Friday, April 12, 2013

A Conversation Between My Dad, Dorothy Day, and Cesar Chavez

This is what Dorothy and Cesar look like when I try to put them in the same room in my head. 

Today is my dad's birthday. He is not dead, just to clarify, this isn't some conversation taking place in heaven. I just thought I'd bring two dead people back, because when I think about who I'd like to see talking to my dad, these are the two foremost names I associate with him. That may not be completely his fault, the choice of pacifist urban catholic hippie school they sent me to had a large part to do with it. Remember, before environmentalism, how we used to celebrate Peace Day by writing presentations on Day, Chavez, Ghandi, and MLK, and then sending off large amounts of dangerous balloons careening into the atmosphere? It was very pretty though. And they stopped it, a while ago. We were just so innocent then.

So anyway, my dad is not dead, and looks like himself. Chavez is dead and now thanks to Google is irrevocably illustrated in my head as a Dora character. Dorothy Day, for reasons best kept to myself looks like a combination of Dorothy Parker, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. In real life, that's not that far off. She's also dead.

Scene: A Parma Pizzeria, with green vinyl chairs and little red votive candles on the table. 

Dorothy: Food for the body is not enough, there must be food for the soul. In the spirit of that sentiment, I would like to suggest we order the Vegetarian Lovers.

Cesar: If you really want to make a friend, go to someones house and eat with them. The people who give you their food, give you their heart. So we should probably just get the House Special. I can pick off the peppers. Also, extra pepperoni.

Dad, to Waiter: Can we please get one large, with half green peppers and mushrooms for the Saint here, and the other half pepperoni?
(aside to Dorothy) Cesar's not such a fan of vegetables unless he knows where they come from.

Dorothy: Don't call me a saint, I don't like being dismissed so easily. But whatever.

Cesar to Dad: The fight is never about tomatoes or peppers, it is always about people.

Dad: I know. You said that.

Cesar: I mean, it's never about ferries.

Dad: Very funny.

(The pizza comes. Dorothy covers hers in red pepper, and Parmesan. Cesar eats his plain, with a fork. Dad gets a slice on his plate, then stands up at the bar a couple feet away to eat it.) 

Dorothy: So, I don't understand facebook.

Cesar: I can see how social media has the potential to be a powerful organizing tool, but the last rally we held, we had 217 replies that said they were coming, and only 20 showed up. That seems like an irrational proportion.

Dad: Well, that's why getting low income people internet access is so important - the people who need the organizing don't have those lines of communication yet. And you cannot get a job in today's workforce if you don't know how to use a computer, you can't even be a mechanic anymore. And it's why it's so important that we fight for keeping the internet unmonitored, without corporate regulation. Because this is how the world talks to itself these days, this is the beginning of a new era in human connectivity, and we can't let people be kept behind. Facebook is just a sort of commercial infancy, but it has it's uses. For instance, my daughter has never been able to remember my birthday ever, her entire life. It took her twenty years just to get it in her head it was in April. But this year Facebook told her. She's still super poor, so she can't get me anything, but I'm sure she'll call at least.

Dorothy: I'm sure part of her inability to remember you or her mom's birthdays is because somewhere in her very active childhood imagination she associated your birthday with you dying one day, and we both know if you or Bonnie ever die, she is totally screwed, she needs at least twenty more years to be okay on her own.

Cesar: Maybe she'll marry someone rich and get them to build the ferry for you.

Dad: That's enough Cesar.

The Plain Dealer gave a birthday present to my dad today, go read it here. 

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