the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

One Day Break from Cynicism

I am so glad that Obama won this historic election, but I couldn’t sleep all night. I was worried about what this election would mean to my future. I’m not talking about more taxes. What truly bothered me is that as a cynical person, all this hope and good will is bad for my writing. An African-American President. Respect from the world. People caring about each other. People are so optimistic on Twitter, I don’t even recognize the application anymore. Who are these people? Weren’t they just a bunch of assholes a few days ago? Have they all changed overnight? I even read some blogger who said that from now on, she will only read bloggers who “are positive about the world.” I don’t want to lose readers, as newly good-hearted people run away from my dislike of humanity.

But then a ghost appeared to me. It was the late Nipsy Russell, the first black performer to be a regular panelist on a weekly game show. I loved Nipsy Russell, especially the poems he would recite on the old Match Game, gems like these:

If you ever go out with a schoolteacher,
You’re in for a sensational night;
She’ll make you do it over and over again
Until you do it right.

The opposite of ‘pro’ is ‘con’
This fact is clearly seen
But if ‘progress’ means move forward
What does ‘Congress’ mean?

Nipsy Russell was a big influence on my love of words. Seriously. He was great.

“Neilochka, Neilochka. Cheer up.” the ghost of Nipsy Russell said to me. “I wrote this little poem for you —

Today we all are proud
A good man’s won for you
But life would really suck
Without some sarcasm too”

“So, what are you saying?” I asked, confused and startled by his sudden appearance in my bedroom.

“I’m saying that America — the world — still needs you.” said the comedian. “God put each of us on this earth for a reason. Some are here to lead America as the President of the United States. Some to write poems on game shows. And others are here to kvetch and look at the negative side of things. America needs all of us.”

“But what is there to feel negative about? I don’t really believe that President Obama will bring in a socialist government and destroy America — like those crazy right-wing talk show hosts do?

“Neilochka, open your eyes. There is one reason to truly be cyncial about the Obama administration. Something all Americans should be in fear of every day of their lives. Something so scary, that I almost would have suggested for you to vote for McCain instead.”

“What’s that?”

“Guess Who’s Coming to Stay at the White House… a lot!”

“Oh, no – NOT MORE OPRAH!”


  1. gorillabuns

    The person who made the comment about reading only positive people from now on – was completely high when she wrote it. She had to be.

  2. V-Grrrl

    As long as there is PMS in the world, there will always be someone hosting a bitchfest and gettin’ their crab on.

    Check back with me in three weeks. : )

  3. Momo Fali

    I’m hopeful she’ll spread some of her wealth in my direction.

  4. Redneck Mommy

    Laughing. This post right here Neil, is why I adore you.

    I need a little sarcasm to balance that Suzy Sunshine crap I spout on my blog. What would I do without you? Don’t ever leave me.

    I can’t quit you.

  5. Suzanne

    Neil, we NEED sarcasm. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of things to grouse about. You’ll just want to take a vacation for a couple of days!

  6. churlita

    Hilarious. Who wouldn’t want to read you anymore? Even if everything is all dolphins and rainbows, we’ll still need a good laugh

  7. Lady Fi

    So – did it feel good to have a wee break from cynicism for a day? don’t worry – i*m sure there is still lots to be sarcastic about. Look outside the USA if you have to…

  8. Jennifer

    You’ve given me a whole new appreciation for Nipsy Russell!

  9. Chag

    Blogs that are entirely positive about the world? Who writes them? Bigfoot?

    There will always be things to be cynical about.

  10. Finn

    If it wasn’t for sarcasm I’d never be able to have a conversation.

  11. always home and uncool

    Nipsy was as underappreciated in his time as Oprah is overexposed in ours. Good work, Neil.

  12. patty

    We can suspend everything, even disbelief that our country truly is THAT great and awe-inspiring, for a day.

    I am in France with oodles of colleagues from across the continent, and the atmosphere is electric. Faith in America is restored.

  13. Neil

    Patty — Uh-oh, the fact that the French people love us is always a bad sign.

  14. ballerinatoes

    Sarcasm makes the world a better place.

  15. Black Hockey Jesus

    “O look at me I will only read blogs that are positive!” Shut the fuck up. Did you tell the happy blog reader to shut the fuck up?

  16. Mr Lady

    I KNEW I should have married a teacher.

  17. kenju

    I am sure that mr. kenju feels just as you do about that – he cannot abide Oprah. I am very happy today; my candidate won and we are almost through with Bushy.

  18. flutter

    ok, you are insane. I love it.

  19. OM

    I had a similar post. Only shorter. I was afraid that if I wrote a longer post I’d be tempted to get cynical again and comment on the dress Michelle was wearing last night.

  20. HeyJoe

    HA!.. Chris Rock had a great bit about how there’s no way a black woman can be first lady.

    Obama: Honey, I won!
    Michelle: Uh, you mean WE won.

  21. TRO

    I noted Proposition 8 passed with 70% of the black vote pushing it over the top. The same voting block that was almost unanimously behind Obama.

    There’s some irony, and some cynicism, for you, Neil.

  22. Nat

    More Oprah — oh dear god no!

    I’m still cynical — I wonder what I’m going to be all up in arms about now…

  23. morton

    I think the vast majority of Americans don’t subscribe to every belief of any one political party. Now that we have a Democratic House, Senate, and Executive Branch; I think that some things will be pushed through that a lot of people won’t agree with.

    So I think there is still a good chance for you to be cynical. Hell, it wasn’t all rosy went Clinton had his eight years, and he gave plenty to be cynical about.

  24. anna

    Ditto on the Prop 8 as source for cynicism: all the pundits are saying it’s the black vote that did it. Is it accurate and sad? Or racist and incorrect? Who cares?!

    Happy blogs are boring. Sarcasm is the new black.

  25. Fancy

    Don’t change a hair for me, not if you care for me… I’m sure you’ll find something. Start with Prop 8. California seriously disappointed the rest of us blue states.

  26. Fancy

    Guess I should have read the comments before I thought I was suggesting something new.

  27. Fancy

    I think I love you, and I can prove it. Please check my last post.

  28. teahouseblossom

    Wow, I didn’t catch that Oprah embrace there.

  29. sassy

    Maybe that’s what he was talking about when he said the White House was getting a new puppy….

  30. better safe than sorry

    i haven’t thought of nipsy russell for many, many years, he was brillant.
    i honestly do not understand why having a black man in the white house is such a big deal, must be a US thing. i just don’t get it, why does skin colour come into politics? i know this isn’t going to come out right, but it seems racial to me.

  31. foolery

    Do you think Oprah might have been what he meant by “spreading the wealth around?” Instead of tax breaks, Oprah will show up and toss Ford Focus keys from the White House steps.

  32. sara

    ohh…there will be plenty to be cynical about…there always is!

  33. piglet

    very positive AND funny.

    you are in the groove…

  34. ExpatJane

    ha! I completely agree. There is need for sarcasm for sure. Keep at it 😉

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