Manhattans last summer

By David Grima | Nov 02, 2017

At 8:53 p.m. Oct. 17, a rather large shooting star made its presence known to me in the traditional way, by falling through a patch of sky I happened to be looking at in the direction of Dodge Mountain.

It was a broad silver-green streak in the sky, and although I had no idea at the time, it was apparently warning us of the Great Wind of October, which blew us all about a bit earlier this week and stranded most of the state without electricity.

In my case, the cardboard box I use as a bedroom was not blown off the roof of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live. That happened to me a couple of years ago in the bleak midwinter, and I spent half a week adrift on wild Penobscot Bay trying to paddle back to Rockland.

This time I was ready for it, having hauled several sacks of cement powder up to the west battlements to add some ballast to my domestic arrangements. The main disadvantage I experienced this time was that cement powder, when wet, tends to turn to stone. In my leaky cardboard box, I had forgotten this.

Had to use a mallet and chisel to get out of bed on Monday morning.

* * * * *

My dear friend Lord Prez Trumpleton tells me he has been stirring up war talk about North Korea in the hope of diverting the Great American Public from certain other issues now in the limelight. I told him I do not believe he would do such a thing, and he immediately agreed that he never would.

* * * * *

Reflecting on the difficult position that dear Trumpleton constantly finds himself in, I have come to the conclusion that television is largely to blame for his problems.

Being a bona fide Reality TV star taught him that there is always a backup crew available to fix things between scenes when the camera is off, that in the end everyone has a great time listening to him, even when he fires them, that it’s all really just a wonderful game, and that nobody really gets hurt.

Finally, all things can eventually be resolved in a series of brief 30- or 60-minute episodes interrupted only by commercial breaks. And money is everywhere.

It should be no shock to us, then, that he honestly expected the presidency to work in just the same way, and that he was genuinely confused and upset to find that it did not.

Television made him what he is by exploiting his weaknesses, and television needs to step up and fix it.

* * * * *

Speaking of television, I recently saw a commercial for a special vacuum cleaner designed to collect dog hair.

It occurs to me to ask, however, why vacuum the house at all? Why not just vacuum the dog and shortcut the whole cycle?

* * * * *

Speaking of television yet again, during a recent conversation it dawned on me that when we were very young we had no idea of politics at all, but we did get a clear idea about fairness and justice by watching "Robin Hood" on the TV.

But fairness and justice have not always been in vogue, have they? Here is a quotation from the website called History Buff:

“In November 1953, Mrs. Thomas J. White, a member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission and ardent fan of Senator Joseph McCarthy, went on a crusade to defend Indiana's youth from communist brainwashing. While White had some choice words for Quakers (‘All the men they can get to believe that they don’t need to go to war, the better off the Communists are.’), the primary target of her campaign was a merry bandit from a medieval English legend. According to White:

“‘There is a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood. They want to stress it because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the communist line.”’

So you can see, dear reader, how the kind of madness we are living with today is not confined merely to these modern times. They were obviously mad as hatters way back then, too.

* * * * *

The word is that a customer recently bought a $179 bottle of Dom Perignon champagne from the South End Market.

Apparently, someone was celebrating a 100th birthday.

This only goes to show what I have always said, that we really can find everything a person might need in this end of Rockland. Why travel further?

* * * * *

Speaking of Joseph McCarthy and communism, several of us made up a party and went to watch the Bertolt Brecht play at the old Bicknell Manufacturing building off Tillson Avenue Saturday night.

Written in 1941, the play presented by Everyman Repertory Theatre tells the cautionary story of how Hitler rose to power, only it is set in gangster Chicago of the Roaring Twenties and shows one ruthless man (wearing a small dark mustache) taking over the cauliflower trade through threats, murder, organized thugs, and a realistic Brooklyn accent. It has some fine moments, serious actors, and a genuine political message, and I believe it has two more weekends to run.

Most of all, they serve liquor in the intermission: tiny little cups of vodka and peach schnapps. This was all quite pleasant. When I went to Everyman’s satirical production of “Casablanca” at the opera house in Camden last year, they served Manhattans at the 1940s price of 50 cents a shot.

Whoever mixed those Manhattans last summer must have got the recipe a bit muddled, because those wee nips would have stunned an elephant. The modest expenditure of a $1.50 would have rendered you unconscious for a week.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 02, 2017 16:59

Gambling is a gamble and a con is still a con. There is a sucker born every minute! Down Easters will be too shrewd to fall, or will they?  

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