Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Turned Back World

Sorry for my absence. Chopping away at the tome. Getting some serious work done. So rehearsing my grievances goes back burner.

Another reason for allowing dust to gather is my current struggle between contempt and love. I feel such hatred for humans right now; Americans primarily, the species I know best. But general human behavior isn't looking all that sublime.

When I read H.L. Mencken in my 20's, I thought him too harsh on human affairs. He was so cynical, dismissive, violent. Now I see the pattern. I'm not quite at Menckenesque levels, but I can smell the sauerkraut from here.

Need a list? I trust not.

At the same time, I'm feeling a tremendous surge of love. Quite unprecedented in my life. Maybe my mind lacks oxygen. Maybe the pod's finally opened. A new persona ripping through my tired skin, extending his hand in peace.

This doesn't mean that I've accepted our wretched status quo. Impossible with election year fumes fanning out. Endless war getting more endless. Corruption and lies marching in their pride parades.

Also, people are really shitty with each other. I noticed it on my drive from Michigan to DC. Many Americans don't seem to like themselves. There are good reasons for this, but it doesn't appear spiritual or philosophical. Just trapped angry consumers rattling their crates.

I don't see how this is mended. The country's too big. Too alienated. Too disparate for any serious unity. Appeals to jingoism and obedience don't help, though Americans need little incentive to buy into that. Lingering superstitions and myths add to the mess.

And yet, I believe that love finds a way, as hackneyed and Hallmark as that sounds. It's not easy. Darkness and anxiety remain close. There are moments in public when I'm on the verge of freaking out. Faces melt into Ralph Steadman shapes. Pressure mounts.

Then I connect with a stranger. Fleeting but friendly. People seem afraid to love, but give them a genuine opening and most will grab it. Because it feels good. It feels right. And it gets you through another day.

I touched on this ages ago. Seems like I was ahead of myself.

Okay. Enough with Norman Vincent Perrin.

My son is staying with me in DC. We've established a creative space. We're growing our hair long together. We have great conversations. We're going to hit the sights today, mixing with tourists under the gaze of DC's numerous police forces.

Contempt or love? I'm leaning toward the latter, but it's still early.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Miles To Go

When I think of all my reckless driving, it's amazing I'm still alive.

It was worse when I was in the Army. I drove a lot during those years. A 1973 Mercury Monterey. Faded green. No front grill. Left headlight tied into place. Eight-track player. Lap-level seat belts. Not that I wore them.

Other than an occasional beer or a slug of cheap wine, I didn't drink back then. So that was never a factor. Weed, on the other hand, was abundant.

I don't know what it's like today, but the Army I experienced was filled with drugs. Most soldiers did something. I went to parties where officers openly smoked. Acid was popular and I ingested my share. Speed was big with the boozers.

I usually had a fat joint or a few roaches in my car's ashtray. I smoked behind the wheel so often that I got used to driving that way. Considering the wreck I drove and the amount of time on the road, the law of averages should have nailed me. Accident or arrest. Nothing happened. Different era.

When I moved to Michigan, regular driving resumed. Nearly two decades in NYC provided little road time. I had to get my timing back. I didn't anticipate how awful Michigan drivers were.

That first year was a road rage special. Middle fingers. Honking. Tailgating. It took me a few months to adapt, but when I did, I was as nasty as the locals. Falling off the grid didn't help; going back to blue collar work angered me. I fit in better than I knew.

Eventually, I calmed down. More or less accepted my fate. Saw nothing ahead but old age, weight gain, and bleak Michigan weather. I've turned that around, which might provide a lesson for others also lost. But I'm not the preacher type.

My driving has also matured. Blend instead of confront. I no longer drive impaired, save for the mild anxiety I sometimes feel on the open road. Some wild motherfuckers out there. Pushing the limits of life, ours more than theirs. I doubt it's a mad bohemian rush toward nothingness. Anger, frustration, desperation, more likely.

In a few hours I'll hit the road for Michigan, driving through Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. There's a brief dash through West Virginia, one of the saddest states I've seen. Carved out and discarded developing-world style. Poor people in rusting cars. Crumbling exit ramps. Flyover country in the strictest sense.

I stick to a long-drive strategy of laying low. Not speeding. Not fucking with drivers who beg to be fucked with. There are lots of cops out there. Waiting, hiding, cruising in unmarked cars. I've learned to spot them. Helps kill some of the boredom.

Unlike trains and planes, the police state is limited on the highways. But they're trying to fix that. I'm confident that they will.

So pray for me, or whistle a nice tune, or simply be loving to those you love. If my GPS doesn't catch it, my heart and mind will. Aloha.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ride My See-Saw

Oh for the days of creative PR. I've always enjoyed propaganda, the more inventive the better. Beautiful lies that bind.

But like so much else in this nasty age, propaganda is cheap, obvious. Either we've run out of ideas or just don't give a fuck. I'm not sure. I know this literal minded approach would make Rosser Reeves gleam. He'd be happy to see his brand of bullshit win in the end.

As far as the election goes, our betters are more literal than ever. They're openly admitting how fixed the system is -- gloating about it, actually. Rubbing our faces in their contempt.

Bill Clinton, gliding through a privileged life, doing pretty much as he pleases, defended Mitt Romney's business past. Said that Romney was qualified to be president. This from a senior Obama supporter.

I laughed when I read that. I can't stand Clinton, but that made my day. I'd shake whichever hand he doesn't jerk off with.

The New York Times' Mark Leibovich wrote a piece about the similarities between Obama and Romney. Their backgrounds. Schooling. Personal traits. Leadership style. There are policy differences, but that's true within an administration.

What we basically have is a duller version of Gore v. Bush. And with no Nader to blame, this system's starkness becomes better defined.

It's left to the partisans to whip up whatever frenzies they can manage. Most of the action appears behind Obama. Liberal scribes strain to paint Romney as a Palin-like nut. It's a shit gig, but serving power has its price. What's a little boot licking when our envied way of life hangs in the balance?

Foolishly, I followed a link to a group liberal site that's been critical of Obama, but there are some holdouts. One prominent example (for that world) went on an angry, spiteful tear against anyone doubting Obama's greatness.

It wasn't elegant or all that bright, but there was passion; or maybe it was desperation. Hard to tell in all that ad hominem.

You probably know the site, and perhaps the angry liberal. I won't divulge simply because I don't need the aggravation. Seen it. Been it. Done it. I'm trying, with varying levels of success, to lead a more serene life. And I'm sure as fuck not mixing it up over Obama v. Romney.

What I said during the last go-round still goes. Only this time with love.

There are others dissecting this lunacy. Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are the most astute. It was Scahill calling Obama a murderer on Chris Hayes' cable chat show that riled the president's fans. According to them, kill lists, drone warfare, and targeting American citizens are traditional liberal values.

I agree. Mainstream liberalism sits atop numerous mass graves, creating many more. Why pretend otherwise? Especially in America?

The Obama campaign sure isn't, confident that its brazen endorsement of state terror will win votes. Again, no argument. When your chief demographic is fully in line, you don't need to be clever. It's one area of American politics where honesty works.