Thursday, February 26, 2004

Damn Wednesday Night Trivia 

There's something poetic about a Thursday hangover. It feels more starved and thirsty somehow - like the old cowboy sent to wander across the desert, or the face of Medusa. There's both a desperation and an anachronism to the Thursday hangover that may only be matched by the Tuesday kind. Maybe it's something to do with the letter T.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Osama bin Misbehavin' 

If this guy isn't sipping pina coladas in Fiji, then he's sipping coffee with American generals. On dialysis.

October Surprise?

So here is a friendly bet I have going with a friend: That in the 3 months before the General Election one of the following will occur-

1) The US will find Saddam Hussein
2) The US will find Osama bin Laden
3) There will be a terrorist attack on US soil with at least 100 casualties
4) Ronald Reagan will die
5) There will be an assassination attempt on George W. Bush

Mark these words, young ones. Cynical though they may be.


Too Much Vitamin C 

I had a strange dream last night. To give a little background: I am currently between jobs. Way between. I am sort of spinning in the middle since the gravitational pull from both has diminished. So I dreamt I had to get a job doing a little housecleaning, which, to be honest, I didn't mind all too much. I walk up an enormous flight of outdoor stairs, in the cold air, and knock on the door. It's a modest home, but still giving off all the wrong pretensions. Of course, entendu, it is a teenaged girl who answers the door; one of these rich young ladies who is a master of manipulation, but still a child. She is actually tottering somewhere on the precipice of compassion and coldness. An heiress who is trying to determine if it will be more fun to make lives miserable right here at home, or to contemplate a mission to Africa to build hospitals, and the lines between aid and malice are quite blurred for her.

She lets me in, with a lingering eye. Seduction for the sake of seduction, though she is too young for me. She hands me a toy riding crop, which somehow makes its way under the sink. I cannot remember the girl's name, though I think it's Veronica, or Victoria, or Rebecca. There are no adult figures around so I get to work, sprinkling a little cleaning powder on various countertops, and preparing the mop bucket. (Throughout the dream, my charge appears limited to the general kitchen/dining room area.)

Then the father comes in. He is average height, mustache, balding, with, I believe reading glasses. He looks everywhere in the dining room but at me. I introduce myself, thank him for the opportunity, and tell him I'll do a good job and all that. He keeps his back turned to me at all times. I'm gettig a definite Don't-Fraternize-With-The-Help vibe from this gentleman. Without a word, he wipes my cleaning powder from the counter and dumps out the mop bucket. He reaches into a cabinet, pulls out some different cleaning supplies and explains to me how they want it done. Then he launches into a tirade about cards and milk: "Here," he says, taking a mishapen mug from the cupboard. "This is a good one for milk. When you're almost done, fill this up with milk and set it aside. There's a game called Fours, which we like to play on weekends. It's a good game, fast. I could play a million in a row. It's much better than smoking cigarettes or reading comic books. When you're almost done, play some Four, and have a glass of milk. Go practice in the other room. You're not to be outside with cigarettes." He smiles at me and puts a cigarette behind his ear.

I am starting to feel indignant. I have come to work. I have come to do a good job. But I will NOT be told which card games to play when, nor whether I may smoke while waiting for the floor to dry. (It was the kind of dream indignance that is so much more rapturous in that metaphysical fold - right now I giggle about it.) I am speechless, and the father is happy about this. The girl, Veronica, let's say, it skulking at the margins of the room, head cocked, arms behind her back, watching to see what my reactions may be.

I get mopping. Victoria drones on about cards, Daddy, things she's done at school. And she points to the riding crop, which I then understand to be an important symbol in the dream. It is red and black plastic, slightly smaller than a regular one, and sort of luminescent. It leans against a cabinet below the sink. I struggle to remember how it got there, but am unable. I get the impression it belongs to a younger sister. It is a tool of dominance, but a child's version. It is a toy. For playing dominance.

-- So the analyst must interject here for a moment. Doesn't this seem a bit fairy tale-ish? I am forced to go in and sustain abuse at the hands of a rich family who thinks they're superior to me. The riding crop symbolizes my obediance, and the girl represents the false promise of compassion, the inauthenticity of people in the world who portray themselves as saviors. There is no savior but myself. Old Dad, bald and blind, sees a young and verile Me, so must assert some dominance in the only way he knows how. Why a card game called Four? Four is generally representative of the physical plane, the world, ie. Four Corners of the Earth. Cards is a game of chance, but also passes the time, as he says. Does it mean taking chances is the best way to live in the world? Or does it mean the world is a big game? Or does it just mean he likes to play cards. We have, then, the wicked stepsister and abusive father. So the mother must be a real bitch --

But she's not. She is the most gracious and down-to-earth of the three. (The supposed younger sister, to whom the crop toy belongs, never comes into frame.) Mother walks in, makes eye contact, introduces herself, tussles lovingly at Victoria's hair. She looks approvingly at the floor, and congratulates Rebecca and me on the death of a fly, suspended in mid air near the sink, killed, apparently, by some deadly and invisible toxin. Veronica takes credit for the dead fly, which is fine with me, although it is also clear that I somehow made it possible.

Father returns, says a few degrading things, and I threaten to quit. "I can't take this anymore! Just let me do my job!" and I walk off. The father sits on some sort of chair that rises from the table like a set of bleachers. I am being observed down on the court, while he makes commentary from the crowd. And something inside me stops dead. I can't leave this job just because they annoy me. "If the father isn't around, " I realize, "everything will be fine." But wait: I can't control when the father is around, and I need this money. I am not about to quit right now. So I stay. I tell them I'll stay, and they look genuinely relieved. There is a relief and a disappointment: relief that they failed in getting me to quit, and a disappointment that they will have to try again. I get the sense that this is nothing new to these two, that they regularly torment the help.

Some time later, Victoria is lying in her bunkbed as I clean the bathroom. She offers some apology and psychoanalysis of her parents. She wants me to stay, she says, and offers me some money. "No, no," I say. "If I stay it will be at the agreed-upon price." She sticks out her tongue, and rolls over in bed, and I finish cleaning.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Gay Nineties (These Ain't) 

Al Sharpton has advocated a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing health care for every American. I have seen this mentioned maybe once in the news media. This very intriguing proposal doesn't warrant any coverage because it is considered outside the realm of possibility, beyond the pale, falderall. It is now the official policy of our President to write discrimination into the Constitution by advocating an amendment banning same-sex marriages. This is not only considered a debate-worthy reality, it is an actual political strategy that is apparently attractive to a goodly number of Americans.

What the H-H-Heck!?

Is there any sense to this? History repeats itself in the ugliest ways, time and time again, and there doesn't seem to be anything one can do about it. I can think only of those shaky black & white images from the 1960s, with young black men and women walking calmy into soda shoppes and schools, poised and calm as indignant white men, wearing freshly-pressed lilywhite shortsleeve shirts, drag and beat them. Angry men with close-cropped hair and eyeglasses, and young boys throwing rocks at the heads of other human beings. Their window of reality was tinted darkly with fear. They felt threatened, they felt righteous, and now forty years later, to the vast majority (or so I hope) their steadfast defense is indefensible; their shameless superiority is ultimately shameful; it looks foolish, inhuman, inconceivable. How could it ever have been an issue, I wonder. How could this degree of hatred have existed in such a pandemic way? I cannot help but feel sorry for these angry men now, to feel some compassion for the great terror that must have pushed these people into such ghastly action. They were more vulnerable, in their crass racism, than the smallest child. They were gripped and controlled by fear.

And this same fear grips us today. I can blame George W. Bush and the conservative right and the cynics of politics on this latest blind and furious crusade, but it will do no good. I cannot change anybody. All I can do is tell the truth, my truth, and act accordingly.


We cannot expect anything better than what we ourselves are willing to do. Blaming others is a great way to relieve myself, to calm that stirring feeling of responsibility -- of guilt? The media monster is a fierce one, but it is still a product that remains, to a large degree, at the whims of the marketplace. If I give up on others, I give up on myself. If I blame society, I blame myself.

My thought is this: any campaign against a certain group is based fundamentally in fear. A great fear that all of us share in different ways. I must first have compassion and empathy for the very people who look to persecute me. It will not be easy, but precluding the possibility of an open future kills it and kills myself. In forty years this will all seem ridiculous. And we don't want to wait forty years, so it will seem easier to give up, to separate ourselves from society; but that is the very thing those opposed to gay marriages seek to do -- they see gays as separate from society, separate from God, separate, in a way, from humanity. To move away is to complete the tear.

This imay seem far too easy for me to say, but I, too, will be effected by an amendment of discrimination because I will have to live in that society. I will have to live it and affirm it every day if I do nothing to stop it. It will be too easy to say "I was against it," and to give up, to put myself on a pedestal. I am responsible for it, no matter the outcome. I want nothing more than to defeat this monstrous amendment. But disengaging gives power to the forces I railed against.

I don't say it lightly when I say that those who can love their enemies will always be the stronger. Ask Ghandi, Jesus and MLK. Well, at least read about them.


Monday, February 23, 2004

The Nadir of Hypocrisy 

How dare he! Ralph Nader announced yesterday plans to run for President again. Nader, as you may remember is the serpent in the Garden, the great egoist who dared to run on a platform of integrity and anti-corporatism in 2000, who single-handedly destroyed everything that is good and holy about our country, and now he wants to do it again. Doesn't Ralph know this is supposed to be a DEMOCRACY?! That it isn't fair for him to run when we already have a perfectly good candidate? Doesn't he recognize the mystical sway he has, the smoky trance he puts unwitting voters in -- the very number of voters John Kerry (or the eventual Democratic nominee) will have needed to defeat Bush, putting an eternal end to all the wrongs he and his Administration has perpetrated on we innocent Americans? Can Nader not see that his ego is in the way, that Edwards and Kerry want only the best for America, and have no egos?

How dare he! Voters will be confused, frightened, they'll run instantly from the White Light of the Democratic party and into his loving, consumer-oriented arms. They will have no choice! His charisma, his charm, his wit -- he will be unstoppable! And when he gets his 854,035 votes out of a possible 90,000,000, it will be because of this spell he casts, and nothing to do with individual thought, consideration, desire or opinion. The voters have no power over him! They will not want to vote for Nader, oh no, but they will fall under the forces of evil and punch that card or fill in that oval and ruin the country. Again. O, something wicked this way comes! Nader, the beast, retreat into your personal hell and leave our souls be! It will be his fault if the Democrats lose. Again. Just like last time. We came close, and we'll come close this time, but it's out of our hands. We are the helpless victims. Nader will ruin it all.

He may even be a Bush spy. Perhaps he is on Karl Rove's payroll. Why else would he run? It is either ego or money. These are the only two choices. Or he is evil.

In fact, I am going to start blaming Nader right now. I will not vote in November in protest of Nader's protest. Everywhere I go, people will hear of the spoiler-to-be, the beast, the Nader. Everyone will know what evil he makes, the lies he tells -- imagine!: accusing democrats of being under the corporate thumb! Think of it! Minimizing the difference between the two parties! Telling America that if they keep choosing between the lesser of two evils, they'll eventually wind up with no choice at all, with an evil it will seem compelling to replace - with a lesser evil. Again. And then complacency and laziness until the greater evil returns. And then a lesser evil. Round and round and round and round. Lower and lower and lower, scratching at the walls of the well.




This is my second post. If you think this is tough on you, just imagine how I must feel.

This is my first post. So get off my back already!


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