Another one bites the dust.....
My license plate has said for six years now: "Bush and Cheney will make my next license plate". It used to be funny....now it is a cry for help. The presence of this plate on my Jaguar at the Beach Club in Pebble Beach in 2003 got my entire car keyed and the Jaguar ripped off the hood.
Don't grumble too much at the Republicans' lack of humor, though. Some poor bastard in Iowa is being frog-marched before a justice of the peace for a hate crime for wearing a T-shirt that says: "Dammit, why didn't Hillary marry OJ?"
Dark times require dark humor. Bill himself scored major points with me back in the day when he was asked about Paula Jones' charges about her affair with him: "People, this is the kind of thing you get when you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park......"
You ought to know, Bill........but............. still funny.
Speaking of dark times......today we got the news that Rod Kenyon died last night. Dead of an internal staph infection.
Rod had been feeling peaked for the last couple of weeks.....and did not look good. Rod cut wood for a living, and built fences. Rod....Fred Nason......Duncan.....and Brendan....are the last four people left alive in Monterey County that can still build a fence where the wire can sing when you snap it.
Friday night we got word that the Rancho Sin Frenos cows had escaped into Rancho Chupinos through a broken fence. Brendan had to go in early Saturday to chase them down, bring them back and fix the fence.
Despite running the Cachagua Playboys acoustic concert on Friday Night and us having that party on Saturday.
Then we started thinking about it.....Wait a minute, Rod lives at Rancho Chupinos....why is the fence bad, and why does anyone need to go fetch the cows. Where is Rod? What the fuck?
Rod was in the ICU.
He had been feeling poorly for a couple of weeks.....but dealt with it in the manly tradition of all cowboys and retired ski-patrolmen. He had no health insurance, and a visit to even friendly Doc Tocchet would be a full day's wage....So, he took some aspirin, borrowed a couple of Norco, and drank an extra six-pack before bedtime in the bunkhouse.
Finally, his arm really hurt, and he was feeling bad, and he looked like shit, everyone said....so he took himself in to the ER.....and they immediately stuck him in ICU and started dialysis because the infection was already killing his kidneys just with the waste products that sloughed off of the battle his body was fighting with the bug.
He had never yet missed an hour of work. Even until his last day.
Some years back we had an evangelical illegal Mexican woman working for us.....and her family eventually tagged along. We liked her, and wanted to keep her and integrate her.....so we offered her health insurance. My cost was a couple of hundred bucks a month, and the policy was the Blue Cross Prudent Provider deal with a $1000 yearly deductible, with an 80/20 donut up to $30k and then everything free.
I explained everything to Josefina, and she looked at me like I had ten heads.
"You mean I would have to PAY for doctors? Why would I do that? Right now I just go to the emergency room, and everything is free.......Why would I want insurance?"
Rod Kenyon: mountain man, ski-instructor, actual cowboy......Aboriginal Man of the West.....is dead because his inborn pride would not let him accept something that he could not pay for with his own labor......even though it meant his life. It never occurred to him that the system might be wrong.
Rod never asked for help.....beyond a jump if his battery died in his truck......Rod knew how to nurture any amount of game and farm animals.....and it never occurred to him that part of his natural birthright for being a hardworking American might be that he would have access to health care equal to that of the animals he worked with.
The cost of insurance for Rod would have been about $2500 a year, in our fucked up system.....allowing for multi-billion dollar bonuses for the CEO's of the insuring company. This comes out to about a buck an hour....somewhere between ten and six percent of his wages.
One dollar an hour? One dollar an hour trade for Rod? Are you fucking kidding me? I know fifty guys would pay that dollar for Rod.....but none of them have health insurance, either.
We are the only industrialized country in the world that does not care for its workers.
The loss to all of us is way out of proportion to the costs. If Rod had been born Renaldo, or Renard, or Reiner he would still be working today.....and the wealth of knowledge he accumulated, his library of kindness and concern, and his sweet, self-deprecating smile would still be available to all of us for another couple of decades.
It seems like a small thing.....but there are a lot of fences in our local world. Those of us who have done the work, and know.....look around and judge and appreciate. When I am in Spain, I check out their fences. Rod Kenyon was a master of minutae, and a sweet and kind man, and Rod's fences could sing if you plucked them. Robert Frost said......Good fences make good neighbors......Rod made some great neighbors.
And he is needlessly dead.
When I look into the face of my supposed President......I see a despicable, wretched, egotistical, lying sack of shit......who could have....with the smallest effort......made it possible for the Rod Kenyons of the world to have an actual place at the table of the great feast that is supposed to be America.
George Bush is a pretend yuppie fuck from Andover. He hails from Connecticut and Maine...where fences stopped being built two hundred years ago. His faux-Texas accent steals the worth of kind, hard-working people like Rod that understood pride of work, the value of labor, and the reluctance to ask for more than they thought they had earned. George Bush has earned nothing in his life but our contempt. I put Rod Kenyon's death on George Bush's soul, and I curse him for it.
The fact that Rod Kenyon died in a hospital because he would not allow his sense of values to ask for help from a society of which he was a valuable and integral part is a huge tragedy. It is a war crime. It is a disaster.
John Donne has that oft quoted sermon that talks about how if a tiny piece of the continent falls and is washed into the sea, the continent is so much the lesser. It ends with the now trite line...
"Ask not for whom the bell tolls.....it tolls for thee."
Rod Kenyon died....but it could have been Ian......or Alex....or Brendan.....or Athena......or Amanda.....or Liz......or Fred Nason......or Micah.......or Gilda......
(No wait....Brendan has health insurance. $75 every month).
Or almost any of the working people you know or see everyday in your life and whose labor makes your life comfortable and possible.
This is fucked up......
Rod, I am really sorry and ashamed that I did not do more to try to fix this shambles we call health care.
And, I am more sorry and ashamed that you did not think that you could call me and tell me that you were hurting and ask me to help.