On Friday my local newspaper, which includes sections of USA Today, celebrated the secret marriage of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with two articles and eight pictures of the couple scattered over three pages. (Another breaking story, the Second Coming of Christ, was buried on the back page with a tiny photo of Jesus sitting on a cloud.)
The publishers of one-size-fits-all USA Today can be silly but they’re not stupid. They know a large portion of their audience cries out for Brangelina news with a desperation equal to baby birds begging for worms. And what could be juicier than the super-couple pulling off a secret wedding at their $65 million mansion in the south of France?
Frankly, I don’t get the worship of Hollywood celebrities because there’s nothing to get. Actors make their living by bringing to life the words and actions dictated by a screenplay produced by someone else.
Actors don’t set the scene. Actors don’t write the dialogue. Actors simply act.
You can teach a parrot to say “E equals MC squared,” but he’s not going to build an atomic
bomb anytime soon. He’s not even going to read any of the USA Today page lining the bottom of his cage.
He will simply poop on it.
Everything suggests Brad and Angelina are really nice people, and if they moved into my neighborhood I would invite them over for BBQ. But if Angie called to say they couldn’t make it, I would have to respond in the manner of Rhett Butler to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind:
A common theme in time travel fantasies involves sending operatives into the past to intervene at pivotal moments in history.
Imagine, for example, that “Future Fred” zaps back to Austria, 1889, and materializes next to the crib of a sleeping infant named Adolf Hitler. If Future Fred does the kid in, he saves the lives of 50 million soldiers and civilians destined to die a half century later in World War II.
We are in one of those “sleeping infant” moments again. This time Adolf is named ISIS, the Islamic terrorists who now control a large portion of Syria and Iraq and just beheaded an American journalist. They vow to someday fly their black flag over the White House.
Today they number a mere 15,000 fighters, but they are growing daily in strength, wealth and armaments – and thousands of them have legitimate British and American passports.
These crazies are not people who can be contained, pacified or reasoned with. They thrill in the kill and vow to brutally murder anyone and everyone who is not a precise match to their ideological madness.
They must be exterminated.
The challenge for Future Fred is that only America and Barack Obama
have the power to do that.
Fred would have to carry his warning past the Secret Service, past the president’s caddy, and – the greatest barrier of all – past the president’s naïve philosophy that true evil does not exist in the world.
We have a president who – given the chance – would not have killed Hitler in his crib.
People who desperately want racism to be rampant in America say the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri is all the evidence required.
Who are these people who revel in racism and what motivates them?
For guys like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who almost ran out of their shoes trying to beat one another to the scene, it’s a matter of professional survival. Their sole source of income and celebrity is dependent on keeping the home fires burning.
Then we have that minor segment of Blacks who, in the words of my mother, “don’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.” Unwilling to blame themselves for their lack of success, it is only Whitey and his hate that’s keeping them down.
Next we have the I-love-everybody liberals, always hell-bent on staking out a position of moral superiority. Because superiority requires them to believe they are a precious few in number, the rest of us must be filled with spiteful intentions.
President Obama also made his contribution to the racism story by ordering 40 FBI agents and Attorney General Eric Holder to Missouri. Holder, who keeps several decks of race cards on his person at all times, flips them out faster than a Vegas blackjack dealer.
The implication of his presence, of course, is that justice cannot be served without the guiding hand of Big Brother to keep things honest.
There is racism in America, to be sure, but it’s only a problem – not a crisis.
A common cliché in obituaries is that the dearly departed succumbed after “a courageous battle with cancer.”
What that means is – he didn’t commit suicide. Even when hope was gone and the grim reaper had tired of chucking rocks at the window and was breaking down the door with a fire axe, the patient kept taking his meds and following doctor’s order until the bitter end.
You don’t earn the “courageous battle with cancer” accolade if you off yourself before the cancer does. So…can you earn the “courageous battle with depression” accolade if you hang yourself years before your appointed time?
When a reasonably healthy man with money and extraordinary talent cuts his life short – the only life he’ll ever have – a life not awarded to him until the universe had existed for 13 billion years…ending it prematurely seems a serious case of ingratitude.
But there’s a difference here. Depression in its worst form is not a fleeting melancholy to be cured with hot cocoa and a cookie. At its apex it is a suffocating blanket of black with not a single redemptive shaft of light peeking through.
It is a sonofabitch. And when combined with a craving for drugs and booze it becomes a lethal cocktail that can drive a man to madness. And madness to suicide.
Unlike cancer, people with chronic depression do not fight a single epic battle and either win
or lose. The Big D comes in successive waves, breaking against the brain again and again down through the weeks and months and years. And each wave is a battle unto itself.
As the last great wave washed over Robin Williams – one of the funniest men in history – he was finally betrayed and abandoned by his sense of humor. He could not find a single thing to smile about.
When the laughter dies, so does a comedian’s reason to live. It has nothing to do with courage.