Brett McNeil

Michiana Chronicler

Brett McNeil is a writer and essayist in Mishawaka, Indiana. His radio essays have aired on WVPE and WBEZ and his writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, Crain’s Chicago Business and elsewhere. He is a former newspaper reporter and columnist and is the recipient of writing awards from the Chicago Headline Club, Illinois Press Association and Inland Press Association. Brett is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois Chicago. He works as an investigator in a law office.

Brett McNeil

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Michianapolis, Michiana, my Indiana home, here on the banks of the Saint I Ain’t River.

I ran into a station honcho this summer who asked why these Michiana Chronicles essays can’t sound more like Lake Wobegon. That got me thinking. I remember that old hokum. I follow the horseshoe scores in the Mishawaka Enterprise. Let’s do it. Let’s serve up some rhubarb pie.

Brett McNeil

We hit the St. Joe 4-H Fair and did the local bike parade and caught twilight fireworks at the ballpark the night before. The Fourth was a real red-white-and-blue holiday again this year, especially the magnetometers outside the fair. Very Americana.

It was all pretty good fun, especially with a three-year-old, but carried a whiff of the rote and clumsy in our flag-waving and elephant ear-eating, the solemn trotting and urgent smartphone-videotaping of Budweiser Clydesdales. 

Was it a relief to return to a crowd? To celebrate the Fourth in public? 

Brett McNeil

The masks are off, the summer travel season is set to sizzle and consumer spending is back with a capital B, baby!

Unless it’s not, and gas hoarding and inflation-panic are ill, stagflating headwinds. 

Portentiously, we continue tempting the fates, tampering with the labor pool, paying people to stay home and out of the workforce. The Chamber of Commerce would like to remind everyone: Get Back to Work.

It’s weird out there. Especially in a nation where our truest function is not as citizen or human or even human capital but as discretionary spender.

Brett McNeil

This time last year, we were still Cloroxing Costco boxes and quarantining groceries in the garage. 

 

Don’t laugh. 

 

My wife returned from one Meier trip dressed like an extra from Lawrence of Arabia -- layer atop protective layer, scarf on mask, hands triple-gloved. 

 

She disrobed complicatedly and straight into the washing machine then ran to a scalding shower.