That was a nice weekend, he said, well aware of the limp banality with which this begins. Sorry. All things considered, I’d rather be in Florida, as was the intention. On the other hand, to continue the parade of clichés, it was cool in Florida this weekend. Trading 38 degrees for 58 isn’t much of a swap.
Didn’t accomplish as much as I’d like, though. Holidays are murder on productivity.
Let’s start this again. “Murder” isn’t exactly the word I’d use for Easter weekend.
On Friday I got back from walking the dog, checked the fridge for Jasper’s treat; the fridge had none, so I went down to the freezer for the backup, and there I discovered that the downstairs freezer wasn’t. It was dead. A rot-locker. The motor wasn't running. Inside the freezer was a substantial quantity of food, as you can well imagine. Two scrounds of ice cream to which I am partial, my emergency supply of breakfast sausage, many many frozen entrees for those nights where no one manages to make a meal, and a few Omaha Steaks waiting for the grill’s kiss in spring. When the new fridge had arrived, I'd transfered the old freezer-compartment contents downstairs - marvelling, as usual, at my ability to overestimate our Corn Needs and underestimate the general bacon situation. Now everything was room temperature. And so the weekend began: ten tons of dead food in a crypt in the basement.
I thought: well, I can get a column out of this, but sometimes that’s not the consolation it might seem.
Easter was – well, adorable.
My wife belongs to the basket school of Easter morning surprises; I am a firm believer in the careful placement of jellybeans all over the living room. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, but since this year we were having Gnat’s cousin over for an egg hunt, we dispensed with random confectionary distribution. Not my call, mind you. I like staying up late hiding jellybeans, with Jasper following close behind waiting for something to drop. In any case, I had nothing to hide or put in a basket, since we’d intended to be in Florida. So off to Target – the new Target, the false Target, the Target where they know not my name nor my ways, the Target for a different tribe. The target 22 blocks southeast of MY Target.
The locusts had descended on the Easter aisles, and there was nothing but pastel M&Ms – which they bought by the cubic gigaton, I think - and “spiced” jellybeans. I know what they are, but they sound like old-folks’ candy. Here, sonny, have some spiced jellybeans and a nice cup of mulled pigeon spit! That’s what we called it in my day. Pigeon spit! Hah. ‘Course, it’s really goat urine, which is why we mulled it, as was the custom in those days, but of course we called kerosene "mullin' juice," on account of the Kaiser. </abesimpson> I managed to put together a fair basket, thanks to an Easter Barbie located in the recesses of the store, and a trip next door to Walgreens, which had candy piled to the rafters. Easter was saved!
I don’t think there are any animated movies in which Easter is Saved, because that would be a bit too close to the original meaning of the day. It’s almost tautological.
Saturday night I sat down with a bourbon to watch some television. It’s the one night were I can watch TV the way Americans are meant to watch TV – in a big fat slab without end. First, as an appetizer, some COPS. I’ve always enjoyed COPS, which puts me in opposition to CommonDreams.org; they said the producers of the show “may be the most dangerous men in America today.”
Collectively, they are point-people in a television genre acclimating Americans to a general dismemberment of once-cherished civil rights.
Because nothing makes policemen get out the flashlights and cave in a suspect’s skull like the presence of a television camera, I guess. I’ve watched the show for years, and while I’m certain they edit out some parts they don’t want people to see, and that some policemen might not always be so solicitous and courteous, I don’t see the same thing the authors of the piece see. Then again, since I no longer cherish civil rights, I guess I’m numb. Say the authors:
"COPS" has succeeded spectacularly because it takes us on a titillating ride through trash-heap America. In those blighted, benighted streets, the poor, emotionally maimed, drug-addicted and merely addled, are pulled over, spreadeagled, cuffed, bullied, then made to jump through the hoops of criminal-law enforcement for our viewing pleasure.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen the cops pull over the emotionally maimed for no reason, and then get out the hoops.
Actually, I’ve learned a lot. For example: if you are coming out of “known drug area” at 3 AM, you should make sure your car doesn’t have a busted taillight, because this gives the pigs a reason to pull you over and find the crack pipe, which was left there by someone else who no doubt ran past your car while you were visiting a friend, opened your door, and shoved the pipe under the car seat, then went back in time to enter a bogus “failure to appear” warrant in your record. You did appear. It’s all a terrible mistake, right up until the moment when they find six nubbins of hard white stuff jammed up in your britches.
You’d think the lesson would be clear: don’t drive around with drugs in your car. It’s astonishing the amount of trouble you can avoid. Also, when having a domestic argument, consider that you’ve had sixteen beers since noon, and while it’s entirely possible that this conversation with your Old Man is covering old ground, including but not limited to her dalliance with that Lurleen bitch in ’96, the fact that he’s lying about his relationship with the other woman down at that other bar does not entitle you to bite the policeman. I know like it seems that it does, in a grand cosmic sense, but it really doesn’t.
What did I see last night? Oh, right: the PIGS pulled over a guy, a working man, who was pulling some sort of flatbed trailer. It looked like it had been put together with Elmer’s Glue and sheetmetal. It didn’t have a license plate. One of the tires was flat. The policeman asked the driver if he knew his tire was flat, and he said he did; it had blown a mile or so back. He was scruffy enough, hardly a man of means, but you could tell the cop sized him up fast and decided he wasn’t a bad actor. Usually those scenes end up poorly, though – if we’re watching them, it’s because something happened, and in this case it had nothing to do with the stop: some dumb hick watching from a nearby bar staggered to the door and yelled slurs at the cops, which prompted a visit from said peace officer. The policeman told him to go inside and be quiet, sir. So the hick went inside, then returned, shouted more nonsense, stumbled inside and started punching random patrons in their tooth-holes. This earned him a brisk march to the squad car, whereupon he wept and proclaimed his innocence.
Emotionally maimed? Perhaps; he was a young alcoholic. Poor? Well, he was getting hammered in a bar at 2 in the afternoon.
What is so harmful about this mixture of real-life street tragedy and low-rent entertainment is that "COPS" and its brethren reduce our resistance to the kind of dehumanized ultra-violence that Anthony Burgess hypothesized in his then-seemingly satiric 1962 novel "A Clockwork Orange."
When the police in COPS resemble the sociopathic, cretinous policemen in “Clockwork” – who are, after all, former criminals themselves – we can talk. (The novel wasn’t satiric, incidentally.) I’ve been watching COPS since it began. It’s fascinating. And it’s hardly centered on “trash-heap” America - a rather loaded and contemptuous remark, frankly. Bad neighborhoods have good people. It only takes a small percentage of neighbors acting like amoral violent idiots to bring a block down, but the author of the piece seems to have more sympathy with the people who have been forced by Cruel Dame Fortune to build a meth lab in the kitchen than the people who have to live next to them.
You could almost read it as a critique of the War on Drugs, if you like; you see the extraordinary amount of manpower and time devoted to confiscating small amounts of reality-defying nuggets. On the other hand, if you think these citizens would be better off buying their meth from the Korova Milk Bar, and would drive home at 9 PM so they could sleep it off and get up in the morning for a productive job, well, we'll have to agree to disagree.
After that I watched . . . what? Right: “16 Blocks,” because it was on. Bruce Willis plays a washed-up cop with a smallish boozemonkey on his back, entrusted with the job of taking the world’s most irritating convict to a court appearance. (The convict is played by Mos Def; I can’t wait for the movie to be remade as a high-class British comedy of manners, where the convict would be named “Quite Certainly.”) Will Bruce Willis regain his dignity and complete his mission? Anything can happen! I mention the movie because it’s almost the anti-COPS; all the policemen in THE ENTIRE WORLD except for Bruce Willis are corrupt killers, standing between him and the most incorruptible force in New York politics: a middle-aged Black female prosecutor.
Then I went to bed. No dreams. I meant to mention this last week: I had a dream in which I was helping a theatrical troupe mount an operetta based on the “Alien” movie, in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan. I’m absolutely serious. The Alien was dressed up in an Englishman’s 19th century military uniform. This was during the Hostage Crisis, so perhaps current affairs were leaking into my nightly dream theater. I woke, and chuckled, and in my half-sleep state tried to think of appropriate lyrics, and I remembered them when I woke a few hours later:
He is an ay-ly-en!
He’s very rarely bled, it
Eats through floors
if you let it
His remains are ay-ly-en
His remains are ay-ly-en!
Well, it was 4 AM. HMS Pinafore by way of Sideshow Bob, I guess.
Anyway! Easter was lovely. We hosted a small brunch for relations, with the obligatory ham. The kids had an Easter egg hunt; Jasper consumed half a hollow chocolate egg (he’s fine. Really. I would never give him chocolate, and I keep him from eating chocolate, but it’s not fast-acting plutonium for a beast his size) and then we chatted over coffee while the girls put together a play. It was premiered at 4 PM, and told the Cinderella story with admirable briskness. The guests left; Wife, ham-weary, took a nap, and I played UNO with Gnat, who was caroming off the walls from sugar. Now all is quiet. Tomorrow the old older returns: school, work, the normal order of things. Fine by me.
Oh – by Sunday evening the freezer had been emptied and cleaned, and we started it back up again. Just checked it: it’s cold. It works. As Easter miracles go, it’s rather small. Then again, the Easter Miracle Genre is rather small. And why not? You only really need one.
New Quirk and Match; see you tomorrow.