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Fabric of Life - Tell Me It Ain't So Joanie!

We all loved you back when Joanie!

It would have been about 1976 I guess.  I was doing time at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tn.  Eventually I think I did a stint at about every public university in the State.  No degree but I did drink alot of beer.

Ok, so back then, living in the dorms was archaic by today’s standards.  There were no coed dorms, no private rooms,  no private bathrooms, one phone per floor out in the hall and no TVs in the rooms or any cable TV.  WTBS out of Atlanta, the first satellite superstation had just begun operations.  The first floor of the dorm had a large TV room and there is where we congregated each week to watch Happy Days en masse. By ‘we’ I mean 15 or 20 rowdy male college students – nobody missed the show  — EVER.  It was like being part of a cult and I liked it.

One of the reasons we watched the show is because we were all secretly in love with Joanie Cunningham AKA Erin Moran in real life.   Maybe we didn’t readily profess our love for the perky brunette sprite but it was there none the less.  I think Happy Days ran for about 10 years until about 1984.  As it aged, so did everybody else.  I got involved with grown up stuff which involved less beer drinking and juvenile sexual fantasies and watched the show less and less.  Life intrudes that way you know.

Erin Moran in real time

Erin Moran’s star faded with the cancellation of the show.  She worked little after 1986 and married a furniture mover named Fleishmann in 1996.   In 2012, they lost their $315k home (modest by California standards)  to foreclosure.  Reports are that the Fleishmanns refused to vacate and were forcibly evicted by the sheriff.  Due to financial straits,  the couple  moved to New Salisbury, IN and  they share a mobile home in a trailer park with his elderly mother.  Erin is her care giver and makes infrequent personal appearances to supplement their meager income; hubby works at the local Wal-Mart trying to make ends meet.  The couple has been known to frequent a neighborhood bar and on one recent foray Erin was dared to lift her shirt for a quick booby flash.  The action went largely unnoticed by bar patrons because A) they had no idea who she was and B) 52 year old tetas are generally forgettable.

(sigh)

Most of the wire services picked up on this story yesterday though it was not deemed important enough for Diane Sawyer or Brian Williams to give it as much as a 15 second sound bite.   The American media consumer takes some sorta perverse pleasure reading of the fall from grace of former Hollywood celebs.  I guess I am no different; human nature you know.  That is what I was thinking when I went to bed last night anyway.

I woke up this morning with Little Joanie still on my mind but my thoughts were less light hearted than the previous day.  Erin’s life is more of a social allegory of the life and times of our present state of affairs. It reminds me of something I have witnessed first hand all too often here in Texas.   High School football is a huge deal here whether it is big city or small town.  For many of the high school standout athletes,  their Senior football season is the highlight of their entire life.  Seems like it was pretty much like that for Little Joanie as well.  She  fell off the radar after age 26 and resurfaced a quarter of a century later on an embarrassing note  — simply because she was a one-time Hollywood somebody.

Her 25 years between then and now seem to be un-remarkably blue collar middle class from my interwebz research.  Her and hubby eked out a paycheck to paycheck living as the middle class shrank inexorably toward poverty and homelessness.   No different from the 5 folks you know that are going through the same thing.  The difference is Little Joanie is trotted out regularly during personal appearance gigs so everyone  can point and exclaim ‘look what has happened to her. ‘   The appearance money is required for their most basic survival but I cannot imagine a stay in Purgatory could possibly be any worse.  Most of us are sliding down that hill right behind Little Joanie.

This whole ‘American Dream’ bullshit is horridly ironic.  I was reading an essay this week where I got blamed for believing in the American Dream to start with.  Let me do some fact checking here just so’s I get this exactly right.  Was our generation not told to get an education, work hard and invest in our 401(k), retire at 62 and buy that house out at the lake?  Wasn’t that it?  Yeah, I thought I got it right.   They Smart Guy with all the letters after his name wrote in his essay that my actions were the exact cause of all our current problems.  Yessirree, I broke the American Dream. Well, me and Little Joanie broke it.

  • I putzed around getting educated and entered the full time workforce almost 10 years later than my Grandfather;  thereby depriving the Government of much needed tax dollars.
  • I dutifully contributed part of every paycheck to a 401(k) retirement program.  I entrusted my money to a total stranger who proceeded to funnel it in to highly speculative investments like derivatives and all sorts of 3 letter acronym names that I will never comprehend if I live to be 200.  The investment guy managed to piss it all away and he is not even considered a criminal.  Yeah, stupid move on my part.
  • Did I really think the Government was serious when they told me to hang it up at 62 years old and they would send me a check every month?  And pay for my health care?  What a selfish notion!   The Smart Guy tells me folks retired right now and collecting that government check are making our government go broke.  Smart Guy tells me I need to work until I am about 80 so I will not be such a burden.  My Grandfather did that, died in the harness in his 70’s;  just all worked out he was.

There ya go folks.  I confess.  Me and Little Joanie managed to break the American Dream and screw it up for everybody.   I guess I was just stupid for not seeing it earlier.  Smart Guy reminds me that stupidity is not an excuse that will hold up in court.

End note: Black Sky by Dave Alvin from the Ashgrove cd

 

 

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Fabric of Life - Tell Me It Ain't So Joanie!, 10.0 out of 10 based on 9 ratings
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16 comments to Fabric of Life – Tell Me It Ain’t So Joanie!

  • Yes, we are fed our notions by the big media. Just like, in my day, those evil commies must be wiped out. If you survive eliminating the Red Tide, you can come home, buy a house, and live happily ever after. Or be spit on by all the “cool” folks. Too bad about Joanie. I didn’t follow her, but damn she is a sweetie!

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  • Joel

    You left out the part where you had a six-figure income in your 40s and walked away from it.

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    • Andrew

      Yeah, I did Joel. Good point. That was the job where I worked 80 hrs a week, lived on Xantac and carried a Colt 1911 on my hip everyday. Walked away from that one, replaced it with a self employed 6 figure income that walked away from me in 2007.

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  • Joel

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t have walked away. I am saying that, unlike many folks, you had a choice.

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    • Andrew

      I think everybody has free choice to do as they see fit, no? At least so far anyway.

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  • Joel

    “I think everybody has free choice to do as they see fit, no?”

    In the sense that you are free to choose your parents, I guess.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/29/153918852/on-the-economic-ladder-rungs-move-further-apart

    The money graf:

    “This lack of mobility is especially true for people at the bottom of the income ladder. If you’re born to low-income parents in the United States, you are significantly more likely to remain on the bottom rungs than in countries like Norway and Germany. In fact, 40 percent of Americans born in the bottom fifth don’t get to the next rung.”

    The whole ‘American Dream’ bullshit is horridly ironic, ain’t it, Andy?

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  • Wow! Good blog. I almost passed it by but once I started reading I got hooked. I remember little Joanie. It’s amazing the amount of money that went through those hands and probably could have continued in other ways. I get a little annoyed too about the comments regarding retirees being a drag on the Government too. All our lives we paid into funds that were supposed to be paid back after retirement. Then, we hear that due to a surplus years ago those funds we paid in were being used for other programs. Now if we draw it, we’re living off the Government.

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  • Miss Kathy

    A government that taxes the poor on their first dollar of wages, think social security and medicare taxes, is deciding to limit or eliminate the ability of those at the bottom of the income ladder to save money and improve their lot in life.
    The rules that governments set for their tax systems, and the degree they enforce them, affects who prospers. Congress lets corporations, investors and landlords play by one set of rules, which are filled with opportunities to hide income, fabricate deductions and reduce taxes. Congress requires wage earners to operate under another, much harsher set of rules in which every dollar of income from a job, a savings account or a stock dividend is reported to the government, and taxes are withheld from each paycheck to make sure wage earners pay in full.

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  • Joel

    Word.

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  • Bryan

    The American Dream is broken.

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  • I came to this country with my family in 1964. My parents taught me that in this country you aren’t handed anything, you work for it and if you work hard enough you can attain anything. We came here with the clothing we wore and little else. My father worked his butt off and by 1971 my parents bought thier first house, he took me with him on weekends to earn more money and I found nobody could keep up with him, (he was a painter) he could sand and paint an entire room before the next guy was done sanding. So his boss gave him as much extra work as he could handle until 1983 when he was knocked off a ladder by an industrial sized garage door.

    That ended his painting career, he took what he had and started a limo company because he saw an opening in the area for a company that could deliver service in a real limo, not some rusted out relic that should have been retired from a cab company.

    Anyway, my point is this, in no other country could my parents have done this, could they have started a business, sure but in Norway at the time and to a point now the Government decides who is allowed to start a business and then they tax you to death. The Government doesn’t just make sure they squeeze every tax dollar from the average Joe, they squeeze every dollar and then some from small business and any other business that doesn’t have a number cruncher that understands the loop holes or has a lobbiest in their pocket.

    The American Dream is broken because our Government has encroached itself so deeply into our lives that they now feel it’s no longer the pursuit of happieness but the guarantee of it through “forced fairness”. Obama has said the free market has failed and without him and Government we can’t survive and they are doing everything in their power to make everybody equally miserable so nobody has a leg up on somebody else.

    No more scores in games, no more grades, no more soda or anything else deemed “bad for you”… watch “Demolition Man” and “Running Man”and you’ll see our society is starting to look like scenes of both movies.

    The American Dream may be broken but it doesn’t have to stay that way, unless of course we keep voting in people who believe in big Government with the Government entitlements that will keep growing putting even more on the Government tit. President Obama’s 2011 budget increased total welfare spending to $953 billion, a 42% increase over welfare spending in 2008. There are ONE MILLION users of the Obama free cell phone program, yet another program the Government has no business being into. At some point our bonds will be ignored by the Chinese, who will fund our deficit spending then? France? Germany? Nope, they are too into Greece and Spain, nope our Government will again look at increasing our tax rate, making us work until we die and we will become the next version of old Russia or worse.

    Norway is starting to look better and better… but I’m staying here because THIS is my country and I love no matter how far it has gone circling the drain.

    (sorry for all the grammar errors, I wrote this quickly with little editing)

    Erik

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    • Andrew

      Great comment Erik. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Joel

    Thanks, Erik, for giving us the GOP viewpoint!

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  • I want a free cell phone… Tell me more bout how I get one! That will save me $180 bucks per month. Then I can invest that on wall street……

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  • Miss Kathy,

    I was shocked when my sister told me she had gotten an “Obama Phone”… My response was, “A WHAT?!?!?” She again said “Obama phone”, holy crap I couldn’t believe it, all you have to do is show up and get one with a sob story. She has gotten 4 of them all paid for by the tax payer. Now they are contemplating making it more difficult to get one, I wish I was making this up….

    I told my sister yer welcome, from all of us hard working tax payers, your rent, cell phone, home phone and everything else we are paying for, you’re welcome. Good grief.

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  • Why does your sister need four phones?

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