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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE: Now, you may find this a little hard to believe, but gentrification has had some fairly unusual effects here in our happy little burg. In the years since our economic turnaround began, we’ve had an influx of people from the metropolis to the south. Most of these folks are artists of one sort or another, the type of people who refer to well-known holes in the wall as spaces and who often wonder aloud why they can’t buy their favorite coffee here. Their favorite coffee often has a very long name, which causes no end of confusion hereabouts, as most of the indigenous population thinks of coffee as a beverage that either comes black or with cream and sugar. But what really sets the gentrifiers off from the gentrified is the worldview of the former. They are a well-traveled, cosmopolitan lot, on the whole, dropping the names of obscure Parisian restaurants in conversation in much the same way as our stout yeomanry drop dollar bills on the lottery and nodding knowingly at the mention of artists whose work is so obscure that their parents haven’t heard of it yet. With all of this sophistication, you may well wonder why these people would want to spend any amount of time with a provincial yutz like me. The answer, I’ve found, is that for all of their worldliness and sophistication, most of these people have never actually met a Republican.

Yes, it is a good time to be a Republican here in our happy little burg; I know that my party registration has improved my social life immeasurably these past years and I am positive that being a Republican can do wonders for your social life as well. Rock-ribbed Republicanism will help you get girls and be the life of any party you attend. It won’t help you clear up your skin, of course, but in the main, you will be a more exciting, more fascinating person when you finally stop procrastinating and register in the GOP.

You are probably asking yourself, but Akaky, how is this possible? I’ve tried everything from industrial strength Clearasil to online blind dating with Filipino transsexual lesbian dwarves to improve my social life, how will my being a Republican make me a more interesting person and help me score with chicks, which, as we all know, is the main purpose of any male’s social life, no matter what their party affiliation. Let me explain what happened to my social life.

The vast majority of our gentrifying influx was, as mentioned, from the metropolis, a well-known one party state where Republican are few and far between, and when they do win elections, they have to compromise on vast swathes of the GOP agenda and pretend that they meant to register Democratic when they were filling out the voter registration form but that the form was confusing and the guy in front of them in line farted loudly and so they accidentally checked the wrong box. So most of our gentrifying influx has never actually met anyone who fundamentally disagrees with just about everything they hold near and dear to their hearts. Your average cosmopolitan knows that Republicans exist, of course, but they know that they will probably never meet one in the course of the day and so long as they remain ensconced in their island home they need never think about such people. So they ignore them, and by them I mean people like me, in much the same way that a Cairene ignores the Great Pyramid of Giza or a hungry dieter ignores the food pyramid with pepperoni pizza. But when the siren song of modern art calls to the cosmopolite, they must follow, even if it leads to our happy little burg, which hasn’t gone Democratic in a presidential race since Zachary Taylor won handily here in 1848. This was an anomaly, of course, and one the local historical society usually attributes to Taylor’s enthusiastic support among local Mexican War veterans. Faced for the first time in their adult lives with the much dreaded Other, many a curious cosmopolite will seek to grasp just why it is that the natives believe in the odd things they believe in and so they often ask me to explain the hows and the whys of what is going on here.

I don’t mind, of course; many of these people are quite sincere in their curiosity, although I am also quite sure that many others invite me along merely to shock their friends and add a bit of a political frisson to their dinner parties. It seems a strange fate for any Republican to be a suces de scandale, but it seems I have managed this difficult task on more than one occasion. I am not sure how I managed to get the job as token Republican in the first place; I suppose that some of my Democratic friends recommended me as someone who was reasonably intelligent, reasonably knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world these days, and could be trusted not to blow my nose in the tablecloth between the soup and the main course.

In some ways, of course, I am a bit of a disappointment. I am not, for example, a member of the National Rifle Association. In fact, I do not own any firearms at all—I am, however, like a good many other civil servants, a dangerous man with a rubber band and a paper clip—and I have experienced my share of crestfallen looks from people who thought that I must, like the Republicans they’ve seen on television, have several years worth of canned goods next to the arsenal I have stashed in my own personal bomb shelter. I don’t actually have a bomb shelter, either, and this and the fact that I believe that if you wish to possess0 a 155mm howitzer of your very own, then the government ought to take a polite interest in what you intend to do with the thing (you might, for example, be planning to overthrow the constitutionally elected government of our happy little burg, or worse, plan to do a little target practice on Saturday mornings when I am trying to get some sleep), has led more than a few people to believe that I am not really a Republican at all. Nor am I an evangelical Christian and I am not completely sure I could identify with any degree of certainty the significant theological points of contention and agreement between Fundamentalists and Pentecostals, except for a somewhat unfortunate taste in hair styling. I suppose I am not atavistic enough.

Still, I’ve learned over the years that one mustn’t completely dash people’s illusions, and I have managed to epater les avant-garde on more than one occasion. There’s nothing quite like the reaction one gets from pointing out to some cosmopolite with a home in Vermont who has just spent an hour expounding on the racial problem here in AmeriKKKa that the reason many white liberals love living in Vermont is that it gives them the opportunity to decry AmeriKKKa’s racist treatment of African-Americans for hours on end without having to live anywhere near actual African-Americans. The sound made on one of these occasions is a sort of a low moan, similar, I think, to the sound one makes when you step out of a car wearing brand new shoes and step right into a pile of fresh dog crap. Your average host or hostess loves this sort of political spat; it livens up the conversation in what, in other circumstances, would have been yet one more dull dinner party. They’ll denounce my obvious idiocy—this simply goes without saying, naturally; they have to keep their Vermont friend happy too, you know—and it almost certainly means another dinner invitation in the not so near future so that I can politely mock the shibboleths that they and their friends hold most dear. Hearing someone praise Karl Rove can be a mind-altering experience for some people, however common such praise may be in some GOP quarters. I guess everything sounds a bit shocking if you’ve never heard it before.

My perplexing adherence to what these folks often refer to as the Repugnicans, the Rethuglicans, etc. causes no end of cognitive dissonance among the cosmopolitan population—they think, of course, that by all rights, I ought to be a Democrat, the same as them, and they will often ask, in their confusion, if there is anything I wouldn’t do for the GOP? To comfort them I say, yes, there is: I will not give money to a candidate for political office, even to a Republican candidate. You may not have noticed this, but campaign contributions only encourage politicians, a particularly noxious breed of peculating parasite, to run for political office in order to do whatever it is they do on the public payroll, and to continue to run for office long after the rest of the population has gotten tired of listening to them and wish that they would simply go away and leave the rest of us alone. Our Great Republic will only survive if and when vast numbers of American citizens treat running for public office in the same way that they treat jury duty: as an onerous task to be avoided whenever possible, and if political office becomes inevitable, to be gotten out of as soon as possible. I mean, really, would you want the leader of the Free World to be someone too dumb to get out of being President? I didn’t think so.





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