Last night I went upstairs about 11:30 PM. J was watching a show where HGTV’s Illustrated Man, David Bromstad, was showing a couple houses near Punta Gorda, Florida. For all I care, he could be showing them houses on Saipan. But there was J, enraptured with these bungalows Tattoo Guy was showing to the prospective buyers.
I had been watching a DVD, When Jews Were Funny, about Jewish comedy, particularly the old comedians, who appeared regularly on the Ed Sullivan Show. These were men like Alan King (one of my mother’s favourites), Henny Youngman, Shelley Berman, Jackie Mason. The list is long. They told jokes, almost entirely apolitical, Alan King told jokes about the absurdities of suburban life. He wrote a book Anybody Who Owns His Own Home Deserves It. Mort Sahl was the only overtly political comic. He used a newspaper as a prop. Woody Allen did comedy about his supposed neuroses. I miss them. Like my parents, they understood what a blessing it was to simply have enough to eat. The Fifties and the Sixties (up to 1967) was a time when nobody had extra money to buy so-called recreational drugs, like marijuana.This was also a world without cheap and available contraception. Nobody cohabitated with a member of the opposite sex, outside of marriage.
I’m trying to get out of my head, the extent of suburban decay, in an outdoor shopping mall, maybe eighteen years old. We went to P.F. Chang to eat overpriced Chinese food in an “upscale” setting. At least, it was once upscale. The restaurant is still nicely decorated, appropriately dark for its ambiance. Outside the upscale veneer falls off, as the stores are largely boarded up. Brooks Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue survive. I don’t see how, but they do.Now one doesn’t have to drive all the way downtown to see boarded up retail locations. The pandemic was a stab in the heart of this community.
A little bit of my heart breaks every day.