The enormous, steep slide of American culture and intelligence is beautifully counter-pointed by the bone deep corruption of its government. Like two drunken elephants, doing the tango on a cliff's edge it is a fascinating thing to watch at a distance. It’s like watching Ebola at work in the face of someone you know.
Corruption has always been a handmaiden to the art of politics. It’s sausage-making at its finest ...But now? Now corruption is the process itself. Watching the government and the media do Alphonse and Gaston is like watching your Brady bunch parents kill each other at the breakfast table because someone forgot to turn the clocks back for Daylight Savings Time. It doesn’t make sense that banality can turn into horror faster than you can say, “huh?”
I was never a flag waver, even before I knew what I know now; I didn’t get the ‘fife and drum’ act. At first I thought it was me that was out of step. It seemed like everything I did as a kid was wrong. Even when I tried to fit in all I managed was to call attention to myself. Now I realize that I had a basic honesty that couldn’t adjust to the programming. Today I’m grateful for it. At the time it was Hell.
Then I learned about the Native Americans and Slavery; the Chinese railroad workers, the Japanese internment, United Fruit and all the other sad, unfortunate tales of realpolitik dressed up in the ball-gown of patriotism and nationalism. It’s not hard to see how, eventually, fascism showed up drunk, half-naked and belligerent on Main Street; smashing store windows and urinating on parked cars.
Reagan came to town and I ran as far as the American borders would allow. I ran all the way to Hawaii. Finally even that wasn’t far enough. When it got to where I couldn’t turn around without running into the fat, red-faced, martini drinking relatives of the Republican mob that attacked the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Office I left altogether. No more ‘purple mountain’s travesties above the looted plain’ for me. Even so, I could scarcely imagine what was to follow.
Now Lady Liberty is a crack whore, blowing drunken lobbyists in Lafayette Park. God is a fire-breathing, six hundred foot rat with a chainsaw and life has become a Meth-freak’s paranoid fantasy of faceless pursuers. I’m sorry folks; this movie cannot have a happy ending. Maybe it mighta, coulda, even shoulda worked out okay in the end but here’s the deal. You let it happen. True, a pack of nasty reptiles took over the magic show but... you just stepped back and let them through.
Okay, let’s be fair. There are millions (I hope anyway) who could see what an unprincipled whore george w. bush was/is. I expect if I was Lot and God gave me the opportunity, I could find more than a handful of righteous people there. However, when you factor in the unbelievably stupid; the viciously supportive, the pathologically indifferent, the religious lemmings and the hand-wringing whiners, well, there’s a solid majority there. How did you get like that? ...materialism, straight up, no chaser; ‘me first, you later, maybe’, says all anyone needs to say about why you are in the mess you are in. Your common purpose is not a better, saner world. Your common purpose is consumption. Your common purpose is more security with more freedom and you can’t have both. You can’t have open parks and woodlands, along with safe neighborhoods and 24 hour armed response teams at the same time. You can't stretch the line between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' beyond endurance.
You can’t have honor and dishonor wearing the same team jacket. These two factions play on opposite sides. Putting them on the same team guarantees one thing; you lose. Life is a team sport. You can’t win if your neighbor, your government and the boogeyman are all against you.
Do you think it’s bad now? How do you think it looks when it carries out to its inevitable conclusion? I’d be here for the next several weeks itemizing and categorizing the whole lame, embarrassing, frightening and unbelievable mess. Let’s just take it on faith that you know what I’m talking about and that you have plenty of evidence of your own. Let’s say that this and more is a given and let me get on to the worst part of the whole affair.
The saddest and most shameful fact of all is that all of this is taking place because you are goddamn well going to keep your lifestyle no matter what it costs or who it hurts. At the bottom of the Iraq war is America’s alcoholic need for oil. Has Iraq got oil? Why, let me see... why, I believe it has got a shitload of oil. Yes indeedy. There are a few things Iraq didn’t have. It didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. As george ‘the killer clown’ bush pointed out, while looking under his sofa; “no, no WMD’s here.” It didn’t have any Al Qaeda 9/11 ties and whatever else it didn’t have to justify this stupid, stupid adventure; but it does have oil.
So you America, a country that has had the lowest gas prices of any country in the so-called free world for a long, long time, you couldn’t see the need for energy efficiency, or conservation, or alternative energy; no, not you. You want your top of the fucking heap, cheap fossil fuel; department stores bursting with junk, TV’s vomiting, opening night, window seat for fine dining, illegal immigrants swabbing the deck and picking the fruit and fuck anybody that gets in my way. You want it without sacrifice and you want it with speed. You got it. You got it to the strains of “America the Beautiful” and “Bring it on!” and “support the troops” and “screw the French” and you can go tie a yellow ribbon around Tony Orlando’s dick as far as I’m concerned.
People die all over the world so that you can get it faster and cheaper. Until the last drop of oil burns in the last fuel inefficient car you are going to make sure that it is an American car when it happens. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt. It doesn’t matter how many homeless families sleep under highway bridge abutments outside of town. It doesn’t matter what crimes are committed. It doesn’t matter how many rock throwing 11 year old girls you indict with felony crimes. It really doesn’t matter how absurd it gets. It doesn’t matter how much of a cartoon you turn into. You aren’t going to change until it’s too late. Woe unto you, you generation of vipers.
Go ahead, stick your chest out. I wouldn’t advise trying to suck your gut in at the same time. Strike up the band. What the Hell, have a parade, you’ve earned it. When you get up shit’s creek without a paddle it’s going to be a real comfort that Rush Limbaugh is at the tiller. Of course that tiller hasn’t got a paddle either. Give Ann Coulter a call, or David Horowitz, Sean Hannity; maybe Thomas Friedman or Brit Hume. They’ve got the answer. They were cheering you on. Surely they knew where they were going. The thing is America; you don’t have an ‘undisclosed location’ to go to. You don’t have a Republican Guard. You don’t live behind guarded security gates like your cheerleaders; you certainly don’t have the security of your most famous cheerleader. Don’t worry, just stay the course; “Shit Creek dead up ahead.”
I’d like to think you’re going to wake up; hope springs eternal. I would honestly, sincerely, like to believe and do hope that you will wake up. I don’t hate you and there is no ounce of satisfied, “I told you so.” in my heart. The bridge is out. I am waving from the side of the road. I am screaming, “The Bridge is out!” and I see a sneering, angry face. I am dodging beer bottles and I can hear the curses flow from the window as you speed on by. I can only shake my head and set off for the lights of home.
I still don’t fit in and I still don’t get it. Am I an alarmist? Am I an extremist? Am I just a disenfranchised loser who missed out on the good life and who, in defense of my own short-comings, hates the country of my birth? You know, I honestly would rather that were true than the alternative. I could live with that and hope for some epiphany down the road; if I found out I was wrong and that it really was all for the best and I just couldn’t see it. I will cry with gratitude should I find that this was all just the hallucinations of a derelict, misinformed mind. I’m trying to get my head around it. I’m trying to see the error of my ways; should that be the case. I can’t see it though, so maybe my denial is just that deep. I keep wanting to say, “Wake the fuck up!” but my voice isn’t even as loud as the ice clinking against the sides of the cocktail glasses in the restaurant at the end of the world.
This essay is dedicated to Michael Stewart whose kind support and great faith always makes me want to be a better person.
'Love Goes Home Alone' is track no. 9 of 10 on Visible's eponymous
'Les Visible' Music Album
Lyrics (pops up)