Deer Jesus Epistle — Measuring Up As Men


“I call on men and boys everywhere to take a stand against the mistreatment of girls and women. It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”  — Desmond Tutu, November, 2012

Not three months prior to Tutu’s statement, two teenage boys brutally assaulted, humiliated and traumatized a sixteen year old girl who was inebriated past the point of being able to take care of herself, let alone call for help from others.

To this very day, the victim’s family and the victim continue to receive death threats and threats of bodily harm from the victim’s teenage peers in the Ohio town of Steubenville, population under 19,000.

Various reports have attempted to slant the story away from the fact that a young woman, possibly already sexually traumatized before the notorious August, 2012 incident, was a victim of rape under Ohio law.  Some of these reports lay claim to this incident being, “fueled,” by social media.

I beg to differ.

Our society fuels both social media and violence against those who are vulnerable.  The whole of United States culture has been built and maintained by a strict code of exploitation of the temporarily weak by the temporarily strong.  When those temporarily weak grow strong enough, there is war.  This has been our pattern for over two centuries.  As the temporarily strong have used war to exploit the growing strength of the temporarily weak, they have become hollowed-out, rotting caricatures of the men, women, slaves and indigenous people who once founded and built this country.

The people of Steubenville have been demoralized and stripped of anything akin to human decency and what the rape of this vulnerable teenage girl reveals is not just cause, but effect.  This entire incident – the childhood trauma, the teenage alcoholism, the economic exploitation of the middle class, the indiscriminate violence, the media circus, the inappropriate labeling and valuation of cultural symbols by a media circus — all took place in a town too small town to be on any nation-state’s radar as a threat to anyone’s interests.  Steubenville has long since been decimated by “globalization” and the moving of steel mills to lands our uneducated children can no longer name, much less locate on a map.  And so the macrocosmic rape of Steubenville played itself out in a microcosmic incident of despicable human trauma and exploitation with vulnerable children caught in the midst of forces too powerful to be ignored.

Were the boys who victimized this teenage girl of Steubenville victims themselves?  Probably.  We enter into the so-called adult world of bitter realities praying to an ineffable sky-being that the personal coin of our lives will somehow magically land on its edge.  These boys parlayed their alcohol-induced block of feeling and sense-making to mean that, finally – for once – they were neither cause nor effect, neither victims nor victimizers, for their target of opportunity was so clearly incapable of recollection or self defense that they could finally act on their hormone-fueled drive for reconciliation and justice leaving no one the wiser.

Alas, no one in a surveillance culture ever gets completely away with anything.  Now everyone knows the coin landed with “cause” facing up even while a circus of agenda-setters tried to turn “cause” into “effect.”  However, the cellphone camera coverage made the facts clear in this case and gave the judge presiding no recourse but to adjudicate these two boys based on their behavior, rather than as well-intentioned young men who simply happened upon a vulnerable female during a night of alcohol-fueled stupidity.  “It was a case of mistaken identity, your honor, where one of these boys thought he had left his car keys in the vagina of an incapacitated female he thought he recognized.”  Such explanations would fall dead on arrival in the judge’s chambers, as they should have.

Human beings under stress behave no better than the worst-behaved chimpanzees in the wild.  Among the great apes a silver-backed gorilla could have mustered superior behavior to the demonstrated depravity of these two alleged hominids taken together.

What the media confusion of cause with effect displaced, potentially forever, is the idea that an incident like the Steubenville rape could be either cause, or effect, or even both at the same time.  The coin of human experience, constantly spinning in midair, revealed first cause, then effect, then cause again, in an endless cycle that rotated about an axis we prefer to call “time” but we might just as well label, “perception.”  For all humankind knows, there is no such idea as “time,” but simply circadian rhythms that come together only to fall away over periods greater than multiple human lifetimes.

Enter now into the social vocabulary words like, “forgiveness” and “mercy.”

For too long we have contented ourselves to believe that forgiveness and mercy were gratuities we ought to extend to those less fortunate than ourselves.  We linger in pestilence and paucity of spirit when we think this way, for every grievance we hold against one another increases only our own misery and despair.  Confusing cause with effect, we then displace our agony and our anger onto some other victim of circumstance who seems a more fitting recipient of our ire.  Rather than identifying and then forgiving the multinational banker who has made our lives into wretched caricatures of grandeur, we instead direct our rage at unwed mothers too poor or uneducated to utilize contraception during sexual intercourse.  Or, perhaps even a gay male who, in spite of society’s remonstrations against the foundations of his conscience, manages to find a moment’s joy in the arms of a lover he never knew could exist.  How dare such people find solace or comfort in a world as laced with misery as this!  Do they not know that we were chosen, we were first in line to receive social justice when it finally arrived, not these outcasts and piriahs!

Identifying our grievances as rage against the international banking establishment and its tendency to treat human beings as chattel at best and dumb animals at worst, we might find the misbehavior and misdeeds our brothers and sisters commit against us as effects and not strictly causes in and of themselves.  While we cannot reasonably hold these banking offenders accountable for the behavior of specific individuals, we almost certainly can hold them accountable for statistical increases in the measurements of social misery – poverty, violence, unemployment, disease, ignorance starvation, war and violations of civil liberties of every sort – as surely as we can place pen to paper to sign a bill into law.

From this day forward, for every middle class and lower citizen who commits a crime and is held accountable, let us also hold accountable those leaders and institutions that failed to provide the childhood support and supervision even a modicum of human decency ought to afford.  For it is not only the youths of Steubenville who have lost their way, it is the entire economic establishment raised to believe that “greed is good” and “only the fittest should survive” while placing their thumb on the scales of justice to favor one sort of “fitness” over another.  No human being at any layer of the social strata will ever be capable of knowing what sort of fitness our future survival might require.  Let us no longer pretend that the crazed and menacing ramblings of a sociopath speaking on behalf of other sociopaths hold out any promise of brighter tomorrows blighted by creatures with less than half the human capacity for empathy and compassion.  Ayn Rand’s “Objectivist” rants and her present-day apologist’s polemics do not advance the cause of human evolution, but would drive us backward to a time when dinosaurs ruled this Earth only to be smited by their own inability to cooperate and ensure mutual survival.

Let this be our response to the people and children of Steubenville, Ohio, and our collective prayer that the wisdom and compassion of Bishop Desmond Tutu should not pass into history unacknowledged or unnoticed.


Deer Jesus Epistle: Papal Conclave Edition

the-dude-tom-roderickProphecies of Saint Malachi, the final Pope being Benedict’s successor — apparently the Mayans were onto something with their “end of time” calendar that signaled a call to “judgment” for all humanity.
For too long, human beings have been walking this Earth under the mistaken notion that whatever pops into their conscious mind as being, “real,” must, in fact, be the way things are.  For those who see something different than a hastily gathered quorum, too bad, we find you to be, “insane.”
Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not suggesting that there are no conditions for which bed rest, medication and professional supervision are warranted.  There are such conditions, it just so happens that the majority of those for whom adequate professional supervision, bed rest and medication might be applied are in charge of some of our oldest and most powerful social institutions.
Like, say, the Catholic Church.
Don’t get me wrong: I am no Protestant and I am not a Jew, outside of a couple Jewish women I gave serious consideration to converting for in order to woo.  I was raised a Catholic, but I implore you not to hold that against me.  I was educated by American Jesuits which qualifies me as a card-carrying agnostic.  I don’t know enough about God to portend its existence, and neither do you, skooter.
I can tell you, emphatically, that there are many powers greater than myself in existence in my universe today, starting with my wife and a mistress I am contemplating going insane and slashing off my ear over.  But that does not imply the existence of a supreme being, or even a heralding of a comeback of the Supremes, with or without Diana Ross.
So simply because the “integrity” of your faith demanded that you turn your back on the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church does not ennoble your church in my eyes, it only makes your church a festering ward of the terminally insane because you are spreading the disease and not the cure.  Look at your snake-handling, tongue-talking, moralizing nonsensical Bible-thumping ignoramuses: is this a step above the decency and nobility of a single Roman Catholic Church or Jewish Synagogue?
Not in my judgment.
I save special ire for the community of Islam because your whole denomination is crazier than a gathering of Baptists at a Texas dancehall.  Yes, women have power; covering it up or trying to contain it does not change the fact that this same deity you piously proclaim your allegiance to created man and woman as separate and coequal lunatics in chief.  This same deity also guaranteed that you would never be able to impact any other form of life in the galaxy until you learned to stop killing and hurting each other.  The intent of Creation has been written all over our circumstance from the beginning: if there is a supreme being, it most certainly is not among any one of you, or us.  Mohammed was a certifiable and megalomaniacal lunatic and not someone to found any pursuit of truth in honor of. Nor was Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Martin Luther or Joseph Smith.  Nor am I.
The Day of Last Judgment is upon us.
Behold: are you a bigger dumbass than the Catholic Church that has for centuries used the exploitation of children to guarantee the hegemony of certain pontifical doctrines?  If you are not, then why am I the first one to inform you that every national government, including the UN, has come to use the convenient blackmail of placing the politically powerful on tape having sex with children as a means of guaranteeing their loyalty to certain vested interests?  Are you so retarded as to not see how potent a weapon in the arsenal of statecraft this Catholic tradition of “commercial” pedophilia has become?  Did this tradition of expediency arise out of sheer stupidity or the time-tested experience of dealing with the fevered human egos of the great unwashed masses?
Dorothy, wake up, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.  We aren’t even at the concert.  We are dealing with human evil of the most vile and horrific kind, the kind that would exploit and traffic in child orphans as a means of obtaining loyalty to a specific class of individuals with a very specific political and sociological agenda.  The agenda is the global enslavement of the human species through any means necessary and the politics varies depending on the expediency of meeting this objective.
Where we are, in this moment in human history, comes as a direct result of human judgment applied to the need to keep ourselves safe only from each other; we have not even begun to contemplate what might be required of us in order to guarantee our safety from the enormous challenge of cosmological calamity.
Does anyone remember taking a vote in favor, or in opposition, to imposing global slavery over the human species in order to guarantee our survival?  I do not.  I simply recall agreeing to buy certain products in the belief that if my breath were minty fresh, I might be able to attract a mate, a job and/or an adequate education.  I do not recall agreeing to join a federal reserve banking system where I agreed to pay a small cartel of families for the privilege of printing my paper currency on an annual basis, and, yet, it is so.  This is the best our human facility for judgment would allow. And now we sustain and support these unwritten, undemocratically imposed dictums by exploiting the sexual innocence of children and the depravity of adults who may well have been exploited themselves as children?
Life is difficult enough without also having to shoulder the burden of rampant mental and emotional illness unleashed on the body politic.  We need to take at least ONE DAY set aside, globally, to decide whether we are going to continue allowing ourselves to be lead by human sickness or by human wellness.
In the days and weeks to come, I will observe examples of human sickness in full display and offer up how human wellness might set this situation aright and bring healing and light to all in the process.

Gary Webb, An American Hero

2012WEBBNine years ago, December 10, 2004, respected and award-winning investigative journalist Gary Webb was murdered by a conspiracy of an apathetic citizenry, corporate malfeasance and government corruption.  The Sacramento County coroner, Robert Lyons, publically, if hastily, characterized the gunshot wounds in Gary Webb’s head three times before finally ruling the double-gunshot wound to Webb’s face a “suicide,” noting the use of a .38 caliber revolver, the presence of a suicide note and Webb’s close friend and ex-wife, Sue Bell, claiming that Gary, “had been depressed about being unable to obtain employment from another major newspaper for some time.” The San Jose Mercury News, on orders from “on high,” had terminated Gary Webb’s career progression after they claimed they had discovered errors in trivial matters of fact in his career-capping exposé, “A Dark Alliance” (ADA).

The truth, as Sue Bell explains it, is quite clear.  From her perspective, Gary was subject to bouts of clinical depression since his ADA story had caused so much criticism and derision to come his way from unexpected sources.  Many great communicators of the written word have been known to suffer from schizoaffective disorders (depression being the most “popular”), but Webb had also had several motorcycle accidents in the months leading up to his eventual suicide at age 49.  Perhaps not coincidently, Webb ended his life on the same day, albeit seven years prior, he had resigned from the San Jose Mercury News – December 10, 1997 – approximately one year and a thousand lonely nights after his employer had published his career-capping exposé.

Suggesting that “bouts of clinical depression” can be caused in adulthood by a career-related trauma involving the written word, alone, appears insufficient to me.  As a person who suffers from bouts of chronic depression as well as post-traumatic stress related to childhood trauma, I can assure the gentle reader that any problems with mental illness Gary Webb had related to his ADA story would have had their genesis long before Webb even made his career choice of, “Journalist,” assuming his illness was not caused by his treatments for situational depression.  And, in fact, there were reports of Webb being difficult to work with at times and subject to the kind of bursts of anger that often characterize chronic depression in males.  People who suffer from mental illness can spend their whole lives looking outside themselves for “reasons” why they are often irritable, sad or cynical.  I think it is fairly easy to see that if a thoughtful person, like Gary Webb, observes the government of their homeland falling completely apart while a flock of “vultures,” in this case rogue elements within the Central Intelligence Agency, can be observed picking at the dying body of governmental order, such disturbing ideas might be used to rationalize or justify a personal distempered condition.  But even Webb would have said, “facts are facts”; if all I can see in my life are reasons to be sad or irritable while the world continues to spin, happily if haphazardly, on its axis, the origins of my problem are beyond obvious.

In my experience, I am my own worst enemy.  I tend to hide from myself the most obvious of facts.  If I have had a problem with my environment, I could never solve your part in my problem.  I know this because I have tried, desperately, to do precisely that.  We, together, have to accomplish solving our conjoined problem, while I continue to address my problems and you continue to address your’s.  If we cannot engage with one another in solving our shared problems, for whatever reason, I must fully accept that fact or I will be consumed in a battle that cannot be won.  This is what is ugly and heartbreaking about any mental illness and depression is no exception: I cannot engage with any of my peers because I cannot even begin to engage with myself for whom and what I am.  More simply put, if my problem with you is that you are an idiotic Pollyanna or some other classification of being of an unacceptable order, we have only war and conflict to look forward to.  If I choose war, I need to get busy engaging you as an enemy or I will suffer defeat.  If I choose peace, I need to fit myself into a being who can engage you in a constructive process.  Note that we might still be enemies at war, by your choice, but my goal as a peaceful participant is to wear you down with minimal cost to myself and my resources, but also giving consideration to you and your resources because my own goal is to, at some point, engage you constructively as a partner.

I have not yet read ADA cover-to-cover, but it is available for free, here.  If you love books or want to help Gary’s kids, buy a hardcopy here.  As a person who has studied Communication and rhetoric at a graduate level, what I have read of ADA betrays none of the characteristics of the writings of a self-pitying, brainstorming, manic or depressive character void of clear thinking.  Gary Webb’s ADA, while categorized as, “fiction,” is far from that genre.  In fact, and characteristic of good journalism, Webb pulls a lot of punches that in retrospect should have been fully landed to the jaw of the global power structure.  Note that we should no longer waste our time landing blows to the proxies of the global power structure like the CIA, DNI, Homeland Security, Congress, the Courts or the Executive.  In fact, the governments of every sovereign nation are mere pawns of global power.  Vast concentrations of economic wealth positioned at or near the natural resources we rely on for the energy to perform modern labor is where we will find true global power.  When these power structures are engineered to serve the interests of life on planet Earth, as well as the creation and preservation of functional, constructive human interaction, the governments operating beneath these global power structures will eventually come to heel.

Admittedly the ideas Gary Webb presented in ADA are horrific – a secret, clandestine agency within a federal representative government (e.g., the CIA) exists and is profiting handsomely from sowing misery and murder among its constituent pariahs and social outcasts, using those profits to conduct foreign policies not officially sanctioned, or sanctionable, by the federal representative government in question.  Note that “horrific” is not unprecedented and, in fact, this despicable behavior happens all the time, now and in the past, in non-representative governments all over the world.  That Webb accurately identified and characterized an on-going illegal, immoral and unethical governmental activity is beyond question; that Gary Webb was ruthlessly punished by his society and peers for the sin of speaking the truth to power is a matter of records both public and private.  But three takeaway questions Gary Webb left us unanswered in ADA are: 1) Does governing humans have to become such an ugly, forbidding process?  2) Did we have representative government in the United States of America, c. 1987?  And, 3) What about now, c. 2012?

Clearly the cognitive dissonance and timing of the ideas presented in ADA, in tandem with their impact on persons more socially and politically powerful than Gary Webb, were allowed to end Webb’s life.  Whether that death was a suicide or an assassination is no longer a high priority issue of concern to the collective citizens of the United States.  We, as citizens, have questions we still need to answer and consequences we still need to sort through even eight long years later.  The families of the dead should be left to grieve in peace with an eye toward reconciliation and healing; as just another apathetic member of a society of turd merchants that have allowed Presidents, public servants and citizens to be murdered in cold blood without consequence, sometimes by the score, it is the least I can do not to dubiously pry open a wound so deep and so profound.

What happened to Gary Webb on December 10, 2004, was every bit as horrific to him, his friends and his family as what he wrote about in ADA, to say nothing of investigative journalism as an occupation.   In my personal experience, any “score settling” that needs to take place in order to preserve notions of simple human decency will naturally occur as society comes to accept the truth about itself and its identity.  When an entity as massive and slow as a society moves in your individual direction with ill intent, there is little one can do but be crushed.  The alienation and isolation of such a position, alone, can be quite vicious; that it also ends with a series of slow, bone-crushing crunches as a life deemed worthless is pressed out of existence makes the matter unworthy of concern for justice or just punishment.  As one sows, so shall they reap, for themselves as well as their families, unless society, itself, intervenes.

On this sad and tragic anniversary of the death of American Hero Gary Webb, let us remember the individuals and their families and hold them in our hearts.  Let us intervene that we might one day find a way to detach the heroic from the tragic, making the heroic commonplace and worthy of the representative democracy our Founding Fathers had intended for us in the Fall of 1789.

Deer Jesus Epistle: Thanksgiving Day

I thought it might be nice to write something for this week, and I tried – I really did – but Facebook locked up on me before I could finish it, trashing the whole bloody clipboard and all of my material just disappeared.  So unless you are Michael Nesmith and have some special deal worked out with Zuckerberg, I would compose any weighty tomes offline and then upload.  Kind of a, “no red wine with fish,” rule for frequent Facebookers.

Speaking of which, there will be no “loaves and fishes” type miracles between now and December 21.  I and the Staff went over this detail fairly early on in the planning process and we decided, based on what happened the first time, there would be no point to it.  So, yes, there was a loaf of bread and three fishes and we fed a crowd of about 2,000.  That part was true.  The problem was that there was a crowd of 6,000 starving Palestinians who had given up the previous night’s meal because they heard what we were going to do and got all excited and fasted.  That’s what people do in the Middle East when they get excited – they fast.  So, contrary to Catholic reports of this being a “successful” miracle, it actually pissed off about two-thirds of everybody who showed up.  Fasting makes people so cranky.

So my Staff said, “never again.”  And with all the kids and baby carriages nowadays, people are going to steal – and you know they will – so it doesn’t matter if you prepare a proper miracle, it’s just never going to be enough.  People are hungry.  Starving.  They think it’s for booze, or food, or sex, or drugs, but none of that is true.  Anyone who’s ever come off a long bender, lost a lot of weight, ended a polyamorous relationship with two or more bisexual nymphomaniacs, or fried on mushrooms in a crowded college dorm at night after rolling in a field of sticky weeds — they will tell you, “life is very hard to adjust to without adding challenges.”  As a person who knows a lot of people who at one time drank, drugged, ate and screwed their way into what they thought was heaven, I can tell you to save your money, keep your empty baby carriages at home, the whole event will be seen on cable.  Yes, we’re talking to HBO.  Unless Roy Jones, Jr. tries to make another comeback the night of the 21st, the End of the World, Part One, is coming.  The people at HBO warned me that the Jones fight could happen, so my Staff is working with Roy’s publicists to make sure it doesn’t – probably going to cost me a couple weddings or a half dozen annulments, but don’t worry.  We are going to make December 21st, 2012, happen for a lot of people.  Not everybody wants to leave home in December anyway – it’s too damn cold.

We’ll do our best to have a nice lineup, maybe some Dylan, Joan Baez for sure – if they’re still getting along – Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young – whoever’s left over by then – we’ll have them over for some coffee, maybe some nice Baklava, talk about what really happened in the 1960’s and where we screwed it up.  So, yeah, Judy Collins has already turned us down.

That’s always a nice way to start a confessional program – talking about the mistakes we’ve made.  Jerry Springer doesn’t do that, notice?  Some of my Staff talked to Jerry’s people so, unlike some HBO programs, this one won’t have any midgets, dwarves, little people, swords, naked women or fancy dresses.  Maybe we can give a little on the naked women, but it has to be tasteful – maybe the waist-up, or something – because HBO wants to make money.  I just worry that it will end up like backstage of a Jimi Hendrix concert.  I asked the man upstairs if we could raise the dead before the End of the World, Part One, because I wanted Jimi to play the Star Spangled Banner or Purple Haze or All Along the Watchtower, but He said, “no.”

When the man upstairs says, “no,” you really don’t have a lot of wiggle room to negotiate.  I tried once.  I still have the scars.  Take it from me.  Don’t improvise.  Do what makes you happy and don’t start talking about what’s wrong with other people’s neighborhoods or you could end up nailed to a tree or something.  I thought the white jackass was a nice touch, kind of cutesy, kind of a slam – and He warned me – but then, before you know it, some fasting Palestinians got a hold of me and they let a camel thief go rather than the first Jewish rabbi-comedian to ever mix religion, magic tricks and some juggling into the same act.   A lot of people don’t know that about me, but I juggled on the side at bar mitzvahs to make ends meet when the carpentry stuff got slow, usually in the Spring.  It’s come in handy on Sundays when all those prayers start backing up and we get short-handed.

All of this to say, be grateful for your family and friends today.  The End of the World, Part One is coming, it is real – we’ve put down a deposit – so it’s just a matter of getting the people who want to be a part of it in the flow and usually – somewhere near the first or second run-through – a theme starts to come up like popcorn.  Someone in the group, or one of my Staff catches it, and before you know it, we have a show that everybody likes and wants to be a part of.  We can start with the Winter solstice, but that’s really kind of lame and this should be extra-ordinary.  With Andy Williams gone and Tony’s voice not what it used to be, it’s just not the same.  Somebody remembered Claudine Longet, but, with all that snow and skiing – the Penn State thing – I just didn’t want to go there.  But I’ve seen some of the storyboards and met with some of the lighting guys, I’ve got to say we’re in for a real treat this holiday season.  All the drama, all the excitement, all the butterflies, all the anticipation – and then, a pearl left with the crowd to ponder just in time for Christmas Eve.

I’ll try to come back online as time permits and the planning for a theme starts to reveal itself, but I’ve been kind of busy with ObamaCare and all the disappointment – and the tears…there have been a lot of tears.  On both sides.  It’s what happens when you let your criminals retire to live in Preston instead of Corcoran,  but I’ll leave you with that as a cliffhanger and get back to tie it off before we get too close to the final go-live date.

Happy Thanksgiving, God Bless you and your’s – have a lovely day.  If you’re reading this, you’ve earned it!

Just One More Thing…

I understand that Native Americans resent our imperial relish over Christopher Columbus’ discovery of what he wanted his padrones to believe was Asia; I also understand that we, an imperial army of herded sheep, ran the ancestors of our indigenous people into near-extinction by being more in number, racked by pestilences of flesh and blood too putrid to be considered wholly human and by being less conscious of our surroundings and more willing to commit atrocities for the sake of putting one in the “W” column.  Thanks for pulling us through those first couple of Winters, gang.

But given the same circumstances in reverse, we would all be singing the praises of herds of free-roaming buffalo, our Adonis-like physiques, interfamilial-sex, the beauty of the natural world and the strange and ironic impulse to kill in spite of our love of peace, understanding and harmony.  Perhaps the world would be a better place had this reversal of fortune taken place, rather than having all such things hammered into taboos of varying depth and rationalization.  Goddamn socialists.

But isn’t the way these events transpired a legitimate expression of Love’s way?

Nothing freely chosen has ever been wasted; the beauty of native culture may have been wiped out of a dominant surface appearance, but it has since sprung eternal in the taboos of our many longings for utopia, for complete gratification, for the preservation of natural beauty, for our desire for individual dignity.  Had the roles been reversed, or even reversible, our taboos would have been our secret greed and envy of the possessions of other men or women; our wish for more organized social and political structure; our desire to eschew self-sacrifice in favor of a desire for dominance and control of our natural world and its seemingly immutable role in resolving our many difficulties.  In short, which ideas have more dominion in the human psyche, the ones we put on for pretentious, chest-pounding displays, or the ones we have kept hidden, even from ourselves, for safe keeping?  And which ideas hold greater promise for a grander vision of tomorrow, the ones we beat each other to death with, or the ones that survive the carnage of our narcissistic self-destructiveness to guide our values and our highest aspirations for times of ever greater abundance?

Perhaps you saw Gary Cooper on the silver screen in the middle of the twentieth century, resolute and stoic in his remonstrations to be brave and certain in spite of the odds stacked against him; but I could have easily seen Chief Crazyhorse on horseback leading a charge into the jaws of certain death.  Perhaps you saw Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd or Al Capone gunning down a heartless establishment represented by J. Edgar Hoover and President Herbert Hoover; but I could have easily seen General Armstrong Custer slaughtered at Little Big Horn by a native population hungry for social justice.

Protestations and sympathies aside, the ethos of the Knights of Columbus continues to figure prominently in our increasingly imperial culture of religious zealotry and dubious certitude.  Whether it was in the shipyards of Gdansk or in the assassination of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, the Holy Roman Church continues to figure prominently in our missionary zeal to both expand our national sovereignty as well as to drive the native peoples of the lands we conquer into a state of misery so profound that what the Christian Church has to offer becomes the only avenue through which the need for human hope can survive.

I acknowledge the suffering of the indigenous people of the Americas to the present day, but I would have an easier time justifying their continued criticisms of our imperial culture if they could also provide us with a viable solution in the form of a social model that could bring both peace and order to its constituents as well as keep them safe from imperialist pigs like ourselves.

Show me how anything present in pre-Columbian American culture represented anything but a tempting invitation to the mentally and/or emotionally deranged to invade and subjugate their culture and I am all ears.  I am fully on board with any movement that holds social justice as its ultimate goal, but that movement also needs to have a primary goal of keeping its constituents safe from the psychopaths in our midst. The lizards of our ancient past continue to assert their drives to subjugate, manipulate, coerce and control those among us in possession of a clear and functioning conscience, probably to the end of reliving their original failure and extinction.  In a universe whose driving force is to increase the fitness of all life forms spawned within it, we cannot allow ourselves to rest on our laurels while there are still psychopaths living among us who utilize their human skin only as camouflage to hide their internecine intent.

By all means, scoff at those who view this day as a day of victory over native cultures everywhere; but do not ignore the point that having such a holiday as Columbus Day in general celebration means that, as a species, we have much work left still to accomplish.

May the Fourth Be With You

I first began my journey to understand Kent State as a result of a woman who confided in me regarding her husband’s wartime PTSD. She was at that time working with Alan Canfora on his life-long project to bring the Kent State Massacre back into the national spotlight. For Alan and his friends who were either maimed, wounded like him, or slaughtered, justice has yet to be served for the heinous offenses of May 4, 1970.

But today, as I perused the black and white photos from that long ago weekend, I began to notice a pattern in those photos that brought back memories from my own childhood, memories of 1970.  “Justice served,” was hardly a theme from my childhood and in that sense all of the progressive left activists of that day share with me a sense of profound loss so awesome, so intimate and so astounding that we may not perceive the gigantic nature of its presence in our lives even to this day. Were it not for this one, singular pattern of commonality in those pictures from the days preceding and soon after the Massacre, I might have missed the presence of a beast that came to invade my days, my nights and my in-between times well into my adult years.

Not everyone grew up in a home that featured the emotional and psychological impacts of the Great Depression in the stark terms I had.  During my childhood my father railed against it all fiercely with a ferocious loyalty to Roman Catholicism and a dedication to hard work that one would have expected would lead him to great financial reward, or at least a few plaques on a museum wall somewhere.  And while his retirement, which I expect will be greatly shortened by his misspent loyalties, is certainly more comfortable than almost anyone I will know when my time to retire comes, he gave much more than he will ever receive.

But by 1966, the path he was on drove him to pull me to his chest and just wail the tears of a man overwhelmed by circumstances well outside of anyone’s ability to control, or even offer a word of solace.  Unbeknownst to me he had just had to commit his wife, my mother, to another three month “vacation” at Agnew’s State Hospital, a sanitarium for the mentally ill, and much later, the criminally insane of  Oracle Corporation.

This was my only recollection of significant early childhood discord and this, my older half-siblings would tell me only after I was well into my adulthood, was the third time in my lifetime that my mother would have her, “nervous breakdowns.”  She had had them many times before during their childhoods, and on the two occasions prior in my lifetime, my older siblings cared for me while this man who was then clutching me for connection, disappeared back to his hometown outside of Philadelphia for three to six months at a time.  So this pitiful heap of tears and despair  had twice declined to continue down the path he chose in 1960-61, finally determining that leaving me, and now my younger sister,  as my mother’s first husband had done to my oldest siblings, was something he would not do.  As my life would later unfold and my oldest sibling’s life story would unfold, this key circumstance was a brilliant stroke of good fortune.

Until now I have done my level best to keep the potential granted to me by my father wholly intact and unexplored, buried under an avalanche of frozen gin and lime.  While there are things that my father would not do, there have been feelings and experiences since that time I could not appreciate or make any sense of whatsoever until now.

The horror of the Great Depression, the world largely unknown and unexplored by my fellow Salinasian, was felt in the bone marrow of my mother, my blood and the woman for whom my heart has beat most truly.  Whether I wanted it to, or not.  As I would be told, again many years into my adult life, perhaps as an act of contrition more than any good judgment on anyone’s part, there were stories that arose from the plains of the Dust Bowl only to land in the relative comfort of the stinging heat of the San Joaquin Valley.  Human beings become depressed when times get hard and stay that way, so depressed that they will literally do anything for a second’s relief from the combination of sadness, grief, anxiety, panic and alienation that only a group of humans can inflict on one or more of their social piriahs.  In this case, the rich landowners of California’s Central Valley and the family of a young girl from Lookeba, Oklahoma, a land which to this day is disproportionately consumed with concerns of the Devil, Jesus and a god that continues to escape knowledge.

I do not know what passes through a mind so twisted with alcohol addiction and the depression that drove it to mount his daughter, a young girl not more than six or seven years in age, repeatedly, but the sense of the unfairness of it all did not escape him.  He left change for candy on her dresser afterward, next to the cigarette butts he had tried to extinguish in the ashtray but had missed.  The same cigarette butts that my mother would use to signal her children and husband that another break with reality was coming, another spasm of misunderstood memory was demanding to be heard.  The same cigarette butts that six decades later would cause her to nearly burn down the duplex where my oldest sister had placed her, hoping against hope, that my mother would someday be able to care for herself without lapsing into psychosis.  That time it wasn’t about running naked through the halls of Agnew’s State Hospital, clanging her false teeth over the iron bars of a jail cell in Reno, or even taking the California Highway Patrol on a high speed chase that ended with her snapping the axle on her sportscar at the age of sixty seven.  That time it was about victimizing an innocent family living next door to a ticking time bomb of unhealed sexual victimization and injuries committed against an innocent soul by a human being smart enough to avoid detection from the authorities of his day, but sick enough to spread illness across multiple generations.

Not unlike the individuals at the top of the social order before, during and after the Great Depression who modeled a laissez-faire, devil-may-care attitude about living in community with the baboons, chimpanzees and outright reptiles concealed under the skin of alleged human beings.  We are all products of our times.

The times in which I have lived, times like May 4, 1970, times like November 22, 1963, times like February 21, 1965, times like October 9, 1967 and times like April 4 and June 5, 1968, times when men kill other men and women to bring to an end the potential given to them by an allegedly loving God, I send out this message in a bottle to you because I am uniquely qualified to do so.  I have known both madness and sanity, I have known trauma and its aftermaths and I have been gifted with a unique insight into how the madness of this day in 1970 is linked with all of these miserable dates of regrettable human history.

The link is, of course, Brylcreem, a petroleum product used as a topical hair dressing by men of historical moment since, at least, Elvis Presley.

This oily goo was on almost every establishment toady’s head that weekend in May, 1970 and its ubiquitous presence forms not just a satire sublime, it has foreshadowed every case of traumatic brain injury coming out of the Middle East at present, every case of PTSD that came out of Viet Nam that lead to children growing up with unresolved PTSD well into their adult years and it even slimed its way onto the head of my father to awful effect.

Brylcreem — “a little dab’ll do ya’.”

Brylcreem signaled the end of Western Civilization.

Amy Jade

Mitch Winehouse Posing With Wax Figurine of Daughter

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you.  You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”    —  Bob Marley

As a child who grew up in one of the many flavors of household, “dysfunction,” I can report emphatically that children always believe their parents are worth suffering for, over, about and instead of.  And, sadly, Amy Jade Winehouse was, probably unbeknownst to her, a victim of this particular scourge of western civilization, the cliché of the “dysfunctional family.”

We can see plainly that the tabloid monsters have wasted no time with their, “no-shit” anthems regarding the life of someone who publically displayed a death wish, rubbing our faces (and her parents’)  in the fact that no amount of talent can overcome low self esteem.  No shit.

Addicts who refuse recovery will die from their disease.  Again, no shit.

Troubled people lead troubled lives.  Where have I heard that one before?

People who come from troubled homes grow up troubled.  Thank you, Time Magazine.

True leadership is a matter of good breeding.  Screw you, Nathan Rothschild, JP Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

My contribution, withheld until the last possible moment and kept relatively unheard from, has more to do with Amy Jade Winehouse atypical child warped by the typical damage caused by parents suffering in silence from their own painful mental illnesses and the toxic byproducts of their choosing to couple in order to heal.  Or find respite.  Or deal with their shit.

In defense of Mitch and Janis (nee Seaton) Winehouse, and parents everywhere, I can assure everyone that no parent ever passes on the full weight of the dysfunction under which they were born and reared through.  Every generation takes a bite out of their personal pain and moves heaven and earth to make certain that things turn out better for their children than they were for themselves.  I have no doubt that this is precisely what took place in the Winehouse Family and they can rest in a peace that our media will not be granting them for some time to come.

But mental illness is not about a single person facing a single challenge.  People with similar diagnoses are attracted to those who either share the same diagnosis, or who trumpet a solution the sufferer has been conditioned through shame to believe is where they must go. These kinds of personal problems, often hidden in shame from public view, must be vetted and viewed compassionately, if critically, if we are ever to afford meaning to the tragic death of Amy Jade and the hundreds of thousands, globally, who will share her story every year.

Mitch Winehouse believed, probably sincerely, that the solution to his mental and emotional difficulties would be found in the recessed world of polyamory.  He is not alone in harboring this delusion.  Janis no doubt believed that turning a problem over to “goddess Shiva” could only generate more chaotic consequences.  I sympathize with Mitch: sexual and emotional intrigue can lead to a euphoric state where depression is nowhere to be found.  I empathize with Janis: making a problem more complex cannot possibly result in an end state where a problem finds resolution.  Our various religious and moral traditions do nothing to help us attack our marital issues with open minds.  But to seriously entertain the thought that two adult women, willing or unwilling, would or could solve the problems of one charismatic, but gravely warped, male, was, and is, completely insane.

Into the fire and crossfire of sexual tension and emotional pain came the head of Amy Jade.  Filled with the shrapnel caused by years of abandonment, betrayal, stubborn foolishness and simple human cruelty, Amy grew up to honor her parents with the solution she believed she had found.

To their f*ing problem, not Amy’s.

This is what I, and many children raised in dysfunctional homes do: we take on the problems of our parents and, since they are not able to solve what to us seems like a simple problem, we will solve the problem for them.  The problem with our approach, however, is that we do not possess the full complement of an adult nervous system and a life of adult experiences where our judgment might be tempered with common sense.  And, in cases like the Winehouse’s and mine, we are compelled to allow adult reality to overwhelm us and drive us slowly, constantly mad with grief.

So whereas Mitch was driven by his delusional thinking to seek multiple life partners to soothe the ravages of what some might unfairly label, “ennui,”  he was also driven by guilt to seek a mother figure who would shame him into conforming to a standard of sexual conduct that had only left him in more pain on numerous occasions.  The impacts of chronic depression are quite well known, but my experience has been that it twists judgment and behavior into “pretzels” of logic where we can be compelled to do just about anything, including suicide, in order to soothe the pain that no one but us can see or even feel.  But the problem is simple: pain seeks pain relief.  Distraction turns out to be a fairly effective reliever of pain, if only temporarily.  Janis Winehouse, or any spouse with a whit of personal sanity left, would have none of this.  This left Amy, her daughter, wide open to the manipulations, rationalizations and justifications of an adult male driven completely mad by his own delusional thinking.

At the very least, Mitch Winehouse confided far too much in his growing daughter regarding his difficulties with her mother.  Such information to the immature brain and nervous system of a child could only trigger a stronger-than-steel resolve and commitment to ensure that her mother paid for her “crimes” against her father and that she, Amy Jade, became many times the woman she was raised to believe her mother was.  Where her mother had failed to keep the family together, Amy would demonstrate, once and for all, that her mother was some sort of emotionally crippled maladroit.

Janis Winehouse may have been emotionally crippled, but none of her difficulties were because she was uniquely and supremely guilty of crimes against her family or against anyone, for that matter.  And never could it be written that a mother deserves to sit powerlessly by to watch her lovely child suffer and die because of the twisted relationship she shared with her father.  Janis, like hundreds of millions of women every year, falsely believe they can provide a home so warm and inviting that no amount of male dysfunction stands a chance of survival.

Mitch Winehouse will spend the rest of his life tortured by his guilt and shame much as he was before he ever met and married Amy’s mother.  This guilt and shame will serve no useful purpose to anyone and is not an epitaph worthy of his heartsick daughter’s legacy.  I hope he rises to the occasion and walks through the fire of a stern look in the mirror and then returns to us with useful information that prevents this kind of tragedy from ending this way ever again.  He, too, is suffering mightily from the death of his beloved daughter, but it is his own mental illness that warped his judgment into believing that turning a child against her own mother was ever a justifiable act when dealing with a contentious adult relationship between two parents.

I hope both Mitch and Janis prove worthy of the self-forgiveness required to “repent” for the crime of bringing such an enormous talent into the world and then smiting it with their conjoined weaknesses.  This sin is not their’s individually but is a weakness of relationship chemistry that no one can reliably predict until after a relationship has been engaged.  When I saw a similar dynamic emerge in my relationship decades ago, I opted to avoid parenthood at about the same time Amy Jade Winehouse would have been conceived.  I did not regret my decision as regrettable as the circumstances under which it was made were.  I knew then, and I know now, that a selfish decision on my part could have far more tragic impacts on far more people than just myself and the woman I was involved with at the time.

A world bereft of children is a sad place, indeed, but a world bereft of meaningless tragedy is a more worthwhile goal by any measure.