Monday, June 11, 2012


I was in Chicago last week. I've been there before for various reasons. This time I stayed within the loop a couple of blocks from West and North Wacker, around the corner from the Goodman theatre, with the name on a huge vertical sign, and five blocks from Millenium Park where a remarkable statue called the Bean is located. If you have never seen the Bean, it is almost worth a trip to Chicago to check it out. In the right spot you can see your reflection and the city skyline behind you.

 I did not get to Wrigley Field or Comiskey park, but the cab driver who took me back to the airport regaled me with his opinion about the Cubs whom he did not like, and the White Sox whom he adored. He seemed personally upset that the Cubs who never in his words "won a damn thing" keep selling out and the White Sox do not get the respect they are due.

 "Who won the World Series in 2005?" he asked me rhetorically. "Not the Cubs. Incredible marketing is what they got, nothing else."

 My cab driver had begun our journey in good spirits. He told me how much he loved the city and how friendly it was. He talked about the White Sox and how the new ball park was better than the old one. The good feelings took a dive however when he had to make a phone call to the city licensing board. He told me that the day prior he had gone to the city to get his name off of a suspension list. He was successful, but at the time the computers had been down. So, prompted by seeing a police officer in the bumper to bumper traffic, he was phoning the city to make sure that his name was off the suspended list.

 "Good afternoon" my cab driver said into the speaker phone. "My name is x and I came in yesterday to restore my license. My license number is y. Can you tell me if my name is off the suspension list."

 "What time did you come in yesterday."

 "About 330."

 "I wasn't here then. Kevin was here then. Kevin will be here at 330. Call back then."

 "Sir" said my cabdriver politely. "Can you look to see if my name is off the suspension list."

 "I told you I wasn't here yesterday when you came in. Kevin was. You will have to talk to Kevin."

 "Do you have a record of my coming in."

 "What's your number again?"

 The cab driver provided the number.

 "Okay. I see you came in. Like I said you got here while Kevin was here. You will need to talk to Kevin"

 "If you can see that I came in on a computer screen. You can probably see if my name is off the suspended list."

 "How many times do I have to tell you that I was not here then. Kevin was here. You will have to speak to Kevin."

 The conversation ended then; that is the conversation between the cab driver and the voice from city hall. The conversation--actually monologue--between the cab driver and me continued. Now, no longer a representative from the chamber of commerce, the cabbie could not say enough about how rude, inconsiderate, unprofessional, the city was. He threw in some good stories about Mayor Daley and just sneered when I mentioned the new mayor, Rahm Emanuel.  The only Chicago things the cabbie had positive things to say about afterwards were related to the Chicago White Sox.

I had been in Chicago to lead a workshop for a very professional group whose offices are near the hotel where I was staying--between North Wacker and the Bean. During a break, one of the participants, appropos of nothing in particular started singing a lyric to a Simon and Garfunkel song: I Am a Rock. This was ironic because I have been listening to a Simon and Garfunkel CD that contains that song for about a week. I have a habit of leaving the same CD in my car radio until I realize that I have listened to the songs multiple times. And coincidentally I have listened to I am a Rock maybe a dozen times in the last week.

A particular lyric in that song keeps surfacing to my consciousness. "I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved I never would have cried."

 I think that many strange behaviors are a function of such slumbers left undisturbed. Take the fellow from city hall that my cabbie was talking to. He was irrational and rude. I did not think he was stupid, just rude. What is he doing answering the phone at noon if the world is on hold until Kevin comes back?

And this behavior is benign compared to others influenced by toxic slumber. I wonder about the repercussions of toxic slumbers in general. Do they affect how the people at the airport check your bags,the flight attendants' attitudes, the person who is sitting next to you on the plane. Do toxic slumbers create an illusion of normalcy, but infections that retard our pursuit of happiness and, actual, slumbering.

I think sports is often the anodyne, a palliative for the toxicity of slumbers superficially undisturbed,that are insidiously wreaking havoc with our consciousness. Go White Sox or whoever.

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