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Ten Thousand Fugitives and the Beach Boys

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Connecting Ten Thousand Fugitives and the Beach Boys

My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous—
insatiable for your nourishing commands.
Psalm 119: 17-33

Driving between the two lunches I had that day. Mike Love’s reed thin voice leading up to the radio news that “Torture Guy” (Our American Attorney General) had somehow slapped the cuffs on 10,000 fugitives almost all at once.

The sun baked nasal Beach Boy surf tones heralding the first cannon shot of actual class warfare in the United States. Karl Rove commands the guns to be turned on our own. Karen Hughes spins it so soccer moms can quickly nod yes and then get back on their cell phones. Condi stamps a black stiletto boot and raises her eyebrow. And Brian Wilson’s lyric kicks off the parade in my car:

Well I’m not braggin babe
So don’t put me down
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town.

Ten thousand fugitives in 24 hours????????

Alone, just the number and the time frame is alarming. But that it’s coming from “Torture Guy”---makes me remember that soon, on this long drive back home from the wild and distant suburbs of Chicago (where all food comes from Olive Gardens, Applebee’s and Bennigans)—it makes me remember that if I just take Oakton east, I’ll go right by Steak and Shake.

Because if this is it, if the country has now been lead to implode---I better grab another lunch. Never mind that I just finished lunch 5 minutes ago. And that it wasn’t at a chain restaurant. I better eat again.

Wonder what the ethnic and racial breakdown of that mass arrest would be? Wonder if there’s a religious element to this? Did Jerry Falwell give the word that we could finally round up all the Muslim Americans? Wonder why that first lunch left me feeling so empty?

What would Brian Wilson do? Would he grab another lunch? Would he wonder why Kaufman’s Deli on Dempster in Skokie had somehow left me with a rye bagel that was just short of stale, cream cheese whipped with air, , lox that didn’t tingle with taste the way a special, sometimes treat should. Nova lox that brings on a train of thought that goes: I can’t get this very often---way too expensive. . .especially when you have no money coming in. . . .so why can’t I taste this????

I am pulling out into the traffic on Dempster, one hand on the wheel, the other stuffing potato chips into my mouth just a little too fast as I look east for lines of Federal Marshalls. But all I see is McDonalds and the Skokie Swift train.

Why can’t I taste these potato chips? Only salt and the bulk. And why do they keep making me even hungrier? Boy some fries would go good now. . . Why am I so hungry?

And how many people does it take to arrest 10,000 in a day? Did they put them on trains and roll them out to Utah, string up some barbed wire and call the place a Relocation Camp? What kind of paperwork was generated? And most of all: why do I keep stuffing these potato chips in my mouth just a little too fast?

In the background to all that potato chip crunching-- Brian Wilson’s lyric about a chariot that would somehow take a chubby little boy far, far away from the yellow linoleum floor in the kitchen of the California tract house where he had rolled himself up in a ball to absorb the kicks and slaps poured out on him by his Dad and future Beach Boy Manager---Murray.

None of it bruised his body in the car. No shame in that car.

When something comes up to me
They don’t even try
Cos if I had a set of wings
I know I could fly.

Flying home on Dempster, right by the canal. Mid day traffic light so I can move. My faithful green Honda now transformed into cherry red, gleaming chrome:

She’s got a competition clutch
With a four on the floor and
She purrs like a kitten till the tail pipes roar

So if I stopped at Steak and Shake, I wouldn’t get a Triple Steak burger. I’m not THAT far gone. That would be for people who actually had a problem. I’d limit it to a double. And a small fries. A medium coke. No way would I get a large coke.

And then there are the families of these 10,000 bad guys. That’s a lot of people!

But I wouldn’t have a Triple Steak burger. I had control. And maybe there really were ten thousand real bad guys out here with me driving east on Dempster into Evanston. Maybe they were REAL bad guys. And it wasn’t a political stunt or the first shot in real class warfare.

Maybe we had more cops out there now. Maybe we got back some of the money we spent on the war to pay for cops, for feeding hungry kids, sheltering battered and bruised kids, maybe it was all like getting a refund at that Home Depot right behind the Steak and Shake. Maybe I could go in there fat and happy full of steak burger---my second lunch having soothed my hungry and ravenous soul—maybe I could go stand patiently in line in the Home Depot and they would offer a refund on the war. Something to credit my account. And somewhere deep inside the giant warehouse I would find the nourishing commands that would somehow feed my empty soul.

I get pushed out of shape
and its hard to steer
when I get rubber
In all four gears.

My first lunch? A few minutes ago? Forgotten.

Just as soon as I bit into that double steak burger, I wouldn’t be hungry anymore. Then I could bop over to Home Depot. Get a few necessities for the house. Throw on some old Beach Boys tunes and cruise on back home. I’m sure that the ten thousand people who were arrested today---I’m sure that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t want people to think I’m a wild eyed liberal or something. Soft on crime. And I am in control. Not a Triple Steak burger. Only a double.

With cheese.

About the Author

Roger Wright can be found on the Salon Blog "Church Fod Chicago"


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