No. 1: What will it take for a Democratic presidential nominee to defeat Trump next year?
My guess: It will take a lot more excitement than we’ve seen in the run-up campaign so far. But maybe I haven’t been attending enough (or any) of the rallies to appreciate the music, war whoops and slogans that have been trotted out.
Here’s an idea: What the Democrats (or any of their candidates) could use is an optimistic, soul-stirring, we-will-not-give-up campaign song that makes voters shiver and shake with desire to reclaim the government and the hope they lost back in November 2016.
I believe the framework for such a song exists. It is Carly Simon’s “Let the Rivers Run.” Do this: Boot up the words on Google. Study them. You’ll find they don’t smack of politics. Rather, they resound with energy, ebullience and optimism. They paint the future our nation and people can reclaim if only we awake to the fact that “It’s asking for the taking.” Then boot up the music and Carly’s singing once, twice, three times. If by then you don’t long to recapture the America we used to know, forgive me for taking up your time.
Tomorrow or today, if I headed the Democratic Election Committee I would hire the best songwriters available, including Carly herself if she’s willing. I would tell them, “Revise the lyrics to fit the 2020 political battleground, but keep the joy, the expectancy, the we-can’t-lose, as our sons and daughters, all of our dreamers, wake the nation.”
A 200-voice choir could premiere “Let the River Run” at the Democratic nomination convention. From that point the song might become an anthem rivalling Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
No. 2: Why are so many books so long?
I’m referring especially to novels and other works of fiction. Is there any 700-page story that could not have been told in half or two-thirds the space it occupies when it is finally completed and sold to the public? “Well, buster, if you don’t like such books, don’t buy them.” Okay, maybe I won’t, and neither will a few hundred or thousand other potential buyers.
I recently read that publishing houses, when considering which new works to accept, will often tend to choose a shorter manuscript as opposed to a longer one of equal quality. The reason: money. The shorter book will cost less to produce, and will take less time to reach the bookstores, at a sales price that may not be much lower than the 10-pound book. But still the big ones keep coming.
No. 3. Among the thousands of professional sports figures, are there any infected by eloquence?
In all the post-game press interviews you see on TV, when is the last time you heard an athlete utter a crisp, clever or otherwise distinctive phrase? Should we even expect to hear any comment more memorable than “It was a tough game” or “My teammates are tops and I’m grateful to be one of them”?
The answer: No, nor should we. These men and women, while being at least as verbally equipped as the next person, are not paid to charm journalists or the public.
Still, I can’t help thinking of New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra. Without half-trying, he left us with quips and comments that will never be forgotten. Where is the new Yogi?
No. 4. Is there anywhere a consensus on whether it’s impolite to interrupt a speaker during (A) a friendly conversation, or (B) a panel discussion on a nationwide TV newscast?
Answer: Apparently not. Everywhere today I see and hear people interrupting each other, without an excuse-me or a by-your-leave.
Unless I’m mistaken, this used to be considered bad manners. I’ve tried to figure out why speech protocols have changed with the years. My conclusion: today all conversational rules (or most of them) are up for grabs.