What’s My Beat . . .

What’s my beat? Duality.

Music. Medicine.


Rich textures, cool notes, hot rhythms . . . The clubs, the venues, the jams. It starts deep, then twists and turns through psyche and soul. When it comes out, it’s still raw. It’s poverty. And waiting. And hurt. Lots of hurt. The swing notes, the groove, the shuffle – they carry that beat inside and out, smoothing, soothing, but I can’t stay in that red-walled room forever. That sweet black leather hat comes off and the surgical wear goes on, not just the paper caps that end up in the trash next to the bio-waste, but a crisp black bandana to set me apart. That’s me. Utterly set apart. Wouldn’t have it any other way.


And that’s the beat too. Conflict. The fuel that drives the story, man. The ghetto streets are paved with conflict. I take the beat with me through low-slung houses and dilapidated projects. Gangbangers, frail old ladies with soft bones and hard luck, simple folks with dangerous jobs or joblessness, victims and victimizers alike, the underserved in Chicago ghettos.

Here’s how I see it . . . What will I remember on my deathbed? The numbers in my portfolio? My broker’s birthday? The time I swung below par and the prick from corporate spit venom? The mahogany desk from Roche Bobois?

No. I’ll remember the joy of what I do . . . have been doing for years . . . and will keep on doing ’til I can’t do it any more. I’ll remember the little boy with the fractured femur and unkempt ‘fro smiling up at me from his hospital bed. He’d never play basketball again without my help. I’ll remember the grandmothers, little old spitfires full of sass and free of pain, dropping their quad-canes and hunkering down with the grandkids. I’ll remember the little Latino dude whose vertebrae were shattered in a forklift crash, how he thanked me for not having to face “the man” alone.

The neat, the safe, the comfortable–that demographic is well served. They hold the strings. I could be one of them, but fuck’em. When I lay down the axe, I pick up the scalpel.

That’s my beat.

That’s my duality.

Dig this. Follow me . . . There’s no room in my life for politicians, corporations and propaganda getting between me and the people whose lives I can change. No room for talking heads who spew talk of reform then speak of bottom lines and the imaginary efficiencies of government and political parties, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Let them have their skewed perceptions. Let them have the lukewarm applause after a fact-twisted speech directed not to those in need but at those who vote. Let them talk. You know what? News flash. Talkin’ ain’t walkin’ . . . and I WALK.


I AM reform. I DO reform. Every single day. The tens of thousands of patients I’ve served, the thousands of surgeries I’ve performed without fanfare. This gig gives me the opportunity to shine a light on goodness, strike a spark, ignite a flame, burn down some walls of hypocrisy. I thank whatever higher power is up there, named or unnamed, immortalized in scripture or free-floating through the collective human heart and mind, for this opportunity. I pray that this portrait of Chi-Town, lowdown and dirty, grabbing for life and health, struggling to survive and thrive, is meaningful. I pray it will grow.

Most of all, I pray that this message is heard:

Reform is ultimately an individual choice.

The power behind true reform is the basic need to do good, to help our brothers and sisters.

Reform is service without greed.

You know what? Reform isn’t just my gig. It can’t be. It’s everyone’s or it’s no one’s . . . yeah.

Peace Out!

Dr. Dan Ivankovich (@ReverendDoctorD)

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