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..." " 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)

Monday, February 14, 2005

PORLOCK BLUES: Of course, it’s embarrassing to have to admit this; you never know whether to mark something like this down to advancing age or the effects of prolonged exposure to winter weather, although that particular argument doesn’t really fly, not when there are plenty of Swedes and Finns and Lapps and Eskimos who haven’t had this happen to them; but I had a subject for one of these essays set and ready to go, and it was a humdinger, let me tell you; it would’ve had you rolling in the isles of Langerhans and crying your eyes out from the intensity of the laughter and given you stitches going up one side of your chest and down the other like a busy workday in a Guatemalan sweatshop, that’s how funny it was, and I was working out just how I would use this nonpareil of ideas when I had to go outside and drag some branches from the front yard to the back, where we chuck them over the fence into our neighbor’s yard, which drives him up the wall; we really ought not do that, I suppose; but as he only comes up to our happy little burg during the summer there’s not much he can do about it, seeing as we can always say the branches fell off his trees, since his back yard is a forest of pine and vine and botany in wild profusion that lend our branch dumping denials the air of somewhat complete plausibility; and then, having come back into the house, I had completely forgotten what I was going to write about. The utterly hilarious idea that I liked so much has almost completely vanished, something that annoys me no end right now. If it were totally gone, I wouldn’t worry about it too much; I’d just say oh well and remind myself to make a note of the next bright idea I have so it wouldn’t fall down the memory hole; but I can still remember bits and pieces, which is frankly not enough to recover the rest of the idea. This, as you probably know, is very annoying, indeed.

I have tried to remember just what the very funny idea was, but I am not having much success. At first I thought it might be this idea I’ve had kicking around about St. Thomas Aquinas and how after he died the locals tried to cut him up for relics; a bone from his left arm is in one church and his entire right arm is in another; relics were a big thing in the Middle Ages. One of the disadvantages to being very religious during the Middle Ages was that after you died people wanted to cut you up for relics. Having a piece of a real saint in your church bestowed all sorts of blessings on the church and the people who attended it. Now if the Church recognized your saint and their bona fides by actually canonizing them, as opposed to your saint being some holy Joe local everyone down at Murphy's Bar & Grill said was a saint but in reality could’ve been some old fart just a few beads short of a full rosary, then your local church might become a center of pilgrimage that everyone and his uncle Bob would want to go to, which meant hotels and restaurants would fill up during the pilgrimage season and there’d be jobs as busboys, bartenders, and baggage handlers open for the locals, so whenever an especially religious person came down with anything more serious than the common cold during the Middle Ages they’d have to hire a few bodyguards to keep the local Chamber of Commerce from putting a pillow over their faces and keeping them in town for perpetuity as a tourist attraction. I thought I could compare our modern celebrity culture with that; you know, compare and contrast sports memorabilia with saintly relics, for example, but I couldn’t get the concept to work to my satisfaction so I just dropped it. And besides, that wasn’t what the great idea I had was all about, insofar as I can remember what the great idea was all about.

Then I thought that it might have something to do with politics; the adventures of politicians can supply a lifetime of funny ideas and they can often supply them in just one legislative session, particularly here in New York, where the politics and the politicians who practice them tend towards the extremely dysfunctional. Once upon a time in New York, the once upon a time being just a few weeks ago, in fact, state legislators did not have to show up to cast votes on legislation; if they weren’t there they voted yes. A New York state legislator could, in theory, never go to the floor of the Legislature in either the Assembly or the State Senate, never propose a bill, or even go to Albany, and still acquire an impressive legislative history to run on in the next election, where he would more than likely not have to worry about his opponent, since there wouldn’t be an opponent: New York state legislators think that incumbency is one of their civil rights, and it is a right that they will defend to the death. They find winning handily over some no name sacrificial lamb tossed up by the opposing party to be an almost blissful experience, and to run unopposed as paradise itself. But I don’t remember politics playing a big part in the great idea that got away. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I can tell when politics get involved; my liver starts to ache, for some strange reason.

The great idea wasn’t sports related; I don’t follow football, basketball, or hockey, not that I could follow hockey this year even if I wanted to, what with the players on strike and all; and pitchers and catchers haven’t reported yet for baseball, which is the sport I do follow. So that whole avenue was a dead end from start to finish, and now the constant probing of my now shot to pieces memory for some thread of the great idea that got away is starting to get to me; is anything worth this level of psychic pain? I wish that someone interrupted me; that way I could blame them for my forgetting the great idea and pop their kneecaps off with a crowbar for all the mental anguish they’ve put me through.


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