Showing posts from February, 2016

Then there were some who did not receive Oscars

I watched only the finale of the Oscar awards ceremony.  Hollywood not only bores me (although we continue to see production of excellent activist films), but the lifestyle that places so much emphasis on wealth, good looks and fashion, has a tendency to irritate me.  Perhaps it was because I had just come from a busy Sunday afternoon and evening in a local bakery and bistro, trying to reach others with a simple message that prisoners deserve to be treated humanely. I awoke this morning thinking of those who didn’t receive any Oscars. Sara and her staff at the Village Baker didn’t capture one of the awards last night.  Yet, that fine small business in the Village of Spring Lake chose to donate 15% of its proceeds yesterday to the on-going work of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. Two fine musicians who provided background music for yesterday’s event didn’t even get nominated for an Oscar.  John Mulder and Lee Ingersoll are dealing with enough issues, and are far too busy to take tim

A prison sermon; no words

Your actions are so loud I can’t hear your words! (Anon.) Preach the gospel every day.  Use words if necessary. (St. Francis of Assisi) You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.  (Anon) I heard a beautiful Lenten sermon the other day.  It was a sermon without words, and it touched me. I was in prison to witness and participate in a wedding (see previous blog).  The elderly black pastor and I were about to be processed before entering the visiting room.  This involves walking through a metal detector, getting frisked, and having the bottoms of your bare feet checked.  The Corrections Officer at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility was a no-nonsense prison worker, paid to be there and do his job.  No one was going to sneak behind bars carrying contraband under his watch.  I passed with flying colors. Then it was time to process the minister, the clergyman who would be presiding over the wedding ceremony. The Rev. Charles W. Poole is 88 years ol

A wedding behind bars, and I loved it!

I participated in a wedding ceremony today.  I was the best man, the maid of honor, the ring bearer, and the official witness!  In other words, there were only three of us standing before the presiding pastor.  But I’m pleased to report that, as of 10:20 this morning, Jeff and Lena are husband and wife.  He is a resident of the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon; she is a citizen of Australia.  Matthew and I were brought into their lives by Jeff’s prison roommate, a long-time friend, last November.  Lena was coming to America and was hoping to find some legal assistance to pursue Jeff’s claim of wrongful conviction.  I met with her, viewed the network broadcast of 48 Hours that focused on this case, and put her in touch with Attorney Marla Mitchell-Cichon, Director of the Cooley Law School/WMU Innocence Project.  Two things happened.  The Innocence Project took the case, and we became very good friends with Jeff and Lena.  So, it was no surprise when I was asked t

In the season of Lent, think about prisoners

Marcia jokes about how I make a sandwich. It's not difficult to make one of my favorite pulled pork barbecue specialties, for example.  I purchase a pre-cooked pork roast already packaged, heat it up, pull the meat apart, soak it in Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, stack it onto a fresh toasted bakery hamburger bun, top it with a generous helping of deli cole slaw…and then eat the sloppy mess over the kitchen sink.  To this old man, the taste is absolutely sensational! I tell you this, because 6 years ago I had to stop eating.  A brutal staph infection made a sinister invasion of my body through a little foot wound, and nearly claimed my life.  At the peak of the crisis I lost my ability to swallow, and when I couldn’t ingest food my weight dropped by 65 pounds.  A feeding tube saved my life, and for the next 6 months that’s the only way I received my nourishment. I longed to taste food.  I longed for something even more simple than that:  I wanted to chug-a-lug a glas

It's time for the little guy to speak up!

I’m writing a book about my love and great respect for “the little guy.”  I’m not sure it will ever get published, and if it does, I’m not sure anyone will ever read it.  This all came to mind as I watched the news from New Hampshire last night.  As a veteran broadcast newsman, I was touched once again by the strong voice of the little guy.  Political pundits at all levels have been flabbergasted by people turning out in support of an old Jewish man who unashamedly admits he’s a socialist, or a TV showman who has no experience in politics at all and who bad-mouths everyone who doesn’t agree with him.  I’ve seen the little guy stand tall when I was a working newsman, and I still see it now.  What I cannot see is why anyone is surprised!  With the terrible performance of our government at both the national and state levels in recent years, guess what?  With the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, guess what?  The little guy has had enough!  No wonder cars were still

Do you get the picture?

It was a rather strange and unique scene at one of Michigan’s prisons in Jackson yesterday.  There sat an old white man, wearing a Christian clerical collar, beside an aging black man in prison blues, a practicing Buddhist.  The occasion was a video session with a member of the Michigan Parole Board.  I was making the case for a parole for this man, who has now served 25 years behind bars.  First, I should explain how I came to know this prisoner. “Hey Mix, take a picture of us.” I was in the visiting room of the Thumb Correctional Facility many years ago, visiting my dear friend Maurice Carter.  In those days, if you purchased a ticket for a couple bucks, you could have a photographer take a picture with you and your friend, standing against a wall at the end of the room where a mural had been posted.  Maurice always enjoyed having our picture taken. Mr. Mix was another old-timer in the prison system, and he was in charge of the Polaroid Camera.  He was always polite,