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Life as Performance Art

By G.C. Stoppel
Mid-March’s warm, sunny weather was a tonic we needed. This winter was a character builder; we had more cold, snow gray skies and bleak news than we wanted.
With a few hours of sunshine, melting snow and migratory birds singing as they claimed their territory, our spirits were elevated.
The world’s problems haven’t gone away. Nor have our personal health, work, relationship and inflation challenges. But sunshine and warm breezes on our cheeks helps us feel better able to deal with them.
Just over 100 years ago Americans had come out of two and a half years of the Spanish flu pandemic. Our men and women in uniform were coming home honored with victory parades.
We endured what was called the Agricultural Recession because U.S. farmers had produced too much food. There was no government safety net to help them, nor farm equipment and machinery manufacturers.
Elsewhere in the world things weren’t so hot either. Parts of western Europe were barely coming out of the Great War. The Russian czar and his family had been dead for five years, shot with their bodies thrown down a well. They were replaced by nut cases Lenin and Trotsky, who with their minions were threatening the world with their ideas of communism.
America’s fear of them led to a round up and imprisonment of socialists and radical members of the International Workers of the World. the “Wobblies.”
Just for extra misery, the feds turned off the beer tap as we launched the great American experiment of prohibition. It didn’t work so well, but enterprising men like Capone, Rothstein, Lansky and Siegel figured out how to profit from it. Everyone knew they were criminals, even lethal killers, but many Americans cheered them on as if they were Robin Hood handing out libations to the thirsty.
At least the music was good. Where it was, the deep freeze of racism defrosted, and people smiled together.  Like that first warm day of spring it didn’t last long, but it was good while it did. Besides, they had their heroes like Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh and movie stars to boost their spirits.
Need a good laugh today?  Find Laurel and Hardy’s “Battle of the Century.” It’s the greatest cream pie-throwing film this side of “The Great Race.”
The other night a nightclub owner told me, “this is our Roaring ‘20s,” I hope he’s right. We could use more fun and a chance to get out and connect with people.
That first taste of spring has made a difference. Soon we will again be outside working on our lawns and gardens, leaning on rakes and shovels longer than needed to look at what needs to be done next. We’ll fantasize about how to make the gardens even better.
At the end of the day we’ll come in with tired and sore muscles, but a smile in our hearts because we’ve been outside and connecting with the world.
We also need in more humor, which has become an endangered tradition because there are so many critics. We can instantly recognize these curdlefaces. They look like they were weaned on a pickles and act like they were suffering from hemorrhoids on both feet.
They are hurting, miserable and want to inflict their company on the rest of us. Tell a joke or make a suggestion and they become highly indignant, launching into some type of rant about bigotry or insensitivity. Their greatest source of joy seems to be snarling that so-and-so should be cancelled.
We need humor to maintain our democracy. When a country loses its sense of humor, Will Rogers said, it is on the slippery slope to becoming a dictatorship.
“Here we can poke a little fun at our politicians; you do that in Russia and you get a one-way rail ticket to Siberia,” he said.
The “Olds” had more common sense than later generations. During World War II the Allies made humor an effective weapon. Listen to Spike Jones and his City Slickers sing, “In Der Fuehrer’s Face” or watch Charlie Chaplin’s film “The Great Dictator.” 
British filmmakers found a clip of German soldiers goose stepping down a street, added music and dance steps from the Limehouse Walk and and turned them into a laughingstock.
We need to quit being so nice to Putin and his minions and start poking fun at them. They won’t like it but he isn’t a likeable characte and who cares? 
At least we’ll feel better and smile.

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