Ben’s thoughts

The Daily Reader

I was at the doctors’ office. Routine examination, nothing wrong.

And I was chatting with the two nice workers at the front desk. One man, one woman. Both young. Around 30 at the oldest.

The young man mentions he once lived in LA. But he didn’t like it so much because of the nasty traffic jams on those freeways filled with all those cars. To which I said the first thing that came to mind . . .

“LA is a great big freeway, put a hundred down and buy a car . . .”

They said nothing. So I continued, from memory . . .

“In a week, maybe two, they’ll make you a star.”

They just stared, so on I plowed, reciting lines I knew by heart.

“Weeks turn into years, how quick they pass, and all the stars that never were are parking cars and pumping gas . . .”

By now, they wore the frozen smiles of people who think they’re dealing with a lunatic.

“It’s from a song,” I said. “By Dionne Warwick.” As if that explained it.

“Oh,” the young man said.

“You’ve heard of Dionne Warwick, right?”

“No, he said.

I looked at the woman.

“Sorry,” she said.

I had nothing to say because what could I say? It’s just inexplicable to me that someone could get through 30 or so years of life and not have heard of Dionne Warwick, one of my favorite singers. 

I don’t mean to shame younger people. In fact, I’m in no position to shame anyone on this front. Every day I learn things I didn’t know that other people can’t believe I didn’t know. 

For instance, I recently read this thought-provoking column by Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg about the rise of fascistic autocrats and the demise of democracy all over the world. And in that column he referred to a song by Warren Zevon titled, “You’re a Whole Different Person When You’re Scared.” 

What a marvelous title—neatly summarizing so much in one line.

But, the thing is . . .

Until I’d read Steinberg’s column, I’d never heard of that song. Because—oh, please don’t judge me—I’m only vaguely aware of Warren Zevon’s music.

Intrigued, I took a mini deep dive on the song. Turns out Zevon cowrote it years ago with gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson. And that Thompson used a phrase from the song, (“kingdom of fear”) for the title of his last collection of essays.

And the point of Zevon’s song and Thompson’s book is, well, just what the title says. Fear motivates people to behave in ways they never imagined. And so . . . 

White liberal north siders eagerly await their chance to vote for Paul Vallas, despite his Trumpian views on abortion, critical race theory, education, privatization, policing, etc., because they’re afraid of crime.

By the way, that last sentence is merely an observation and not, in any way, to be construed as an endorsement of any candidate. As I like to say.

I realize I’ve strayed from my original point about young people who’ve never heard of Dionne Warwick. Guess I’m preoccupied with the outcome of the mayor’s race. Fear will do that to you.

🎙Listen to The Ben Joravsky Show 🎙

What Ben's Reading

  Paris Requiem, a mystery by Chris Lloyd. It’s Paris in the 1940s, under Nazi occupation, and someone’s letting criminals out of jail. It’s a job for Eddie Giral, the great Parisian detective.
 Debbie-Marie Brown on organizing the workers at Berlin Nightclub
 Ben Joravsky on Julie Woetehoff’s view on Vallas

Best of the Ben J. Show

  David Faris: Trump indicted!
Monroe Anderson & Tiffany Walden: on the mayoral election
Rummana Hussain: racism vs. socialism 


Brandon Johnson speaks with Black LGBTQ+ leaders
The mayoral candidate answered questions about investment in the Black and LGBTQ+ communities.

by Debbie-Marie Brown Read here 

Promising more police: not a solution to Chicago’s problems
We need to decide as a society which policies are sustainable and work. 

by Anthony Ehlers Read here 

Hand-on reading 
The Newberry Library highlights the evolution of pop-up books. 

by Dmitry Samarov Read here 

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Issue of
Mar. 23 – April 5, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 12

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