June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
Swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool
- June, 2006
One of the great sublime pleasures of my life is reading the Sunday New York Times. I am told someday I will have to forgo this pleasure as I will be too busy painting the house, caring for children and - when time permits - painting the children.

But that’s the mini-van-driving, soccer-practice-attending future. For now, I can still spend three, often four hours every weekend perusing the Sunday Times. Even at five bucks, it’s still cheaper than a movie and lasts longer, too. Even better, there’s usually at least one picture of Angelina Jolie somewhere in those hundreds of pages of newsprint.

I like the Sunday Times because it allows me in one sitting to catch up on everything that happened during the week and why. It also allows me – a resident of a tiny town on the Oregon coast – to keep totally in tune with the people of America.

I’ve concluded they’re idiots.

Perhaps that’s a little harsh, since by, “they” I mean residents of Manhattan and other obscenely wealthy people, since that’s who the Times feature pages seem to be written for. Indeed, it almost saddens me that I have lost my ability to be disgusted by straight-faced New Yorkers who talk about why $50,000 Sweet-16 parties, getting their kids into the “right” pre-school and how chartering a jet has made their life so much better.

But then something comes along that raises the bar, and I’m stunned all over again.

The latest rage amongst people that have more money that sense is tracing their genetic history through their mitochondrial DNA. After spending a few hundred bucks on a test, people can use search engines on the Internet and compare their DNA to that of famous people down through history.

One professor in Florida found out he is related to Genghis Khan. A while back, Oprah Winfrey claimed she was related to Zulu tribes-people. A huge number of people are checking to see if they are related to Oprah. (Hopefully, some of them were Zulu tribes-people.)

Why do they do this? So they can brag about who they are related to. When you have enough money to buy anything, this is something new you can flog your neighbors with. Never mind that not one trait that made them successful is based on genes, it’s enough for some wealthy women to note they share both genes, (and likely underwear) with J. Edgar Hoover.

I suppose if you’re a pathetic, status-seeking loser, there could be some appeal in finding out there’s success – hope? - somewhere in your gene pool. Then again, there could also be failure. What if you find out you’re related to a notorious criminal or other loser? Not that that’a problem, either. One family spent years trying to prove their relatives rode with Jesse James.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about who I share genes with. But as someone who actually was interested in my history before it was a vanity project, I already know I’m related to a noted person. Just five generations back I am the direct descendant of Oliver Loving, a cattle rancher. I know he is famous because his cattle trail is on one of my neckties. (You can get anything from the Texas Historical Society.)

Admittedly, you have probably never heard of this person, but he was the real-life inspiration for “Lonesome Dove’s”Augustus McCrae, the greatest mini-series ever produced that didn’t involve beating LeVar Burton senseless. And if you think about it – in a Manhattan vanity kind of way – this means artistically related to Robert Duvall, who played him in the mini-series.

Oh yeah, I’m cool.