After last Tuesday's City Council meeting, an event that included the widely celebrated denouement of the hopes and dreams of those wishing to continue consuming tobacco products on the sidewalks of our fashionable downtown dining areas, I posted something here entitled "Smoking Ordinance Passes Unanimously." A piece that has also been printed on the front cover of this week's edition of the Sierra Madre Weekly. Above the fold, I might add.
What has truly amazed us here is that this post has now attracted 156 comments! By far the largest total for anything we've ever put up on this site. And out of that lofty number a full 30 were contributed by Mr. Strike personally, with another 70 or so in direct response to his comments. Obviously we could never have achieved this remarkable new record without his selfless contributions.
We extend our gratitude to Mr. Strike for his hard work and concern, and hope to continue hearing from him in the future. Obviously a blog requires passionate contributors to succeed, and Josh brings all that to the table, and then some.
We have come to refer to his observations as "Josh Thought," or "Strikes." Josh Thought being typified by a willingness to grapple with the big issues facing us, and in a most comprehensive way. Here he links the outdoor dining smoking restrictions just passed here in Sierra Madre to a possible decline and collapse of the United States of America.
"You know, I guess if I'd been thinking of it that way, I should have called Philip Morris. But I thought this was something citizens could compromise on amongst themselves. Awww ... what's the use. Your country's gonna crumble, fade and disappear in the next generation, if the world isn't wiped out anyway. This little blip, the hysteria at the end of the empire, we live in interesting times. If my grandfather were alive now to see this he'd have left this country, and will I to (sic). It's not just this smoking thing, it's your whole way of living and what you eat and what you watch and what you read or don't read and all the pointless junk you buy and all the debt your (sic) in to China and, ultimately, the limited way in which you think; and nothing I say is gonna really get that across because you just don't have a broad enough view of what the world is really like to comprehend it. Blind yourself, stay in the bubble, and when it all comes crashing down on you, don't say I didn't warn ya."
Now I was going to summarize Josh Strike's philosophy here, with his passion for the smoking cause and all of its ramifications being the most salient in his quiver of thought. But then I noticed a post by someone contributing under the rubric "Can You Help Us." Turns out this was written by a Sierra Madre resident named Johnny, with whom I have since exchanged e-mails. And what he had to say was, in my opinion, as gracious and compelling as anything I could ever hope to write on the topic. So we are reprinting it here in its entirety.
Dear Sierra Madre Tattler,
I am new in my awareness of your blog. So far what I see I really like. It seems like a wonderful arena for some of us to express our thoughts, even our deepest feelings. What I have noticed, however, is that there is no advice column. I grew up receiving much enjoyment from reading the words of Dear Abby, Ann Landers, etc. I am curious as to whether you might consider bringing someone in to do just such a thing. If you would I have an important psychological issue that has developed in my young infant. Let me tell you about this issue as though this was your first submission to say, "Dear Eric?" Or maybe you could get that very pleasant young lady from that other news source in town, Alison to do it. Anyway, here is what I got:
Our son was born a couple of years back. We don't want to use his real name and risk the possibility of causing him harm later in life, so let's just from here on out refer to him as "Josh." Josh had something unfortunate that started shortly after his birth. The doctor told my wife and I that he is colicky. We had not previously been familiar with this condition, and perhaps you are not either. The malady cause paroxysmal pain in the abdomen or bowels. Of course, in the first year of his life we may never have known there was a problem due to the lack of language skills prior to their development. The only way we were able to tell that there was a problem was that he would never stop crying.
As you can imagine, this was very difficult for my wife, myself and usually anyone else near us who had to listen to this consistent crying. We dealt with it as best that we could. However, at some point this made it difficult for us to even find friends for him to play with. The other stroller moms didn't want him around and none of the other children seemed to have any respect for him.
Fortunately at some point the condition improved, and as is usual he developed the ability to speak and was able to to tell us what was bothering him. Unfortunately, by this time our little Joshie had become conditioned to cry whenever he didn't get his way. This was even the case when a majority of the neighborhood children were happy with the way things were. His language skills did develop and in time Joshie was able to tell us of the many things that were troubling him. I won't burden you with all the details, but what follows is something we call:
A Short (and most likely very incomplete) List Of Things That Anger Baby Joshie -
1) Lousy boot-licking totalitarians
2) A weak country populated with stroller moms
3) The idiotic Oprah Book Club
4) Jim Cramer conversations
5) Criminally spoiled, screaming kids
6) Conversations struck up at the pub (that) revolve around someone's dog
7) Sociopaths who think that with a little more rigid law enforcement, they'll somehow stop being miserable about everything.
8) People who lack critical reasoning skills
9) Failure of the education system
10) Human tendency toward thoughtless, high-handed persecution
11) An anonymous face in the crowd
12) The rule of the mob, the tyranny of the masses
13) Why we aren't more like Europe
14) The playroom at McDonald's
15) Large pharmaceutical company paychecks
16) Protectors of the population
17) Power of police to prevent people from doing something you dislike
18) Puritanical SOB(s)
19) Power in this country out of our (his) hands
20) Crying children
22) Members of the local Taliban
23) Anonymous posters
24) Being too addicted to a healthy lifestyle
25) Mayor Zimmerman
These are just some of our Joshie's gripes from a less than 12 hour period yesterday. Today with the beginning of a new day he just picks up where he left off and continues with an endless list of complaints and grievances. He was become almost UNBEARABLE!
So I guess the advice I am looking for ... my question is: Is there any way to stop our little baby Joshie from crying without completely caving in and giving him his way? It gets to the point where we wish someone would put a pillow over his mouth and hold it there until he stops breathing. Anything you can tell us would be helpful. Thank you, call us "Losing Our Minds In Sierra Madre"
Hopefully this is not the end of the dialog, and we will continue to use this exhilarating debate to grow both philosophically and as human beings.