Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Vol.29.6: WHO’S NO. 1, BABY!

V029-06_crowningWIn America around this time it’s “No. 1 Season.”   The Golden Globes, the Grammys, the Miss America Pageant, the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the Winter Olympics, and the NCAA “March Madness” is just around the corner.   We have some internal need, or capitalism promotes some extra motive for profit, in winnowing down various aspects of human activity into a pyramid of “excellence.”   We can sell a lot of beer, trucks, sports paraphernalia and other crap, and movie tickets, CDs and facial creams, Viagra and breast implants.   And we love awards; somebody always has to be “the best,” “No. 1.”


There’s must be something primal in all this.   There must have been some Cro Magnon named Narg who said “let’s see who can throw his spear the farthest, and he will be Champion Spear Thrower, get the best pieces of mastodon meat and mate with our new Miss Troglodyte, who has the biggest things we don’t have a name for yet.   Then we will go and kick the crap out of those Neanderthals to see who are the Evolutionary Champs of 53,874 BC.”   Only humans seem so obsessed with this; maybe because other animals don’t have bars to go to and brag in.


On the other hand, this may square up with what seems to be another human compulsion:   to put a bet down on who is going to be “best actor,”   “Miss America,” “Super Bowl Champs,” or whatever.   You can get a bet down on anything:   which quarterback will have the most interceptions, or whether Miss Arkansas really gave Bill Clinton a you-know-what. [1]   You name it, somebody will take your money and give you odds.   That way, not only can the athletes, actors, and meat-rack-beauty-show babes compete to be winners, but the compulsive gambler gets to be a vicarious winner (and more often loser) in our obsessive competitions to get to “the best of the best.”


Then again, the Intelligent Designer may have had some ineluctable purpose in al this “competition.”   We could see this as some built in “striving for excellence, that improves the species, weeds out the “losers”.   The “winners” not only get to stand on the podium and listen to the Grammy winner do an over-the-top screech of the national anthem for them, they get money, fame, and presumably get to mate with some other champion.   Just think of the evolutionary leaps that are made when NASCAR Champion procreates with the winner of the National Spelling Bee; Miss America bearing the children of a Bulgarian weightlifting champion; a Nobel Laureate in Physics inseminating a country and western Grammy winner.   Maybe this is how the Intelligent Designer “evolves” guests for the Jerry Springer show.


But as long as we are obsessed with Championships and “Best” awards, why not let everybody in on it.   Why should it be only the athletes who get to hold up their No. 1 finger, the actors who get to hold their awards and thank their parents, and NASCAR drivers thank their “personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”   Let’s let some “just plain folks” in on it.   For example, just randomly:


Best Cable Installer in a Mid-Sized City who really shows up between 7AM

and 9PM


Best Japanese Gardiner For a An Overcompensated CEO for a Pharmaceutical Company


Best Accountant for a National Corporation Who does not Cook the Books to Screw Little Old Widows and Entire States (Championship yet unfilled)


Best Carpet Cleaner Who Does not Soak You And Your Carpets


Best Pulp Fiction by an Obese Harlequin Romance Writer from a Suburb of Perth Amboy, New Jersey


Best torturer of Iraqi detainees using car battery/attack dogs/broomstick.


Well, one could go on, but why not Best Scientist to Cure Cancer; Best Doctor to got to war torn and disease-ridden countries to save lives; Best Teacher who works for crummy pay to help children with learning disabilities; Best Social Worker, Best Nurse, Best Coast Guardsman, Cop, Fireman, in short, Best people who are unsung but really matter in the social infrastructure of society.  


Oh, I almost forgot:   Best President for Taking the Most Vacation Time to Clear Freakin’ Brush on His Ranch


See, in America, anybody, even a real loser , can be a winner, a champ, and be No. 1, Baby!

©2006, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 2.17.2006)

[1] It will take you thirty years to collect on this one because the Republicans will open a commission of inquiry for post-presidential impeachment proceedings that will spend eighty-million dollars of the publics money.