Letter from the Editor 

I am blessed that my grown children live in interesting places. My son and step-daughter, for example, both live in Brooklyn, which means when we visit we get to enjoy the restaurants and cultural amenities of the Big Apple. My daughter lived in Washington, D.C., for many years — another city that's a great place to visit.

When they come home, they often bring along their big-city boyfriends and girlfriends, who generally see Memphis as an exotic getaway, full of funky barbecue joints, good music, and quirky attractions.

And it's a place where they also get to shoot guns.

It's true. For some reason, my female offspring in particular love to have me take them and their boyfriends out to shoot. We usually go to a spot on the Loosahatchie River bottoms that has a liberal collection of bottles and junk to use as targets. We take turns blasting away at them with a .22 rifle and a shotgun. This sort of thing doesn't happen much in Brooklyn or Dupont Circle, apparently.

Last weekend, there were seven of us on the holiday outing, including my friend John Ryan and my pacifist, 75-year-old French mother-in-law, who spent the time doing qi gong exercises to ward off bad karma. We had a great time, and after an hour or so, we headed home, our ears ringing, our noses red from the cold.

That evening, for some reason, we found ourselves watching Sarah Palin's Alaska. In the show, Sarah and reality show star Kate Gosselin took a training class on how to shoot a bear, in advance of a planned joint family camping trip. (They are taught by possibly the only gay bear-safety instructor in the world, but I digress.)

Of course, it's a set-up to allow us to see Palin shoot a gun and give snarky remarks about liberals and gun control. The likelihood of a bear attacking a camera crew and 26 people "camping" is more remote than Nome. But we sat through it, fascinated. Gosselin came off like a whiny, big-city weenie, and Sarah was not impressed.

I suppose the truth is, except for the fact that I didn't name my children after trees and math and such, my family and the Palins have some things in common. We both like to camp and go out in the woods and blow up stuff. And we both think people on "reality" shows are pretty silly.

It's a start, I suppose.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.co

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