The incident that first got the whole thing started didn’t seem very significant at the beginning and certainly wasn’t something that anyone would have expected to ignite the imagination of the whole country. After all, the proportion of the citizenry who even attends concerts is fairly minute, and the issue that all the ruckus was about seemed pretty arcane. But one day, instead of taking their usual place in the orchestra pit, the trumpet section of the brass players in the New York Philharmonic said that the choice of musical compositions was “rigged” against them, and, accordingly, they seceded from the rest of the orchestra. Their leader expressed the view that it was the other musicians who were harming the quality of their concerts, and the trumpet section’s action would serve to “make the Philharmonic great again.” In contrast, the other musicians believed that the preposterousness of such an idea was “laughable” and beneath the consideration of cultured people in a civilized society.   Both sides, the “trumpeters” and the “laughables” or, as they came to be known, the “forces of hilarity” were able to drum up support by enlisting the free assistance of “the social media”, a bunch of pundits with a solid lack of good judgment and too much free time on their hands in search of a news story.

The leaders of both of these groups were widely perceived to exude “high unfavorables,” in the sense that they both evinced fatal character flaws which would normally disqualify them from consideration as acceptable human beings, let alone as leaders of significant social movements. In the case of the trumpeter leader, he would consistently make counterfactual statements, advocate restrictive views on which Americans should be included as trumpeters in good standing, and display a bombastic style designed to shift attention away from his fraudulent business dealings. The laughable chief was no less despicable, a woman who lifted the characteristics of insincerity and a flat speaking tone to high art forms. During their leadership tenures, both of these individuals fell under legal scrutiny for their dishonest practices. The most astounding occurrence, however, was the tenacity with which their followers on both sides would remain staunchly loyal to their hero or heroine despite the overwhelming evidence of their unworthiness.

In less time than anyone would have expected, the conflict erupted into an armed confrontation, encouraged by the “second amendment” lobby, who perceived a great marketing opportunity to supply free firearms to both sides in exchange for expensive ammunition, and by documentary filmmakers, who saw a similar chance to call attention to the 150th anniversary of the end of the first American civil war. Ultimately, after many struggles and close calls over those four long years, it was the forces of hilarity who finally carried the day.

These events quickly eclipsed the original rift between the two groups of musicians, even though the only thing they seemed to agree on was the uselessness of the “arm flappers,” or conductors, whose only “value added” seemed to lie in their instinct to know when to sit down after the applause had ceased. Like its predecessor, this “second American civil war” also lasted around four years, with great loss of life on both sides. Only the musicians themselves escaped military service because of the deferment for individuals with the ability to play a musical instrument, due to high demand for marching songs.

Historians recognize that the turning point in the first civil war occurred at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Not dissimilarly, the deciding battle in this second civil war took place in a small French settlement 1,237 miles further south in rural Maryland, just off the expressway by the name of “Nord-Est Solei- Levant”. Its name in English was North East Rising Sun.

Although the great carnage offered a boon to the medical profession, a small number of medical doctors felt “put upon” and opted not to put in the long hours of hard work for regulation wages and expressed their discontent by no longer accepting insurance compensation, thus restricting their clientele to the very wealthy. When the anticipated windfall did not materialize, however, these individuals began exploring alternative day jobs, and some stumbled into the lucrative field of punditry. Two such ex-physicians were in “the right place at the right time” to cover the aftermath at North East Rising Sun. Their identities were a doctor known only as “the genius,” famous for his rapid and cursory diagnoses, and another known as “the wolf,” who combined a penchant for asking complex questions with his short attention span.

In search of subjects, they managed to find one in particular, a distinguished emeritus professor of history at Suffolk University, who happened to be knowledgeable about both Gettysburg and North East Rising Sun. This gentleman’s name was Professor David Trask, and, unbeknownst to the two interviewers, he was a “closet” laughable. The two quickly descended on him with a deluge of questions. “Do you see any similarities between the battle of Gettysburg and the recent conflict at North East Rising Sun? “ the genius demanded of professor Trask. He reflected for a long moment before responding.

“North East Rising Sun…North East Rising Sun” the professor answered thoughtfully, “you know, history doesn’t always repeat itself, but, “ and here he paused before continuing, “This time I think it will.”

Not to be outdone, the wolf zeroed in on his insightful question. “Who was the greatest laughable you ever saw?” he shouted at the professor. Trask grew both stern and philosophical.   “I’ve seen a lot of laughables over the years, guys who hung it out there and really got the job done. Some of them,” he said, putting his hand on the shoulder of a laughable next to him who had challenged the hapless laughable leader as she “limped to victory “ and who had inadvertently “screwed the pooch” by sticking to his principles too long and competing too aggressively, “are right here in this room. But there was one I saw once that I thought really had the right –…” The wolf was evidently growing impatient with what he perceived to be a long-winded answer and interrupted, repeating the question at a higher decibel level. The professor seemed to visibly relax, and a smile slowly crept over his face.

“Who’s the greatest laughable I ever saw”? he asked pausing before answering, “You’re looking at him.”