JUST MUSING: The cause of male-pattern baldness…?

Walk on By is a song composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by Hal David.  With time’s passage, the song is appropriately described as a classic.  Over the years, the song has been recorded or performed by countless artists.  The song was initially performed by Dionne Warwick in 1963.  In 1969 – the song was dramatically redone by Isaac Hayes.  This muse is written in an Isaac Hayes’ context; dramatic horns, and an instrumental section playing – low, high, low; permitting to tell a different tale to be told.   

Some of you know, others don’t, let me explain.  The Don’ts are those who have an amazing ability to sits on the plane for hours, walk calmly by the throne.  The Others run dutifully to the equivalent of the universal Red Cross Stations. Stations ingeniously designed – stick figures – one in a dress, the other in pants.  The Don’ts are don’ts because they are not so affected; ignoring Nature’s call, continuing conversations which should have ceased when the plane touchdown; smiling, laughing, telling one last tall tale.  A different plight plays out at the same time; The Others move hastily pass, death in their eyes, meaning they plan and intend death to those who dare interfere with their path to glory before the throne. 

 The Don’ts are also an oblivious bunch; existing in another world, singing a different tune – walking on by.   The Others know the tune – absolutely – though heard through a different megaphone; theirs a twisted, meaner and distorted sound. 

 Please don’t interpret any of this to mean The Others are pessimist.  No, no, no, they are forever hope and pray for the best as they flee.  Walk on by they do; forever, forever, forever, trying to hide the tears and sadness.   

If you see me walking down the street and I start to cry each time we meet

Walk on by, Walk on by

Make believe
That you don’t see the tears
Just let me grieve
In private ’cause each time I see you
I can’t help myself

I break down and cry
Oh baby walk on by

The Don’ts will never understand what this muse is about, because they – them – those people will never understand our frustrations.  Walking, talking, engaged with those of like manner and mode with their irritating, chatty laughter – ha, ha.  While we abandon all social graces and flat out run.  Grabbing, pulling and holding tightly onto body parts – ten to twenty feet out – rushing, rushing, rushing – wishing, wishing, wishing – we successfully make it to the Red Cross Relief Stations.  Hoping there’s no line.  Invariably seeing a line – wishing, hoping, doing the woo-hoo dance in unison.  Praying to the Pee-Pee Gods, pledging fealty – this time, that time, forever – while the Chatty Bunch continue their predictable path – into the distance, out the terminal.  

I just can’t get over losing you
So if I seem broken in two
Please walk on by, walk on by

Foolish pride, that is all I have left

So let me hide

Standing in place, advancement in increments smaller than an inch – it seems; feeling like a failure, wishing for a magical conversion back to the toddler stage so as to be graced with society’s blessings – permitted to let my pee run free.  

No Walt Disney magic this time; standing in line, counting out loud, thinking, counting to myself.  I thought.  Except I wasn’t – a loud and verbal count it was – “one thousand one, one thousand two … one thousand three” … clear, properly punctuated, a loud count, done on cue with our woo-hoo dance.

Why, why, why … “woo-hoo, woo-hoo” … wait … you only have two more people!  Concentrate, concentrate, you can do this, hold it, hold it…   Looking and staring a hole in the man’s head hovering over latrine 3.  Why is he taking so long!?  Surely he needs to check his prostate.  The man hovering over latrine 2 is singing to himself, peeing more on the wall, his pants and feet, instead of peeing where he supposed to pee.   Stall 6 swings opens, then the Disney Magic shit happened.  A man runs around the crowd.  Out of nowhere he came – Flash!  Boom!  Wow! – slamming the stall’s door behind him.

The pattern is a predicable one – a guttural, manly sound emitted even coming from the most passive of us.  A strong, firm zip done while standing wide-legged to better accommodate “that thang” accompanied by each one of us moving towards the sink.  Some to check their hair, clothes, looks, without ever coning near the water; others who do the comic book flash, surely faster than the electronic eye, as if saying – see it didn’t – but the amount of water which actually touched their hands is mirage worthy.  Maybe a particularly electromagnetic eye and would be able to detect can water one their hands, but not mine.  The CDC has been lied to – the number is 1, if we are lucky 2 out of 10 men wash their hands.  

There is no dust in my eyes

Smoke ain’t making me cry

It’s the hurt you put on me

I don’t want you to see this man cry

One more…  One more…  One more… Left foot, right foot, tippy-toes, back on both heels; then reality struck.  The man with the prostate problem, he finished around the time Another Poor Soul entered and emitted the well-recognized wounded primate scream.  We didn’t push Another Poor Soul aside; social disorder became social order.  The collective hoard stepped back and permitted one of our own to cut the line.  Another Poor Soul held onto dear life – now purple and engorged.    Another Poor Soul took Latrine 1; one hand remained down, the other hand up, against the wall.  He was a whimpering, sprinkling mess – sprinkle here, sprinkle there – whimper, whimper – watering both legs, the floor, casting aside all pride.  His companion – apparently one of The Don’ts – stood on the other side of the concrete wall.  She thought these were Another Poor Soul’s mutterings, they weren’t.   The sounds belonged to He Who Lingered at the Latrine and the Man Who Broke Protocol and disappeared into one of the stalls.  He Who Lingered at the Latrine’s lips was flush against the tile.   He wailed away, pulling, tugging, flipping his member left-right, right-left.  A pure exhibitionist – wanting to be noticed – while not realizing he was tempting fate.  In our state of agitation should have … we didn’t; civilized and restrained we were, even though a collective was our growl emitted.  These were the sounds she heard.  Another Pour Soul’s sounds assured us he didn’t cheat the players or the game.  A utterly possessed souls he was; nature’s sounds told us so.  Our wait permitted me to realize how rich life is – seeing life, feeling death, touching ones inner and outer-self in the strangest of places.

Approaching the throne, hurting, holding onto the prize – then absolutely nothing – did I lose the urge when seeing the man flip, flip and then stroke?  Where the painful guttural sounds too much?   Did I really need to go?   Those standing behind me didn’t care to engage in a philosophical debate.  Not this time, not that time.  They didn’t care:  right, left; left right; back on both heels, not the same as a chorus line, surely just as coordinated and in time.   

¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ The CDC says that only 31 percent of men 

and 65 percent of women

Under normal circumstances, I would agree with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  I muse to say the CDC has been lied to; the number of men who wash their hands is far worse – 2 out of 10 on most occasions, 1 out of 10 when in a rush.  This is considered observation. 

The same predictable sounds and pattern which plays on a reel – a guttural, manly sounds emitted, sounds which come from the passive of us.  A strong, firm zip done while standing wide-legged to better accommodate “that thang”; accompanied the individual and collective herd moving towards the sink.  Some to check their hair, clothes, looks, without ever coning near the water; others do the comic book flash, surely faster than the electronic eye – the amount of water which actually touches their hands is mirage worthy.  Maybe a particularly electromagnetic eye would be able to detect can water, but not mine.  I say this to say, the CDC has been lied to – the number is 1, if we are lucky 2 out of 10 men wash their hands.  

Why is the CDC number higher?  Maybe the CDC didn’t do their empirical research on the ground, meaning sitting in the bathroom and watching.  Perhaps CDC was being too optimistic and not scientific.  Probably they were fooled by the men coming out patting their butts pretending to be drying their hands.  They didn’t wash their hands, they know they didn’t!  Most likely the subjects flat-out lied to the government agents.   

So we move to and from, listening to the news, trying to figure out what to do, what to purchase, whether to travel.  Rushing to and from, attempting to learn more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19); pushing away from the latrine, opening the stall doors,; nodding to others without making contact, while predictable male-pattern bathroom decorum continued, then it didn’t.  This time something changed.  When moving to the other side of the wall as strange phenomena occupied; something new in nature.  All the sinks were occupied, in use.  Water was flowing and splashing onto hands.  Not flash washes.  Not turning on the water and letting it run while the subjects do the vanity thing.  None were using the water to comb heads of hair.  No, no, the blessings of the human race were washing their hands, a full, flat assault on those hands.  I know I believed there was a one-eyed, one-armed man who lived on the railroad tracks in community when I was a child; one of many mythical creatures of who lived in my mind.  I now know there was no such man.  However, in these changing times, eight out of ten men paying homage to the throne and washing their hands before exiting indeed seems to me to be a bit of Disney magic I had been searching for all along.

Foolish pride
Is all that I have left
So let me hide
The tears and the sadness you gave me
When you said goodbye
Walk on by
And walk on by
And walk by…

JUST MUSING: … nah, nah

I know. I know – tis the season.  Are you permitted to finish the rest? – You are.    To be jolly – perhaps; for love – maybe; giving, cooking, eating – sharing?  Pick one, pick all – tis the season though, isn’t it?  The reaffirming of traditions, renewing old acquaintances, family – the old, a little bit of the new, same-same.  Remembrances, faith, lives lived and lost, ode to the holidays; the holidays – ah yes, the holidays. 

Years ago, I traveled over the holidays to visit my mother.  Immediately upon my arrival she said what was on her mind… “…don’t get too comfortable, you need to visit your grandmother.  She has been asking about you.”  Her words were spoken in a mother’s way, saying what she had to say – never asking yes or no, telling.  Said not in the same voice and manner as, “close the refrigerator” … “close the front door”, although similar – a demand, an expectation to be acted upon immediately – parental love is apt description when these words are stated in the best light.  I answered how I was trained to answer, “Yes, ma’am.”  “Yes ma’am” was the answer, even if a multiple choice quiz is given; even if the test is a blind-test – the blinking lights of a well-lived relationship told me how to answer.  Doing what I was told to do, reaching holding, hugging – a hug the equivalent of a childhood tag – “I got you”; then changing direction in mid-step, moving sideways, then backward, to do what I was told to do, “not tomorrow, right now.”  Not the song’s lyrics, but Georgia’s words. 

She told me to visit soon, “Your grandmother is not feeling well.”  Not tomorrow right now.  I immediately turned to comply – but I digress.        

Before leaving I noticed my younger sister standing in the kitchen.  I pivoted and moved in her direction.  She smiled. I smiled.    

“…come with me.” 

“I don’t think so.” 

“Why?”  

“Grandmother Vide has never treated me nice …”

“That’s not true, is it…?”

Honestly, I didn’t know whether Viola Richardson did or not.  Yes, I saw her as firm – resolute – woman, a tad mean.  I never knew her to treat any of us differently.  Absolutely, my view originated from child’s eyes – viewing the world through a limited prism, seeing the immediate, and even if I saw my eyes were probably too colored. 

“It’s true”, Ima Jean said, she lowered her head, turned away; still waters indeed run deep.  Momma said nothing.  She let us talk.

“Oh come with me…,” grabbing Jean’s hand, retrieving a coat of the couch, pulling her with me out the door.  Jean willingly complied, in part – I say – even though her shoulders and a palpable silence said she wasn’t. 

“If she treats you differently today, we can leave immediately.” 

Jean remained hauntingly quiet; sitting in place, looking out the window, staring.   Neighborhoods hovered overhead, the wind whistled, we moved west on Interstate 30; past downtown, Mrs. Baird’s Bread bakery, nearing our exit to Lake Como.   The uncomfortable cold, the smell of breads, the holiday lights didn’t stop Jean’s voice playing on a repeat cycle … “She has never treated me nice” … 

This was a time before others discovered Lake Como was near the downtown district, was ideal for prime development, when others who didn’t look like us only visited to pick up domestic workers – “I know it’s late, oh, come on and steal away.”   

Grandmother Vide greeted me.   An invisible wall appeared before she could say hello to Jean – which she didn’t – silently engulfing its victim from the time Jean entered to the time she took a seat in the kitchen.  She never said a word to Jean.  Not a word.  The words directed my way now seemed cloistered.  Hers was a palpable, striking coldness, no child deserves. Viola Richardson, my father’s mother, did what she did comfortably – a practiced behavior, done over and over again, throughout the years – Merry Christmas indeed.  You are so welcomed.

My father, Leon Griffin, gave up early on life.  A mixture of segregation, deferred dreams, and the onset of mental illness proved too much.  “He gave up.  Came home one day, frustrated, in tears; he said he was never going to work another day for a white man and that a Negro couldn’t afford him.”  I heard Momma’s words.  I saw my father’s withdrawn eyes, barely audible mumbles.  He withdrew – quit work – another victim of the unequal distribution of societal resources – so I thought later, so I learned much later.  This was the promise I made, an internal promise to work at leveling the playing field; wanting to become a lawyer, working toward law school; “a privilege not accorded…”, Momma said – “in nineteen thirties, nineteen forties Texas” – jingle, jingle.

One time – two, three – four times I saw what I saw; talking, moving uncomfortably about the house, trying to convince myself none of this was true; wanting none of what I saw and heard to be true.  I watched Jean move from one level of withdrawal to another – cowering, crying internally, saying nothing – the same nothing she said stumbling out the door, into the car, exiting the car, into the house.  Naïve, naïve, me – solving the problem, dismissing what she said, by my actions, my words – nah, nah.     

“Grandmother … Jean told me you treated her differently, rude in fact”, were my words.  I didn’t let her respond.  I didn’t want a response.  I saw what I saw.  “She is my sister.  She will always be my sister and I love her.  Your treatment of her is telling me you don’t want anything to do with me.  I will never see you again.” 

I had never talked to Viola Richardson in such a manner.  I never contemplated I ever would.  My passage into these unknown waters was before our children were born.  They would not have the life-privilege of meeting Viola nor Edward.  I was still in college.  In hindsight, I was barely considered to be a man – seventeen, perhaps eighteen. 

Jean remained seated.  She never looked up.  She continued to speak silently.  The silence though was loud and clear, a continual run-on silence.  Childhood anxieties, life experiences, well-worn personality traits said she didn’t want to be in the room; no matter what I said, no matter what I did.

I moved past Grandmother Vide, and grabbed Jean’s now compliant hands.  I didn’t have to grab her coat; she had never made herself comfortable.  We moved from the kitchen, the living room, to the front porch, to the car, never looking back. 

After my father withdrew, Momma divorced him.  She ultimately remarried.  She had my youngest sisters, during the second marriage (Ima Jean and Ida Dell).  One time – within her reach and ears – one of us began to utter an impermissible tease.  Georgia wasn’t having any of this:  “Don’t ever say step-sister, don’t you ever permit anyone else to do likewise, y’all are brother and sisters.”  I believe this was the only time we were given permission to fight by Georgia.  I believe my disrespecting my elder was the permitted fight.  I told Momma what I saw and heard when we arrived back home.  She didn’t chastise me.  She said nothing.  She had seen me act this way before – doing what I was told to do as a child; fight for my siblings, for me – for her.  Jean moved from the perimeter to the back of the house.  She continued to speak with a profound silence.

🎄         🎄         🎄

Viola Richardson loved food, her church, family, design – blending colors, fabrics, linens – nice things.  Original and reconditioned antique furniture graced her home.  She never permitted Grandfather Edward to cook, even though he readily bragged of being a better cook.  “I don’t get it, a chef on the railroad can’t cook for his grand kids”, he said.  “She won’t let me cook because I’m a better cook.”  Grandmother Vide continue to set the table, pulling out nice plates for dinner. 

“Get up and wash your hands”, she said to us.  “Shut up” – told to Edward.  Strangely, these memories remained etched in place; her immaculately kept home, the wafting smell of the cigars Edward chewed constantly. 

I don’t remember seeing Ida. I don’t remember seeing Jean when we moved from the kitchen to the restroom.  I complied, oblivious in a child’s way; laughing internally at their banter, ignoring a profound banter which worked to batter the psyche of a child – my sister – over the years. 

My other grandmother was Chester Anna was much like Viola in certain ways, they differed though in others.  Both brown skinned, good complexion, religious women – firm and plain-spoken.  They differed in locale – Chester Anna born, raised and lived in a farming community up until her illness; Viola a city girl.  Chester Anna a master of the English language, never a profane word uttered from her lips; Viola’s used only one curse word – repeatedly, even when professing her love for Jesus.  “S_ _ t, I love me some Jesus!”  I don’t know whether she ever saw or heard us laughing in the other room when she said what she said. 

Chester Anna set the table with black rimmed, white metal plates.  Like Viola the expectations were clear:  children never reached and touched without washing, without paying homage.  She made her positions clear, in the same firm, no-nonsense matter.  We complied in the same no-nonsense matter, moving away from the table, rushing in the opposite direction, arriving back mere seconds later with part clean hands aloft. 

Muh Chest told me the animals knew when their time had come – a rite of passage perhaps – moving from the barn area to far off fields – foretelling their demise; from ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  She never called a veterinarian – she knew.  Grandmother Vide also knew. 

She called my mother.  My mother called me.  “She wants you to come, Vide wants to see you.”   

“I can’t.  I won’t.”

“She called Jean.  She apologized and asked for her forgiveness.  She wants to apologize to you.”

“She doesn’t have to apologize to me…”

“She wants to see you…” 

Momma didn’t say I had to travel to Fort Worth.  No, no, no – her words were coded in parent-speak, a language I was good at interpreting.  This too wasn’t a choice.  I traveled to Fort Worth two days later. 

Daddy Leon let me into the house; he nodded, moved out of the way, and pointed.  I found her in her and Edward’s bedroom – in the back of the house.  The curtains were drawn; the room was dark; isolating, warm.  She was lying in her bed, her head appeared sweated.  The covers were pulled up to her chin.  Edward had long passed – the Chambers stove was no more, the kitchen table looked different – no linens, no china – perhaps a different dining room table.  The house looked nothing like I remembered: unkempt, smaller – not dirty, not meticulous – not Viola’s home, not kept to Viola’s standards.  I quietly moved from place to place – to my place – next to her bed.  She extended her left hand from under the covers.  She asked me for my forgiveness.  I gave what I could – “Yes, ma’am … Momma told me you talked to Ima Jean.”   

We didn’t talk long.  She didn’t ask much of me nor me of her.  I held her hand and heard Chester Anna voice, “it won’t be long”.  Seeing animals move to the other field.  Seeing elders in the community come to Chester Anna’s home to die.  Listening and helping her wash their bodies, seeing the dying process play out in front of my eyes during those long, hot, memorable Texas summers.          

🎄         🎄         🎄

The dishwasher was invented in 1850.  The original machine was a wooden contraption which had little no practical application to the home.  “When Miele introduced the first automated model in 1960, it was still costly – as much as a housekeeper’s annual salary, in fact. Yet the concept stood the test of time and by the end of the 1970s, the dishwasher had become one of the most common home appliances.”  

The history of the dishwasher is not the reason I muse.  It does help one understand the reason I muse.  One set of grandparents having better plates than the other is not why nor is both grandmother’s sternest, bordering on meanest is not the reason why.  Such was their way – part of their ingrained personalities, surviving in a hostile world, making sure their charge remained respectful, dutiful and fed. 

Members of Viola’s church spoke of her meanest less than a month after my visit – followed by polite, church giggles, layered with “yes Lords”, before smiling, looking outward, comforting with references to her kindness, and multi-fold, complex personality – as we all are.  I tell these stories because this is what holidays to do us – what makes us happy, what makes us sad, a time for reflections.

Please permit me to explain this way:  Market Insider issued a 2017 Press Release:

The US paper cups and paper plates market reached a value of US$ 104 billion in 2016 … The market is expected to reach a value of US$ 119 billion by 2022.”  

Much like pestilence, paper plates and cups, plastic silverware seems to me to be a resistance played out in reverse, by those who were compelled to wash the dishes after meals, during the holidays, after being awaken from a fake/real/deep sleep – drug back to the kitchen to finish the assigned chores.   Are you still dreaming of that white Christmas?  

I muse to say nah – nah, don’t you dare pull out the paper plates, plastic glasses, and utensils during the holidays.  If the sky is not falling, if the sun fails to come up, if you aren’t sitting on a beach during the holidays – these are the best of times, these are the worst of times – don’t.  I don’t care – don’t.

There is no reason to continue this misplaced, misguided, ill-defined resistance – nah-nah.  Stop invidiously disturbing the minds of your children, relatives, me with a Dixie plate – nah – nah … nah, nah – nah-nah.   Life is too unbalanced and unfair for you to put such a burden on them – me.  Put the paper and plastics products down – save a psyche.  If you’ve been putting off getting therapy for your not yet diagnosed, childhood trauma of too many dishes washed – do so now.  Momma didn’t have, papa didn’t have – so what!  Use a real plate.

One of the nation’s Founding Fathers, John Adams, wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, on May 12, 1780:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.  My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelains.  

We are almost there, be patient with me.

I don’t care what generation you are dealing with.  I do know when you reach the generation which has the privilege to study “painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelains”, the insult to history and lives lived can be no clearer – we should no longer continue the tragic slide to the absurd – nah-nah, nah-nah. 

“I said wash the dishes!” 

Sometimes we hold onto petty things much too long.  You also said at one time you weren’t going to eat another potato, rice, beans, tortilla; life is too short and complex to continue dabbling in these continued idiocies. 

I need not bother with whether you are the thrower or the throwee, we need not confuse issues.  The purpose of the common vessel known as a plate is not for tossing at other human being.  Likewise, plates and silverware are not meant to remain closeted forever, never to be used, protected, stored in much too much expensive cabinets and cases – don’t insult the craftsmen, artists, silversmiths – history’s voices will appreciate your acknowledgement. 

Use these cultural vessels, relish their history, understand these are goods which have moved around the world – traded, shared, modified – the subject of exchange by different cultures, and peoples.  Clay vessels in some cultures, tin, glass, copper … china.  If you aren’t convinced, then move to your living room and grab a plastic cover and cover every chair, couch, lamp, share inch of the floor – sometimes one must reduce an absurd practice for the blind to see.       

The quality of the plate doesn’t matter – metal, melamine, bone china – doesn’t matter – the point is use a real plate.  Nah, nah, nah – caring means putting down the paper, plastic, the strange composite objects and do what Georgia, Chester Anna, Viola did, what your mothers and grandmothers did – reach for a real dishes and serve real food – for the ones you love.  I say, I muse.

JUST MUSING: “You’re so vain…”

Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.  The American songstress Carly Simon introduced the song You’re So Vain in 1972, telling the story of an aberrant, conceited lover or mate.  This muse is about vanity in one sense; it has little to do with an aberrant lover or mate.    

The television show Saturday Night Live is arguably the most dominant force in comedy for the last three to four decades.  The franchise has introduced and nurtured writers, producers, actors, and comics who have held sway over the comedic world.  For years, the show was a reflection of the dominant society, a homogeneous group of white comics who originated from familiar venues (Second City in Chicago by way of example), providing a consistent and familiar brand of humor, even as comics came and went. 

The creators/producers remained tone-deaf for years, never understanding why the others may never get the joke.  The same old, same old – over and over again – never able to find any women of color, until magically they did; the show even moved past the rule of one (we have one, why are you complaining rule).   Writers forever crafting scenes where black male comics were asked to wear a dress, poke fun of black females, as if there were not black female comics in the world who could poke harder, in a less racist, sexist manner.  Change has been slow, remember it wasn’t until someone said no, to the dress and mocking black females, did the show magically find one – some black females comics.  No Asians, no Hispanics – never part of the formula – always the brunt of the joke.  One of the comics hired this new season was a white male whose routine incorporated the debasement of Asians and women; humorous to some – the same dilemma – not to others. 

The news account explained that when the newly hire comic’s habit was discovered, the comic was terminated.  When asked about his fortune, then misfortune, the comic explained sometimes you succeed, sometimes to you.  A half-hearted apology followed – we have all probably extended the same apology – “if I have offended anyone.”  He then moved on, bragging he was good enough to be hired by Saturday Night Live.  After the initial storm, comic after comic blamed the public, that we – the public – have become less tolerant of comedy.  I muse to disagree.

Comedy is the art of observation, the examination of the surrounding world – a sad, tragic, horrifying, terrific, happy world it is – and then translating his/her/our/their observations of this sad, tragic, horrifying, terrific, happy world through words, images, or physical display in order to permit others to look inward, outward; the affect sometimes displayed by tears, laughter, moans and disbelief. 

I’m sure the human soul has laughed and cried since day one; crossing continents, moving across plains, foraging for food, making babies; while some smart mouth among the collective commented on the crooked tooth wholly mammoth moving closer, closer, closer while the rest were able to only see their impending death, he/she/they slowed their flight away and told a joke.  Telling jokes during conquest – “I killed ten Mate!” – while others in a different position (those conquered or dead) never got the joke.  Slaves did more than sing songs.  They told jokes too- bet you they did. Our distorted history would have us believe the minstrel characters were those comic, not those who were strong and brave enough and tell the joke from the perspective of the enslaved, not the master.  Funny to some, never, never, never funny to others; this is why the heirs of the enslaved will never get the joke of wearing blackface, no matter how well done, no matter how many teeth one shows, no manner how many more pictures spill out into the public forum showing the heirs and beneficiaries of the enslavers/conquistadors/colonists sharing a good hearty laugh, while dressed in character, with darkened skin – ha, ha, ha – indeed, ha, ha, ha. 

Telling the joke in honor of ones peoples’ plight; done well, into the night we laughed, reliving history, making history, surviving.  This why we complain, not because people and humor have changed.  We haven’t changed and comics haven’t either. 

The white male comic whose racist and sexist taunts were discovered after his hire is no different than others in the past.  His jokes were not told from the perspective of a people surviving gas chambers but told through his eyes only.  When caught he should have said as much.  Absolutely, the white male comic is no different than the black male comic who sought fit to bash gays.  I am sure he has spent a lifetime polishing his routine, compensating for his height after being teased by others, while those of his ilk laughed, laughed, laughed.  Telling the joke from a presumed privileged position, making someone else the brunt of the joke, casting aspersions on what he sees as his wholly mammoth.  Sputum followed by a cough, tears, laughter at the expense of another, followed by coughs, and tears of the others, forever incessantly made the brunt of the jokes.  The black male comic issued the same apology the white male comic uttered – must be taught in comic school – and went back to slashing and burning the gay wholly mammoth.    

Sure a comic has to take risks, that’s their calling isn’t it – causing the King and Queen to laugh, surviving, feeding themselves, their families, in order to retain their court jester role.  Forever standing tall – among classmates, using humor to make a point, causing teachers around the globe to understand, while she/he remained bent over, laughing.  Protesting wars, injustices, the abuse of power; using humor as both shield and sworn; good comedy is and can be both, at the same time.  A mediocre comic always reaches for the low hanging cheap joke and wonders why some can’t laugh.

 Walking through the forest, telling pee jokes; progressing, developing, maturing to breaking wind, body parts, bodily functions, stinky jokes and then to the ultimate tattoo – sex – a good percentage get stuck on sex (profane references to females and what they did, want to do to all of them), never to mature thereafter.  Comic all have and will continue to trudge the same developmental path, some grow and most do not.  Their blaming the public is why I muse. 

Child and Adolescent pediatricians have documented over time the development stages of children.  Comic are no different, they too go through the developmental stages of growth; developing a shtick, learning how to use timing and mannerisms to distinguish them from the other class clown, becoming a better observant of societal taboos, mores, does and don’ts, spreading their wings into politics, race, and world (sic) peas (sic).  The development is not all that complex.  We have all seen these developmental stages in our favorite comics. 

What I don’t understand are these comics/clown/jesters who ignore who or what they are and turn the finger the wrong way, blaming us for bad jokes (jokes that miss, insults, savage a group of people, and their own inadequacies – an inability to tell a joke which is inclusive.  No, no, no, please don’t hear me to say comic care should be touchy-feely people, caring about everyone feelings – that’s not who these people are – a good joke can be cutting, vicious, insulting, much like life. 

Historically, a dead court jester is a dead court jester.  He/she would love to take the bad joke back – she/he can’t.  “Off with his head” is not a pun.  We haven’t changed and they haven’t either.   Tell the joke, give it your best – isn’t that what you were told by your parents?  When you stray too far, examine why and who was insulted and be a big girl, big boy and either admit you went astray or stand by your joke, it’s just money and a job.  We’re civilized now, aren’t we! We are going to permit you to keep your head – won’t we!  Stop being vain, the song is not about you.         

JUST MUSING: “Mad hatter like …”

I seldom watch horror movies, refusing to revisit living-color, vivid, life altering nightmares.  Believing the monster on the railroad track still exists, aging ugly, scarier than ever, drinking ditch water, waiting for me, to get me.  No, no, no, I will leave the medium to others.    When I grew old enough to protest, I refused to pay people to scare me, refusing to enter the ridiculously long lines to ride the wildest, scariest, tallest roller coaster in the free world.  Stepping out of line, letting others walk around, never having to reassure myself the decision not to ride was the right one.

“No, no, ma’am you can have my spot.  Please.”

Letting Stephen King scare Stephen King, and his demented followers; knowing my limitations, putting his books down, stopping on page one, paragraph one; cursing him, and the three-eyed monsters appearing early, on page two.  Attempting to sleep, revisiting what I saw, what I read, hearing clanging sounds, suffering an withering attack from imaginary bed bugs, falling, falling, falling, to a painful, disfigured death, emoting my last, predictable words, “My death was caused by Stephen King.  Stephen King killed me.”

Life’s wonderful contradictions continue to play us for the proverbial fools.  Cutting and pasting, lifting faces from different sources and placing them onto another; posting stories as a reliable entity, when caught saying the error was a mistake – casting doubts, creating new truths.  Borrowing copyrighted mastheads, redirecting attention, posting to justify one’s worldview, even if a lie.

A little white lie is defined as a minor, benign lie.  I don’t believe a lie should be parceled into minutia.  What is the contrast?  What is the opposite of the little white lie? –  A big black malignant lie.  Parceling facts, dissecting truth, justifying the lie, birthing confusion, providing a platform for fake new, alt-news, alternative facts is our bold new world.

No, please don’t place me in the category of the folks who disingenuously disrespects the advancements in technology.  Absolutely, the information age has allowed the world to become smaller, more connected, allowing information to travel across the globe, blending cultures, traditions, and peoples.  No longer needing to ride a horse to Boston to declare, “Give me liberty, or give me death”, possessing a printing press within inches, a multitude of presses, publishing at a nominal cost, at will.  A new world which benefits, advantages, disadvantages, challenges, sows confusion, daily.

Lying about the existence of big foot seems problematic to me – cutting, pasting, borrowing pictures around the world, then placing text, and quotes from fictional people and posting the story as true is nothing more than the big lie and should be called out as such.   Posting pictures to make a point, “she looks Angelina Jolie”, hiding identity of the source, scurry under cover of a non-existent entities, false names, is different than Benjamin Franklin’s use of pseudonyms, both male and female.

Benjamin Franklin and Stephen King’s publishers were honest, labeling the story under assigned categories, horror, science fiction, fiction, non-fiction, playing by a set of principles, being held accountable.  The First Amendment protects us from our government, the right of free speech, a press, to religion, creating a freer society, allowing for the exchange of ideas.  The First Amendment protects truth and lie.  No problem here.  I only muse to say we should be more diligent in calling out the lies.

New technology shouldn’t mean we should not filter the lies out.  Free press, free speech means the lies should be exposed, parceled out, and then relegated to the dark web of our mines, the trash bins of history.  Force the liars to become more creative and a tad-bit more honest, labeling their writings as the new futuristic comic books seems appropriate.

“Lies, lies, more lies, up, up and away!”

Force them to admit their writings were borne at a time the free press was at its weakest, under attack externally (loss of advertising dollars, politicians running against the press attacking a fundamental tenet of a free society), and internally (power in the hands of a few; caused by consolidations, closings, unreliable and unpredictable new business models).

Demand power be bequeathed to the entities who now dominate the medium (Google, Facebook, etcetera) (the gatekeepers), granting them publishing rights, forcing the separation of wheat from the chaff; requiring categorization of our new printers, opinion writers, bloggers – fiction, non-fiction, horror, a literary lie.

Oh absolutely I believe there may be problems – times when entities, governments, individuals will overreact, censoring the message disfavored.  There will always be this type of pull and tug.  My concern is different.  The lies are overwhelming, creating an alternative universe, establishing different rules, allowing the purveyor of the lies to avoid accountability.  Mad hatter like, wicked witch evil – untouched – the disfigured man on the railroad track eating little black boys screaming in their sleep, “Mamma, the King has no clothes.”

“Not a black suit!”

“But the suit is black!”

“No … it’s not!”

“I’m sorry, that color is black.  Wait, why are we talking about the color of the King’s suit?  I asked a different question.”

“Dishonest media … dishonest media, when you finally recognize ‘us talking to you’ is a privilege and not a right, maybe then, you will agree, ‘what you see is what you see.’”