Be right with you. Sorting through some stuff here at home. This is the room that has become the unofficial warehouse. Ah, here it is. The box of keepsakes from our child's first days.
Yesterday I attended an event at City Hall where Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the pending announcement of his "Dream Team" plan for the high-speed multi-lane toll road that he wants to build on the banks of the Trinity River downtown. Announced the announcement -- I know, I thought it was odd, too.
But think about it: This is a major public works project that Dallas has been debating since late 1996 -- almost 20 years -- without building a stick. How can it not be odd?
Just one little second here. Let me pry this box open. Aha. Expensive-looking little velvet bag with lettering. Says on the side it's a "sterling silver baptismal cup, engraved." What is a baptismal cup again? Well, I know sterling silver. Yeah, I'll throw that in the bag.
So, oddly, as we were discussing, the mayor called a press conference yesterday in the "flag room" of City Hall to announce that the findings of the Dream Team will be announced next Tuesday at the annual luncheon of the Trinity Commons Foundation. Very grand. This is like pomp and circumstances with extra pomp and extra circumstances.
What the hell are these? Oh, sure -- my son's baby shoes encased in bronze. Little tiny bronze Adidases. They're all dusty now, bronze on the outside, dried up leather on the inside. There's something sort of ghastly about them, like the feet of a dismembered child robot. Oh, well, into the bag they go. Who knows? I hope we didn't have anything else of his bronzed.
The Dream Team is a collection of experts from other parts of the country convened by the mayor, all of them paid by wealthy donors to come up with ideas for softening the six-to-10 lane expressway that the mayor wants to build through the linear park along the Trinity River the people of Dallas voted for in 1998.
OK, here's a find on this back shelf. It says, "Jim's keepsakes." Let's see what we have. Aha. Solid gold Cross pen and pencil set my parents gave me when I graduated from high school. Wait a minute. My parents gave me a solid gold pen and pencil set? My parents? Closer examination may be required. Yeah. This says "Voss," not Cross. And it says "Golden finish," not gold. Still looks OK. Into the bag.
There were lots of rich people at yesterday's announcement of the announcement, and the mayor even agreed finally to name some but not all of the rich people who bankrolled the Dream Team. Deedie Rose, the arts patron who funds the Dallas Design Studio at City Hall, was one, as was Mary McDermott Cook, who sometimes calls herself a "bridge kid" because the next Calatrava bridge across the Trinity River will be named for her mother, Margaret McDermott.
Think of it: their own bridge to show people when they come to town. So fabulous. Just fabulous. That's all I can say.
The rest of my own keepsakes here sort of make me want to cry. Why would I have kept a pair of my own athletic socks? And what in God's name are these? Oh, I see, these are stained cocktail napkins from the Detroit Press Club. This one has some blurred ballpoint pen writing on it. "Schutze ... consider yourself fired. Luedtke." That had to be a joke. I was never fired. Wait. OK, I am closing this box now. Where is that packing tape?
I didn't want to just sit on my hands at the press conference, so I asked the mayor why the Dream Team had never spoken to Angela Hunt*, the best known critic of the toll road, and whether their failure to do so may have tarnished their legitimacy.
The mayor bristled a tad, I thought. He said, "I can't imagine a more legitimate group of individuals."
Oh, well, goodness, that's not what I meant. Gracious! I'm a little surprised the mayor's mind would even run in that direction.
Here it is, a box of mementos of my sainted mother who has been gone these many years. Hmm. A dozen dried up typewriter ribbons. Mimeographed League of Women Voters newsletters. A tarnished silver letter-opener, engraved on one side, "Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan," other side, "Peggy, warmest regards, 'Little Joe.'" I think we shall allow that sleeping dog to lie.
Damn. This legitimacy thing. Why did I put it that way? Now I've got to decide if the mayor has opened a whole new avenue of debate, so that now I'm going to have to go to the members of the Dream Team individually next week and ask them if they are legitimate. Dirty job. Somebody's got to do it.
But how? That's the whole problem. That's what I'm doing here in the storage room, rummaging around trying to find stuff I can sell so I can buy a ticket. After almost 20 years, I can't miss the announcement of the Dream Team report.
The mayor's version of a public announcement is that the Dream Team will present its findings next week at this Trinity Commons luncheon. The very cheapest ticket is $150. That's just for the bleachers. The next rung up, if you want to be half a stud, is $500. I'm not kidding. OK, I'll include a copy of the invitation below, so you can see for yourself. For $10,000, you can be "an investor." That sounds scary to me. You mean for 10 grand a person can be an investor in the design of a toll road on public land through a public park? I'm sure that isn't what they really mean. Right?
I have a little bit of experience with antique shops. You know, weird ones. So far, if I sell all this stuff I have in my plastic grocery sack, I've got the price of the bread dish and a glass of water at next week's luncheon. They'd need a new category for my level: "Awkward."
Wait. Wait. What is this? Oh, wow. This is really beautiful. It says it's from Westminster Abbey. They must have bought it on that trip. Rich pigskin binding. Looks like manually applied gold leaf. A King James letterpress Bible, hand bound. I have never seen this before. Must have been her secret treasure.
What if I just take my sainted mother's Bible to the door of the Trinity Commons luncheon, fall on one knee and say, "Please, please kind sirs and madams, take from me this modest token of my esteem. All I ask in return is that I be suffered to stand in the back of the room and listen to the findings of the Dream Team."
Seems only fair. After all, the members of the mayor's public are not like you and me. Most of them get comped.
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*I didn't want to muddy the waters by bringing it up at the mayor's announcement of the announcement, but I had already called Hunt to see if she had been invited to speak to the Dream Team. She told me that she had not been invited, but had she been invited she would have declined. She considers the entire Dream Team business a totally illegitimate exercise in doublespeak, and she wouldn't have wanted to afford them any legitimacy by speaking to them and thereby lending them her good name. I'm calling her back tomorrow to ask, "What precisely did you mean, 'illegitimate?'"
Would I be going too far to demand birth certificates?