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Columns from Ken Judkins
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Gene Carey – Much more than a public servant

The Flip Side Revisited
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2016/4/9 13:12:06 (1501 reads)

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Gene Carey, former Lewisville Mayor (Photo courtesy of City of Lewisville)

Former Mayor Gene Carey was, by any measurement, as successful a local politician as you will find. By my count, between his first city council election in 1993 and his last race for mayor in 2006, he won eight elections without a defeat, and not a single one of them was close.

But Gene was not a normal politician, local or otherwise. His public success was built on something far more important than a dynamic public persona or the prestige of the office that he held. When you talked with Gene, you knew he cared what you had to say, and what you were going through or dealing with. He listened intently and answered directly. When you had his attention, he was focused on you. He built support one person at a time by building personal trust.

This quality surfaced not only to those he supported. It also applied to those who didn’t vote for him, and occasionally to those who ran against him. Over the years, Gene drew a couple of very young opponents in mayoral elections. Both times, after winning in landslides, Gene made it a point to reach out to them and encourage their involvement in the city in other ways.

Patrick Booth, who ran against Gene for mayor while still a teenager, was very grateful for Gene’s kindness and encouragement. Patrick, now a counselor and author of “The Long Road Home,” told me “One statement he made to me that I have always appreciated during my last campaign was that he liked watching me mature over the years. Since then I have always appreciated the value of experience a little more. Gene was a considerate leader and the city was lucky to have him...” Patrick went on to serve on the Lewisville Park Board, and made a later run for city council.

I first met Gene Carey in the summer of 1989. He was a new member of the park board, which I had joined two years before. I remember him being very amiable, and over the next year, he proved to be the kind of board member you always want to see: no personal agenda, and a willingness to listen, provide intelligent input, and place the needs of the community first and foremost.

We became friends, and stayed close friends until Gene’s untimely death this past Monday at the age of 73. It was an unusual and unlikely friendship, considering that we were both political activists with strong views. I’m a fairly liberal Democrat and Gene was a staunch conservative Republican.

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Cobra Brewing Company – A Hidden Jewel in Old Town Lewisville

The Flip Side Revisited
Posted by kjudk1955 on 2015/6/5 22:40:45 (2235 reads)
The Flip Side Revisited

Open in new windowOpen in new windowBy Ken Judkins

Having grown up in a very dry Lewisville, it has been refreshing to see my hometown change its attitude toward alcoholic beverages over the past few years from being seemingly driven by Baptists to the enlightened local laws we have today.

Full disclosure: I grew up a Baptist. I was just not a very good one.

We have gone from being dry as a bone to having actual full-service bars without the need for cursory membership cards, and recently even full-fledged liquor stores. We also have a distillery (I plan for this to be the subject of a future post).

And as of a year and a half ago, we have our very own brewery in town. It’s a really good one, too.

Cobra Brewing Co. sits in a small warehouse-type building in Old Town Lewisville at 146 Whatley Avenue, at the corner of Kealy and Whatley, just east of Mill Street. But don’t let the warehouse designation fool you. This is a warm, intimate, and sometimes lively place that provides a great gathering place for friends and family during the two times per week its doors are open to the public.

Cobra is a business created and owned by a tight-knit family that consists of Bill Shaw, his wife Sharon, their son-in-law Neil MacCuish, and his wife Danielle. Three of the four were there the night I visited in anticipation of writing this post (all except Sharon) and they could not have been more friendly or accommodating. In fact, I’ve now visited the brewery a number of times and that is exactly how I’ve observed them treating all their customers.

Cobra Brewing is as grassroots as a business can be. None of the family had prior commercial brewing experience. Bill has been a home-brewer for years. He still maintains his white collar day job, while overseeing the brewery’s business in the evenings and on weekends. Neil is also primarily an evening and weekend Brewmaster. Amazingly, he learned brewing from his father, who was also a home brewer. Tasting the incredibly wide varieties and high qualities of beers that Neil has created, it is obvious that he is not just a natural at his craft, but nothing short of a genius.

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Matthew Grimm’s Latest Album – “Songs in the Key of Your Face”

The Flip Side Revisited
Posted by kjudk1955 on 2013/8/4 8:30:00 (4909 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowBy Ken Judkins

For those of you who like your rock and roll or folk-rock music with a heavy dose of social conscience, I have a strong recommendation in the form of a new album just released by Matthew Grimm: “Songs in the Key of Your Face”.

I have been a big Matthew Grimm fan for years, dating back to his days as lead singer and primary songwriter for The Hangdogs, a New York City Band that carved out a loyal following in the Americana genre (alternative country, country-rock, folk-rock) in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in North Texas thanks to occasional play by local stations KHYI and KNON. Hangdogs songs “Hey, Janeane” and “Monopoly on the Blues” reached near-legendary status in some circles, and for good reason. And “Memo from the Head Office” from their last album “Wallace ‘48” is, in the words of one knowledgeable critic (me), simply “the best song about American culture ever written.”

The Hangdogs broke up in 2004 when Matthew moved back to his home state of Iowa to help care for his elderly parents. But his musical career has carried on, with “Songs in the Key of Your Face” being his third album since the Hangdogs days. The first two, “Dawn’s Early Apocalypse” and “Ghosts of Rock and Roll”, more than held their own. The first featured such songs as “Kill the Poor”, “St. Booze”, “Hey, Hitler”, and a very catchy song with a title that, if every instance of the “F” word were removed from the title, would leave nothing more than two commas.

“Ghosts of Rock and Roll” featured one of the greatest union-themed songs I have ever heard, “One Big Union,” an inspiring offering that compares favorably to any union song Woody Guthrie ever wrote. (And yes, I understand the gravity of that statement.)

That brings us to his latest. “Songs in the Key of Your Face” is Matthew Grimm’s most political and socially-conscious song collection yet. It features nine original songs and five covers, with the cover songs carefully chosen and brilliantly written by artists many are familiar with.

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The Zelig Equivalency

The Flip Side Revisited
Posted by kjudk1955 on 2012/11/4 8:40:00 (2127 reads)
The Flip Side Revisited

I was not at all surprised that Mitt Romney has again reversed course from a stated position during the primaries. This time he announced that he didn’t mean at all what he had previously said about FEMA, and is all for ensuring an adequate federal role for disaster relief. Of course, he said it in the middle of one of the largest hurricanes on record hitting our east coast, and at a time that his words from the spring saying he would send that responsibility to the states or to the private sector were being plastered across the national media. I guess he thought it was immoral before it wasn’t immoral.

The best sub-headline of the campaign so far, courtesy of the New York Times: “If Mitt wins, who will occupy the White House? It’s not a trick question.”

Throughout the primary and general election seasons this year, every time I think of Mitt Romney an obscure Woody Allen movie comes to mind. “Zelig” (1983) portrays an individual who becomes just like whoever he is around. If he is around Jewish people he becomes Jewish, around overweight people, he rapidly gains weight, and so forth. “Zelig” deserved much more recognition than it ever received. And I’m puzzled that it’s not being over-referenced by pundits covering the GOP presidential nominee.

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A Look at the “War on Women”

The Flip Side Revisited
Posted by kjudk1955 on 2012/3/22 4:10:00 (1646 reads)
The Flip Side Revisited

There has been much discussion recently about a “War on Women” based on the nationwide debate about access to contraception, the brouhaha surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s name-calling of a young woman over testimony to a congressional panel, and laws enacted and contemplated regarding access to women’s health care in several states.

I’m not sure if the word “war” is the best description of what is taking place, but there is definitely a wide-spread ideologically-driven movement that is targeting women’s access to reproductive services and health care in general, and if continued will result in severe consequences to women’s health, and especially to that of poor women.

There is no overarching conspiracy here. What is happening is a loose collection of usual suspects in the form of religious-based, very conservative organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, combined with the frenzy of a Republican presidential primary season that features two ultra-right candidates trying to out-do each other in pursuit of the image of a mythical right-wing utopia. These candidates know that they are playing to a base of voters that has no qualms about cutting off government funds to anything except the military regardless of the practical consequences.

And our fair state is right in the middle of this mess. Republicans in the Texas state legislature have for years waged a crusade to place as many roadblocks as possible in front of women and young girls seeking to terminate a pregnancy. A parental consent bill was passed in 1999 requiring a minor to gain the consent of a parent in order to have an abortion, with exemptions (for those with potentially abusive parents) only granted with a judge’s permission. In 2003 a law was passed dictating that specified literature about abortion and its consequences (not all of it factually correct) be given to women prior to having the procedure.

Of course, it was the 2011 legislature that went beyond all reason, mandating a 24 hour waiting period and a sonogram (whether medically necessary or not). And then to top it off, the law that passed the legislature dictates exactly what the doctor is to tell his or her patient during a review of the results of the sonogram. I don’t need to spend a lot of time going over this, but the critics who say it provides for a state-mandated rape for those seeking first trimester abortions are pretty much on the mark. Any court with a modicum of common sense will declare this despicable law unconstitutional.

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