Friday, December 25, 2020

Voice of the People

As published in The Country Times (

By Duke Radbourn

Greetings and salutations good people of the world.  It has been a while – years even – since our paths have crossed in this here column.  Your regular writer is a blubbering pile of Coronamotions at present - so many life events have been altered or lost to the viral giant stampeding, again, throughout the country.  The aging, but still young lad (given my company anyway), asked for an assist from old Uncle Duke.  Wordless, I guess is how he found himself.  It happens, especially when improperly lubricated.  Stuck with me are thee.

Did someone say lubrication?  Where’s my courage?  Ah yes, never more than an arms-length away – because I am a professional.  There we go.  Sitting there all brown and appealing with those dancing ice cubes, it could be taken for a harmless glass of tea. Oh, but that would be a mistake - the kind that could land you on the bathroom floor later, fumbling through the medicine cabinet for headache helpers and firmly in the doghouse of some other human that naively expected so much more maturity and self-control from you. 

No such judgment here, though, my friends.  This is the safe zone.  Sinners and saints are welcome alike.  Besides, as Jimmy Buffett once said, there’s a thin, often indiscernible line, between Saturday night and Sunday morning.  So come as you are.  Be you, unapologetically…at least until you see flashing lights and someone is screaming to put your hands above your head.

On to business then.  Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson once crooned, “Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”, suggesting instead that you, “let ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such.”  Well that didn’t age well.  Our poor doctors are once again drowning in COVID cases and putting their health on the line after “smarter-than-science” sections of the country turned America into a bio-hazard zone.  And as for the lawyers…sheesh…a whole lot of them are billing hours supporting zany lawsuits and sweating through their hair dye.  Does a cleared check clear one’s conscience?    

You know what craft Waylon and Willie should have suggested to mammas?  NBA player.  Have you seen these free agent NBA contracts?  It is good to be tall, athletic and possess elite handles and a sweet shot – or just one of these attributes!  Mason Plumlee got three years and $25M from the Pistons.  Jordon Clarkson scored four years and $52M from the Jazz.  The Trail Blazers gave Rodney Hood and his repaired Achilles two years and $21M.  And the Wizards re-signed Davis Bertans for five years and $80M.  This mere mortal cannot comprehend this math - a greater power is at work.  All praise be to the free market economy.  Hallelujah! 

Here is something else your favorite Duke has been celebrating over the last few weeks: scoreboards.  The decisiveness is all the jazz.  You win.  You lose.  Now run along.  Thanks for participating.  Victors celebrate, recount the success of carefully crafted plans and acknowledge their good fortune.  The defeated fuss and moan a bit - bad bounces, missed calls, blown opportunities – but regroup, reassess, learn and, most importantly, accept the loss gracefully. 

All involved know it is what it is.  I don’t have my scoreboard and you don’t have yours.  There is one, cold and unbiased judge.  The result - the final accounting of the best each competitor had to offer - is sacred and unquestioned.  When the competition ends, everyone kisses the scoreboard’s ring.  It is a stone tablet, not a blackboard that can be erased on a whim – or in a juvenile fit – and a different outcome created for consumers lusting for an alternate reality.  Championships shirts can’t be recalled, champagne can’t get put back into the bottle and recorked and history can’t be re-written.  We clear? 

What’s that?  What if the scoreboard could be retroactively manipulated?  Chaos, people.  More chaos than I could describe even if this entire bottle of “sippin’ tea” in front of me was suddenly in my belly and massaging my brain.  Sports would break.  Cease to exist. 

(Duke takes a long, slow swig)

Look, imagine if the heart of democracy was hijacked by bandits...    

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