It was a good week for schadenfreude, which, literally translated from the German, means "harm-joy" and as commonly used in English, means taking pleasure from the pain of others.
Who in Memphis, for example, isn't taking a little pleasure from the pain, or at least embarrassment, that Toronto is suffering from the public antics of its inflatable, pumpkin-headed mayor, Rob Ford. Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack and whose behavior in various press conferences and council meetings indicates that he's still hitting the pipe, has become a household name and the target of Saturday Night Live skits and late-night comedians. (The late Chris Farley must be writhing in his grave at the missed opportunity to mimic the man he was born to mimic.)
At any rate, Rob Ford's behavior makes the Nashville perorations of Memphis' Ophelia Ford (no relation, except spiritual) look tame, indeed. When Toronto's city council moved to limit Ford's powers, he likened the move to the U.S. invasion of Kuwait. He also cussed out the press and inadvertently tackled a female councilwoman in one of the most weirdly hilarious videos to ever hit the internet. He then went on the Today show and told host Matt Lauer that he had a "weight issue" that he was getting treatment for and that he wasn't going anywhere. "They're not going to find another Rob Ford," he said, which is pretty much irrefutable.
And speaking of schadenfreude, how about Liz and Mary, the battlin' Cheney daughters? Liz, the elder sibling, who sports a blond bouffant hairdone, looks a lot like her mother, Lynne Cheney. Mary looks more like Dick. (Please, please, forgive me.) Anyway, Liz, who is straight, recently moved to Wyoming from Washington, D.C., in order to launch a primary challenge to incumbent Republican senator Mike Enzi. To assuage concerns that she might somehow be perceived as "progressive" by the Tea Party wing that dominates the GOP in Wyoming, Liz took a stand against gay marriage. This did not sit well with sister Mary, who is gay and legally married to a woman named Heather Poe.
Mary issued several statements castigating Liz, first asserting that her sister had often visited her family and had never had a problem accepting her marriage to Heather, then later issuing a statement saying her sister was on "the wrong side of history." Mary, of course, conveniently neglected to mention her own history, which includes working to elect and re-elect numerous Republicans who not only opposed gay marriage but even opposed gay rights.
Father Dick Cheney then stepped up in support of Liz, even though he himself has come out in favor of gay marriage — in essence, choosing politics over his own ethical beliefs. Big surprise, I know. But it does assure that the Cheney family Christmas will be a little tense this year.
Merry Schadenfreude, y'all!
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...
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 ...
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...