CSotD: Dangling conversations

Another hero bites the dust, and I’m assuming this Barry Blitt piece is based on Eric Clapton declaring that he won’t play in venues that require proof of vaccination. He was already on the record as an anti-vaxxer, along with — sigh — Van Morrison.

I don’t get the “white” thing, but I’ve seen a couple of critics in this kerfuffle accuse him of appealing to white men, of which I am one, but, then again, I’m a white man who associates him with “Spoonful” and “Crossroads,” not “I Shot the Sheriff” and “You Look Wonderful Tonight.”

In any case, I never thought Clapton was God. I just liked his music, and the question of separating the artist from the art has been a constant throughout the existence of either. Any English major, after all, can elaborate on Caroline Lamb’s description of Byron as “mad, bad and dangerous to know.

But it’s only stupidity. It’s not evil, and, except for their collaboration on the topic of vaccines (which reportedly isn’t selling anyway), Clapton and Morrison don’t express their foolishness in their music, the way Clint Eastwood and John Wayne wove their toxic authoritarian views into their movie roles.

Still, if you don’t agree with Laura Ingraham telling Lebron James to “Shut up and dribble,” you have to be cautious about telling Clapton to shut up and play music.

Your mileage may vary, which is why this matters. Some stupidity can be shrugged off, other levels have to be brought to account.

And the kids are listening, even if only from the next room.

Back in 1993, NBA star Charles Barkley made a Nike commercial where he told parents he wasn’t a role model, and another star, Karl Malone, rebuked him in a classic essay that every sports star, rock star, movie star and other influencer ought to read.


And speaking of varying mileage and parental responsibility, today’s Zits (KFS) made me a lot sadder than I suspect it was intended to, both for the cartoon itself and for a feeling I get that the strip has, in recent times, gone from funny things parents and kids do and become an open warfare between them.

If anybody is identifying with this level of hostile disconnectedness, I have two thoughts:

  1. You need to do something.
  2. It’s probably too late.

I had good, but different, relationships with my sons’ high school friends.

With the elder, I knew quite a few of them because, in the heyday of mall food courts, my deal with him was that I’d pay for Friday dinner if he ate with me. Otherwise, it came out of his allowance. As a result, his pals would often come to our table as we ate and would join in the conversation.

Younger son wasn’t a mall rat, but I often came home from work to find him and his two closest buds at the kitchen table, with a request that they stay for dinner. Sometimes, I even got a call before I left the office, so I could pick up whatever it was they wanted me to cook for them. I didn’t know as many of his friends, but I knew those two very well.

Then again, eating dinner together was something my boys took for granted from the start, and I know that’s not universal, hence my suspicion that, if you threw Kraft mac-and-cheese on a plate in front of the TV for your little ones, that ship may have long since sailed.


Macanudo (KFS) echoes the estrangement, but more in sorrow than with hostility. And there’s a sort of reversal of “The Cat’s In The Cradle” going on here, because watching the boy scroll through his phone isn’t giving Geppetto what he was looking for, and Liniers suggests a strong sense that there won’t be a time when they get together.

I guess we can’t blame poor Geppetto too much, given that Pinocchio was never his infant.


By comparison, Barney and his daughter are definitely in the cat’s-cradle in today’s Barney & Clyde (WPWG), and, as noted the other day, Cynthia remains in control of things. There’s some true artistry here, in that, in the final panel, she looks up and speaks, while he still replies to her through his phone.

If it’s not clear she’s getting through, the good part is that, unlike the kid in Harry Chapin’s song, she sure doesn’t seem likely to repeat the pattern.


Meanwhile, in Reply All (WPWG), Kim has surrendered, but needs some official permission to have given up.

This goes back to the idea of “too late,” and I’ve known way too many parents who look for an official, documented answer, when the answer was to give hugs and pay attention, to read aloud and to talk about your day and your kid’s day, and to get down on the floor and play.


And ferchrissake stop getting them to stop what they’re doing, look at the camera and smile, though I suppose the mom in Buckets (AMS) enjoys some advantage, having set up a pattern of photo-distraction that can quell a tantrum.

However, you can tell a lot about parenting through photos: A lot of candid shots are a sign of enjoying a child’s own world, while, if every picture is the kid grinning into the lens, we may have an issue of control substituting for empathy.


Anne and God have resumed their conversations, after too long a hiatus. This one fits the day’s theme, because liking kids is a societal issue, not just one for parents.

Cynical wiseasses mock the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but not only is there nothing wrong with the idea, but it used to be the way things were: In a pre-industrial world, a small child could wander into any home and get a kind word and something to eat.

I was working on a story set during the War of 1812, and asked a Mohawk historian if it was true, first, that Indians never spanked their children, and, if so, how a Mohawk trapper would react when he saw a boy being beaten at the local trading post.

She replied:

Ah, the blessings of civilization!


10 thoughts on “CSotD: Dangling conversations

  1. The knock against Clapton goes back to the 1970s, when he (allegedly, although Snopes confirms it) he went on a drunken tear during a performance, complaining that Britain was a white country that should send all the black and brown people back where they came from, and voiced support for a conservative anti-immigration politician. His apologies in the decades since have been half-hearted.

    I’ve been thinking a bit about the relationship between us and our kids, and our kids’ friends, and our kids’ friends parents. Just had a phone call with the latter, a couple our age who had a daughter our girls’ age, and with whom we shared meals and had good times with while our kids went to school but then drifted away as our kids drifted apart. There’s no reason we couldn’t continue to be friends but we just haven’t, and so it goes. There were some of our girls’ friends that we really liked–we were a second home for a couple of them–and we haven’t heard from them in a long time but we’d still be happy to see them walk in the door and help themselves to the fridge. One of them wrote Karen a very sweet letter saying how much the refuge of our home meant to her at a rough time in her teens, when from our perspective we were just being nice to a great kid.

    Anyway . . . Anne is right, and it goes for neighborhoods, too. Was recently talking to a cranky neighbor who was overly thankful that her new neighbors included no noisy small children, and I just wanted to ask her what she thought a neighborhood was for. If you don’t like kids bouncing balls and riding their bikes in circles, move to an old-folks condo, there are plenty of them around.

  2. Re “whiter, whiter”. It’s a long time ago but do I recall correctly that Clapton recorded Procol Harum’s track “A Whiter Shade of Pale”?

    Might that be the background to the cartoon’s message? Presumably Rand Paul wouldn’t understand the lyrics, just take what he wanted from them?

    A long shot from a faulty memory. Apologies all round if I have got it wrong.

  3. Believe Clapton actually got vaccinated himself, but then had a bad reaction.

Comments are closed.