A Lock I Must Crack on My Own

I spent two or three hours last night, glued to the television set, watching programs about cooking, eating, and smoking food. It’s rare that I spend that much time in front of the television, but last night I was in the mood to be entertained or, perhaps more precisely, lulled away from the world around me into a sense of detachment and comfort. The latter seems more likely.  Whatever the reason, the fifty-five inch babysitter did an admirable job of substituting for Xanax; I forgot the fact that our world teeters on the edge of a precipice over which, sooner rather than later, the earth is apt to plummet into a conflagration that ultimately will rid the planet of the scourge of humankind.

That impending annihilation of humankind notwithstanding, I found myself mesmerized by: 1) a program in which Sara Moulton taught me that I have always wanted to make and eat pasta with pesto, string beans, and potatoes; 2) another program in which Steven Raichlen successfully triggered my desire to own and use a “personal smoker,” which is a device I do not need and would be embarrassed to own because it is so utterly unnecessary to humanity and so decadent that it’s shocking to even know it exists (but incredibly alluring and sexy in the extreme–making me think I  could be a sought-after smoking stud if I owned one); and 3) a program that made me want to discard my life and history as it has existed heretofore and move to a remote Mexican village, where I would be taught how to grow all my food—including goats, sheep, chickens, fish, leafy and fruit-bearing vegetables of all kinds, herbs, root vegetables, and cactus—that would satisfy my every nutritional and sustenance need, not to mention my need for meaningful work.

It may be as obvious to you as it is to me that those two or three hours of watching television, regardless of the instructional or educational value, were unhealthy and, potentially, dangerous. I easily skipped over reality shows and crime drama swill, but then it occurred to me I had actually been watching reality shows. I bought into the “you can make this, too” message of cooks and chefs. The same message is delivered by Dance with the Stars and American Idol (does it still exist?) and other such swill that I believe, with all my heart, is soul-deadening stuff that erases the knowledge education imparts.

I’m writing this tongue in cheek, but it’s a serious subject. We’re allowing ourselves to be dumbed-down and severely limited in our aspirations by television and Trump and the Republican Party. And the Democratic Party. And politicians in general. Did you see the interview fiasco with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson? I attribute his gaffe to a simple brain freeze or misconnection that we all have from time to time; but one wishes presidential candidates would not exhibit such fallibility so publicly. Honestly, I wish a hybrid party would form, in which the best fiscal conservative ideas, the most humane progressive ideas, and the most diverse and practical ideas from the various other factions, to bring some sanity and unity back to this country.

Blacks view every action of every police department and every justice agency as racist, with or without evidence or cause. Do you blame them? The whole bloody system has been rigged against them from the beginning and White America seems unwilling to acknowledge and correct the systemic problems that allow racism to continue, hidden (except to its victims) behind a veil of “we fixed the problem in the sixties.” Yeah, and Whites view Blacks’ rage against the system as some form of psychosis or simply sour grapes. What the hell? Can we not put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand that bigotry builds defensive walls inside a person? Can we not forgive what may (or may not) be an “over-reaction” to century after century of oppression that, today, seems destined to continue to be ingrained in society until the end of time? Cripes!

All right. I admit it. I got a little off track. Okay, I drove off the Pacific Coast Highway and made my way into a borough of Manhattan.  So shoot me. No. I didn’t mean that. Erase that thought.

Back to my television viewing habits. I’ve grown unhappy with broadcast television (and I include cable and satellite television in that). And I’m finding less and less I want to view on Netflix, etc. Maybe it’s that I lack the patience to wade through the crap I see, hoping to find some nugget of value and interest. That’s probably it. There’s value there, but it’s hidden under vast piles of ugly, unpleasant, post-digested swill. And I have no patience for sorting through the swill. Hence, my lower-than-average television watching. I spend too damn much time on the computer, though. And not enough time reading books. I would like to read more, but my damn eyes continue to be uncooperative. I’ve thought about books on tape, but I guess I don’t want to admit ocular defeat. I am open to eye transplants from young, eagle-eyed donors; send them my way.

Ach. I write and write and write and never say a damn thing. There are ideas hiding inside me that I ought to expose. But I just can’t seem to release them from their self-imposed prison. That’s not something anyone else can help with; that’s a lock I must crack on my own.

All right, then. I guess it’s time for coffee to calm these frazzled, sleep-deprived nerves. I should go outside and see if the hummingbirds are swarming, demanding to know why their nectar bottles are not yet hanging. Or, perhaps, the raccoons are assembling in angry mobs, ready to pounce on the bastard who absconded with the hummingbird nectar, AKA raccoon joy juice. Maybe I can write children’s books. I’d just need the right children and the right parents who are willing to expose their kids to a very adult version of cynicism. Yeah, that’s it.

It’s early in the morning and I need hugs and kisses to start my day off right. Coffee, alone, is an inadequate substitute for love.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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