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Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:35 AM

Ocean

“A drop in the ocean partakes of the greatness of its parent, although it is unconscious of it. But it dries up as soon as it enters upon an existence independent of the ocean.”
-- Gandhi

In the months leading up to this week’s elections, I have posted a number of essays here about the contests in the town of Sidney, N.Y.. Everything good and bad about the United States can be found in this upstate, very republican community. The local volunteer fire department just returned from emergency response work on the coastal region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Its Town Supervisor -- the infamous tea party Bob McCarthy, who led the fight that sought to force the removal of all Islamic graves from Sidney’s soil -- just cut the highway department’s budget, which translates into the lay-off of all but the first-shift. As McCarthy lives in Florida during the winter months, he does not care that there will be little, if any, plowing of the roads from 5 pm to 5 am, the very hours when fire trucks and ambulances are most often called to emergencies.

In that town’s 238-year history, its Town Board has always had a republican majority. Until this week, that is.

I ran one candidate’s campaign (my nephew), and co-ran another’s; these were the two Democrats, running against three republicans, for two seats on the board. Now, this is in a town where registered republicans outnumber registered democrats by more than three-to-one. There is a significant number of “independent” voters, too, but republicans are by far the majority. Yet not only did our two candidates win on Tuesday, but they won with record numbers of votes, in what local media called “the most heated campaign in Sidney’s history.”

How did we do this? I think that is an important question, because if we could do it in Sidney, others -- including you -- can do it where you live. Our effort included the contributions of the local Democratic Party, and of activists from the independent Democratic Left. Our basic strategy is found, not coincidentally, in the free e-book that I wrote this summer, and which can be found here:

http://mountmoses.wordpress.com/

For this discussion, I’ll attempt to briefly outline some of the highlights. To begin with, we knew that we were doing battle with the republican machine, which has three levels: there is the identified leadership (generally older white males) who run the public show, but who tend to be the errand-boys for the true leaders; there is the actual leadership, comprised of those who run events from behind the curtain (they are the businessmen); and there are the cogs, or the registered republican base. This base does what it is told, without giving it conscious thought -- for that is the nature of machines, which are by definition unconscious.

Indeed, the republican machine, be it a tractor in a town like Sidney, or a huge bulldozer in your state, is unconscious of the destruction that its driver uses it for. That “identified leader” driving the machine knows, of course, as does the actual leader, who identifies what their latest project seeks to destroy.

Thus, the basic strategy that I use in running a campaign can be defined in one of two ways, depending upon which you prefer. It’s fair to say I believe in “waking up” the unconscious cogs in that republican machine, trusting that a significant number of them will respond by recognizing their humanity. Or one could accurately say that I believe in kicking the wheels off the republican machine. Either description is fine.

How is that accomplished? The first task is identifying those in the community who are both part of a larger group -- including, for example, people who are not registered democrats -- and who are willing and able to invest time and energy in the campaign. In the context of this campaign, we had eight people who were on “tier one,” meaning they not only had solid experience, but that they attended almost every meeting we held. Then came “tier two,” comprised of people who were eager to gain experience, by investing significant time and energy into our effort.

I am, at this phase of my long life, a believer in non-violence. In social-political activism, that translates into the many actions described in the e-book, such as the hunger strike I engaged in January, 2012. I believe in confronting the darkness with light, and hatred with love (in the manner that “love” is defined in three tiers by Martin Luther King, Jr.). Yet in campaign-court activism, those darker impulses of the machine are best confronted by justice.

Let me explain this. That fellow Bob McCarthy, and his two tea party chums who assisted his cemetery project, are very difficult to like. They have a toxicity about them, that causes citizens at the town board meetings to react in disgust. I must admit that it is easy for me to pray for them while I’m engaged in ceremony, but difficult to not strongly dislike them as individuals. Thus, I try very hard to use the manner in which King confronted “Bull” Connor as a model for dealing with the three tea partiers.

Within our group, each person has individual talents. The full understanding of these differences is essential, in order to best coordinate the group. There are, not surprisingly, some who are not comfortable in trying to appeal to republicans. Their life experiences have created walls between them and republicans in general. Others have bridges that connect them to republican family members, friends, and/or neighbors. Appreciating that difference allows us to identify which group members will be tasked with reaching out to republicans, to wake them up to the reality of the damage the machine is doing.

Having those who aren’t involved in “republican outreach” focus on voter education, registration, and participation among other groups and individuals is equally important. Identifying those who prefer a different role -- such as delivering fliers door-to-door -- provides us with another equally important activity. Coordinating the letters-to-the-editors of local and regional newspapers is another equally important task. Each person is a unique finger, that combines with others to make the group a powerful fist.

When the republican leaders see that fist, they naturally react. And we can count on a hostile reaction. Time and time again, this has happened in Sidney over the last two years. And that has allowed us to separate the extremists from the moderates, to the point where we have won five out of five elections there in the past two years.

At last night’s town board meeting in Sidney, the three tea party members clearly recognized that the game has changed. They are isolated. In fact, even some moderate republicans were there, expressing disapproval of the damage the local machine has done, and continues to do at this time.

I’ll wrap up by saying this: I was also involved in several other campaigns. In one, for an open seat in the House of Representatives, I recommended that the candidate -- who I know casually -- use parts of the model we used in Sidney. Though he listened politely to me, the fellow who ran his campaign rejected my ideas. This prevented the candidate from getting widespread support from independents and the Democratic Left. I do understand the reasons for trying to “play it safe.” But this is no time to play, and our society is far from safe from the damage being inflicted by the republican machine.

Sorry to ramble on so long. I get carried away.

41 replies, 2144 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 41 replies Author Time Post
Reply Ocean (Original post)
H2O Man Nov 2012 OP
spanone Nov 2012 #1
H2O Man Nov 2012 #5
Shankapotomus Nov 2012 #2
H2O Man Nov 2012 #7
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #3
H2O Man Nov 2012 #8
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #9
Me. Nov 2012 #33
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #35
Me. Nov 2012 #39
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #41
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #4
DonRedwood Nov 2012 #6
H2O Man Nov 2012 #14
DonRedwood Nov 2012 #29
librechik Nov 2012 #10
H2O Man Nov 2012 #16
HCE SuiGeneris Nov 2012 #11
H2O Man Nov 2012 #17
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #12
H2O Man Nov 2012 #18
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #23
H2O Man Nov 2012 #25
hootinholler Nov 2012 #13
H2O Man Nov 2012 #19
bulldogge Nov 2012 #15
H2O Man Nov 2012 #20
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #24
Me. Nov 2012 #32
malaise Nov 2012 #21
H2O Man Nov 2012 #22
CaliforniaPeggy Nov 2012 #26
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #28
upi402 Nov 2012 #27
HCE SuiGeneris Nov 2012 #30
Me. Nov 2012 #31
H2O Man Nov 2012 #34
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #36
H2O Man Nov 2012 #37
coeur_de_lion Nov 2012 #40
Me. Nov 2012 #38

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:37 AM

1. k&r...

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Response to spanone (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:43 PM

5. Thanks!

Much appreciated.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:09 AM

2. Excellent piece of writing & strategy

And thanks for this: "There are, not surprisingly, some who are not comfortable in trying to appeal to republicans. Their life experiences have created walls between them and republicans in general."

That is true. We are not intolerant. There are just some who have suffered more mentally at the hands of Republicans and conservatives that they just can't endure any more from them. We are grateful for those who are able to pick up the slack and confront them but we mostly cannot or are presently unwilling. And the cause, at least on my part, is definitely life experience. I'm in no condition to be patient with that kind of toxicity. My guess as to why some of us are like this is we may have first hand experience with erratic and abusive family members of said political persuasion.

Kicked & highly recommended!

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 01:00 PM

7. Thank you.

Your response reminded me of something ..... after RFK was murdered in 1968, a Native American spokesman wrote to Mrs. Kennedy, and noted that Robert was one of very few people who could mix with almost anyone and everyone. The Senator was as comfortable in a city slum or on Indian Territory as he was in the halls in Washington, DC.

Having some people who can mix with republicans is beneficial. Likewise, it is not uncommon to find that people on the Democratic Left, who avoid republicans at all costs, are able to walk the streets of neighborhoods that most political aides avoid and write off.

The only hope we have for establishing social justice is to focus more attention on bringing in those folks who our society marginalizes (and capitalizes on their suffering). We have large segments of our society that know they are being exploited, tend to know that "the system" is crushing them, their families and friends, but who are so distrustful that they avoid taking the steps required to empower themselves.

While last night, I wore a nicer suit & tie than any of the republicans at the town board meeting, and am able to deal with them, I far prefer breaking bread with the exploited peoples.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:24 AM

3. You ran a great campaign

You're an inspiration. Thank you for everything that you do, and for just being you.

I almost wish I lived in NY so I could help you. But it is way too cold up there.

So I'll satisfy myself with reading about it, and using it as a model for my own activism.

After this election, reading all about how we came together as a community and kicked ass, I think I will be involved in 2014. Maybe beyond.

I hope I can count on you for advice.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 01:03 PM

8. We both know

that you are responsible for this OP/thread. If not for your application of polite pressure, I'd have either been too busy, or made some other excuse for staying busy doing other things.

You remain, of course, my favorite Little Rascal on DU.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 01:16 PM

9. LOL I was just reminiscing H

I came across this old old old Plame thread. So many familiar names, what happened to them all?


Here is the link:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x3988991

Tellurian, Robert Paulsen, Me., Shraby, Merh, Seemslikeadream, Blm, Kohodog, SO MANY others.

Remember them all? We were pissed off but we all stuck together. And we had fun figuring out the pieces ot the puzzle. Now there has been a book, a movie starring Sean Penn, lots of talk and everyone knows about it. We didn't get our frog march but the frog just embarrassed the hell out of himself a few days ago and he'll never live that down. Besides, he has to live with himself. It sucks to be him on any day, never mind election day this week.

We don't ever have to feel like we did back then. Not anymore.

And you are still the sage of the DU.

Thanks for coming on to tell us all abour your successful campaigns. You are a treasure.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #9)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 03:28 PM

33. Present

For this thread anyway

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Response to Me. (Reply #33)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:25 PM

35. Me! It's you! No It's Me!

I'm so confused.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #35)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 06:18 PM

39. OK, Now You've Confused Me

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Response to Me. (Reply #39)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 08:31 PM

41. Me confused? You confused? Who's on first?

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:35 AM

4. There was a time about 8 years ago

When I thought this day would never come. When I was fresh out of grad school, stuck in a dead end job, working for rabid republicans, saddled with student loans I couldn't pay. I was beyond depressed.

Bush had just stolen his second election. No one had been made to pay for outing Valerie Plame because her husband revealed the truth about WMD in Iraq.

DU (and most especially you H) saved my sanity.

Now look where we are. A wise black man just won a second term against what the media said were impossble odds.

You just helped two democrats win in a heavily republican area.

As for me I have a great job working for a company whose values I respect. My boss is a democrat. When I saw her for the first time after the election she gave me a big hug.

I'm starting to believe in happy endings. Life is good.

And H you are part of what makes life so good these days.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:46 PM

6. Don't apologize! I like it when you get carried away!!!!

You are one of the best of the best on DU!

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 11:12 AM

14. Thank you.

I've enjoyed making my contributions to DU over the years. And I've had fun talking to -- and in a few cases, getting to know -- people here. At times when physical limitations have kept me a house-bound hermit, DU has provided the opportunity for mental exercises. (grin)

DU has long been my favorite internet site. Though I've contributed to a variety of other sites, and had offers from a couple higher-profile ones, I have always preferred DU. (I do write a few boxing articles for another site, from time to time.)

But in recent weeks, I've been approached by a couple of individuals who have asked me to produce a small, "free" newspaper for a four-county area in upstate NY. It will be similar to the Native American newspaper that I co-edited years ago. And although it's not a "job," it can be a heck of a lot of work ..... very time-consuming, when done properly.

DU has been the last of the sites I contribute to that I'm going to need to cut back on. But I suppose that if the stuff I post here still gets a decent response, it'll serve a purpose. Plus, at my age, I never know when the next round of house-bound hermatology will strike!

Peace to you & yours!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 11:00 AM

29. We can be your sounding board :0)

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 01:27 PM

10. congratulations! You are such an inspiration

thanks for your leadership

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Response to librechik (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:16 PM

16. Thank you!

I do not fancy myself a leader, but I think that I'm a dedicated and consistent team-player.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 02:28 PM

11. K & R

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Response to HCE SuiGeneris (Reply #11)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:16 PM

17. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 04:20 PM

12. K & R

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:18 PM

18. You again, eh?

Told ya that my stuff drops quickly these days! The "golden era" of the Plame Threads is long gone, and there is a very different tone & atmosphere here.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #18)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:22 PM

23. Not mant threads stay up for long anymore

Check your email. I sent you someone's contact info.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:50 PM

25. Yes, I found it.

And sent her a message .... haven't heard back yet, though.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 04:38 PM

13. Kick to find it later n/t

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Response to hootinholler (Reply #13)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:18 PM

19. Thanks, Buddy.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 03:26 PM

15. Planting seeds of thought

I read H2OMans post regularly though I rarely respond, what is the point of drawing a stick figure on a masterpiece right? This particular article is about me so I thought I would throw in my two cents.

I remember very clearly when my interest in politics began to bloom. I was in 2nd grade and ill, bed ridden at the time. Relatives were bringing me coloring books and other little toys. My mother came upstairs and said ,"Your Uncle just dropped off some books for you." Needless to say I was excited to work on some new coloring books. She set down a copy of "Black Elk Speaks" and "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee". I read them non-stop over the course of a week while I lay in bed. He knew early on how important it was to sew seeds of compassion.

I remember sleep overs at his house when I was still rather young and for "fun" we watched the Republican Convention one year. I remember being horrified at the adults wearing pig masks and cheering in the front row as ol' Ronnie Raygun spoke with a tilted head.

During high school my Uncle would take me along while he performed lectures and protest with Chief Paul Waterman. I remember one event vividly. I had written an op-ed to the local paper after witnessing the humble approach taken by Chief Waterman with the Sidney Town Board. A few weeks later while at a lecture near Syracuse a man and woman came up to me and told me what I did was brave because the husband had taken a similar stance and his employer had fired him. That was real wake up call to me. The power of words became very evident to me.

When my Uncle approached me about running I had been thinking about it for sometime but needed that extra push to get started. I leaned heavily on him for his advice during the early weeks of the campaign but as time wore on I realized that my philosophy was similar to a lot of good people who have come before me and will follow me. I agreed with his non-violent approach. Though I prefer spending time with the good people found on the lower end of the financial spectrum I realized the true message could only be delivered by finding the spirit within every person. His e-book came out right on time and was pushed early on as a template for our campaign and though a few within the group occasionally strayed from the format they quickly found there was a formula for success within it.

Every good student wants to please their teacher. But what I appreciate most is my Uncles willingness to provide council when asked and his silence and willingness to allow me the opportunity to succeed or fail on my own good grace. Together our community rose well above expectation, though we did expect to win! The seeds were planted early and well nourished through the years. nearly 3 decades later we are gathering the initial harvest.

A little odd twist of fate, when I young and ill the woman who was my teacher turned out to be the head of the local Democratic Committee, strange the way things turn out sometimes.

So I will end with this , I happen to post a quote from Gandhi myself today,

"To Believe in Something
and not live it,
is dishonest"
Mahatma Gandhi

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Response to bulldogge (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:22 PM

20. I'm telling Bob McCarthy!

Hey: odd news ..... someone I know from near Richardson Hill knows "Greggie" fairly well. My friend is Greg Sr's cousin; hence, when the family visited from NYC, they stayed at my friend's house. I've known my friend since 1970, and consider him reliable.

He said "Greggie" was a patrolman for four years -- never a detective -- and faked an on-the-job injury to reap disability.

I'll call you this weekend.

An appropriate ending to this OP/thread, indeed!

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Response to bulldogge (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:30 PM

24. Beautiful tribute to your uncle

Congratulations on your win.

We need more people like you!

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Response to bulldogge (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 03:26 PM

32. Were You The Victor?

If so Congrats

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:24 PM

21. Thanks for this beautiful post

from a genuine activist.

Rec

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Response to malaise (Reply #21)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 07:31 PM

22. Many thanks!

I'm heading out to a store to get a couple of notebooks, for writing "rough drafts" for the paper that I'll be writing & editing. Small stuff, for sure, but grass roots activism combined with Amendment 1's free press is a mighty fun location for me to inhabit.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:01 PM

26. My dear H20 Man...

Please, continue to ramble on! You do it so well, and with such incredible results.

You are a member of DU, and that honors all of us.

K&R

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #26)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:51 AM

28. Well said!! n/t

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:04 PM

27. Here's to hopes of overlaying that on much more area!

:cheers:
Thanks for your service.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 12:19 AM

30. A kick for a man who does so much

for the well-being of others...

You epitomize what Democracy can be. TY, sir.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 03:23 PM

31. Gandhi, Jesus, MLKjr.

Would love that you used the course they advocated. There was a great deal of nuance going on when Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek. He knew he wasn't asking people to be wimps because it takes a lot more strength to love a hateful person than it does to return that hatred. Congrats on proving to great success what both the dems and cons are learning. The cons have found out that their nastiness produces diminishing returns and the dems are finding out that when they stand up for what they believe in and the better angels of their nature that they can wins despite a mountain of money and deception standing before the,. I was annoyed to hear that the Catholic bishop of ND sent a letter to be read to parishioners on behalf of one candidate because I think that church and all churches should jeep their tax exempt selves put of our elections. But it shocked me to learn that he was advocating for the 'likable' candidate, which to all who followed that elected, knew to be Heide HeideJamp who is now a new senator. So bravo to you, I believe you may've discovered your true metier.

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Response to Me. (Reply #31)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:15 PM

34. Gracious!

Are you the sane "Me" mentioned in the immoral lines:

"I am Me as you are Me as Arby is Me and we are all together" ????

That Jane Lemon song, "I am the Mark Walburger" remains a Plame Thread favorite!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #34)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:27 PM

36. Dear H

Is that a double entendre?

We got the band back together. Some of us anyway.

Mini-reunion.

Life is pretty good nowadays eh?

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #36)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 04:33 PM

37. "Can't get much worse"

Well, okay -- it's a good thing if we get a nice private table in some dark corner of DU.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #37)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 08:29 PM

40. Private table.

I like it.

Now all we need is a good bottle of wine and some stinky cheese.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #34)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 05:14 PM

38. A Weeping Guitar Was One Of Mine

Sane? Naw.

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