The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stormy weather, or how things change


I noticed something years ago about the sexual revolution: by the time I arrive to take part in the seminal social conflict of our time, the revolution has packed up and moved on. This happens to me a lot, I fear, and it is tremendously disheartening to be always a bridesmaid and never a bride. So you can imagine the joy I felt when news of the Stormy Daniels affair broke. I was finally going to fight the narrow moralistic bluenoses who couldn’t stand the idea that someone here in America was enjoying a bit of fluff on the side. I mean, really, didn’t we all go through this twenty years ago? Wasn’t there a national uproar about a President lying about extramarital sex?  Didn’t Congress impeach the President and the national life of the country come to a near halt so that we could all learn more than we really needed to know about the President’s sex life and what the meaning of is is? Didn’t anyone learn anything from that experience? 

Apparently not, so this time I was ready for anything the dirty-minded neo-Comstocks had to throw at me. The President’s affair, if you can dignify a one-night stand with the title of affair, was consensual on both sides. President Trump saw a chance to grab some you know what and Ms. Daniels was not averse to having her you know what grabbed, so what’s the harm here?  It was just sex, after all, and sex in private is the business of the people involved and no one else. Yes, it was adultery, and adultery is on the Top Ten list of things that people should not do, in particular a married man whose wife has just given birth—there’s no way the guy in this situation comes off as anything other than a complete and utter sleazeball—but then again, none of us is the Lord and therefore who are we to judge?  Remember that the Bible says that it is better to pull the speck out of a neighbor’s eye than to pull a beam out of the eye of a Camel, especially an unfiltered one, and don’t you forget it, buster. Moreover, we should remember that the President was not the President then and that Ms. Daniels was not some poor naïve teenage girl duped or bullied into dropping her panties in front of a movie camera; she was an experienced performer with a lengthy filmography behind her. So how is this anyone’s business but theirs?  I think it is time we all took a deep breath and just moved on.

Well, I may think it’s time to move on, but it seems that I am the only one who thinks so. I went forth to battle the new Puritans who seek to oppress us all with their retrograde religious morality and found that they agreed with me, for the most part, and that the sexual revolutionaries were the ones foaming at the mouth about what two consenting adults chose to do with their genitalia. I found this more than a little confusing, to say the least, and so I had to sit down and eat Chinese food (the roast pork with broccoli and wonton soup were very good, thank you for asking) in order to relieve the cognitive dissonance and sort out just what in the blue blazes happened here in this our Great Republic while I was not looking.  Someone changed the rule book somewhere along the line and no one bothered to tell me that Comstockery was back in fashion. Well, everything old is new again, as the saying goes, and there is no new thing under the sun, but I cannot help but notice that the new version of Comstockery is remarkably like the old libertinism complete with extra servings of wanton soup, with the singular difference that the new Puritans didn’t mind when a President they liked and supported did this sort of thing while he was actually President and they do mind a great deal when a President they loathe and despise did the exact same thing when he wasn’t President.  Nearly a quarter of a century separate the initial inaugurations of these two men and much can change in a quarter of a century: the Internet barely existed in 1993, film photography was photography, I was forty pounds lighter—really, I am not making that up—and so I am sure that this sudden concern for the private morality of public people is the product of a generation’s coming of age and rejecting the immature ideas and commitments of their salad days. Or the new Puritans could be just a bunch of sleazy hypocrites. That’s always a possibility, you know, especially if you are cynically inclined, as I tend to be.


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Friday, April 13, 2018

Upcoming

Something is coming, folks, I have it written out, but I must type it out first. My apologies for the absence; I had a nasty and persistent case of pneumonia. I'm fine now, but it has been something of a pain trying to catch up with the rest of my life. See you soon!

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ecclesiastes tells us everything we need to know about life, except how to cure the common cold



First, I want to make clear that this is not the piece that I promised to post in the previous post; the material is still fighting me and yes, it is getting more than a little annoying at this point, but things are what they are and when the thing finally gels I will put it up here PDQ, as my grandmother used to say, may she rest in peace. No, this thing is just a screed about adult coloring books. Now, you may not believe this—I know I didn’t when I first heard about them—but adult coloring books are a thing nowadays. I have seen them. They exist. They do; I am not kidding. The adult coloring book is not terribly different from the coloring book we all knew and loved when we were all about five years old and going to kindergarten.  The outlines in the book are a bit more complex than the ones we filled in when we were kids; there are no happy little bunnies or cute little kitty kats in the adult coloring books; and instead of using crayons to fill in the blanks one uses colored pencils (isn’t that racist? Shouldn’t it be pencils of color?), which allow, I would imagine, a much finer degree of control over where the color goes than a crayon or a magic marker can. The principle, however, is the same: it is a coloring book.

In related news, and I will tell you how this news is related in just a moment, the Census Bureau announced recently that the Millennials have finally passed in absolute numbers the great bulge in the American demographic python that is the Baby Boom Generation.  In addition, the number of Generation Xers will pass the Boomers sometime in 2028, proving yet again, as if the fact needed proving, what a bunch of slackers the Gen Xers are.  The Boomers will not go quietly—there will be plenty of kicking and screaming; the one thing that the Boomers could always do well is throw a magnificent tantrum—but The Preacher tells us in Ecclesiastes that one generation passeth and another generation cometh, and there will be no exception for the Boomers, no matter how much the spoiled senile delinquents insist on staying.

In short, the Boomers are entering their second childhoods, assuming, of course, that they ever left their first childhoods. With Boomers, this can be hard to tell. One would think that it would be impossible to generalize specific characteristics across an entire generation; some members of the Greatest Generation were not so great, some members of the Silent Generation were not so silent, and not every Millennial is an ill-informed doofus…well, maybe that’s a bad example; but most Boomers (specifically the Boomer I cohort of 1946 to 1955) are self-absorbed, egocentric dolts that never grew up (I blame drugs for this, especially weed). If you are one of these Boomers and you feel that this description does not describe you, that you are a functioning adult that long ago left the 1960’s behind and have moved on into the broad sunlit uplands of adulthood, then I apologize to you for the insulting description and I congratulate you for your acceptance that being a mature human being is not a fate worse than death, but let’s face reality: you’re a freak. 

So, we have adult coloring books and cable channels catering to the Leave it to Beaver nook in every Boomer’s soul and now dating sites on the Internet where the Boomers can go and find other Boomers with whom they can relive the happy years of tuning in, turning on, and dropping out without all the teenaged angst. We must endure commercials for CD collections of the Boomers’ favorite music, followed by equally endless commercials for prescription drugs that promise to keep the Boomers reasonably healthy in their second childhoods. Frankly, it all gets to be a bit much after a while.  Is it too much to ask some people to just grow up already and act their ages?  

Apparently, it is, and I am sure that because it is, somewhere in the deepest recesses of the Census Bureau there is joy abounding and happiness without limit, as the numbers finally show, after more than seventy years, that the most egocentric and annoying of American generations is finally beginning to go away.  I would imagine that the Census Bureau already has several cases of champagne on ice in the basement of its Maryland headquarters, stored there to help their long-overworked staff celebrate the happy day when the last Boomer hops into the celestial VW Bus and heads off towards the empyrean Woodstock with his doobie in hand and Saint Wolfman Jack blasting the Rolling Stones’ Can’t get no satisfaction on the radio.  Then the Census Bureau will party like it’s 2099, or, better yet, like it’s 2199, the latter date guaranteeing that there will be no Boomers left holding out on tropic atolls like stranded Japanese soldiers awaiting the return of the Imperial fleet.  And the girl that Mick is trying to make in Can’t get no satisfaction: she’s probably a grandmother now.  

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

More lies


I am, despite what it looks like, writing something for this blog. The material fought me at first, and frankly, is still resisting a bit, but I think I am within spitting distance of getting this to work. In the meantime, I want to apologize for the delay; it is unconscionable, but I hope to make good on it very shortly. Thank you for your patience. 


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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Death, be not proud...




Carla died ten years ago. The words don't really make any sense, as if the reality they describe was simply too odd to be true, but it is reality, nonetheless. The mind rebels against that reality, the mind rebels at the idea that someone as intensely alive as Carla could be dead at all, much less gone for all this time. Some people are like that. When the war photographer Robert Capa died in Indochina in 1954, his friend Ernest Hemingway wrote that Capa was so much alive that it was a long hard day to think of him as dead. Carla was like that. And now it has been ten years.

I hadn’t realized it was the tenth anniversary until a few days afterwards. Time passes and the slow accumulation of days the one after the other goes by so slowly that we pay no real attention to it.  There is always some new thing we must attend to: we must pay the telephone bill or get the car inspected or buy a gallon of milk because the last gallon is almost gone and there won’t be anything to put on our breakfast cereal tomorrow morning.  We worry about getting to work on time or how to get the kids to football practice or whether we can afford a new roof for the house. We wonder where we’ll go on vacation this year or whether to buy one of those big plasma televisions or how much candy to get for the trick or treaters on Halloween or how long to cook the Thanksgiving turkey or what to get the kids for Christmas, and then, before we know it, the New Year is here. And so it goes, one thing after another, one year after another, until it has been ten years since Carla died.

Time heals all wounds.  This is the comforting nostrum we tell ourselves in the wake of any great loss.  If we wait long enough, we tell ourselves, the pain will go away, and perhaps for people like me, the friends of the family, that is true. Time numbs the loss for us, so that we can go on with our lives, so much so that the tenth anniversary can come and go without our realizing the significance of the date.  Carla’s family does not have that. The suddenness of her death, the tragic loss so someone so young, vibrant, and talented as she was leaves a ragged scar on the souls of those who loved her most, the sharp edges of grief keeping the wound from ever completely healing over. 

I have not been to her grave since the funeral. I suppose it just never occurred to me to go. I am sure that everything is now as it was then: the white Dutch Reformed Church and the old graveyard behind the church, with its old and pitted gravestones marking the passing of the generations, the small flags marking the graves of local boys who died in faraway places like Gettysburg, Omaha Beach, and Khe Sanh, the long valley with its neat white farmhouses stretching away towards the sharp rise of the Shawangunk Mountains, all these things will not have changed.  There will be flowers on her grave, in the plot where her paternal grandparents also rest, and maybe a few stones as well, to show that someone came and stopped for a moment before moving on to the next thing, came and stopped and thought of the beautiful girl in the earth below and paid their respects to her. I think that will be my next thing to do, to cross the river and go and put a stone on her grave, and remember the little girl who used to rescue salamanders from the stream that ran by her house and the young artist with so much promise and the lovely young woman who was almost as tall as I am, almost, and who only grew that tall to make me feel old.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Warning: the following is probably not true.



I am working on something, despite the caption above. I will get the thing here as soon as I can. Really. I mean that. In the meantime, I trust you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Aft times gang agley



So the thing of it was, I had plans, big plans, to get another screed done in no time at all and post it, but things have gone awry, as they are wont to do, and I figured I should explain what happened.  This planned screed, which is actually half way done, was not one of the usual pieces that I put up here, a bit of lightweight fluff about nothing very important, but a deep, really deep, think piece about the NFL players in London a few weeks ago kneeling for The Star-Spangled Banner and standing for God Save The Queen.  I had all manner of facts and figures and I was marshalling all sorts of arguments to prove my point—I can do that, you know, it’s a free country—in order to show that the NFL players were historical idiots, but I had other things to do at work and at home that had to get done; I'm sure you know how that is; and so I had to put a hold on proving my point and go do them. It’s all very boring when not actually being tedious, but most of life is boring when not actually being tedious; what can you do?  Having to put the piece off annoyed me no end because they—the NFL guys, I mean—were being historically ignorant, you know. Think of it like this: There were over six hundred thousand slaves in the United States at the time of the 1790 Census, which is only fourteen years after the United States declared its independence, only seven years since the 1783 Treaty of Paris that formalized American independence, and just three years since the United States adopted the current Constitution.  So it makes sense that except for the youngest of the slaves, most of those six hundred thousand people were born here or they or their ancestors were brought here by the people who ran the United States before the United States became the United States.  The people I speak of were, oddly enough, the British, whose flag is apparently not a sign of racism and oppression nowadays despite their being the people who caused America’s problems with racism and oppression in the first place. This is a bit of a conundrum for me, but I guess that I am the only one who feels this way.  The NFL was playing in London that day and criticizing the British role in the American slave trade was not on, if only for reasons of political tact. Personally, I do not see the reason for this sudden reluctance to point out the obvious, unless the NFL players did not know that they were in the presence of America’s original racist oppressors.  This is very possible, given that K-12 education in the places where most NFL players come from tends to be execrable in the extreme and that their college educations consist largely of remedial classes and in-depth studies of underwater African-American lesbian basket weaving.  It may be too much to hope for historical literacy under those circumstances; it is enough that they are literate enough to sign their names at the bottom of their lucrative contracts without using an X.  That can be very embarrassing, or so people tell me.

But I haven’t had a chance to get all of this good stuff down on paper, so I guess I should apologize for that and let everyone know that I am working hard on the piece and that I will put it up here just as soon as I can. And I trust you are all in good health and enjoying the weekend. Good night.

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