When I was a kid my mother would write down notes on a pad she kept in the hallway by the kitchen. On the right side were things she needed to buy when grocery shopping. The left held appointments. There was one name, and one name only, that struck terror in my fat little heart: Paula. Paula was our dentist and to this day still causes me dental PTSD. Paula did not believe in novocaine or anything stronger than oil of cloves, which still makes me sweat whenever I smell a pumpkin pie baking. Her office was in an old Victorian house, the kind you see in a Charles Addams cartoon complete with a round brass doorbell and plaster walls. It was the wait for that office visit that filled me with dread knowing it was unavoidable and the excruciating pain that followed that terrorized my childhood.
Like an acid rain waterfall those same feelings are cascading back down as I wait for January 20th to arrive. We can plead, protest, and curse until we are blue (or red) in the face, but he’s still coming. Trump reminds me, too much so, of a Roman emperor the way he carries himself, his sense of narcissism and his decorum or lack of. But which emperor is the big question? Will he be an Augustus and find Washington built with brick and rebuild it in gold-plated Chinese steel? Or like Hadrian building a wall to keep out whomever he fears the most? Of course his sons remind me of Caligula, but that doesn’t count does it? Could he be another Tiberius refusing to live in the capitol? Perhaps Nero who did not trust his own Praetorian Guard and intelligence community? Whichever one he turns out to be very few had happy endings. The Roman Empire did last over 1,000 years and the Pax Romana over one hundred. Will our republic fair better? As the saying goes, those that don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, while those that do are really, really depressed.
With the New Year come new hopes and dreams. At least we want to believe that. Unfortunately, I have some more bad news. Barnum and Bailey’s Circus is closing for good. They say it is for humanitarian reasons. This just doesn’t make sense to me. I mean sure I feel the same way, but why don’t they just buy a bigger car for all those clowns? Although we no longer have the circus, America still has a lot of great things to offer. But the greatest thing about America is the garage. Without the garage there would be no garage band, no startup computer companies, no teenager trying to change the world. There would be no place to start all those projects you planned on getting to. Who doesn’t enjoy telling your spouse “if you need me I’ll be out in the garage fixing something” while you check your mini-fridge for beer? What about a ‘man-cave’ you ask? Sorry, that’s a casual Friday version, a hold your purse while you shop answer. No, it’s a space heater and crappy TV and a barcalounger held together with duct tape for me. I also hear it’s pretty good for keeping a car in shape when you are ready to sell it for more than just a ‘great station car’ too. So let us salute the humble garage. Without it, life in America would be just like the rest of the world. And here’s to hoping we don’t look back at 2016 as the good old days. Now, you will have to excuse me while I go ‘fix the toaster’.
Below is a self-portrait, because it’s too cold to paint outdoors and real models expect to be paid. I'm working on my inking in case it wasn't obvious.