Ol' Powers, for Johnny

Out of respect for Johnny's parents I've removed certain identifying factors that might cause unnecessary mental harm or embarrassment.

The rest, has been written.


What's up Johnny!?

[Removed] ... According to Web MD, "hispanics" in the US have a life expectancy of 77.9 at birth and will increase to 84 if said hispanic lives till 65. So I still got time [to do something significant]! I mean Rosa Parks was 52 when she made a move that the history books deemed relevant. Maybe I'll get lucky, by Seneca's standards

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"

- Seneca

So I'm preparin' best I can. You never know when the opportunity will arise.

Speakin' of history books, I talked to your pops the other day and he said he'll be sending you a Vonnegut book in the near future (Jailbird). You'll hear/read the tales told by Walter F. Starbuck (through Vonnegut's voice of course). That book had me positively beaming at the thought of your release. Nevertheless, I digress. In the book, Mr. Starbuck will meet an intetesting Union Worker whose fictional name I can't recall, but actual name has been on my mind lately: Powers Hapgood.

I finished reading ol' Powers' biography recently and I'm a wee-bit upset that I had never heard of the man in history classes throughout my life. Powers was born into a middle-class family who owned a canned food factory and was a legacy at Harvard. His father was famous for letting the workers run the factory in true socialist fashion, allowing them to set pay, working hours, and manage operations. Powers was famous for graduating from Harvard and then finding work in a coal mine.

Oregon's not Harvard, and I'm no Hapgood, but a story like that srikes a chord with me. You'll instantly know the character I'm talking about when he appears in the book. I believe ol' Vonnegut even introduces the character in the beginning of the book. I do not believe you'll be able to read the book in its entirety without smiling.

And speaking of Oregon, there's a funny foot note to this story that involves the first time I went there. If I recall correctly, it was late summer of 07', because I took the trip before my birthday, and it was summer, and school was out. You were in Pelican Bay putting in the kind of work I'd hate to have to do, and I was at the beloved Institution for Higher Learning at Monterey Park (otherwise known as ELAC) putting in the type of work I bet you'd have loved to have been doing.

I went up to Eugene for three days and Portland for the following three. It ulitmately became the final turning point in my deliberations on whether or not I should go to the University of Oregon. Because I was kind of nerdy, flying by myself, and travelling alone for the first time, I brought two books with me.

The first was Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut and the second was Everyman by Phillip Roth. If I recall correctly, Everyman was the first book to ever make me cry. The book documented the life of an "every man" and despite the ups and downs of his life, in the end, ol' Phillip made the man's mortality so real and insignificant, I stopped to ponder my father's life. He's 72 now (he was 62 then) and though of course I knew he wouldn't live forever, I never thought about his death so intently as the time I finished reading Everyman. You remember I told you about my Uncle? My father's brother? The one who's terminally ill with brain cancer? He hasn't been able to even look at one of ol Phillip's books for the past 10 years (even before he was sick). Too real for a man in his position I suppose.

Man Without a Country however, was significantly lighter. Vonnegut, in all his humor and charm writes what might be the closest thing he's ever written to a memior (according to The Los Angeles Times). I recall nothing from the book, save two things.

One, was Vonnegut's disgust for the semi-colon. He said it only proves that you went to college and has no business in writing (or something like that).

Two, was the story of the aforementioned Powers Hapgood. Vonnegut recalls being present at a court hearing where ol' Powers was defending a particular union (I forgot which). At one point, the judge stops the proceedings to ask ol' Powers

"Why would a man of your background, who's been bestowed all these blessings, choose to live as you do?"

to which ol' Powers responded,

"Why, because of the Sermon on the Mount sir!"


By the way, I'm thinking of being an Uber driver. Think of them as competition against taxis. I remember once you told me (while you were still at Wayside)

"If I ever get out, I'll move to New York and be a taxi driver."

Funny how things work themselves out, right? A job I want, that you wanted first.

I'll do it for both of us buddy!



#PowersHapgood #Johnny #KurtVonnegut #AManWithoutaCountry