Rafael Edward Cruz is running for president.
By all accounts Ted Cruz is bright and formidable. He’s a powerful speaker. His academic accomplishments are impressive. His career trajectory just prior to politics is downright imposing. There’s a certain charisma in a Bob Dole meets Pee Wee Herman kind of way. He’s also a notorious tea party prick. It makes no sense that an obviously intelligent man has chosen to champion the stupidest.
By all accounts his fellow republicans would no sooner miss an opportunity to punch him so hard in the mouth that he shits out his intestines than I would.
I’m not here to remind you what a cartoon this guy is. Ever since he entered stage right onto the senate floor in 2013, he has not failed to avail himself of any excuse to be an asshole.
Jeb and his brood will surely suck all legit, semi legit and the filthiest of lucre out of Ted’s home state of Texas as well as every other campaign cash venue available to almost every other republican who would be except maybe Scott ‘eyes too close together’ Walker.
He cannot win.
He has no chance.
So just exactly what is he up to? I imagine he will finish being more despised than he started. He’s a miserable narcissist. Watching his faux filibuster over the ACA forced lurid visions onto me of a rotting mouthed hillbilly settling down on Friday evening to masturbate with a twelve pack of malt liquor talls and a soiled pile of vintage porn. A poster boy for hubris and self aggrandizement. Free standing ashtray full of fast food napkins. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
His announcement at Liberty University was awesome. They’re nihilists dude. Sheezus.
What is he doing? It’s not some obscure egalitarian agenda. It’s not some ham-fisted altruistic effort to jerk the clown car toward purity. Nope. Ted Cruz is no team player. Ted Cruz is an asshole who gives not a mad fuck. Ted Cruz drives a hot rod hearse.
Does he believe his father’s assertion that he is among the evangelical Christians to be anointed as kings to bring the spoils of war to priests in a great transfer of wealth?
Or is he just branding?
If so, what is his brand other than asshole?
He will not win, place or show. Not even the darkest of horses in this field of crazies would consider him for a running mate.
Maybe he’s a a super secret double triple agent, a democratic plant that will finally doom the GOP and rent it asunder.
After all, he appears to be punching down.
Fuck me if I’m wrong and may God help us all because if I am we deserve it. Things will explode. Like prisons and war. Folk music will come back. The middle class will further diversify culinary applications of Top Ramen. You will be on your own.
I don’t get it.
I have this feeling that it’s right in front of me but I’m missing it.
Drinks for my friends.
What’s mind blowing about the whole Snowden thing is not what huge deal it was, it’s what a huge deal it is.
To my dismay I have become cynical, so it occurred to me at the time that it really sucked but I wasn’t at all surprised.
I mean, how could anyone in real time America be in any way at a loss over the nefarious efforts of our government to know and control everything within its reach? Who doubts that shit?
What floored me the most was the indignity of professional blowhards along with the great unwashed. They were all pissed and everything.
Whoulda thought our government was anything but benign and magnanimous?
I was nascent during the the Vietnam war era and the Nixon administration. My mother made us watch the resignation of Nixon live on television along with stuff like any televised activity by the Apollo Space Program and Sesame Street. God love her. Consequently, I never had any reason to to trust my government and went on to date the daughter of an ABC News science correspondent. She may have had access to an actual moon rock and she did have a great rack. She was crazy and smart and beautiful and told me her father was a real prick.
So I watched the Snowden Documentary the other night and regardless of my feelings on the subject, the film was brilliant. Fascinating.
Yep, Snowden is fascinating too. Erudite and still clever. He’d obviously thought hard about what he was doing and taken at face value, was pretty unselfish and altruistic about it.
I’m not going to spend any time here guessing about his true intentions because I’m not sure how much it matters. This is not about whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a villain. Hardly. The focus so far on that question is deliberate distraction on the part of the players. I’ll say this much, he’s no traitor and is probably only as earnest a patriot as he knows how to be.
What is important to me is what he revealed, because as cynical as I am, it was awesome and profoundly disturbing. The chilling malignancy of our government and its corporate partners to deceive and manipulate the gen pop gnaws at me. I can’t stop thinking about it because I can’t stop wondering what we don’t know.
It’s an iceberg.
Think about that.
If you don’t think what we know now pales in comparison to what we don’t, I’d like for you to join my ministry and buy my free book.
Okay look, it’s hardly a stretch these days to conclude that the assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK were at least somewhat the behest of the CIA and organized crime right? That’s a 50 year old iceberg. The tip of Snowden’s iceberg shows drones, secret prisons, torture, spying on Americans in vulgar defiance of the 4th amendment, the suspension of Habeas corpus, Posse Comitatus…………
Try for a minute to imagine what lies beneath that waterline.
Americans only gave a shit about the salient aspects of the story for like a day. The next day it devolved into a debate about whether this dude should be hung or shot. After that it was Benghazi, Ebola, ISIS and all manner of things more existential.
How quick this event stopped selling tickets in the American theater of short attention spans.
Drinks for my friends.
I can’t stand it .
I’m just in awe that any sane person could devote so much energy and acuity to such an irrelevant discipline.
I mean of all the scholarly pursuits available in the 21st century, for anyone to devote this much effort to a book that they can’t even know who wrote is just spectacularly baffling. Who does that? If nothing else, has the modern world not provided ample evidence that your beliefs are hardly exclusive? That your fantasies and dogma are no more credible than those of the guy next to you on the bus eating his boogers?
How have you escaped the most notorious phenomena of the information age with all it’s cruel and hard instant truths? The relentless data forced down our necks, synced up with our every heartbeat, pulse and biorhythm for optimal consumption and ideal absorption that render your theological obsessions just as obviously obsolete as any other of today or from thousands of years ago.
How do you folks miss this?
How do you manage to escape it?
I listen to these hopeless zealots talk about and debate it and it’s fucking comedy. They sound like Trekkies at a convention. It’s all about the ‘prime directive’. Remember that SNL skit where Shatner shows up at a convention and tells them all to lighten up? Wouldn’t be awesome if Jesus did that?
Seriously, there’s science of all kinds. There’s language and communications. Psychology and sociology. Why there’s even gambling and used car sales. Finance and astrology.
Why The Bible or any other work of mere fiction? Might I suggest the Lord of the Rings? It’s got genealogy and anthropology and different languages. And it has the extra added benefit of being way less contradictory and far more sure footed in terms of a moral course.
What happens to people to make them do that?
Animal husbandry anyone?
So, fair enough. I get it. They are afraid. They are humid with panic and desperation. Searching their scriptures for solace and dignity. And in both their hearts and minds they understand that the notion of a benevolent Santa for adults is an empty fantasy. The id and the super-ego rage against the dying of the light while the ego haunts without malice or reservation. No wonder they are so goddamn confused and self righteous. I mean, that’s gotta suck. To cling to that nonsense and get kicked in the mouth every day with proof that it’s complete bullshit. No wonder in America most scientists are atheists and most Christians are either hypocrites or in jail or both.
My major malfunction is that they walk among us like they know something we don’t. Like common sense is for fools and heretics. Like we don’t know they don’t know. It’s obtuse. They prance and froth at the religiosity of the president like it has anything to do with his patriotism or Americanism. And they get away with it because we have to respect everyone’s beliefs.
Because for thousands of years the cults of theism have ruled the day.
All I have to do is acknowledge beliefs.
I don’t have to respect them or their efforts to infringe on my society, my morals or my politics.
Enough of this nonsense. The lobbying. The religious litmus test for any aspect of worthiness in public life. Enough of the considerations afforded the pious and the holy and the bellicose. All the dominionist, theonazi homophobes can piss up a goddamn rope.
I’m tired of this crap. Tax the shit out of churches and temples and synagogues. Use all the money to fund planned parenthood and food stamps and welfare and unemployment and healthcare and secular education and then maybe all these jackwagons will shut the fuck up and disappear.
Jesus Christ, I gotta stop writing about religion.
Drinks for my friends.
I’m agnostic. An agnostic. That means I’m confident that organized religion, any that worships a single deity or deities, is complete bullshit. That means that I don’t discount the notion of a higher power because neither I or anyone else has all the answers regarding the hows and whys of the universe. It also means I don’t dismiss the idea of souls, but I admit to being a little more dubious on that one.
Religion was only allowed to once manifest and therefore exist today because of how primitive science was as recently as a century or two ago. Hello, Mormons.
Probably the biggest thing that chaps my ass about theists is that if I choose not to believe in their God, I have chosen to exist in a moral vacuum. That my lack of belief means I simply have no access to any moral compass. That the two are mutually exclusive. That I’m capable of anything.
That God makes morality objective.
Wrong. Morality is like it or not, subjective. The Christian bible is so convoluted and contradictory that it’s moral message is anything but objective. It’s no wonder Christians are so confused and so inherently hypocritical. I almost can’t blame them.
But I do because they have chosen to be full of shit.
I’m not singling out Christianity, I’m merely taking advantage of it as a convenient example. There’s no shortage of examples.
They would have me believe that I have a choice between door number one and door number two. Along with the presumption of choice is the presumption that I know full well what’s behind those two doors. Heaven or hell. Good or bad. Right or wrong. Love or hate. God or Satan. One or the other. It’s a callow and immature insistence on defining life as simply as it can be defined.
Morality is ultimately subjective. I choose to rape and kill as many people as I want. That number is Zero. Morality is the providence of philosophy and subject to the consensus ideally, of a democratic society. This is where the concepts of justice and of law enter the human condition. One could argue that religion is philosophy but all religions end up self disqualifying by purporting to be the one and only truth.
What if that’s not what’s behind them? What if there are more doors? What if doors aren’t the only choice? They tell me that’s it. It’s that simple. But they are notorious for providing no proof and obscene explanations. And again, by virtue of whatever religion, they deprive themselves of one of life’s most important choices.
Whether or not to be full of shit.
“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love”. -Bill Hicks.
Drinks for my friends.
Doesn’t it seem crazy that the most of the folks who believe in life after death are at odds with the theory of evolution?
Scripture spewing theists railing against abortion while pining away for more capital punishment, even more guns and jerking health care out from under the feet of the people who need it the most?
Does that make any sense?
They believe that we as a species are so special, so unique as humans that we just must have been created by one God’s design. We didn’t evolve. We were planted with all our grace and humility intact as the pristine flowers we so obviously are. This all happened about six thousand years ago. Then we had that huge ass flood and everything. And it was then that our species saved every other species we now enjoy today.
You know, the whole Noah thing.
We are exclusive and divine.
We deserve everything.
Dominion over all of it.
Good God, organized religion is such a load of crap.
I don’t doubt that a lot of what is attributed to humans as virtue is actually virtuous.
But they are mistaken in thinking that these virtues don’t exist anywhere else.
Animals never have to compete with the inherent lethality and avarice of technology and commerce, therefore the kindness and compassion of animals when domesticated is pure and their endeavors toward survival in the wild are nothing but efficient and completely absent malice.
If only humans would aspire to as much.
Our failings as a species are breathtaking.
There is so much more dignity in being other than human on this planet.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s all the proof of evolution anyone should ever need.
So, wouldn’t it be awesome if they all came back as cats?
Drinks for my friends.
Does it occur to anyone else that the Joni Ernst story about bread bags on her shoes has to be complete bullshit?
She’d wear holes in them on the way the to goddamn bus fer crying out loud.
I read on the internet that you’re supposed to wear them over your socks.
Sometimes I think of Barack Obama as a Dungeons and Dragons character. You know, he’s only got so many spells and potions and magical weapons. So many charisma points. So many wisdom points. His political capital is finite. We don’t know how much he actually has. Maybe he’s actually being resourceful.
I think like this sometimes.
It was a great speech. I hear. I didn’t watch it. Well, I watched the post game.
I watched the fuck out of Joni Ernst though. Did ya catch the gummies in the corners of her rictus?
She could be better than Bachmann.
She’s a senator.
It’s a good trade.
Thing is, this woman is just not bright. Totally Stepford. And she’s a fucking hypocrite. Her stump story is bullshit. Her family received all kinds of government farm subsidies and if she actually was poor it was under Reagan. To republican men, she’s a token. On the other hand, she may end up the heat and light that Palin never had a shot at. Palin was too stupid and they were desperate for a woman. At least she didn’t let loose with that ridiculous goose laugh.
The poor woman is going to be briefed and debriefed relentlessly on what to say when there’s cameras and microphones.
I can’t wait for her to go rogue.
When is the GOP gonna figure this out and at least foist a woman with intelligence?
They do it on purpose. The set the bar really low, they anoint a token dingbat and out of one side of their mouths they are pro women and out of the other side they tell the shriveled up white dudes that everybody knows the bitches can’t be trusted. Republican men view all women besides their mothers as whores. I’m being fair here by judging them on their policies.
I think like this sometimes.
Or, the republicans really do suffer from an ideological myopia so profound and disgusting.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
I can barely tell the difference between democrats and republicans anymore.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
What I can tell you is that republicans are just so ridiculously obvious. Shameless. They take the gullible and the ignorant for granted. They count on them.
I’ll also point that about half of us buy into it and the other half buys into that.
Two men say they are Jesus, one of them must be lying.
What if there is no Jesus?
Drinks for my friends.
It was 35 years ago and I was sixteen. After a stint at KFC, I was finally old enough to not have to lie about my age to get a real fast food job.
I applied at Der Wienerschnitzel and was hired by a color blind man named Jerry. He had a face like a melted bag of caramels and a vague east coast accent. Everything about him was the color blue. His suits. His ties. His car was a sky blue El Dorado with a navy blue vinyl top. I don’t know if that was the only color he could see or what.
He looked and sounded like a gangster to me.
I had a hard time taking him seriously. He was a stereotype. A caricature.
Jerry took me back into the kitchen where the magic happened and introduced me to a beefy guy named Dave. I would learn later that Dave was an aspiring bodybuilder. Dave’s corpulence challenged his managerial uniform in every imaginable way. Shirt buttons barely winning, a too short tie that looked to be asphyxiating. His brown polyester slacks glistened like fresh sausage casing. He wore braces on alarmingly aberrant teeth. Dated 70’s disco afro.
Dave told me to report the next afternoon, after school, to the tallest and ugliest motherfucker I would ever see.
He told me his name was Allen.
That’s what he actually said.
He was perhaps the tallest and ugliest motherfucker I’d ever seen, but he was cordial. He showed me to the stock room and casually suggested that I practice punting old corn dogs against the ceiling for awhile. He pointed to a 5 gallon plastic bucket and said he would be back to check my progress.
Allen stood about six foot six and was 4 or 5 years older than me. He was slope shouldered, pigeon chested and very long of limb. His face was pocked and pitted. Lantern jawed with a smile that was nothing if not threatening. His voice was cavern deep and despite his awkward stature, he was sinewy and there was unmistakable power in his presence. He was pretty fucking scary the first time I laid eyes on him.
After an hour so, he came back. I’d done the best I could. The floor was random with ruptured corn dogs, wrappers, the wooden sticks and somehow, there were mustard stains on the ceiling.
He raised an eyebrow above milky glasses and muttered something about my lack of enthusiasm but seemed satisfied enough and introduced me to the deep fryer. His instructions were terse. Pay attention to the drive thru grease board, listen to the orders broadcast on a PA from the front register and anticipate. There were two timers. One for french fries and one for corn dogs. Don’t cook too much and don’t run out.
Men had failed before me.
There was a guy we called French Fry Bob. He worked the day shift. He had some obscure degree in something he assured us. He never made it past the fry station. He must have been good. I can’t remember much about him except that he was pear shaped and seemed to last longer than he should have.
I’d never met anyone remotely like Allen Hamilton and my guess is I never will.
I don’t know how other less legitimate fast food outfits were back then but when you pulled up to the window to pay and collect your delicious meal at Der Wienerschnitzel, you were afforded a full view of the kitchen and it’s workers. Nowadays you’re lucky to get a glimpse of a cash register and the drink station. There is no choice in remembering the shock on customers faces when they caught an eyeful of this gaunt giant, in nothing but an apron and boxer shorts, spatula in hand, flipping patties and grinning while assembling the delicious meal they had just ordered twenty feet back.
He was difficult to know. He didn’t suffer fools. He had a dark, sometimes vicious sense of humor but he was still very funny. It was obvious that he was troubled but even those who knew him well barely saw it.
There were marathon Dungeons and Dragons sessions at Allen’s place fueled by speed and liquor. Allen was of course, the dungeon master. For a time, his circle of older friends and my circle of younger ones converged. There were always some pretty shady characters in and out. Characters that inspired instinctual caution. Jack, who dressed like a 50’s greaser, pegged jeans and all with a constant rapid, involuntary wink. RJ, with an overbite that left him on the verge of whistling when he talked. He was nearly as tall as Allen but beefier and not nearly as smart.
I liked Allen and admired him. He was painfully bright. He had composure. He always seemed to be a step or two ahead of me and everyone else. He was calculating and manipulative. Just a little more dangerous than anyone I’d ever met. People who didn’t know or understand him were at least a little afraid of him. He could be intimidating and he knew it.
You could reasonably expect to find his trunk full of medieval weapons.
Despite all that, he was a good friend to me and my friends. He was enigmatic. He pushed the envelope. He challenged me in conversations. I found myself flirting with trouble far more serious than I would have contemplated on my own.
He was a good friend to me and my friends, save maybe one. His name was Pete and we were pretty close. Pete and I took his ’67 Cougar over Donner Summit and into the Bay Area to see the Who and The Clash at the Oakland Coliseum in 1982. I’d made some mix tapes for the trip. Lot’s of Pat Travers, Montrose and Van Halen. We ran out of money on the way back and resorted to a dine and dash a Denny’s in Vallejo. To this day I’m convinced we left our last money for the tip.
On the way back, it was snowing hard and Pete almost killed us both by falling asleep at the wheel.
Pete was always a little vulnerable. He behaved as though the rest of us were keeping a secret from him. Over time he somehow became convinced that Allen was controlling his mind and Pete kinda lost it. Every once in awhile one of us would catch site of him by the side of the highway scribbling in a wire bound notebook. He refused to have anything to do with any of us thereafter. We all experimented liberally with a variety of pharmaceuticals and hallucinogens back then and I’m sure that was at least a component of Pete’s demise but there must have been more at work. I remember hearing he’d married Allen’s sister. But I thought she was married. Allen had nothing to say about it but I knew that he knew exactly what had happened and liked being asked.
Northern Nevada is littered with old, abandoned and notoriously unstable mine shafts. There was a time when Allen led a group of guys deep into the side of a mountain and left them there without light in the darkest of black for hours for reasons I don’t imagine were anything other than vice.
He liked cocking an eyebrow and saying nothing. He did that a lot.
Eventually the restaurant changed hands, Allen was fired and I became manager.
It’s not like I was ambitious.
I kinda fell into it.
I beat out a kid with dirty teeth and a desperate home life.
Spanked him on the written test.
The last time I saw Allen was early November of 1992. I was in town for Nevada day. We spent a late night drinking tequila and ended up at my parents house. I saw him in the back yard putting out a cigarette and looking for a trash can. I heard is his primer gray ’69 GTO lumber off and that was the last time I ever saw or heard from him.
Ten or so years later I heard he was dead. From a mutual friend, who was a notorious drunk, and drunk and sullen with the news.
Fast forward to the present. Two days after Christmas and I’m in Lake Tahoe for my niece’s wedding. I’m sitting at a table with my wife and kids and mostly people I recognize except one tall and lanky girl. I know her boyfriend Mike pretty well but I can’t remember the last time we had a conversation. I like Mike. We start talking and his girlfriend joins in. Valerie. She’s bright and funny and self deprecating. I like her. She’s pretty behind big glasses. At one point someone asks how tall she is and I don’t remember her answer but think it’s an odd thing to ask.
Not long after, she stood up.
I discover I know her mother. We dated. She was beautiful and crazy. We rolled a car off the side of a mountain road end over end in a blizzard. Her mother was driving. If it wasn’t for seat belts, we both would have been killed.
I ask her a question about her father and literally get the one answer I never would have thought before this exact second when I’m thinking it. She is saying the same thing my brain is saying at the same time. Allen Hamilton. My long dead friend and her father are the same man.
It makes sense. Marfan’s syndrome. She looks like him. She’s built like him. She tells me she’s already had open heart surgery and a doctor told her once that most people with Marfan’s don’t live past thirty. She tells me this haunts her.
She says she just has a few vague memories. She doesn’t know anything about him. She’s never met anyone who even knew her father other than her mother. We talk about him a lot. Neither one of us are prepared for this. I’ve rarely been in a situation where I know less how to act or have less of an idea what to say. We orbit. We exchange contact information because we understand the conversation is far from over. We hug and she cries. She is lovely.
On the way out, her boyfriend Mike tells me he is glad it was me.
I think about this for awhile and decide I’m glad too.
A few weeks later I get an email from her.
“………………There are so many things that I want to know that I don’t know how to ask. If I could ask just one question it would be, was he ever happy? Happy with himself, or happy with his life? Did he know heart-swelling joy, or just fleeting moments of non-sorrow?”
I answered that she had thrown me a pretty wicked pitch.
She seems all of the good and none of the sorrow.
I wrote her back but this is my complete answer.
Drinks for my friends.
I’m up before eight on Monday morning. I have an important appointment at ten. I have a glass of ice water and check my email before showering. As I commence my morning constitutional, the devil himself wades in and stabs my junk over and over with a red hot trident.
This is clearly beyond fucked up.
I never make it to the shower.
I gather myself and cancel my appointment.
I wonder if it’s a kidney stone.
I call my doctor and they tell me I can be seen at two thirty.
As the day wears on, each episode of relieving myself is more excruciating than the last until just around two, when I lose consciousness and wake up on the linoleum a minute or so later.
I would end up lying about this, only to confess it a few days later.
I’m late getting to the doctor.
BP 118 over 76 and pulse normal.
I’d just been in a few months before for a full work up that showed nothing but normal. Cholesterol is cool. Liver and kidney function well within parameters.
He’s pretty sure it’s a stone(s) and asks for a urine sample. I tell him no way can I give him one now because I’m afraid I’ll end upon the floor again. Plus I’m not wanting to be heard screaming like a little girl. He’s a cautious and reluctant physician. He thinks maybe I should go to the emergency room. I leave with a jar for my sample to be performed at home in the morning and a prescription for some weak ass painkiller that I’m sure won’t mitigate my agony at all.
I get it filled anyway.
I get home and the wife and kids are here. I pop three of the pills and begin to marinate in my inevitable juices. I know I’ll have to pee again sooner or later.
Sooner or later.
Around eight I decide to go for it although I know it’s gonna suck. It does. There really is no way to describe it. It really is like being stabbed in the unit by Satan with a smoldering dagger. There is the deepest ache along with the most searing sting and the sickest, most nauseating bloom of pain that reminds me of any and all violence ever committed against my balls as well as any time I’ve ever caught my pecker in my zipper times some crazy exponential. I manage to maintain consciousness but I’m a shaky sweaty mess when I emerge from the bathroom as my wife takes it all in.
My father is somewhat famous for a number of colorful expressions, I keep remembering one in particular. While gulping habanero peppers like grapes he would grin and say, “Makes childbirth an absolute pleasure………”
I’d read that the level of pain when passing a stone is equivalent to what women experience during childbirth.
An ER nurse would later confirm this.
Fast forward to about one thirty a.m. and I’m starting to sweat again. My angel of mercy is up with me because she knows and she’s trying to talk me into the emergency room before I have to go again. I’m on the verge of panic. Her logic prevails when she describes a scenario where they will shoot me full of something enough to make me not give a shit and I will be able to pee and they will then diagnose and treat me and everything will be better.
This finally makes sense to me and we leave in the middle of the night and it’s raining. She drops me off at the entrance and goes to park the car. They give me paperwork and she arrives disgusted that I’m sitting there filling it out. So with an articulate brevity and fierceness she describes my situation to the woman behind the desk. I’m admitted abruptly by a male nurse and my BP is whacky. Like 102 over 98. My pulse is racing.
My loins are aching.
Very soon they’ve taken blood and I’m on an IV of saline and ten milligrams of morphine. Within a few minutes I’m being wheeled to the Arthur C. Clark CT Scan room. Morphine is nothing short of awesome in an ER at 2 a.m. That is until you gotta pee again and then you are just as sober a five year old on the first day of school.
Unimaginable pain. Without the morphine I would have folded for sure.
They now have everything they need. Blood, CT SCan and urine through a filter like the paper oil cone they give you at the gas station.
Nothing in the sieve.
I’m reclining in the bed having accomplished everything I came here to do. The morphine settles its hands around my head and face again.
I like the doctor. He is young, which is weird because it makes me realize I’m just not. He tells me with absolute confidence the the event horizon has expired. I’ve passed the stone or stones and I’ve been torn up pretty good. He tells me I’m going to experience the same kind of pain when I pee for the next 24 to 48 hours. Fuck me. That’s not the bad news. The bad news is I’ve still got a sizable one sitting in my left kidney. I’m likely to go through the same thing again and it will probably be worse.
He gives me a big ass Norco and writes me a scripts for more of that as well as Motrin and something called Phenazopyridine. It’s about 4:30 am and I can’t fill them until 8 am and I worry I’ll need them before then.
We come home and despite the crazy amount of narcotics in my system, there’s no way I can sleep. I’m still afraid to pee again and my angel of mercy must take our oldest to school. Our youngest has a cold and she stays home with me. I doze and wake up in time to get to the pharmacy as it opens. I contemplate the DUI but decide I just can’t care.
I come home and dope myself up.
I start drinking water.
Within a few hours I pee again and it’s pretty goddamn bad. But not so bad it scares me. It gets better through the day.
By the end of the day I’m fascinated by the neon light saber coming out of my johnson. The doctor told me the Phenazopyridine would make my pee crazy orange. My wife and I marvel at the beautiful color against the background of our white porcelain commode. I had to call her in and show her.
So I’ve still got one waiting in the wings. My left kidney. Between 6 and 7 millimeters translates to an asteroid potentially big enough to destroy the earth and wipe out civilization as I know it.
I imagine that it will just be about the time I stop thinking about all this every time I pee when that asteroid launches from my left kidney and makes it’s way on a collision course for my planet.
Drinks for my friends.
I know this kind of deceitful seduction has been a part of American politics since our republic was born.
But my mind is made up.
Up until now, as cynical as I am, I bought into it.
But what I see now is a breach of trust that threatens to, and probably should, divide the democratic party in the same way the tea party has divided the GOP. In some ways for the same reason. Purity. The only real difference being that the tea party is developmentally challenged and real democrats can breathe through their noses. It’s a fundamental difference but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
So yeah, a last minute must pass spending bill. We’ve seen this movie before. Republicans were tolerated and even encouraged to shut down the government over what, health care for people who couldn’t afford or otherwise couldn’t get it? That’s why they did it and they were fucking proud of it. It cost their party nothing. They were lionized. Heroes were made.
What we have here is spineless democrats who won’t even consider shutting down the government to prevent big banks from doing the same things they did to cause the second greatest financial disaster in American history. They won’t do it to keep the taxpayer from hanging his ass in the wind for a $300 trillion gamble instead of the the filthy rich who clean up when the ridiculous risk pays off but lose nothing when all is lost. They won’t even consider doing it to stop the moneyed from being able to spend seven to ten times more to buy the politicians that make it even more convenient to do it again.
Seven to ten times more. Think about that. It makes whatever you and I might contribute completely meaningless.
They refuse to make a stand for what are supposed to be the core principles of what the democratic party is supposed to be about. The defense of the middle class, the protection of the poor, minorities and the disenfranchised. It cuts another $93 million for food assistance. The amendments to this spending bill, written by Citigroup and overtly lobbied for by the likes of Jamie Dimon, are insanely avaricious and nothing at all else. The democrats can’t even consider the threat of shutting down the government as a symbolic gesture over things they goddamn well know that no average middle class citizen could eat without puking.
Even if one were able to carefully explain these issues to the average bible thumping God and guns neanderthal republican, he’d come up swinging.
If democratic leadership is unwilling to draw a line in the sand here, for these things, then what good are they?
The democratic party now audaciously begs the question, what is the difference between them and the evil empire? Obama, Harry Reid and company are no longer content with merely being the resident poltergeist. They are now shamelessly complicit, more than willing to meet the devil at the crossroads in broad daylight and sign over the soul of America in the form of the “cromnibus”.
They sold us out.
Maybe we should just hasten our demise, vote for Mitt or Jeb or any other flavor of corporate fascist with a ridiculous first name and get it over with.
Be done with it.
What’s the goddamn difference?
I’ve never quite owned this feeling before.
The feeling that no matter what we do, we’re fucked.
Drinks for my friends.
Virtually no one in America had ever witnessed such a horrific event live and free on television until then. It was simultaneously more violent, more chaotic and more disturbing than maybe anything we’d ever seen. A handful of burly peace officers bearing down in concert on a very large, black man who lacked the sense to merely stay on the ground.
Yes, Rodney King was high as a kite and it was incredibly hard to watch.
The digital age of instant information, gratification, persecution and judgement was ushered in by the video tape of those cops beating the living shit out of Rodney King. The flooding of our senses and sensibilities, the numbing of our brains, expectations and perceptions by a stream of profoundly disturbing sensory information like a a continuous pyroclastic flow, had begun.
And they didn’t even kill him.
Every time it happens and there are no consequences, no indictment, no charges, no trial or no verdict, it all gets reset. Even now, when we’re barely able to manage a breath until the next one. It’s not that things are actually occurring more often. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is how often it’s broadcast and just how anaesthetized and inured at least half of us have become.
So for the very latest, we are witness to an actual murder of an unarmed black man who had done nothing at all. Nothing. The whole thing on video. The coroner even ruled it homicide.
A grand jury still fails to indict anyone for any fucking thing at all.
And Peter King, a sitting congressman, is allowed to say it was Eric Garner’s fault for being overweight and out of shape without being pilloried, tarred and feathered and run out of town. I hate this prick.
Sean Hannity managed to somehow link the travesty to Benghazi while “technically” objecting to the term “chokehold” by virtue of his experience as a martial arts student. Idiot. Giulani spared no decency in characterizing Mayor de Blasio’s unusually articulate and compassionate response to the grand jury finding as “racist”. Dumbass. Rand Paul waltzed with the absurd in saying Eric Garner’s death was somehow the fault of an unfair tax. Dipshit.
This the modern, post racial GOP.
Tone deaf, stupid, bigoted motherfuckers.
“Get away [garbled] … for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me (garbled) Selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.”
” I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,”.
What the fuck?
With Trayvon Martin there was no video and and not any “credible” witnesses. Trial, but no conviction. He was a thug and George Zimmerman was a hero.
With Michael Brown there was no video and plenty of witnesses, but none of them “credible”. No indictment, no trial. Brown was a thug and officer Wilson did society a favor by getting rid of an animal who caused him to fear for his life even though he had no documented injuries and chose to exit his two ton vehicle to be better able to take aim and fire ten more shots and gun him down from somewhere between twenty five and a hundred plus feet away.
They never measured.
What the hell are they going to say 12 year old Tamir Rice did to deserve it?
Cliven Bundy faced down all kinds of local, state and federal authority with his very own “well regulated militia” and not a shot was fired. He committed actual crimes. He still owes the taxpayers over seven figures.
A single white man, armed to the goddamn teeth, opens fire in a theater in Aurora Colorado, kills twelve and injures seventy and he is taken alive. No video, lots of witnesses and lots of innocent people dead, injured and otherwise emotionally scarred forever. He was taken alive and unharmed. Afterwards the commentariat asks what happened to this fine young man? What went wrong?
Now these are hardly original thoughts on my part. They are on the lips of a lot of people. But so is the question, WHAT THE FUCK?
Drinks for my friends.
What we do know for sure, is what.
As in, what exactly happened.
The shooting to death of an unarmed black man by a white policeman occurred on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson Missouri. The police officer was Darren Wilson. The unarmed man was named Michael Brown. On November 24, 2014 a county grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown until he was dead.
That is what happened.
We also know how it happened. I’m not here now to revisit or belabor that how.
I’ve already done that subjectively in my last writing.
You can read that here: http://www.brainspank.org/2014/11/shaft/
Of course, the conviction with which I expressed my opinion on the how of this matter engendered some anger.
That anger leads us to the why. Up until now, I really haven’t been able to understand the why. My understanding of it is by no means complete but the anger aimed at me has provided a glimpse into it and maybe it will for anyone reading this.
This is why I’m sharing it here.
I received an email not long after I posted my opinion on the events in Ferguson from a man I’ve known since high school. I don’t mind telling you that this man is a typical small town conservative who imagines himself a pillar of the community because he’s on the right side of guns, God and the constitution. He absolutely believes we live in a post racial society.
In the past he’s written much worse. Far more vitriolic and disturbing. But this proves to be the most compelling view into a mindset that for me at least explains why such things are allowed to happen.
I thought about disclosing his identity but it really is beside the point. We were once “friends” on social media but he blocked me long ago I’m sure because he was tired of me kicking his ass all over the place and making him cry in front of his friends. I absolutely enjoyed calling him on his bullshit. I get bored and it was cathartic.
What I am doing now though, is issuing a challenge to this man. Offering him an opportunity to own what he wrote to me and by all means defend it if he can, on my blog for everyone to see.
I do hope he will rise to the occasion.
This is why I write.
This is exactly why I bother.
Pay special attention to numbers 7 through 13 to get a real taste for the unhinged.
What follows is his email to me verbatim in bold italics.
Here’s the facts that you can’t get through your thick irrational skull:
Regardless of what the police department did or does, it does not change the facts and especially the physical evidence
Fact 1. Michael Brown did not shoplift, he robbed a store, the latter involving threat or use of force and that is a felony
Fact 2. Regardless of why he was stopped he started a physical confrontation with a cop who was seated in his vehicle
Fact 3. The much smaller officer shot Mr. Brown as they fought over the weapon
Fact 4. Mr. Brown then scurried away and failed to respond by the officer’s commands
Fact 5. Mr. Brown then ran towards the officer in what eye witnesses describe as like a football player going in for a tackle
Fact 6. The officer shot Mr. Brown dead.
Fact 7. Friends of the deceased made up eye-witness accounts that portrayed Mr. Brown as non-violent, and being shot in the back while running away with his hands up
Fact 8. The liberal media rags et al made up stories like the store owner nor anyone else called the cops (albeit a recorded 911 call to the contrary)
Fact 9. Race baiters Holder, Sharpton, Jackson and the POTUS caused further division and incited the uninformed masses
Fact 10. Professional white communistic inciters flooded the cities to cause even more disruption
Fact 11. The forensic evidence tells the story.
Fact 12. If the FBI were to contrive with the police, the prosecution, the grand jury, the race baiting Holder and everyone else they would have likely indicted the officer on a charge, the officer would have reportedly committed suicide while in fact was placed into a WPP, or some other method of calming the tensions. Then again, Holder loves to promote race wars, so perhaps it was all made up.
Most importantly is fact 13. People just like you who have irrational thought patterns inspired by your biases and filled into your brain with your so-called credible sources are the reason why this country is so screwed. You fall for all the garbage force fed to you by big brother. You actually don’t believe it when the main person who designed Obamacare says it was written so stupid people would never understand the repercussions. You actually believe them when they say amnesty of millions will somehow produce jobs and more money. You believe them when they say there is not a smidgeon of corruption. You believe them when they say the Constitution is antiquated and needs to be revamped. It is true, liberalism like yours is certainly a mental disorder.
It goes without saying that I did my level best. I pointed out to him the actual definition of the word fact as opposed to opinion and conjecture. I went as far as I could to address that difference.
He didn’t get it.
There was, in my estimation, just one fact in his email to me that began with “Here’s the facts that you can’t get through your thick irrational skull:” . Number 6, “The officer shot Mr. Brown dead”.
My response to him is really beside the point because his position is that Mr. Brown was a thug and Officer Wilson was fighting for his survival. Things he can’t know. Things he doesn’t know. Things he has no way of knowing. Things, ideas, concepts he got from an irresponsible media that led him to believe were facts.
So, the onus is on this man to to enlighten us further.
Understand reader, if you don’t talk to him here, he won’t see what you have to say. It defeats the purpose of what I’m trying to do here if you comment elsewhere.
This is your glimpse into why.
So, to my old friend who wrote the above, show us what you got dude.
Please tell us about the “Professional white communistic inciters flooded the cities to cause even more disruption“
Fair warning, any emails you send to me will be reprinted here as comments on this blog, anonymously of course.
I won’t reveal your identity.
The floor is yours.
Drinks for my friends.
It was all over before the shouting when county prosecutor Robert McCulloch opted to actually try the case before a secret grand jury as opposed to simply and traditionally allowing the matter to be tried in a public court of law. The fix was in from the start. Not just a stage set, but the entire drama enacted beneath a proscenium already tainted with a protracted history of racial animus endorsed and facilitated by regional cabal.
McCullough made a conscious decision to forego the proverbial ham sandwich.
It doesn’t take a hundred days to determine whether to try a white cop for shooting an unarmed black teen to death six to ten times from well over a hundred feet away. It does however, take that long to construct an elaborate trail of distortion and obfuscation to to justify the complete exoneration and immunity from any future criminal prosecution and consequence of a white cop who shot an unarmed black teen to death from well over a hundred feet away.
Robert McCulloch labored at least as much as an advocate for the defense of Darren Wilson as he did to discharge his statutory obligation as county prosecutor. He did not charge, nor did he recommend. He orchestrated behind closed doors. He took it upon himself to prevent a legitimate trial for an undisputed homicide. He eschewed transparency. Was there even a whiff of justification for the use of deadly force? Was there anything at all exculpatory in terms of lethal threat or the absence thereof posed by Michael Brown?
I can’t help but consider these concepts and ideals to be central, vital and thoroughly unimpeachable in the pursuit of justice in any case where a boy is left to die bleeding in the street. Shot to death. Unarmed. From over a hundred feet away by a policeman who suffered a swollen cheek. Where in McCulloch’s press conference was there any mention of these things? I didn’t hear a goddamn word about them.
McCulloch was thorough, articulate and reprehensibly derelict.
I predicted this exact outcome months ago.
I watch the chaos and violence unfold tonight on my television and it’s hard. Hard to reconcile my heart and my head. It’s so senseless. So useless. These businesses burning have no dog in this hunt. The destruction is being visited on the innocent once again. That’s some irony right there. Most people won’t understand this. They’ll see it for the crazy that it is. It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because there’s a part of me that genuinely understands. There’s a part of me that just can’t bring myself to blame them.
What most people won’t understand, what so many Americans simply cannot relate to, is that this is not merely crazy. It is desperation. It is the realization of a hollow futility. When hope and justice are revoked by institutions, when the people who are led to believe they can trust and rely on them see them end in vapor, a profound vacuum manifests in that wake.
It is this that we now bear witness to.
Michael Brown was executed for adolescent hubris while being black in a town where he was only guilty of not knowing better.
Drinks for my friends.
So, we smoked a turd in hell with Satan himself while midterm fires raged all around us. We opted for that as opposed to showing up at the polls. A Michele Bachmann bathroom stall door closed, a Joni Ernst toilet overflowed and fecal chocolate logs made their way like mindless carp across the lavatory tile.
Shame on us.
Democrats who took it upon themselves to campaign on the accomplishments of this administration fared well. The majority of those who chose to run from such saw the mortal coil of their political lives shuffle out of reach. Turnout was historically low. In the districts and states where it was high, democrats won. Still, for the most part, the will of the people was not realized because the people chose not realize their will.
Here we are in the wake of that.
They say these things happen in threes.
About a third of us showed up.
Maybe the trifecta is the house, the senate and finally the presidency falling under the neoconservative, teabilly shadow. They are on a roll.
Maybe it’s a TPP, Keystone Pipeline and compromise on medicare/social security capitulation on the tip of our president’s tongue.
Just now, postmortem.
Obama got a little resolute with the FCC, telling them to stop fucking around and make the internet a public utility. No fast lanes. No big money privilege. Then he goes off to China, sports some Spock Tunic and reaches some epic deal on carbon emissions. And just lately he’s been rumbling about Keystone.
Maybe the triplet here is immigration reform. Obama is not a man who beats his chest. He’s not kidding. It’s a pretty ballsy piss up a rope to Boehner and McConnell. They’re throwing up in their mouths a little already.
The next two years are gonna be interesting to say the least.
Here’s hoping the presidential pen proves mightier than the sword by way of veto and executive order. Senate democrats should be getting their filibuster tuxes to the cleaners while the rest of us prepare to not go so quietly.
I say damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead. It’s time for democrats to show democrats that they have a fucking spine before it’s too late if it isn’t already. Fuck ‘em and feed ‘em fish heads. Stop feeding us the populist talk and start actually walking the walk. See how I gave you three cliches there?
What if democrats were finally able to show the working poor who vote republican that they’re actually democrats? Tall order. Easier to fool a man than convince him he’s been fooled. But what if?
Democrats need to get mean. Stop being mad and start getting even. Make republicans pay for every stupid thing they are about to do under the illusion that this election is a mandate. When two thirds of the voters don’t show up and the uber filthy rich take their place, there is no goddamn mandate. Show some guts, some balls for once. Don’t flinch. Don’t hesitate. Call their bluff and make them show us their ass.
There’s a hell of a lot of people out here you’re gonna have to convince that you’re not all the same. That you’re not all republicans in frilly democratic blouses. I can’t stress this enough. Not just because democrats were such candy asses in this election but because they have a well earned reputation for it.
And I think this might be your last chance for awhile.
Here’s the math.
1) Social liberalism is peaking.
2) Fiscal conservatism is less popular than ever and it’s deleterious effects are punching down on the middle class with unchecked abandon everyday while the wealthy offer nothing but cake.
3) The obvious mandate from this election is the absence of one. In it’s place is confusion and disillusion.
I gave you three.
Hint. The right thing to do is often the hardest. Don’t worry about it. Do the right thing. And then go to the media and fucking brag about it. Be self righteous and unswerving. Be pompous, obese and eat cactus. Americans love that shit. The first rule of leadership is to lead by example.
Drinks for my friends.
Gas is at three bucks a gallon. Unemployment is under 6% and the stock market is through the roof.
Everything republicans say they want. On paper at least.
But America has been very unhappy and with very good reason for a very long time.
Tonight, America threw a tantrum.
Tantrums are never effective.
Tantrums are always ill advised.
Children throw tantrums.
Or at least they shouldn’t.
And now I’m going to throw my own, against my better judgement.
But, before I do, I can’t help but ask. what role did racial animus play in tonight’s election results given the widely held belief by the commentariat that this was a referendum on our first African American president?
Remember that scene in American History X where Edward Norton forces a man to open his mouth and place it on the edge of a curb before he kicks the back of his skull? It’s called “curbing”. Norton was playing a white power skinhead and he performs the “curb stomp” on a black burglar. It is typically performed as a hate crime.
Well, that’s what America has just voted to do to itself. Think about it. Despite all the gerrymandering, voter suppression and big Koch brother money via Citizens United, America has just volunteered to place its collective open mouth on the curb and invited the conservatives to kick the shit out of the back of its head.
You know what? We absolutely deserve it. I’m not kidding. Sheezus Kentucky, Mitch McConnell again? Hey Iowa, Joni Ernst? Really? In the United States Senate? Really? Her message was about castrating the cloven hoofed. And Wisconsin, Scott Walker again? Really? This guy has fucked you people nine ways to Sunday, from hell to breakfast and it wasn’t even close. Aren’t you at all bothered by how close together his eyes are?
Jim Inhofe, who believes climate change is a hoax, will head the EPA and the Environment and Public Works Committee. Ted Cruz will likely head the Subcommittee on Science and Space. Ron Johnson will take control of Homeland Security and Governmental Reform Committee and Mike Enzi will head the Budget Committee. McCain head of Armed Services. Fuck me.
Republicans will now be able to attach any and all bullshit amendments to any bill and dare Obama to veto it even if the bill is called “The Not Murdering Babies and Senior Citizens To Preserve America From Communism and Terrorism Act” See, amendments are not subject to filibuster. And it’s entirely possible that the republican senate will change the rules for filibuster the first week of January anyway. I guarantee you they will try.
Here’s what I genuinely want to see happen. I want the American electorate to pay. I want us to suffer. I want to see the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I want all those states who’s governors wouldn’t play ball in the altruistic expansion of Medicare, I want them to actually witness the inevitable deaths that will occur. I want poverty to continue to rise and I want to see the profound impact on American families when there is no action on an already unconscionable minimum wage. I want to see income inequality widen further.
I want to see more wars in more countries. I want us to actually start listening to John McCain again.
I want discrimination against women and minorities in the context of wage parity and voting opportunity to be sanctioned by law. I want marriage equality and LGBT advances to be rolled back by the supreme court and maybe even by constitutional amendment. I want every drunk douchenozzle in every bar in America to be allowed to carry a loaded gun.
I don’t want the American worker to earn overtime pay. I want to see college education so exorbitant that only old money patriarchal clans can afford to educate their progeny and for the rest us to see America lose it’s ability to compete in global markets for generations, while the rich get richer and it becomes more convenient for the American worker to be exploited while we become a third world country and economy.
I am anxious and looking forward to just how goddamn bad it has to get before we wake the fuck up. I want Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney for president in 2016 with a republican house and senate. I want this. You know why? because the people who voted these assholes in tonight deserve it and the assholes who sat this one out deserve it more. The only way things will ever change in this country is when the people in the red states who already suffer the most, who are so spectacularly dumb as to consistently vote against their own interests, endure an agony so thorough that actual survival literally becomes an imperative and I want lazy, elitist liberals to experience the same.
I want to see the American people ground down to stubs. I can’t wait for us to reap what we have sown.
Joni fucking Ernst? Really?
We are this close to the midterm elections and the goddamn GOP is about to close it hard on irrational fear.
Isis and Ebola.
How did we get here?
Completely random elaborately imagined clusterfucks that would not survive the advent of oxygen or sunlight if applied. I am sick to death of fear masquerading as politics.
The phenomena says two things about the American electorate. Neither one is pretty. The first reveals that by and large, most of us are dumb as fucking sticks. Exasperatingly gullible. The second one is not much better. It says that progressive, forward thinking people are still too goddamn lazy or passive to muster a counter offensive to such ridiculous bullshit.
It’s unbelievably absurd that this late in the game, republicans can so conveniently and confidently count on the stupid, that they can actually be an efficacious tipping point in these midterm elections. It’s unreal to me. I’ve seen it happen over and over in my lifetime and I still can’t believe it. Republicans call on the idiots and they show up in droves and democrats sit at home because they just aren’t quite afraid enough.
I am in awe.
The Orcs mass at the drawbridge while the democrats enjoy the first course of baby arugula with gorgonzola and candied almonds and a delightful raspberry vinaigrette. We hear there is some sort of garlic roasted chicken on the way.
We’re so arrogant and complacent, so self righteous and magnanimous to imagine that our celebration and luxury of the upper moral hand is a luxury that we have somehow earned and much, much worse, deserve.
The teabillies will not win this election, we will lose it.
If it goes badly this November, it won’t because they lied and thieved and stole every vote they could. It won’t be because they cheated an disenfranchised minority democrats and women. They can and will do all these things. They are doing all these things. They are enabled by the highest court in the land. It is absolutely rigged by ugly, shameless, racist justices. It’s awful and disgraceful and completely true. The hypocrisy of the highest court in the the land is invasive and cloying.
There remains no question that in this age of entertaining the notion of impeaching and prosecuting the president of the United States, that we should instead be legitimately evaluating the impeachment and prosecution of various members of the supreme court for reasons far more compelling and egregious.
Over half of the highest court in the land is occupied by bought and paid for by good old boys. They attend, speak and acquire remuneration from the filthiest of the filthy. They never even contemplate recusal. Profoundly corrupt as evidenced by their decisions as much as their abject failure to decide. I am so with the notorious RBG. She’s my heroine. Otherwise, they are a scorch as well as a scourge on democracy and perhaps the single best reason to get your ass to the booth.
Having said that, if we lose, it will be because not enough of us showed the fuck up.
If voting in America were compulsory, no one would ever give a mad fuck what the 99% thinks or even wants. No contest. We would be a true social democracy and the bastards would still be rich as hell but they would not be in a position to rob us blind. To suck every last drop from us. To dictate social policy. To shame the most stupid among us into voting against their own best interests because of christian family values. To sell us so much fear and distraction that so many actually believe that Ebola and Isis are an actual credible threat to day to day life.
The idea that Isis or Ebola represent an existential threat is the property of obtuse.
It is the silliest and most illogical nonsense I have ever witnessed and yet, it’s working.
If we lose it’s because we are in an irreparable state of moron.
Once again, America takes my breath away.
Drinks for my friends.
I still remember vinyl. The whole audio visual experience of riding my bike to the record store, buying a vinyl album, bringing it home, removing the shrink wrap, putting it on the turntable.
I remember setting the needle down, reading the liner notes, the smell of polyvinyl chloride and cardboard and ink. And then of course, the sound.
I remember it with Kiss Destroyer. Joe Walsh The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get. James Taylor. Fleetwood Mac. Supertramp. Deep Purple. Carole King. Led Zeppelin. Heart.
There was vinyl, there was the eight track tape and the cassette tape.
I availed myself of all these mediums as a kid. I was absolutely enthralled by music and the mediums it was available on. More than comic books. More than the literature I was beginning to discover. More immediate and compelling. More than anything I knew.
We began to play instruments my friends and I. They were gifted, I was not. Thank dog I figured that out pretty early. If I hadn’t, my life would have sucked. But still, music. Like nothing else, it reached all my corners.
So as I began to realize that I would never be any kind of musician, I began to understand that I perceived recorded music, the production and engineering of it, somehow more acutely than my musically gifted friends. I discovered sometime later that I have, for lack of a better word, a “condition” called synesthesia. I see sound in my head. I can replay it in my head for a very long time after I’ve first heard it. Every note, every sound.
I decided I was going to be a recording engineer before I even knew what that meant.
I involved myself as much as possible. I waded in on my friends four track cassette recorders. I discovered the limitations of really shitty EQ. I started to understand reverb and delay. I began to invest in stereo equipment.
I relinquished my managerial position at a fast food restaurant to work in my small town’s only record store.
I decided to go to school and study the craft.
I graduated with a 4.0 and received the outstanding graduate award.
I moved to Los Angeles and got hired as a janitor at the best recording studio in the world just before I turned 23.
I began to engineer and produce within a few years.
I produced, recorded and mixed my first record when I was 28 years old.
Less than a year after that, I co-produced and engineered a record that went platinum.
My point is this, I know music. I know recorded sound.
Here’s the story. What I know now is killing me. I worked in a record store when compact discs first came out. Perfect digital sound. I thought they were amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed blowing the fuses on the the record store system with Pachelbel’s Canon. Signal to noise ratio was just too much.
I moved a lot in the years after and decided to keep hauling my books from apartment to apartment and forego my vinyl. Huge mistake. I am still grateful I kept my books.
I went to work in a recording studio and discovered the warmth of vacuum tubes and analog tape. If you push tubes too hard, the distortion you get manifests itself in even order harmonics. If you push analog tape too hard it compresses and eventually distorts but it’s still even order harmonic distortion. The distortion is arguably pleasant because it is complimentary, it’s still, for all intents and purposes, in tune. Digital recording and processing, when overloaded, produces harmonic distortion that is dissonant. Of an odd order. Third order. Out of tune. Not pleasant. Ugly. It’s an over simplification but it’s true.
I made quite a few records in my day and we always stayed analog until the last possible moment. We mixed to half inch analog tape at 30 ips and cut our album sequence together the old fashioned way. With razor blades and huge half inch analog tape reels. Only then would we take it to mastering. Only then would we load the project into the digital domain necessary to mass produce compact discs for public consumption. We had the benefit of a pretty famous mastering engineer shepherding us through this process. Sometimes, going to mastering can be like going to the dentist for a cleaning. It is then that you find out how bad you fucked up the record and what the mastering engineer can do to save your rotting mouth.
This man, this mastering engineer in particular, was and is a genius. He often provided service and attention beyond our budget. He was kind. And there were times when he escorted us very gently into the digital domain because the record we had made required very little of his expertise. There were times when he did much more than we deserved or could pay for. He always did it though. He would always say “got a little money, get a little EQ”. And then he would do whatever was necessary to make us look good. It’s a fine art. A voodoo art.
At one point or another he earned the dubious distinction of “Digital Dave”. I made the mistake of referring to him by that name not long ago and he bristled. So I understand that now more than ever.
Digital is evil.
Fast forward to the present.
I have just recently forayed into the world of recording again. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve miced a drumkit. I used to be pretty damn good at this and I found out I still am. But it’s all digital now. I rented some analog gear to cut the tracks. Neves, APIs Ureis. I recorded to an old school Mackie 24 bit hard drive. Not a Studer A800 III.
We transferred those recordings to a PreSonus hard drive with Studio One software to mix. I am mixing with a mouse and a keyboard. This is where I begin to hate digital. I am impressed with it at the same time, however. The compression, the EQ, the gates, work amazingly well. I could not get the buss compressor to sound like an SSL and I could not get the snare reverb to sound exactly like an AMS nonlin program, but I got pretty goddamn close. That AMS sound was a bitch. Took me three separate presets and monkeying with the parameters for hours to mimic it.
Here’s where it all falls down.
Night before last I took a disc home. We had been printing to a standalone CD burner. This time we’re out of the recordable discs that we can use for this particular piece of gear. So we make an MP3 and put it on a disc in a MAC. I bring it home, load it up and hear all the sonic shortcomings on my ridiculously expensive stereo. Trust me, my shit is beyond reproach. Best system you will ever hear.
I was confused for a time. Where’s my bottom? Where’s my top? What is this weird frequency smear?
It sounds like shit.
Data compression. All the world transacts music through tiny little ear buds now. It’s an absolute tragedy. A travesty. It’s no longer art. Why in the world would I aspire to make a good recording anymore? It was the first time I’d ever actually listened to an MP3 file of any music, much less my own work.
I am in awe. This is what everyone is listening to. I’ve been listening to commercial radio again these days. Where there is melody, it’s Fisher Price. Production and engineering is clumsy. Like a woman who has no idea how to walk in heels. There is no product. There is no art. There is no artist identity or integrity. It’s like music is over. Give us a loop with subwoofer worthy excitement and an auto-tuned chorus mixed by some dickhead engineer who can make it the right kind of crunchy and we’ll put it on the Disney Chanel to lift pre-adolescent skirts and sell phones and apps and gum. Music is no longer performed and it’s no longer about performance. It is assembled. It’s fucking cheap.
Lowest common denominator.
There was a time in the not too distant past when an earnest musician with a modicum of talent could eek out a living in this country. People not only enjoyed but actively sought out the practice and display of the craft. People actually craved the visceral immediacy of live performance. No loops, no tapes, just real players playing and putting it out there. Now the only way to make a living is by being a tribute band or by being an actual famous artist from that era of yesterday. Even those famous artists barely make a dime off of their recordings anymore. They only make money by appearing as themselves live.
I can’t stand it.
I’m going to get to the point now. This vulgar phenomena is a metaphor for just about everything in contemporary American life. There are no more record stores anymore. There are no more book stores anymore. You can view masterpiece paintings online all day but it’s no substitute for standing in front of them and being able to see the brushstrokes and experience the color and palette and technique. The goddamn genius. Movies are increasingly sequels or remakes of tired ideas with more automatic gunfire and violence. The only attempted update is well, more realistic violence. More exaggerated violence. More profoundly ridiculous violence.
This is not about me, some middle aged dude staring down the barrel of 50 years on this planet screaming get off my lawn. This is about contemporary American society in decline. Everything is now disposable. Nothing valuable is worth a shit anymore and everything that’s not is now a priority. Perception is far more valuable than understanding and appreciation.
You can apply this notion to food, to cars, to just about anything.
The very first sign of the rapid decline of America on the world stage is our failure to appreciate what makes a society great. Our contribution to the arts. We no longer give a mad fuck about it. We barely contribute anything meaningful anymore. We lead the charge in discounting and devaluing it. We no longer teach music in our schools. Journalism is widely regarded as a joke. Writers and painters have less of a chance of making a living than ever before and film makers only make money by being specious hacks. There are entire generations now in this country that have no real understanding of the value of art at all. They have never seen it or experienced it. It all goes hand in hand with the rampant concentration of wealth, the insidious increase of money in politics. The precipitous atrophy of the middle class.
The erosion of compassion is a secondary symptom. The rise and celebration of avarice is perhaps tertiary but also the next to last stage of the lethal cancer we are actively succumbing to.
Our relevance will die, our society will fail, once our addiction to fear becomes so profound that the waging of war becomes our exclusive occupation and identity and we are well on our way. We are in the advanced throes of this infection. We have been practicing it non stop for 60 years. Most of the world knows us more for our ability to make war than uniquely American contributions to art and culture like jazz, or rock and roll or our great writers and artists and film makers.
Nice calling card huh?
Welcome to stage four.
“When Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and he was told that there were going to be major cuts in arts and culture because of the mounting costs of World War II, he responded with a simple reply, ‘Then what are we fighting for?’”
Drinks for my friends.
Guess what pisses me off.
It’s a rhetorical question.
Precious liberals who quake at the very notion of Obama being anything less than the liberal messiah.
I am sick of this shit.
I criticize our savior and panty waste liberals piss themselves over my abhorrent blasphemy.
I’m an apostate.
A stranger in a strange land.
Instead, all you hand wringing “liberals” waste time and energy on indignancy over the latest birther conspiracy theories. Like the idea that Michelle Obama was born a man and therefore cannot be the mother of the first daughters Really? Without a doubt if these people appear in front of you in the streets, take the time to piss all over their shoes. But otherwise, pay them no mind.
Grow up. He’s part of the machine. When it comes to the military industrial complex, he is but a cog. When it comes to America’s overt and unchecked aggression around the world, Obama doesn’t dictate policy, he merely manages it for public consumption.
If he screws it up, liberals are perceived as soft on terror and law and order and we suck in the mid term elections and risk the general. Because the fear has been mismanaged. The President of the United States manages perception and expectation. He does not dictate policy. Policy has been the purview of oligarchs and plutocrats for decades before our current commander in chief was even born.
Get over it.
Grow the fuck up.
And yes, your vote counts because the more you vote, the more your vote counts. If voting didn’t count there wouldn’t be such elaborate efforts to suppress it. Efforts that are breathtaking in audacity. Hundreds of thousands of women and minorities disenfranchised because the bastards understand they cannot possibly win a fair fight. Get used to the idea of choosing between the lesser of two evils until the majority of progressives show up at the goddamn polls every time.
Consistency. When this happens, we will be heard and change will occur.
But you don’t show up.
Even though we are the majority.
People who care, people that want economic equality, people who want justice, people who realize how pointless perpetual war is, are the majority. Not just in this country, but across the globe.
It’s far easier for the opposition to manipulate the stupid than it is for our side to inspire the intelligent. It’s so much easier to fool a man than it is to convince him he’s been fooled.
Organizing liberals is like herding cats.
We are a nation at war. It is what we do. We have spent all but a few decades of our entire history doing exactly that. We spend more than half what the rest of the entire world does on it. Like a trillion dollars a year. Really. That’s sick. We could cut our “defense” budget in half and solve poverty, homelessness and infrastructure. We could provide free health care and education for every single citizen. Other countries do it all the time. They pay for all that. Because they don’t make war their main business.
But we don’t.
Because we are led to believe we should be very afraid.
Does that sound like a profound addiction to violence to you?
An abominable addiction to fear?
Is it any wonder that we are perceived by the rest of the world as a country of loud mouthed assholes?
We have earned that distinction by killing inordinate amounts of people all over the goddamn planet for our entire history.
Even our own from time to time. It was quite convenient.
We really are badass.
It’s not Obama’s fault. But it is his problem.
It is our problem.
He’s not handling it particularly well these days.
Neither are we.
We don’t win wars anymore. We fight them. We start them. The two longest wars of our history are our two last wars. Obama pisses me off because he’s in his second term and he’s not refusing any of it. He won’t do it. He’s polite. He’s respectful. Reasonable. Qualities I confess I admire. But I can’t stand it anymore. He’s being as much in the face of insanity. He could lead. He could roll the dice and risk it all. Say what he thinks and force what he knows. But he won’t. He may just be our last best chance before we have a third world war.
But he won’t.
I can’t stand it.
We the people, have to make him.
That’s the way it works. That’s the way it always works. It’s the way it’s always worked.
Otherwise we just start bombing the shit out of brown people again. Like we are now. Tens if not hundreds of thousands will die, many of them innocent civilians and when it’s all over, it will be way more fucked up than when we started. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. Over and over and over. Every goddamn time we do this we succeed in only making it worse.
And then, we just must go in and clean it up yet again. We just must. Yet again. Yet again. Over and over again.
And the scary thing is this, that’s the idea. This is what your leaders, your elected representatives WANT.
So some of you liberals get all fierce and brave and block me from your pages for broaching the subject. For being unpatriotic. For being less than American. For pointing it out.
You endorse aggression because of fear. Fear of ISIS or Ebola or immigrants or Islam.
I seem to remember a time when liberals were pragmatic and I’m pretty sure it coincided with conservatives being stupid but sane.
The evil elite count on your confusion, your disillusion, they count on it, they have come to expect it. The stupid are always certain and vote with conviction, the well informed always have doubts because they are intellectually responsible by nature and are confused because they are open minded and just plain curious. So they end up sacrificing the good for the sake of the perfect and throw their weight and vote behind some ridiculous goofecock like Ralph Nader. You people really chap my ass.
Get a grip liberals.
You are the difference. You are the majority. If you just show up and vote consistently, you get able bodied employment, the ability to compete in a global market. All of it. No more slack jawed morons rewriting textbooks in Texas to promote creationism in classrooms, no more revocation of a woman’s right to actually vote or dominion over her own biology. No more banks preying on you with egregious policies and interest rates. No more flammable tap water and carcinogenic air and soil and food.
All of it because that’s what Americans want, and if Americans vote, we can have it.
Think about that.
You will never get everything you want. But if you don’t show up and participate, you will only get what you don’t want. You will only get what horrifies and disgusts you. Like now. And it will be no one’s fault but your own.
This blog is dedicated to my facebook friend Lizzie Borden who passed just the other day at the ripe young age of 76. I will miss her fierceness and wit in defending common sense, compassion and her ardent defense of humanity. She was a beautiful fish in a sea of cynicism. May she rest in peace and may her family be comforted by the fact that she always took the high road and never feared to tread and resist in the company of those who would forgo decency for avarice, to battle against those who would forsake love for power.
She was a gorgeous human being.
Drinks for my friends.
It’s like deja vu all over again.
One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all, has been at war for all but 21 years in its 238 year existence.
The talking heads tell us there’s no way air strikes alone will extinguish the latest bogeyman called ISIS or ISIL or whatever the fuck. After all, they beheaded three westerners live on video. It was on TV in 3D and HD over and over and over. So our plan is to arm and train and fund the “moderate rebels”. Nevermind that we’re fine with Saudi Arabia, one of the most brutally violent, archaic, misogynist, serial public beheading regimes in the entire world. The Saudis do this shit every week.
Breakfast and then on to the decapitation.
Cocktails at three. Virgins at six.
We thoroughly enjoy trade with North Korea.
Not Cuba, those people are savages.
But this Islamic State. We must stop THESE bastards.
I don’t want to alarm you, but they are under your bed as we speak. Really. Not Cubans or North Koreans but yes, Muslims with murder in their hearts. Don’t look. Just make sure you’re locked and loaded. Batteries in your flashlights.
The talking heads are conditioning us to accept that this will be a protracted campaign. There won’t be boots on the ground though, not unless absolutely necessary. Wink. Wink.
All this despite the experts pointing out that there is no existential threat to America whatsoever.
Can I interest you in a bridge or some swamp land?
War is just America’s way of saying it loves you. It loves you so much we created, funded and armed the enemy. It loves you so much you now have no choice but to fear for no goddamn reason. America loves you so much, it understands we all have too much money and the ones who have a shitload of it just don’t have enough. America loves you so much that we’re going to have yet another war to correct that whole wealth distribution thing.
America is very sorry that Darth Cheney’s empire only made $39 billion last time.
America loves you so much that it was forced to turn your local police departments into militarized testosterone fueled terrorists to combat the lowest violent crime rate in decades. America loves you so much that you’re way more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist. Way more likely to be killed by your own gun. America is glad that you actually fear terrorists more than your local police though.
America loves you so much that it also has to foment an insidious gun culture so pervasive and perverted that nine year old girls are accidentally shooting people to death at gun ranges with goddamn Uzis.
Your government loves you so much that it is going to lie to you for as long as possible about being at war until it cannot possibly deny that we’re at war again. When that critical mass is achieved, your government will start telling you that the war is being won.
The problem is thus, if we actually win a war, that war should end. They will tell you we are winning but they will be more and more reluctant to concede we’ve actually won. Even though we haven’t actually won a war for 60 years. We do not actually win wars. It’s beside the point. The people who profit cease to make AS MUCH if the war is actually over.
America loves you so much, it tries very hard to not actually end wars, even if there is a solution to the conflict.
Because then they will have to undertake the arduous recreation of starting yet another war with another foe or country or religion.
America understands that loving you means never having to say it is sorry.
Because America doesn’t give a mad fuck about Americans.
Being American means you never have to be sorry about anything at all.
Drinks for my friends.
I know things you don’t. Things you can’t. Things you would deny vehemently even if you knew them to be true.
Because of these things I know, I have suffered.
I am going to tell you a story. Before I am done, you will be sorry you heard it. By the time I am done you will most likely begin to doubt everything you thought you knew. Before I am done, you will have trouble resting your head on your pillow at night. By the time I am done, there will be no peace in your bed, between your sheets and blankets or in your head while it rests on your pillow. Because you will see no reason why it cannot happen to you.
This is not my objective.
Well, maybe it is.
All human beings serve at the pleasure of evil no matter what name they give it.
I know that now.
I feel like I first noticed him by accident. I didn’t see him as the goddamn devil or anything. Not at first anyway. No horns, no cloven hooves, no bifurcated tongue or stench of brimstone. He did smell dirty. Porcine. I will tell you that before it was all over I was reduced to praying to a God I never believed in.
It was no accident.
Still, in the beginning, I had fun with it. For awhile. It’s true, I did. I wasn’t afraid at first. Not really anyway. I was cocky. Dumb. Cynical.
At first it was like picking a scab or scratching a rash. I hated it but I liked it. Savory and sweet. It’s how evil works.
All this until he stood over my bed one windless night and some sense caused me to open my eyes. To surface from twilight wandering. He inhaled with a rattle. He sucked back ropes and vines of spittle and mucus from his lips and giant teeth. He dropped an index finger on my sternum and it reeked of dirt and grease and gasoline. His nails were long, black and mottled. He said nothing but he looked right at me. Not through me, but straight at me. He stank of things rotting and seething in dark places.
He fucking stank.
He sighed then, as though he lamented being so disturbing. Like he was sorry for just how horrific he was, lit only by the moon breaking through my window behind him.
He paused for a time and vibrated with naked rage over my bed with his finger on my chest.
I was frozen. Paralyzed. The sliding door to my balcony was open, and some breeze finally clattered the vertical blinds, bringing the odor of animals. Pig shit. He turned and walked away tapping the walls as he went, away from my bed and out my front door. I heard him close it quietly behind him and somehow lock it from outside. He rapped the walls with his knuckles all the way down the hall and down the stairs to the street exit.
I know because I heard it. Somehow, I could hear it.
The cancer seduces you and before you know it, you’re complicit. You are stained all over. Within the cage of a single season I was neck deep. I was delivered from sobriety and inebriation into madness.
I slept in my own piss.
Wanna know what puts the fear of God in me? Just how many goddamn self righteous all knowing mouth breathers in this country that still cling to the archaic notion that the earth is only two or six thousand years old. The people who maintain with a straight face and beatific countenance that the only reason dinosaurs no longer walk among us is because they didn’t make it on to Noah’s fucking Ark.
I’ve had it with organized religion. I can’t stand it.
All of life, all of the perception and preparation for life is the careful balance between instant gratification and delayed gratification and there is no other institution invented by man that manages and manipulates that balance better than organized religion. Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Baptist ……..whatever the goddamn hell. Organized religion understands very well that it is far more difficult to convince an individual they have been fooled than it is to fool them to begin with.
So they do the best they can to get to them early.
America wages war under the guise of religious righteousness. Either that or some perverted brand of religious nationalism. Take your pick. Pat Robertson or Ted Nugent. The serpent is of the same the same species of jingo.
You know, God, country, guns, family values……..
I can’t stand it.
It is an excuse for war, execution, discrimination, bigotry, misogyny, molestation of children, rape, murder, conquest, persecution and prosecution in no particular order but perhaps more than anything it provides stupid, willfully ignorant people justification to pass judgement on other people they know nothing about. It’s an alibi for just about every brand of fuckery humans engage in.
I am sick to death of it.
We pretend it’s about other things.
That’s the curtain.
Money, industry, oil, money, oil, you bet.
America has a vested interest in in places that don’t make sense because America is oil. The most profitable business in the history of humankind is oil. Most of the biggest companies who trade in fossil fuels hang their hat in America on one hook or another. These companies totally run our shit. They dictate our choices. They own our media. They now write our legislation. They decide what information we have access to. They ooze into our food and water without consequence.
Welcome to exactly how religion manifests itself. Have a nice day.
I’m only in the know because I have a decoder ring.
When you run afoul of these companies your name starts to sound like Snowden or Manning. Maybe Ellsburg. Chomsky or even Einstein. The only thing these people have in common is shining a light on what it is we are doing to ourselves. Throw Greenwald, Scahill and Taibi in the mix, they’re brave bastards too.
There was a plan in place for Iraq before we went in the second time to carve it up by petroleum interest. By company. Bases and installations were named after oil companies. How fucking sick is that?
We did that.
THAT is why we did that.
We went there and we showed them just how much havoc we could visit on their heads. We weren’t there to fuck around. We killed so many of them that we don’t really know how many we killed. Clearly, we are not done. Iraq is a new front again, Afghanistan is waning so we turn to our old ally, Israel. They love us. We can wage war from their geography until the cows come home.
We give them $6 million a day.
Neoconservative Christians can’t wait for the rapture/apocalypse and Israel is totally on board.
Two of the most powerful factions on the planet banking on Santa Clause. What am I missing here?
Even the Zionists are getting played.
We’ve got ISIS, ISIL, IS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Sunni, Shia…………we are either Dr. Frankenstein or the monster himself in each case. Creatures of the American device.
And all of this is sold to us under the guise that we somehow have a right because our imaginary man is better than their imaginary man. Our imaginary man is righteous and can therefore usurp the land and murder the people who are friends with some other imaginary man. It’s always a man, isn’t that convenient?
And people actually buy it. They believe it. They feel positively good about it. Mindless celebrants of myth.
On both sides.
The only thing that makes me fear God is the people who believe in him and there is way too many of them.
While we sit here, while you read this, we are bombing the ever loving shit out of brown people that never did a damn thing to us. People that never used to even wish bad things for us.
People now. People starting to think about you and me. People who’ve hated us for awhile. It is our dollars and our gear that decapitate their children. They are thinking about us. About you and me. They are hating us. Can you blame them?
Do they hate us or do they hate our God?
Beware the most pious, they are always infected with the disease of the most advanced hypocrisy.
Drinks for my friends.
You are here.
I keep paying attention to this.
I keep pointing it out.
There is just enough to keep the women and kids all fired up. Just enough to make us all afraid of things we don’t understand. Things they aren’t about to explain.
We can dance to it but we absolutely hate the beat.
At least the American impetus is often enough about race exclusively. Spectacularly. Race on the most granular level. Not only its institutionalization but the bones of the implementation. The talking points of bigotry. Calves the size of cantaloupes on drug mules threatening our way of life and diseases like Ebola flooding our borders every minute. Stealing our jobs and all like that.
It’s a goddamn political discipline.
The indiscriminate killing of young black men because they are young and black and because entire swaths of America have decided that they are a problem before figuring out they are human.
You know, the fundamentals.
White cop shoots unarmed black kid to death from like twenty feet away. Unarmed. With extreme prejudice. At least six times. Twenty feet away. Broad daylight. Almost two weeks ago. Eyewitnesses. No tazer. No backup. Walked around the body for awhile. Hasn’t even been charged. You gotta be kidding me. They need a grand jury. Might take until mid October. That’s some bullshit. Everybody knows who did it and it’s murder.
The cop never even filed a report. Think about that. He never filed a real goddamn report. Who’s kidding who here?
5th amendment about to become an eight hundred pound pain in the ass.
The local powers think it’s a secret. Really. They think they are keeping a secret from the world. Kinda like they believe they have superhuman abilities of deception and obfuscation and no one suspects anything at all. It’s like they don’t know that we can see. What kind of bubble are these abominable white men living in? They leak unrelated information, video, toxicology, they invent blunt force trauma injuries nearly two weeks after the fact.
What we have here is an entire municipality with lungs that turn oxygen into shit.
More than anything else, I’m fascinated by this dance in particular.
He was gunned down in the street for no good reason. He wasn’t armed with anything. We actually know who did it. And the dance is awesome. Damn near overwhelming. Everyone with a microphone keeps playing along. Everyone in front of a camera sways to one version or another. To keep the peace. To preserve some semblance of order.
Like if they stopped dancing and admitted that a kid was shot full of holes and the cop who did it was allowed to flee the state, we’d all go fucking nuts.
Because that’s exactly what happened.
They tell us he shoplifted. They called it burglary. Not true. Didn’t happen. Store owner and video. They call him a “thug”. Racist code for “nigger”. Fuck me I hate that word. Both of them.
But no, goddamnit, no. We breathe a sigh of relief and maybe exhale some gratitude and focus a little more on the problems at hand. We’re able to do that because the media is waltzing to insipid disco and refuses to belly up to the bar. Our cue to have another. See?
If only they could join us in our disgust.
Instead they relieve us of it.
What we have now is a pointless debate where none is necessary. There is nothing to argue here. A dirty cop executed a man in the street for no reason and we jump around pretending to figure out what happened and what to do.
We know what happened and we know what should happen. We know what is right. We know what to say about it. We know what to do about it. There is no religion here. We kneel at the altar of a certain convenience of views. We recognize the folly of too much courage and too little.
One only feels respect when it’s mutual.
Or all we have to do is dance.
Drinks for my friends.
At this point what we don’t know is not important but what we do know is of awesome relevance. We know that a white police officer pumped at least six rounds into an unarmed black male who witnesses say was earnestly trying to surrender. That police officer had only foreknowledge of one rather innocuous crime upon initiating the confrontation.
That crime was jaywalking.
What we know is that the killing occurred in a city with a rather notorious and insidious culture of racial animus. A consistent and verifiable history of prejudice, persecution and prosecution against the majority of it’s citizens who are black. What we know is the majority of the residents of Ferguson Missouri are fed the fuck up.
Here’s another thing we know, in any other scenario, with any of the finite number of variables altered or reversed, the shooter would be in jail, in custody, charged with murder.
The local, state and federal authorities appear to be at a loss. All of them confused about what to do to control the demonstrations. What to do to stem the violence and looting. What to do to curb the understandably spirited civil unrest. You’d think they would have caught a clue last Thursday when cooler heads prevailed briefly and the flagrant show of over the top military style force was dialed back for an evening.
The next day, local authorities, despite the protestations of the federal DOJ, released convenience store video of the victim apparently pilfering some cheap cigars. Not long after they were forced to admit it was completely unrelated and that the officer in question had no knowledge of it. Today it was leaked that toxicology reports indicated the victim was on the pot. Really. That he had marijuana in his system. Really.
Here is what I know and what you probably know too: If the sonafabitch were in fucking jail and being charged with murder, the mood might just change a little.
I’m not sure it would alleviate the tension entirely but it occurs to me if there is any sincere desire to ameliorate the situation in a meaningful way they would arrest the murdering prick and parade him on perp walk with all attendant pomp.
Drinks for my friends.
I get it she says. I understand she tells me. All those hoses and belts, all the tubes and valves, all those wires and lines that are leaking and spraying so much sorrow and doom and that man thought four or five times more and four or five times faster than me…… It makes sense why he would take his own life.
It makes complete sense.
She tells me this on the way to the balcony for a smoke.
I follow her out while it makes sense to me.
Maybe it wasn’t just Mr. William’s own morbid malaise.
Maybe it’s us. All of us. The worst of us.
We live in an age where heroes are impossible, where dignity and elegance are endangered if not extinct. There is hardly any grace anymore. It is now virtually impossible for a champion of ordinary people to establish any meaningful foothold before they are either dissected by corruption or seduced by it.
Selfishness now elevated to virtue.
Peace, love and understanding bifurcated into “isms”.
I think we have reached the point of no return.
We may just be fucked.
The only question I have is who we’re taking with us. How many other species? How many beavers how many whales how many bees? How many fucking caribou are we going to take with us? Every mammal on this planet knows the entire planet is now toxic. They can see it smell it and taste it while they swim or hunt. While they forage and breathe.
And so do we.
Bloodshed is the new normal and nutritious food is neither. We cannot bear witness to all the war and famine and suffering on this scale now, just how jacked up shit is, and not know how goddamn close we are to the end of days for too much longer. We cannot keep this up. You cannot smell your shampoo in the morning without understanding that rain forests are evaporating. It’s virtually impossible despite your personal grooming choices.
Goddamn we are brave. We rage against the dying of the light. Oh my how we rage. We have cable tv and relatively slow internet. We have HD and smartphones that keep us from even looking at each other. Been in an elevator lately? We consistently vote against our own interests out of fear and ignorance. The human race is stuck in its own stupidity. Our very own vulgarity and self loathing. We can’t be bothered about the better angels of our nature having expired. We are now subject to barely more than our foibles and weaknesses as the race of man and they will most surely be our demise.
The planet cooks, it’s actually baking. Soon water will be at a premium like gasoline. Politicians rape and steal. Religions and ideologies visit war on the rest. All covered, spun, spewed and packaged for our entertainment and so called edification on cable tv in HD.
Violence and firepower elevated to a virtue.
There simply is no countervailing wind to blow against the avarice and mendacity that constantly engulfs us with every breath we take and every move we make. There simply isn’t. It doesn’t exist. It’s not democrats. It’s not liberals. It’s not social workers or teachers or unions. Combined they have not enough to oppose the human mountain of filthy lucre that piles everyday despite the best intentions of what is not a unified front.
What we have now is a gale, a hurricane, that has already ripped apart any sail that would turn its wind, its force, into anything but malice .
It really is like evil is winning.
We slash funding for education while we demonize teachers and then build more prisons for profit. We cut food stamps and unemployment beneficiaries off at the knees while we arm our police departments with weaponry intended for third world military conflicts.
She tells me this on the way to the balcony for a smoke.
Drinks for my friends.
His hand passes in front of my face, its trail is all tobacco and wool and after shave with a wooden top.
He’s showing me the ticket he just bought.
The goliath in my periphery.
I can’t stand it.
Giant cacophony of the calliope.
Light and sound shrink me.
I can’t help it.
It scares me sick.
I know if I knock on hindquarters it will be impossibly hard and hollow.
The other kids can barely stand it.
Their glee is desperate and horrible.
They screech bloody and hysterical.
He talks on his phone, glasses reflecting the sun so I can’t see his eyes and know who or what he is.
He wants me to get on it.
He wants me to ride it.
The day was warm and dense.
It’s cool now with a breeze so now a harbinger of inevitability.
Cold sweat down my neck and between my shoulders.
He brought me here for this.
To please me?
To make me happy?
Why does this matter to him?
Doesn’t he understand that I am afraid of this?
Here at the carnival and all I want is cotton candy and corn dogs and maybe a Ferris Wheel ride.
I had no intention of mounting one of these snarling mutes impaled by brass polls from deck to canopy.
It lumbers and wheezes, painted garish.
I know he knows.
He doesn’t want me to be thrilled.
He wants to witness my terror.
To absorb it.
To drink it.
He hands me the simple pink ticket and I have no choice.
My voice dries up and my will evaporates.
I walk through the gate and the grinding organ is breathing far too loud.
Its awful distortion hisses and confuses me.
I hate it.
I can’t stand it.
The deck rattles and sways under my shoes.
I rap my knuckles on its rump. So hard it makes no sense and the thunk is hollow.
There is no choice but to mount the beast and hope for the best.
To be free of it as soon as I can.
I’m in a very busy department store and everyone understands but me.
No one looks at me.
No one sees me.
Sweat runs around my ears and past my throat.
There is no saddle and I can’t reach the stirrups.
Right from the start it feels on the verge, about to be out of control.
Nothing to do but to cling to the poll.
My hands wet.
Afraid for my grip.
If only I could be somebody else or someplace else.
He talks on his phone and laughs and I still can’t see his eyes when I come around.
He betrays not a single other thing.
Drinks for my friends.
I guess I’m naive.
It was obviously a mistake to open my head and heart and share my thoughts on something as profoundly controversial as the Israeli Palestinian conflict. A mistake to speak out against war in general and this one in particular.
In hindsight it occurs to me that my biggest mistake was not only not taking a side but also lamenting the conspicuous horror and consummate savagery of it. Sincerely and honestly despairing all the senseless death of men and women and children. So many, so completely innocent of everything, but still finding themselves between powers greater than their own and no where to run.
I guess it was a mistake to so earnestly, perhaps brazenly, reveal my own humanity and genuine empathy. I guess it was a mistake to instead of endorse the actions of one side or the other, to have the audacity to wonder at its end. To hope for a resolution. It’s a mistake I can live with. I’ll own that mistake every day with every fiber of my being.
For this I have been called an anti-Semite. It breaks my heart, it really does. Some are content to say so behind my back, but some who are so quick to judge have been valuable friends of mine for nearly a quarter century. People whom I respect and without reservation can say I love. People with integrity and in possession of hearts so honest and open as to be vulnerable to all the cruelties of life and other people. People who I know feel the same about me for the same reasons.
Some of these people now judge me to be anti-Semitic because I didn’t pick a side.
I imagine that if no one were to take a side, war would be impossible. I’m a pacifist. I am guilty of that and so be it. But I absolutely bristle at the label of anti-Semite. It is no different than the furious offense I would take to being called a racist or a homophobe. It is beyond exasperating. It is not in any way representative of how I’ve led my life and the choices I’ve made as the result of teachings by good, honest and thoughtful parents.
To be called any of these things is bad enough.
It is an anathema.
To be thought of as any of them is soul torturing.
I would ask any of you who actually know me, who know my heart, my actions and deeds as a fellow inhabitant of this planet to stop and think. Just because I oppose not just your war but all war including the ones my country wages, all violence and cruelty, all man’s inhumanity to man, that doesn’t make me an anti-Semite. That merely makes me a human being with a modicum of compassion for all the other human inhabitants of this tiny blue marble hanging in a universe too vast for any of us to comprehend.
I have maligned no one in particular, I haven’t discriminated against any individual or group. I have never in my life consciously engaged in anything of the kind. What I have done is shine an obviously uncomfortable light on every single one of us.
“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” -Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
If I have offended anyone, it was not my intent but I nonetheless apologize. I’m not sure whether it’s more painful to have inadvertently done so, or for any of you to assume I would do as much with malice or intent.
Drinks for my friends.
*In the interest of context this piece is intended to address a small number of reactions to the previous one on the same subject-simply scroll down to the previous blog*