It’s time once again to turn a jaundiced eye toward the newsmakers of the day – the winners and losers – who, in my cynical opinion, either contributed to our quality of life, or detracted from it, in some significant way.
Let’s look at who tried to screw us – and who tried to save us – during the week that was.
They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever experienced anything like the monstrous virus that swept through Barker’s View HQ last week.
I’m convinced it was some genetically modified mutant version of the 1918 H1N1 – a tubercular Mega-Bug – that has left my long-suffering wife, Patti, battling pneumonia and me flat on my back for many days. Ugh.
Despite massive doses of over-the-counter medication, unguents, ointments, a trip to a Florida Health Care clinic and bombardment by the best modern pharmaceuticals my health plan can afford, this virulent organism has romped around my respiratory tract unfazed.
In fact, it has now hung around so long I’m going to claim it as a dependent.
Sometimes, I find the old ways are the best, and my long-standing tonic for the treatment of all illnesses – physical and mental – seems to have beaten the bugger back. I’d be happy to share the patented Barker Cure-All with you (for medicinal purposes only):
Pour three-fingers of Wild Turkey 101-proof Kentucky bourbon into a sturdy earthen mug to ensure proper heat retention.
Add a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon and a dollop of good honey (the darker the better – I use a limited edition 17-year wild oak honey – a delicious multi-floral that had been aging deep inside the trunk of a century-old oak tree in Holly Hill. It was only discovered during a freak overnight lightning storm which cleaved the tree in half, revealing the sweet treasure inside. All the bees were saved, thanks to the wonderful work of a dedicated third-generation apiarist, and they continue to produce incredibly delicious honey to this day. If you would like some truly fine locally produced honey, please contact my friend Michael Blauberg at Tomoka River Basin Honey, 386-451-8782).
Top this off with strong hot black tea (preferably a Bai Lin Gong Fu or properly steeped Darjeeling) – then take liberally, as needed.
It might not help, but it can’t hurt.
Fortunately, I’m feeling stronger every day, and Patti has returned to work, so she can keep me in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed as a semi-retired Gentleman of Leisure. After doing hand-to-hand combat with the bastard for over a week, I’m happy to report the Barker’s appear on the road to recovery.
Tradition dictates that I devote the last Angels & Assholes column before Christmas to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy here on Florida’s fabled Fun Coast.
It’s true – the Great Scorer has bestowed many good things on this salty piece of land we call home – including a wealth of philanthropic people and organizations who work hard in the best interest of the many less-fortunate individuals and families in our area who truly deserve a hand up.
Unfortunately, the good work of these unsung angels is too often overshadowed by the steady drumbeat of political rhetoric and virulent criticism.
The “good news” is drowned out by the plaintive cries of those of us who feel powerless to stop the slow erosion of those traditions and amenities that make the Halifax area such a beautiful and unique place to live, work and play – as we remain trapped in a cycle of low paying service jobs and an artificial economy totally controlled by the same five people passing the same nickel around.
Clearly, I’m guilty of focusing on the problems – rather than the many good people in both the public and private sector who are working hard to find solutions.
But I simply refuse to remain silent. And I know you won’t either.
So, as the Christmas Spirit fills what’s left of my broken and battered old heart – I want to dedicate this edition to YOU – the loyal readers and ardent warriors of the Barker’s View tribe – Angels all – who have made this experiment in alternative opinion blogging such a rich and rewarding experience.
Since those early fits and starts in January 2016 – little more than written outbursts borne of a growing frustration over the deteriorating condition of our hometown that ultimately evolved into Barker’s View – these bitter diatribes and tales from the dark side have been viewed some 271,058 times and have attracted thousands of followers who regularly receive these blog posts by social media and email – including readers from 118 countries around the globe.
It is incredibly humbling – and the kindheartedness of readers continues to be a source of great happiness and personal pride.
Your continued engagement and active participation in the debate of competing ideas has returned a much-needed sense of purpose to my life, a desperately important part of my soul that I lost upon retirement from public service.
Earlier this week, The Daytona Beach News-Journal described Barker’s View as “a must-read for locals interested in county politics” in a cogent editorial on growing local political dissent – and a dedicated reader recently shared in a good note, “I (we), many people are so fortunate you found your calling of sharing your writing and critical thinking with us.”
Wow. I’m not an emotional guy, but that one got me. . .
Look, I get it. These often-maniacal ravings aren’t for everyone – and not all of the messages I receive from readers and leaders are as kind as the ones I shared above – but that comes with the territory.
A wise prophet once said that a man with a greed for the Truth should expect no mercy, and give none. . .
I often sound like a broken record – a serial grumbler – a contrarian with a chip on his shoulder and no workable remedies to contribute. Some call that the textbook definition of “whining” and perhaps they’re right, but the alternative is to suffer in silence, and in my jaded view, that only perpetuates the problem(s).
At the end of the day, please know that these rambling jeremiads are the product of a frustrated “every man” – neither always right, nor always wrong – but the important wisdom I receive from the smart observations of my readers tells me that I am not alone in my basic belief that the citizens of Volusia County deserve better.
So, if you keep reading and driving a larger discussion of the issues that affect us all – I promise to keep adding fuel to the fire – and maybe, just maybe, we can foster the fundamental change in our sacred system of governance that levels the playing field for everyone, returns a sense of fair play that benefits all citizens, honors our natural places, helps those less fortunate, supports entrepreneurial investment, ensures unfettered access to the most beautiful beach in the world and restores the sense of fun and possibility that made our region a premiere destination for millions of visitors.
Here’s wishing all of you – family, friends and political foes alike – a very Merry Christmas and all best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
(Please join Barker’s View for a very special Christmas Eve appearance on GovStuff Live! with Big John beginning at 4:00pm. We’ll be discussing the important issues of the day – and I would love to take your calls and learn about what’s important to you as we face the challenges and opportunities of 2019. Locally, please find us at 1380am The Cat – or online at www.govstuff.org Listen Live button!)