Extra helpings now. Change later

Nov 17, 2010 at 6:00 am

Gentle reader,

I’m aware that much of our time together is spent investigating, or at least fruitlessly brooding on the grievous places where our culture is failing, has already collapsed completely, or is just shaking very violently and making an awful racket. I’m a big-picture man, and, for good or ill, my focus is often drawn to the faults of our neighbors and those that we share with them. I just seem to have an eye for that sort of thing.

I’m also aware of the importance of occasionally stopping to take stock of those things that are right and good. Even if the ship you’re traveling on is sinking, a good sunset over the ocean is always a marvel.

I’m partial to Thanksgiving mostly for the Cool-Whip and fully sanctioned serial- napping, but also because of its invitation to reflect on and codify what we treasure most. Yes, meditating on thankfulness can and perhaps ought to be a daily act, but in this country, we made a damn holiday for it, so speak up. Say you’re thankful for something out loud. Get a little tear in your eye. It’ll be cathartic.

Allow me to kick-start the thanking.

Thank you, Louisville, Ky., for not tearing the city apart brick by bloody brick when you voted a new mayor into office two weeks ago. My act of civic duty on that beautiful Tuesday afternoon was undertaken with about as much joy as I experienced later when I brought home a new plunger and unclogged the toilet. Both tasks were unfortunately necessary, nobody else was going to do them, and both were thankfully completed without anyone getting seriously injured.

I know some things in our fair city have to change. I’m not sure why, though, and I choose not to be thankful for them today. No, right now, I’m most thankful for the elements of life in this community that are not subject to change anytime soon, things we don’t need to “grow” aggressively to compete with other menacing Midwest-fly-weights like Indianapolis and Cincinnati, things that don’t require any bi-state commissions or exclamation points.

Things like:

Wagner’s Pharmacy on Fourth Street — conveniently located near Churchill Downs — where a person can sit at a long lunch counter and enjoy a reasonably priced egg sandwich, fill their Thorazine prescription and purchase a bottle of Wagner’s world famous horse liniment that’s guaranteed to relieve sway-backed Ol’ Dan of his aches and pains, if only for a little while.

Two of my favorite Japanese maples whose locations will remain undisclosed and whose leaves are currently so desperately, feverishly crimson that a person could be forgiven for thinking they are actually glowing with phosphorescence.

The beautiful and mountainous driftwood logjam that accumulates at the Falls of the Ohio just below the dam. It looks like the wreckage of a mighty battle fought by competing demi-gods who played an ill-fated game of Jenga with enormous tree trunks and then disappeared. We mortals are left to marvel at the hubris and competitive wrath of the elementals. The whole ordeal, and our subsequent uncertainty surveyed dispassionately by the siege of Great Blue Herons who roost nearby.

Four words: Louisville — City of Parks.

I’m thankful that the NCAA cleared 6-foot-10 freshman Gorgui Dieng to play Cardinal Basketball this season. U of L recruiting is having a rough go of it lately without screwing up our roster and robbing the team of another big man who, while still a little wet behind the ears, could be a serious baller for the Cards. The academic ineligibility ruling was hogwash from the first, so thanks for getting that cleared up.

I’m thankful that in Louisville we are daily surrounded by some of the most talented artists, creators and thinkers in the world who are self-motivated, supportive of one another, and whose devotion to their callings in the face of opposition never ceases to blow me away. And no one has to step one foot into Brooklyn, Los Angeles or South Beach.

Louisville, I know and believe that change is coming. I’m no fool. This season, though, I’m giving thanks for all the things that are just right around here. I’ll save the changing for next year.

Happy Turkey Day, turkeys.