January 12, 2011

FEMA camp is for kids

I’ve been running around like a peckerweed for what seems like an age and haven’t had time to consider the new year, let alone write about it until now.

So, the first decade of the second Christian millennium is over. Looking ahead, my primary resolution is that I swear I won’t be late anymore … unless I forget.

Outside of that, I’m open to suggestions for how I may become a more humane, punctual, present, masculine American male who also is witty yet authoritative, can parallel park in one sublime Euclidian arc, shreds the guitar like Steve Vai, and can successfully return casual roller-skating to mainstream popularity at a level of distinction befitting its graceful toughness.

Those crucial considerations for self improvement and elevated cultural standards aside, a broader set of ethics could be useful in what may turn out to be an apocalyptic, or at least pesky 365 days.

Consider just a few noteworthy events that have already transpired this year, events that would raise alarm bells in the bosom of even the saltiest, most hardened sailor and send him screaming for the nearest ethos.

As if on cue, Metro Council and the Fair Board are once again discussing the plausibility of some goofy, off-brand NBA franchise moving into the same Freedom Hall location that wasn’t worth a how-do-you-do four years ago, willfully ignoring, again, the fact that this city already has a basketball team. “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?”

Birds are falling out of the sky and fish are dying across the globe. Top thinkers have speculated that this is a result of fireworks or the Wrath of God.

Kim Jong Il, drunk as a damn skunk on Rémy Martin, still is playing peek-a-boo behind the big red button in his office, and his successor’s choice in Bolshevik barbers is arguably worse than that of the Great Leader himself.

The commonwealth of Kentucky is, according to state Senate President David “Wilhelm” Williams, under a full scale attack by waves of hardworking Mexicans who, if he has his way before the gubernatorial election, “vil show zerr paperz if you pleasze!”

Your elected officials in Congress are happy to read the Constitution aloud with a pair of craft scissors close at hand to cut out the pesky bits that cast the Founding Fathers as colonialist bigots instead of the Freedom-Loving Pillars of Rugged American Individualism they’re portrayed to be in the new Tea Party American History Pavilion at the Creation Museum.

Madmen, monsters and vampires are lurking. Seriously.

And the University of Louisville Men’s Basketball team was once again physically and spiritually battered by invading barbarian hoards from the heathen stronghold of Lexington. (I know that happened in 2010, but it cast a pall, brothers and sisters, it cast a pall.)

It’s all enough to give anyone pause. So how does a thoughtful soul respond to a world on the brink of collapse and/or collegiate athletic shame?

I recently came across a WWII British Ministry of Propaganda poster bearing the crown of King George VI with the bold and simple directives: Keep Calm. Carry On. The pile-up of cultural, political and historical memes crammed into this passionlessly British, unsettlingly Orwellian message are too dense to unpack here. But it caught my fancy, and, in spite of myself, I’ve been fascinated and suspiciously comforted by it.

I don’t suggest that we should all don the proverbial gray flannel suit and mindlessly take marching orders from anyone, let alone a foreign ministry 50 years and a dozen damnable wars ago. Given the choices Freak Out. Fucking Panic. and Keep Calm. Carry On., the latter is easily more dignified and seems like less of a hassle, but the punk itch compels me to dismantle and reconstruct. And so I offer my admittedly pithy mantra for 2011:

Keep calm. Carry on. Kick against the pricks.

Buddy, things might get weird. I promise not to lose my head if you will promise the same.

I will listen to good records this year. If I can’t find something worth watching on TV, I will seek reruns of “The Wire,” “NOVA,” Jim Lehrer or Cardinal basketball. I will flip Mitch McConnell the bird every chance I get. I will read more books written by women. I will avoid fistfights with knuckleheads.

I will not believe the hype. 

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