Twenty years ago, a one-man band called World Party had a minor hit single, "Ship of Fools." Go ahead. Strap on the Walkman of your mind and try to recall it, complete with cassette hiss:
You will pay tomorrow ...
You're gonna pay tomorrow
I hardly remembered the song until I stumbled across it during a late-night drunken iTunes search. But it came flooding back when it hit the chorus, and Karl Wallinger's Jaggeresque vocals pleaded:
Save me, save me from tomorrow
I don't want to sail in this ship of fools, no no
I haven't been able to get this song out of my head for the past few days, because it feels like the soundtrack to life lately. The biggest fool, of course, is the mutant idiot child running our country, and watching the recent Democratic presidential debates only reminds me that we still have 19 months of him in charge.
Nineteen more months of carnage in the Middle East.
Nineteen months of limbs blown away, skin burned beyond recognition, families broken.
Nineteen months of our troops in the middle of a hellacious civil war that ... whoopsie ... we kind of started.
Nineteen more months of an environment strangled by the thick monkey fingers of a man too stupid to sign an accord that the rest of the world seems to think is a pretty fucking good idea.
Nineteen more months of a federal deficit deep and wide and hopeless as a black hole.
You know ... 19 months of the usual.
Nineteen months is a long, long time.
And there are plenty of fools running the ship. Even the fools we elected (looking at you, Democrats) who despite much campaign bluster flinched when it counted most.
So what do we do in the meantime? Well, I agree that certain problems can be tackled only on a global level, with the full power of the U.S. government behind it and God help the next president, who will have to clean up the biggest mess known to mankind, and might best be referred to as the Janitor in Chief.
But at the same time, you can never discount the actions of individuals.
In fact, great campaigns have started at the hand of a single person.
And in this, our second environmental issue (which starts on p. 23), managing editor Brian Hickey introduces us to people who are jumping off this ship of fools and making their own way through the choppy waters.
These are the kinds of people who will get us through the next 19 months.
Follow their lead.
You Can Take Manhattan
I attended BookExpo America aka BEA, the publishing industry's big yearly trade show in Manhattan this past weekend. For book nerds, it's like dying and going to heaven. Only, in this heaven, the air condi- tioning didn't quite work. It was damn hot in the Jacob Javits Center.
The strange thing about the Javits Center, though, is not the heat, but the proximity ... to nothing. It literally sits on the edge of Manhattan like a precancerous growth. I drove up to BEA from Philly, and I hardly felt like I was in Manhattan at all. Most of the trip was the dizzyingly boring N.J. Turnpike, followed by a quick spin through the Mouth of Hell (the Lincoln Tunnel), followed by two right turns, and there you are. The Javits. In the middle of nowhere.
Seriously, it's near nothing. No subway lines. No tourist destinations. Far as I could tell, the most thriving businesses are parking lots and a corner joint where taxi cabs can have their flat tires patched in a hurry.
Compare this with Philly, whose convention center is within walking distance of everything. Namely, restaurants that won't gouge you so deep, you feel woozy. Talk to my pal Ed, who paid damn near $20 for a basket of chicken tenders and a bottle of Bud.
I used to be on the fence about the Convention Center expansion plans, but you know what? I think, with the right amount of space, we could eat New York for lunch.
At the very least, our air conditioning beats the living shit out of their air conditioning.