November 21, 2012

Nothing funny about it

Arcadia S. Venus, pictured above, is another admirer of Brother Larry.

Last week I was asked to participate in the retirement roasting of Larry Matheney, a good friend who has served for years as secretary treasurer of the WV AFL-CIO. At such events, one is generally expected to say something funny about the occasion…which was precisely the challenge.

 As a rule, I can find the humor, however grim, in just about any circumstance. When my late father was full of wires and tubes in intensive care, I told him not to bother getting up when I visited him. (He marshaled the strength to perform an obscene gesture in my general direction.)

My daughter recently reminded me that when I was being wheeled away to open heart surgery, I could be heard saying “They’re not gonna get my uterus.”

I have made jokes about any number of misfortunes and disasters.

But I could find absolutely nothing funny about the retirement of Larry Matheney. He is irreplaceable. Larry is a fierce and fearless voice for social justice. Coming from the United Steelworkers, Larry is a social unionist cut from the same cloth as that other native West Virginian labor leader Walter Reuther.

 He’s the kind of person you want on your side in any serious fight for justice, whether it takes place in the streets or the halls of the legislature. He has always stood on the side of the disadvantaged, downtrodden and oppressed and he has always done whatever he could not just to make oppression bearable but to end it.

 I’m not the only person to feel this way. I know plenty of people who as irreverent as myself who view Larry as a hero.

I wish him all the best in retirement. But mostly I wish he was still in the thick of the fight.

SPEAKING OF BROTHER LARRY, here's his latest rant in the Charleston Gazette. I love the cat food bit.

ONE GOOD RANT DESERVES ANOTHER. Here's another friend, the Rev. Matthew Watts on prison overcrowding.

AND HERE'S ANOTHER from the Rev. Jim Lewis. There's a great pun in there about generals and privates.

IN THE SPIRIT OF FAIR PLAY, here are a few words in praise of parasitic worms.


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