The Thrill Is Gone


By Richard Colman

“The Thrill is Gone” was a B.B. King hit song in the 1960’s.

Today, the thrill is gone from many aspects of modern American society.

Politics is no longer is thrilling.  Campaigns used to be fun.  There were campaign buttons, candidates had songs, and one could go to a rally without the fear of getting beat up.  The campaign button that many people remember well was the “I like Ike” button for candidate Dwight Eisenhower, who ran successfully for president in 1952 and 1956.

Today, politics is most about disagreeable people who act unethically.  It’s been years since people were enthusiastic about candidates.

In the 2016 race for president, the memories are of two defensive candidates who could not bring a smile or a laugh to an audience.  Donald Trump seemed to be defending himself about real-estate deals in Russia.  Trump insulted more people than Don Rickles. Hillary Clinton was — very defensively — always rejecting criticism about a special, personal (and perhaps illegal) e-mail system that she had.

For 2020, there are candidates who are as interesting as watching paint dry.  How can anyone get excited about Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, or Kirsten Gillibrand?  If you own stock in Sominex, sell it.  Listening to today’s presidential candidates will guarantee anyone a great night’s sleep.

 Where is the passion?  Where is the fun?  Where is the exciting future that Americans want and deserve?

 When Eisenhower was president, he ended the Korean War in July 1952.  From then on, there was peace until Eisenhower left office in January 1961.

 With President John Kennedy, there was the excitement of putting a man on the moon.

 What happened to music?  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, there were performers like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.  And let’s not forget the immortal Bob Dylan.  Today’s music is a bunch of noise.  The late “60 Minutes” commentator, Andy Rooney, the world’s greatest curmudgeon, once said if he can’t hum a song, he doesn’t like it.  Poor Andy, it’s no wonder he died during this era of intolerable music.

 A recent song contained the following lyrics:  “I’m Dick Cheney.  The real Dick Cheney.  I ain’t too brainy.  I’m the real Dick Cheney.”  Where is the talent in such lyrics?  Irving Berlin, who wrote “God Bless America” and “White Christmas,” is needed more than ever.

 What can we say about television?  The 1950’s had originality, if not color pictures.  There was “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason, “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx, and “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar.  Today, is there anything comparable to the early days of television?

 What can we say about late-night TV entertainers?  Remember Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and Jay Leno?  Today’s TV personalities have a problem:  They’re not funny.

In elementary school and high school, the teachers knew the subject matter.  There were no problems with drugs or mass killings.  Learning proper English grammar was a must.  Today, we hear and read bad English if we hear English at all. 

Even the vaunted New York Times needs instruction in English.  In a January 11, 2019, editorial (print edition), here is what the Times wrote:  “In this case, the president’s inability to reach some sort of deal rests heavily on several basic failures of understanding by he [underlining added] and his team.”

 No one needs to be nostalgic for the old days.  Hand-held calculators, computers, and better cars are here.

 Nonetheless, in today’s world, the thrill is gone.

Richard Colman is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company.  He is a biochemist and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.  He lives in Orinda, California.

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