Showing posts with label loss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label loss. Show all posts

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Heaven had 12 channels and no snow

When you're rummaging through your childhood home, and your family's life, you find things.

You have absolutely no idea why they were saved, but you're amazed and happy that they were.

Cable television came to Baton Rouge, but not all of Baton Rouge, in 1975. Aunt Sybil and Uncle Jimmy lived in north Baton Rouge -- this was '75, so that would have been pre-apocalyptic north Baton Rouge -- and working-class north Baton Rouge had Cablevision, while my working-class east-central Baton Rouge environs . . . didn't.

Obviously, north Baton Rouge was something just shy of the Beatific Vision some 38 years ago, because you could get 12 channels on your TV there with no static at all. Bless them . . . no static at all.

Cablevision was amazing. So amazing that I begged this Dec. 20-26, 1975, edition of Cablecast off my aunt and uncle. And I saved it. And almost four decades later, it turned up in a forgotten box on a dirty shelf in a blazing-hot utility building in the back yard.

NOW, almost four decades later, I'm sitting here thinking, "We were ape over 12 lousy channels, and none of them were Turner Classic Movies or ESPN?" Of course, in 1975, there wouldn't be an ESPN for another four years, but that's not important now.

Then again, if you lived in Baton Rouge in 1970, you had your Channel 2 and you had your Channel 9. One was NBC, the other CBS and they divided up what anybody wanted from ABC.

We got Channel 33 -- and ABC full time -- in October 1971.

And we finally got public television in 1975, about the time we got cable TV. Yeah, getting 12 channels was a big frickin' deal.

SUCH A big deal, I'm sure the very prospect made News Scene on Channel 9.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The things you save

Mama never threw out anything. At least not much more than garbage and old coffee grounds.
Now she's going to be 90, she fell and broke her hip and she can't live in the house in Red Oaks anymore. Mama's seen better days and, frankly, so has Red Oaks, which has the misfortune to lie north of Florida Boulevard and east of Eden in my hometown of Baton Rouge.

Week before last, my wife and I made a frenzied trip back South to see Mama in the hospital and take care of a few years' worth of loose ends. All in six days.

Part of the process that will hit almost every middle-aged child of someone in God's good time is disposing of a life -- a life that's over, or a life that's merely transitioning to a phase where your home is no longer your own, and neither are your choices. What you rarely realize until it's slapping you in the face . . . over and over and over again, that is when it's not punching you in the gut . . . is that you're disposing of your own life, too.
YOU, in the course of a week, frantically rummage through your childhood home, through all the stuff that Mama never threw out and, ultimately, through your memories both blessed and cursed. You rummage through your childhood, grabbing the precious things to take home as one grabs what's most precious as they flee a burning house, and you say goodbye.
Goodbye to all your old stuff -- yet again. Goodbye to the home of your childhood. Goodbye to your childhood. I'm home again, but Thomas Wolfe was right, or at least mostly right.
“You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
IT'S JUST as well, I reckon. But just the same, I'll hang on to these relics, second class, of one of my earliest Christmases, 'round about 1962. I'll hang onto Fred and Dino and the Flintstone Flivver. (Ninety-eight cents, cheap!)
It was a yabba dabba doo time. A dabba doo time. It was a gay old time.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Cheap grace: The football edition

You ever notice how football coaches are quick to say, after a big loss, "It's all on me. I'm responsible." 

You ever notice, likewise, how snippy and defensive football coaches get when a sportswriter has the temerity to suggest that what happened just might be due to some shortcoming of theirs?

In other words, "It's all my fault; how DARE you suggest this is my fault?! Now where's my raise."

You ever notice how Nebraska's Bo Pelini pulls this cheap grace act over and over again after his Huskers lay egg after egg in a Really Big Game? Here's Pelini doing it yet again, getting snippy with a favored target for his wrath, Omaha World-Herald sportswriter Dirk Chatelain. 

The Huskers fell to a five-loss Wisconsin team 70-31 in the Big Ten championship game. You know what a team that loses to a five-loss Wisconsin team in the Big Ten championship would be called if it played in the Southeastern Conference, as opposed to one of the weaker major conferences? 


This year, the Wildcats went 0-8 in the SEC, and head coach Joker Phillips was forced to take real responsibility for his team's poor performance. He got fired.

LISTEN, I don't know whether Pelini ought to be canned. or even how you could explain getting rid of a coach who won 10 games, even in a notoriously weak conference. But I do know a pattern when I see one -- this particular one being meltdowns in big games against beatable opponents.

I also suspect that another pattern's emerging -- that this is as good as it gets for Nebraska football now, that this is the new normal. Tom Osborne's gone, and he's not coming back. 

Go Big Red! But make a trip to the liquor store before the next big game -- we're all going to need a drink.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
-- Revelation 21:1-4

Kids today have their computers, iPads and smart phones that bring the whole world into their grasp and into their eyes, ears and minds.

In the 1960s, I had a 21-inch, black-and-white Magnavox console television for my window on the world and, likewise, its accompanying radio and phonograph for the soundtrack of my life.

I always think of that old Magnavox, itself long consigned to sepia-tinted memory, when yet another piece of my youth has passed away as heaven and earth is aborn anew. It brought me the world; that world is no more, the new Jerusalem has yet to come down from on high, and I, in the September of my years, must wander the metaphysical neutral ground.

Andy Williams was someone that old Magnavox brought into our Baton Rouge home, and into my young life -- "Moon River" . . . The Andy Williams Show on TV . . . another appearance by the Osmond Brothers . . . "I Can't Get Used to Losing You," (one of my absolute favorite songs to this day) . . . years of Christmas specials amid freshly waxed floors, a newly decorated spruce tree and a cardboard fireplace with a festive, light-bulb fueled "fire."

IT'S BEEN decades since a live spruce tree graced my childhood Louisiana home, and the new laminate living-room floor doesn't need waxing. Mama is 89 now, and Daddy has been gone for 11 years. God only knows what happened to the 15-watt cardboard fireplace that held my Christmas stocking and strained under the dead weight of woolen hosiery stuffed with apples, oranges, candy canes and "D" cells.

Now, the Santa-festooned stocking I've had ever since I saw my first Christmas Day hangs on our Omaha Christmas tree, and last night, Andy Williams died. Bladder cancer. He was 84.

“Moon River” was written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and Audrey Hepburn introduced it in the 1961 film“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but it was Mr. Williams who made the song indisputably his own when he sang it at the 1962 Academy Awards ceremony and titled a subsequent album after it. When he built a theater in Branson, he named it the Andy Williams Moon River Theater.
“Moon River” became the theme song for his musical-variety television series “The Andy Williams Show,” which, along with his family-oriented Christmas TV specials, made him a household name.
“The Andy Williams Show” ran on NBC from 1962 to 1971 and won three Emmy Awards for outstanding variety series. But its run also coincided with the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s, and with a lineup of well-scrubbed acts like the Osmond Brothers (whom Mr. Williams introduced to national television) and established performers like Judy Garland and Bobby Darin, the show, at least to many members of a younger, more rebellious generation, was hopelessly square — the sort of entertainment their parents would watch.
Despite that image, “The Andy Williams Show” was not oblivious to the cultural moment. Its guests also included rising rock acts like Elton John and the Mamas and the Papas, and its offbeat comedy skits, featuring characters like the relentless Cookie Bear and the Walking Suitcase, predated similar absurdism on David Letterman’s and Conan O’Brien’s talk shows by decades.
Mr. Williams’s Christmas specials, on the other hand, were entirely anodyne and decidedly homey, featuring carols and crew-neck sweaters, sleigh bells and fake snow, and a stage filled with family members, including his wife, the telegenic French chanteuse Claudine Longet, and their three children. The Osmonds were regular guests, as were his older brothers, Bob, Don and Dick, who with Mr. Williams had formed the Williams Brothers, the singing act in which he got his start in show business.

Although Mr. Williams’s fame came from television, movie themes were among his best-known recordings, including those from “Love Story,” “Charade,” “The Way We Were” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” Decades after he had stopped recording regularly, his old hits continued to turn up on movie soundtracks: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” in “Bad Santa,” for instance, and his version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Mr. Williams earned 18 gold and three platinum albums and was nominated for Grammy Awards five times, but he never had a gold single. (His version of “Moon River” was not released as a single, although versions by Mr. Mancini and Jerry Butler reached the Top 20.) His biggest hit single — and his only No. 1 — was “Butterfly,” an uncharacteristically rocklike 1957 number for which he was instructed to imitate Elvis Presley.

His more mellow hits included “Canadian Sunset,” “The Hawaiian Wedding Song,” “Lonely Street,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “Are You Sincere?” He continued to record into the 1970s.
HERE'S THE THING. Pop culture worms its way -- being culture and all -- into your brain, your soul and your heart. In many ways, it defines us. It is a signifier -- who are you? Well, what music do you like? What do you read? What's your favorite movie?

What are your memories of childhood? How do you mark the passing years . . . note the chapters of your life?

Likewise,  those who create pop culture, like Andy Williams, worm their way into your life, too. They guest star in your memories and can cause a middle-age man to slip the sure restraints of time and space. And it's not just "your" pop culture that's capable of such magic.

The New York Times obituary says that my generation, the Baby Boomers, found Williams to be "hopelessly square -- the sort of entertainment their parents would watch." That's too simplistic to pass the smell test . . . or the test of time.

Yes, peer pressure would dictate that he fell into the category of Stuff Parents Like and thus was uncool. Of course, peer pressure is merely the difference between saying what you think you must and knowing what you believe in your heart. And if you have any integrity whatsoever, what you believe in your heart will win out eventually.

Look at it this way: Your favorite uncle may have been "hopelessly square," too. Did you disown him because of that? Did you slip out the back door when you saw his car turn into your driveway?

And as the years passed, did you erase him from your memories? Of course not. Did his presence cause them to be any less fond? Of course not. Did you stop loving it when he sang that song he always sang? Is the memory of that hopelessly soiled because a certain someone was a "hopeless square"?

Of course not.

I THINK that's kind of how my generation has come to deal with that -- and those -- deemed "hopelessly square" by others just as young as stupid as ourselves back in the day. Me, I have come to long for the days when hopeless squares ran the world. We the Hip, frankly, ain't doing such a bang-up job of it right now.

Long have I, and have people like me, mourned the passing of things like The Andy Williams Show from our collective pop culture, just as we lament a present culture that has banished Andy Williams and his successors from even the consciousness of today's tragically hip.

But mostly, we today mourn the passing of a legendary singer and an entertainment icon. Andy Williams may or may not have been "hopelessly square" and he may or may not have been popular with all the "wrong" people, but he sure as hell sang like a dream.

And he was as comfortable as a crew-neck sweater on a cold December day.

Mr. Williams, I just can't get used to losing you. Rest in peace.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Human-sizing the big story

This TVNZ report tells the story of Canterbury Television, destroyed in Tuesday's Christchurch quake.

If you think about it, the tragic story of a little TV station on the south island of New Zealand is the big story, only made small enough to get your brain --
and your heart -- around.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The earth moves, crushing worlds entire

The Big One came last September for the Canterbury region of New Zealand.

Above, a scientist discusses what happened on Canterbury Television's morning program,
Good Living. What host Megan Banks could not know -- and what geoscientist Pilir Vilamor couldn't predict -- was that it would happen again, with such devastating effect, in just a few months.

Tuesday's quake in Christchurch was "just" a 6.3 on the Richter scale, compared with the 7.1 in September, but it struck with blind ruthlessness. Hundreds may be dead, with nearly a hundred of that already confirmed.

And 15 of the 25 staffers at Canterbury Television --
CTV -- are missing somewhere in the rubble of their pancaked studios, Radio New Zealand reports:

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said it has been a "dreadful day" for rescue teams, and that about 75% of the city had now been covered by searchers on Thursday.

However, no survivor has been pulled from the wreckage of collapsed buildings, including the CTV and Pyne Gould buildings, since Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Parker says rumours of survivors being found alive in rubble on Thursday are not true. The search and rescue operation is happening in a "pressure cooker environment" and it easy for onlookers to get false hope, he says.

More search and rescue crews are due to arrive from overseas on Thursday night joining teams already working from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. The operation will continue overnight on Thursday, he says.

Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday there are no survivors from the CTV building. Work had resumed there earlier on Thursday after there were concerns that the nearby Hotel Grand Chancellor might collapse.

Police estimate up to 120 people were in the devastated building which housed a language school, a regional television station and a nursing school.

The language school, Kings Education, said on Thursday it feared nine staff and 37 students students remained inside. A further 35 students are unaccounted for. The school has students enrolled from Japan, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea and Saudi Arabia.

AMONG THE MISSING -- now presumed dead by authorities, says the New Zealand Herald -- is Jo Giles, longtime CTV presenter, competitive pistol shooter, motor-sports enthusiast, onetime political candidate . . . and mum.
One of Ms Giles' daughters, Olivia Giles, said her family was pulling together to cope. "We're all supporting each other and still all hopeful. The main focus is just Mum."

Ms Giles' son James Gin said conflicting information yesterday about the chances of his mother surviving made it tough.

"We hear there were 15 people alive which was amazing, then within 10 minutes we find out that was false. To be honest I don't know what to think. Of course we hope we see our mum again."

ANOTHER WHO LIES somewhere beneath what once was CTV is Samuel Gibb -- journalist, devoted husband and "the last person that deserves this":
His wife, Cindy Gibb, struggled to accept the news that there was no hope left of her husband coming out of the collapsed CTV building alive.

"I don't know anything else. I just need my husband back," she told the Herald.

"I'm too young for this to happen. It's not supposed to happen like this. Sam's just the best person in the world."
THE EARTH SHOOK under Christchurch on Tuesday. Technically, experts say, it was just an aftershock from last fall.

To those who did not survive it, to families whose hearts and lives were ripped apart by it, to a television station laid waste because of it, to a city that lies in rubble after it . . . that was no mere aftershock.

In New Zealand this week, the earth shook, and whole worlds came crashing down. Nothing will be as it was.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mein Nebraskenkampf

Oh, Lord. I'm gonna have to start buying Depends if I'm gonna keep watchin' this stuff.

Nebraska football: If you've gotta cry, it's better to laugh yourself into it.

IF YOU WANT to know why newspapers are doomed, doomed, doomed . . . it's because they spend millions and deploy scores of journalists to cover stuff and give us their learned opinions, but still can't come up with something as screamingly funny -- and ultimately truthful -- as some guys posting from home in their spare time.

And that's why they call it

As seen on Facebook. . . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Because the Packers lost. . . .

This is so messed up, I don't know where to start.

But an Omaha television station is reporting, citing multiple sources, that a 21-year-old college student died . . . was murdered . . . because the Green Bay Packers lost to the New York Giants.

YOU READ correctly: KMTV, citing its sources and police reports, says 19-year-old Kyle Bormann had been watching the ball game, getting liquored up and getting madder by the minute. And then, say the station's sources, he decided that because the Packers sucked, someone in Omaha was going to die:

Why would anyone gun down a random women in a drive-thru? Until now, few knew. Multiple sources shed light on the shocking evidence. Evidence, that the Green Bay Packers losing playoff performance, could be one of many things that motivated Kyle Bormann to allegedly kill Brittany Williams.

Picking up dinner for her father, Brittany Williams dies in a drive-thru. Eight-thirty on January 20th, a bullet rips through her car, killing her instantly. Police say Kyle Bormann pulled the trigger on a high-powered rifle one hundred yards up 30th Street from the Florence fast-food restaurant.

According to police booking sheets, Bormann had been drinking before the murder. Multiple sources tell Action 3 News the drinking coincided with watching the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants football game. At some point during the game, Action 3 News sources confirm Bormann became enraged with the Packers' poor play. His anger mixed with alcohol, they say, led him to leave home, go to the Florence neighborhood and randomly kill Brittany Williams.
GREEN BAY, we have a problem.

I can understand getting mad and killing the TV. Stupid . . . but understandable. But drunkenly deciding that a young woman, an honor student, must die because the Packers lost?

I have no words for that.

If all this is true, here's to a 19-year-old loser's new favorite football team . . . the Mean Machine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Explains a lot

And all it takes is a poorly socialized moron to sling around outraged F-bombs because a blogger was insufficiently sympathetic toward what procsecutors say is a confessed cold-blooded murderer.

Wednesday's Omaha World-Herald:

Kyle Bormann has admitted firing the shot that killed 21-year-old Brittany
Williams, a prosecutor said Wednesday in Douglas County Court.

The 19-year-old Omaha man was denied bail by Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo. Marcuzzo cited the seriousness of the crime in his decision.

Bormann, who lived with his father in the Ponca Hills area, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. He is accused of firing a rifle at Williams on Sunday evening as she sat in her car in the drive-through lane at the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St. Police said he was about 100 yards away.

The restaurant is a little over two miles down 30th Street from the Bormann house.


During an interview at the police station, Smith said, Bormann admitted firing his rifle at Williams' car while she waited in the drive-through lane.

Authorities have said Bormann shot Williams with a Winchester .243-caliber bolt-action rifle that had a Bushnell scope.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Wednesday afternoon that Bormann was wearing camouflage and that he had been drinking alcohol prior to the shooting.

About a dozen of Williams' friends and relatives attended Wednesday's hearing.

After the hearing, Jerard Christian, a cousin of Williams who serves in the U.S. Army, said, "This is ridiculous. Something needs to be done about all this gun violence in Omaha. I am trained in the military, and to take somebody's life because he's upset about something, he has no idea how many lives he's hurt by this."

SORRY, ANONYMOUS, all my sympathy has been used up on the poor girl your pal with the high-powered blew away at the KFC. Allegedly.

But your artful missive has explained a lot. I think it's explained that my generation has raised a bunch of foul-mouthed, unsocialized, violent butt-wipes who we may well have reason to fear.

Or at least disarm.

Thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Death is a 19-year-old, dope-smoking
child of divorce with a gun . . .

All it takes is a loser with a gun to shoot out our brightest lights.

Leaving us with the loser.
And his gun.

OMAHA POLICE SAY it was 19-year-old Kyle Bormann who, dressed in camouflage and carrying a hunting rifle with a telescopic sight, went hunting Sunday night on North 30th Street. This is who he allegedly bagged -- his prey -- the young woman shot in the head as she waited in the drive-through line at Kentucky Fried Chicken:
Brittany Williams was going somewhere in life. She knew it. And she wanted other people to know it, too.

"She knew she wanted to go places and do things," said Mel Clancy, who knew her well through the Project Achieve program he directs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. "She was always meticulously dressed. She projected the part of a polished college student. And she worked her tail off."

The future Williams was building for herself was ripped away from her Sunday night. Williams, 21, was killed about 8:40 p.m. Sunday as she sat in her car outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St. Omaha police say Kyle J. Bormann, 19, used a high-powered rifle to shoot Williams from about 100 yards away.

Williams, a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, died at the scene.

Bormann was charged today in Douglas County Court with first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony in connection with the shooting.

"It appears to be a premeditated event, and the evidence reflects that," said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who filed the charges. "But it appears to be random in nature, even though it was an intentional killing. We don't know the motive or motivation behind it."


Williams made the dean's list several times while studying pre-nursing at UNO, Clancy said. She volunteered for several community projects, including UNO's seven days of service during spring break. Herself a participant in Project Achieve, a program for first-generation, low-income students, she was giving back by advising younger students in the program.

"This young lady had success written all over her," Clancy said.

Whatever she decided to do, Williams would have done it with style and a smile, a sorority sister said.

"She was a great person, a sweet person who would do anything for you," said Tia Robinson, a fellow member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. "Bubbly. Energetic. She was always smiling. Anytime you saw her, she'd give you a hug."

Monday afternoon, Robinson and four fellow sorority sisters held hands, prayed, cried and hugged each other on the snowy southeast corner of 30th and Craig Streets. They stood a few yards from where Williams' life had been coldly and apparently randomly stolen Sunday night in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant.

The women toiled to push a wooden stake into a frozen flowerbed. On the stake was a placard signed by sorority sisters in squiggly letters with bright-colored markers. On the placard was an enlarged photo of a long-haired young woman in a white dress with a bright smile: Brittany.

Williams, who graduated from North High School after attending Northwest High through 11th grade, was a Goodrich Program scholar at UNO.

Mike Carroll, an associate professor with the Goodrich Program, said he remembered her well.

"She was a talented student and a good writer," he said. "I had her in English composition, where she wrote some autobiographical essays that showed a broad understanding of the local community. . . . She talked about nursing and wanting to make a difference."
MEANWHILE, as we find out more and more about the Kyle Bormann, we also find more commonality between the alleged gunman and Westroads Mall shooter Robert Hawkins.

Now it's not only that both were children of divorce. It seems that Bormann had a few convictions in South Dakota for both drugs and minor in possession of alcohol. KETV television in Omaha reports:
Kleine said the possibility that this was a hate crime is still being considered by investigators.

"We'll see where that leads, as far as motivation -- what motive he had," the prosecutor said.

Police said Bormann was 100 to 200 yards away from Williams' car northwest of the restaurant on 30th Street when he fired the gun.

Kleine said Bormann used something like a Winchester model 670a with a .243 cartridge. Considered a pure sportsman's rifle by some, it is a bolt-operated rifle that takes some time to reload.

Kleine said the gun had a scope, and that the weapon belongs to Bormann.

"Apparently he had some history of hunting -- lived in South Dakota. That's where he was from, and was a hunter," Kleine said.

When he was arrested on Sunday night, police said they found Bormann dressed as a hunter.

"He was dressed in camouflage gear, camouflage jacket, camouflage pants," Kleine said.

Kleine said he will ask a judge on Wednesday to assign no bond for Bormann.

South Dakota criminal records show that Bormann has been charged with crimes in at least three counties. The charges range from traffic violations to drug possession -- a charge that was later reduced.

Bormann was sentenced in Brookings County in July after he pleaded guilty to ingesting intoxicants. Brookings police said an officer saw Bormann acting suspiciously near a motel, and when the officer tried to find out what he was doing, Bormann took off running.

"The officer was able to locate him again and through his investigation, there was the smell of alcohol, as well as marijuana," Lt. Jeff Miller of the Brookings Police Department told television station KSFY.

Police said an ingesting charge is most common when a suspect is under the influence, but the officer doesn't find the person carrying a substance.

One of the conditions of Bormann's sentencing was that he had to stay out of trouble with the law until next July, records show.
OMAHA'S WOWT television says Bormann had "two minor drug arrests," two MIPs and a speeding charge on his South Dakota rap sheet.

Now all we need is to find out race hatred was the motivation. The prosecutor isn't saying -- yet -- but another Omaha TV station, KMTV, reported Tuesday that one of Bormann's friends was afraid that it was.

Lord, have mercy.

Another day, another atrocity

White kid from small-town South Dakota moves to the big city, comes across African-American college student -- a young woman, a 21-year-old sorority sister and scholarship recipient, the daughter of an Omaha public-works employee.

Their fateful encounter came in the drive-through lane of a KFC in the Florence section of north Omaha.

CHECK THAT. Brittany Williams was sitting in her car in the KFC drive-through. Kyle Bormann, say police, was in his car 100 yards away -- with a high-powered rifle. And officers say he aimed that rifle at Brittany Williams' head and pulled the trigger.

Brittany Williams died where she sat.

In her car.

At the KFC.

The Omaha World-Herald picks up the story:

Kyle Bormann was an above-average high school student growing up in South Dakota, earning mostly A's and B's. He excelled in chemistry and precalculus. He had no discipline problems in school. He held a part-time job at the small-town grocery store.

As of Sunday evening, however, the portrait had changed.

That's when Bormann, 19, is accused of fatally shooting a 21-year-old Omaha woman who had stopped in a fast-food restaurant's drive-through lane.

Police say the shooting was random, and the shot was fired from about 100 yards away.

Omaha police say Bormann used a high-powered rifle to shoot Brittany Williams about 8:40 p.m. as she sat in her car outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St.

Williams, who had attained junior status at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, died at the scene.

Bormann's alleged role in the shooting has floored Bormann's friends, school officials and relatives in his native South Dakota.

"I can't believe that he would do something like that. It sounds kind of crazy," said 21-year-old Jim Jensen, one of Bormann's close friends from Wessington Springs, S.D.

Bormann graduated from Wessington Springs High School in 2006, a year after Jensen. He attended Dell Rapids High School in South Dakota for the first three years of high school before changing schools his senior year.

Bormann's parents are divorced. His father, Greg, lives in the Ponca Hills neighborhood in Omaha. His mother still lives in South Dakota.

Bormann's family declined to comment. A handwritten sign posted Monday outside his house on Canyon Road read, "No media. No trespassing." A woman who answered the phone at the house declined to comment.

At Dell Rapids, a high school 15 miles from Sioux Falls, Bormann earned mostly A's and B's, said his former high school guidance counselor, George Henry.

"He never got any bad grades," Henry said. "I never recalled any discipline, no anger from him, no fighting. Just a nice kid. A little on the quiet side."

Wessington Springs Principal/ Superintendent Darold Rounds said Bormann adjusted well despite transferring into the tiny school for his senior year. One of Bormann's older sisters now teaches at Wessington Springs and serves as an assistant athletic coach, Rounds said.

"Kyle was popular among students, just an ideal student, and new people don't usually fit right in," said Rounds, who recalled attending Bormann's summer graduation party in 2006 and meeting several of Bormann's relatives.

Friends and school officials say they have a hard time understanding that Bormann is accused of shooting a woman he didn't know.

"This floors me. I am really shocked," said Rounds. "It's hard to comprehend."

About 20 minutes after the shooting, Omaha police said, a man later identified as Bormann drove a white 1996 Chrysler Sebring through the crime-scene tape that officers had put up around the restaurant. He ignored police officers' commands to stop and drove off.

Police chased the car, and it stopped at 29th and Bondesson Streets, where the driver jumped out and ran away. Police said the man threw a high-powered rifle to the ground.

After a short foot chase, officers arrested Bormann on suspicion of criminal homicide and use of a weapon to commit a felony.

Omaha police allege that Bormann was inside his vehicle when he fired the rifle. Police said there were no indications that Williams and Bormann knew each other.

"It's not a whole lot different than the Von Maur situation in that it's just completely random," Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said. "You're just shopping at a store or waiting in a drive-through and this happens? It's unimaginable."
THAT MAKES TWO random acts of horror pinned on 19-year-old white males in Omaha in a month and a half. Apart from that, the only thing anyone can find in common is that the young men were children of divorce. And that the shootings were utterly random.

Are we raising up a generation of monsters, or is this a pure fluke? Along with Virginia Tech and Columbine and Von Maur and all the other horrors committed by young men in the past decade.

Can't really say.

Can say for a fact, though, that this is what we've lost:

Beautiful, bubbly Brittany Williams was a young collegian preparing for a future in nursing.

Or maybe the fashion business.

But whatever she decided to do, Williams would have done it with style and a smile, a sorority sister said Monday.

"She was a great person, a sweet person who would do anything for you," said Tia Robinson, a fellow member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. "Bubbly. Energetic. She was always smiling. Anytime you saw her, she'd give you a hug."

Monday afternoon, Robinson and four fellow sorority sisters held hands, prayed, cried and hugged each other on the snowy southeast corner of 30th and Craig Streets. They stood a few yards from where Williams' life had been coldly and apparently randomly stolen Sunday night in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant.

The women toiled to push a wooden stake into a frozen flowerbed. On the stake was a placard signed by sorority sisters in squiggly letters with bright-colored markers. On the placard was an enlarged photo of a long-haired young woman in a white dress with a bright smile: Brittany.

Williams, 21, was a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. A Goodrich Program scholar from Omaha, she was in pre-nursing studies.

Mike Carroll, an associate professor with the Goodrich Program, said he remembered her well.

"She was a talented student and a good writer," he said. "I had her in English composition, where she wrote some autobiographical essays that showed a broad understanding of the local community. . . . She talked about nursing and wanting to make a difference."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Au revoir, pas adieu

Our young friend, Chris Rudloff, lost his fight last night, about the time I was uploading that last post.

Chris was a special young man with a gleaming future ahead of him . . . ahead of them, Chris and the love of his life, Abby. It was just in May that we attended their wedding, then partied through the night in celebration of their future together.

WE JUST DIDN'T KNOW -- couldn't have even believed -- that future would be this damned short. It's not right, and it's not fair. Of course, not a damned thing about life is fair. Death, either.

I write this through my tears this cruel Christmastime, and nothing breaks my heart more than to think that, at such a young age, Abby is living the worst nightmare of any woman who looks upon her husband and sees the love of her life.
And of any man who desperately loves his wife and knows -- absolutely knows -- that it's all true when he calls her his "better half."

Likewise, it goes without saying how devastatingly wrong it is for any parent to bury a child.

This week before Christmas, I don't feel like decorating the tree. I don't want to do a Christmas edition of the Revolution 21 podcast. Particularly for us in Omaha, this season of good tidings and joy has brought in a harvest of death.

And now this for those of us who knew Chris and loved him.

WE WILL, however, decorate the tree. I will now get to work on putting together a Christmas podcast, though it may be a little late. It is necessary to celebrate the baby who came into the world to conquer death.

It is because of that first Christmas, that joyous day so long ago when God became man, that we now tell our friend Chris au revoir. Not adieu.