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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Losses and Eroded Defenses

Hell, yes, I am aging - 52 years old now. It doesn't sound that old, and it isn't, but I can feel the small changes. I feel losses. My defenses are eroding. I am more exposed to the force of my own emotions, and to the grind of daily events.

Joe Jackson of Chicago was angry. He had apparently invented a new toilet for use in trucks - no doubt a welcome innovation for the nation's long-haul truckers. Well, Mr. Jackson felt cheated - I guess he lost a patent lawsuit, but the specifics behind his rage have not been made public. So yesterday afternoon, Mr. Jackson went to 500 W. Monroe Street, the CitiCorp Center and location of a main commuter rail station in Chicago. He held a security guard at gunpoint and went up to the 38th floor to the law offices of Wood, Phillips, Katz, Clark & Mortimer. He sought out Michael R. McKenna, a successful patent attorney. He chained the law office doors behind him. He began shooting. Mr. McKenna died; so did two other men. And the Chicago SWAT team took out Mr. Jackson. Four dead people in a calm and orderly law office in a Class A office tower just west of Chicago's Loop. The train station was shut down, the skyscraper was evacuated. There was no defense; random insanity can reach out and grab anyone. Then the station re-opened two hours after the killings, and the mundane daily grind resumed.

The past year has contained many losses. We lost two blues harmonica greats in 2006 – Sam Myers and Snooky Pryor both died. We lost several other blues greats during the year – Robert Lockwood Jr., Ruth Brown, Etta Baker, Floyd Dixon, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Willie Kent, Henry Townsend, and the great Austin TX blues club owner, Clifford Antone. If you are unfamiliar with these artists, do yourself a favor and buy some of their music.

It has been wicked cold in Chicago for the past week - in the single digits with a nasty wind. My defenses have eroded - the cold hurts a little more this year than it did last year. I sometimes get mugged by a memory and choke up. I miss people have been gone for a long time. I was never a tough guy. As I age, this fact becomes more apparent.

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