Sunday, August 16, 2009

I wasn’t prepared for this

About twenty years ago, I was part of a business called Homeless Tires. It was a failure of epic proportions.

The idea behind the company was to recycle old tires so they could be used by power plants, keeping them out of landfills and replacing coal for some of our power needs.

Since the labor skill needed was low, our socially responsible pangs of conscience caused us to look at a new type of social contract. We would hire, train, and house homeless people.

Now, the failure part. The guy we hired to run the company went to homeless shelters, got his picture taken with senators, worked with social workers, and looked for homeless people who no longer wanted to be homeless.

The catch was they had to work. They didn’t like working the working part. For the most part, they liked drinking. Now, we weren’t prepared for that.

Another thing we weren’t prepared for was them lacking basic, common sense.

In Wisconsin, we have something called winter. So, heat is kind of a necessity. The apartments we rented used radiators. If you turned the heat up, they got hot. And, if you didn’t regulate the heat, the room will get hot.

After a couple of months of $1,000 heating bills for one bedroom apartments, I called the landlord to find out what was wrong with the furnace. I was told it was working fine.

So, I took the landlord to show him how the furnace wasn’t working. We asked to get into an apartment to take a look. And there it was, an open window.

“Damn”, I was told by one of our workers, “These apartments sure get hot!”

I pointed to the wall, “Did you turn down the thermostat?” I asked.

“The what?” was the response. “What’s a thermostat?”

At that point, I knew I was in over my head.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

chocolate covered bacon….on a stick

I went to the Wisconsin State Fair yesterday. I spent most of the day trying ridiculous foods on a stick. Some were good, in fact very good, and some were not so good.

I had a Reuben on a stick that was better than the original. Cheesecake on stick dipped in chocolate sauce and nuts would have drawn a six star rating on a five star scale.

I tried cherry and root beer flavored milk. The root beer tasted like a root beer float. The cherry tasted like a dreamcicle.

Then there was the macaroni and cheese on stick….not so good. And crabcakes on a stick, which were very good.

The world famous cream puffs, unbelievably good.

And the piece de resistance, chocolate covered bacon on a stick. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that one. Watch this video if you want to see it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

time to lead

The incompetence of the President selling the public health option is baffling to me.  For some reason, the most improbable President of the United States, who just ran the most perfect campaign, can’t seem to articulate the need for health care reform.

I can’t believe he hasn’t filled auditorium after auditorium with people who have been denied care by insurance companies, people on respirators, with walkers, with small children, dying people, sick people, the most morose scene you could possibly imagine and sell the program, and do it every day.

After a week or so of looking like Somalia, sentiment for the program would swing.  Call Oprah; she’d know how to do it.

But, I think there’s something else going on here.  Insurance companies are big business.  Health care is big business.  And, the President needs big business on his side.  So, he’s out there soft selling, back pedaling, reacting.

There’s only one thing this type of selling will offer and that’s hope.  We need more than hope; we need leadership.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I was hungry


so I made this.  It was good.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

he outlasted them all

Bruce Springsteen said it best when he said that of Pete Seeger, the banjo picking, earth loving, peace worshipping, fairness demanding troubadour of our times.

Never giving in, but never raising his hand in anger, Seeger has spent his life bringing good to everything he touches while the fearful, the cowards, the bigots, the maggots of our society tried to tear him down. He held his head high while they gnashed their teeth in sky is falling fashion.

What did these people fear? “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”, “This Land is Your Land”, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, and his dangerous banjo caused them to feel unsafe and build bomb shelters. Pete Seeger, the affable songster was the boogeyman.

Seeger used music and peace to bring people closer together. From introducing “We Shall Overcome” to Martin Luther King to saving the polluted Hudson River with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Seeger has always been about justice for people and for nature.

In January, Pete Seeger sang at the Inauguration of President Obama. What a turn of events. His political opponents from the 1950’s going forward are mostly dead, gone and forgotten.

In May, he turned 90. Musicians from every genre came out to honor him. They came out to honor seven plus decades of perseverance. They came out to honor the person who lived a life worth living.

He lives his music. He lives his message. His voice is not as strong. But, it’s never been about the strength of the voice. It’s been about the strength of the message. Sing on Pete.