Missing Wisconsin Legislators FOUND!


Or at least 2 of the 14. I wish I could say where in Chicago this happened. But I promised I wouldn’t. But here’s how it happened.

As I walk in, there are only two guys at the bar. I give them space. Sit a couple of seats down where I can look out the window. It’s a neighborhood place. Named after an old folksinger whose kid once got busted for littering. Pretzels and mustard on the bar. Good beer. And one of the guys is saying to the other, “We should have stayed up at Chocolate Fest in Rockford. Or whatever that was. I love the Clock Tower Inn!

So I said, “You guys aren’t from here, are you?”

One of the guys laughed and said, in an accent that rang straight out of the north woods of Wisconsin, “Oh, not hardly!”

“What are you two doing in this part of town? Most out of town folks stay down in the loop,”

“Well, we figured that as long as we were in Chicago, we’d see Wrigley Field!”

“Good choice. You guys probably staying at one of the big hotels downtown, huh?”

“Well,” said the guy with the accent that made me think, ‘this guy is gonna ask me if there is any good ice fishing nearby’ “We are actually staying at the. . . . “and he gave the name of the hotel.

Smart choice if they wanted to not attract attention. “So let me ask you a question. You guys wouldn’t happen to be 2 of the Wisconsin legislators who left the state, would you?”

“Well, you know, we really can’t go into that.”

“I’m taking that as a yes,” I said

“Now I guess, I don’t know. You’re not some reporter or something are you?”

“God knows I’ve tried. But the only real reporters here work for the Chicago News Cooperative. And they haven’t hired me.”

“Maybe we better just. . . so you don’t, you’re not in the media or anything like that.”

“Well I have some blogs. One to use for selling a book. One that gets a couple hundred readers and a third one that gets about 5 readers.”

“OK!” they both laughed. I guess you’re alright then. If you write about us, don’t give our towns or names. And put it on the blog that gets the 5 readers!”

And we talked for the next hour or so. What was behind all the posturing by the governor. The passion in the crowds. The history of Wisconsin. Fighting Bob. I told them I wrote about that but it didn’t get featured where I wrote.

“Of course not! One of them said. That’s always seen as yesterday.”

“Yeah, but it’s not. It’s today,” said the other guy.

“So let me ask you guys. A lotta people say that what you did in leaving the state was cowardly. You guys left other people to fight. I mean, I know you’re going back. But still. Why didn’t you stay?

And the larger of the two guys. He paused for a minute. Then he said to me.

“You go to church?”

“Well, yeah. I guess. Most times. Recently, I’ve gone back.”

“You ever hear the phrase, “’turn the other cheek?’”

“Of course I have! But sometimes, you gotta fight. Sometimes you can’t do that! Sometimes. . .” and then he interrupted me with this.

“What if turning the other cheek was NOT a passive act?”

“I don’t understand. . .”

“Think about it. What if turning the other cheek was not a passive act? Let me give you an example. Now what’s the name of this bar?”

I told him.

And then he said. Same name as the man who wrote one of the most famous songs in the world. And you know there’s another verse to that song, Not usually sang in schools. But the same man did write it. You know how it goes?

‘Was a big high wall there

That tried to stop me

A big sign painted

Said private property

But on the back side

It didn’t say nothing

“Cept this land was made for you and me.”

“So you’re saying. . .well you said it. Sometimes turning the other cheek is not a passive act? Sometimes there is something written on the back of the wall? Sometimes you gotta step away to step forward?”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“You guys got some important work to do,” I told him.

“We all do,” he smiled. “

And the three of us lifted our glasses, and said in unison.

As if we could forever not be scared,

To fighting Bob La Follette!

8 Responses to “Missing Wisconsin Legislators FOUND!”

  1. Jeremiah Horrigan Says:

    Me and the four other guys loved this.

  2. robin obrien Says:

    man i love the rhythm of tension and release in this. So fun to read!

  3. Paul Haider Says:

    Yes, there is another verse to “This Land Is Your Land” that they don’t sing in the schools or around the campfire. Roger, if one of those Wisconsin legislators who is “lost” happened to be Russ Feingold, he wasn’t fleeing; he was fired. The irony, of course, is that so many of those Cheeseheads are wishing that Russ was still in office; they need him now more than ever! Although Wisconsin is the state where the first union was born (there are 7 towns in Wisconsin named Union) and where the 40-hour-work-week with weekends was established, it is also the state of Joe McCarthy, Tommy Thompson, and Scott Walker; too much beer and cheese is bad for the brain and leads to lapses in judgment.
    Paul Haider, Chicago

  4. Tom Simeone Says:

    Why is it that the Repuublicans can threaten to shut down the Federal Government and that is seen as a political tactic, but 14 Democratic state legislatures leaving the state is an act of cowardice?
    Any one who works an (ostensibly) 40 hour week and enjoys (ostensibly) a two day weekend owes a debt of gratitude to the labor union movement and Bob La Follette. But those hard won concessions are so taken-for-granted that we forget how they came about. Perhaps Oprah’s next book in her book club should be Timothy Zahn’s, “A People”s History of the United States”.

    Welcome to Wisconsin, the first wholly owned subsidiary of the United Corporations of America!

  5. bikepsychobabble Says:

    Ah, what a fine place to run into fugitive cheeseheads! I’ll drink to that.

  6. chicagoguy14 Says:

    bike—I believe you would know!

  7. Paul Haider Says:

    I’m pretty sure that they were “hiding on the backstreets”…of Chicago!

  8. Tom Simeone Says:

    By the way, wanted to apologize for attributing the book, “A People’s History of the United States” to a second rate science fiction author, Timothy Zahn. Obviously a brain cramp made me confuse that name with that of the real author, the inimitable Howard Zinn.

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