Unlike Arizona or New Mexico, states that embrace the art of billboards, Texas and Oklahoma offer scant advertising. The only sign offering anything other than dire warnings of speed traps along I-40 in Texas was the world’s largest cross. Its outsized ad promised a “spiritual experience.” But when Bob and I drove by at the prescribed seventy miles per hour, our spirits weren’t lifted one inch.
Up on the horizon, you could see it for a good ten miles. It was large and it was certainly a cross. Check. Upon further inspection though, what we saw was a corrugated aluminum structure in the shape of a cross. While aluminum can withstand the elements or perhaps a desire to burn it in a fit of white-hooded rage, its claim to be the largest felt empty. I suppose in terms of spirituality, size doesn’t matter.
We headed north toward Tulsa on the 44 Turnpike, an ugly stretch that forces you to pay to exit. Apparently, McDonalds spent a great deal for the highway, as it was the only signage on the roadside except for one inexplicable exception; Microsurgical Vasectomy Institute. A number to call was listed underneath although I would think it impossible to remember at that speed even if there were an emergency thirst to stop the flow of active sperm.
I spent most of the day listening to AM talk radio; a combo plate of Rush, Michael Savage and Rusty Humphries. I have a love and respect for talk radio, more so than any other medium. I loved programming it probably more than any other job I’ve ever had. It is an intimate experience and consequently very powerful. The political imbalance that has permeated the format is dangerous.
I was dismayed today to hear the same drumbeat on every show although I was not surprised. The topic du jour was the Alabama courthouse and the Ten Commandments that adorn it. The chief justice has refused a state Supreme Court order to dismantle the stone carving and he is at risk for being in contempt of court. A growing number of angry Christians are circling the courthouse promising to join arms to prevent it from being removed. Its importance of it being up or down escapes me. While I’m not a Christian, it hardly offends me to see the Ten Commandments in any context. I suppose its just another shiny object for us to look at while the hand basket is standing by.
The respite from the radical right political talk was the calm sense of Dr. Laura. She is, and always has been, a brilliant broadcaster. Whether you agree with her social perspective or not, she is an immensely clever woman who helped me through a very difficult time in 1995. Billy used to listen to her and told me he thought I would enjoy it as well. By hearing her words every day, I learned a few very key points that I had missed in my approach. She taught me the basics: do the right thing and live your life with dignity.
When John McMullen started stopdrlaura.com and that ink whore, Scott Seoman of GLAAD hopping on those coattails, it was my final straw with gay politics. While her personal politics grew louder in her show in the late 90s, the fundamental tenants of her advice remained intact. Her comments about homosexuality were taken out of context and used by those no better than the Rushes and Savages of the sonic landscape.
When Billy moved back home after an eight month sabbatical in 1998, he was confused, filled with rage and hurt. I found a clipping that I thought might give him an interesting perspective and something to hold onto. I put it on the refrigerator and pointed it out to him. He stood there and read it.
When individuals give themselves the permission to do anything they want any time they want, they will ultimately be alone. For it is in the obligations to others; the integrity of our beliefs and actions; our regard for agreements and pledges; our sincerity; the bond of our word, our honesty; our conformity to right and good; our fairness; and our inability to be readily influenced away from these character traits by the seduction of exciting momentary gain that others come to be comfortable and secure with us, and therefore love us. Then we are never alone.
“Who wrote this?” he asked.
“Ugh! You and your Dr. Laura!”