Saturday, July 24, 2004

Oh Pioneers!

Today is the day, in 1847, Brigham Young and his troop of Mormons came into the Salt Lake Valley via Emigration Canyon (the same route that the Donner party lost so much time on) and famously said, "This is the Place."

Every year since, Mormons have made this day (Pioneer Day) a state holiday, complete with a pathetic parade through downtown with everyone and their mother's float made out of foam and crepe paper.

In that spirit, my fiancee, her old high school friend, and my cousin from NYC (who strangely also is friends with her) set off fireworks in our high school faculty parking lot Thursday night. The grand finale was a row of whistlers as we sophomorically peeled away. My fiancee, who grew up in suburban Chicago, and the New Yorker had never set off fireworks for some reason, so us Utahns had to show them how it was done.

Speaking of being Utahn, I am a sixth-generation Utahn and I finally found out more about our family legend about how we left the LDS church. My grandfather's grandmother's father was Mr. Long (can't remember his first name but it was long and biblical sounding like Jebediah) was Brigham Young's personal secretary. As such, he got to see how Young ruled his colony of Mormons with a ruthless, iron fist. He saw how Young had dissidents asssasinated by his goon squad, led by Porter Rockwell, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and other stuff we don't even know about.

Family legand has it that he was going to spill the beans on all this stuff, finding it to be out of keeping with the principles of the religion. So Rockwell's squad murdered him. His picture still hangs in our house. Of course, there are also family stories that we had the rights to Bingham Canyon (which is now the world's biggest man-made hole in the ground and copper mine) but my grandfather's grandmother had to pay for college for the children. So maybe both tales are a bit exaggerated for two key effects: distrust of the Mormon heirarchy and feeling guilty over your great education.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

3rd Ave version 3.1

Well here we go again...another long gap in coverage and sinking hits. I am just about finished moving into the apartment and finally my back and upper body can rest.

Meanwhile, I hope you noticed the photo on the top right so you can see where I get the title of the blog and my mug. The layout and style of the blog has also been revamped to look a bit nicer, I trust. Please comment to tell me what you think if you feel up to it.

Reading the newspaper today (I have been doing that a lot lately, but sadly only the two local papers my parents subscribe to), I was really annoyed with the Deseret News' front page, top-of-the-fold article: "Edwards 'rarely present'" This article is clearly nothing but a RNC press release that the incompetent Lee Davidson plagiarized. Who in Utah cares that North Carolina Senator John Edwards wasn't there at Judiciary Committee meetings? Maybe North Carolinians might, or would-be federal judges, but it is pretty small potatoes. I have been to my share of committee meetings and most members/senators aren't there for them even if they aren't running for (Vice) President.

Below the fold was the obvious above the fold article (the Salt Lake Tribune had it in the right place anyway) : Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun's mysterious abstains and return (whose family happens to live in South Jordan, Utah). This is the kind of thing big newspapers like the Globe, Times or Post will get the scoop on but it is a big story.

The Muslim Marine will have some big questions he needs to satisfactorily answer: Did he go AWOL? How did he get 500 miles to Beirut? How was he abducted from such a secure location? Did he escape from the captors? In sum: what the h-e-double hockey sticks happened to him?

In fairness, let's include his complete statement:

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun's statement:
Good afternoon. In the name of God, I am glad to be home and thank you all for your prayers and support.
I understand that there are many questions . . . and respectfully ask that the media respect my need to spend some private time with my family.
I did not desert my post. I was captured and held against my will by anti-coalition forces for 19 days.
This was a very difficult and challenging time for me. Since my release, I have been fully participating in the repatriation process.
I thank everyone who was looking for me and give thanks to God for everything.
I would like to tell all the Marines
as well as all those others serving in Iraq to keep their heads up and spirits high.
Once a Marine, always a Marine. Semper fi.
Thank you.

I don't know about you, but I still got questions.

On a personal note, I am going to dinner at my grandmother's house to see my cousin from NYC who went to college with me for two years (I was older) and the rest of the family. Have a nice day everyone.