— From the Fool —

My friend, another Fool, said I’m wrong in last week’s judgment on wise King Solomon. Wasn’t that he had 1,000 wives because he was a letch. He was a statesman. You pump up your empire by marrying other kings’ daughters or sisters or extra wives they want to trade in.

I guess he’s right. Cheaper to add on palace bedrooms than stick a million soldiers all over the world with big bombs and rockets. We could try that.

Might not work for us. Every President would be stuck with the last one’s wives. Women might feel insulted. And would the President have time? And who gets the Lincoln bedroom? And the whole thing about marriage is one-man-one-woman? That didn’t bother King Solomon, but I guess they didn’t have the whole Bible then, or maybe he couldn’t read English.

Other problem being, what if we elect a lady? Will people feel okay with a thousand studs lolling around the Oval Office? All colors? Maybe no suits and ties?

One thought is, bring back Kings. It might save more money. Rich guys have to buy a President every four years, whereas they’d have twenty or thirty years to shop for a King. Course, some Kings were stupid or bad, unlike Presidents.

I’m not real up on politics. If I was I could drive a taxi or be a plumber maybe. They have well-thought-out opinions. I see stuff sideways.

But it costs a lot of money to rule the world, and the world never says thank you, the bums. So maybe sideways is a better way to look at it. If all of us Fools got together, we could assemble one brain among us, and it might poop out the answer.

— From EF —

“I love the lie and lie the love
A-hangin’ on, with push and shove
Possession is the motivation
that is hangin’ up the God-damn nation
Looks like we always end up in a rut (everybody now!)
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?”

(“Try to Make It Real,” written by Gene McDaniels, 1969,  recorded by Les McCann and Eddie Harris.)

 This week’s news is agog over the massive fine levied against Anadarko, the corporation that bought Kerr-McGee in 2006. After an unparalleled binge of polluting and profits from 1929 onward, Kerr-McGee was about to be called to task, so it transferred its toxic liabilities to another company, Tronox, which declared bankruptcy in 2009. Problem solved.

But it all looked fishy. DOJ and EPA came down on Kerr McGee and Anadarko, claiming “fraudulent conveyance.” $5.15 billion, that oughta teach’em. Guess what: Anadarko’s stock rose 15% as soon as the settlement was announced. The $5.15 bn is just a cost of doing business for them. Old story: get caught, reshuffle, declare bankruptcy, pay a fine, and the game continues.

Howard Zinn, in A People’s History of the United States, makes clear how potential revolution is dealt with: do something that can be pointed to as justice, publicize it to lower the steam pressure, and continue with business as usual. It makes good headlines without really making a dent.

“The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason
We’re chicken-feathers, all without one nut. God damn it!
Tryin’ to make it real — compared to what?”

Today I took Lear’s Fool for his first public outing, in the Occidental Fools’ Parade. What a noisy, silly, joyous event, with dozens of people who have temporarily laid down any claim to dignity and status. I stumped along behind the Hubbub Club, wondering why I was behaving like an angry old man, until I realized that the Fool’s actual situation was getting real to me, now that I was in his skin.

Cordelia, whom he has known and loved since she was an infant, has been disowned and banished, ditto the faithful Kent, and it’s clear that Lear and his kingdom are going to come crashing down. What was billed as a big celebration has turned to rubble. And he still has to make jokes.

But here I was, surrounded by fellow fools and their merriment, and who knows what tales of illness and financial horrors and bruised hearts lay under those feathers and grins and strutting feet? On this afternoon, we were truly Citizens United. What would happen if we tried to make it real?

—   From CB —

A short, bony man in reflective shades slips through the crowd. He wears a straw hat topped by action figures and a bowling trophy. The crowd closes behind him, and I see flashes of a green fright wig, bunny ears, a man with a penis nose, and a woman exposing her polka-dot bra. It’s the Occidental Fools’ Parade.

An annual outburst in a tiny town near the coast, it celebrates April Fools’ Day. Since only true fools would emerge on a weekday, this year it’s April 5th. The parade assembles in a parking lot, proceeds up the road, marches the two blocks of the town, turns around and marches back to the parking lot. It’s done in the time you could change a diaper. Then everyone mingles for a couple of hours, with periodic serenades by the Hubbub Club, a volunteer band — perfect for the music of the day.

Today the skies have cleared from a rainy week. It’s bright sun cut by whiffs of chill from the sea. And here they come into town, marching, prancing, shuffling, led by the blaring, wheezing band. And then a huge cluster of fools.

I spot a crossing guard in an orange vest, sunglasses, and a hand-knit chicken on her head. Several pirate hats, fools only from the scalp on up. A lady in pink pj’s and plastic hair curlers. A girl with a long red feather boa and a headdress of fruit. A plodding, gray-haired, red-nosed clown with a tiny gray-haired, red-nosed replica of himself.

I’m scanning the mob, looking for the killer clown.

There’s limited foolery. Several spirits dance the route, others bouncing to the rhythm of the band. An old man cavorts on roller skates, lofting a parasol. A round man in a tiny hat blows bubbles, and another plunks tiny cymbals. A mystery lady lugs a black dial telephone, chatting away. A woman passes out tiny red rubber noses to kids along the route, who seem to fear them. A man wearing a blue plastic bucket on his head brandishes a dust mop. Another marches along with waste-paper plucker and street-crew vest labeled “Business is picking up!” Mostly, people just walk along.

I’m peering past the hats — an Abe Lincoln stovepipe, a cop hat over pink wig, a coon-skin, a tin helmet with antennae and puff balls, a green Mad Hatter, a yellow stuffed fish with google eyes — to spot the suicide bomber.

A redhead passes, no hat or costume, but out of her shoulder bag pokes the head of a fox. A youth slouches along in a tabard painted as a six of hearts and a tinfoil hat. A girl leads a tall brown poodle on a leash. Above the dog’s butt is something pink. It looks like a yarmulke.

I’m picturing the sudden blast of rage that must — must! — tear through the crowd and rip the day in half. I’m waiting for the raw headline to be fingered across the sky.

Nothing happens. The Hubbub Club plays some old favorites. A low dog in a tie-dyed sweatsuit and a puppy who just looks like a puppy sniff each other’s secrets. The only headlines emerging are hula hoops and a profusion of pink fluff-edged bunny masks. Nothing here to make the evening news. Nothing to signal imminent catastrophe. Nothing to spur the Second Coming. If there is a Second Coming on a day like this, it’ll be with an oompah band.

I see a young woman carrying a baby. Neither is costumed. Plain hair, plain bluejeans and pullover, plain baby, just out there in the sun. Holy fools.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014




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