#84: Pancakes and Politics with WBEZ

November 9th, 2012

I noticed the pigeon pacing along the Pink Line platform had a band on its ankle, which was pretty keen of me considering how much my head hurt.

My phone buzzed.

“I’m listening to the wbez live show- did you make it down there?” the text read.

I grumbled a little and considered finding a soft, warm hole to sleep in until the next election.

Damn you, Obama.

I lived overseas during the 2008 presidential election. While Chicagoans swarmed Grant Park to support our local Hawaiian, I was hanging out with a West African dude who kept saying “We did it” while we sipped red wine in his mistress’ Bangkok apartment.

It was fun and I still sometimes wonder what happened to Bopol, but mailing in an absentee ballot in late October doesn’t have all the spectacle and majesty of an American election night.

Where were my lines at the polls and grinning, confused election judges? Where was my newsroom pizza? Where was my night spent in a cheering mass of thousands waiting for the newly minted leader to speak words of hope and change after eight years of hate and decay?

So I made 2012 my 2008. That’s why my head hurt.

Mid-revelry, returns and song at the one-two-third bar of the night, somewhere between texts with my cousin in Florida and my 18th declaration of hetero man-love for Nate Silver, I decided I would keep the party going the next day by hitting the local NPR station’s live, post-election morning show taping.

And my girlfriend decided she would hold me to it.

“You can sleep later,” she said when I mumbly slurped coffee the next morning. “I don’t want you skipping something you were so excited about because you’re tired.”

She was right, of course, which is why I found myself staring at a pigeon’s ankle while waiting for a Pink Line train to rumble me to a West Loop breakfast spot.

I got to Wishbone with about a half hour to go in the taping. I had already missed a few of the guests I really wanted to see — Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, Sen. Dick Durbin, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (yes, I wanted to see the comptroller) and hip hop artist Rhymefest.

But the panelists I did get to see — journos and authors, mostly — were great. So were the pancakes.

There was a good crowd. Party strategists gloating or whining, reporters still riding the energy of election night, Rhymefest (who I ended up sitting next to).

I re-introduced myself to a WBEZ producer who clearly didn’t remember me. I successfully avoided a shady right-wing political operative who would have remembered me. I met Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia, which is cool for a radio nerd like me.

Politics is a drug with four years between hits (or two years for more severe addicts or one for the junkies who even care about the municipal elections).

Much like with a drug addiction, there are dizzying highs, crushing lows and you end up spending a lot of time talking to horrible people you don’t even like very much because they have something you want.

Yes, there’s the vague notion of caring about the nation, but if that were the draw, people would read legislation instead of polling numbers. Nate Silver would have the over/under on energy bills passing or the sabermetrics of our relationship with China.

For us, it’s all about the polls, the rallies, the chanted slogans and watching that CNN map divvy the states into red and blue.

I was a junkie on a bender for the last few months. A nice detox morning with coffee, pancakes and NPR was just what I needed to finally get clean again.

But a Hillary Clinton/Cory Booker ticket for 2016 would be unstoppable.

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