Summertime blues

July 23, 2006 by barbara

by susan

I'm sitting on my duff on Mackinac Island and fussing about the heat. With no newspaper, no TV, and gummy-slow Internet, I'm in a news vacuum. I now understand how George Bush got to be the way he is.

If you don't read the news, and only occasionally step off the shady porch to slash brush, you can pretty much avoid knowing that the world is blowing up around you. You get the most peripheral take on things, little glimpses of trouble spots, which prompt you to mutter inane things about who oughta stop doin' what to whom. Just the other day I said to my husband, "Whassup with Israel?" That's about as deep as it gets when your daily news intake has the nutritional value of a marshmallow.

Back home in Minneapolis I start the day with the media equivalent of bran and hardtack. My teeth grind, my stomach knots and the little needle on my rage meter pings over to the red zone.

Up here I take my coffee looking out at Lake Huron, a sweep of clear fresh water that shimmers over the distant horizon like the world's biggest infinity pool, which it almost is. After the religious wars and the oil wars - if there is an after -- they say it'll be the water wars, which puts those of us situated in the middle of the five Great Lakes sort of in the catbird seat. Or in a war zone.

Every year hundreds of sail boats race up Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, a trip taking anywhere from 24 hours to three days, depending on the wind and the size of the boat. The 80-foot turbo yachts finish first, looking like something out of a bad Kevin Costner movie with their sinister hi-tech ash-black sails, and then the smaller boats with old-fashioned white sails straggle in, crisscrossing the Straits like flittering moths.

It's all very pretty, except the TV news choppers whirling overhead and the cannon that fires as each boat crosses the line can start to sound like the soundtrack from Apocalypse Now, which '" well, you know.

These sailors come ashore with an all too familiar swagger of privilege, claiming dehydration and sexual deprivation from their weekend ordeal on the open water. Unlike their less lucky counterparts stuck in say, the 115 degree heat of Iraq, these guys have free Bacardi rum and a whole slew of sturdy Michigan Girls Gone Wild, bare midriffs and breasts billowing like spinnakers, to slake their various thirsts.

From my porch I can hear them partying on the lawn of the hotel below. The sky blazes blue overhead, the soft breeze smells of balsam trees. The band is playing an old Edgar Winter rock song called "Free Ride." Well, that's over.

Even those of us still coasting on the top know that the free ride our dunderhead president promised us is now -- and in reality always was --a free fall, and at this point no one knows how to stop it. I'd rather be left home alone with Macaulay Culkin than with our bring-it-on kid in the White House. Note to Mom and Dad or any grown up out there: please come home.

Eventually the anesthesia of oblivion wears off and you find yourself feeling the pain, even as the crazed surgeons continue to slice up the world and there's nothing you can do to stop them. Vacation is over.

I'll go home and dip my puny oar into the political waters of the midterm elections and pull towards that little sand bar of hope, though some days it feels as futile as bailing out Lake Huron with a thimble.

It might be too late, but if those with oars pull together and those with thimbles keep bailing, maybe we can still get there.

Posted in

Comments

Jeff the Apostate (not verified) | July 24, 2006 - 12:02pm

Think of this hiatus as a battery recharging... return to the TC ready to join the battle...believe me the trenches are still full and the battle is joined....

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apostate 2 (not verified) | July 24, 2006 - 11:29pm

well, yass, but does anyone still think we can turn this one around?

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JB (not verified) | July 26, 2006 - 8:56pm

Your article, which I read in the Strib, makes no sense. Why the Strib continues to print your ramblings is beyond me. You can't see beyond your own hatred for our president. I thought liberals were about tolerance, peace and love. But you are hypocrits at the very core. You hate conservatives and you hate George Bush. Guess what, we don't care. Keep writing your hate manifestos, it just keeps helping the GOP win elections.

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Felicity (not verified) | July 26, 2006 - 9:26pm

(sp) hypocrite

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JB (not verified) | July 26, 2006 - 10:29pm

Thanks....I didn't think it looked right.

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honestkind (not verified) | July 28, 2006 - 11:17am

I didn't read your column in the strib since I dumped that rag a year ago - can't handle the vitriol that kersten spews into my home, so I just said NO!

But I was delighted to read your column on Common Dreams where I check in regularly.

I, too, suffered a news vacuum when I went to visit my elderly parents for my annual visit and found myself in a rented house squashed between a bunch of other wooden structures along the beach where I woke each morning to snippets of joggers' conversations as they passed by the house, yet we had no land line, no cell phone reception no internet access. They had cable TV so the red sox fans could keep up with the important news of the day - baseball!

Otherwise I, too, was left out of the missiles fired by Korea and the beginning of this war in Lebanon. Now that I have returned to the comfort of my own home with its familiar technology, I realize that it doesn't really matter much what I missed.

It is the same old bushco maneuvering to distract us from the failure of Iraq, the war profiteering of their friends and the general corruption of this admistration (illegal wiretapping, outing CIA agents, signing statements........) If it weren't for this distraction, people might actually pay attention to the fact that our election process is completely corrupted and many Americans have no hope of participating in a fair election this fall or anytime in the near future.

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Brad Burch (not verified) | July 28, 2006 - 11:56am

I just had a read the STrib - Never quite away from it all by you Susan - I must say I enjoyed the ramblings.
I'm also glad to see that someone with obvious means for the good life up there on Mackinac Island has a heart and a little sense of humour too and some clever observations.
I worked as a press photographer for a number of years before ever getting into the privilaged position of working in the fourth estate.
I've always had a mistrust of authority and people in established positions - political or otherwise - maybe because I too like the folks that are suffering now from rockets fired by misplaced reasons or lack of true character make us all suffer through the daily news and something of the reality of war.
I believe in our common humanity - if one suffers we all suffer and if one has gone through hardships in life - feeling the heat or the freezing cold or the pain of war, of poverty and homelessness ... maybe we'll get beyond the shore and land together on the solid ground of clear thinking and understanding. I miss seeing someone like Gandhi or M.L.King- I really don't feel the privilaged will guide us to the promised land.
Best Regards, Brad G. Burch

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Brad Burch (not verified) | July 29, 2006 - 10:31pm

I want to note my bad editing (sorry) - the privilaged position that I held was while working for a daily newspaper of course.

I also want to add that I have faith that a spiritual solution is the solution - there are folks like a Gandhi out there living a life that's an example - hope lives - but as we know power and privilage can corrupt. BGB

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regdbcvb (not verified) | June 6, 2007 - 6:24am

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