I got back to Manchester two days ago. In those two days, I’ve been busy almost every minute until now—each day has had a series of gear-shifting meetings and plans. Rather than a regular column, I’m just going to spread a few glimpses of those days, and leave you to put them together into a theme.
Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. Dinner with daughter Becca, who is smarter and a better writer than I, but, I think, a less subtle political thinker. (Full disclosure: if patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings, “subtle” is the final validation of the political moderate. Doubtless my conservative friends see me as spineless at times and I know my more liberal friends believe me a lackey of the power elite.) Becca was a strong Bernie supporter, and the topic tonight was wealth redistribution, with Becca proposing the country had so much wealth that if it were divided equally everyone would have enough. Even if that’s objectively true, in my view “wealth” doesn’t equal income or assets, it’s the ability to create more income and assets, so dividing the pie we have now would lead to one day of pie-fest, followed by a long period of pie-drought. Still, I enjoy the back-and-forth, especially since my position is not one of conservatism but, I think, realism. (NOTE: Add “realism” to “subtle” above. Guilty as charged.
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Secret meeting time! In addition to seeing my daughters, getting a chance to dress up in costume and go to this secret meeting is one of the reasons I return each month. I’d like to tell you more. I can’t. It’s secret.
Thursday, 9 a.m. An unnamed friend invited me to speak to a meeting of the Manchester Continuum of Care, one of the worst and most misleading names for a group ever. They are folks who work with homeless folks in Manchester—their name is mandated, I think, by the federal government, which supports many of the agencies involved. (My friend remains unnamed because of sentences like that last one. She is very smart and very professional, and I’m sure she would write an accurate description of the group. Of course, because she is very smart and professional, her description would likely be longer and include footnotes.) While I’d written a speech earlier this week—and may use it as a column in the future—my talk was about what I do now—lighthearted and funny—and how hard it is to be broke and homeless—with more anger than I usually bring. The anger wasn’t directed at the group, but at the goddamned hard work it takes to be poor.
Thursday, Noon. Lunch with a friend, who has been a reader of this column and who was angry about something I’d written. While I don’t like to anger my friends, I did feel good that my writing was enough to stir emotion and way more, that she and I are good enough friends that she could say, “I was really pissed off at you when you wrote . . .” By the end of the conversation, I’d explained why I’d written what I’d written—and stood by it!—but agreed that I should have published it at a slightly later date than I did. I’m not trying to be coy—the issue I wrote about doesn’t matter here. What does is having friends like Dee.
Thursday, 7 p.m. Dinner with George—who still needs a new job, by the way. We ate at Daw Kun Thai, a new Thai restaurant on Brown Avenue in Manchester that I can recommend highly, not just for the food but for the service and management. Granted, it was a slow Thursday evening, but George and I were treated like royalty by the owner, and even better by the waitress, a delightful young woman named Sidney, although I’m surely spelling her name wrong. Scidnie? Cydknee?
Sidney is a 16-year-old with an interest in photography, a rock ‘n’ roll drummer father and an interest in all kinds of music. We even talked about how overlooked Alice Cooper is when talking about great music and how Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner are now unknown guitar gods. It restored my faith in the youth of America, enough so that when she recommended a song by a band called The Coathangers. I immediately bought “Captain’s Dead,” enjoyed it on the way home and finished a fine day indeed.