JOB Cigarette Papers Illustration, 1898
This will not take very long today. Where I live in north Texas we are into day thirty-six or seven or eight of hundred plus degree days, and there is simply little energy for writing. I love my home, but at times like these I would rather live almost anywhere else. It is so hot. My dogs walk only in the shade of my back yard because the sandy ground scorches their paws. The weather traps you inside, and after a little time it is hard to read another book or watch another movie or play another song. Instead your mind just rambles. And at my age, more often than not, it rambles back to when things were fresh and new and pot was dangerous and fun.
Alphonse Mucha always makes me think of my younger years. Psychedelia owed a lot to Art Nouveau, and although Mucha despised the term and did not consider himself a part of it, the world itself said, too bad. Today his name and Art Nouveau are nearly synonymous. We wannabe hippie types decorated with posters. Man, did we use posters. And among our posters we were almost certain to have at least one Mucha work in the mix.
I think of all this because I know I was cool back then, and cool is absolutely what you want to be when it is 110 degrees outside. Smoking pot is getting to be kind of dangerous again. That’s what happens when you elect a liberal democrat to the White House. He puts out a contract to assassinate an American citizen, or expands your war front, or signs on to continue torture and false imprisonment, or cuts services to the poor and elderly while protecting tax breaks for the wealthy and bails out the banks so they can more efficiently foreclose on the people who can’t pay because they cannot find work because there isn’t any money to fund a jobs program, or designs a de facto cut to Medicare by leaving the benefits alone but slicing payments to care providers so they will turn their Medicare patients away. Or they come for your weed. Liberal democrats are famous for this kind of thing. But hey, it’s awfully hot and I’m just an old grumpy Gus.
The folks in Washington, D.C. would prefer I just look at the pretty pictures and forget the reality around me. Funny, isn’t it? You’d think they would be on board with pot. Might help keep all us citizens quiet.
But Mucha, well, he’d sympathize with me, I think. He was a fiercely nationalistic Slav. His sense of national identity was branded on his soul. He couldn’t wait to move out of Paris and return to Czechoslovakia to help celebrate his people and their heritage in his art. He was an old man when the Nazis came and the Gestapo pulled him in and grilled him like a steak because, hey, they could. And with the snap of their fingers they took away his country. He was an old man, but it probably wasn’t the Gestapo’s treatment of him that broke his heart and killed him. It was the loss of his national identity, the idea that somehow, some machine had taken away the nation he loved and no one lifted a finger to stop them.
Kind of how I feel right now. Somehow, every day I feel like my idea of America, a place where people pull together and help each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt is being taken away and I’m not lifting a finger to stop it. Well that ends for me now, I think.
All you democrats I have worked for so faithfully and helped elect, I want you to pay attention. Pay attention to me now because I am lifting my finger. Do you see it? Good.
That’s why this is so short today. Because we used to be a kinder and wiser nation than we seem to be now. Because my sense of national identity is branded on my being, but in all this heat (probably from that phony global warming hoax) it is diminished and lost. Because I’m all grumpy and I wish I was young again, and high, and I wish I could go to bed with Sarah Bernhardt. Somewhere. Where it’s cool.