12.5.2020 – crave goofy humor

crave goofy humor
current unfortunate time
of unpleasantness

I recently quoted the actress Diane Lane.

Some of what she said is not moving along out of my brain.

Ms. Lane talking about growing up in America in the 1970s said, “It was an exciting time in America in 1976. We were 200 years old and very proud. We’d got rid of Nixon and we had hubris and joy. As Americans we had a sense of humor about ourselves, so our music had a sense of humor that hasn’t been around since. Everything had this goofy sense of humor.

Americans had a sense of humor about ourselves.

If that line doesn’t make you put down your handheld or turn off the TV and just think for a minute.

Boy howdy, how about that!

Got to say it again.

Americans had a sense of humor about ourselves.

Years ago I was in Chicago on the Miracle Mile at Stuart Brent’s bookstore.

I knew it was Stuart Brent’s bookstore as the name of the place was ‘Stuart Brent Books.”

According to one online account, “owned and managed by the strange and wonderful Stuart Brent.”

The store was cramped and filled with bookcases, books and the life of Stuart Brent.

Over the years of being in business, Mr. Brent got know or at least meet almost every American author of note.

And Mr. Brent was there to tell you about it and himself.

The place was a memorial to Stuart Brent.

I happened to know that Mr. Brent knew Ernest Hemingway.

He knew him well enough to get postcards from Mr. Hemingway when Mr. Hemingway was off in Cuba or Spain or killing animals in Africa.

I know this because there were several of these cards framed under glass hanging on the end of a bookcase.

Mr. Brent was faced with the all to often problem of owning post cards from famous people and that was how to show that the card was really addressed to you on the front and still show the autographed note on the back.’

I will say that Theodore Roosevelt had the same problem with photographs that had been personalized on the back by the Kaiser.

TR’s solution was to frame them with glass on both sides and lay them on a table so he could display both the photograph and the personal message.

I know about the Hemingway postcards, which Mr. Brent displayed half and half, some cards from the address side and some with the message side (who knows maybe the ones that showed just the addresses were drunken slurs or something like ‘Stu, can you pick up my laundry’).

I may have been the last person to see them in their original frame.

I can say that because I knocked the frame off the wall and the glass and frame shattered and Mr. Hemingway’s cards went all over the floor.

As it sunk in what had happened and what I had done it also sunk in that the strange and wonderful Stuart Brent was standing next to me.

Standing next to me and glaring.

Standing next to me and glaring and pointing to the glass on the floor.

Mr. Brent was overcome and couldn’t get any words out.

He just sputtered and gurgled and glared.

He stood and glared and pointed and kind of shook all over.

Then he waved his arms over his head and swung them down as if to wipe the image from his eyes and he turned up his chin and stalked away in a fury without words.

Dismissing me form his world.

The place went silent.

Well, what do you do in such a situation?

I stood there.

All the other customers pointing at me and telling their friends what I had done and also saying, ‘boy am I glad it wasn’t me.”

Then a young clerk came up with a broom and dustpan.

He motioned me out of the way and started to sweep up.

I stooped done and said, “I am really really sorry.”

I think I said it about 1,000 times or at least that is how I felt.

Then the clerk stood up and looked over his shoulder.

He leaned into me close.

And he whispered with some of that goofy sense of humor, “Hey look, it is okay… Nobody died you know.”

He gave me the impression that this had happened before.

He gave me the impression that this had happened a lot.

He gave me the impression that Mr. Brent would have reacted the same way to almost anything that could have happened in the store that day.

And somehow, he gave me absolution.

As a final note to the Stuart Brent story I once told this tale to my friend, Gerald Elliott, the one time Editor of the Grand Rapids Press.

“STUART BRENT!”, Mr. Elliott almost exploded.

“That big blow hard.”

Turned out that in World War 2, Mr. Elliott and Mr. Brent had served together in the same US Army information outfit of some kind.

Mr. Elliott was none too impressed with the strange and wonderful Stuart Brent.

BUT I DIGRESS.

My point being who is there today that can restore the goofy sense of humor for us.

I can’t say nobody died.

Lots of people are dying.

Too many.

This is the real deal.

Lots of things are changing and going away.

Maybe some of these things will come back.

I hope.

I really hope a national goofy sense of humor is one of them.

Sad to say that on this note I saw in the news that some goofy folks are leaving steel monoliths in odd places around the country.

One of these monoliths in the California town of Atascadero somehow offended some people and they had to go and pull it down.

Disparaging this act, the Mayor of Atascadero’s, Heather Moreno said, “We are upset that these young men felt the need to drive five hours to come into our community and vandalize the monolith. The monolith was something unique and fun in an otherwise stressful time.”

Something unique and fun.

Something unique and fun and it offended this other bunch of people.

Gee freaking whiz.

I was about to say oh well, there is no Constitutional right to being happy.

But THERE is in the Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Jefferson wrote (with some editing by his buddies), “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

For that alone and maybe being the first President to serve ice cream in the White House, Mr. Jefferson should be able to put himself above and beyond present day examination of himself by present day standards.

Mr. Jefferson felt that it was a “SELF EVIDENT TRUTH.”

This it is true and it does not need to be explained.

HELLLLLOOOOOOOO.

That the Creator endowed us with the UNALIENABLE right to the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS.

Doom and gloom begone with you.

We, as Mr. Lincoln put it, we, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility to restore this country.

A goofy sense of humor?

Great place to start.

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