Friday, December 25, 2015

It's a Wonderful Lie

Christmas seems to bring out the worst in Americans, particularly the ones who still think "hippies" are burning flags to protest a war that most Americans don't remember.  You know, those Bully Boys who walk around with a chip on their shoulders daring you to say anything that allows them to pick a fight with the "politically correct" or those who have read history.

This thing has been making the rounds today and judging by the comments, not too many people realize that the "founding Fathers" version of that propaganda aimed at school children was written in 1892, not 1776.  When Eisenhower was pressured by godmongers to change it in 1954, during the height of the cold war, it wasn't mentioned that it had been written by a Socialist -- surprising in an era where that other relic, inseparable from the holiday, It's a Wonderful Life was seen as containing secret Communist messages to corrupt the young mind and was investigated by HUAC. After all it does criticize the Sacred Banks and other institutions of Capitalist  greed.  The original pledge called it "My" flag after all, suggesting that it belongs to all of us, not just to some Armed Patriot's Sovereign Citizen Christian Militia of God, Guns and Guts.

Am I suggesting that these penis-waving patriots are possessed of disordered personalities as well as a fair amount of ignorance and dishonesty? Well yes I am, thank you very much and thanks to them for another Fuck You Christmas.

I suppose the dark days of the late 1940's and the 1950's are that
great golden age these Trumpish idiots would return to: forgetting all the while about those 90% marginal tax brackets and dramatically higher poverty levels.  The middle class was doing pretty well after all with all that commie stuff like a 5 day work week -- and Socialist Security didn't bankrupt the wealthy after all. With all the bitching and moaning at the time, we still remember it as a wonderful life with the same hubris we talk about Christmas as a time of peace while making it into a Jesus Jihad against Liberals, atheists and Mooslims who once had the audacity to see the sacred flag and this sacred soil as theirs.

Yes, Christmas, that Holiday Christians have denounced and promoted in equal measure since the Romans invented it is nothing but a billboard, a soap box on which meanness, anger, aggression and greed are proclaimed throughout the land. To say Merry Christmas has become too much like that debauched and sordid "pledge" wherein the oppressed abused, exploited and downtrodden are forced to acknowledged the gods of greed and to pretend that the USA is a place of "liberty and justice for all."  It's a wonderful lie, once again.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Alan 1948 - 1988

We both shipped our paddles
Without a word,
Leaning forward
As the rain burdened our backs,
Turning the river white,
Closing the world around us,
And hissing
Like all the stars raining down.
It's small: the step
From there to nothing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

For Bart. 1944 - 1995

CafĂ© de Flore, and reading Kerouac for the first time ever and lingering over coffee and the heat is building because it's late morning and it’s August -- and because we're young and reading Kerouac, it's time to leave like everyone else. Flogging the Fiat down to Juan-les-Pins, and we do it non-stop except for coffee and gasoline in stations where you're invited to Mettez un Tigre dans votre Moteur as though it would help.  Cars and dust and white cups at metal tables.

Arid August hills and distant ruins,
winding roads descend
in complicated turns
Driving too fast for the car,
we skitter,
revving a bit too high
and suddenly
in the V of the hills 
a blue-white glimpse of sea
and the road screamed YES
as we came down.

And all those mornings. My sandals and my woven mat; coffee in a bathing suit and all those Paris girls down for the summer.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Night of the Living Jesus.

It's been interesting to observe the progress of  Zombies in popular culture in America, from the brain damaged product of some Voodoo poisoner to the brain eating corpse from Night of the Living Dead to the complex creatures with many characteristics and features we see in The Walking Dead.  There are versions of course, but  the Zombie of Hollywood fame has evolved.  We know you have to shoot one in the head, that Zombies don't climb, that they transmit the condition by biting their victims, that they don't die even if they don't eat and if they rot away to almost nothing. Those beliefs have been added in the last half century, but like the things that stick to folk heroes and mythological creatures over the centuries, we see them as always having been the way they are now.

It's sort of the same with Jesus.  History tells us nothing about him, Nobody who ever saw him wrote a word about it.  What we get from the selected texts is contradictory and loaded with bits of earlier myths, but the Jesus today: the personal investment adviser/Lord of the Universe has become very complex and diverse, with every generation, each age adding or removing features and characteristics.  We even know just what he looks like.  He looks a lot like Albrecht Duerer in fact and that's a lot different from images found in early churches.  But human creations, passed from generation to generation evolve much as Darwin suggested that living things evolve.

So why not a Zombie Jesus?  Nothing is more mutable than that which never existed outside of fiction and myth, yet nothing is subject to more Denialism, rage and aggression when change is proposed.  Just ask the Dixons of Cincinati, Ohio who set up a Zombie Nativity scene on their front lawn, thereby raising Holy Hell.

But where's the beef?  Isn't Jesus risen from the dead?  Isn't he still around?  Well one thing never evolves and that's eternal self -righteousness and humorless zealotry.  The idea that religious tolerance means protection from insult adds a bit of  sweetness to this confection, coming as it does from a religion famous for defaming and persecuting any and all other religions and even variations of the same one.  All beliefs, all religions deserve equal protection under the law -- and praise be: a tax exemption.

The Dixons are getting resistance from Zoning boards and neighbors who know just how and where Jesus was born and to whom and what he looked like.  They know all about his parents and their sex life and everything they know is the accretion of thousands of years of speculation and unwarranted assertion - and of course invention.  Look, it's a free country and no matter how much you hate the idea,  Zombie Jesus is risen. He lives forever. He gives eternal life and destroys sinners when he brings the apocalypse, and like religion in general he eats your brain.  It's been foretold and the Church of Jesus Christ, Zombie is here to take your donations.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Ultra high Power Weapons of the Apocalypse!

So all you impassioned millions know all about "assault Rifles" right?  We just want some sensible legislation to make them go away before more people are killed.  Those Gun nuts only want them for killing people and that's what they're designed for -- Military use, right.  And of course we all recognize them  -- right?

These of course are identical weapons, except for the plastic stock and the pistol grip. Neither is a machine gun nor can be converted into one.  The only important difference is that the lower "tactical" version has a larger magazine, but suggest -- and I often do -- that we restrict magazines and forget about the stock and I'm dismissed as a gun nut patsy for the NRA. Meanwhile Smith and Wesson stock is through the roof and they can't make them fast enough.  Gun makers love anti-gun activists.

This is why there will never be a solution to our gun problem and why there will never be a rational discussion or even a compromise.  No one wants one. No one will question any of their beliefs or examine the real risks or even consider how well previous bans have done to reduce those risks.  It's a religion, not a cause. No one wants a description of the previous AW ban because it actually didn't ban them or their magazines and had no effect except to raise prices and raise demand.  Of course you don't believe me and won't even listen. You wouldn't be holier than me if you did.

There's a real fear of facts in the loudest ranks of the chorus.  Tell them that printable receivers for your AK are ridiculous since you can make one out of sheet metal for free using a hand drill,  and can buy one already made for $29.95. Any small machine shop can make guns and the process is so automated all you do is load the software.  Tell them that no, you're not going to shoot down an airliner with a .50 caliber single shot rifle and you'll be called a liar.   Minds must not be changed or the zealot will have to admit error and can no longer be a zealot and wear the cape and tights.

So Mr. know-it-all, what would I do to reduce the number of weapons you can use to clear a room? Well you can try to ban those 100 round drum magazines that in fact do exist to kill people.  That actually doesn't run afoul of the Second Amendment or require Farmer Brown to trade his ranch rifle for a fly swatter.  But who's going to listen?  Minds have long since been made up.  Actually handguns do a very fine job in close quarters and the constitution doesn't protect your right to own one. But no, we're not gonna back down on our words - dad's hunting rifle is a weapon of war that "sprays bullets"  and we don't care who laughs at us because we're not trying to convince anyone who's not already convinced.

Fact is, many hunters in the frigid north who feed their families with modern, plastic stock firearms use these "assault rifles' because they are light and very durable -- but a 5 or ten round magazine would work quite well, but as I said, we can't have this discussion because the game is played from the fringes, the margins and after all it's not whether you win or lose it's how righteous you are.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Through a Glass Darkly

Almost eerie this afternoon, reading American Rifleman magazine at Bob's barber shop: decorated to look like an old west sort of a place with old nostalgic gun and ammunition posters and antique guns displayed on hooks.  I had been attracted by a picture of a beautifully engraved Benelli shotgun on the cover.  I have little interest in owning one at twenty five hundred bucks, but it would be nice to hold and maybe shoot a few clays with such a piece of fine Italian craftsmanship, but I don't have the time or the venue these days.

But then there were the editorials by people such as Wayne LaPierre: mad dog drooling rage about gun grabbers and how gun control is there just to penalize good people for the sins of others.  I don't know what that means, but it's Wayne LaPierre. He and the Magazine of the NRA have no other purpose than to outrage, infuriate, inflame and incite and everything seen through the filter of his insanity has the same purpose and one unifying creed:  Life is better with guns and owning guns is the one and only measure of freedom. Anything and everything he writes contains the same carefully arranged sequences of inflammatory code words, honed and perfected to manipulate his flock as skillfully as any Preacher on Sunday morning TV, to achieve a transcendental ecstasy of anti-government, anti-Liberal, Anti-Obama paranoia.

Coming home on this stiflingly hot and humid December afternoon, I felt the need of a shower but not because of the weather.  I turned on the news and of course there was our latest shooting -- our uninterrupted, obsessive flood of words searching for relevance, desperate to package and reissue those code words to express and stimulate the sentiments of  their constituency:  high power, high caliber, military style, assault weapon, semi-automatic yada, yada and all the rest.  That real modern assault weapons are small caliber and lower power than hunting rifles doesn't matter since the words are not there to inform but to frighten, to enlist and to frame reality to further the mission of each and every disparate group of activists.  We'll hear all about checks and shows and magazine size and even "style"  before we know who did what to whom why and with which.  It can wait until we're done preaching.

Who are the shooters and how many are there and why did they do it?  Is there really an increase in gun violence or is there a concentration of focus?  What kind of gun control would have helped if these are Jihadis?  is a group of three likely to have the same modus and motives as the disturbed and suicidal teenager?  We don't know anything as of the time I'm writing it, but we know what to say: gun grabber, gun nut, high caliber, high velocity, armed citizen, gun control, military style, armor piercing waiting period gun show background check registration full metal jacket.  It doesn't matter except to Pavlov..

I heard a young woman on TV the other night yelling about the police.  "They've got sniper guns! They're using sniper guns.!"  They were tear gas launchers, in fact but it doesn't matter, Neither side is talking to anyone but themselves and in a language of their own and no substantive dialog is possible, nor is there even a common language.

And meantime people are dead and bleeding and we don't know who or why or how many..  Meantime the salesmen on all sides are offering their packaged wares.  Want facts? have suggestions?  Want to know what's happening?  Hell no, you gun nut, gun grabber, freedom hater, murderer!