Agree to Disagree

Folks were upset that I didn’t care for Trevor Noah. Big deal.

Damn, the drama. I try to be honest with you, open my heart, and you go all crazy over my confessed dislike for Trevor Noah.

Do you know how risky/difficult it is to admit you don’t like something days? I could’ve just held back, but I’m trying to establish some credibility.

The reason I don’t like Trevor Noah is because he’s a smug and unfunny pretty boy, of which there are so many these days, though I hear his book is quite good.

Do smug pretty boys write worthwhile books? Not so I can tell.

“You hate Trevor Noah & Idina Menzel?” wrote one follower. “As my elderly Italian aunt use to say, ‘Whatza matter with you?’”

How much time you got?

“Hate Trevor Noah?” writes JoAnn Burciaga. “I now see a ding in your shining armor.”

First of all, JoAnne, that’s not shining armor; it’s an old marching band uniform I bought at a yard sale. I only wear it on first dates or to the opera.

Second, I really go out of my way each week to show you my imperfect parts, to reveal my weaknesses, and the appetites that threaten to consume me…my neediness and the giant gaps in my Drake/Duke education,

As I share my path toward adulthood, a coming-of-age saga now spanning seven decades, let’s show a little kindness, OK?

Folks were upset that I didn’t care for Trevor Noah. So? Whatza matter with that? Nothing personal, I just can’t stand the impish idiot. Or John Oliver either, another impish idiot.

It’s not political in any way. I’m a subversive at heart too. Anarchy can be so entertaining. I mean, you should see our house.

I admit I’m a little put off by cheeky transplants who bash the place. In Oliver’s case, he can go back to that inbred little isle he’s from, which is England, a scruffy, out-of-fashion curio you might find hidden away in your grandmother’s attic.

But enough about me. I want to talk about you a moment.

In reaction to my last post, Stephanie Lee confesses that her mother has no Tupperware. I’m not sure the significance of that, other than I noted what a lousy place Tupperware bins were for making love, though certainly better than no place at all.

But what kind of mother doesn’t have Tupperware? Moms usually collect Tupperware as if there were some global shortage. Posh filled the garage.

Facebook follower Risa Slavin is more reasonable, threatening to get me “all ginned up and hear what/who else I can’t stand.”

Honestly, that sounds fun, Risa. Ticking off the things that bother us is healthy and honest, and best happens in the company of your closest friends, which is how I consider all of you.

Other dislikes: intermittent dieting, Brendan Fraser movies and the Bee-Gees.

And I don’t like those little sweaters people put on dogs. Or plastic plants. Or models who shave their heads half way up the side.


And I don’t like all the red lights you get when you’re late to the airport.

Or spray-on tans…I really hate spray-on tans. And artificial turf, mail-order steaks and most diet drinks. Most of all, I hate people who can’t take a joke.

Whew, I feel so much better now, doc. Thanks for listening. Is our time up?

No worries, because Risa is about to get me “all ginned up.”

And fortunately, I balance my likes and dislikes.

I like what humidity does to curly hair. I like the slow, earnest way young kids tie their shoes.

I like Miles Davis at midnight, Joni Mitchell at Christmas and Roberta Flack every time she opens her amazing mouth #ChrisErskineLA #trevornoah

I like Miles Davis at midnight, Joni Mitchell at Christmas and Roberta Flack every time she opens her amazing mouth.

I like church choirs, short skirts and tall drinks in very icy glasses, so that they look crammed with jewelry.

I like vintage MGs, the smell of fresh-cut lumber, Roman candles, really old denim and what butter does to shrimp.

By the way, what butter does to shrimp is what you do to me. Just add a splash of wine. Or a lot of wine.

As I always say: Wine flies when you’re having fun.

Look, I am prone to off-beat reflections. I am often a little silly, a little barbaric and occasionally melancholy, the kind of goof who plays Sinatra songs on an old horn in a way that peels the paint.

Every day can’t be Mardi Gras, no matter how upbeat your outlook.

I was thinking the other day how I am tired of hollow relationships that are minus revelation or any other form of sustenance – humor, nuance, honesty, insight or even wry resignation.

Life’s too short and the nights too long.

That’s why I’m lucky to have cool friends. And uncool friends, who more resemble me, quite frankly — a semi-grown man in a marching band uniform.

So go ahead. Pour that gin.

Big news, really big news. Our new book, “Lavender in Your Lemonade,” is now available on Kindle. For those of you who prefer fresh-cut lumber, actual books are due out any day. A Newsletter is coming next week, and the hiking club is poised to begin. Prediction: Fall will be better than summer.

39 thoughts on “Agree to Disagree

  1. Bravo! Someone who has an opinion and isn’t afraid to express it. Don’t let the angry mobs get you down. For the record, I can’t stand Oliver or Noah either. But Joni Mitchell at Christmas would put me in a state of melancholy. If we can’t disagree on issues large and small, we’re goners.

  2. Ha ha ha! Well said, Chris! And I was one of those Trevor Noah commenters. Point(s) taken. Perhaps it’s merely that I so often agree with your views, that your dislike of Mr. Noah came as a surprise. But your candor, as usual, does not! Stay the course, maintain your honesty, and wear that band uniform… Still wearing my drill team uniform… From 1972😊.
    Keep on keeping on…
    Shannon Rosenfeld.

  3. Ouch! I’m the lady with the Italian aunt. I intended my response to be humorous. Guess my little joke fell flat. I think I’m funny but my kids often tell me otherwise. Sigh. Anyhow, I adore you, can’t wait for Wednesdays and Saturdays, and hope we’re good. Totally concur that the world, now more than ever, needs to agree to disagree.

    1. You have excellent taste. Trevor is smug and John Oliver relies on the F word for humor rather than actual craft. I rile people up when I say I can’t stand Rachel Maddow. Seriously I can’t watch more than 30 seconds of her show without shouting “GET TO THE POINT RACHEL!” Then I change the channel. Come to think of it, all the cable news shows are annoying. I miss Walter Cronkite.

  4. Thank you, Chris,–in these gawdawul times–for starting Wednesdays and Saturdays with a wry smile, and an occsional guffaw.

  5. Hey Chris, Church choirs, short skirts, Sinatra…I’d like to add big bands to that. There are certain things that make life worth living. Like baseball with real fans. Not the stupid cutouts behind home plate we see on broadcasts these days. Do I detect your columns being a little more opinionated these days? If so, I like it. But there’s one pressing issue I do have. Dislike the Bee Gees? Those are fightin’ words, my friend. As the kids say…lol.

    1. I’m with you, Rick. My first thought upon reading that dislike was, “NO, Not the BeeGees!”

  6. Chris, What did the Bee Gees ever do to you? Show a little compassion. Especially since Barry is the only one left standing (barely). But I agree with everything and everyone else on your list, both loves and hates….Run the complete list by Angie and if she decides to dump you, you can call me. My husband will just have to get over it. Keep up the great work. We need a laugh, even a snarky one.


    “Immortality” by the Bee Gees……. they were prolific writers for many artists in addition to what they wrote for themselves. This performance was a few years before one of the twins, Maurice died. His twin, Robin, considered one of the finest “soul” voices out there, followed a few years later. They lost baby brother Andy years before. So this song was special to them. But unless we all want to become “pod people” we can celebrate, not necessarily the differences, but that we are so unique individually we can’t help but have differences. Your readers are fortunate to have you share your insights, thoughts, heartfelt feelings. We are not entitled to “you”. I salute you in your uniform and un-uniform ways. Liz A.

  8. If I dined on a mail order steak while listening to the BeeGees, outside on artificial turf it would be the end of me.

  9. Yeah, I hear you, Chris.
    But, just wait until they start on Vin Scully.
    Now, them’s really gonna be fightin’ words!

  10. A disliking for snarky elites does not disqualify you from the human race; at least not on my planet. Keep up the good work. dgm

  11. Tom Goethals, “bigoted ignorance”?
    Stated like a “relentless prosecutor” as your late Dad would say!
    Lighten up!
    Don’t be so judgemental, Judge!

  12. “…tall drinks in very icy glasses, so that they look crammed with jewelry”. Nailed it! I’ll be treating myself to a few during this heatwave. Thanks Chris!

  13. I suggest that you read Trevor Noah’s book. It’s a terrific read and you’ll get to know him a lot better. You might even change your opinion of him. And, why did I read in one of your essays in your Lemonade book (which I’m enjoying) that you love vodka? I thought you were a gin man???
    Keep writing…you light up my day!!!

  14. First Trevor Noah…and now The Bee Gees?!!! A dagger to my heart. At least you like Joni Mitchell – although I enjoy her year round, especially before she lost her voice!

  15. Well, I hope you didn’t count me with the angry mobs, though I was a little surprised by the Trevor and Idena appraisals. But certainly not angry or outraged or even a little bit peeved. You are completely entitled to those opinions even if I disagree with them. But really, you don’t feel the same way about Bill Maher? With his “Oh the sky is falling we’re going to lose the election and we are doomed” Chicken Little bit (and so sexist attitude toward women) anyway I digress, We’ll always have Leonard Cohen, John Prine and maybe some day Chez Jay … and I’ll love you til I die. signed: Your Pal Judy, XOXO

  16. Catharsis. Bet you feel so much better getting all that out. Now there’s no need for a laxative.
    Thanks for daring to put your vulnerabilities in print.

  17. Ah, peaks and valleys (as Johnny Carson used to say). Anyway, very glad to be in that company of yours.

  18. Wow. What the kerfuffle. Too much fuss! Keep on sharing things from your vantage point. Your column always makes me smile, laugh, think, sing, and always resonates with me. Like today. I thought about pouring an icy libation and listening to Thelonious Monk. I never got to it but I thought about it. I think we all could use more kindness…and open minds. And agreeing to disagree has been my mantra for decades. Still works. Or you can just blast back some Colonel Jessip “You can’t handle the truth!” 😉

    1. Hi Bonnie, more comments than usual. But I will have to say that, by and large, they concentrated on the message rather than the messenger. I think that’s where we go off the rails. Folks shouldn’t attack the person, they should attack the argument. Most people did, and with a gentle tone. It was the sort of healthy back and forth most of us appreciate. As I concluded in the column, lucky to have friends like these. Cheers

      1. So true. Looking forward to the new book. No kindle for me. I love the smell of fresh-cut lumber in the morning.

  19. Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one and sometimes they stink. Keep writing what you like. I may not agree/like everything you write but sometimes I can learn a thing or two.

  20. Look who’s turning into “get off my lawn” late Clint Eastwood! I think Covid cabin fever may have a little to do with this crankiness of yours. Plus maybe the rheumatizz that comes with the onset of the geezerhood you and I are now members of. Can’t wait to hear what your kids thought of the column. Still, along with the added pounds, wrinkles and those weird spots that start popping up on our skin, we all have the right to like and dislike what we do. As for me, while I’m hit and miss with Trevor, I think he’s an important, intelligent voice offering a perspective you and I, coming from the sheltered Midwestern background we, as little white boys, were privileged to grow up in, need to hear periodically. And I will also confess that yes, it’s important not to have the volume too high when John Oliver gets going. Still, his deep dives into important issues frequently offer brilliance. He has the moral outrage of a hyper-caffeinated (okay, sometimes borderline coked out) Will Rogers, and he has had segments so funny I was laughing out loud while still learning and being moved to action. And by being moved to action, no, I don’t mean turning him off. And the Bee Gees…my lord! We need to get you into a meditation class. Sure, they had a ton of songs that Abba might have rejected, but “To Love Somebody” “If I Can’t Have You,” and “Tragedy”? These are damn fine songs. And if you can try to remember what that Saturday Night Fever soundtrack sounded like when you first heard it in the film, before those songs became as ubiquitous as “Stairway To Heaven” (another great song played into the ground)…I mean, come on, didn’t some hidden part of you want to put on your white bell bottoms, get on the dance floor and do your best Johnny T? But hats off to you for sticking your neck out. I look forward to carrying on our lively conversations and, in some I hope not too distant future, deciding who’s right by arm wrestling from our bar stools at the dive of your choice. I’m going to start doing my pushups now.

    1. Great reply, Steve. “Coked-out Will Rogers” was worth the price of admission. Why do you always have to top me? Cheers
      PS: I actually felt strongest about the Tupperware stuff.

  21. That’s why there is chocolate and vanilla, and a whole lot of other flavors of ice cream. It’s all good. Trevor’s book, “Born a Crime” is truly worth a read. John Oliver can be over the top, but often he digs into issues that need uncovering. Sarcasm is healthy. Yours as well. I’m still a fan. Have fun with it. Cheers, Rick

  22. I always wondered why I always seemed different from my friends. Trevor Noah and John Oliver “are so funny”, “why aren’t you watching them?” I think NOT. So there!
    BTW, Miles Davis, yeah! My friends would say “Miles who?” Whatever.

  23. Chris, you said it all in a nutshell; agree to disagree. What happened to the First Amendment? Why can’t everyone have their own opinion without being vilified? Thanks for a little sanity in the asylum!

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