Monday, December 28, 2009

Double Naught Spy

At least the Iranian people know how to bring it. Facing a corrupt clerical racket, those who risk being shot, beaten, arrested and tortured understand the meaning of direct action. Statists don't like direct action. It means they're losing their grip. Thus they show their brutal hand more openly, hoping to buy time, but recognizing that there's only one way their rule can slide.

Here in freedom's swamp, such impassioned public actions are unthinkable, especially against Obama. Oh, smatterings of hurt children stomp their feet, hold their breath, and cuss at the dinner table. But the notion that they'll ever put their asses on the line, clogging streets, confronting cops, occupying government buildings, making life miserable for our managerial class is laughable, that is, if you find overfed acquiescence funny. A nitrous mask certainly helps.

And so this miserable decade closes, far worse than it began as more lunacy gallops into view. Americans can hide from it to a degree, or pretend to. As reality rages around us, our diversions and fantasies accelerate, mutate, fissure, explode. Fear is evident but inarticulate. Cooking shows increase audience share as more and more people escape into endless food porn. Violent sideshows abound. The empire is crumbling and there is no going back. Instead of following the Iranian example and putting our owners on whatever notice we can muster, Americans drift along, seeking sunshine in sewers, convinced that if all else fails, they can vote the bastards out, or send them strongly-worded emails.

How did it come to this? Too tangled a question to fully address here. I've long felt that such deterioration was inevitable, given American history from at least a century ago. But this week I'm focused on the first decade of the 21st, one that when I was a kid seemed from another dimension, with flying cars, moon colonies, teleportation, and those little sandwiches eaten by astronauts in "2001," bursting with chemically-enhanced futuristic flavors in the cold frontier of space.

What did we get instead? Removing our shoes before boarding aging planes, where we're not allowed to use the toilet, the air vents, the food trays, keeping our mouths shut lest any vocal calibration be construed as a dire threat to our fellow passengers, if not to the nation itself.

If you love police states, then this is your golden age.

For me, the decade began in failure and exile to southeastern Michigan. It was a very dark period, a wife and two children in tow. American Fan, conceived and sold at the height of my hubris, was released as I started to scrub toilets and lug garbage. I appeared on numerous sports phone-in shows, weathering abuse from fans who found me unfair to the millionaire jocks they revered, then laced up my work boots for another janitorial night shift. Positive reviews in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and USA Today only deepened my despair as HarperCollins dumped the book they inherited and despised.

A friend who knew Michael Moore tried to get me a producer/writer gig on "The Awful Truth," briefly lifting my spirits before fizzling out. This same friend then began working with and advising Ralph Nader's presidential campaign, alongside Moore and Phil Donahue. As I heard and read about Nader's effect on the disenchanted, galvanizing those sick of the status quo, I got inspired. I was asked to write Nader's Top Ten list for his Letterman appearance, which I happily did in a blazing all-nighter. I attended a SRO Nader rally in Ann Arbor, further heartened by a possible break from the rigid corporate duopoly.

Not to be. The Democrats spent more time undermining Nader than attacking George W. Bush, with whom their national ticket had much more in common. Liberal friends in DC and NYC lectured me on the goodness of Gore and the steadiness of Lieberman, whose names they proudly slapped on their lapels and car bumpers as a sign of their forward thinking. In the end, Nader imploded, Gore/Lieberman stumbled, and Bush/Cheney used whatever leverage they had in prolonging then snatching the election. Gore/Lieberman accepted the theft and urged their supporters to surrender as well. Instead of telling the ticket to fuck off and engaging in grassroots action, liberals blamed Nader for their every woe, a much easier, less stressful alternative to getting off their asses and fucking shit up.

Then came that Tuesday in September 2001. Fucking shit up took on fresh savage meaning. Madness spread everywhere, including to my anonymous corner where I dumped used mop water, bleach burning my eyes. That stinging sensation was just beginning.

TOMORROW: Perpetual war state blues; sonata for forgotten servants.