I was stunned that Sun Times super columnist Mark Brown would take the time not only to read this column, but also to write a column about it.
Mark lives in Oak Park, gets the Wednesday Journal, which is the mother paper to the Landmark, and apparently came across a copy of the Landmark, which whetted his human-interest interest. Although he occasionally writes about his dog, Gilbert, and Gilbert’s take on life, he pretty much writes about the important things of life?”those which are important to a daily newspaper where the problems of the world are spread like a huge smorgasbord.
He sees the “big picture,” if you will, whereas we look at what is happening locally among our neighbors and what would hopefully be important to them on a day-to-day basis. Most folks don’t get up in the morning thinking about huge philosophical or ideological issues. They think about what they are going to do that day. Are they going to be able to pay bills that month? Is their child making the grade in school? Can they put bread on the table? Frankly, that’s pretty much what life is mostly about.
It may not be as exciting as a downtown fire in a high-rise or the arrival of a celebrity, but it is the core of what makes us, as human beings, go around as we seek our comfort levels and desire the calm of predictability.
Mark was somewhat surprised at the singsong nature of what the normal part of my life was like, as depicted in this column, as opposed to the public, political life which gets a different sort of play in the metropolitan press.
He said I was self-deprecating. It is pretty hard to take oneself too seriously when one takes out the garbage and recycling bucket, pulls dandelions, does the laundry and attempts to cook to the extent possible in the microwave. I would dye my own hair, too, if I could avoid the streaks in the back where I can’t see, and which my staff says makes me look like a sick tiger.
Why is any of that of interest? Well, it is the kind of talk that goes on over the fences of the neighborhood rather than whether there will be nukes in Iran or whether or not Paris Hilton will ever talk to Nicole Richie again. We all just kind of do the same things to keep the houses up, the grass cut, the snow shoveled, the dogs and kids fed and watered.
Now, with the possibility of running for governor, things are a bit different and a bit unsettling. I now shred my mail and office papers that I have taken home, because there will be those who will go through my garbage looking for items about which to talk. Yes, opponents go through garbage!
And, walking out in the morning in my bathrobe to get my newspapers and to put my flags up is a bit more arduous, because I look in all directions in the high hopes that no one has a camera. I would certainly hate to have my good-morning photo on someone’s campaign literature, as my looks in the early morning are enough to stop a clock.
Running around the backyard with a broom and chasing out raccoons and opossums is mercifully done at night, though the neighbors have frequently watched this drama play out. This is hardly the stuff of political campaigns or anything worthy of a metropolitan newspaper.
Community newspapers are tales from the neighborhood, not necessarily Pulitizer Prize material. We will probably never seek the likes of a Watergate break in, though we will document our kids growing up around us, rehabbing houses, new cars coming and going and crabgrass taking root when we’re not looking.
So, I welcome Mark Brown and his colleagues to the neighborhood, to the township. It is not Wisteria Lane, but we have our own sense of what is important. And, usually, it is the kind of importance which makes for basic Americana.