Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Consequence Blew Town

If you ever start to think, or worse believe, that the American political system can be seriously reformed, immediately strike your throwing hand with a blunt object. Hard. At least two or three times. Feel that pain? See the welt forming? Good. Remember that the next time your mind wanders into foolish areas.

Writing about U.S. history, even in an impressionistic way, forces you to absorb lots of toxins. This country is so insane on so many levels that it would take some kind of personality disorder to adequately assess it all. And even then you'd miss about twenty other crazy features morphing and metastasizing at 375 mph. This explains why our intellectual/media class insists on simplistic explanations and self-flattering definitions when droning on about the "national character." Who wants to hear that they live in an overfed, hyper-stimulated asylum? That there's no escaping the madness? It's no wonder that self-help books and porn rake in so much dough. And don't hold your breath waiting for fast food joints to go out of business and be plowed under.

If you think I'm being a tad too cynical here, that I'm overemphasizing the negative, read this story. On the surface, it isn't much -- just another personality poll. Nothing terribly new in our bright, free home. But look at the world around you, meditate on what's undoubtedly coming down the road, give it serious consideration, then go back and reread that story. Yes, it only reflects the thoughts of 2,000 people, a tiny percentage of opinion. But does this desire to find a "likable" trait among those seeking to manage the asylum seem marginal to you? If you talk to relatives about politics this holiday weekend, will you discuss the economic or geopolitical reasons for this or that policy, or will you be steered in the personality direction?

"I think Obama would make a nice fourth for bridge."

"That Giuliani may be crazy, but I bet he knows some really raunchy jokes!"

"Hillary would be a stitch to go shopping with. You can tell just by looking at her!"

"I loved Fred Thompson in that movie, you know, that one where he wore the hat?"

"Dennis Kucinich is an Islamofascist commie nut. But I'd do his wife! Boooyeah!"

That's my lascivious, right wing cousin -- always looking for fantasy sex with public figures, regardless of ideology. Hey, whatever numbs the pain.

Gruff but lovable Barry Crimmins has a nice essay about the deer hunters in his neck of the New York woods. I can relate, having some 800,000 hunters at present roaming the Michigan landscape, the sound of rifles cracking just off the back roads, dead deer hanging from poles, big white guys in camo gear hoisting domestic brew in celebration. Still, as much as I detest the whole hunting culture, which is semi-religious in these parts, I cannot in all honesty oppose it. Unlike Barry, I eat flesh, mainly birds, but I occasionally crave steak or hamburger, enjoying the flavor while fully aware of the economics behind it, the destruction of forest land, the chemicals in the meat, the whole slaughterhouse vibe that goes with it. I was a vegetarian for almost twenty years, two of those years alternating from macrobiotic to vegan. Indeed, I've had more meatless Thanksgivings as an adult than the traditional kind, but tomorrow I'll dig into a local, fresh Amish free range bird, complemented with various starches and loads of gravy. And kale. Never eat turkey without kale.

I'm thinking about going veggie again, though most likely not vegan. Too spartan at my age. There'll be plenty of time to chew paste when I'm ancient, assuming I get there.

Speaking of paste-eating vegans, Jon Schwarz, who I suspect will celebrate Thanksgiving with not one, but two Portobello mushrooms, gets all gooey again over Tina Fey. I watched every episode of "30 Rock" last season, and found it light and diverting. But kick ass funny? Please. Fey's humor is serviceable, corporate fare, sprinkled lightly with "satiric" jibes, but nothing too sharp or spicy. I haven't seen the show this year, so maybe there's more going on than I know. Yet somehow I doubt it. Any humorist who pines for the fatherly embrace of Rudy Giuliani isn't gonna swing the seal bat, much less lock and load the Colt M4 carbine and climb the nearest tower. They might take away your AmEx card.