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At the Drive In

DriveInPiece

I’ve put this off long enough.  I’ve enjoyed the fruits and sweetness of a brief entanglement with bliss and despair long enough.  It is time that I get down to business, call a spade a spade and then pick up my spade and put it to its intended use.  I am done with my creature comforts and of protecting what has yet to be taken, as if what has already been taken has not been egregious enough.

Perhaps I should qualify the comforts I enjoy today, at the edge of this springboard, by mentioning where this journey began for me.

I started out as a child, as Bill Cosby is fond of mentioning, but I mention it with a tone sardonic enough to disturb and shake the palace walls of the most insulated, despicably wealthy generation of feudalists since the Middle Ages.  The truth is no child should have to experience pass or fail consequences of a lethal nature before the age of reason.  When that age is I will let you know because, for the life of me, it changes every decade.

It is an odd collection of memories, my childhood.  What I can recall I would have preferred to forget and what I would like to recall has most often buried itself in the funhouse of a psychological theme park I like to lovingly refer to as my family home.  It was the place I ran home to in terror as a white minority kid in a mostly black, mostly poor 1960’s lower middle class community of sweeping, jaw-droppingly gorgeous views of sand and sea.  We could not have possibly had a care in the world amidst a backdrop of such beautiful scenery, and so the national guard was never called to our neighborhood when whole cafeterias of young children threw their school lunches at one another, tossed countless bricks through school windows and at each other, overturned principal’s automobiles in parking lots, or failed to call for an ambulance when my Aunt Winnie’s daughter crawled almost a half mile home from middle school with a knife jammed into her upper chest.

Because she was in a position to receive it, I suppose.

Bobby Seale was the reason for the riot, Martin Luther King’s assassination was an ideological position for an angry mob and raping young girls was a passing thought in a town that less than one year and five miles removed heralded the geographic focus for an entire Summer of Love.  Imagine that, an entire summer of what I’d only seen on a black and white television screen, not that I could have identified it as such.  I see the video recordings of Monterey Pop now and there are young women looking like my elementary school teachers enjoying themselves, but what I saw at the time was trash and garbage strewn everywhere, campers that had opened up their liquid waste tanks into drainage gutters designed for channeling rain and parents who responded with disgust at what had become of our little corner of heaven.  “No thank you,” was their gentlest response to a rolling craven caravan of drugs, alcohol, loud music and social chaos that affronted our town at that time.

What was really there, just under the door skins overlooking every welcome mat on every porch in my little town circa 1966 was essentially no different than a drunken invading army showing up for a weekend and emptying its bowels into the same gutters children play in for fun.  I could blame the invading army, which would be the cheapest and easiest route to escaping my own guilt and shame, and I did so in the Summer of Love, but my family, almost reflexively, sought for a way out.  Towards a Winter of Discontent, one would suppose.

Physical beauty disarms and entices us to live nearby.  We may not marry, intermarry or possess physical beauty, but we can always pitch a tent out of sight of the local authorities from which we can plan our socioeconomic assault on what, if given half a chance, everyone would agree is a match in time and space made specifically in heaven for specifically this point in history.  And so we visit, revisit, upgrade and coerce and cajole until, finally, we make it to Salinas.  From Salinas, social movement is cheap and easy to come by since it lies on a major north to south artery that at one time fed the California Missions, hungry with Roman Catholicism, and fortified them against the heathen paganism of the indigenous culture.  That would be the same indigenous culture that continues to enable the agriculture responsible for most of its notoriety even today.  Nothing of western civilization has much of a compass for growth without a foundation of slave labor to build upon.  Ignoring that fact makes you fast friends with the Junior Chamber of Commerce; recognizing it as John Steinbeck did buys you a plane ticket out of town.

Into this land of deep, rich soil and promise my parents landed as part of their plan of assault.  For my mother it was to run from a Depression era experience in California’s Central Valley that was so hideous her life continued to exist in an animation suspended to the point of paralysis by Thorazine, electroconvulsive therapy, cigarettes and Ripple wine.  For my father, the Depression era was less harsh but no less challenging as a “son” of seven older sisters none of whom were favorites of their mother.  My father’s mother made homemade vodka in the cellar, a characteristic scent left behind in the wood that drew me to that room to play on my infrequent visits to “Galicia” — the name the immigrant eastern Europeans gave in the early days to their neighborhood in west Philadelphia.  Of much stronger constitution than anyone known to my mother, eventually my Polish grandmother would lock my drunken Ukrainian grandfather out of the house to experience his death from the cold of a Philadelphia Winter, rather than invite him in to beat her to a bloody pulp, once again.  She worked in the Litton factory from age 11 to age 72, a keen eye for detailed machinery and for finding flaws in what others would see as just another piece of metal.  Her whole pride and joy seemed to be in her over two dozen grandchildren, of which I was one of two banished to a far western outpost, unable to tolerate the climatic and cultural harshness of the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

So there you have a key piece of information about my character twenty years before I ever had a clue into my own self hatred: women were my only sense of stability and the men who occupied my experience were dependent on them for most everything in their lives.  Women were innocent and good while men were stupid, harsh, irresponsible and, in the end, they always left.  Matriarchy wasn’t so much a choice as what was left.  Trust your father and you could die or at least you would be sorry.  Trust your mother and you might have a chance at survival.

As a budding male thrust into this maelstrom of multiple assassinations on key political and social leaders by males for males, dramatic upheavals and social unrest, feminism made a great deal of sense to me.  Not because feminism promised any answers so much as they promised that I could ask the questions that needed to be asked.  The men in my world – a world fueled by alcohol, tobacco, petroleum and Brylcreem – did not appreciate having to answer questions, and they certainly didn’t need any answers since no one had any questions.  Believe what I believe, or disappear, would be the ethos of the 1960’s males I was exposed to; whereas the women seemed much more open to entertaining the novelty of a male in their presence who had any questions to ask in the first place.

I could go into great and humorous detail as to what poverty means in a microcosm of American society set in a backdrop of tremendous physical beauty and a climate that while cold was moderate.  I could jest, as Bill Cosby so often does, about what it was like to wear out your childhood sneakers past the point where there was no sole, only to have your father berate you and complain to the heavens about your very existence on the planet under his unfortunate roof.  I could paint myself as hero or villain in a neighborhood where the resident eight year old bad-ass threw a bowling ball at the head of his father, taking out the only heater in the house as well as part of the wall going into the bathroom; I could paint myself the victim of abuse from every conceivable direction.  I could recall being in what I now know was shock when, at five, my mother was returned to us after three months at Agnews State Hospital in a zombified and overly medicated state.  I could tell you what it was like to see my mother beaten and bruised, taking weeks to heal, while I walked several blocks with money and a note for the grocery store, day after day, for bread, milk, cigarettes and Ripple.  It was a dangerous time in our neighborhood, but I would have done anything for my mother as she was clearly the only victim of record allowed in our home.  My awareness of victimization would have to wait until I could escape from this hell on Earth I seemed to have been dropped into, perhaps as penance for another life where I was the source of agony for innocent children now far removed from me in time and space.

But I am not a victim any longer.  I am now and always was a witness to the only terror an American will ever know: abandonment by their one true God.

Whether the abandonment was real or imagined, I believed it.  I couldn’t allow the awareness of my belief to become public knowledge, not even to myself.  Instead, we would be plucked from poverty by a generous, if brief, period in the oil and gas industry where my father was able to leave his own impoverished Philadelphia past and his own racist inclinations towards the Bill Cosby’s of the world behind.  We would land in suburbia and I would be the unfortunate peer to children who would grow up to inherit a world of agribusiness and technology that they were completely unprepared for dealing with.  Oh, and did I mention there were no black people in our little suburbia?

There would be the handsome son of a former NFL team and college All Star linebacker who always garnered the positive attention of every female who ever set eyes on him.  There was the son of a billionaire farmer and agricultural businessman.  There were daughters of military and intelligence officers, boys and girls of upper-middle and upper class distinction.  And there I was, the son of a gas station owner who was in the right place at the right time for everything but what he really needed.  It is not that I was bad looking; it was that my presence on the planet was mere happenstance to begin with.  The State of California had long had a habit of sterilizing women who had crossed the threshold of addiction into madness, then falling into the arms of Agnews State.  By the reports of my older half siblings, my mother was too far gone to be helped by Science long before I ever set about the business of trying to repair whom I needed to love me.  Surely those kind psychiatrists fresh from their schools of Nazi-inspired wisdom would have seen my mother as a poor candidate for breeding.  But they, for some reason, did not.  As the eugenicists predicted, however, I was failing at whatever my mission in life was and my new socioeconomic peerage became fond of reporting this fact to me on a regular basis.  Even the older vice principal who should have known better joined in on the fun of picking on the only white-black child they’d ever seen rise up from the effluent they all knew was incapable of producing anything of local merit.

By the time I had reached seventh grade, I was ready to end my own life.  The feelings I now recognize as anxiety and depression had so dogged me that I felt I would be dead by the age of thirteen. The move up the socioeconomic ladder had triggered a cascade of misery and quirkiness that was easy to notice and only too easy to ridicule.  What might have been diagnosed as high-functioning autism in the current psychological models was, for me, a miserable, lonely, misunderstood place where I was filled with a drive to become but possessed almost no confidence from which to draw any strength.  I felt my presence on the planet was an accident that was being kept secret, and everyone knew the nature of that secret but me.

And I could and would blame it all on the flagrant interpersonal dishonesty of my uncomfortable peerage with the children of baby-boomer promise.  At least in a poor neighborhood, the violence was in your face, honest, direct and to the point.  Never was it covert or hidden.  Financial success brought with it a certain miserly economy that demanded that, rather than shooting or injuring you, I should, instead, drive you to do my work of violence against you, for me.  And so this Jedi Mindfuck, I thought, was the culprit of my anxious despair in the midst of an apparent Eden on Earth, a trick my childhood religion was fond of telling me the Devil often played on God’s chosen people.

I definitely felt chosen.

The ugly truth was that long before I’d ever ascended into the Pastures of Heaven school district where Maggie Morgan’s schoolhouse had grown into a highly state-ranked concern whose principal had literally fathered a psychopathic killer, I had pulled out all the hair from the top of my head.  I believe I was the age of six, several years away from reading a compendium of short stories that presaged the inevitable truth that would befall my home, and one year away from the death of the author who wrote those short stories.  The diagnosis at that time was psychological trauma, attention was given in the form of a “magic” heat lamp and some soothing words, and I miraculously quit pulling on my hair.   And also like magic, or a curse, those tell-tale symptoms of inherited, or magnetizing, mental infirmity kept visiting and revisiting me until, slowly, gradually, madness became a pastime, a hobby, the sharp edges of which I dulled with a variety of alcohol and other substances both legal and illegal.

Nothing helped, however, save a comfortable delusion.  The most comfortable was the one I shared with Raymond Carver, the one that suggested I was a connoisseur of fine wine and possessed inexplicably cultured taste the likes of which few, if anyone, possessed.  The kind of taste that leads a person to count urinating on their bedroom wall, as opposed to their adult bed, a mark toward positive growth.  The kind of acculturated sophistication that leads a man to punch holes through walls so that his wife can know he thinks enough of her to use inanimate objects, rather than her body, as a punching bag.  I think Steinbeck possessed the drinking aspect of this delusion as well, though some might disagree owing to his Nobel Prize.  What few realize, however, was that Steinbeck’s grandparents were the likely source of his lofty reward as they had both died defending the return of the Jews to Zion from ungrateful Palestinian Arabs – a debt that might have gone unpaid were it not for a few good Jews in positions of influence.  Plenty of good writing takes place on any given day in this world; much more of it is pure drivel.  Steinbeck, and every writer of note I have ever read, produces both in about the same proportion as the general population.  Like my father, the stars aligned for a fortunate few to be lifted from the mire, the payment of which appears to be progeny who suffer and blame them for their ambitious strivings.

I could show, rather than tell you, of all these things, but our time together grows short.  Like Raymond Carver, I found release from Bacchus in the evaporation of my favorite delusion and have found many years of swimming in the gravy of the work I have been called to do for fun and for free.  No more does violence of any sort hitch an appeal to my waning star.  I am living a completely different life where I have a sense of wholeness and purpose which I share with countless others who, like me, feel like aliens cast onto a dying planet by an unloving God with a perverse sense of humor.  I could show you my gratitude for my release rather than tell you, but that effort would require a real writer and I am no such thing.

What I am is the deep, rich soil from which I was born and to which I shall one day return.  What I am is both sacred and profane, a harlequin placed by fate upon this planet in the unlikely event it might choose to survive its own tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, to wrestle its mammalian humanity from the lizard-born jaws of its ancient psychopathy.  What I am is every unkind word I ever heard and every heartfelt sentence poured from the mouth of a grateful woman unable to comprehend why or apprehend how I could continue to give of myself past the point where a definable relationship could exist.  I am arrogant and I am kind.  I am as humble as the dirt beneath your feet, and as regal as the sky that threatens to fall down from high above you.  I am you and you are me.  We are one, you and I, and what I have refused to give to you I have refused to give to myself.

For good reasons, I thought.

Now it seems that, once again, I am too late to save the ones I love from the fate chosen for them by parents and ancestors who were too ensnared in their own slavery to recognize or acknowledge the chains of responsibility that have bound them to repay every drop of blood spilled in vain, every innocent life extinguished and every trauma left unreconciled.  But this morning it appears I am right on time, toilet brush in hand, to focus all of my faculties upon the tasks at hand.

“You’re late again, Meyer,” the manager of the drive-in snorted.

“I try to be fifteen minutes early for everyone on my route,” I reply, “but today I’m only ten minutes early.”  I don’t know why I bother defending myself with these people, they pay for a service and it’s in their interest to find fault.  “But you’re right, I’m running a little behind.  Anything need special attention today, Mr. Ryan?”

“The Friday night crowd took a dump in the urinal and the woman’s restroom on the west end smells awful.”

“I’ll have you ready to open in no time, Burt.  No problem,” I say, grasping his outer elbow just briefly.  I’ve found that eye contact, quiet confidence and cheerfulness, especially in this business, make for a lighter work load.

People like Burt, people who trade in fantasies or a way of life that they desperately long for, don’t realize that more hard work or effort will not give them what they want if those above them in the social hierarchy don’t want them to have it.  Their parents had it because the parents of those presently in charge wanted them to have it, wanted to try sharing some portion of a utopian dream of abundance with everyone, top to bottom.  But when the payment for their largesse required them to stomach accepting responsibility for the truth of the matter their response was unequivocal, direct and immediate.  And so they took back their support that their own spoiled children – the present crop of world “leaders” – might make better use of their wealth than those whose ingratitude seemed to exceed some subjective sense of couth or good taste.

So I scrub.  And grind.  And brush.  And wash.  And shine.  And sometimes, I whine.  Week after week, day after day, I stare into a bowl of reality and wonder the number and kind of poisons the prior evening’s clientele consumed to cause their exhaust to stick so stubbornly to porcelain and ceramic tile.  I know the chemicals with which to abrase these bowls and tiles and I treat a few of the symptoms of nightly excess.  But I can’t help but imagine the lack of wonder of a sentient mechanism so beguiled of causality as to believe their egress goes anywhere but back into their own mouths to reconsume.

Things may be thrown out, but never are they thrown away.

Sometimes, when the light is right and my job is well done, I can see my own reflection in the bowl and in the water.  I can see my smile, but I cannot see my teeth.

I did not go to college to achieve this enlightenment; such things do not come from without, but within.  Learning the labels from without at college I come close in description of the joy that can be found within, but no sooner do I succeed in describing it than I lose the shine at the bottom of the bowl to a ripple or a wave.  Back I arrive, on time, to my appointed destination.

“Is that you I hear cryin’ in there, Meyer?”

“No, sir, Mr. Ryan.  It’s just these chemicals make my nose run a bit, from time to time,” I say, swabbing my cheeks with my sleeves.

“Well, keep after it, then.  You’ve only got another hour and the women’s side still smells like death.”

“You got it, Mr. Ryan.”  It must seem odd for an educated man of middle age to be addressing a younger peer like a house negro on a Southern plantation might have addressed their master hundreds of years in the past.  But the truth is even that predicament was an improvement over the days when a king, a queen or even a squire could lock away anyone they chose to without recourse or even a charge.  All that was needed in those days was permission from a jailer, enough money to sustain a story and everything you ever owned, or ever would own, would be taken from you.  Everything human you could ever be disappeared down a cold, dark hole never to be seen or heard from again.  Prior to 1215 AD, disappearing human beings was simply the way business was done.  Until Pinochet in the 1970’s, or Hitler in the 1930’s, it seemed everyone on the planet thought the days before the Magna Carta were a part of human history never to be repeated.

Until now.

So I scrub and grind and brush and wash and shine and smile.  And sometimes, when I am alone, I weep.  Sometimes out of gratitude, sometimes out of despair and sometimes, an odd, mad mixture of the two.  Usually when I can see myself in a bowl once made foul by a child of the cosmos unimpressed by their heritage as a comet’s dust or the twinkle of a faraway star, usually then I am overcome with mixed emotions deep enough to sustain my wonder as both a part of it all and as witness to the fate of objects falling from great heights.

I am done with the men’s bathrooms now and I step across the crunching of loose gravel to glance out onto the rows and rows of tiny hills and accessory poles.  I have a shadow!

A green garbage truck startles me from behind.  The sheer force and violence of it as it lurches into a dumpster, lifts it high and then slams the contents into its seedy abdomen, is shocking, in a prehistoric, primal sort of way.  Just as quickly as it gobbles up the contents of one dumpster, it slams its generous container back to Earth like every drunk I ever saw slam their next to last drink down on the bar before asking for another.  And another.  And another.  Four green goblets filled with garbage and solvents designed to erase memories, feelings and thoughts, all disappear into the same bloated, stinking abdomen in a noisy cacophony of low-waged workers driving a gigantic beast before limitations are reached and a trip to the local landfill signals the end of the first shift.

Always left behind is the silence as these ancient relics move out and along with a squeal and a hiss, gears left to grind because old knees have become too tired to engage a clutch for many years and many trips to the dump.  A journey not always necessary is too often taken because seagulls need scraps to eat and fresh ocean air needs to be mixed with the stench of rotting cooking oil and excess – and that god-awful silence.   The quiet void of is-ness needs to be filled with human activity – some kind of human striving or human becoming – because only then is it possible to deny that we float completely alone amidst the dark silence, circling a yellow hot ball of thermonuclear gas that represents both our promise and our doom.

I wax philosophical because I am bored, but also because I have been compelled to remain awake when I would have preferred to remain asleep along with all my peers.  Even the brilliant ones, and there were many, never had to know the terrible silence between unspeakable sights and sounds followed by a void so deep and profound it said everything and nothing all at once.  Such tidal waves of Empty sweep young children from their feet and force them to struggle upward for air and for light, to no avail.  Only the baptism of panic is possible when water enters nose and mouth, always followed by demands for allegiance and fidelity to those whose job it has been, all along, to drown with awareness so as to interpret all silence, even that of the dead – no matter how dignified, no matter how bone-chillingly banal or flailingly futile and violent.

The renewed silence at the drive-in was broken yet again, this time by Master Sergeant Ryan demonstrating his talent for hanging the American flag from a folded triangle of stars to a hoisted symbol of Old Glory, all without it ever touching the ground.  Squealing, pulling, screeching as it rises above the roof over my destination, the women’s restroom.  I always save the women’s restroom for last because I am usually running short of disinfectant by the time I am done cleaning the men’s room, and the supply closet is right outside the ladies room.

“Goddammit,” Ryan cursed.  Obviously the pulley at the top of the pole has seen better days, needing more oil than elbow grease than in years past.  “I can’t even get it back down, now!”

Somehow this will become a job for me and a rented cradle crane before the first show time, so I probably need to focus on getting the rest of my cleaning done.

“Gee-zus christ!” was all I could hear echoing from my destination, along with the kind of god awful exhalation of air and grief that only a man who has known combat could ever replicate, much less hear.  A cry out into a vast wilderness sounds like it, right before the source of the wail is thrown off the nearest cliff.  Feeling the blood rush from my head to elsewhere, an anxious nausea vied for room in my throat with the air I needed to breathe, but couldn’t.  Running to the rendezvous point was all I knew I could do.

I had heard this wailing, the first time, right before after I had thrown a grenade, intended for me, back into a tunnel opening from which I thought it came.  What they later pulled out of that tunnel, by long, black hair, separated scalp from skull to reveal a tiny body whose bones had been crushed into gelatin by the concussion of the exploding grenade.  I think it was me who made that noise, but I cannot be certain as my ears rang for several hours and the unrelenting torrent of tears landed me in a coward’s unit for a fortnight of observation.

“My God, my God, my God, my god,” was all Ryan’s jaws, opening and closing, could breathlessly utter.  In his arms, the yellowed flesh of an infant as he hit the tiled wall with his back and slid to the floor, weeping bitterly.  The smell of rust made sweet by the death of innocence hung like a paste in the air while a stall door creaked and creeped open; above it, a large spray of blood and splatter punctuated the hopelessness of the scene.  I needed air now, and so jerked my weakened knees back out to the parking lot to lose what little breakfast and coffee I had had that morning.  And then I got my air.  I couldn’t stand erect yet, but I could begin to breathe through my mouth and nose, still stinging from what had just passed through it.  Ryan followed me out, the yellow flesh still in his arms, lifeless and bloodied from a gunshot to its head.

Ryan began to plead in my direction, almost apologetically.  “You can’t imagine see what is seen of mother there not shown what has been in stark flowers made muddy by cigarettes and beer.  An only child patient child weeping life to Sergeant Smiles not in hope to copy what has come.”

“What are you saying, Ryan?”

“What is said I’m saying not repeating not in silence not with beer but with child patient child waits a weeping life in flowers muddy by the snow.”

“Catch your breath, Burt.  C’mon now, get a grip.  Take a breath and try again.”

“What I say I said am not insisting but repeating understanding darkest light in muddy snow. Tears trail dripping dragging miles, not repeating, but insisting speaking hammer falls muddy to the snow.”

Ryan held the yellow flesh tighter as I motioned to take it from his arms.  “Taken from is taken to and never is sky blue falling muddy dripping dragging dropping to the snow.”

Ryan began weeping more, his knees buckling to the gravel to rock the infant, and himself, to a destination far from this place.

“Kosovo,” I thought.  “It might have been Kosovo.”

“Burt,” I started, “are you in Kosovo?  Speak to me, man.”

“Oh no,” Ryan began with a hopeful tone, “Dallas now Dallas then muddy in the snow repeating dripping dragging on for miles.”

Dallas?  Why Dallas?  “Are you coming home, Burt?  Are you at DFW?”

“Deep in Love they sigh and sway swaggering slipping by slipping past the speaking hammer falls muddy to the snowy grass.”

“I better call for help,” I thought.  “Godot isn’t going to make it to the show tonight.”

When I would run back and forth from the chopper, it was always one motion.  There wasn’t time to pause or reflect, just a lot of blood and rust, sometimes blowing into a fine mist right before my eyes.  Sometimes it was the smell of pork ribs smoldering in the grass, just follow the smoke and excuse the neighbors for not taking better care of their lawn.  In the middle of a sand dune.  In the middle of a gust of lead hail whistling and whirring, purring and pinging, ripping from and ripping through.  The call is made now so there is only time to wait and sustain, fighting off and fighting for, loosening a tourniquet to send a little blood to what’s left of the drumstick, before cinching it up again and blocking the shrieks of agony rising above the moans.  For a while.  For a little while.

Red lights appear shining through the gates and here, in this place, that means relief and maybe a short nap.  But not before the men in funny hats and badges appear to ask questions.  Or their mouths are moving in the form of questions, but not honest ones, because here there are no innocents, only villagers.  Some armed, some not.  Some young, some old.  Any one of them could toss a grenade into your lap at a traffic light and there you would be with nothing left to do but die.  So if you want to make it home to your future ex-wife, you have to prosecute the case on your feet, like if the District Attorney were your best friend and you always like giving your best friend a bottle of unblended scotch every chance you get.  So, since we’ve only known 21 years of peace in 237, that computes to a 91% chance that everyone you need to close the case of The Dead Baby at the Drive-In is already present.

“Did you know the decedents,” asked the man in the blue hat.

“Not well at all.  I didn’t even know there was anyone but the baby,” I replied.  Sam I am.

“Okay,” the officer started, visibly irritated, “how well did you know the decedents?”

“I never saw them before in my life.”  Which wasn’t entirely true because I’ve lived in this little town a lot of years, so I’m sure I’d run across everyone at some point.

“Look,” the young officer began his lecture, “we can do this here or we can do this downtown.”

“But we have to do it – right, Sherlock?”

“Yes, we do.  So, let me ask you again, for the third fucking time, did you know the decedents?”

“It’s actually the fifth time, Officer Nitro, and the answer is still, ‘no.’” I will not sit down in a box.  I will not eat them with lox.  I will not eat them on a boat.  I will not eat them with a goat.  I will not eat them with breaded Spam.  I will not eat them, Sam I am.

“How did you find the decedents?  Where were they?”  You fucking oxygen thief, a phrase that passed through the part of his transparent skull not hidden by his blue hat.

“I found them dead.  Actually, the owner found them dead in the women’s restroom over there.  I came in and he was holding the dead baby in his arms, babbling and sobbing.”

“How well do you know the owner?”

“I met him at a veteran’s meeting.  He got me this contract to clean up his place.  I’ve known him a few weeks is all.”

“And he trusted you to clean his business?”

“I clean his toilets.  I assumed his wife took care of the rest of him.”

The officer shifted in his stance, looking sternly at me with a piercing stare.  “Did you know either of the decedents?”

“For the sixth time, man, no, I didn’t.  I never saw them before.”

“So you never met the owner’s wife?”

“What does she have to do with anything?”

“She’s the dead body in the stall.  The infant was his first born.  And you, I take it, were his first asshole in charge of toilet inspections.”

Okay, maybe I deserved that one, but I gasped.  I knew Ryan could be a little flaky at times, but I never suspected anything to be wrong at home.  He’d been back for years.  He was just a kid for crying out loud.  “I’m so sorry to hear that.  I had no idea.  He just started babbling and crying.  I couldn’t make any sense of what he was trying to say, so I called for help.  I had no idea.  He only had an occasional nightmare, he said.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere.  How often?”

“Maybe a few times a month.  Cold sweats, night terrors.  Like the rest of us.  Pretty common.”

“And he told you this?”

“He told all of us this.  It’s how we get through it.  It’s how we deal.  We can’t talk about this stuff to other people.  They look at us like we have three heads and a third eye bouncing out of our foreheads.”  This fucking kid with a gun.  Some people think a gun makes them a psychoanalyst, cultural minister and final arbiter over human fate.  I’ll bet he’s never stared into some unlucky sons a bitches’ eyes and just blammed ‘em because that was some crazy lieutenant’s elegant solution for being in the wrong war at the wrong time.

“So he never said anything about beating up his wife?”

“No.  Never.  As far as I knew, they were happy.  They just had a baby.  They bought this old drive-in and as far as I knew, everything was working out.  Nothing like some of the other stories we were hearing.”

“Like what?”

“Look.  I can’t talk about it.  It’s anonymous.  Just know that Ryan was doing better than most with his recovery.”

“If that’s true, we’re headed for a busy goddamn holiday.  How many are in your group?”

“Fuck you,” was all I could think.  It’s one thing to accuse somebody of murder and beating their wife.  It’s another to start ripping apart an Alcoholics Anonymous group based on shit you know nothing about.  “It varies,” was all I said.

“I’m going to need names and dates.”

“Look, pal, “ a.k.a. Sherlock, “you’ve just told me that I’ve lost my only job.  If you arrest me, I get food and shelter for as long as I want.  Maybe even decent medical care.  So fuck you and the horse your mama puts quarters in to make you feel like a real cowboy.”  I need to breathe.  This asshat has gotten under my skin and that’s not a safe place to be with me, ever.  I prefer my alone time unattended by people dressed up in blue or white lab coats.  It’s just how I roll.   “I need to get the fuck away from here for a minute.”

“Are you refusing to continue?”

I know what happens if I keep trying to reason with uniforms who have no idea where they’ve just sent me, how long ago they sent me, how many times they’ve sent me and how many pieces of people I’ve just met I’ve had to load into bags to be sent off air mail.  I’ve lost count and it’s not my judgment that puts people at risk anymore – it’s a force beyond my control.  It leaps out of me like a bomb blast and it doesn’t care who lives or who dies as long as it clouds up and rains on somebody who thinks they’re in charge.

I’m not quite sure what happened after that because I came to strapped down to a gurney inside of a diesel, shades and blotches of green floating across my field of view.  It was either an ambulance or a garbage truck going to the dump.  No siren.  “Are we going to the dump,” I asked one of the voices moving around me.

“No.  Not today, Mr. Meyer,” a gloved hand moved to open my eyes wider.  “He’s coming to.  Responsive.”

“Am I going home now?  Are they sending me home?”  I asked.

“Someday,” the voice replied.  “If you want.”

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A Certain Pestilence

Today we celebrate our distress by pretending distress does not exist, that the now familiar pressure in our lives is actually that of earning a living for our families, no matter how outrageous, or even surreal, the pressure on our families becomes. Rather than the effects of nineteen Arab Muslims with box-cutters on the economies of the western world, perhaps a warp in space-time swallowing even the light with which we view our television sets is to blame. Forget that fascism has always been a pestilence since it became the reason we broke from Mother England over two hundred years ago, let us stare, instead, at the fascinating or morbid, strangeness staring back at us as we observe a cosmic black hole in some far-off galaxy.

Before I encourage anyone to snap out of this trance we find ourselves in and become a conscious adult human, let me assure my readers, first, of the many effects a massive gravitational anomaly in our midst might have.

Nothing escapes the odd beauty of the event horizon of a black hole. The warp of space-time at this perimeter bends all available light between the observer and what exists beyond the boundary observed, creating a fiery ribbon’s edge composed of the light of things not ordinarily seen. This is the fascination we have with this cosmic anomaly: in one small place we can see what happened a million years ago and compare it with what happened a billion years ago, along with what happened a dozen years prior. A truly vast perspective on reality we behold imbuing us with a sense of godlike vision over the affairs of our lives. The dense and enormous gravitational pull of a black hole lenses reality into a radial focus, giving a sense of eternity to the observer, the observed and the process of observation.

What follows very swiftly as one begins to embrace this most stimulating of horizons is a noticeable difference between the gravity at one’s feet and the gravity at the top of one’s skull, establishing a sensation of heaviness, of importance, such that every step taken towards the fuller embrace of the anomaly becomes a grander, deeper more meaningful encounter with all that can ever be seen.

But what can be seen inside the event horizon of a hole in space so deep that it bends light from a billion years away into itself? For those of us watching this embrace, what becomes clear is not a whit of illumination escapes; there is no light, only a darkness deeper than imagination’s many children. But for those enraptured of the things just seen and their own sense of gravity, the darkness is but a pittance. Look at all that we have seen and achieved so quickly, they proclaim!

More swiftly still the difference in gravity between feet and brain becomes ever more acute as the body of the observer is pulled into smaller and smaller pieces by the embrace of the observed. There can be no escape from this fall, event horizon to core, an end as inevitable as death itself awaits as acceleration pulls apart the very soul of a man or woman into its component parts. No one can see this end for all occurs in the cover of deepest darkness, yet we can know from abstraction and deduction that the end stage disintegration was never the initial intention of the observer viewing the observed. All too soon this End became everything that the observer could speak of as the Madness pulled even life-giving blood from the brain into the feet of an otherwise good man or woman running to catch a train that has long since left the station.

Then, perhaps, a flash of X-rays expelled from the center of the hole reminds us that a drastic transformation has taken place before the event horizon expands ever so slightly to compensate for the mass just consumed.

Fascism, the inevitable result of vast concentrations of wealth and power into the hands of the few, is just such a warping of space and time, pulling apart the very fabric that makes community and fellowship with our brothers and sisters a pleasure and such a joyous possibility. Fascism pulls each of us into our component parts until nothing, not even light, can escape its embrace. We might know of the dangers of approaching this much gravity so brazenly except that all evidence of its presence disappears without a trace in history, its consumption of witnesses and evidence vacuumed completely out of existence.

So what was the essential “sin” in this flirtation with the acceleration of human possibilities and potential? Comprehending as we now do why an individual or a group might be deceived at the edge of the event horizon, why do we not chart a course completely avoiding these cosmic sinkholes, knowing the inevitability of the end?

Why does the addict pick up their drug of choice, again and again, after every painful detoxification, when they know the pain and suffering that must always await them?

Why does the obsessive love partner return, again and again, to a relationship that they both demand be functional even long after they discover the impossibility of the relationship chemistry between the two people involved?

Why do we humans believe that it is possible to behold a “cake” with our eyes while also enjoying the consumption of the same “cake?” Why do we tear concepts to shreds in order to “better” understand them, yet insist on entertaining the expectation that our reassembly of component parts must always yield the initial concept? Is it not a magical belief that our perceptions of phenomena reveal everything relevant to our senses? What has our collection of novel empirical data always demonstrated without fail in the past?

Our great flaw in all these instances is that we have seen only the past in all the light that has ever met our eyes. We projected futures onto what we saw based on what had already come and gone, regardless of how we assembled and structured the meaning of that past. And so our projected futures, regardless of the quantity of the past data we have had at our disposal, suffered from the same observational flaws we used in assembling and systematizing our pasts in the first place. We have become fixated on seeing nothing right here, right now, just as it is to us. We look at scientific data or the video footage of a war atrocity and we have trained ourselves to associate what we observe with what we have already experienced, what we thought about that experience and how we felt about it. What we miss by occupying a past or projected future state based on that past, is the here and now experience of novelty, revulsion or sensory overload that informs those we share our experiences with that we have rendered the rawest possible data to our fellow interpreters for their own interpretation and use.

So we need to encourage each other to “snap out of” the trance we are in regarding the fascist/capitalist/corporatist dialogue we observe spewing forth from the mouths of television pundits and media personalities with specific, money-making agendas not likely to give us the raw data we need to make informed decisions for ourselves. We already know, if we are conscious, thoughtful adults, that two massive steel-reinforced concrete structures do not collapse into nearly their own footprint at near free-fall speed because two large jetliners crashed into them two hours prior. We know this is rubbish. But why must fascists shock us with nonsense before they proceed with their plans to subvert our liberties and our freedoms? Why do they not want us to be at liberty to decide for ourselves about the nature of reality? Does truth not benefit everyone equally? Why not?

Qui bono?

Resurrection and the Sociopath

Last year about this time I found myself steeped in a post-graduate rhetorical analysis of the front pages of the website Stormfront.org and two Patriot Movement sites.  The details of contemporary rhetorical analysis go beyond the mere study of words, so I won’t bore you.   But the “a-ha” moment I received at the end of my qualitative analysis is worth mentioning, at some point, in light of all the ballyhoo surrounding the latest remake of Ayn Rand’s last novel, Atlas Shrugged, and Rand’s many “contributions” to the neo-conservative movement of the post-industrial, post-modern United States of America.

First, I think that it is important, perhaps an epoché, to mention that I read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead during my first attempt at an undergraduate Computer Science degree in 1982.  I found her writing rather dull but her less-than subtle attempt at providing an air of plausibility for the malignant narcissism of her character, Howard Roark, thought-provoking.  It allowed me to make some kind of sense out of the madhatter Libertarian prognosticators who began finding their way onto my high school campus several years prior.  I believe my love affair with the ideas of Libertarian Objectivism lasted about six months due in no small part to the massive quantities of alcohol, marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms I was consuming in a quest to understand the life that I later discovered I did not have.

Rand’s basic problem with altruism, and the phony characters who often people movements known for their well-publicized altruistic intent, was that it represents an unqualified evil to the human species.  When people, especially theologians and philosophers, start pulling out loaded words like “good” and “evil” to describe their pet theoretical constructs, it becomes very easy to get lost in the weeds of side-discussions long before a viable premise of their pet theory can be identified, described and critiqued.

But let’s indulge this tendency for a moment.  It is highly illustrative.

The heroes of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead and all of Rand’s novels, find their genesis in Rand’s notes and interviews with none other than child murderer William Edward Hickman.  Hickman, by most every psychological analysis of his behavior, was a sociopath of the psychopathic type.  To highlight the conscience-free, malignant narcissism of humanoids like Hickman, we have a description of the crime in the nineteen year old killer’s own words, a crime that resulted in his death, by hanging, in October of 1928.

“It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me,” he continued, “and I just couldn’t help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead. Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out.”

And a description from a different newspaper account of what Hickman did next.

“Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam’s [sic] head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive—he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she’d appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam’s father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam’s head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam’s head and torso out of the car, and that’s when the father ran up and saw his daughter—and screamed.”

I bring this information to your attention, gentle reader, because most everything put forward by the neo-conservative movement since 1980 has been in service of the ideas espoused by Ayn Rand, pseudonym of Alisa Rosenbaum, a Soviet émigré and, yes, a Jew.  The debauched calumny against the great, unwashed masses who made Rand’s popularity even possible is evident in all the neo-conservative epithets directed at the poor and disadvantaged, all the anti-altruistic legislative agendas and all the malevolence of the nation’s bankers and investors against the “collectivists” who, “don’t get it” – it is all there in stark relief.

A world made safe for sociopaths and psychopaths like Rand’s hero, Hickman, and, arguably, Rand herself – this was the purpose and point of Rand’s “philosophy.”

I know it is a little late to be suggesting this, but, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Freakishly detached from human concerns though they may be, the psychopathic personality is a throw-back, a genetic anomaly and evidence of the continued presence of our ancestors, the dinosaurs, still demanding their day in the “evolutionary court of appeals.”  Their legal representative in this regard is none other than Ayn Rand herself, and the fact that these lizard-brained anomalies also have control of all the levers of governance and justice, species-wide, bears some mention.

Mercifully, Ayn Rand is dead and her legacy has been frozen solid in the minds of those closest to her.  These people knew Rand for what she was, good and bad, and their testimony is available for all to read and see.  Personally, I am neither surprised nor impressed by Rand’s legacy.  She died of lung cancer with only a hired nurse at her bedside, a fitting epitaph for an individual who both sucked the breathable oxygen out of nearly every room she ever walked into while also demanding the slavish devotion of admirers she neither admired nor appreciated.  Every other human being was just an object to Rand and objects have no purpose other than the one the “assigner” assigns to them.

Were it not for the fact that Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve from the Reagan Administration to nearly the present day, spent most of his lifetime locked in sadomasochistic “devotion” to his mentor, the life of this sociopath of the psychopathic type, Ayn Rand, would be pitiful and pathetic, rather than the force to be reckoned with that it has become.  Strange, is it not, how the alienation and isolation of profound mental illness drives these creatures together to re-experience the defining moment of mammalian evolution — the moment of “cooperation.”  The moment where two apparently separate and unequal entities came together to harmonize, legitimize and validate their devotion, however warped, to one another, causing a stir in the ethos of an entire civilization.  And, as we have already surmised, this has been a toxic stir, indeed.

Objectivist philosophy requires the presence of slaves and widespread exploitation in order for it to provide the fetid fruit that it has been able to provide thus far.  This is the same problem that all atheists come across as they dig deeply into their rival theistic paradigm.  Objectivism is parasitic and incapable of standing on its own.  If every living, breathing human were capable of adopting objectivism as a lifestyle, the world would become a battleground of bad neighborhoods as each warlord attempted to actualize his or her own will to power.  Sort of like it has become now, only worse.  Think Afghanistan in every subdivision and hamlet around the world.

This prejudice begs the question, however: can cooperative, mammalian-friendly civilization stand on its own without the benefit of the lethal pursuit of sociopaths of the psychopathic type?  Granted that we could certainly use less malignant narcissism at this time in our history, but could we sustain ourselves in a world completely devoid of fear and its exploitation?  Do we truly have more choices available to us than the current objectivist economic repression and the collectivist intellectual repression?

This might be a good time to mention that “a-ha” moment I came upon as I completed my qualitative analysis of the angry fascists, racists and xenophobes who provide the websites for Stormfront.org and the “minuteman” patriot movement.  All of these humanoids, and in fact all of us who regard ourselves in a relatively mundane, milktoast fashion with regard to ethnocentricity, are after just one communal peak experience.  Just one.

Utopia.

That’s it, folks.  Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to this world we have manufactured together.  Everyone wants to be able to say to themselves of the people they meet on the street every day, “they’re just like me,” but no one wants to fully concede to their innermost selves that they could ever be as dysfunctionally warped as, say, a William Edward Hickman, or an Ayn Rand.  Everyone wants to see themselves in some sort of perfect light, but no one wants to completely release their belief in “sin,” whether they are atheists or theists.  And so we are trapped, imprisoned in the jailhouse of the human mind, completely incapable of loving one another and, by extension, ourselves.

We should strive to refuse to have our regard for each other, and our very selves, to be limited by the machinations of mental illness, neurological impairment or treatable psychological disorders.  No matter how widespread or how often these dysfunctions are taken as standard-operating procedure, we cannot continue to allow psychopaths, or the mentally ill, to dictate the quality of our very lives in any way at any time.  We do this every time we turn our backs on people like Ayn Rand or Alan Greenspan.  These pitiable creatures need to be identified and kept far away from the levers of power, lest the present circumstances be repeated.

On this Easter Sunday, pull a rabbit out of your proverbial hat and let your fellows be free to be as dysfunctional or functional as they are without the benefit of your secret need to pass judgment on who you think they are or what you believe it is that they do.  This is the Final Judgment any man or woman can ever make for themselves.

But do not mistake this foolhardy tendency to make dramatic every trivial or dopey aberration in human behavior for a trangression against the beating of your own heart.   Those we have regarded as “evil” or “outside humanness” should be seen only as infirmed.  This “turning of the cheek,” this “shift in perspective” to regard the despicable as only temporarily impaired is the one that opens the gateway to the Utopia we all seem to crave, but have never actually chosen to live in for long at all.

John Wheeler III, An American Hero, Likely Murdered By Cheney Operatives

The video provided, ultimately by the Associated Press, here, shows Jack Wheeler, an American hero, possibly suffering from exposure to a psychogenic substance.

As many of us know, John “Jack” Wheeler III, was involved in Vice President Dick Cheney’s dual nuclear chain of command incident between Minot and Barksdale AFB’s, an incident that documented the movement of five fake nuclear warheads, instead of the six live warheads that witnesses within the Air Force with knowledge of the operation claim were present on the B-52.  While the “official” story was that the warheads were headed for decommissioning, Barksdale AFB is not known to be the destination of any nuclear warhead in the US arsenal.  Barksdale is, instead, a load point for materiel headed for the Middle East.

The sudden appearance of surveillance video showing a disoriented Wheeler wandering aimlessly in a shopping mall is not consistent with the handling of evidence in a homicide investigation.  It is, however, consistent with an attempt to discredit a potentially credible witness to a crime with national security implications.

A similar event occurred in 1953 when Frank Olson, a Fort Deitrick, Maryland, bioweapons expert was administered LSD and allegedly committed suicide by leaping from a tenth floor window of the Statler Hotel.  Olson had become troubled by the use of the United States of Nazi techniques in the treatment and handling of interrogation subjects from communist countries.  The LSD administration supported a c0ver st0ry that Olson was suffering from a nervous breakdown leading to his suicide.  Later findings by experts hired by the Olson family determined that Olson was probably murdered.  Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were involved in the payoff by the government to the Olson family for their future silence concerning the findings by the Church Committee formed in the wake of the Watergate investigation.

Reports in the EU Times suggesting that Wheeler was a bioweapons expert and that his knowledge of the Arkansas fish and bird kills lead to his murder are more consistent with a Russian counterintelligence operation than with knowledge of any accidental bioweapons release.  The possibility that these ecological disasters are related to phosgene gas, while interesting, do not make sense since no human fatalities have yet been linked to these incidents.  The EU Times have used Don Black and his Stormfront.org operation as sources for their reports, indicating complicity in a global white nationalist movement and raising doubts as to the legitimacy of these reports linking Wheeler’s death with ecological disaster.

Stay tuned.

Jericho

I am responsible for my own behavior.

I am accountable to my closest associates and the state for the consequences of my own behavior.

Thus the basis for the formation of any and all social contracts begins.  Systems of morality and ethics derive their moment from “responsibility for” and “accountability to.”

As Soren Kierkigaard famously noted, “life must be understood backwards; but…it must be lived forward.”  Meaning, of course, that we cannot always know if our choice-making will be faulty or if it will be at least reliably benign; we must, therefore, endeavor to execute choices with reliable consequences if we wish to live in a world that has any sensible meaning to all parties involved.  From the consequences of reliable choices, then, we can more quickly discover those choices that aid us in our quest for species survival and, further, aid us in our fruitful evolution.

These are the propositions of a responsible society lead or mislead by responsible men and women.

One can suggest, or maintain, that our society is a responsible one; however such a proposition forces any sane person to conclude that we have been, at least, mislead.  A stronger argument could certainly be made in favor of an irresponsible society, perhaps one that has been systematically mislead for the purpose of keeping us all in an unstable condition of trust between each other and our designated leaders.  One could posit a variety of reasons for our present state of affairs, but one could never label the society in which we presently live a “responsible” society.  And this means that no one in this society can be reliably considered a responsible actor, and, further, no one can be considered reliably accountable to anyone else for any behavior whatsoever.

In short, there is no social contract in an irresponsible society.  How a society becomes irresponsible, whether through well-intentioned misleading or outright fraud, matters not a whit.

The road to complete breakdown in the social compact began with the rejection by the global banking establishment of the government of the United States of America, circa 1800, plus or minus twenty years.  Dictators, no matter how benevolent, are incompatible with governance of the People, by the People and for the People, so the collision between collective government and feudal dictatorship was inevitable and its consequences substantial to the present day.

Feudal dictatorships did not always result in irresponsible societies, nor was the advent of social democracy in the United States the precipitating event that has lead to our present irresponsible condition.  It was, however, the undeclared war between these two systems of governance that has been both cause and effect of irresponsible leadership and our present state of affairs.  War of any kind cannot help but produce irresponsible behavior and consequences for which no accounting is possible or desired.

So why do we have war in the first place?

We have war because its systematic and controlled presence benefits the global banking establishment.  Chaotic, unpredictable war benefits no one, and yet the global banking establishment continues to insist that its systematic and relentless fight against democratic forms of governance will not one day produce a leviathan of chaotic war that must destroy it and, perhaps, every one of us.  However well-intentioned the global banking establishment was or is towards the human species, the line of reasoning that suborns or selects war as a means of eliminating competitive ideologies is counter to natural law and empirical observations in nature.  Pesticides make for stronger, more resilient pests; antibiotics make for stronger, more resistant diseases; as above, so below; hoodwinking a general population into accepting a false system of valuation (e.g., a fiat currency of any kind) does not guarantee that the truth won’t one day reassert itself, one way or another.  Holding a gun to one’s own head and threatening the truth with self destruction has never stopped the truth from allowing either suicide or redemption.  Threatening one’s fellows with homicide or suffering works for a time, but, eventually, meaningful existence will demand the advent of war.  War can be forged to look like many things, but its internecine nature cannot be refined out regardless of the temperature of the fire.  We are either forced by arguments of location and scale to accept our united fate, or we will share the fate of every species whose perceptions do not match the features of their environment.

War either threatened or suborned by a leadership class or conspiracy makes that class or conspiracy responsible for irresponsible outcomes.  De facto, then, our leadership class or conspiracy has yet to be held to account for their irresponsible behavior.  If accountability is not restored in balance with responsibility, no amount of state-sponsored oppression will restore the social contract.  Civilization will become impossible to sustain.

Allow me to be more clear: the current civilization will be thrown into the 13th century virtually overnight.  The results will make us all scream for the more civilized days of “The Terror” during the French Revolution.

We have no choice.  Either we restore accountability to our civilization or we will become the slaves of an increasingly hostile, cruel and despotic leadership class.

Or conspiracy.

We can circle the town seven times in seven days and then seven times in one day before we proceed to raze the city.  But I believe Joshua would have considered what has happened in the world since the felling of the Twin Towers more than a subtle toot on a ram’s horn.

A Barbershop Diary: Recollections

 

Step up into the barber’s chair from a year-ago last Summer and prepare to have less hair to pull out than you did before you started reading. We have some things familiar and some things brand new; we have magazines and pictures, we have the mundane thoughts of old friends, some present, some long since deceased.   

A fair question was asked by one of our readers the other day. I think s/he will forgive me for taking some liberty with the phrasing, but the question was something like, “who are we?”Given the Faustian bargain Mr. “Imadinnajacket” has placed the 9/11 Truth Movement in with his unwelcome embrace of many of our members’ sentiments surrounding the events of 9/11/2001, I would have to say, first and foremost, we humans have become exceedingly predictable.   

Perhaps I am paranoid, but I suspect Mr. Ahmadinejad is really working in the interests of both Israel and the United States. Something about his less-than-statesmanly position within the Iranian government, his often easily misconstrued media statements and Iran’s place as the only viable nation-state operating outside of the Federal Reserve banking system cause me to suspect a set-up for yet another global war over resources and power. Manipulating the messaging of the Iranian President to appear to be in alignment with the messaging of the 9/11 Truthers plays conveniently into the hands of the fine, if under-worked, folks over at the Department of der Homeland Security. Just this week the top three executroids within the national security apparatus published their statement with regard to the “homegrown terrorism” happening right under our very noses during yet another election year. What a shocking surprise. </snark>   

I am no fan of the President of Iran. Most Iranians are not, either. That our global leaders have been able to command the public’s media to coordinate, manipulate and distort the messages and meanings available for public consumption has become both a frightening and disheartening fact of life. I disapprove of capital punishment in the first place and I certainly find Iran’s use of construction cranes to publically hang breakers of the latest interpretation of their holy laws abhorrent, cruel and bizarre. Perhaps more importantly, I find the treatment of women by all Muslim people to be exceedingly reprehensible and far beneath the civilization that brought us higher mathematics and brilliant philosophical thought. But while these offenses anger me they do not inspire homicidal rage. Far more reprehensible I find the cabal of empty suits that continue to prowl the pavement near Wall Street; countless bits and pieces of human flesh came to rest on 9/11 in lower Manhattan because the formerly intact bodies to which they were attached fell to the ground with such force that the torsos exploded on impact. All of this theater presumably so Israel and the Wall Street bankers could bring open warfare to the streets of the despicable goyim and perhaps make a few billion dollars getting rid of a pair of buildings that almost no one wanted to commit to a long-term lease with since the last ridiculously staged bombing of the WTC in 1993. When white-elephant sales didn’t get the deal done for Larry Silverstein, a false-flag event has always been a viable option for our leadership since the Northwoods document landed on President Kennedy’s desk in 1962 with the thud of a treason. Many things about Iranian culture concern me, but methinks the Twin Towers sticking out of our own eye are far more troubling.   

But this is all old pap for diehard Truthers like me who knew, almost immediately, that something profoundly evil, in the human sense, had just taken place on that Tuesday morning; the Bush Crime Family was almost certainly involved and something needed to be done about it. It took a couple of days for me to overcome my own shock, induced long-distance thanks to CNN and the Web, and come to realize that buying 100 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for a gun I would be better off throwing at someone than shooting them with was a bit of an overreaction. So I traded in the pistola for a high-powered rifle with a scope and 100 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition. I could hit anything with a rifle and there would be no splatter. No PTSD here.   

To date I have yet to fire a single round from that long-barreled weapon. But I did make it out to Camp Casey in August of 2005 to finally meet the woman I had been corresponding with since she had lost her son in Iraq in 2004. Well, she didn’t actually “lose” lose him, she knew where he was. He just wasn’t ever coming home again because of the sheer principle of the situation. I brought supplies for the Peace House and spent that Saturday afternoon driving there, hanging out, and driving back home. It was interesting to watch the little proto-nazis following me out of Crawford in their Expeditions, confusing a kiss, a hug and a fond-farewell with a secret handshake between members of the same satanic cult.   

Whom we are is both sacred and profane, divine and pornographic, compassionate and unspeakably cruel, generous and yet mindlessly narcissistic. We are both lizard and mammal, vulnerable to a deeply stunning confusion whenever either polar extreme of our nature becomes over-stimulated. We are a people who have been traumatized and betrayed by our fellows, the same ones we became conditioned to trust as a result of the civilizing influences of both religion and reason. Many of us wished to continue our evolution, to continue to become, but a few of us felt the sadness and abandonment of a time, place and species that spoke with thunder and ruled with a vicious ferocity. Then a series of unfortunate events came to pass victimizing a few unfortunate ones, impaling them on our few defects, one of which proved fatal: an utter inability to have someone over for dinner without eating them whole.   

Nevertheless the lizard-people felt the pain from beyond the graveyards of history buried deep within our own mid-brains and recognized the utter power the conscienceless psychopath held over the “lesser” mammals driven to herd and cooperate together like so many ants. To utilize this machinery without compassion or mercy, to squash the innocent underfoot without contemplation or consideration as easily as one might extinguish the guilty: this was a job description for which the lizard-brained psychopath was peculiarly well-qualified.   

Our story has continued to unfold over time; bands of villages stole from and murdered one another, raped each other’s females and burned each other’s livelihoods into cinders. Pain on pain on play, repeating. A minority continued to thrive through sheer cunning and the willingness to terrify with merciless spectacles of genocide, homicide and fratricide. This minority sought obscurity and isolation from the vast majority which could hardly tell that something we all took for granted in each other was vacuously absent from those we had believed we could trust.   

To end the mindlessness of the killing, moral law and the invention of commitment to moral codes of behavior were used as tools to keep the majority from either turning on the powerful minority or turning on each other. As various times proved overwhelming, moral behavior would break down, requiring that these moral codes become ever more sophisticated, psychologically ensnaring adherents into fanciful creations and recreations of events and mythologies no one could either prove, nor disprove. Human beings had become conditioned to separate from their very natural selves. Who could we believe, our local high priest and scribe, or our own lying eyes?   

As always happens whenever two or more are gathered to solve a problem that neither fully has a grasp of, committees were formed, work was delegated and the circular logic inherent in creating what one defends most virulently against was born. Bureaucracy moved from tool to lifestyle, means to end in itself. Questioning a moral code or the seeking of solace in a supporting mythology took a back seat to the need of the bureaucracy to defend itself from assault and the common rot associated with the loss of a primary purpose for existence. We possessed the qualities of whatever had created us, but like a Xerox copy, important details seemed to fade with each replication of the previous version of the original until the point of the original disappeared. Human life in an organization replicates itself on a daily basis until the movements are as empty as the rituals they support. Into the vacuum rushes our indomitable ego, providing both purpose and motivation.   

After many centuries of slowly weaning ourselves from our own brutality, enough of us could overcome the trauma of our murderous conditioning to see that something had gone missing from our mythologies and the moral codes they inculcated: we had taken leave from our senses and our senses wanted us back. Enter the age of empirical science and the scientific method.   

I come by my agnosticism honestly: I was raised Catholic. And not just the apostate Roman Catholic variety, either, for my grandmother was a strong adherent of the Ukrainian church of Byzantium. I may not know church canon well nor perfectly recall the saying of mass, but I do know what neurosis is and what causes it to flare up in me and in my life: insisting that my way of viewing reality is the only relevant method worthy of further consideration. So while I can prove to you that, philosophically, atheism makes no sense at all, I hear so much honesty, reason and genuine disappointment in the arguments against organized belief in a supreme being that I have been moved to reframe my own agnosticism: I am anti-religious as hell.   

The Lovely Imogen Heap, Always Imaginatively Coiffed

It is one thing to adopt a moral code of behavior to promote the social order and the well-being of the species, it is quite another to drill three holes in the head of every child, one each for the father, the son and the holy ghost. Quite unbeknownst to me in my formerly deluded state (I now entertain a far more delicious set of delusions now), I have witnessed the rich  and the powerful pick up the heads of these delusional adherents to irrational sentimentality and go bowling seven days a week. Every time I hear of another young man volunteering to go make the world safe for “Jeebus” I see that unmistakable sheen on the wooden floor that tells me the roll will be sweet tonight. And when I watch the release as the head of the young man or woman travels down the alley, I wonder if the head will break right or left in time to smack those pins completely down in a single strike. Or if it will just be another gutter ball. It matters not, win or lose: it is how the game is played that retains its importance. If being a bowling ball for the amoral and lizardly rich does not appeal to you at this late stage of the game, you are going to have to fill in those three holes with some mortar, post haste.   

I do not believe there is any serious scholar who would contend that “Science” was anything but a militant reaction to the cruelty inherent in using a bureaucracy to shame people into behaving in a civil manner. Granted much has been learned and unlearned to good end through the application of Science and scientific methods, my graduate studies in Communication and Humanities have made clear to me that Science is nothing but a new, improved version of religion all over again. Science to civilize the demented discourse of the religiously insane; religion to civilize the behavior of the psychopath and those under the spell of the psychopath; murder to civilize those whose will to power conflicts with my own – this is the whole of human history reduced to the details relevant to the present moment. Death to relieve me from the bondage of attempting to be civil when I should have been ruthless, ruthless when I should have been civil and obtuse when clarity would have served me best. Catholics pity the Protestants, Protestants find the Catholics arrogantly self-appointed and Quantitative researchers find the work of Qualitative researchers to be mind-numbingly stilted and contrived. And well-moneyed interests agree with the Quantitative researchers, by the way, in spite of the fact that there is no longer any reasonable doubt that scientific data is as much a reflection of the researcher and their cultural milieu as the thing researched. Just as the church abhorred Galileo’s honesty and the force of the truth of which he spoke, powerful forces within the scientific community cause many questions to go unanswered, or worse yet, unasked. Whether it is a muon-catalyzed nuclear reaction or room temperature fusion, there are areas of science where to question another researcher’s life-long work is tantamount to murder.   

The reason why battles in the academy are so vicious? The stakes are so low….   

To wrap up my little tome on whom I think we are – we are a story. We have a beginning, a middle, an ending and a plotline. We have opposing forces too numerous to mention but which can be broadly categorized once the dust has settled and the circus has long since moved past us. Just as Quantum measures are subject to the laws of Heisenberg, so, too, are the interpretations of the history of one’s own species: the more measurement going on in a particular area of thought and research, the less likely it seems to me that we get an accurate reading of what seems to be going on structurally. Once we have a reasonable lock on where we think the primitive forces are, what their approximate speed and vectors are, and where we are relative to those vectors, we can establish a reasonable explanation, or story, to explain where all the pieces were at time period one and where they seem to be at time period “n”. Quantitative researchers must examine time period “n + 1,” somehow, to prove that the induced story we have laid over our selection of the data has merit from a mathematical and philosophically rigorous perspective. In many years’ time, though we may be dead, we will understand precisely why with great confidence and precision.    

A Well-Coiffed Man Is Easily Remembered

 From a pragmatic perspective, we need to look over the shoulders of those of us who spin tales out of the whole cloth of data we pull out of the bowels of human history. Have we included all the relevant facts? What was left out and why? Since we cannot know what we do not know, are there patterns of thought in the data selection and in the explanation that should be scrutinized for a bias that might make the plotline untenable at some point? Once we have satisfied ourselves that we have a good empirical grasp of where a story has come from and where it is now, we can predict with some confidence level where the story may end up.The sooner we know what we are ultimately facing the less energy it will take to induce the flap of a butterfly’s wings that will send the hurricane force winds across the Atlantic to blow apart the little Central American hotel where a lonely sniper sleeps the day before he marries his target, perhaps the next Che Guevarra or Martin Luther King, Jr.What I think is happening right now will end with human beings willingly ending their own lives just as our fellows leapt from the WTC towers to their certain death on 9/11/2001, avoiding the agony of being burned alive. Worse than the final pain of death, repeated humiliation and torture turns a human mind into a soulless cipher that helplessly repeats the same tired clichés, the same self-destructive behavior and the same victim-laced invective against one’s captors that rots and demoralizes whole cultures of human beings. The manifestors of the present tribulation believe that only persons of a certain ethnic background, color or genetic makeup could ever experience the pitiful demoralizations of the common slave. These fools will be proven incorrect, of course, but the problem humanity has is removing these mindless fools from harm’s way long enough to allow our biosphere to heal itself. Resurrecting the long-extinct members of one’s past through digging them up and making them a part of our present-day life has been a toxic and ludicrously compulsive exercise: it smells of the insane logic of a human ego run amok. The odor of sulfur dioxide and the heat of a planet in thermal runaway remind us all of something primal, something olfactory and quite direct. Welcome back to the Hell we thought we had escaped long ago, ladies and gentleman.But if we can mend our environment, those of us who follow the same basic storyline can work to disincentivize the promulgation and favor that capitalism affords the psychopath. These individuals are quite profoundly disturbed and while they might deserve their pre-approved extinction, quarantine seems generally to be the least cruel course of action to take.But what and where is the rest of the story? Will it be his-story or her-story?