Friday, March 4, 2011

A Writer, A Welder, and a Catholic Priest

Many years ago, in my hometown of Butte, Mt., I loved to read a syndicated column every morning. The writer was a guy named Mike Royko. I often laughed out loud when Royko cracked wise about crooked politics in some faraway land called "Chicago." Royko was your typical big city lefty, spending his evenings in some joint called Billy Goat Tavern. I loved Royko's smart assed writing. And I suppose in some sense, he is one of my heroes. I think Royko would have loved blogging. No owners, no editors, and the ability to write any fucking thing we want to. In fact I'm sure- he would have loved it.

Royko had a high school education. That was back when a high school education was just a shade better than an online bachelor's degree or roughly equivalent to a four year degree at private college. They even flunked people back then. Shitty students were left behind. Unbelievably, we saw that as a good thing.

Mike Royko was real. He didn't have some piece of paper on the wall, some credential, announcing to the world that he had managed to sit in a classroom for four years successfully. He didn't need credentials. The guy could write. That has always been a problem for people with credentials. All the paper on the wall doesn't mean a damn thing if you don't have passion. If you aren't good at what you do.

I don't oohh and ahhh because some brainiac with a Ph.d is going to use the American economy for a fucking petri dish. I don't care about some superficial President who doesn't show a work history all the way through college. A guy who can kiss ass and pay off cronies. That shit isn't special. I don't care about movie stars and actors, some tart with a boob job and a 100k dress on. Or some greedy developer slicking people out of their money and greasing their own accounts. Bill Gates trying to make sense of his life, people fawning over him because he returns a pittance of what he has taken.

In fact, I don't even think you have to be special or credentialed to understand that.

I like working stiffs, the people who get ignored. They don't get any credit. No acclaim. They know how fucking hard it is to get what little that they have. They work their asses off. They do jobs for free. They are grateful for what little they have. They have passion and you can see it in their work. You can see it in their writing, hear it in their songs, feel it in their heart. They love what they do. I don't ask for credentials when I see those types of people. 

Years ago, I was in a little radiator shop bullshitting with a friend of mine. I watched the shop owner spend three hours fixing a radiator. He explained that people don't fix things anymore. They buy new things. He worked the entire time we talked and he redid the job because he wasn't satisfied with the way it turned out. Toward the end of the day, this little old man came in to pick up the radiator. He charged the guy 25 bucks. He explained that he knew this guy and knew he didn't have much money. Had he charged anything less he said, the old man would not have taken it. Old man Miller, he explained, had been a pretty decent cop when he was a kid. That's how it is on Main St. People do things because they are right- not because they can get away with gouging more.

In New Orleans, I had the good fortune to meet a guy, a Catholic Priest. Tough old bastard. He worked and lived uptown, but he spent all of his time in mid city, helping drug addicts and alcoholics get their lives together. He would drop blankets and tents off to the people living under the bridge at Canal St. Uptown is where the money is. Big houses on St Charles, Tulane University. I asked him once why he spent his time in mid city instead of uptown. He explained that the drug addicts and alcoholics in up town had every advantage. Wealth, families and support, access to rehab programs. In mid city he said, those folks have nothing. That's why I go there- he said. He died in Feb. of 2008. There is no doubt that he was chewing St Peter's ass, telling them how to run heaven when he arrived there. The only time he ever smiled...third on the right.

Our society ignores the people under the bridge. They ignore all the working stiffs. The people who perform minor miracles each day. They ignore the struggle perhaps- because they find it too difficult. Like death, they'd rather pretend it doesn't exist. Instead our society focuses on the obscene, the self indulgent, the rich and the narcissistic. Everyone else is just a fringe player, someone to be ignored. That's too bad. It says a lot about what kind of culture we have become. I will leave you with with an interesting slice.

The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money.  ~Author Unknown

1 comment:

Dave said...

Good piece. Ya have to ask yourself, what makes my country great? Well, its the people. The physical country is nothing more that land. But the people in it make it what it is. Watching and reading MSM, you would think that this is the worst place ever, what with all the jackoff's getting news coverage. But there are always folks like your friend in Nawlins', or my dad, who I don't think ever made more than 30,000 grand in a year. But you'd never know it. Always took care of his family and paid his bills, and never turned his back on the underdog.

This place is full of folks like that, they just don't make good news copy.

Hey, maybe a blog idea for me!! D