Pictures, Artastic Adventures, Howard Dean, and Fireworks!

Yayoi and Birthday Cake
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Yayoi made me a birthday cake last month.

New Desk
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The new desk.

Winter Street View
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Looking Southeast down Milwaukee, from the second floor of an artist’s studio in the Flat Iron building.

Painting Angels
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The artist at work in his studio.

Yesterday I dropped Yayoi off at Harold Washington so she could join a ski trip to Wisconsin. Not a big fan of skiing myself, I returned home, and it being a pretty nice day, I struck off in search of adventure, or at least a quiet coffee shop to have a sit and read through my magazines.

I made my way to a coffee shop I like, Filter, in the Flat Iron building at Milwaukee and Damen. The place was crowded, and a poster in the window accounted for it – there was one heckuva artist’s exhibition going on upstairs. I wandered for hours the serpentine hallways of the Flat Iron building, visiting studio after studio, and all along the hallways were artists who didn’t have their studios there, but had brought their art to show and tell and sell as well.

It was a great time.

On my way back, I read through a New Yorker article that talks about Howard Dean, and his biography, which he has avoided sharing with us so much. He’s the eldest of four brothers, from a wealthy family, so of course he went to Yale, just like George, where he was also an underachiever, getting a B- average, just a little higher than George. Except, well, Howard’s kind of different. He requested black roommates, because the place was integrating. Those roommates recall that, unlike many white liberal contemporaries, Howard was approachable and open-minded, and not at all uncomfortable with open racial dialogue.

After Yale he went into the stock market business, but he wasn’t really enjoying it. He had this weird notion that maybe he wasn’t put on this Earth to make money. Well, what then? He hadn’t been a big fan of 1960s radical politics, and figured that the way to change things for the better was to help one person at a time. He’d done some volunteering at a hospital. He went to his Dad and said “I want to become a Doctor.” His Dad thought he was crazy, but didn’t say so, and gave Howard the support he needed.

And, well, he met a girl, moved to Vermont, eventually got engaged in politics, almost as a hobby, ended up Lieutenant Governor, which is pretty much a ceremonial position, then the Governor died, and he found himself with a full-time gig and a great big budget deficit. He turned that around by pretty much just being smart and sharp and persistent and listening to the right people.

Hey. I like the man. Whenever I see him talking, I feel like I’m really hearing him, and not John Kerry’s focus-grouped, campaign-managed message. Howard Dean is complicated enough as he is without having other people tell him who he should be. What I dug was his bizarre explanation as to why he isn’t in to dishing his biography out:

“That I don’t talk about my background, I have a feeling, is what makes me as passionate as I am. If I laid out the biography for everyone to kind of ooh and ah, it would be gone. I know this is sort of Zen-like. I don’t really have it down. The fact is, the experiences that are the most intense in my life are the ones that are not readily available to me, so they come out in a different way. I think that has a lot to do with my desire to have social justice, the passion I have about fairness and truthtelling. The two are connected. The fact that I’m the least autobiographical is very much connected with the fact that I’m the most passionate. Experiences that I don’t have access to consciously are what drive me — personal experiences that I can’t tell you about because I haven’t processed them.”

“I know this is kind of Zen-like. I don’t really have it down.”

Folks, the man is in it because trying to make the world a better place is what gets him off. Yeah, he’s prone to get carried away and let loose a war scream, and that’s because he really wants to fix your country bad.

Or, I’m just believing the hype. I’m ascribing what I will to Howard Dean, because, slacker college student kind of drifting through life as I am, I identity most readily with Howard Dean. My friend Jesse, a Marine Corps Veteran, digs Wesley Clark. Southerners dig Edwards, and his syrupy drawl. There are at least a few black folk who dig Sharpton for being an eloquent black man. And, well, there are plenty of squares in our nation that identify with Kerry.

At any rate, I hope Dean pulls through Wisconsin, and at least keeps the primary interesting. I’ve read some analyses that win or loose, he has made a great contribution to invigorating the Democratic party. It is important to get people who might vote excited about the idea of voting. That is what Al Gore failed to do. John Kerry’s riding around on his motorcycle, and dropping his Senatorese, and inviting George to “Bring it On”, where “it” is a debate as to which party is better at national security. So if he is the nominee, he ought to get not only the “Anyone But Bush” crowd, but also the “Damn, I’d like to feel maybe just a little inspired by our leaders” crowd as well.

Anyway, I went an picked up Yayoi at around six. Took forever to get my car out of its slippery, snowed-in spot. But after I picked her up and turned the corner we saw what looked like a big fireworks show inside of the Sun Times building. Huh? Gotta be a reflection in the windows. So, I swung right on to Wacker, and there were fireworks lighting up the scene, and well, Yayoi loves fireworks, and she squealed that this was indeed a very very good day, and I pulled to the curb so we could watch the fireworks.

A cop shooed me away. I left Yayoi on the street to enjoy the show as I slowly navigated the wagon up the road a bit, pulled a u-turn, picked Yayoi back up, and we cruised up the pretty winter lights of Michigan Avenue.

Yes, folks, Chicago is truly the greatest city on Earth.


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Categories: Politics

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