That’s About Enough and Spiritual Renewal in El Jobean
Glancing at the headlines the other day sent me into a swoon. And after reading the latest installment of the Sarasota Herald Tribune’s excellent series, “Unfit to Serve” about the abuses of rogue cops and how the eviscerated state oversight panel covers up for them and keeps them “serving” I was ready to call it a day by 8:00 AM.
Yahoo had a headline about a Ford recall because one of their model’s wheels were falling off. Maybe Ford should have taken the bailout money. Iran won’t give us back our drone despite Jon Stewart having done a comedic bit about it. Darn! I thought that would get the device returned for sure.
The Hollywood gunman had a bad break-up with his girlfriend so, of course he felt entitled to open fire on innocent people since life–and a woman–had dared to treat him so disrespectfully. Say, d’you s’pose he had tantrums that were caved in to as a child? When are moms gonna start teaching their spoiled brat sons that if they don’t get their way it’s not okay to kill disinterested third parties?
Rick Perry thinks there are only eight Supreme Court justices, and that he should be president. Wrong on both counts Ricky. You’re definitely not ready for the prime time intricacies of the presidency.
Another story too puerile to read was titled something along the lines of “How to View the Lunar Eclipse”. Uh, let me guess? Go outside and look up? Do we really need instructions? It’s not like a solar eclipse which can harm eyesight. If you’re too dim witted to be able to find the moon in the night sky, well, go play a banjo in some out of the way rural spot in the mountains. Jeez, people!
Moving on–a cop in Charlotte County was texting inappropriate things to a 14 year old girl and refused to stop when ordered to–apparently that’s just garden variety rogue cop behavior, but it wasn’t part of the Herald Trib’s series. It was the topic of a column, the author of which was too timid to say what was obvious–the guy’s a certainly a creep and probably a pedophile and/or predator. He doesn’t lack “judgement,” he’s a creep!
That author was unlike Matt Doig and Anthony Cormier who are just asking for trouble with their frighteningly detailed series about rogue cop misdeeds and how the 19-member Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission makes sure that dangerous cops are rarely taken off the beat. Don’t forget, gutting that board was supposedly Jeb Bush’s favor in return for law enforcement unions’ helping him get elected governor. Don’t even think about what Jeb might do if he ever got to be president! It was his brother’s Supreme Court appointees and their buddies who unleashed the Citizens United decision upon our democracy. That decision, enabling the mega-scale corporate buy-a-thon of elected officials put the stake in the heart of our political election processes.
Then there was the horrific information that Newt has slithered to the top of the republican presidential nominee heap. That indigestible bit of news was just about enough for one day.
So I turned on TV and went to Animal Planet to escape the madness. The advertisement for a “new episode” of the Skunk Whisperer blindsided me. Skunk Whisperer? Okay, that’s really about enough. Once again our species’ well known penchant for taking a perfectly good idea and running it right into the ground through wretched excess has reared its ugly head. Skunk Whisperer? Someone has now made a career and TV series out of being able to communicate with skunks? Come on! Why? Ya could just leave ‘em alone. They don’t wanna talk to humans.
And contemplating that Donald Trump’s debate on Ion might cut into that channel’s round the clock reruns of “Criminal Minds” was even more dispiriting. But, no, I did not reach for the icepick to self-lobotomize. Instead, being over in Charlotte County for the weekend, I decided to go to an annual holiday event which embodies some genuine Christmas spirit. The El Jobean Christmas parade. El Jobean is a tiny community tucked away from time where people are poor and live simple lives. Everybody’s a flamingly rabid Baptist and they’ll try to convert you with every conversation, but still, they are really good people. Well except for the sexual predator henchman of the commies raping the land, but, forget that for the moment.
The gathering spot of choice for parade viewing is the front porch of John and Mary, a pair of funny octogenarians who bicker affectionately all the time. The parade passes about 15′ from it so no one misses a thing! John, in his late eighties, unfailingly sexually harasses all females although if one were to point that out he’d be mystified. His wee willie winkie probably hasn’t worked in ages, so he’s just bravely keeping up appearances when he complains that his wife’s not gettin’ the job done anymore and somebody else needs to step in and take over the wifely sexual chores. They’re an entertaining pair, and always kind to everyone.
The parade’s best features IMHO are the cavalcade of golf carts, and the Christian Harley bikers. In this neighborhood of elderly citizens, everyone gets around in golf carts. Nope, there’s no golf course, it’s just a good transportation option for folks who may not be able to afford a car or are too frail or visually impaired to drive one or walk far. For the Christmas parade lots of people decorate their golf carts elaborately, with tons of lights, ornaments, tinsel and other shiny doo-dads, and join the parade. One of them was even pulling a boat trailer with an inflatable snow house, with inflatable candy canes. The golf carts tool down the parade route to great fanfare and applause, accompanied by the local high school band playing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” with a few slightly off-key musicians gallantly doing their best not to spoil the more accomplished members’ efforts. The Vizcaya Lakes marching corps is a bunch of elderly folks who this year dressed up as Christmas bells and walked along doing their best to keep up. Sadly, this was not up to the standard they set a couple of years ago when they all got themselves up as flamingos, but it was a nice gesture anyway. They don’t march in unison, they amble out of step, which I find quite charming. There’s far too much regimentation in our society as it is.
The politician seeking votes, who was stupid enough to drive a Porsche Carrera, ain’t gettin’ many votes in that poor neighborhood. Making people feel poor is a mighty poor way to win friends in that down to earth neighborhood. But the Tampa Bay Rays get points for sending a car and some pretty girls to hand out t-shirts. (The Rays take spring training in Charlotte County.) Of course none of the ballplayers graced the parade with their august presences, but it was nice that team management gave a nod to the insignificant little community of rural oldsters. If they only knew–those free t-shirts were probably a welcome addition to some frayed wardrobes in that economically disadvantaged community.
Then there was the candidate for Sheriff who commandeered a military troop carrier from a local business. The kids loved that. It wasn’t decorated, but it was big, and camouflage painted, and candy was thrown from it, which was more than enough for them.
The Christian Harley riders, looking just like Hell’s Angels, wearing their colors, roared past, gunning their motorcycles in a deafeningly visceral wall of sound. On the back of their leather jackets and vests are emblazoned the words “We Ride For Jesus”. It’s not clear exactly what that means but Jesus probably likes the way they celebrate his birthday. As mentioned in an earlier post, what would Jesus say? “Don’t just ride that Hog, blast it!”
The Grand Marshall, wearing a definitely-seen-better-days Santa suit was carried forth in a nondescript, several years old vehicle–but it was a convertible. The judges, sitting at a roadside card table, earnestly discussed the various merits of each entry before choosing a winner, which was maybe announced, but no one I know has ever heard who won for any of the years which I’ve attended. It’s not about winning, it’s about the simple pleasure unsophisticated people take in their neighborhood, their faith and their kind of offbeat celebration of the season. After the parade the throngs could repair to the tiny El Jobean park and avail themselves of hot dogs, hamburgers and baked goods. You could get a homemade pound cake or loaf of orange pumpkin bread for three bucks–proceeds go to charity, of course. Now that’s a deal.
Urban dwellers would probably scoff at the hicks and their hokey little ten minute parade. Me? No way. It was such a relief to find a Christmas celebration that wasn’t about bigger, better, more, or buy, buy, buy, that wasn’t slick and manipulative and greedy. It was poignant and touching and it made tears drip from my eyes just to experience something real that, for a change, didn’t make me wince. I cried with happiness that somewhere in this venal, greedy world I’d found a tiny little bit of genuine, kind human spirit and Christmas joy as exemplified and experienced by people having a great time in their own little sweet, simple corner of the world, with no monetary gain involved.
Merry Christmas indeed.