Sunday, April 06, 2008

Winter Into Spring

An Op-Ed in today's New York Times sums up Michigan existence of the past few years months. Thomas Lynch talks of the U of M symphony orchestra and their tour from Ann Arbor to Carnegie Hall, lamenting that it goes unnoticed - and plays my song in the spaces in-between.

Alas, a triumph and gift that went unremarked-upon and unreviewed: no mention made, as far as I could tell, in the dailies in New York or Detroit or Ann Arbor. It is true: bad news gets halfway round the world before good news has its boots laced up. The easy litany of things gone wrong in Michigan gets more of a forum than what’s gone right.

Most of the ink and airtime of late around here has been spent on the self-inflicted fall from grace of Detroit’s hapless mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, who has been indicted for perjury in his alleged efforts to cover up a sex scandal. He has Bill Clinton’s trouble with mendacity and George W. Bush’s on-his-sleeve religiosity; the former president’s lapses of self-control and the current one’s insuperable hubris. Like Mr. Clinton he’s gotten in trouble with women. Like Mr. Bush, he reckons he’s “on assignment from God.” All three men have misspent their considerable gifts — some inherited, some acquired, some congenital — and have disappointed beyond all expectations.

How does one compete with all of that? My mind drifts back to the lyric - "Darkness has a hunger that's insatiable, and lightness has a call that hard to hear."

Try being light in these times.

By comparison, the perseverance of our governor, Jennifer Granholm, gets little notice. Her efforts to diversify the economy, double the number of college graduates and restore our cities are not nearly as engaging as the soap opera that has been playing out in Detroit. The Government Performance Project at the Pew Center for the States graded Michigan’s management with a B-plus this year; only three states scored better.

As she has put it: “We need to capitalize on our natural advantages ... Wind. Woods. Water. Work force. Even waste. If we do this right, Michigan can be the alternative energy capital of North America, and create thousands and thousands of jobs.” Her faith in the future is contagious. So is despair. Sometimes we vote our hopes, sometimes our fears.

Maybe we vote a little of both. Lynch wraps it up with the thing that keeps me going - eternal hope for a better tomorrow. It's why I do what I do, seemingly alone, against all odds.

The worst of times might give way to the best, the winter will at last give way to spring, that out of all the noise and nonsense, blather and racket we might make song and poetry and music.

Spring is here for Michigan. Finally. Let's make some music.