Category Archives: Pop Culture

Flag on the Field

KaepReb

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE –  I wouldn’t do that if you paid me a million dollars.

Who among us hasn’t used that saying?

Truth is, there is not much most of us wouldn’t do – short of something hideous and sadistic – for that kind of a payday.

But I can name two acts that my conscience would never allow, lest it cause my soul to choke.

One is to wave the Confederate flag, that of the side of the traitors, either proudly or to make some sort of a pointless point.

The other would be to take a knee during the national anthem (even though I strongly believe Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” would be a better long-term fit, but I won’t go there – even though I just did).

The only difference is that I can understand, in the abstract, why the latter act (like the black power fist, or the peace sign) – all public displays of a peaceful protest – would spur one to feel compelled.

None of those are hate speech. The Confederate flag, well, that’s another story.

The two bloodiest wars for Americans, with more than one million casualties (deaths and wounded) each were the Civil War and World War II.

If you don’t believe me, look it up. I’ll wait.

You back? OK.

It goes way beyond that, though.

It was how they died. A lot of the weaponry was no different than what was used in World War I, and a lot of the battles were fought up close and personal.

Many of the deaths were slow and painful, coming via infection after limbs were sawed off.

Then, there was the psychological toll, one that we are still calculating in fits and starts.

In some cases, the Civil War pitted brother versus brother. In many more, it was cousin versus cousin.

There were – and still are – many ways to understand what the Confederacy was fighting for, as they will tell you it was a way of life that someone else was telling them not to live and for states’ rights.

But let’s not talk falsely now. The hour is getting late.

The way of life, the states’ rights yarn, was about one thing: Slavery.

And the slaves were black, brought here in steerage from Africa for decades.

The prime source of income for the South (i.e. Confederacy) was cotton, and the slaves bled their figures raw picking cotton for, well, nothing. They were slaves. Their families were separated, sometimes when children were less than five, or they never existed as family units as all.

It would be unfair to say they were second-class citizens, as they weren’t citizens at all.

Up North, even as they also reaped the economic reward of the cotton trade, this whole centuries-old act wore so thin that a brutal and bloody war seemed inevitable.

And so it was.

I’m not sure why, in 2020, there would be any other need to display – out in the open and proudly – the Confederate flag than to pledge allegiance to racism.

But, there it is. Often waved alongside that of the Swastika flag of World War II enemy Nazi Germany, which makes even less sense (as if that were even possible).

We often see the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, which has meant many things to many different people since the 18th century. At present, it seems to be where patriotism flows into jingoism, but not as offensive to all-out flags of hate speech – at least not yet.

It doesn’t need to be.

I was startled – and aghast – in the summer of 2016, when we took a Pennsylvania road trip.

The first stop was Gettysburg, where the seminal battle of the Civil War was fought on July 1-3 in 1863.

There were some Confederate flags there – whether or T-shirts, bumper stickers, paper weights, mugs etc. – for sale (especially on the outskirts of town). As we drove through the rest of Pennsylvania, weaving through some small towns on the way to our other destinations (Johnstown, Pittsburgh, the stupid place where the ground hog comes out once a year, etc.), I continued to see plenty of Confederate flags.

So many, whether from front porches or the back of pickup trucks, that I had to remind a much younger Sofia – and myself – that we were, in fact, still above the Mason-Dixon Line.

It was a sign – or flag – of the times.

The times of doom.

A certain entity – an entity I will neither refer to as a “man” or a “person” – was mounting what was a controversially successful bid for The White Horse, and this so-called “human” was running plays out of Hitler’s playbook by throwing chum to a staunch base fed up with a black (biracial, actually) president for two terms.

Following a route that their GPS systems first took them, which was to join Tea Parties, they made another sharp right and let their patriotism crash into a wall of jingoism.

The saying, “Make America Great Again,” was too hard – on either side – to ignore.

Against this backdrop, in the summer of 2016, Colin Kaepernick – then the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers – didn’t stand for the national anthem of a preseason game.

When asked about it, he told reporters it was in protest of how blacks were treated in the United States.

After some backlash about disrespecting veterans, which seemed a bit off-point, he began to kneel instead of sit on the bench and stare into space (poor optics, if nothing else).

Players around the league soon joined, giving the presumptive Republican candidate more red meat.

To this day, while I’m with Kaepernick on both his right to peacefully protest and the basics of his cause of racial injustice, I’m not 100 percent convinced the whole thing wasn’t a tantrum because he was bumped to No. 2 on the depth chart behind a white quarterback.

He didn’t help himself during the whole controversy by wearing socks with cartoon pigs depicted as police officers, and he should be noted that he is biologically biracial and was raised in an upper middle-class adoptive family.

One – either a person of color who has a had it tougher or a white person from the right trying to drive a truck through his argument — could successfully ask: “What does he know about it?”

However, President Obama was also biracial and raised by his white grandparents outside the ghetto walls. That didn’t stop the hate machine – including a birther movement wondering if he was a Muslim and not a Christian – from grinding its wheels.

That didn’t stop the current person who calls himself your president (not mine) to exploit it all to his advantage – including tirades against Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in three years and probably never will again, and other players who exercised their right of free speech and supported him.

Would I personally kneel? No. Not for a million dollars. But it is interesting to note that those most critical of him – and others that your president (not mine) demanded be “fired” – condone, at least on some level, displaying the flag.

Standards? Once you got two, you got none.

Kind of like flags.

 

 

Never Can Say Goodbye … to 1971

First 1971

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – I’m told I was repeatedly played Civil Rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ In The Wind” — after my earthly debut two days into spring of 1965.

Knowing my mother’s penchant for tall tales and exaggerations, I’m not 100 percent convinced of the accuracy of this folklore, but I think there could be a strain of truth it.

I can say, for sure, that I never had time for nursery rhymes.

My grandparents, a more reliable source of information, said I was fully captivated by the song “Georgy Girl” by the New Seekers, which was released in late 1966 and continued its heavy air play and chart climb in 1967.

I have vague recollections of being called “Georgy” because of this, so I’ll buy it.

I was just learning to walk, but I had an ear on the Top 40.

Fast forward to the holiday season of 1970, and I was totally hooked on “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson.

From there, well, there was no looking back.

If there was a time to fall in love with music, 1971 was it.

I was 6, but I could have been 16.

The feel of the breeze, the smell in the air, the feel of drizzle — they all collide as first-time memories with amazing music coming from anywhere and everywhere.

I guess it was car radios (some with 8-track machines), the turntables of my older cousins and stepsisters, or just piped in somehow from the skies above.

There was Carole King’s groundbreaking Tapestry album – featuring “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel The Earth Move” and “So Far Away” – and “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor (written by King, and a deep track on “Tapestry”).

King Taylor

The Beatles were just breaking through with solo careers, with George Harrison hitting my heart with “My Sweet Lord.”

By the middle of the decade, no one was taking a piano lesson without learning “Colour My World” by Chicago or “If” by Bread – both 1971 megahits.

You also had “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology” and “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “I Am … I Said” by Neil Diamond, “Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and “Rainy Days And Mondays” and “For All We Know” by The Carpenters.

There is my all-time favorite of the year, Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” which had nothing to do with his first name (although I was pumped to find out once I was hooked on the song).

And there was the song that prompted this trip back in time, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers (pictured below), who sadly became the latest to join so many of these artists in leaving us in body but not in how they touched us with their music (“Lean On Me,” though not from 1971, has quickly become the theme song in this current national crisis).

bill-withers-1972-feature-billboard-1500-1585946742-768x433

I could go on, but I’m actually getting emotional – with serious goose bumps – by scratching the surface here with this list that doesn’t even go into a lot of the classic rock that I discovered down the road.

I just turned 55, meaning it’s almost the golden anniversary of that year in music.

A lot has happened since 1971, that’s for sure.

Richard Nixon wasn’t yet impeached, Russia was still the Soviet Union, the Flyers had to yet to become bullies and win two Stanley Cups, the concepts of AIDS and 9/11 seemed surrealistic, Barack Obama had not be elected president and there was no such thing as the coronavirus to make us all freeze in place and, if we’re lucky, think back to simpler times.

“Godfather” and “Rocky” weren’t movies, and the concept of cable TV and original programming – bringing “The Sopranos” and others – seemed as far-fetched as home computers and microwave ovens.

A scruffy kid from New Jersey named Bruce Springsteen (pictured below in 1970) was a year away from releasing his first album.

1970 Bruce

Just like I had no latency period with music, I didn’t with the fairer sex.

I liked girls enough to propose to one in the schoolyard that first-grade year (maybe it was the music), but it would take another three decades until I got down on one knee and asked a woman to be my bride.

And then, in 2007, my daughter was born, becoming the rightful center of our universe.

It’s no surprise that she also caught the music bug early. A ballet dancer/softball catcher, it is the acoustic guitar that is her spirit device (see below). Her musical tastes are not the same as mine, but 1971 was not her time to fall in love with music.

It was mine.

One more song from that year, “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson 5, sums it up the best.

As deep as I’ve gotten into other kinds of popular music, including that of the 1960s leading up to it, I will never say goodbye to the songs of 1971.

Sofia Guitar

 

Bad To The Bone

Fatso

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The official definition of the “witching hour” is when witches — or magicians, ghouls, Republican senators and other demons — are said be at their most powerful.

That’s the myth, the folklore.

The reality is that the witching hour is when we wake up in the middle of the night and our minds are clear enough to be haunted by our own bitter realities.

Unanswerable questions, many about futures we can’t control, ravage the brain.

I was hit with one so immediate this past week that not even my home remedy – sneaking downstairs for some old “Sopranos” episodes – could make it right.

The question was this: Am I a bad person?

Here are three examples, hot off the presses, that had me wondering:

Andy Reid – Much of Eagles Nation has forgiven and forgotten the specifics of the Reid Era here. They instead focus on the general success between 1999 and 2012.

But not me. I remember high hopes repeatedly dashed, and the seasons that ended in despair.

I invested too much – in time, emotion and money (season ticket holder) — to be stranded at the altar again and again and again.

Maybe some forget the feeling of having their hearts eaten out that were then met with the subsequent kick in our collective gut when Reid would act smug and indifferent during postgame press conferences.

Even when mishaps (dropped passes, missed tackles) weren’t directly his fault, Reid’s standard line was “it begins with me.”

Fine, Andy, you wanted the blame, you got it. I would have told you so if they let me to drive you to the airport when you left town.

Why, then, would I – or anyone else who bleeds green – root for Reid to have success elsewhere?

There was no worse scenario than his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl when he didn’t do it in Philly after all those years of knocking on the door without finding a way to kick it in.

When we finally got it done two years ago, some of the edge was taken off. Still, when the Chiefs reached the big dance this year, I became a temporary fan of the opposing San Francisco 49ers.

Truth be told, I am more than a little bit angry with the end result (particularly the touchdown that wasn’t a touchdown) and irked by all the glad tidings for Reid around the Delaware Valley.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Yeah, sigh, I am. It’s not like he tried to lose big games here (it just seemed like it).

Iowa Caucuses – I have been a detractor of the overall primary system for a long time, and my criticism begins with the disproportionate role little Iowa plays in the process.

I wrote all about it in my Sunday column a month or two ago, but I never could have imagined the Monday meltdown that will leave the final tally with an asterisk.

The root cause of the chaos was the already silly caucus process being further complicated with some second-round scenario that was clearly over the heads of those Iowa straw-chewers to comprehend.

While the good news is that this is probably the last we will see of the Iowa Caucuses, and maybe even Iowa getting to bat leadoff and set the pace – as it has been doing, despite clearly not being a gauge of America’s diversity (it’s well over 90 percent lilywhite, for example) – the embarrassment for the Democratic party could prove to be colossal.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Nope, not at all. A little bit of vindication is good for the soul.

Rush Limbaugh – The right-wing AM Talk Radio host revealed that he is terminally ill.

If you are waiting for tears, keeping waiting.

I understand the man may have had a job to do, sort of in the Howard Stern shock jock sense, and that he may or may not have even meant half the hateful things he was saying.

But listeners – many with pea brains – accepted his postulating as fact.

And he knew it.

And he kept on spewing his garbage — ironically losing his own hearing, so he couldn’t even hear himself anymore.

 

If we are truly mired in a modern day Civil War, one in which lives (i.e. Heather Heyer) have been lost, Limbaugh is a general in the militia that fired the first shots (albeit away from the fray while on his bully pulpit).

It could be said that there would have been no coming of your president (not mine), without Limbaugh – among others – laying the groundwork.

No wonder Limbaugh got the Presidential Medal of Freedom the other night.

Limbaugh

Hard to believe, though, considering this is the same person who called Iraq War veterans subsequently opposed to the war “phony soldiers.”

Then again, this prize was given to him by the phoniest of soldiers, one who got out of Vietnam with phantom bone spurs.

Like your president (not mine), Limbaugh built his empire on lies and half-truths.

Consider that Polifact rated Limbaugh’s on-air statements as either “mostly false” or “pants on fire” at a rapid-fire rate of 84 percent, with only a mere 5 percent registering as “true.”

While a lot of his false statements are about climate change, we are also talking about someone who continually degraded President Barack Obama with racially charged innuendoes – calling him (and Oprah Winfrey) “uppity,” etc. – and who compared NFL games to showdowns between black gangs.

He also said actor Michael J. Fox was exaggerating his Parkinson’s disease in an ad for stem cell research.

I wonder if he’d like some of that stem cell research for himself now? Maybe he is just exaggerating his symptoms.

Take the high road? Not this so-called snowflake. It’s all low road here in Gordonville.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Abstain.

This column first ran in The Times Herald on Feb. 9, 2020.

Legal Evils Eat Away At Our Souls

Prevagen-1200x900

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Appalling.

There is no other way to describe what happened to a 90-year-old woman at Shannondell. She was scammed out of $8,500 dollars by someone pretending to be from law enforcement.

She was asked for bail money for her grandson, who she was led to believe had been in a DUI-related accident.

Unable to drive, the woman gave the envelope of cash to someone impersonating a police officer.

This is an example of a scam – one that has been used elsewhere around the area recently – that has several slight variations and is not uncommon.

It is illegal, on many levels, and we can all hope the guilty party – or parties – eventually get the old book thrown at them.

There are, however, legal scams – or shams – that go on every day.

We are all victims, but we just don’t call timeout long enough to catch our collective breath from the daily grind to realize it.

Here are four examples – a Mt. Everest, if you will – of the most egregious:

1) Printer Ink – So, you just bought a printer and some sales kid with gigantic earrings and a nose ring (ehat happens when they sneeze?) had you temporarily insane enough to believe you got a great deal.

Not quite.

Whatever you plunked down for the printer was merely a down payment on the tree-killing process that is print-o-mania.

The payments on it come in the form of continual, and seriously marked up, purchases on ink cartridges that always seem to run out all too quick (a good portion of the ink in them is used up before it even reaches the paper).

And, as we become increasingly reliant on computer printouts, as opposed to pen and paper, running out is inevitable. There is no such thing as universal ink that works in any type of printer, and no generic brands.

In order to function in modern society, the companies – like Arab sheiks setting the price on oil based on their whims – set the price to make a humongous profit off the dire need to replenish our ink.

Some say to join clubs where you get a slight markdown, or buying laser printers that are significantly more expensive.

These amount to ways to treat the symptoms without finding a cure.

After posting on Facebook that this might be one of the biggest rackets going, a friend who works behind the curtain in the computer business was quick to affirm my accusation.

He said: “I’m going to say that detention and separation of immigrant children at the border is the biggest racket, but this one is basically brazen theft. It’s akin to (drug) pushers giving you your first hit for free.”

2) Dog Licenses – This one is a bit like acid reflux, the way it keeps coming up.

Once a year, in November or December, I get a reminder that Rex needs to have his dog license renewed.

Man, what a stone-cold racket.

It’s not like I don’t already have my bases covered. Updated shots? Check.

Rabies shot? Check.

Microchipped? Rex is too lazy to run off, so no check mark needed.

What do I need this annual piece of paper for? Anyone? Anyone?

Into whose pockets does the fee go? Anyone? Anyone?

They need to have a record of my rescue dog’s existence because … why, exactly?

Thing is, I cannot take him to doggy daycare, let alone board him when we go away, so I have no choice but to submit.

I recently mailed in my annual fee, and I’m still waiting for e-mail confirmation. Certainly not coming as fast as the e-mail reminding me to pay it.

Perhaps Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus can provide some answers.

3) Prevagen – When they first created the term Snake Oil, I think they had this stuff in mind.

The makers of this supplement claim it comes from … jellyfish oils, and “may improve memory” (note the qualifier of “may” in there).

The ads say it is “pharmacist recommended.” By what pharmacist? Give me a name.

This one is personal. My mother won’t relent about this stuff. She resides in an assisted living facility, and I’ve gotten more calls about replenishing her supply from the staff (surely do to her nagging them) than when she has been seriously ill. Only time I ever heard from her doctor, other than when she was in the hospital, was when she had him call me (he couldn’t prescribe it because it wasn’t … a real medicine).

His basic point was that it is harmless so, if she wants it, get it.

Thanks, Doc.

Problem is this: At $2 per pill, with no hard proof it does anything, it is quite harmful – especially to those on fixed incomes.

And then there is this, the FTC and New York Attorney General’s office filed suit against the makers of Prevagen, Quincy Bioscience, LLC. The suit claims the company “made false statements about their purported clinical evidence in their advertising.”

Because it targets older people, claiming to help with “mild” memory loss due to aging, are they any worse than those who bilked the grandmother at Shannondell out of her money?

The only difference is that this is a slow bleed, as opposed to a one-shot deal.

4) Bottled Water – Surely you have gone into a restaurant and they ask you if want bottled water (at a price) or tap water?

Choose the tap water, please. If the waiter or waitress — with gigantic earrings and/or a nose ring (still want to know what happens when they sneeze) — sneers at you like you have no class, it’s their problem.

With the exception of a mere few cases, bottled water has proven to be a total sham. It’s just tap water dressed up in a labeled bottle.

Considering that blind taste tests show that participants cannot tell the difference between bottled and tap water, it is like paying for a bottle of air to breathe — as opposed to just breathing it.

According to a 2017 article in Business Insider, we spend roughly $100 billion per year on bottled water (more than milk, beer and now soda).

Meanwhile, it is estimated than 90 percent of the plastic bottles are not recycled, adding to the environmental nightmare.

A 2009 documentary film “Tapped” – made to expose pollution in sea water — laid out the damning case against the scam of bottled water.

Said actor Ed Begley, Jr.: “The film ‘Tapped’ illustrates quite clearly how we’ve been getting ‘soaked’ for years by the bottled water industry.”

Appalling.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on January 26, 2020.

Peart: The Beat Goes On

Peart

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — My high school, Northeast High, is perhaps best known in popular culture for the 1968 Frederick Wiseman documentary “High School” and for B-actor Tony Danza starring in a “Teach: Tony Danza,” where he taught an English class for the 2009-10 school year.

In between, particularly in the late 1970s through the early to mid-1980s, was the era that housed my unique generation.

Tuning in, turning on and dropping out (well, at least cutting class and hanging in the cafeteria) was more the norm than in Wiseman’s critically acclaimed documentary during the actual Age of Aquarius.

We were the hippies, albeit on tape delay.

The boys had longer hair than a lot of the girls, almost everyone smoked something to some extent and the standard mode of dress was naturally worn jeans and a concert shirt with three-quarters sleeves.

And when you think of generic Hollywood portrayals of high schools, where the so-called “cool” kids named the tune that everyone else had to dance to, this world – our world — was the polar opposite.

Those who posed themselves as “cool” – with their rugby shirts and turned up collars — were generally mocked for it.

More kids of the approximate 1,000 in my grade (not the whole school, but just my grade) didn’t go to the prom than those who did (I did not).

On Friday nights, when the football team was playing, there were more of us roaming the Roosevelt Mall – in search of whatever — than in the bleachers.

There was a penance to be paid for bending and breaking the rules, but the lure of the side wall of the neighboring convenience store, which was more like a Turkish marketplace, was too alluring.

The reason for this trip down memory lane is not for laughs, however.

It is to set a backdrop, culturally, for context. Madonna and Michael Jackson may have been topping the charts and selling zillions of records, but not at our school (MTV was not even available within the city limits yet).

Those acts may have been for the outnumbered “cool” kids.

Don’t know. Don’t care.

Aside from the Classic Rock from a decade earlier, one of the major groups for the great unwashed masses of the “uncool” was Rush.

There had been other groups as supremely talented: Yes, Genesis, Kansas, Supertramp, etc.

For reasons best left to sociologists, Rush was the ideal band for our school, circa that era.

If there was a soundtrack for Fast Times at Northeast High, I’d put “Spirit of the Radio” on it for 10th grade, “Limelight” and/or “Tom Sawyer” for 11th and “Subdivisions” for my senior year.

In fact, Rush was so big in this time window that it spawned a bit of a Canadian invasion (Triumph, Bryan Adams, April Wine, Chilliwack, Red Rider, Saga, Prism, etc.).

Rush was still occupying so much space in my head in 1984, the year after graduation, that I still swear I had a dream about hearing the song “Distant Early Warning” before I actually heard it for real.

Rush was a three-piece band. Alex Lifeson was stellar on guitar, while Geddy Lee was the ultimate juggler. He played both bass and keyboards while handling lead vocals.

And then there was Neil Peart on drums.

Man, was there Neil Peart on drums.

I’ve been listening to music my whole life.

There were no nursery rhymes with me; no latency period (hence, being half-deaf and working on the other half).

Peart was the best drummer I ever heard on record, and the best I ever saw in concert.

And this is not meant to disparage any of the surreal drummers who came before or after. The list of incredible timekeepers is long, luminous and still growing.

But he tops it.

That, in and of itself, is enough to make Peart legendary.

But it is only part of the story.

In those days, I began finding myself by writing song lyrics. I look back at those notebooks now, and it’s easy to see I wasn’t quite there yet.

At all.

I had set a high bar for myself, and was clearly swimming in the deep end of the pool with a life vest.

That can largely be attributed to a vain attempt to come within the same hemisphere as the lyrics I was hearing from Rush, my favorite band/artist for a good stretch of time (before getting bumped, permanently, by some Springsteen guy).

Suffice it to say that Peart was my primary English teacher in high school. I learned more from him than any of those who took next to zero interest in me combined.

Not only was he the greatest rock drummer that ever lived, bar none, but also one of the genres greatest lyricists.

That’s quite a legacy.

Peart was just 67 when he passed away last week, and it was not a real surprise, as there were murmurings of a brain tumor for a while.

I didn’t mourn the way I did when, say, Tom Petty died suddenly.

Perhaps I didn’t mourn at all.

I listened to a lot of Rush instead.

I reflected.

And I remembered.

I remembered an amazing talent – and person – who helped me walk proud among the uncool.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 19, 2020

News Turns To A Snooze

joe-scarborough-trump-journey-groupie-resistance

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — As I attempt to age as gracefully as possible for an otherwise graceless person, I have increasingly become a creature of habit.

One of those habits to turn on the TV every morning – sometime after the weekday alarms screeches at 6:30 — to watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I don’t even really like the show, or the hosts and regulars (other than brilliant Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson), but I watch anyway.

Much to my disgust, Joe and the crew tend to belabor two issues ad nauseam: The Democratic race for the nomination and the ongoing ineptitude of your president (not mine).

The psychobabble seems like a colossal waste of breath, considering the primary season is in its infancy and your president (not mine) is never ever going to be impeached.

If I hear the words “Mayor Pete,” followed by a long and drawn out discussion by a panel of “experts” about his electability – all while they skirt the obvious issue, unfair or not – I may hurl the remote at Joe Scarborough’s smug mug.

Why, then, do they spend so much time cherry-picking a poll that shows Bernie Sanders up a point and Elizabeth Warren down two – all while doing a poor job of suppressing a clear pro-Joe Biden agenda – or giving too much attention to some late-night Twitter post that would make a middle school grammar teacher wince in pain?

Easy answer. It’s easy. It’s right there, with low hurdles to scale.

Better than anything else on, all things considered, but far from good enough.

The thing is, I’m a news junkie. It’s why I majored in journalism (along with not having to take many math or science classes).

I’m naturally curious, and some would say I’m really just a total gossip. I plead partially guilty, but with an explanation. I’m really just in search of information – even if I’ll do little to nothing with it, like a fisherman tossing his catch back into the water, once I reel it in.

Which brings us back to the facts, or lack thereof.

These days, the whole earth can shake itself out of existence while I’m sleeping. Excuse me if I like to know what happened overnight.

CNN? No better than MSNBC (especially at night). It tries to get both sides of the story so perfunctorily that neither side is satisfied. I know I don’t want to hear another discussion on climate change as if it is open for debate, especially as it ignites forest fires in Australia and California with the verve of a serial arsonist.

The few remaining friends I have on the right don’t want any human interest story, like the border camps, told with any bit of sensitivity.

And don’t even mention Fox News. I’m OK with trying to stomach a little bit of the opposing viewpoint before wanting to vomit, but independent fact checkers have issued reports on the network’s accuracy that make the ones I used to bring home look like those of a Rhodes Scholar.

The sad truth is that I can find out more about what it is really going on with the local news from 6-6:30, followed by the national news from 6:30-7, than all day on any supposedly superior all-news network.

Newspapers have morphed into digital entities, but a second mortgage is needed to get around the pay walls needed to get what you need.

That leaves fly-by-night sights that may or not follow the ye olde rules of actually putting people on the record, as opposed to being anonymous, and having at least two sources.

All the conjecture leaves us, in this advanced day and age, prone to be less informed than we’ve been in the industrial age.

The only option is television, and the flaws are obvious.

Yes, the wall-to-wall coverage of our recent near flirtation with igniting World War III was relatively well-done, but so much more has been going on – locally, nationally and internationally – that much of it falls through the cracks.

And it happens at our own peril.

The more the masses are numbed up with dumbed-down messaging, the easier it is to go on electing sociopaths with the hellish belief they are heaven sent.

While we were looking at polls that really don’t matter until a week or two before voters in Iowa leave the wheat fields and reading too much into unreadable tweets, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning for a frightening tomorrow.

Example: Did you know that, since late December, more than 500 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico. That’s the same Puerto Rico still waiting on $18 billion in aid from hurricane damage incurred two years ago?

Did you know that, just on New Year’s Day, there were 45 non-suicide gun violence deaths across America? Including suicides by gun, there were 177 deaths.

Speaking of suicides, did you know that there were 228 suicides by police officers in 2019 in what has become a silent epidemic?

Veterans? Try a suicide rate of 17 per day.

Did you know that Philadelphia had 356 homicides last year, just nine short of one per day? You can say you are safe here in the suburbs, but this is the city you border and crime knows no boundaries.

Did you know that hate crimes have increased dramatically since a certain someone who calls himself your president began campaigning in 2015 with divisive rhetoric?

I shouldn’t just dwell on the negative, as there are positive stories every day – from simple acts of human kindness to medical advances to big bad athletes going out of their way for a sick child — that get buried under the if-it-bleeds-it-leads approach that goes a notch underneath the analysis of paralysis of politics and of an orange nitwit that the lack of real journalism left us with.

Rant over.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 12, 2020

A Right Turn Down A Wrong Road

Rally Heads

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s that time of the year again.

Time for New Year’s resolutions.

With five-plus decades on the planet, I have been through them all – losing weight, gaining muscle, not losing my mind (as much) during Eagles games, gaining perspective, etc.

This year, I’m shooting for something a little bit different.

Instead, I’m going to see how the other half lives. I’m going to give it a go as a conservative.

No worries, fellow liberals, I’ll be back in time to vote against their president (not ours) in November.

New Year’s resolutions only last as long as the first whiff of a real Philly cheese steak (not what is passed off as such out here in the suburbs).

But, in the intervening months – or weeks, days or minutes – let’s see how it goes.

It is certainly a simpler lifestyle having this view, one where I can just line up all the talking points in a row and dutifully march in line behind them.

Example: Anything nasty their president (not ours) has done up until this point, before becoming president and since, can easily be explained away.

He was chosen by God.

Who can argue with that, right?

It implies he is not only absolved of all sins – past, present and future – but that all decisions are blessed by the almighty.

Sure, there is no tangible evidence to back this up. Usually, people who claim to be messengers from God are tossed into asylums, not the Oval Office.

And if any lefty wants to get into details about what he has done wrong, the new me can just say it’s all fake news and/or a witch hunt that’s all orchestrated by the same mainstream media that helped invent his campaign in the first place.

What about all the mounting evidence of incompetence, and incoherence, let alone evidence for impeachment?

No worries.

Deflect and distract.

Fight any forms of nuanced thinking.

That’s their job, not mine.

Don’t tread on me? Hell yeah, I’ll even buy that flag and plant it in my turf.

I’m the true patriot here.

Show empathy toward others, I’ll promptly call you a snowflake (while crawling toward my own safe space for being called a “deplorable” or if you recently wished me “happy holidays” instead of a “Merry Christmas”).

If they persist with their elitist check mates, I’ll lob a “What about Obama?” hand grenade.

When they ask for specifics, I’ll just double down and say “all of them.”

And then, when all else fails, there is the old standby: Benghazi, with a side dish of Benghazi and a desert of even more Benghazi.

Top it off with a “lock her up.”

See how easy this is?

See how much fun?

The next mass shooting? I’ll just shrug it off, callously, and say it could not have been stopped – even if there is evidence that it easily could have been with a routine background check, or waiting period, on the assailant.

Greta Thunberg? Ha. Too small to make a difference. Plus, isn’t she autistic or something like that there?

Plus, she’s Swedish, not American.

Plus, there is the old standby of waiting on a deep freeze and cracking wise about Al Gore (even though a cold snap in our little corner of the world is not reflective of all that is happening elsewhere).

Knowing that everybody plays the fool – sometimes – I can just say all the science isn’t in, or go to the slight moderation that there is no proof that the scourge is man-made. After all, there is always a crackpot contrarian at some third-rate unaccredited college still saying that the earth is flat or that there is not proof that tobacco causes lung cancer, right?

If those dogs won’t hunt, I’ll channel the mind of the average conservative who knows, full-well, that climate change is real.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” I’ll say. “By the time the planet is unlivable, I won’t know the difference because I’ll be dead.”

And that’s it, right there, in a nutshell.

I could go into being pro-life while being fine putting babies in cages.

I can just say they are “illegal” (when they are the children of parents seeking asylum in a country where the path to citizenship for brown people is vastly different than it was for white people during the industrial revolution).

Beginning in 2020, for as long as I can take it, I am going to be the synonym of being conservative, despite Bible quotes to the contrary.

I’m going to be selfish.

If all is good for me in my stock portfolio, all is good in the ivory tower.

Can I pull it off?

No, sigh, I can’t.

Upon further review, forget it.

As easy as life would be to trade being kind and sensitive for being blissful and blind, I don’t want to live that way for even a millisecond.

I’m good the way I am.

Happy 2020.

This column ran in The Time Herald on Jan. 1, 2020