Face Time With Gil Franco – (Post humous post: “A Nuclear Free World”)

Just yesterday I was agonizing about what issue to focus on and write about and subsequently post for “The Trouble With Milk.” There are literally so many political and social issues swirling around in my head that I have probably written ad nauseum about them on Facebook.  My friends and I agonize over a particular political event or bill and it’s very existence, then ostensibly verbally castrate the offending politician in a manner of comments below a status in a lexicological way we find ourselves clever, jovial but mostly “united’ under a cause or idea.  Ultimately we ruminate on ‘the way things SHOULD be and this process usually ends up in a  call to arms to create facebook page that underlines our point.  Two such pages were recently bourne this way, “Hey G.O.P., Get OUTTA MY VAGINA!”  and also the “Todays GOOD news!.”

The first one was a result of Republican party backing of rhetoric that spawned a bill poised to take away the medical benefits for contraception for working women.   The later came from a rant that fostered a virtual tidal wave of people tired of bad news, depressive stories and shock reporting.   One pal and I posited that surely there are more ‘good and hopeful’ stories in our lives than the media cares to highlight, so maybe WE SHOULD MAKE A PAGE!!! of course! of course!  that’s what we do!!!  We are page making activists!  This page would tell the world about all these good things that happen in our world!  I Posted about some photographers’ kind and species accepting encounter with a family of wild mountain gorillas,  My friend posted about the failed abduction of a small girl and the eventual capture of her would-be kidnapper.  I have to say, it did (and does) raise one’s spirits reading all the ‘good outcome stories’ on that page.    As I was looking inward at all the prosaic clutter in my gut and the angst I carry for this world, I actually  heard someone whisper my name in  my ear.  It but a breathy sound and very near.  I’ve been conditioned to disbelieve such things but something told me this was quite possible actually audible!  But who and why would someone say my name?  I did not recognize the voice.  I was all alone and  shrugged  it off not wanting my mind to wander into all things “paranormal” because this would no doubtb ilicit a frantic call about ghosts and hearing ‘sounds’ in the house’ to my poor husband concerned with fighting traffic on his way home.  I picked up my iphone and to my mild surprise it was lit up with the screen  open to ‘Favorites” (I have never seen that screen) it was on the O/S of the phone in the Contacts section.  It read “Gil Franco  franco19352002@aol.com”  Well, this was my father’s email address!

We used to trade articles via email, messages of hope and status on his condition and mine on the kids and family.   Maybe these were serendipitous happenings meant to put me on a path to think of him i thought.  My father died from A.L.S. better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  In a weird way after he was diagnosed I thought , ‘Gee, one of the biggest craziest baseball fans,  was God was an extremely black humored chap so dedicated to his schtick that even in these dire circumstances we would care to pin such an ironic moniker to this poor man? Anything for a joke.  Or was he an angry god thinking of some earthly misstep my father may have taken? Either way my father looked at this disease as that terrible thing that got him, but at least he was in the company of Lou Gehrig.  I touched the lit up line with my father’s name and email address. The sun had just set and the blue glow set off the entire room.  I selected ‘facetime” just for a lark, half wondering if i’d hit the roof if his face would appear.  What if I actually talk to him!   I stared at my own face as the phone reflected back the words, “calling Gil Franco” and the phone attempted to  resolve for about two minutes, and I let it.  I even posited what  I’d say ” Hi dad!  Did you hear about Mitt Romney and can you believe that Rick Santorum?  Wow!  It’s been one really reprehensible primary hasn’t it!” What do you think about Geraldo Rivera’s remarks on Treyvon Martin?   I was sure my dad wasn’t missing a thing.  He was quite possibly the most well written arm-chair activist in his tiny his corner of Central California penning a column called “Left in America” for The Tule River Times.  Politics were a drama, a game and constant fodder for jokes, but also ideas for change and peace.  He wrote till his heart’s content.  That is until his body lost control slowly and he became a locked in soul.   I turned off the phone and swallowed that little lump in my throat that had begun to form. Immediately I knew what I was supposed to write or at least had an idea.  I had a picutre more like it. Of the box that was the only thing I was given when he died.  I received all of his writing.  His entire library of rants, prosaic letters to the editor that spawned full op ed articles that clearly won him liberal fans in the area.  I retrieved a few of the articles and re-read the first five.  I settled on one about A Nuclear Free World.   I have never been able to supply the familiar friendly word flow that yet can gently turn on a dime and cite facts suporting one or another statements as my father could. while I have a great personal remembrance for political events and their place in our American timeline, my father’s recollection was unparalled.  He also had a photographic memory, a love of metaphor and a passion for a better world.  For these reasons I selected this particular article.  At the time of my father’s writing career, it was just he and an underwood typewriter and although computers came into our homes, he preferred to tap out his ruminations and drive them down to The Times’editor.  Receiving a computer from me a couple of years before he got sick he quickly learned the world of email but still refused to pen his articles on keyboard. Nudging him into cyberspace, and one of his professor friends wrestled some of his better rants from his clutches and  posted them on his “progressive writer’s bloc” website,

where one article remains today, with a note about his passing.   But now, dad…welcome to my blog. I hope everyone enjoys this piece.  Even though it was written in 2002, it is strangely applicable for this time. It is as timeless as you are.


The recent revelation that North Korea, has violated agreements with both the United States and South Korea by failing to end its nuclear program is being interpreted by some as strengthening the hand of the Bush administration to attack Iraq.  These rogue, erratic states that comprise the infamous “axis of evil” obviously cannot be trusted, some say, so let’s stop messing around and just knock ’em out.”

But rather than making a compelling argument for a military solution (or solutions), the new complication in North Korea actually points out the absurdity of seeking military solutions.

The U.S. military is well aware of the horrendous costs of a war with North Korea, and this has, in the past, tempered the military option.  Perhaps this is also why the immediate U.S. response has been measured and reasoned.  Seeking help from our allies in the region to find a peaceful solution.

But what sense does it make to have a foreign policy that says we’ll negotiate with North Korea, a state that is conceivably more of a threat because it already has such weapons, but we’ll preemptively strike Iraq because we THINK it MIGHT be developing these weapons?

Unfortunately, many countries around the world have or are developing weapons of mass destruction.  We can’t possibly go around the world waging selective preemptive strikes against them.

That would, without a doubt, not only signal perpetual war, but also global destruction as attacked nations unleash their deadly weapons not only on our allies but on us as well.

We must also remember that our goal right now should be to break up the terrorist network that attached us on September 11 – not be the unilateral global vigilantes.

The only way to deal with Iraq and North Korea is to use diplomacy, regional pressure and the United Nations as ways to press for disarmament.

In addition, we cannot ask countries to selectively disarm.  In areas of intense , such as the Middle East and East Asia, there must be regional disarmament.

Finally, we can’t continue to say that other countries must not develop weapons of mass destruction while we, by far the mightiest military power on the face of the Earth, continue to refine these deadly weapons.

In fact, we are now developing more ‘useable’ nuclear weapons and have outlines a scenario for their use against Iraq.

To make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction, the United STates must begin to live by the same set of rules we would like to impose on others and seriously embark on a course that will truly lead us to a nuclear weapons-free world.

(Page 4, THE TULE RIVER TIMES, November 7, 2002 )