Somehow, improbably, it is August once more—the peak of bad summer and a time that, even outside of global health crises and cataclysmic, irreversible environmental upheaval, is generally kind of blah. The promised Hot Vax Summer never really came to fruition thanks to Miss Delta Variant. Lines at the testing centers are long again, a harbinger of what could possibly be another winter of dread. Apologies to August Leos, who are indubitably miffed at the suggestion that this month sucks, but the truth is irrefutable: August isn’t great and the only thing that truly articulates the way this month feels is this video of a flamingo spinning in a circle, set to the song “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
I’m not sure when I became aware of this video, but it is one of the movies that plays in the dingy, low-rent movie theatre that is my brain when I am feeling the gross ennui of summer’s end. Certainly, the original footage was not scored to this awful song, but something about the choice is fitting. Perhaps the flamingo is in distress, or maybe he’s just having a think the only way he knows how.
Put in terms that are resonant for 2021's weird summer specifically, the flamingo’s eternal rotations are similar to the whiplash created by having too many plans, then no plans, then some more plans—a side effect of the relative but limited freedom that comes from being vaccinated. Yes, the flamingo wants to go see your friend’s cousin’s sister’s band play an experimental folk-punk-techno set in an abandoned bandshell at dusk, but also, eating two hot dogs at home and then sitting in front of the air conditioner sounds nice, too. Three weddings, all of which were canceled in 2020, but are now scheduled one weekend after the other in August? No thanks, thinks the flamingo, which is a proxy for a brain exhausted from compartmentalizing a year and a half of death, an attempted coup, ongoing racial violence, and countless attempts to dismantle reproductive rights. Round and round he goes!