He might have been a Democrat. He worked a little too closely with a female member of his staff. But Mayor John Norquist did wonders for the city of Milwaukee, singlehandedly revitalizing the downtown with his New Urbanist zeal. His time in office is ending.
I remember Milwaukee being pretty dead downtown when I started college in 1990, about two years into his first term as mayor. Now, when I go back, people live downtown, and not just the homeless. The city’s nightlife has spread southward from the East Side so that nightclubs are open in the heart of downtown. Condos are going up by the lake. Apartment complexes have sprouted on Wisconsin Avenue. And there are people.
Kind of a shame that St. Louis, a city whose metropolitan area boasts a larger population than Milwaukee, continues its corrupt morass and stunted revitalization efforts. If Norquist wanted to come down and run for mayor of St. Louis, I’d vote for him.
What, you say, but Brian J., you live in Casinoport. How can you vote for the mayor of St. Louis?
Well, being a living, breathing resident of St. Louis is not exactly required to vote in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, north of Milwaukee, families of car accident victims and their sympathizers have restored the spontaneous pile-up of crosses, flowers, and other memorabilia at the site of the accident that claimed their loved ones. The headline of the coverage says “Dispute over crosses for crash victims continues.” Dispute? Do litterbugs have disputes with the people on the people who adopt highways and impede the litterbugs’ rights to free expression of casting of the detritus of our consumer culture and metaphorically despoil the countryside as the fast food restaurants are culturally despoiling the nation?
The insensitive Department of Transportation gave these roadside memorials six months after the accident and then cleaned them up. The DOT argued, probably rightly, that these memorials provide a distraction to drivers. Undeterred, the crosses and whatnot have sprouted again like mushrooms after a cool spring.
I understand grieving for your loved ones, and I understand marking their passage, but is it really appropriate to stick a gaudy plastic cross on the expressway? Couldn’t you afford a real headstone where your family member is interred? Is that truly the sum of that person’s life, that he or she became a statistic, probably while driving sixty miles an hour while eating a McBreakfast and changing CDs in the fog? If so, I doubly pity you and your unimaginitive lifestyle, redeemed only in your public display of suffering.
I know, I know, I just don’t understand how you feel. Let’s just leave that sentiment in high school were it belongs, okay, and make that frightening journey from adolescence into adulthood, where we can grieve without gratuitous displays and without nailgunning ourselved to the gaudy vinyl cross of outrage that the cold government is infringing our rights to clutter the public square with bulletins of our passing.