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May 20, 2022

Funny Papers Again Column | Looking Back and Seeing Ahead

Before I get into the bits and pieces of today’s column, let me offer a mea culpa regarding some misinformation in last week’s column. I stated that KCHS Class of 1972 has their 50th class reunion scheduled for the same date as the Classes of 1970-79’s reunion, which is Aug. 27, and that is not correct. The 1972 reunion will be held on Sept. 10, which is the same date as the postponed reunion of my Class of 1970.

OK, moving on.

When I say this column is bits and pieces, it is because over time when the muse strikes me I jot down notes about things that pique my interest. These notes come from news reports, books, documentaries or combinations thereof. Later I rummage through them in hopes of finding something also of interest to readers. It ain’t easy. I know from experience if one puts their name on personal experiences or personal opinion in print, a First Amendment guarantee, there can be repercussions; some good and some bad. And personal experience from 30 years ago assures me the bad can be very bad.

Nonetheless, I forge ahead with this:

I watched a documentary about a time 52 years ago at a White House concert when then President Richard Nixon wanted his guest musician, Johnny Cash, to sing two songs that to the president spoke to the “silent majority,” which got him elected; the first was Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” and the other, Man Drake’s “Welfare Cadillac.” Cash had other ideas and instead sang “What is Truth”; a song he composed especially for the occasion. The lyrical refrain of that song is “And the lonely voice of youth cried ‘What is Truth?’” (Space prevents all the lyrics but worth looking up.)

Fast forward to last year when I watched a documentary (I watch a lot of documentaries) called “The Social Dilemma,” in which former platform designers told of the dangers of extended time spent on social media to the youth of America. Given the unrestrained nature of the internet, any and all views and opinions can circulate with the same abandon as a pickpocket in a crowd. One statement chilled me when a man who made a social site possible for use by millions said, “The day would come when youth will not know what truth is.”

I am now reading a book by a noted journalist that covers the 2016 presidential campaign and the first two years of the last administration. This journalist had also covered the 2008 campaign when a New York businessman and reality television personality (a man who had long held animus toward the Fourth Estate) pushed the idea that the Democratic candidate was ineligible for election as he was not born in the United States; a blatant falsehood.

When in January 2016 this same man won the electoral vote and took seat in the Oval Office, his press secretary in his first meeting with the press claimed the inauguration of the day before had been the largest in American history and any reporting otherwise was “fake news.” As was shown by every available measure, this was another blatant lie.

When the 2020 election ballot count was in, this man claimed then, and claims now, that he lost in a “rigged” election. It is now 2022 and all challenges to a rigged election have failed. Another lie. The question is, how many believe these falsehoods to be true?

“And the lonely voice of youth cried ‘What is Truth?’” Ask your children and grandchildren questions and find out if they do, indeed, know what makes a thing true: facts or repeated false rhetoric.

***

I do not believe gas prices will lower to rates we have seen in recent years. I do not believe the president, any president, can with the stroke of a pen make lower oil prices or higher production, therefore King City needs to look at ways they can make the town more bicycle friendly. And an affordable citywide transportation system could cut down on the amount of personal vehicle use. Both would take time and money but both possible if planned for now.

***

I saw two people flying kites the other day, and when I told them I had not seen kites in many years they said they wanted to “bring them back.” It seems to me I wrote a column last year about the joy we had as kids flying kites in Greenfield. But I do not believe kites will ever make a comeback for the simple reason they are just that, simple. Too simple for today’s youth. The generation raised on cell phone and monitor screens with all the visual and audio available in gaming, the sights and sounds of mayhem (or so most games seem to me) offer far more stimulation than the serenity of just holding a string and watching your kite float above the earth.

***

The reunions and today’s (Friday the 29th) unearthing of a time capsule buried in 1970 at Santa Lucia School has made me think about how far society has advanced in the past 52 years in regard to race appreciation. In my senior year, as part of a variety show called “The Ziegfeld Follies,” myself and two other seniors did a sketch called “An Ace and Two Spades”; two of us blackened our faces and dressed as tramp’s ala minstrel show. I was Mr. Bones, my companion Mr. Tambo; in the middle acting as straight man was Mr. Interlocker. It was pure stereotype. In the student body audience that day were the school’s only two Black students; Jimmy, a senior, and his sister Janie, a junior. We did not consider their feelings; we did not appreciate them. Two years later at Hartnell Junior (now Community) College, a campus with more diversity, Jimmy was elected student body president and Janie was selected homecoming queen. Today, we take the time to appreciate diversity, thankfully.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist
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