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Going, Going
Manson H. Whitlock died last summer at the age of 96. I don’t imagine there will be a national moment of silence or much attention paid to his passing at all beyond the few isolated news articles. I hope, though, that someone will commission a statue of him and offer it as a donation to my pet project. His looming presence would be a prized addition to the Museum of Lost Arts.

Mr. Whitlock repaired typewriters for a living, and despite the small resurgence in the popularity of these desktop curiosities, his noble profession will soon cease to exist. It will join a growing list of antiquated skill sets that have no place in our modern, computer-driven society. The Museum aims to keep these virtuosities from vanishing without the recognition they deserve.

Other displays at the Museum of Lost Arts (or MOLA) might include, for example, a tribute to practitioners of shorthand. This skill was wondrous enough when it was a common one, condensing language, as it did, into a form that could be written as quickly as even the gabbiest speaker could talk. Amazing, but I’ll bet there aren’t more than a handful of people who can still do it.

Driving a car with a manual transmission will soon suffer a similar fate. The coming of electric vehicles has all but guaranteed the demise of this once-handy aptitude. Cursive writing is also on the way out, following good penmanship, which has been extinct for years. Adjusting rabbit ears on a television never got the respect it deserves as a field of expertise, and now I fear that it never will — except in the Museum. Also on the short list:

Reading a broadsheet newspaper. Dexterity, large muscle motor skills, and a keen sense of spatial awareness all play a part in this challenging (and now passé) ritual. I see an interactive exhibit with large squares of newsprint available for kids and parents alike.

Talking face to face. You still see this method of communication in use today, but mostly it involves elders for whom those tiny keypads are just too demanding. Watch while you can, boys and girls; these old geezers’ use of odd facial tics, such as eyebrow-cocking and smiling, will soon be obsolete.

Sitting quietly with your own thoughts. This deceptively simple pastime began to disappear with the advent of television. Soon, all of us will be plugged in (literally, I predict) all the time, and the fate of the meditative state will be sealed. I imagine a diorama at the Museum with a featureless, horizon-less vista and no sensory input at all. Medical staff will have to be on site at all times to treat nervous breakdowns.

Modesty. We hope to have workshops for those who want to experience what it used to be like not to share every little detail of one’s life with the whole world.

We can’t bring Manson L. Whitlock back. Not without asking his permission, anyway, and that’s not possible without bringing him back. Besides, I’ve read too many Edgar Allan Poe stories where that kind of thing turns out to be a really bad idea. We can honor him and his craft, though. Even if this MOLA thing doesn’t fly, I’m hanging on to my old Remington Noiseless as a tribute to a bygone age when cars and keyboards were strictly manual.
The Party's Over
I’m concerned about the Tea Partiers. Yes, in the way you’re thinking, but also in a broader sense. I’m worried about what will happen to these poor wretches after the current ugliness blows over.

Someday soon, they will be thrown overboard by the GOP establishment in a desperate effort to save that party’s foundering ship. Ironically, those same Republican leaders had welcomed them on board for that very purpose in 2008, but now the newcomers have proved to be more trouble than they are worth. Once ejected, these demented creatures will be left to sink or swim on their own, and their prospects for political survival are not bright. They will sink to the bottom like stones.

Even so, they will still be with us…a full quarter of the population, completely at the mercy of their emotions, especially fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of the Other. Are they not clinically insane? And they could rise again, summoned by the next demagogue to come along. That’s why I’m concerned. These people are our fellow citizens, but as we’ve just witnessed, they are dangerous and unpredictable. Like an unexploded bomb. Shouldn’t we do something to, uh, help them? If only to protect ourselves? Even if they are sick puppies, aren’t you supposed to take care of sick puppies?

Maybe Obamacare will help.
The French
I take back
what I said
about the French

Oh sure
there are the pointy shoes
the murses, the chain smoking
and the little dogs
that go poop in the street

But they are a pretty people
so passionate
and mais oui, polite!
Bonjour, monsieur! S'il voux plait! Merci!

And there is the history
layer on layer
built up and pulled down
Death and rebirth
darkness and light
popes and kings
and obscene excess
and finally, revolution

There is bread and cheese and wine
and love
flowers, carousels, fountains, long rows of trees
along grand boulevards
chic Parisian matrons
with coifs of wine-copper

And in the caves
the Metro, the streets
the museums-within-museums
art, art, art
art to make you wonder
art to roil you up
so much art it makes you weep

Mais oui!
The French!
Dream On
I had a great dream last night. In it, I saved the world.

It was a particularly vivid dream, full of color and action and violent emotion. It was nighttime, and people were everywhere in the streets, running, shouting, and wreaking havoc. It was chaos, like most dreams.

Then I thought, this is all just stupid. So I shouted in a clear voice, "We don't need stupid!"

Those around me seemed to take notice, so I shouted it even louder. "We don't need stupid!" Others took up the chant, and it spread steadily through the crowd. Soon, the chaos subsided, but the chant went on, ringing out like a bell, again and again. The dawn came, and there was peace and growing enlightenment upon the land.

I don't have enough dreams like that. Not only was the plot uncluttered with meaningless conflicts, it had a clear message: we don't need stupid, and every one of us is already down with that. If we can all accept that basic principle, even without agreeing on what is stupid, then there is hope - even outside our dreams.

As I sit here now, though, in the light of a real dawn, I wonder why my dream did not come true long ago. If we are in agreement about stupid, why does it still hang like a great megalith around our necks? It's as if we cling to it for security, and the closer we hold it, the harder it is to see it for what it is.

Even so, I still believe in my dream. We don't need stupid, and we've got to call it when we see it. It will take at least one more dream to save the world, though. Maybe tomorrow night I'll dream about brutal honesty.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon