Tag Archive | innocence of kids

How to Think

When I hear those words echo from outside myself, I get angry, too.

I don’t know where the anger comes from – the fury.  I just know that it comes.  And it becomes.  On grey Winter days it may comeLiteral Fork In The Road at any time.  In the bursts of springtime blossoms it may fester and go rancid for a chance to spill its seed into the life of another unwitting victim.  Beginning anew, a little less angry with each successive generation, it comes forth with the promise of something different, something interesting, something beyond what has ever come before.  But then it just dies in fits of forgetful regret for not having lived out its promise, for never having broken through its own shell to reach out to the Light.  The Light that’s never really there when we need it, anyway.

Such is the fate of stardust and the powder-filled wings of angels.

If there’s anything good to come from the outright theft and betrayal of the sexual identities of fourteen young women, it is the minor wizardry of these words spilling forth in a waterfall of grief, regret, despair, disappointment and utter betrayal.  I cannot believe we gave so much of ourselves, promised to so many for so very little.

I used to blame my father’s Catholicism for the fact that I could never seem to accept the timid, tentative outstretched hand of a woman looking for connection, for shared joy, for relief from the bitter dregs of adolescent angst.  I could never smash the faces of my enemies nor vanquish my guilt over my reticence.  It was because of that old mossy, rusty cross and those eyes cast down upon the world in a familiar fact-filled glance of grief, regret, despair, disappointment and utter betrayal.  I could not bring myself to strike at the face of my own despair and fear; I could never accept the hand of promise stretched out to me from what seemed like miles away because I never felt entitled to the release, the resolution or the reconciliation.  I never felt entitled because…Jesus.  I never felt good enough because He was hung there like carrion for a murder of crows.  Every bloody nose I willed to be theirs, every smashed face that wasn’t mine, every orgasm lost in grievous sin into tawdry linens I sacrificed by being nailed to a cross of my own construction and design because “They” told me to do it when I couldn’t cross myself correctly, serve mass piously, take my torments with humility or confess my sins honestly.  The same sins it has taken most of my life to even recognize much less comprehend in origin.  “How convenient,” I thought, “that they have numbered all my bones and laid the wages of all sin at my feet, in my tawdry linens, in all my unreconciled torments and dreams of vengeance – no matter how long delayed!”  Of course it was the rancid, ancient beliefs of little men in fancy clothing and funny hats sent from a righteous heaven to defile the dreams of resolution and absolution begged for from a laiety so masochistic, so anachronistic that only a fool would pass on the chance to milk so sacred a cow.  Let the carnival barking begin!  Crash my dreams of a normal, healthy existence into the side of bitter mountaintop, never to be seen, nor heard from, again!

My mother’s bloodied face in 1966 and her long-defiled, swollen abdomen in 1936 had more to do with my tormented-shut libido and my interpersonal cowardice than any religious liturgy oozing out of  ancient Rome.  The sadism was handed down from years of masochism gone unrequited, from beatings so severe and senseless that the beguiled prayed to be set free even onto a snow-filled prairie to take their chances with wild buffalo; buffalo soon to be stacked high near the dead natives left without food to fight the chill of Winter.  No, the Catholics gave these brutal people safe passage into purgatory years after condemning them to the hottest Hell for refusing to eat fish on Fridays, refusing to restrain their coital urges for a public sanctioning of wedlock, for missing a week of mass or a Holy Day.  Or for loving an improper stranger.

The sins of 120 million dead brothers and sisters, of at least as many tears, bore witness then to a brutal savagery yet to come.  A web of interdependent shame so hideous as to make the true character of a people facile in the face of sacrificing any hero or shrew, for they would always be one in the same here.  To Europe and to ancient Rome, the impudent Americans would always be a laughing stock of hollow native outcasts, of fools and of dregs.  We would always care little for ourselves because, for centuries, we would be forsaken by the Crown of Britain for intransigence and singled out for disrespect.  Nevermind that the freedom we sought was only a modicum of what might be deserved for the children of any lesser god.  This callous disregard of our dignity was passed down to all others too taken by our silly clothes and poor agrarian skills to yield to the iron fist our naiveté concealed.

But proof is thus concealed in pudding and murmurs in the mud.

Of one thing my age has granted me some certainty: no deity or reified human being hangs from a tree after being beaten to a point where human death becomes a distant, fond wish and but gives a damn who eats what, who goes where nor who fucks whom.  The look of grief and utter, dismal betrayal in those bloodied, half-shuttered eyes cast down from that effigy beneath which I prayed longingly had nothing to do with anything but the behavior of those who birthed me here and on whose knees my tutelage received.  Beyond that I cannot speak intelligibly, for that is a matter of personal faith which, on a good day, my heart lightens and my smiles abound; on a bad day (or thirty minutes later), well, I wish for you nothing but the cynical fury of a life spent searching for what cannot be found: American dignity.

Fourteen women lost their will to live lives as human beings open to the advances of honest, trustworthy men because a cynical fury, known only to adults, cast onto a child a seething despair so rancid, so irreconcilably lost in the devotion, love and innocence of children, that that child had nowhere left to put their love, had no place to share a joy twisted by fury into sickness and death.  That child turned adult would have you thank them for not murdering these women, but for leaving them broken and not whole inside, that we might reconcile and untwist his sickness into love. Thank you, Bill.  Now go back to the now snow-starved prairie bereft of the buffalo and their brothers, back to the land from which you were fortunate enough to have survived and tell us more tales of laughter and exuberance, if you dare.  Of the wisdom or compassion of a man who hollows out the heart of a woman, eating it but once yet shitting it out sideways into a bag for the rest of his pathetic life, I know precious little but an agonizing despair so deep it cannot be reached.

That was my mother you raped, that was my sister you violated, that was my daughter you betrayed and that was my sex life you utterly destroyed in multiple thoughtless acts of muted revenge for sins beyond any adult ability to reason or scope, let alone a child.  A flaccid awesome lie paints the pants of the American landscape, and we blame you for a child’s disability to communicate a need for reason and for help.

It was not the Catholics after all.  Nor the Crown.  We are where we are because we deserve it.  All power and privilege decreed it so centuries ago.  For that revelation I thank you, Bill Cosby.

No clap of thunder or any tornado-swept hole in Hell matches the jolt of a mind split apart with wattage, laid waste to by countless drugs having side-effects too hideously tormenting to recount, only to be discounted by a community caught in disbelief over its own hypocrisy and loss of moral compass.  It was left to the judgment of a Judge that all power of judgment be taken from a nine year old girl so her goat-copulating father, who freely chose to leave his loose change and burning cigarettes on her nightstand, might continue to work in the community and sustain a family that was rejecting him outright.  The year was 1936 and from 1932 my mother endured the heaving advances, the pathetic breath, the jaundiced eyes and the enormous penis of an entity ten times her weight and orders of magnitude her size.  He was a brutal, drunken heap of human flesh thrown completely clear of a Hell made hot, barren and unwelcoming by his utter presence.  There is a reason the State of Oklahoma continues to quake in ignorant fear of supernatural evil: Jack Shelby lived there once.  He brewed ‘shine fit for Pretty Boy Floyd, lying his way through solid stone, melting handcuffs of righteous lawmen and leaving machine-gun toting criminals in awe of the power of his thunderous, cloven-hooved gait over wooden floors worn down soft by the shuffling feet of the despairing.  He would leave the Dustbowl of Oklahoma just ahead of fate because of the Great Depression, the same Great Depression the people of Texas continue to believe never happened.  They may be right; it may just have been the crater this sucking chest wound of moral ambivalence left in the dirt of Oklahoma when Satan, Himself, threw this Irish asshole to Earth from the hellfire of the Sun.  Steinbeck recounted symptoms for posterity, receiving a Nobel Prize; my mother absorbed a full-frontal moral shock for an entire world terrified by an evil so brutal it defied her ability to remain a whole human being.  For that service she received the scorn of her community, the misunderstanding of her children, and a life that continues to haunt my credulity and stain my credibility with good men who have never had to bear witness to such an empty vastness – to the sheer cold depth – of a moral black hole from which no hope of any light could ever escape.

That is why you have never heard of Jack Shelby, for as soon as he appeared in your life, your mind demanded you forget him; the sheer gravity of his darkness exceeded human comprehension.  What I realize today is that it was his presence in my mother’s life that sealed her fate long before I was even born.  It was never my grandmother’s fault; it wasn’t even the Catholic Churches’ fault; though responsibility, when it hits the fan, is never evenly nor fairly distributed.  This was all Jack Shelby, my grandfather, an evil-dead non-person who raped my mother from the time she was five until she was nine, defiling the countryside from Oklahoma to California in one, long forgettable visitation to our planet.

The first time they strapped my mother down, shoved rubber into her terrified, confused mouth and scrambled her brain with electricity was when she was 19 years old and had had two children by a man from the House of Canterbury.  He left soon after her stay in the sanitarium never to be seen, nor heard from, again.  Decades later, when his children were fully adults and merely curious, they located Jonathan and attempted contact with him.  He refused the connection.  He insisted they were mistakes and that they never contact him again.  They dutifully complied, a burden lifted from one child and left to rest on the shoulders of another.  That child died drinking a gallon of cheap wine every night just to maintain himself from shaking due to withdrawals, aged 64 years.  The official cause of death wasn’t cirrhosis or poisoning, but cancer.  A mere brush with a black hole sends grown men a full country’s width away from their own children and another man into a bottle never to surface again.  Mental illness caused a terrible fright in the 1940’s, even some 4 decades after a firm commitment from the country to build sanitariums to house the mentally ill, the alcoholic and the terminally misunderstood received cheers for President Teddy the Bullmoose.  If we could not repair broken lives, we could at least hide them, and our shame, from public view.  It was the least we could do since, prior to that time, it was the SPCA – the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – who were the only human beings willing to risk contact with society’s untouchables.  Sydney Cameron, a psychiatrist and admirer of the strides the Nazis had made experimenting on the Jews and others in their “work camps,” not one to miss out on an opportunity, used these sanitariums to find research subjects for his experiments involving the erasure and reconstitution of the human personality.  To relieve suffering, of course.  Dr. Cameron never quite perfected the “reconstitution” aspect of his experiments with “psychic driving” before he was forced underground and his experimentations along with him, but that wasn’t for lack of available test subjects.  There will always be plenty of shame to drive some of us completely mad and in search of some sort of erasure.  I do not know if my mother was ever a formal test subject in the early days of the “Monarch” program – a place where the cleansed records of Nazi doctors found a home and adequate funding for further research – but I do know she was given numerous “shock treatments” on multiple occasions in her many three-month, “convalescent stays,” behind the walls of Santa Clara’s now defunct, “Agnews State Hospital.”  I may never know the actual extent of the procedures my mother endured because the State of California “mishandled” all of the patient records from those days, selling the property to Sun Microsystems in 1997.  But at least I know that of the many “sterilization” operations that were performed on mentally ill women without their consent or awareness, my mother was probably not among them.  That could be considered a stroke of luck since, of the fifty states in these United States, California sterilized the mentally ill far more often than any other State.  Texas, where I now live, the least often.

We have always placed great pride in our mental illness in Texas, as it turns out, burying a wealth of “crazy uncles” and “addled aunts” in trailers and trailerparks spread out across the vast, expansive countryside, as if they were our secret treasure waiting to be mined.  We’ve even sent a couple of our most grievously afflicted to serve as Presidents of these United States.  One from each political party has been sent, so far, just to prove that we are nonpartisan and fair in our admiration and respect.

Both men were, history has shown, equally and predictably destructive.

“If nominated I would not run, if elected, I would not serve,” should have been LBJ’s motto before he ascended to the Presidency on the odd coincidence that his predecessor had fallen victim to an assassin’s bullet, not unlike at least one or two other of Johnson’s political opponents.  The Johnson Family might like to parade their favored son’s “Great Society” programs for all to see, but had he not guided and passed that legislation through Congress during his first and only term as President, Bobby Kennedy, the fallen President’s brother, close confidante and a sworn enemy of LBJ and his friend J. Edgar Hoover, would have certainly taken the Presidency and proceeded to right the grievous wrong that had been not just to his family, but to the entire country as a result of his brother’s untimely demise.  As it turned out, the evil that had been done to the United States and to my family up to that point, had taken up deep roots here in the American South, as multiple homicides just happened to take place against every major political opponent who dared to take exception to this country’s economic alliance with Nazi Germany back in 1932.  That would be about the same time Jack Shelby started making his drunken, twisted advances at my mother when she was barely able to walk and not yet able to run.

As for Texas’ other contribution to “whirled peas,” the wound is still quite fresh and infected to the bone as only the bite from the fetid mouth of a Komodo Dragon can be.  I think George W. Bushes’ dubious flight and appearance aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to announce, “Mission Accomplished,” says everything about the purpose and plan the Bush Family had in mind for the United States beginning around 1932 when the President’s grandfather, Prescott, began funneling money and weapons to Nazi Germany and its new Chancellor, “Adolf Hitler.”  The “mission accomplished” banner had precious little to do with “combat operations in Iraq” being complete, because that proved to be complete nonsense.  The mission, from World War I to the present day, has been to bring about a New World Order; the same “novus ordo seclorum” Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler tried to ooze all over the world during World War II.  That mission, to the chagrin of all those brave soldiers and civilians who died during World War II, and their families, has been accomplished.  The dark crown of fascism has been restored on the head where it properly belonged.  God saved the Queen.

The only time I ever saw Jack Shelby, the person, was when he was dying on his bed in a convalescent hospital in Merced, California.  My grandmother couldn’t see fit to keep something like the death of a parent from my mother and, true to form, she gave him more comfort than I was able to comprehend at the age of 12.  True to the nature of these events, I do not recall his face.  I do, however, recall the old man not two beds away pathetically masturbating as my cousins Deborah and Cheryl sat vigil with my mother and grandmother as they said their final “goodbyes” to a hollowed-out shell of a human being.  By this time the evil had left behind little more than an effigy of the man who terrified and terrorized the women in his life four and five decades before.  By that time only Bobby, Jimmy and my mother were left, and they would pass in that order, all from cancer as the official cause.  As I sat there in that room soaked with the smell of Betadine and urine, wondering what I was even doing there, I began to feel the emptiness creeping over me like a hole in my chest that the wind would not leave alone.  Neither Bobby, nor Jimmy, bothered to see their father off with a final fair-the-well.  Over the decades they had seen many men off to Hell in multiple wars as they served in the Navy; the death of their father would be just another hollowed-out shell tossed overboard, the engines of progress full steam ahead.  They had said all they were ever going to say to the man who had terrorized them and raped their sisters.

There was nothing funny or sad about any experience that included Jack Shelby or his clan; these were spiritual trials to be endured, replete with panic attacks, anxiety and terror that seemed to know no bottom.  The terror that I grew up and through, damaging and traumatizing though it was, was nothing in comparison to the fate these poor souls had consigned themselves to.  Enough of my soul and heart was left to allow me to walk through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous at the age of 30, thinking and believing I had been cheated of another 10 good years of drinking and taking drugs, “for fun.”  In those ten years, had I survived them, the disease would have convinced me that life was not about joy but was a trial to be endured.  Only the meanest, coldest and nastiest men lived long or prospered in this hellhole that the likes of JP Morgan, Henry Ford, JD Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie left in their wake.  These four horsemen created a country that will be known not so much for its natural beauty or its kind people but for its unrelenting cruelty against its own and others.  We have been uncompromising in that regard, the scope and depths of our genocidal history so hideously sublime that no history book dare print a word nor utter a sound lest the hounds of hell be unleashed against them and their families.  Such was the case with the Kennedys, such will be the case with any organized resistance against the evil that grows wild here and in places where the Sun never shines.

Just the other day I was reading a recounting of the history of German Uboats of World War II and the various artifacts found in that most impressive submarine fleet of the day.  Among the contents?  Several ticket stubs to movie theaters along the Texas coast.

The point of my story lost in a fog of shame and guilt will be over what shame and guilt I have failed to surface and resolve here.  My responsibility thus adjudicated, I shall suffer that the Queen and Rome might continue their masquerade as unwilling witness to the original sin the publishers of fiction  and contradiction thus contrived.

Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 6: Cat Stevens, Meet the Muslim State

Two More, Please!!

Two More, Please!!

A quality of light passes through the tall eucalyptus of my childhood, a broken light made whole to my memory by a familiar aroma of camphor diffused and transformed to a spicy scent with which I could eat the morning sky.  Childhood could have been a fog of wounding sadness, but the boundless energy of youth erased misery after misery to give life a second chance each and every day.  As disappointments grew intense and sunk in ever deeper towards a singularity someone had placed near my heart, the Sun still always rose the next day with a promise of spice and light to hold a thirst for meaning in abeyance for another time, another day and another place.

As my body ceased its relentless growth and adulthood loomed, the time came to be known as now, the day of import, today, and the place of moment chosen far and away from the healing eucalyptus and camphor that once gave an overtaxed nervous system pause for reasons not held in conscious keep.

Many haircuts spread unevenly and made of varying length taught me the power of an electric buzz to deafen the ears to both silence and sound.  I would take my seat disheveled, presumed dissembling and unclean, only to arise a score of minutes later renewed to a world outside the buzz that continued its echo beneath the skin of my childhood.

I promised last week to stop looking for import where none was possible; to cease seeking for inspiration among things intentionally left common and profane.  I would, instead, seek for my oracle in the abject innocence, or goofiness, of a seven-year old grandchild named, “Caleb.”

I think I’ve again made a terrible mistake.

“K-L-E-B…wind-up radioooooooooooo….all talk, all-the-time.”  It is non-stop with this kid.  The channels in his head switch so fast he ends up, most often, stuck between channels of thought and making no sense whatsoever.  Stephanie Miller he is not.  Not yet, anyway.  But he is my chosen oracle for the week.  He will be my source for the power to see all things obvious.  My a-feared headline reads, “Captain Obvious accidentally eats kryptonite in the form of a kid with a developing mood and/or neurological disorder and is left, once again, trying to establish a meaning for it all.”

I could go to DIGG and seek for inspiration at the human gum-wall of complete nonsense.  About the only thing this week that makes any sense to me are the two submissions about the online video of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan which has become the rallying cry for a huge number of Iranians dissatisfied with their stolen election results.  Mahmoud “Imadinnajacket,” a man who, like George W. Bush, bankrupted and destroyed his country’s infrastructure in record time, has been roundly criticized for years by the Iranian people.  Those people, particularly women, showed up in record numbers to try to throw the bum out, but he’s had other plans.  So have the theocrats who actually run the country that is Iran – those who fancy themselves philosopher-kings even while they preside over the murder of teens for the crime of being raped by a 51-year old male. 

To date no one really knows what’s actually going on inside of Iran, but the shocking and traumatic video of Neda’s shooting and subsequent death have caused a full spectrum of responses to rise up around the globe, from the utterly dysfunctional to the appropriately horrified.  Something odious is brewing within Iran’s borders, something with the face of an angel but the vacuous core of the amoral.  The obvious conclusion: we no longer trust what comes in through our eyes…the more intense or sublime the dissonance between life, death and reproduction, the more jaded we seem to be to the simple beauty of ordinary things.  The truth we all run from stares us plainly in our face and we doubt its veracity not because it isn’t true, but because our habit of denial has become so incredibly fierce it can impose itself on our conscious minds even seemingly at random.

The obvious fact of the matter is that my observation of your life makes your life a part of mine: your pain, your joy, your life, your death – become feelings that dwell within me for a time.  The more powerful those emotions and their dissonance with mine become, the faster my drawbridge between truth and my conscious acceptance of truth goes up.  I stay within my battlements and boundaries and believe that I am safe from you and the truth of our obvious unity, until something assaults from both within and without to set those battlements ablaze.  My anger rises from frustration and guilt as I must, once again, erect those walls of neurological safety between us that time and truth can only wear away.  So acute can those feelings of guilt and frustration become that I feel compelled to project them onto you so as to hold you accountable and responsible for emotions that are plainly and entirely my own.  You forced me to feel what I didn’t want to feel or was not prepared to experience and I blame you for using the shock of my own ignorance to awaken me to the simple fact of our conjoint existence.  And so the obvious becomes camouflaged and buried beneath layer after layer of self-serving conclusion, dishonest inquiry and a projection of misplaced guilt.

I run from this truth every day, as do you.  And I resent you every time you attempt to bring the obvious to my attention.  I am not at peace being a part of your experience, and yet I crave the very thing I am at war with.  When I pull the lacings of my most profound skin to give you the access you crave, you run away in shock and horrible surprise as my beauty pulls at you with the gentle force of gravity, yet the static charge of my imperfections throws you back across the room.  We want to be true to only one force in a multiverse of several; we want truth and beauty even though our individual nervous systems can tolerate but little before a heat wave of confusion makes an entire horizon profane and a void of meaning that mere words cannot describe.

And so Neda’s very public death by murder in Iran becomes a hoax for which I require no real evidence to believe simply because I so thoroughly do not want to feel the burn of a bullet to my chest that pierces my heart and shatters my spinal cord such that, even in my final moments, I cannot reach out and touch those most dear to me before I drown helplessly in my own blood.  And I resent you for making me feel this and the horror of a father whose beautiful baby girl has just evaporated into a lifeless heap before his eyes shocking him into the madness of a nervous system driven into overload. 

These are but few of the emotions I must carry in my conscious mind while my unconscious mind knows that a little girl or little boy who would be so completely incapable of processing the emotion of stepping across streams of blood in the street, must in fact do so by the dozen in the searing heat that is Iran in the Summer of 2009.  And so crippled by this experience would such children be that it will be decades of self-inflicted traumatic terror before they would even draw close to a recollection of why red blood on the ground, or the odor of rust in the air, causes them to feel nauseous or fly into a terrifying rage that they will blame on those around them as if they had just murdered someone before their eyes…because they have.  There were seemingly different individuals involved in an apparently different time and place, but the feelings are just as if their heart had never left the place of its original violation, the habit of ripping up the drawbridge from its natural place of rest becoming owned as their habit, rather than the reflected compulsion of the man whose self-righteous bullet targeted a woman unchaste enough to show her face in a public place.

So while the United States may have had no actual accountable involvement in Neda’s murder for which they could be brought to trial and jailed, it was their man in Tehran, the Shah Reza Pahlavi, who had succeeded in driving an otherwise habitual pattern of revolution into the relative safety of Islamic mosques where it became rancid and infectious.  When the cystic infection of politicized religious self-righteousness finally burst in 1979, religion powered the coup that swept the Shah from his throne and generated a tidal wave of Islamic rage throughout the Middle East.  It is from among these fundamentalist zealots that Neda’s deadly bullet apparently hailed.  So, in what some on this planet would say is an indirect sense – but everything intelligent in the cosmos looking down on us from afar would agree is anything but indirect – the US played a big role in Neda’s murder.  And we all live with this sad fact because our fierce friend – denial – helps us to forget the unforgettable even when remembering fully might serve us all best.

Before this week became too much for me, I took Caleb to the park to feed the ducks.  We got to hold a baby gosling and even managed to do so without getting pecked to death by a mother goose.  She had her job to do and we had our’s: fighting crimes against the Obvious One.  Even modern superheroes need to take time out to mingle with the reasons anyone ever does anything at all on this planet.

A familiar buzz awakens me…this time it is my alarm clock…and it reminds me that what was yesterday is forever gone, what is tomorrow does not promise my further existence and what exists right here and right now is my eternal choice between sharing heaven or competing for leadership in hell.

If you cannot imagine my choice, imagine the going rate for haircuts in hell.

The Barbershop Diaries, Volume I, Issue 5: Captain Obvious, The World’s Only Necessary Superhero

 

Capn Obvious nCaleb

Cap'n Obvious n'Caleb

I thought that when I started this whole, “examine Digg for subconscious insight into America’s nervous breakdown,” that there might actually be some valuable information in the weekly popular choices of web content that are made.  While I see some evidence in support of my original thesis, I want to believe that there is some “non-random” manipulation in the Digg rankings because the only “insight” that pervades these weekly coiffs has been the compulsive drive to escape from the meaning of it all.  In decades of schooling, what the “intellectuals” had always insisted on telling me, repeatedly, was something akin to Viktor Frankl’s search for meaning.  And why would they not promote this particular perspective?  It so clearly clashes with the evidence, requiring an even deeper rationalization of the facts and ever more soaring rhetoric to justify the expense of their field of study.  In short, a total scam – a confidence game.  Amway with a track team, as Richard Jeni once opined.  In five weeks of looking I have seen no evidence of a uniform thirst for meaning in the web’s popular culture.  What I have seen, and suspect will see, have been the machinations of a popular culture driven to distraction and committed to distraction’s search.  To suggest otherwise would be disingenuous on my part and yet another veiled attempt by an alleged intellectual to establish hegemony for wit — hegemony for the sheer numbers having long since been decided.

Of course I do not include us in my gross generalization, gentle reader; that you have endured these weekly trips to Life’s barbershop for a trim suggests an intelligence well above average, and a fastidious attention to detail.  And yet we must still find a way to reconcile our place in a world where we are outnumbered and overwhelmed on almost every front by the Kafkaesque, if not the moronic.

I call your kind attention to last week’s number one Digg submission, five days old, informing the world that a cartoon called, “Futurama,” is coming back to television network “Comedy Central,” per producer Twentieth Century Fox.  At some point.  We know not when.  But the question from Captain Obvious is, “who gives a shit?”

Futurama fans, of course, who represent a tiny little niche struggling for hegemony and notoriety in a rolling sea of Fox Studios’ effluent.  Fox and its “Videodrome” infected staffers produce mental junk food best complimented with purple Indica and bowl after bowl of Fruit Loops, preferably soaked in Skim Milk.  I’ve watched in horror over the years as Fox has turned our brains – individually and collectively – into a mush that would make Hannibal Lecter drool.  If it’s not the blathering bad mouth Bill O’Reilly hocking his anti-persona persona and polluting the public’s airwaves, we have the addictive and unbelievably cunning machinations of Vic Mackey on, “The Shield.”   Or, we can watch Dennis Leary as a firefighter, rather than just a comedian, traumatized by the 9/11 WTC attacks in, “Rescue Me.”  If Futurama is anywhere as well constructed and focus-group-tested as, “Rescue Me,” or, “The Shield,” viewers can just relax into the future foretold by the movie, “Wall-E.”  Your consumption is all that will be required.

Frankly, I’ve mainlined enough “Rescue Me” and “The Shield” episodes to know that I can’t afford another trip to rehab and detox.  I’ll take the word of Futurama fans from the TV Squad website, they’re hooked and it’s pretty hopeless.  Admitting you’re powerlessness, Dear John, is the essence of the first step in recovery.  That would be before, or long after, you have put away the Puerto Rican rum and all that it means to you.

“Pathetic,” were the first words out of my mouth when I clicked on this week’s number two contribution from website Flickr.com.  Apparently, Facebook user “Jared,” found out that his mother, Facebook user, “Janice,” was getting divorced from Jared’s father via said mother’s Facebook status update.  I know that people get busy – forget to write, forget to call – but the deterioration of modern relationships could never be made more clear than in this uncommented vignette between a mother and her son viz. Web 2.0’s Facebook.

“Tragic” would be another word that comes to mind. 

I could analyze this one to death – but, no.  Let this entry soak in past the profound skin that heralds the separation between each of us.  Sometimes silence does a better job of educating and informing than all the words ever written on a subject in all the libraries of the world.

Now that I have doused the buzzed heads of a few cocktail satellites in a bucketful of ice water, we can now turn our attention to this week’s third cut to the back of the nation’s lathered neck, its age of five days meaning the cold steel blade will leave the flesh raw and tender.  A good barber would never do such a thing, unless he cared more for freeing his chair of an unwelcome client than he did for protocol or duty.

Perhaps if this week’s number three had fallen elsewhere in the rankings I could see keeping it as wonderfully mundane as the commenters from Flickr wanted to see it.  But sometimes the tension in the barbershop comes not from any one patron, save the toxic chemistry of their combination.

So why Darth Vader?  Why light sabers?  What motivated an obvious wife captivated by the effect “Dad” had on her son’s birthday party to snap this picture and then seek to promote it?  Why is it that women always get a free pass on Oprah when it comes time to fix blame on one gender over another in the “who’s the most violent, disruptive gender,” sweepstakes?  It’s simply not fair – not in light of this week’s number two entry.

Scraping the skin with a not-too-sharp razor can leave a nasty wound, a wound hard to clean even after the patron’s blood clots and all those waiting in line for their turn have finished studying a barber’s every move with an anxious gravity.  Mistakes can happen even in the best of barbershops; but when it happens to a specific patron that everyone gathered knows does not belong, one has to wonder why they still sit quietly reading their portion of the daily paper as the bloodletting continues unabated.  If everyone gathered for the day continues in their stoic reticence, the patron may well be filleted alive before he has a chance to pay for the cut he had intended to receive.

And so it is with this week’s number four.

On the very day this number four submission made it to the hallowed cyber halls of Digg, Officer Stephen T. “Big John” Johns was gunned down by James von Brunn – an 88-year-old white supremacist with an appetite for child pornography – at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum.  Johns was an employee of Wackenhut and a man whose union had tried to negotiate for the provision of bulletproof vests for all of its officers at the museum to no avail in the prior contract period.  Johns was hit in the upper left torso by a .22 caliber Long Rifle slug.  That slug likely went right through Johns and could have easily killed others at the museum that day.  Thanks for the clip, Wackenhut.

The part that bothers me most about this “action” shot of our President, Barak Obama, is that while millions have been laid off or otherwise unemployed during the first 100 days of this President’s tenure, he has found it necessary to bail out his Wall Street bankster friends for an amount of money so obscene that he could have just as easily given every middle-class taxpayer in the United States one million dollars in cash.  Each.  Think about what such largesse might have done for our economy versus what has transpired: it is as if we had poured tens of trillions of dollars into a very cold, very dark place never to be seen again.  And yet this sun-tanned version of “Slick Willy” finds the time to engage a group of very casually dressed staff in a very casual, almost subordinate, manner the very day an armed lunatic ran amok inside this President’s keep.

To be fair, Michael Moore’s capture and rebroadcast of our former “El Presidente” giving a disturbingly flip answer to a reporter’s sincere question right before he ended the interview with, “now, watch this drive,” was a similar affront to sensibility.  That Barbara Bushes’ beloved son swatted his golf ball down the fairway and away from all those gnat-like questioners behind the security perimeter was just a side benefit.  I suppose the key difference between these two Presidents might be that one of them is still amused by the candor of his remarks, while the other is now becoming keenly aware that he is being set-up to be taken down – politically, of course — south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Someone needs to remind our current President about the importance of being a good patron in a well-chosen barbershop.  The razors can be sharp wherever one chooses to go.  Care and prudence in choosing one’s surroundings guarantees a good cut made by a steady hand.

I’ve been thinking about this past week’s number five submission, but I can’t seem to work it into the mix.  In the first place, the submitter of the entry has submitted top 5 entries to Digg on multiple occasions.  In the second, we began our fixation with the American way of hair-care using only the top four Digg entries.  So symmetry might well demand that we end this phase of our journey using only this week’s top four.  And so it shall be.

 But where might we go from here?  What conclusions might be drawn useful to a further search? 

As Anthony Giddens might suggest, per Structuration Theory, we need to look at the creases in society, at those places where tangible structures or tried-and-true rules collide with differing beliefs and values producing contradiction, dissonance and confusion.  Once there, we might look at the forces pulling individuals in one direction versus the forces pulling individuals in a different direction.  In any case, it will be in these creases, Giddens suggests, that we will see the future of our world unfolding before our very eyes.

If these five weeks together have taught us nothing, they have taught me that overlooking the obvious results in missed opportunity and misinterpretation.  If the past few days of having a seven year-old grandchild scampering about teaches this adult anything, it teaches me the absolute authority of complete innocence in the discovery of things obvious and taken for granted.  What seems to me hackneyed and worn, jumps out as shiny and bright to the eyes of a child.  So either I am old and wise or this kid is living in a perpetual mushroom fry.  Or both.  In any event, in the next several weeks I will adopt the assistance of an oracle, a Captain Obvious, if you will, who has been speaking to me through this grandchild and directing me to rediscover and reinterpret my old beliefs and values.