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3:13 p.m. - 2004-06-10


Ray Charles is dead.

The highlight of my career as a journalist was getting an exclusive interview with Ray Charles about eight years ago. While the interview started pretty rough (I thought he was going to take a swing at me after my first question. Luckily I would have been the one to see it coming), it turned out that he was a gracious man and we had an enjoyable talk. He allowed me to be a gushing fan toward the end of the interview and now when I go back and listen to the tape, I can tell he was just being nice as I was all "And your version of 'Making Whoopee' just kicks ASS, BROTHER RAY!"

...Yes, he insisted I called him Brother Ray.

One thing I don't share much here is my love for vintage R&B music. Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, James Brown ... they all rock my socks sideways.

But Brother Ray ... that man was a musical genius.

And was a great guy as well.

Except for the decades he spent as a heroin addict. I hear he was a real asshole during those periods.

I watched the Reagan funeral on CNN last night while I was working.

Two things came to mind.

First, my Mom used to constantly get choked up every time she saw the footage of JFK Jr. saluting his father's casket at the age of 3.

As a kid growing up, I could never understand what it was that made my Mom cry over this.

Last night it made perfect sense.

I've got a three year-old boy.

I cannot even begin to imagine leaving this world with him at such a young age.

As my Mom probably could relate to when I was a kid.

Plus, even though we've all seen the photos and footage of the little boy saluting the casket, very few of you reading this can probably remember what it was like to watch live on TV.

Can you imagine being a young parent in 1963 and your president has just been assassinated?

And as you're watching the funeral on television, you see his tiny toddler son step forward and salute his fallen father?


I've got to admit, last night when it all finally clicked as to how monumental that act was at the time, I got a bit misty eyed at work.

Luckily, it was Karaoke night and I could just blame the tears on the pain I was enduring from Joe Drunk as he massacred Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time".

The second thought I had while watching Reagan's funeral was ... do you really think Reagan's in that coffin?

They are shipping that puppy all over the country right now. Check your local listings and I'm sure you can probably go stand in a three-hour line to walk past it.

I would just think that maybe in order to cut costs, the government has probably just rung up the local funeral parlor, had the $399 special sped over to the locations, draped a flag over them and let people believe that Reagan's in there.

I bet that's what they're doing.

I bet Reagan's already buried in California somewhere.

And I bet the government's kicking themselves in the ass for not charging admission to look at the coffin.

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