Showing posts with label politicians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politicians. Show all posts

04 January, 2019

from Field Notes: 3 Jan 2019 - Those Isaiah Moments

I did it to myself. I should know better than to not ask more questions. When a last minute metro council meeting to talk about the city's half million dollar PR band aid came up, I should have known better. No one tossed me under a bus. No one tried to surprise me. No one but me, anyway. Me and my Isaiah moments. Me and my  "Here am I - send me" arrogance that put me on a dais with the mayor, two councilpeople and the usual suspects for a grand public circle jerk featuring Mayor Greg Fischer and Wayside Mission's Dominatrix-in-Chief, Nina Moseley
Though to be fair, it may be not appropriate to call it a circle jerk. The Victorians had a name for it. The medical cure was  "Hysterical Paroxysm" - or, an orgasm achieved when a (male) doctor administered a "pelvic massage" to a female patient suffering from "hysteria" (being human.)

It was my Isaiah moment, my urge to Do Something that did this to me.

I was mentally prepared for a committee meeting. This is a scenario in which I am very comfortable speaking. Public meetings, metro council, committee, open mics, performances -- I'm very comfortable. The easiest place to hide is in front and up on a stage, because no one actually looks at you when you're in the spotlight. People see all the things they carry with them, all the things they expect. The most invisible spot in any room is in the spotlight.

And that, Dear Friends and Readers, is where I thrive, most of the time. In the land of ghosts.

But it was my vanity, my ego, and --more importantly -- my sense of Rightitude that suffered when, at the behest of a councilwoman who is acting like she wants to be mayor, I took to the dais in a show of "solidarity" for the city's new half-million dollar band aid to the homeless situation here in River City.

I was planning for a committee meeting.  What I walked into was one of the mayor's political dog and pony shows.  He spent a good deal of time talking about what great mayor he is and all the good he's done and to make some unnamed (well-deserved, I have to add) digs at Bevin and Trump. Then one well-meaning bureaucrat got up and laid out the details of where the cash is going and two more politicians talked about how much this is going to help. 

There were two of us on the dais who were not, in some way or another, directly employed by the city. The other guy was the head of another small homeless outreach organization. When the press asked for one of us to speak to some of the issues, I stepped up... I guess, because, you know. Ego. Vanity. Urge to Do. Whatever. And all of my Isaiah moments came crashing down because I spent the whole time, listening to everyone pat themselves and Nina Moseley, whose homeless shelter is as overrun with abuse of power as it is bedbugs. And when I was done stuttering through an answer to some question about there's absolutely no way the city or any outreach organization can convince people to go inside when they're more afraid of the mold and bedbugs and questionable administration practices than they are the cold.

I said it more diplomatically. Which is to say, stilted. And I was ushered off by the mayor who always knows he knows me but isn't sure how so that Nina Moseley could do her best humble brag because Wayside, (not) inexplicably, is getting the lion's share of the money.

So I there I was, on the dais, trying to be diplomatic, trying to show "solidarity", when, in fact, all I was there for was window dressing so the mayor could try (again) to seal his political legacy, so a councilwoman could gain a little political capital, and so the Queen of Bedbugs could be hand massaged by the Mayor of Louisville.

And yes, it will, as a by-product, help some of the city's homeless community. And what will we have to show for it? Some good programming, a bit more outreach, and a big PR band aid for a boondoggle of what is supposed to be a homeless shelter. 

And what will I have to show for it? Nothing. Nothing but the difficulty I'm having forgiving myself for standing on the dais in some bullshit "show of solidarity" when the offense against my sense of Rightitude was so palpable that at least two different people on the dais noticed. 

What I will I have? My inability to forgive myself because when I did have the opportunity to speak, I did not call for oversight and accountability.

May God forgive me, because I don't know that I can.

All the words in the world
matter nothing if they echo,
fade and forget their own meaning.

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25 May, 2018

Memorial Day: For all the Fallen Fathers (and Mothers), Real and Imagined

On leave in Florida. 
I am 45 years old and I'm still coming to terms with the impact my father's death had on my life.
Just when I think I've caught all the ripples and echoes created by the absence of gravity Dad instilled in my life, I end up finding just one more thing. One more ripple. One more echo. And it never stops.
The impact of his death on my life when I was 17 has been and is incalculable. It set into motion virtually all the circumstances that my life now is built upon, from my own fatherhood that has long defined the geography of my life to my writing which has long been the compass I've used to make my way through map I draw with every step I take and every line I write, to the deep anger that drove me towards self-destruction,  the weight of guilt and obligation that tore me away from self-destruction, and the imparted wisdom that eventually drew me back to the greatest love I could ever imagine. 
My father was a complicated man, though I don't think he wanted to be one. Then again, it's possible that men placed on pedestals always look complicated. Through the years of learning more about myself, I've been able to humanize him a little more... especially as I am now the age he was when I was small and  I was in and out of the hospital -- the age he was when he became my hero and the archetype by which I still (whether I mean to or not) judge all would-be heroes, real or imagined.
It also happens that my father was a veteran of two wars (Korea and Vietnam)  that America has
consistently overlooked. I would say that he part of the ignored generation of American Veterans -- but the truth is that our government has historically ignored those who risk life and limb in defense of the ideas embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Our government breaks bodies and spirits, but it does not buy what it breaks. And while my father was fortunate enough to come back physically intact and mentally steeled, it's impossible for me to say exactly what the impact of his military service was -- which started when he was 17 and continued until he was almost 40.
It's impossible for me to understand the impact it had on him because I have never served and because he died before he felt like he could share those stories with me. 
I feel the absence of those stories almost as acutely as I feel his.
It's also impossible for me to understand the loss felt by sons and daughters whose fathers -- and whose mothers --did not come home alive or in one piece. And although I've long held the opinion that war is a travesty perpetrated by cowards too far removed from the devastation to feel its impacts, as time goes on I find that I see it even in starker terms. War is a sin, and a tragedy with an impact so devastating that it's easier to make more war than it is to examine the impacts.

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24 October, 2013

Gator People Live In the River, But the Real People Eaters Live Down South -- The Re:visionary Story Gathering Project

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. - Mark Twain

I am not a politician, and my other habits are good, also. - Artemus Ward

“We’re not looking to warehouse people.” - Cm. Cameron Runyan

Read more here:
I can't help myself.

Yes, the interminable itch has been bothering me. Yes, as much as I am enjoying my life and am happier than I have been in a long time, the rub returns. I am, after all, the son with the wandering feet.

And a few news items that have fallen beneath most folks' notice -- probably because it involves people no one wants to see -- have driven my already road focused thoughts towards the direction I might head out in few weeks.

Unless something changes, I'm going out for for a bit when the semesters(s) end. I promised I'd be in River City for Xmas (and I will be), but I need for my own peace of mind -- and the sanity of those I love -- to stretch my road legs a bit and scratch my incurable itch.

Williston, ND: Salvation Army buses homeless out of city.
On my last jaunt, I spent a few days up in Williston, North Dakota. My plan was to take a look at a boomtown in action. Although Williston has been something of a boomtown since the 1950's because of oil drilling in the Bakken Formation, there has been a renewed boom because of fracking. The trip was interesting, but of course, it was hard to simply hang around. The nearest men's shelter is 200 miles away and with all the money flowing up there, there's no patience for aimless wanderers. In fact, there have been so many people that the Salvation Army -- with their long tradition of conditional concern and lack of human kindness -- has been busing out the homeless, the unemployed, or those unable to afford the market-driven [greed-driven] high rents (that's CAPITALISM for ya!) in spite of finding work in the oil fields.

Another national story over the last few months involved the draconian homeless law put into place down in Columbia, South Carolina. The council made being homeless illegal, apparently in response to local business concerns that the homeless, and not a lousy economy, are to blame for bad daily returns. The initial report gave the confederate city something of a black eye, though, so the council decided to unmake the law.

They have instead decided to open a homeless persons warehouse (pictured above) and have gone as far as creating a separate public transportation system to further isolate the homeless from the fine upstanding folks who are themselves one paycheck away from being demonized by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and their wholey owned subsidiary, the city council.

For the possible exception of any body of elected officials, there has never been a more parasitic organization of selfish interests than a chamber of commerce. They are all pointless, useless, and scourge on good people and good communities everywhere.

Quoted significantly in the Columbia article is one Cameron Runyan, councilman and puppet of the chamber of commerce. He blamed the "culture of enabling" for the city's homeless problem. Of course, that there are more unemployed people than than there are jobs to fill has escaped Runyan's view -- which is admittedly short of sunlight given his head is up his rear end.

It has also escaped his notice that probably the reason that Columbia sees a number of people from the travelling nation is the weather. Birds do it. Some people do to. When the weather is warmer south, the smart ones fly.

But I am thinking that I need to go and take a look at this "culture of enabling" up close.

Besides -- it's starting to get cold.

13 August, 2012

Southern Jaunt: At The Risk Of Being Instructive

I cannot keep from talking, even at the risk of being instructive. - Mark Twain

The Prince of Peace
No less a personage than Jesus -- upon whom a whole mess of a religion was hoisted in spite of anything he might have preferred (Not that he was ever asked, as far as anyone knows, whether it would be fine to rape, pillage, maim, and kill in his name; and it probably is the more expedient and judicious thing to hedge our bets and guess that it might be alright.) -- is supposed to have complained about going home. You'd think that a guy who spent 40 days in the desert, came back to town with a dozen other guys who think he's smarter than anyone around, and -- so says the book -- was responsible for a few miracles might actually manage to garner some respect.

It was apparently not the case. All anyone saw that funny acting kid who never really looked like his dad and who's mom, according to the old biddies at the temple, gave it up before the rabbi said "Shalom."

Not that I'm comparing myself with the foundation of anyone's religious beliefs; I'm merely pointing out that even in our mostly deeply ingrained myths and beliefs, that returning to a place you once thought of as home can be both a blessing and a pain in the ass.

One of the things I looked forward to as I made my way back through Mount Carroll, in the State of IL(L) was visiting again the monthly 5 Minutes of Fame Open Mic ... which I helped start ... at The Kraft Building. In my absence, I am happy to say that it has grown and taken on a feel all it's own under the expert leadership of Heather Houzenga: friend, local artist, and all around cool chick. As I suspected, my absence drew out folks that had previously avoided the open mic, maybe out of some personal aversion to me or (more likely) some aversion to my occasional use of so-called "colorful metaphors" that my Dear Sweet Ma has objected to in my work more than once over the years.

"You're an educated person," she would say. "Why do you have to write like that?"

Well, hell. Educated though I may be, I try not to act in a way that will cause people to hold it against me. I certainly try not to hold it against myself.

And although most everyone I've run into since being back has been happy to see me -- people generally greet with that subtle and stoic combination of  "Why'd you leave?" and "Why'd you come back?" that every road worn traveler likes to hear -- there are a few, though they haven't said so directly, who are wishing that I had lost my memory in that Minneapolis casino instead of merely losing my official photo proof that I am, in fact, a citizen of Pax Americana. One such person was sitting near the front row when I took the stage last Thursday to tell the story of Cletus the Dog Man, his too skinny not to be a drug addict girlfriend, and indeed, the most adult of the trio. (That would be the dog.)

The woman in question is a particularly pious member of the county board. Her job it seems, other than to scrupulously avoid the use of a computer or even a typewriter when making notes for the press board packet, is to read the prayer into record prior to the Pledge of Allegiance. A member of one of the many churches here in town, she reads from the carefully scripted officious prayer that is supposed to indicate that Carroll County's elected leaders -- most of whom twiddle their fingers or stare at the ceiling during said prayer -- are religious and divinely (one would hope) inspired.

It may indeed be a stretch to presume that the county board --mostly populated by agri-business people, the spouses of people who work for those same agri-businesses, and a few tired local officials who didn't want join a club or group that might require more of them than their occasional physical presence and an even more rare need to take a definitive stand on some issue or another -- would be divinely inspired. It is worth noting, however, that County Board Chairman Rodney Fritz behaves as if he believes his election to the big chair and gavel lends him divine strength and guidance, not to mention the right to ensure that his trucks have clean roads to run on while simultaneously trying to gut the budgets for employee wages and benefits, the Health Department, the Veteran's Assistance Commission, and The Department of Animal Control.

So as I got up and did my bit, recounting Cletus, his woman, his dog, and the fact that he is just one sample of a larger group of people wandering the country on the buses looking for work in this great recovering economy that's built on schemes by corporations and banks to line the pockets of their executives, as well as consumer credit and the accumulation of shit made in China and Mexico.

The pious reader from the county board was not amused.  I suppose the mention of methamphetamine and micturition had something to do with it, or the fact that I went as far to talk briefly about the fact that there are people in the world who have no home, who might not have a sane girlfriend, but who can have a well behaved dog -- and indeed, even individuals who might seem a bit shady... which Cletus was in many ways... can have enough heart to make sure the dog eats even if they don't.

Or maybe she didn't like the reference to pit bulls, which, everyone knows are dangerous dogs... when they're trained to be.

But there are some audiences that would rather be entertained and placated than have an informative and useful experience. There's no way to please everyone.

And in case you missed it, I'm attaching the audio of Cletus, and another bit from an open mic at Charlie's Bar and Grill... an open mic that runs every Sunday from 4-pm, by the way.