Strange days. Strange Christmas.
Rushing out on Christmas Eve for some last minute guy shopping….I pass a dude in a convertible. Top down. T-shirt. Shorts. The only thing keeping him warm was his hipster beard. I can only guess what he was blaring on his stereo, because all my windows were closed and my air-conditioner was on. On my radio was news of snow in Las Vegas. Ho ho ho.
Dinner with extended family that night. Nice restaurant. Things are going reasonable well. Nobody pulled a gun. About an hour in I notice a distinct breeze. Like I’m sitting on a sea-side patio. Patrons were requesting the air be turned on…and said air was blowing directly above my head…..onto the back of my neck and snaking its way down my spine. It was the first time all day I needed a jacket. It finally felt like Christmas. Then the bill came. It really felt like Christmas now.
It’s all over now. The big comedown is upon us. All that’s between us and more than 2 months of cold, dark depression and a really lousy Super Bowl half-time show is a set of New Year’s Eve declarations that will be forgotten as soon as the bowl games are over. Turn off the lights, the party is over. Drag the tree down the steps….or better yet just release it so it slides down the steps on its own. I threw out my back for 3 days dragging the thing up….so it can fend for itself as far as I’m concerned.
What’s ahead is the vast waste-land of 2016. A frozen-tundra of uncertainty that, if political polls are any indication, could very well lead us into a self-made catastrophe brought on by an excessive amount of Jesus, guns, hypocrisy, and stupid. It will also be my daughter’s first year in college, the cost of which I am unable to fathom without hyperventilating. Ho ho ho.
Last night I sat up really late….watching my Xmas present…..the DVD portion of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” box set. A documentary about the making of the album and a complete 1980 concert. My daughter kept walking in saying…”how long is this?”…..not being familiar with Bruce’s 3+ hour, multi-encore extravaganzas. She does think that Bruce is “kinda hot for an old guy”, and asked me to get some tickets so we could go see him on this tour. To this I laughed….the same kind of laugh I emit when I consider her upcoming college tuition. From what I can tell the price tags are comparable.
Music is the soundtrack to my life. And no music reminds me of growing up more than Springsteen’s. As a teen I devoured his records….and The River….a sprawling double album (ah….the days of double albums…) of dark laments and bar-band rave-ups thrown together as if the two belonged together, which of course they do, was a milestone. It was the first record I’d heard that encompassed the drudgery of the work-week and the false hopes of the weekend. If was the kind of record that you had to dance to to keep from crying. Of course only weirdos like me think this way. Most just bought it because it contained “Hungry Heart”….a huge sounding single that became a concert singalong despite its subject matter (summed up nicely in its opening couplet) being as dark and depressing as anything ever heard on the radio. But still, there were some who listened to “Stolen Car” and “Wreck on the Highway” obsessively, and took from those 3 chord songs (simple…that was so important to those of us still fumbling for chords on the guitar..these songs were simple….so maybe there was a chance…) that maybe….if we thought real hard….we just could stop this rain.
All this is a long-winded way of saying that I probably got drunk to this record more than any other. It was the kind of record that could serve as the soundtrack to an outdoor party…..blaring from a boom-box near the bon-fire. Or could serve as a companion piece to a lonely dark night of the soul. A neat trick that.
I don’t get drunk these days. It’s too much work really. A few beers and my eyelids go into overdrive. I miss being young. I miss looking forward to nothing more than music and bon-fires and quarter kegs and dreams we didn’t know at the time that kids from NEPA mining towns weren’t allowed to have. “Is a dream a lie it it don’t come true, or is it something worse”. What difference does it make? Sucks either way.
And so enough of all that. The important thing is that everything doesn’t die…..and that’s a fact. The music lasts forever. And maybe….just maybe….that’s enough sometimes. Last night….as I sat up alone….for about 4 hours…it was indeed.
In a bit..
I can’t really blame any outsider for thinking that our nation is in the middle of a long night of the long knives….
I have friends who live in Europe. Lately they’ve been asking me only one thing. “What the fuck is wrong with you people over there? What are you gonna propose next? Easy-bake ovens?”
I don’t have much of an answer really. I stutter and mumble and write sentences and then delete them…because they sound so inane. All I can do is assure my European friends that we’re not all racist nazi assholes. And then I turn on the TV and it’s wall to wall coverage of racist nazi assholes waving American flags….so I can’t really blame any outsider for thinking that our nation is in the middle of a long night of the long knives.
I used to think that the dangerous mainstream haters existed only in the past. My generation has been oh-so smug…knowing that Hitler and Stalin and Japanese internment camps and Joe McCarthy walked the earth before we were born. When we arrived our cleansed souls dealt with the most extreme fuckwits….banishing the true haters to the fringes of the Westboro Baptist Church and the trailer parks of the Klan Klaverns, where they provide comic relief. We might have to put up with the occasional Dick Cheney or Antonin Scalia, but even that was more like a cautionary tale. If we let our guard down long enough snakes could slither under the door. Clearly nobody ever takes the comic-book hate of these two fools seriously enough to become inspired. Unless you are…..you know….mentally disabled and stuff. Even Cheney’s own daughter thinks he’s an asshole. So we’re cool. Right?
This Trump fella. It’s certainly looking like he is going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. The more unhinged he and his rhetoric becomes, the more his poll number rise. In the beginning it was good for a laugh. Watch the goobers gather and hold anti-Obama signs filled with misspelled words and wildly inventive grammar. Watch the poor angry white people congregate to pledge to vote against their own interests because Jesus loves them best and doesn’t like the brown fella who never took anybody’s guns away but was gonna take their guns away anyway because…well….just because. Plus Hillary is a bitch.
And then I started hearing it. From people who could spell and didn’t have grammar issues and really had no reason to be angry. “Hey…that Trump…he speaks his mind doesn’t he?”
Um…well….ok. But I know lots of people who “speak their mind”. So do you. How many of them are fit to be the leader of the free world?
I mean….I like drinking with them and stuff, don’t get me wrong. They are entertaining and usually good for a few rounds at least. But the novelty wears off the first time somebody punches them in the face and you have to step in to keep them alive.
I have Republican friends. You probably do too. They are easy to spot these days. Half of them are squirming in acute embarrassment, and the other half are acting like rabid dogs who smell a fresh steak on the other side of a mine field. It’s an uneasy truce to say the least. Like Philadelphia Eagle fans dealing with Chip Kelly.
Watching the so-called “establishment” Republican candidates deal with Trump is like having a front row seat to the circus. All of them are navigating the 24-hour news cycle like infants holding in a huge shit. To their credit, some have mildly repudiated Trump’s latest nugget……banning all Muslims from entering the United States…although others, like Ted Cruz, just seem relieved that Trump didn’t suggest banning Cubans.
So yea….Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. No word on how he plans on dealing with the Muslims already in the United States. Maybe he can trick them all into attending the Rose Bowl?
For those about to rock, I salute you. And for those who thought that this sort of knuckle-dragging went out with George Wallace and Bull Connor and Richard Nixon after half a bottle of scotch…..I ask that you visit Fox News on the web and randomly read through the user comments.
Make no mistake. The world is laughing at us. Sometimes it’s a guffaw and sometimes it’s one of those uneasy laughs that comes from a combination of absurdity and fear because the absurdity part seems lost on a lot of us. But the result is the same. A man who could very well become the next President of the United States just co-oped an idea from Adolf Hitler.
And in doing so got a bounce in the polls.
Our generation can no longer afford to be smug.
In a bit..