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Mike Tasos: Call me a casualty of The Information Age
Mike Tasos

Blame it on being a frustrated newshound who just wants to know.

You might also look at as the ultimate form of “nosiness.”

It might be viewed as some type of morbid fascination with death and dying. I’d better bare my soul right now, just in case… Well, you never know, this might be my last one.

There aren’t too many printed newspapers around anymore. Thankfully (and hopefully), your fingers are ink-stained as you peruse this weekend’s edition, being in charge of which stories you want to absorb.

Me? I’ll check out the obituaries.

Why? The reason is simple: I figure if I read the obituaries and I’m not in them, then I’m still on this side of the grass.

I’ll live on until at least the next edition. After that, who knows? There are no guarantees.

For awhile now, it’s been an exercise in futility, coping with this advancing age. Then again, what’s the alternative? That’s right, reading your name in the obituaries.

Having done as much digging as possible, I can fully attest that my name or likeness is not in them as of Tuesday afternoon. But I’m heading for Truist Park that night, so you could be reading my coda.

No worries about any of this. Papa Kenny Cagle has been gone four years now. The bastid never said goodbye, leaving quietly to get out of splitting wood on that October Saturday. Every so often, I smell cigars and gumbo.

I may be cracking up, but I am holding on to my belief that Kenny is letting me know he’s OK. It’s a safe bet he’s holding me a place at the table and has been regaling his new winged friends of tales about phone calls and root beer.

Reading the obituaries is a badge of honor and accomplishment. Until it isn’t. At least I hope I never forget to read. Way ahead of your line: “Might as well forget how to read. You sure as hell can’t write.”

The clock is ticking. A high school reunion looms a year from Friday. And brother, it’s a biggie. The North (Bakersfield) Class of 1973 will celebrate being unleashed on an unsuspecting world  a half-century ago.

Classmate Mike McCoy is the Executive Director of the Kern County Museum. There’s something called the Neon Plaza, where all the former lighted signs have been resurrected from the dead. Mike will do a super job with this.

And like he and I spoke about some months ago, most of our classmates are probably decrepit and feeble-minded, probably thinking all the neon means Las Vegas.

Yo, Eleven!

Undoubtedly, some won’t be able to make the trip, whether it be due to travel problems or because some have assumed room temperature and will be there in (forgive me) spirit.

My plan is to have a marvelous time, likely seeing classmates of old, one last time. I’m getting sad because Joe Eribarne, the best high school pitcher I have ever seen, won’t be there. He died in 2009 after suffering a stroke. Friends mailed me the booklet from his funeral.

Fifty years ago, the late Stan Magedson suggested I give a speech at graduation. I wrote one, rehearsed it and had it ready to go. I wanted it to have meaning and be unique. In an act of I’m-about-to-be-an-adult defiance, I readied the speech, but never told my parents that I would be on stage.

Before the graduation ceremony, I was led to the stage by the principal. My stepdad recoiled in horror, figuring I had said something that meant I would be awarded a do-over. As in put away that cap and gown. Maybe next year.

“What’s he done now,” BJ said? “I’ll never get him out of the house!”

Back then, North High was as white as paste. I let the audience know this wasn’t right and wouldn’t always be this way. Today, North High is normal, integrated in every way.

I received lots of positive comments. I couldn’t have cared less. I was glad I didn’t get beat up by those who were unappreciative of my views.

I just wanted to say goodbye to those who had been such a big part of my life for that miniscule slice of time.


Mike Tasos can be reached at