SlowNewsDayFullby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper 7/2014

Because you demanded it! In response to your literally thousands of cards and letters, and because jocularity is always a good thing, it’s time again for Slow News Day, Random Thoughts, Summer Edition!

We begin with a summer tradition we can all do without: Back to School sales. The first “Back to School” sale was announced right after July 4.


I believe I speak on behalf of EVERYONE reading this when I say, “Dear retailers, STOP THAT. NOW.”

Speaking of July 4, I have two lovely Independence Day stories to share. First, at the annual family cookout, what moved us all to tears was the sight of my nephew reading the Declaration of Independence to all his friends. To see them do that, to see the awe in his friend’s eyes and their wiping away tears, and to be part of the incredible conversation we had afterward about the life and times and mindset of the founding fathers, well, it made me so proud. I especially appreciated how one of my nephew’s friends passionately argued the document from King George’s point of view. As always, an amazing July 3rd discussion and debate of the fundamentals of the Declaration and the Federalist papers.

The next day, Independence Day, completely on a whim, I hitchhiked to Philadelphia, to the Hall of Justice, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. The annual reading would be taking place, of course, from the Truman Balcony as it was done for the first time all those years ago by Miles Standish. As luck would have it, as the one thousandth ticket holder of the day, I was given the honor of reading this historic document to the crowd. Naturally, I thought I would read from a copy; imagine my surprise when the concierge handed me the ORIGINAL document to read! I know he was unhappy with me spilling some of my Diet Coke on it, but hey, I did not see the “No Food or Drink” sign. Anyway, I stepped onto the dais and greeted the crowd of a quarter million, and boldly proclaimed the text of the document, adding my own, “And to boldly go where no one has gone before!” at the end. I couldn’t believe the applause, but then I realized the audience was clapping for Weird Al Yankavick, who would be performing in “1776” there later in the day. Weird Al — what a crazy — added his own signature to the Declaration with a huge red sharpie magic marker before we put the precious document back in its protective Saran Wrap covering. Then, we enjoyed a traditional Independence Day brunch of kippers, sardines, salt potatoes, spam, and raspberry Jell-O with Weird Al, the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, Katy Perry, and Kevin Spacey. That night, the fireworks over the capital of the state, Ottawa, were stunning! What a great day!

Note: The fact that this is a humor/parody column should factor HEAVILY into your evaluation of the veracity of those last two stories.

The name on this can seems more suited to a stage name for a “specific genre” of “movie.” Admit it, you thought it and you should be ashamed of yourself
The name on this can seems more suited to a stage name for a “specific genre” of “movie.” Admit it, you thought it and you should be ashamed of yourself

I’d mentioned spilling a Diet Coke on the Declaration of Independence – now, most people know I have a great fondness for Coca-Cola products; that carbonated concoction of chemicals has served as my morning coffee for decades. So here’s my question: Why am I being asked to share a Coke with people I don’t know? Have you seen this new 2014 ad campaign? Every bottle and can says to share your Coke with someone. “Share a coke with Alyssa. Share a Coke with Amanda. Share a Coke with Justin.” Every bottle, every can, a different name. Who are these people? Why can’t they buy their OWN Coca-Cola? What if they have a cold? What if I have a cold? I shouldn’t be sharing my germs. If I know someone with that name, am I obligated to share the Coke with them? If I don’t know them, should I seek them out? And then there’s my wife, digging through the recycling bin, holding up the empties and demanding, “Who’s this TIFFANY that you’re sharing your Coca-Cola with?” And finally, the other day, no lie, I got, “Share a Coke with Asia.” Question One: The band named “Asia,”, or the continent? Question Two: If it’s the continent, a 20 ounce soda certainly cannot be shared with EVERYONE in Asia. And WHERE do we share it? Asia? Here? Somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic?

Is it possible I am over-thinking this? Could it be the caffeine? Yeah, probably.

Speaking of energy, music is at its best in the summer, and lately I have become quite the fan of Country music. When I was a kid, all country songs were very somber and always about a divorced or dumped cowboy, and he and his dog drank a beer while they drove the pickup truck to visit his daddy in jail. Today’s Country music is much more upbeat, and EVERY song features happy, attractive couples who work the farm or job all day, and every night they light a bonfire, decorate the barn and drink beer and cherry wine in Dixie cups as they party on the tailgate or tractor, where the girls in the cut-off jeans and pony-tails dance in the headlights before the couples drive the truck to the lake to swim naked, or go have sex in the haystack or cornrow. Think I’m kidding? Take a listen. That’s 99% of every Country song playing on the radio these days. Seriously.

Speaking of fun, when I was a kid, I often read comic books. Here in 2014, I’ve read in the news that this summer, comic book character Archie Andrews will be killed off in the an upcoming issue of the comic, saving a friend from an assassin’s bullet. While Archie goes out in a heroic manner befitting his character, I have to ask an important, thought-provoking, very relevant question that I am sure absolutely everyone reading this is wondering about this epic, poignant ending to an utterly beloved and cherished American icon of over 70 years:

Does ANYONE actually still read Archie comic books?

No, seriously? People still read ARCHIE?

Wow. Just, wow.

Still speaking of summer, I think I am suffering from summer Facebook envy. Everyone seems to be having more fun than me this summer. You’re all taking month-long vacations in the stratosphere, you’re out on the street, the girls are in their summer clothes, you’re going down to the river, all the while *I* seem to be suffering summertime blues.

Wow – I just got FIVE Springsteen song references in. That was pretty impressive, huh?

Well, that’s all for this time. Hope I gave you a laugh or made you smile. Happy summer to all!

Share a Coke
Share a Coke – Oh, I don’t even know half of these people!
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