Shaken not stirred

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.32.59 AM

The significant other and I hosted my family’s annual Father’s Day celebration at our house this weekend and I realized that out of 13 attendees there were 4 homosexuals.  Well, at least homosexuals that we know of because I’ve learned through the years that you can never know the whole truth about anyone else’s sexuality – nor would you want to.

Now, the fact that 30.77% of my family on this particular day was gay is by far the least interesting statistic about this gathering.  What was more interesting was how my 20-something straight nephew, who has far less formal schooling than I do, was smart enough to get out of jury duty while I continue to trudge through the sixth day of an experience I am not yet able to speak about. Does this mean that a young, tattooed artist/musician is far smarter than a middle-aged, grad school-educated gay writer/college professor?  Well, it depends how you feel about intelligence, jury duty and both my nephew and myself.  Still, despite the limited sample, I would most definitely have to say yes.  And by A LOT.

Do not twist my arm any further because I can’t legally speak.  And besides, this should be enough to satisfy you.  It’s my opinion based on the facts that I know and you certainly can’t argue with my opinion if it is supported by the reality of the world as I see it.  Can you?

Feeling a little less Fonda, a little more Cobb these days

Feeling a little less Fonda, a little more Cobb these days

Here’s what I’m getting at.

This past week failed 2012 presidential hopeful and current Texas Governor Rick Perry decided that it was the right time for him to publicly express his opinion about 30.77% of my Father’s Day gathering in – of all places – San Francisco.  (Side Note:  Once the undisputed gayest city in America, San Francisco this year dropped down to 11th in total gayness, according to a study done for The Advocate making it still pretty gay compared to any city in Texas though not as gay as Washington, DC – which came in at #1.  Which begs the question of just what the governor was thinking in trying to get to D.C. in the first place).

In any event, here is what the Gov. announced this week from a stage at the 11th happiest city in the country about almost one-third of my inner family circle:

Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that.  And I’ve made the point talking about alcoholism.  I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic but I have the desire not to do that.  And I look at the homosexual life issue as the same way.

So, now we’re an issue?  Well, okay.

Did I say something wrong?

Did I say something wrong?

The truth is, there are all kinds of ways to reason your way in, out, around and through an issue depending on how much you are willing to say and how hard you are trying to make a point.  My hands are tied re my nephew and jury duty so it doesn’t surprise me that perhaps you reject my argument that he’s much more intelligent than I am for managing to avoid it.  Though, given that the majority of the American public does seek ways to avoid serving as one among 12 potentially angry men (and now even women!), what I’ve said could likely also be just the right mix of words to persuade you to my way of thinking.

Mr. Perry’s proclamation that engaging in an active homosexual life and/or lifestyle is as unwise as the alcoholic who continues to drink has similarly problematic arguments.  I’ve been an active homosexual for I’d say, oh, 35 plus years (Note: Some years more active than others, but still…) and I can personally tell you that unlike the typical alcoholic not only does my skin remain relatively unlined and still looking good after decades of this abuse but my doctor recently told me so does every other organ in my body, including my liver.  Not only that, I was recently talking to a trio of straight people at a bar/restaurant earlier in the week who were convinced I was at least 10-12 years younger than my driver’s license reveals. So, uh – take that governor.  And contact my designated medical professionals for any and all recent organ X-rays and match them against your straight proclaiming own – if you dare.

we do like to work out.

we do like to work out.

As for the effect my homosexuality has had on my family – well, I don’t know – they all showed up for the free food and stayed for hours.  There wasn’t an argument in sight.  And my Dad – now 85 – seems bent on constantly telling me that the S.O. (that’s homosexual talk for Significant Other) is one of the best guys he’s ever met in his life.  Needless to say, that means a lot since we’re going way back before the Second World War.  It might be even better than being a functional alcoholic – or perhaps living a non-compelling homosexual lifestyle, if there is any logic at all in that.

Of course, what Gov. Perry is really referring to is about as analogous to the ravages of alcoholism to one’s face, body or family life as being a self-righteous, born again Christian in politics is to the generally more liberal MAJORITY view of the American people.  Through the abolition of slavery, to giving women the right to vote, down towards the repeal of Prohibition, then up towards the civil rights movement and now gay rights, as a group we Americans have eventually always voted for a freer, live and let live attitude that didn’t dictate personal and social lifestyle choices towards our fellow citizens.

As evidenced by the legality of KFC's Double Down sandwich.

As evidenced by the legality of KFC’s Double Down sandwich.

What Gov. Perry actually means – because he really does need a translator and I’m just the fag man to do it – is he and a very specific, though extremely vocal small segment of American politicians have decided that despite the wave of marriage equality sweeping the nation, the majority of the US Supreme Court, and the long held view of the American Medical Association as well as the country’s most reputable doctors – homosexuality, like alcoholism, is a defect of character.  Or a serious sin that must be dealt with in the most serious of ways by the state or by one’s Church, temple, or God – even if a person, by choice, has no affiliation with any one of the latter three – heaven forbid.

There’s a disturbing and sometimes virulent movement among this quite mouthy group of people – many of whom are affiliated with the Tea Party – which is mostly affiliated with, if not becoming, the Republican Party.  And that is to use their religious beliefs, or the safety of their children, or the threat to the moral fiber of the country as cudgels to dehumanize and, in some cases, demonize that 30.77% of my family who this Sunday were treated to some of the best guacamole and turkey burgers and Caesar salad I’ve ever made.  Their attitude is dangerous, ugly and quite short-sighted since all four of the 30.77% of us would gladly share those and other tasty recipes with them (not only for food, but for life) if they’d only open their hearts and minds just a bit and listen instead of running scared when someone or something doesn’t fit into one of the prettily proportioned recipes they’ve decided to doctor up through the years for the perfect American life.  As if that even exists at all.

These are probably the same people who tried to pass this off as food...

These are probably the same people who tried to pass this off as food…

There are many other extreme examples of this kind of behavior towards LGBT American citizens any one of us has heard or read about in the news in the last months or years.  No need to list them now.   Though my favorite is the recent proclamation from Scott Esk, current Republican candidate for the Oklahoma State legislature, who last week publicly and repeatedly said that, in keeping with the teachings of scriptures, he believes gays and lesbians should legally be stoned to death.  Don’t believe me?  Check out these links:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Fringe as this may seem, Gov. Perry’s views are truly only a stone’s throw away (see how I did that?) from those of Mr. Esk.  The Texas state platform of the Republican Party recently and very vocally endorsed the widely discredited treatment of “reparative therapy” for homosexuals as a way to “cure” gay people of their alcoholically analogous behavior.  As the leading state Republican, Gov. Perry has a great deal of pull in what the party does and there is no reason to think he believes any differently.  More importantly, one wonders and worries what goes through the minds of all of the adolescent, young gay women and men in Texas as they come of age in a state, and perhaps household, where they hear such hogwash being legitimized.

They are probably thinking: Wendy, Wendy, Wendy

They are probably thinking: Wendy, Wendy, Wendy

The views of Gov. Perry, Mr. Esk and the Texas State Republican Party are insulting to myself and to all of the members of my family who attended our little Father’s Day gathering.  They are also illogical in that they run counter to the vast majority of current medical experts and scientific teachings in the field.  But, most importantly, they are downright dangerous to young people – both gay and straight – who have enough on their plates in continuing on in the world without having to deal with the fire and brimstone of a bunch of overzealous nitwits who are determined to infiltrate the political system.  And to do what exactly?

Well, that remains to be seen – doesn’t it?

As for Gov. Perry, he can kiss my ass.

Figuratively, that is.

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All The Same

Just(ly) Married

Just(ly) Married

I don’t cry at weddings.  For me, weddings are a joyous moment between two people who love each other that attendees are asked to share in.  Hence, I always find them a happy experience assuming:

a. I agree with the spousal choices of the couple in question
b. I like (or at least don’t dislike) the couple in question
c. I am happy with the gift I am giving the couple in question (if indeed there is a gift involved)
d. I am not sitting uncomfortably in some lame outfit or unnecessarily bizarre location mandated by the couple in question.

But tears?  Not so much.

However, I did cry at a wedding of two people I didn’t know and wasn’t even invited to this week.  It was the wedding of Jeff Zarillo and Paul Katami, two men who after the last few days I feel as if I do know because they were the newly victorious co-plaintiffs of the recent marriage equality case before the US Supreme Court.  And as LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood up for a few minutes in City Hall to marry them, and I watched it being telecast live on The Rachel Maddow Show (which seemed especially apt considering – well, you know), big wet tears suddenly started sliding down my face.  Like, really suddenly.  Without warning.  Even my male partner of 25 years who I am not currently married to (why rush it?) was a bit taken aback.  Who is this weird guy crying at a televised wedding and who kidnapped the cynical queen (my words, not YOURS) I’ve lived with for the last quarter century, he must have wondered.  Well, I wondered the same thing.  Just goes to show you that no matter how much time you spend with another person, or yourself, there will always be surprises.

Work that waterproof mascara, girl.

Work that waterproof mascara, girl.

The same is true of the world.  No matter how many years you believe you understand the universe you can always get the rug pulled out from under you at any given moment.  Certainly that is also how large groups of people of all sexual persuasions must have felt simultaneously this week when they were told that it will likely be much, much harder for them to cast votes in the next election (and all others after that).  Votes that, as the years go by and our electoral differences further solidify between right and left with very little of the soft center remaining (think mismatched Oreo tops without the fillings), become more and more essential if we’re to truly call ourselves these UNITED States.

The Supreme Court also rendered another verdict this week – overturning one of the cornerstones of Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s – Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  This law required that states with a history of discriminatory voting laws against non-white people (mostly southern states) needed to be pre-approved before amending any of their current voting laws.  This essentially meant that states that previously made it harder for Blacks (and other non-whites) to vote and went kicking and screaming into what we now think of as the integration of all races in US society, need special policing because they had proven time and time again that they were likely to fall back into their old ways of doing things.

EVERYONE deserves a sticker!

EVERYONE deserves a sticker!

Simply put, if you were a black or brown person, or even a white person who was a member of a certain group in states like Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and a few others, you were going to need more sophisticated ID’s and the lines were going to be A LOT longer before (and sometimes even with) Section 4.  Think this is my liberal bias?  Well, not this time.  Since the dissolution days ago of #4, Texas has already proposed a new voting law that says concealed hand gun licenses are acceptable voter IDs but that student IDs and disabled veteran IDs alone are not enough to allow a citizen to vote at their local polling place.  Other states like Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia are also planning to reactivate voting laws that limit the number of hours certain polling places are open (particularly in poor neighborhoods) and put restrictions on advance voting (a time-honored tradition in many African American communities).

Oh – and by the way – Happy 4th of July.

Boom

Boom

Well, at least you could feel the public fireworks spreading for gays and lesbians nationwide as the Supremes ruled that same-sex marriage is officially legal again in California and, even more importantly, that the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law that defined marriage as solely between one man and one woman, thereby ostensibly outlawing ANY federal rights for same sex couples for all eternity, is unconstitutional.

What does this mean?  That pretty soon gays and lesbians who are married in any of the 13 states (and counting) that now allow gays and lesbians to marry – including New York and California, two of our most populated states – will be able to file joint federal tax returns, receive spousal Social Security benefits and participate in hundreds of other privileges their fellow citizens have always enjoyed.  That is, in a word I refuse to credit to Donald Trump – huge.

EXCEPT –

There is a problem.

Not to be a party pooper but here’s what I’ve learned as a lifetime member of at least three minorities (gay, Jewish, and men 5’7” & under).  The rights of all people deemed less than or the other by those in power are forever intertwined.  It is, all of it, the same issue.  Who is going to be the next other?  That’s anyone’s guess.  But I can no sooner be overjoyed at being granted permission to legally marry at long last without being devastated that the rights of my fellow non-white citizens are in danger of being infringed upon at the ballot box in the next election.  And this is not because I’m a liberal and certainly not because I am a particularly good person.  It’s because – they are all THE SAME RIGHTS.

Equal is equal.

Equal is equal.

As sure as I’m sitting here writing this, the absence of rights for some other minority group means that my just gotten ones could very soon be in jeopardy.  All it takes is a slight tipping of the scales in the other direction that newly discriminatory voting practices could insure. No minority is safe alone.  But all are safe if they are woven together. Because contrary to what is being spewed by the far right wing among us – we are a nation that is built on the uniting of minorities: religious ones, freedom-loving ones, multi-colored ones, and even sexually varied ones.  This thought does not EXCLUDE the most conservative or religious among us.  It simply INCLUDES everyone else.

Wendy Davis, a Texas state Senator who has become a new personal hero of mine, proved that fact when she stood for 11 hours without food, water or a bathroom break and successfully filibustered a pretty hostile group of her fellow legislators in order to stop a proposed Draconian law in Texas that was going to force the closing of most of its health clinics for women and thus severely deny statewide access to birth control services (nee abortion rights) for many females (most of them poor ones).

Greatest American Hero

Greatest American Hero

Ms. Davis, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is blonde, tall, thin and white – all of which make her part of the privileged elite in Texas and most other states.  But it took only one day after her victory for the very conservative Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an avid supporter of the now defunct bill, to marginalize her into underprivileged, minority status by roaring publicly that that woman who filibustered had a child at 19 and was raised by a single mother.  This quickly lifted Ms. Davis into what Gov. Perry hopes will be one of them in the minds of the majority of the state.  Not content to stop there, the governor elaborated:  What if her (Rep. Davis’) Mom said, ‘I just can’t do this?  I just don’t want to do this?’  …It is unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters. 

See how quickly even a successful white woman can be reduced to an unfeeling, immoral, underage mother who, if given the access to the health care she advocates, couldn’t be trusted to not abort her own daughter?  Never mind that if you count numbers Rep. Davis, a female, is actually in the MAJORITY of the population.   The largest groups among us are not always the most powerful, especially if one travels many thousands of miles away to, let’s say, our financial landlords, China.  Of course, sometimes one need to look no further than one’s back door to make that point, as Ms. Davis and the rest of her fellow teenage Moms, gays and lesbians, and the minority voters of the United States so amply demonstrate to those who want to use them as a wedge issue of the future.

However, if you put all of us together – and add the rest of the nation’s immigrant population (that’s pretty much ALL of us aside from native Americans if you go back far enough) – you’ve got something else.  It’s called, as we like to say around the Fourth of July, these United States.

Happy Birthday to us (native Americans included).  All of us.  And that means – everyone.

Hidden Costs

“Everybody has to pay the piper,”  “You don’t get something for nothing” and “No one gets off scott free.”  These are only three of the annoying sayings that get invoked over and over again by my family and have become the punch line to many of the sad, sick Larry David moments of karmic payback that seem to dog our existence.  They also serve to insure that none of us will ever get too complacent if any good fortune comes our way because it will inevitably cost us more than we will possibly know.

I used to think this was just a neurotic Jewish thing – Woody Allen’s version of “the horrible and the miserable” from “Annie Hall” where he tells his girlfriend Annie we should be happy we’re “miserable” because we could be in that small class of people who have “horrible” lives due to some handicap, awful crime, or genocidal atrocity. Yes, this was before political correctness vis-à-vis the physically and emotionally challenged and anti-depressants but, anyway, you get the point.  We (my family, I mean) are all inevitably doomed.

This all came to bear this week when my partner and I became what I always feared – people who buy washer-dryers and get excited about it and then get screwed by the system we should have been watching out for.  My feeling is that it probably served me right for getting gleeful about appliances in the first place.  How did this happen?  When did I become my Mother? Grandmother?  Aunt?  God knows, my Dad didn’t care about this stuff – in fact, when he and my mother got divorced he used to buy cheap socks and throw them out so he didn’t have to do laundry.  Sorry, Dad.  It’s true.

As for my partner, myself and our washing machine (no, that’s not a new French film), our non-musical sheer glee at this sleek new toy was quickly replaced with anger, disgust and then murderous rage once we began the purchase of those gleaming new fangled “bargains” and soon found out that those three of the most annoying sayings in the world that have gotten invoked by members of my family for decades (two of which I think I actually started. Oops.  © Rick Perry) are actually true.

Yes, I am here to report that the washer-dryer was expensive but on a major sale yet after the two year service agreement, delivery charge, gas hookup, tax and cart away fee for the other appliance from 1972, the sale price was actually 33% more than advertised and definitely above the sticker price were the whole thing not on sale at all.

Hidden costs or a sign of the times? Be more mechanical and hook up your own damn machine and, while we’re at it, cart it away, Mr. Lazy Bones, you say?  Uh, I’d wait if I were you.   Fifteen minutes after the delivery man left, the machine gushed water all over the laundry room, ruined the flooring, rendered the back door impossible to open because the wood floor swelled and, insult to hidden cost, the company two weeks later that sold us this lemon has not made good on its promise to compensate for losses despite me spending the equivalent of two 12-15 hour days harassing them in a way that I’m sure you, kind readers, could imagine only I, the Chair, could do.

An isolated instance?  This happens to everyone? Grow the eff up?  Gosh, I hope not.  But maybe. Perhaps as Charles Barkley noted last week on “Saturday Night Live” is this is simply a WPP?

Click here to watch the sketch

 

Actually, I think it’s a national (international?) trend.

Sunday night we go to see “Hugo” at a cool theatre in Hollywood where they charge $1 extra for movie tickets because it’s a flagship theatre.  I’m not a 3-D fanatic but I get the fascination and, after all, it’s Scorsese and it’ll be worth it to see it under optimum conditions.   And it’s a Sunday night. And it’s been playing for a while, so no line.  We go up to the box-office.  Cool.  I’m excited.  That’ll be — $39.50?  Huh?  No, how can that be?  For two tickets?  Well, it’s a 3-D show.  But….how much….Well, we charge $3.50 a ticket for the 3-D glasses.  Huh?  That’s our policy.

The industry's torture device

FINE.  We see the film.  I hate those freakin’ glasses.  It’s like having a small television resting on your nose, especially when you’re already wearing your own eyeglasses.  And the movie – it’s beautiful to look at, imaginative but maybe my inner child was asleep during the first hour due to the extra $3.50 apiece because, well…okay, subject of another discussion.  Still, it’ Scorsese, right?  Until we leave the movie theatre and there’s a big basket and an usher with a sign that tells us you need to RETURN the 3-D glasses you just paid $3.50 apiece for.  So — the extra $7 was a rental fee?

Tick Tock

I now hate Scorsese and precocious French children even if they are orphans.  But of course, that will inevitably cost me, too.  Perhaps in new, politically correct French readers or maybe in ways the universe has not yet decided but is currently planning in its quest to level the playing field and make us all pay the inevitable piper.  (It’s those European socialist ideas, courtesy of  Mitt  Obama, I tell ya!) Bottom line…it won’t be pretty.

All this talk got me thinking about other hidden costs.  Actually, the hidden costs of  everything.  Because truly, everything costs something even if it’s free.  You can’t ever get back the two hours (three if you count traveling time) you lose when you go to a bad movie.  Or all the money and lost time you’ve spent on counseling if you’re still in a bad relationship and dead-end job and do nothing about it.  And you might have more valuably spent your time reading Proust’s “Remembrance Of Things Past,” Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” or even watching the entire series of “The Wire”  (the show that everyone claims to be the best written show on television and which I haven’t yet sat through – though I have had an astrology reading) than spending 4, 6 or even 8 years of college if you can’t get a job in you field and are saddled with student loan or personal debt you’ll never pay back.

Except –

  1. What if the movie was great, even life-changing?  Then those 2-3 hours might be among the best of your life.
  2. What if those counseling sessions were the only thing that has gotten you to make major changes in your world that have given your life unexpected meaning, joy and balance?
  3. Perhaps those 4, 6 or even 8 years of college taught you to think in a way you would have never dreamed possible and spurred you on to not only a job in your field but a creative vocation in life that has given you the kind of creative (and even financial) gratification that only a handful of people ever manage to get a fraction of after endless decade upon decade of existence?

I bring this up because the first 3 negative results and the last 3 positive results have all happened to me in my very short life so far.

Hidden costs?  Always.  Look out for them.  Beware of the charlatans.  And – watch your back  (Especially at a Sears sale).  But there’s another saying my family lives by, even though we don’t joke about it – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  Take a risk.  Try it.  Jump in.  There’s a ying and yang to the world.  No one gets off scott free.  (I certainly don’t – and continue not to).  But if you play it right, the piper can very much be worth paying.  Even at, perish the thought, far above the full retail price.

Klown Kar

Load up the Klown Kars (yes, I know it’s spelled wrong). 2011 is coming to a close and clearly there is not room for every one of the klowns lurking about our public consciousness these days.  So with Klown kars being notoriously small in size, it seems like it’ll take more than a fleet to haul away all of the klowns in the news and on television and the lack of them in the movies right now.  Therefore, we must get ready since it’s very hard to haul away a lack.

You know you must be living in an alternative big top universe when the powers that be at NBC have confirmed they’re negotiating with Ryan Seacrest to take the place of Matt Lauer as the lead host on NBC’s morning news juggernaut – Today.   Can you see him interviewing Ahmadinejad?  Call 1-888- FALSE IDOL 08 to get your own question asked during the interview competition.

The joke's on us, America.

Or when Donald Trump resurfaces like the Sea Monster that he is from 20,000 leagues below the line of taste so he can insert himself once again into presidential politics – this time as a debate host and a potential faux competitor (so he says) if he deems the candidate field unacceptable at some future date.  Then there’s the 9-year-old boy who had the temerity to explain to tongue tied presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann at one of her campaign events that his lesbian Mom was normal and “doesn’t need fixing.”  (Note: he’s not a klown, merely explaining reason to an unsuspecting one).  Plus the release of the most depressing crop of Christmas films I’ve come across in a long time, suffering from a sheer lack of klownishness.  The one ray of sunshine: the trailer to   “Sister Act 2”  “Joyful Noise,” starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah as competing rival choir directors – a movie that is much glossier, entertaining and smarter than anyone now running for president because, well, at least it knows what it is, doesn’t try to be anything more than that and thus is willing to take the risk of letting the chips fall where they may.  But of course, that’s not coming out until Jan. 2012 – perhaps inaugurating the year when all of this klownishness will take a much needed break in action and go on permanent or at least semi permanent hiatus.  Or perhaps, get its own circus.  Heaven (or hell) forbid.

Even if we weren’t enduring the worst economic crisis since…uh…the last one…who could blame us for being a bit depressed? Similarly, who could blame any young person, particularly the ones in their early twenties, for either taking to the streets to protest a gamed financial system or checking out of everything all together when they surf the Internet, Facebook (it gets its own category), et al and see posts of both Rick Perry and Pat Robertson blaming the gays for God’s shunning of and a lack of Christianity in America (because you can’t have both).  Or advice from Newt Grinch-rich, the now front-running Republican presidential candidate (try laughing at that) to young people who come from poor families to work as high school janitors in order to save up money for their education instead of raising taxes a mere few percentage points on the RICH , I mean, job creators of America.

I happen to teach many of these kids of the emerging generation and I can tell you that, on the whole, they are every bit as smart, motivated and confused as any of us ever were.  But they are a bit more scared.  Scared of how they will make their livings.  Scared of the obviousness of global warming and why the world seems to not be getting that it’s not just a blip on the ecological radar when there are devastating tsunamis earthquakes and nuclear meltdowns at the same time it’s 80 degrees in New York City in November.  And rightfully so.  Because one of the scariest sights I remember from my younger days was of a circus when a klown popped up out of nowhere.  These days they’re popping up everywhere. In behavior.  In words.  And, worst of all, in actions.  Smiling all the way to a lucrative book deal; or lecture tour; or, perhaps, elected office.

It’s one thing to have klowns on a public stage for merely entertainment purposes.  Meaning, I suppose it’s fine for Donald Trump to be the PT Barnum host of a reality show like “The Apprentice.”  While it and he are certainly not my first choice for ringmaster, if I close my eyes or squint so I don’t have to look at the wispy wheat that is tortured backwards across his head to pass as split ended follicles of human something, I vaguely get the appeal.

But perhaps Joan Rivers put it more succinctly when she once famously (and tastefully) said of the powers that be who book guests on the “Tonight Show” – “they’d put Hitler on if he had 10 good minutes.” It certainly rings even more true in the circus we call TODAY.

But let’s not get political.  Let’s talk klowns.  Does anyone really want to watch Donald Trump as ringmaster of a public political debate with Newt Gingrich, sorry – Grinch-rich – in the role of Bozo?  (Especially when, if it were a movie, “Moneyball”’s Brad Pitt could be the star?)  Or watch Rick Perry Bozo commercials that accuse Pres. Obama of waging a war on “people of faith” because he is supporting gays serving in the military?  Or see the president act like Shakes the Klown and only seemingly come to real life when re-election is at stake and his public economic back is against the wall?  Uh – about as much as you probably want to watch Ryan Seacrest play Matt Lauer over coffee each morning as you head out the door to face a world in which you will be forced to deal with more real-life Bozos than an archivist at the Barnum & Bailey network. (Q: there isn’t one, yet, is there? A:  No, but perhaps it’s not a bad idea.  We have lots and lots of content now – both past, present and, as it looks in this foreseeable moment, the very foreseeable future).

It used to be you could go to the movies to escape – or at least for an uplifting message.  Having just watched a screener of “The Descendents” yesterday I can tell you George Clooney can act but isn’t much fun this Christmas.  Nor is the thought of spending the holidays with Margaret Thatcher by way of Meryl Streep particularly joyful (or even entertainingly klownish).  You could go see some movies about Hollywood like the tribute to Marilyn Monroe that is “My Week With Marilyn,” or the silent black and white homage to a classy golden era of Hollywood called “The Artist” but I fear that it will only ultimately remind you of how unglamorous and, well, klownish, contemporary life in the 2010’s really are.

I would like something to tell the kids (those humans in their 20s) this holiday season that will support the bromide that working hard and being persistent will cause favorable results in one’s favor.  (“Clarabelle the Klown goes to Washington?” Brad Pitt starring in a remake of “A Thousand Klowns” as a down on his luck father who manages to entertain his kids or, better yet, get them actual jobs?  How about we just give him the Oscar he deserves for “Moneyball” and for being our best sample of public genetic perfection who also manages to actually spend time in New Orleans building houses for the poor?).

Build me up, buttercup.

Of course  – showing it in a movie or lauding a celebrity for a vaguely real (reel?) life is certainly no guarantee of the hope or change we were looking for once upon a time. But when all the ringmasters of the world are offering us are new, old and recycled KLOWN acts it’s very hard not to take matters into your own hands.  And to not feel like the deck is stacked against a good outcome.  An outcome where more than our noses will continue to wind up in the red if we don’t clear the stage.  And make room on the road for the KARS that will KART the KLOWNS away.

In the meantime I’lll take my non-klownish self on the bus to see this on Jan 13th…