Tuesday, June 15, 1999

Bump In The Road

© Dr. Wes Browning

President Clinton says we did all right

To bomb Serbs eighty days and some nights

"We did it the right way," he says gleefully

"We'll finish the job! Take it from me!"

And you know there could be somethin' to that

We might have done right for an actual fact

I heard we bombed Serbians only with bombs

We didn't drop anything else on their lawns.

Sorry about that last rhyme. I meant it to be better but I came to a "bump in the road", such as the ones that slowed the Kosovo peace settlement and the end to our bombing. In my case the bump in the road was the English Language. In America's case it was real bumps in the road from the Macedonian coast to Belgrade.

Those damn bumps! Isn't that always the way it is when you're trying to bomb the bejeesus out of some people and forcing them to submit to your will? I know it is for me. People are always resisting. You're just trying to have a perfect little war with perfect airplanes where no one, absolutely no one, who was anyone important dies, is that asking too much?

But nooooo. There's got to be bumps in the road. I even heard some of the road was blown up! And even where it wasn't, there were actual enemy soldiers who didn't want us to march to Belgrade, and homes full of people lining the roads, that didn't want us to march to Belgrade.

And homes empty of people lining the roads, people who have already expressed their opinion about us marching to Belgrade in the most emphatic way imaginable, by laying their bodies down and dying, to be bumps in the road. It's just so very frustrating.

Speaking of frustrating bumps in the road, and aren't we always, you will find in this issue a story about how our city officials are looking into ways to improve services for the homeless, and incidently cut costs for those services, by tracking the homeless better.

The trouble with the way it is now, every time you turn a homeless person away from a shelter because there's no space left on the floor, you lose that person in the dark of the night, and wouldn't recognize her/him if you saw him again.

Why wouldn't you recognize her/him? Because there are thousands of her/him that's why, if there were only twenty or thirty, everybody could just remember what they looked like.

But I digress. The point is there are thousands of homeless not getting into shelters, and we all know that, but the funds needed to build more shelters are constantly being denied on the basis of the fact that no one knows who those people are.

I know who those people are, they are bumps in the road.

We will have shelters enough for everybody, trust us America, down the road, we are doing the right thing, we are doing it the right way, it'll be a little slower than expected, there are bumps in the road.

Well I got off on a tangent again. I meant to deliver a powerful polemic on the subject of software solutions to hardware problems and vice versa, but I got carried away by this whole road thing.

But what I really regret is that I have failed to make room for the deep sociological analysis that I was going to provide that was going to explain what the War in Kosovo and tagging homeless people in Seattle have each to do with what we all are really most interested in these days, the revelations in the press regarding Charles Kuralt's mistress.

Oh well. Meanwhile here's a poem I wrote in honor of dear Charles, may he rest in peace and good cheer, and may there be no more bumps in his road.

Late to the Wake

We've come too late t' the wake, I see,

The man's been dead two years or three!

His last word said upon his bed,

Was "Pat"! not "Rose Bud"! nor even "Dead"!

Who's Pat? all asked, around the room.

A long lost friend, they'd all assume.

But not so long lost as all that,

A fishing partner was fair Pat!

To be precise, Charles made the fish,

for Pat to catch and make a wish,

then put him back in his fish den

the Magic Fish to leap again

& again & again, for near thirty years,

for Fishing always gave Charles cheer.

Tuesday, June 1, 1999

Insert Column Here

Note to self: insert column below.

Dear Wes,

I won’t be around to help you with your column this time -- I am going to FolkLife instead. If you get stuck, why not write about the cat and bird? If that doesn’t work, you should try complaining about something again.

-- good luck, your muse, Cindy H.

ACK! Write about the cat and bird? I finally get on the cover after four years here and my own Muse says write about the cat and bird, like we’re running a cartoon series? This is my moment in the limelight, my four minutes and thirty-three seconds of fame, and I’m supposed to move over for a Siamese-Tabby with delusions of grandeur and an anti-social Green Singing Finch?

I’ll take complaining about something, thank you, it’s always let me remain closer to my favorite subject (ME!).

Now lets see what is there to complain about around here besides Musea who disappear into crowds of Hula spectators at deadline. Hmmm, hmmm, OH what is THAT I see on the horizon? Isn’t that a stadium that’s costing more than it was supposed to, and a baseball team that wants ME to pay for it?

That’s ME as in Wes Browning proud renter of a downtown subsidized apartment, who nevertheless pays rent, and rents pay property taxes.

That’s ME as in Wes Browning, who has to pay sales tax, because he just recently had to buy a pair of socks that weren’t covered by Food Stamps, and who very soon will also pay sales taxes buying a book, because he needs a book to stay sane?

Gee, when was the last time I or anyone else I know was on welfare,

and two and a half weeks into the month walked into the welfare office and said, “Hey pals, thanks a heap for that welfare check, it came in real handy the last two and a half weeks, but wouldn’t you know it? There’s been some cost overruns in the Wes (or insert name) upkeep department, so you guys will need to pay the extra.”

NOBODY does that! Even though they run out of money (AND Food Stamps) every single month before the month is up, people on welfare almost never have the bloated gonads to expect extra assistance on top of what’s already been arranged after usually weeks of dragged out applications and supplications.

Because that is what is going on here, in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

We issue welfare to people in need who supplicate before us for precisely the same reason that we publicly fund baseball stadiums when there clubs ask us to. We have reason to believe in the long-term benefits for the rest of us. Give them money now, so they can get on their feet, and we will gain down the road in increased revenues.

Isn’t that a compelling moral argument?

Come to think of it though, the cat and bird do have a certain charm that endears us all to them. Indeed they have a sort of an anti-Paul Allen appeal working for them that could make them even attractive to the Major League-oriented. Yeah, I could allow a brief discussion of their merits.

Firstly, it is impossible to be a member of the Real Change Board of Directors, and not to be made comfortable by Sid “the Real Director” Vicious. And, lets face it, that’s what being on a Board (any Board!) is all about, namely one’s comfort. “Should we do X, Y and Z?” “Well,” says the seasoned Board member, “I’m comfortable with us doing X and Y, but I just don’t feel comfortable with Z.” And, what do you know, but after the debate, if the average Board member isn’t comfortable with Z, and so Z doesn’t happen! HA! I love it!

But I digress. Sid makes us comfortable because he’s a furry beast. And who wouldn’t be comfortable while having a furry beast mark them as his exclusive property?