Thursday, October 27, 2005

This is one of those posts I always feel funny about sharing. I know most of us are political junkies, and we like to think of ourselves as "big picture" people. Well, maybe this is truly big picture stuff, or, more likely, merely an onanistic exertion with no redeeming value whatsoever. Here goes: in 1996, I was faced with a decision. The year before, I had leased a huge empty restaurant, remodeled, and opened it as a sports bar/restaurant/live entertainment venue. The first year was miserable, financially. I was able to make rent, utilities, payroll, and buy product, but I was falling behind everywhere else. I took no salary the entire first year, and, was about ready to close my doors. New Years approached, and I booked a great band and planned a party the town had never seen. Something clicked that night. 350 people showed up, and, after that night, my volume tripled. I started doing different types of entertainment, and my favorite was Comedy Night. I like comics. Onstage, to be sure, but, since almost to a person they are neurotic as hell, I loved them offstage even more. The edgier the better. One day my connect called me and told me about a young comic he had available for a fundraiser I was doing for our local Women's Shelter. (Something that caught on every year, and was my favorite show of the year). I booked the guy, sight unseen, and it was one of the smartest things I ever did. I'll call him, Tim, since, A, that's his name, and b, he may not appreciate me using his last name. Tim showed up and was nothing like the other comics. He was totally poised, warm, friendly, and completely real. His material was clean, his observations spot on, and he had a stage presence that made everyone immediately like him. We became friends, and he, along with my kick ass house band, anchored every important show I promoted. We got to know each other socially, and I truly grew to admire this guy. Eventually, I sold my place, and the contact drifted off to next to nothing, save the occasional phone call. We had children roughly the same age, and so we were naturally busy raising kids and putting down roots. Somehow, during his routines, I never realized that his humorous attacks on Clinton emanated from a deep dislike of not only the man, but his politics as well. I don't remember the exact conversation that made me realize how vastly different Tim and I were with regard to politics, but, afterward, I was never the same. It shook me up pretty hard. This guy, this parent, this friend who I got soused with and actually sang "Rock Lobster" onstage with on karaoke night, was a complete stranger all of a sudden. I realized that he was a good bit younger than I, and that part of me that is a condescending prick would chalk it up to him still being a bit damp behind the ears. If I'm correct, he hates the idea of taxes, of almost any sort. He equates fanatical Muslims with Saddam Hussein, and feels completely justified being at war there. He his pro-gun, pro-choice(amazingly) but also joked recently that he believed chronic welfare recipients should be sterilized. In short, he is Republican to the bone. After Rove and his dickless minions smeared Max Cleland, (who I knew and admired) I declared war on the Repub Party. Iraq made me cut all contact with any friend or family member who supported this outlaw administration, in fact I have stated on numerous occasions that I would have divorced my wife if she even hinted at being a Republican, and I meant it. I still have had no contact with a guy I was best friends with for 25 years,( we got married in a double ceremony and were each other's best man.) Basically, I was the epitome of a self-righteous Liberal. I still am.
Hurricane Wilma swirled around the Gulf and threatened Tim's hometown, and, suddenly, politics meant nothing. I called, and we talked at length about many things, including politics. I told him about my experience with the Gideons and he actually used the word indoctrination before I did, and he was supportive. Without burdening you readers (reader?) with any more details, we basically concluded that cliche's be damned, we indeed had more in common than we had differences over, and. Perhaps most importantly, we agreed that the current crop of political leadership wasn't doing the job, and was by and large bought and paid for. I think it's up to guys like me and Tim to continue the discussions, find answers, including(gasp!) compromise when we can't get completely together. The alternative seems to promise a bleak future, and like many of you, and Tim, I have children who deserve a more civil society. I'm sure there are a million stories like this, I guess I am trying to look beyond my anger and resentment, and lead my children by example. I think my friend Tim is doing the same...

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