Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's Time Once Again for...

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, I had a great group of friends, most of whom are still my friends. Just call me lucky. One thing we all had in common was an exquisite appreciation of the great R. Crumb. We even had a saying: "R. has his finger on the pulse of America." (We called him "R.")

We quoted R. out of context constantly. It was part of our (not so) ultra- hip lingo, as in, "Let's eat again real soon," or "It's never the end, except for these guys," or "Will white man ever join the parade?" or (one of my favorites), "Here comes the bus," and, after one of us died way too early, "Smilin' Ed is dead, gone forever." Even though our friend's name wasn't Ed.

But the quote that came to mind most often was, "Despair is the only way out."

I remember going to my friend Little Bobby's house, and saw a copy of Despair in the backseat of his car. "Hey," I said, "I've got a copy of Despair in the backseat of MY car!" and I did, too.

Little Bobby said, "Everyone has a copy of Despair in the backseat of their car," and I thought then that he was exactly right.

Maybe it's time to put Despair Comics back in our cars. When I hear about another friend being laid off, or another foreclosure, or Chrysler and GM filing for bankruptcy, or the latest in the public deterioration of Dick Cheney, never the most stable guy to begin with, but clearly dropping marbles every day now, or the imminent death of the two-party system, or- well, it just goes on and on, doesn't it- I think, "So what if little brother wasn't as cute as was hoped, let's have a party!"

At any moment "these guys" could turn into "us guys" and where would we be without our copies of Despair?

I'm not sure that R. is the H. L . Mencken of our time, as I've heard it said, mostly because Mencken is one of those guys I've heard of but never actually read, even though I claim I have so I don't seem completely stupid. But R. is good enough for me and my pals (you know who you are) and still seems to have his finger on the pulse of America.


SueWho said...

be sure your pals see this. Send it to them!

EmLit said...

I think there was a R. Crumb exhibit in Philly sometime in the past year. Did you get a chance to go? Maybe it's a traveling exhibit and you'll get to go when it's somewhere a bit closer to home.

Matt with the Hat said...

I also claim to have read H.L. Mencken, but have not actually done so. There is also greater pressure on me than most to appear as though I have, having lived in Baltimore.