If I had to narrow down my legacy--which hopefully won't be a matter of relevance anytime soon--it would be to give Milwaukee two (somewhat related) things: reasonably indestructible, immovable outdoor seating for restaurants and coffeehouses that doesn't need to be broken down in a lengthy operation at some absurdly early hour every evening, and active utilization and enjoyment of the six weeks of pleasant weather between Labor Day and mid-October. We so desperately need to rediscover public space. Any drop in a bucket that I can contribute towards getting Americans out of their cars and into public space will be life well spent.
Admirable progress in this area has been made in the last fifteen years or so, but it is slow. And, admittedly, too often those who take advantage of the public space are those who abuse it, most notably the drunken, foul-mouthed hordes to whom so much of the northeast quadrant of Milwaukee County has been given over. Drunk or sober, few Americans--and certainly not I--have an indoor voice that readily adapts itself to close quarters outdoors. If everyone within a fifty-yard radius can't hear us, something's wrong. As a result, patio dining sometimes isn't quite the relaxing experience it was meant to be.
In addition to the above, I've been giving some thought to what a speech of mine would be like, if I had fifteen minutes to speak to the American people. Don't we all have our fifteen minutes? We may not have an audience; we may not have attention--but we have a platform...in most cases, multiple platforms. And as this blog proves, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and even at other times a slow but extremely steady flow of traffic comes across this site.
To set the stage, I need to delve into my background a little bit. What folksy autobiographical anecdotes would I relate? I don't know how folksy this is, but for starters I am the youngest of three kids--my sister is eight years older than I, and my brother six. I don't really remember talking much at any time in my life. What I do remember is what seems like a lifetime of having my nose in a book, newspaper, magazine, or computer--in a pinch, even a cereal box. When eating my cereal in the morning, I'd ask my Mom to place the box in front of me so I could read it.