Lessons from Civics class and other things to remember in November

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After work on Tuesday, I went to vote at McLaughlin Middle School expecting to be hung up for half an hour waiting in line to grab my ballot. After all, there was a significant mayoral race between incumbent Joyce Craig and her challenger Victoria Sullivan and significant differences between said candidates.

At the very least, I hoped the denizens of the Queen City would use their civic might and come out en masse to determine the future course of events, to exercise a preference.

But other than tumbleweed rolling past my feet, the voting poll was a veritable ghost town, minus the Ennio Morricone whistling soundtrack.

I suppose I don’t understand[1] the apathy.

As citizens in a democracy[2], we’re asked very little of us. But it is our collective civic duty to research the people we’d like to represent us and get out to cast our support for said candidates, regardless of one’s politics. It’s a job where we only need to punch the timecard—at most—twice a year and, yes, our votes matter.

However, I’ll save the proselytizing for another column at another time. Here are November’s monthly musings and my homage to one of my journalistic idols, the great Bill Reynolds, former columnist for The Providence Journal.

  • I was 17 years old and a senior in high school when Guns N’ Roses released the music video for “November Rain” in 1992, a nonsensical narrative where Axl Rose’s girlfriend at the time, supermodel Stephanie Seymour, dies after a wedding with MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball host Ricky Rockman [11/6 Mea culpa: I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to Riki Rachtman and the entire Rachtman clan for my careless butchering of their fine surname] raising a toast before a sudden tempest sends wedding guests scattering[3]. Slash later stands on a grand piano and plays a guitar solo. One of my friend’s parents had a grand piano in their house, and I always wanted to stand on it and play the guitar but I could only play “Smoke on the Water” at the time. Extremely anticlimactic. And I didn’t have an amp.
  • There are Christmas People, and then there are the rest of us who can wait until after Thanksgiving for the Christmas songs, decorations and Hallmark movies. I’ve learned that it’s best not to mess with the Christmas People. They’ll smother you with joy.
  • A shout out to those of us who learned the four months of the year with only 30 days with this little fire-jam ditty: “Thirty days in September, April, June and November.”
  • What do you call a cow with three legs?
  • Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where once you understand American history and white privilege, it ruins the story. It’s best to use the day as a chance to be thankful for anything and everything—if you can.
  • William S. Burroughs summed this up with his “Thanksgiving Prayer.”
  • In another uplifting reminder, John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.
  • Answer: Lean beef.
  • On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered “The Gettysburg Address” and taught orators henceforth a lesson in brevity.
  • What do you call a cow without legs?
  • Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” is a fine example of a raconteur-musician telling a silly story and saying something significant at the same time.
  • November 21 is World Hello Day and my little sister’s birthday[4].
  • Last year—before we had the option of being vaccinated and traveling—many of us couldn’t visit our loved ones and missed them prodigiously during the holidays. Zoom just didn’t cut it. If/when you see them this year, tell them how much you missed them.
  • For my gambling comrades: I will contend that Thanksgiving Day is the best betting day of the year—food, drinks, sneaking the scores on your phone while your uncle says “Grace” then tryptophan naps while watching football. It doesn’t get any better.
  • Answer: Ground beef.
  • I hate the Houston Astros almost as much as I loathe the Yankees. That’s saying something.
  • Congratulations on your re-election, Mayor Joyce Craig.
  • Happy Veteran’s Day to all the men and women who have served, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


[1] I’ve read some Chomsky and understand why some might be cynical of our democracy, the oligarchy, the corporate-controlled media, and the idea of being one among a bewildered herd. But our votes particularly matter in these local elections where, I believe, real change is nascent.

[2] Save it. I get it. We’re a Republic.

[3] How was it that no one knew this tempest was forecast? I’ve never known a bride—or groom—to not obsess about weather forecasts months before their wedding date.

[4] Happy Birthday, Cara!


About this Author


Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Fly Like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com