Three Bitter Pills 

The Badger Bob era, week two

Bob Berzerquier here, filling in for Cope again. If you missed last week's installment, here's what happened. He was all distraught over the response he'd gotten from NRA attack mutts because of something he wrote about the gun-nut crowd, so he's out searching for a way to make himself more likable. At first, he said he was going on a sabbatical, but after I'd supplied him with a few cheap beers and a Tylenol, he started calling it a "vision quest." I suggested that while he was on this quest of his, the most helpful vision he could possibly have would be to discover the cosmic dimensions of his natural weeniness, but I don't think he heard me. He'd started chanting. Sounded just like Chief Dan George in a movie I saw once. Hy-ya-hy-ya-ya-hy.

Incidentally ... unlike Cope, I gave up worrying about whether people like me at least 40 years ago. So if you're offended by anything I say today, get in line, Bub. You'll find the end of it back somewhere in Nixon's first term.

Got a number of things to be unlikable about today, so let's get to it. First up, John McCain—what a useless little twerp. Who does he think he's kidding with that apology in Memphis? Here's the history McCain either forgot, or hopes the rest of us did: first slave ship from Africa unloads its cargo in Virginia in 1619, almost 400 years ago and almost 250 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. That's two and a half centuries of being worked like mules and screwed like inflatable dolls. Then, when blacks finally get a measure of freedom, they're put through Jim Crow hell if they try to exercise it. After 100 years of having crackers segregate them, shame them, neglect them, steal from them, humiliate them, lynch them, keep their kids ignorant and their families destitute, LBJ pushes through the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 (which, let us never forget, McCain's big Arizona brother and all-around guru of the Right, Barry Goldwater, would not support) and the entire asshole South goes Republican for the next 40 years because even this long after the war, they still aren't gracious enough to admit they're assholes. Then in the '80s, when good-hearted people attempt to recognize the moral authority of Martin Luther King—and in a much broader sense, to offer black Americans some small hope that their fellow citizens are making an honest effort (symbolic, though it may be) to atone for the legacy of injustice and bestiality that so overwhelmingly defines the African experience in America—John McCain wouldn't vote for it. It takes him another 25 years to admit he was wrong to oppose it. And God only knows how long it would have taken him to apologize were he not running for president.

Twerp. Craven, crawling twerp. And to think for a while I'd actually swallowed the poop that he was some kind of "maverick"—as opposed to being just another damn Republican who uses race as a campaign tactic.

Next item of unpleasantness: any moderately intelligent citizen of this country who's come through the past seven years and isn't bitter about some aspect—or all aspects—of the current situation is either one lucky Prozac customer, or he lied through his teeth about the "moderately intelligent" qualification as stated previously in this sentence.

Let me say this another way: Barack Obama was balls-on right about the generalized bitterness loose in our land. Everything's a mess and, to one degree or another, everyone is pissed off about it. And no wonder. The middle class is rotting from the bottom up from the gangrenous prices on gas, food, colleges, etc., and crumbling from the top down with the deterioration of any wealth they thought they'd accumulated, from the security of their jobs to the value of their homes to the promise of their pensions. It makes me bitter just to think there are nitwits out there who haven't figured out there are so many reasons to be bitter. We have to get this country fixed, pronto, and I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Tweedy, but happy thoughts aren't going to do the trick.

Last bitch of the day: Parents, listen up! If you don't know the proper way to act at various cultural events, or if you are incapable of teaching your kids how to behave in those settings, do the world a favor and leave the little snotnoses home next time you go out in public.

Last week, Cope and his wife asked if I wanted to go to their daughter's school band concert. I went. It was either that or sit home trying to get the cat puke out of my good trousers. Besides, I like that band music. Used to toot a little horn, myself. "Badger Bob the Bassoon Blower," that's what they called me. "The Bassoon Blower" because that's what I blew ... bassoon ... and "Badger" because whenever the flute players giggled too much, I'd growl at 'em.

So there I am, in a school auditorium, surrounded by moms and dads and little brothers and little sisters. The jazz band goes first, followed by the freshman group and finally the symphonic band. I was mildly jacked because the last band was finishing up the concert with a Gustav Holst ditty that knocks my socks off whenever I hear it. And whenever I'm wearing socks.

I assumed that once the music started, the moms and dads would get the little brothers and little sisters under control. But nope. Music kicks up and the kids are still running up and down the aisles, squealing like retarded monkeys, with their parents sitting there doing nothing about it. One mom was even holding her toddler up over her head, bouncing the kid in time to the music. I couldn't tell who she thought was cuter—the kid or herself—but I can tell you how distracting it was: just imagine trying to enjoy your favorite movie with a rat crawling up your arm.

Look, Ma and Pa, it's a concert, not a Chuck E. Cheese. Teach your offspring to show some respect. It may be only a school band, but those band kids work hard to put together a performance. I realize the music they play may be far more complex and accomplished than the Toby Keith sludge you're accustomed to, but that's all the more reason for you and your brats to sit still and actually listen to it. Who knows? You might even learn there's something in life more transcendent than that Dodge 4X4 you couldn't live without.

Point is, we can hear your kids behave badly any old time. So whether you get the music or not, do shut up and let the rest of us listen. It helps us forget, if only for a moment or two, how bitter we have become.

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