JUST MUSING: “Off with their heads…”

Forbes magazine’s self-description is “a leading source for reliable business news and financial information.”  Recently Forbes posted online – to immediately remove a short time later – an Op-Ed piece expressing the view Amazon – the corporate conglomerate – should replace local libraries to save taxpayers’ money. To be consistent, Amazon website provides, “online shopping from the earth’s biggest selection of books, magazines, music, DVDs, videos, electronics, computers, software, apparel & accessories, shoes.,…”

After reading about Forbes’ Op-Ed, I wondered to myself and then complained out loud whether the absence of brick and mortar stores prevented Amazon from replacing libraries. I am sure the absence of buildings is not what the author was addressing.

The position is not whether Amazon will let me/she/he/others escape from the heat, get a drink of water and read the newspaper. I am sure that is not the author’s concerns.

Will Amazon – the on-line retailer – provide access to me/we/us to their computers – for free – to research subject matters the corporate fathers/mothers may not agree with us seeing and then defend our rights to the highest courts in the land, without apology, because our rights are their rights.  The American Library Association does and continues to do so. Will Amazon do so?

How many library science majors does Amazon hire? I bet libraries hire more?

Wikipedia describes Jeffrey Preston Bezos as an American technology entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and the founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon. Recent reporting identified Bezos as the owner of the Washington Post newspaper. Does this connection mean that during any of our next trips to Washington we can sit in the aisles, roll about on the floor and laugh to ourselves at the novelists’ harrowing, funny, outrageous, stories, while the reporters continue to ply their trade, stepping over and around our bodies? Surely you jest!

Can I, will I, will they allow me/you/they – no matter my/yours/their economic status, race, creed, or color – to enter the corporate environs and participate in free community meetings, self-help programs, or relieve ourselves, wash off, escapes the hostilities of the outside world for a brief moment.  Being homeless doesn’t mean one loses ones’ sense of adventure, quest for knowledge, intellect. Does it?  Does it have to?  You don’t believe they are worthless do you?

Protecting history, educating us, allowing us to educate ourselves while climbing Mount McKinley for free, part of our collective gift to humankind, ourselves; this seems like the stated mission of corporate America.  Right…? … Maybe…? … Perhaps I am overreacting, as I am wont to do.

Maybe privatizing the public libraries will be as successful as the privatization of roads; solving traffic problems, making a class of people, and obscure corporate entities wealthy while toll booths continue to litter the landscape.  The bold attempt to privatize the interstate highway system continues as we speak.  I am sure this attempt has been the subject of opinion writers before they made their move, putting in place the first toll-booths.

Henry Ford understood the power of making money off the masses.  His proposal was to make an automobile everyone could afford, the Model T.  Ford’s vision worked, absolutely it worked.

Sam Walton wasn’t the first retailer who peddled his wares to the masses.  Walton sold cheaper, concentrated his expansion to small towns, before moving to the cities.  At some point in time Walton played to our patriotism, wrapping his products in the American flag.  This marketing gimmick worked.  Sure, others later revealed Walton was importing the products.  He ordered the flags and false labels of origin placed in the product by the manufacturers before shipping.  The world continued to turn.  We continued to watch his/his families’/Walmart’s wealth and dominance explode.  Turning on our long running soap operas, remembering we forget to purchase the next greatest thing at the store, while the world continues to turn.  Of course, other retailers continue to go out of business, replaced by a more profitable entity which continued to buy and sell in a scale previously unknown in the history of retailing.  Maybe, I worry too much.

The corporate landscape is replete with Forbes’ mythical Hall of Fame, women and men of vision, whose dreams, vision and subsequent wealth have become legendary. Corporate fields of dreams they are indeed.

This musing is not designed to debate the virtues or non-virtues of capitalism.  I do not muse to express a view Forbes’ opinion shapers will never get their wish – they may well reshape our vision and create a world where all books become digitize, available for viewing and purchasing online, allowing say, an Amazon, to replace public libraries.  A world I have a hard-time envisioning.  Perhaps…maybe … creating a system where those without online access are permitted access with something as simple as a Lotto ticket purchase?  Perhaps…maybe… two tickets will permit the purchaser to five minutes of access to the American Library System’s book collection. Ahem – well, not the American Library System – an Amazon, Google/Alphabet, Microsoft digitized version of Books-in-Print. I am sure the new system will not have a check out system.  I am sure they will give us an embedded membership card, permitting them to track our every movement.

Silence would be the prevailing noise when the issue of privacy comes up.  They will impose a “be nice to others policy”, while ignoring our questions about the absence of community forums, the ability to exchange ideas and values, or even to soar as high as the mountains, as low as the valleys.  I can see the corporate branding, paying the Jacksons to sing us a lullaby. “It is easy as 1-2-3; Or simple as Do-Re-Me.”

I can’t express shock at Forbes’ view – no, no, no – Forbes has expressed the same view before. Seems to me someone sees a profit opportunity in privatizing some of public libraries’ functions.  Maybe the opinion writers are setting the foundation for creating business entities/opportunities for this and the next generation of visionaries (if visionary is the right word).  Forbes’ posting/non-posting is designed to get us to start thinking about what the future will look like.  Forbes’ proposed world – ridding the world of those Library Science graduates, those lover of books and protectors our/their freedoms.  Off with their heads indeed seems to be the intent of the posting.

Corporate America seems to believe public libraries have deviated far and wide in their persistent efforts to make sure our histories, books and ideas survive in the many variations of the world we face in the often-times hostile, changing world outside of public library.  If we are honest, we would admit they’re right, seems they understand the persistent belligerence of those Library Science majors and the reprieve they provide to the public on public dollars.  They are wrong in all other respects.

 

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JUST MUSING:“Liberté, liberté, liberté …”

A great lawyer once told a story about being informed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, during argument, the case in which he relied was no longer good law. The great lawyer understood the import of the judges’ observation.  The plans of mice and men were just that – plans – and unless the great lawyer came up with a new case and/or an alternative method of traversing the vines of justice, his trip to New Orleans was meaningless, a waste of time.

Looking left, right, staring directly at the great lawyer’s inquisitors (the judges), then downward at the podium was his next moves.  Yes they were.

The great lawyer kept his head down and gave no indications of the next move.  The inquisitors looked for signs of life.  Counting in his head, talking to himself, giving no outward sign of reacting to the inquisitors’ proclamation was the great lawyer’s tact.

Reaching a count of seven – he never said why seven – but seven was when the great lawyer grabbed some of the pages form the case book he brought with him to the podium.  The great lawyer made sure he had in his hands the first and last page of the relied upon case.  With a dramatic aplomb the great lawyer firmly ripped the pages from the book and exuded, “So much for that.”  The great lawyer then flung the dislodged (well actually ripped pages) outward.  Gravity took care of the rest, pushing the papers downward onto the courtroom floor.

The great lawyer never told said how the case was resolved; meaning he never spoke whether the inquisitors ruled in for him or against him.  Laughter prevented anyone from asking.  In hindsight perhaps the story was one an elder provides, an example of life’s lessons many lessons.

Let’s trudge a different path:  the art of cooking oftentimes is lost when the cook slavishly adheres to a recipe.  Deviating, veering off course, doing the unpredictable and unexpected sometimes lead to new discoveries.  Of course, sometimes traveling the road less traveled can lead to predictable disasters.  Applying both analogies, I believe our political system is on the road less traveled.  Ruts and boulders be damned, moving over and against foreign objects, unwilling to see the predictable disaster awaiting us; ignoring the gross deviation from political norms, day-to-day, hour-to-hour, tweet-to-tweet. Do we survive by mimicking the great, intemperate, trial lawyer; adopting silence, grabbing the known, ripping, tearing – pages from the Constitution – declaring a new day; flinging established principles into the sea, from sea to shiny sea.  One more egg – should be okay?  Red pepper instead of cinnamon, no problem…? So we say; so they say.  Ignoring commonsense, placing the concoction in a microwave oven – might as well – instead of a regular conventional oven, praying for the best.  Robust laughter, merriment abounds with our foolhardy decisions.

Veering down a littered path, passengers screaming while others continue to repeat  their constant refrain, “floor it … floor it … floor it”.  Funny, funny, funny, behavior – funny, funny dreams are ours.  While the rest of us fall asleep, watch in horror, or flat hope against reality.  Maybe we will come to our senses before ripping away, wholesale, provisions from previously supposed sacrosanct constitutional provisions.

Fake new – “Oh Lord he’s so funny…”

“Would? Wouldn’t? I choose both. I see nothing in the rules saying I can’t choose both.”  Scrabble, Scrabble, Scrabbling away … indeed we are.

Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia, or being influenced by Russia, against the president is extremely inappropriate and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provide inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

The wonderful experiment has gone awry.  Telling us (the passengers), and the rest of the world (standing on the edge of the cliff, believing the President’s men and women promises the location was a safe place to stand), that we/they/this country didn’t mean any of the promises held out in the past – to us, others, immigrants, the world.

We saw what we saw.  We heard what we heard.  Instead we are told we didn’t see or hear either.  Hearing faint whispers, “off with their heads”, during the time he/she/they applied maximum pressure to the gas pedal.  Their acts are the deliberate act of returning to the days of yore, the good old days, the converting truth to lies, lies to truth.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has astutely told the rest of the world the United States can no longer be relied upon.  She needed not have said so.  The world has seen this cartoon before.  When the parts were cast for the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, we were not assigned the Roadrunner’s role.  We know how it ends.

She, Merkel, and the German people should help the French sneak in New York Harbor.  Attach two – three – four tugs to the Statue of Liberty (La Liberté éclairant le monde) (Liberty Enlightening the World) and bring the statue back across the pond.  Liberté, Liberté, Liberté …  the greatest, peaceful coupe d’etat the world has ever seen.

The great lawyer’s story was a wonderfully tale because the great lawyer threw anguish to the wind.  He – the great lawyer – exercised the unpredictable, refashioned the facts so as to move the case out of the twixt the inquisitors’ pronouncement had placed him.

He won?  He didn’t win?  Honestly don’t know; too busy laughing.

Our new plight differs.  We are coming dangerously close from being unable to stop in time.  No matter how entertaining/unpredictable/well told, this new tale’s conclusion – told by the Aw Gosh! Creator – has become abundantly clear.

JUST MUSING: “Donald in Wonderland…”

“Jimmy Dean sausage and eggs and perhaps some toast, white not wheat. Thank you, madam.”

“Thank you,” Chad said moving out of the view of the cameras; discrete, circumspect, deciphering the unusual request.  Smiling to herself, at the use of the word madam; he said it almost right, almost.

Later Chad retraced the same steps, and reentered the room.  She waited for an appropriate moment to inch forward, along the outward outline, receiving instruction of the pool producer she was permitted to move.

She inched closer, to emit a clear response to the request – at least she thought she was clear.  The response was delivered in a whisper – “Chef’s said, bunch…”

He – Complicit John – never expected this response.  He didn’t.

Complicit John was part of the world’s most powerful political contingent.  Moments before their contingent moved through the halls of the grand building, choosing a separate entrance, laughing at the “others”, who seemed shocked at the change in protocol. “We rock stars” – they bragged, which sounded like a misguided teen movie.  Breaking rules, wreaking havoc, turning the world upside down; up is down, down is up. Their sex, drugs and rock and roll is chaos.  They adopted a strange mantle, “famous, stable geniuses”; laughing at the rest of the world when they moved from one target to another.  They were their own weapons of mass destruction.  They never understood why the others laughed at their self-labeling.

Complicit John didn’t see Chad watch the contingent move down the hallway.  He was giggling with Complicita Sarah at the time.  Chad remembered him. She wondered about the awkward smirks.  He seems so cocksure – so she thought.

Complicit John repeated what Chad said, not because he didn’t hear her.  He was shocked she didn’t understand that her answer meant, “No”.  She couldn’t have meant, “No.”

Chad knew what she was saying.  Her response was clear, layered with an additional dose of incredulity – “Bunch!?”  Not at all unsure was the tone and manner.  A response as forthright as the forthrightness of reality and certitude burned her darkened skin hue.

Complicit John only saw Chad’s color.  In Complicit John’s world, Chad couldn’t say no.  Do what I say. Do what I want – his world, their world – a daily ride to Wonderland; a daily, discounted pass to Donald in Wonderland.

“Bunch,” she repeated, “bunch!” removing the question mark, accentuating the exclamation.

Complicit John had requested what he believed to be a Texas sausage – part of the base, so he thought.  Jimmy Dean was no longer a Texas sausage – if it ever was – long before purchased by a conglomerate.  Jimmy Dean was sold by the singer/originator in 1984 long before the singer/originator’s death in 2010.  Ironically (irony is one of those things which is full supply in Wonderland), Complicit John made the request even though he didn’t particularly like pork sausage.  A bit too spicy, made him gaseous.  One of the foods found on the list given to him by his doctor.  Written as a suggestion, implying he should avoid.  The suggestion was later converted to a demand – by his body – joining an additional list of foods he should assiduously avoid.  An unexpected frown and facial twitches always followed when Complicit John ate Jimmy Dean – if fact any pork sausage.  The frown was – always, always, always – followed by violent, silent gaseous odors, which appeared at the most inopportune times.  Jimmy Dean was ordered anyway.  To see what they would say, how they would react, loud enough so that everyone on the other side of table could hear him.  The world was their oyster.

Chad didn’t flinch.  Bunch meant brunch.  She wasn’t bringing him Jimmy Dean sausage and eggs, even if the kitchen had a dozen rolls in the kitchen.  It didn’t.

Moving quickly away, listening to the room fill with gaseous odors; away from Complicit John, past Elton John’s Comparator, who sat to the left of Complicit John.  She smiled at the Comparator, not because she liked him – the stable genius – she didn’t.  In addition, she flat out hated the Comparator’s comparison of himself and Mr. John.

He doesn’t like gays. I’m gay. Elton John is gay.

Furthermore Comparator can’t sing; at least she didn’t believe he could.  Sure she knew who Jim Nabors was; she wasn’t a friend of the late actor/singer.  When walking past she thought, he aren’t Jim Nabors, even in Wonderland.  She also knew John was famous / famous – white famous as one comedian has mused.  He is only famous in his own mind, infamous is better word.

Chad laughed when on the other side of the room.  Out of hearing distance of the odious, gaseous sounds, moving towards the kitchen for the first time, to tell the Chef what she had said.  She wanted to make sure he knew.  She lied on him.  She had never asked him about Jimmy Dean and eggs.

He didn’t mind.  Not in a thousand immigrant days did he object.  His history silenced any possible objection.  Chef Algiers travelled from Africa when he was eighteen, twenty years ago, and joined the French Army.  He was later was assigned to NATO.  When the position of chef came open five years ago, he applied and was hired.  He reasoned Chad, a native of Chad, technically didn’t lie on him.

Chad requested to leave early.  She told Algiers’ she intended to travel from Brussels to Great Britain – to cross freely over the border – an act she intended to repeat, as long as England remained in the Union.  Chad told Algiers she wasn’t going to visit relatives this time.  She wanted to join in the protest against the Great Comparator.  She hoped Complicit John saw her in the crowds.  She particularly wanted to see the Baby Comparator.

.

JUST MUSING: “Those were the days…”

The artwork was the familiar, contained on a business card – a little more than three inches by two inches – imbedded with a blended image of the great ape and people of color – my color, the Negroid race – making an explicit point. At the bottom of the picture, sometimes on the back, was the contact information for the Ku Klux Klan. The card was never handed out personally to me, meaning someone saying, “Here is my card, if you’re interested.” No, no, that wasn’t the point. Theirs wasn’t an invitation to join. Placed in the door jam, on the counter, slipped inside a book, near enough, close enough, so there wasn’t any misunderstanding who the intended recipient, our place on God’s green earth.

The act(s) was actually behavior more complex than the issuance of a simple business card. Behavior imbedded in the culture.

Language, art, the written word – benign and covert acts – powerful symbols capable of converting fruit to an obscene level, degrading, “Animal like creatures they are.” Watermelons, bananas – causing some who looked like me – including me – to refuse to eat those fruits in public. Theirs was a participatory sport, and they all participated, historians, social, physical, medical scientists – all participants – continually supported and provided cover for the differences in the species. In actuality they were enforcing a system of enforced inferiority, protecting a caste system at the same time.  This is where Roseanne Barr’s tweet was directed. Her act was no different.

It confuses me when we as a society pretend to not understand the outrage and why a publically traded corporation (Walt Disney Company) in this century refuses to participate in Roseanne’s revisionist tweet and why it – the corporation – decided not to allow her to continue to represent their corporate interest.

She apologized? She didn’t apologize? She took it back? She didn’t? It matters not, ABC/Disney properly said no – not this century, not this time was an appropriate response. If you have spent generations believing, I guess ABC’s actions are mind-boggling. If you find nothing wrong with the “joke”, this is why I muse.

I have told the below story before.  I will repeat it. It is apropos, even though the events took place over twenty five years ago.

______________________

I was visiting the client’s business at the time. I don’t remember the exact year. I don’t remember the particular season. I do remember the weather was seasonably hot and humid, accompanying us as we stood in the parking lot talking about the client’s new problem.

A Mississippi boy, thirty years my senior, who grew up at a time our attorney-client relationship – in all probability – would not have existed, would have not been permitted. At the time I had represented the client’s personal and business interests for five years. We had been successful in acquitting him against multiple criminal indictments and had at least three courts dismiss as many as fifteen different criminal cases filed against him and the businesses.

During our conversation, he – the client – looked my way, and frowned. His wasn’t a sun frown. He didn’t seem to have gas.  It seemed something else was bothering him.

“Mr. Griffin, how much money do I pay you a year?”

I shrugged a simple shrugged, both shoulders moving up, hands extending outward, not knowing why he asked; not knowing the exact amount, knowing a range instead.

“I don’t know Doyle, $50 – $60,000.00 a year for the last five years, on average.”

Doyle frowned again. He moved his head in the other direction, away from me, avoiding eye contact. Doyle’s frown and movement seemed familiar.

The frown was not the frown seen when someone bites too fast, too deep into a lemon. No different, his was a historical frown. The same frowns etched across faces on those Fort Worth’s buses, when we – as children – entered and sat anywhere we wanted, besides them – white women, white men – part of the dismantling of segregation. The difference on the day I stood with Doyle, in Texas’ relentless heat, was time had continued to changed.

I never questioned those I sat near on the bus. Absolutely, I was insulted – and hurt – when their frowns were coupled with their moving both face and nose, like we stunk. I brought the event to momma. She explained racism nicely, and explained to “play them no mind.” I never questioned those sitting in the bus though. I questioned Doyle, about what my eyes saw, what my memory said.

“Doyle, can I interpret your frown?”

Doyle being Doyle, answered, with Mississippi accent still intact, “Sure Mr. Griffin, be my guest.”

So I did. I took a swing. Smooth as Bobby Bond’s swing – bat back, arms straight, stepping forward and through – swinging pure and sweet.

“You thought you would never see a day, growing up in Mississippi, where you would ever pay a Black man that kind of money…that was the frown I saw Doyle.”

And not to my surprise, Doyle answered, “You’re right Mr. Griffin, except I didn’t think the words, ‘black man.’ I thought another word. I thought only one word instead.”

I didn’t laugh. Doyle didn’t laugh. We didn’t need to. Ours was the act of sharing a bit of honesty and history. I said what I saw. He confirmed what I saw, correcting me for using two words instead of one. He knew he couldn’t use the word anymore and wasn’t about to do so. We wished each other well. He went back to work. I did too. When I was driving off, I understood things were a changing, something folks like Roseanne and her ilk refuse to accept, forever wanting to return to those years of psychological comfort and imposed superiority.

JUST MUSING: “So I pray…so I muse…”

I am confused. Staring and studying photographs. Wondering why the captured images possess extended lips. I saw something else when peering into other’s worlds – Georgia stood in the corner ready to pounce. I admit Georgia’s was not a defined image. She still hovered much like she did when we were children, while commanding – “Put your lips in.” Georgia viewed the extended lip condition as defiance to her chastisement, whether verbal or physical. Georgia’s image in the photos is more ghost-like, an image engraved into my imagination. Causing me to remember, cry, but don’t cry too much; be careful not to extend your lips. Knowing, always knowing – engraved into a child mind – it will take her a little time to calm down because of our/us/we/she/he/me doing what we had done wrong.

A single mom attempting to keep seven children out of harm’s way, making sure we understood it was necessary for us to be frightened of at least one person on God’s green earth – her. Don’t be confused, we were afraid. We recognized Georgia as the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, running the roost – her roost – on Perry Street.

What strange poses? Arms extended outside of the frame, an unseen object in one of their hands, everyone’s lips pursed. I have never heard of Lime disease before – not Lyme disease, Lime disease. A disease caused from eating too many limes, causing ones lips to pucker. No, never have, but clearly these friends and strangers are so infected. The condition must be a communal disease; in every picture his/her/their lips seem to display the same distorted extensions.

What on earth! Poor souls!

Georgia’s wont and commands were simple:

“Stop crying!” “You will listen to my instructions next time!” “I will give you something to get mad at … don’t push your lips out at me!”

No, no, no, Georgia wasn’t an abuser, more of an enforcer; a benevolent ruler, who always extended a warning before taking action; one time, twice, three times. “If you don’t understand… if you do … if you do … You do understood, don’t you? Do it again, and I will beat you until your head roke like okra!”

We had never cooked okra when the warning was first uttered. We were children had eaten it, but never cooked it. The physical properties of okra were unknown to us. We didn’t have to ask what roke or rokes meant; having some understanding the origin of the word wasn’t necessary. Georgia’s sentence structure and the words used provided sufficient understanding of what she meant. The meaning wasn’t good.

Our lips – we couldn’t do anything about them. We be children of color, existing in a balmy South. The only thing we knew about lip altering procedures was to “drink plenty of water to keep them from cracking”. We were the “you know what Vaseline is, don’t you”, generation.

It took years before one of us finally explained to Georgia, “Momma my lips aren’t sticking out. They are made this way.” Her warning face was on at the time. This time – that time – the face melted. Not like okra. More like butter, losing definition and form, taking away structure; melting, clarifying, revealing a change in condition, converting from a solid substance to a liquid one. She bent her back forward; both hands grabbed both knees; a soft sound emitted initially, followed by a hearty laugh. She wiped both eyes, turned in the opposite direction, saying nothing else. The laughter had become personified. Or perhaps she permitted it to continue, giving permission. Either one, it resumed, resonating – extending out, filling the small space, granting permission for her charge to laugh. Laughter which invaded every nook and cranny; one of many cherished moments – knowing her love was greater than any contemplated punishment for our/my/his/her malfeasance.

Art Linkletter when he was nearing his 100th birthday explained the greatest invention in his lifetime was the advances seen in the medical sciences; extending lifespans, curing diseases, ceasing life-sapping plagues. Linkletter died on May 26, 2010, at the age of 97. With Linkletter’s quote in mind, oh how I wish the medical scientists figure out a cure for this terrible disease. None of its victims ever attach explanations to their social posts. Go Fund Me requests are absent. I am sure some of us would happily extend help with medical costs. I have seen no posts educating us with what “they too” are experiencing. Celebrities have remained quiet when they should not; Harvey Weinstein/Bill Crosby quiet, secrets contained in cloistered and exclusive circles.

Looking closely, I noticed some of their lips were “like that”, extended naturally; surely not that naturally. Others were not as naturally endowed – they too though were pouty, extended, afflicted by this horrible disease. A non-discriminatory predator – everyone pursed, soured, extended in a distorted manner. These electronic images remained engraved into my frontal lobes causing me to be concerned for the safety of strangers/friends/love ones/others.

So I pray. So I muse.

JUST MUSING: “Uncle Bobby…”

The Department of Labor recently issued a report, citing record low unemployment.  Listening to pundits tout the numbers, I waited for someone to say the numbers were actually a narrow view of the economy. No one has, no one will.  A famous rapper likewise made an astounding pronouncement. The rapper’s views on race and world history raised sane eyebrows, caused some to gnash their teeth. They ignored his statements were a familiar litany. He has asserted other supposed truths in the past, has always come off as a braggart on a multitude of topics (fame, money, women (misogyny)). I feel more comfortable in characterizing the new moment in the sun as nothing more than an Uncle Bobby. The Uncle Bobby moment applies to the famous rapper, the Department of Labor’s pronouncement, and the unhinged statements of a former mayor when he stepped back into the limelight, arguing a pending federal investigation is the work of Nazis.

Everyone has a crazy uncle. This fact is why certain behavior should be viewed with a slanted eye. For clarification, I am not musing about the Sexual Deviant Uncle Bobby. The sexual deviant Uncle Bobby is the one who touches and hugs too long, blaming errant tongues, hands, lips on their medication, the victim, on role-playing. My reference to Crazy Uncle Bobby is referencing the wildly off-balanced condition which deceptively takes on the appearance of being balanced, when it is not. There is always a severe disconnect between facts and Crazy Uncle Bobby’s behavior. Spinning out of control, thinking too much, too little, trying to make sense of the world, most times failing – this is Crazy Uncle Bobby’s way – sharing baseless theories and thoughts. When their surmises are examined, one realizes Crazy Uncle Bobby musings are constructed on logic which has the weight bearing capability of ground coffee waste – brown/black, mushy and pungent – incapable for bearing its own weight, spreading and dispersing with the slightest touch.

Uncle Bobby’s condition is a communal one, meaning shared by others. This is the reason everyone has one. Over-talking thoughts, believing his incredible stabs in the dark – ideas, concepts, and thoughts – are new, unique, even bothering on profound.  He never sees to the contrary, blinded to what others see. Spewing, “you know” – because Crazy Uncle Bobby(s) always starts any conversation with meaningless words, and phrases. “You know.”

Self-absorbed souls – looking back, forward – thoughts percolating from the bottom of the mound, causing an inconsistent, disconnected, scattering of thoughts. Wires crossed, causing his brain waves to flow slightly off kilter, short-circuiting somewhere along the way. Words flowing out and over, in an Uncle Bobby kind-of-way, muttering unique utterances which never meeting the definition of insanity (in a legal sense), insaneness though, flat out crazy is he, are they.

Looking in the camera, philosophizing: “When I hear about slavery for 400 years. That sounds like a choice.” The world was shocked. His family was probably not. They knew. We shouldn’t be shocked. I was not. I have seen the condition before.

Citing personal remembrances or the historical record to show Uncle Bobby the error of his ways will not work. Telling him the comments were hateful, hurtful, idiotic, are nothing more than futile stabs in the dark. Walking away, calling Uncle Bobby an audible “fool” is good enough. Let Uncle Bobby love whoever and whatever he wants and walk away. Walk rapidly away.

“Stay away from Uncle Bobby.”

“Mother I’m not a child anymore, I know Uncle Bobby’s crazy.”

The Crazy Uncle Bobby condition is much like aging. Sneaking in, announced/unannounced, taking over at the strangest of times – morning, mid-morning, lunch, evening, night – the predictable and unpredictable visitor who overstays the visit, submits a change of address without, and stares unflinchingly, when an attempt is made to discuss the prolonged stay. Crazy Uncle Bobby as a mental condition silently obscures rational thought.  This is the reason everyone has a Crazy Uncle Bobby.

Be clear – the condition is not necessarily a mental illness. Albeit distinguishing between what is and what isn’t is problematic. Uncle Bobby in the meantime continues to walk, function, exist; he never bothered about trying to determine which. Nothing wrong until something is wrong. Scientists may discover the condition is actually the male ego which has weathered, aged – wearing on the edges – causing unpredictable behavior. Such a finding would not and cannot be be the answer. There are too many of us out here who can attest their Uncle Bobby has been acting a fool as long as they can remember. Forever stating the most inappropriate statements, no matter the conversation or circumstances; always marching to a different drummer.

“Momma did you hear what Uncle Bobby said?”

“Baby, can we talk about something else.”

The change in the calculation for the unemployment rate, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLSS), involved lowering the calculation from five years to two years.  The change means the long-term unemployed are no longer counted, magically lowering the unemployment rate. I bet Crazy Uncle Bobby convinced the rest of them the new calculation makes sense.

On February 3, 2015, Gallup referenced the unemployment statistics as “the big lie”.

If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed.

Facts don’t matter when Crazy Uncle pontificates. Never make the mistake of proclaiming, “what!?” Crazy Uncle Bobby sees the question mark. He ignores the explanation mark. He and the decisions he wrought are worse than a functioning drunk, more properly, the pontification of a functioning fool.

Appearing logical when they aren’t, veering off the rails in both manner and mode, nary dependent upon studies, or reasoned thought is Crazy Uncle Bobby’s way. Changing the rules, forever providing descriptions in unnecessary detail – why and how he came to his reasoned conclusions – telling everyone foolishly listening they are smartest of the smart.

Don’t be confused by wealth class or position. The Crazy Uncle Bobby condition does not work as an impediment to Crazy Uncle Bobby(s) moving throughout the social hierarchy. They are much like cockroaches. Successful, adaptable, and ever present tribute to their ability to survive structures which may limit others. A condition played out on a spool – over, over, over – convincing others the rightest of their ways.

Don’t be fooled in the future. Recognize the condition for what it is. Reference Uncle Bobby as you should – “fool” – and walk away. When walking – fleeing – you are permitted to remind yourself, “we all have one, we all have one, we all have one.”

 

JUST MUSING: “Taps played to green and red…”

Watching tears flow, chests heave, and unspeakable grief play out on our televisions.  Being forced to revisit time and place.  Questioning how school shootings have become so commonplace, not protecting our children; terminating lives early; changing channels, avoiding discussing the unspeakable.  Casting eyes elsewhere, while rapid sounds continue to ring in our heads, hearing a now familiar sound of rapid gun fire, wondering what we would do, how we would act if faced with such terror.

What we can do now?  “Too soon to talk,” repeated by some.  “We will pray for you”, regurgitated by others.  Words spoken in the same predictable manner as a wound-up toy, moving across the floor, in a familiar pattern or path, towards the wall – repeat, repeat, repeat – knowing full well once it unwound any movement will cease, incapable of doing nothing else, against the wall, on the floor, until the next time.

“We will pray for you”, they say again; reminding us of those people we never want to pray for us.  Knowing they may well pray – and nothing else – before going back to their regular activities, while the slaughter continues. A hollow sound, ringing – tap – tap – neither black or white, non-discriminatory terror played out in living color, rendering from our children real blood.  Oh sure, I remember the adages reminding us that even with forest fires, there is rebirth.  The reminders:  flood water cures droughts, bringing to our planet nourishment, replenishment of the water table; traumatic events represent the good and bad.  Changing lives, sometime tragic, others times not; forever reminders for us to keep the faith.  Should we assume this time, the next – the next?  From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, so we say.  So we pray.

Stopping in place, looking at familiar tears flowing, while these survivors expressed their anger, packaging fears in tidy bundles, screaming back at America, joining the Sandy Hook, Columbine parents, the rest of us, all infected with this uniquely American disease.  Screaming at politicians and those who wrongly believe their freedoms are tied to a totally unregulated ownership of weapons of mass-destruction.  Speaking truth to power, screaming at those with real and ostensible power; don’t pray for us, do something or we will.  Awakening me from my stupor; perhaps awakening others too.

Telling they did.  Following the color of money, both red and green; posting contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA); using profane words, seemingly more appropriate this time, not-at-all about respecting ones elders.

Tattle-tales they were; speaking truths about the duplicity of our supposed leaders.  You were not there, in the closets, under the desk, watching my friend die, said as a promise to their dead and dying friends who occupied the same battlefield; done while those same strange sounds continue to overlay – over and on top of their reality – causing words, and promises to emit from the mouths of babes.  Tap – tap – tap.

Perhaps there will be action this time.  Not from our leaders.  Not from those sending hollow prayers.  Committed words spoken around and under flowing tears, promising to work at stopping the nonsense; not wanting their siblings, friends and later generations to experience the same blind madness we have permitted on our watch.