(Except of course, that they are uproariously funny, at least in their creation because they tend to involve pratfalls and other clumsy behavior that is often associated with comedy.)
Dear weekly readers (albeit, an imaginary group, though one that might have actual members),
This is not a “current comedy” piece. This is actually a disclaimer that I will not be submitting a fresh piece of political comedy this week and am blaming it on a knee injury. What great fun it was to stroll around the streets of LA-LA-land this last Memorial Day Weekend with my wife, daughters and granddaughter, even though I had been sportin’ a sore knee for a couple of weeks. Ultimately, it was the Memorial Monday waves at Santa Monica that finally got me, a slight sideways motion, a little ‘click,’ and next thing you know, you can’t walk back to the car.
Wow. It is amazing how much of one’s world can involve walking.
That was Monday afternoon and thus far the majority of my world since then has been either pain or painkillers. With everyone from Rush to Eminem milking that route, I figure I’ll just cop to the pain making me too skuzzy to rig together a usual caliber “current comedy” piece and call it a day. This is a non-profit column anyway. Viva la gente!
If I were to write about news this week, I’d say look at the North Korean Missile Launch and ignore Sotomayor. Sotomayor is bullet-proof and the Republicans that challenge are guaranteed smear-bait. The North Korea story is compelling in that it is so pathetic, that to address each other, the countries of the world have to gamble with nuclear annihilation to be taken seriously. Sotomayor is a brilliant choice, and her nomination will only make clatter, not disruption. It is a far better choice than Blagojevich’s choice of Roland Burris, who is showing that state level ineptitude in lying is no match for federal investigators. Sotomayor is so calculated to be a “mission statement case in proof” that the legend of Obama is not just an isolated incident that there is no real meaning in her rise other than more deceptive inclusionist propaganda.
That’s the direction I would’ve written if I were actually writing, but I am not convinced that Vicodin or Oxycotin are good directions for a writer to head if he actually wants to do good for America. Hat’s off to Marshall Mathers who had the good taste to drop out of sight while he went through his death spiral and still more props for coming out, though still in his typical “shocking beyond theatrical” way. So I’m not going to play like I know what I’m doing when I can refer back to something relevant anyway.
In trade I submit this archive bit from 1993. The column was then called “News of the TV Generations” and ran in the Sangamon State News, a college which was soon to become the University of Illinois at Springfield on a weekly basis, but each month I summarized the monthly pieces into a 1500 word essay for Anthony Moyer’s Unlimited Possibilities ‘zine. The piece is actually from June 1993, one of a couple of months each a year that I wrote original stuff for Tony’s mag’. This is one of those pieces:
UP NOVGEN JULY '93: HOW IT WORKS
Personally I am still doing my Summer's best to boycott media. I did however fail often enough to know that the big media event this last month was all too emblematic of the ongoing American situation: Bull verus Sun, Bull wins. Happens every time. Or in this year's case four out of six times, with ninety seconds of commercials for every fifteen seconds of game time. How else to explain making a three hour television event out of a forty-eight minute game. But this wasn't the only time last month where bull conquered sun. A few examples.
At the White House after being continually bitten by the press for the past five months, Clinton begins to snarl a little and now we are expected to be indignant at our mad dog president. To punish him appropriately the networks refused to cover his first prime time press conference where he attempted to address the American public concerning his deficit reduction plan and perhaps rally some support back from the American public who as recently as eight months ago considered the man worthy enough to vote him as their leader. Bob Dole then followed the president and performed his old standard "Tax and Spend" without addressing the fact that Clinton's new taxes are designed to undo a deficit created by twelve years of Republican spending. As could be expected, the Dole song and dance was both well covered and soundly approved by the media.
On the world scene: Somalia continues it all too predicable turn into an African Vietnam and our leader keep saying if we'd only step up our involvement … . OR this: after dooming thousands to death by refusing to accept its refugees, the US begins the process of officially condemning the Haitian government as inhumane. Here at home Reagan's assistant secretary of Housing pleas guilty to influence peddling and while the head of the FBI still refuses to step down despite mounting charges of ethical misconduct; meanwhile in Japan, the prime minister and the entire parliament have been dismissed in the hopes of reducing government corruption. You can bet that is one export no one in our government will complain about balancing. Incidentally, in Japan there is no NRA crying about the infringement of civil liberties concerning the second amendment and assault rifles and only 76 Japanese citizens were killed by guns last year --67 of those being organized crime figures-- as opposed to America's 34,000 annual deaths by guns.
Here at home: AIDS takes the lead as the leading killer of young adults (excepting blacks, whose leading cause of death is still the aforementioned bullet). Incidentally this past month AIDS was also found to be the leading cause of winning Tony awards. Nationwide Pepsi appeared to be offering free needles to combat the nation's Coke habit. A CBS probe reveals suggestions that the USAF has again been smuggling cocaine into the US to sell to intercity youth to raise money to by guns to smuggle to Central American factions. Is this another effort in the War on Drugs? And in Pennsylvania it is revealed that the years of madness that have come out of Arlen Specter's mouth particularly in the investigations JFK's physical and Anita Hill's character assassinations can be explained by the single tumor theory.
Across our state, a super train began its public relations run trying to convince Illinoisans that the 155mph train can improve transportation by shutting down hundreds of roads arrogant enough to cross its path and requiring hundreds of millions of dollars of rail improvements. Here in our own spring field law makers and wheeler-dealers (supposedly there is a difference) plot out ways to maintain the moral character of our citizens by keeping gambling illegal, except on waterways even when you have to dredge up two city parks to fit a boat on said waterway. That is, of course, excluding the state's own gambling operation; available in almost any retail outlet or Bingo available in any church (again, supposedly, there is a difference). Boy, just makes you want to sing, doesn't it? I was thinking of the old Hank Williams tune, "Bored With News." You remember it don't you?
I'm bored with news I've watched my whole life long.
I'm bored with news something's always going wrong.
Things never change you can't expect them to
I'm bored with news but what am I to do?
Fads come and go
But the facts they stay the same
them folks that gots
keep keeping it out of range
we live and die
and news goes on and on
hope for the best
but things keep going wrong
… And so on. It also reminds me of a verse from one of my own old songs, "We Already Know The Truth" :
They want you to watch their television,
to stay at home and sleep
they've made so many promises that you've got to keep
got to keep you from living
got to keep you in line
they know that you could change their world
that's why they waste your time…
Maybe this would be a good time to explain how it all works. Four Score and Seven years ago, (plus 130) our forefathers came upon this continent with a new depravation and conceived that liberty could be marketed if you could convince the people that all men were created equal despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The trick in this marketing was that, at that time there was indeed an entire continent available for the raping after, of course, wiping out the 30,000,000 indigenous inhabitants and hundreds of lesser species. And so, unlike Europe, where the powers that be simply said we are the powers that be because our parents were and if you don't like it leave, the American powers that be said don't worry about all that we are raping, go find some virgin land and rape some yourself. This marketing ploy worked until about one hundred years ago when there was no longer any frontier left. Without new land to consume Americans had to have something to placate themselves and thus came the rise of consumerism.
Before I go on there are two basic facts to remember: one we as living creatures are a lot like a fire: without new fuel to consume we burn out and fade. Every camper knows the simple rule: when your fire flags add more fuel. As living spending furnaces we can adapt this to an even simpler (though less poetic) maxim: when you lack enthusiasm consume something. The second thing to remember is that one hundred years ago, partially because our rich and our government were far more tyrannical than today, partially because technology was less advanced, life was a whole lot more miserable. Poor transportation and communication, no refrigeration, hardly any electricification and little plumbing. It was no wonder the concept of consumerism took such a strong hold.
Don't get me wrong, it has been said that if Daniel Boone was alive today he would be towing an electric generator behind him to power his microwave oven and I am the guy whose been saying it; BUT after about fifty years of technical advances and a war economy everyone had all the basics and what had once been undreamed of luxuries were now expected to be basic necessities. The American people were in a pretty good position which was bad for marketing. Happy people don't need aspirins, antacids disposable douches or Disneyworld. They don't want to trade in their functional old cars because they're not new enough. Happy people don't need to watch TV to dream of all the things they don't have and adventures the don't live and especially don't need to watch TV to remind them they are supposed to be miserable and needing … something.
The press wants you to be unhappy. Which is why the press continues to bite Clinton: if we got to thinking he was doing a good job we wouldn't want to watch them. We wouldn't need to. Which is why we are treated to heavily commercialized half hours of national and local miseries each night and two hour each morning because between the miseries making us feel worse we might see something we could buy to make it a little better. Which is why Summer is such a wonderful time because when you need to add more heat to your flame or tire of the on-going battle with the bull you can just step outside and into the sun.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.