Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jane Fishman on Misplaced Anger

Link to Jane's semi-weekly column at the world's finest newspaper (and yes, I am biased), The Savannah Morning News.
[Column printed below for you motherfuckers who are too damn lazy to click on that shit.]

Jane Fishman: In a crazy world, recognize misplaced anger

These are the best of times and the worst of times and in between, the most absurd of times. The other day I was toddling along in my car, the windows open, my elbow resting on the edge of the window, cutting through a neighborhood on my way to Victory Drive and points east.

Conscious of trying to drive the speed limit, I saw in my rearview mirror a car on my tail. I mean on my tail. I took a deep breath, and, while I don't think I slowed down just to prove a point, I did maintain what I thought was a respectable, decent speed as I passed kids on bikes, people behind mowers, dogs trying to cross the street.

When I got to Victory Drive, I turned on my right-turn signal, looked over and saw my tailgate buddy. He had pulled next to me. He also wanted to make a right-hand turn. I made the universal gesture with my face and hands (not the one with the middle finger) as if to say, "WTF. What's going on here? You can't wait a second? I make the turn first, then you. This is how we do it. "

Like me, he was driving with his windows open. He leaned across the passenger seat and said, "I bet you're a Democrat. You're a Democrat, aren't you? C'mon, tell me."

I understand that these are stratified times, tough times.

I understand that there's a 24/7 media designed to foment and inflame people's feelings. I understand people are angry that we have spent $53 billion in Iraq while our own school-age students are sitting in mobile units, that 4,400 American troops have been killed in that country, that we are about to see the same thing happen in Afghanistan, that with all the bailout money we have given banks we still can't get loans without giving processors everything but our blood type or our first-born.

I understand all that. But for this man to vent his anger by calling me a Democrat is strange, very strange, indeed. This was the worst he could think of?

Was it my 1996 beige Ford Taurus station wagon with one hubcap missing? My yellow CARA rowing shirt? My unplucked eyebrows? My unkempt, uncombed hair? I know it wasn't my incendiary bumper stickers (other than one from a radio station from Lafayette, La.). I don't have any.

I looked at him, paused and laughed. What else could I do? Several minutes later, when we arrived at a light at the same time, I looked at him again with a slight smile. This time he did not look at me.

The first person I told that story to threw up his hands and said it reminded him of a John Prine song, "Spanish Pipedreams," written in 1971.

This is the chorus: "Blow up your TV. Throw away your paper/Go to the country, build you a home/Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches/Try and find Jesus on your own."

The second person I ran into - a friend who lives in Savannah but is going to school overseas - preferred to focus on the idiocy of my tailgater's position.

Then she could hardly wait to tell me her own story of idiocy. She had just had her hair cut. During the session she told the beautician she was about to go back to Germany. Oh, the other woman said, how long does it take to get there? About eight hours from New York, my friend said.

Gee, the beautician said again. I wonder how long it would take to drive.

Well, my friend answered, until they build a bridge across the Atlantic Ocean, I don't think you'll be driving.

All worked up

It's a crazy world out there. We, the little people, are products of an underwhelming education system and pawns of a corrupt and disingenuous political system.

While they - the politicians and members of the corporate community, one and the same - go merrily on their capitalist way, they leave us all worked up and hating one another.

If I were more paranoid I'd say it was a plot.

Is it time to "blow up your TV" and move "to the country," John Prine style? Maybe. Or maybe we can fool them. Maybe we can decide to band together, the tailgaters, the beauticians, the Republicans, the Democrats, and find a little love of our own.

Last month, when I was on the road to Canada, getting gas somewhere in North Carolina, I locked the keys in the car. "Brother," I said, to no one in particular, as I paced and wondered what to do. It just so happened I directed my dilemma to a man also getting gas. He was a big man. He was driving a pickup that said "Big Al's Guitar Lessons." He must have been Al.

"I think I can help you," he said quietly.

After he finished filling up, he climbed into the bed of his truck, fished around in one of those locked compartments and pulled out what he called a "Slim Jim." Minutes later, presto, this big man wielding a "Slim Jim" set me free and set us on our way. He wouldn't take any money. How un-American. But how generous. How kind.


Ms. Moon said...

As always- thanks for passing on the J. Fishman.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Ms. Moon,
I also e-mailed it to you, but you beat me to the punch.

I adore you!

Mark said...

She should have said "And you must be an asshole!"

Mel said...

Well. Thanks for steering me to Janet Fishman. I'm hooked. And as perplexed as she is about the polarization of our nation. Its nutty. And tailgaters can kiss my ass. I consider them hostile aggressive threats to my safety. Makes me crazy, I tell you.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Yeah, that's my type of reaction (to call the guy an asshole). I am so tired of being a nicy nice liberal. I just refuse. The conservatives don't play nice.

Some guy at the Kerry/Edwards rally downtown years ago had a bullhorn and shouted at the crowd, "You're all a bunch of damn communists!"

I yelled back, "No, actually I'm a socialist and proud of it!"

I just couldn't stand there and put up with his bullshit. I think I threw him off. He didn't know what to say for a few minutes. There was silence from the bullhorn. Laugh.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Glad you liked the column. I don't deal well with tailgaters either. AT ALL. I usually slow down even more.

Love you.

Syd said...

She is awesome. I really wish that more of us were like Big Al. BTW, I did move to the country but still have a TV.

Mj Rains said...

Very cool article. Love the end. Despite all the ass holes (or just plain stupid people out there) the majority still remains to be pretty nice people. I firmly believe this.

Opened The Wit Continuum Blog here on blogger. I'm finding the options here fascinating. If you can, check it out.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Yeah, Al is the shit. How could our generation get away from TV? I would die.

I will be over a soon as I can to check it out.

Love you guys,


Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Big up to Janet Fishman! Great piece xx

Petit fleur said...


I think JP is the only person I can think of who might rival Johnny Depp for coolest person of our generation... or something like it.

Parabolic Muse said...

I love you.

I also always drive with my windows up and my inner rear view mirror darkened.

If anyone's going to tailgate ass, it's going to be me.

Rena said...

excellent essay. thanks

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Parabolic Muse,
And SB loves you!

Thanks for reading moi. I'm so psyched that you went to Burning Man. That's just too cool.

Love you two,