Notes From The Flip Side: 10.24.2004
"Do you believe in something beautiful? / Then get up and be it!"
This is my last update before the election. Vote. For the last four years, this hasn't felt like my country. Instead, it's felt like a place of shifting, wary eyes casting sidelong suspicious glances. And don't blame it on terrorism - Florida did more damage to this nation than Al-Qaeda did. (And maybe that's an entirely different lesson to learn - terrorists should really just leave us alone because - if left to our own devices - we tend to create and inflict new means of suffering on ourselves ... like being a Cubs fan ...)
United We Stood?
To understand why I'm so concerned about this upcoming election, you must first understand that if Bush weren't such a massive ass-hat, I really wouldn't care. If he had stayed out of war, hadn't instituted economic policies which resulted in a loss of (depending on who you listen to) 750,000 to 1.5 million jobs - many of which will never come back - and caused a fair number of people I know (including myself) to be laid off for the first time during his administration, if he hadn't pulled out of treaties and if he hadn't lined the pockets of his (and Cheney's) friends in corporations - in short, if he were just another president, I really wouldn't care much. Until this administration, I was under the impression that a president just couldn't do that much damage.
Now I know better.
However, with as problematic as this administration has been, what is more worrisome to me at this moment is the tenor of politics in America right now. Frankly, this country is a very ugly place to live at the moment. The lines have been drawn, forces arrayed on either side and they're making this country as miserable of a place to live as possible. Here are a couple of few examples:
It's not that I think that people are beyond question or shouldn't be questioned - my issue is the tone and why. The language of fall is bitter, vindictive, hateful. It is divisive at best and poisonous at worst. While I know a fair number of conservatives (I do live in the Midwest), we tend to shy away from discussions of candidates, preferring instead to focus on principles which offer grounds for agreement - individual rights, reducing the size of the government and federal oversight ... in short, the ground where conservatives and anarchists can actually agree. While it may sound like a strange idea, true conservatives and anarchists are substantially closer in ideology than most anarchists and leftists.
But these days, conservatism has less to do with ideals and principles and more to do with scorched-earth dogma. It has less to do with figuring out what we can agree on and working toward that and more to do with flaunting victory and rubbing other people's noses in it. Until the people change, the politics never will.
I'm four years into the 21st century and hate it already.
Which Way The Wind Blows ...
So vote. I hope you'll cast a vote against Bush, even though Kerry isn't that much better of a choice. If you must vote for Nader, kindly make sure that your vote doesn't wind up leaving a bigger problem in office. While I appreciate the desire to create a real, viable third party, this isn't the year to try to do it. While I appreciate people's desire not to vote for someone who supported the war (regardless of any current position they may hold), sometimes pragmatism has to win out over idealism. After all, we need to make sure we can actually survive to see the future before we should start worrying about whether it's a better one.
Pascal's Baseball Team ...
Pascal's wager was a relatively simple idea - to paraphrase, if you believe in God and heaven doesn't exist, you haven't lost anything. If you don't believe in God and heaven does exist, then your loss is infinite.
This can, in a small way, be applied to baseball.
Being a Yankees fan is a system of diminishing returns; Yankees fans expect victory and can only be disappointed when they lose. On the other hand, Red Sox fans have hope - if the team loses, we're used to it. But if they win ... well, shit, that's better than any payoff Pascal could have dreamed up.
So there, Steinbrenner. I have something that, for once, you simply can't buy.
Of course, this is made doubly sweet by the Sox's highly unlikely comeback from being down by three games in a best-of-seven series. This is only the third time it's happened in major league sports (it's happened twice in hockey) - and this time, it was on ankles which need surgery, tired arms, weak bats, key hits and more than a handful of completely unbelievable miracles. This time, it happened to the Yankees in their hallowed halls. This time, the boys from Boston went to the Bronx and ended their season a bit earlier than the Bombers expected.
Natch, Jetes whimpered a little after the game, suggesting that this proves that the best team doesn't always win, but I'll let y'all in on a radical idea - the best team doesn't drop four in a row when they only need one win to end the series. That was a choke job of such epic proportions that I'm sure it'll show up on a tape at your local adult video store soon enough.
So do you motherfuckers believe yet?
Update: World Series Game 1, 11-9, Sox. They don't all have to be pretty.
In yet another sign that something is catastrophically wrong and our society is desperately treating symptoms while calling them causes, the FDA has ruled that antidepressants used by children must include some sort of labeling which indicates that the medication may actually increase the risk of depression or suicide. Now seriously, which motherfucker was the last one out but left the light on? That fool needs a beating ...
Like, Metal Is Totally Up Your Ass, Dude ...
What a great fucking year for metal. The new Old Man Gloom and Converge albums destroy. Pelican's "Australasia" (which sounds like Glenn Branca conducting My Bloody Valentine, Black Sabbath, the Melvins and Sonic Youth in a contest to see who can play the sludgiest, most distorted doom shit possible) came out at the end of last year but has found a lot of new ears in 2004. God Forbid's "Gone Forever" is just stupidly awesome. There's a new Isis record out, the new Haunted kills, the new Shadows Fall album is fucking out of control, I haven't even listened to the Tusk album I just picked up and In Flames' most recent album is still kicking my ass. That completely leaves out new records by Mastodon, Pig Destroyer, Neurosis, Lamb Of God, Cradle Of Filth and Killswitch Engage. With all that going on, it might as well be the early to mid-1980s when metal ruled the world and you could actually turn on pop stations and hear Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Best of all, the shit is far more political this time around, proving that hessians and punks have more in common than they might think.
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- David Rovics sings a song called "Drink Of The Death Squads" about Coca-Cola. Killer Coke provides a more detailed explanation than a three-minute folk song. Suffice it to say that Shell isn't the only multi-national corporation with blood on its hands. If it seems as though it's becoming difficult to live without consuming products or services which are manufactured or provided by businesses which have either directly or indirectly supported the suppression of human rights, perhaps you should think about how you're living and whether you really need those things.
- And let's not forget that Bush's grandfather wasn't alone in his support of the Nazi regime - IBM is still on the hook for part of the Holocaust. I'm still struggling with the knowledge that the punch card code D4 meant that a prisoner had been killed, especially since one of my favorite bands' names is commonly abbreviated as ... D4. I know there's no malicious or evil intent there ... but it's still a little disturbing to find this out in retrospect.
Interpol. The Explosion. Shadows Fall. Brian Wilson. Fennesz. J.J. Johnson. Rainer Maria. Leatherface. Q And Not U. Tom Waits. Hüsker Dü. Jane Siberry. Submission Hold. The Blood Brothers. Pinback. Miss TK And The Revenge. Isis. Steve Reich. Pelican. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Ted Leo.
Laurell K. Hamilton, "Guilty Pleasures" and "The Laughing Corpse" - Mellie and I are reading trashy pulp fiction lately. Everyone needs brain candy now and again.
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"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"