The Way It Is

Did you have a good Thanksgiving holiday weekend?  I did. 

We had a small group of family and friends over for the first time in three years for turkey day.  I cooked and, gotta say, it was one of those meals where everything went right.

The bird cooked perfectly and I barely basted it.  The roasted sweet potatoes with apple, honey and maple syrup, was fantastic.  Cornbread stuffing made separately worked really well.  Roasted brussels sprouts felt perfect.  Even the green salad with pomegranate seeds was a standout, not to mention the homemade corn bread I made in my spare time, as well as the excellent cranberry sauce my sister-in-law made.

Ina approved!

It wasn’t all good news, though.

There were 22 people killed and 44 injured in seven mass shootings over Thanksgiving week.  That’s an average of one a day, for those who are now too overwhelmed or saddened or stumped to think about it. 

Of course, I thought about it.  But there was food to buy, cooking to get done and timing and plating to figure out, culminating with me watching some of the new Broadway musicals on NBC’s Thanksgiving Day parade (Note: Ugh, don’t bother.  And yes we’re speaking to you, Some Like it Hot!) on that all too treacherous morning of the big meal.

Don’t even get me started on this

Well, treacherous is a relative term.  Obviously.

But it’s not like the five that died and dozens more who were injured four days prior at that beloved Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ party spot, Club Q, thought a few hours of their partying prior to Thanksgiving was particularly dangerous either. 

And even though I’ve never actually been inside a Wal-Mart (Note:  Yeah, that’s correct), it’s safe to imagine that the six human beings blown to bits by a disgruntled employee would never have imagined in their wildest dreams that being in that location would prove to be the most treacherous place on earth for them two days later.

Sigh.

The great intellectual and writer, the late Susan Sontag, published a devastating short story, The Way We Live Now, back in the mid-eighties.  It described in snippets of conversation that felt casual and gossipy but were anything but, the new normal that the AIDS epidemic in NYC had wrought.

Life would never return to the naive everyday-ness that we had previously dared to intermittently consider to be treacherous. In fact, most of what we considered pre mid-eighties treacherousness would be considered quaint, and then some, from then there on.

Nothing about Ms. Sontag’s prose was melodramatic, studied or even particularly special at the time.  But that’s what made it unique. She was merely reporting the conversational facts of deterioration, disease and death as if they were an itemized prep list of thoughts, tasks and snarky tidbits one could encounter before, during and after a typical Thanksgiving holiday dinner.

A must read (click the pic for the link)

In essence, she was telling us we would grow used to anything if we had to because even with the grotesquely awful there were plans to be executed, events to attend to and meals certainly to be made.  What was going on outside was awful but, well, we’d just have to modify.  Amid the medicines, hospital visits and funeral plans, the rest of us would still get hungry.  Right?  After all, there was nothing we could do about it, anyway. 

Having lived through the dreadful beginning and middle of AIDS as death sentence in the eighties and nineties, I can’t help but feel a familiarity of those times to the way we live now – in 2022.

It’s not that gun proliferation and violence is a new virus in our midst, the way AIDS was back then.  It’s that it has begun to metastasize in a scarily virulent way.

The new normal

There have so far been 606 mass shootings in the US in 2022, as opposed to 610 in total in 2020 and 690 last year (an all-time high).  We could still be #1 by the time this year is out but no matter where we fall, or fail, we will certainly be competitive with the worst of the worst before 2023 rings in.

There are now more guns that people in the US. (Note: 393 million guns to be exact), the majority of which are owned by white men, who are more than likely to identify as rural and Republican.

No, I’m not racial profiling.  Here is an exhaustive story from CNN in June. 

And a front-page story in the NY Times this weekend casually chronicled the latest trend in a new kind of non-verbal public discourse – the armed demonstrator.

This should not be normal

Sure, it’s our right to carry a weapon if we have a permit.  But in June in the US we had an average of one armed demonstration per day.  What this means is that packin’ right wing protestors, sometimes led by the Proud Boys or Oath Keeper members,  routinely show up at public events in places like Phoenix or Nashville carrying sidearms, long guns or other such paraphernalia because…they can.

If it scares you, well maybe you should be scared.  Or not.  Our freedom, your choice.  Or, well, perhaps it’s both.

It’s worth noting lots of these events also seem to happen around abortion clinics, or gatherings sponsored by the LGBTQ community.  Sometimes they’re even near places where people vote.  Or where certain other minority groups choose to congregate. 

This feels right to me

This is not surprising since 10 states have extremely lax laws regarding firearms, allowing pretty much any gun owner the legal right to carry a weapon in a crowd, a government building or even restaurant serving Thanksgiving dinner. 

So if you found yourself in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia or Washington over the holiday and made it out alive and unscathed, consider yourself one lucky dude, dudette or non-binary celebrant.

I myself felt relatively safe in Los Angeles this week, despite all you maybe have heard about our uptick in crime.   They might have guns, sure, but they’re not free to carry them anywhere.  At least not by law.

… and I’m never leaving

Besides, they’re mostly looking for Rolex watches and I was never big on expensive jewelry.

But that’s the way I, and we, live now.   At least here.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Because it was exactly six months prior to Thanksgiving that 19 small children and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX and the only thing that changed were the lives of their relatives and friends.

Lana Del Rey – “Looking for America”

A Maskless Proposal

The following may or may not be inspired by a renowned yet these days too seldom read 1729 essay, A Modest Proposal, by the late, great Dr. Jonathon Swift.

Thanksgiving 2020 is upon us and even the most virtuous in American society would have to admit this year has been… memorable.

Pretty much sums it up

The way I see it, we are standing at a precipice.  We can continue on as we have, squibbling and squabbling for the last gasps of healthy air, hair dye, and toilet tissue at our local markets as the weather turns cruel and we are forced inside.

Or we can take matters into our own hands.

We Americans have never been ones to back away from a fight to be EXACTLY who we are and get WHAT we want, WHEN we want it by challenging WHOMEVER we want in order to defend our freedoms to do so.

Through the generations this has meant standing up for our rights, taking to the streets and, well, even bearing arms if necessary in order to defend our TRUTHS that we PERSONALLY hold SELF-EVIDENT, no matter what anyone else says.

We’ll take small victories whenever we can #2020

It is the American way.  It has thus always been and always will be.

In the 1800s a number of us grabbed our whips, chains and gunpowder, holding firm to the grounds of our towns in order to preserve one of the then enduring traditions upon which our country was founded – SLAVERY. 

A very dedicated, very bold, very self-proclaimed group of PATRIOTS had the courage to put their muskets where their mouths were and fight to the death in order preserve their inalienable rights to make a living and feed their families on the backs of anyone deemed 3/5 human.

They dedicated their lives so their future generations could continue to live free and thus pass down whatever property, human or otherwise, they had managed to support, cultivate and grow through the years so their namesakes could continue to live well on what their ancestors had both literally and figuratively wrought.

Where are you going with this Chairy? #keepreading

This same inborn national verve translated to the early 1900s when any number of American men, and even women, did their damnedest in order to ensure that females could NEVER have the right to vote.  The patriarchy was being challenged and, though arguments were vociferous, those patriots upheld this tradition for almost 150 years from the day on which our country was founded.

No matter how you slice it, that’s quite a long winning-streak and just goes to show what can happen in these United States when one side believes in the rightness of their position on an issue and in both the inferiority and made up fake logic coming from the other side.

I can’t look!

Using this line of thought, Americans have continued to stand up for all kinds of rights, particularly from the 1960s on. 

Speaking of which, who could forget the crusaders who, with the support of law enforcement, took to their local bridge in order to beat back the invasion of those who didn’t sport their same pigment at THEIR neighborhood lunch counters, schools or local watering hole?

That is not to negate those who several decades later stormed the Capitol to ensure only members of the same sex could legally marry.   Having years before lost the fight to deprive people of different pigments of that right, those naysayers still managed to hold the line with solely traditional opposite-sex marriage for more than two centuries.

Valid

Particularly impressive was their ability to do so through a murderous, worldwide pandemic in the 1980s and 1990s that they cleverly employed to prove their point of the moral unworthiness of many of those new potential same-sex spouses to respectably enter into our country’s version of legally enshrined, wholly American wedlock.

It is then, that now, in the midst of yet another, albeit different global pandemic, a new but no less patriotic group of Americans are standing up in much the same tradition of those that came before them.

Let them hence be known as THE MASKLESS.

Also these idiots #COVERYOURNOSE

This is not their official title but for clarity’s sake it embodies the right for which they fight.  This fearless group among us CHOOSE to fight the new (though now seemingly old) 2020 virus that has murdered more than 1.4 million worldwide, almost 20% of them American, armed only with good, old-fashioned American GRIT.

Eschewing prevailing societal and medical sentiment and guidelines on public health, the latter of which they consider as freedom suppressing, fake and phony as any expert testimony in our recent history, the MASKLESS have proclaimed to any of us that will listen that this Thanksgiving they are taking to the streets, and the airports, and their houses of worship and any other local establishment or relatives’ home that is open to them.

They will do so in as LARGE NUMBERS as THEY choose because enshrined in our Constitution since the beginning of our time has been their RIGHT to assembly.

Maybe more my speed

They will do so because they say to NOT do so, will mean the DESTRUCTION of the ECONOMY they and their loved ones have built.   Its destruction would mean an equally awful END to all of us, death by a thousand cuts to their businesses, savings and 401Ks, instead of death by some silly, overblown medical condition. 

If it means sacrificing the oldest or sickest of the herd, so be it.  Those citizens should be proud to go down as human collateral damage in order for our society to live on and thrive as it always has.

Dowager energy in 2020

Given the rampant and ongoing polarization in these supposedly United States, and in the spirit of American grit and self-determination, the street would seem a good place to play out this issue that divides, though in their view clearly does NOT plague us, this holiday season.

We certainly don’t want to silence the Maskless, that would be un-American.  But nor do we want to discount the overwhelming majority opinion of professional medical advice and adhere to minority, fringe theory in order to get through god knows what else remains for the rest of this year.

I guess it’s good to be prepared

That would be like applying leeches to a bad bruise you received at a 21st century freedom march that is now suddenly festering with infection.

Therefore, rather than endure years of continued argument and litigation where both sides will get heard but no one will really listen, an immediate 21st century compromise is very much in order. 

And it is this:

Those who want to shelter in place in single, twos or fours during this holiday season should immediately do so and remain SILENT.  Eat turkeys or whatever else you choose with or without masks – in the privacy of your own homes.

Will do!

Of course, it’s unlikely the latter could happen under this plan.

Because given their history and acknowledging their predilection towards street fighting for absolute freedom at the absolute cost of anything that inconveniences their traditional ways of life as THEY know it, the Maskless shall henceforth be awarded their own designated section in every suburb, city and Town Square across the country for public and private assembly.

These areas will be walled off and offer unlimited free food, shelter and even lavish restrooms, during the Thanksgiving and, eventually Christmas 2020 Holidays.  There will be NO MASKS, NO SOCIAL DISTANCING and NO CHARGE for anything.  In fact, those outside the walls will shoulder the ENTIRE cost to keep THEM INSIDE and among themselves in a generous reach of across-the-aisle patriotism.

Ca Ching

There will be a limited but sufficient medical staff comprised of those health professionals who adhere to the same way of thinking as the Maskless.  And these people will have access to every medical treatment available to the rest of us WITH THE NOTABLE EXCEPTION OF ALL MEDICINES AND/OR EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO TREAT COVID-19.

These treatments will remain outside, on the other side of the wall, where the rest of the citizenry now live in constant, though perhaps irrational, fear supplies will run out in the coming winter months. 

Since the Maskless have NO such FEARS, or believe the virus causes nothing more than benign or medium range flu with the usual and very treatable symptoms that can concurrently be resolved with the said medicines available to them, this decision should not be controversial. 

Oh Chairy #nailedit

Thus, rather than be made to eat their words, the Maskless can instead eat their yams, their string beans and their sweet potato casseroles, in addition to their turkeys.  The can do so in peace, without the ranting and ravings from friends, relatives and other unknown or perhaps even illegal American citizens seeking to limit their rights.

In turn, those friends, relatives and unknown/illegal citizens, will  concurrently and finally be able to relax for their remaining  and likely dreaded weeks of 2020.  Crazy, hateful and freedom-hating as THEY… okay WE  – okay I –  might be – we will all also finally feel SAFE and SANE or the first time in almost, well, FOUR YEARS.

Keep Calm and Joe/Kamala on

And hopeful that the Maskless that are no longer among us will finally EAT THEMSELVES alive with the unlimited sides of ALL of the freedoms they feel they so richly deserve.

It’s their right and their choice.  Right???

The All-American Rejects – “Gives You Hell”