Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Larcher…aka Chili Champs….aka All the Presidents Men…aka…Football is Her Name…aka…Any Given Sunday…aka Clout Is Still King

“the State of the Union is…”
--Traditional line in the first paragraph of most Presidents State of the Union Address.

“It's been my policy to view the Internet not as an 'information highway,' but as an electronic asylum filled with babbling loonies.”
--Mike Royko

Tonight the TV will flicker with the State of the Union Address…and now in High-Definition!  Same bullshit, just now delivered a lot clearer and with a more vivid picture. 

President Obama is a powerful speaker with a staff of writers that seem to capture the imagination of a tired union.  I hope he succeeds in creating some sort of impact that will truly benefit you and I.  Words are still powerful, and belief in anything these days is a healthy change of pace in a generation bogged down in mistrust and caution.  Something tells me that just because the TV’s are bigger, the technology is brighter, the President is darker, the congress divided, the nation at odds, the money spent, the debt real, the resources limited, the population high, immigration out of control, the rich getting richer, Corporations in control, the dangers of war still terrifying, -- and the fact most people would rather be watching reality television than the State of the Union – my tomorrow will be about the same as it was yesterday, and a year ago.  So goes the spin of Washington so fast just like the spin of the earth, we don’t feel it (about 900 miles per hour).

Here in Chicago where Mike Royko taught us the meaning of clout; clout is still king and Rahm Emanuel is still on the ballot.  The state, of our State of the UNION, here in the city, is business as usual and the machine is still running strong.  Shit’s about to get nasty.  We all know this city was once called Hog Butcher of the World and it’s because we all know guts, gore, and slaughter -- we all see it coming.  The city is broke.  The citizens are beaten down, the corporations are scared to invest, and yet the city keeps getting nicer and nicer through beautification projects.  Soon to be ex-Mayor Daley is acting like somebody running up a credit card knowing they are about to file bankruptcy.  I feel bad for whoever has to walk into this nightmare situation.

Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against Rahm Emanuel and in all honestly I think he probably is the best qualified (although I think Chico is better qualified) and would do the best job with the city; given the tough job laid in front of him.  No matter who gets the job it will be more of the same as usual: selling out tomorrow for a hit of today’s fix.  I guess I really shouldn’t care.  It just frustrates me that it has become (or always was) all about money, and the assumption of power from power.  Entitlement is a very scary thing, and when you mix it with indifference it becomes dangerous scary.  

When laws are bent for some (especially the privileged), even if it’s the seemingly right thing to do you risk destroying the whole system in the process.  Once a law becomes a suggestion, it loses all is binding and everything it ties together falls with it.  We tend to look at what’s right for right now, not why it was there to begin with.  Our system has a way to undo things that is a bit slow but there is a reason that it was set up with no haste in mind.  In other words by ripping it apart fast, we forget history as we kill the ability to research, and erase what we placed to keep history from repeating its self unbinding the past in the process.  But people inundated with free information and knowledge tend to become too trusting in the process and simply follow a alliance or allegiance they think they believe in as that was what was taught to them from very young by a generation hell bent on hanging onto power.  I’m probably way over reacting but why the hell not?  Is it wrong to work at finding the truth from the most extreme of the worst?

Well I’m on these sorts of things what is with all the media telling us to play nicer and not shout so loud?  How can they ask of the citizens to rile down passion, in an impassionate nation, filled with compassionate people?  It’s absurd, dangerous, and only benefits both sides of a two party system.  Nuts exist.  Bad things will always happen, but that is no reason silence anger.   Telling people to calm down after a political shooting is as logical as telling kids to stop playing violent games after Columbine. We always look for scapegoats – just beware when the scapegoats become us.  To question the anger and try to change our tone is one thing, but to paint it as ‘lunacy’ or ‘dangerous’ is  very controlling and a great tool for those already with a voice to shush up everybody else.   Just a thought. 

My fellow travelers I’m proud to say the State of the Larcher is in positive transition.  It is true things I thought were realities for some time have been shattered.  In the process my beliefs, identities, and principles have suddenly fallen into self questioning.  Political, moral, and social foundations have all become fairly shaky, and the damage is still being assessed. It’s also true that our economic future is uncertain and our current state is poor. It’s been a win-lose kind of year and I think last Sunday’s Bears game summed up my year.

I only love one sport, and Football is her name.  Chicago is my town, and the Bears are my passion.  Every year I go down to training camp to assess my team so that I can factor my mood for the fall and winter seasons.   To be honest the Bears did not look very good in training camp and like the rest of the city I was expecting a bad season that would at least wipe our much embattled head coach out of town.  We all knew it was a time for change and the only way it would be avoided would be with a miracle season we knew couldn’t happen.  But as they say, “Any Given Sunday.” 

Even though they looked subpar they kept winning and soon that old timey Chicago Second City story of falling for the sharp talking con-artist only to be left down started to come into play.  I tuned in every week with one eye half opened watching the game while the other cringed in fear.  Fear mainly for our tough as nails (fuck the doubters) QB named Jay Cutler.   We didn’t have an offensive line but we found ways to hide our flaws and cover our holes. 

We stayed healthy when everybody around us fell sick and almost by default we won the division and a week off from the grind.   Everything was falling our way, but this is Chicago and we’re used to a sunny day on Sunday followed by snow storms and blistering cold on Monday.   It’s who we are, and we make no apology for our; up one day down the next attitudes. 

But we made it to the championship game and it was against our most hated rival in our house.  The game also happened to fall on the same day as my local bars annual chili cook off.  It’s held every year on Championship Sunday but its rare when the Bears are playing, and never against the Packers.  So there I was, with some of my favorite faces in the world, watching the sport I love the most waiting to be judged on a chili we felt could win. 

Well the luck ran out for the Bears, Cutler went down, and as they say the rest is history.  The Bears fought hard, and could have won, but they just didn’t have all the tools needed to be anything more than almost.  So close yet in the end we didn’t win and everything remained about the same.  Just as the final score came to a close, the owner of the bar came over and told me we won the cook off.  My buddy Patrick who looked very defeated thanks to the end of the game leapt for joy when I whispered to him that we won. Hugs and smiled and a presentation as the Champions. It was very bitter sweet but Patrick was damn proud of that chili, and so was I.

I stumbled home after the game drunk and alone foreshadowing one possible ending.  The sidewalk was a sheet of paper think ice and all my mental and physically energy went to staying on my two feet and not on my fat ass.  I slipped once or twice but caught my feet in time and in the darkness I didn’t fall.  Instead I smiled as I looked over the sheet of white that covered house after house reflecting the blue light of the moon.  Occasionally I would come across one house still light up with Christmas lights and I would take it all in with a near tear in my eye.  The loss of the game hurt, but really my only thoughts were of my friends sharing that moment with me. Both the agony of defeat, and the joy of victory.   I knew what my life had become, and I was alright with it.  The state of the Larcher Union is Healthy.  So mote it be.

AFL 2011

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