Sunday, November 13, 2016

Association – "Goodbye, Columbus" (1969)

You're gonna know that 
We've taken the world by surprise

To say that the 2016 election took us by surprise is the mother of all understatements.

I get blamed for a lot of sh*t that’s not my fault.  But you can’t blame me for anything relating to that election – because I didn’t vote!

Now wait just a minute before you get all righteously indignant about me not doing my civic duty.  I had a good excuse.

Voting in Maryland
I was planning to vote, but found out Monday evening that I had to fly to Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday to help out a client.

I know I could have voted early, but I had no reason to think that I wouldn’t in town on election day until it was too late.  Also, I disapprove of the whole notion of voting early.  As far as I'm concerned, people shouldn’t vote early, just like people shouldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner the Saturday or Sunday before Thanksgiving.

You can click here to read a Boston Globe article explaining why early voting is a bad idea.  (For one thing, turnout typically goes down significantly in states that allow early voting.)

My flight was at 9:10 am Tuesday morning.  I wanted to be at the airport by 8:00 AM at the latest, at it takes me a minimum of 45 minutes to drive there from my house.  The polls open at 7:00 AM in Maryland, so that left me precious little time to swing by my polling place (which is the neighborhood elementary school) and cast my vote before heading to the airport.  

I was reminded of the words of William Butler Yeats when I arrived at the school at 7:00 on the dot:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

There was nothing “mere” about the anarchy when I pulled up.  I was the 73rd voter in line, which was discouraging.  But I was prepared to wait it out . . . until it became apparent that the whole operation was completely FUBAR.  Nobody was actually voting – in fact, no one had even progressed as far as checking in with the election workers who hand out voting cards.  

The guy in charge (who has been the guy in charge as long as I can remember, despite the fact that it’s always chaotic when I show up to cast my ballot) was giving all his attention to a teenaged girl – presumably a student volunteer of some sort.  He seemed to be instructing her in her election-day duties.  

Surely an 8th-grade volunteer wouldn’t be given anything that important to do.  But the election supervisor was so focused on coaching her up that he was ignoring everything else that was happening . . . or NOT happening.

I gave it a few minutes.  But nothing changed.  The election judges sat quietly behind a folding table, avoiding eye contact with the 73 voters who were lined up.  Those 73 voters stood there docilely.  And the site supervisor continued to instruct the 8th-grade volunteer (who looked very sorry that she had volunteered to work at that polling place).  

A moment later, I was out the door and on my way to the airport, sans “I voted” sticker.  I was pissed, but only mildly.  Maryland is essentially a one-party state – every single race on the ballot was won by the Democrat – so voting there is a bit anticlimactic.  (This year, Clinton prevailed over Trump by 61% to 35%.  The state and local races were also one-sided.)

So whether I voted or didn’t vote had no impact on the outcome.  Nonetheless, not being able to vote kinda killed my groove.

When I landed in Columbus, the first order of business for me was to rent a car and drive to Dayton, which is about 75 miles away.

I was surprised by how many Trump-Pence yard signs I saw:

That’s not to say there weren’t Hillary signs as well:

The highlight of my time in Dayton was lunch at Skyline Chili.  The original Skyline Chili was opened by a Greek immigrant in Cincinnati in 1949.  Now the company has 152 locations in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Florida.

I had the Skyline "4-Way" (spaghetti with chili, beans, and shredded cheese):

I didn't leave a single bean behind:

My next stop was Dayton Beer Company – or DBC – which is Dayton’s oldest microbrewery.  It was serving not only its own beers but also a couple of dozen beers from other craft breweries located in Ohio.

During happy hour, you could get a pint of any DBC offering for just three bucks, which made my decision easy.  I ordered a brown ale that was made with lactose (milk sugar) and espresso, which was delicious – it was smooth and creamy and rich in flavor, but not too heavy going down:

Later that evening, I was pleased to learn that the bar at the nondescript suburban hotel where the event I was attending took place had Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale on tap.  

That beer — which is brewed in Lexington, Kentucky – is aged in used bourbon barrels.  It’s smoky, well-balanced, a little sweet . . . altogether delicious, even to a non-bourbon drinker like me.

I wasn’t able to leave Dayton until a little after midnight.  Fortunately, I had satellite radio in my rental car, so I was able to listen to the audio portion of the CNN and Fox News election coverage.  (It was kind of annoying to have to listen to those networks on a car radio instead of being able to watch them on TV.  Various pundits kept pointing to election maps, or referring to on-screen numbers, but you can’t see maps or graphics on the radio.)

I couldn’t make myself go to bed before the Presidential race was called, so I was awake until shortly after 3:00 am.  It was much more entertaining than the SuperBowl – come on, admit it . . . WERE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Hampton Inn breakfast
After staying up that late, I felt like death warmed over when I woke up the next morning, but a free Hampton Inn breakfast – scrambled eggs, bacon, and a waffle from one of those weird little rotating waffle makers they only have at hotel breakfast rooms – restored me to life.

After breakfast, I had time for a chilly walk along the Olentangy River, which flows into the Scioto River in downtown Columbus.  It was once known as the Keenhongsheconsepung River:

The Olentangy River Greenway
After my morning constitutional, I took care of my business, packed, and headed to the Columbus airport.  On the way, I stopped at North High Brewing for a quick flight:

*     *     *     *     *

Goodbye, Columbus, is the name of the novella that gave Philip Roth’s first book (which also included five short stories) its title.  (If you’re wondering how it is that Bob Dylan has won a Nobel Prize for Literature and Philip Roth hasn’t, I can’t help you – it’s mystery to me.)

That novella was made into a movie starring Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw (in her first significant role) in 1969.

I had a soft spot for that movie, which I saw at my college when it was a couple of years after it was released.  One reviewer said that it was “both funnier and more perceptive” than The Graduate, and I would agree.  (The Graduate was highly overrated.  So was M*A*S*H.)

The movie soundtrack featured four songs by the Association.  None of them – included the title track, which we’re featuring today – could hold a candle to “Along Comes Mary.”

Here’s “Goodbye, Columbus”:

Click below to order the song from Amazon:

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