Silly Putty Season – Remembering Jonathan Winters

April 13, 2013

The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters album cover from Wikipedia

The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters album cover from Wikipedia

Maybe it’s the unsettled nature of spring this year, but reading some of the news out of Washington this week makes me think silly putty season has arrived for the Powers That Be.

After one of Mitch McConnell’s political strategy sessions – in which he and the boys contemplated fighting off a challenge by Ashley Judd, should she run against him, by attacking her past problems with depression and her religious beliefs – was taped and leaked to Mother Jones News by a Keystone Kops group of Kentucky liberals, Senator McConnell accused them of using “Nazi tactics” to discredit him.

Huh? What? Is that anything like “the pot calling the kettle black?”

Last Tuesday, the (ever clueless) James Inhofe – speaking to reporters about the Newtown families and the gun debate – said, “See, I think it’s so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn’t.”

When asked why the families might believe that the debate did pertain to them, Inhofe replied, “Well, that’s because they’ve been told that by the president.”

Ummm, yeah, couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that their twenty-six dead loved ones from gun violence sort of began this whole conversation, anew, could it?

And, lest you think the silly putty is confined to our national politicians, there’s this week’s comment by Ben Bernanke – he who has spent trillions bailing out the big banks at the expense of the rest of the country – who said, “While employment and housing show signs of improving for the nation as a whole, conditions in lower-income neighborhoods remain difficult by many measures.”

Really? I wonder why that is …

At the same time, Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF and member of the Troika that has crushed whole countries of ordinary people, bailing out the Big Banks of Europe, now believes that, “The ‘oversize banking’ model of too-big-to-fail is more dangerous than ever,” to the US and world economies.

Duhhh, imagine that!

Amidst all the silly putty nuttiness, among the world’s big wigs, two other things happened this week.

The lovely weather at the beginning of the week allowed me to get the first section of my garden readied and planted with carrots, cabbage, spinach and lettuce before the rains and cooler weather moved back in. Not of as great an import on the world scene as the ongoing breakdown of our leaders, but probably of greater import to me in coping with that breakdown.

And, yesterday, Jonathan Winters died. I am old enough to remember, first-hand, the delightful cast of characters created in his fertile mind – from that lascivious old lady, Maude Frickett, and the bumbling, befuddled Elwood P. Suggins to the impromptu cast of characters (including Eisenhower’s golf club) that tumbled out of an ordinary stick, Jack Paar handed him on his show, one night.

He set the nation to laughing, in huge, liberating guffaws, as we recognized ourselves and each other in those characters, and inspired a whole generation of comedians and comediennes in their own improvisations. We were made the richer for it. And, sadly, he has passed at a time when we need his inspired lunacy more than ever.

It’s good to have a Stewart or Colbert to shine the spotlight on our leaders’ silliness, but I think it’s imperative to have someone who can shine a spotlight on the oft-forgotten rest of us – not in the bitter stomach punches that divide us, but in those rib-tickling reminders of our common frailties and strengths.

Or, perhaps we need someone to design a Jonathan Winters memorial app for our phones and tablets and laptops, that will sound an alarm and play Winters sketches, non-stop, until some goodly portion of us – republican and democrat, old and young, working poor and middle class – marches off to the nation’s capitol, surrounds our institutional buildings and, joining hands, engages in an anarchic riot of belly laughs at the beginning of every silly putty season in Washington.

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4 Responses to Silly Putty Season – Remembering Jonathan Winters

  1. graveday says:

    Screw the Powers that Be. It’s spring. I’m concentrating on the Flowers that Bee. Silly Putty is dignified stuff compared to our leaders. Who put the lead in leaders, you know, lead, as in pencil?
    Elwood P. Suggins used to work down at the cement factory, but it’s closed now, forever.
    RIP Mr. Winters. It’s spring.

    • theozarker says:

      Hey grave, how are you and the Mrs. doing? Spring is still kind of off and on around here, but things are budding out anyway. Hope we haven’t killed off all the bees, like we did all the cement factories.
      RIP Mr. Winters, indeed.

  2. Caitlin M. says:

    Why is it you sound so logical and sane but our elected officials sound so outrageously incompetent?? Must be in the water… or the silly putty. I don’t blame you for not running for office… you might catch the crazies! RIP to Jonathan Winters. I remember him well, too. He was insane in the best of ways, while too many of our politicians should really be locked up! RIP to Annette Funicello, too. She wasn’t a political whiz, but she was part of our Americana that is so decidedly passing by today. Ah, the good old days. Fare thee well.

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Caitlin, I probably practice sounding logical and sane a lot more than they do. ;D

      I was a mouseketeer back in the day, but didn’t keep track of Annette after that. I did admire her for the way she dealt with the MS that finally took her life. She seemed to have grown up into a lovely and courageous woman. I’m not too sure those “good old days” ever really existed, but she certainly was a part of our lives back then. And yes, RIP to her (and that America.)

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