Until the sugar cubes run out
Lately we have been treated to the pleasant experience of a horse-drawn wagon taking groups of sightseers through the South End. Not sure what it’s all about, but it reminds me of my childhood when horses were still a serious part of the local situation, when the rag-and-bone man would trawl through the streets calling for old scrap to be collected, when the baker would bring baskets of bread to the front door, when the sight of their horses attached to some kind of cart and standing patiently at the roadside was nothing unusual. People would feed them sugar cubes.
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One of my greatest errors as a human being is to act as though my own faults in dealing with other people are all honest mistakes and should be forgiven, while insisting that other people’s faults in dealing with me are wicked provocations which deserve no mercy. Recently I received some difficult treatment from somebody who was probably tired and under pressure, but rather than understanding the situation I seized it and tore it to pieces like a terrier destroys a rat it has caught. Oh well, must do better next time!
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A year ago I wrote in one of my frequently misplaced notebooks that “the plastic dead are among us again.” No doubt I was referring to the monsters and ghosts that appear in stores and neighborhoods at this time of year. At the moment there is also a particularly noble exhibition of these un-creatures in a front yard up the hill on Pleasant Street, close to Broadway. I would love to have such a rich display of movie monsterdom up here in the battlements of my concrete towers, at the foot of Mechanic Street. They also appear to have a hearse and an inflated coach, which I could never fit in up here.
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Speaking of the plastic dead, I see the City Council elections are coming up again. What joy. The South End Tomato Lady has received a vision and has decided to seek high office as I mentioned only a few weeks ago, along with a couple of other fellows, and if nothing else her hand-painted political signs are at least more interesting than the normal kind. There is a danger, of course, that interesting handmade signs will be stolen by election goblins more often than the regular sort. They are simply more collectible.
Speaking of people going around town knocking on doors, which would you rather entertain on your doorstep? Candidates for City Council or a bunch of kids dressed up like the Great and Powerful Oz? And could you tell the difference?
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Speaking of “witch," have you noticed the Oz-related exhibition over at the Farnsworth? (Remember, admission is free for Rocklandites.) I admit I have not yet visited it, but I did see certain yellow-brick stenciled signs appearing on some of the roads downtown. And oddly enough I found a VHS copy of the movie at the city dump’s swap shop a few weeks ago. I have a theory about the famous flying-monkeys scene in the film, that it unconsciously derives its original feeling of terror from the widely-feared threat of war from the air that prevailed in the late 1930s when the film was made.
And speaking of theories, I also find myself wondering if the recent successful television series "Breaking Bad" was not in some way an unconscious processing of the terrors of life since Sept. 11 in which the ostensible hero, Walter White (WW), might in some dim way represent a certain president known as W. Both can be seen as a central character who reacts to the overwhelming terror that befalls him by going utterly bananas in a way that proves widely destructive, both of much that might once have seemed good in his nature and of much that was innocent around him.
I do not insist on being right about this, and in fact am more confident in my flying-monkey theory than in the theory of W, but I cannot avoid my solemn journalistic duty to mention the possibility. It came to me in a dream, believe it or not.
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There was some unusual activity on the railroad line through the South End last weekend. They tell us that the freight cars are used to haul cement powder from the Dragon plant in Thomaston (the only cement plant in New England, they also say) down to the wharf near my towers, whence it is shipped out by barge and used in a vain effort to rebuild Atlantis. But at this time of year I suspect this is just a cover story, and I think the freight cars are in fact filled with flying monkeys which are being smuggled into the South End in readiness for an uprising should the Tomato Lady not be elected to City Council next month. Voters beware!
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You might be surprised at the idea that I have watched television enough to know about "Breaking Bad," seeing as how I am forced to inhabit a bleak and empty concrete tower up in the sky, with nothing more than a few scraggly seagulls for company, little defense against the elements, worms for food, and no electrical power other than what is generated occasionally by my pet rat Wilbert running inside a rusty hamster wheel. But from time to time my few remaining friends take pity and invite me home to feed me sugar cubes, and sometimes let me watch television for a few minutes until I am overwhelmed by the colors and the moving pictures and have to lie down. How much longer this kindness will last, I cannot tell. Not long, I shouldn’t wonder. Probably until the sugar cubes run out.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.