty …

I feel pretty Oh so pretty I feel pretty and witty and gay And I pity Any girl who isn’t me today I feel charming Oh so charming It’s alarming how charming I feel And so pretty That I hardly can believe I’m real See the pretty girl in that mirror there? Who can that attractive girl be? Such a pretty face Such a pretty dress Such a pretty smile Such a pretty me! I feel stunning And entrancing Feel like running And dancing for joy For I’m loved By a pretty wonderful boy. Have you met my good friend Maria The craziest girl on the block? You’ll know her the minute you see her She’s the one who is in an advanced state of shock She thinks she’s in love She thinks she’s in Spain She isn’t in love She’s merely insane It must be the heat Or some rare disease Or too much to eat Or maybe it’s fleas Keep away from her Send for Chino This is not the Maria we know Modest and pure Polite and refined Well-bred and mature And out of her mind! Miss America, Miss America, speech!

 I feel pretty Oh so pretty That the city should give me its key A committee Should be organized to honor me(la la la la la la la la) I feel dizzy I feel sunny I feel fizzy and funny and fine And so pretty Miss America can just resign (la la la la la la la la) See the pretty girl in that mirror there (What mirror, where?) Who can that attractive girl be? (Which, what, where?) Such a pretty face Such a pretty dress Such a pretty smile Such a pretty me! I feel stunning (I feel stunning) And entrancing (And entrancing) Feel like running and dancing for joy (Feel like running and dancing for joy) For I’m loved By a pretty wonderful boy

… from Westside Story