Monday, November 10, 2008

Election Party-Pooperage

New World Notes News
Volume 1, Number 18, Part 1 -- November 11, 2008

Department of Party-Pooperage:

Since Wednesday morning, much of the music broadcast by local community-radio stations has been celebratory, inspiring, happy, as though the Lord were being thanked, a sigh of relief were being breathed, and--as on the New Yorker cover--daylight had appeared at the end of a long, dark, blood-red tunnel. Even on Ed McKeon’s “Caterwaul” show!

Even as I write, WWUH is playing Three-Dog Night's ancient pop hit,

  • The world is black, the world is white;
    It turns by day and then by night.
    A child is black, a child is white,
    The whole world looks upon the sight . . . a beautiful sight!

Full disclosure. I’m the culprit that urged Ed to play “America,“ Roy Zimmerman’s comic anthem--with its glorious and genuinely inspiring finale:

  • America is a dream of freedom
    Dreamed by everyone all over the world.
    God bless the normal people
    And the ones with every known quirk
    And God Bless America:
    It just might work. . . .
    It just . . . might . . . work!

From an old "News from Lake Wobegone" episode came a phrase that continues to resonate for me. Garrison lamented that, unlike the majority of Wobegonians, he had never received "the gift of Faith." Here I'm with Garrison rather than with, say, Christopher Hitchens, who lately has been giddily celebrating his own atheism.

Some of us deeply yearn for a Deus ex machina to come and pull humanity out of our misery. De tenebris, et cetera. Faith would be a very great comfort--faith in Jesus, in History, in Science, in the words of a holy Book, in the human intellect, in whatever. Even, on a more mundane level, to have faith that President Obama will lead America back in the direction of democracy and will make the world a better place. . . .

Last Monday, Obama-supporter Michael Moore expressed, not faith, but at least hope. Hope that, beginning January 20, President Obama, like every other elected politician, will commence to break every campaign promise he had made. Much as I admire Moore's soft-core cynicism, I cannot share even that modest hope. Newly-elected Presidents, especially Democrats, break most of their promises that would benefit The People. Recall William Jefferson Clinton. But can you recall any promise a candidate made to Wall Street or to the Military-Industrial Complex or to other Big Business--i.e., to those who paid his campaign expenses--that (s)he subsequently failed to keep? I can’t.

It‘s my curse. To paraphrase the ditty we used to sing ca. 1965, "Every party needs a pooper / That's why the Dems invited me, / Party-pooper! Party-pooper!" Admittedly, the gods--if they exist--never promised either me or my unhappy ancestress Cassandra a rose garden. But did they have to plop us in the middle of The Waste Land?

  • I, Tiresius, old man with wrinkled dugs
    Perceived the scene and foretold the rest--
    I too awaited the expected guest.
    He, the young man carbuncular, arrives . . .
    One of the low on whom assurance sits
    As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
    The time is now propitious, as he guesses . . . .

And if you know Eliot's poem (or saved your Norton Anthology), you know what happens next.

To update and Americanize the text, just substitute "hedge-fund manager" for "Bradford millionaire." And yes, you're right, the writing of most people who hail from Missouri usually doesn't need much additional Americanizing. Stanley Elkin, Mark Twain . . . you'd hardly have to change a word!

Part 2 of this issue will be published in a day or two

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