If You Can Keep Your Head

“Insanity in individuals is something rare, but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche 

In a fit of insanity, I relented. I let my wife talk me into stopping off at a supermarket on the way back from D.C. You would think that, as a professional social observer, I would enjoy wandering through supermarkets. Not so. In fact, I would prefer a visit to my urologist.

As we were checking out (behind a woman who was writing a personal check to pay for her groceries!), I glanced at the magazine/tabloid rack. And there it was – that paragon of journalistic excellence: the National Examiner. Splattered across the front of this literary masterpiece were the following headlines:


There’s something about the name Charles that makes me suspicious. Charles Manson… Charles de Gaulle… but, most of all, the Prince himself – Charles Philip Arthur George. How can you trust a guy with four first names?

REGIS-KELLY FEUD EXPLODES!… nasty insults spark battle

Who’s Kelly? What happened to Kathie Lee? What year is this, anyway? I wish someone would put me back in the time machine so I could get back to where I belong.


Sounds like more of a sport than NASCAR. Which, admittedly, isn’t saying much.


Finally, alcoholics have a foolproof excuse for getting tanked.

LOSE 11 LBS IN 7 DAYS – on amazing peanut butter diet!

Yes! Alcoholics have nothing on me. This is the excuse I’ve been looking for all my life. I couldn’t wait to get home and head for the pantry.

But the most meaningful headline of all was for the feature cover story:

WHO’S GAY… and who’s NOT among Hollywood ‘s female stars

Below were photos of Martha Stewart (still backlashing after finding her husband making love to their babysitter years ago?), Queen Latifah (Queen who?), Vanna White (the talent of the century), Mariska Hargitay (never heard of her), Jodie Foster (old news), Angelina Jolie (No! You’re kidding!), and two gals, Drew Barrymore and Liv Tyler (another one I’ve never heard of), poised to kiss each other. (Arghhh!)

It gets better. Stamped on Vanna White’s picture was a sunburst that said:


Gay serial killers? Are they the guys who sing “Don we now our gay apparel” as they prepare to escape from prison? Hmm. Maybe I’m confused about that.

So, can we learn anything from headlines like these?

I would assume that most people already know that most Americans are addicted to nonsensical garbage in all forms – print, radio, TV, and Internet. Nothing new there.

We pretty much know why the Hollywood crowd is so screwed up: too much fame and fortune, usually achieved too quickly and almost always with too little real work. We’ve seen it over and over again, from Marilyn to Anna Nicole, from Elvis to John Belushi.

Yes, the rich and famous have an excuse. But what’s the average American’s excuse? Why is he so addicted to silliness, nonstop sports, trivia, perversion, thrill seekers, people in pain, and, above all, unreality?

One reason, of course, is that most people don’t have a meaningful purpose in life. But I think it goes way beyond that.

We are taught, from a very early age, to believe in that which is unreal – known in street parlance as B.S. It becomes so ingrained in us that we jeer those who try to talk straight. Nothing can make a person more unpopular more quickly than daring to be truthful – especially when the truth threatens the instant gratification of others. “Woe to him,” cautioned Will Durant, “who teaches men faster than they can learn.”

Who wants to hear that the 60-year-old “Mideast peace process” (yawn) is an aberration that helps make U.S. presidents look important?

Who wants to hear that the only way to fix Social Security is to abolish it?

Who wants to hear that it’s not the government’s duty – or right – to “get the economy moving,” create jobs, or redistribute wealth?

Which leads to the presidential primaries that have hijacked our TV sets. Who wants to hear that today’s current crop of presidential candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) are varying shades of charlatans?

If you want reality, try this: The Western world – and the U.S., in particular – has lost its collective mind. Which is very profitable for politicians and big corporations. Politicians promise to keep spreading the wealth, which gives big corporations an ever-expanding market of addicted buyers for their electronic gadgets and other toys.

That being the case, my advice to you is this: If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, that is your best insurance policy to protect yourself from the financial and societal chaos that lies ahead.

If you happen to be one of those people who believe that today’s world is a spinning insane asylum, be sure to stick around for another 20 years. I’ve already made a number of mental trips back to the future, and… well, I’ll refrain from saying anything that might cause you to lose interest in whatever it is that you’re watching on TV.

Heck, the Geico lizard and Aflac duck may be running for president by 2028. And, from what I’ve been seeing and hearing on television, they might just be a big improvement over the turkeys who are now on display.

Thanks for bearing with me after I carelessly stumbled out of my time machine. Now that I’m safely back on board, I’ll do my best to stay away from supermarkets. It’s a dangerous activity that could lead to my becoming addicted to the National Examiner.

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