September Song

Autumn is a melancholy time. It’s my favorite time of the year. One can almost imagine our Pleistocene ancestors, sitting around the fire as the nights lengthen. Looking around the circle of faces. Knowing the faces will be different when summer comes again. Which ones will be absent? What change will have marked the ones that remain? Winter is hard on humans. In our neighborhood, the summer has been hard on humans. All of us mourn the loss of our young people as we struggle to understand the war going on in the neighborhood next door. And we mourn the changes in the faces of our youngsters who are seeing things that shouldn’t be happening, doing things that shouldn’t need to be done in the desert country across the sea. The melancholy deepens. But fall is still my favorite season. At the Currents office, our summer ends with leave-takings as well. Michelle Holtz was our earliest and most steadfast summer intern. She came to the office every day from noon until five. She organized our phone book database and took over the Community Calendar. She put together a team for the Hank Aaron 5k run, exhibiting surprising cat-herding skills. And she created a new column, “Brewing Artists,” covering the mini art shows on the walls of our neighborhood coffeehouses and pubs. Michelle is returning to UWM to continue her work on a journalism degree and the goal of someday being the fashion editor of Seventeen. Take a little bit of Riverwest with you, Michelle — you never know when it might be the perfect oddball accessory. Katie Wozniak came to us via UW-Madison from Rhode Island School of Design. Her internship in graphic design included work on a number of ads and full page layouts, as well as a complete upgrade of our internal marketing material. Thanks, Katie — you’ve made your mark on the Currents! Our third intern, Camille Goldin, came to us from Berkley, California, where she will be a senior in high school. Little did she know when she came to stay with her dad for the summer that she would get to experience our patented “teach them to swim by throwing them in the water” internship style. Camille rose to the occasion and grabbed the opportunity to cover the NAACP conference youth program, making page one of the August issue. Go, girl! This fall sees another of our staff taking her leave: Judith Ann Moriarty is off to do a column for Milwaukee Magazine called The Mil. She has passed the torch of editorship for the Art Muscle section to Sarah Mankowski. Judith Ann’s work on reporting the art scene was a valued addition to the Currents, and her incisive decision-making skills and ready wit will be missed…Good luck, Judith Ann! So yet more friends are leaving. But fall is still my favorite season. I think it’s the promise of beginning something new that appeals to me. New school term, new classes, new friends. I still love brand new notebooks and sharp new pencils. I bought into the whole academic romance big time. But this is a vitally important time for us — this year, this autumn. The passions of summer have cooled. It’s time for us to do some serious work. We need to bring in the rest of the harvest, what there is of it. What have we learned from this long hot summer? One of the main things is that there needs to be fairer distribution of our goods, our wealth. In ancient cultures, the harvest was brought to the temple, and the religious people decided how to divide things. The goal was to give everyone enough so there wasn’t any one group of people who got hungry enough to start a rebellion. Was there greed and corruption? I’m sure there was. And if it wasn’t sufficiently controlled, you also got rebellion. So, our work is cut out for us. I see hope in the crumbling chaos of the AFL-CIO. They might experience enough change that unions will be reinvigorated in this country. I think that would go a long way toward re-empowering working people and preventing full scale rebellion. Because one is brewing. Don’t kid yourself. The little war we saw this summer was only practice. We’ve got to get some good jobs going here, right now. The money has got to come from the military budget. So this war has got to stop, right now. If we’re not smart enough to do that, we might well deserve whatever we get. And next fall, when we look around the fire-lit faces in our circle as the nights get longer, what shall we see?