In late November of ’63, in Dallas, Texas, Abraham Zapruder shot an 8mm home movie, and inadvertently caught the graphic details of President Kennedy’s assassination. The grainy images played over and over on a million tiny screens, and zapped an entire generation’s innocence like zombie dust.
I was born in ’64. For those of my generation, lost innocence was a given. We were jaded but lacking in wisdom, we were blasé without knowing why. Scornful of authority and yet we were suckers for every ad man who came down the pike. My generation was ripe for the picking, and picked we were, from Super Elastic Bubble Plastic to comic book ads for monkeys sent through the mail.
You heard me. Mail-order monkeys. Monkeys by mail. It wasn’t so long ago when, in spite of the obvious drawbacks, squealing, frightened squirrel monkeys were indeed crated up and sent to the homes of squealing, delighted children.
The idea that after traveling hundreds, maybe thousands of miles trapped inside a cargo hull, a non-domesticated tropical animal will then pop out of its fetid carrier as a contented, loving-eyed companion for you and/or your children, is obviously absurd.
Small wonder then that George W. Bush spent eight years in the White House. There’s a guy you wouldn’t mind havin’ a beer with, say Bob, you get them squirrel monkeys shipped…
Now in this country of the blind a bad comb-over is king, and the squirrel monkeys get Cabinet posts instead of packing crates. I admit, where political acuity’s concerned, I’m about as sharp as a cold, wet cotton ball.
Still, I know a jackass when I see one.
I lived on a steady diet of hope, more or less, through the two Obama terms. Starry-eyed, I was. Donald Trump? President? Not in a million years. The idea was absurd.
Absurdity abounds; President Jackass there is deporting the undocumented laborers he paid less than field hands to slap some gold paint on the White House, and I’ve been walking around since election night like I was sucker-punched.
We have lost our minds. We have all gone stark raving mad.
Children sit in packing crates while Cabinet appointees lob their poop at one another, and President Jackass there blushes like a schoolgirl at the mere mention of Vladimir Putin.
Or stammers like Aaron Stampler, might be a better way to put it.
In the movie “Primal Fear”, Richard Gere plays Martin Vail, a successful defense attorney. Edward Norton plays Aaron Stampler, his shy, stuttering client.
Aaron is on trial for murder, and appears to be suffering from multiple personality disorder. After Vail argues in court it was actually “Roy” who committed the crime, Aaron is found “not guilty by reason of insanity”.
Then he reveals it was all an act:
Vail: So there never was a “Roy”.
Client: I thought you had it figured out. There never was an Aaron.
In America, in 2008, there were over two million people incarcerated either in prison or in jail. George W. Bush was president, and depending on your point of view, he was directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of over 4,000 of his countrymen.
There are also more than 100, 000 Iraqi civilians dead, all because of a war that need not have been waged. But Bush will never see the inside of even a county jail cell, unless he’s touring the facility on some post-presidential dog-and-pony-show.
We enjoyed eight relatively sane years with “no-drama Obama” at the helm; the economy was stable and President Obama, at least, could speak in complete sentences.
That, of course, wasn’t good enough for the slow-witted monkeys out there. The ones who insist on their right to a gun then shoot themselves in the foot. You see them on the news, at the “Make America Great Again” rallies. In their MAGA shirts and their MAGA hats, all of them ripe for the picking. Scornful of authority, yet suckers for the biggest ad man who ever came down the pike.
Absurdity abounds, and now it has been exalted; from bunker buster bombs to a reality TV star as Commander-in-Chief, nothing is too absurd that turns a profit, here in the land of the fleeced.
Recently, President Jackass stood at a podium and wondered aloud if mainlining Clorox might not solve that pesky pandemic problem. “Dismissive”, I think, most charitably describes his position on any given matter. Immigration, climate change. A rampant virus. Humanity.
So it should come as no surprise that Andrew Jackson is one of Trump’s heroes.
In 1838 and 1839, as part of President Jackson’s Indian removal policy, the Cherokee Nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River, and migrate to an area near present-day Oklahoma. The journey was known as the “Trail of Tears”; more than 300,000 Native Americans died as a result.
We haven’t lost our minds. Starry-eyed as I might have been, I think I have figured it out. I take comfort from the Obama years, but I take my cue from Aaron Stampler.
There was never a time we weren’t stark raving mad.
There was never a time we were sane.