"It was beautiful and simple, as all truly great swindles are."
-- O. Henry
I like simple things -- the cardinal singing on the trellis as I sip my coffee; the fog that hides a cold stream before the sun clears the trees; the smell of jasmine on a summer night; the sweet rumble of a Gibson J-45 in open tuning.
Yep, simple is how I roll. Simple is beautiful. Simple is easy. Simple is as simple does.Which makes what I'm about to say a little surprising: It's my wish for 2006 that all of us begin to realize that the siren song of "simple" has led us far, far astray.
Slogans, for example, are seductively simple: "Stay the Course"; "Bush Lied and Soldiers Died"; "Don't Cut and Run"; "No Blood for Oil"; "The War on Christmas." They're either infuriating or satisfying, depending on your point of view. Simple works great for bumper stickers; not so well when it comes to policy decisions.
When, for example, the president says there are only two courses in Iraq -- defeat or victory -- what kind of moron would choose defeat? Simple, right? But what is victory? A secular Arab democracy? If last week's voting is any indication, we're more likely to have spent three years and thousands of lives setting up an Iran-like Islamic state. Is that victory or defeat? What do you think? One thing is sure: It's not so simple, after all. In fact, it's damned complicated.
In 2006, it would behoove us all to move beyond our chosen slogans and embrace "the complicated," especially in matters of life and death and politics. Let's try to reason with one another, instead of just reacting to each others' "simple" solutions. Let's keep simple in its place -- for happiness and pleasure.
Now, excuse me while I go find my Gibson. Oh, and have a Happy New Year. How hard is that?
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor
P.S. Next week, look for the Flyer's Annual Manual issue. We'll be back with a regular issue on January 12th.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.