2017
two thousand seventeen
Twenty-Seventeen
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OUT OF MY HEAD
By John Addyman

   NEWARK (NOV 5 12) -- Enough already.
   I just got a phone call. The second this morning.
   The screen on my phone read “out of area.”
   At the other end of the line, a man was reading something. It was hard to understand him because his accent was so thick, and he was speaking quickly, probably trained to get his message across quickly before I hung up.
   I did listen, trying to place his accent.
   He was Indian or Pakistani or Bangladeshi.
   And he really was “out of area.”

   He was telling me I was the kind of person who voted (I am), and he asked if I’d make my way to my polling precinct tomorrow (I will, although in Newark that means driving around a bit because our polling places are moving targets).

   And I hung up. He was about to launch, rapidly, into his spiel about the slate of candidates he was seeking support for.
   So much money has been spent on this election that it has become intrusive in our lives. 
   Think about it…
   Within the last three days, our phone has rung about 12 times, as political campaigns have reached out to touch us. We’re on the federal “do not call” list, but that hasn’t stopped any of the candidates, parties, PACs, SuperPACs or the candidates’ moms and uncles from ringing us up.
   Just a few minutes ago I was working on a grocery list. Some old friends are visiting this week and I’m cooking them a meal. And I was writing on a little notepad that says “Kurt Werts, Jonathan Taylor for Trustees” (in Newark). I don’t even know how this little pad got into the house.
    Last night I was watching a football game, and I realized how different this particular broadcast is. Instead of being comforted between plays by a familiar sufferance of beer commercials, car and truck commercials, and GEICO commercials, I had, in my face every few minutes, the local pugnacious queens of the campaign trail – Maggie Brooks and Louise Slaughter – both running for the 28th District Congressional seat.
   There are many ways television overdoes things, but in this election, cable television has produced a monster. I don’t know Louise or Maggie, but I’m so sick of watching their ugly ads I’d give money to have them take the ads off the air and instead duke it out in a mud pit somewhere with the best woman winning.
   When we come to a time when looking at any mindless Fuccillo car dealership commercial on TV is a relief compared to see Louise and Maggie spit bile at each other one more time, you have to ask yourself, “What has our country come to?”
   And the mailbox.
   Does Ann Marie Burekle, the self-described “fiscal conservative” have her own printing company and post office?
   Our trash hauler has a system of weighing recyclables every week, and what we put out on the curb gets weighed and we receive points for each pound of stuff that can be recycled. The points lead to little rewards. It’s kind of nice.
   I just got the accounting for the last two weeks, and I noted that we have a blip on our recyclables amount – we’re up a full pound. I wondered what that was, then I realized I just recycled all the stuff Ann Marie has sent us. One day last week, every piece of mail we got was from her.
   Are we the only household this is happening to?
   The presidential campaigns are going to spend billions of dollars this year, a great deal of it on television ads – things that appear and then disappear into the vapor. Things that employ very few people. Things that don’t build new roads or create new industries or maintain bridges or fund research or improve the lives of very many people.
   Advertising is illusion, smoke and mirrors, intuition rather than judgment, fiction more than fact. The national political parties have decided that’s what we need.
   Is that what America is today?
   Excuse me, our phone is ringing…and I see our mail lady coming down the street…is Ann Marie reaching out to touch us again?   
   PS: You just can't make this stuff up. Two hours after I wrote this column, sure enough, we got a letter from Ann Marie. Reflecting my congresswoman's fiscally conservative nature, the letter was sent with no postage, from the Congressional mail service (which means I paid for it). Funny that it arrived on the eve of election day; funnier still was the fact that it was addressed to my wife. The subject of the letter? Prostate cancer. 
     

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