Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Carbon crap, the truth about truth, and Springtime for Hitler

Matt Labash Columnist
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I read your article on the royals and it was funny. I am drunk. I am interested in what you, a carbon-based life form, think about all this carbon regulation crap. Please say it is crap, because it is crap. –  StubbleSpark

It is crap. In the advice columnist business, we call that “mirroring.” When you don’t have anything to say, just parrot whatever the reader has already stipulated.  You will not have gained anything real from our interchange. But you will have felt understood and validated, and will thus find this transaction to have been a fulfilling experience, since I didn’t tell you anything other than what you wanted to hear.

I just so happen to agree with your assertion (mostly). But even if I didn’t, I would not challenge it. Because the naked truth is that most readers do not read to be challenged. They read to have their prejudices confirmed. Not that I would lie to you to curry favor. But all things being equal, why alienate you (or do something truly reckless, like decrease my chances of getting Facebook “likes”) in the interest of telling you the truth? Or should I say “my truth,” because is there really any such thing as absolute truth? There probably is. But how should I know? I write a faux advice column for the internet. If you want a Hegelian exploration of dialectical triplicity, then you’ve come to the wrong place. I suggest you hop on over to Jim Treacher’s instead.

Think of me, rather, as your Gustave Flaubert, who said, “There is no truth. There is only perception.” Also, think of me as your Curtis Mayfield, who sang, “I’m your momma/ I’m your daddy/ I’m that {racial expletive deleted}in the alley/ I’m your doctor when in need/ Want some coke/ Have some weed.” I am, for lack of a better term, your pusherman. Except I don’t push drugs. I push truth, or your perception of it. Whichever. I’m your Gustave Mayfield. Or maybe your Curtis Flaubert.

Dear Matt, Can you tell me why spring is so great? Everyone is so happy and cheerful that spring is here, but all that really means is that days when the humidity and temperature peak at 99 simultaneously are just around the corner. Aside from the fact that spring is just a prelude to Washington D.C. turning into one giant sauna, it’s also the time when I get to breathe tiny particles from nature into my nose and lungs that make me sneeze and wheeze all day long. And it’s like everyone who is happy spring is here is just taunting my misery. Am I just dark and twisted? Or is there a saneness to my madness? Please, I have to know if there are any other spring-haters out there. – Daisy Gardner

I’ll tell you why spring is so great: Because I get to look smoking hot in my Easter dress, which I’ll wear well into May. Because the long, cold winter is over. Because you don’t have to knock off work at 4 p.m. if you want to see the sun that day. Because you can stop smelling like Vick’s VapoRub, in order to alleviate your nasty winter cough. And you can start walking around with a completely legal Dipenhydramine high, from the antihistamine you must take to alleviate your crippling pollen allergies.

Look, I know how isolating it can be when you don’t get something that everybody else seems to. It’s the same way I feel when listening to upper middle class liberals extol the gritty realism of “The Wire.” (How would they know, have they ever been homicide detectives in Baltimore?) Or whenever I’m unfortunate enough to encounter a Steely Dan fan. (The problem with Steely Dan, besides their horrible music, is that their fans would rather talk about Steely Dan Theory than listen to “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number.” Yes, I know Charlie Parker and Miles Davis supposedly influenced them – but that doesn’t stop “Aja” from sucking.)

Spring in Washington D.C. is a particularly glorious season. The cherry blossoms bloom around the Tidal Basin. Hickory and American shad make their annual run up the Potomac, providing the most freshwater excitement many of us will see all year (George Washington himself used to fish for them). The White House Correspondents Dinner is held, affording a hunchbacked third-string congressional reporter for States News Service a shot at having sex with a fourth-string celebrity, like Tila Tequila or one of the homelier Kardashian sisters.

So you have to take pleasure where you can. In five weeks or so, D.C. will be a big box o’ humidity, and we will again play out our sweltering summer rituals: watching the waterways get choked with hydrilla and milfoil, sweating like glazed hams, and going to work with our shirts off.

But for now, it is beautiful. And beauty always holds extra potency with the knowledge that it will be short-lived. For truth be told, D.C. does not have a lot to celebrate otherwise. We have some nice Georgian and Federal style architecture. But we don’t have any trademark cuisine to speak of, unless you count the dogs from Ben’s Chili Bowl (I don’t). With the exception of the Caps, our sports teams mostly lose. Our local politicians are low-grade charlatans, but not corrupt enough to be interesting. And whatever native character the city might have developed if it had a personality has been diluted by a large cast of transients. They hail from other cities across the nation where they were found insufferable, so their citizens wisely banded together, elected them, and sent them into exile here. It’s enough to make you live in Maryland. So I do.

Then, of course, there’s Hitler to consider. He has nothing to do with your question. But my editor goaded me into name checking him so that we could, in good conscience, work “Springtime for Hitler” into the headline.

So spring – celebrate it. It’s a time of new beginnings. Don’t wish the seasons away. You have to start thinking more positively. With the end of the world fast approaching, you might only have a few of them left.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.