Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why Does Andy Warhol Have a Stop Watch?

A bit of housekeeping to start: the Double-A Eastern League baseball affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, Connecticut Defenders (nee Norwich Navigators), who relocated to Richmond, Virginia, have themselves a new name and it's not, as someone suggested a couple of weeks ago in jest (I hope) 'Richmond Carpetbaggers.' Put your hands together and give a big The Diamond Welcome to your Richmond Flying Squirrels (the story had more comments from readers than the Defenders had fans in the stands at the last home game of the EL championship series, I fear).

I found out yesterday who reads local newspapers. I was one of a handful of residents Thursday night who attended a question and answer session (we always call these 'debates' but none of them are) with eleven of the twelve people seeking one of six seats on the Norwich City Council (the twelfth wasn't allowed to cross the street. KIDDING! I think he had to work). On my way out, I was asked what I thought of the proceedings and since the last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness, I offered it to a reporter. Tick, tick.

I spent half my time in the audience wondering where everyone else was.....yeah it was a lousy night weather-wise, with some winds and snow (or perhaps just raindrops with Halloween costumes that made them appear to be snowflakes) and, of course, the Phillies and Dodgers were on (Norwich is a hot bed of Phillie Phever. Pass it on.) and all of that may have had something to do with the turnout.
Last year, across the USA, we were all doing a happy dance as our voter turnout percentage in a Presidential election year approached 60%--paradoxically, in local elections in Norwich (and across the country) we get to about a quarter of all registered voters actually casting a ballot, though starting the day after the election, 100% of us think unkindly of the people we (s)elected, so I guess fifty people is the new 'huge turnout.'

And we have so many new faces, with a few candidates seeking reelection and one former council person seeking a return. All are nice people who want to help, somehow and perhaps from a Council chair is a good idea. Listening to them the other night and trying to take notes on their respective salient points, the longer I listened, the more difference without distinction I noted until eventually most of what each person said just ran into the next person's Sixty Second Speechlet.

One candidate suggested the city's charter isn't business friendly, and was joined by well over half the others echoing that very sentiment but, varying their remarks just enough that it practically sounded like an original observation and innovative perspective. Thank goodness no one was asked to offer five examples where this is the case--or three, for that matter. Can I hear one example? It must be Buddy Holly because I can hear crickets!

And so it went for about two hours and when it stopped, as opposed to concluded, which suggests a level of intellectual engagement no one approached much less approximated, what had any of us, in the auditorium or on stage, learned? Norwich has no shortage of people who'd like to help right the cart and who, if given some outline or inkling of a plan and offered an opportunity to make a meaningful, defined contribution, would do so and all of us would benefit. Let's work to make events coalesce so this can happen.

That probably sounds like how things are where you live doesn't it? It should because we really are much more alike than we are different. But that also applies in less kind ways as well. Far too often, far too many of us will take the path of least resistance, will wait for the next person to take on that dirty job we know must be done but have been avoiding, and look around for someone to blame as part of the solution.

I heard from someone who, reading the paper, sent me a note 'your coment and atitude (sic) shouldn't surprise me and are exactly what's wrong with Norwich.' I'm a walk-on in this movie with an incidental speaking part. The main actors were on stage and spotlighted but speechless. You shouldn't be surprised when you can settle for disappointed (I do on a regular basis) and Norwich was 350 years old this July. Who do you blame for the first three hundred and thirty-two years? Time's up.
-bill kenny

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