We’ve refrained from our usual Sunday soapboxing these past grim weeks. A few of you have even noticed. But as we keep from commenting on what one offline correspondent (thanks, Candace) adroitly referred to as: “The National Fever Dream” to spare readers from potential over-exposure to our admittedly twisted sense of humor and views, we knew we couldn’t keep still for long.
There’s just too much going on.
Comedian George Carlin rather famously once said: “there’s a giant club ruling America and you and I ain’t in it…” and recent events have proven him correct. It would be disingenuous of us to pretend we didn’t always suspect this was the case, but we’re getting it rubbed in our faces right now and, as the great Fats Waller used to sing: “That ain’t right.”
Today we’re learning of a possible presidential pardon for a down-on-his-luck influence peddler with a penchant for attire made from the skin of exotic animals, and of a blue-blooded college entrance exam scam designed to leapfrog the underachieving sons and daughters of the rich and famous into the nation’s top schools ahead of, well, everyone else.
At the very least these kinds of headlines only provide more fodder for the Carlins and Wallers of the world. At worst, they sap our belief in a system we were raised to revere. We are left wondering about how off balance things have gotten for those who don’t have money to burn in order to swing things their way.
The local scene, what one of our little band refers to as the Folies de Banlieue, has offered us a few moments of respite and even a few bright spots in recent days. A local team triumphed in a state basketball championship, celebrating with restraint and sportsmanship; a perceived threat with possible racist overtones fired up the social media villagers but turned out to be a harmless, random prank handled in a neighborly fashion; and there were a few moments of levity after neighbors squared off over the noise generated by a local backyard batting cage. If that last one crinkles your brow and comes off as an unprovoked assault on the national pastime – just close your eyes and look at it this way: ping… ping… ping… ping... for hours as a steady line of fit and keen-eyed kids step up to swing away. At least one neighbor hit the snapping point on that one, apparently.
And while the local soundscape heats up along with the planet and the speaker phones of those in-the-know Washington lawyers back east, long-time residents among us (it can be a curse at times) cast a wary eye on the latest homes to arrive in the area, calculating the number of day trips per household and impact of more outdoor batting cages, or TV rooms, or speakers and repeating the advice that has served us well over the years: Get to know your neighbors. It will make it easier for everyone concerned when it comes time to ask them if they wouldn’t mind dialing back the volume someday.
In the meantime we wonder what that shoe is going to sound like when it falls in Washington, D.C. and New York and what – if anything – comes of it. We’d be liars if we said our faith in the system hasn’t been shaken in recent months and the optimist in us is hoping for some sort of resolution. The jaded and cynical pessimist in us, on the other hand, just laughs, shakes it’s head and says: “Are you kidding me?”
We don’t know. We shall see. But that Carlin fellow was a heckuva sharp comedian and Fats Waller always had a way with a lyric. We could use both of them right now.