Get your ass to Mars!


Did you know that JFK originally wanted the U.S. to go to Mars?

Buzz Aldrin explains: President Kennedy approached NASA in the early 1960s, he said, “I want to go to Mars.” The NASA people spent a full weekend studying that, went to the president and said they had done the calculations and we were in no position to get to Mars. They told him they thought they could get to the moon.

I consider myself luck enough to have been alive when our country has a national shared goal and interests. The Space Program for one. Consider the fact that in the early 1960s, we were still facing all matter  scary threats like we are now. We didn’t have to worry about being shot at an office party, but as kids we were playing “duck and cover” under our desks in case the Russians nuked us. This was no joke. As a kid I remember being mildly concerned about WWIII, but I wasn’t obsessed by it…no kid was. We actually thought it would never happen and if it did, if we hid under our 3×3 foot desk, we’d probably be OK.


Our parents had to go to work every day and tuck their children in at night, worrying about the US and the Russians coming to the brink of a world war. I never asked my folks about it when they were alive, but I wish I had. I honestly don’t know if it caused them the same anxiety our present threat from Islamic militants causes us, today. I can’t imagine how it didn’t.

But back to my point: In the 1960s, we had The Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of our President, the start and expansion of the Viet Nam war, riots in dozens of American cities over Civil Rights, inflation, recession and a long list of other problems, but we still had a common goal and National interest: The Space Program. We talked and learned about it in schools…every TV network has actual science reporters who helped us understand how Apollo worked. We watched every space-shot from The Cape, live on TV…often in school.

We had issues…we had problems…the world seemed fragile…but we still found room in our collective frame of mind for a great American project: The Space Program and a Moon landing. 

I don’t want to be the one to tell Buzz the sad news…we’ve changed so much as a country we don’t have any more “national-shared-interests”…with the exception of Kim Kardashian telling us how big her boobs got during pregnancy. (please finish my blog before you look it up)

I long for the days when we still had something that was bigger than our individual selves, to work toward. I miss living a daily life that wasn’t full of frightful news about terrorism and political nonsense.

We might just have to join Buzz and get out of here…


Buzz has a great website and some wonderful things to read if you still have enough room in your mind for a little imagination. God Bless him for that. -Jim

Finally! a way to end Santa-Fear.

san3Maybe you were never afraid of Santa when you were little. That’s great! But none of us can deny that for some reason…some kids are absolutely terrified to be put on the lap of Ol Kris Kringle. It’s hard to figure out “why” this happens with some children and not others. There’s really no way of predicting it. But if you’re a parent who’s been waiting all year to get that ‘Santa-Selfie”, only to watch in embarrassment as your kids scream their heads-off…well it’s just impossible to understand. Kids during a certain age love Santa when he comes on TV or they see him in a parade or in a movie. They write him letters…leave him cookie and milk and even make sure they are “good for goodness sake” during the last months of the year. But it’s like trying to figure out why your dog barks at some dogs and wags it’s tail at others. There’s no figuring this out.


It’s not like you’re abandoning them to a stranger’s lap forever…you’re two feet away! If kids take their cues from Parents, why would a child freak-out when you are obviously thrilled to see Santa after waiting in a long line? And even if you have more than one child, and you think they’d feel “safe in numbers”, the panic of one kid is often overwhelming to the other, and you have a duet of screaming.


But I think I’ve discovered an answer: Behold Hipster Santa Claus!


That’s right! Hipster Santa is here…no more 300 pound stranger in velvet and fur. Hipster Santa is well dressed…well groomed and has washboard abs.


I’m guessing he smells like Cinnamon mixed with Musk Oil.

Now I make fun of the “hipsters” all the time…every generation has had them. In American Culture we’ve had The Grundge-hipsters, The Mods, The Greasers , The Hippies, and if you’re anywhere my age, you might remember The Beatniks. And before that, there were the precursor to HIPsters, who were called “Hep-Cats”from the 40’s and 50s. The words “hep” and “hip” battled it out in the early 60s…”hip” won that contest and HepCats took their BeBop records and went home.


At first glance I thought Hipster Santa was just a Madsion Avenue gimmick to sell wool clothes and beard-oil…but after giving it a thought you might agree that your little ones might be less afraid of Hipster Santa:


Than they are of Old School Santa:


Hipster Santa doesn’t much care if you’ve been naughty or nice…he has other, more contemporary rules:


Old School Santa demand cookies and milk…two items that many Moms would not let their own kids have on a regular basis. The cookies might have nuts in them and the milk must be soy. Why does this fat old stranger get to chow on things we all know “are bad for you”?  Hipster Santa has a more modern appetite :


Old School Santa may be jolly, but he isn’t in very good shape…he obviously doesn’t do yoga or even belong to a gym:


Hipster Santa probably drives an electric-sleigh but ties to walk or ride his bike because it’s better for the environment.


And Old School Santa might be kind of boring to today’s kids…(when he’s not scaring them into wetting their pants.)


Hipster Santa would discuss North Pole-Climate Change and make sure the Elves aren’t being taken advantage of by Wall Street and The 1%.


Yes…the solution to making sure your little ones aren’t traumatized by Santa at Christmas (which is of course embarrassing to you and a wasted photo-op) might be as simple as giving St. Nicholas a Merry Makeover.

Old Santa might not like it at first…


But he may have to just learn to change with the times…like we all have done.


“Siri…get me names of all the single Moms in town…”

Merry Christmas!-Jim Harper

(p.s. In case you don’t recognize it in this post…it’s satire. I love old Santa just the way he’s always been, and I know exactly what he looks like!





Everything I needed to know about Life is taught in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”.


Jimmy Stewart was a True American War Hero in WWII. Stewart’s draft number came up in 1941 just as his Hollywood star began to really shine. He reported for duty, but at 6’3” and only 138 pounds, he was five pounds underweight. Think about that for a minute…almost a million men a year were being drafted at the time to fight in a World War. There’s a chance you might not come home. If you’re Jimmy Stewart, you’re on top of the world as an American actor.


You proudly go down to join up but are told you’re too skinny…you’ve got a 4F classification and a legitimate excuse to “sit this one out” and go back to making millions and having women adore you. But you don’t…just like George Baily, the character he played in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, James Stewart knows deep inside what he must do. He goes home…eats everything he can find for a couple of days, and goes back 5 and 1/4 pounds heavier and enlists in the Army Air Corps as a private. He becomes the first Hollywood actor to join up before or during WWII. He flew 20 combat missions, most of them in dangerous areas over Europe.


. When he got out of the service he had reached the rank of Colonel. He went on to serve in The Air Force Reserves for years, eventually becoming a Brigadier General. He received many medals including The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985. When he got out of the service, his old friend, director Frank Capra told him he had a part for him in a new film that would change his career and his life. It was origibally called “The Greatest Gift”. You and I know it as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But it has the power to be The Greatest Gift to you and me.


If you are an aging Baby Boomer like me, you’ve probably seen this film at least 30 times. It’s on TV every Christmas. If not…if you are a bit younger and never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. I know young people have an aversion to movies in black & white (this baffles me) but it’s worth your time. For in “It’s A Wonderful Life” you’ll find a guide to everything you need to know about living a purpose-filled life. If you are religious, your faith will be strengthened…if you’re not, but used to be…your faith will be renewed. If you are agnostic, you’ll find it spiritual. Regardless of your creed, you will find something to learn about yourself and how to deal with this thing called Life. For example:

  1. Life is HARD. George is faced with raising kids, being a husband, running his own small business while constantly being professionally attacked by his enemy (Mr Potter).
  2. Sometimes, the dream you have of how you want your life to turn out, doesn’t come true, but you are entitle to more than ONE dream. (George is constantly getting pushed and pulled back from his dream to see the world, and create great things).
  3. Your biggest “asset” in this life is your FAMILY. George kept his word to his father, and kept the Baily Building & Loan alive, and refuses to turn in Uncle Billy for losing $8,000, despite the fact that it means prison and ruin for George himself. won12Dad
  4. It’s perfectly normal to get frustrated with life and take it out on the people you love most. It’s wrong of course but it happens. Witness George’s anger and frustration with his wife and kids when he’s faced with the pending doom coming his way after his business is showing a unexplained loss.won10KidsCry
  5. Everyone deserves a second chance…even those we know who have made mistakes. George gives Violet some cash out of own his pocket to help her make her way to NY, despite the fact that most people in town think she’s a bit of a whore.won25Violet2
  6. Angels are real and they walk among us. I’m sure there’s been a time in your life when some stranger was at “the right place at the right time” and saved you a bad-turn.won18Clarence
  7. Sometimes the “greatest job offer in the world” isn’t the best thing to take right now. (Potter’s offer to have George come work for him, IF George will let him destroy the building & loan.)
  8. You should never look to hard to find love…sometimes it’s right in front of you. (Mary having a crush on George since they were kids.)won13Crush
  9. Just when you think you’re at the end…that there’s no way out…the people who love you will come to your rescue…IF you share your troubles. (The townspeople coming to George’s financial aid)won5Lonely
  10. If you have just ONE person in your life who truly loves you…and has your back, you are truly blessed. (Mary, George’s wife)won14WifeBack
  11. Some of the people with all the money and power are actually evil.(Mr. Potter keeping the poor down and in perpetual misery.)won16BankerEvil
  12. Having money and being “rich” are two different things.“To my big brother George…the richest man in town,”-Harry Baileywon6Toast
  13. You’ll never know how your friends might turn out, if you hadn’t been there to keep them cool. (George going to his favorite resturant only to find it turned into a nasty dive-bar.won2
  14. We have to have faith in one another, and we’ll all be OK. (George explaining to customers at the Building and Loan (a credit union) that their money was in actually each other’s homes, not in a vault.won15Bank
  15. Make a hard-working teacher cry, and her husband WILL punch you in the mouth.won3Teacher
  16. No man will ever have trouble finding a girl if he’ll just lean to dance.won8Dance
  17. No matter where you live…no matter what shape it’s in…even if your house is falling apart…it is your HOME.won26House
  18. You never really know the affect you have had on other people’s live and you NEVER will.won1
  19. And finally…noManIsaFailureAll the BEST for Christmas…and I sincerely hope you have A Wonderful Life.-Jimwon21TheEnd

My Cousin, John Pawlak recently posted a great original song he wrote called My Christmas Memories, (you can hear the song on my FB page) and he posted it online with an edited video of some of our Chistmas parties from many years ago when we were kids.

I hadn’t seen much of this video (actually 16mm film) for some time and it was a wonderful way of remembering what it was like to be a kid at Christmas. Also, because it was from the 70s, it also showed the images of so many people we’ve lost over the years. It was so great to see my Mom passing out big glasses of milk at the big-person’s table, and Nana, being the life of the party, as usual.

Because I hadn’t seen many of these images for such a long time, it gave me an idea for our family, and maybe your family too.

We all have stray boxes of old snapshots of the family. Maybe some are actually IN a photo album…but the problem is, as we age…we tend to hang onto the ones we have, and other families have a similar collection in their homes.

I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be a great Christmas gift for everyone to bring whatever phots they have, to the annual Christmas or Hannukah parties, and designate one or two family members to be the “family historian”?


Then they could organize, scan and burn copies for anyone else in the family to use. They could put them on CDs…flashdrives or even upload them to a website like DropBox. Then anyone who wanted to, could enjoy this BIGGER collection of photos and videos, and do whatever they’d like with them.

I remember my good friend Rick’s Mom told me a few years ago that she had done that…it took a while but she actually printed them and made family photo albums for her adult children. That’s an awful lot of work, the kind only a Grandmother would do, but just to get them all in one place and make them available for everyone would be just about the warmest Holiday gift you could give your family.

I’m going to suggest this to MY family…I’ll even volunteer to organize it, since I’m retired and have the time…No matter how it works out, I think it would be something you’d cherish and hand-down for years.


If you’re anywhere near MY age, you remember seeing pictures of your parents…usually black and white snapshots, from when they were dating or first married…many of these pictures involved old cars..picnics and almost always a bottle of beer…When I look at these photos I can’t help but imagine what was going on in their lives so long ago….they were almost always laughing or goofing around..they were having fun…full of life and all kinds of possibilities… as time goes on, things change, people pass away…so I think it’s especially helpful to keep our families memory alive about the happy times…when everyone was young..healthy and full of love.

So that’s my suggestion for you…I’ve noticed all of the younger nieces, nephews and grandkids these days are very curious about family history…it’s only natural…so now that WE are the “elders” of the group…it seems like a shame that they’d never know how rich and colorful the family they are a part of, truly is.

I’ll let you know how this works out…my thanks to my cousin John Pawlak for doing that video and you should check out his song “My Christmas Memories” on Youtube and my Facebook page.

And if you have any suggestions on how to make this idea even better, please feel free to let me know..share it with everyone else reading or hearing this. There probably is “an app for that”…something that organizes family phots, that I just haven’t heard of.


I’ll have another fireside chat soon… in the meantime: be good to each other…be good to yourself…and try and do the next right hing…that’s what I’ll be doing.

The Gift you get from Giving.

IMG_0756Who said “Tis better to give than receive.” ?

We’ve all heard it…or at least those of over 40 have heard it. I’m not so sure it’s a common saying today. But do you know who is credited with saying it?

I did not remember… I admit I had to look it up. St. Paul tells us that those were Jesus’ words. Verse 35 is part of St Paul’s sermon in Ephesus “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Wise words, indeed. For me the wisdom comes from the indisputable fact that the act of giving makes the giver feel like they’re getting the gift. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. Whether it’s making your kids smile on Christmas or a Birthday, or finding that “perfect something” for someone you care about…the look on the recipient’s face makes you feel a warmth and happiness that is impossible to describe. Anyone who has done charity work will tell you they always end up feeling like the lucky ones in the equation.

It’s a very genuine, organic feeling that I don’t think any other living creature is capable of experiencing.

FullSizeRender-3      A couple of weeks ago, my thoughtful Wife, Lynn announced “I signed up to be a Salvation Army bellringer…do you wanna come with me?” I was rather surprised by the way she made this commitment without me…she obviously wanted to do this, whether I came along or not…and I was somewhat ashamed that I hadn’t thought of it myself. To be honest I haven’t thought of doing much charity work at all since retirement. I spent 44 years in Radio and every one of those years included charity-work. With your help we collected a million toys for Toys for Tots, we sent kids to college, we helped schools, fought breast cancer and collected thousand of pieces of clothing for needy Detroiters. It was easy for me to justify “having done my part”. I am retired. But then I thought about it and realized, you simply can’t retire from being a thoughtful human. 

I LOVE working with organizations like The Salvation Army. Today, while standing in the cold, ringing that bell by their kettle, I recalled my first real introduction to the great work they do and why I think it’s so important. Over 20 years ago, I was at a luncheon/fundraiser for them at the old London Chophouse in Detroit, when that iconic restaurant was on it’s last legs. WOMC’s Gene Taylor was there as emcee. To my surprise, he was wearing a Salvation Army uniform…full dress jacket and pants with hat. He actually was an officer in The Salvation Army. I soon learned that he took his work with that group very seriously. He told me about a very basic, street level program they were doing called The Bed and Breakfast Club. Since my Radio show was called “The Breakfast Club”, I was curious about this program…”how does it work?”, I asked. “Well, it’d be easier to show you than just talk about it. You should come with us on a run.” he replied. “Yeah…I’d love to.” I said. “Great! meet me at the Salvation Army building tonight at 7, we’ll go out.” Gene said.

geneTaylorNot wanting to seem like a person who was “all talk and no action”, I agreed…I went home and hours later put on my long johns, my Carhart overalls, heavy boots and hat. We met downtown and loaded up an old food truck, the kind with the fold-out side that has a serving counter, with big cans of boiling soup and boxes of sandwiches. Twenty minutes later we turned down a very dark Detroit street in a part of town I’d never seen before…no working streetlights…a burned out car in the middle of the street…abandoned building with no sign of life. Gene Taylor was driving…I was standing in the back. He cut the engine and we sat there with the lights on. Within minutes people started wandering out of those buildings like slow moving zombies. Layers of old clothing for warmth, plastic bags tied around their shows, rags wrapped around their hands in place of gloves. They slowly lined up single file at the truck and we stayed until we’d given away ALL of the food. I’ll never forget the one man who said “Is it OK if I take an extra sandwich for Dan up there? He can’t walk very well.” It was that night I learned about The Gift of Gratitude. On the drive back I asked Gene why he didn’t engage any of these people in conversation about The Lord…or The Salvation Army…or anything, really…just treated them all with great respect and kindness. Even the ones who spit and swore at us. Especially those who did that. Gene told me that a basic principle of The Salvation Army was you can’t begin to touch a person’s heart and mind if their stomach is empty.  That gave me gift #2…The gift of selflessness.


Today, my wife and I had a blast collecting in Downtown Birmingham. We made up songs…developed a choreography for ringing two bells in unison and I got to see what real giving is all about. Teenagers who are making an hourly wage, going to work but finding a couple of valuable dollars to put in the kettle…Moms and Dad teaching their kids their first lesson in charity by having them put the money in the kettle themselves…people who drove up to the curb, rolled down the window and offered some workers who dug out a dirty, wrinkled $20 from their jeans, and even local business heroes like Link Wachler who was taking his 88 yr old Father out for lunch. Everyone was generous…no one was on their cell phone…no one was texting. People wanted to look another human being in the eye and without saying much…make the connection we all need so much…the connection of caring and love. Now…today…especially this week.


So Merry Christmas, America.

No one can take that away from us…helping each other out is part of our nature…it’s who we are…it’s one of the many things that makes us great.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded how we are a part of this connection of kindness…it’s a birthright…and even if you lost it, you can get in back in a second.

It’ll be the best gift you get this year.-Jim



Let’s be honest…


I really don’t care where someone is “from”, what their faith base might be, or what their beliefs might be, unless they mean to do me and mine harm.

And I honestly believe most Americans are like that. We know we are a Nation of “mutts”. All have an immigrant background, except Native Americans, and some would say even Natives came from other lands at some ancient point…

We really don’t care…despite what some  political-types try to say about us. That some of us are racist..that because we worry about the borders we hate people. That because we pray or fly the flag or put up decorations for Christmas we are mean and hateful. The very notion of any of that is insane.

I’ve never met anyone on “The Right” who thinks all who follow Islam are terrorists…never. They just don’t think that way. I’m sure there are some people who do, somewhere..but I’ve not met them.

I’ve never met anyone on “The Left” who thinks all who pray, or who have a gun, fly the flag or celebrate Christian holidays are evil. They might feel they are wrong…or misguided…but people on “The Left” don’t hate conservatives. Not in my experience.

We Americans want to get along with EVERYone. No matter what they think believe or how they vote. That is our nature. That is our culture. Despite what elected officials or TV hosts might say about us.

And this is my important point: Americans are always slow to provoke…give many chances…but if you claim you want to kill us and prove that every chance you get: you are our enemy. No matter who you are or where you come from…the other side of the world, or the other side of the street. We DON’T paint everyone with a broad brush and we have never had a desire to punish the innocent.

But all this debate over “workplace violence”, and “Gee…what made them decide all of a sudden to shoot up a Christmas party?’ or the latest” “Well the woman must have radicalized the husband…he seemed like a sweet guy.”, is not the way most American process things.

All we’ve ever wanted to know as a nation when we are attacked is:

Who’s doing it?

How are we going to stop them?

What can I do to keep my family and my way of life protected?

That’s all.

We never waste time worrying about being “phobic” about an entire race or religion…only an entire group of people who identify themselves as our enemy. If there are bad guys hiding among us in plain sight, most of us believe we should do anything necessary to find and stop them.

If a stray dog bites a child, we don’t broadcast that there is a dangerous mammal, with fur on four legs that may or may not be dangerous.

Because we don’t think for a minute we might end up hating all the dogs and offending them.

Can’t we treat each other with as much common sense as we would with a dog?

Find and Fight the bad guys…stop the terror…

That’s really all most Americans want. We really don’t give a damn about hurting feelings and we certainly don’t have to think about becoming racists…

It’s not our nature.

As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts.

Battle of the Sexes 2015


Someone once said of our Radio show “You don’t just play the game: Battle of the Sexes” your WHOLE SHOW is The Battle of the Sexes.”

I thought that was a very wise observation. For me, in addition to providing all of the other fun, entertaining elements, our show gave insight to both sides on how the opposite sex thinks.

Nowhere is this more evident in the difference between how women and men feel about Christmas decorations. Over the years I have quietly taken a step back from actually placing decorations around our house. I let Lynn do it. Not to avoid disagreements, but because she has great taste…she takes her time…she thinks about how everything “goes together”…basically because our house looks better when I stay out of it. Last night she explained to me the fine art of letting a Christmas bulb hang off of a branch…not just hook-on to any spot that will hold it.

The end result is obvious…Womantree=elegance and warm beauty. Man-tree= a triangle shaped, shiny mountain.



This is a big change from the way we guys decorate a tree. We look at tree decorating the same way we’d make a pizza: The More The Better.

So I’ll remain happy being the person who brings the tree up from the basement…puts it up and makes sure it’s straight…make sure all the lights work…bring up the ornaments…find the step-ladder…then step back…leave the room…go make a pizza.

Chick Pie:


Dude Pie:


As always…I appreciate your feedback.

Happy December, Everybody!