Today’s column lost while shoveling
BY NEIL STEINBERG firstname.lastname@example.org February 22, 2013 6:48PM
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:38AM
There will be no column today. Because instead of writing a column first thing Friday, I shoveled the driveway.
Which drains a man of my age. So no column. My apologies. Just go about your business. Show’s over. Nothing to see . . .
Yes, yes, it wasn’t that much snow. Two or three inches, tops — not the big storm we were wringing our hands over Thursday night. But all that storm talk got me prepped for a big now, so it felt deeper. And I have a long front sidewalk — we live on the corner — plus a long driveway. Our house was built in the era when people tucked their garages out of sight, as if ashamed of them. So it’s well behind the house at the back corner, the driveway running the entire length of the lot. I’m not complaining. Especially since my wife lent a hand with the last 400 yards of driveway — or so it seems, I didn’t measure the thing. But by the time I kicked off my boots and caffeined-up, then flopped my stiff fingers on the keyboard, the news of the day had taken on a flat, unappealing quality.
So no column. Good-bye. That is all. . . .
What? Still here? Geez, you’re insistent. Fine. Force of habit, right? A cruel taskmaster. I know. Believe me, I know. Oh all right, if you insist. But trust me, there’s not much to say. Pick up each big story of the day, give it a sniff, and you’ll see what I mean.
Drew Peterson? I think the Sun-Times editorial said it all in three words, “Good riddance, Drew.” Anymore is just fiddling. I might put a slightly different spin — “Don’t let the cell door hit you in the ass . . . ” or words to that effect. But the sentiment is the same: gratitude that the smirking, bullying Peterson is being dropped down an oubliette for the next 38 years. Buh-bye Drew. We’ll check back with you in 10 years, for our anniversary story. Have fun in the meantime.
Besides, chuckling too much about Peterson getting his due feels wrong. Two women are dead -- one officially, one in all probability, and no visceral reaction to his lack of a shred of character should make us lose sight of that. No matter the temptation to see this as a farce, it really is pure tragedy.
Jesse Jackson Jr.? What isn’t self-evident? Maybe awe that his guilt is so deep and wide that neither he nor his wife put up a defense. His supposed mental illness is a sideshow — this crime was perpetrated by a ring of co-conspirators, beginning with his wife and including staffers who abetted his fraud.
But just as smirking at Drew distracts us from the real lesson — he depended on his cop status to get away with murder, and it nearly worked — so focusing on the jaw-dropping blunders of the Jacksons ignores that they were elected by constituencies all too happy to be served, or not be served, by dynamic politicians with famous names. In November, the voters of the 2nd district re-elected a man who was by his own estimation mentally ill, and a few months from resigning in disgrace and heading off to prison. It’s enough to make you suspect democracy is too valuable to be left in the hands of voters. Then again, they didn’t have much choice, so we can’t really blame them.
Speaking of hands . . . ouch. I know I should break down and buy a snowblower. But a good snowblower is what — $800? — and then it sits in the garage corroding for the 360 days you don’t need it. Shoveling is exercise, and it doesn’t make sense to snowblow your driveway and then head to the gym to work their Bowflex X50 SnowShoveling machine.
Anything else? The news dribbles away from there.
There is the big spread we did Thursday on Rahm Emanuel’s announcement that he is enlisting business leaders to raise $50 million to combat youth violence. Was your reaction the same as mine? Fix a chronic, complex problem . . . by raising money . . . for programs. Worthwhile programs. Hmmm . . . haven’t we been down this road before? Gangs recruit by putting a gun to your head and inviting you to join. Membership is practically automatic. What program is going to counterbalance that? Not to scoff at trying. One must try. No doubt somebody will be helped — we hope. But the mayor is an expert fund-raiser, and as they say, to a hammer every problem looks like a nail; $50 million over five years is $10 million a year. There are 400,000 Chicago public school students, and half never graduate. So 200,000 kids on a track where they won’t earn a high school degree — a.k.a., utterly screwed. And the mayor’s program will commit an additional . . . doing the math, so hard for us newsies — $50 a year, per at-risk youth, to turn their lives around. Well, golly, I’d say that youth violence hasn’t got a chance, not with an entire half C-note firehosed yearly at each troubled kid.
Anyway, those are some of the topics we won’t be able to address today because of shoveling-induced weariness. But I expect the column will be back on Monday.