I want to be fair and openminded, so let me say it in public: It’s around this time every year that I decide Texas is perhaps somewhat forgivable, although it will be decades before any of us forget George Bush, big hair and Enron, and centuries before the world does. Those red grapefruit that make their way north in the cold hard winter are damn tasty. I had half of one for breakfast, and friends, it brightened my morning.
Doesn’t counterbalance the Bush family, but there are many more days left in winter. It’s a start.
January 5, hello, how are you? Why is my week filling with static already?
Let’s start with a few questions from yesterday. Jeff wondered if the Detroit auto show is still on. Answer: Hell yes it is. It’ll take more than a recession, bankruptcy, collapse, bailout and multiple-limb amputation to kill that throwdown. I don’t think I’ll be going this year, alas. I would like to see the auto-show version of this ad:
You really can’t beat the automotives for b.s., and their ad agencies for polishing it to a high-gloss shine. I like where the car breaks through the wall and frees a few dozen doves of peace. Because that’s what I think of when I think about Chrysler. Peace. Style. Lech Walesa.
Someone mentioned Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book, “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Notion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.” Haven’t read it, probably won’t, but I appreciate the effort and I have always felt the same way, that the relentless emphasis we place on “positivity” and other happy-talk claptrap is probably not the best thing we can do for ourselves in times of trouble, although it can play a role. Ehrenreich was moved to tackle the topic after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and found the endless platitudes about positive thinking and will-yourself-well to be grating. Having read
“Illness as Metaphor” once upon a million years ago, I remember how appalled I was to learn that cancer and other chronic illnesses were once seen as manifestations of various character flaws, that doctors spoke of a cancerous personality, i.e., you brought this on yourself.
It’s not so far from there to where we are now, when the failure to be relentlessly brave and optimistic in the face of the same illness is silently disapproved of, because why? You can think yourself well? That seems to be the unspoken reproach. Argh.
Optimism has its place in the world. But it’s one of those things it’s probably best to keep to yourself sometimes, too. Especially when you’re not the one having chemo.
That said, a doctor friend of mine once observed that his most peaceful patients at the end of the line, the ones most equable about the presence of the Reaper in the room, were the most religious ones. What is death to a Christian? Just a major change of address, as Anne Lamott says.
It all kind of ties back in with the Chrysler ad, which is “dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, still prisoner in Burma.” What does that even mean, “dedicated to?” Athletes are always dedicating their victories to their mothers or some plucky kid with cancer or, in this case, a political prisoner. I’m sure it gives her a warm feeling to know someone is working on her behalf, but I’m not sure how a car commercial is part of the solution to anything other than selling cars.
Look at Ms. Grumpypants! Turn that frown upside down!
OK, how about some bloggage, then:
Thanks to Detroit Moxie and various retweeters, from whom I learned about the Belle Isle Ice Tree, now under construction at Detroit’s signature park. It has humble beginnings, but I hope it begins its transformation soon.
Rachel Maddow’s been on this story for a while, but even a grump can find the dark humor in it: American evangelicals travel to Uganda, spew hatred, and are astonished to discover someone actually listened and took them seriously:
KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks. The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
A gay friend of mine told me once gets occasional mailings from his religious family, alerting him to various “cures” available through our brothers in Christ. He shrugs, and I carry the outrage on his behalf, as he is a wonderful person in every way, and the idea of someone who should know him best of all subjecting him to this is maddening. Here’s the logical end, I guess.
New book on the nightstand, an oldie but a page-turner: “American Odyssey,” which I picked up intending only to read in, and now find myself reading through it. Riveting.
Tuesday static commences! Go tune yours out.