A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Be Prepared--Expect The Expected

The Hummer was red and [of course!] the woman driving it was jabbering on her cell phone, while exceeding the speed limit by 10 miles per hour, on the way to work. I saw her while waiting at the bus stop.

She probably has 2.2 children. Though what on earth she does with the .2 child, I haven't a clue. Maybe there's some therapeutic or educational alternative for .2 children. As a .2 child is growing up, maybe the parents get a bumper sticker: My Child Makes An Occasional Appearance At Ridgecrest Elementary.

Since she came out of a side street near mine, her house is likely worth around $199,000 and was built around 1955. She and her husband are carrying a 30 year mortgage. She almost certainly colors her hair, doesn't think she has a really good pair of shoes to wear, and worries that what she wears is not quite professional enough, and so does not wear it with confidence, meaning, in the end, that she has then made it not quite professional enough.

Well, gee. Now what do we do with that?

There is something about American life that is just a little mind-numbing. The expected always happens--which is enough to put anyone to sleep nine days out of ten.

Not that the unexpected doesn't happen but the expected always does. One day, just one day, couldn't we stop doing what we always do? Couldn't the State Department spokesperson give a briefing in a snappy, rayon Hawaiian shirt? Couldn't Wolf Blitzer read the news wearing a pair of deelyboppers? Larry King wear a belt instead of suspenders? Is that asking too much?

Where has our sense of humor really gone? When I was a child, the BBC did a broadcast--for April Fools Day, I think--of a marvelous straight-faced story on the spaghetti harvest of Northern Italy, complete with melliforous BBC voiceover about sturdy peasant farmers carefully tending the trees, which were filmed while festooned with Linguini. Should we really leave all of this with Jon Stewart? Should we really quarantine this to the Comedy Channel only?

If so, what's the point of having it?

Humor is not an "outlet", not a dose of laxative. Humor is an attitude, and one which we are all too busy to cultivate.

Too busy with what?

Mrs. Claus had a cousin die recently. He had MS, lost his sight, had his wife abandon him simply because he was sick, and had to be cared for by his grown daughter.

The deceased was the oldest of that generation. Mrs. Claus is the next oldest. She has been on medical disability for 25 years and has now progressed to constant oxygen. With one exception, all of the rest of the cousins are sick. One, for example, is on a continuous morphine pump and in a wheelchair, has blown up to 350+ pounds, and has a habit of sending the family constant, half-crocked, Thomas DeQuincey e-mail. He probably could use a blog.

The only one who has escaped the "family curse" is Mrs. Claus' sister--the one that had both breast and stomach reduction surgery, the rounds of botox, speaks perfect, unaccented, French, and went back, from Los Angeles, with her French husband, to live in a tiny village in Gascony. She sends us e-mailed photographs of herself and the fine old dog she walks to the market, to the bank, and to sidewalk cafes.

There may be several genetic weaknesses involved in the "family curse", a result of too much inbreeding several generations back in Polish ghettos, and brought over to America in the tidal wave of immigration around 1900.

As you can imagine, Mrs. Claus is very depressed about the death of her cousin. She is the next oldest of that generation and not doing very well herself. After the usual telephone flurry immediately following the death, the reality, and the depression, set in, and Mrs. Claus took two weeks to nerve herself up to call the one aunt she had missed.

The aunt observed the usual three minutes of polite family formalities but, just as Mrs. Claus was starting to feel connected and really ready to talk, the aunt abruptly cut the conversation off. She had to watch American Idol.

Too busy with what???