The moment when a boy, having heroically dropped his testicles, steps out from the shadow of his father and declares his independence as a free-willed human bean, even if in a hesitant squeaky voice, is a momentous one in the long march from tadpole to personal-injury attorney that we males must necessarily undertake. And in a certain time and place in suburban middle-class Merka, the vehicle of the declaration was often Mad magazine. Your average middle-class parent, and back then they were all average, having successfully reached the point where they had totally forgotten what it was like to be a kid, dreamily pictured their adolescent offspring whiling away the afternoons curled up with volume five of the Encyclopedia Britannica (DEF-GOS) or perhaps The Strapping Young Boy’s Concordance To The New Testament. In countless split-level homes, these dreams would be instantly vaporized upon the discovery of a copy of Mad magazine among the putrid effects of said young boy. Mad was the exact Satanic opposite of everything parents valued. That their child possessed such a publication opened up previously unthoughtabout vistas of degeneracy, deviance and possible cigarette-smoking that was so shattering that it invariably drove them to their cocktail cabinets to whip up a Grasshopper or two. In some cases, mine for example, this was followed by the ritual burning of the filth in the rusty oil drum out back, forcing the besmirched heir to watch as Don Martin blackened and curled in the flames. Don Martin! The embodiment of that cultural anarchist’s bomb that was Mad! He was the epitome of sophisticated nonsensical parent-proof wit! Out of curiosity, I searched for some examples of his work this morning and discovered to my great pleasure that his epitomania stands. You can see it here. And that’s what Independence Day means to me.