My father died young, at 57, of a complicated lung ailment that had precipitated five surgeries and still killed him. Toward the end of his too-short life he began reading the obituaries in the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cincinnati Post, the two dailies he'd been reading for 40 years.
Something about his preoccupation with death made the teenaged me uncomfortable, and I tried teasing the old man about his new hobby.
His manner was brusque and his reply was brief and to the point.
"I'm looking for sons of bitches I've managed to outlive," he said.
Now, a tiny bit older than Pops was when, kicking and screaming, he shuffled off this mortal coil 39 years ago, I too scan the obituaries almost daily.
I'm not looking for SOBs necessarily, but I am very curious about all the good and bad people who have preceded me into the shade.
I've lived out West for 23 years now, and 13 of those 365s have been spent here on the eastern shores of Puget Sound. Sadly, I've been here long enough that I am familiar with a few of the names every other week or so.
I saw a name the other day I really was in no hurry to scan. Howard Bulson died. He was only 72 when pancreatic cancer claimed him.
If you don't know who Howard Bulson was, then you are either new to Queen Anne or simply a person who doesn't pay attention.
Howard Bulson, called a "laconic lounge luminary" in the very fine Seattle Times obit penned by Marc Ramirez, played piano for 16 years at the late Sorry Charlie's, which was replaced briefly by Dave Meinert's Mirabeau Room and is now a sports bar called the Spectator.
Bulson and Sorry Charlie's were linchpins of the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Since the closure of Sorry Charlie's, Bulson had been banging the keys four nights a week at Martin's Off Madison, on Capitol Hill.
Bulson played show tunes, ballads and anything else wannabe singers requested. He was a genius at backing, and making sound better, amateur singers of every stripe. There were nights at Sorry Charlie's when someone who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket was followed by a talented Seattle Opera performer having a little "light" musical fun away from the mainstage.
Martin's Off Madison held a tribute for Bulson last Friday, and the Triple Door, Belltown's hottest jazz spot, has one planned for May 23. Howard was another big part of the fast-fading "Old Seattle" where who you were and what talents you had were more important than where you lived, what you drove and how much money you made. Howard will be missed.
ON THE corrupt executive front - the business page has had more crime news than the sports page since Bush took office - two more regional execs are on trial.
Billy J. Allen, founder and chief executive of VECO Corp., has pleaded guilty to extortion, bribery and conspiracy to impede the IRS. Rick Smith, one of his vice presidents, pleaded to the same array of charges.
Seems the fellas were trying to bribe five Alaska lawmakers with cash and promises of other favors. The five politicos approached have not been named. But Maria Cantwell and I both could probably make a good guess or two.
IN ADDITION to his futile war, his raping of the poor and the working class, his attempts to gut Social Security and his hypocritical pandering to the wacko far right, George W. Bush continues to display a brazenness of which a streetcorner hooker would be proud.
We've talked here of how he put 11 (or more) former oil executives and flacks into key positions in the Environmental Protection Agency to help gut that organization's power. Now he has nominated a tobacco-industry defender to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Bush's newest boy, Michael Baroody, is a former lobbyist who attempted to block laws aimed at reducing the number of cigarette fires.
Baroody's nomination comes on the heels of news that Bush's guy in charge of fording abstinence down the throats of American men and women was caught frequently ordering up gals from a D.C. escort service. The Abstainer claimed he was jist gittin' massages. Yeah, that's what everyone with a sore back does, call up an escort service.
And it wasn't that long ago that the Republican Morals Squad's Congressman in charge of protecting America's youth from sexual predators (Mark Foley of Flawda) was busted out after years of hitting on Senate and Congressional pages - young boys.
Whatever Warren G. Harding Bush Jr.'s (and his cronies') faults are, you can't attack him for lacl of shame or hypocrisy.
He's tops in those departments. Absolutely unbeatable.
If there is a glaringly unqualified candidate for a government post, Bush will find him.
If Hitler were alive, I have no doubt Dubya would nominate him as ambassador to Israel.