Another Perspective

I’m Mad as Hell

Just doing my part to keep up with Americans' growing anger about everything.

By 10.12.11

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Polls show that Americans are getting angrier at just about everything, so it's getting harder for my anger to be heard above the surrounding cries of outrage. Sometimes I'm not merely angry, I'm furious. There are days I can hardly see straight I'm so livid. Today, for instance, I'm angry at polls that depict how angry Americans are.

Boy, am I angry! I'm angry at the president, naturally. I'm angry at Congress. I'm angry at the political parties and the Supreme Court. I'm angry at the banks, at Wall Street, at the SEC, at illegal (even legal) immigrants, at Israel, the Palestinians, and of course Pakistan and China. I'm angry at the entire Middle East and much of Europe -- Greece, Italy, France -- and of course North Korea, much of Africa and the United States.

I'm angry not just at liberals and conservatives but at independents, for not making up their minds, and at the Tea Party for being so angry. I'm angry at the movie industry, the fast food industry, the oil industry, the solar energy industry and just industry in general, or the lack of it. I'm angry at the drug cartels and the oil cartels, at No Child Left Behind and teachers' unions and test scores, at credit card debt, at the deficit, at hedge fund managers and default swaps, at the rise in obesity and bullying, at Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Judge Judy, and Nancy Grace -- my anger role models.

It's not easy being angry 24 hours a day, but I do my best. When I wake up, I figure out what things I'm angriest about and then set my priorities for the day. It's a fulltime job. I make a list because it takes careful planning so you don't squander your anger on trifling matters. I used to get angry at the paper boy for refusing to toss the paper on my porch, or at junk mail and telemarketers, but I decided to give those up and channel my anger into something more befitting my anger, like greenhouse gases. I can't begin to tell you how darn angry that gets me -- almost as angry as I got at Netflix for raising its streaming fees.

You have to expend your anger carefully. I considered taking part in a protest against the moneyed interests on Wall Street, but then I got sidetracked and decided instead to protest against the medical insurance companies, because I like to direct my anger at specific targets. Speaking of which, I'm also angry at Target and, for that matter, all big box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco for exploiting their employees; I'm also pretty angry at the employees for letting themselves be exploited. Anger-wise, I can swing either way.

Friends have tried to talk me into taking a course in anger management, but that made me even angrier. Nothing riles me up more than people who try to tell me what to do, or suggest I calm down, or are not as angry as I am. I'm willing to own my anger.

Did I mention that I'm also mad at traffic conditions, college tuition fees, and the collapsing infrastructure? Well, I am -- damn peeved, in fact. And don't let me forget to express my anger at hidden surcharges on telephone, bank, electric, and computer bills. My next door neighbor told me how upset she was at the high cost of groceries, but I said I was angry at that five years ago. It really burned me up that she was so out of touch.

I used to worry that I might run out of things to be steamed about, but something new always comes along to enrage me. This week, for instance, I'm extremely angry about airport security and FEMA, TARP, NPR, and the HPV vaccine. Plus, to be sure, those old reliables Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner. and Lawrence Summers.

You don't want to waste your time being angry at, say, al Qaeda terrorists, because that's already been done to death. It's more enterprising to get angry at the way they're being rounded up by the CIA and killed without a trial. Or you might even get angrier at the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners than at the actual prisoners -- but then some weeks it's just the reverse. When it comes to angry causes, I'm extremely flexible.

You might say I'm sort of a professional angry guy; my anger knows no bounds or political persuasion. As a freelancer, I've gotten more skilled at channeling my anger at specific causes rather than just flying off the handle like a lot of your newcomers to the anger field. That's a much better use of your anger. Take it from a seasoned expert, round-the-clock anger is no walk in the park.

Here's a typical work week for me: On Monday, I might be angry at processed foods, Tuesday it could be lax gun control, Wednesday maybe it's child molesting priests, Thursday it's the postal service, Friday it could be Casey Anthony or Amanda Knox, and, on Saturday, drug prices. I try to rest on Sunday but it isn't always possible.

If I do take a break Sundays it's to try to think of things I'm not angry about, which gives me a few hours rest before the grind begins the next day. There aren't a lot of subjects I'm not riled up about, but right now I don't appear to be angry with Tony Bennett, Canada, chocolate chip cookies, Meryl Streep, Scotland, Hank Aaron, Jacques Papin, Bob Schieffer, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, my doctor, Thanksgiving, and my old buddies Al, Morrie, Rita, Mike and Randy. But I must warn you: any of these could change at any moment. In hotheaded times, the angry American's work is never done.

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About the Author

Gerald Nachman is the author of Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Raised on Radio and Right Here On Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan's America. He is currently working on a book about the great Broadway musical show-stoppers.