Independence Day: July 21, 1996

On July 21, 1996:

  • Bill Clinton was still in his first term as President of the United States
  • The number 1 movie in the United States was "Independence Day" with Will Smith (et al)
  • The number 1 record in the country was 2Pac's "How Do U Want It" (A side, featuring Jodeci) / "California Love" (B side, featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman)
  • Robin Williams turned 45
  • We were 1,878 days away from September 11, 2001
  • My Father was still alive
  • I was a 34-year old college dropout and an underachieving Air Force Master Sergeant whose second marriage was circling the drain


  • I launched on a journey to an unknown destination, that I never wanted to take, but that has changed my life in ways I never knew needed changing.

Since July 21, 1996, I have:

  • Retired from the Air Force
  • Graduated college
  • Transitioned into a satisfying, good-paying career
  • Become a published writer, including a stint as an 84-year old Southern woman named Matilda Mae Sugarbottom (of the Andalusia Sugarbottoms)
  • Hosted a sports-talk radio show, which is where the nickname "Smokey Joe" was given me by one of our loyal listeners
  • Performed stand-up comedy
  • Buried my Father
  • Moved nine times
  • Worked for eleven different employers (not counting the Air Force). hasn't all been satisfying.
  • Formed adult relationships with my adult children. Most of them, anyway.
  • Been a son to my Mother, a brother to my Sister, a father to my Children, and a man among men
  • Developed a connection with a God with whom I was able to negotiate terms agreeable to both of us
  • Married the greatest human being I've ever known

"Thank you" is so horribly insufficient but my deepest, sincerest heartfelt thanks go to some of my guides along the way:

  • Mark Bartoloni
  • Dhulkti Springhawk
  • Dr. John Doyle
  • Leo Donnely
  • Ron Raby
  • Mike Greenstein
  • Dick Bower
  • Craig Bracey
  • Richie Hayward
  • My Sister, Malinda
  • Dr. Amy Karbasi
  • Innumerable others without whose love and support, who knows what might have happened

It's been an amazing twenty years.

I'll see you again on July 21, 2036.

Smokey Joe


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