Monday, March 21, 2016
Look, Ma - I'm an Artist!
Except I don't think I'm, as the saying goes, an Early Adopter when it comes to feeling crummy. Increasingly, in fact, I think we live in a pretty crummy era.
Maybe it's just our political Silly Season, which is proving a highly uninspiring example of that lamentable genre. It's seeming pretty crummy from start to finish, and if a disproportionate amount of the sheer crumminess falls on the righter side of the aisle, there's not really a shortage in more progressive circles as well. And all the nonsense is only fanned by media that make the days of Cronkite and his ilk seem as distant as Aeschylus and as unimaginable today as - well, a Republican candidate more along the lines of Eisenhower than Elmer Gantry.
For the last few days, the weather has definitely been crummy, and both my mood and physical state have followed suit. I have a wracking, crummy cough (one that is happy to remind me, in case I needed it, that not all that long ago someone sawed my chest wide open and then put it back together with a high-tech version of baling wire), and I'm not sleeping well.
What passes for a transport system in Our Nation's Capital certainly seems to be in crummy shape, and getting more so daily. At least they do seem to be trying to do something about it, but nobody has much hope that even the best efforts will amount to much more than triage, barring copious (and enormously unlikely) amounts of new funding. In response, a column in the Post - a crummy shadow of a once-fine newspaper, by the bye - advocated the end of public transport altogether; why not just rely on the on-demand economy, Uber and the like? It's the kind of crummy thinking that is everywhere today, one that in the end always seems to boil down to one bottom line: I've got mine, and screw the rest of you. And especially screw the poor.
The crummy American way, you might call it.
Pardon the rant, but it really does seem to me that we're in something of a parlous state, these days, and it's one that's all the more exasperating because so many of us are at the same time so appallingly complacent, cow-like, lapping up the crummy crud that pours from the televisions and the lies from the huckster preachers and the poisonous mountains of ghastly calories from the crummy food and sugary drinks and the soothing insincerities all around that reassure us that, come what may, we're the Greatest Nation in the World. What's a little lead in the water among friends, the occasional drone dropped on a wedding, another tiny shooting in some school or schlocky shopping mall? Come what may, we're Yuge.
I'm reading a biography of none other than Miss Lillian Hellman (called, with minimal fondness, "Uncle Lillian" by someone I once knew who knew her well). Come to think of it, she was kind of a crummy person, if an inconsistently excellent writer. In any case, she did have a gift, now and again, for a phrase, and one that she used for a memoir title seems apt today: Scoundrel Time.
I don't know what the cure is - for the national crumminess any more than my goddam cough - but I hope both clear up, the latter faster than the former with any luck at all. And in the meantime, all I can do is be grateful that my diet still includes the occasional glass of wine. If I'm going to have put up much longer with the grating voice of Ted Cruz and the appalling presence of the Drumpf, that's going to be more than ever a necessity.
Thank you for your patience. If you'll excuse me, I have to go off in a corner and mope. And cough. After all, if a random cartoon from The New Yorker is to be believed, I'm an artist, and it's what we do...