Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Neocons at the Beach


My Neocon step-sister-in-law, let’s call her Elsa, told me she would not talk about politics this year. I said I’d love to hear what she had to say and would give her 15 minutes to talk uninterrupted by me. With an air of self-assuredness, she said she did not want to scare me. I said I knew what she would say anyway because I’ve been reading The Weekly Standard. She said, “What I’ve been parroting.” Yep.

I doubt she’s been reading what I parrot.

I wondered what she thinks would scare me. Last summer she told me, “Syria is useless. They should be bombed into glass.” Could it get more scary than that? It can get equally scary, at least. Here’s what came up over dinner one night.

Elsa was talking about the movie Parenthood in which a mother complains that she is having to police her son who is suspected of doing drugs. “I was at Woodstock for Chrissakes,” the mother says.


My family members all agreed it was a great line. Then Dad had to go into his standard line about Woodstock which is that the U.S. Army had to fly in portalets because there was no place for all those people to go to the bathroom. “People talk about peace and love,” my dad said, ”and here, it takes the Army to save them from disease. These people were just tramping around in mud. They had to have been miserable. You know, I was at Haight-Ashbury in the late 60’s, and most of the people I saw there looked pretty sullen.”

Elsa’s husband said, “They [the Army] should have dropped a bomb on them.”

Elsa piped up, “I know. These Bohemians are so . . .” she trailed off here, but I can imagine she meant that so-called Bohemians are self-righteous, or PC, or something like that. “I mean, I’m sorry,” she said, making her usual vague admission that she could be offending someone somewhere while presuming that everyone in the room agrees with her.

I tried to make a stand. “Well, if you’d dropped a bomb on them, you would have killed Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar.” I could not think of any more. Those are the only musicians I could name who I were at Woodstock. I don’t really know jack about Woodstock, actually.

“But they all died anyway,” Elsa’s husband said.

I had no response to that. I wish I had said, “Okay, who else is going to die anyway that we can go ahead and kill now?” Sounds like a good case for abortion if I ever saw one, Honk!

Did I mention that Elsa's husband is a surgeon?

I did think about bringing up another issue. While the Neocons would like to bomb the unsanitary Bohemians, following their urging our country has bombed Baghdad into un-sanitation. Why doesn’t our army drop a few portalets there? Instead of setting up those concrete barriers, they could make a wall of portalets. Kill two birds with one stone. Then, insurgents and merchants alike, wishing they could access the neighboring neighborhood, could at least pause to relieve themselves in a manner befitting American constructions workers. But I did not mention this because we were not talking about the war, and I don’t bring it up around family -- someone else needs to bring it up first.

Later that day, I was helping Dad grill salmon outdoors. Elsa was nearby. We heard an ice cream truck go by playing Swan Lake, and I said, “It’s playing Tchaikovsky. There’s something wrong with that.”

Elsa said, “Yeah. I can imagine Tchaikovsky coming from a music box--”

“--a nice music box,” I said,

“--yeah,” she said. “But not some Slav in an ice cream truck.”

Some Slav? Where did that come from? Okay, to be fair, many service jobs like that of grocery clerk on the island are filled by European teenagers on some kind of summer work arrangement. The island has no permanent residents, no indigenous teenagers to take those summer jobs. I’ve met Poles and Czechs in the grocery store, so I guess there are some Slavs somewhere.

Sounds like she presumes superiority to Slavs though. This makes me sorry I even presumed my own superiority to ice cream truck drivers and their listeners who do not know who wrote that tune. I mean, heck, I don’t know who wrote the circus music it normally plays.

Here is what I did say to her. “Well, it was March Slav, so it was okay.”

07 - March Slav - BTTB

Dad said, “Is that the tune that goes Daaaa, Daa Da Da Dummmm?” He can sing. He used to sing and act in community theater. He played Nanki Poo in The Mikado and Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man. Most of this was before I was born.

“That’s it,” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t get the reference,” Elsa said.

For the moment I had superiority over her.

Her own ethnic heritage is Irish. And she’s Catholic. Would there ever be “some Irishman in an ice cream truck”? It would be far more appropriate to talk about Irishmen in Irish Pubs, institutions which seem to be spreading according to some social ink-blot theory in the centers of some American towns including my own. We have at least 3 Irish pubs in the downtown area. One local blogger has discovered the master plan to set aside a whole block downtown for the Irish, a true Green Zone, if you will. Maybe someone should start Irish Pubs in the real Green Zone. They can invent a new mixed drink called The Mortar. There are already Car Bombs.

Maybe Irish pubs are like kudzu or the Nile perch -- they grow better outside their natural habitat.

If I were to open a bar, I’d call it the Non-Irish Pub. I would not exclude Irish any more than an Irish pub excludes non-Irish. It’s just that, you know, non-Irish has a certain flair, a certain atmosphere that everyone can enjoy. You get a waiter or bartender who has a non-Irish accent, you feel like it’s a special occasion. Americans who spent a semester abroad enjoying the hospitality of the friendly people outside Ireland get a little feeling of nostalgia. A non-Irish pub is just a place, you know, where folks in the community can gather and have a drink, let off some steam. Its something that all people, Tartars, Hittites, Turks, Druze can relate to.

You know, I’m really sorry I talked a little smack about an ice cream truck playing Tchaikovsky. Let them play freaking Berg’s violin concerto, for crying in a bucket. I don’t care who’s driving, be it a Jew or Serb. Heck, bring on the Mongols. I’m all about the hordes, as long as they’re bringing ice cream.

4 comments:

Jerry said...

Don't forget Sha Na Na. They were at Woodstock, too. Not only would a bomb have denied us further joy from Jimi and Ravi, we would never have gotten to see John "Bowser" Bowman hosting "The New Hollywood Squares."

Is it possible she said "slob," not "Slav"?

Jerry said...

Oops. I beg your pardon. It's Jon "Bowzer" Bauman.

Anonymous said...

Sure I'd like to go to the beach, but considering the company you endured, I might rather eat ice cream (or wood chips) with the Good Humor person.

--Lisa S.

Elrond Hubbard said...

Jerry, umm, well she might have said "slob." That would pretty much undermine my whole argument. Kind of make me look stupid, in fact. Let's just keep that between us, okay?