Friday, June 28, 2013

"I Dream Of Franken (With The Clenched Graying Hair)"

Though I am hardly an expert on these matters, it appears to me I am dreaming more frequently than is natural about the United States Junior Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken. 

How often do I dream about (now Senator) Al?  Every couple of months.  That seems like a lot, doesn’t it?  Does anybody else dream about Al Franken that frequently?  My guess is “unlikely.”  As is that Al dreams, even semi-annually, about me. 

The dreams are, with minimal alterations in situation and wardrobe, the same.  I am talking to Al and, though he appears to be listening, he has this glazed look in his eyes, as if he were simultaneously doing the “twelve times” table in his head. 

This look of not having Al’s complete attention is familiar to me, having experienced it in actual life.  As I have written elsewhere, I worked with Al on a TV series called Lateline.  After rejecting his offer to partner up on the project, I later came aboard as a consultant, helping Al and his subsequent partner John Markus develop the scripts.

Show business is a circumscribed world (or a circumcised world, if you believe that the Jews control show business.)  I had once hired John Markus as a Junior Writer on The Cosby Show.  He went on to run that show, and remained in New York (where The Cosby Show was produced), subsequently hooking up for the Lateline project with Al Franken, who also lived in New York (before he ran for Senator of Minnesota, when he moved to Minnesota, because you can’t run for Senator from Minnesota if you’re living in New York.  Historical Note:  Al Franken grew up in Minnesota.  So he wasn’t a carpetbagger.  He was just a guy who had not lived there for thirty-five years.)

The last time I saw Al was when he agreed to let me to come to the studio and watch him broadcast his radio show for Air America.  This was in 2005, when I was in New York to attend my daughter Anna’s graduation from nearby Sarah Lawrence. 

During Lateline, I would make script suggestions, and though at first Al was frequently almost reflexively resistant to my ideas, he was eventually placated by John, who is a consummate placater; plus he knew (that very often) I was right.  My awareness of Al’s respect for my writing wisdom was reflected in the fact that an overwhelming number of my proposals were ultimately incorporated into the script.

In time, Al and I would collaborate with increasing fluidity.  We got the best out of each other, reaching pinnacles of creativity we could never have achieved on our own.  The respect was mutual.  Nothing made me happier than when one of my pitches was met with one of Al’s spontaneous, rolling, appreciative laughs.

The climate abruptly changed, however, when the talk turned to politics.  In that arena, I had no credentials and no track record.  As a result, my pronouncements in that area were acknowledged like those of a six year-old discussing the pros and cons of excessive regulation on a Free Market economy.

I am admittedly not a Student of the Game like Al, who, long before going into politics, had an intensely wonky understanding of the workings of government.  But I think I know something. 

The following may be a self-serving rationalization, but, to get the fullest understanding of a situation, I think it’s constructive to examine the landscape through lenses of different focal lengths, from minutely microscopic to “Big Picture” wide angle, but without the distortion.  The war in the trenches, and the war on the map.  Each perspective illuminating in its own way.

I recall Al being busy when I walked into his office before the radio broadcast.  The appropriate move was to say “Hi” and repair to my perch in the studio Control Room to observe.  But I could not help myself.  I felt duty-bound (to my ideas) to open my mouth.

It seemed to me, I unsolicitedly opined, that the Democrats had, not only the right but the popularly supported positions on virtually every important issue (and they still do today) – reasonable gun-ownership regulations, immigration reform, gay marriage, the protection of Social Security, rewriting the tax code depriving the super-rich of money-hiding opportunities unavailable to the middle class – I was not that smooth-talking, but I was harvesting that milieu.

I concluded that, despite the Democrats being reasonably, morally and popularly on the right side of these things…

The Republicans – at least recently – inevitably won.

(“Winning” being defined as “nothing gets changed”, which, for Republicans, if not perfection, is superior to a conciliatory compromise in the Democrats’ direction.)

I was looking for an explanation as to why exactly that was.  And how that unfortunate reality could possibly be changed.

Al eyed me like a man in the presence of a talking horse.  A horse that had no idea what it was talking about.

It’s the same look I receive in my dream – me, articulating my beliefs, Al wondering whether he turned out the lights in his office.

All this, of course, is speculation.  I have not spoken to Al since his election.  The problem is, the situation has altered.  Now, I am not just a chatterbox know-nothing; I am also a potential donor to his campaign.

The result (I’m imagining) if my dream became a reality?

More attention.

But an equal amount of disdain.

Though it’s impossible to test if that’s true.  In the, now, “candidate-contributor” configuration, I fear any encounter between Al and me might take the form of a wannabe actor showing a sudden interest in the producer’s semi-interesting offspring.

So I’m stuck with the dream – I’m railing against the system, while Al internally rattles off the names of the states and their respective capitals.

I thought dreams were supposed to be wish fulfillments.

It seems mine could use a better writer.      


Keith said...
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Keith said...

You knew this would spur political discussion, right? :) I tried voting Democrat in 2006. Yay, we can finally stop wasting money on this "war". Nope. They gave Bush all the military money he wanted in exchange for money for their farmer constituents. That taught me to not trust either one of those parties again. (Previous post had wrong date. I meant 2006, but typed 2008).