I used to chuckle when I would read a letter from a job applicant who not only admitted to no experience or knowledge of the job they were applying for, but considered this an asset. Supposedly the ability to bring a fresh viewpoint, free of the constraints of prior usage, would instantly vault this individual into indispensability. You can’t blame anyone for trying, but I doubt that this approach gets many people hired. Maybe it works in advertising. So here I am writing a blog with a similar set of qualifications. Mostly this blog will be somehow related to Boulder, which I am qualified to write about simply because I live there.
Many people think of Boulder as an entity, with a personality and fixed opinions and values. In fact, Boulder is an entity only in such mundane aspects as location, real estate, and economy. If Boulder is anything more, it is because of the people in it, and that’s where things get interesting. Many consider Boulder to be a liberal enclave. The People’s Republic of Boulder, dates back decades, but the letters to the editor of the Camera on a given day would soon dispel any image of liberal homogeneity. Yet there are lots of liberals, and they can be a lot of fun. I am sort of a liberal myself, though not a very fun one, so I have to sift through the spectrum of local liberals (without getting personal) to find the fun parts. To be honest, poking holes in the liberal balloon is not all fun. We have the luxury of living in a place and time where nothing is really very threatening, but some people worry themselves into a tizzy about their private issues nevertheless. Friends often tell me to lighten up, and I expect to do so by lightening up on others.
Let me write a little about the name of this blog. I refer to Jon Winokur, author of The Pocket Curmudgeon for a balanced (i.e., agreeable to me) definition of curmudgeon. With due deference to H.L Mencken, nastiness and meanness of spirit are not part of the concept of curmudgeonliness. With the passing of the Bush presidential dynasty, ‘compassionate’ may be shedding the ironic subtext born of the peculiar term “compassionate conservative” used by those two, so I should probably abandon it as well, but I won’t. Why should I be the only one to adapt to the times? I like the definition that I grew up with. Combining the two senses of the word, obsolete or not, yields a gentle way to point out the shortcomings of other people.
In a complex society, one can find an abundance of large and small issues to tackle from this direction. It is important to keep a few things in mind, both as the author and as the reader. One is that one does not go to columns to find facts. That much is obvious after one has read a few thousand of them. Another is that it is extremely difficult to change people’s minds, and I certainly wouldn’t expect to have much success there. The purpose of this column in whatever future remains to it is to present a few issues that I am really serious about, in a studiedly non-serious way. Maybe people will think about things they have not thought about before. That’s all I could ask. Readers who ask more will have to provide it for themselves.
I should give a hint of what is to come. Unlike India, we have no sacred cows, except metaphorical ones, but we seem to have sacred rodents, notably the prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus. Then we have so-called organic food, vegetarians, vegans, and the raw-food fringe constantly brushing up against wine snobs, runners, and hybrid drivers, as well as drivers of hybrids. Then there is the idea of balance. It will not be found here, and readers, if any, should not look for it.