Alas, once again, I beg your forgiveness. My enforced hiatus from AADB has once again left me high and dry and far from home. As before, I have a note from my doctor. But I must admit, prolonged separation from this esteemed group of disaffected patriots has all the effects of being cast adrift in one of the lifeboats from the Titanic wondering when (and if) rescue will come.
Once again, I’ve been battling pneumonia – the onset of which came upon me shortly after Labor Day. That’s got to make me one of the earliest casualties of this year’s cold and flu season. Fortunately, I am now at an age where I qualify for the senior-citizen-priority list that goes around the local pharmacies this time of year. Unfortunately, I am the wrong ethnicity, so I can go pound sand. Consider it a glass-half-full, glass-half-empty situation, and you’ll be pretty close to how life goes on out here in the golden west. The government has sixty years of slave labor they’ve invested in, and by God, they’re going to protect it. So ... no habla Espanòl, no flu shot. It’s that simple.
But, there remains my doctor – ever the faithful servant, whose medical practice is also his Christian ministry – and he has made allowances for those of us whose access to the health care system has been cut off. I don’t see him often. When one is the recipient of this kind of generosity, it is imperative not to abuse the privilege. But, given my track record when it comes to health concerns, and after three days of coughing and spitting, I figured I better get in to see him before he retires and I really am cut off from the entire health care system.
He was not thrilled to see me for my fourth go-round with this affliction in the last year. He was even less enthused when he asked me if I had ever been exposed to toxic chemicals. And when I racked my brain before finally coming up with the correct Jeopardy ® question – namely “What is Agent Orange?” the gift that keeps on giving – he became downright discouraged. Not to worry, I informed him. I know there’s no treatment, let alone a cure. It’s just an ongoing fact of life that all of us throwaway warriors live with. And considering the alternative, I’ll take those odds and call it even.
So, after six weeks of massive doses of Biaxin © – not to mention sneaking out a couple of Saturdays ago to the USC – Ohio State game (I am nothing if not hardcore when it comes to USC football. More on that in a bit.) – I have come to the conclusion that either my immune system is running down or the bugs are getting stronger. Or both.
During my last visit, before declaring me discharged as cured, my doctor summarily informed me that the day would undoubtedly come when I would come wheezing into his office and no antibiotic known to medical science would do any good. Sooner or later, this bug was going to kill me.
I told him the country was suffering from a similar ailment, so what made him think I was immune?
And so here I am at last. The prodigal contributor to AADB. Euro-American Scum late, rather than the late Euro-American Scum. At least for the time being.
But, pneumonia or no pneumonia, it’s still fall. And while the golden state can’t claim glorious fall colors, it’s still college football season. And no way was I going to miss the USC home opener, even if they had to wheel me out there in an oxygen tent.
And what a glorious Saturday it was. A magnificent warm, cloudless day, spent tailgating with my fellow alumni – many of whom are now comfortably retired, and whose children (the next generation of USC graduates) have taken up the mantle of ruling the world – while their aging baby boomer parents enjoy the fruits of corporate victory. They’re getting out while the getting is good, the Dom Peringnón is cold, the caviar fresh and their collective stock portfolios still have some value.
But there are some things that are not as they always have been. For right in the heart of campus, adjacent to the statue of Tommy Trojan was a hole in the ground that had to be fifty feet deep, cordoned off by a chain link fence and construction signs. The time-honored student union, student activities center and visitor’s center were gone. I was astonished. I can’t tell you how much time I wasted in that student union. Where they once stood was a gash in the earth reminiscent of ground zero, complete with shards of building walls that had yet to be removed, similar to that slab of the World Trade Center that stood shattered and gaunt against the smoking rubble in lower Manhattan on that ghastly day.
Why the comparison to 9/11 you may ask? I’ll tell you. It seems the Bin Laden Trust ponied up $25 million large to the Board of Trustees and so informed them that they considered the construction of a state-of-the-art mosque and adjacent madrassah to be a good thing, a very good thing indeed. And since the University of Southern California is like most secular, liberal institutions of its type, they agreed. Yes, it was an outstanding idea, worthy of the best efforts of the university administration, and something upon which they would move with all due haste. How do they put it in the wonderful world of the academy? Love of country may almost always fade, but money stays green forever.
Who knew? Somehow I always figured Bin Laden liked Notre Dame plus the points.
And so, the new Islamic Center is going up in the heart of campus, scheduled to be completed sometime in 2010. Along with it, will be the inauguration of the new, cutting-edge University of Southern California School of Islamic Studies, staffed by the most brilliant Islamic scholars the Middle East has to offer. Spare no expense, that’s the policy. And with pockets as deep as they are at USC, no expense will be spared, rest assured. One small detail that was consigned to the back of the promotional brochure describing this latest building project – courses in the School of Islamic Studies will be a university requirement. All students will be required to take at least eight credits in order to graduate.
Welcome to the global village.
Other goings-on around campus were likewise noteworthy.
- The Daily Trojan – the local on-campus newspaper – ran an ad that spoke thus: “Are you a visiting Islamic student fluent in Arabic, Farsi or other Middle Eastern dialects? Then the FBI wants you for a fast track career to the highest echelons (italics mine) of government service.” (Kind of like advertising for a select group of Aryan übermenschen for employment at Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1943. Remember that when you get a visit from your friendly, neighborhood special agent after the Osama, er ... Obama regime ramps up in earnest.)
- The Daily Trojan also ran an article about how the USC faculty has collectively contributed over $3.5 million to the Obama campaign and only $43,000 to John McCain. And who said university professors were underpaid these days?
- Speaking of which, the savior of the secular world, Barack Obama himself, will be on campus this fall to talk about the new global, one-world culture.
- Not to be outdone, John McCain will also be passing through campus on a campaign swing to speak on unified global commerce in a borderless society. Of course, this was before the recent stock market meltdown, so I wonder if he’s thinking twice about making the trip. If he folded his tent in Michigan, why on earth would he come to California where he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Mecca of even losing gracefully?
I took a stroll down to the Viterbi School of Engineering to test out my foreign language immersion techniques. Sadly, I have a lot of work to do in that area. Could be, past a certain age, the brain just doesn’t absorb Farsi, Arabic, Hindi or Chinese as easily as in younger years. However, when it comes to immersion, there is no better place to practice it. You won’t hear the English language in that part of campus except in the classroom. And the administration is considering a change to that practice since there are no more home grown students in those programs anymore. Lots of bright people in engineering at USC though. All grimly determined to do the heavy lifting, provide the brilliance and innovation at a better price, and not bother to see so much as a nickel of recompense for their efforts.
All the same, it was a football Saturday, and that’s what I came out for. There’s just so much cultural erosion one can absorb before the clarion call of the Trojan marching band calls the gridiron warriors to glory. And so it was on this day.
Upon arriving at the Coliseum, my friend and I took the tunnel walk. That’s the first excursion through the tunnel entrance to the stadium proper, after which, the scene explodes out on to a sea of green after nine months of nothing. It is a moment to be savored, and savor it we did on this afternoon as well.
The big buzz from the athletic department was whether USC quarterback Mark Sanchez will burst forth from the Coliseum tunnel at the home opener with the USC banner or the Mexican flag. He has already been turned down by the administration to have said flag stitched on his uniform jersey along with “Viva La Raza” where his name tape on the back of his jersey would ordinarily go. However, they did acquiesce when it came to engraving said Mexican flag on his mouthpieces, something one of the Latino USC dentists prepared for him personally.
True to his Cardinal and Gold roots, Sanchez came out with the Trojan banner, leading the team on its never-ending quest for glory and greatness.
And so, the game commenced. And when the dust settled, the Trojans crushed the hapless Buckeyes, 35-3, sent them reeling back to the frozen wastes of Columbus minus the tuba player to dot the I in Script Ohio and stood alone atop the college football world.
Kind of like America in 1945.
One week later, USC laid an egg of prehistoric proportions in Corvallis, Oregon against that awesome college football juggernaut, Oregon State. Season over. Unlike the teams of the SEC, USC doesn’t have a built-in mulligan in its golf bag. And now the Trojans sit on the sidelines, irrelevant, forgotten, a shadow of their former magnificent selves, while other, more vibrant programs vie for the BCS title.
Kind of like America in 2008.
It was a short stay at the top. For both institutions.
And so, the season commenced. And as is my custom, I take this time to take a break from the worries of the world. The economic implosion can take a back seat to ESPN Gameday. The presidential campaign can carry on without me while I gleefully watch Lou Holtz and Mark May sniping at each other on Sportscenter. The destruction of our national identity can wait until January while I direct my fury at Craig James as he goes on and on about the smashmouth football they play in the Big 12 and how USC is soft, weak and doesn’t play defense. Let’s face it, this is my time of year, and I’m taking a break. I promised myself years ago that later in life, I would enjoy such distractions as season tickets to USC football. Well, later in life just got here.
Only this year, it’s not working.
This year, it’s impossible to filter out the collapse of what passes for the country. It’s unfeasible to ignore that however the election goes, we face different sides of the same coin – One in which an out-an-out America hater, along with his congressional minions will overtly destroy what remains of the American soul. The other will enact his own version of American patriotism – a borderless, global society in which wealth and power are concentrated among the select few and what remains are the serfs who service them. Welcome to 21st century feudalism. Try bailing out Wall Street when the only people who pay taxes work for 15¢ a day and don’t speak English. And then watch the whole house of cards collapse like the World Trade Center.
As to who is who and what is what in this scenario, you can fill in the blanks. They both approach the same point from different ends of the political spectrum. And that point is the end of the republic we used to know and love.
Like any good Roman in the last days of the empire, I’m going to the Coliseum. I don’t know how it got to be 2008, how I came to be irrelevant and obsolete, what happened to my country, and frankly I don’t care. Actually, I do, to all of the above. But brooding about it will do no good at all. It won’t bring the country back, and won’t ease the pain of loss. So, it’s time for bread a circuses. And I mean to enjoy both while I still have time. For twelve hours on a Saturday afternoon, nothing else exists but USC football. Only this year, it’s impossible not to notice that the barbarians are not merely at the gates, they’re coming over the seven hills, and will probably be slaughtering the spectators on the fifty-yard line at halftime.
So we’re down to the two-minute warning. For the Trojans of USC, the season as a whole, and the entire country.
What will happen, I wonder, when the game is finally over?
- 8 “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the Lord.
9 “For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
As a grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword,
Who say, ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’”
– Amos 9:8-10