Labor Day, 2021

September 6, 2021

   Our planned labor day getaway destination is currently on fire. My hometown of New Orleans is sweltering with no electricity as a result of Hurricane Ida. And the state of Texas has voted to join the Republic of Gilead. The times have the feel of being on the Titanic as the band strikes up Nearer My God To Thee. I think I’ll barbecue some ribs for Labor Day.

celebrating labor day

   Exactly what is the appropriate response in these troubled times? Living your life as you see fit, and as you always have, seems to come with a  darkening cloud of guilt, if you’re of the persuasion that living your modern life as you see fit is one of the reasons for that getaway destination to be on fire. To take up the cause, on the other hand, when to do so is tantamount to donning Union blue or Confederate gray only widens the polarization. In Candide, Voltaire’s solution was “to tend your own garden.” Well, the damn garden is burning to the ground. I think I’ll barbecue some ribs for Labor Day.

   I like to do a simple dry rub of brown sugar, garlic and onion powder, dried orange peel, salt and pepper. I wrap them in foil and let them marinate for a couple of hours. Then, I’ll smoke them on the grill for a couple more, bake on low heat in the oven, and back on the grill without the foil for a burnt crust finish. I don’t always get it right (my formula won’t win any cookoffs, that’s for sure). But a couple of times, the meat did fall off the bone with a rich, smoked flavor.

   The other day, a neighbor with a Recall Newsom sign in the front of his house and a Trump 2020 bumper sticker on his car, flew his American flag upside down. Carol responded with a garden flag of positive messages that did include the phrase Black Lives Matter. The flag upside down Trumpster pulled his Trump 2020 car in front of my house and blocked the view of the garden flag. The matter has been referred to the HOA president, but that’s the state of freedom of thought and expression in these times. I think I’ll barbecue some ribs for Labor Day.

   Yesterday, it got up to 97. Every degree seems to come with foreboding. And every foreboding is met with a clamor of denial and threat. Lake Tahoe is burning, but the cause is “bad forest management.” When the Cuyahoga River caught fire back in the 70s, there was a unified chorus to halt the onward march of water pollution. Lake Tahoe is on fire today, but the chorus is invective, threat and a drive to recall the governor. Fly the flag upside down? Burn it? How long will there still be a country over which to fly a flag at all?

   Europe is restricting travel. Even Iceland is revisiting stricter protocols. A fourth wave of the pandemic appears inevitable, and many people are taking livestock medicine, because they don’t trust what’s in a vaccine scientifically created to prevent Covid in humans. Will the screaming at school board meetings be replaced by mooing and neighing?

   I think I’ll barbecue some ribs for Labor Day. The garden I would otherwise tend is on fire.

Post Script: My daughter pointed out that I posted a similar reference to America’s Dystopian Future last year around Labor Day, while complaining of the heat. She’s called me Johnny Two Times for most of her adult life on account of my habit of repeating stories that I share…I suppose she is right after all.

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