Friday, August 31, 2007
No doubt there is a massive amount of hypocrisy inside the GOP, particularly in its members who are fulfilling a long tradition of closeted behavior. I feel the same way about gay Republicans as I feel about Mormons of color. Have you ever met a black Mormon? I certainly haven't.
Until the 1970s, the official church position regarding African-Americans was this: "We're not saying you're going to hell, we're just saying that hell is where you came from."
An article today in the local paper asked us to think of Senator Craig as a tragic figure. I'm not sure I buy it. His very hypocritical posture as a family values conservative is justification enough. His behavior immediately after arrest lends itself not to sympathy but to scorn. He was the perfect example of an elected legislator trying to use his power and influence to place himself above the law. He comes across as yet another elected official graced with the heavy tint of sleaze.
I do not absolve him of sin because of the tragedy of his homosexuality. I instead hold him responsible for his behavior because it reinforces a stereotype of gay men as amoral and hyper-sexual. Granted, if we really wanted to dissect this issue further, we would acknowledge that sex is a powerful force among men and that many heterosexual males would engage in such behavior if women were inclined to the practice.
I have a lot of problems with any party claiming it has some sort of monopoly over moral purity, as the GOP has done for the past several years. Most of them stem from the fact that politicians are, by in large, amoral and corrupt. It doesn't matter what side of the aisle to which you ascribe. I've seen and read about decent people who have sold their souls for the good graces of power and greed. There are too many temptations for any good person to remain pious for very long.
I'll be honest with you. Politics have always been a dirty business. No era of American history has been blessed by moral politicians despite heavily nostalgic musings otherwise. Ethical politics is an oxymoron. What we call a clean office is likely one that either covers its tracks well or doesn't engage in flagrant lawbreaking.
I pose a question to all of you out there. We're very good at throwing rocks at politicians, but if we were placed in their position, could we do any better?
Would you be strong enough to fight human temptation on a scale almost beyond human conception? Would you decline the advances of lobbyists? Would you use your power judiciously? Would you decline the ability to pad your own pockets?
If you didn't make concessions, there would be any number of people around you who would.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
One such adventure concerned a red headed, fashionably tattooed female troubadour who sang songs of loss and frustration. She bummed him a cigarette when he asked for it. It was no small gesture on her part because money for much of anything was a struggle. Couches were to be pilfered for change to feed her addiction. Couches were to be slept on as well, since mattresses and box springs were merely distant memories.
He pictured the dirty house where she must have lived. He pictured the cluttered living room and the visitors and the inevitable drama that swirls around such places. His life had been more or less analogous to hers at some point in time. He had left it behind because he valued his privacy and enjoyed the ability to leave his few valuable possessions unlocked and unhidden.
Flirtation was a defense mechanism. As she sat across from him and stroked his cheek with a bony, white finger, she revealed the hair on top matched the hair below. This was said with a particularly seductive smile, but the aim was merely to tease. He looked her square in the face and upped the flirtation a notch whereupon she drew the line in the sand.
Good try, she said, with a smirk. But our hero feigned that his real interest had not been on her body but rather her alluded to former success upon the stage. She was caught off balance and her smirk turned quickly to a look of pain. It said I don't know how to help you.
Her successes had been years in the past. They had long ago drifted into a state of romanticized mythology. The irony among many ironies was that what passed for success was merely a long succession of close calls which left her with some degree of name recognition within the scene. Musicians know each other by variously decreasing degrees of separation.
Unused to someone who played romance with the dodges and dives of a boxer, she came clean with her true thoughts. I have cancer, she said. No way to pay for it and no desire to fix it, either. Instead it served as her ace in the hole when called into compromising situations. She lit a cigarette and stared off into space, her leer now transformed into a worried frown.
We play the eye contact game, you and I. I look at you and you look at me briefly, hesitantly, then break gaze. When you think I’m not paying attention to you, you look at me. Sometimes I notice your stares and pretend not to; sometimes I’m utterly oblivious.
When I know you are looking at me, I involuntarily run my fingers through both sides of my hair, right at the temples. This game proceeds in fashion until one of us approaches the other and speaks. I usually make the first move.
Even though you had a steady partner, I teased you. Even though I tested the bonds of fidelity, you responded. You were much older than me and the first male I had ever been interested in pursuing. In situations like this, the person in my position often asserts that I “should have known better”. I’m not sure I buy that.
If we want to think in terms of blame, I was equally at fault.
Belfast explosions make me rush out in the streets—hoping someone I know hasn’t been maimed or killed. The blasts often disconnect phone and power service. I do not often leave my quadrant.
I do not want to see you harmed—but you fight with an assault weapon and defend the boundaries of this Catholic-controlled sector. Loyalists do not stray into the domain of the ski-masks and code words, under penalty of death.
The first time we had sex, you bragged about it to all your friends at the pub.
She was a right Fenian whore.
Though I was embarrassed, I didn’t show it. I am young, but not in spirit. More than a few people I know have been killed in an effort to free Ireland.
Espousing brainwashing doctrine, I speak in manifestos. I am too young to know better. The moronic arrogance of youth insists that if I believe enough in the cause, all of my dreams will come true. I do not focus my intense zeal towards the Pope—rather I cast a religious hatred towards Britain.
The movement tells me that if we put enough pressure on London, they eventually acquiesce. Hundreds of years of history belies this assertion. My boyfriend expresses a vague allegiance to the cause of the PLO. I’m not completely sure we would know what to do if several Arabic men in head scarves forced their way in and asked for our support. I don’t question him. You don’t ask questions of the INLA. Our faction was asked to disband, but we refused.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I don’t like you, mustache man.
When I was a boy, the family would visit my grandparents every weekend. They lived in a small textile mill town out in the country. Most Saturdays were spent in the nook of a large oak tree. The bark was scaly and crumbled in your hands as you pulled yourself up to the top. A strange smelling, sappy black residue clung to your hands; it took much scrubbing with soap to make it go away.
My Aunt had a prison romance. He was ugly and hairy and they produced grotesquely obese children.
The mustache man was one of these. He said, open your mouth boy open your mouth. He was instructive. Rodent face. Red flushed cheeks. Gangster smile. Cracker dialect.
Grandfather said, “look at the difference between the red oak and the white oak. The leaves of the red oak are jagged like the red man’s arrow points. The leaves of the white oak are round like the white man’s bullets.”
Don’t play in the well. Don’t taunt the dogs.
Jerome said this. He spray painted his name across the doghouse. He was older than you.
While it is true that such things happen everywhere. It is true that sixteen-year-old girls get married and remarried to the same aimless boy and then pop out two unwanted children in rapid succession. Girls in rodeo clown makeup with light blue cheeks. Orange faces. Girls who don’t know the meaning of “understated”, in life or in artificial pigment. Can’t even spell the word.
Don’t play near the old well.
The top was secured shut with a piece of scrap iron and dusty with red clay. The fire ants ran beneath your feet and invaded rotting crab apples.
Reading crackly old encyclopedias with yellowing pages stuck together with the adhesive of neglect and time and no air conditioning. Forty years old with no color pictures, no entry on sex other than to distinguish between penis and vagina. The Civil War was labeled War Between the States, The. On the mantle was a grey ceramic cup commemorating the centennial of the conflict.
So you sat quietly in what had formerly been your aunt’s bedroom. It was bare except for a brown vinyl covered sofa with stuffing leaking from the divet hole. A quarter sized massive cigarette burn.
Mustache man, you were there. You were the one in the bedroom with the cheap white-washing and the closed-in side door.
You can’t go out the back anymore.
Ruddy-face intoxication open your mouth boy open your mouth.
Monday, August 27, 2007
As an artist, I have been in touch with powerful emotional responses that I have had to attribute to some force beyond myself. This isn't a result of mere modesty or self-effacement alone. God has always made sense to me. It would be tempting to take sole credit for certain turns of phrase or particular artistic formulations but I don't think I'm that great, nor that brilliant.
Perhaps it's because I've always been aware of my own fragility and my own mortality. I couldn't see myself as my own God because I never felt comfortable in assuming that much responsibility for myself. The more I tried to believe I was the sole force in control, the more that events beyond my control would arise and make me aware of my own limitations.
I don't think belief in a higher power is the domain of the sick, powerless, and disenfranchised. I think maybe people like me have been granted a sense of irrefutable proof rather than this clinging, needy response to reach for a sense of control beyond oneself.
It was downright trendy in adolescence and among my band of dissident friends to thrust aside all the sacred cows for the sake of rebellion and rejection of the status quo. Had I bothered to look outside myself and my acquaintances, I would have found a wholesale sort of response among my peers.
And since that point in time, I have been treated to the beautiful postulates, theories, and general banter of several committed atheists. And to my credit, I have pondered each treatise with an open mind, but found each to be wholly insufficient. I hasten to call these viewpoints to be soulless, barren, and empty because I think they all have the hand of God upon them. I think that's the supreme irony of the Atheist--he or she only THINKS he or she is somehow apart from some higher force.
Please caption this picture and say hello to our lovely gun model, Norah.
*This post is neither paid for, nor authorized by the National Rifle Association.
** Okay, okay, this wasn't a REAL gun, per se, but notice how happy our model looks.
*** Guns are American, for the right of the people to bear.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Who knows what forces
combined together to
make this tree
mean something profound
and utterly life-affirming
Must have been that strong trunk.
those green leaves
and the root structure
Which reminded me of
Must have been the black soil.
the way the wind
rustles the leaves
the shade it provides
That reminded me of
and varicose veins
Must have been the luscious fruit.
The seed pit patterns
and their numeric significance
That remind me of
the placebo effect
the lone bullet theory
and the atomic weight of zinc
it’s just a tree.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
1. Look in the Yellow Pages.
2. Find the “E” section, then find “Escort”.
3. “Escort”, contrary to what you might think, doesn’t mean someone who shuttles you safely from one destination to another. In actuality, “Escort” is one of those euphemisms we use to mean a person of the night, or, to put it bluntly, a prostitute.
4. You have many options to choose from. You will find, rather quickly, that the biggest chains accept credit cards and are actually cleverly networked together by a series of disjointed phone lines.
The reason for this is because you’re actually about to do something illegal. In fact, in some states it’s a misdeameanor. If, the first few times you call, you are hung up on without the person on the end of the line saying as much as a hello, this is to be expected. They merely believe that you are an undercover vice agent eager to bust their whole operation.
5. If, by chance, you connect to someone, you will find these operations are run either by one of two types of people: a Madam, who calls everyone, regardless of gender and age, “baby” and is nastily impatient with you due to her rampant cocaine addiction, or a man who answers the phone gruffly. You picture him hunched over a vast switchboard, chain smoking, inside a grimy room lit only by one overhead lightbulb that hangs downward from a chain.
6. The price is then agreed upon. Normally, a trick will run you two-hundred dollars or so, just for the benefit of the effort to come out to see you. Most escorts want extra money in the form of tips, since they see almost nothing of that two-hundred. Tips are the ways in which you cull special favors like oral sex, anal sex, and intercourse.
7. The women that characterize the occupation are ordinarily working-class sorts with provincial accents. They’re usually from the countryside. Often they will want to show off their Wal-Mart lingerie. Occasionally they will have stretch-marks.
8. They will mutter all kinds of down-home commentary like oh baby, take me now, ah like fuckin’ best of all, and you gonna need to cum now cause you last long’r than a sixty-year-old man who can’t get it up and ah got places to go
9. The instant you ejaculate, they will whisk their clothes back on, decline your offer of a shower, and head back into their cars. Pimps and madams are vicious sorts, always obsessed with profits, which normally go towards their substance abuse problems. Some of the girls work for two days solid without a break.
10. Don’t ever fall in love with an escort girl. You’ll probably find some hooker with a heart of gold who is foolish enough to not be able to separate business from pleasure.
Friday, August 24, 2007
When I totally disappeared in a flash?
And by December
Reluctantly we live in the past
Well I had to go
You see the sign said so
A well-known title comes to mind
Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Can't you figure it out?
Figure it out?
Divinely put together far in advance
Appearance at the Halloween dance
So we meet at last
before the moment passed
Staying up 'til half past two
writing this song for you
Can't you figure it out?
Figure it out?
An incantation like a spell has been cast
Now I'm under and I'm tied to the mast
where I'll be
Adrift at half past three
dreaming of the melody
Can't you figure it out?
Figure it out?
Figure it out?
with the movie version
of my life
Based on the novel
have been written, either.
I called them up
to meet the director
to see who would play me
And he said
we talked about actors
but thought instead
that playing yourself
might lend some cred
All this time
I'm trying to halt the production
Apparently one day long ago
I gave them all my permission
If that's the case
Let's hammer out some details
Remember I already told them once
I don't do nude scenes or my own stunts
The movie's a failure
on all fronts
Just accept that these things
are going to happen
Everything is set in motion
It will happen anyway
And on and on
After all that
the thing was bad
To try and drum up
Asked the director
"Where do I stand?"
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I was the perfect stereotype of the rude American, thrusting my autograph paper in front of Supergrass drummer Danny Goffey.
The picture to your left makes him look actually presentable. In reality, he looks quite a bit like a trogloydyte, but not nearly as much as his bandmate Gaz Coombes. (See below). Coombes makes Neil Young look attractive, unbelievably.
The picture doesn't do justice to the look Goffey flashed me. It was a look of hatred so profound that I immediately shrank away to a neutral corner. Fortunately, he did sign, with no small amount of resentment. It was as if he had no choice but to aquiesce to my arrogance.
Gaz was more blase about affixing his John Hancock to the yellow-lined paper, but he gave the appearance of having not bathed in five days or so. The stench was profound, but this didn't stop him from winning the attention of three groupies, one of whom I later spied with her arm round his waist around 2 am or so. That was later, however.
In the meantime, I talked to the members of The Coral, who were all around my age and in much better spirits. I had an awkward, but nonetheless jovial conversation with the lead singer, James Skelly, who is as shy as I am.
Introverts understand each other better than most and I had a pleasant chat with him despite the fact that he had a rough time deciphering my slight southern American drawl and I had a difficult time with his northern scouse. Our taste in music was quite similar.
Supergrass were old hands at touring America so they were more or less unfazed by their surrounding. It was The Coral's first American tour so they acted like tourists, soaking in their surroundings. They had the wide-eyed stares I've seen on many Brits perusing the U.S.A. on their first trip across the pond. All of the members and I got on like a roof on fire and I much preferred their company to that of Supergrass.
In the meantime, my friend was chatting up Supergrass bassist Mick Quinn who proved to be one of the most jovial, nicest people I have ever met. In response to the cavorting of his bandmate Gaz, he mentioned only that he had a wife and kids back home.
In the meantime, I was further embarrassing myself by doing lame Tony Wilson impersonations, much to the chagrin of the young black woman with 24 Hour Party People t-shirt on who was part of someone's entourage. From her sarcastic attitude, I assumed she must be somehow connected with Supergrass. When I was wasn't humored I was outright mocked. I was the perfect stereotype of the Yank: loud, pushy, idiotic, frequently doltish.
The scene backstage was kind of bizarre. Hangers-on and stragglers either intoxicated or inebriated on some unknown substance reigned supreme. I tried talking to a girl who couldn't string together anything more than a long string of non sequiturs, albeit with bitchy attitude.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I can tell
I had the world
under my spell
Does this even ring a bell?
I wonder because
Don't you know who I was?
Interest in me dissipated
All my methods antiquated
I've been cast away
Lost and friendless today
I made a name for myself
When one could do such a thing
A reputation that's held together by string
And so I chose to cherish those
who seem there's some purity
to fading into obscurity
What words on paper
Has the tendency to ride on vapor?
Sometimes what's not to love
But then other times, what's to like?
I'm unable to tell if I know who I am
I'm honest success
A shiv or a sham
I'm not afraid of what I'm made of
But my trajectory has me
Fading into obscurity
You kids will have to fend for yourselves
Because your mother's gone and
asked for the elves
Who used to do all the work around here
Well they're not gonna do it anymore
You kids can kiss your mother goodbye
And I'll give you twenty minutes to cry
She used to do all the work around here
But she's not going to do it anymore
And you're getting to old to be cared for
And for that matter
This cake is baked but I much
prefer the batter
Perhaps in part
because it had so much potential
To be delicious and
still be influential
If the eminence that I provided
Explains what I mean
Is true that now as I
can see or be seen
And I know that you'll only shrug
Through my tears
So I'm not going to shed them anymore
Out of favor
With the flavor of the week's where I'll be
and fading into obscurity
An outsider but
in good company.
I'm fading into obscurity.
The program is called Medicaid. Ever since I have been back home in Alabama, I've had to rely on Medicaid to provide prescription drugs for my bipolar disorder. The problem with Medicaid is that it takes a very intelligent person to cut through the red tape and successfully obtain it. Another key problem with Medicaid is that it is lacks many of the amenities that a Blue Cross/Blue Shield excellent quality insurance provides. Medicaid will only fill 30 days worth of prescription drugs at a time. Additionally, as a cost-cutting measure, two of my medication, Effexor and Strattera, are placed on Physician Advisory (PA) status. This means that my physician has to go to the trouble of stating firmly why I should specifically be prescribed these particular meds rather than a lower cost alternative.
But even so, it's absolutely ridiculous how much a 30 day supply of medication costs without insurance. Effexor would cost upwards of $500 a bottle. Strattera would cost $400. This is an excellent example of unbridled greed. The pharmaceutical industry has milked so many people dry that many ailing individuals have been forced to not be able to afford to take their medication. That is a total travesty. Mental illness, in particular, is endemic among the homeless and the drug addicted. I have no doubt that we could prevent many crimes of property and illegal drug offenses if we ensured prescription drugs would cost less than street drugs.
Medicaid works fairly well for just prescription drugs alone, but fat chance getting it to work for anything beyond that. Therapy, a crucial element along with pharmaceuticals in successful treatment of mental illness is an impossibility so long as one only has Medicaid. Few therapists will take it because it a) pays out at such a low rate and b) often pays out delinquently, months behind when it is supposed to.
The point of this post is to recommend strongly that if baseline universal coverage comes to these shores, we would be wise to avoid the pitfalls of Medicaid.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I saw something of myself in you
Too much, in fact
The way you preened
before a mirror
talked a little too loudly
your life story
in the direction
of anyone within earshot
They only rolled their eyes
clucked their tongues
make circular motions
around their temples
when you weren’t looking
I tried not to notice
the intoxicated swagger
you seemed to mistake
I never pointed out
the brightly lit stage
you strode upon
was held up by
contradiction and condescension
that myths and fairy tales
kept your heart beating
Thus I wasn’t surprised
to find the death
of your last panacea
covered in your own blood
Monday, August 20, 2007
acts like he owns this
overgrown cow town
that started to fizzle away
ten years ago
male pattern baldness
not fooling anyone
generic rock star
drives around and around town
stopping by the coffee shop
thrusting autographs into the
hands of the disinterested
we all know him here
he is no stranger
the worst kept secret
the carnal cravings
desire for youth
it scares off many a young man
cruising the street corners
unaccustomed to the advances
of those hairy knuckles
and drooping eyelids
we townspeople say
at least he’s a native
Sunday, August 19, 2007
At evening’s end
remain when all else
has long passed away
cleverest victory can
circumvent the social hierarchy
Yet, age and experience
trumps youth’s insecurity
the wild card
for social mobility
establish the rules
Saturday, August 18, 2007
bou-ncy. noun. slang term for a promiscuous woman, usu. a woman who is a lesbian or bisexual.
sound over of conversation
lips smacking against cigarette filters. giggles. rustling of plastic bags full of pills. childish needless flinty flicks of lighters. all culminating in squeals of girls who saunter up to the bathroom with their lovers to dose, to swallow the necessary amount of water in the cheap plastic cups and upon doing so collapse onto sofas together in a heap of hair and rumpled clothing.
then fade in on where I’m sitting alone. she has witch tits emily and jessica say. they’ve been inseparable for as long as I’ve been a part of this group of friends. two years or more. I say what do you mean by that? they say well they’re all pointy and you know like cone shaped and I say ewwww gross
the lead girl the one who has been in charge of distributing the beans and will later emplore me to rub her head once the drugs kick in is named Maggie. the woman in question is a short order cook at the local bar and grille and wears jeans that smell of the residue of the trade hot grease warm toast fried anything. so Maggie is saying that I’m glad we’re all together tonight at my place and make yourself at home. though I really don’t know anyone don’t even really know why I’m even here tonight just that I didn’t have much else to do on a Friday night.
I’m self conscious about most things about myself including the black hair around my nipples and my arms and my knuckles that I used to shave away out of shame and now just let grow to spite my mother when she visits. when I was in high school she’d often say I don’t know why anyone so pretty would ever leave the house looking so ugly. not that I was ever the epitome of beautiful even when I tried to be fluffy and dainty. I’m rough as a board and as plain as one but I was never content to completely bull-dyke out and buzz my head and wear some hideously lopsided visor.
camera pulls out centering on the black light meant to accentuate the drug being taken. the lights dimmed now. nearly ten o’clock in the evening. the stale stench of charred tobacco wafting in now and then as it is a perfectly still night with no wind.
camera pulls overhead to me sitting alone solitary on the couch I dosed nearly an hour ago and I can’t say I know exactly what these pills contain other than I manage to catch the strains of other peoples’ conversations as though they were my own thoughts. for instance the pair next to me is currently vying for the title of world’s most annoying lesbian couple. loud and all over each other and cooing to each other about promises made of ultimate fidelity you remember hun that when we get older we’re going to china to adopt a baby one of the couple the brunette one with eyes like a doe dislodges, obviously intoxicated, slinks across the floor and asks me abruptly to guess one of her secrets
your secrets? I ask perplexed yes, my secrets sweetie she slurs and brushes a finger against one of my lips. well I say thinking I bet that you almost died when you were a childand instead of the intended or expected reaction to something that outlandish she grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me
how did you know that? who told you that? I’ve never told anyone that before tell me what powers you possess and quickly her partner drags her back from the issue with a deep kiss and everyone goes back to what they were doing. so I resume staring at the ceiling.
the ceiling is a high A frame that reminds me of the small baptist church mom dragged along to when I was a little girl. I would lie in her lap and lie across one of the uncomfortable unpadded wooden pews and stare at the majesty of the rough pine planks that seemed to tower towards heaven while at the same time smarting from the scrapes and scabs that inevitable crisscrossed both knees as a result of a Saturday spent outside playing in the woods.
camera focuses squarely on the center of the room Maggie claims that one of the group must be rescued. Maggie is always rescuing someone. usually it’s whomever she wants to sleep with but you don’t ask questions of Maggie. this is Maggie’s place, and her drugs and her food that she has thoughtfully prepared for the occasion
technically this is her grandfather’s place who few of us has ever seen he is apparently an eccentric old reclusive transvestite who just wants to be left alone. he scarcely leaves his bedroom and his only condition with Maggie is that she not let guys sleep over. this is hardly a problem.
I hear the loud rumbling of Maggie’s car departing the car has a broken muffler that she refuses to get fixed so as a result it is about as subtle upon entrance as she is.
multiple camera shots of women leading women hand by hand into bedrooms it is the time of night where the true meaning of this party becomes evident. there was a time I once defended Maggie you know she’s bouncy they’d said and I like a fool would deny it time and time again. you want to trust her everyone’s slightly in love with her and so I am I suppose. once this girl I barely knew threw herself upon Maggie. deep down inside I’m sure the snake-charmer does have a heart so she did take the opportunity to remove her bra one handed I haven’t lost my touch Maggie said satisfied but then quickly fell asleep next to the poor girl.
but at this moment camera zooms towards door the aforementioned dream goddess enters with a girl around her waist. Maggie surely does like the young ones this one can’t be more than seventeen at best and makes herself at home in front of the big screen television. flips on mtv . I just ate another bean on the way over Maggie says so what do you want me to do about it? rub my head she says I thought that’s what you got her for I say gesticulating towards the tiny body with eyeballs now glued to the screen.
nah she’s not my type she bores me so who is your type I ask skeptically well, maybe you tonight she says and without thinking I take her hand and walk into the bedroom the teen sensation scarcely notices we’ve left.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I'm going through some pretty terrible withdrawal from prescription medication, so for the next several days, blogging will probably consist of my creative writing. I still want to blog and I still want to put something up there for you all to read, but the withdrawal symptoms have been pretty fierce.
Let me just say this, think twice before you take Xanax or any other benzodiazepam.
Leanne talked to her toes. ”Oh toes, I love you!” she proclaimed to anyone who would listen.
“I love you so! I love my beautiful, cute, piano toes!”
They were, indeed, the most beautiful toes everyone had ever lain eyes upon. They routinely won prizes and exposure in such contests as “Toes of Washington State” and “Miss Toes Universe”.
Her toes were so famous, in fact, that they were mentioned in an article of Cosmopolitan, dated June 2004, entitled “Ten Tips for Perfect Toenails.
Recently, however, Leanne and her toes had fallen upon rough times. It seems that her toes believed that they were not receiving the high quality pedicure treatments they believed they deserved. They came forward with a list of demands.
1. They were to always have access to the finest pumice scrub.
2. They were never to be painted by anything other than high quality, fast drying, no smudging toenail polish.
Lastly, Leanne’s toes including legal language that read that if at in time their needs were not being met, then they had every right to refuse to perform their duties.
Leanne was furious. Since when did she owe her toes anything? In fact, if it hadn’t been for the skillful manipulation of other parts of her body, in particular, her brain, her toes wouldn’t have been anywhere. They would have been just another pretty bunch of toes, scraping by, trying to make ends meet.
“You are nothing without ME, toes!” she spat.
“Toes! I feed you, I wash you, I paint you, I rub you, I sing to you, I talk to you when you are lonely, and THIS is the thanks I get?
At that point, Leanne’s toes refused to straighten out so that she could walk. Their toe demands were not being met and Leanne was forced to cancel a photoshoot with a prominent periodical called Playtoes that would have netted the both of them several thousand dollars. Leanne hobbled along on toes that would not fully bend and on the remnants of their life savings.
Leanne was also one of extraordinary beauty. I forgot about that.
Leanne reached a settlement with her toes after six weeks of agonizing stalemate. An outside negotiator was called in, and it was agreed that Leanne and her toes would make a clean break. Leanne retained the right to all previous photography and media ventures in which they were both attached.
In return, her toes were allowed to go free-lance and find another pair of feet who would agree to their demands. The deal was rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $31 million dollars. Leanne’s toes then signed the contract agreement and wriggled off her feet.
Leanne then found a pair of temporary toes, which were not nearly as beautiful as her previous set, but were willing to learn the ropes of professional toe modeling and didn’t complain.
Leanne’s original toes called her up one day, out of the blue. Things had not worked out nearly as well as they’d intended. They wanted to reconcile. They missed her. They missed it when she talked to them when they were lonely, rubbed them when they hurt, painted them, and sang to them. In short, they wanted to get back together.
Leanne had missed her original toes, too. Things had never been quite the same without them. So, she forgave them and they returned to the top of the toe modeling career where they have been ever since.
I’m sure you’ve seen them everywhere.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
“We must come together against all odds, furtive and imperious as they may be, to resolve our grievous situation.”
Whatever do you mean, kind sir?” spoke the dirty man with nary a tooth in his head, nor proper shoes.
“Well,” spoke the similarly attired one, “Our urination situation has become rather precarious. No longer can we fertilize the street of the village square with our own secretions.”
The second man scratched two fleas which had nested in his underarm before contemplating this issue further.
“Have they not considered that it is not enough for us to defoul our own clothing, bodies, or mudplots?”
The first man tipped his imaginary hat to a passing lady, then replied,
“They find us revolting, they say. Thought I daresay they cannot understand a gent’s desire to be so uncouth after imbibing intoxicating liquors.”
Aghast, his companion let out a mock shudder.
“This is most upsetting, yes, yes.”
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
- A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle. —Benjamin Franklin
- Any party which takes credit for the rain must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought. —Dwight Morrow
- Blushing is the color of virtue. —Diogenes
- Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame. ~Alexander Pope
- Don't talk about yourself; it will be done when you leave. —Wilson Mizner
- Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity. —Frank Leahy
- Flattery is all right so long as you don't inhale. —Adlai Stevenson
- Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience. —Eric Hoffer
- Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self. —Charles Haddon Spurgeon
- I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. — Helen Keller
- If every fool wore a crown, we should all be kings. —Welsh Proverb
- It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility. —Rachel Carson
- It is always the secure who are humble. —G. K. Chesterton
- It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help. -Anonymous
- It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles. —Niccolo Machiavelli
- It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. —Mohandas Gandhi
- It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others. —Andrew J. Holmes
- Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with. —Peter Marshall
- Modesty is the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it. —Oliver Herford
- Modesty is the lowest of the virtues, and is a confession of the deficiency it indicates. He who undervalues himself is justly overvalued by others. —William Hazlitt
- Modesty: The art of encouraging people to find out for themselves how wonderful you are. —Source Unknown
- Most of us retain enough of the theological attitude to think that we are little gods. —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
- Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected. —William Safire
- None are so empty as those who are full of themselves. —Benjamin Whichcote
- Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Swallow your pride occasionally, it's non-fattening! —Anonymous
- Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself. —Friedrich Nietzsche
- The humbleness of a warrior is not the humbleness of the beggar. The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn’t permit anyone to lower his head to him. The beggar, on the other hand, falls to his knees at the drop of a hat and scrapes the floor to anyone he deems to be higher; but at the same time, he demands that someone lower than him scrape the floor for him. —Carlos Castaneda
- The man who thinks he can live without others is mistaken; the one who thinks others can't live without him is even more deluded. —Hasidic Proverb
- There are a billion people in China. It's not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it. More than a BILLION people. That means even if you're a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you. —A. Whitney Brown
- There are two kinds of egotists: Those who admit it, and the rest of us. —Laurence J. Peter
- To this principle of vanity, which philosophers call a mean one, and which I do not, I owe a great part of the figure which I have made in life. —Lord Chesterfield
- Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. —Malcolm S. Forbes
- True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes. —Edward Frederick Halifax
- We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glowworm. —Winston Churchill
- We would rather speak ill of ourselves than not talk about ourselves at all. —François Duc de La Rochefoucauld
- Wear your learning like your watch, in a private pocket; and do not pull it out, and strike it, merely to show that you have one. —Lord Chesterfield
- What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. —Abraham Lincoln
- When science discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to find they are not it. —Bernard Baily
- When someone sings his own praises, he always gets the tune too high. —Mary H. Waldrip
- With people of only moderate ability modesty is mere honesty; but with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy. —Arthur Schopenhauer
- You shouldn't gloat about anything you've done; you ought to keep going and find something better to do. —David Packard
- I would rather have people wonder why there is no statue of me, than wonder why there is. - Unknown.
- Humility is good for all, but is an added richness to the rich. - Valluvar in Tirukkural: 125
- I am third. [Means God must come first in our lives, and our neighbour second.] —Catherine Doherty
- "The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient."
- "The high mountains are barren, but the low valleys are covered over with corn; and accordingly the showers of God's grace fall into lowly hearts and humble souls."
- "He who sacrifices a whole offering shall be rewarded for a whole offering; he who offers a burnt-offering shall have the reward of a burnt-offering; but he who offers humility to God and man shall be rewarded with a reward as if he had offered all the sacrifices in the world."
- "True humility—the basis of the Christian system—is the low but deep and firm foundation of all virtues."
- "By humility, and the fear of the Lord, are riches, honor, and life."
- '"If you ask, what is the first step in the way of truth? I answer humility," saith St. Austin. "If you ask, what is the second? I say humility. If you ask, what is the third? I answer the same—humility." Is it not as the steps of degree in the Temple, whereby we descend to the knowledge of ourselves, and ascend to the knowledge of God? Would we attain mercy? humility will help us.'
- "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
- "Nothing can be further apart than true humility and servility."
- 'Some one called Sir Richard Steele the "vilest of mankind," and he retorted with proud humility, "It would be a glorious world if I were."'
- "Humility is the Christian's greatest honor; and the higher men climb, the farther they are from heaven."
- "The grace which makes every other grace amiable."
- "If thou desire the love of God and man, be humble; for the proud heart, as it loves none but itself, so it is beloved of none but by itself; the voice of humility is God's music, and the silence of humility is God's rhetoric. Humility enforces where neither virtue nor strength can prevail nor reason."
- "The fullest and best ears of corn hang lowest toward the ground."
- "If thou wouldst find much favor and peace with God and man, be very low in thine own eyes; forgive thyself little, and others much."
- "After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser."
My dear sweet child
How do I tell you
You came about one fateful, boozy night
Whose memories are now only
A man’s name
A phone number
Scrawled across a
Stained cocktail napkin
Buried in a drawer
Deep beneath old photographs
The dandruff of selves I once was
Saturday, August 11, 2007
A man, not a God.
What if we allowed him the ability to prove himself mortal, rather than insisting he be divine? I don't know about you, but I can't relate to the divine, but I can certainly relate to the mortal.
Imperfect, but enlightened. Flawed, but inspirational. Quick tempered, but still without sin. A champion of the poor who hung around prostitutes, lepers, outcasts, and the various gutter-dwellers of society.
I don't know about you, but the times I've been around the so-called scum of the earth, I haven't come out of the situation having made much of an impact except for having their bad habits rub off on me. It goes contrary to all the things my parents taught me: don't hang around bad influences lest you find them becoming your own.
How did he escape with his virtue intact and his criminal record unscathed? How did he manage to not end up with a drug addiction or a social disease?
How did he not end up contributing to an unwanted pregnancy or worse yet, bring a child into the world that would grow up without ever knowing his father?
How did not end up becoming a criminal himself?
He was a child prodigy turned radical who came to renounce the conventional roles a rabbi was supposed to lead. He was a man who didn't keep his mouth shut and paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth-- to hell with the consequences.
If he lived today, would we call him impulsive? Mentally ill? Hypomanic? Delusional? Too idealistic to be taken seriously? Out of touch with reality? A bottom feeder? A slummer?
Would we be one of the tongue-clucking masses saying that "This time he's gone too far?"
Would we have dispensed advice like "Jesus, for God's sake, just keep your mouth shut."
Would we have questioned why anyone would want to be around prostitutes, drug addicts, malcontents, and all the things we hope our children never become?
Would we have been part of the screaming masses who renounced his teachings and preferred he die a criminal's death on the cross?
Even if we supported him, would we dare speak out out of fear for our own lives and well-being?
How do we re-establish Jesus as the radical, left-wing prophet he right is, rather than continuing to concede to the right this idea of Jesus as a staid, dyed-in-the-wool conservative?
Well, I think part of it is in the fact that many religious liberals are often reluctant to put a public face on their faith. This viewpoint is nothing new, but I add my own two cents to the matter.
I live in the Southeast, a region of the country where open religious expression is quite common. Some people, natives and transplants both, find it awkward and off-putting to be so open about one's faith, yet still others find it freeing and liberating to be able to vocalize a facet of themselves with which they are passionate.
Having traveled fairly extensively throughout the country, I recognize that other regions of the country are far less effusive about their religious preference. In my opinion, we ought not to fear judgment by our fellow humans and be much more open about our faith and our faith journeys.
I was further reminded of this fact when I was informed that former Alaskan senator and Democratic Presidential hopeful Mike Gravel is a Unitarian. One of the reasons I left the Unitarian church is because UUs are so reluctant to be vocal about their denomination. Unintentionally, UUism lies behind a veil of secrecy to rival the Masons. It loses a member for each member it gains because people are so afraid and uncomfortable to be open with what that which they worship and hold dear. And I can see their viewpoint, but I don't share it.
In a larger context, I think all of religious liberalism holds this same fallacy of thought. People my own age and of my generation hold an often cynical, often skeptical view of religion and spirituality because they confuse the Pharisees for the true believers. During adolescence, when challenging the status quo and the things one has been taught by one's parents is the norm, this is forgivable. But I feel that continuing to remain in this frame of mind after adolescence has passed comes across as a state of arrested development rather than a personal decision to stay mum.
For example, if I put up a scathing condemnation of the Republican party and of President Bush on this website, I'll get some comments and I'll be effectively preaching to the choir. I'll have milked the same old "ain't it awful" perspective that we as human beings love to engage in. Nevermind that all it does is coalesce support amongst ourselves and alienate others. We all want to hate on someone, unfortunately, and few of us wish to stick our necks out for fear of being called out.
So let me propose something radical (and it's not really that radical, because I'm only echoing what others have said on this site and many other places). Why don't we all engage in a grand sociological experiment? Why don't we be more vocal about how important our faith is to us rather than worrying about what the Jones and Smiths will say?
We prove ourselves hypocritical when we hold two contradictory viewpoints: 1) that nonconformity ought to be our goal but 2) only the sort of socially acceptable non-conformity. We were founded on a sort of rugged individualism, so why not follow the example of our Founders and take our Jesus back?
Friday, August 10, 2007
The reasons advanced by the author, Andrei S. Markovits, are many but I will simplify a few.
Part of it is due to sour grapes: they envy our wealth while decrying our seemingly shallow, materialistic culture. They find our cheerfully optimistic nature naive, when they've been taught to be more stoic about their emotions and generally more reserved.
I saw instances of the latter first hand from my interactions with two Britons while I was staying at a hostel in NYC. A young woman asked me, in typically direct British fashion whether or not I told my friends that I loved them on a regular basis. To the British sensibility, this sort of effusive behavior is ridiculously vulgar and uncouth, but I'll counter that assertion by noting that it is a sight to see to be around intoxicated Britons. Having never been taught to be comfortable with their emotions, and without guidance counselors in school, the famous stiff upper lip quickly degenerates into a room full of emotionally stunted eight-year-old children. It's downright embarrassing to observe and made me deeply uncomfortable.
So maybe there is something to be said for good old fashion American emotion, after all.
Or maybe we're a nation of Hypomanics and Manic-Depressives. That's what's proposed in The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success.
It is proposed that hypomania drives our peculiarly American sensibility. John D. Gartner even goes so far as to propose that Founding Fathers like Alexander Hamilton and successful businessmen like Andrew Carnegie were products of hypomanic productivity. He further asserts that it takes a person who's a tad bit on the manic side to want to leave his/her country for a Promised Land in the first place. He may be right; I'm still chewing on that. I've certainly thought so myself from time to time.
He notes that the instances of mental illness, particular bipolar disorder, are highest in nations comprised primarily of immigrants.
I don't share every viewpoint noted by both authors, but do recognize that Anti-Americanism has become a common perspective shared by many Europeans. That's a thread that runs through both books, though it is more explicitly stated in the former.
Parts of both books make me involuntarily bristle. I want to shout out at the authors--hey, that's MY country you're talking about! I can criticize it, but you can't! Then I recognize that I sound just as willfully conservative as those who put down the Dixie Chicks.
In short, I'm not sure that any other society would not take the same tact as we have. I'm not sure that any other nation afford the material wealth we are blessed with and not act in the same fashion. I'm sure they'd have a slightly different spin on it and perhaps be a little less reckless and a little less impulsive.
However, I do recognize that we do take our status as a superpower for granted and that in the near future, we may be a second-class power like Britain or France.
Those of us who are in the Democratic base want it to occur as soon as possible, but here is why I think so far the efforts of the Democratic-controlled Congress have yet to make it happen. A cursory study of economics would serve us well. I've been disappointed not to hear this side of the story in the Mainstream media, but we Americans have proven ourselves often ignorant of economics and prone to want simple explanation for very complex problems. The Iraq situation is no different.
We are in between the proverbial rock and a hard place in Iraq. When we leave, we will have effectively created a power vacuum in the Middle East. After we pull our troops out of the region, I see a major war between Shiites and Sunnis in the region. I see, as a result of this action, gasoline prices skyrocketing towards the $5 and $6 market. Our economy, which is already skittish, would then take a severe downturn towards recession.
The Democrats in power are not dumb. They realize that the worst thing that could happen to them is if they can be effectively blamed for putting us into a severe economic downswing. They would then lose their control on Congress and their seats in office. This is why gridlock, saber-rattling, and posturing have taken place thus far. And I remind you who are reading this that it took five years for the United States to withdraw its troops from Vietnam. Nixon was elected on a secret strategy to end the War, but he effectively kept it going for much longer than the war-weary American public would have wished.
I don't know what it is about human nature, capitalism, and profit but for some reason or another it seems as though people have got to get killed to keep economies robust. This is hardly a surprise to anyone who has studied history in any fashion. Even the ballerina Nijinksy, who was no great study of current events, set forth in his diary this revelation which I have memorized and kept at hand. He said, I know why wars are fought. Wars are fought over commerce.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
End of the Snow SeasonI.
Late March in Boston. The tail end of the snow season. Three inches fell last week and two inches at least remain on the ground, pushed aside by snow plows—-grimy black and grey with roadside pollution. The snow lingers copiously in shaded corners, underhangs shielded from sunshine.
At this time, the city begin to believe that winter has departed. Clunky, insulated galoshes are set inside closets by the adventurous and the believers in best-case-scenario. Pessimists still sport them. The wet cold. The steady drizzle. Sustained sunlight is months away.
Your hands are long and thin. The passage of years will leave them no less freckled, but twenty times more wrinkled. Your nose is beak-shaped, bird-like—juts out prominently from high cheekbones. Facial structure is bony and pronounced.
You're selfish, she said. This was in the art museum not from from Allston, where she had casually dismissed all the great masters as little more than charlatans.
I must have walked this same block fifty times over—and more so in my mind. The town square’s denizens no longer wear woolen overcoats and drive horse and buggies. Instead they dress in baggy, hip-hop denim with splatter paint running up and down the pants leg.
If one decides to walk past the homeless people resting uncomfortably on park benches, one will find a memorial to some long forgotten prosperous townsperson. Though some acknowledge his name, most know it only as a landmark. These days, the surname is attached to drug deals and inhales of nicotine—it’s a destination, not a means for solemn reverence.
Civil engineers can’t seem to build enough roadways these days. The nearly empty shopping mall will soon be razed to make way for more asphalt and toll booths.
Your nasally mid-Massachusetts hard As stick out when you tell me I hate this place it’s gone to hell this place really sucks it’s so hard to survive these days.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The day Lisa Shaw’s son Tyler came home from school with tears streaming down his cheeks, the 34-year-old Crawford, Texas, homemaker knew things had gone too far.
“All of Tyler’s varying and sundry friends was making fun of the way he talked,” Shaw says. “I am not a revengeful person, but I couldn’t let this behaviorism slip into acceptability. This is not the way America is about.”
Shaw and her son are two of a surprising number of Americans who speak a form of nonstandard English that linguists have dubbed “Bushonics,” in honor of the dialect’s most famous speaker, President George W. Bush. The most striking features of Bushonics—tangled syntax, mispronunciations, run-on sentences, misplaced modifiers and a wanton disregard for subject-verb agreement—are generally considered to be “bad” or “ungrammatical” by linguists and society at large.
But that attitude may be changing. Bushonics speakers, emboldened by the Bush presidency, are beginning to make their voices heard. Lisa Shaw has formed a support group for local speakers of the dialect and is demanding that her son’s school offer “a full-blown up apologism.” And a growing number of linguists argue that Bushonics isn’t a collection of language “mistakes” but rather a well-formed linguistic system, with its own lexical, phonological and syntactic patterns.
“These people are greatly misunderestimated,” says University of Texas linguistics professor James Bundy, himself a Bushonics speaker. “They’re not lacking in intelligence facilities by any stretch of the mind. They just have a differing way of speechifying.”
It’s difficult to say just how many Bushonics speakers there are in America, although professor Bundy claims “their numbers are legionary.” Many who speak the dialect are ashamed to utter it in public and will only open up to a group of fellow speakers. One known hotbed of Bushonics is Crawford, the tiny central Texas town near the president’s 1,600-acre ranch. Other centers are said to include Austin and Midland, Texas, New Haven, Conn., and Kennebunkport, Maine.
Bushonics is widely spoken in corporate boardrooms, and has long been considered a kind of secret language among members of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon. Bushonics speakers have ascended to top jobs at places like the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services. By far the greatest concentration of Bushonics speakers is found in the U.S. military. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig is only the most well known Bushonics speaker to serve with distinction in America’s armed forces. Among the military’s top brass, the dialect is considered to be the unofficial language of the Pentagon. Former President George H.W. Bush spoke a somewhat diluted form of the dialect that bears his family’s name, which may have influenced his choice for vice president, Dan Quayle, who spoke an Indiana strain of Bushonics.
The impressive list of people who speak the dialect is a frequent topic at Lisa Shaw’s weekly gathering of Bushonics speakers. That so many members of their linguistic community have risen to positions of power comes as a comfort to the group, and a source of inspiration.
“We feel a good deal less aloneness, my guess is you would want to call it,” Shaw says. “It just goes to show the living proof that expectations rise above that which is expected.”
Some linguists still contend, however, that the term “Bushonics” is being used as a crutch to excuse poor grammar and sloppy logic.
“I’m sorry, but these people simply don’t know how to talk properly,” says Thomas Gayle, a speech professor at Stanford University. Professor Gayle was raised by Bushonic parents, and says he occasionally catches himself lapsing into the dialect.
“When it happens, it can be very misconcerting,” Gayle says. “I understand Bushonics. I was one. But under full analyzation, it’s really just an excuse to stay stupider.”
It’s talk like that that angers many Bushonics speakers, who say they’re routinely the victims of prejudice.
“The attacks on Bushonics demonstrate a lack of compassion and amount to little more than hate speech,” says a prominent Bushonics leader who spoke on the condition that his quote be “cleaned up.”
Increasingly, members of the Bushonics community are fighting back. Lisa Shaw’s Crawford-based group is pressing the local school board to institute bilingual classes, and to eliminate the study of English grammar altogether. “It’s an orientation of being fairness-based,” Shaw says. A Bushonics group in New England has embarked on an ambitious project to translate key historical documents into the dialect, beginning with the Bill of Rights. (For instance, the Second Amendment rendered into Bushonics reads: “Guns. They’re American, for the regulated militia and the people to bear. Can’t take them away for infringement purposes. Not never.”)
Bushonics activists say they’ll keep fighting as long as there are still children who come home from school crying because their classmates can’t understand a word they’re saying. Lisa Shaw hopes that every American will heed the words of the nation’s No. 1 Bushonics speaker, and vow to be a uniter, not a divider.
“We shouldn’t be cutting down the pie smaller,” Shaw says with quiet dignity. “We ought to make the pie higher.”
We claim to admire the idealist, when we always end up siding with the pragmatist. Idealism sounds good and it caters to that romantic element within us all who loves it when the White Hats beat the Black Hats, that good triumphs over evil in the end, and loves the saccharine sweetness of a good Disney movie.
I said what I said yesterday out of frustration. No matter how well-intentioned we are in the blogosphere, we cannot through our good intentions alone re-program human nature. We can sit and metaphorically stroke our goatees meaningfully and agree what a nice world it would be if we all just got along and held hands and sang Kumbaya around the campfire. Meanwhile, the world goes on, still full of human fallibility, sin, and imperfection.
If what I've said comes across as arrogant, than so be it. Better I be arrogant than complacent. Better I be arrogant than inactive. Better I be arrogant than ignorant. Better I be arrogant than passionless.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
So I've come to the point that I feel as though we ought to work within the system, flawed and unethical though it may be, rather than try to work outside it. To work outside the system and have it work would insist that we explode it and that was tried during the 1960s with limited success. There is too much at stake and the powers that be will not allow that to occur.
So let me propose something bold.
We in the left-wing elite tend to overlook the plight of the common person. We get so carried away with our own agenda, which admittedly is too far to the left to ever hold sway among all but a few educated people. Faux News fears the power of the netroots but I think they do give us too much credit.
This is the hard truth. The people we need to come to our side most don't read blogs. Few of them read newspapers. Fewer still read books. Most of them get their news from the television if they are even inclined to care about the news. I maintain, and maintain strongly, that the only way to get the attention of the average American voter is through financial means. Their primary concerns are not these grandiose issues we love to dissect, but rather on such prosaic matters as: making enough money to survive, caring for their children, and working to keep food on the table.
We all know that the key problem that faces the average person is ignorance. And I think many of us would agree that the only cure for ignorance is education. So let me propose something that I don't see many people out there clamoring for:
Report after report has shown that the costs of higher education have skyrocketed over the past few years, putting a college degree firmly out of the hands but the fortunate few who have the financial means to afford it or the courage to take out student loans. I am a victim of the latter, having run up for a mere two semesters of graduate school, nearly $24,000 worth of student loans. I have only managed to pay off a little over $1,500 of that debt.
College is an experience that not only expands minds and counters ignorance but it also nearly guarantees that those who obtain it will make more money and have more career opportunity.
If we educated folks want to grow our numbers and win people over to our side, this ought to be foremost in our agenda.
How do we pay for it? Simple. Let's take money from the wealthiest 1% of Americans who have benefited most from eight years of George the First.
Other options could include:
- Cutting taxes 10% across the board
- Instituting a flat tax that taxes all people equally.
The institutional memory and short term memory of the masses in general is pretty short. I do recommend we institute a free, across the board college education. And I recommend we pay lip service to a tax cut and a flat tax. Is this ethically sound? Maybe, and maybe not, but I agree with Gore Vidal that politics and politicians have never been ethical. It's the way of the world. A President who lied before a Grand Jury and cheated on his wife remained in power and came out of his Impeachment Trial with a 70% approval rating.
It is laudable for both the idealistic left and the idealistic right to point out that character does matter, but I am increasingly of the opinion that idealism almost always loses.
But at least let us have free college education. And while we're at it, let's have universal health care coverage, too. Those two issues will win more people over to our side than anything else.
I mentioned this during the Skye live chat we had over at Blue Gal's place last night, so if any of you are curious, here it is.
Summer Camp for Radical Leftists
One of the most brilliant people is O’Daniel, who makes constant, highly distracting head bobs up and down.
A rumor surrounds the camp that he was born autistic. In actuality, he prefers to bark at you that he is not actually autistic. Instead he has a a rare form of the disorder that is not technically autism.
In long accustomed fashion, just like your parents told you to… you nod your head up and down and agree with him.
The Evil Queen draws these men into her fold easily. They quickly collapse at the knees and beg for punishment. They are sufficiently trained to follow the plan of the manifesto, and begin taking upper level management jobs within the inner works of the machine.
During the numerous training and promotional videos that we are required to view for a good six hours prior to hiring, we are taught step-by-step how to be a model radical. Having good hygenic practices is considered a plus, as well as a winning smile.
This highly offensive form of new employee orientation was the Wicked Queen’s idea. She had “connections”, she said. To me, “connections” looked a lot like tired old B movie actors talking in monosyllables. They knew they couldn’t act and guiltily spoke their lines as though their earnestness in their own mediocrity could redeem the fact. The spoke as though the person across the camera was threatening their lives, much like those hostages held captive by other competing rival groups, or OCRG.
I wish we had a good digital camera like the Islamic Jihadists. Ours hasn’t been the same since the Christmas Party. This was the first year in five that we haven’t beaten them in the pick-up softball game arranged after the generic summer holiday fireworks show. They’ve got this new guy, with a really gigantic turban, who can pitch like nobody’s business.
It was time for the morning meeting around the campfire. Plans were announced to have a meeting of prayer or silent contemplation or any such higher form that you might hold true to yourself. Extremely over-dramatical gestures were made for the sake of emphasis and it was sagely concurred that this was indeed a safe space where we all are present.
The Pagans amuse me greatly.
They dress much like the garden gnomes one sees in the sides of yards in selected Scandinavian countries. They act like them, as well—theatrical overacting common to Vaudeville and silent movies. Sometimes they scare small children in the daycare that was thoughtfully provided this year yet again. This is really just a response to Kathy Ronti who insists taking her whole family with her everywhere. The twins, as they are known, look harmless enough, until they start quoting Marxist conflict theory rhetoric verbatim.
They run around and tell us that they have been well informed about matters of contraception and show us how they are skilled in knowing about multiple forms and methods.
The reason the daycare even existed is because of the unfortunate incident this time last year. Everyone’s trying to forget how the boys deliberately started knocking over the artistic rock structures in the river. Building artistic rock structures is a way that we all bond. They are so important to us that they are scheduled three times daily.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I hope it has resonance for you, too.
Do Good Anyway...
"In the Final Analysis"
by Mother Teresa
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered...
forgive them anyway
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives...
be kind anyway
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies...
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you...
be honest and frank anyway
What you may spend years building, someone may destroy overnight...
If you find serenity and happiness, people may be jealous...
be happy anyway
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow...
do good anyway
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough...
give the world the best you have anyway
You see, in the final analysis, it's all between you and God...
it was never between you and them anyway
As I drive around, I often see stickers commemorating the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. As the above image suggests, may I propose that we commemorate instead the day, six years ago, where our current President was presented an urgent memo warning him that an Al-Qaeda attack was imminent.
I'd like to see this image turned into a bumper sticker, as it would certainly grace my back bumper.
Here's my take on the 11 September activities. I have no kooky Rosie O'Donnell style conspiracy theories, though I have pondered them. I don't believe this administration is competent enough to pull off a conspiracy of such magnitude, and that they have the ability to have brought down the Twin Towers by themselves. I don't ascribe to the belief that 11 September was an inside job.
However, I do believe that this administration was complicit in the attack. I believe that they deliberate ignored the threat, wanting their own unique Pearl Harbor. Maybe they didn't recognize just how virulent and involved the plot would be. My gut instinct is that they thought the carnage would be much less intense than it turned out to be. As it stands, 3,000 plus people lost their lives due to criminal negligence on the part of the Bush administration.
I will go to my grave believing this.
EDIT: I like Street Prophets far more than I do Daily Kos. Dear Kossites, there is such a thing as a sense of irony and many of you make me ashamed to be an American. You play into anti-American stereotypes such as ill-informed, stupid, placated by media, and utterly clueless. You remind me of people who think: Why read when you can just flip on the tube? May you develop a sense of critical thinking, else you play into the hands of the Right and the Anti-American sentiment currently brewing in Western Europe. This is my prayer. Amen.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
If you've been following the current debate raging in Unitarian/Liberal Christian circles, the question being posed is: How do we keep a sense of collective memory fresh in the minds of all people and how do we make them see how relevant it is to today?
Thomas Jefferson was not an egalitarian. He was an elitist. He believed that the educated elite ought to have access to the most education and that the masses ought to be educated on more practical matters and have a thorough grounding, but not the in depth study provided the educated elite. This philosophy has survived in intellectual, academic settings as well as the Unitarian church. I'm inclined to believe more in Jefferson's take because the older I get, the less I believe that the liberal idea that provided enough education, every person can rise above his station and reach self-actualization is little more than an exploded myth.
Horace Mann, a century later, took a much more egalitarian approach, arguing that education was for all people, regardless of class. I tend to see this approach as pie-in-the sky rather than practical or even possible.
As a historian, I understand that some concepts are so submerged underneath the crap we’re inundated with on a daily basis (particularly in these days of such constant information barrage) that it takes the intellectuals to point it out and re-frame the argument so that the average Joe and Jane can understand it. This shouldn't reflect negatively on the average person and I really believe the idea of blame has no purpose in the discussion. It has been my understanding that it takes a special person to look at the world and dig layers beneath the surface and not confuse that surface as all there is to know. We in education call those sorts “self-directed learners”.
I think only a few people are geared to a self-directed learners. It’s up to the intellectuals to show the average person how to think. Not out of a sense of paternalism, which with a pat on the head says I-know-better-than-you-do, but merely out of matter of course.
Both points have merit, but it is my opinion that we owe it to ourselves to question and probe. I don't believe Christopher Columbus was a great man, and neither do I see Andrew Jackson as a great man, either. But the debate that really lies beneath the surface is that of fear versus trust. I see the conservative viewpoint as being firmly fear-based--the fear that if we dispose of traditional conceptions of history then we'll find ourselves utterly rudderless. I see the liberal viewpoint, which I entertain, as being based on trust. I trust that the revisionist school of thought will lead us closer to the way things really transpired.
The revisionist school has led me to understand a lot of crucial elements about human nature. There are constants in human nature, and among these are the desire for power, the desire for material gain, the desire for sexual conquest, and the pursuit of commerce. All wars when you whittle them down to their basest elements have these crucial elements in common. Many policy decision, too, have these same elements in common.
I think it is up to the intellectual to put these truths in a proper context. The average person is not capable for whatever reason or another of entertaining these concepts by himself or herself--after all, if he or she were, what would be the role of the pedagogy? If this is an elitist statement, so be it, but I doubt that we have advanced far enough in civilization for every person to be his/her own scholar. I believe that visionaries have an obligation to society to advance the cause of knowledge. In blogging, I've run across many fellow visionaries and nothing gives me more comfort than knowing I am not alone in thinking these thoughts and in pondering these issues.
For whatever reason or another, human beings were created unequal as far as educational prowess and intellectual capacity are concerned. Thus it can be a very lonely experience to be gifted and articulate. But we who do blog, and we who do probe do everyone a great service to keep the debate going. And at worst, it's a fun exercise that keeps us smartypants cognizant of the fact that we ought to have no shame for not being "normal", for not being the Proles of Orwellian fame who take everything the government and society tells them at face value and live lives of productive banality. Clearly, if we were all meant to be equal, we would all have high IQs. But we do not and rather than bemoan this point and rather than fear that we'll all fall prey to the eternal blame game, may we seek to grab the bull by the horns. Some of us are meant to lead, and most of us are meant to follow and whether you find that comforting or disquieting, that's just the way of the world.