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Peggy Grande is one of the most humble people you will ever meet. She has probably met more world leaders and talked to more famous people than you or I could imagine, but you would never know it unless you asked her.
Peggy Grande had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the most iconic political figures of all time almost everyday for nearly ten years. That man was my hero and is my son’s namesake. That man was the one and only Ronald Wilson Reagan.
The Email Interview: Peggy Grande
BB: You had the most incredible opportunity to work for President Ronald Reagan in his post presidential office. What are three things you learned working with President Reagan on a daily basis?
PG: Wow. Sharing just 3 from among the amazing ten years I worked for him is a challenge, but I would have to say that everything I witnessed and experienced can probably be summed up by the following three:
1. People always want to know, “Was he everything I thought and hoped he would be? ” and I have to say “No — He was better!” No matter how high the pedestal was that you have put Ronald Reagan on, he was worthy of that high esteem and was even more terrific in person than in image.
Everything you saw on the outside was who he was on the inside. There was no difference between his public persona and his personal persona. He didn’t behave differently when he knew people were watching than he did in private. He was kind and humble, polite and genuine. Always.
2. Ronald Reagan was known as “The Great Communicator” and most of the world remembers him for his written words, his famous speeches and his public statements. I was blessed to know him “behind the scenes” and was constantly amazed at how his actions spoke even louder than his words. The gentlemanly ways in which he treated me as his personal assistant – holding my elbow as we would walk up and down stairs, always waiting for me to walk in front of him into a room or event and always offering to assist if there was a need. Pure class.
3. Ronald Reagan showed me what true leadership looks like. And though he had been a Hollywood actor, his version of leadership is not at all what we generally see portrayed on TV or in the movies. Ronald Reagan’s leadership was characterized by genuine humility, awareness of others and kindness toward them, trust in his staff which inspired their loyalty, and he generously gave respect rather than demanding it.
He also didn’t take himself too seriously and used appropriate humor to defuse tension or make a point. Though not a day went by without my realizing the unique and overwhelming honor of serving such a great man, he always communicated gratitude for my work, which gave me the confidence I needed to serve him with excellence.
BB: While in the post presidential office who was the most interesting/famous person you were able to meet?
PG: Over the course of ten years “anyone who was anyone” in the world of politics, sports, entertainment, business or pop culture came by the office to say hello to Ronald Reagan and welcome him back to California after his years in Washington, D.C.
Of course there were many memorable visits, like Scott O’Grady, the USAF pilot shot down behind enemy lines who survived by eating bugs until his rescue, or the sitting President at the time, George H.W. Bush, who would come in and chat and have lunch with his friend “Ron”, or watching President Reagan interact on a personal level with Brian Mulroney, Margaret Thatcher or Mikhail Gorbachev, or other world leaders in an informal way as two regular people, rather than political allies.
As President Reagan’s personal photographer I got to be the ultimate “fly on the wall” and personally observe these interactions firsthand. Even in “private” meetings, the photographer stays, so I was fortunate to have a front row seat to many memorable and profound moments.
As a Christian I would say that meeting Rev. Billy Graham was very special, as was meeting Mother Teresa. As I looked at Mother Teresa’s weathered hands and feet and pictured the thousands of people she had selflessly served on the streets of Calcutta with the Sisters of Charity, it was a humbling and moving experience.
BB: President Reagan’s centennial anniversary was in 2011 and you were able to serve as a consultant for the Reagan Centennial. While traveling the country and celebrating the life of Ronald Reagan at the different events, did you learn anything new about the President?
PG: My grandmother had 26 grandchildren and every one of us was certain that WE were her favorite! She had an incredible way of making everyone feel special and important. Ronald Reagan was the same way – every aspect of his life that connected with the Centennial felt that they had an extra special place in Ronald Reagan’s life and his legacy – and they did.
Whether it was the sports world, radio broadcasting, political organizations, religious organizations, academic universities or the movie industry – they all celebrated him as “theirs”.
During his life Ronald Reagan connected uniquely with numerous different arenas of life and during the Reagan Centennial we were able to reconnect with each of those groups in meaningful, memorable ways that paid tribute to the impact Ronald Reagan had made on them. It was like a “Victory Lap” of Ronald Reagan’s life, which was an honor to be part of, especially since I had known him personally and worked so closely with him for so many years.
BB: What is your assessment of the Reagan legacy today and in the future?
PG: Of course Ronald Reagan has become an iconic “superhero” for conservatives and the Republican Party. However, as the years have passed I think that his legacy is one of strong leadership and coalition building, not only across the political aisles here domestically, but internationally as well.
Politics aside, Ronald Reagan is recognized as a savvy, intuitive, emotionally intelligent leader who had a knack for connecting in meaningful ways to people from all walks of life and all political persuasions. No matter your politics you couldn’t have met Ronald Reagan and not liked him personally. That is a trait of a truly great leader. I think over time he will continually be recognized as such and esteem of him will continue to grow.
I also believe that the legacy of a President is not something that can be told the moment they leave the White House. The implications of policies and alliances which were built during the years as President cannot fully be measured immediately – they require the perspective of time. Not long after Ronald Reagan left office, the Berlin Wall fell, the Cold War with Russia was defused, and people all across Eastern Europe began to experience increased freedom and opportunity to varying degrees as never before. This was all in direct response to Ronald Reagan’s challenges like “Tear down this wall……” and his commitment to personal relationship building at the highest levels of diplomacy to enact real, and lasting, change.
Ronald Reagan took office with the determination to fix the economy and bring freedom to oppressed people all around the world. While doing so, he also restored America’s pride in itself and the belief that the best days for America were yet ahead.
I think that the conclusion of his farewell address sums it up better than I ever could:
“We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all. ”
Here’s my list. Happy New Year!
1. Drink more coffee.
2. Eat more gumbo.
3. Explore the potential of Mac and Cheese.
5. Embrace my gut.
5. Avoid running a marathon at all costs.
4. Sleep even less.
6. Talk more like Raylan Givens.
7. Make waves.
8. Go to Vegas.
9. Play with my kids…a lot.
10. Learn how to load the dishwasher (Clara wrote this one).
It all started back in 1998. I left Louisiana and moved to Southern California and providentially, my new office was located a block from a fast food type restaurant called In-N-Out Burger. Due to the sheer convenience factor it was only a matter of time before I checked it out. Long story short is that I went to In-N-Out Burger and it changed my life. One (not so little) cheeseburger rocked my world.
Animal style means they add grilled onions, extra pickles, extra signature sauce and mustard grill the patty. Simple additions that turn a great In-N-Out burger into a religious experience.
I fell in love with this burger and had it at least once or twice a month while I lived in Southern California. Okay, maybe more like four or five times a month.
Sadly, after a little over a year, I said goodbye to Southern California and also had to say good bye to the California-based burger chain.
Fast forward to 2012 and I’m now living in Texas and while In-N-Out Burger had expanded to some non-California locations, there was still not a one in sight and it had been a long 12 year absence since my last In-N-Out Burger visit.
Then I started hearing rumors and a few speculative news stories. Months passed and then it happened: In-N-Out was coming to Texas! In fact, an In-N-Out Burger was opening a mere fifteen minutes from my house.
Needless to say our love affair has been rekindled and all is right in my world. I’ve eaten a Double Double Animal Style at least 4 times a month since the day it opened in Texas.
I’m not really a romantic guy or very big on love stories, but I think this story is beautiful.
Over the weekend, I visited GoGo Gumbo! in Boyd, Texas as part of my ongoing mission to feed my gumbo addiction.
This restaurant has received a lot of buzz and has been on my “must visit” list for over a year now.
I wrote about my experience at DallasFoodNerd.com. Hope you like it.
Here is a little post I did for Campaigns and Elections Magazine. I’m sure I missed some pet peeves, but these are my top 10.
I love political ads. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that while other people are spending hours on Facebook and Twitter I often find myself spending way too much time scouring YouTube looking at nothing but political ads.
With the cost barriers to creating ads quickly diminishing and the emergence of web ads as an effective tool in campaigns, more and more political ads are popping up every day — this only exacerbates my YouTube political ad addiction.
But while watching hundreds of political ads over the years I began to notice some things that really get on my nerves, and thus a list was born.
Here are 10 mistakes I see over and over again.
1. The use of nonprofessional voice talent: This may save a few hundred bucks in production costs, but it’s the one thing that will hurt your ad the most.
2. Cramming too many words into a 30 second ad
3. Featuring a weak or awkward handshake
4. Same ole same ole: Using the same shot of the candidate working at their desk, meeting voters at the diner, or walking with a crowd of supporters.
5. The use of unnatural poses or situations featuring the candidate
6. Too much text on the screen
7. Having a microphone visible on the candidate’s shirt, tie or blouse
8. A candidate who wears the same outfit in every shot
9. Employing overly-scripted man on the street ads
10. A candidate who just doesn’t sound good on camera.
Let’s be honest, sometimes a candidate is a great human being, a public servant with a great family, but is just plain horrible when it comes to speaking on camera. The last thing your campaign wants to do is distract the viewer from the message. So if the candidate talking straight to camera is sweating, uncomfortable, unnatural, or just seems plain scary then it’s time to move to plan B.
What is Plan B? It’s spending the extra money on professional voiceover talent and good B-roll for visuals.
Look at the bright side: the professional voiceover can spend the entire ad saying great things about your candidate. If the candidate did that it would just seem like they were bragging. And no one likes bragging.
Now that the touchy feely Valentine’s mushiness is out of the way, we bring you another installment of the Email Interview. Our subject today is Scott McKay, publisher of TheHayride.com.
Scott is a veteran of the media business, having published Purple & Gold Magazine, an LSU sports publication, from 1997-2004. Scott’s writings have appeared in a number of national online publications in recent years, among them Redstate.com and FamilySecurityMatters.org.
The timing of this Email Interview (The day after Valentine’s Day) is perfect. Scott is not mushy or touchy feely. He tells it like it is and he certainly didn’t disappoint in our interview below:
The Email Interview: Scott McKay
BB: Barack Obama. Thoughts?
SM: I can’t decide if Obama is hell-bent on destroying America as a free nation or if he’s just completely incompetent, or both.
Clearly he’s got a major political tin ear – this business with the Catholic Church and contraception is one of the most heavy-handed, idiotic things I’ve ever seen a president do.
And worse, his people are trotting out poll data indicating that the country agrees with them on contraception as though somehow that makes it OK for the federal government to force religious institutions to act against their teachings.
At best he wins a Pyrrhic victory on this issue; at worst he turns virtually every religious American against him. And it’s not like that issue goes away.
The Keystone XL pipeline is another perfect example. You can’t hardly find anybody who doesn’t want that thing built, and it makes zero sense to stop it. But he did it anyway – why? Because Mark Ruffalo and Daryl Hannah said so?
You really can’t make a good argument on either policy or political grounds why Obama would kill that pipeline. That’s another issue which will resurface in a major way this summer when gasoline tops $4 per gallon nationwide and lets the air out of the economy.
There are lots of examples of actions this administration has taken which don’t make sense on either political or policy grounds.
And while the GOP doesn’t seem to have a Reagan on offer for this fall, I look for a confluence of these bad decisions to drown Obama in November. I think a fish sandwich can beat this guy when it’s all said and done, and if you go by the state-by-state polls you can already see how weak he is.
BB: Is Eric Holder corrupt or just liberal and incompetent?
And to that I’d add racist. He’s the most racist Attorney General this country has has since the 19th Century, just not in the way Democrats like to frame that label.
But that said, I like him exactly where he is. He’s an albatross around Obama’s neck. Nothing Holder does is at odds with what Obama or Valerie Jarrett want, and if Holder goes the next guy will be just as bad but not carry the baggage Holder does.
I’d like to see Holder stick around until Election Day and become a campaign issue. Ditto for Ken Salazar, Incompetano, Biden, Sebortionist and the rest of the characters in charge of the country.
BB: If you were Prime Minister of Israel what would be the first thing you would do tomorrow?
SM: Dig underground tunnels all over the country and get ready to hide the folks in them.
I fear Israel might not make it to 2013, and if Obama somehow gets re-elected I don’t see any way for them to make it to 2017.
Between the Egyptians who are coming about to where Iran was in 1979, Iran and all their proxies (including Hizbollah and Hamas) and the coming Islamist revolution in Jordan, which is entirely likely to happen by the end of the year, and even Turkey – which used to be a friend of Israel and is now an enemy – they’re beset on all sides.
That would be bad enough if they didn’t have the most hostile American administration in their history sending mixed messages about whether we even support them.
BB: Is Mettenberger the answer for LSU next year?
SM: I bet he is. LSU fans have been conditioned to believe Les Miles can’t run a decent offense because of the quarterback play over the last four years, but people forget that he threw it all over the place when he first got here.
There’s a big difference between having a Jamarcus Russell or Matt Flynn at quarterback and having Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson in the job; the first group can run a big-time passing game and the second group will get you beat if you try it.
Mettenberger is part of the first group. He has all the tools to be an NFL quarterback and he’s cocky enough to believe he can get it done. Decent quarterback play was what stopped LSU from winning a national championship more than once over the last four years, and the team Miles has this fall might be the best one in school history if Mettenberger is a Russell or a Flynn.
BB: Will LSU beat Alabama next year in Tiger Stadium and why?
SM: Probably. Alabama loses an absolute ton off last year’s team, and nobody in Louisiana has gotten over what happened in the Dome last month. What’s more, nobody will get over it until LSU beats Alabama. The guess here is that’s going to be a comeuppance.
One way or the other, though, that game will have one of the most electric atmospheres of all time.
Happy Monday. Time to get inspired.
Hopefully this collection of videos will help:
Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address
Inspirational video – Susan Boyle
40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes
Duke’s Coach K on Rebuilding the Dream Team
Another Good One
And finally, a classic!
Michael Jordan “Failure” Nike Commercial
Again, happy Monday. Like Nike says: Just Do it!
Today’s Email Interview features DFW based Foodie/Blogger Eva Parks. Eva has cooked up quite a local following for her blog What’s Eva Eating?
Her blog chronicles her eating and drinking exploits in and around the Metroplex along with chef profiles and her favorite recipes.
I hope this interview will give you just a taste of what Eva brings to the table (horrible puns intended). Enjoy!
The Email Interview: Eva Parks
BB: A lot of people really love food, including myself, but why did you decide to take the next step and start a blog?
EP:I grew up in the house where we ate almost every meal out! Mom didn’t cook and when the poor woman did it may have been burnt and dad traveled a lot so we literally ate out every meal. Kids loved coming over because they were guaranteed a fun dinner outing!
But thinking about why I started What’s Eva Eating?..It was initially started as a pure joke! Some friends encouraged me to start a Facebook page and within a week I had more than 100 fans.
I guess I’ve always been one for snapping pics of my food and sharing with friends. I lived in Raleigh for three years and when I’d come back home to Dallas I’d snap pics of what I considered REAL BBQ, Tex Mex, queso…I’d tease my North Carolina friends that Texas has the best foods hands down. I guess it sort of developed from there.
I’ve always been the friend that you come to for food advice whether it’s a date, family in town, girls night out…I love helping people plan for the perfect occasion! I hope WEE? is a good source for people when they’re looking for a good meal!
BB: Since you are now a celebrity, have you noticed any special treatment from local restaurants since you started the blog?
EP: Now I don’t quite know about celebrity….but restaurants have reached out and invited me in personally. I’ve received some Tweets and Facebook messages to swing by for happy hour or to come in for dinner. I can’t lie…a few have comped a meal or two!
BB: How do you see social media changing the restaurant industry?
EP: You know, food bloggers really have a powerful voice and restaurants are taking notice. When I started WEE? nearly two years ago, there were only a few out there but now there’s like 10+ who blog on a regular basis.
Some of them can be dangerous and hurtful for no reason. I’ve read reviews where they’ve slammed places just because they had one bad experience. Food Bloggers aren’t experts…most of us never went to culinary school or have any kind of background in food. We just have a love and passion good food and drink and like sharing it with whoever wants to know.
I’d like to think restaurants respect what I do. I keep WEE? simple: point, click, post. I won’t write anything bad about a restaurant. Mom always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say it!
BB: So, what exactly is Eva eating these days?
EP: Lately my favorite spot has been The Common Table. I love the atmosphere and neighborhood feel. Since they changed chefs, the food has improved. My favorite dish is their chicken and dumplings. Although I’ll give them a hard time that they can be a little cheap with their dumplings
Tex Mex: Mia’s. Get Butch’s Brisket Tacos..order extra gravy! Chuy’s Light Plate.
Pizza: Taverna. Eno’s. Grimaldi’s. Scalini’s Pizza.
Italian: Terilli’s Italchos!!! Patrizio’s Tortellini. Taverna’s Risotto.
Home Cookin’: Norma’s meat loaf or chicken fried steak! Celebration anything as long as I get my blueberry muffins!
BBQ: Off the Bone’s ribs! Baker Bros on Greenville brisket sammy.
Off the beaten path: Company Café. Katy Trail Ice House in the summer when they bust out their grill.
Tacos: Taqueria El Si Hay. Fuel City. Tacos y mas. Good to Go. Rusty Taco. Fuzzy Taco.
BB: If money were no object, what would be the perfect meal in DFW?
EP: Al Biernat’s. Hands down the best food, atmosphere and service. You’re treated like royalty every time you go in. Doesn’t matter what you wear or who you’re with…I’ve seen them treat local celebs the same as any Joe!
They truly treat their customers right and with so many options here in town I feel like for the price you definitely get what you pay for. Okay, now I’m craving their Prime Rib!