Richard Crowson

Labor Day! Was there ever a more anachronistic holiday in this era when those nasty, horrible, pinko unions are blamed for everything from that bruise you got when you tripped in your driveway to Hurricane Isaac which those devious labor unions whipped up just to upstage the Republican National Convention?

And to think that we have a national holiday that was begun by union members and sanctioned by the Congress and President Grover Cleveland in 1894 after the Pullman Strike to celebrate American labor! Oh, the shame.

When shovels are outlawed only outlaws will have shovels. I guess that’s the predominant attitude in certain circles these days. As for me, I’m all for some sane shovel-control laws in this country.

In spite of the best efforts of many fine, upstanding, super-colossal maxi-conservatives, we have gone down a slippery slope. Not the slippery slope that they were so worried about—you know, the one that leads to more and more restrictive gun laws. We avoided that one, thank the Lord.

Richard Crowson

Stuck as we currently are, in the white-hot heat of another political campaign season, it seems a good time to think for a moment about this climate of ours. Not our global climate but our political climate. It’s out of whack.

There’s a bandwagon making the rounds these days that I pretty much have to jump on. I just can’t resist. The band that’s playing on this wagon is pretty rag-tag. They do have band uniforms so give them a few points for that. But none of them are very proficient on their instruments and the sound of them all trying to play “Stars and Stripes Forever” is nothing short of calamitous. Still, me and millions of other people are happy to count ourselves among the fans of this band.

Comedian Steve Martin once said, “It’s impossible to play a sad song on the banjo.” That statement gets to the heart of the issue: the banjo is a happy-sounding instrument. So happy, in fact, that cartoonist Charles Schulz once had Linus say, “The way I see it, as soon as a baby is born he should be issued a banjo!”

Of course, universal banjo care of that sort would really set off the anti-socialism crowd, but I think it’d be a great government program.

Sometimes a little distance from something can give you a completely different slant on it. There’s a whole lot of distance now, between my 60-year-old self and the summer of 1962.

That was the summer I played drums with The Ventures. Lee Edward Sonny Smith was my next-door neighbor in Memphis, Tenn. Sonny had gotten himself into the classic quandary of so many youngsters back in those days—he had secretly enrolled in the Columbia Record Club.

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