Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions

“Your nose may be bulbous, your face may be spotty / Your skin may be wrinkled and tight / But I don’t want to see you, the way that you are / So I turn off the living room light” – Ray Davies, When I Turn Off The Living Room Light

We all have our little addictions. Things we’ve done forever, habits that we would never consider breaking because they aren’t harmful and we’ve benefited from them. Nonetheless, they are addictions, and I say that without making value judgment.

You might be addicted to chocolate. Perhaps you’re into music — it’s almost always on whenever you’re in a place where you can control your environment. Maybe you are into comic books — hey, this is Pop Culture Squad, after all. If so, yeah, we’re going through a rough patch right now. Television? You don’t hear from those annoying snobs who proudly proclaim they “never watch television” while wearing a face that looks like somebody is holding a small turd under their noses.

Because I can multitask, I’m addicted to all of the above, and to barbecue as well. But I have an even stronger addiction, one that always has played a major role in defining who I am. I am addicted to the news. “Hi, my name is Mike, and I’m a news addict.”

News is my smack. It has been my smack since I was a small child. By the time I was twelve, I was reading four newspapers a day. I learned a lot, and it built the cornerstone of my condo of braggadocio.

During this horrific time of trauma, I know a lot of people who have found the news too depressing to follow. I get that. Things are so frightening that the world is experiencing the Doomsday Scenario predicted in Peter George’s novel Red Alert, a.k.a. Two Hours To Doom.

The film adaptation of Red Alert, Stanley Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, ranks 26th on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time list. If you’re up for it, read the novel, watch the movie, collect the bubble-gum cards.

Generally speaking, movies and novels offer a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Strangelove certainly does — in fact, it sort of has a happy ending for a group of people. But it does have an ending. Covid-19… not yet.

Despite a batting average that would entice a Triple-A ballplayer to consider suicide, I find myself agreeing with a statement made Saturday by our acting-human, Donald Trump. He warned that there were “very horrendous” days ahead.

You’d think people would pay attention to what’s going on even if you do reject everything Trump says out-of-hand. Many have. Some, not so much. A number of churches were open yesterday on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Christian Holy Week. I suspect there will be many who chose to celebrate next Sunday’s Easter holiday with their families and/or attend those churches that will be open.

This is bad. If you think your god or gods will protect you from Covid-19, you have not been paying attention to history. Taking the broad view, why would your god or gods start protecting you now? Or, to put it in more spiritually referential terms, maybe somebody or something is trying to send you a message. Life Tabernacle pastor Tony Spell, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told Reuters “We’re defying the rules because the commandment of God is to spread the Gospel.” He is not just defying the rules. He is ordering his flock to disobey the law to their own detriment. Covid-19 spreads much, much faster than his gospel. Serving the flock is quite different than thinning the herd.

All kinds of fools have been spitting in Covid-19’s face. Florida beaches were kept open for spring break, I gather under the belief that our children are not our future after all. Various Georgia public gathering spots reopened this weekend after Republican Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order that overrode local shelter-in-place mandates. Many state governors waited until this past week to issue stay-at-home orders. As of this writing, some still haven’t.

There are hypocrites like Texas Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (no relation to Keith Olbermann’s former broadcast partner) told Fox imbecile Tucker Carlson he feared that public health restrictions to prevent coronavirus could end American life as he knows it, and that he is willing to risk death to protect the economy for his grandchildren. He’s 69 years old, and, as of this writing, has yet to take one for his team. He is not alone: to these fools, our need to sell Twinkies to twelve-year-olds outweighs our need to proffer safety to those who have worked and sacrificed throughout their lives to allow the manufacture, sale and distribution of said Twinkies. Show them some respect. For example, seniors should check their state’s open carry laws and look into their local Stand Your Ground thing.

Yeah, this is going to be a rough week — at the very least. We simply do not know. As a crippled, mostly deaf, extremely ornery almost-septuagenarian with low blood sugar, I’ll be staying at home as I have for the better part of a month.

But, now, I’ll be doing my best to avoid my usual degree of exposure to the news as well.

I wish us all luck.

Even Tony Spell, Brian Kemp and Dan Patrick.