Here in Bayern-Stuebe Restaurant, Gibson City, the walls are caked with Deutsche kitch: mounted animal heads, Teutonic bric-a-brac, Bavarian tchotchkis, cliched Schnicklefritzian knick-knacks.
German culture and a parody of it blur indistinguishably in the teary, beery eyes of the patrons. Sausage-faced rural Illinoisians with sauerkraut grins cheer, sway, and clash steins, obeying some sense of how to behave German.
The band—tuba, accordion, and clarinet—plays something like klezmer. I realize the clarinetist is the short-tempered public school band teacher who threw his baton at me. Only now I can see clearly a fact that had always escaped me: he too loves music. The clarinet floats away on butterfly melodies, sliding light and smooth. He and I love music, but we never loved music together, despite having been put in an institutional room for that purpose. Is my passion for art that exists despite and not because of school just a sample of spirits stifled instead of nurtured when hierarchy and order must supercede understanding?
What is it like for the baton-thrower? Did he sense disrespect from me as I did from him? Is his pain at being paralyzed in front of a band of contemptuous incompetents transmuted into beautiful music, a clarinet that scales with fretless grace?
They couldn't make Kiwane stay in school or hold still when he saw that cop coming with meat in his eyes. On Friday, October 9, Kiwane Carrington, an unarmed fifteen-year-old African American, while attempting to enter his home in the afternoon, was shot and killed by Champaign Police Officer Daniel Norbits.