Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why It's OK For Jon Stewart To Have a Rally

The self-righteous people who are trying for this whole "Well, now, gee, he's a comedian and a political satirist and I just don't know if that boy should be involved in some 'Merican politics, there" are really bugging me. Who came up with this crazy idea that political satire is somehow separate from politics?

Voltaire - who wrote one of the best books of all time, Candide, which contained brilliant satire - was so political that he got banished from Paris and while he lived in exile he certainly gave the powers that be a piece of his mind. He and his friends basically invented human rights activism. He was outraged by the death penalty after becoming involved with the case of a wrongfully convicted young man tortured on that awful wheel thing.

Swift - who modestly proposed - was also politically active and he totally hung out with government insiders and was even a pamphleteer. (Which, for those of you who think "media bias" is something you invented, means he disseminated one party's viewpoint on purpose - and that happened in the U.S. newspapers of the 18th/19th century too, by the way. They took a political stand on behalf of their chosen candidates.)

Henry Fielding - Tom Jones and much more - was politically active and held government positions! Like chief magistrate!

Why would people who write and talk about society, politics, and the ideas therein not have a rally? It makes no sense to me. Besides, have you even listened to Jon Stewart talk about it? I have. He was fascinated by the way Glenn Beck's and others' rallies - the rallies themselves - were communication tools! The rally IS the medium - which IS the message!

AND - and! and! and! - why does it bother you if a "comedian" wants to have a rally but not when Republican actors become governor of California and one of them even became president?

I have a lot of work to do today (and I am not at the rally, not in D.C., wasn't necessarily planning to go anyway) so I'm going to make this quick. I am sick of people dividing everything into two categories and then trying to shove everything into those two categories. I was sick of "Republican/Democrat" and "With us/against us" years ago. I am sick of "You either like Obama or you want Bush back" (and the vice versa). NEWS FLASH even though we've been over this already two years ago but OBAMA DIDN'T RUN AGAINST BUSH! Bush didn't even have a protege running for prez. It's not as if it's Andrew Jackson with his little friend Martin Van Buren, when the national election was a kind of vote of approval on a previous president because MVB was seen by many as an extension of Old Hickory. What is with all the people longing for Dubya to be back in D.C.? Dubya Bush of all people?! For heaven's sake! Are you kidding me? He's a monster. And why are they focused on his economic policy? He lied his way into evil wars and supported murder and torture! This is not OK! Everything else pales in comparison!

OK but none of that is the point. The point is that of COURSE Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have the right to have a rally. And, to "be" political, as political as they want to be, as if that's somehow distinct from skewering politicians. I am so tired of people who say it's somehow OK to talk about everything "except politics." Don't they know that the personal is political??!?!

My advice to you is that you stop saying stupid crap and go read a Mark Twain book. Or any book, really.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Damn Yankees. I refer, of course, to the NYY. As if they weren't problematic enough, with their mega-payroll and their superstars and their snotty attitude and their just generally epitomizing the worst things about New York, namely, the belief held by all most all New Yorkers that New York is the best! the greatest city in the world! there's no other place worth living! you must be joking to say you would live somewhere else! why would I live anywhere else! I'm from here! here is great! it's New York! it's the only place worth being! I've been out West; I went to Pennsylvania once! wait, how many other states are there again? -- yeah, as if the New York Skankees weren't problematic enough just inevitably showing up in the MLB playoffs and causing me to weep and wail and gnash my teeth, my policy of rooting for whatever-team-plays-against-the-Yankees is being seriously tested for the second year in a row because starting tonight they are playing in the ALCS against Texas.

Texas? Texas?! I have a general sports policy of rooting against Texas at all times in all things. College football? The University of Texas is in serious contention to be my least favorite team, only giving me fits of neutrality if they play Alabama. Basketball? The San Antonio Spurs are pretty much the nemesis of this Phoenix Suns fan, and it certainly isn't difficult to wish losses upon the other Texas NBA teams as well. NFL? I couldn't possibly care less about the Dallas Cowboys, and I roll my eyes every time I have to hear about them or their billion dollar stadium or their fans or their claim to be "America's team." And there is never a good reason to root for any Texas team in baseball, either, least of all one that has been owned by George Dubya Bush for the love of god.

But now we find ourselves with an ALCS of the New York Yankees vs the Texas Rangers. Shudder to think. And I have to figure out whose loss I want more. And you know what? I kind of think I want the Yankees to lose more. So there you go. I mean, once the World Series comes I will be rooting for the National League, regardless, even though either the Giants or the Phillies will simply remind me that they crushed my Atlanta Braves to get there... One way or another, the Yankees just need to get off their high horse and not repeat their World Series championship.

It's such an unfamiliar position to be in, but - let's go, Texas!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Grandpa Rondo Curtis, R.I.P.

Early last week, I got the unexpected news that my grandfather had died. He was 95 years old, and he had been in a physical decline, but it nonetheless took me by surprise, if nothing else because my mother, uncles, cousins, sister, and I were all still emailing one another every couple days trying to decide what to do about whether and how we should get additional in-home assistance for him as his health was declining beyond what even his part-time aide/friend could handle.

Grandpa Rondo was a stalwart, sardonic, and kind gentleman. He was full of stories about the past and commentary on the present, he was always ready with a joke or a snack when people came to visit, and he was a golfer extraordinaire. And I do mean extraordinaire, hitting holes in one and winning senior tournaments and "shoot-your-age" tournaments and getting new golf clubs for his birthday at age 92. We thought he would never stop golfing - but, as I said, then came this year's decline in physical health that took us by surprise, even though it shouldn't have.

Grandpa always had a faithful canine companion by his side, but he also suffered a severe loneliness during the past 13 years (almost exactly) since the death of his wife, my grandma, Geraldine, the piano prodigy who wowed her family and all of Utah with her musical prowess before the rampaging arthritis wrecked her fingers too badly for her to play anymore. Grandpa has reminded us since she died, daily, about the void her passing left in his life.

I am glad that our family got many chances to visit him over the past few months, including filling his Utah house with a couple dozen friends and family members for his 95th birthday party a couple of weeks ago, complete with bagpipes! And yet, I will always wish I had spent more time - just one more visit per year, perhaps, or one more phone call this month, or a few more letters and cards this summer, in addition to what I did.

Rondo was my last surviving grandparent. I lost them in 1997 (Grandma Curtis), 2002 (Grandpa Napikoski), 2007 (Grandma Napikoski), and now 2010, Grandpa Curtis. I am really grateful that I got to know all four of my grandparents, something I know not everyone in life gets to do. I am also glad that I got to know them, although some better than others, as an actual adult, and not just a shy child or petulant adolescent with better things to do than go to grandma's house.

I am also glad that Brian and I got to travel to Utah and participate in Rondo's funeral service with loads of family members, his neighbors, and his golfing buddies. I am grateful that my cousin made a slide show of pictures and music that gave us a chance to look back on a life that spanned a mind-boggling century. It was a reminder that all century-long lives are mind-boggling, too.

The days of this past week and a half since getting the news have been a whirlwind, with funeral and travel arrangements, the family gathering, the time spent at the mortuary and the grave, and the trip back home to Chicago. Now I settle into my world without grandparents, and watch their legacies live on through me, and try to honor them.