Showing posts with label Metro Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Metro Council. Show all posts

27 December, 2017

Every day is a title fight, Part 2: down in round two

Endurance is patience concentrated. ~ Thomas Carlyle

A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, 'Today I'm going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep. ~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Mick Parsons, Vicki Aubry Welch, Louisville, Kentucky, winter flu
Seven days before Christmas I was knocked on my ass by some version or another of the annual winter crud. And I'm sure I've written about it before... and I'm I sure I will write about it again.... but I don't do sick well. I'm a lousy patient. All I want to do is wallow and wait for the sickness to pass and that's pretty much what I end up doing.

What happens then, though, is the part of me that can't bare to sit around -- call it my shark brain -- realizes that all I'm doing is sitting around and proceeds to annoy the shit out of me with all the stuff I could be doing, all the stuff I should be doing, and all the stuff I probably would want to do if I wasn't stuck with a low grade fever, uncontrollable chills, and a nasal cavity leaking like a Louisville water main break.

Someone reminded me today that I almost always get sick this time of year. Back when I was teaching, and I managed to get sick between semesters, I considered it good luck -- even though it usually meant I was sick over the holidays. At least I wasn't sick while class was session.  Now here I am, it's three days before Christmas, and I'm once again trying to convince my body that I am not on an academic schedule anymore.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that being on an academic schedule or not has nothing to do with whether or not I get sick. It's the seasonal change, or the fact that I still need to get a flu shot. It's the fact that everyone and their brother seems to be falling ill to some variation of the same crud and that this time last year, it was some other variety of some other super crud that was going around that no medical means could cure or alleviate.

That's not the way it really works, though. The human body has a sense memory, like animals have
instinct. We use it everyday, for things as simple as making a cup of coffee to driving a car.  Our bodies learn things and remember them for us.

And my body learned a long time ago that it was ok to get sick at Christmas. Whatever else is going
Mick Parsons, winter flu, Ohio River, Shark
on, maintain until mid-December. After that, it's perfectly fine to fall into a snot-dripping, fever chilled mess in the den binge watching old episodes of Monk on Amazon Prime.

Luckily, because I'm used to being sick the week before Christmas, I attacked it with an aggressive treatment of vitamins, cold and flu medicine, and a lot of frustrating laying about.  You'd think that level of commitment would help my body relearn NOT TO GET SICK near a major holiday.

But... no.

No, I don't have gout. But I do understand the artist's POV.
Because in addition to an annoying susceptibility to various ol'factory and respiratory, I am also perennially at war with my own feet.

Which is why, when my right heel decided to balloon up for no reason at all and make it impossible for me to walk without brain splitting pain, I didn't panic. It's usually my left foot that gives me that kind of problem. I mean, I've become accustomed to nearly perpetual low level pain when I walk, which is made tolerable by inserts and accepting that it's not worth the savings for me to buy cheaply made shoes.

I didn't panic. But I did recall that around this time last year, when I was working in catering, my right foot decided to take me out for about a week during the busy season.

Sense memory can be a bitch.

And, Dear Readers, let me tell you... it can also hurt.

Please check out my work available for purchase in the store (see the tab) or for sale on Amazon. 
 You can also throw a little in the tip jar:

15 December, 2017

Every day is a title fight, Part 1: the applicants

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.~ Pericles

Politics is the attempt to achieve power and prestige without merit. ~P. J. O'Rourke
Mick Parsons, every day is a title fight part 1
The day of the interview, we sat in the 3rd floor conference room at city hall along with the other distinguished candidates.   Everyone -- well, mostly everyone -- was friendly and polite. Chase Gardner had his game face on, and John Witt ... a notorious Beechmont crank -- sat in the corner as if he was worried about something rubbing off on him. But the presumed front runner, Nicole George, brought a box of chocolates, which showed not only a certain amount of class but also that potential political appointees and recovering addicts have something in common; namely, both groups rely on chocolate as a way to curtail the cravings. And apparently chocolate works both for booze and for blood cravings. 
I mean, who could have guessed? It does give a kind heart hope.
The pleasantries dissipated quickly after initial greetings and meetings the hopefuls broke off into their subsets: the political movers, the local activists, one crank, one cop's wife, and the rash outsiders. George and former horseman Bret Schultz, the lone Republican, commiserated over the ineffective advocacy of $500 per plate political fundraisers. The activists banded together to talk about everything but politics and the unspoken competition for a metro council appointment that might, if levied correctly, help any number of causes. Witt sat in the corner and spoke very little, except on points of procedure. At one point the topic of South End economic development came up and Witt said only that he was opposed to more traffic and liked being able to get to the grocery store without dealing much with it.
The rash outsiders -- Amanda , me, and Nikki Boyd  sat over at the end of the table, having very little to say about $500 plate dinners or the various and noble projects and organizations we should be involved with that the three don't know about because we're ensconced in our own projects and organizations.
Mick Parsons, every day is a title fight, part 1I knew I didn't have a shot. Not really. The odds were so far out there that only a gambling addict would put a borrowed quarter on me. Amanda didn't think much of her chances either, though I thought that between the two of us, she would have the better chance for a whole host of reasons. Nikki Boyd just seemed genuinely happy to be there and was, from what I could tell, a very nice person who also questioned her chances simply because of the number of politicos in the room.

Then the interviews started. We were sequestered until our turns so no one would know the questions asked by the metro council members who came out to see potential appointees kick at the clouds as they hanged.
I was nervous when it was my turn. I don't get nervous speaking in front of politicians. I've spoken before Metro Council twice before as a concerned citizen, most recently in response to the city's treatment of the homeless population. But I wanted to put a more conciliatory foot forward. After all, I wasn't there to try and admonish or cajole them. In spite of the long odds, I felt like there was a real opportunity to be in a position to help not only the neighborhood I live in, but the homeless population I serve.

Of course, this would be no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But what really is, after all? Life isn't a Frank Capra movie.

When it was my turn, I introduced myself and answered a couple of thoughtful and useful questions. I was nervous, but I was doing ok.

And then spake the Wicked Witch of District 13, Vicki Aubry Welch, who had already come out for the presumed, chocolate-toting front runner.

Now, did she attack my lack of political experience, my past and current activism, or some perceived questionable moral fiber?


Instead, she decided to focus on the fact that both my wife and I were applying for the same political appointment.

I'm still not quite sure why she would find it difficult to understand that each person in a married couple might be interested in applying for the same political appointment. I can only assume that such thing would never happen in her marriage -- which would make me feel sorry for her if it wasn't clear from the rest of the video that she found some way to go after almost every other applicant ... except her pick.

Please check out my work for sale in the store and on Amazon.
You can also throw a little in the tip jar:

31 March, 2014

Cast Thy Troubles Upon the Dirty, Sacred River: Moth StorySlam Update, Wading Into This Grand Political Season, and A Story Worth Telling

IMoth StorySLAM Update

I told a story at last week's  Moth Story Slam at Headliners Music Hall that I rarely tell and will probably not tell again. The topic was 'Courage*' -- which is a 3rd person designation, and not one I would attribute to any action on my part.

The story I told was about the last physical fight I ever got into. The reason it was the last fight was that not long after incident I decided, to focus my energy on being a pacifist rather than feeding the angry little monster in my gut who had, by that time, taken on the name Terry.**

When I think of courage, I think of a current student who was among the wave of responders at Ground Zero. I think of my daughter, trying to build her life in spite of unreasonable backlash from her mother and her mother's husband. I think of Stanley Taylor, Cletus the Dog Man, Jimmy the Kid, Fisherman Jim, and The Roving Northern Englander. I think of Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons, and Albert Parsons. I think of my dad.

The Moth is a great venue and I will continue to go out, put my name in the hopper, and hope that I get to go on stage. It's entirely possible that The Moth is not the venue for me to stretch my storytelling legs, since I am far more interested in other people's stories and in the stories of people who generally get ignored than I am in trying to make myself out to be the center of anything.*** I am the least interesting part of every story I want to tell, and I am simply one small part of the All I write about when I write a poem.+

Wading Into the Political Season

I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a political junkie. Not enough to keep noxious news channels on 24 hours a day/7 days a week; but enough of one that, in spite of myself I went to both a candidate meet and greet in the neighborhood and a meeting of the Louisville Metro Council in the same week.

Politics -- especially local politics -- is like what a friend of Amanda's calls SPORTSBALL++. To look at politics as anything other than a kind of sport lends it far more gravity than it deserves. American politics are absurd and politicians are among the most absurd critters on the planet next  lawyers and the duck-billed platypus.
Meet your local representative.

I went to a neighbor's house to meet the opposing candidate for the District 21 seat on the Metro Council. His name is Erich V. Shumake. He's running against 20 year encumbent Dan Johnson.+++ They are both Democrats, which apparently is a relief to some of those who still think partisan politics matter and a real problem to the rest of those who think partisan politics matter.

Shumake is a Methodist minister and retired railroad man; but this is not the most interesting thing about him.

What makes him interesting is that he's so much fun to mess with.

Amanda and I arrived at the neighbor's house at the same time as the candidate and his wife. The neighbors, Tammy and her husband Kevin nice folks. She's from Nebraska originally. He likes microbrew beer. They live in a well-maintained older house a few streets away and are active in the neighborhood association. The meet and greet had the usual kinds eats -- cookies and chips and brownies, along with coffee and homemade lemonade and both kinds of wine. We were standing near the food spread talking with the candidate about politics and philosophical fishing when Tammy came up and asked him if he wanted a glass of wine.

No thank you,  he answered. But I will take a cup of coffee.

I wasn't drinking either -- neither wine agrees with me in mixed settings and I still had to work after the meet and greet -- so I didn't actually hold his temperance against him. Tammy seemed a bit shaken -- she later insisted I eat something so that she could too, so I can only conclude that she was following in that grand tradition of the midwestern hostess -- waiting for a guest to pop the cork before she herself took a polite gulp.

While it's entirely possible that Tammy was nervous -- as hosts of such events are sometimes expected to be when they invite all their neighbors, one of whom was erroneously accused of being convicted of check fraud in New Jersey in 1996^ -- I like to think that on some level, her deep, hearty, and stalwart midwestern soul intervened.

Do you take it like a man? she asked.

She laughed immediately and apologized for the verbal slip, but that opened the bag. The candidate, looked at me and asked how I took my coffee. (I was drinking the homemade lemonade.)

Like a man, Amanda said, laughing. The candidate looked at me and I nodded.

I drink it black. 

I sort of felt sorry for him. Sort of. Faced with burly bearded philosophical fisherman, his nearly hysterically laughing hostess, and Amanda -- all of us potential voters, of course -- he nodded, smiled, and in another grand tradition -- this one being the grand tradition of politicking -- he proclaimed that he would try it like a man. 

Later, before the mini-stump speech in the front room, I was talking to him again, this time trying to get a sense of what he wanted to do on Metro Council. His answers were charged with all the idealism and Democratic buzzwords that I expected, but he was intentionally non-specific. I noticed he was eating a ginger snap with his manly coffee -- which, to be honest, he wasn't drinking that much of.

You know, I said.  You should trying dunking it in the coffee.


Absolutely. It softens the cookie and... you know... adds a little sugar to the coffee. Try it.

He dunked it almost immediately and seemed moderately surprised that both flavor of both the cookie and the coffee were complimented by the addition of the other. You're welcome.

The Metro Council meeting was interesting to watch^^. A lot of pomp and circumstance, and a great deal of disagreement over who sits on The Monuments Commission (The distribution of vetted volunteers tends to lean heavily towards the east end -- where there is a lot more money floating around, even if it's some abstract number on a computer screen and not an actual bank roll.)  and over a motion to separate the City Employee Retirement System from the Kentucky State Retirement System -- which apparently is a really important issue to Jim King (D) the representative from District 10, who presides over Council meetings since the mayor doesn't have to.

Neither of these issues were decided one way or the other.

Of note, though. Dan Johnson was present at the meeting, while his opponent was not. The representative from District 21 didn't say much, and seemed focused on something in front of him rather than the proceedings. But his phone went off three times. The first time, he silenced it. The second time, I barely grabbed it in time. The third time, he silenced it good and proper, but his colleagues on either side of him could not contain their laughter. 

A Story Worth Telling:

I'm almost getting this audio portion of this blog together. Here's a story I haven't told in a while, but one that I really like. I hope you like it too. You can also follow me on, listen from this link, (it's an mp3) for click on play on the Facebook page for Along The Dirty, Sacred River.


*The original topic of the night was supposed to be "Heroes" -- which was stressful enough, since I think I am even less heroic than I am courageous. The topic changed at  the last minute, however, thanks to a special one time sponsorship by AARP.

** Every man is born with a monster in his gut, and every boy learns at an early age how to feed it. I started feeding mine shortly after I lost my first fight, at the age of 10. It's entirely possible, and entirely likely, that women are born with monsters, too. But I've never asked. And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I want to know what that force of nature monster would look like unleashed.

*** The trend of "storyteller as protagonist" is actually referred to as part of the "American Style" of storytelling by the wider global community of storytellers. 

+ This is as close to an aesthetic statement as I think I've ever made. 

++ A derisive critique of all sports that I understand only because of a lexicographic relative, MUSIKILLS. A Musikill is any theatrical piece (except for Man from La Mancha) in which over-wrought music tells at least half the story. This includes the entire Rogers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber catalogs, and anything where the term "Fossey hands" is applicable. (From The Parsons Dictionary of Oft Used Words and Phrases, high school edition)

+++ The picture of him on the campaign page is old, probably as old as his first run.