Thursday, February 28, 2008

Socked In The God Damned Face

"Oh Bill, you're so extraordinary."

So quipped Gore Vidal, after being told by William F. Buckley, Jr. that if he didn't stop calling the effete reactionary a crypto-Nazi, he'd get pummeled, or slapped, or pinched, or something. Vidal's response was lost in the din caused by ABC news anchor Howard K. Smith trying to restore what decorum existed, but it illustrated how little Vidal thought of Buckley.

"A right wing clown act," he said in a 1969 Playboy interview. Despite many of his own faults, Vidal absolutely nailed Buckley's public essence. A right wing clown act, indeed.

Vidal later complained about how his name was always linked to Buckley, whose family he described as "the sick Kennedys," but Gore has no one but himself to blame for that. He willingly appeared alongside Buckley on ABC during the 1968 Republican and Democratic conventions, providing, if not sustained intellectual discourse, then certainly entertaining TV, decades before flinging physical threats and nasty putdowns became a permanent feature of the medium.

WFB was a reactionary that elite liberals loved. The New York Times' multimedia tribute to him is not surprising, glossing over Buckley's less attractive stances in his long public career. But that was Buckley's true talent: making reprehensible opinions palatable to liberal tastes. He was much smoother than Ann Coulter, but not that different in ideological outlook. Coulter crashes into rooms, yelling, spitting bile in all directions. WFB slid in almost silently, his bouncing eyebrows the sole evidence of his presence -- until he spoke, that is -- and even then, bullshit oozed from his mouth in polysyllabic strips, with liberals like John Kenneth Galbraith and Murray Kempton eagerly lapping up his crap.

For all of Buckley's social charms, augmented by his harpsichord playing, let's recall that he and his money-losing magazine National Review opposed civil rights for African-Americans while backing white Southern statist repression in the 1950s and early '60s. Buckley himself openly questioned the logic of giving blacks the vote at all, hinting that "chaos" might ensue if the darker hordes voted in a bloc. WFB was also a dedicated McCarthyite, "a movement around which men of good will and stern morality can close ranks," and despite what his apologists now say, he defended the nuts in the John Birch Society as "some of the most morally energetic self-sacrificing and dedicated anti-Communists in America," and wrote for the American Mercury when it was an anti-Semitic rag.

Ever the careerist, Buckley wised up in time, ditching the Jew-haters on his wing in order to enjoy wider acceptance in the mainstream media. If Buckley continued to believe that Jews were behind international communism, he was savvy enough not to say so once his celebrity status rose.

Then there was this helpful suggestion in 1986: "Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals." Beautiful. And where did this scientific opinion appear? Why, in the New York Times, of course.

But above all else, WFB was a dedicated warmonger, advocating imperial violence throughout much of his career. He was especially keen on slaughtering Vietnamese, calling the U.S. carpet-bombing and napalming of those people a form of tough "love." Yet despite his support of killing millions in Southeast Asia, he wasn't as eloquent a defender of mass murder as advertised. In 1969, on his talk show "Firing Line," Buckley tried to make his genocidal case to Noam Chomsky, who promptly and efficiently took Buckley apart, piece by rancid piece. It was one of the rare instances in which Buckley allowed a superior debater and intellect to appear on the same stage. He didn't make that mistake again, not with Chomsky, anyway. Watch and see what a man looks like when he's drowning on dry land.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Soft Sounds For Bedlam

Having completed a little tome about the gallons of blood guzzled by Democrats over numerous decades, I was stopped by an AP headline this morning that read, "Anti-war Democrats ponder next step."

Hmm. Must be about Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel anticipating more shit storms on the American horizon -- not that they can do much more than hunker down and weather the falling body parts as best they can, but it's the thought that counts, and style points are always considered. In the end, it's like having a mime plant an imaginary daisy in the mouth of a M1A2 Abrams tank's 120mm M256 smoothbore gun, under a midday desert sun, death metal blasting from within, the lock-and-load kids cruising to Suffocation and Nile. Tank treads in the greasepaint. The rapid beat rips on.

Instead, the names listed are Harry Reid, who voted for war, Nancy Pelosi, utterly worthless, and Russ Feingold, who at least has made a few attempts to highlight statist corruption and war-lust, though when nudged, Feingold will hump the flag to show that his "opposition" comes from a patriotic place. Because don't ya know, peace is so very patriotic, and the Democrats are nothing if not solid patriots.

Where's a veteran mule skinner when you need one?

The AP piece portrays the Dems as naturally antiwar, which naturally they aren't, and quotes the standard mouthpieces and apologists like MoveOn, devoted primarily to electing Democrats, regardless of actual social effectiveness. The current strategy, proposing moving troops around here and there, taking some out, redeploying others, is the typical Beltway shell game, a lot of action that signifies essentially nothing. The Democrats are not going to withdrawal from Iraq, nor from Afghanistan; and should Saint Obama become President Saint, there is no way in hell the U.S. leaves. The last thing a newly-minted imperial manager does is undermine, much less destroy, the imperial project. Streamline it? Sure. Re-brand it for domestic consumption? Of course. Trash it? Go back to your meth pipe.

The Democrats are simply looking for election angles, and will be helped mightily by John McCain's utter refusal, or perhaps inability, to improvise around shifting tactics. The veteran butcher of Vietnamese is a godsend to the Dems, that is, if they play it delicately with steady attention to detail. Because in America, you never know when the radioactive winds will turn, and the Democrats have proven time and again that they're not the best storm-chasers around, especially when they're celebrating victory a hundred miles from the finish line. The skies continue to rumble.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mistaking My Head For A Ficus

"Savage Mules" is finished. It's in the can. Writing and editing like a lunatic for the past four days is no country for an old man -- or one who feels much, much older. Give me a day or so to recover what wits I have, and I'll return. Aloha.

Oh, look: Suburban Lawns on "New Wave Theater" hosted by Peter Ivers who was one of Doug Kenney's best friends and was killed in his LA loft by someone never found is back up. I still have a thing for Su Tissue.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Freedom In Staggered Payments

Still grinding out "Savage Mules," and I'm getting excited about the damn thing. Sunday night's my final deadline, so I must continue to pound the keys and streamline clunky sentences.

Before I go, a brief update: I've quit my cleaning job after many years of largely thankless service. The Birchers are choking off cleaners across the board, but most especially me, as they've taken away the paid benefits I've earned through steady physical labor and loyalty to their company. All for naught in the end. Isn't free enterprise wonderful?

I have a few freelance gigs lined up, but it will be tight in the short-term. So, again, any help or work you can throw my way is humbly appreciated. Thank you, my friends, and I'll see you here early next week.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cibo Says It's Time

This is the final deadline week for "Savage Mules" which, with swift editing, a lack of printing problems, and no libelous statements to soften or omit, should be out by this August, just in time for Labor Day reading, and a final kick before we select our Holy Leader. So, I'm in the tank for the next few days, but will emerge, ready to blog like it's 2099, complete with chem-resistant jumpsuit, oxygen helmet, freeze-dried foodstuffs, and ultra-thick plexi-dome so to weather the chlorine-bleach windstorms.

My humble thanks to those who've helped me over the weekend. I'm still uncertain about my work status, as it seems to be a day-to-day arrangement. Again, any work or spare change is most appreciated. See you soon.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My So-Called Life

Allow me, dear friends and well-wishers, to avert my eyes from the election, school shootings (now an established American genre), and kindred madness, and speak about my present state and the plans I have for the near future. If you are relatively new to the Perrin Experience, I wear this site on my sleeve, hiding very little about myself and the competing voices in my raging skull. Today's sleeve is marked from the sore shoulder down to the swollen wrist. Just a head's up.

I receive a lot of mail from people who believe I lead a care-free, glam existence. After all, I write what I want, when I want; I have a book deal with another possibly on the horizon; I've experienced numerous scenes and have known or met my share of the semi-famous and infamous; I've done many things that most people never get to do. All true. But the bottom line reality isn't as exciting as all that.

Since moving to Michigan nearly nine years ago (88 years in human time), I've had to start from scratch, literally creating a new life from the smoldering debris of my final days in New York. Many of you newer visitors probably haven't read the piece I wrote about this transition, so if you need deeper background, here it is. You Red State Son vets already know that story, so let's cut to the current chase.

Michigan's economy is shit. The worst in the nation. Michiganders aren't the nicest people in the best of times, but these days, many are openly sullen and very pissed off. It's a depressing, dour environment, and there's no relief in sight. For the past seven years, I've worked as a janitor for a small cleaning company, since there are no writing jobs for me here. I've performed blue collar work at various times in my life, so I'm no stranger to physical labor (an upside: my hands are so rough and calloused that if the Khmer Rouge ever comes to power, I'm spared from execution). I'm not crazy about living in Michigan -- in fact, I'm pretty fucking sick of it -- and cleaning up after heavy-set cubicle slaves who stave off their sadness and anger by eating all day long and trashing the bathrooms long ago lost its charm. Still, it's paying work, and me and mine need the bread.

Yesterday, out of the blue, my company informed me that I was demoted. My hours have been cut, and more cutting may follow. It's the economy, I'm told. So, not only must I continue to beautify the corporate prison I'm responsible for, I must do so for shit wages. Clearly, this is a sign that my cleaning days are numbered -- which is fine by me, but there's nothing here to replace it, nothing that pays anything, that is.

Remember kids: Go to college and get a degree. Don't be like your Uncle Dennis who barely got out of high school and hasn't seen a classroom since.

Quick aside about my company. It's run by Birchers. Not Birch-like people with quirky views about the world, but actual, honest to Krishna, card-carrying members of the John Birch Society. When you walk into their offices, you're met with signs that scream U.S OUT OF THE U.N.! and JOSEPH MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT! Various pamphlets and magazines are strewn about, all explaining the numerous plots by international communism and its corporate global mechanism to enslave decent, hard-working Americans, and turn them into cogs for the Chinese, who really run the world. One of my bosses told me with a straight face that in the near future, China will militarily invade the United States, and that this epic battle was predicted by George Washington, who apparently had a vision of yellow hordes swarming the future homeland.

"Well, they couldn't do much worse than our current rulers," was my reply. "Maybe we'll finally get decent Chinese food in Michigan."

There's much more to say about these people, who I find fascinating, even though they're squeezing me dry. Now that I think of it, they might be a front for the Chinese Global Conspiracy. They do protest a bit too much about it. It'll all be in the memoir.

Not long ago, a fairly well-known liberal who likes my writing while strongly disagreeing with most of my opinions, suggested that I go easy on the Dems, especially in an election year. If I was more Ezra Klein and less Alex Cockburn, he said, I could get steady writing work with some leading liberal outlets. "You're an excellent stylist and funny," he added. "But you trash those who could do you favors."

I suppose he's right. I do know some of the libs who make a living boosting the Dems and lauding contemporary American liberalism, whatever the hell that might be. But sisters and brothers, do you honestly see me writing the kind of mush you read in the American Prospect, The Nation, New Republic, and Salon? I can write in many different styles, and am a quick study when engaged in literary impressions, but I've tasted too much freedom to go back to the hack work I performed long ago. The downside to this is that by speaking my mind, I don't get steady writing jobs. My book deal is a pittance, basically gas money and maybe dinner for four at Applebee's. That's it. I'm essentially writing it for free, though I'm assured that once it appears, I'll get all kinds of speaking and debate gigs. I've heard this dirge before. We'll see.

One new feature that's soon to come will be original video content, featuring yours truly as host and narrator. These are gonna be humorous, absurdist shorts that I'll post here, at YouTube, and perhaps at Huffington Post (and no, I don't get paid there, either). I'm looking to branch out in several directions, but this will take time. I have a few irons near the fire, but nothing definite. So it goes. If you wish to help me, there's the PayPal button to the right. If you have writing work, whether essays or gag writing, I'm available. If you need a funny speaker for an event, look no further. I'm ready to blow this pop stand, for a reasonable fee, of course. A girl has to, umm, eat.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bye Bye Life

So long to Roy Scheider, a solid character actor who could slip into various personas with nary a wrinkle. He was of course best known for "Jaws," and was quite good in comedic roles (his "SNL" hosting stint in early 1985 showed his underappreciated range). But to me, Scheider will always be Joe Gideon, Bob Fosse's Doppelgänger in the wonderful "All That Jazz." Scheider was rightfully nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for "Jazz," but lost to Dustin Hoffman for "Kramer Vs. Kramer," though the award that year should have gone to Peter Sellers for "Being There." What are you gonna do? The Oscars usually blow it, and that year was no exception.

Here's the final ten minutes of "Jazz," as Gideon prepares to die after a lifetime of overwork, infidelity, personal betrayal, deceit, booze and pill abuse, and brilliant choreography. Fosse staged his own death for the camera (Death played by Jessica Lange, awaiting him in white), and now Roy Scheider has joined the final production. RIP.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pimping Outrage

The hubbub over David Shuster's "pimped out" crack about Chelsea Clinton confirms that this election cycle remains free of real political analysis. Shuster's a dope, of which there's no shortage at MSNBC and the other cable nets, and his comment that Hillary's pimping her daughter into campaign service was guaranteed to raise hackles. It has worked beautifully for the Clinton campaign, allowing Hillary to once again pose as the poor victim of rampant sexism, only this time she gets to bring Chelsea on the shame stage. If anything, Shuster helped Hillary, and one wonders if he has anything "colorful" to say about Obama. Certainly couldn't hurt the Saint.

What's especially delicious is how libloggers flock to defend Hillary and Chelsea's gender from the Big Bad Media that hates Democrats so. You couldn't script it any better. The reality is that Hillary is a well-connected cutthroat heavy-hitter for whom the likes of Shuster are mere rube bait. And right on cue, the lib rubes bite down every fucking time. Why shouldn't Hillary play the victim card? It always works for her. She's nothing if not consistent.

Yes, yes, there are actual sexists who hate and slander Hillary. Welcome to America. But as I've said before, I might feel a smidgen more sympathetic to Hillary were she not drenched in Iraqi, Lebanese, Palestinian and Kurdish blood. Saying that she pimps out her daughter, while crude, is really nothing. In fact, it's a compliment when compared to what she's actually supported and helped finance.

Sweet Dreams -- Or Else

"I wanted to play [Division I] ball more than anything. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality."

Pity young Kevin Hart. Not only did the Nevada teen lie about being recruited by Cal and Oregon's football programs, which was swiftly disproved since the kid had nowhere to go with his fabrication, he and his family suffered national embarrassment and disgrace, as sportswriters and radio hosts took turns jumping on his head. The insufferable Mitch Albom, who's been to Heaven and back and already knows who awaits him at the Gates, went a little further and blamed the college football recruiting system itself, saying that the madness created an environment in which Kevin Hart felt justified to lie.

While I blame Hart first and foremost, to the tiny degree that I actually care about the kid's sad attempt to seem important to his high school peers, I'll go even further than Albom and simply point to our fantasy nation, a place where lying about anything is acceptable, just so long as it serves the right interests.

Forget college recruiters -- how about the head of state and those seeking to replace him? Nothing a coach tells a prospect remotely approaches the endless deceit that pours upon us daily, from the White House down through the propaganda system -- err, the mainstream media. The entire system is based on dishonesty, which requires not only brazen lying on a massive scale from our rulers, but also fantasy concepts spun by the ruled, as assessing the horrid reality of our existence is too depressing to contemplate. Thus, deception, conscious or not, is a regular feature of our lives.

It's a very real part of the present election cycle, especially among Democrats and liberals hoping for some kind of deliverance. Hillary and Obama lay it on thick, and their respective groupies eagerly lap it up, crawling around the debris-littered floor, looking for anything to chew on. Hillary and Obama want state power for reasons other than what they each piously express; their followers want to believe that either candidate will turn what's left of the country around, or will at least cater to their enlightened opinions about such quaint, bygone concepts like constitutional order. At both ends, deception and fantasy. Breaking free of this chokehold is the last thing on most of their minds.

So some high school kid lied about being recruited by a Division I school. Last time I checked, Kevin Hart's fabrication had no destructive effect on, say, the Gazans, to cite one taxpayer-funded atrocity routinely ignored by political fantasists. If only American duplicity were that innocent.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Calvinist Disco Revival

Let's take a small break from the Most Important Election Ever In Our Lifetimes, More Important Than The 1932 German National Election And You Know What Happened Then and watch more "Fridays" found on YouTube.

I'm merely here to amuse and entertain.

I mentioned this episode before -- the William Shatner show from September 25, 1981. A decent installment, though the following has been edited down to just Shatner's sketches. This was before Shatner became the conscious self-parody he embraced in his later years, and before Shatner impressions rivaled comic takes on Jack Nicholson. In the opening there are cameos by head writer Jack Burns, and "Fridays" producer John Moffitt, who was Lorne Michaels' first choice to direct the original "SNL," which Moffitt turned down. Like Lorne on "SNL," Moffitt was a regular presence on "Fridays," playing the harried producer trying to hold together his chaotic show. (Moffitt later directed many episodes of "Mr. Show," on which I don't think he appeared.) Whoever posted these clips stopped just as the closing credits began to run, so you don't get to see what the writers looked like. Suffice it to say, they wouldn't be welcome in today's clean-cut comedy writer world. The weed scent coming off their jeans and Army jackets alone would brand them. Another time . . .

Also note the PATCO bit in the second clip. This was during that infamous strike, just before Ronald Reagan ended it by firing the PATCO workers, while simultaneously praising the Solidarity strikers in Poland. (A bipartisan stance, as the New York Times and Washington Post followed Reagan's lead.) A little peek at that wonderful period when, as Obama reminds us, Reagan made Americans feel better about themselves -- at least those who had jobs.

And speaking of another time, here's a very funny and accurate parody of Rich Little by Dana Carvey. You have to be a certain age to appreciate this, since Little today is referred to as often as Fred Travalena or Frank Gorshin. But trust me, this is how Little's holiday specials looked. Not that satirizing Rich Little is all that important, but there'll be plenty of importance to wrestle with in due course.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Please Turn To Page 44 In Your Hymnal

Mount Hillary and The Saint, going toe-to-toe. Who best captures the transcendent American spirit? Who will become our much-needed mother/father leader?

The chills I get just thinking about it. Ain't democracy sweet?

Naturally, online liberals are writhing around in ecstasy, since the mule duel shows just how dynamic the Dems are, as opposed to the ossified GOP, which seems to be tilting toward a Grampy McCain nomination. Ha! Those addled, obsolete dopes! What more evidence does one need to see that the right wing nightmare is fading, soon to be replaced with something new, something bold, something sassy and fresh?

Oh, to be a Democrat in this dawn!

Of course, part of assembling the New Tomorrow is staking out permissible boundaries of discussion. Stanley Fish in the New York Times recently instructed us on the proper way to critique Hillary, assuming one must critique her at all. Party apparatchiks like Jane Hamsher immediately waved Fish's decree around, lest the poor, undefended Senator from New York suffer more sexist abuse from powerful, dark forces. Because if you despise Hillary Clinton, especially if you're male, all you're really showing is your fear of strong women. Conversely, if you distrust Saint Obama, and fail to fall to your knees as his rhetoric takes flight, you might be racist, or simply cynical and empty, incapable of understanding this spiritual moment in time.

Got it? Good. There'll be more lessons as the initial crusade winds down, culminating in the Denver coronation, where all doubts will be erased, all anxiety soothed, and the final, united march to the Promised Land begins. Aren't y'all excited?!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Come Into The Light

You Obamaites are relentless. To you, the Saint is RFK, Martin Luther King, Eugene McCarthy, and Howard Dean in one, smooth, multi-racial package. The cat is slick, I'll concede. A few of you sent me the same video that's turning so many knees to jelly. If other readers haven't viewed the thing, here it is.

This is first-rate propaganda -- as good as those America Reborn spots the Reagan team produced in the 80s, and light years beyond anything Bush, Kerry, or Hillary coughed up. The system demands cleansing, not the real kind, of course, but a general sense of the feeling, and Obama is the perfect vessel into which Hopers may pour their dreams. Right on cue and beautifully executed. You'd have to be completely numb not to appreciate the approach.

Let's see how the Saint does today. If he wins big, or at least maintains his momentum, we may be in for a very interesting year.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ritual Covet Tactics

New York was fantastic, just what I needed, and what I'll need on a continual basis. I'm going back every chance I get.

My visit actually put me in a good mood, though how long that'll last I've no idea, now that I'm back in the land of the pale, large and slow. To say that living in the Midwest has eaten away at my psyche and spirit would be a light, diverting remark. Frankly, I can't stand it. The upside, however, is that with the book and other projects coming up, I'll be able to travel more -- nothing lavish or regal, mind you, as I still live on blue collar wages. But hanging out in person with smart, creative people does a body good. You can't beat that one-on-one contact.

Okay, Mr. Sunshine, surely there's something sticking in your craw, yes?

Always. I still get mail from Obama supporters telling me how wrong and twisted my takes are on their hero. Won't I be surprised and embarrassed when President Saint remakes the national landscape and brings some of that audacious hope to We The Spectators. To quote a sage military historian and booster, bring it on. The Saint couldn't do worse than Bush, though if elected, he's gonna have a few hundred pounds of blood-soaked shit dumped on him. And that's only the country falling apart and spiraling into ruin. The Saint will also have to face the reactionary chorus, which will use his, er, um, "pigment" to full, poisonous advantage. There are some pretty fucked up white people on this plantation, and seeing one of the house servants rise to executive power won't lighten their collective demeanor, "color blind" postures notwithstanding. Should be a diseased ride all around. But let's see if the Saint can move beyond Clinton Time. That duo has countless more throats to slit before the final bell.

Walking down upper Broadway the other night, I kept running into Obama supporters, waving their placards, chanting the Saint's name at passersby. At one corner they were really obnoxious, demanding that I vote for Obama in Tuesday's primary, which of course I can't, and wouldn't if I could. Their tone was nearly Moonie-like: "Have you heard the Good News, brother?" I smiled and pretended I was deaf, improvising a few hand gestures for effect, though not the hand gesture I really wanted to make. No problem. There'll be plenty of time for that.

I wish I could've stayed in the city one more day to watch the Giants' game in a cozy bar. It must've been crazy last night after the Giants pulled off that glorious upset. I could almost hear it in my Michigan living room. Of course, it could've been the 23 other voices in my swirling head. Tough to tell sometimes.