Friday, January 20, 2012

Where’s the Promise from Sea to Shining Sea?


As small kids in the primary grades at St Peter’s (sic) School in New Brunswick we took recess on the street to the side of the school that had police barricades set up and then taken down every school day, disrupting the traffic in and around the neighborhood. We children had no knowledge of that-we just knew to stay inside the area protected by the white saw horses with black lettering.

It wasn’t hard. We were, after all, Catholics, raised to believe in things we couldn’t see. If the saw horses kept us safe from cars, who were we to wonder how they did it? There were hundreds of us on a not large street and the turf battles between those in the ‘other’ grade (I was in 3B and our mortal enemy was 3A) were reasonably pacific but hard-fought nevertheless. Actually they were mostly staring contests that would end after minutes of peering at one another with someone sneeringly suggesting ‘why doncha take a pitcher? It’ll last longah.’ (I don’t have a Jersey Kid dialect type font on this keyboard. Who knew?)   

Perhaps a photograph might have lasted longer, but the folks who brought us Ektachrome and Kodachrome and Tri-X and Plus-X may not be around much longer. Eastman Kodak, the pride and joy of Rochester, New York, have filed for bankruptcy while vowing to remain in business. I remember  coming off the school bus up the driveway on Bloomfield Avenue and checking to see if the mailman had been there with a delivery from those faraway labs that processed  all the rolls of slide film Dad used to take. 

Years later, I and many others, discovered an alternate use for the metal screw top film containers that every cherry-top in New Brunswick also knew but never enforced otherwise most of the class of ’71 through’77 would have been wearing caps and gowns in lock-up.  Few things, to me, are more “American” (whatever that means) than Kodak. And underscoring how God has a skewed sense of humor, overshadowed or smoke-screened by the Kodak story, is Boeing’s decision to close up shop in Wichita, Kansas, after 80 years. “Them steady jobs, they’re going, boys, and they ain’t coming back.”

This is a Presidential election year-one of the parties is electing the President of South Carolina tomorrow and after the seers read the entrails of whatever animal is slaughtered they’ll unearth the significance of what didn’t happen, and people who don’t know what it means (mostly cable news because their audience never realizes they’re smarter than the people in the box) will attempt to explain it to people who don’t care (us).

It’s important, maybe, but, dammit Janet, we’ve got football this weekend to see who’s going to the Super Bowl in a sport no one else on earth plays, which may be why we still can boast of being the best at it. National priorities and concerns such as the National Defense Authorization Act, Stop Online Piracy Act and the like will bother us another day, if we remember, but not this Saturday and Sunday. Call the turn-down service and leave a wake-up call for after the Super Bowl (but before the NBA play-offs).

Good thing we’ve got cameras in our phones now. Otherwise, we might not have pictures of the fly-over they do before the kickoff. What was that about the planes
-bill kenny 

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