Favorite

No toadfrogs, no churns 

I think I'm going back to the 20th century and let you guys have this one. I don't like it. For 10 years now I've been looking for something good to say about Century 21, and that page in my notebook is still blank.

I don't think this is merely another case of the nostalgia that usually attends superannuation — I think the 19s really were a better time than the 20s to bogart resources and take up space — but if I'm wrong about that, well, there's a first time for everything.

The 20th century had better farms and back roads. It had more and better places to see UFOs. It had new houses that weren't all medieval ugly and too big. It had stupid likeable yard art and not a single boxcar lacking indecipherable graffiti or theater floor without at least an inch of stick. It had more and better palm readers and cheap motels.

Even as the sun set on it, it still had thickets where you could pick wild blackberries, and slithy toves wherein to gather cypress knees to make lamps. It still had bullfrogs, bees, and about 10 times as many different kinds of birds. Except right at the end, it didn't have ATVs or people who can't function unless they spend 18 hours a day on a mobile telephone.

Its occupants still had jobs, houses, pensions, nest eggs and there weren't yet enough weasels, or the weasels hadn't yet been sufficiently empowered by the imbeciles, to plunder that marvelous legacy, or squander it, or threaten it.

It had its share of kooks (these weren't the weasels or the imbeciles) but you knew which ones were the kooks. And the kooks themselves seemed to suspect. There were Republicans then who actually weren't kooks, and weren't cowed into acquiescence by the blowhards, and there were some yet unemasculated Democrats. Really, there were. You wonder what happened to them. What the extinction agent was.

The Imbecile Party has taken over American politics in Century 21 — just about all the presidential candidates, and all but six members of the current Congress — and the Imbecile Church has jacked the country's so-called religious life. The Imbecile Church has a creed:  Comfy now, snug forever — just don't ask any questions.

In the 20th Century there was a House of Dominoes open for business, where the essential questions were mulled, debated, answered by the derelict and luckless — too bad there weren't minutes, or a log. They were imbeciles, too, but small-i imbeciles, and weren't insulted if you called them that. Didn't take it personal. You could agree to disagree.

The 20th century had clouds that looked like clouds are supposed to look. Can't quite put a finger on it, but there's something foreboding, something grotesque, about a great many of these 21st century clouds. Clouds like out of El Greco, or Hitchcock, or "Macbeth."

The 20th Century had news; Century 21 has something else. Chat, maybe. What the spooks call chatter. Something that involves posturing, spin, groupthink, rodomontade, bullshit, slovenly construction, graceless expression. Something reminiscent of the Ten Minutes Hate sessions in "1984." Thirty Minutes Hate? More like Thirty Minutes Incoherence. Thirty Minutes Jerking Off.

Century XX movie monsters had their dignity and integrity as individuals, Kong or Nosferatu as opposed to Century 21's transformers — or Century 21's zombies, which of course are merely Century 21 Imbeciles once removed. Home sound, think Klipsch v. the latter-day CD skreek. Yellow '35 Doozie up ag'in any of the Asian rolling coprolites of Century XXI. Compare homer football columnists — Orville Boswell v. the Dog-Peter Gnat.

The 20th century ended child labor, and who not crazy would sign on to bring it back? Three guesses. The 20th Century had GE College Bowl while Century 21 features "Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" where the answer 99 times out of a hundred is no.

The funny papers peaked in Century XX, and probably before the Sopwith Beagle and "The real reason dinosaurs became extinct."

The 20th Century homestead nearly always had a shed, or several, full of interesting worthless stuff that was in transition from quaint to reliquary. There's an American history lesson in just about every old shed. Century 21 abjures sheds, favoring either nothing or one of these prefab outbuildings that you trailer in preassembled rather than build. Nothing interesting in one of those. No history. No anvils. No toadfrogs. No churns.

The 20th century had apricot fried pies cooked in iron skillets, which had the very gods gnashing their teeth in envy of human taste buds and alimentary canals. You still see an occasional laughable pathetic imitation, but the authenticity dog barked and that particular caravan moved on. Momma took the secret with her. Or Lindsey's did.

The 20th century developed an environmental conscience that became pretty formidable toward the end, but Century 21 exorcised it, lobotomized it, flung the regs down in the toxic dust and danced on them. Bring back DDT. And uninspected meat. Apologize to BP for having said anything critical about that lurking blob the size of France.

The 20th century had youth, and lacked dysfunction, entropy. Weep for it. Many other comparisons, contrasts.

At the risk of serial redundancy, the 20th century had tomatoes that were fit to eat.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Bob Lancaster

  • Wretched rez

    I had some New Year's Rez(olutions) for 2016 but that ship sailed so I'm renaming them my Spring Rez or my All-Occasion Whatevers and sending them along.
    • May 26, 2016
  • Nod to Bob

    A look back at the weird and wonderful world of Bob Lancaster.
    • Mar 21, 2013
  • On black history

    If you're going to devote an entire month to appreciating the history of a color, it might as well be the color black.
    • Feb 14, 2013
  • More »

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Bob Lancaster

  • Lancaster retires

    Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.

    • Feb 21, 2013
  • On black history

    If you're going to devote an entire month to appreciating the history of a color, it might as well be the color black.
    • Feb 14, 2013
  • Making it through

    Made it through another January, thank the Lord.
    • Feb 6, 2013
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Hey Bishop, when did God say "Grab them by the pussy?"

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Well said. I believe that male mentors are another key way to connect our local…

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • The prophet Isaiah was a man of unclean lips and dwell among people of the…

    • on July 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation