So this is very strange. I've been staring at a blank page on my computer for some time now, wondering exactly how to retire from writing a newspaper column I've written for 27 years now. Yes, TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS. It might even be TWENTY-EIGHT. I have really, really good friends who weren't even born when I helped start this newspaper as its first editor 100,000 years ago and have been writing a regular column ever since. But I'm not going to go there. I'm not going to write about being old and all the things that have happened during these almost three decades of writing for this paper. Suffice it to say that, to the best of my recollection, Ronald Reagan was president of the United States when I started. Ouch.
So enough is enough is enough. I am done (for now). I want to hand this off to someone who can write about the Republican presidential nominee without having to take five hot showers while scrubbing with Comet. I just can't do it. So I'm going to part ways with just a little bit of advice for those who care to read, because these are very interesting times we're in.
- Tim Sampson
Just be nice. Be a good, nice person. Be as nice to the person at the Krystal drive-through window as you would be to someone giving you a check for a million dollars. Be as nice as Cookie and Terrence at Ballinger's at Cooper and Union, sometimes the center of my strange universe. Always be nice to restaurant servers and bartenders. Leave them big tips. They work hard. Just because they are serving you doesn't mean they are your servants.
Have pets. Have lots of pets in your life. There's not one thing in this world I can think of that makes me smile as much as a kitten running sideways. I have a new cat named Shirley Chisholm, and she has gone from being totally feral to sleeping on my lap. And don't worry if your pets scratch the furniture or tear up things. Things are just things. I was on that idiotic nextdoor.com website not long ago, and someone was actually whining because squirrels were eating her decorative pumpkins and she was trying to find a way to repel them. Don't repel squirrels. And, frankly, don't buy decorative pumpkins every fall. It's not very original.
If you have kids, don't spoil them. Don't buy them every video game. Give them crayons and colored pencils and a sketchbook, and give them pets. Make them watch reruns of Green Acres. And don't worry if they scratch the furniture or tear up things.
Don't smoke cigarettes. I've been smoking cigarettes for 40 years, and now I'm trying to quit and I think it might not even be possible. And don't smoke those e-cigarettes. If you're going to smoke those, just smoke plain old cigarettes, so just don't smoke either.
Go to Baltimore. Everyone should go to Baltimore. It's a great city. I just went for the first time last month while in Washington, D.C., with the Stax Music Academy (when the students performed for three days on the National Mall during the grand opening festival for the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture). Baltimore is awesome and gritty like Memphis. And the people there are nice. As you should be. Speaking of the Stax Music Academy, always, always go see them when they perform. The students are the nicest people in the world, and they work hard. They are phenomenally talented — and nice.
Listen to all of the hip-hop and alt-country singer-songwriter rock you want, but also listen to Dusty Springfield. Listen to her sing "Breakfast in Bed." Eat some leeks in your bed while you listen to her. Listen to opera. For God's sake, listen to Mavis Staples. Listen to yourself.
And do NOT tell anyone if you are a supporter of the Republican nominee running for president right now. That doesn't make you appear to be rebellious. It makes you appear to be — well, it actually makes you a subhuman like he is. It doesn't make you interesting. Regurgitating your own feces would be interesting. Well, I guess supporting him does make you interesting, because if you do support him you're probably already regurgitating your own feces. You're probably also having to use a wheelbarrow to practice walking on just your legs. I watched a documentary the other day about people who support this man (by the way, I've never met one, or at least never met anyone who would admit it out loud), and there was a guy who collected rare toy monsters. He had made a small donation to the nominee's campaign and in return got a Christmas card. And he really believed the nominee sent it himself. I felt bad for the dude.
But now we have these Neanderthals calling for bloodshed and a revolution if he loses. One Wisconsin sheriff even took to social media suggesting that his supporters respond to his loss with "pitchforks and torches." How in the hell did we get to this place? How could this have happened? I'm still not totally convinced it's not a huge practical joke. I would just hate to be part of the punchline this time.