Reasoned civility is suggested in these troubled times, but decisions affecting millions of lives continue to boggle the mind. More and more again. How much outrage do I have left? How high can my blood pressure go? How much muck could a muck raker muck if a muckraker could rake mud? I’m trying to stay away from provocation, but the universe keeps dropping incendiary objects in my lap, and if that isn’t a troubling image, I don’t know what is.

Now, even now as I seek mindful unattachment, a story arrives with implications that are simply too hefty to leave…

It’s Complicated

The Patriot Front, a group of about two hundred white supremacists, marched through Philadelphia on the fourth of July weekend. Like the Klansmen they so admire, they wore white face coverings and carried American flags. In January insurrectionists determined to capture the Capitol and reverse the outcome of the Presidential election carried American flags, some of which were used to bludgeon the White House and District police. American flags surrounded the noose and gallows intended for use in Vice President Pence’s last public appearance. Three Percenters, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and MAGA Civil War insurrectionists carried American flags.

“I don’t know why I’m here.”

“”You’re here because you don’t know why you’re here.”

“Did you drive”

“I did.”

“I don’t know why I’m here.”

On Wednesday afternoon my wife, Mary, woke from a nap unable to keep a memory for more than twenty seconds.

I had asked her about an upcoming visit from her sister; she was puzzled, verging on angry, as she had no memory of that visit. After wrestling with that issue to no conclusion, I asked if she remembered calling her sister about the visit. Again, what the hell was I talking about? I then…

Some years ago, Ken Stewart, a longtime friend and filmmaker was kind enough to ask me what I was likely to take on in my next play. I’d just finished a play about trans-national adoption and wanted a subject that would absorb my attention for the next year or so. He’d recently wrapped up his documentary, The Richmond Rosies, an account of the contribution made by women working in the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, California turning out Victory and Liberty ships. He’d interviewed the surviving women who had been known as Rosie the Riveters or Welding Wendys and had pulled…

I’m an introvert and should remember that I’ll start to numb out somewhere in the first minutes of the second hour, but I forget just how forcefully I hit that wall even in the most pleasant social gathering, I have no idea where my wife lands along the personality continuum, but she stays on the phone for more than 30 seconds per call, enjoys lengthy conversations with folks she has just met, and clearly has much more staying power at holiday picnics than I do. …

Look, I’ve got a mind of my own, occasionally borrowed by one misguided enthusiasm or another, but still, mine. I’m capable of change. I used to love Turkish Taffy; now I give it a wide berth. I’m fond of wordplay and British humor and can’t watch what passes for comedy on broadcast television.

The point is, damn it, as I edge ever closer to the last frontier, I am still relegated to the class of human known as “Baby Boomer”. I’ve never liked the term; “Boomer” is less infantilizing, but reeks of bonhomie and machismo. I’ll admit that “The Pig…

I am a creature of habit.

My morning ritual is not quite as intricately methodical as chado or sado, the Japanese tea ceremony, the “way of tea”. No tatami mats. No hanging scrolls. There are, however, certain items placed in certain order, necessary to the shaving ritual, a three part exercise involving a shaving cream bowl provided by Taylor of Old Bond Street, and two razors with double edged blades made with highest quality steel by Gilette in the Czech Republic.

That portion of the ritualized greeting of the day accomplished, I set aside fifteen minutes of silent mental exercise…

My granddaughter has a new game. She sets out her family of stuffed animals, arranges them in a row, and tells them to get ready to evacuate. She warns them: “The sky is orange again!”. The muppets then proceed in an orderly fashion, as orderly as muppets can be in crisis, escaping the conflagration for the moment.

Everyone we know has a “GO” bag packed and a box of important documents by the front door. The folks who provide water for irrigation here have advised us that they won’t start making water available until June and that there won’t be…

Near the end of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, a weary Marlene Dietrich greets a bloated Welles: “You should lay off the candy bars … You’re a mess, Honey.” He was, and the film itself was a marvelous and flamboyant noir mess and great fun, but David Fincher’s Mank is simply a melancholy and slightly grubby mess and no fun at all..

Fincher mounts an obscured refutation of Welles’ singular role in the filming of Citizen Kane, shooting this film in rough, very rough, approximation of Kane’s distinctive vocabulary. It’s not a shot-for-shot imitation, but similar enough in its many…

It wasn’t the first time DC comics killed off Superman, but on May, 6, 1966, the League of Assassins, having practiced killing a Superman android, bumped off the real big guy with kryptonite radio waves. I was a college student, already veering from the DC universe into Marvel’s story lines, but, hey, they knocked off Superman? We all experience losses along the way, some truly grievous and some only slightly jarring. Yes, Batman dies eleven times in the multiverses of DC comicdom, but he’s just a guy, right? Acrobatic, wealthy, tech savvy, increasingly dark as the years go by, but…

Peter Arango

I’m the author of four novels and America’s Best Kept College Secrets, a retired teacher of the humanities, eclectic reader, and prisoner of popular culture.

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