Friday, April 22, 2011

“Get Go, And Gone”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a cool night in Chardon. After a happy visit with my sister and her family, I had paused at Giant Eagle to buy groceries before heading home. My last need was to fill the fuel tank of my pickup truck. Quietly, I wished that the day had already ended. Yet the glowing oasis of Get Go beckoned with colorful lights and echoing music.

Rubbing my eyes, I turned toward that friendly gasoline depot on Center Street.

The station wasn’t crowded at such a late hour. Only a couple of other vehicles were at the pumps. With satisfaction, I realized that my stop would be brief.

Then, I spied a small, white car near the store. It was covered with bumper stickers, one of which read ‘I love polka music.’

A smile spread across my face. By sheer coincidence, I had crossed paths with Carrie Hamglaze.

After filling up, I circled back toward the side parking lot for a spot near their entrance. The night air was brisk. Curiously, ‘Come On, Eileen’ by Dexys Midnight Runners echoed from the loudspeakers.

Suddenly, I felt fully awake.

“Rodneyyyy!” my friend cheered loudly, as I walked inside. “How are you?”

“Hello, Carrie,” I replied, with a touch of embarrassment. “Wasn’t this the last place I saw you… in November?”

“Yes!” she laughed. “I’m here almost every day.”

Rhonda Ronk, a bubbly clerk at the cash register, nodded her head in agreement.

“It’s true,” she said. “Carrie is like one of the family.”

“We should go out for dinner somewhere,” I insisted. “Perhaps at the New York Deli?”

“Closed!” she proclaimed. “I’m not sure what happened there. A window sign said thanks for fifteen years of memories.”

“Closed?” I stammered.

“Closed,” she sighed. “Closed, closed, closed.”

I bowed my head. “Still, there are other places to go. Perhaps a good fish fry around town?”

“Get Go is where I hold court,” she laughed. “This is a bustling place populated with everyday people. Where better to take the pulse of Geauga County?”

“Okay,” I surrendered. “In that case, how about a cup of coffee?”

Rhonda gestured from the counter. “I’m brewing Irish Breakfast Tea for Carrie…”

“Isn’t it late for a breakfast tea?” I wondered out loud.

“With a kiss of the shamrock, it doesn’t matter!” my friend observed. “Lighten up, Rodney.”

“Well then,” I coughed. “What have you been doing lately?”

Carrie brightened. “I met Governor Kasich at the Rock Hall on Lake Erie. That was a fantastic experience.”

My hot beverage was fresh and tasty. “Yes, I read about it in the Maple Leaf.”

“So,” she prodded. “What about you?”

“Nothing so dramatic,” I confessed. “My latest project has hit a snag. It was supposed to be a book of poetry and lyrics inspired by the work of California guitarist Davie Allan. But I need more material…”

“Focus on your task,” she insisted, while stirring her tea.

My face reddened. “That’s what I need to do… but self-discipline has been elusive. I have several projects in mind, like a book with Cleveland music hero Dennis Chandler. But I haven’t been able to organize anything.”

“Rodney!” she squawked. “I am surprised at you. Get that pen moving!”

“Yes,” I promised. “Very soon…”

Without warning, she exploded in a burst of excitement and steaming Irish Tea.

“I KNOW WHAT YOU NEED!” she shouted.

Rhonda stiffened at her cash register. “Are you okay, Carrie?”


I was stunned. “What??”

“Your Christmas present,” she said. “It has been waiting on my front porch since December. Didn’t you get my messages?”

“It’s April, Carrie,” I observed.

“So,” she squeaked. “Who’s fault is that? You have to get it right now!”

“Now?” I wheezed.

“Right now!” she commanded. “Follow me home, Rodney!”

Rhonda waved with a giggle. “Well then, good night, everybody!”

Carrie was already out the door by the time I had picked up my coffee. Her car was a streaking blur of white in the road. Our drive across town took only a minute. I parked by the ramp to her front porch.

Before I could speak, she produced a long bag from Marc’s.

“Merry Christmas, my friend,” she said.

It was an Elvis clock, shaped like an electric guitar.

“Carrie!” I beamed. “What a great gift. I don’t know what to say. Thank you!”

“Say it’s a good omen,” she whispered.

“Yes, indeed,” I replied.

“Now get back to your writing, Rodney,” she said forcefully. “No excuses!”

“Thank yuh,” I said with a made-up southern drawl that evoked the spirit of Presley himself. “Thank yuh very much!”

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

“Capitol Call: Part Two”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

My friend Ezekiel Byler-Gregg is Editor In Chief of the local Burton Daily Bugle newspaper.

Zeke has always possessed a very individualistic outlook, owing in part to his Mennonite and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. But recently, his opinions have taken even more of a Libertarian turn. After encountering financial difficulties during the near collapse of our economy in 2008, he became a vocal advocate of citizen protest. Despite the objections of friends like myself, he attempted to contact our nation’s highest leader about the issue of taxation, a few weeks ago. The result was amusing if not genuinely successful.

With the stunning revelation that General Electric had paid no federal taxes in 2010, he again tried to call President Obama, directly. What follows here is a transcript of his outrage-by-phone:

OPERATOR – “Hello! This is the White House switchboard. How may I direct your call today?”

EZEKIEL – “Hello, miss. My name is Ezekiel Byler-Gregg. I am editor of the Burton Daily Bugle.”

OPERATOR – “Bugle…?”

EZEKIEL – “It is a newspaper, miss.”

OPERATOR – “Nobody reads those anymore. Except for my grandparents.”

EZEKIEL – “Ahem! I am calling about the fact that General Electric paid no federal taxes for 2010.”

OPERATOR – “I don’t understand.”

EZEKIEL – “I want to speak with your boss about this glaring oversight.”

OPERATOR – “My boss?”

EZEKIEL – “President Obama.”


EZEKIEL – “You’ve never heard of him?”

OPERATOR - “Don’t be silly. Of course I know who he is.”

EZEKIEL – “Then I would like to speak with him.”

OPERATOR – “That isn’t possible.”

EZEKIEL – “It isn’t??”


EZEKIEL – “I am a voter, miss. That means your boss was elected by me.”

OPERATOR – “Was there a point to your call, Mr. Gregg?”

EZEKIEL – “Byler-Gregg! Byler-Gregg!”

OPERATOR – “You are shouting, sir.”

EZEKIEL – “Look, the New York Times reported that GE made 14.2 billion dollars last year. But they paid no US federal income tax. That seems amazing when an average person like myself is facing wage garnishment and property seizure to satisfy the IRS.”

OPERATOR – “Is this Glenn Beck?”

EZEKIEL – “My name is Ezekiel Byler-Gregg!”

OPERATOR – “As you wish, sir. This is the White House, not H & R Block.”

EZEKIEL – “GE owns the NBC television network. Its cable affiliate MSNBC is well known for spreading bias and propaganda favorable to the administration.”

OPERATOR – “I don’t watch the news, sir. I just answer telephones.”

EZEKIEL - “GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt was appointed in 2009 to the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Don’t you find it interesting that the company would pay no federal income taxes with such insider connections?”

OPERATOR - “I can’t speculate on news stories, sir.”

EZEKIEL – “What’s next? Rachel Maddow running the Federal Communications Commission?”

OPERATOR – “Is this live on the radio? I get it. You must be Michael Savage, right? My uncle in Florida listens to your show. I think he is going senile.”

“EZEKIEL – “Miss, I am a newspaper editor from Ohio.”

OPERATOR – “Of course you are, Dr. Savage…”

EZEKIEL – “Byler-Gregg!!!”

OPERATOR – “Thanks for your call. Have a nice day…”

EZEKIEL – “Wait! Don’t hang up the phone!”

OPERATOR – “Was there something else you wanted, sir?”

EZEKIEL – “I wanted to speak with President Obama!”

OPERATOR – “I’m sorry. That isn’t possible.”

EZEKIEL – “Your boss told us we would have hope and change if we voted for him. Well, it looks like the only change is that instead of being buried in bull dung, we are getting showered with chicken poop!”

OPERATOR – “Sir, you need to calm down.”

EZEKIEL – “It’s hard to be quiet when I feel like my government is trying to plow me under like a bad crop of corn.”

OPERATOR – “Perhaps you should call the Department of Agriculture. I have their number if you’d like it…”

EZEKIEL – “Never mind that! I want to talk to your boss!”

OPERATOR – “That isn’t going to happen.”

EZEKIEL – “Read the U. S. Constitution. He is a servant of the people. Well, I am one of those people! And I am paying thousands in back taxes while GE ain’t coughing up a dime!”

OPERATOR – “I don’t read old documents, sir. I just answer telephones.”

EZEKIEL – “I think Alex Jones is right. This is all just a distraction from the fact that bankers and secret societies actually control the world.”

OPERATOR – “What??”

EZEKIEL – “Just a bit of inside humor there. Pay no attention.”

OPERATOR – “You are making no sense…”

EZEKIEL – “I apologize. This was just a big waste of time.”

OPERATOR – “Not at all. The White House appreciates your call…”

EZEKIEL – “I give up. Tell President Obama my check is in the mail.”

OPERATOR – “Very good, sir. Have a nice day!”

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Friday, April 01, 2011

“CARS: Having A Meltdown”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a one-act play about the evolving state of automobile manufacturing. The participants have chosen to meet far away from the glare of media attention in Washington, D.C. or Detroit. In another venue, the group would face much scrutiny from the public. But in northeastern Ohio, they remain anonymous, and safe.

THE SETTING – A conference room at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.

THE PLAYERS – Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Corporation; Reddy Kilowatt, cartoon spokesman for the electric power industry; General Motors; Henry Ford XVI; Antonio Chrysler.

LEE IACOCCA – “Friends, we are here today to discuss our future in the domestic automobile industry…”

GENERAL MOTORS – “Ten hut, Lee! I see you brought a friend.”

L. IACOCCA – “Yes, let me introduce our honored guest. This is Reddy Killowatt. You’ve all probably seen him in commercials and print ads about electric power.”

REDDY KILOWATT – “My friends call me Sparky.”

ANOTNIO CHRYSLER – “So, what the heck is a guy with a light-bulb head doin’ here at a meeting of carmakers? Heyy!”

HENRY FORD XVI – “Maybe he can shed some light on why you let Fiat partner with your company?”

A. CHRYSLER – “Watch your mouth, goofball. Them guys build great cars.”

EVERYONE – (Bursts into laughter)

L. IACOCCA – (Pounding his fist on the table) “Gentlemen, please!”

HENRY FORD XVI – “This one really is baffling, Lee. I haven’t seen Reddy out in public since I was a kid.”

L. IACOCCA – “President Obama has touted electric vehicles as the way to eliminate tailpipe emissions and free us from dependence on foreign oil. But… today there is a hitch in his plan. So he figured that Reddy could deliver the message with credibility.”

G. MOTORS – “At ease, soldier! The message is clear. My Chevy Volt is the marketplace champion! There’s no hitch.”

REDDY K. – “Sorry General. I’m afraid there’s a short circuit in our plans…”

G. MOTORS – “What? Show me the target, and I’ll blast it, pilgrim!”

REDDY K. – “Gentlemen, we have been depending on nuclear power as the way to generate more electricity for cars like the Volt. It seemed to be a solid plan. But then, earthquakes and a tsunami hit Japan. And the whole world was reminded of how dangerous it can be to generate electricity in that high-tech way…”

G. MOTORS – “Hah! There’s no danger in nukes, grunt! Show some backbone!”

FORD XVI – “I have to agree. What happened in Japan was an unpredictable calamity. You can’t judge the industry on something so outrageous.”

REDDY K. – “You fellows are correct. Nuclear power has proven to be very, very safe.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Heyy, maybe that’s true. But the public ain’t gonna fuggedaboutit.”

L. IACOCCA – “Tony is right, I’m afraid. Many of President Obama’s strongest supporters are now ditching his roadmap for tomorrow, and changing course.”

REDDY K. – “And that’s why I’m here. To help deliver this sobering news. Politics can overwhelm anything. Even a tsunami.”

G. MOTORS – “Stand at attention, soldier! We’ve built the Chevy Volt. I say go into battle!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Not so fast, paisano. Your dreams have come unplugged.”

FORD XVI – “Look, everyone… Reddy may be right. We won’t have enough power for all those electric cars without more nukes. But can we give up on zero-emission vehicles, just like that?”

G. MOTORS – “Yeah, pilgrim. What about Libya? Doesn’t that make you shiver in your boots? Oil ain’t a safe source of energy, either. We need to march in a different direction!”

L. IACOCCA – “We will support the Volt in public, of course. It’s all part of the political game. But I am afraid that our hands have been tied by Mother Nature.”

G. MOTORS – “Blast that! You big shots love to talk. Do you want my Volt or don’t you?”

REDDY K. – “Most people won’t, I’m afraid. It’s a matter of market forces and political trends… even with government support, the costs will be too high. The accident at Three Mile Island scared everyone in America. Then, Chernobyl shocked the world. Now, Fukushima has revived those fears, and made them more pervasive. That means I go back into hiding and you come up with a different plan.”

FORD XVI – “The mood will pass. Give it time.”

L. IACOCCA – “Yes, that’s what we need. Time. Eventually, alternative-fuel vehicles will overcome all of this… but until then…”

A. CHRYSLER – “Until then? Heyy, we do what?”

L. IACOCCA – “We keep selling cars… that run on gasoline!”

FORD XVI – “Didn’t we just drive in a big philosophical circle, Lee?”

L. IACOCCA – “Shut up Henry. You irritate me.”

G. MOTORS – “Oh well, as long as I sell cars, it don’t matter, pilgrim. Let the tanks roll on!”

EVERYONE – (cheering) “Gas-o-line! Gas-o-line! Gas-o-line!”

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