I got to ride in a Christmas parade last week and I recommend that pastime to you. Watching a parade is as quaint a bunch of fun as you’ll ever want to have, but being in the antic procession itself puts a delightfully different perspective on the matter.
A parade spectator is concerned mostly with mundane matters, such as, “Where is the next interesting thing to look at?” and “How fast can I beat the traffic out of here when there are no more interesting things to look at?” A parade participant gets into the physics of the occasion, moving along at a breathtaking two or three miles an hour, dwelling on far weightier subjects, such as, “How many Santas in a procession must a child see before questioning the legitimacy of the one he spilled his guts to at the department store?” and “I wonder if I could bean that bald guy on the corner with this Moon Pie?”
Mr. Joe Miner, who drives a formidable-looking and -sounding train, not on tracks but on truck tires, invited me to come along as the conductor for this holiday jaunt. Though I look less like the Polar Express Conductor than George Carlin’s Mr. C. from Shining Time Station, I got the gig because of one very important appurtenance: I have an actual conductor’s cap.
Purchased at the old Fairgrounds flea market back when disposable income was still a viable commodity, the stolid black headgear with the thin gold braid and shiny bill (manufactured by Becker Tailoring Company of Cincinnati, the inside lining proclaims) sports a brass badge from Southern Railway. I could have been wearing a Cam Newton jersey (the Miner family would have loved that) but as long as I was wearing this cap, I would still have passed as a conductor.
Instead, I opted for Railroad Chic, locating a brass buttoned blazer at Goodwill that approximated a uniform coat and a pair of clunky black Skechers that approximated clunky black shoes. What I neglected to include in the ensemble was a union suit to help ward off what became a big chill once the train started moving down the parade route, even at a modest three miles per hour.
Conductors, quite sensibly, do not spend more time outside the train than they have to. Upon arrival at a station, they swing down to the platform, get the old passengers off, get the new passengers on, yell “All aboard” and then hightail it to the hot stove in the caboose to await the next stop on the line. By contrast, all I was doing was standing in the intemperate air waving at people. Once in a while I’d try to croak out a “Merry Christmas” to the multitudes, but due to the chattering of my teeth, it came out more like “Murky Crognab.”
Here was another of the weighty subjects I dwelt upon along the parade route: if it’s this cold now during autumn, what’s winter got in store for us?
That’s right, we don’t even hit official winter until next Tuesday, and already we’ve gotten all too close to single-digit temperatures for my preference. I am not keen on what this augurs.
I also don’t like some of the other foreshadowings heading up the line. For instance, what was up with President Obama hanging out with Bill Clinton at the White House the other day? Big Bill don’t shoot no hoops, so it had to be other, dismal business on which they conferred, such as the way one must govern without a legislative majority.
When President Clinton got hammered by a GOP upsurge two years into his first term, he and his crew devised a strategy that came to be known as “triangulation.” Though posited as a way to take the high ground above the extremes of left and right, it’s really just a fancy way to say, “Be more Republican.” Triangulation makes otherwise sensible Democrats want to increase military spending while balancing the budget, speak in favor of deregulation and sustain tax cuts for millionaires. Triangulation may have helped Bill Clinton get re-elected, but it did nothing to derail his showtrial impeachment.
Barack Obama could put on a Tea Party tricorn, ride an elephant to John Boehner’s country club and caddy eighteen holes for him while wearing a “Kiss Me I’m Kenyan” t- shirt, and still he could not dissuade the GOP cartel from its primary mission, which is the destruction of the Obama presidency. Republicans are not interested in working with the Democratic Party, they are interested in demolishing the Democratic Party. Which, if it is going to pursue the lunacy of triangulation again, it is perfectly capable of doing to itself.
One other sign of a long winter not found in The Old Farmer’s Almanac appeared in The Birmingham News the other day, amid a rare interview with Congressman Spencer Bachus. (For some reason, D.C. correspondent Mary Orndorff was unable to get Spence to sit down for a long chat prior to the election, despite his having no Democratic opposition.)
Bachus is about to become the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which is good news for the commercial banks, financiers and credit companies who’ve bankrolled his incumbency. Just to remind everyone whose side he’s on, he told Orndorff, “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”
He “clarified his comment” later, according to the article, but unless he added disgruntled taxpayers to his list of those who serve the banks, that statement, not to mention Spencer Bachus’s agenda to put banksters’ profits above the needs of citizens, seems pretty clear already.
Courtney Haden is a Birmingham Weekly columnist. Write to email@example.com.