It may be September by the time you read this, Dear Reader, the long and terrible summer when the plague that has swept the land begins to come to a close at last, hopefully to be only a memory by the time the dogwoods flower again, each of us with any sense having received a needle stick and a lollipop along with the vaccine that will be, by then, helping protect our most vulnerable if the universe is kind and science is true. The Observer is still mired in August and still adjusting to this dastardly monthly schedule after years of pumping out Observers one a week, rapid-fire, so the gears didn’t have time to get so rusty. The next Observer you receive from this old pen will be delivered in October, the month of pumpkins and darkness. For that one, The Observer plans to spin you a horror story of all the things that will come to pass if every damn one of us who still has breath and faith in mankind doesn’t agree now to crawl over a mile of broken light bulbs, if need be, to vote out this pig of a man who, in a moment of national insanity, we voted into an office where he has the power to make his delusions kill.
This month, therefore, The Observer must set aside some time for our yearly slate of endorsements. They are as follows:
FOR PARKS STAYING PARKS: We have no idea what swirl of glittering dollar signs our local developer class has blown into the head of our young Mayor Frank Scott Jr. over martinis downtown, but they’ve clearly got him seeing the pristine former War Memorial Golf Course land in midtown as a side of beef to be carved up and fed to circling, over-fattened sharks instead of a city, county and state treasure that should be kept in the public trust forever. It’s already a park, mayor. Just mow it, leave it alone and let people find its joys, as they already are. Luckily, the city’s vulgar “golf entertainment” come-on for our parkland found no corporate sailors drunk enough to give it a go. Let’s keep it that way. Stay frosty, citizens.
AGAINST THE OBSERVER’S NEW GLASSES: After 15 years of buying the same frames from the same website, we returned there this year and found to our horror that our frames had been discontinued. Having learned from several painful lessons to take Spouse’s advice into careful consideration, at her urging, we chose a different, more modern pair. Only after the UPS truck pulled away did we find that the black faux-eyebrows above the lenses make us look like a cross between a Victorian whaling ship captain and Groucho Marx. A friend later informed us that, to him, we now look like: “The Nerd Who Can Still Kick Some Ass.” Thanks? This aggression will not stand, man. Next stimulus check, Yours Truly will take our chances with the most-similar-to-Old-Faithful wireframes and hope for the best.
FOR “POLLY PLATT: THE INVISIBLE WOMAN”: The Observer has long been a film junkie, a fan of strong women and a podcast addict, so we have been enjoying the hell out of the new 10-part podcast “Polly Platt: The Invisible Woman” from “You Must Remember This.” Platt, if you don’t recall the name, was a pioneering female production designer who got her start designing “The Last Picture Show” when she was director Peter Bogdanovich’s first wife. As heard in the podcast, which draws on Platt’s unpublished memoir, it suuuuure seems like Platt — who also worked on/reworked Bogdanovich’s “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon” — was the real brains behind the director’s early success and maybe his career as a whole. Whatever the case, it’s great stuff about a true visionary who literally changed the course of Hollywood history. And it’s also a great excuse to rewatch “The Last Picture Show” and “Paper Moon.”
FOR THE 1961 INTERNATIONAL SCOUT: Cars today are just too damn fancy, with screens and backup cameras and lane-change alert to keep you from coasting under the wheels of a passing semi while trying to fix your lipstick at 80 miles an hour. On the farm growing up in the darkest heart of Saline County an age ago, The Observer’s Pa had a 1961 International Scout that served as the all-purpose get-around. Styling by Boxy Rectangle. Standard shift. On the dash: a speedometer as big as a melon, a temperature/fuel gauge (broken), a key switch and an AM radio that sounded like the stations were broadcasting from the bottom of a steel drum. The seats were premium Naugahyde, the military-tread tires would chew through any muck, and if it rained you better hope you brought your hat because the Scout’s removable top didn’t come with it when he bought it. One summer, Yours Truly found a rat snake curled around the floor shifter that was six feet long when The Observer and cousins stretched it out in the sun. Now THAT was an automobile.
AGAINST THE KIDS GOING BACK TO IN-PERSON SCHOOL: What madness is this? What foolishness? What ignorance? No, your child probably won’t die of it, but they can spread it. They can bring it home. Here’s a story for you: When The Observer was 7 years old, we dropped one of the most precious things in our mother’s life — a crockery pitcher that once belonged to her beloved grandmother — and smashed it to irreparable bits. The Observer, all these years later, still feels terrible about that from time to time. So we hope that everybody proudly sending their children back to in-person school takes the time to think very deeply about what they will say when a child comes to them and says: “Is it my fault that [loved one] died?” Because we promise you that kids will make the connection. They will carry that guilt for the rest of their lives. And a person who died when they didn’t have to is no crockery pitcher.
Sorry to go so bleak on you there at the end, Dear Reader, but The Observer has been tied in knots of anguish over the idea of these Trump-haunted fools forcing the kids back into crowded classrooms. If Junior was still a lad, we guarantee you we’d be teaching him at home like a proper Duggar, letting our ignorance of math be his cross to bear for a change. Stay safe, friends, and keep your loved ones safe. Until we meet again, The Observer smiles upon you.