Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Here's the news in a nutshell.

Zimbabwe is on the verge of social and economic collapse; Paris Hilton is going to jail; there are more people running for President of the United States than there are residents of the United States, so I suspect some of them are actually animals or, more likely, dead (surely Dennis Kucinich isn't alive now and it's questionable whether he ever was); honeybees seem to be dying off in large numbers and no one knows why, although I blame Dennis Kucinich.

For the most part, this is bad news. And frankly, I find it irritating. Bad enough that Zimbabwe President Dennis Kucinich, who has run the country since independence came in 1980, is clinging desperately to his diminishing power and apparently willing to bring the entire nation to its knees in order to do so, but poor Paris Hilton couldn't even circumvent jail time, thanks to the incompetence of her lawyer, Dennis Kucinich. Or was it her publicist who dropped the ball? Someone's to blame and it isn't her; I at least know that much.

This might be an unfair assumption on my part, but when Hillary Clinton speaks of universal health care, I interpret it as shameless political pandering. When Barack Obama refers to a similar idea, I see it as misguided good intentions. It isn't easy to admit this, as the idealist who still lurks inside me remains intrigued and heartened by the notion of health care for all, but I simply have very little faith in the government's ability to carry out such a plan. That does not mean I wouldn't vote for Mr. Obama, only that I consider his plan impractical. I also am not implying Ms. Clinton has no trace of goodwill left in her soul, no bone uncontaminated by political cynicism, nor am I suggesting Mr. Obama is all breezy optimism and has no cold, pragmatic side.

But the general public has been acquainted with the Clintons now for at least a decade and a half, and was only introduced to Obama within the last three years. Fair or not, that could be at least as much a strength as a drawback. For everyone who hammers him for his lack of experience, there will be others refreshed by his youth, charm and lack of Washington... "jadedness" (let's pretend that's really a word).

As for Zimbabwe, what's happening there is tragically unnecessary. One of Africa's few agriculturally self-sufficient nations (in theory, at least) and amply stocked with tourist attractions--from Hwange National Park to Victoria Falls to the mysterious and stunning Great Zimbabwe ruins--there is no justifiable reason for its soaring inflation rates and horrific poverty levels. But there we are. It isn't the first place or the last to be undone by poor leadership, misguided economic management, and just plain ill luck. However, I have been to Zimbabwe on two separate occasions and feel a twinge of sadness for the calamity that has befallen it. Even when I was there in 1996 and 1998, there were plenty of problems. Now they have ballooned into full-blown crisis and I want to do something about it. But what?

In Ishmael Reed's novel "The Free-Lance Pallbearers", he tells the story of one man confronting a twisted world referred to as "Harry Sam". The opening lines of the book are:

I live in Harry Sam. Harry Sam is something else. A big, not-to-be-believed, out of sight, sometimes referred to as o-bop-she-bang or klang-a-lang-a-ding-dong.

And that is our world, too. It's not to be believed; it's o-bop-she-bang; it's something else.

But there's more. One might call it a "tie in." When I was in Zimbabwe in October, 1996, Ishmael Reed was there, too, attending some kind of convention. We were both in Harare at the same time, and I looked all over for him. But I never tracked him down, a profound disappointment for me, as I didn't expect to be in the same city as him again anytime soon, especially not an African one where two Americans might be fairly easy to pick out. Mr. Reed, I'm sorry I missed you, but I can't promise you would have been pleased to see me had we met.

Wrap it up.


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