This being the Local's last issue before the election, it's time to summon up some of the issues this writer is glad to have over with. And then give thanks where it's due.
- If we all figure out how to have Thanksgiving, one of the many blessings I want to offer is this: Thank goodness I live in an area where nearly everybody I see, everywhere I go, wears a mask. There are parts of the country where sensible people have to live in more fear and with more caution than we do. In Iowa, for example, last Sunday's New York Times said that mask wearers are exposed continuously to a majority who go maskless. Perhaps as a form of worship of "their" god and loyalty to "their" country. So, thank you to our masked neighbors. You know who you are.
- Status quo: Embedded in many people's brains is the notion that when the election goes away the coronavirus will be gone too. That is simply not the case. Whether Trump continues to drag us all into the 9th Circle, or Biden inherits the task of lifting us out, the virus will still be here.
- Le temps perdu: For a while last July I was stupidly grateful to finally get relief from hearing the "Gilligan's Island" theme in my head. Unfortunately, because of a summer of riots, plague, floods and fires, it was replaced by Barry McGuire's version of "The Eve of Destruction." That song ear-wormed me every day after its debut. Imagine trimming your rhododendrons to: "I can't believe ... we're on the eve... of destruction." The song (written by B. F. Sloan) became a Billboard Hot 100, #1 Hit almost instantly in the late summer of 1965.
The song’s lyrics so confused the average teenager back then that I remember watching a West Coast "Bandstand"-wannabe TV program called "The Lloyd Thaxton Show" and seeing the regulars trying to dance to lyrics such as, "The Eastern world, it is explodin'/ Violence flarin', bullets floatin'." The song referred to the Vietnam War, nuclear war, the Civil Rights movement, turmoil in the Middle East, etc. – the usual American themes. No thanks to my memory bank for that one.
- Fortunately, in September, the DJ who programs my brain started humming the Beatles' "Nothing's Going to Change My World." So poignant – a song that knows it's not true, but clutches to its bosom an abiding love for what used to be. So, there's another grace I'll offer on November 26 this year.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald: "There are no second acts in American lives." Everybody knows that Mr. Trump, who is often said to be the worst president in American history, has been nonetheless wonderful for TV and Twitter ratings. His every quiver begets a banner headline. Because of certain threats he's made, many Americans worry whether a Mad Max scenario lies ahead of us if he loses the election. They worry that various "militias" would answer the call to help him cling to the podium on January 20 as he cries through gritted teeth, "You'll have to pry this microphone from my cold, dead hands." (Thank you, First Amendment.)
- Notice no one ever says "warm" hands? You may be certain that the Pentagon spends a certain part of each day, right now, as we speak, preparing tactics for how to evict this unruly tenant. And then hose down the bunker. And rest assured that, if it comes down to Special Forces troops kicking off against the Proud Boys, you may expect "Survivor's" Mark Burnett to create a TV series out of the conflict. If so, the needle might hit the grooves of "Eve of Destruction" once again as the election smoke clears. Thank you, Law & Order.
- If it does, after we pull the foil wrap from our family-size frozen Thanksgiving dinners, and put them in the oven, and they are done, we can prop up the TV trays and eat in front of the great blue-eyed cyclops. This year we'll get to choose between the Wishbone Football Classics and whatever is on the various Rigged-Election-Protest-Riots channels. America: The Land of Choice. Thanks, Constitution.
- Well, you could always read a book, of course. Speaking of which: Probably at this very moment, at least a dozen authors and their editors are weaving and bobbing on the question of whether the names "George Floyd" and "Stormy Daniels" should be included in whatever American History textbooks are currently in preparation. If not, maybe at least an After-School Special. Thanks, FCC.
- And why not? It used to be that you wouldn't advise people to take their grandmothers to certain stand-up comedians' acts, or certain movies. But nowadays you have to be sure the kids aren't in the room when the 6 o'clock news comes on.
- Thanks to Local reader Neal W. Phillips for recommending to me a novel incredibly appropriate to our era, "All for Nothing," by Walter Kempowski. Thence comes this sentence that describes the reaction of a woman who looks for the last time on a 15th-century wood carving of Jonah and the Whale. She smiles with fresh enjoyment: “She had always liked Jonah’s cheerful face as he waved a last goodbye to the whale.”
Hugh Gilmore is a former anthropologist who specialized in primate socialization and communication. He has published several novels and a memoir. He lives in Chestnut Hill and thanks you if you've read this far.