2013 started off pretty well in the U.S.: It wasn’t until 8 a.m. Jan. 1 that police encountered the first assault-weapon-toting wacko. This occurred in San Jose, Calif., where officers responded to a report of a man, armed with an assault weapon, outside a residence. By the time police arrived, the suspect was nowhere in sight. But a description of his vehicle led them to a nearby transit station parking lot, where the suspect jumped out of his pickup truck, naked and brandishing a samurai sword.
“You’re going to have to kill me,” the suspect reportedly shouted at officers. They did not.
I’ll tell you why later.
I’d like to think 2013 will hold less of the tragic news that has been the hallmark of so many years past. But it probably won’t. Funny how we keep inventing new ways to nauseate ourselves. Still, as much as we look forward with hope at the dawn of any new year, we also look back. So it figures that on New Year’s Day I received an e-mail from a friend who, like me, grew up in the 1950s – an e-mail containing a PowerPoint presentation about “the good old days.”
It’s loaded with references that, viewed through the gauze-filtered backwards gaze we all develop sometime in our 40s, cause us to think those days were better than the current ones. For example, the presentation asks us to remember when “a quarter was a decent allowance.” But it fails to ask us to also remember that the minimum wage in 1955 was 75 cents per hour. Today, with the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, would you expect your kid to say that a weekly allowance of $2.42 is “decent?” It also points out powdered laundry detergents often came with a “free” glass tumbler, towel or dish in every box, but neglects to state that an equal volume of detergent was missing.
The PowerPoint also asks us to recall when “you’d reach into the muddy gutter for a penny.” Quaint indeed. However, on New Year’s Day I received a separate e-mail from another friend, who also grew up in the ’50s. She offered that she’d seen a penny in the street. Raised on the old saw, “See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck,” she stopped, removed her glove and bent to retrieve the penny – only to realize that she was in the middle of a crosswalk. “… and you’ll get run down by a truck” is not so catchy a finish.
My recommendation for 2013: Forget the past; don’t worry about the future. That was Zen; this is Tao.
As for the nude rude dude whose story began this column, even though police did find an assault rifle, clip and ammo in his truck, they did not have to kill him.
This was because the National Samurai Sword Association (NSSA) – in a prescient move no one anticipated – had stationed naked, samurai-sword-brandishing members at every transit station in California at midnight. Because we all know that the only thing that stops a naked, samurai-sword-brandishing bad guy is …
I made up that last part. This, I did not: Police captured the suspect after he made a run for a wire fence, fell down and dropped the sword.
Don’t worry, you’ll be able to see it all recreated on “Naked Samurai Island,” premiering Feb. 1 on E!
I made that up, too. At least I think I did. It’s only Jan. 3.