Good morning, people. I apologize for the mess. 

Mark LaFlamme

I let myself into the Street Talk Studios today and found the place in sickening disarray. 

Dust covers on all the hulking machinery we use to produce the column week after week. Horror movie cobwebs hanging in the corners. Even the fancy candelabras are bearded with dust and all the monkey cages have been cleared out. 

Don’t ask why we keep monkeys at Street Talk Studios. It’s a journalism thing; you wouldn’t understand. 

I was off on a long vacation, you see, and after that there were some scheduling issues that kept me away from Street Talk for a time. The result is that I return to this laboratory/think tank/monkey zoo with only the vaguest recollection of what I’m supposed to do in here. 

Write columns, I guess. Cool beans. How hard can it be? 

So I swept off a desk, fired up the news aggregation unit and got about considering all the things I missed while I was away. 

A vicious slaying and a search for the killer on Halloween night. 

A run-and-gun style shootout between police and an apparent gangsta in the wee hours just before dawn. 

An ominous hooded figure who police say tried to abduct a child from a home at 3:30 in the morning. 

A hunger strike at the local clink. Mask debates on every corner, curfews at your favorite tavern and even a portable toilet fire to symbolize the stinking mess we’re in. 

But that’s not all. Somehow, probably because the monkeys were playing with it, my news aggregator was set to dispense national news, as well. Stupid monkeys. What was revealed there wasn’t so much a collection of news stories as it was a glimpse of a world gone carnivalesque in its weirdness — a carnival with too many rides, too many freak shows, too many men in booths asking you to do ridiculous things with no chance of winning the lame prizes. 

We’re talking a presidential election that felt more like a World Wrestling Federation event than reality and which now, three weeks later, seems to be morphing into a John Grisham book plot with just a hint of Smedley Butler sprinkled in for flavor. 

The Great Mask War of 2020 meanwhile, feels like a mash-up of “28 Days Later,” “The Running Man” and “The Crucible.” 

Thanksgiving is looking like a washout for many and there’s even talk of canceling Christmas, and it has nothing to do this time with Albert Finney or The Grinch. 

Even weirder than THAT to me is the idea that nobody’s going out for the traditional rampage in the stores this year for Black Friday. Too dangerous, they say, but not because of the flying elbows and knees you find in the mosh pit setting of the stores. Not because it’s an event that transforms nice old ladies into vicious brawlers who will shank a guy just to get at a toaster oven. No, because of COVID. 

COVID, COVID, COVID. This entire year has been defined by this one word; a word so ugly and spurious, it feels like it would fit better in the fictitious realm of “The Hunger Games” than it does in our world. 

Our reality has gone pear-shaped, is all I’m saying. In case you haven’t noticed. And to come in here and bang out a column that either addresses it all or ignores it completely seems like an impossibility, in spite of all the cutting-edge equipment and dusty candelabras we have all up in here. 

Nothing I write can possibly compete with the lunatic ravings of this world gone so devastatingly mad, so I’m going to sit this one out. I need another week to gather my thoughts and to meditate with the monkeys about these matters of such great importance. 

Say, do the Street Talk Studios have a liquor cabinet somewhere? That would help a lot.

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