Looking ahead | On Politics | Chicago Reader

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Looking ahead

I think we can all agree the next year has got to be better.

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So long, 2020—hello, 2021! And sports, family, friends, holidays, music, plane rides, and more . . . - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • So long, 2020—hello, 2021! And sports, family, friends, holidays, music, plane rides, and more . . . 


As we all know by now, 2020 was miserable. Worst year ever—at least in my lifetime.

Though, now that I think about it, a strong case could be made for 1968 . . .

Dr. King killed. Bobby Kennedy killed. West side up in flames. Cops pound the crap out of hippie demonstrators outside the Hilton. War raging in Vietnam. Nixon commits treason and then gets elected president.

Yes, upon reflection, ’68 gives ’20 a run for its money.

I won’t bother with this year’s lowlights. You lived through it—you know the score. Basically, it was Trump, death, Trump, death, Trump . . .

So, I’ll forgo the usual look-back-at-the-year-that-was column.

Instead, I’ll look forward—to all the things I hope to do (again!) in the future. If this vaccine really does its job and this fucking virus passes.

Sorry about that language.

Hence, in no particular order, I’m looking forward to . . .

Watching all the big games (Super Bowl, NBA playoffs, World Series) on the big TV screen at the house of Cap, my dear friend who I hardly saw these last few months. But don’t expect the Bears to be in any of those big games, not until they get management that’s not prejudiced against Black quarterbacks . . .

And going to Bulls games at the United Center with Norm—who I haven’t seen in ages. Hey, all you front-running Chicagoans who claim to be Laker fans—there’s plenty of room on the Bulls bandwagon. I’m telling you—the rookie can play.

And going to Monday night bowling at Timber Lanes. In honor of Monday night bowling, I’ll now indulge myself in a chant made famous by the Blasters, another team in the league.

All together now . . .

“I’m a Blaster, you’re a Blaster; we’re a Blaster, all. And when we get together, we lick each other’s balls.”

Well, I may have improved that last line a little bit.

What else?

The Hideout! Can’t wait to get back to First Tuesdays. Me and Maya up on the stage with a live audience of fellow political geeks, all of us sitting through Tim Tuten’s never-ending introduction. He swears he’s gonna be brief—but, of course, he never is.

And dining out with my wife and our friends. At real restaurants. With servers. And other diners at other tables. Hey, Loreen and Byron—don’t forget that remote we’re gonna do in Chinatown!

And sharing Thanksgiving dinner with our daughters and their friends—not a mask in sight. As we go around the table saying all the things we’re thankful for. Like just being together.

And drinking margaritas at our kids’ annual Chanukah party, the house filled with dozens and dozens of millennials. Though it’s the old guys—Cap and Norm—who are the last to leave every year.

And having a barbeque on the Fourth of July in Indiana where the Days, the dearest of friends, now live. And walking along the beach just east of Gary, looking at the skyline from the other side.

And catching up with Gaylon, Pippi, Ron, and all their kids, who I don’t see nearly enough as it is. And don’t see at all during the plague.

And visiting old friends—like Monroe and Joyce—in person. As opposed to looking at them on Google Meet . . .

And going to White Sox games. But not to Wrigley. Won’t go near the Cubs so long as those MAGA-loving Ricketts own them.

And going to Northwestern football games with Mickey D, and talking politics the whole game.

And going to the NU homecoming party at Udawok and Tracy’s house, which fills up with 60-something-year-old graduates who fly in from all over the country.

And going to the movies—every weekend. Man, I miss the movies.

And going to the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center on oldies night, when they bring back a movie I haven’t seen in ages.

And just walking along the lakefront and not worrying if the maskless MAGA guy coming my way is bearing a virus.

And seeing Joey DeFrancesco at the Jazz Showcase.

And Ramsey Lewis at the Jazz Festival.

And the Isley Brothers, the O’Jays, and George Clinton at Grant Park on Geezer Sunday at Taste of Chicago, where they feature groups for older people like me.

And taking a cab to the airport to catch a plane to California to visit my daughter, who I haven’t seen in months because of this damn virus.

And driving to the beach and looking out on the Pacific Ocean and gearing up for whatever political struggles await me back in Chicago.

Yeah, I look forward to all of that—and more—once this pandemic passes.

I’ll say one good thing about a pandemic. It gave me a ton of downtime to read a bunch of books, including The ColdMillions—Jess Walter’s latest novel. Which I recommend to one and all.

It’s about the western labor battles of the early 1900s between the Wobblies and the coldhearted millionaires who owned the mines. Near the end, it has an enduring passage where the book’s heroine, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, says . . .

“Men sometimes say to me: You might win the battle, Gurley, but you’ll never win the war. But no one wins the war. Not really. I mean, we’re all going to die, right?

“But to win a battle now and then? What more can you want?”

So, let’s take a break for the holidays and then start it again. ’Cause the battle doesn’t end until the war is over.  v

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