Showing posts with label Bronson Alcott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bronson Alcott. Show all posts

Thursday, May 21, 2009

*When Clio Goes Tone Deaf...

Click On Title To Link To Clio Wikipedia Webpage.


On any given day I like, no, I love to write political commentary, write a review about some lesson to be derived from an aspect of our leftist political history or make a point on some cultural remnant left by our forebears. However, every once in a while, and this period is one of them, Clio goes tone deaf on me and leaves me high and dry when I try to write something that makes sense to me, if not to the reader. Damn, the music of history that is seemingly always ringing in my ears has abandoned me. The old muse is indeed fickle.

No one, including this writer, expects that everything that comes to mind is unalloyed gold. I note that many of the political writers that I regard highly had, on occasion, the same problem. For example, Leon Trotsky’s “History Of The Russian Revolution” not only contains a million insightful comments and lessons but has an almost musical flow as one turns each page. Clio was smiling, no question. Other of Trotsky’s writings, especially concerning the internal struggles with his co-thinkers to create a new revolutionary cadre after the political demise of the Communist International in the 1930’s, seem forced by comparison.

Or take “Doctor Gonzo”, Hunter S. Thompson, in his various writings on the demise of one Richard Nixon, at one time President of The United States and common criminal, for “Rolling Stone” in the early 1970’s. Again, one could hear the notes almost fly off the page. By the time he got to Bill Clinton old Clio had gone on vacation and Hunter was praying for Ralph Steadman to create enough weirdly insightful political art to cover up the scarcity of the script. Not a pretty place to be, for sure. I, however, share that same trough today.

Frankly, what I need to do is get off the heavy political/cultural treadmill and just rip through some half-baked screed. The following is just such an effort. There is a little historical method to the madness though, even in this. Recently I have been reading about the various reform movements that swept through America in the age of Andrew Jackson in the early 19th century. I have written about some of them in this space on previous occasions like the critically important stirrings of the anti-slavery movement, the religious fervor that “burnt out” the East and headed west during the Second Great Awakening, the temperance movement and the struggle for woman’s suffrage.

In that same vane, but generally overlooked, and rightfully so, were various health fads that blossomed at the time, including the one ‘discussed’ here, around the virtues of a graham flour diet. Hell, we have been bombarded with every other possible health fad why not resurrect an old standby. Moreover, it gives me a topic for today-thanks for the life line Doctor Graham.

Do Not Go Gently…

… with Jim F., Class of 1964, in mind.

Okay, I am, once again, on my high horse today. I have heard enough, in fact more than enough, whining from fellow classmates that I have been in contact with as we get ready for our 45th high school reunion (ouch!) and others of my contemporaries from the “Generation of’68” about the aches and pains of becoming ‘a certain age’. If I hear one more story about a knee replacement or other transformative surgery I will go screaming to that good night. The same goes for descriptions of the CVS-worthy litany of the contents of an average medicine cabinet. Come on, after a life time of booze, dope and wild times what did you expect? For those of us who have not lived right, lo these many years, the chickens have come home to roost. But I have a cure. Make that THE cure.

No I am not, at this late date, selling the virtues of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or any of a thousand and one religious cures we are daily bombarded with. You knew, or at least I hope you knew, I wasn’t going to go that route. That question, in any case, is each individual’s prerogative and I have no need to interfere there. Nor am I going to go on and on about the wonders of liposuction, botox, chin lifts, buttocks tuckers, stomach flatteners and the like. Damn, have we come to that? And I certainly do not want to inflame the air with talk of existentialism or some other secular philosophies that tell you to accept your fate with your head down. You knew that, as well. No, I am here to give the glad tidings, unadorned. Simply put- two words-Graham crackers. No, do not reach for the reading glasses, your eyes do not deceive you- graham crackers is what I said.

Hear me out on this. I am no “snake oil” salesman, nor do I have stock in Nabisco (moreover their products are not ‘true’ graham). So, please do not start jabbering to me about how faddish that diet was- in about 1830. I know that it has been around a while. And please do not start carping about how wasn’t this healthful substance a ‘magic elixir’, or some such, that Ralph Waldo Emerson and his transcendentalist protégés praised to high heaven back in Brook Farm days. Well, I frankly admit, as with any such movement, some of those guys went over the top, especially that wacky Bronson Alcott. Irresponsible zealots are always with us. Please, please do not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Doctor Graham simply insisted that what our dietary intake consisted of was important and that a generous amount of graham flour in the system was good for us. Moreover, in order to avoid some of the mistakes of the earlier movement, in the age of the Internet we can now Google to find an almost infinite variety of uses and helpful recipes. Admit it, right now your head is swirling thinking about how nice it would be to have a few crackers and a nice cold glass of milk (fat-free or 1%, of course). Admit also; you loved those graham crumb-crusted pies your grandmother used to make. Case closed.

If people have been mistaking you for your father’s brother or mother’s sister lately then this is your salvation. So scurry down to your local Whole Foods or other natural food store and begin to fight your way back to health. Let me finish with this testimonial. I used to regularly be compared in appearance to George Bush, Sr. Now I am being asked whether Brad Pitts is my twin brother. Or is it Robert Redford? …..Oh well, that too is part of the aging process.