2 March 2019 is Texas Independence Day, commemorating the moment when a flood of illegal immigrants into Mexico boldly seized control of a chunk of Mexican territory and declared it an independent nation. Nine years later the illegal immigrants completed their theft by joining the United States as the pro-slavery state of Texas. And today descendents of the illegal immigrants who stole the state fair and square nearly two centuries back worry about illegal immigrants from Mexico reversing affairs and stealing the state back. The wheel turns, I suppose.
It’s also Eddie Lawrence’s birthday. If you remember him at all—and you probably don’t—it’s for his “Old Philosopher” routine, where he juxtaposes hideous but comic disasters (“and your Uncle Harold came in as a big jolly bear, and your father shot him”) with hollow uplifting advice (“Well lift your head up high and take a walk in the sun with dignity and stick-to-it-iveness and … never give up, never give up, never give up—that ship!”). My personal favorite character of his, however, is the noxious guy in the bar complaining endlessly about modern life—rock ’n’ roll, Christmas, New Year (“ring out the old, ring in the new—new what? New worries?”)—to somebody who periodically requests “Will you shut up?” Then there’s “The Visitor” with his obscure bits of wisdom (“The whole world’s patching up the same pair of faded blue jeans,”) that seem like they ought to mean something—but don’t. And his endless list of people to stay away from (“anyone who’d frame a Christmas card from a bank … anyone who’d play ‘knock knock’ on his honeymoon … off duty cops with attack dogs”). There was never anyone quite like Eddie Lawrence, anyway. He may be gone—but he’s unforgettable.