Tragic

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mr. Cope's Cave: Dammit, Spock

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 9:46 AM

The heroes of the young are not always who would think of as heroes. They don't have to save a cat from a burning house or fall on a grenade or land a plane safely in the Hudson River, these heroes of the young. They only have to represent something—hopefully something bright and good in the human experience—that the young person admires and would like to emulate. They don't even have to be real, these heroes. They just have to have a quality that the young person would wish for himself.

So I don't feel at all silly in admitting that Spock was a hero of mine when I was young. And I don't mean a child. I was in my early 20s before I even started to watch those old reruns. Yet I thought of him as one of three men I wanted to be like: my dad, Pete Rose and Mr. Spock. My dad for the same reasons every well-raised young man wants to be like his dad; Pete Rose because he was as passionate about what he did as I wanted to be about whatever I did (this was "Charley Hustle" Pete, not Pete the gambling hustler); and Spock because even atheists need a little spirituality in their lives.

Which is what I admired in the Vulcan, what I wanted to have in my own life. As much as any character in pop culture, fictional or not, Spock followed—most of the time, at least, when he wasn't getting mixed up with some mind-altering, pollen-spitting flower, or a mating ritual back on the home world—a creed, alien as it was to our standard human sensibilities, that called on him to conduct himself in a manner respectful of intellect and curiosity, resistant to emotional extremes and violence and kind to all creatures living—all while behaving with honor and integrity. Maybe it was the slaughter going on in Vietnam, maybe the cruelty of those opposing the civil rights movement, maybe the corruption of Nixon and the loud-mouthed stupidity inherent in the rise of Jerry Falwell's "silent majority," but something was making me think even then (late '60s, early '70s) that Mankind could definitely use a better model, even if he was a fiction.

I don't really know what kind of man Leonard Nimoy was. By all accounts, he seems to have had a lot of Spock rub off on him, and I am sad he's gone. I'm not young anymore, and not prone to worshipping heroes. Especially actors acting as heroes. But it doesn't mean I still don't think this particular heroic vision has a lot to offer. Even, perhaps, some salvation for an emotional and violent species, on their own in a dark, cold vastness.
  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mr. Cope's Cave: Je Suis, Vous Suis, Nous Tout Suis

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 4:13 PM

Whatcha looking at, Mr. Cope?

The Internet.

Well, yeah. Duh. I can see that. But what are you looking for?

Don't know yet. But I'll know it when I see it?

When you see what?

Whatever I'm looking for.

So you're just flipping around the Internet, looking for something that you don't know what it is yet?

Yup. That's what I'm doing.

How come?

Because I don't have anything written for my damn blog yet, and I'm looking for something to say something about.

But golly, Mr. Cope. There's all kinds of stuff going on. And you can't come up with anything to write about?•

Okay, Junior. Tell me, what is it that there's so much of it going on that you're so surprised that I'm not writing about it?

Uh ... huh?

Let me put it another way. If you were me, what would you be writing about for your blog today.

Well? ... let's see. If I were you, maybe I'd write about the big, huge, gigantic rally they had in France yesterday for the "Je suis Charlie" thing.

And if you were me, what would you say about it.

Gosh, I don't know exactly. But probably something about how big it was. And how it demonstrated how French people and world leaders and almost everybody, everywhere, are against what those terrorists did. You know ... stuff like that.

And why would anyone who must already know all that stuff bother to read what they already know?

Well ... let's see. Maybe they'd read it because people like to hear other people say what they already know, and that's because ... you know ... they like to feel like they're part of something everyone else is part of, too. Know what I mean?

Like an affirmation thing? That people like to have what they are feeling affirmed by knowing other people are feeling the same thing?

Yeah. That's what it is. An affirmation thing.

And that's probably why everyone is holding up "Je suis Charlie" signs? Like at the Golden Globes and football games and everywhere else, huh?

Yeah. That's probably why they're doing that. To make sure everyone knows they are part of this ... this ...

This thing that everyone is part of?

Yeah. Exactly. They're letting everyone know they're part of it, too.

And if you were me, you'd be making sure everyone knew you are right there with everyone else? That they could count on you to be thinking and feeling and expressing the same emotions and sentiments they are thinking and feeling and expressing?

Yeah. I guess you could say that. If I were you, I'd want everyone to know we were all ... uh ... you know ...

On the same page?

Yeah. That's right. On the same page.

In the same boat.

Yeah. In the same boat.

Going with the flow.

Yeah. Going with the flow. Is there anything wrong with that?

All depends, Scooter. All depends. And it usually takes a while to find out. And by the time we find out, it's usually too late.

So, you're switching off your Internet now. Does that mean you're done?

Yup. Done.

And did you find what you were looking for?

Uh-huh. I did. I found what I was looking for.

So are you going to tell me what you're going to say about it?

I just did.

Uh ... huh?


  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags: ,

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mr. Cope’s Cave: The Only World War

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 10:57 AM

“In Flanders Field the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarcely heard amid the guns below.”

from “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae

One hundred years ago today, Germans and Frenchmen and Brits and Austrians and I-don’t-know-who-all were butting heads near the Marne River east of Paris. It was the first battle of the First World War, and it was a bad one. Estimates range up to 300,000 casualties over the three days it lasted. Somebody won, or think they won, but it hardly matters now which side that was. It seems to me that any particular battle has as little to do with who eventually wins the war as any particular word has to do with how a poem eventually reads, or any particular pigment has to do with how the canvas looks when it’s finished. It seems to me, the whole history of battles is only a filing system of keeping track of who got killed, and where.

It seems to me, in fact, that we can’t even be sure 100 years later who exactly won the damn war. We know who surrendered to whom, and we know which countries suffered the most in the immediate aftermath of the war. But were we to consider that war—in its entirety, from the terrible Battle of the Marne to the armistice four years later—as only the first segment of an epic conflict that still rages on, who could feel confident they know how it will ever be resolved? Or indeed, if it will ever be resolved? And if it is, who will be called the winners?

All we can know for certain is that a century later, owing in such a large part to World War I, we now have tanks, aerial warfare, gas warfare, attack submarines, the world’s first pandemic (the Spanish flu), a Middle East still so turmoiled that there is no end in sight, a Russia that is still trying to figure out what it is, disaffected losers who turned into Nazis, disillusioned winners who, man per man, were every bit as damaged as the losers, World War II, the Cold War, nuclear warfare, no distinction between military targets and civilian targets, genocide as a political strategy, America’s continuing role as the country all the others turn to when they can’t get their problems solved on their own, an absurd attitude that military solutions are the best solutions, and uncountable dead.

Perhaps World War I truly was the war to end all wars, only it’s still going.

“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.” 

  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mr. Cope’s Cave: Unbelievably Stupid Things Gun Nuts Do

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM

This is a special edition of my series Stupid Things Gun Nuts Do. You will notice I have called it "Unbelievably" Stupid Things Gun Nuts Do because something has happened this week that even I have trouble believing, and believe me, I have been paying pretty damn close attention to the stupid things gun nuts do for many, many years.

It is about that little girl who accidently shot and killed a gun nut who was coaching her on how to fire an Uzi submachine gun. It happened in Arizona outside of Las Vegas at some joint called “Bullets and Burgers,” and don’t that just make your mouth water? I suppose you could call it a theme restaurant, sort of like Chuck E. Cheese's or Planet Hollywood, only with a firing range.

Bullets and Burgers management has announced it’s their policy not to let anyone under 8 years old use the firing range. But this girl, being 9, made the cut. Her parents were filming the incident when it happened, we must imagine, to record for prosperity their li’l pumpkin’s first time with a fully automatic firearm. The instructor first instructed her to fire a single shot, which she did without incident, and with that (and no other) experience under her belt, he told her to let ‘er rip.

She did, and the Uzi—which can rip 15 rounds a second—recoiled out of her control. The instructor was hit in the head.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have called the deceased man a “gun nut.” He was only doing what he was paid to do, which was to guide thrill seekers safely through an adventure with high-powered weapons. He obviously wasn’t very good at that job, but at least he’s the only one who suffered the worst consequences of his incompetence.

And perhaps I shouldn’t call the owners and operators of Bullets and Burgers gun nuts. After all, if some Vegas tourist is willing to pay the price—up to $1,600 for the platinum package with 50 caliber sniper rifles and any machine guns they choose to go bloopa-bloopa, rat-a-tat-a, kerplowy! for a few seconds—who am I to question their business model? And isn’t that what Vegas is known for?… catering to the crudest instincts of crude people?

And maybe I shouldn’t single out this kid’s parents as gun nuts, either. I mean, some parents take their children to museums and zoos and piano lessons to broaden the child’s experience. Maybe they’d already done all of that, and the only thing left for this child to experience was to learn what it’s like to tear off a burst from an Uzi.

And certainly, the little girl herself is no gun nut. She may well go nuts in other directions, as she carries the scar of having killed another human being through her life. But in time, I hope, she will come to understand that she is one of the lucky ones… quite unlike the thousands of other children who are on the receiving end of guns—year in, year out.

So who’s the gun nut here? Who is responsible when a couple of half-witted parents take their little girl, barely old enough to have said goodbye to the training wheels on her bike, to a demented hillbilly shithole tourist trap that advertises you can shoot the same weapons Rambo did (no joke), hires a supposed “firearms expert” who can’t predict what could possibly go wrong when a skinny kid gets her hands on a weapon that was illegal outside the military until only a generation ago, and they get away with it because the fucking NRA has so distorted the nation’s laws, not to mention it’s morality, and to say nothing of its common sense, that now it’s acceptable for children to be playing with machine guns?

Unbelievable.
  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mr. Cope’s Cave: Dear Robin

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Bummer.

And bud, I mean that with no irreverence, no mockery, no cuteness. I just mean it. Bummer. I can almost see you saying it—bum-mer—the way you said stuff with your whole face and shoulders and arms and everything. Part grin, part grimace, eyes twinkling. We all thought it was impish, those twinkling eyes. Who knew then, huh?

Bum-mer. I hope it doesn’t seem inappropriate to use such a dusty old word, but I think you must know what I mean. Excuse me if I’ve misinterpreted, but I thought I sensed it all along. On stage, in movies, during interviews. That manic, staccato, Robin Williams delivery, as wild and unpredictable as all the Marx Brothers at once, so unrelenting it could get at times exhausting to behold. But then, there was always that hint of something else pushing it, fueling it. A darker, bum-mer presence lurking within that endless energy that made us notice you in the first place, then kept our eyes on you for the next 40 years.

Like… Hey! Is this a wonderful, crazy, fucked-up thing we share with all these wonderful, crazy, fucked-up people… or what? Or did you forget? Did you stop paying attention? Did it get to be too much sometimes? Well that’s what I’m here for, to bring some wonderment of it back. To splash some color back into that deepening fog. That’s what I do, that’s what I’m for. And we’re all going to laugh and laugh and laugh. But listen, if it still gets to be too much for you, just remember, we’re gonna die and then it’ll be over.

Bum-mer.

That’s it, isn’t it? That’s why you did it? You couldn’t abide that damnable shadow roaming around in your hyperactive mind any longer. It wasn’t the drugs, it wasn’t the money problems, that’s what I think. You could have fixed all that. But Robin, you just couldn’t live any longer with the prospect of an end to joy, an end to mirth, an end to bouncing about in this wonderful, crazy, fucked-up thing. This thing we all share, this thing we all depart, this thing you splashed with so much color and joy and mirth in a lifetime of splashing.

Of course, not many of us will leave such a lasting engraving on this thing. Mrs. Doubtfire alone will ensure you a place in the collective memory. And what you did in The Birdcage?… brother, that may have been the tipping point in something that changed the heart of this country. When I think about it, it’s like you weren’t so much an actor, a comic, anything as mundane as that. It’s like you were a throbbing elemental particle. A fruitful season unto yourself. A fecund, fundamental essence that we’ve grown so accustomed to having around that you’re sudden departure leaves us stunned and bewildered.

Robin, there’s nobody to take your place. It’s as simple as that.

And this is where the bummer gets so personal. I missed you horribly the moment I heard you were gone, but it’s more than that. See, most of us aren’t going to opt out so early. Most of us are going to slog on, facing that damnable shadow a little more clearly every day that passes. Most of us are going to stick it out to the bloody end, hanging on dearly to every last shred of what still makes it worth it. And let me tell you… I, for one, was counting on your company during that slog. I figured you’d be there to the finish line, goofy all the way, doing what you’ve always done. And it would have gone a long ways to making the last leg to this inevitable bummer more endurable.

Like… Hey! Is this a wonderful, crazy, fucked-up mortal coil we share with all these wonderful, crazy, fucked-up infirm, weak and confused and depressed old people who know the end is coming and that there’s nothing we can do about it… or what? 

And we could have laughed and laughed and laughed.
  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mr. Cope's Cave: Call Them Puppies and Give Them Away

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

The specific scenario I’m about to relate is made up, though not from pure imagination. It is pasted together from dozens of similar stories we have all heard. Fictional or not, it could well have happened in your neighborhood or could well happen in your neighborhood sometime in the future.

Police had received complaints from the neighbors of the house on Lonely Street (made-up street) for months of disgusting smells that had been coming from the residence of Mrs. O’Ceedee (made-up name), and they had warned Mrs. O’Ceedee that action would be taken if she did not do whatever was necessary to stop the odor. When they went to her house, they recognized the smell as that of dog shit, but she wasn’t about to let them inside, and as they were trying to solve the problem without making a criminal matter of it, they were not initially prepared to resort to search warrants.

As time went by, though, the problem actually increased rather than resolved, so the police obtained the proper authority to gain access to the inside of Mrs. O’Ceedee’s home and were appalled by what they found. As they expected, it was another case of animal hoarding, but Mrs. O’Ceedee had taken it to new levels. When the counting was finished, it was revealed she had been keeping over 400 Chihuahuas in her seven-room house. Mrs. O’Ceedee was charged with cruelty to animals, failure to license the dogs and several violations of public health codes. The dogs were confiscated, taken away by local humane shelter personnel. The dogs were undernourished, many of them were sick with a variety of canine ailments, and all of them demonstrated symptoms of abuse, neglect and the stress that comes with living under those conditions.

The humane shelter was overcome by the flood of terrified dogs. They spread the animals out to all of the neighboring towns’ shelters, which only put all of those shelters in crisis. Word went out on the local news outlets that the dogs would be available for adoption as soon as they had been cleared by the shelters’ volunteer veterinarians. For days, news audiences within miles of Mrs. O’Ceedee’s home were treated to image after image of trembling Chihuahuas, staring into the camera with sad, sad eyes.

Two weeks after the story first appeared on television, Glenda Perky (made-up news co-anchor) announced that all of the dogs had been adopted by compassionate animal lovers and that, in fact, the humane shelter had received twice as many calls for adoption as there were Chihuahuas to be adopted, though it was suspected that a number of the calls had come from Mrs. O’Ceedee, who was out on bail the day after her arrest.

The specific scenario I will now relate is not made up.

Up to 50,000 children, some as young as six years old, have been streaming across the Rio Grande after making their way to the United States' southern border from as far away as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They are trying to escape an epidemic of violence and murder that has turned those countries into hellish landscapes of poverty, gang rule and no hope. They came under the mistaken impression that the United States would not turn desperate, endangered children away and for the most part, they have surrendered themselves to border authorities as soon they reach U.S. soil.

With no facilities to handle such an influx of human misery, the children are being crammed into whatever is available, from school gymnasiums to empty jail cells. Reports are coming in that up to 30 at once are being housed in cells designed for six inmates. They are justifiably confused and afraid, and many of them are suffering from a variety of ailments.

Some were bused to a town in California, if only to spread the misery out to more manageable levels, but the buses were turned away by angry, screaming locals to whom, evidently, the childrens’ plight is of little or no concern. Other Americans are demanding the kids be returned immediately to the nightmare from which they escaped, in spite of widespread pontificating among like-minded political factions of the sanctity of life and the unique nature of human beings.

Still other Americans are wondering what in hell our country stands for anymore, if not to protect children.
  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Schnauzer Snuggie

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Have you been wanting to throw Senor Poopglitter into your pooch purse and drag him along to the next Snuggie Pub Crawl but can’t stand the thought of your lush little pal catching a chill? Well the Counts of Comfort and the Dukes of Dumbcrap recently got together and decreed that another Snuggie should walk the face of this chilly Earth—the Snuggie For Dogs.

“Unlike traditional dog sweaters you have to force over your dog’s head and stuff their legs into tight little sleeves,” says the commercial. “Snuggie Dog goes on the easy way, with roomy sleeves. And it attaches securely in seconds.”

Or, here's an idea: your dog could act like an animal and use its fur to keep warm. Just an idea.

  • Pin It
  • Instapaper

Tags: , , ,

© 2017 Boise Weekly

Website powered by Foundation