retail news in context, analysis with attitude

As has been made abundantly clear by the media this week, it was exactly 50 years ago today that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, an event that changed the trajectory of the country forever. I was nine years old at the time, but I can vividly remember relating to Kennedy - I was an Irish Catholic kid from a big family, and somehow that connected us, at least in my young mind and heart.

My two most vivid memories from that weekend both have to do with my parents. The first was on that Friday afternoon, when the nuns sent us home early from school once news of the assassination reached us. (Talk about times changing. The assumption was, in 1963, that mothers would be home when we got there.) I ran home and woke my mom, who was taking her usual afternoon nap. I told her that President Kennedy had been shot, and she got mad at me. That's not a funny joke, she said. I convinced her to turn on the TV, and she wasn't mad at me anymore.

And then, on Sunday, I remember watching television with my dad, and seeing live coverage when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby.

Most of us of a certain age - regardless of political persuasion - will never forget that weekend, when the world changed forever. You can draw a direct line from that event to the assassinations, just five years later, of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

It is almost facile to say so, but that was the beginning of a loss of innocence (never mind that JFK was far from being an innocent), and maybe even more importantly, a loss of clarity. Today's nine year olds are so much more knowledgeable, experienced and jaded than that nine year old kid who ran home from Sts. John & Paul School that November day 50 years ago. Not sure that's a good thing.

I love some of the sentiments - some of them decidedly current - that would have been expressed by JFK the afternoon of November 22 had he not been killed…

This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason --- or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.

There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable … We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will "talk sense to the American people." But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense.





One more time, let me thank you for all your good wishes during what has been a tough week for the family. Mrs. Content Guy really appreciates it … I think she is continually stunned by the MNB community's connections, which are, by any measure, remarkable.




My daughter sat us down the other evening and made us watch a documentary, Blackfish, which she'd actually bought on DVD because she felt so strongly about the subject. I'm glad she did.

Blackfish is an extraordinary piece of work, a look at the questionable wisdom of capturing and training Orcas, or killer whales. Based on issues raised by former SeaWorld trainers and using some amazing footage, Blackfish paints a picture of a practice that is at best questionable, challenging common assumptions about killer whales, and making as compelling case for why SeaWorld is guilty of ethical negligence in how it treats these whales and lies to customers and the general public.

SeaWorld, to be fair, did not participate in the documentary and does not respond to the charges. I'm not surprised; the last thing it wants to do is engage in this debate, and I'm sure the guys at corporate just hope they can wait out the controversy and that it eventually will go away.

I hope it doesn't.

I do know this. I'll never go to SeaWorld or any of its brethren again. Perhaps even more importantly, neither will my daughter, who is feeling a sense of political activism on this issue. I'm happy about that. And I hope that Blackfish (available on DVD or as a streaming video) gets widely seen.




Two wines to recommend this week:

• 2008 Monte del Fra Ca Del Magro Custoza Superiore, a delicious Italian blend of white wines that is delicious with a good seafood pasta. (I served it with Shrimp It's All Greek To Me," one of my favorite dishes.)

• 2009 Field Stone Cabernet Sauvignon, which was terrific the other night when I made steak (seasoned with my favorite grilling rub from Dorothy Lane Markets) and roasted fingerling potatoes.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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