Lunchtime bits provide food for thoughtLunchtime bits provide food for thought
Jesse Ventura hosts a radio show every Friday on WCCO, as you probably know. It's called "Lunch With The Governor," and it begins at 11:00 AM. Which strikes me as a pretty early lunch. Granted, some jobs start at 6:00.
But in the world of office-based state government I bet eleven o'clock sharp is the first moment it's even arguably respectable to assert that you are going to lunch, and still you run the risk of coming across as having spent the whole morning thinking about lunch.
So that's the first thing I like about the show. The second thing I like is how unassuming it is. Sure, the governor will go on a great rumble if he's mad about something. But even on those occasions the core of the show is almost always
a guest. A department head, usually, or a civic volunteer. The governor acts respectful, interested, eager even to teach. "There's very important work being done at the Department of Tourism, and I think the public should know that. Thank you for being here. Do we have any callers?"
If there aren't any callers, Jesse can just go back to talking and talking, which is his forte.
There are other kinds of guests. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, who seemed nervous. And he spent a whole show on location from Duluth with this local Kennedy assassination buff, who writes extremely detailed books and may well be right about it all, who knows. "Do you people find this interesting?" From the assembled audience, silence. "Well, I find it very interesting." But most often it's Elwyn or Pam or somebody from the Courage Center doing a great job at something, and the people should know. Jesse genuinely likes bureaucrats and do-gooders now. He's very comfortable with them.
And finally, what I like are the little subversive thought bombs he deploys from time to time. Like a couple months ago. I don't have the exact quote, but this is close and will get across the basic message. It will help if you try to imagine his voice. (Have you noticed that almost any guy can imitate him pretty well? He's like Elvis in that regard.)
"Forty percent of every dollar you earn goes to pay taxes. And people say, well, the schools need more money, but think about it this way. With 40 percent of every dollar going to government, that's why we need two wage earners in every family now. And so now what you have is the schools taking over more and more things that parents used to do, and they don't have time anymore, and there's all kinds of costs related to that."
School funding, taxes, whatever.
What fascinates me, and I'm sincere about this, is that somewhere inside Jesse there evidently lurks the idea that it would be good to begin questioning the notion of constant work for little pay for everybody. I agree. I too would elevate Free Time
as a right to sit alongside Free Speech.
Go Jesse, I say. Appoint a commission. Let's get going here.
He won't, of course. "What, am I supposed to be a leader of how people think? I guess I don't get it," he might say. And he might have a point. Plus, what really is Jesse-ism at this point? The larger vision in which to understand an individual concept? Probably not. But at least he puts these thoughts out there.
This, by the way, is how I take his recent enthusiastic review of "Helter Skelter" to a class of Roseville first-graders. "I've read it six or seven times," he said. At first it seems odd, but remember, his true audience at that school would not have been those first-graders - although one can imagine some charming clamor in the dways right after. "Miss Sweetgrad! Read us 'Helter Skelter!' Pleeease!" Or 'Helty Smelter' or something, the way kids are so cute with their mangled words and all.
The real audience -- intended or not -- are the sixth-graders in that school, or the fifth graders. The ones who even now are beginning to pass around copies of the book. They can handle "Helter Skelter" and the dark, doomy abyss. Jesse knows that. Or would, once he thought about it.
So that's what I like about his show.