Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cold Water Fun

You can turn your back on the horrorshow, but the bloody beat goes on, as Sammy Davis, Jr. used to say. Or was it Stalin? The memory, she is fading . . .

Reconnecting to our wonderful world late Saturday, after several days of serene ignorance, made me want to dash back to Lake Michigan and swim out beyond the safety markers. Russia pounding Georgia, with the US looking to intervene. Beautiful. Bush yapping about human rights and freedom from China while Bin Laden's driver is convicted of war crimes. Glorious. Liberals moaning about the "tabloid" coverage of John Edwards' infidelity and off-the-books fatherhood, though were Edwards a Repub, they wouldn't get enough of it. Typical. Bernie Mac dead at 50. Fucking brutal.

I was never crazy about Mac's stand-up, but did like his sitcom. He was a gifted comic actor, and his knowledge of and respect for previous generations of comedians like Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason showed how seriously Mac took his craft. You wouldn't believe how little many contemporary comics and comedy writers know about those who preceded them, if they know anything at all. Jon Schwarz has a funny SNL-related anecdote that crystallizes this sorry fact, but I'll let him tell it, if he's not too busy with his rooftop sprout farm and shaving mirror solar panels.

Getting away, while briefly invigorating, only deepened my sadness. At a time when people should be ultra-politicized, or at least conscious of the political nets thrown over them, it appears that more and more want nothing to do with what's right in their faces. Putting Obama '08 bumperstickers on their cars is about as politicized as they'll get, a sign that they desire "change," but will do nothing save voting for Obama to realize it. And liberals call me cynical. The only other political symbol I saw over the last few days was this:

It was everywhere. On t-shirts, on flagpoles, hanging from front porches -- an ongoing parade of Vietnam-era self-pity. The nerve of those Viet-Nazi bastards, defending themselves from imperial assault. Why, if the roles were reversed, and Vietnamese pilots were carpet-bombing large sections of the American Midwest, killing millions, we would never dream of shooting down their planes, much less putting surviving pilots in prison or beating them to death. Our collective mindset after the 9/11 attacks is proof of that. Solzhenitsyn was right: we Americans are much too weak, which only emboldens sadists like Vietnamese prison guards. Ask John McCain or Jon Voight. They'll no doubt concur.

Diving into the waves and body surfing with my son softened some of this surrounding noise, the boy's laughter a comforting antidote. But now it's back to work, talking about war, deceit, political corruption, and the ceaseless hypocrisy that lubricates it all. Hey, a guy's gotta sell books.