Hug ‘Em While You’ve Got ‘Em

You may have gotten up this morning and had a slightly stiff neck you’re going to have to deal with all day. Maybe later, you’ll accidentally spill coffee in your car, some jerk will open up his door into your car or your boss is in an uber-bad mood.

Life is loaded with ups and downs. We think things like the above-mentioned challenges are ‘downs’. Actually, they’re just part of life.

For every dropped glass there’s a beautiful sunset. For each time you do battle with a cold there’s the giggle of a baby that makes you smile. The key is to focus on the goods and just let the bads pass. At least, that’s always been my philosophy. Live is balance.

I look back on my high school days as jam-packed with lot of goods. I managed to win over the girl of my dreams (at the time, they were young dreams), played basketball, had some great friends, did the popularity thing–it was just all in all a great experience for me.

Among the good ones I met along the way was Mike Duarte. Mike was just a solid guy and while we didn’t hang around often, whenever he saw me, he’d say hi. We’d exchange pleasantries. He was a super-athlete. Mike was a 3-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball with intensity. I still remember that husky voice and chiseled good looks. You could just tell this guy was going places and had a bright and beautiful future ahead.

So it didn’t surprise me when I heard later at a reunion that he had gone into law and was taking on the L.A. gangs. These days, he’s the Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. I understand that he and his wife Barbara have a couple of kids: Mikey, who picked up dad’s athletic jeans and is now in the Chicago White Sox farm system, and a beautiful daughter, Christiana, who goes by the name Chrissy. She was a recent graduate of the University of Arizona and had just landed a job in the marketing department of the L.A. Kings.

Both kids, just like their father, seemed to have a tremendous future ahead. But Chrissy’s life will remain forever frozen in time. She will always be 22. Her incredible smile, the playful pictures she took, the singing voice some friends were lucky enough to hear was silenced. Chrissy was one of the 58 victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

I haven’t spoken to Mike in decades but it’s just heart-breaking to see something so tragic happen to a family of really good people. It just eats me up that this tragedy will become the latest high-water mark for a deranged mind in the future who will feel the need to randomly shoot even more innocent people. The gun debate will be revived for a short time, it will fade away and nothing will be done to make our world safer. We’ll all just wait for the next event, which continue to get progressively worse, praying we won’t lose a family member in the process.

There will come a tipping point when people feel enough is enough. The gun debate is a war of extremes.  As more and more people lose their children, their family members and their futures to senseless gun violence, there will be a solution. I just wish we’d get there sooner than later. I would think that if you have loved ones, you’d have a pressing desire to make simple things like going to a country music concert non-life threatening.

I can’t imagine the horror of what the Duarte family is going through, but it’s amazingly easy to think of how many ways that tragedy could have been prevented.

Last Thursday, the LA Kings honored Chrissy by having all the players wear CD helmet stickers.

There is a GoFundMe campaign to help the Duartes with all the expenses involved in burying a daughter that was taken from them way too soon.

Another senseless act serving as a reminder: hug ’em while you’ve got ’em.

Tim Hunter




I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together

Close to how I looked when I found out

Close to how I looked when I found out

Probably one of the most unusual intersections in my life has to be the Brian Miller/Carol Burnett connection.

It starts back in the 1970s, when I attended Torrance High School in southern California.  During the first three years of high school, I was a proud member of the Tartar Band, playing trumpet.  I found myself going down that path and by the end of the marching band season of my junior year, I was done.  Besides, I was an OK trumpet player–but Adrian Miller was excellent.  Such control, such perfection.

In my last year with the band, Adrian’s little brother, Brian, entered high school.  He played drums and was quite accomplished, even as a freshman.  He really looked under control when he got behind his drum set, that little early-growth goatee making him look like a beatnik musician out of the 1960s.  As I moved through high school, then headed off to college, I lost track of the Miller brothers.  But I heard they continued with their musical careers after our days at THS.

While most of my teenage memories had to do with basketball, high school and girls (one in particular), I also remember evenings at the Hunter household, watching The Carol Burnett Show.  She’d come out, answer questions from the audience, then do most of an hour’s worth of skits, with some songs thrown in.  But it was the skits, where they’d go into hysterical laughing fits that I remember most.   Carol, Harvey, Lyle, Tim, Vicki and there, in the audience, Ernie Anderson.

Flash forward a few decades and my sister Debbie informs me that she’s working with Adrian and Brian’s little sister.  That’s when I found out how it all connected.  Here’s the short version. After graduation, Brian continued fulfilled his musical destiny by becoming a drummer with the CBS orchestra.  As if that wasn’t good enough, he struck up a friendship with Carol Burnett, that evolved and, once she found herself single, it went even further to the degree that today, Carol Burnett is actually Mrs. Brian Miller!  No sh…kidding!!

Waking the halls of Torrance High 40 years ago, who knew that one day, one of my classmates would be married to Carol Burnett?

To Carol– a Tarzan yell this week on your 80th birthday.  To the unlikely couple, I’m so glad you had this time together.

Tim Hunter

Brian Carol