Same Old Song

"There aren't any old times. When times are gone they're not old, they're dead! There aren't any times but new times."

- From the novel The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

 

Where do old times go as the hours and days and months and years keep rolling along? Is there a storage unit located somewhere in the basement of the cosmos where these treasured times are saved? A celestial file cabinet? An infinite shoebox?

If you believe in linear time, and the notion that time in this particular universe simply marches ahead from point A to point B to point C (and never the other way around, from point C to point B to point A), then perhaps Tarkington is correct. There are, in fact, no other times but new times.

But that doesn't mean that time can't repeat itself. That the same old song from point A of the past can't be sung again in time slot C ... or D ... or M ... or W. In that sense, there are no old songs, or old times. There is no cosmic basement, no celestial file cabinet, no infinite shoebox. Each moment arrives anew, overwriting the previous moment with the current moment, which in turn will be overwritten with the moment yet to come. Or the song yet to be sung.

Yet, the song sounds strangely familiar in the present moment, like we have heard it all before.

Where am I going with all of this? How the heck do I know, I'm still half asleep - I was up late watching the Red Sox and up early watching the predawn sky with my dog, Lucy. So, consider the following as I pour myself a second cup of coffee:

 

Of Presidents and Plumbers

I have a leaky pipe downstairs in my basement. Do you think "Joe the Plumber" is available to fix it? Or perhaps he is too busy with interviews. I guess Andy Warhol was right. Fifteen minutes of fame. It comes and goes so quickly. I better make sure I shave each morning, 'cause I'll never know when my fifteen minutes will come ... and go ... and who wants to be on national television with a few days' worth of stubble.

Actually, the election of 2008 is not the first to prominently feature a "plumber." In fact, the election of 1972 involved a number of plumbers, including "G. Gordon the Plumber" and "E. Howard the Plumber," who were responsible for fixing all kinds of presidential leaks prompted by the Pentagon Papers.

Speaking of plumbing, the White House received running water sometime during the mid-19th century. A major renovation, including a redo of the plumbing, took place during Theodore Roosevelt's administration, and again during the Truman administration. The current White House boasts 35 bathrooms. That's a lot of ... of ... of ... porcelain.

 

Heartbeat Away

There has been quite a bit of talk during this election season about McCain's vice presidential pick and whether his choice would be the ideal person sitting just one little ol' heartbeat away from the Oval Office. It leads one to question whether the choice of VP is actually all that important given past US history? I mean, really, how many of them eventually became president? Well, let's take a look:

John Adams (2nd President) was VP under Washington.

Thomas Jefferson (3rd President) was VP under Adams.

Martin Van Buren (8th President) was VP under Andrew Jackson.

John Tyler (10th President) was VP under William Henry Harrison (died in office)

Millard Fillmore (13th President) was VP under Zachary Taylor (died in office)

Andrew Johnson (17th President) was VP under Abraham Lincoln (died in office)

Chester A. Arthur (21st President) was VP under James Garfield (died in office)

Theodore Roosevelt (26th President) was VP under William McKinley (died in office)

Calvin Coolidge (30th President) was VP under Warren Harding (died in office)

Harry Truman (33rd President) was VP under Franklin D. Roosevelt (died in office)

Lyndon Johnson (36th President) was VP under John Kennedy (died in office)

Richard Nixon (37th President) was VP under Dwight Eisenhower.

Gerald Ford (38th President) was VP under Richard Nixon (resigned).

George Bush (41st President) was VP under Ronald Reagan.

Over the course of 43 administrations during the past 220 years, 14 vice presidents went on to become president. That comes to 33%. In nine cases (21% of all administrations) the vice president had to step in to become president upon either the death or resignation of the sitting president. So, given past history, that comes to a one-in-five chance. Sort of like the chances of the Patriots having a winning season.

FYI: Four of the above vice presidents who became president (Tyler, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Arthur) did not, themselves, have a vice president, although Tyler had two First Ladies and something like 15 or 16 children!

 

And so, returning to the subject of "Same Old Song"

{A hypothetical postcard from Motown}

G R E E T I N G S   F R O M    M O T O W N

Dear Bernadette,

Reach out. Shake me, wake me. I can't help myself, sugar pie honey bunch. It's the same old song. Standing in the shadow of love. You keep me running away. Baby, I need your lovin'. I'm living in seven rooms of gloom. Just seven numbers.

Indestructible,

Keeper of the Castle

-- Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops, died last week at age 72.

 

Jack Sheedy

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