Ever since “Laughing Matters” was demoted from weekly to bi-weekly, I’ve tried to write copy that is hopefully funnier or at least uplifting. But, these days there seems very little to choose from. (Unless you live in Milwaukee, the newly crowned NBA champs celebrating their first title in 50 years!)

Even the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with its opening ceremony this evening, has an ominous Covid cloud hanging over it. The Olympics, normally weeks of must-see TV and thrills for hundreds of thousands of fans, won’t have any fans. Inexplicably, the Japanese government’s slow vaccine rollout has caused only 12% of its citizenry to be inoculated. (Meanwhile here, St. Johns Hospital’s ICU is reportedly filled to capacity. Yikes!)

More grim news. Currently, 80 large wildfires are burning across the Western United States as fire season is essentially year round. Meanwhile, billionaire Santa Monican Tom Barrack was arrested for seven felony counts of acting as an agent of a foreign government. Also, a certain former president allegedly claimed that “Hitler did a lot of good things.” I can think of six million reasons to be outraged but, even worse, 30% of Americans might believe him. Good grief.

Forgive my mood but I was recently a crime victim. As I was inside UCLA Santa Monica hospital admitting my 99-year-old friend Jerry Rosenblum, thieves broke the lock and stole my mountain bike. As I stood utterly dismayed, a passerby joked that I should walk to Reed Park to buy my bike back. (Thankfully, Jerry’s now out of the hospital.)

Back to the pandemic, perhaps the only positive takeaway are the heroes who risked their lives, including farm laborers, retail clerks, volunteers at food banks and homeless shelters and the dedicated health care workers. My taking Jerry to the hospital gave me a close-up glimpse of these inspiring people I will never forget.

Speaking of inspiring, that brings me to my friendship with Andrew Suh who has been in prison for the past 27 years. In 2013 I viewed a riveting documentary about him and just last Friday “Dateline” released their update. Raised in Chicago by wealthy S. Korean immigrant parents, sadly Andrew became an orphan at age 13. (Father died of cancer, mother was murdered.)

Despite the tragedies, Andrew was on his prestigious high school’s honor roll, football team, was elected student body president and received a 4-year Martin Luther King scholarship to the renowned Providence College in Rhode Island. It was during Andrew’s college spring break when his older sister, Catherine revealed who had brutally murdered their mother by stabbing her over 30 times.

When Catherine identified the killer as her boyfriend, Robert O’Dubane, Andrew insisted they go to the police. But Catherine said they couldn’t because she had been Robert’s alibi and she’d be sent to prison, adding “And then you’ll have nobody.” (She didn’t bother to mention that, as his legal guardian, she had been raiding his inheritance and also had a $250,000 life insurance policy on Robert.)

Catherine brainwashed Andrew that the only way to rid their family of the shame of their mother’s murder was the eye for an eye killing of Robert.

Andrew resisted over and over and returned to Providence but eventually relented. When he arrived in Chicago Catherine provided him with a gun and set up Robert to return home under the guise that she was having car trouble.

Long story, not so short, 19-year-old Andrew was arrested but Catherine fled to Hawaii. Following his father’s old world admonition to never betray the family, Andrew didn’t testify against his sister in her absentia trial. He received a 100-year sentence whereas Catherine, whom even the prosecutors agreed had brainwashed Andrew, received a life sentence without parole.

After my viewing the brilliant “House of Suh” documentary, Andrew and I began corresponding via phone and email. He’s one of the smartest, funniest and most compassionate people I’ve ever known. He’s trapped in prison and yet he’s always concerned with how I’m doing and never fails to ask about Jerry.

A model prisoner, Andrew’s list of state certificates include hospice care where he’s helped taking care of dying inmates. After passing the state exam, Andrew also became a licensed optician and was selected for a coveted job in the prison’s eyeglass factory where he receives a day off his sentence for every day of work.

Andrew’s release date was originally 2034 but he’s proudly worked that down to 2031. If the state programs continue uninterrupted it’s possible he could be released as early as 2026. In the meantime with his pro-bono attorneys, he applies for clemency and, a valuable lesson to all, never gives up hope.

I’ll be back in two weeks. During that time hopefully the Olympics had no Covid disasters and I’ve found a replacement mountain bike.

To sign Andrew’s clemency petition, Google “Friends For Andrew Suh” and also Google “Dateline Twisted Loyalty.” Jack can be reached at jackdailypress@aol.com