When I was a kid, Muhammad Ali was a ubiquitous media figure, whether he was fighting or being interviewed or selling cologne on the television. I missed the early years of his career, and only learned about the political aspects of his fame much later. (a link to a fantastic article on Ali follows my post). As I encountered him, he was just one of the pantheon, a star of stars. Race, religion, and politics never entered into the equation any more than they did when I thought of my other childhood heroes: Willie Stargell, Mean Joe Green, and Mr. Rogers. I never realized until later just how bright Ali shined, the star among stars. Like many of my generation, we looked back on Ali with new interest long after he’d faded from public view, after he returned to the world stage at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, his trembling arm raised to light the Olympic flame, a man refusing to be bowed by age or the horribly ironic Parkinson’s that clawed at his body. I’ll never forget sitting in a restaurant near Wilson, Wyoming, drinking beer and eating pizza with friends, watching The Greatest ascend to light the torch, my eyes moist with respect and admiration. I cannot think of a person more deserving of the title, American Hero. He surely was that–as flawed as the rest of us, but possessed of a drive and determination that not only made him literally the greatest fighter of all time, but which drove him to risk everything for his beliefs, even when that meant potentially losing his career as well as his freedom. It is rare for us to see men who even come close to Ali’s stature. More is the pity.
Are they spies? Propagandists? Looking to turn us against ourselves, or discover our weaknesses? None of that seems particularly honorable, but they’re clearly up to something. I admire how they hide in plain sight. Note the logo–they think we’re so damned obtuse, flaunting it like that. I can’t be the first one to notice this.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but another winter storm is casting it’s frosty eye on Atlanta as it blusters it’s way across the south, promising as much as .75 of an inch of snow and a mere 40F as a high temperature–time to run for the grocery store and stock up on toilet paper, bread, and milk. (that’s an old Pittsburgh joke you probably won’t get, but so what….)
It occurs to me that the city could make a small fortune in tourism revenue sponsoring “flash tours” at such times by selling affordable package deals to northerns who would likely pay good money to watch the carnage while savoring the relatively balmy weather. They already have the infrastructure–the only thing missing is some bleachers down by the highway for when the Snow Miser comes to Southtown, even though it’s in his brother’s clutch.
I guess I feel bad for being a winter bully–especially if (when?) someone dies down there, but it’s hard to take this seriously–probably in the same way that some guy from Death Valley is bemused when we have a “drought,” the rich folks have to stop watering their lawns, and we can only wash our cars on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I truly believe in this plan. The rare southern businesses to stay open will make a killing, and the municipalities can use the additional revenue to, I don’t know, buy a second snow plow or something. This makes me wonder what people in Calgary are thinking. Hell, Minnesota is like this ten months a year–only it’s -40 degrees F, not the balmy 0-10 we’ve been seeing.
*All kidding aside, as the storm is poised to strike, here’s all the luck and best wishes I can summon to Atlanta and the rest of the South.