“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.” — Mark Twain
When I was a kid, magazines often carried cartoons featuring a robed, bearded guy walking the big city streets and carrying a sign that read, “The End Is Near.”
Usually the punch line would be delivered by a couple of passing businessmen, one of whom would muse to the other on how that end would affect his promotion or raise or his wife’s meatloaf.
Looking back, I suppose those cartoons reflected our need to deal with the specter of nuclear annihilation. On a less literal level, the general uneasiness over the burgeoning civil rights and women’s movements caused people to realize the world they were familiar with really was coming to an end.
May As Well Laugh
By and by, the Soviet Union collapsed and blacks and women began taking their rightful places in society. Lo and behold, the world didn’t end.
Now, we’re back to wondering if the end is near again. Climate change, our own vulnerability in the wake of 9/11, a crashed economy, internet panics, genetically modified foodstuffs, a black man as president, gay marriage, and even the Mayan calendar silliness have caused many to wonder if these are the last days.
They’re not. As George Carlin observed, we give ourselves too much credit. We can’t destroy the Earth, he said. It’s been here for billions of years and our societies have only been around for a few tens of thousands of years.
The world has been struck by comets and asteroids, it’s been convulsed by earthquakes, it has experienced droughts and floods and been scoured by Ice Ages. Still it spins and life on it continues to grow and diversify.
Carlin even mentioned the crazy glut of discarded plastic bags accumulating in our oceans and across the land. He said the Earth, as it’s done since it came together eons ago, will just come up with a way of incorporating them into itself.
Part Of The Earth Now
We can’t end the Earth, Carlin concluded, we can only end ourselves.
And, I’d add, even that’d be awfully tough to accomplish. We tried our damnedest to wipe ourselves out back in the 1930s and 40s. World War II was the most violent spasm humanity has ever gone through. Anywhere from 60 to 100 million people were slaughtered during the hostilities. Yet here we are.
We’ve figured out a lot of things since the first hominids swung down from the trees and began branching off into proto-humanity. One thing we haven’t figured out, though, is perspective. Sometimes it seems we’re even regressing on that front.
In the 1960s, people who warned that the end was near were considered cartoon characters. Today they’re called in by the cable news channels to offer expert opinions.
GOIN’ TO THE CANDIDATES’ DEBATE
Remember that line from Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson”? Make sure to catch the vid at the bottom of this post.
Just a reminder: get yourself over to Bloomington High School South tonight for the debate between the five Democratic candidates for US Congress in Indiana’s 9th District.
BHSS is located at 1965 S. Walnut Street. The debate begins at 7:00 and runs for an hour and a half.
If you can’t make it, at least visit the candidates’ websites:
The primary is Tuesday, May 8th. The winner takes on Republican Todd Young in the November general election.
SINGING THE NEWS
Got two pieces of news at Bloomington Information Central — AKA the Book Corner — yesterday.
First, Maarten Bout, one of the big chiefs over at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, was brimming with the news that the first show of the 2012-2013 season has been set. Rufus Wainwright will play the venue on Tuesday, August 7th.
A few minutes later, Tom Roznowski ambled in, wearing his trademark fedora and a smart gray-on-gray retro ensemble. Bloomington’s storyteller, singer, author, and general custodian said he’s got a show lined up Saturday in Greenfield and his next hometown gig will be Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th, 6:00 pm at The Player’s Pub.
Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
◗ Bloomington, Citywide — IU’s Arts Week Everywhere 2012; Ongoing, various times
◗ The Kinsey Institute Gallery — “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze,” exhibit, art by women examining men; Ongoing, 1:30-5pm
◗ Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Exhibition, “Esse Quam Videri (To Be Rather Than To Seem),” featuring Muslim self-portraits; 9am-4:30pm
◗ Grunwald (SOFA) Gallery — IU MFA & BFA Thesis 3 Exhibitions; Noon-XXX, through May 5th
◗ Sembower Field — IU Baseball vs. Miami of Ohio; 4pm
◗ Myers Hall, Indiana Molecular Biology Institute — Seminar, keynote speaker Dr. Don Ennis, University of Louisiana, “Mechanisms of Mycobacterium Marinum Transmission between Fish”; 4pm
◗ Puccini’s La Dolce Vita — Young Professionals of Bloomington monthly meeting; 5:30-8pm
◗ The Venue Fine Arts & Gifts — Greg Jacobs presents “The Art of Wellness — Finding Wellness in a Health-Challenged Society”; 5:30pm
◗ Bloomington City Hall, McCloskey Room — Erin Asher Meager presents “Creative Healing,” South Central Arts WORK Indiana meeting; 5:30-7pm
◗ First Christian Church — Money Smart Week & the Indiana Attorney General’s office present “Schemes, Scams, and Flim-Flams”; 5:30pm
◗ Jake’s Nightclub — Karaoke Tuesdays; 6pm
◗ Patricia’s Wellness Arts Cafe & Quilter’s Comfort Teas — Unfinished Object Night & Up-cycle Evening; 6:30-8:30pm
◗ Bloomington High School South — Debate, Democratic candidates for US Congress, Indiana’s 9th District; 7-8:30pm
◗ Cafe Django — Jazz Jam; 7-10pm
◗ First United Methodist Church — Symphonic Bells of Bloomington Spring Concert; 7:30-8:30pm
◗ Show-Me’s — Poker; 7:30pm
◗ The Player’s Pub — Blues Jam; 8pm
◗ Farm Bloomington, Root Cellar — Tuesday Trivia; 8-10pm
◗ The Palace Theatre of Brown County, Nashville– Cowboy Sweethearts; 8pm
◗ Madame Walker Theatre Center — Auditions for “Queen Esther: A Fearless Shero”; 6-8pm
◗ Max’s Place — Scott Bender’s Showcase; 8pm