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“Dynasty”:Dead Kennedys Bring High Hopes for Obama’s Former Senate Seat May 20, 2009


If you are younger than 42, then chances are you are like me. One of the unlucky millions that were unfortunate enough to be born after the reigning glory days of the  Kennedys and Camelot. There is no doubt that for those of us who grew up during the 70’s, there was this sense of mourning taking place. As if we had walked in on the middle of funeral (several in fact).

We didn’t know any of the guys personally. Come to think of it, were we even invited to this thing?

Still, we listened to the eulogies, gazed at the bodies in the coffin. We paid our respect by allowing the slain Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King  to permeate our social memory through images, sounds, and the stories our parents told us. My third grade teacher was Sister Mary, a nun of about 60. Sister Mary was nice at times but if you crossed her, she would pinch a black girl’s cheeks until they turned red. She was also a devout hibernophile. She would give us demerits for not wearing a green swatch on St. Patrick’s Day. I knew what a claddagh ring was well before I should have. Sister Mary kept a picture of John F. Kennedy on a locket that was attached to her rosary beads.

There must be some truth to the rumor that no one can tell a story like an Irishman or in this case Irish nun. Sister Mary could go on for a full hour. Stories were her weakness and the longer they were, the less times tables we had to recite. Being the slick 8 year olds that we were, getting Sister Mary distracted by coaxing her into a story had become a perfected art.

Only at this moment, it was too damn warm for cleverness. Math class was insufferable on this particular Friday afternoon in 1977. In Chicago, school did not let out until June. Late longest month of the year June.

Our Lady of Lourdes Grammar School may have been holy but it was hotter than hell.  Either that school building was pretty darn old or turning the air conditioning on must have been a sin. My brown plaid uniform jumper was itchy. To make matters worse, the pale yellow cotton shirt I wore underneath was long sleeved. My mother could not afford to purchase short sleeved shirts for me. I only received three a year and she felt I got more use out of the long sleeved ones due to Chicago’s four seasons: summer, fall, winter, winter.  “Roll those sleeves up girl,” mother advised in a snarky tone. ” see there’s your short sleeves.”

I was also wearing brown opaque tights with white patent leather Buster Browns. In short, I was a hot ragamuffin and the clock said 2:15. Another 45 minutes of long multiplication would kill me. Sister Mary was talking about fractions and parts to whole. In the corner by the window was a rather tall sturdy tree plant with huge dark abundant leaves. She began counting the leaves on the plant.

This is what a dynasty looks like: Joseph P. Kennedy and sons, John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

This is what a dynasty looks like: Joseph P. Kennedy and sons, John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.

“One, two, three, four….twenty-seven. See if I were to cut off ten leaves of this rubber tree plant, how many would I have left?”

“Seventeen.” Angela answered. I hated Angela. She had the highest grade average in class next to me. That is a lie, actually Herbert, a “high yellow”  kid with a huge afro and post nasal drip, had the highest average. You know how we girls must be catty and compete with one another rather than unite against the patriarchy.

“Yes Angela,” smiled Sister Mary. Now does anyone know how to represent that number as a fraction?”
Dead silence.

Here is the part where I look down at my buckled shoes and decide if the question is easy enough for me to answer, thus gaining brownie points and avoiding Sister Marry calling upon me later when I don’t know the answer. However in this instance, with my being a child of words and not really one of numbers, I did not have a clue. It had also been two days since I had raised my hand to answer any questions. I was doomed and sure enough, she called on me.

“Afrocity… Can you represent seventeen from twenty-seven as a fraction?” asked Sister Mary.
All heads turned towards me.

Angela whose desk preceded mine diagonally crooked her head and gave her usually snotty smirk. Keep in mind that this was Catholic school. Corporal punishment was alive and well, kicking our little brown asses and taking our names in skin. A wrong answer meant a palm whacking from  a blond wood two by four name Jessie.

The old nun’s impatience with me was showing. “If this rubber tree plant has twenty-seven leaves and I take away ten. I am left with seventeen leaves on the rubber tree plant.”I nodded.”Mmmm Hmm.”  God was this the longest moment of my life. Please let there be a fire drill or (yes this is mean) let Dorian have another epileptic seizure.
“So Afrocity, can you express that as a fraction for the class?”

Joe Jr, Kathleen and John F Kennedy, in London on Sept. 1, 1939. At the time their father JPK was the Ambassador to Great Britain. Kathleen is my favorite Kennedy. Her letters are a treasure to read. (Getty Images.)

Joe Jr, Kathleen and John F Kennedy, in London on Sept. 1, 1939. At the time their father JPK was the Ambassador to Great Britain. Kathleen is my favorite Kennedy. Her letters are a treasure to read. (Getty Images.)

I pulled out the ol’ count my fingers bit. This was an Afrocity classic stalling technique. Make her think I am thinking about the problem. It often bought me a precious second or two until some zealot tries to upstage me by blurting out the answer. I had an entire bag of tricks. I was not the teacher’s pet for three years and counting for nothing.  I could be an asshat one day and show up with the prettiest cheap carnival glass punch bowl surprise gift and a Golden Delicious apple the next.  Then there were days like this one where I was pretty much SOL.

The next thing I knew, I was taking that walk of shame to the black board in order to show the class what I did not know.  Afraid of being spanked, I asked a stupid question that had nothing to do with fractions other than it bought me another fraction of time between my palm and that two by four. My tummy full of watered down Flavor Aid from lunch, I was about to pee on myself.  Must not make a fool of myself…

“Why is it called a rubber tree plant? It doesn’t look like rubber.”

Of course giggles came from behind. Sister Mary laughed too.  She shook her head. “Child haven’t you ever heard of a rubber tree plant?”

I shook my head. I was telling the truth.

JFK High  Hopes

Sister Mary walked over to the plant and touched the leaves. Fawning was more like it.

“They (the leaves) are strong like rubber.See feel.”  she explained pulling me in towards her and the tree. That was the first time she had ever touched me other than to hit me.  I touched the leaves gently. They were strong. “And this is a special tree that means Hope. Have you ever heard about the ant that moved the rubber tree plant?”

By then I was relaxed enough to know that I was safe from Jessie the 2×4, and was able to laugh with the others. Sister was pulling our leg. A tiny ol’ ant moving a rubber tree was just plain impossible. Full of uncharacteristic  glee, Sister Mary broke into song:

Next time you’re found, with your chin on the ground
There a lot to be learned, so look around
Just what makes that little old ant
Think hell move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, cant
Move a rubber tree plant

But hes got high hopes, hes got high hopes
Hes got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin low
stead of lettin go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

Bearing in mind that her singing was bad, I still thought the tune was quite catchy. What I liked even more about the song was that it was not Ava Maria. This brings us back to the subject of John F. Kennedy. As hinted earlier, this woman was a Kennedy-tron. They must have had them. Like Obamatrons but insanely in love with JFK and his entire family. Some things never change. Different time, same stupid people looking for a pop star president. However some connection did exist with this rubber tree plant and Kennedy and singing and hope and change… Sister gave us another liitle diddy:

Everyone is voting for Jack
Cause he’s got what all the rest lack
Everyone wants to back — Jack
Jack is on the right track.
‘Cause he’s got high hopes
He’s got high hopes
Nineteen Sixty’s the year for his high hopes.
Come on and vote for Kennedy
Vote for Kennedy
And we’ll come out on top!
Oops, there goes the opposition – ker –
Oops, there goes the opposition – ker –
Oops, there goes the opposition – KERPLOP!

Jack’s the nation’s favorite guy
Everyone wants to back — Jack
Jack is on the right track.
‘Cause he’s got high hopes
He’s got high hopes

There was no doubt that we thought she was insane. Lucky for me, in addition to getting out of answering the math question, it was now time to go home. As I gathered my book satchel, Sister Mary was humming that rubber tree song to herself, with her favorite Kennedy pink plastic rosary around her neck. I surmised that to Sister Mary, Kennedy was as precious to her as the Virgin Mary.  If this was indeed the case, he was then “Saint Kennedy”. Young Afrocity went skipping into her mother’s arms. As a matter of practice and without fail,  Sister Mary would usually have come outside to greet our parents by now.  Wave a cautionary boney finger at the bullies, or simply making sure we were safely crossing the street. Not today. Sister was too busy watering the rubber tree plant, still inside the hot classroom, hangin’ out at the Grassy Knoll.

Yeah Right!

Yeah Right!

St. Kennedy would appear throughout the rest of my life. He was the “change” in my pocket. In college he was there watching over me from a wall portrait. During my career as an archivist, I have had the pleasure of working with his diaries. JFK is the Kevin Bacon- six degrees of separation in any manuscript collection. Now, just when you thought Teddy Kennedy was about to breath into his last breathalyzer and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg gone down in uh, uh uh, flames…Wouldn’t ya know it! A Kennedy may very well become a senator after all:

Chicago Sun-Times

Chris Kennedy organizing campaign to run for Illinois Senate seat.
Lynn Sweet
May 19, 2009

WASHINGTON–Everything I am hearing on Tuesday points to Chris Kennedy getting into the Illinois 2010 Senate race. Maybe this will change but a Kennedy decision is close. As of Tuesday afternoon, the plan calls for him to be announcing sometime probably next week. Long time Kennedy family friend Jay Doherty is being tapped to head up the fund-raising effort.

Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel and nephew of JFK, is president of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., based in Chicago, a company that runs 13 properties across the country and one in Canada.

Kennedy, who lives in north suburban Kenilworth, turns 46 on July 4.

Does the Kennedy family ever go away? Which came first? The Kennedys or their sense of entitlement? Somebody please tell me because I don’t think the family compound is big enough for the two of them.

JFK dead leader

Remember when Barack Obama accused Hillary Clinton of being a part of a dynasty during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign? Give me a break. Obama’s criticism was entirely unwarranted. A dynasty is the Bush family. A dynasty is the Rockefellers. A super duper dynasty on steroids is the Kennedys. In terms of a familial political power house, a former first lady running for senator then POTUS is NOT a dynasty.
If Hillary was indeed part of a dynasty, she would have six sisters in Congress and a brother who is governor of some unnamed state. Throw in a great grandfather as the “Old Fitz Mayor of Boston” and you’ve got a dynasty.

Hit it Wiki:

Dynasty: A succession of rulers who belong to the same family for generations.

Generations is the key word here. Hillary and Bill Clinton a power couple? Yes. A Dynasty? NO. That irked the shit out of me during the primaries.
During his 2008 campaign, hypocrite “fresh ideas” Barry O. had no problem politically fraternizing with the Kennedy dynasty. It seems now that he is our dear leader, Barry may have a change of heart about helping a Kennedy.

(Chris) Kennedy will face a Democratic primary: Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is in; Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) has not ruled out a run for the seat he was appointed to by the tainted Gov. Blagojevich; Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said she will decide by June 8. Chicago Urban League Chief Cheryl Jackson has been telling people she may jump in but wants to see what Schakowsky does first.

The potential field-clearing wild card is Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is being wooed by the Democratic Senate political organization. Madigan is leaning heavily to running for governor, setting up a Democratic primary with Gov. Pat Quinn.

But a call from President Obama could, perhaps, swing her over to the Senate contest.

Obama seems to like meddling. To be fair, Illinois adoption of an “all them DEMS” mentality is not helping this situation. Let’s be truthful. Every name mentioned above is yet another liberal Daley machine crony, representing the morally bankrupt political system that feeds on the state of Illinois. Alexi Giannoulias is a name you should Google. He is the ultimate Illinois unctuous dirt bag politician with ties to Tony Rezko. The  implications of the 2010 Illinois senate race will be discussed at a later date. Until then, we can safely say “Land of Lincoln”  my ass. Let’s keep our eye on this developing race as well as the New York senate race with Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY)possibly contending with Israel in the primary.

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