Notes From The Flip Side: 08.22.2004
"The bottom line is a punk - our putative existential hero - needs to buckle down, align himself with folks of good character and get down to motherfucking business."
You're Kidding, Right?
Chalk the small update up to a broken finger. Mellie and I were goofing off and the intersection of her foot and my hand resulted in a splint. I'll be back to normal in a couple of weeks, so there will be more writing next time.
Fuck these multiple gold medal-winning assholes. My heroes are the people who don't have a chance from the start, who compete anyway, who have been written off. My heroes are the people who are on small teams from small countries. My heroes finish in 7th and 8th place, seconds or even minutes behind. My heroes don't set world records. They don't win medals. They just get across the line, out of the spotlight, out of contention, out of sight and out of mind. But still ... they showed up and they finished. That means more to me than any number of gold medals ever could.
Electoral Politics In 2004.
I hope that everyone in the U.S. understands that George W. Bush is discussing disenfranchising the entire fucking country this time. A suspension of elections effectively transforms this country into a police state under martial law - a suspension essentially means that they aren't postponed ... we just aren't having them. And who knows when they would be held again.
Of course, this conveniently overlooks the branch of government which has the authority to change the date and time of elections - Congress. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states that "Congress may determine the Time of chusing [choosing] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." Nothing about suspension. Nothing about the President. Nothing about Homeland Security. Just Congress. In short, the President has no legal authority to suspend or even postpone elections.
I, for one, don't give a fuck about attacks on election day. I don't care if people are firing automatic weapons at me on the way to the polls and the streets outside look like some of the less pleasant parts of "The Terminator" and "Saving Private Ryan" - I'm going to vote. I strongly encourage all of you to do the same.
Armed To The Teeth, Dressed To The Twos.
These silent wars never seem to stop. If we aren't battling structures and systems, then we're battling each other over things that none of us are likely to care about in 50 years and yet we're racing to see who can draw the greatest number of lines in the sand as quickly as possible.
Why does all this have to be so hard? Why can't we see where we're wrong - where our reasoning falls apart, where it's inconsistent, where we simply don't have any ground to stand on?
I wake up every day feeling more exhausted, feeling more disconnected from my country, feeling more at odds with this time and place, as though I am someone outside this time and place. While I sometimes wish I were a spectator, someone sitting in the stands cheering one team on, there's a little more at stake than a win-loss record and so I have to be the asshole who climbs out of the bleachers and walks onto the field. We all do. We all need to fire these overpaid, untalented, greedy, arrogant, egotistical players and replace them with people who just love the game. And if you can't recognize that sports and politics are more similar than they are different and that both seem to be rather fucked at the moment, then you might want to go spend some quality time with the Reuters wire.
I'm Just About Starving Tonight.
I know it's a bad day when singing along with Dillinger Four's "Superpowers Enable Me To Blend In With Machinery" feels less like resistance and more like realizing I've run out of ammo but that running out of the building with a gun in each hand means that at least I won't be taken alive. I know it's a bad day when screaming "Fuck 'em all" feels more like the last words of a condemned man than a rallying cry.
Driving back today, the only thing that made any sense was the sun - it looked like a nuclear holocaust as it sank beneath the rows of corn. Every truck I passed felt like it was loaded with corpses bound for some crematorium belching grey ash over the heartland of America. Driving there just looked like hell - stormy, overcast skies with all the colors of sickness, dried blood and infection. Driving back felt like hell, two and a half hours of clouds rolling in and strangling the remains of the day like a murderer with a pair of pantyhose, choking every last bit of life out until it was cold and grey, leaving nothing behind but an ashen , bloodless pallor.
And Yet ...
If anything, it just made me turn another page and bleed more ink (although I would rather have slammed a fresh clip into a Glock and sharpened my katana). It was a vicious, evil day filled with malicious intent and bitter faces filled with smug satisfaction because these days, it seems as though everyone believes that it's only possible to get ahead by fucking someone over; that this is not only true, it is desirable.
That attitude is mistaken. It is also an invitation to vengeance.
Frankly, vengeance has received so many invitations of late that it's going to have no choice but to start outsourcing retribution.
While it may be easier to turn the other cheek and understand that life is suffering, resignation and surrender merely increase the opportunities to both.
Sooner or later, the only response becomes escalation - responding to force with a greater degree of force, responding to threats with such an overwhelming display of raw power that the target never even considers crossing someone again. And, perhaps more importantly, a display which serves as an abiding object lesson for everyone who reached the minimum safe distance.
After all, the most dangerous person in the world is someone with nothing left to lose because that person has everything to gain. And by the same logic, the least dangerous people in the world are those who already have everything - they have the most targets, the most opportunities to exploit. They are effectively trapped and timid with everything to lose.
And that just makes it too easy.
At this point, I'm not entirely sure to what degree hell is going to break loose, I merely know that the gates are already buckling and they won't hold much longer. And when they give way, it might be a good idea to duck and cover.
Darkness On The Edge Of Town.
Ten years ago, I would have been up at this time, just as edgy and restless as I am now. I've always been an insomniac; when things start closing in, sleep is usually the first thing to go. Ten years ago, I would probably have been on the phone to one of my equally edgy and restless friends or sitting in some café watching black-clad poets smoke. Those days weren't any easier than this ... and this isn't easy either. My girlfriend is asleep; she doesn't wake easy, if at all. I need to talk to someone, but the days of calling my friends at 3 a.m. are long gone - the people I'm closest to are already in bed ... when the phone rings at this time these days, it's because someone is dead or unlikely to make it until morning.
And in the meantime, I've been listening to face to face for most of the day, trying to figure out what new and different challenges tomorrow will bring. I feel as though I'm in uncharted territory, like I'm exploring a land for which no maps exist. This doesn't seem to be an intellectual expedition filled with the excitement of discovering something new; lately, this is a journey of dreadful apprehension and uncertainty about what is coming next.
At Least That's Over ...
The long nightmare has ended. Phish has finally called it quits. Can we begin the healing now?
Write A Letter.
I've been getting email from Charlie lately. He's sitting in Iraq. That makes most of my problems seem small by comparison. If you have the time and feel so inclined, send him a letter. He's one of the coolest people I know and an old school punk to boot. He's made a special request for mix CDs, if anyone wants to make him one.
SGT Charles Holtman
SVC 1-6 FA
OIF 2 (FOB GABE)
APO AE 09392
In the meantime, he's supposed to be out of Iraq in February, 2005. At the very least, keep him in your thoughts.
I'm not sure which is worse. Is it this quote from George W. Bush:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Or is it this quote from White House spokesman Scott McClellan which clarified Dubya's comment:
"The American people know this president speaks with clarity and conviction, and the terrorists know by his actions he means it."
Dubya's quote came from The White House Web site. McClellan's comments came from the following damage control session. This isn't the full text - rather, I selectively chose those lines which are most instructive for my purposes. Context cuts both ways, fellas.
Shock The Monkey
I am loving a self-defense device that I just saw - the No Contact jacket is just so cool. Made for women and stitched in such a way that men can't really wear it comfortably, it delivers an 80,000 volt jolt when activated - that should be enough to stop most aggressors.
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- Philip keeps sniping away at the mental health establishment; his latest salvo, No Exit, is 6,800-odd words of lights shining in dark corners.
- It wasn't more than 20 years ago that citizens in Eastern Bloc countries were required to have travel papers. Oddly enough, in a twist of fate, it seems that we now have to show our papers to travel. Papers Please.
The Weakerthans. face to face. DJ Food. Kid Koala. The Album Leaf. Iron & Wine. Kings Of Convenience. Mojave 3. Grade. Camera Obscura. The Mountain Goats. Paris Texas. Placebo. God Forbid. In Flames. Himsa. Chet Baker. Roots Of Orchis. The Aluminum Group. Wilco. Godspeed You Black Emperor!. Rjd2. Das Oath. Jesse Sykes And The Sweet Hereafter. Tobin Sprout. Leatherface. At The Gates.
Jonathan Carroll, "The Land Of Laughs"; Max Barry, "Jennifer Government"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"