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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Explanation

Strange as this may seem, I actually do have something to put here other than this attempt to explain why the thing I have to put here isn't actually here at the moment. Things have been very busy hereabouts in the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread--the boss is retiring--and I haven't had the time to type the piece up and to upload it. Mis apologias, and no, I don't know why I am saying that in Spanish, unless it is to ingratiate myself to the soon to be new owners of this our Great Republic. In any case, I will attend to the matter of uploading the newest screed as soon as I have the time, which should be sometime this week, God willing and the river don't rise, as John Wayne used to say.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Domini Canes, sugar canes, or just canes



For those of you who pay no attention to The Passing Parade on any more than an intermittent basis, I am a gimp.  Or rather, I was a gimp; now I am merely gimpish.  What I mean by this is that for the past year and a half I have been using a cane to get from Point A to Point B, which is not a very interesting trip nowadays. This is because there are too many tourists at Point B now and they are ruining the atmosphere and scenery that made Point B an interesting place to go to in the first place.  It’s always like that, isn’t it?  You find a little place that you can enjoy with the family and before you know it the place gets a big write-up in The New York Times and then everyone wants to go there for a visit, or worse, they want to move to Point B. If they were only tourists I don’t think I would mind them so much; they would come on the weekends and by Sunday afternoon they’d head for the train station and go away, and Point B would be a reasonably habitable place until the next weekend. But the new arrivals are just a royal pain in the gluteus maximus.  They just love the way everything is, right up to the point where they want to change the way it is.  And then they don’t understand why the locals object; after all, they just want to make their new homes better by making the place like the places they just left.  Here’s a tip for you geniuses: we like the way things are here. If you don’t like the way things are here, then why don’t you consider moving back there?  It must be God’s country, after all; I know this because you keep telling everyone how wonderful everything is there[i].  

In any case, as I was saying, I am a gimp, sideways sort of.  For the past almost two years or so, I have had to walk using a cane because of various health issues that are too dreary to bring up in either mixed or unmixed company. Even I find talking about the subject annoying, which is odd given how much everyone in my family loves talking about our collective illnesses. When the family gets together, a rare event that usually occurs at funerals, strangely enough, everyone loves to talk about how bad they are feeling and what new doctor they had to see and the outrageous price of prescription medications these days. You would think that all of this talk of bad health would be in very poor taste, given the circumstances, but hypochondria runs in the family[ii] and I am sure if the deceased were alive he or she would be complaining about their poor health as well; we will not allow any one person’s stretching of ill health to its logical conclusion to stop everyone else’s right to enjoy a fine whine with their dinner. So, back to the cane. I’ve been using one for a while now and in the past few months I have taken the necessary steps to get rid of the problems that led to my having to use the damn thing in the first place. In short, I have new hips, the old ones having fallen victim to years of steady abuse brought on by a constant overconsumption of chocolate, and it pleases me now to announce that I am thinking of going on the carnival freak show circuit as Akaky, the man with three cracks in his backside[iii]. It also pleases me to announce that I am on the verge of not needing the cane anymore and as soon as this happy state of affairs occurs, I intend to toss my canes into the river, the environmentalists be damned[iv]

Of course, I will miss the canes in a strange sort of way. Here in our happy little burg, ignoring the traffic laws is a municipal sport of sorts, and one of the laws ignored the most is the one where pedestrians get the right of way in the crosswalks.  But the visibly lame always get a pass. No matter how bad the traffic, motorists will stop for people in wheelchairs or using a walker or walking with a cane, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stopped and let me get across the street in one piece.  I would like to think that this automotive benevolence is because the motorists hereabouts are filled with the milk of human kindness, or the empathy-saturated beverage of their choice, but I strongly suspect that not explaining why they ran down a person who visibly couldn’t get out of their way to the cops, the judge, and the insurance company has a little bit more to do with the matter than anyone around here would care to admit. Admitting that you ran down a little old lady in the crosswalk because you were going to be late picking up the kids at cheerleader practice is a conversation most sane people will choose to avoid if at all possible.  There is no way to come out of this conversation looking good and so it is best to stop for the old lady and not worry about having the conversation in the first place.  Your little princess-cheerleader will simply have to wait, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes about your being late.

The canes are also good for tripping little children.  You may not think that this is fun, but when you have very little else to do you have to take your laughs where you can get them.  The younger the child the better, as small children are not apt to figure out that you tripped them on purpose, and it is easier to convince them that their falling was their own silly fault. My beard helps me in this, as people usually will not ascribe malevolent motives to a lame man who looks vaguely like Santa Claus[v]. So I have been having a hell of a good time knocking over little children left, right, and center, and then laughing benevolently at the poor child gets up off the ground. I chat with the parents as they get up; it allays their suspicions. I was thinking of bringing some candy with me to bribe the horrible little monsters in silence, but on second thought I don’t think I will.  If I don’t share, it means more candy for me[vi]. 


[i] Not you in the sense of you personally, whoever you are. I mean a generic you, any you who happens to be reading this particular screed at this particular time.
[ii] As Mortimer Brewster says of insanity in his family in Arsenic and Old Lace, hypochondria fairly gallops in mine.
[iii] They are not literally cracks, except, of course, for the one crack we all share. The others are scars at this point, but there was a time, and not so distant a time at that, when both of these scars were bona fide cracks in my bottom.
[iv] To be taken literally. If I want to throw the canes in the river, I’m going to throw the canes into the river. There are PCBs in the river and a layer of bottles a couple of feet thick off of West Point, and there are people peeing in it every day during the summer. Two canes aren’t going to hurt.
[v] In an offhand sort of way, and if you aren’t looking too closely.
[vi] Socialism is a terrible thing. It’s best that kids learn this early on in life. It will prevent disappointments later.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Danish and my leg, such as it is



My apologies for the prolonged absence, but I should report that I am feeling much better now, thank you for asking, and I am able to walk short distances without the cane, something for which I am almost inordinately proud of myself. Physical therapy continues as before and I spend much of my time smiling and agreeing with my therapist, an attractive young woman who combines the two traits I have found in almost all physical therapists I have ever dealt with: cheerful optimism and equally cheerful sadism. I certainly do not mind having an attractive young woman massage my right leg every other day; on the other hand, I do not understand why she does not simply haul off and pound on the leg with a baseball bat—the effect in either case is more or less the same.   

In my enforced state of stasis, I have learned that daytime television is a plot to deprive Americans of their liberties by depriving them of their ability to think critically about almost anything at all, and I have learned that Danish researchers have discovered that too much jogging is bad for you.  The two facts are not related in any way, as far as I can see, although an overconsumption of daytime television may cause the viewer not to see that a Danish researcher would say such a thing, there being an inherent conflict of interest between Danish researchers and jogging.  Time spent jogging is, by definition, time you will not use to have a Danish and maybe a nice cup of coffee while you chat with your friends. This is not a good thing, not at all, because jogging is a very antisocial activity, whether you do a lot of it or not.  You could jog with another person, of course, but you can’t really carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone when you’re blowing air out of your pie-hole like Moby Dick.  The only topic of conversation likely to interest any group of joggers is when the new guy at the back of the pack is going drop dead from a heart attack; joggers have a sick sense of humor, generally speaking. It's from spending all that time by themselves jogging. The stress makes strange things pop into their heads.

What Danish researchers ought to be researching is how come no deli in this our Great Republic can serve fresh Danish on a daily basis.  Here in our happy little burg, if you don’t get your Danish fresh on Monday, then you can forget about the rest of the week; after Monday the local consumer of Danish (i.e., me) will enjoy, if you can call it that, six degrees of ever greater staleness, until on Saturday the local consumer of Danish (i.e., me) is eating the baked equivalent of cardboard with some jam on it.  It is annoying, to say the least, and makes one question one’s commitment to the Danish as a NATO ally.  I mean, really, if the Danish cannot bother guaranteeing that the Danish is fresh, then why are we wasting the taxpayers’ money defending them from Dutch aggression? That’s what I want to know.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Academy Awards controversy



I feel that I should take this opportunity to protest the clear lack of diversity that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has demonstrated in its nominations in the acting categories this year.  I do not believe that I have to point out—indeed, tens of thousands of people have already pointed out—that of all the artists nominated in the acting categories only one is a French woman.  I find it hard to believe that the Academy could only find one French woman to nominate for anything when France invented cinema as an art form and has one of the oldest motion picture industries in the world, an industry that routinely produces hundreds of film annually. Such a brutal snub displays, I think, more than a little Francophobia and poses some very pointed questions about the Academy’s commitment to diversity.

As a corollary to the facts enumerated above, I should also point out that none of the nominees, even the French woman, is a member of a municipal fire department. In fact, I believe that I can say with a fair degree of certainty that none of the nominees is a member of a volunteer fire department, either. This, I think, is nothing short of despicable. I believe that all right-thinking people can agree that our nation’s fire departments, both career and volunteer, perform important, indeed vital, work in protecting the American movie-going public from danger every day and that the Academy’s refusal to nominate a fire fighter in any category is nothing short of churlish.

So, what are we to make of the Academy’s actions?  First, that the Academy is clearly biased against French women and fire departments is a fact so demonstrable in this year’s nominations as to be beyond the ability of any amount of face-saving p.r. to refute. Second, it is clear that the Academy will not reform its bigoted mindset unless compelled to do so. The many attempts by the French Embassy and the International Associations of Fire Chiefs to rectify the situation by behind the scenes persuasion have obviously been for naught. Therefore, I am calling on the Motion Picture Association of America, the body that rates the movies for language, violence, and sexual content, in begin issuing new ratings that will inform the public about the number of French women and fire fighters in any given motion picture and I am calling on the American public itself to boycott any motion picture in which an appropriate number of French women and fire fighters do not appear. In addition to these measures, the Academy should set aside a certain number of nominations every year for French women and fire fighters, in order to ensure fairness, and then set up a fund to encourage underprivileged French women and fire fighters to enter the motion picture field. In this way the American movie-going public can rest assured that a corrupt and venal Academy will not assault its sensibilities in such a brutal fashion and the sort of blatant bias we have all seen this year will not repeat itself.  Thank you and I will see you at the movies!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Update

The right hip was replaced on Monday and today I am in the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread, so I am assuming that all went well with the operation. I have nothing on the griddle at the moment, but I am thinking and I will have something for you sooner rather than later. Until then, enjoy your weekend!
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

 This is not a new post; I originally posted this in February of 2006. I was going to write a new post after the murderous events in Paris, but it seems to me that what I said then remains relevant now, so I'm just going to post this piece again.  There are references to events then in the news other than the main topic; I have left them as is.--Akaky


This being a free country and all, I figure I’m as entitled to my opinion the same as the next guy, so I’m going to take this opportunity to bloviate a little, if you don’t mind. There’s a great fight going on these days and some of the people you’d expect to be in the forefront of this struggle are surprisingly AWOL. The question facing Western civilization these days goes beyond the multicultural let’s-be-inclusive politically correct pap we’ve all been listening to for I don’t know how many years now. It goes beyond whether or not you find those Danish cartoons funny or in poor taste. Muslims throughout the world have responded to the publication of those cartoons by boycotting Danish products, denouncing Denmark in the media, and demonstrating outside of Danish embassies and consulates. All of this is, to my mind, legitimate protest; one need only remember the reaction to Andres Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ,' Martin Scorsese’s 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' and Chris Ofili’s ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’ to know that the faithful of all religious persuasions dislike the idea of having their beliefs mocked or the idea that they should simply sit back and accept these insults without a fight. What any society, however, cannot accept is the threat and use of violence to enforce any one religion’s dogmas as civil law on those people who do not accept that religion’s doctrines. And yet, many of the people whom you would think would never under any circumstances accept a confessional exception for the tenets of Christianity or Judaism in the law seem fully willing to accept such an exception for Islam.

And why is that? There are many reasons, but the simplest one is the easiest to understand, and has the benefit of truth as well: they are frightened; they don’t want an Islamic rent—a—mob sacking their offices and harming their families, co-workers, and friends. Who are the they I am talking about here? The media, for one, which is censoring itself in a manner it would not dream of doing for Catholic or evangelical protestors, and seems more interested in playing gotcha with the Administration over the Vice-President's hunting accident that in showing the American people what the cause of all the rioting is. Not one major media outlet that I am aware of has actually published these cartoons, and I think it is a strange commentary on the American press that their main objection to this accident is that the White House did not stroke their outsized egos as much as they would have liked. The artists and Hollywood celebrities for another, who cannot wait to give us their opinions about everything under the sun whether we want to hear them or not, but who seem very quiet in the face of this blatant attempt to blackjack Danish press and artistic expression and leave it bleeding in the gutter. Where are the celebrators of transgressive art in this controversy? These are the same folks who can’t wait for some representative of the Catholic League to denounce their latest transgressive piece of dreck in order to gin up some interest in their work, but in this matter they find that there’s nothing to be said, nothing to be done, please go away and leave us alone; what you say may be true, but first we must cultivate our gardens.

This, I think, is not something I’m sure I believe: a few Danish cartoonists create the most brilliantly transgressive art of our young century, and the local purveyors of such art have nothing to say about it, preferring, no doubt, to find new ways of dipping crucifixes in bodily waste. This is all very far indeed from Voltaire’s cry of Ecrasez l’infame (Crush the infamy!) and Flaubert’s dictum that the job of the artist is to epater le bourgeois (shock the middle-classes). When Voltaire spoke of crushing the infamy of superstition, the Roman Catholic Church in France was as powerful in is way as the state itself, and equally interested in using the temporal power of the state to enforce Catholic religious teaching and dogma as the law of the land; the law forbade anyone from questioning the doctrines of the Church and blasphemy was as foul a crime as murder. And yet, Voltaire attacked the Church again and again, using his wit and invective to stir men’s minds against the dead weight of centuries of dogma and to get people to think for themselves.

Today, however, we have artists who want to be transgressive, but only if that gets them a show in a expensive gallery in SoHo, or, barring that, in some hot new edgy place like Beacon, and afterwards a nice wine and cheese party and then a good review in the New York Times’ Sunday Arts & Leisure section. Today, we have artists who want to crush the infamy, but only if the infamy provides some buzz for their work; today, we have artists who want to shock the bourgeoisie as much as Flaubert did, but not if the bourgeoisie close their checkbooks first and go home. No one wants to deal with maniacal critics willing to use riot and intimidation in order to protect what they deem holy. Today, we seem to have a media and an arts establishment utterly unwilling to show the American people what the fuss is all about and equally unwilling to say anything in defense of the very freedoms that make their livelihoods possible. It was easy for the media and the artists and the limousine liberals to criticize the Catholic Church’s objections to a painting of the Blessed Virgin that came complete with a lump of elephant dung and photographs of female pudenda cut from porno magazines, and talk about what a brave thing this was for the artist and the Brooklyn Art Museum to do in the face of Rudy Giuliani’s threats to cut the museum’s tax support, but in the face of Islamic mob violence these same people are saying nothing, doing nothing.

I wonder if this apathy in the face of real danger is because we are a softer people than we once were. Once upon a time, people knew that taking a moral stand meant taking a risk. In the past few months, the nation has lost Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, both of whom knew that tyranny does not crumble easily and that bringing down such tyranny may cost you everything and everyone you love. In the past few months, Jack Anderson passed away, a man who dedicated his life to uncovering what actually went on in Washington, D.C. and bringing the secret into the public light, so that the American people could judge for themselves what their representatives were doing in their names, despite the pressure from the politically powerful to keep what he knew to himself. None of these people thought that what they were trying to accomplish would be risk free, or that those who stood to lose the most if the old dispensation were to join Marxism in the dustbin of history would go quietly into that good night. But they stayed in the fight, they stayed and fought for what they believed in. We don’t seem to do this anymore, we seem to say, as we often do about marriage, that this is for better or forget it, forgetting, as we make light of ourselves, that there are others watching.

Yes, there are others watching, for whom freedom of expression is a blasphemy, who believe, as St. Augustine did, that error has no rights, and everything not found in an ancient Arabic text is unworthy of existence. Perhaps the Caliph Omar did not order the destruction of the great library at Alexandria in the seventh century by saying that if the books in the library agreed with the Koran then they were superfluous, and therefore not necessary and could be destroyed, and if they disagreed with the Koran they were heresy, and therefore harmful and should be destroyed forthwith, but his co-religionists of today deeply believe that this is nothing more or less than the truth, and that even unbelievers must accept the dictates of the Prophet and the ummah, if they know what is good for them. These people will do everything in their power to reduce the corrupt and decadent West, the Dar al-Harb, the House of War, and its will to resist the coming of the True Faith, and there are more than a few of those people Lenin once called useful idiots willing to help them along. We see this in the anxious kowtowing to the notion that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance when we see every day that it is not; we see this in the twisting of news and language so as to avoid offending always sensitive Muslim sensibilities, and we see this in the playing up of Western mistakes and the playing down of Muslim ones. Robert Frost once famously defined a liberal as a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. We, it seems to me, no longer want to take our own side in this argument, that we are content to let the Danes fight the good fight for freedom of expression. And if they fail, if they buckle under to the threats of mob violence, then what of it? What is Denmark to us, or we to Denmark, that we should trouble ourselves for them?

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

...and a very Happy New Year to you all!  Best wishes for all of you in 2015.
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