George Gurley

Opinion: Memories of a bygone Mideast era
September 29, 2013
The first time I heard an opera was at a school where I was teaching in Beirut, Lebanon. The year was 1963. I had stopped at Tom Weaver’s door to listen to this gorgeous, poignant music that was floating from his dormitory room. He invited me in, and we both listened without speaking a word. I had no idea what the characters were singing, about but their voices kept me on the verge of tears. The opera was La Boheme.
Opinion: Political candor? Only in your dreams
September 8, 2013
President Obama appeared to me in a shocking dream the other night. Borrowing a phrase from Ronald Reagan, he declared that, “Government is the problem.” Then he proceeded to rant about the Dodd-Frank bill that’s supposed to regulate the financial sector so as to prevent another economic debacle.
Opinion: Violent acts hard to explain
August 4, 2013
The news has provided much to astonish us recently. From the murder of four people in Ottawa, including an 18-month-old baby, to the Boston Marathon bombing, along with numerous other prodigal acts of violence. Rational, conventional people search for explanations, but these stories defy understanding. We’re forced to summon words such as “senseless” or “evil” to deal with them. The culprits often don’t seem surprised to get caught or to be all that troubled by the prospect of a long sojourn in prison. They’re like creatures from another planet, alien to our common-sense, rule bound existence. What makes such people tick?
Opinion: New Orleans has inspiring rebirth
May 5, 2013
ew Orleans still has its share of problems. But it’s enjoying its own springtime of rebirth. On every block you can see houses undergoing restoration. The dysfunctional educational system has been rebuilt from scratch and dramatically improved. Talented young people are flocking to New Orleans, drawn by opportunities and challenges.
Opinion: ‘Rules’ are king in bureaucratic game
March 3, 2013
I was in the process of selling my deceased mother’s home in Kansas City and had a list of utilities I needed to call to have service discontinued. “I am not allowed to talk to you until I have documentation verifying that you are the trustee and have power of attorney,” said the robotic voice at the first utility I called.
Opinion: Ancestors warrant new respect
February 3, 2013
In the early years of the last century, my mother and her friend Daphne (not her real name) were driving through Ohio on their way to the East Coast. I imagine them in raccoon coats and flapper hats dashing across the Midwest in a flashy roadster when a police car appeared in the rear-view mirror. They pulled over. The officer approached, and Daphne — a formidable, haughty woman — gave the officer an indignant dressing down topped off by the most powerful, terror-inspiring declaration she knew: “I’ll have you know that my father is Buster Nottage!” (not his real name, either). To which the policeman replied: “Lady, I don’t give a darn who your father is, but you were speeding and I’m going to give you a ticket.” By George Gurley
Opinion: Neither party deserves support
January 6, 2013
A strange thing happened after the last election in which the Republicans got stuffed, trussed and roasted two weeks before Thanksgiving. Instead of exulting in victory, Democrats were overwhelmed by a wave of compassion for their rivals.
Opinion: Driving spurs flashes of inspiration
December 2, 2012
Man is by nature a nomad. He must be constantly on the move. No sooner settled comfortably in one spot, he begins dreaming about some imaginary paradise that lies just beyond the horizon. Then off he goes, singing, “Val-da-re, val-da-ra…” The automobile has been a boon to this urge. No longer must man walk forth on “shank’s mare.” Now he only has to hop in his auto and head down the highway, destination unknown, just to satisfy the urge to go.
Opinion: Medical crisis yields new respect, friends
November 5, 2012
One thing I have learned is a keener appreciation for the miracles of modern medicine. Above all, I’m in awe of Lawrence’s outstanding hospital.
Opinion: Half will surely be unhappy this election season
October 7, 2012
Politics is such today that no matter who wins the election, half the country will be left in misery.
Obama shows hostility to business
September 2, 2012
From time to time in my county wanderings, I’ve stopped for a pulled pork sandwich at an imitation caboose in a shopping center parking lot. Nearby, is a miniature trolley car where I’ve sometimes ordered an espresso. Whenever I visit these modest establishments, I’m overcome with admiration. Someone may have risked his life’s savings to pursue the dream of going into business for himself. The proprietors have to be accountants, salesmen, servers, employers, janitors. Small businesses such as these are the chief creators of jobs in America.
Sharing the love of literature
June 3, 2012
“The archangel loved heights.” That’s the soaring first line of Henry Adams’ classic work, “Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.” Something reminded me of that line and a conversation I had years ago with Donald “Casey” Jones, who was the ombudsman (reader’s representative) at the Kansas City Star, where I worked for some time. One of the pleasures of that job was stopping by his desk to pass the time.
Missouri rivalry will be missed
March 31, 2012
When Missouri announced that it was leaving the Big 12, I was shaken to the roots of my being. The idea was unthinkable. It felt as if some basic law of nature had been violated: Spring would no longer follow winter, chocolate ice cream would no longer taste good. It was a denial of geographic reality, as if the new map would show a blank space east of Kansas, with the legend, “There be dragons here.”
Eating chicken raised to an art
March 4, 2012
Out in the country, the prospect of a chicken’s demise arouses little concern. Chicken mortality is commonplace, often brought about by ghastly means. Raccoons invade our chicken coup, leaving a wreckage of beheaded birds. Owls, hawks and even our own supposedly civilized dogs have committed barbaric acts upon these defenseless creatures. I must include myself in the roster of shame. I am known as “Chicken George” for my ability to devour vast quantities of fried chicken. But this sordid business is accepted as part of nature among us simple rural types.
Capitalist system promotes change
February 5, 2012
In the basement of the newspaper where I worked during the summers of my youth was a prodigious printing press, a rumbling monster that looked like the engine of a Mississippi River steamboat.