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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

We Are Not All Howard Beale Now

You must understand I am capable of galvanic rage.

That is probably news to most, if not all of my readers and friends. I’m not talking about cutting remarks on message boards after midnight, either. I mean real, bad, spittle-flecked rage. There are very few things that truly matter to me, but they matter to me a great deal. And I am very slow to anger, but there is no end to it when it’s unleashed.

I don’t act like that on the Intertunnel, and I try not to act like that off it, either, but I fail often enough. Many people are very blase on the Intertunnel, although they have very strong opinions. Often it is because they are shielded from real privation. They won’t miss any meals if X passes the Y law. Many bloggers have sinecures, and while it doesn’t always make them mellow, it does make them sort of ambivalent about the things that they rail about. I’ve observed outrage as a kind of hobby for decades now. It’s tiresome to me. The professional doesn’t listen to amateurs. Robespierre wouldn’t read Andrew Sullivan.

I live at the edge of the economic map, and several other maps, including the actual map. We’re cutting edge cave people here. People tell me that my life seems odd and occasionally wonderful to them. It seems that way to me, too, although it is too demanding on my wife and children to suit me. But I would not trade our life for cable TV. But if the DJIA or Congress sneezes, we get pneumonia.

I’d make an excellent Savonarola. I could build a pulpit and rail from it with the best of them. I’d give you the finger while you burned me in the Piazza della Signoria, too, because I’m an Irishman as well as an Italian. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I must not rage. I’m tired of manifestos everywhere.

My god, everything is a manifesto. You can read any innocuous news story on Yahoo and there are 3000 comments after it and 2500 of them are manifestos and the other 500 are plain screeds. Every gathering, real or virtual, is a pretext to launch into a description of the New World Order everyone’s going to install right after they’re made God-Emperor by acclamation, by virtue of the excellent manifesto they left in the comments after a story on The Frisky about this year’s bikini styles. Everyone so desperately wants to be Howard Beale. I really sort of am Howard Beale. I don’t want to be Howard Beale. I certainly don’t want to watch amateurs try their hand at it. I’m a pro. Born to the purple — prose.

I put my children on the Intertunnel. A thing fraught with peril. But they are the product of the best of my self, and my wife’s best efforts. They are a very long prayer released into the ether. One does not pray as if God is a vending machine; put a wish in the slot, and out comes the candy. You offer it up for its own sake.

My sons’ video showed up in so many places I’m afraid to start naming them because I’ll forget some and offer an unstudied insult to those omitted. I swear I saw them everywhere these last few days — almost.

Nowhere where bad people are. Nowhere where Howard Beale reigns. I saw them in places where decent, hard-working, put-upon people congregate. I saw them where  people recognize something of the potential in persons not given over to the depravity of the general culture. People who know the difference between civilization and barbarism. People that value effort. Like progress. Think about the future.

I saw all the supportive and pleasant things that were said. The encouragement offered. The attention paid to two little boys who doggedly try despite obscurity and hardship. People reached in their pockets to help them, to support them, to let them know that there is more than a world of Howard Beales outside their practice room. I’m immensely grateful for it, but so much more than that. You’ve restored my faith in my fellow man, which I must admit was running on fumes. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

There are nice people everywhere, if you will but look. I’m glad we did.

16 Responses

  1. One does not pray as if God is a vending machine; put a wish in the slot, and out comes the candy. You offer it up for its own sake.

    All this, and now a world-class theologian? Herein, a life's worth of sermons.

    Thanks. From a fellow edge-dweller.

  2. Well, Mr. Sippi, I have a fondness for screeds, at least those of James Lileks, few and far between they may be, and I'm guessing you toss out a few heavily disguised as stories, but I admire your work here on the innertunnels, and the work you've clearly done to guide those two boys. Not to mention, I suspect Mrs. Sippi may well deserve sainthood.

    I'd better quit afore I embarrass myself.

  3. The video spread so far so fast because the execution was so very stunning, and the rest of it was magical too. If you and the boys haven't yet been hit as a result by the ugly viciousness of a significant portion of the population I'm glad and somewhat surprised. To not depend on the kindness of strangers is a crucial but painful lesson. No matter how beautiful something is there's always someone ready to spread their ugliness all over it. I'm glad you'll be there to help them through it when it inevitably happens.
    You people deserve each other.
    That's the nicest thing i can think of

  4. You're a class act, Sippican fam.

    I went to Upper Canada last year. Canada in the east, that is. Canada of the old nineteen-seventies doorways cobbled onto seventeen-seventies Scottish stone masonry. My host was so afraid of the social media he was phobic about it.

    But the truth is we're all social objects, now. Some dam flying whirly gig will make sure of it.

    Did I digress, there? Not sure.

    Love you guys. Stay well.

  5. i did some work the other day for someone approaching the edge that comes at the end. it's turned them petty and snarly and has left me despondent and feeling useless and worthless. and yet momma always quoth 'a gentle answer turns away wrath' so i gave the deferential gentle answer, and gave the whole matter over to the one who will judge. and today i fixed someone else's home.

  6. I never met a good Super who wasn't capable of genuine, zero-to-wrath-of-divinity-directed-directly-at-you-for-damned-good-reason . It's a requirement of the position.

    Good work, sir.

  7. Not only is this all of inestimable(I love spell check so I can use big words)value for the words of the owner of the blog but for the value of the commentators words as well. I don't know how long I have been following but I know I found this through mil-blogs (I followed Joan's spouse (but can't remember who he or she was)from a link from "My Father Doesn't Ask for Much" – the most exquisite memorial I have ever read in my life (my life has been long and I have always sought and read memorials). I found Thud somewhere else and joined him here by surprise as well as vanderleun and Casey Klahn. We all meet here! Why? Are we all seeking something from the "intertunnel", or do we all just know damn good writing when we read it? Remember guys and gals, we came for the writing before we came for the music. He didn't sell his kids before he sold himself. Which is a good thing I think and rather more noble than than the other way around. Just saying. I'm not mad about much of anything as long as I can read something that Sippi has written and hear something that the heir and spare have produced one in awhile. I think I am not alone in this, am I? So keep banging and banking away at the tip jars to keep these guys afloat until they catch on with the larger world and they forget about us and we shall wistfully look to their shining stars in the heavens and think that they once dwelt among us – but how soon they forget and leave us in the dust here on terra firma. With Love lorrain3

  8. Hi Joan- I'm Saint Disgustine.

    Gerard! Memorable jokes only require the punch line.

    Hi Sam- I think it's fun to call mildly mordant observations "screeds," but it's a form of hyperbole. Lileks never rants, that I've noticed. Even people that disagree with him must have to try to find him disagreeable. I hope it's the same with me.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Hi Thud – I feel like we're long-lost brothers. I can't remember if I'm Cain, or Abel, though.

    Hi Dave- One person hit the thumbs-down button on the YouTube page. They were conspicuous for their lonesomeness.

    Many thanks for being an Interfriend to me and the boys.

    Hi Casey- I'm way out in the pixel breeze, it's true, same as you. Too late to turn back now.

    Thanks for being our Interfriend.

    Hi Leon- I must admit that life's vicissitudes started to harden my heart a bit. I hated it. Gerard once told me that he liked reading my page because it was a place on the Intertunnel he could depend upon to be completely free of bile. I had to remind myself recently that people rely on me to deliver that here. I'm grateful for the little circle of friends that gathers here.

    TMJ- I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. I had some pretty rough workers try all sorts of shite on me. You need a backstop of rarely seen "scary mofo" to stay alive in that setting sometimes. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Lorraine- Many, many thanks for your generous support, and for your kind words. I know I have to finish the book about Immaculada Doyle for you. I'd be a cad if I didn't.

    Shirley – Many thanks for your support and friendship.

  9. We're not all Howard Beale, if for no other reason that we can't all be Peter Finch, with Paddy Chayefsky writing the words and Sidney Lumet directing.

  10. Damn, Rich. I'm putting you up for a solid position behind the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in Upper Baboon's Buttledge, Alabama.

  11. Mr. Sippi, I see what you do with hand tools and a few powered ones, but them you use on that keyboard–well, I gotta say you got the touch.

    Disagreeable? You? PShaw!

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