Gazette About Books Archives
The Thaddeus Gazette

Grouchland Über Alles

These days I'm so busy, I go to scratch my ass and I've already moved it.

There's music, of course, plus there's CDs and sound and video editing, of course, plus plus there's the house remod (new bathroom! coooool!), of course, and to top it off with a cherry, I got a day job. I am now an authorized, unionized, state-certified (pending), Home Care Aide, paid service provider to one Zuidema, River Pixie. Her regular HCA went in for surgery and I got pressed into service, not so much the sharpest tool in the shed as the only one left.

I'd already gone thru the preliminary cert gauntlet, and my necessary setups went surprisingly smoothly, considering. I only had to wait on hold for an hour once. I took the five-hour online intro/safety course and passed the test at the end, got authorized by the Case Manager at the state, got my payroll stuff unsnarled at the payment site and was thoroughly rebuffed by the state certification application portal when they asked me for residential info from 25 years ago. I don't remember what I did last week f'crimesake. Or mebe that's the real test.

Or mebe the real test is whether you can stand that exquisite instrument of genteel punishment, children's television.

Parents among my readership may now commence to hysterically barhar and bwahha. Fine. Go right ahead. There's no paucity of accounts of Parental Television Survival Disfunction, but it's not in the DSM-5, so insurance still won't cover treatment. Mom and Dad, you're on your own.

My own personal thehorrorthehorror is River's favorite show, Sesame Street, on which appears her favorite character, Elmo, a red hairy little monster with a voice like a saws-all on a cold water pipe. Okay, maybe that's a little mean. A hot water pipe, then. Please understand that it hurts to even talk about this. There's undoubtedly a plurality of flat screen TVs with gigantic footprint-shaped smashes languishing in third-world electronic middens even as we speak, attributable to this little bunion.

Now, I'm no critic of Sesame Street, believe me. It's one of the gems of the airways, and could serve as a template for better behavior for the entirety of the current administration and congress alike. It's not that. It's the grinding repetition, the water torture of the same show played over and over and over and OVER AND... sorry.

In self defense, I've started constructing counternarratives and deconstructive analyses of various aspects of the Street of Sesame, including its associated movies and specials and all. Sesame Street Confidential, if you will. Never mind that CTW did exactly this through the entire run of The Muppet Show. My trauma, my rules. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who ever wondered about the relationship between Bert and Ernie (no, not the obvious one. I believe it was Frank Oz who put that one to bed: "Bert and Ernie are not gay—they're puppets."). And Big Bird, there's one seriously messed-up character. And what is with all those hairy little monsters? I could go on and on.

But the scenario that has intrigued me the most recently, mainly because of its mind-numbingly echoic nature, has been the part of the Elmo movie that he spends in a fabulous world, even more than Sesame Street, of enchantment (or at least, putrescence) called Grouchland. I've become convinced that the Land Of A Thousand Stenches is actually a political metaphor concerning the evolution of society from its natural state of libertarian anarchy to brute oppressive socialism.

See, as it's presented, Grouchland is a place where everybody is, well, grouchy. All the time. But they're not dependent. They don't expect others to take care of them. They know they won't. Everyone appears to embrace that great John Galt aphorism, "Get the hell out of my way!" They're as ready to bite your head off as look at you. Pollution, that eternal avatar of personal freedom, is rampant, and far from virtue-signaling their empty disapproval, they embrace it and cherish it. And most of all, there's no shame. No false modesty, no feigned empathy. Political correctness? What's that? Grouches tell it like it is. You always know where you stand with them (especially downwind).

And yet, there is a snake in this gross Eden, a self-proclaimed villain named Huxley (surely a reference to Aldous). As a hyper-grouch and all-around nogoodnick, a proven leader of monsters and energetic organizer of nefarious deeds, you'd think this guy would be a welcomed figure amongst the Grouchians, but his chief character flaw is telling: he doesn't respect property rights. Yes, he's a Taker, not a Maker, so much so that the other grouches are forced to gang up on him, chanting their irrefutable motto "WHEN THEY TAKE OUR GOO WE GOTTA DO!", to put things right. Or at least get their goo back.

And it is here that we see how anarchy can itself break down through the misdeeds of one strong individual without natural moral restraint, that harbinger of modern, compromised people, who by their very presence compels the surrounding population into their own immoral collective action. Mob rule never solves anything! Sure, there's a nice warm feeling at having overthrown the Huxley, but once that glow wears off there's sure to be someone trying to make the mob into a permanent governing body. And before you know it there's laws, and cops, and bureaucracy, and taxes to pay for it all. Just when you thought it was safe to sink back into comfortable self-reliance, here comes a letter from the IRS. Wait, there's an IRS? Wait, there's mail?

Sigh. This essay makes no sense. I obviously haven't watched the right videos on Youtube or subscribed to the right newsletters to explain in lean diamond-sharp prose why Grouchland is all about socialism. Or maybe I'm just exhausted from too many Sesame Street reruns.


Gazette | About | Books | Archives |