Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three Men Walk Into A Bar...

President Barack Obama, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley stepped into The Enlightenment Bar. The bronzed bartender poured a bag of popcorn into three small plastic bowls as the men approached bamboo stools, while "Margaritaville" played in the background.

"What'll it be mates?"

"Hey, aren't you that Jimmy Buffett guy that sings that song?" Obama asked.

"Nah, he's my twin, ha, ha. I get that all the time."

"It's uncanny," Crowley said in amazement.

"Hey, if I was that guy I wouldn't be here would I gents?"

"No, that is true," Gates said. "You'd be on the road playing to your summer crowds."

"So, fellas, what can I get you?"

"I'd like a Becks," Gates said.

"And I'll have a Blue Moon," Crowley said.

"And for you, sir?" The Jimmy Buffett look-a-like asked.

"A good, old American Bud," Obama said.

"Do y'all want a shot of consciousness with that?"

"What the heck is that?" Obama asked.

"You did come into the Enlightenment Bar gentlemen." The bartender pointed to the neon sign hanging above his head.

"Okay with you guys?" Obama asked as Gates and Crowley settled into their bamboo stools.

"If it's good enough for you, it's okay with me." Gates said.

"Crowley?" Obama asked.

Crowley shrugged and nodded his head.

"Three shots, my good man. " Obama said.

The bartender whirled around and seized a green bottle and three tiny paper cups from a shelf behind the bar. He deposited a cup in front of each man and poured green liquid into each cup.

"Drink up and I'll get you your brewskis."

The men, following Obama's lead, picked up the cups and drained them.

"This tastes like asparagus," Crowley said.

"Mine too." Gates said.

"I agree." Obama assented. "What's in it-"

"Jimmy," the bartender said while he filled their beer steins. "Essence of nature. Hey guys, I gotta go check on a shipment, so enjoy yourselves. Just ring the bell if you need anything."

"What bell?" Gates asked.

"The brass one at the end of the bar."

They peered at a big brass bell hanging on a pole at the end of the bar. When they turned back, the bartender was gone.

"Where'd he go?" Crowley asked bending over the bar. "He didn't just disappear."

"This is a very odd bar," Gates said. "I didn't notice that bell before."

Obama picked up his beer stein and studied the amber liquid. Gates and Crowley picked up their mugs too.

"Cheers," Obama said, and they all took a drink.

"Man, this is good." Obama said.

"Hits the spot," Crowley said.

"Excellent taste." Gates concurred.

"Well gentlemen, I have to take responsibility for this brouhaha. " Obama said. "I mis-spoke and for that you have my deepest apologies. It should have remained and been handled as a local issue."

He took a swig of his Bud. "My, this beer is excellent."

Gates and Crowley guzzled their beer and put their mugs down, eyeing each other.

"I got carrried away. Gates said. " I didn't give you a chance," Crowley said simultaneously.

"You first." Gates said.

"No, you." Crowley said.

"It was a rough day. I had been traveling from China. My equilibrium was way off, and then that fuckin' door wouldn't open. All I wanted to do was go in and take a nap, go lie down. I don't sleep well on planes- I lost it, I just motherfuckin' lost it, when you showed up on the front porch. I'm sorry man. I really am. " He laid his hand on Crowley's shoulder. Tears welled up in his eyes.

Crowley picked up his mug and handed it to him. "Here man, have some of this and you'll feel better."

Gates drank thirstily, the foam escaped his lips and pooled onto the bar's surface.

Obama patted Gates on the back. "Are you okay, man?" Gates nodded.

Crowley sipped his beer, then lowered his stein.

My day wasn't so tough, and when I got the call on the radio, I was skeptical that there was a break in. Perps don't usually carry suitcases in broad daylight to the front porch of a house. I figured whoever broke in there lived there. But I had to put that in the back of my mind until I was sure. But then it was how dare you accuse me? Then you hit me with that racial profiling and all the other bullshit and I was like I'm a fucking cop. I don't have to take that shit. You were pounding me with your insults."

He took a big gulp of his beer, and looked sideways at Gates.

"I was just doing my job. Just doing my job. Tears well up in his eyes. "I tried to save Reggie Lewis. He died in my arms. My arms."

Gates laid his hand on his shoulder. "I know man. I read about that. It really was a fucked up day."

Obama ran to the end of the bar and rang the bell. "More beers, Jimmy. We're ready for more beers."

Three hours later the men staggered out of the bar with their arms around each other's shoulders.

Charles Ogletree, Gates lawyer sat on a bench across from the bar with Crowley's attorneys.

"Well, gentlemen we didn't solve world peace, but this issue is resolved," Obama said.

"What did you do?" Take some happy pills?" Ogletree asked.

"Better than that," Gates and Crowley said and laughed.

"That's great. That's all great," Ogletree said. "But how long will it last?"


For more on The Enlightenment Bar, click on my audio link in my profile.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sunny Fourth of July

This is America, and people are happy when the weather is nice. This is the Summer, and people enter the vacation mode. A switch goes off in their brain and they R E L A X. The Sun and the warm temperatures make their cares melt away. Plunging into a pool or the ocean brings back memories of when you did those things as a kid, and you had no worries or cares, and you could just enjoy the feeling of burying your feet in the sand, or jumping into a pool and swimming or playing underwater games with your friends. Couple the beginning of Summer with the Fourth of July celebration, and you are reminded about the greatness of America. The promise of America as set forth in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." So after sunning and swimming for most of a warm, sunny July 5, I dropped my Ford Taurus off late in the afternoon for service. My fan wasn't working and when I turned the dial nothing worked from the vent to the defrost. But my conversation with my mechanic restored a chill I hadn't been feeling all day, when we talked about how General Motors, once the biggest company in the world was now owned by the government. He said it was nuts, that socialism was taking over the country. Why aren't people worried about that? And I said this is America, people are in a good mood when the weather is nice. But as I walked back down the asphalt driveway, a thought occurred to me that there was a fine line between socialism and fascism. In socialism, the government says, "You will do this," and in fascism the government says, "You will do this." History shows us it all depends on where the accent is.