We are not the least bit amused.
Even with having to sleep with one eye open on my hammock (those pesky alligators, you know), it’s impossible to tune out all of the commotion during this fine, albeit sweltering July. The awful headlines easily found a way to invade my solitude. In my defense, I did make sure and steer clear of the news sources to which I’m usually addicted; I even managed to finish a few books since we last met up here.  My fidelity to a feed-free summer of beach visits and literary enjoyment had been in full bloom. Unfortunately the solitude I created was interrupted, and my glass of lemonade is now sour.
I long ago created a false facade designed to hoodwink my lovely wife into believing that I am strong enough to withstand any and all adversity. But I’ll admit to you, dear reader, that I sadly ain’t no Superman. Hatred and bigotry always hits me like a sucker punch to the kidneys.
So without further ado I’ll get right to the point here: in spite of his protestations to the contrary, the President’s racist tweet and subsequent comments about it appeal to the absolute worst traits in those who are amongst us. Forgive me, but I find this type of behavior to be, well, deplorable.
Although it is slightly amusing to see his apologists contort to rhetorical positions that I’m pretty sure are only (metaphorically) possible in the privacy of one’s own bedroom, it wasn’t so amusing to hear that crowd at the North Carolina rally last week ominously chant, “Send her back!” At least the dog-whistlers that we’ve all come to know over the last two years were decent enough to offer a thin veil of opaque when masking their venomous messages. How “kind” of them in hindsight.
So on that not-so hopeful note, my summer hiatus is now history. I return to the blogosphere with nary a sunburn nor a mosquito bite, yet also undeterred in my quest to offer an occasional changing of the narrative; any narrative. Hop aboard.
And so how’s your summer going? Are you fulfilling all those hopes and wishes born during last January and February’s freeze? Is the garden flourishing? Have you taken some trips? Did you finally wash the car?
Other than trying to avoid those tweets, we do take note of two recent passings which deserve some mention:
Baseball pitcher Jim Bouton passed away on July 10th at 80 years of age. I read “Ball Four” the same year it was published in 1970, marking for me the first time I had ever read a best seller while it was actually on the best seller lists. I was all of 11 years old, and I suppose it was only because my over-worked and distracted parents hadn’t bothered to pick it up and look it over that I somehow got away with bringing it into our home. Its full title, “Ball Four: My Life and Hard Times Throwing the Knuckleball in the Big Leagues,” no doubt flew under the radar of whatever test they assigned to one another in scrutinizing my reading material. I was powering through lots of sports biographies at that time, but there hadn’t yet been anything quite like Ball Four for the impressionable me to absorb.
Bouton lifted the veil of what really went on off the field, and in locker rooms, bullpens, and dugouts. He not only broke the then-sacred clubhouse rule of “what goes on here, let it stay here,” but he revealed tales of pill-popping, sexual escapades, and players who ran onto the field nursing hangovers from a previous night’s debauchery. Everyone from jealous sportswriters to team management hated him at the time for lifting that curtain. Yet, he did it with humor, honesty, and a healthy dose of self-deprecation. I’ve read countless sports books since then, but Ball Four remains my favorite. Rest in peace, Jim.
Another notable passing from many of our childhoods was the news earlier this month that Mad Magazine will no longer publish a monthly magazine of new material. Like so many from my generation, Mad was the ultimate send-up of authority, be it parental, teacher, clergy, or elected official. Before we had Monty Python, before there was a Saturday Night Live, and way before there was David Letterman, Mad was there for adolescents of all ages to lampoon or otherwise mock conventions of the time period.
One could argue the merits of Archie and Jughead vs. Batman or Spiderman comics (and we did, ferociously), but everyone agreed on Mad. You never tossed an issue of Mad when you were finished; it either got put in a pile in the corner of your bedroom, or it was passed around from friend-to-friend until it literally was ripped to shreds (and even then you still kept it). Mad will still publish special issues (such as this one), so I’m glad it’s not permanently leaving.
And of my own doings since we last parted? Lots to relay in upcoming posts. Ain’t YOU lucky! Gorgeous recently got new hearing aids; I learned about my core; and we’ve had several meetings with a financial consultant. Oh, and guess where I picked up some new summer duds, not just once but on three visits? Sears! Yes, Sears, the same place I surmised two years ago that it was nearly ready for the history books. Life is always evolving here at Snakes in the Grass.
So consider us back open for business. I’ll need to catch up on the doings of fellow bloggers this week. For instance, I’ve no doubt missed several good reviews by Bruce over at Vinyl Connection, Judy’s garden is probably blooming beautifully at New England Garden and Thread, I’m sure Kate continues to shame all other bloggers by her regular output at the Coffee Kat, and G-d knows what kind of trouble AGMA is up to. If one looks, there are healthy alternatives to the otherwise ugly.
Until next time…
John Banville, The Untouchable (1997 Alfred Knopf); David Browne, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup (2019 Da Capo Press); Dominick Dunne, People Like Us (2009, Ballantine Books)