The entire Midwest was hit by a mass of frigid air this past weekend, with temps dropping below zero. Now we’re in the midst of a dramatic warmup with the temperature today, Wednesday, reaching the mid-40s. So, of course, to remind me I live in this weird-assed section of the country, I saw a guy in the Best Buy today wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
I caught my first cold in more than three years this week. Dang, mang, I forgot how miserable these rhino-v‘s are. But, of course, the fact that I was cold-free for so long just goes to show how well we all isolated ourselves from each other during the pandemic, despite the best (worst) efforts of COVID deniers and mask refuseniks.
Speaking of COVID, The Loved One insisted I take the test, just to make sure. I’d been certain I only had a cold and not the Big One so I resisted for about 13 seconds. Long enough for her to guilt me into pulling out the test kit.
As soon as I started opening up the box and all the little packages therein, I started worrying. By the time I’d swabbed both nares of my bugle and put the swab into the test solution, I was sure I’d be sentenced to a lifetime (well, a week, at least) of home incarceration.
I set the alarm for 15 minutes, per test directions, and began thinking of how I might talk my way out of staying inside for so long. I simply can’t stay home. Never have been able to. My mother called me a gypsy because of it.
The alarm rang and I slowly made my way to the bathroom where the test thingy was waiting. I felt like a criminal defendant returning to the courtroom as the jury filed back in after deliberation.
The finding? Not guilty.
“I’m a lucky guy! I’m a lucky guy!” I hollered.
Speaking of COVID deniers and mask refuseniks, the Commander-in-Chief of that lunkhead army, the 45th President of the United States, came to mind the other day as I thumbed through Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.
I run hot and cold on Hunter S. Thompson. Largely, his books are all about him and that’d be nice if I was at all interested in him. I’m not. He does, though, draw some brilliant, colorful word pictures and occasionally illuminates some previously unseen or ignored aspects of the Hell’s Angels, Las Vegas, and other topics he’s expounded upon.
Anyway, Thompson, in the book, is following George Wallace around as the segregationist ex- and future-governor of Alabama campaigns for a second time for the presidency. Wallace is scheduled to appear in Wisconsin at 7:30pm for a big rally in Racine. His handlers, though, insist he squeeze in a brief appearance at 5:00pm in Milwaukee, about 50 miles north.
The Milwaukee handshake-fest is set up for a place called Serb Hall on the city’s south side. It’s a weekday and the crowd will be factory laborers, mostly of Polish heritage, just getting off work. Reporters and observers think the handlers are making a big mistake — the Milwaukee south side Poles will be exhausted and hungry so why would they turn out for a campaign rally?
To Thompson’s surprise, the place is absolutely packed. Thompson is embraced by locals who buy him drinks and are eager to talk with him. Here’s what he writes:
For the next two hours I was locked in a friendly, free-wheeling conversation with about six of my hosts who didn’t mind telling me they were there because George Wallace was the most important man in America. “This guy is the real thing,” one of them said. “I never cared anything about politics before but Wallace ain’t the same as the others. He don’t sneak around the bush. He just comes right out and says it.”
That was 50 years ago. When the eventual 45th prez was running, a mere seven years ago, people were saying the exact same thing about him. In fact, simply substitute the words Donald Trump for George Wallace and the above paragraph could have been written when wits and wags were trying to figure out why Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton.
Did I mention, by the way, that George Wallace was this holy land’s premier racist through the 1960s and into the ’70s? He was proud of and outspoken in his racism. It was the only thing he had going for him on a national level. Nearly ten million people voted for Wallace in “68, 13.5 percent of the total. This despite the fact that his running mate, the former Strategic Air Command boss, Gen. Curtis LeMay, had called for using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.
Wallace openly and repeatedly endorsed segregation. That’s what people meant when they said “he just comes right out and says it.”
Segregation wasn’t on the table in 2016, but America had just experienced eight years under the presidency of a black man and Trump’s campaign slogan was Make America Great Again.
He just came right out and said it.
My old friend and former roommate, John Spencer Bergman, brought this image to my attention:
Bergman still lives in my beloved hometown, Chicago. The Windy City for years has experienced un-neighborly strife between neighbors over parking spaces following heavy snows. Chicago got hit by a few inches this past weekend and, as usual, folks shoveled out the parking spaces in front of their homes and put old kitchen chairs out to reserve them for themselves. That’s illegal but, hell, who follows the law in Chicago?
Some Chicagoans have gotten creative in placing objects out to prevent their neighbors from grabbing their shoveled parking spots. This guy turned to Jesus to accomplish the task.