By Jack Engelhard
After a draught of some months, I finally got the Cable people to hook me up with Don Imus’s radio program that also appears on TV. What a relief! It’s good to hear all that irreverence and smack amid all the sanctimonious chatter now that we’re deep in the heart of yet another political season.
Here’s what I like about Imus…he tolerates no smugness. Reminds me of Lenny Bruce back when real people ruled the earth.
Today every man is certain of his views and there are no discussions, only dogmas and orthodoxies. People shout at one another. Nobody listens. Liberals especially come boxed and petrified within an agenda. They have the answer to everything. Conservatives aren’t perfect, either.
But Liberals inherited their Liberalism from their fathers and grandfathers of the 1960s and today practice their culture and politics with a vengeance.
This is Liberalism on steroids.
Back then (in the 1960s) we didn’t have answers. We had questions. We were a generation of iconoclasts. We worshipped no idols; neither Left nor Right. We had no fixed positions and we were open to all points of view, especially there at the Hip Bagel over coffee in Greenwich Village. Lenny Bruce showed up regularly as did Mort Sahl and Allen Ginsberg.
We showed mercy to no man or woman who came with unyielding verities.
Sometimes the place was McSorley’s and if Don Imus wasn’t there, he sure acts like he was, given his knack for the perfectly timed put-down of all things counterfeit.
Whatever they were selling back then (meaning those politicians and academics), we weren’t buying.We trusted no one over 30.
We dropped out. I date the counterculture – the age of irreverence – to J. D. Salinger and his contempt of phonies.
I can even date it to Lenny Bruce, the man who systematically uttered the Seven Forbidden Words and tore the Establishment up, down and sideways. Better yet, mistrust of the Establishment can be tracked to Ike, yes, President Eisenhower, who – of all people – may have been our first true rebel, when, in testimony to his fearlessness and greatness, there in his farewell address, he told us to beware of the “military-industrial complex.”
That took guts!
We’ve got no one around like that today. We’ve become a generation that goes by the script and our political humorists (Bill Maher et al) are nothing more than scoffers, and this goes for Jay Leno as well…endless cracks about Sarah Palin, not funny. Jon Stewart does have skills but so does his staff of more than a dozen that write the jokes for him.
Lenny Bruce stood alone in his scorn of phoniness and…there is more than a welcome touch of this in our man Don Imus.
About the author: Novelist Jack Engelhard wrote the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal” that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His award-winning book of memoirs, “Escape From Mount Moriah,” has been honored at CANNES Film Festival 2011 through Nikila Cole’s filming of the book’s short story, “My Father, Joe.”