CSotD: Funny pages aren’t always funny

Grand Avenue (AMS) marks a cultural change that has often sent me digging through the memory banks.

I suppose the sign might have been when the streetlights came on, and it’s possible, since they were more likely set to a specific time rather than light actuated, which would have sent us straight home from the school bus half the year.

But I also remember playing hide-and-seek under the street lights, so whatever turned them on and off didn’t send us home at night.

As for dinnertime, living country meant having individual signals. Stuart’s dad would go outside and honk the car horn. Marie lived central enough that yelling her name was effective. We had a lot of parents who dispatched older siblings to round up the youngers. And god help you if a parent had to come looking for you with the car.

I suppose in farm country you might have a bell, but we were miners and thank god nobody had a steam whistle, though a lot of folks could whistle you home through their fingers.

I think by the time my boys were allowed to get out of whistle-range, they owned watches and were expected home at a certain time.

I’ll bet that still works, or, at least, as well as anything else ever did.

Mining town trivia: The fire department tested its siren each day at noon. That was also when the mines set off the blasts they’d spent the morning laying in the pit, so a few minutes after the siren, the ground would shake. No excuse for not knowing when it was noon. As it happened, when I was 13 we moved to a house further from the mines, but which shook more at noon. We must have been on a vein.

Alex offers a reflection on how the other one-tenth lives, which seems relevant to current discussions of legacy college admissions.

Legacies were common at the private college I went to, but I didn’t recognize just how common until a few summers in which several raging socialists turned out to have either worked giving lessons at the tennis club or as the Son of the Boss down at the family sweatshop.

But this strip reminds me that Catholics and Jews were over-represented among both the street people and the aforementioned raging socialists, the theory being that kids who grew up in a strict culture had more to push back against. Which explained why there were so many Mormons among the hippies and rebels out West.

The stereotype of the sell-out is simply wrong: Most of the rebels I knew back then are teachers, psychologists and political activists today. They haven’t given up the Dream; they’ve just found more impactful ways to push back.

The sell-outs –the few I’ve known — were dabblers and show-offs back then and haven’t changed a whole lot, which leaves me wondering where the people who glue their hands to the wall and hurl paint today will wind up a generation hence, when the voter-registration types and leafleteers are teaching and counseling and still carrying clipboards at election time.

Some because they pushed back against privilege, some because they grew up without it.

Prickly City (AMS) has been going through an identity crisis in recent times. Conceived as a conservative answer to Doonesbury and other liberal strips, I get the impression that Scott Stantis finds himself deserted by a movement that has become more kneejerk than thoughtful.

Stantis himself is consistent in his ideology, the hallmark being that he is pro-life not only in matters maternal but also in terms of the death penalty. Pro-life means pro-life, which seems self-explanatory but look around you.

And back when we were at Kenosha, he told with self-effacing glee how his first-born came on Election Day, meaning that they had to stop at the polling place en route to the hospital, so that his wife could cancel his vote. They are a couple much to be admired, and envied.

But I’m going to differ with him on the specifics of war, because war used to be a matter of whose army could beat up whose army, and it’s only in relatively recent times that we’ve dragged civilians into the conflicts, and only in even more recent times that we’ve possessed the ability to actually wipe ourselves off the map.

I’m still struggling to wrap my head around the notion that Putin will purposely hit civilian targets and unleash barbaric war crimes in Ukraine, but has been allowing the export of Ukrainian wheat to the rest of the world.

Maybe we’re still struggling with that old Vietnam War motto: “War is good business; Invest your son!”

Not to mention “Just hope and pray that, when they drop the Bomb, they drop it on the Viet Cong!”

But times, and technology, change, as Wiley notes in this Non Sequitur (AMS).

Aside from our improved ability to wipe out each other, we’ve found new ways to wipe out creativity and artistry, which raises the question of whether automatically generated lives are worth living.

But, as this alien in Brewster Rockit (Tribune) discovers, we’ve long since wiped out our interest in creativity and artistry. Assuming that we ever really had any.

I’ve mentioned before how, each football season, I discover network promos for TV shows I can’t believe exist and, further, can’t believe anybody actually watches. The past few weeks of exposure to promos on Fox between halves of the Women’s World Cup have made those shows look like, well, Twilight Zone and Dick Van Dyke.

I thought Fox was undermining our political system — correctly, as it turns out — but I hadn’t really taken in the horrors they have been inflicting on us over in the Entertainment sector.

But, then, I’ve also pointed out how, in the past, the mud-spattered, gormless eejits who watched vulgar puppet shows in the streets of medieval villages made for willing conscripts when somebody wanted to go reconquer the Holy Lands again.

Plus ça change, mes enfants.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Funny pages aren’t always funny

  1. I think Futurama beat Brewster Rockit to that particular gag 20+ years ago. Lrr, on the planet Omicron Persei 8 1000 light years away (the show is set 1000 years in the future) watches a spoof of The Twilight Zone called The Scary Door. The modern TV shows are represented later in the series with, for example, Popular Slut Club (a kids show).

  2. I know it makes me sound like an old geezer, but looking around at all the death and destruction of all the current wars (including the political and social media wars), it makes me want to ‘duck and cover’.

    1. Civilian deaths in the Civil War were almost entirely accidental, except for scorched-earth attacks on Southern fields. Even in the Boer War, which was brutal and included concentration camps, there was little assault on civilian targets. Maybe it changed in the Franco-Prussian War but definitely in WWI, but even then, it was regretted if not prevented. I guess you’d blame the Blitz, and the bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the real change.

  3. When I was a kid, it was The Bell. Somewhere around the age of six or seven, when I was finally allowed to go out of the yard, dad got this 18″ or so in diameter bell, which had an effective range of about four (suburban) blocks in all directions. It was very effective in getting us home.

    My last time I visited the old family home was 2014. The Bell was still up.

  4. “You know, Fox turn into a hardcore sex network so gradually, I didn’t even notice” – Marge Simpson

  5. I myself haven’t watched network TV since the early 2010s. I also don’t subscribe to any streaming service either.
    Although to be fair, our parents and grandparents thought the shows we enjoyed as a youth were utter garbage too. I’m sure somebody back then hated Dick Van Dyke and The Twilight Zone, and yearned for the days of Charlie Chaplain.

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