Sunday, July 4, 2021

Flashback 2005: "Here's hoping Jesse Jr. falls far from his father's tree."

    Happy 4th of July! In the spirit that all of us deserve a break, I thought I would dig into the vault and pull out a past Independence Day column. This one is from back when my column ran over a thousand words and covered a page. I could have trimmed off the topical stuff, but figured you might have time on your hands, so left it in, along with the original subheads.    
     Jesse Jackson Jr. never ran for mayor, instead running into a ditch, flipping over and burning, personally and politically. He was institutionalized in 2012, and later pled guilty to fraud and went to prison, along with his wife. The war people were protesting in 2005 is just ending now, 16 fruitless years later. The Supreme Court Justice that George W. Bush was nominating ended up to be John Roberts. I have no memory if readers sent any checks. I sure hope not. Anyway, have a safe and sane holiday, and remember, every time you light a firecracker, you're terrifying some poor dog.

Opening shot

     Just like the Bible, I don't believe in visiting the sins of the father upon the son. Not if I can help it. But sometimes you can't. Can I be alone in viewing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s increasingly bold language directed at Mayor Daley in the light of Jesse Sr.'s career? The Rev. Jackson's particular trademark iniquity has always been The Big Threat—the spectre of a boycott, or picket, or other race-based corporate embarrassment that has kept countless CEOs up at night and inspired countless fat checks cut to Operation PUSH to make all the trouble go away.
     Those boycotts and strikes rarely happen—they're not supposed to, because when they do they're not that effective. As with any other kind of extortion, the idea is to get the payoff, not to burn down the grocery store.
     So while I realize that Rep. Jackson is not his father, and sincerely hope he does run in 2007, just to watch Daley squirm and sweat, I can't believe it'll ever happen. I can't help but assume Jesse the Younger will beat the mayoral drum for the next year or two, perhaps be a thorn in Daley's side then, at the right moment, he will revert to form. The deal will be whispered, the big slice of pie cut, and Jesse Jr. will put on a straight face and declare the palpable untruth that he can better serve his district as one vote out of 435 than as the mayor of the City of Chicago. Unfair of me to say? Perhaps. But let's see what happens.

July 4, 2005

     A rainy Independence Day in my leafy suburban paradise of Northbrook. But a wavering, fickle kind of rain, now downpour, now sunshine, that skirted the day's major scheduled events.
     Thus the pancake breakfast on the Village Green went off without a hitch. A dramatic family game of bocce ball was played. Then a monsoon that let up 15 minutes before the parade's kickoff. Cynic that I am, I walked the two blocks over to the route, to see if the event had been scrapped, and was shamed to see my hardier neighbors lining the streets, confident. I returned with my family, and while the rain did start up, it was a light, cooling drizzle that my wife decreed was more pleasurable than the hot sun.
     Passersby stood up and clapped for the veterans, while the "STOP THE WAR" contingent was met with a noticeable silence. I bumped into a fellow tribe member, who suggested that our synagogue march in the parade next year. I readily agreed—provided we wore uniforms and marched in formation, perhaps twirling wooden Torahs like a drill team. That seemed to dampen her enthusiasm, but I didn't want to make the mistake of more than a few organizations that presented a rather bedraggled appearance (not to single anyone out, but let's say that one float struck me as sorely lacking the kind of gilded splendor normally associated with Rome).
     Toward evening, some—we had houseguests—wanted the fireworks, others the sofa. You know where my desires rested. Let's just say I was pulling for rain.
     But fireworks won, and I had too much hard-won sense to grumble, because grumbling always comes back to bite you. We walked the several blocks to the velodrome (Doesn't your town have a velodrome? All the better towns do).
     The fireworks were—duh—great. Big exploding puffballs of red and green and purple, plus some golden bursts of fizzing blossoms I had never seen before.
     My wife turned her face to mine and said, "Kiss me," and I had the presence of mind to nod toward the fireworks exploding overhead and say, "Kiss you? I thought we were kissing."

Put down that dictionary!

     Ve-lo-drome, n., A bicycle racing track, especially with steep banked curves.

Act now to save our country!

     Attention conservatives!!!
     Having done so much to try to save our nation from the moral abyss, our president, George W. Bush, now faces his toughest challenge yet: the nomination of a new justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. He needs your help!
     The right candidate can solidify our hard-won gains of the past five years and stem the tide of degeneracy. But the wrong person—a liberal in sheep's clothing—will continue America's sickening slide toward ruin. If the Democrats prevail, the Supreme Court will approve drive-thru abortions for lascivious teens and allow Affirmative Action to snatch away your job and give it to bus station loafers while encouraging gays to marry in your church and then forcibly adopt your children and convert them to homosexuality. Don't let it happen!
     Only direct public pressure can avert this affront to God. Send as much money as you can now to:
     Americans United for a Fair Judiciary
     Neil Steinberg, chairman
     350 N. Orleans, 9th floor
     Chicago, IL 60654

Act now to save our country, Pt. II

     Attention liberals!!!
     The criminal junta of the Warmonger Bush and his claque of Constitution-shredders are poised to further undermine our personal freedoms with the nomination of a new justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our voices must be heard!
     Difficult as it is to imagine a police state more repressive than our own, it is likely unless you help.
     Imagine: a ban on abortions, on contraceptives and on women working outside the home. A return of the draft, racial segregation and girdles. Your children compelled to begin their school day by kneeling on a rail and praying to God. The risk is real.
     Only immediate public action will prevent this latest mortal blow to our liberties.
     Please send a generous donation to:
     Citizens Together for a Balanced Court
     Neil Steinberg, chairman
     350 N. Orleans, 9th floor
     Chicago, IL 60654


     I try not to write for stupid people (God, I can feel the letters being penned: "Dear Idiot: My brother Timmy has an IQ of 25—does he not deserve the respect you so mistakenly lavish on yourself???")
     But I do need to point out that my two pitch letters are satire. Yes, I will cash your checks, and apply them to my own unspeakable purposes (well, give them to the Sun-Times Charity Trust). But no, they won't go to underwrite more badgering of the president on either side of the issue. Jeez, let the guy squeeze out a name before we all pile on.
            —Originally published in the Sun-Times, July 6, 2005 


  1. Great stuff! I remember reading this two months before we moved back to Chicago from the Northwest in 2005.

  2. Wow, I remembered velodrome from the first time I read this long ago. I haven’t seen or heard the word since. But I know it. We don’t have any in velodromes in this area - we’re a bit more rough and tumble than that.
    My dogs request that if you must explode stuff you do it in back of your house instead in front, on the street between our houses.

  3. Not having lived in Chicago in almost thirty years, I don't think I was very aware that Junior went nuts and also went to the Graybar Hotel. So where is he now? In prison? In a rubber room? In the cemetery?


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