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)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Golf: Game of the Plutocracy or Sign of the Apocalypse? We report, you decide

I do not play golf. I also do not play pinochle, but that is neither here nor there. Many people do not play pinochle and no one thinks any the less of them or that they are racists because they do not. I have heard that playing canasta is a good sign of latent homophobia, but I have never seen any credible evidence of this and so the next time you hear this, you may want to ask the person making this statement where they got their information.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as the late Carl Sagan used to say, and linking canasta playing and homophobia strikes me as a very extraordinary claim indeed.  In any case, I still do not play golf.

I bring the subject up because here in our happy little burg signs are going up everywhere that the fire department will have its annual charity gold tournament at the end of the month and they are charging golfers $125 to participate. The signs do not indicate if this fee includes lunch and a free beer, although it should, as this seems like an awful lot of money to ask for the privilege of tapping a small ball into a small cup.  Now, I understand that there are people who enjoy this sort of thing—I have two brothers who follow golf religiously, for example—but I should point out that golf is a Scottish invention, like the steam engine and the telephone, and nothing good can come from a people who think haggis is an actual foodstuff or that bagpipes are, in some vague way, a musical instrument (they aren’t, not really, and neither is the pot of boiling water you drop your cat into to get rid of its fleas, which is the bagpipes’ closest sonic equivalent.)

Of course, for the privilege of playing this odd game—an activity played largely by men who appear to be bulking up for a sumo competition hardly qualifies as a sport—the true addict will shell out truly ridiculous sums of money and gets very little in return for that money. Given that I do not play golf, a fact I mentioned earlier, I believe, I would ordinarily not care one way or the other about how much otherwise normal human beings will pay to knock a small ball into a small cup after hours of wandering around a faux Scottish bucolic setting. It is, however, in the nature of obsessives to want to spread their obsession to the non-obsessed and this, as it always does, becomes a matter of some contention between them and the people that they are annoying the hell out of (yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Go stuff it.)

All of which complaining leads me to this conclusion: if you, the you in this case being my golf mad brothers and their equally golf mad friends, want me to take an interest in your little ball fetish then certain changes must take place, changes that are not in any way negotiable. First, we stop playing this idiotic game on golf courses and start playing it in war zones. The never terribly interesting question of whether or not a player will make par or a birdie or an eagle or whatever the hell it is they do out there with their little balls and cups will be much more interesting if everyone involved has to pass through a minefield and/or a barrage of incoming artillery fire in order to get to the ball. Another possibility is that we replace the sand traps and the water obstacles with striking Teamsters. Players who drive their balls into the Teamsters’ picket lines will have to devise new strategies to get the ball into the cup while at the same time keeping the Teamsters from a.] beating the ever living crap out of them for crossing a picket line, you dirty little scab, or 2.] beating the ever living crap out of them for hitting one of the union brothers on the head with your ball, you stupid jerk. I think that would be much more interesting to everyone involved than the game everyone plays today. I think I’d even pay $125 to see, and maybe try my hand at the game a little, provided, of course, that the lunch and the beer were free. Hey, if I’m going to take a chance with an artillery barrage then the least the sponsors can do is pay for lunch and beer. It’s only fair, you know.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

I hate America and other adventures in the rag trade

I know that Ariana Grande's declaration that she hates America should offend me greatly, but since I'd never heard of her before she said that she hated America I would say that she has accomplished the purpose of her saying she hated America in the first place: I have now heard of her. I still have no idea what she does, but then I don’t get out much. I gather that she is some kind of entertainer, which actually covers a lot of ground—entertainers these days run the gamut from opera singers to baseball players to presidential candidates to porn stars, that she is fairly young, and that I am probably not her target demographic. She may even, for all I know, stand nude on her head atop the Army—Navy recruiting station in Times Square and spit nickels at the gawking crowds of tourists in the street below. Nickel spitting was very big in the 1920’s, but fashions come and go, and so nickel spitting went the way of Prohibition, the Charleston, and the bee’s knees.  This is unfortunate, I think; when I was a boy, you could still see nickel spitters from the Twenties plying their art at street fairs and carnivals, but they had no followers, no novices eager to learn the arcane intricacies of the art, and so nickel spitting had died out by the end of the first Bush presidency. I wish it hadn’t; nickel spitting was fun to watch. There are few arts that provide as much artistic fulfillment to the artist and financial rewards to the audience as nickel spitting does. But I digress.

In any case, the fact that Ariana Grande hates America is, for me, one of life's great irrelevancies, right up there with knowing that aglets are those plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces. The word may or may not have something to do with Texas A&M and that university’s football team, the Aggies, but probably does not; cowboy boots do not have shoelaces so the connection to Texas seems tenuous at best, and it does not seem likely that the university would name a girl’s team the Aglets. That sort of name smacks of sexism and there is nothing that a modern American university wants to avoid more than anything else nowadays than someone accusing it of an –ism.  –Isms are very bad, you see, and lead to upset stomachs and probably gas as well and therefore best avoided in the first place, if at all possible.

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