911 calls from inside the classroom? No thanks
& another long-shot endorsement from the Tribune
6-2-2022 (issue No. 38)
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So far, we haven’t heard audio recordings of the anguished 911 calls from students inside the classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas but I’m guessing we will when reporters obtain access to them.
Which I hope is never, at least not without the consent of the parents of the students who made the calls.
I get why media outlets play 911 recordings all the time. They're fascinating in the way that the spectacle of real people in real pain is always fascinating. The audio makes the cold details of tragedy sizzle and can generate empathy where it might be lacking.
But mostly they appeal to our inner rubbernecker — the combination of ghoul and voyeur that prompts us to find diversion in others' vivid anguish. And there's a word for media offerings that have no real useful informational value but instead appeal to our must-turn-away/can't-turn-away fascination with human tragedy: entertainment.
And while it's natural to be entertained — albeit in a horrified fashion — by panic, fear, hysteria, grief or shock, it's disgraceful that we so often exploit the victims by making them unwilling stars of reality theater.
If I or anyone in my family should ever have occasion to call 911 in an extremely heightened emotional state, would I want that tape played on TV and radio and embedded into news websites and social media? Probably not. And definitely not without our permission.
My futile hope is that journalists and webmasters apply the Golden Rule. That they imagine that, someday, for some ghastly reason, they’ve had to shout, blubber and weep in an attempt to convey to an emergency dispatcher the urgency of their need for assistance. And then they imagine the recording of that call being played and posted throughout the nation for the delectation of strangers, all ostensibly in the name of freedom of information.
My view is that privacy law ought to treat 911 audio the way it treats gruesome crime scene photographs: If those most intimately involved wish for privacy, only written transcripts and summaries should be released.
That said, I’m persuaded by the argument that the release of graphic images of the destruction that the AR-15-style rifle wreaked on the bodies of the victims at Robb Elementary could be vivid enough to shift opinion about the availability of such weapons and thus would be in the public interest. News reports say that the bullets did such damage that officials had to perform DNA tests to identify the children.
If the parents consent, the media should post those photos and the public should not turn away from the horror. And then be inspired to vote for candidates who will take action to reduce the chances that it will happen again.
Last week’s winning tweet
Trib goes for the underdog. Again.
In September 2016, when the nation was poised to choose between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — a politically moderate former U.S. senator and secretary of state said to be one of the most qualified people ever to run for that office — and Republican nominee Donald Trump — an inexperienced raging narcissist and simpleton reality TV star — the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board endorsed libertarian Gary Johnson.
Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico, had a platform more in line with the Tribune’s editorial philosophy. But he was sitting at about 8% support in the national polling averages, so plumping for him felt to many readers like an abdication of the paper’s self-assumed responsibility to suggest a vote that might, you know, actually make a difference.
Readers with long memories like to remind me of this, even though I never played any part in endorsement decisions and even though this particular endorsement proved meaningless — Clinton handily won Illinois, and Johnson got less than 4% of the vote.
It’s very rare for media endorsements to move the needle in major races anyway, so what the hell? Why not use the megaphone to try to advance a conversation about libertarian principles that the major parties are neglecting?
I suppose the answer is that doing so by endorsing a fringe candidate risked making the paper a laughingstock and discrediting the proposition that endorsements are serious recommendations for voters who want to make a difference and not just platforms for dreamy soliloquizing.
The Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement Tuesday of back-of-the-pack Republican gubernatorial hopeful Paul Schimpf in the June 28 primary is a bit reminiscent of the Johnson endorsement. Schimpf, an Iraq War veteran and former state senator from a St. Louis-area district, had just 1.9% support — the lowest in the six-candidate field — in a WGN/Emerson College poll taken a little less than a month ago. And he’s running on a shoestring, with a tiny fraction of the financial resources of the top contenders.
He’s probably not going to win. But that same poll did show 37% of Republican voters undecided, even after being barraged by TV commercials from Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, in particular, as well as Darren Bailey and Jesse Sullivan. Irvin, the frontrunner, had just 24%, with Bailey close behind at 20%, according to the poll. Six years ago, a vanishingly small percentage of voters said they were undecided in the run-up to the presidential election.
So there’s a tiny opening for Schimpf. And though the Editorial Board did note a preference for Irvin over Bailey, the endorsement said,
We find Schimpf has the right combination of ethical past actions, a history of public service involving working with a Democratic majority and a raft of interesting and creative ideas when it comes to fixing Illinois’ ongoing pension crisis, painfully high taxes, troubling talent drains, government bloat and the state’s existential struggles with violent crime.
We find him of lively intellect. We deem him to be a straight talker. And we consider him potentially capable of unifying our state.
At our endorsement meeting, Schimpf did not dodge tough questions and wasn’t afraid to acknowledge the pragmatic compromises needed from any governor of a state with such a divided landscape and populace. … We urge our Republican readers to take a closer look at a candidate from rural Monroe County with a keen brain and the closest profile to a traditional GOP leader who stands for limited government, personal freedom, tolerance for different points of view and many of the state’s other traditional values.
It may be a quaint notion that Republican voters are still looking for “a traditional GOP leader” rather than a rabid Trumper (Bailey) or an evasive double-talker who seems to think he’s running for sheriff of Illinois (Irvin), but it’s still one worth advancing. A vote for Schimpf may be futile, but unlike a vote for Gary Johnson, it won’t be purely symbolic.
All the candidates will have another chance to make an impression on voters tonight — Thursday — at 7 p.m. during an ABC-7/League of Women Voters/Univision debate streamed live on abc7chicago.com and the ABC 7 app and aired on digital channel 7.2. ABC 7 will broadcast the clash on tape delay Friday night at 10:35 p.m.
I’m disappointed that the station doesn’t consider the debate important enough to air in prime time — or even in late night on the same night — but I’m glad that they’re hosting it.
Speaking of endorsements, the Tribune has posted an explanatory editorial, “What’s an endorsement, and why does the Tribune Editorial Board do them?”
The obvious question a reader might have in reading any unsigned editorial, including an endorsement, is “sez who?”
The opinions expressed are those of the institution, not of individual board members.
The next question might be, well, why should the “institution” of a newspaper have an opinion while other “institutions” such as broadcast outlets, magazines, news websites, universities or industrial firms don’t presume to?
Tradition seems to be the answer. Unsigned editorials are vestiges of the days of the partisan press and, at the Tribune, vehicles for the promotion of “a belief in limited government, personal responsibility, free markets and freedom of expression.”
Endorsements and other editorials are not, as many seem to think, necessarily a reflection of the majority of the voting members of the Editorial Board. The explanation says, “The final decision rests with the editorial page editor,” who, we are to infer, may not even agree with the opinion but instead be endeavoring to channel institutional values. Yet, note, these values are emphatically not promoted by reporters and editors in the newsroom, the beating heart of the institution.
Another wrinkle that may be of interest: The explanatory essay justifies endorsements by saying, “It would be an abdication to say what we think should be done on an array of issues every day — and then remain silent about who is most likely to advance those goals.”
Yet individual columnists, who also regularly say what they think should be done on an array of issues, were expressly forbidden from endorsing candidates when I was at the Tribune. This prohibition is standard at newspapers yet hard to square with any general principle.
The whole process makes perfect sense when you agree with the opinion that floats down from on high with a big fat “institutional” thumb on the scale and seems a bit nutty, mysterious and outdated when you don’t agree.
I will gratefully entertain and present contrasting views on this topic, as endorsement season is just beginning. Leave a comment (for supporters only) or email me:
News & Views
News: A certain candidate for mayor is now giving away grocery coupons as well as free gasoline.
View: Stop it, Chicago media! Stop right now covering these campaign stunts as though they were actual news. Yes, he’s generous. Yes, people appreciate his largesse. But if this particular striver wants publicity, let him buy ads or announce innovative policy proposals.
News: Aurora Pride bans uniformed police officers from marching in the June 12 Pride Parade.
View: This counterproductive idea tears down bridges rather than building them. Uniformed officers marched in earlier pre-pandemic Pride Parades in Aurora, but, according to the news story, the decision to issue the ban was made —
… in order to create a safe and welcoming place for everyone involved. The organizers noted the violent and oppressive history between the LGBT+ community and police departments across the nation.
“In short, many members of the community feel uneasy in the presence of official law enforcement vehicles, as well as uniformed officers, due to negative experiences they themselves or someone they know have had,” the statement said. …
Organizers said it’s not their intention that anyone hides who they are or what they do. They hope officers who wish to march in the parade do so by identifying themselves with banners, T-shirts or floats.
“We want to show that law enforcement is one of many things LGBTQ+ young people can see themselves becoming one day,” the statement said. “We’d see this as a meaningful opportunity to improve community engagement and build trust.”
No. It’s a missed opportunity to build trust between the LGBTQ+ community and police officers by showing participants and onlookers alike that there are men and women in blue who are allies if not members of this community.
At Illinois Playbook, Politico’s Shia Kapos reports: “The New York City Pride Parade also prohibits LGBTQ police officers from marching in uniform … and the San Francisco Pride march, one of the largest in the world, is also banning officers from being in full uniform.”
Successful social politics is about addition, not subtraction. This is not the kind of attention that Pride Month festivities should be attracting.
News: Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance wants to ban pornography.
View: This is “news” in that the Huffington Post recently discovered and brought to a larger audience an August 2021 interview Vance gave to a Catholic magazine:
When I asked his thoughts on porn and birth control and their effects on familial decline, Vance admitted he wants to outright ban pornography. He went on to say, “I think the combination of porn (and) abortion have basically created a really lonely, isolated generation that isn’t getting married, they’re not having families, and they’re actually not even totally sure how to interact with each other.”
Commander Vance’s proposed prohibition gives you an idea what total victory for the right in the culture war would look like. Their proclamations about freedom and liberty are brazen misdirections. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
News: San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler announced he doesn't plan on taking the field for the national anthem "until I feel better about the direction of our country."
View: I trust that everyone on the right who has been bleating piteously about the need for free speech is celebrating this minor act of protest. Heh.
In a blog post, Kapler wrote:
I’m often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents. … We thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings … Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the only country where these mass shootings take place. … When you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.
White Sox manager Tony LaRussa disagrees:
“The flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objection. I think you go directly to what the cause that really bothers you about the direction of the country is. … It isn't the flag and the anthem. I think it makes more sense to figure out which of those issues and speak about the ones he didn't like and what he will do about it."
I’ve long argued that it’s time to scrap the pregame anthem tradition. Movies, plays, concerts, ceremonies and other large gatherings don’t start with semi-compulsory patriotic observances, so why sporting events? Much as I love group singing and political expression, there will remain plenty of opportunities for both without starting each contest with a controversy.
Those who take the opportunity to peacefully object to the ways our nation falls short of guaranteeing liberty, providing opportunity, dispensing justice and advancing public safety aren’t showing disrespect to anyone or anything. To the contrary, they're showing respect to American values with an implicit demand that we do more than pay them lip service. And they're doing so in a way that lesser nations, more insecure and repressive nations, would outlaw.
The contrary view — that a person who doesn’t meekly conform to the suggestion that we all rise to focus on the positive aspects of our nation is a "son of bitch," as then-President Donald Trump called Colin Kaepernick in 2017 — is profoundly un-American.
News: Veteran Lyons Township High School English teacher resigns over lax grading policies and says “I cannot in good moral conscience teach at LT any longer.”
View: Patch.com has the background as well as teacher Tom Stukel’s full, blistering resignation letter, and his concerns seem valid to me on the surface:
One of the most controversial changes at Lyons Township is that homework is no longer factored into grades. Stukel is against the policy.
He said about half of his sophomores and 80 percent of his seniors have consistently not done their homework. …
Stukel also opposed the policy giving more flexibility when major assignments are due. He said such a policy reinforces a lack of discipline and focus, with students putting off work until the last minute.
As a result, Stukel said, students are constantly behind and trying to remember what they need to do on an assignment that they were taught two weeks before.
He also criticized the policy of giving students 50 percent, rather than zeroes, for assignments that they fail to turn in.
Teachers at the La Grange school are also not allowed to factor attendance into grading, according to a Patch story in April on division in the school ranks on the new policies.
I’m old-school, so to speak, on this topic. Much of education is to prepare a person to succeed in the real world, where attendance matters, getting your assignments done on time matters and you don’t get half credit for zero effort.
These policies are not doing the adults of tomorrow any favors.
Land of Linkin’
The entry into the 2023 Chicago mayoral race of Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO, has caused me to update my Mayoral Candidate Scoreboard, where you can keep track of who’s in and who’s out (most news articles have neglected Frederick Collins). Vallas finished in ninth place four years ago with 5.4% of the vote, and the Sun-Times reports that he wants to mandate “that CPS spend a healthy chunk of its annual share of a tax increment financing surplus on a school voucher program.”
One of my favorite Monty Python sketches is the somewhat obscure “Penultimate Supper” in which the Pythons imagine why Leonardo da Vinci, not Michelangelo, ended up painting “The Last Supper.”
“One step at a time, the Walking Man has become Chicago’s favorite enigma,” a May 29 essay by Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper is a reminder of what a solid general-interest columnist he was before he narrowed his focus to entertainment. The paper was reportedly all set to make Roeper a news columnist again in early 2018 but scrapped those plans when he was caught buying Twitter followers. It was a silly exercise in self-promotional vanity on his part but an offense that his editors should have forgiven long ago.
“Anatomy of a fake” by Georgetown University professor Don Moynihan artfully dissects a bogus news story about Oak Park and River Forest High School pushed out by the disgraced and disgraceful faux journalist Brian Timpone via localized right-wing propaganda sheets masquerading as newspapers.
“Richard Scarry's 21st Century Classroom” by Ruben Bolling at BoingBoing is a great work of satire. Amusing yet grimly unfunny.
The very timely new season of Slate’s “Slow Burn” podcast series, “Roe v. Wade,” has launched. It’s about abortion in American before the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that looks about to be overturned, and the first episode tells the little-known but portentous story of the prosecution of abortion patient Shirley Wheeler. I’m proud to say that my wife Johanna was on the editorial team.
Also on the family beat, the River Valley Rangers, the bluegrass band for which my son Ben plays fiddle, is opening The John Hartford Memorial Festival this weekend in Springville, Indiana. If you have little kids, I highly recommend playing for them Hartford’s “The All-Collision, All-Explosion Song.”
“Wrongfully convicted man’s 2-decade fight for freedom exposed criminal justice system’s flaws,” a Tribune op-ed by Steve Mills, retells the almost unbelievable story of perhaps the most stunning wrongful conviction in Illinois history, one obtained even though the suspect was in police custody at the time of the murder.
“Walk Around My Bedside” is another great “zipper song,” if you’re collecting them as I am. It reminds me of “Somebody Touched Me.” I was also reminded of “Marching to Pretoria,” one my dad used to sing to me at bedtime.
The Picayune Sentinel on the air: On Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., WCPT-AM 820 host Joan Esposito and I chat about ideas raised in the new issue. The listen-live link is here.
The Picayune Sentinel preview: Mondays at 11:30 a.m. I talk with WGN-AM 720 host John Williams about what’s making news and likely to be grist for the PS mill. The WGN listen-live link is here.
Here’s the very salty Charles Pierce of Esquire reacting to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s remark that the gunman in Uvalde, Texas, “shot and killed horrifically and incomprehensibly (19) students and killed (two) teacher(s)."
Fuck you and your adverbs, Governor. “Horrifically”? I have no doubt. “Incomprehensibly”? Give me a goddamn break, will you? What’s incomprehensible about it? You signed the permitless carry bill last September. People told you what could happen. Back in 2019, after mass shootings in Beaumont and Odessa, Governor, you conjured up a scarecrow of an action plan to get you through the bad news cycle. This, of course, went nowhere, which is precisely where it was intended to go. You got to blame the pandemic, which was nice for you. Profile In Poltroon. There are too many damn guns in this country. … Goddamn this country and its politicians and their adverbs. Goddamn them all to hell.
Clarence Page in the Tribune on the “how about better mental health care?” approach to gun violence:
(Texas Gov. Greg) Abbott said Wednesday that the Uvalde school shooter had a “mental health challenge” and the state needed to “do a better job with mental health.”
Right. Yet, as The Texas Tribune reported, in April Abbott slashed $211 million from his state’s department that oversees mental health programs.
And the state also ranked last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, The Texas Tribune noted, citing a 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.
James Kirchick, author of “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington,” writing at Common Sense:
Accompanying this positive change across the broader American culture … has been an unfortunate development noticeable among some self-appointed LGBT spokespersons and our ostensible “allies,” who seek to shut down anyone chary of toeing their increasingly narrow and abstruse party line. The archness that was once so central to gay culture, a product of having to develop a thick skin and embodied by icons such as Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Fran Lebowitz and John Waters, has been replaced with a moralistic hectoring redolent of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. That censoriousness would become such a prominent feature of gay life is a tragedy born of ignorance or revisionism, considering that every advance gay people have made in this country has been the result of the exercise of free expression.
Neil Steinberg in the Sun-Times on working from home:
The benefits of spending the time and money to gather in a central location are ... what? Conviviality? Snacks? The theory is that working together creates collaboration, innovation, synergy, whatever. But it could just as well create friction, dissension and time-wasting meetings.
I’ve been to the office maybe three times over the past two years. Pre-COVID, I tried to come in once a week, to collect my mail, clap eyes on my coworkers, and remind my bosses that I am employed here. But it didn’t seem essential and, honestly, nobody seemed to care whether I was there or not. Going to the office could feel, even then, like an old-fashioned ritual, almost an affectation, like carrying a handkerchief.
When is a bloodbath not a bloodbath? When it’s election season!
Two years ago, during Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s first full year in office, Memorial Day violence saw 10 killed and 39 others shot. The Sun-Times reported that Lightfoot “condemned the ‘out of control’ violence that turned Memorial Day weekend into a ‘bloodbath,’” and called the efforts of police Superintendent David Brown “a fail.”
Yet this year, after nine people were killed and some 50 others shot over the same holiday weekend, the mayor’s office issued a statement saying the city had “safely returned to a series of fantastic events that define summertime in our city.”
Yeah. No. I understand the mayor’s desire to promote the “summer of joy,” as she’s calling it, and to accentuate the positive. But disappointment and determination are the proper official responses to that level of carnage. Hints of complacency will not satisfy voters now wondering if they should give Lightfoot four more years.
Mary Schmich on patience, perseverance and joyful effort
My former colleague Mary Schmich posts column-like thoughts most Tuesdays on Facebook. Here is this week’s offering:
I started cleaning out a closet this morning — talk about rabbit holes — and stumbled on a talk I'd forgotten I'd given a few years ago. It was for the Herman Kogan Awards luncheon put on by the Chicago Bar Association.
The awards go to journalists. I wasn't getting one. I was just giving the speech, which, as I said, I'd forgotten. Re-reading it, though, I appreciated the pep talk and thought a few of you might too.
Now back to that closet.
A speech on lawyers and journalists and housepainters
I sat down a few days ago to think about this talk — about lawyers and journalists and the work we do.
I wound up instead thinking about my father.
He wasn’t a journalist, though he loved his daily newspaper. He wasn’t a lawyer though, believe me, he loved to argue.
For the last two decades of his life, my father painted houses for a living. He got up at 4:30 in the morning — in blistering Phoenix, Arizona — and was often on a ladder — outside — by 6. He painted through the heatstroke portions of the day and called it quits in time to be at Johnny T’s Tavern by late afternoon.
In my dad’s line of work, there were no prizes. No award luncheons. No public applause.
The reward — beyond the modest pay and a drink at the end of the day — was the work itself. The chance to create something that mattered to someone. In his case, a well-trimmed eave. Or a cabinet sanded as smooth as silk.
But his artistic reward depended on something less poetic than art: The getting up and doing it. Just doing it, day after day, year after year, in sickness and in health, and often in that damn sun.
Doing it as best he could, which, for all his failures, he always tried to do.
My dad preached excellence. He flogged his children with the idea of excellence. When you cleaned the toilet, it had better wind up as the cleanest toilet in the history of the world.
This was not an entirely commendable way to raise children, but it instilled high standards.
Which brings us to the work that we do as journalists and lawyers.
Now, let me stipulate that journalists and lawyers aren’t in the same line of work. In fact, our work is often in conflict. Which means sometimes we’d like to poison each other’s coffee.
But let’s also stipulate that for today’s purposes we’re talking about honorable journalists, honorable lawyers. The people in this room, right?
For all of our differences, our work has a lot of similarities.
Unlike my dad, we’re not wrestling with brushes, rollers, buckets of paint. The tools of our trades are intangible: words, facts, ideas.
Our jobs don’t require climbing ladders in the desert heat, and yet anyone who is committed to excellence has his or her own version of that ladder in the sun.
No matter what work you do, doing it as best you can is hard.
Do you ever whimper that you need a job that isn’t so hard? That leaves you time to play more golf or travel more or learn to play guitar?
Well, I whimper. Sometimes. Mostly to myself.
Then I think of the work my dad did and remember the ways in which mine is so much easier, and how privileged I am.
This is the main thing I want to say today:
Those of us in this room--lawyers and journalists--have some of the most privileged work in the world.
“Privilege” comes with a lot of bad connotations.
One definition — I looked up “privilege” in the dictionary — is “the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society.”
Frankly, that definition applies to a lot of people in this room — but I don’t mean it that way. I mean this definition:
Privilege: “A special opportunity to do something that makes you proud.”
A special opportunity to do something that makes you proud.
Oh, I know. There was that survey recently that listed the worst jobs in America. The number one worst job? Newspaper reporter. A hair above lumberjack.
And I recently saw a list of the top 20 “most admired” professions in America. Chef was there. Accountant. Dentist.
Not in the Top 20? Journalists and lawyers.
But let’s assume that if the people who made that list were in this room, they’d see it differently. They’d see all the good ways we use our special opportunity.
Still, a lot of us lose sight of our own opportunities and privilege in the metaphorical heat of our jobs. The deadlines. The competition. Juggling the work with our personal lives.
Journalists feel the heat more than ever in the endless digital revolution.
Lawyers have their own version of the heat.
I recently received a brochure for a California retreat center where I typically go for a few days every year to clear out the mental clutter.
It’s a beautiful little collection of cabins along a creek in a valley, down a 14-mile dirt road. No Wi-Fi. No cell reception. No electricity in the rooms and if you insist on charging your laptop, it’ll cost you $10 an hour.
Flipping through this year’s brochure, I saw a “retreat for lawyers.” Here’s the description:
"Learn how to find equanimity, even joy, in the practice of law and to skillfully handle the anger and other strong emotions that can arise. The practice of law is intense and intimate, often evoking strong emotion and attachment to opinions. We ignore those emotions or attachments at our peril.”
I was struck by the word “intimate.”
Being a journalist or a lawyer can be very intimate business.
I won’t speak for lawyers, but I do know that as journalists, we step into the lives of the people we’re reporting on and we ask them to give themselves to us.
Hey, stranger. Tell me what terrible thing happened to you. Who abused you? Tell me about getting shot. Tell me about your child’s death. Who wrongly put you in jail? Did it make you cry?
At our best, we use the bad things people do — the terrible things people do — to help someone. We illuminate people’s lives. We illuminate the forces behind those lives. We try to make something better.
This intimacy — this relationship — is at the heart of the difficulty of our work. It’s also at the heart of the reward.
Think about the stories nominated for a Kogan award.
It’s a privilege to be let inside people’s lives this way. Through what they tell us, we get to explore life, to understand it better, to share what we find out.
With privilege comes obligation to use it well. And that takes work.
I have a friend who would have made a great lawyer. Or journalist. Instead, she became a minister. The other day, she sent me a comment once made by the writer E.B. White.
The quote: "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."
I know what he means. Don’t you?
Those two desires aren’t always at odds — but most of us would like to align them better.
Part of doing that lies in simply remembering how lucky we are to do the work we do.
Whenever I get more focused on the difficulty of my work than on the privilege, I do three things.
The first is to remind myself that I am not climbing ladders in the desert sun.
The second is move my body around. Take a walk. Do some yoga. Get some air.
The third is to repeat four words that I first came across at that retreat center, chiseled into a piece of wood.
I’ll leave you with these words, which may help you to keep on doing the best work you can, the kind of work that we’ve been inspired by here today, four words that can keep a person going even when there are no tangible prizes:
Patience. Perseverance. Joyful effort.
Patience. Perseverance. Joyful effort.
Thank you. — Mary Schmich
On this week’s episode of “The Mincing Rascals” podcast, host John Williams, Heather Cherone, Austin Berg, Brandon Pope and I discussed the Pride Parade controversy in Aurora, violence in the city, the 2023 race for mayor and grading standards for today’s high school students.
Subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts. Or bookmark this page. If you’re not a podcast listener, you can now hear an edited version of the show at 8 p.m. most Saturday evenings on WGN-AM 720.
This week’s nominees for Tweet of the Week:
When one door closes, leave it closed. Are you trying to heat the whole neighborhood? — @JimmerThatisAll
You can’t stop yourself / If I say this is a haiku / You’ll count syllables. — @eleniZarro
I wish I were half as committed to my job as the guy who screws lids onto pickle jars. — @gbergan
It seems horribly irresponsible to kick ass prior to taking names. — @rsf788
Thanks for sending me a copy of your new novel. I can’t wait to never read it and then everything will be awkward between us for the rest of our lives. — @theregoesrichie
The revolution will be televised, but interrupted by a live breaking story about a new panda at the zoo. — @TheAlexNevil
One day you’re going to see a post that says, “You know you’re old if you know what this is,” and it’s going to be a Wordle score — @UncleDuke1969
Your car will never make that noise for the mechanic. Your car is like “That’s our special noise. I only make that noise for you.” — @jlock17
I still can’t believe someone stole my neighbor’s wind chimes tomorrow morning. — @ilovepie84
When that comedian you've enjoyed for years suddenly offends you, the move is to announce, "he was never funny." — @IamJackBoot
You counted syllables on the haiku one, didn’t you? On your fingers, am I right?
Race to the slop
On May 5, the Cincinnati Reds were 3-22 (.120) and threatening to have the worst record in Major League Baseball since 1899 — a mark currently held by the 36-117 (.235) Philadelphia Athletics. That would have been fun to watch! Then, sadly, they went 14-9 the rest of the month and now aren’t even the worst team in MLB (after Wednesday night they’re one game better than the lowly Kansas City Royals).
Yet since both the White Sox (23-25) and Cubs (20-29) are now under .500 I can continue this feature. The Sox are 3 1/2 games better than the Cubs.
Banjo prodigy Max Allard pays tribute to Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music in this video of a song from his debut album, “Odes/Codes.” From an early age, Allard, 20, who grew up in the Logan Square neighborhood, was a fixture at classes and jam sessions connected to the school, and I count cameos from at least five current or former members of the “Songs of Good Cheer” cast in this retrospective:
“Hindsight” is one of Allard’s more contemplative numbers. To get an idea of his crazy skills, watch him keep up note for note with ace fiddler Matt Brown on a wild version of “Flowers of Edinburgh.”
He’s currently studying composition at Oberlin Conservatory and will be in town June 11 for an album release show at the Old Town School.
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