Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

Perhaps you out there are unfazed by the recent upwelling of propaganda in respect to all things Ukraine-Crimea-Russia-the West, but I am fazed. There may as well have not been a Cold War, let alone a period of time when that business was on occasion subjected to a process of the mind sometimes referred to as retrospection, seeing as so much laughable rhetoric has hit all the media. It had been symmetry of a kind – that East-West standoff, and when the ‘wall’ came tumbling down and the Soviet Union unraveled, other entities in addition to Humpetity-Dumpetity suddenly developed fault lines. And the world even now, like a punch-drunk boxer with jelly knees, is attempting to find again that old groove, the old gyroscopic rotation minus the wobbling that can cause matter to buckle and fly apart—There are ugly things happening right here in our backyard, into which I will not venture just now; just that any venturing may well be called for in coming months, and if there will indeed be parallels to draw between the current edition of the PQ and Marine Le Pen’s Front National—Otherwise I can now say I have been to the Comedy Nest but that I have no immediate plans to ever revisit the scene of the crimes on offer. Of what is the subtlest madness made but of the subtlest wisdom?—Montaigne spake as much. Obviously the man never had to treat with stand-up comedy, which it is nothing more than pandering to the lowest denominating sort of humor in regards to pornography and social media. Here is what Smiley the Buffoon said the last time I saw him in Grumpy’s moonlighting as a bluegrass musician: There’s poking fun at yourself. There’s telling all the rubes: hey man, look at what a pathetic little f—k-up I am. Every TV sit-com since the beginning of time has depended on this stock character. But then there’s spiritual suicide. And if you have forked out good money to get your chuckles you are going to take your chuckles, no matter how juvenile the levity, and you only give it all permission to lobotomize your sentience. The sole exception to the program (so far as that evening’s roster of comics went) was Young Eric, or he who made the fatal error of exposing the fact he has more than two brain cells to rub together; in fact he has quite a few despite his proclivity to live high. The awfulness of it all far exceeded that which one is accustomed to expecting from an evening’s worth of open-mic poetry. It was a great deal more relentless, for the simple reason that the barest sliver of a crack in the continual patter would admit silence into the mix, and the silence would only reveal just how inane the business truly is. You know, them there sharks have got to keep moving, like salespersons peddling software—We saw very little of the Oscars. What we saw were clips of women in full thrall to their rage and venting. As for made-for-TV movies-cum-End Times flicks, it would seem that the only acting skill one requires is the knack of speaking into cell phones. Or have I made the observation already? If so, my apologies. I began reading Thesiger’s Arabian Sands in a café on St Denis, Bessie Smith in the speakers. An auspicious beginning for a book I read 25 years ago and have thought worth re-reading, if only to remind myself that the Arabs of the so-called Empty Quarter were once the world’s most insulated people; but that one oil company jeep later, and all that lovely oblivion is blown to smithereens. I do not know which is the best of all possible worlds. A state of affairs that floats all boats by way of the boon of progress, and all lost tribes owe us one? And the worst of all possible worlds? Could a state of affairs that swamps all boats by way of the bane of progress fit that bill? I did go to hear Myriam Gendron again sing – to music of her own devising – the verses of Dorothy Parker. Her set was preceded by a male ululator. The Moesian, who had come to hear Gendron for himself, and not just take my word for it that she is good, suggested that the current shtick in the performing arts of any kind is to present oneself as damaged goods. I do not know where Gendron sits with all that, but she is a straight shooter. No pretension. None of affectation. The words, the music, the voice—Lunch hour in Nikas. Here deracination is not much of an issue, unless one wishes to argue that whatever Greek-Albanians are up to in NDG, it might have something to do with bearing gifts, but only indirectly to do with full body imperialism.