The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover. The beginning of a new year is never quite a cause for celebration for Yours Truly, locked as we are as a people in the deep freeze of January. Doesn't quite feel like a new beginning when the trees are all gray and skeletal and the wind is hooting through the eaves, now does it? If The Observer was the Lord of All Mankind in Perpetuity, we'd skooch New Year's Day right on up into March or maybe April. When the first dogwood blooms, then you may break out the champagne and party hats. Not before. We'd also make cookies good for you and Romaine lettuce deadly poison. It's probably better we're not in charge.
But, like we said, it's not just the lingering Winter of Our Discontent that has us in a pissy mood. It's a lot of things, big and small. For example: That noise Velcro makes. Also: the stubborn unwillingness of Kum and Go stores to stock Coke Zero in their bladder-buster fountains, even though Coke Zero is clearly superior to its sister swill, an aging Tab competitor that tastes like it's probably giving you some form of exotic tongue or esophagus cancer with every sip, and may well be doing exactly that. Eat a rutabaga sideways, Diet Coke.
Also: Donald Trump. 'Nuff said, but we'll say more anyway: Only in a country as obsessed with Marlboro Man-meets-Wrestlemania tough guy bullsqueeze as this one could an orange-haired reality TV clown rise to within snowball's-chance-in-Havana distance of the Oval Office, based solely on a constantly-repeated 10-word vocabulary: "I," "my," "great," "terrific," "Muslims," "billion," "build," "wall," "Mexicans" and "sue." Seriously, if you're a Trump supporter, ask your doctor to check your skull for the soft spot where you whacked your head on the toilet after slipping in the tub, knocking right out of your pointy little noggin both the memory of slipping and your ability to spot an asshole when you see one. See what we mean? A rare and snotty mood. Grumbly, and not in the tummy like usual. Just angry. No real cause or cure, just mad. Mad about the price of tea in China, and China, and why anybody gives a damn about the price of tea in China. Mad that youth is wasted on the young. Mad that we're mad. Mad that "Mad Men" is no longer on the air, and that Jon Hamm seems to be unable to make the leap to big-time A-list Hollywood stardom, along with that redhead whose name we can't remember and are too lazy to Google. Starts with a "C," seems like. Mad the "X-Files" TV reboot didn't also whisk us back to twentysomething bong-hit bliss. Mad everything fun costs so much, and that everything worth seeing is so far away.
So then, a total war on happy! Relentless negativism, the glass neither half-full or half-empty but smashed in the fireplace after drinking the last swallow of whiskey out of it so fast that half the Don't Care Juice wound up on our shirt. Mad! Two bum reruns of "The West Wing" and an empty jug away from standing on the lawn with our shirt off, shouting at traffic. That's where we are. Like we said, it's a lot of little things. Compounded and multiplied, swallowed as plain old life but transubstantiated in our guts into slights visited upon us by the universe, as if from jealous and angry gods. Pissed about death. Pissed about fragility. Pissed about Robin Williams, who died, who starred in a movie that first made us give a damn about Walt Whitman. And so, The Observer sounds our barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, the last scud of day holding back for us, flinging our likeness after the rest, as true as any, on the shadow'd wilds.
If the past is any judge, however, this physician shall soon heal thyself, and we'll be glad of it. The only prescription is sun. So come on, spring. Burn away this darkness and let us breathe again, just in time to melt in July.
Visual art, through Nov. 4, "Nature & Nurture", works by Carol Corning and Ed Pennebaker,…