Happy Father's Day. Or sad Father's Day. But anyway, Father's Day.
On April 4, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy told an audience of African-Americans in Indianapolis that Martin Luther King had been assassinated, and then laid out a choice for them: hate, or love.
On Monday, Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox spoke at a vigil for victims of the Orlando shootings, and the speech sounded the very same timeless notes.
First off, have you ever had a beer with anyone? I never have. But I do know what the first beer you have with a new acquaintance is like. It's like having coffee—spastically agreeable, with all the natural human communication of a high-stakes spelling bee.
Things don't settle into any kind of tolerable rhythm until halfway through Beer Two. (Which is why I've always argued that beers should come in twos.)
Candor? Begins with beer three.
Belly laughs? Beer four.
Something you probably shouldn't say but what the hell, life is short? Five.
You think that too?! Wow, we really have much more in common than we thought—and we can totally hold our liquor! That's six.
I'm a little hazy on what happens at seven—(sometimes eight happens at seven)—but I know it's usually good. How do I know? Because many's the time I've had seven beers with a person I just met. And many's the lasting friendship that such a session spawned.
And if you have seven beers with a person and you don't like 'em? Uber away and never Uber back.
Anyway, the politician question should clearly be changed to, "Which candidate would you rather have seven beers with?"
And just incidentally, I have on good authority that Hillary Clinton once drank John McCain silly on an overnight flight.
Meanwhile, Trump doesn't drink, supposedly because he was commanded not to touch alcohol by his alcoholic older brother.
(Which makes me wish his brother had been a political junkie, instead.)
Got a note yesterday from a speechwriter friend in Brussels—one of several she has sent, between several I have sent, in moments like this. Starting darkly to wonder if we should stop reinventing the wheel with these. —DM
I'm thinking of my friends in ________ today, after __ of your fellow citizens were murdered in cold blood and __ injured senselessly at a _______ while they gathered peacefully for _______.
_____ times in the last __ years, you and I have had to console one another after a terrorist attack. How many more?
We _______s are very much with you ________s today, and I know friendship and solidarity will remain longer than hate.
But I do worry about our stamina. And so I've created this form letter so that, as we call on our reserves of nerve, sympathy and love, we don't we don't have to tax our creative powers too.
Warm wishes—for you, for us, and for the whole human family, which must find a better way, somehow, some day.
Your Friend in _________
A politician pal with an eye for English has long kvetched about the gall of of realtors to demand that their profession be capitalized: Realtor.
"Lookee here—now the entire word is in caps," he grouses, referring me to a handwritten note thanking him for "the time you gave your REALTOR constituents" who "would love to host a REALTOR town hall in your district."
He signs his note with his name, followed by some of his roles in life:
The comic. The communicator.
The dancer and the comic and the communicator.
Now, my friends, we must each be the Alis we want to see.
To the leader who objects to communicating a thing on the grounds that, "I said that last month."
When you remember the lessons your parents taught you, you say, "My mother always said. My father always said."
It's not just what you say. It's what you always say. (And also what you never say, but that's another story.)
Lean on your communication staff to help you find new ways to say it and new illustrations of its truth.
But don't say don't want to say it because you've already said it.
Because if it is important, you must always say it.
As you always tell your kids.
Your father or your grandfather came of age in a country that had just either kicked or saved the sorry ass of every nation in the world.
Meanwhile, in our booming postwar economy—booming because we were selling all our stuff to a war-shattered world that couldn't compete very well—everybody with any motivation was getting an education on the G.I. Bill, and getting ahead in business, or getting the kind of union job where you could eventually afford a cottage in Wisconsin, and a boat.
That world lasted from about 1946 to about 1974. (If that seems longer than you'd thought, you should ride in my pal's 1973 Delta 88, which is 342-feet long, weighs as much as Chicago's Merchandise Mart, and gets eight miles to the gallon, only two of those statistics being slight exaggerations.)
So for almost 30 years, white Americans believed the world revolved around them.
Thirty years is a long time to think a thing like that. Long enough to start believing it's the natural order of things. Long enough to tell your kids it's the natural order of things, so that even though they grew up while it was fading, they believe it because you did.
And then it's gone, except for nostalgic vestiges—stray firecrackers on the fifth of July.
And then a guy comes along—even 40 years later—and tells you he's going to bring it back. "America First!"
People fall for a lot of bullshit in this country. They spend most of their money on lottery tickets, figurative and literal. As Jerry Seinfeld said in his wonderful acceptance speech at the Clio advertising awards a couple years ago, "We know the product is going to stink. Because we live in the world, and we know that everything stinks. We all believe, 'Hey maybe this one won't stink!' We are a hopeful species. Stupid, but hopeful. But we're happy in that moment between the commercial and the purchase."
And this guy is promising to give you your cottage and your boat back, and all you have to do is vote?
What have you got to lose?
Two women I know who talk constantly, were talking to one another, both at once.
Presently, they began talking about much they talk, and about why they talk so much.
An attention deficit problem, theorized one—over which I could not hear the other woman's theory, because it was offered simultaneously.
They talked and talked and talked about why they talked and talked and talked.
They were still talking, in fact, when I walked away.
And talking and talking and talking.
It was once funny when you smelled marijuana smoke on the street. Funny, because it was rare.
Scout smelled pot smoke a couple of years ago as we sat in traffic on Roosevelt Road, and thought it was a skunk.
She knows better now. Now she knows she lives in a world full of people smoking dope. The other day we jogged past an apartment building and got a big whiff. At seven a.m.
Because now, in a Chicago summertime, the sweet smell—in the car or on the sidewalk, is at least once-a-day occurrence.
"Dad, did you smell that?"
"Yep," I say, trying to keep from showing that I'm drawing it deep into my nostrils.