Roy Exum: Barbara Walters Remembers

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I watched a TV clip of Barbara Walters a day or two ago where the legendary personality was describing her life as a journalist. Walters, now 84, just retired in May as co-host of “The View” and her life has included interviews with the most fascinating people in the world.

But now it was her turn and she was asked about her most memorable moments. She recalled speaking to Christopher Reeve in the summer of 1995, this just weeks after “Superman” was thrown from a horse during an equestrian event in Virginia. “He told me his wife came in the room after it was learned he would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life unable to breathe on his own. She said, ‘We’ll find a way to pull the plug if you want to ... but you’re still you, and we love you very much.’

“Not too long after she had left, a doctor came into the room and gruffly told Reeve, ‘Turn over!’ Christopher didn’t know what to do. ‘Turn over!’ the doctor repeated in a heavy accent as Reeve tried to figure a way to call the nurse. And then Christopher realized the “doctor” was his old friend from acting school, Robin Williams. Christopher said that when he laughed, he knew he could live.”

What a great story! And live he did. For the record, Reeve lived for the next nine years, lobbying for spinal cord injuries, founding a foundation and a research center, before dying from a heart attack while directing a movie.  And you might say a prayer for the wonderful Williams who was recently admitted to a substance abuse center.

* * *

There was a terrible car crash on Beacon Street in Boston a couple of weeks ago that killed two innocent pedestrians so people were puzzled by a mysterious pink note left at a make-shift memorial that read, “Please know that neither of you were alone.”

It turns out it was written by an off-duty emergency room nurse, Janet Kennedy, who explained, “As a parent, I wanted their parents to know that I was there, that I was talking to them.”

Kennedy said neither of the victims, who had been dating for two years, was responsive but she held the female’s hand, saying, “Help is coming. Stay with me. Stay with me.”

In case you are wondering, Boston is still “strong.”

* * *

Do you know that next month – August – will be what the Chinese call “Silver Pockets Full?” Seriously. Get a calendar and you’ll see a phenomenon that comes along only once in every 823 years. Next month will include five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays – all in August!

* * *

No word yet on whether or when Volkswagen will expand the Chattanooga assembly plant to build two badly-needed SUVs but Bloomberg announced Monday that VW will spend $2.7 billion building two more factories in China.

“China has become our largest and most important market,” VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said. “To satisfy the demands of our customers in the country, we are engaging in a further substantial expansion of our capabilities in China.”

Volkwagen has also announced the Chattanooga-made Passat will soon include a heads-up display where speed and navigation will be displayed on a screen over the steering wheel in the same way fighter pilots monitor their airplanes. Another new option will bring a Passat to an “autonomous stop” if the driver falls asleep at the wheel.

The operating margin for the Passat has dropped to 1.8 percent from 2.4 a year ago. VW wants Passat to have a 6 percent margin.

* * *

Legal marijuana sales begin today in Washington, making it the second state where you can buy weed but the big news is what has “really” happened in Colorado. There marijuana has been legal since the start of the year, and it has been announced recreational pot sales for March were $19 million, up from $14 million in February, and already over $10 million in taxes that will go to public schools and substance abuse programs has been generated.

At this rate, Colorado will have sales of $600 million this year – up 50 percent from what was projected – and a gleeful Governor John Hickenlooper is budgeting $1 billion in sales next year. That equals to $134 million in “new” tax money for the state. Before marijuana went on sale, Hickenlooper predicted “our entire state will pay the price” but now he’s done a complete 180-degree turn, saying, “We’re thriving here in Colorado!”

Incidentally, Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver predicted more crime with the advent of legal weed but Denver murder is actually down 42 percent, major property crimes are down 11 percent and violent  crime is down 2 percent. Further, marijuana-related arrests have all but stopped, saving the taxpayers between $12 million and $40 million in court and jail costs, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

By making marijuana possession legal, law enforcement is able to focus on other criminal activity. The legal marijuana industry has created 10,000 new jobs in the state, with 2,000 hired within the last 30 days.

Did you see where the Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to remove marijuana from its list of the most dangerous drugs? Maybe that’s because this November it’s a cinch marijuana will win on the ballot and Congress will be asked to legalize it in the nation’s capital.

By every indication, the American public now approves marijuana and in conservative Alabama, where a newspaper columnist just took a “straw poll,” a stunning 78 percent wanted to legalize weed.

That’s kind of what we figured would happen, right?

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