But it's never too late to learn ballroom dancing or how to make a birdhouse for the backyard. Don Fisher, the IU announcer, called in and tried to explain how the Hoosiers could lose four in a row. That's not an easy explanation. A lot of things have to go wrong for that many L's to appear on your website.
"You have to keep your composure," Fisher said, referring to Juwan Howard.
"And you have to stand up for your team," I said. "This is the Region. You have to stand up for your team."
Dave Woerpel, the former mailman turned author came in. We talked about his book - Nothing Like I Planned - and about how poorly we treated our little brothers... which is a sore spot for both of us. If one of my brothers ever reads this - Sorry for being such a bully. If one of Woerpel's little brothers ever reads this - Sorry that your older brother was such a jag to you.
Leah Dumezich and Greg Mikulich of Griffith Schools came in. Leah is the new superintendent and Greg the new principal. They're trying to get a referendum passed to bring 2.4 million dollars into the system each year. Mad Mac texted me - "THIS REFERENDUM HAS ZERO CHANCE OF PASSING."
MAD MAC TEXTS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. I don't know why. Donald Trump comes out with a new social media app today. It's called "Truth," and in it they put a limit on how many capital letters you can use. Thank the Lord.
To wind up, producer Lucie from Ireland and I talked about her missing home and her vision of the story that she can tell. On the way home, I listened to her show. Her brother is coming in to town in a couple of days. She asked people to call in and give her suggestions on where to take him. No one, as long as I was in the car, called in. It's a tribulation of the trade. Sometimes you throw stuff out there - you allow just a little bit of vulnerability - and ask for calls.. and you don't get them. I've been there thousands of times. You learn something as a broadcaster in those moments but I'm not sure exactly what that is.
On the way home, I went to the Mexican store and picked up pico de gallo, salsa, poblano peppers, tostadas, avocados, cilantro, etc. Alexis, who has Presidents Day off, is making me huevos rancheros. It's sunny out. There's streaks of yellow whipping across the kitchen table. There's the smell of beans and poblanos and eggs frying. Life could be worse. As a matter of fact, it often has been. See ya.
I work with you
that it's me. After the
big war, maybe we'll all
be free. Or dead.
It's a Monday night and all that filters through my synapses is how grateful I am to be out of Covid. For two weeks I felt sick. I don't know how that happened. Omicron is supposed to be like having the sniffles. Case numbers and death numbers are declining. Every state in the union but Hawaii has lifted their mask mandate in one form or another. And there I was in bed for two weeks feeling like shit.
I'm back in the arena. Alexis and I went for a long walk today around Community Park in Munster. Why not? It was 53 degrees and sunny... with piles of snow everywhere. It wasn't even windy, which is a holiday in the Chicago area. The Windy City? You bet. That and the rainy city and the cold city and the violent city. Other than that, it's a great place to go for dinner and a show.
Today, Dave from Crown Point and Mad Mac called in and bemoaned me supporting the liberal agenda. Those calls were followed up by Mark, who said he listens all the time.
"My friends ask me - why do you listen to that Republican radio station?"
Sometimes you can't win for losing. The situation that I'm in is not altogether different from when I was at Berkeley. I transferred there as a sophomore. I got in late due to a guy in the admissions office from Benton Harbor, Michigan.
"I go to the beach in Gary all the time," he said. Beard, glasses, disillusioned with working in the basement of Sproul Hall. "Let me see that transcript again."
It was June. I had run out of money and motivation at Occidental College in Los Angeles. But I had been in California for the better part of two years. I had a California drivers license.
"You know, if you lived here for a year and have a California drivers license, you're a legal resident of the state," my friend Dave told me one day.
"So... residents of the state of California go to the public universities for free. You should try Berkeley," Dave suggested. He's a brain doctor now. Back then, he was my drinking buddy. We still talk. I was out there to visit a couple months ago. We went to see Dead and Company at the Hollywood Bowl... and got smashed on all sorts of stuff.
"You and Dave pick up right where you left off," Alexis correctly noted. "It's as if no time has passed."
That's the long and short of that relationship. But go back to Dave's secret - that once you were a resident, you could go to college for free - if you could get in. The guy from Benton Harbor also had a secret.
"I'm not supposed to do this... but if you could finish your language requirement, I might be able to sneak you in under 74-B. But you have to have finished four semesters of a language."
Somewhere in the basement of Sproul Hall there was a book with guidelines on who could get into one of the most prestigious universities in the world... and who could not. And in that book was statute"74-B." I had decent enough grades in high school, good SAT's and solid grades from a bumbling year and a half playing baseball at Occidental.
But I hadn't taken any languages in college. Other than a couple stick figure Spanish classes in high school, I hadn't studied a language.
"How in the hell am I gonna do that?" I asked the bearded guy from Benton Harbor.
"I got an idea," he said. And he reached behind his desk for a catalogue. He paged back and forth, circled a couple of entries, mumbled to himself... and then shoved the catalogue in my face.
"UCLA offers Spanish IV in the second semester of summer school. It starts on Monday. Five hours a day for four weeks. If you can get a B in that class, I can get you into the University of California, Berkeley."
"Yes, under 74-B."
It just so happened that my buddy Dave lived in Westwood with his mom, Norma. Her boyfriend, Lou, was a stockbroker to the stars. They were and are good people. They let me stay at their apartment, which was a hundred steps from Pauley Pavillion. On the way back to their apartment for lunch each day - I didn't have any money, remember - I would run into Kareem Abdul Jabbar shooting baskets behind a dorm. We would just nod.
I went to class for five hours a day, attended tutoring sessions in the evening, went to the professor's office hours on Friday - then went to East LA on the weekend to read signs and talk to waitresses in Spanish. I have never and will never study as hard as I did those four weeks in the summer of 1982. I got a B- and, due to 74-B and the kindness of a stranger from Benton Harbor, Michigan - got into the University of California, Berkeley. For free.
One catch. Berkeley is one of the hardest places in America to find a place to live. It was then and it is now. They're in the process of removing Peoples Park, which 40 years ago would have been impossible. Peoples Park is where you go if you don't have a place to sleep. It's a massive city block. There's trees on the west end, an open field in the middle, basketball courts and a set of bathrooms on the north. And on the east side more trees.
All over the park are people camped out. I walked by every day for two and a half years on the way to class, even befriending a few homeless people. One was a guy from the University of Chicago. He was a physicist who chose to live in Peoples Park under a sheet draped between two trees. He never asked me for money. People from the Midwest find each other.
I don't know how I got started on all of this except that maybe I'm still in a Covid fog. I'm not in pain any more. I'm free. I'm liberated. But I'm still a Midwest morning host who gets accused of being.
1. a Republican
2. a Democrat
3. a pothead
I spent a whole semester plus part of another living on the streets of Berkeley. At night sometimes I'd ride the bus. My buddy Dave also had trouble finding a place to live, but since he had real money he wound up renting an extra room from a sorority. The house mom would do bed check about 10pm... then Dave would open the side door and let me in. I slept under his bed. The house mom would do surprise bed checks. I get the feeling that she knew I was laying under there looking at her slippers... but she let it go. Once again, the kindness of a stranger. Either that or the failing eyesight of an old woman.
Eventually, I was accepted into Barrington Hall, part of the university Co-op system. Yes, that Barrington Hall. You could look it up on Google - it was a notorious counter culture drug house. It was the least desirable of all of the co-ops and perhaps the least desirable place in all of Berkeley. It was a former Army barracks. There were no adults and no rules except that you had to work 10 hours a week toward keeping the place functioning. I cooked dinner for 220 people every Friday. That was a trip.
I'll forego descriptions of Barrington Hall. I hope to write a book about the place one day. Put that illusion on top of all of the other plans I've come up with. Suffice it to say that it was a crazy place... and I loved it.
It was, of course, filled with mostly radical left-wing long hairs and women who hadn't shaved their arm pits in years. I was on the boxing team and liked Ronald Reagan. That was cause for being ostracized from some of the best drug parties and more than one naked soiree on the roof. But in the end I thought the president at the time was a decent guy. A little arrogant, perhaps, and not altogether understanding of the plight of the poorest of the poor. But Reagan was funny. And I liked his hair. He reminded me of my tall, proud German grandfather. They both loved baseball... and radio.
This situation - hanging around Barrington and not hating Reagan - is not altogether different from the situation I find myself in today. I run one of the last radio stations in America where you can voice an opinion... no matter how half baked it is. The ostracization methods aren't altogether different than they were in Barrington Hall. If you blurted out one defense of Ronald Reagan - no matter how minute - you couldn't come to the parties on the third floor where everyone took their clothes off.
I very much wanted to attend those parties... and did... until they figured out that I was on the boxing team, had a six pack, which even to hippie chicks served as some sort of attraction. After a while, I had to hang out with the lesbians on the second floor. This rarely if ever resulted in amorous activity, but they were funny, liked to drink and do drugs and, like me, were vegetarians.
A vegetarian who didn't mind Ronald Reagan who didn't mind playing naked tetherball and who on the weekends traveled the West coast in a boxing robe. You tell me what you're supposed to make of that.
How about this?
I just want to be left alone to do my own thing. But if you lived in Barrington Hall in the 1980s, you couldn't say one good work about Ronald Reagan or you were toast. And in the Midwest in 2022, if you say one bad word about Donald Trump every Republican east of the Mississippi wouldn't stop to piss on you if you were lying by the sidewalk on fire.
It gets even better. In the Midwest in 2022, if you defend the police or a chamber of commerce, the liberal left won't let you into their naked drug parties. I'm sorry. I got confused. The liberal left will try to characterize you as some sort of reactionary. You could even lose your vegetarian Berkeley card.
The right - screw you if you even say hi to the other side
The left - screw you for not hating racist conservative Midwesterners
We are divided... just like at Barrington Hall. Except that in the 1980s, Barrington wasn't America. It was a small corner of the cosmic doo doo. On WJOB, the radio station that I own, in the 1980s, you could shout at each other on John Anastopolis's show in the morning and have a beer at night. Over and over again. We could disagree. But we were still Americans... not Barringtonians.
I have been here before. Ostracized for having a brain. I didn't like it then... mostly because I liked drugs and I liked sex and drinking lots of beer, with or without clothes on. And I don't like it now, mostly because I love America. I miss all of my friends. The people I care about are all hating on each other. And, once again, I don't know what to do.