Richard Crowson Commentary

Politicians can run but they cannot hide from political cartoonist (and banjo player) Richard Crowson and his watchdog, Al. Tune in on alternate Wednesdays to hear the latest.

It’s crow time in Wichita. Driving my daughter to school this morning we noticed the thousands of crows roosting in the trees along Grove Street. She took the same perspective on the sight that anyone who’s ever seen Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, would take, and she pronounced it “creepy.”

There’s a little dog that usually appears somewhere in every cartoon I draw. His name is Al and he’s a wire-haired fox terrier that we once shared our home with. Al came from a background of abuse as was evidenced by his shy, cowering personality. There’s nothing normal about a terrier that’s shy but Al had been badly mistreated during his first four or five months and he never really got over it.

We don’t really have any hills here in Wichita so we couldn’t erect our Greek Temple to the Celebrity Gods up high where everybody could see it. But downtown was as good a place as any, better than most, for its location.

Celebrity worship continues to be one of our most popular religions. So it is that we find our modern equivalent of the Greek Temple, the downtown Intrust Arena, about ready to open its doors to that fervent flock, the Adorers of the Blessed People Magazine Cover Subjects.

One thing I’m betting you are not asking Santa for this year is a telephone book.

Yet another unrequested phone book was delivered to my front porch the other day. I dutifully brought it in and opened the cabinet door to the area where we store them to add it to the collection. It was hours later before the avalanche rescue team found me beneath the huge pile of phone books that had tumbled out of that cabinet and buried me.

I’ve never been able to pass up an estate sale and stopped in at one last week in modest little home. The tattered art prints and hundreds of books painted a picture of a person with intellectual curiosity about the world of ideas. The small living room was dominated by a seriously grand piano standing proudly out among a few worn and threadbare sticks of furniture.

While I was in the basement, someone sat at that piano and played a flourishing rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” It echoed easily through the thin floors and walls of that once-beloved home.

What a weird holiday Halloween is.

It’s like some sort of phantom holiday that we all know exists and yet seems to dwell in some other holiday dimension. It’s printed on calendars, yet no one gets off work for it. The mail’s delivered.  Banks are open. Schools don’t shut down on Halloween, though some teachers trying to deal with kids on a frantic sugary candy high probably wish it was otherwise.

I like trains. I like riding on trains. I like looking at trains.  Heck, I even like songs about trains.

And I guess I really must admit that sometimes I even like getting slowed down at a railroad crossing while a thundering freight train lumbers along. It’s a chance to throw your hands up and say, “What can I do? I’m forced to sit here and take a pause out of my busy day and just watch this train go by.” It’s a break from the routine, as we scurry over the busy ant hills of our daily lives.

Fall is a time that always reminds me of when I was a kid growing up in the developing suburbs of Memphis. I had lots of opportunities then, to roam around the fields and woods, going no place in particular through nature’s leafy abundance.

Sometimes I was Robin Hood, sometimes a yodeling Tarzan, and sometimes I was just a leaf-kicking explorer feeling the breezes that whispered of a weather change just around the next weekend.

I have a health care proposal. It’s not about insurance availability or doctor choice. It’s not about single-payer or public option issues. But it is about our health. Our mental health. We need to take all the minutes from all the health care reform town hall meetings, take all the breathless commentaries from red-faced conservatives and blue-in-the-face liberals, put all that stuff in a lockbox, throw the lockbox in a closet for about a week, and get ourselves down to the Cowley County Fairgrounds in Winfield, Kansas.