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Waxing nostalgic and waning neurotic

New Year’s Eve is a time both to wax nostalgic and to spill over with enthusiasm for the coming months. My nostalgia centers on events gone by and friends who have passed away or otherwise left my life. Some years ago, there was Betty Pia, a Maderan who was a one-time nurse to FDR and resident political guru whose blessing was sought by nearly every local candidate for public office.

When she died, she was in her 90’s and preparing to open her home to elderly people who needed her care. I always thought it to be a bit ironic that she would be ministering to seniors who might be a decade or two younger than she.

This year, my dear friend, former golfing buddy, and primary mentor on all things Maderan, Dr. Duane Furman, passed away. He was 89, and there will be a celebration of his life at the Vineyard Restaurant on Jan. 8, 2017. But neither Bob nor Helen Mariscotti will be in attendance, and I have missed them, especially every time I visit the eatery that they founded. As I’ve told their son, Chris, one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve ever experienced was spent with my date, sitting at the restaurant’s bar, and listening to his late parents tell tales about the origins of the Vineyard.

Earlier this year, I wrote a column (with photos supplied by Wendy Alexander and others) about Evelyn Ducoff, who volunteered her time to help the Madera County Arts Council. As much as anyone, she exemplified the French concept of “joie de vivre.” That love of life was also typical of Leon Emo, whose exaggerations about life in the desert were enjoyed by everyone who read “Mo’s Musings” in The Madera Tribune. Leon celebrated various events with feeble (often, very feeble) attempts at poetry. So, in his memory, here is my lame effort above (based on a vague recollection of something I wrote in high school).

Looking ahead It’s difficult to summon much enthusiasm for the coming year, excepting the fact that the stock market is at or near a record high. Also, if you own stock in super markets that do business in California, 2017 should look pretty good as the stores now charge 10 cents for the paper bags that used to be free (with their cost already factored into the price of food). But otherwise, the world order seems to lack stability, with economic problems troubling so many countries and terrorism seeming to steal so many headlines. Diagnoses of neuroses should continue to climb.

At home, however, we’ll start off with a blast because we’ll have the Great Celebrity Inauguration. President-elect Donald J. Trump has promised that a “ton” of entertainers and other celebrities will be present. A ton is 2,000 pounds, and that would be somewhere between 7 probably obese people and 21 likely victims of anorexia nervosa. However, we’ve learned that Mr. Trump’s tweets are often more metaphor than fact. Still, various news services have reported that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform and the Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes will high kick the gala as Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

Another gift from 2017 will be the introduction of an electronic drone swatter, which will likely be developed by a teenaged high school drop-out who has converted the garage of her parents’ Cupertino home into a high-tech laboratory. By the end of the year, she’ll join the growing list of teen billionaires who lounge on the nano-platform.

The new year will also bring new challenges to the Darwinian theory of evolution as physicians confront an epidemic of digital hypertrophy, the gross enlargement of thumbs caused by the over-development of muscles brought about by tens of thousands of texts sent via iPhones. The condition, of course, eventually makes it nearly impossible for victims to utilize their communication devices. Controversy will rage over whether this affliction will be reflected in a mutation of the genes of oncoming generations.

Finally, we’ll attempt to transform our representative democracy to one which can be maintained 140 characters at a time. We’ll have no more procrastination while solutions to problems are well thought out, as was the case with the Cuban missile crisis, but rather quick responses right off the top of the head. During the coming months, we’ll get to see the result of such instantaneous response to complex international issues.

With a lot of luck, I’ll be right here to bid farewell to 2017 and welcome in 2018 with you. Happy New Year!


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