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)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This is what I wrote last year; this year I am too depressed about the event described below to think of anything new to say about it. Next year I think I will be positively suicidal.

26 JULY 1958:
As a general rule, I dislike birthdays; I have nothing against those who enjoy this sort of thing; they are certainly entitled to their opinion, but I still dislike birthdays, and I especially dislike birthdays when the birthday in question is my own. I guess I wouldn’t mind birthdays so much if they stayed they were when you were a kid. Kids can’t wait for birthdays; it’s their own very special holiday and there are cakes and games and parties and presents and whole slews of other good things happening, and best of all, it's all for them. I still remember my fifth birthday party; half the neighborhood showed up for cake and ice cream, the other half turned up for the free liquor, and my father and my Uncle Mickey got drunk and tried to beat each other’s brains out over something that happened in 1951. That was a great party, but the thing of it is, after you’ve accumulated more than a few birthdays, the day seems less a commemoration of your arrival here on Spaceship Earth than it is a reminder that you are now officially another year closer to becoming a protein source for invertebrates.



Sunday, July 22, 2007

RUTS IN THE ROAD OF LIFE: There are two kinds of umpire in baseball, beyond the obvious divide between the younger umpires, who look as though they know what a gym is for and, if hard pressed, could actually spell the word, and those older umps who look as though they supplement their off-season incomes by touring Japan as the comic relief on the Triple AAA all you can eat sumo circuit. This is an important division, make no mistake about it, but the true difference between umps is philosophical in nature, and lies between those umpires who adhere single-mindedly to the rule book and call a balk every time the pitcher’s knee vibrates slightly, and those umpires who understand that the modern understanding of the balk is, generally speaking, as nonsensical an idea as campaign finance reform, radical feminism, and the idea that you can somehow improve the taste of a French fry by putting mayonnaise on the thing, and so do not call the balk at all unless the pitcher is so blatant about committing this breach of baseball etiquette that he practically forces the umpire’s hand. Not every pitcher, however, gets such an understanding soul behind home plate and it’s probably better that way, now that I think about it.

Now, the mindless obsession with blindly following rules no matter how inane they are is something we can all agree is not at all a good thing, unless it gets you a bigger refund on your income taxes, where such persnicketyness becomes a positive boon for the poor sod who gets the check, but I think even the most die-hard anarchist would agree that there must be some small modicum of legislation if society is to function at all. It is with this basic agreement to the social contract that makes civilization as we know and understand it possible, and therefore I am sure that I can safely say that no matter how what system of government we live under, no one in a position of authority will permit my cousin Mickey to indulge his taste for blasting holes in Coca-Cola vending machine with a shotgun.

I am not at all certain why Mickey feels such animosity towards the Coca-Cola Company; he is not now nor has he ever been an employee of that organization and they’ve never done anything to him, at least that I am aware of, that would trigger such a powerful loathing. And loathe them he does; his prejudice against Coca-Cola borders on the unexplainably paranoid these days and you have to wonder why anyone would invest the time and energy in hating a soft-drink company when such time could be more profitably spent hating Jews, blacks, homosexuals, and pointy-headed flag-burning pinko intellectuals, but Mickey has always marched to a different drummer than the rest of the family and has always managed to find his way home, despite my aunt and uncle’s best efforts to keep him away from the rest of us. Frankly, Mickey is something of a family embarrassment nowadays, to say the least, and given the nature of his crimes, every gendarme in a twenty-five mile radius knows where to go just as soon as the word goes around that yet another Coca-Cola vending machine has sprung a major buckshot induced leak. It’s not like there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people committing this particular crime every day of the week. Maybe if he’d start shooting Pepsi machines as well, the sudden change in modus operandi would throw the constabulary off for long enough for him to get some professional help. I don’t think he will do it, though; as a serial offender, Mickey is in a rut. I think he likes it that way.

There’s nothing wrong with being in a rut per se; for some people ruts are a good thing both personally and professionally. No one, for example, wants his or her accountant to think outside the fiduciary rut, lest he pull a Gauguin one fine day and retire to Tahiti with the money you were going to invest in rechargeable electric eel breeding ranches in Costa Rica, or deal with a librarian who organizes the fiction collection in alphabetical order according to the author’s maternal great-grandmother’s maiden name. So some ruts are altogether to the good; others do no harm, and yet others are largely unexplainable while remaining benign, as with the just concluded annual meeting of the local anti-piracy league. Our happy little burg’s anti-piracy league is an ancient institution in this neck of the woods. Local merchants founded the league in 1705—they even have a royal charter signed by Queen Anne's deputy assistant private sectetary and witnessed by Her Majesty's transvestite cousin, the royal governor—to protect ships going up and down the river from the gangs of greedy economically deprived sociopaths who preyed on the river traffic. In the eighteenth century, and indeed well into the first decades of the nineteenth century, it was not at all uncommon to see on of the anti-piracy league’s patrol boats come back from an expedition down the river with two or three of those aquatic miscreants and the occasional life insurance salesman hanging like unwilling Christmas ornaments from the yardarm. In the years since then, however, the problem of river piracy has shrunk to well past the point of nonexistence, and yet the anti-piracy league goes on; I even got one of their annual membership drive letters in the mail yesterday morning. It still exists, even though there is no point to its existence, which is true of a great many things these days, I think. The anti-piracy league goes on meeting because they’ve gotten into the habit of meeting, and the members regard continuing the meetings as less of a psychic burden than admitting that they are now merely a group performing largely meaningless rituals or to transform themselves into a society dedicated to extirpating some more contemporary form of crime like horse theft or cattle rustling. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them thar varmints strung up, nope, I reckon I wouldn’t mind that at all.

Labels: , , ,


Thursday, July 19, 2007

SUITS, STRONG, FRIVOLOUS, AND OTHERWISE: The problem of tort reform got you down? Are you frustrated by politicians and their inability to wean themselves from campaign contributions from the tort lawyers whose livelihood even minor reform might threaten? Then have no fear, folks, help is on the way. Who needs tort reform when the judges in the case will not take you seriously, and will, in fact, make fun of you and your case in public? Yes, the answer to the need to reform the abuse of tort law is to mock the plaintiffs unmercifully until they slink away in shame and leave the justice system for those people who actually need to use it.

This comes to all of us courtesy of the good people at Opinion Journal.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WAR OF WORDS: Carlin Romano wonders why many Western leaders just can't bring themselves to call an Islamic militant a filthy, loathsome terrorist thug, and then offers some reasons why they should, all of which are valid, I think. The primary reason, to my mind, though, is that using such direct language is anathema to politicians, since if they do use such language, their electorates will wonder what the politicians are doing to protect them from such miscreants. This, in turn, would require the politicians to point out that these creatures are at war with us and, almost by default, we are at war with them, and politicians dislike the word war, except when it is a big government sponsored program on some social problem without immediate access to firearms. War as such, however, means accepting unforeseen risks with unintended consequences, and most politicians shy away from both if it might mean they lose their seat in Parliament/Congress/Dail/Storting/Cortes/Bundestag/Assemblee Nationale/Camera dei Deputati/Duma etc, etc.

From the Arts and Letters Daily via Norm.

Labels: , , , ,


Friday, July 13, 2007

THE COOL LIBRARIANS: I see in the New York Times, and if I see it in the New York Times it must be so, right (high irony alert), that librarians are now officially hip, cool, or whatever word the kids are using these days to denote special approval. I don’t know how this happened; we were just sitting around shushing little kids (I am a champion shusher, if I do say so myself—in library school I got my best grades in the course on shushing) and telling teenagers that no, they can’t eat, drink, dance, or copulate anywhere in the library, and all of a sudden, we’re at the center of the cool universe. This is certainly very strange, especially for those of us who have been in the profession for a while. The Times goes on about how libraries are not just about books these days, that we are about packaging, for lack of a better word, information for the patrons. This sort of thing always amuses those of us who have had to do this for a bit, since libraries were never just about books even when all we offered were books. No, indeed, sometimes it's about cadavers.

It is a commonplace amongst librarians that library schools do not teach you anything useful about the actual functioning of a library. This was especially true if you planned to work in a public library. For example, I cannot remember a single instance in library school of any instructor telling the gathered cool people to be what the proper procedure for dealing with a corpse in the men’s room was. I mean, do we try to identify him? And if we do, should we check to see if he has any outstanding fines and take the money out of his wallet before we call the police? And what about the books and DVDs he has out? Will we ever see them again? No one told us and I am pretty sure that none of us in the classroom ever thought to ask. Similarly, the questions of crazed dogs, crazed junkies, crazed parents, crazed kids, and what to do with the people who are just plain crazy never crossed our minds as we learned the intricacies of the Dewey Decimal System. I am sure that if given a little time, I could probably catalog and classify any number of oddball behaviors, but what to do with the people actually exhibiting those behaviors while inside the library did not rate much discussion, as far as I remember. I had to learn how to deal with barfing dogs and paranoid schizophrenics defecating in the fiction stacks on my own and without any help from my graduate degree, which, don’t get me wrong, is always a nice thing to have, but I suspect is largely superfluous to what I actually have to do in this egregious mold pit from day to day.

Labels: , , , ,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

LIFE AND THE NOTENGLISH LANGUAGE: You probably couldn’t prove something like by checking Wikipedia, but based on my personal observation, and I see no reason why my personal observation shouldn’t be just as valid as Wikipedia’s; after all, I’ve written an article for them and got paid exactly the same amount I get for writing these screeds, which is to say, zip zilch nada rien absolutely nothing; it would appear that there are exactly two languages spoken in the world today: English and NotEnglish. There are many differences between the two languages, some subtle, others not so subtle, but the way I tell the difference between the two is that when someone speaks English I usually understand what they are saying and when they speak NotEnglish, I don’t. This method may work for you or it may not; I merely offer it as a suggestion; you do not have to pay royalties to me or anyone else for it.

I also learn from Wikipedia that the majority of the people on this planet speak NotEnglish as a first language, most of them not bothering to learn English at all or, if they do, that their language skills are so minimal as to render communication impossible. This fact stunned me, or it might have been that door closing in my face that did the stunning—I’m better now, thank you, even if my nose still hurts like nobody’s business—and I checked my copy of the 1979 World Almanac to see if this allegation were true. Strange as it may seem, this is true—most NotEnglish speakers not only do not speak English, but have no intention of learning English—the World Almanac confirming what appeared to me at first to be utterly incredible. This is very troubling, as you might imagine, since lack of English language skills almost guarantees that most of these people will have trouble finding work after they graduate from high school. Furthermore, most NotEnglish speakers tend to be foreigners, when they are not actually teenagers. Teenagers are a singularly uncommunicative group, especially when their parents are around, their NotEnglish skills limited to a series of grunts, shrugs, and exasperated eye-rolling undecipherable to all save other teenagers and several small species of East African baboon.

Having said that, I should point out that modern NotEnglish also comes in a wide variety of dialects, not all of which are mutually intelligible. This seems to be a result of geography and a bad phone plan, and also as a result of these people being foreigners, although the need to avoid census takers and lawyers may also play a role in this linguistic distribution. After census takers come tax collectors and then tort lawyers, life insurance salesmen, and Red Sox fans, and the sensible thing to do when confronted by any of these vile miscreants is to move as far away from them as possible lest they attempt to perform their loathsome religious rituals upon you and yours while keeping one eye peeled for the cops. Pretending that you don’t know what they are saying also helps and, no doubt, provides the basis of a good many NotEnglish dialects.

The main problem with NotEnglish, insofar as I can see, is that the grammars of the various dialects differ wildly, with no two sets of grammar being exactly alike. There are occasional convergences, as in those places the Romans once ruled, but on the whole, most NotEnglish speakers understand each other about as well as I understand them. Where English has only the one set of grammar and comes complete with rooms full of Irish nuns who will box your ears in if you forget that the I comes before the C except after E or that its and it’s are not the same word, its being the possessive pronoun and possessive adjective form of the personal pronoun it and it’s being a contraction of the words it is or it has—English is very big on contractions, for some reason or other; I’m not sure why, though; English certainly has enough words in the dictionary so that we can afford to use the whole word and not just the good parts, but no one asked me for my opinion when they made this decision—the dialects of NotEnglish have neither a set standard nor the pugilistic power of Irish nuns to back them up. I hear that in Paris, the government sponsors an organization that aspires to this sort of linguistic authority, but this same government will not allow the members of this organization to commit assault and battery, and without the ability to knock small children on their backsides with a single stroke of the hand, an ability that many nuns raised to the level of a marital art, no dialect can hope to standardize its own grammar, much less outdo the other speakers of NotEnglish.

You may point out that the members of this Parisian organization tend to be quite elderly and therefore incapable of using an art, martial or otherwise, to enforce the rules of their particular brand of NotEnglish, but those of us who have gone to parochial schools know better than that. I once saw Sister Mary Agnes knock Billy Harrigan on his backside for speaking disrespectfully to her, and Billy was 6’4” and 250 pounds when he was thirteen years old, and Sister Mary Agnes was eighty-five, five foot nothing, and if she ever weighed more than one hundred pounds in her life it was when she was carrying a box of books from the convent into the school. Billy went down fast and hard, just like a keg of beer at the firemen’s annual family day party, and I don’t think he ever saw what hit him. I don’t think the fight was entirely fair, though; I’m pretty sure I saw Sister Mary Agnes wrap her rosary beads around her fist just a couple of seconds before she walloped Billy, but the judges didn’t see her do it and so she got away with what was definitely a clear violation of the Marquis of Queensbury rules. On the other hand, I never did like Billy Harrigan; he was a thoroughly disagreeable sort, all told, and much given to the vile practice of giving his smaller classmates wedgies, so I and a lot of other witnesses to the good sister’s cheap shot weren’t inclined to help Billy one bit when he complained to the principal about getting decked by an old nun. In truth, we all enjoyed watching Billy get his comeuppance and we were not at all inclined to help him one way or the other. I know that vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay, but this was one of those times when He repaid in real time, so we could all see the mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Watching the heathen fall by the wayside was truly a wondrous thing, yes, it was, and all God’s children said, Amen.

Labels: , ,


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Posted by Picasa

Labels: , , ,


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A WATERSHED EVENT, COMPLETE WITH INDOOR PLUMBING: Sometime yesterday morning, whilst happy children slept warm in their beds, dreaming of summer vacation, and deer ate the flowers off my mother’s lilies, which is something I’ve had to listen to my mother complain about in person and on the phone for the past twenty-four hours and is now, frankly, getting more than a little old, if you ask me, The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive-by Mind had its 30,000th visitor. I did not believe that the blog would ever reach that many people; before I put in the meter I was often under the impression that I was talking to myself here; but we’ve gotten here somehow or other and the occasion calls for some sort of acknowledgement, I think.

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you who come by on a regular or semi-regular basis. I know that the majority of times there’s nothing here you haven’t already seen and I’d like to thank you for putting up with my prolonged dry spells, which are usually accompanied by equally prolonged bouts of laziness, and coming back when it would be so much easier just to move on to someone funnier and more consistent in their posting. So I’d like to thank, amongst many others, John, Snoop, Miriam, Rachel, Deogolwulf, Bob, Randy, Norm Geras, That Broad, Paul Drabek, Jazzki, Lorenz, Kim duToit, Dick Stanley, Neil Kramer and the always lovely Sophia, Tatyana, Rusty, Joe Herzlinger, Mark Alger, and Fran Porretto, who unwisely has me writing for him now, even though I don’t produce copy for him any faster than I produce it for myself, and if I’ve forgotten your name, please excuse the lapse and let me know and I will definitely include you here as well.

Second, I’d like to thank Robert Benchley for the use of his style, as well as Dave Barry, P.G. Wodehouse, Veronica Geng, Tina Fey, all four of the Marx Brothers—never let it be said that I didn’t give Zeppo his due—S.J. Perelman, and Nikolai Gogol, who so kindly provided me with my nom de blog. All of them make me laugh, no small accomplishment since I spend most of my waking hours depressed about one thing or another.

Third, I’d like to thank Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for October 1984, Ms. Roberta Vasquez, whom I mentioned once in passing in a post and then found that people from all over the world were coming to this site to see if there were new nude photos of her here. I then wrote an entire post about this odd phenomenon, which only seemed to convince hundreds of others that there must be pictures of her here somewhere, if only I would shut up talking about Ms. Vasquez and tell them where I had the pictures hidden. For those of you who came here looking for pictures, I fear that I do not have any new pictures of Ms. Vasquez; I don’t even have any old pictures of her, either. But from the day I first mentioned her, my site meter tells me, Roberta Vasquez has always been among the top five reasons why people come to The Passing Parade, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her help in getting this blog to its 30,000th visitor.

Finally, having reached this part of the celebration, I feel compelled to point out that this still leaves us with the phenomenon of sexist puppets, one of said wretches appearing in the space below. No one is sure why puppets, once a fairly polite group that treated women with the respect they deserve, should so suddenly and completely have become public cads, but the change has without question occurred. One may safely assume that all the usual cultural influences are at work here: the hip-hop lifestyle, including gangsta rap, easy money, drugs, and violent images on television. It is difficult, at best, for whole generations of Americans to imagine Bert and Ernie beating up an old woman for her Social Security money or Gumby smoking crack or Howdy Doody bitch-slapping one of his hoes in public because she dissed him, and yet one cannot escape the conclusion that if Howdy were still on the air today that is exactly the sort of thing he would have to do in order to keep his ratings up. We have, I fear, become a nation that today uses public power to mandate private behavior that an earlier generation took for granted. This is a terrible shame, I think, and one that is not discussed often enough these days. I am not sure why not, although a general lack of interest in the social problems of puppets on the part of the American public certainly comes to mind as an explanation.

Labels: , , , ,