Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Born on the Fourth of July

It really is a great country we live in.

And because of that, I've decided that my next big cross-country trip (next spring, maybe?) may be a drive through New England for a bit of history sight-seeing.

I've been thinking about it for a long time now, and had almost decided to drive through the northeast states this fall, to see the colors. But I want more time to explore, and see the places that made America what it is today.

While reading David McCullough's "1776," I found myself picturing the old agrarian towns of New England - Trenton, Brooklyn, Princeton - and wondering what they look like now, and how much has changed.

Of course it's been a lot. Two hundred plus years a lot. But I want to see it.

I want to see the spot where Washington crossed the Delaware River at McConkey's Ferry, and see the spot where the Continental Army marched into Boston as the British retreated into the Atlantic. I want to taste the water and feel the breeze that inspired Connecticut militiamen to join in what was almost a lost cause.

The Revolutionary War bug has bitten me, you could say, and I've got an itch to scratch.

The Founding Fathers, those legendary few men who, in the span of only a decade or so, changed the entire world, have always been a keen interest of mine. I remember driving through Virginia for the first time with Jenn and wondering what it was like for a young Jefferson or Washington to get their start in such a beautiful state. School books could never teach me enough about the plight of the Sons of Liberty, nor could they translate the passion that Thomas Paine had when he wrote "Common Sense."

Born out of the Enlightenment, raised as near-English gentlemen, and smart enough to notice when their government oversteps its bounds (can we say the same today?), Franklin, Adams, and the rest of the crew deserve a lot of respect for the overwhelming odds against them; they started an experiment that's still being run today, everyday, by all of us.

So I'm going to visit them: where they lived, where they fought, where they died, and where their lasting legacy lives on.

I may throw in a few literary hot spots, like Walden Pond and Emerson House, because the American Renaissance is a thing worth knowing well, too.

And really, every American should make a similar trip, if even to their local library to learn more - to discover the tales that school passed over. If "these are the times that try men's souls," we ought to know why keeping the spirit of those Dead Presidents (and ol' Ben Franklin) alive is so damn important.

The spirit of a nation lies in its history, and because we have such a very short history - in the scheme of things - there's no excuse for ignorance on all things American.

Let Jay Leno be damned. Ask us on the street who died in the duel between Hamilton and Burr, and we'll answer correctly.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

News from the front - May 3, 2007

Had a nice weekend in Chicago, thanks for asking, and it was kind of the unofficial kick-off to the May that Will Never End.

I took Friday off, left from Jackson at 1:30 p.m. with the Anderson Printing crew, and enjoyed a heckuva weekend - great weather, great food, lots of walking, and good company.

Friday we ate stuffed pizza at Giordano's, and went to Second City and saw "Between Barack and a Hard Place," a great comedy show. Saturday we strolled around town to the Art Institute, Michigan Ave. and the Apple store (where my actual profile pic came from, thanks to iSight cameras and free internet), Millenium Park, Dick's Last Resort for dinner, and the Excalibur Club for some booty shaking with some aging Gen Xers.

Sunday we ate at the best breakfast place in the Midwest, Lou Mitchell's, and I took a quick nap in the park - which just goes to show not even the third largest city in America can stop me from sleeping.

Home and Trader Joe's and wine and drinking on the train - it all made for a good weekend. Thanks to Suzanne and Carolyn for including me in the fun.

* * * * *

Don and I have a new roommate.

[wait for it]

Meet Mario, our new goldfish!

Katie's been encouraging me to get a pet fish, especially since the only other living thing in our apartment is the plant. And Mario has bonded quite nice with the plant; he tends to stick on that side of the bowl.

Mario had a brother, Luigi, but sadly he didn't make it past the second or third day.

But the whole deal was a bargain. Got the fish bowl out garage saleing for $0.50, and the fish certainly didn't cost more than an ice cube - why not?

Mario's not very affectionate - must be that stint in 'Nam with the Agent Orange - but he's good company.

* * * * *

Yesterday morning was like diabetic Christmas.

I had my quartely check up at the Diabetes Center. I've lost five pounds, my blood sugar is a little higher than it should be, and I walked out of there with tons of free goodies.

Goodies like a new blood check monitor (the stylish OneTouch Ultra 2 - the Sequel!) and a whole $30+ bottle of new insulin to try out.

I've heard on the news where drug companies woo doctors to push their medication, and I was kind of against it. But now? Hell, bring on the cronyism!

* * * * *

This weekend is a trip to the west coast - a Rotary conference in Kalamazoo and then on to Lake Michigan and some beach-town fun. Then bachelor parties, weddings, going-away parties for dearly-loved little brothers, and a giant trip across this great nation.

See you in June.

* * * * *

God bless Jon Stewart.

I'm not a regular viewer of the "Daily Show," but when I do catch it I'm always struck at how much I end up respecting the man. He's out there doing what a lot of journalist SHOULD be doing, which is point out the absurdity of modern life in America.

But after the Virginia Tech mess, he had a representative from Iraq on for an interview, and he asks the guy, "We just had a terrible tragedy happen in this country. How do you deal with this kind of horror on a daily basis?"

Bam. There it was.

Imagine, friends, dealing with something on the scale of the Virginia Tech shootings on a goddamn daily basis.

I wouldn't be surprised if you can't, because I can't either. That's not the kind of world you and I, and the rest of this country, live in.

Stewart was on with a brilliant man, Bill Moyers, a superb journalist and all around decent human being, on his new PBS show "Bill Moyers Journal" (I've been listening to the podcasts). I encourage you to grab it, because it's the smartest interview I've probably ever heard. Stewart has this country. He sees, with a glimmer in his eye, what bullshit is going on, and he stabs at it with humor and intelligence that is sadly lacking from TV journalism - and he's not even a journalist.

Stewart recently beat the snot out of the once-respectable John McCain, and it was beautiful. Check it out.

Maybe I'll make more time to see "The Daily Show" now that I truly understand what it does and what its purpose is: to show Americans just how fucked up everything is right now.