Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Gone Girl

You shall see things, wonderful to tell.
You shall see a... a cow...
on the roof of a cotton house.
And, oh, so many startlements.
--Oh Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)

There's something happening here.
And what it is ain't exactly clear
--For What It's Worth,
Buffalo Springfield

You got the cool conversation
on your high tech telephone
But you got one little problem, baby
--You Ain't Down Home,
Julie Roberts


A non-United States citizen friend recently said to me, "I don't think Trump or anyone can make American great again -- you all are too far gone." 

I pondered this while several images coalesced in my mind, much like Douglas Adams's holistic detective, Dirk Gently.

This morning while checking online for the whereabouts of the wayward soldier Bowe Bergdahl I stumbled upon a "fake news" story put out by a satirical news site claiming that he had been promoted on the order of President Obama (a "story" which nevertheless had to be de-bunked by Snopes.)

Satire is a pleasure when it is done well, as it often is by The Onion and Andy Borowitz (when he's not inhabiting the bottom of the anti-Trump rabbit hole), but the realm of parody is now merging with that of actual news. And the consumer either does not care about or cannot discern the difference.

If a story is one toke over the line, we excuse it and blame it on the requisite hyperbole of the news cycle. Worse, we embrace it to our bosom if it furthers the agenda of our fellow cave dwellers, offering a pale "mea culpa" when it becomes too burdensome to prop up any longer.

At an I-10 exchange yesterday, I saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road sitting on his pack, taking a selfie. Mind you, he looked pretty clean, healthy and young, and his gear gotten more at Urban Outfitters than dumpster diving. Nonetheless.

Crossing Tennessee Street in front of the university, all pedestrian heads were down in the familiar smartphone scroll pose. The only place on campus where heads are reliably up is on the soccer fields.What is so important, and why must we be endlessly amused by our ego feeds?

Then my mind traveled back in a patchwork fashion. I remembered the secretary at the defunct Yugoslav-American office telling me that what most left visiting professors stupefied was when they stood before an entire aisle of (mostly) sweetened breakfast cereals in the supermarket. How to choose, and why so many?

Later, a trip to Walgreens revealed four pages of laxatives, followed by three of proton-pump acid reflux inhibitors in their sales flyer. Yup, this was just the stuff on special. Perhaps this was indicative of all of the bilge and bile we hear and disseminate?

And then I recalled my first trip to the U.K.visiting a friend in humble Llandudno, Wales. I wanted to see a field trial, so went to the phone book to look up farmers. Pages of them. I also wanted to find rambling groups, and on the way to the "R's" stumbled upon "Psychologists".

Precisely three.

People were actively engaged in doing productive things, even if that was a serious group ramble. Not too much time to wallow in self-important misery.

The Hillary and Bernie people still can't get over the functioning of the U.S. democratic process.

Junk food and laxatives, anger and therapists. Was there a connection? Are we become a phlegmatic people? Back to the old "Ridge Runner" template? Do we all need a government-mandated Bromo seltzer regime?

Surely something is wrong here.

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Anonymous mike said...

Ah Lisa! We are so much alike with Adams, our common disgust with the 57 varieties of cereal at the market, our wonder at why so many purgatives both for the gut and the brain. Perhaps even a common appreciation of Wales and all things Welsh?

So why are we so far apart in politics? I used to be with you. I voted for Goldwater in 64. Voted for Nixon (to my shame) in 68 and 72, Gerry Ford in 76, Reagan in 80. Saw the light in 84 and went Independent. Then gradually went left as the Limbaughs and O'Reillys and Mike Savages of the Great Hate machine started ruling the airwaves. Is it the wisdom from old age that turned me, or senility as my Trump-loving bro-in-law claims? On second thought, please don't answer that.

Friday, January 27, 2017 at 11:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes, mike, I am a great fan of Wales.

Why should it surprise you to see our commonality? Emotion and anger have been the order of the day for far too long. People may differ in matters politics and otherwise, and still be able to remain civil and curious.

That has evaporated from many areas of our populous.

To our great pity. I never joined in the hatred, myself.

Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 3:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Lisa -

I was not surprised, just found it interesting.

Like you, I have always tried to be courteous to those ordinary Americans whose politics are different than mine. Even the more rabid ones. If I have been discourteous, it was to the politicians who endeavor to divide us for their own benefit.

Monday, January 30, 2017 at 12:07:00 AM GMT-5  

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