From Paradise to Bedlam – Part 1

Jacob Stewart, Columnist

We thought we had left behind the ugly and bizarre in 2017, but here we are, less than a month out, and it seems the worst has followed us like an ugly drunk who refused to go home, a character out of a Charles Bukowski novel brought to us in real life. Yes, readers, it seems that there has been so much more to be found in our journey down the rabbit hole as California suffered from a mudslide and the East Coast recovered from the bomb cyclone that brought new terror to winter.

In the Midwest, we’ve gotten off easy, aside from the bone-chilling cold that left many like myself stuck indoors to endure a dangerous sense of cabin fever, a feeling that creeps along your spine until it has burrowed itself into your mind.

The only positive that I’ve seen from this madness is that I never felt truly alone. There are always conversations to be had with the ghosts of Hemingway and Julius Caesar.

Sooner or later, Rum Brain Moe will hear about this, but that voodoo committing villain of a psychiatrist has talked to himself and his dolls for as long as I’ve known him, so at least there’s that. Anyway, the point that I was trying to make was that 2018 started off with a sucker punch to our already weakened jaw.

Last year was a bruiser, the kind you’d meet in an old black and white film that chewed on cigars rather than smoke them. I’m sure there’s something Freudian in that analogy, but that’s a study for another time.

What we need to focus on now, more than anything else, is the question of how long we can endure the winter, both physical and metaphorical. We have certainly been lost in what Thomas Paine coined as the times that try men’s souls.

We’ve witnessed what was once a proud nation collapse into the past, ushering in a new era of bedlam brought to us by the president’s Twitter account and the nonsense spouted by those around him.

We’ve seen a man insult the “Third World,” when in the long run, it’s people like him who have created the need for such a phrase in their pursuit of power by whatever means necessary.

The days of America’s Pax Romana are dead and gone, and we’ve entered into the era of madness. Commodus has shown that he’s in charge, taking on the world as the self-proclaimed champion of the Colosseum.

Of course, those were the days when a leader had to be brave enough to wield a sword. In this age, they carry smartphones.

Perhaps this cynicism of mine is misguided. Perhaps I’m wrong, and 2018 will bring us to better times.

It might be too early to call, but I’m not going to get my hopes up just yet. The forecast is still showing that snow is on the way.