Number of posts: 16
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By John Yow:
failings and foolishness
The summer after seventh grade my grandmother sent one of my cousins and me to a snooty boys’ camp up in New Hampshire. For me it wasn’t a great fit (who were these people?), but I tried to be a good sport. Around the campfire on skit night, I was asked to spell “yankee.” Hamming it up and following the script, I began to drawl, “D . . . A . . . M . . . .”
“Wait, wait,” hollered the MC. “What are you doing?”
Should marijuana be legalized? No, of course not. Why? Because of the drug’s downside. And because of its upside.
First the upside. Let’s face it: the weed is huge fun. But people, what are you thinking? That it’s okay to have a bag of fun just lying around the house? To be indulged in whenever? What’s happened to our puritan heritage? You remember when H. L. Mencken said that puritanism is the fear that somebody, somewhere, is having more fun than you are?
read the warning label
There’s a pill for everything, you know. Not that that puts pharmaceuticals in any special category. There’s an anything for everything—just a click away. Still, all those meds you see advertised on TV, targeted particularly to people who look to be about my age, people who are “having trouble” breathing or peeing or digesting or remembering. It’s become a cliché: all old people do is take pills.Well, that ain’t me. I have no prescriptions and take no medications. At least that’s what I say every time I fill out medical history forms. In fact, I’m just about a perfect human specimen, according to such documents, and I’m generally able to hold on to the notion that when I fill out these forms I’m conveying the spirit of the truth if not all the boring minutiae.
avatar of the silly people
You’ve noticed it, right? The triumvirate? The Big Three? Come on, try to name one. Yep, you got it: the impossibly adorable golden retriever. Another one? Right again: the acoustic guitar leaning against the wall. Third . . . easiest of all: a yoga class in the background. What do they add up to? Sales. Today’s mad men (and women) have identified these three cultural markers as bankable touchstones of the contemporary zeitgeist, as images of health and happiness that can be counted on to reverberate pleasantly in the shared subconscious of a key demographic — that is, people with money. Trying to sell financial security? Pain-relieving drugs? A new line of active-wear? Throw this shit at ‘em.
Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day. These cherished holidays give us a chance to renew vows of love, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection (or, for us pagans, the return of spring), to honor our mothers, to show a little gratitude for our brothers and sisters in the armed forces. Mostly, though, these holidays give us a chance to spend money. I try to resist the impulse to blather on about consumption — about the insatiable beast into whose maw we pour all of our…
true to oneself
The arrival of the Great American Backyard Bird Count a few weeks back prompted a once-a-decade bird-feeder cleaning. I have a couple of the dome-over-dish type, and since I look down from my loft-office window, I figured I could count better if I could see through those weather-stained, mold-splotched domes. Should I do the cylindrical one, too, while I was at it? No. Obvi. Foul as it might have been, the cylinder had no apparatus to block my view…
just keep voting republican
We couldn’t put it off any longer. Last night Dede and I told Ruthie we were getting a divorce. Since we’ve enjoyed what can only be termed a highly successful marriage for 37 years, the news was unexpected.
“We’re getting out,” I offered, not very helpfully. “It’s time. We really don’t have any choice.”
“What are you talking about? You all are perfect together.”
“That’s not the point,” Dede tried to explain.
“What is the point?” Ruthie cried.
I put it as succinctly as I could. “Gay marriage.”
the job market
I’m talking about the ones I know, like daughter Ruth, son-in-law Ben, their circle of friends, and a handful of nieces and nephews, who are all 30 or thereabouts and, I suppose, officially grown-ups, but, in any case, they flabbergast me.
Ben, a cellist, teaches music in a charter school, gives private lessons, takes classes at Georgia State for his official K-12 teaching certificate, and performs several nights a week with a number of different alt-rock-jazz bands. A pack mule would collapse after half a day under his burden.
Do I need me some inspiration as I face the new year? Heck yeah, and I’m getting it from a few good women.
Did you see Ursula Le Guin’s remarks as she accepted the Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards the other week? The clip is on YouTube, but in the meantime, picture a small, silver-haired woman with a kind and deeply lined 85-year-old face lobbing a grenade into a roomful of tuxedoed publishing-industry bigwigs. Those people didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. I promise: it’ll be a long time before that much truth gets told inside of six minutes again
Wow, it was great to get your card, man. Years been slipping by, right?
Anyhooby, we’re all good here. Ruthie pulled a twofer this summer—finished school and married Ben, pretty much on the same day. You’ll be happy to hear that Ben has accepted the responsibility of keeping music at the center of our little family. What about Jakob? Looked like the Wallflowers’ reunion album did well. And touring with Clapton? Helloooo. Of course, none of that changes the fact that you have a child who’s 45 years old.
rational, regulated, justifiable
Sure, it can be fun. Dede, for instance, is a terrific hater. Her favorite verb is “hate.” I hate winter. I hate the Falcons (not just this year). I hate this sink. I hate all the fiction in The New Yorker. But none of this hating amounts to anything. It’s just her vivacious way of expressing herself. My guess is that most of us take our hating a little more seriously, a little more warily. We’ve seen the power and the glory, you might say. I hated a guy I was in graduate school with. No reason. I just did.
living the dream
Early Sunday I walked outside to dump the compost and ran smack dab into one of those perfect December mornings—the world awash in new yellow light, deep blue sky through leafless branches. My anxious mind was reassured: It’s still here. I can still touch it.
I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled down with my e-paper, only to read that America’s nuttiest nutbar, Wayne LaPierre, is still on the loose. Talk about transcendencekill.
it can work magic
I come from a long line of accomplished nappers. My grandfather, after presiding over his generations at the family lunch on Saturday, would take to the couch at the far end of the one big room and, while the adults talked their loud talk and grandchildren one after the other let the screen door slam shut behind them on their way outside, would stretch himself out and immediately settle into a gentle snore.
My mother raised five children. For her the nap was an elusive dream…
it was a paradise
A couple of weeks ago I cited some comments by Big Oil shill Anastasia Swearingen to the effect that, basically, there’s just no downside to drilling for oil. Whenever, wherever—it’s all good. She was excoriating the federal government for its stubborn unwillingness (so far) to grant drilling leases along the Atlantic Coast to the oil giants standing in line. What’s the hold-up, guys? I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? Just look at the Gulf, says Swearingen, where pessimists predicted an “uninhabitable wasteland.” But thanks to all the time and money BP has put into restoration, today the Gulf is…
I’m not going anywhere. I got a lot of family in Georgia, and besides, there’s plenty to love here—mountains, sea coasts, the change of seasons, not to mention all those wonderful things about the South as a whole, like collard greens. But dang—sometimes you just have to yearn for bluer pastures. The election returns have been officially dissected, and it turns out that our two bright young Democratic standard-bearers, Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, received “25 percent or less of the white vote.”
Bob WHITE! Poor Bob WHITE! That popular rendering of the bobwhite’s whistle makes a lot of sense when you realize that it’s not, after all, the call of the cock to his nesting mate, but rather the blue note of the unmated male who has somehow missed out, and who contemplates a long summer of loneliness.
Not that you’re likely to hear it at your feeder, unless your feeder happens to hang in the middle of a gone-to-seed grain field way out in the countryside. No, the bobwhite quail (or, to translate its Latin name, “the partridge of Virginia”) is our classic game bird, the plump little morsel in pursuit of which corporate titans have bought up entire counties…