I spent the past couple of weeks at Beth Israel Hospital, flat on my back and getting all kinds of tests that led to the discovery of what is known as an ablation. I finished my hospital run with a stent inserted in my wrist. It was intended to correct my heartbeat, which was irregular, and to ward off any discovered blockage.
All jobs were professionally, sublimely done.
At such times, one will think about many things. I read more papers than usual, watched many History Channel shows and perused true-crime documentaries that were well-matched by shows that revealed, again and again, the American spirit of curiosity, discovery and ways of turning something found from antiquity into a profitable offering now.
The buzz of business was always in the air, and so was a colorless camaraderie for the shared love of national history and the importance shown to its various signatures. Those could be no more than old neon signs and advertisements, revealed in decorations and gadgets that met the moment with a way of doing stuff a little better.
There was an adolescent streak that went with all that, somewhat charming, but also further proof that Americans have more trouble growing up than they should. In our nation, people tend to grow old as opposed to growing up, which should bring some sort of wisdom, enough recognition of actual fact to not be duped by superficial flash.
There is more danger to our ongoing adolescent streak than we spend much time talking about, or comprehending.
It is always tempting for so-called minorities and women to stumble into inaccurate self-pity. Such whining usually means the inevitable troubles of life are seen as no more than aspects of bigotry, or hustles that always arrive as soon as troubles are recognized. It’s just the buzz of business again.
In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese, easily our finest living filmmaker, wove a comic and disgusting variation on the things he looked at in “Goodfellas” and “Casino”: small men who never grow up. Life is always too big for them to understand.
Some work in violence, drugs and robbery, but their Wall Street counterparts are perhaps still more despicable.
Those beasts who prowl the jungles of the financial sector are so hypnotized by money, luxury, decadence and power that they slowly become blind to humanity. In “Wolf,” one angry wife who is no longer humanly seen at all lays down the entire point of the film when she angrily tells her self-made millionaire husband: “You have children now, but you want to live as an infant!”
Little boys with big hustles are the kind who almost destroyed our financial system.
Watching Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings — the ranking Republican and Democrat on the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — is similarly heavy.
Issa treats his older peer dismissively, cutting off his microphone. It smacks of contempt.
This also is true when buffoonish Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert tried to condescend to Attorney General Eric Holder, but the AG was not going for it, telling his sneering questioner “you don’t want to go there” when the Texan tried to put words in the mouth of our nation’s top law-enforcement official.
That time is well past for the president and those with him to lay back and let the confederates blow off steam. They must be called out on their redneck ways.
Those walking out of line, behaving like adolescents bouncing off the walls in the house of power, need to be shown the door.
California Democrat Jackie Speier cut to the chase in a speech on the House floor about the troubles some of her male colleagues have had keeping their pants zipped.
“This is the House of Representatives of the United States of America,” she said. “This is not a frat house.”
If it were not a frat house, our national problems would be far less, and a great artist like Martin Scorsese would not have used that theme and that trouble in order to tell us so well about our blues for yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Our country always has a lot of growing up to do, and that growth will come, no matter how many hustlers try to exploit it in the name of ethnicity or sex.
Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.