Nostalgia for a simpler time he never knew

Burt's Eye View

Lately, I’ve been tuning into 1940s swing, jazz and big bands on my drive home from work. More and more, I find myself retreating into an era I never knew and breathing deeply of the fresh air.

I work at a daily newspaper where — follow me closely now — I am bombarded by news. It never stops. Wire stories flow onto my desktop 24 hours a day. TVs mounted to the walls deluge me with on-the-scene video of every crisis and crybaby. Phone calls, emails, news releases, emergency services radio and tattletales swirl with misery, woe, sniping, backbiting and name-calling.

The average gathering of so-called grownups can out-childish a whole district of preschools any day.

By the time I crawl into my Jeep for the after-work drive home, I’m ready to pillow myself in airy tunes full of clarinets, trombones, crooners and velvety fogs.

Yes, I know it’s delusional to imagine the living was easy in the 1940s. For starters, there was a world war raging.

But there also were some lovely advantages — no smartphones, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other form of social media not involving the U.S. Postal Service. If you wanted to call someone out, instead of hiding behind layers of bytes and pixels, you had to perform the unpleasantness to a person’s face without ever once tweeting about it.

Social media is infested with “experts” who, despite a complete lack of any actual experience, know exactly what everyone else should do, say, think or feel. They don’t offer help or useful suggestions. They’re too busy lambasting anyone who dares dispute their brilliance with a flurry of insults, profanity and mean-spirited memes.

Being offended has become a full-time occupation, and the workers all sign up for overtime.

Remember when the only thing people posted on Facebook was photos of their food. I never thought I’d miss those days, but I do. If I thought the news wore me out, going home and scrolling through social media posts makes me want to jump off a cliff.

No, wait, I’ll sit here on the hill, inhale breezes of serenity and smile at the sunset while my smartphone takes the tumble. I just went nearly an entire two weeks without posting a single thing on Facebook or Twitter. It’s not the longest I’ve gone without posting. My record is 52 years. Then I got a laptop computer, one thing led to another and…


Lately, I’ve been closing out of social media accounts and searching YouTube for videos of 1970s musical acts. I went to junior high and high school in the 1970s, listening to music my dad called nitwitted.

I admit, lyrics that I considered deep in the 1978 sound rather — to use a scientific term — stupid now. But I want to bask in the bouncy idiocy.

You can keep pace with the cycle of viciousness, if you must. Or instead, you could skip down to the meadow with me and giggle with my friends Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam. No, it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes you just need a break from those things that believe they do.

— Cole’s been cranky since “The Partridge Family” went off the air in 1974. Commiserate with him at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook. He’ll check in again soon.