Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What It Means

I voted in the elections last fall. It was an easy gambit considering how much was at stake for all my regions: local, state, national, the world. Regime change, always peaceful in this country, was vital. We’d officially acknowledged the economic recession; the stock market and so many retirement funds were tanking; we were fighting two wars, but, mostly, we’d had eight years of Evil in the White House and it was time to return to the forces of Good.

I voted today, too, a little before seven this morning as I was out on a walk. It’s a little different voting in an election where the vast majority of people don’t even know it’s going on, where even the flags out on the street probably indicate to most people some obscure holiday that’s gotten by them.

Not only that, but of the roughly twelve offices requiring a vote, none of the candidates had any opposition and two of the positions had no candidates.

So why vote, then? That seems a quite reasonable question. If no one’s heated up enough even to challenge the candidates, it must mean that things are, well, pretty much okay. True enough. We really don’t have any major crises facing us right now – the town, township, and county are running all right. Unemployment’s high but that’s pretty much true everywhere. We’ve had a lot of controversial real estate development in recent years but that’s all but disappeared with the recession.

So why vote, then? Even though my polling place is on the route I took for my walk today, why take even the modest trouble or use that small bit of time to cast a meaningless vote?

Very simple. I want those folks in those elected offices – freed from the rigors and expense and worry of a challenged election – to know I’m here. Me: the voter, the boss. I’m here and I’m watching.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kind Streets

It was only about six-thirty in the morning, a Sunday morning, as I came down the street and saw him. A cold morning, though, the temperature not quite twenty. Cold and clear and sleep-in quiet.

He was about a half block ahead of me on Park Avenue and as he stepped off the curb he staggered for a moment and lost his balance. He didn’t fall, though, just took a few steps to get the balance back and then, apparently noticing me walking down the street, he stopped. He was standing in the middle of Orchard and I was walking in the middle of Park (a practice, sans cars, that gives me maximum advance notice of approaching dogs).

“Good morning,” I said.

He looked to be in his late sixties or early seventies, dressed in a cap and a light coat, the coat opened at the top. He wasn’t shivering, but he also wasn’t dressed for a long stay out in that kind of a frigid morning.

“What’s the number for emergencies?” he asked me.

“Is something wrong?” I said.

“My wife and I, we’re being held hostage in that house right there. She won’t let us go and there’s nothing we can do.”

It’s an easy judgment to make and you try to resist it. I mean, people do get held hostage these days, sometimes seemingly with gay abandon, so what the hell.

“Do you want me to call the police?” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

I called 911 then and had a nice chat with the operator as she set the early morning rescue mechanisms in motion. While trying to keep things at face value, I did suggest that the greater emergency was probably not a family held hostage but, rather, an old man out in the cold and disoriented.

“Can he give you his name?” she asked.

I asked him then.

“Conrad Benson,” he said.

After telling the 911 operator that, she said, “Oh, Conrad. Well, you did the right thing, sir, in calling us.”

At that point, the police arrived (an ambulance not far behind), and as a young officer got out of the squad car he said, “Hey, Conrad! How you doing?”

Turns out that Conrad, who fairly regularly escaped his hostage situation, had worked for the police department years ago.

I walked on finally.

Note: Conrad’s name is fictitious.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


America wanted to blink.

She wanted to blink really, really bad.

There she was, toe-to-toe with fate, destiny, history, eye-to-eye as well and she wanted to say, “No, not yet. Not quite yet. It’s really not time.”

In a race for president that was never not about race, she wanted to blink and say, “Okay. We’ve come very far. But not this time. Next time. Yes, definitely next time.”

She didn’t, though.

She stared right at that conflux of forces that began with the very beginning of this country, that conflux that has run its course from slavery to segregation to discrimination, that conflux that has sung the praises of equality while having no problem designating some more equal than others – she stared right at it and said, “This is a black man. He is what we need right now and he will be president.”

At that, the American electorate responded in a manner that will reverberate throughout the world.

We didn’t blink. We did the right thing.

G. K. Wuori © 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

September's Embers

Maybe, without any warning, the Iraq war has shifted to New York, specifically Wall Street, although that is a typically Americentric way of looking at an unbelievable financial meltdown that is shaking up the markets worldwide.

It started about a year ago with “the housing crisis,” too many financial institutions lending too much money for mortgages that most likely could not be maintained. Real estate has fallen apart (cf. “My Family Budget,” by G. K. Wuori), home building is on the skids, layoffs have occurred in all businesses affected by the housing industry, and home values have fallen in some areas by as much as thirty percent.

Still, it didn’t get globally interesting until the investment firm of Bear, Stearns went belly up, to be followed shortly after by Lehman Bros. investment bankers, and then the old stalwart, the bull in the market shop, Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith (its old name, a.k.a. Merrill Lynch). Banks are beginning to default on their portfolios and, really, everything is, financially, kind of a mess.

The federal government (a.k.a. Cherubs) has been throwing money wildly into the wind in order to preserve its ethic of corporate socialism, and our two presidential candidates, Obama and McCain are dancing wildly trying both not to interfere with a real crisis, while showing how they would act in a true financial emergency.

As far as the election goes, nearly everyone but the candidates and the two parties has known for a long time it was all about the economy. Really, it always is. We can prate all we want about the Middle East or immigration or health care or even whether or not Sarah Palin (McCain’s V.P.) has a functioning brain, but people really just want their leaders to preserve the flow of money that lets them live and from which all other concerns, views, opinions, beliefs, and prejudices flow. Without the family income we’re all just paper tigers farting dreams.

To quote that great philosopher, Bill Clinton: It’s the economy, stupid.

(from, Cherub: An Iraqi War Diary, by G. K. Wuori, © 2008)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Your Choice

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Took A Hit

With so much ghastly weather going on these days – fires, floods, tornadoes (with the hurricane season barely started) – you wonder sometimes when you’re going to get yours. It seems inevitable that those often-confused, often teary-eyed faces looking in wonderment over some disaster zone will be, eventually, replaced by yours.

We came close last night, enough so to make me a believer in the unrelenting power of nature, but not close enough that the first job this morning had to be the purchase of a chain saw.

I think it’s called a microburst, just a localized sneeze of eighty or ninety-mile an hour wind that lasts only seconds. Both my wife and I woke up to close the bedroom window and heard that often-cited jet plane sound – the roar of ancient monsters; heard, too, a loud crack from down the street that you knew was not a good sound.

Sunrise brought the damage into view. Again, we came close, but this was not a disaster. Still, numerous large branches came down, along with power, phone, and cable lines. One tree fell across a car, and a branch that’s a good eighteen inches at its base split and cracked and still hangs in the tree – what the loggers fondly call a widowmaker.

Both the city and private companies will, no doubt, have the street cleaned by the end of the day, and I’m sure more than one insurance adjuster will be roaming the neighborhood. Still, what could have happened didn’t, and that’s a reason to be thankful here in northern Illinois.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Superdelegates: Here's A Supercandidate

Even though it’s a small bandwagon there is still plenty of room for anyone to hop aboard, even with their Sousaphone or cello.

Of course we all know I’m speaking of the Al Gore bandwagon. Mr. Gore, as politician, is suffering way too much anonymity and it’s time to bring him out of the closet. The Democratic Party needs him. The American people need him.

There has been some talk that, however the Clinton-Obama race turns out, all will be smiles, peace, harmony, and cooperation at the convention.

That seems doubtful. If nothing else, the bitter disputes between Clinton and Obama have given the Republicans much, much material to use in the general election. In addition, whether or not the Clinton and Obama camps could ever reconcile to work for the good of the party and the people is doubtful. Those egos are big and the hurts have been real.

So we need a middleman, what used to be called a dark horse candidate, someone who can bring the warring factions together; someone with experience, someone who can bring a likeable demeanor as counterpoint to the snarky, intemperate nastiness of John McCain.

I submit Al Gore because he can whoop the pants off of John McCain.