I celebrate the late, great Peter Falk for his legendary “populist” characterization of Lt. Columbo, relentless nemesis to the Gucci’d “above the law” types who tried to use power and money to cavalierly escape responsibility for profound crimes against humankind.
I celebrate the Columbo TV series’ enactments of takedowns of the down-and-dirty high-and-mighties, since we are now seriously in the Season (or maybe we should call it Age) of the “High Functioning Sociopath” (so defiantly in your face during the Bush and Obama eras (let’s acknowledge bipartisan amorality) and now reaching epic dimensions in the ethical freakshow of Trump).
Our economy captured by them, our quality of life and that of our children and their children, etc., drastically diminished by them, our planet doomed by them, large masses of our global family killed, maimed and/or displaced by them and their “profits over human welfare” gratuitous and profound violent evil and all perpetrated with seemingly little legal, economic and even reputational consequence, thanks to crony capitalism and its post-morality, mis-informing and/or un-informing, conscience beveling, corporate media.
Maybe the only comfort we of awakened consciences and minds can glean is from a spiritual speculation of the risks to their immortal souls?
I confess, I find myself praying more and more not so much for the existence of a heaven, but a horrendous hell for the obscenely wealthy and obscenely criminal rat bastards of the universe.
We desperately need populist heroes, in real life and in art! We need them from past, present and future dimensions.
In the Columbo shows, you might remember how the amoral and murdering monsters did their best to finesse their way out of unspeakable, ends-justifies-any-means deeds. However, Columbo was like the proverbial terrier with a bone. We as viewers enjoyed the ultimate justice, the comeuppance of the smug, mendacious, callous, deadly and always privileged villains by show’s end.
Columbo wasn’t ever dazzled and conned by the money, the power or the fame of the sociopathic gamesman or gameswoman. He would sniff out their guilt early on and hover, hover, hover, question, question, question and then, that “just one more thing,” crime-cracking question.
What was such a kick was watching the elite’s preliminary dismissal of Columbo as a non-threatening, crass, working class, in-way-over-his-head, amiable schlub change to a begrudging respect and fear as the high-functioning sociopath realizes his or her ingenious, perfect-crime blueprint was not Columbo-proof.
Falk’s character counterpointed the moral shamelessness of the guilty, upscale criminal with his own, endearing shamelessness at being a non-rich, working class Joe, clunkily invading golden-gated communities to uphold justice.
Columbo would at times awkwardly gush over the opulence, the fame, the power he would stumble upon, while at the same time asserting pride over the satisfying symbols of his world — that clunker of a car, a hearty bowl of chili, or even a good deal on a less than $20 pair of shoes.
Columbo felt comfortable and entitled showing up anywhere despite, as one character declared, “looking like an unmade bed.” He was a “substance” not style kinda guy. (“Substance over style,” imagine that, Barack?)
Columbo’s ever-present and ridiculous for southern California raincoat, the ever-nursed “would you mind not smoking that here” cigar and a never-present gun!
God bless you, Peter Falk. I can use the catharsis from still seeing your Columbo give it to the smug, mendacious rat bastards, even if it is all on a small DVD or YouTube screen. Hail to your inspiring role-modeling of a strong and indomitable moral will, mischievous sense of humor and ever-dazzling display of connect-the-dots intelligence.
I would love to let loose a herd of us Columbo “channelers” on our millionaire/billionaire controlled Congress, courts, executive branch, and corporate gangster puppeteers with their sell out media hacks. Plain-speaking, citizen activists — people with humble life styles and a basic Golden Rule moral sensibility. People to help make that desperately needed paradigm shift from a US government of patriarchy to one of humanism. From might makes right, competition, win/lose violent engagements, profits over people killer gamesmanship to a social contract founded on humanism reflecting partnership, cooperation, win/win conflict resolution, empathy, and the manifestation of a collective soul and conscience rather than a xenophobic collective ego.
Alas, I gotta say, those are BIG, less than twenty dollar Columbo shoes to fill by those of us willing to exercise our consciences and courage.
Consider what we have to lose if we don’t take on such a fight, however.