Friday, December 23, 2011

Long Way Home

“There are so many wars that just can’t be won
Even before the battle’s begun.”

Most of our troops deployed in Iraq have concluded their long way home for Christmas. Bombs exploded throughout Baghdad yesterday, killing scores. The Shiite Iraqi government wanted us out (thankfully), so they’ll have to deal with disgruntled Sunnis without our help. The next domino in the Mideast cauldron appears to be Syria, whose president, Bashar-al-Assad, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of protestors. If a Republican wins in 2012, chances are we’ll be pulled into another war, perhaps with Iran. Admiral William H. McRaven, the SEAL team commander who organized the raid that took out Osama bin Laden and a runner-up as Time magazine person of the Year, praised Barack Obama as a steady, brave, knowledgeable commander in chief. I shudder to think what might happen if someone like Gingrich replaces him.

Because I work in IUN’s library as CRA co-director, I got invited (first time) to their holiday lunch. A highlight was chatting with Lois, former director Bob Moran’s secretary whom I hadn’t seen in years, and Jackie Cheairs, whose brother-in-law just returned from Iraq, hopefully for good, after multiple deployments. Because the vice chancellor wanted the library open even though the semester is over, Tim Sutherland ordered food from Strack and Van Til’s. The chicken and ham were good and the ribs tough, and the mashed potatoes a pleasant surprise. I ate so much I skipped my normal yogurt before bowling. At Cressmoor Lanes my Engineers won five of seven and would have swept the Dingbats had Bobby McCann not doubled in the tenth of the third game.

Upon arriving home, I was greeted by Phil and Diamond, out for his final pee of the evening. When the others retired for bed, I watched Letterman, who had John Huntsman on (he’d make a great Obama cabinet member). Dave worked two viral YouTube excerpts into his monologue, one of monkeys riding dogs and the other of a FedEx employee tossing a package containing a TV over a fence.

Thursday my nuclear family (Toni, Phil, Dave, and I) spent the day together. It was great. Normally Dave does not like music on while playing games, but he had no objection to The Decembrists, Arcade Fire, and Wilco. After Amun Re and Acquire, we played seven pinochle games. The guys were all smiles after winning the first two, but the old folks took the next four out of five. We finished with an abbreviated Texas hold ’em match.

Vandals have desecrated the Marquette Park Pavilion, which is undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift. Not only did they steal copper pipes, they started a fire inside and smeared graffiti on the walls. Dave and Angie got married there. Poor Gary. How many black eyes can the city survive?

Yesterday I paid $2.99 a gallon filling up the Corolla. Today the price had jumped to $3.39.

The Congressional fight over extending tax cuts and unemployment benefits appears over, with Republican House members apparently caving in the face of almost universal criticism, even from Senate Republicans. Judge Louis Rosenberg decertified Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White for fraudulently stating his residence. State Rep Charlie Brown, meanwhile, is stepping up his drive to ban smoking in public places in time for the Superbowl, taking place in Indy in six weeks.

Driving to the library on its last day open until January 3, 2012, I heard Supertramp’s “Take the Long Way Home,” which contains these lines: “When the day comes to settle down, who’s to blame if you’re not around?” I worked on the Maggie Comer chapter of “On Their Shoulders.” Like Marie Arredondo, she sacrificed so that her children might have an opportunity to fully develop their talents.

At Gaard Logan’s suggestion I Googled artist Bo Bartlett, who gave to the Tacoma Art Museum a painting entitled “Brooklyn Crucifixion.” A comely woman in a pink bathrobe is hanging by ropes that have caused her wrists to bleed. Flanking her are an artist and a bearded man who resembles Chain Potok whose novel about rebellious Hasidic Jew, “My Name Is Asher Lev,” inspired Bartlett. Gaard’s book club is currently reading the novel, which I had never heard of. Here’s a quote from Asher’s teacher: “As an artist you are responsible to no one and nothing, except to yourself and the truth as you see it. Do you understand? An artist is responsible to his art. Anything else is propaganda.”

On Facebook Pat Zollo mentioned getting together with Tom Curry, and we exchanged messages about Paul Curry, whose C130 was shot down in Vietnam. It caused me to shed a tear thinking about finding Paul Curry’s name on The Wall in Washington. It took a little time because I hadn’t realized Paul was his middle name. Terry Jenkins, whom I’m still close to, was probably Paul’s best friend and a pallbearer, I believe, at the funeral. When we were kids, the three of us were out with our sleds trying to catch rides on the back fenders of cars that stopped at a Summit Avenue intersection near Kirk’s Store. A police car came by, and Paul muttered, “Dirty copper.” The car screeched to a halt and the officer said, “What did you say?” Without batting an eye Paul replied, “Dirty rubber.” It made no sense, but the policeman said something like, “Well, watch what you say” and drove off. From then on saying “Dirty rubber” is an inside joke with us that evokes memories of Paul.

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