Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Freedom Day Present? Another Reprint (1994)

Hey, summers take a lot of time away from the office and i appreciate all you guys who read this and aim to get in some new stuff soon, but not too soon. I am taking off this morning for the 38th annual Rainbow Gathering in northern New Mexico; and, boo-hoo, then must travel to Texas to deal with my late parents property. My apologies, but there won't probably even be a reprint for the next two weeks. i miss you guys and will be back in regular production by fall. In the meantime, keep laughing at the news. it's your only defense. mikel

Report from the Cathode Ray
Deprivation Experiment Part 2:

According to local legend, the corn will, by the time you are probably reading this, be as high as an elephant's eye. Hey, baby, it's the Fourth of July! Besides being a great song by David Alvin, most notably covered by X and other local legend Raoul and Company, the Fourth of July is the heart of the Rainbows annual Gathering, the height of the summer when everyone has had some time to adjust to the additional heat the center of our system is providing us and begins to apply the additional energy that heat provides. The day we buy beer and burn brats. (Bratwursts that is, for as any DCFS worker will tell you American abusers set no certain day aside on which to torment of children by any given method.) It's the day we fire crackers, water melons and gather at the state capitol to listen to "The National Anthem” on top 40 radio (and now what is it this month? Hmm, last month according to my top 40 listening, it seemed to be "I'm a Loser, Baby") while surrounded by men in uniforms with guns and be overwhelmed by the mere presumption of a puppet show of our National Arsenal: in other words, a fireworks display. On this the 218th anniversary of the declaration of the best intentions of a people based on the best ideals of the best men of their era, we will hear loud long patronizing speeches of patriotism proclaimed by the current generation of profiteers polluting the temple. Much like the worship of god, the husbandry of your country is too great a thing to remain contained on any one date or in the hands of any one group of scoundrels. Remember Bush's yellow bellied, yellow ribboned flag waving on his quest for cheap oil and greasy electoral votes? Talk about your Uncle Sam's Blues!
Once again I am merely saying: Don't believe the hype, check the figures yourself.
As of this writing (6/21& 6/22/1994, solstice, the point of the turning) I am now near the end of month two of my cathode ray deprivation experiment. That's right, I have now gone 59 days without sucking on what Harlan Ellison once called “the glass teat.” So what's it like? Well, like any other former substance abuser, I now wince at the mere presence of that wicked creation of men's lust to exploit other men, that pox upon our houses, television. And, I gleefully condemn its vile name with all the vim, vigor and vengeance of any semi-reformed whore. Though I had a hard time not turning around when I heard the opening tip-off of game seven and am seriously jonesing for my MTV.
This is not to say I haven't been able to find plenty of news to belittle and am prepared to presently do so. Due to the miracle of modern research methods, such as not picking up your newspapers for a month, I can now state that a month's worth of local newspaper weighs … ah, … mmm, 1.3765 times as much as my beagle (A.K.A. the dog that would not diet). They tower beside my computer as even as I type these very words.) Since each Sunday paper issued in America is equal to the amount of newsprint gotten out of a twenty year old Southern White Pine, I've felt some obligation to give them a perusal before going ahead a riffing on my favorite topics anyway.
I see the month news opened with Illinois Democratic Representative Dan Rostenkowski being indicted on 17 felony counts of fraud and other abuses of office, swindling a total of $700,000.00 that we know of. There are those of you who would be quick to point out that in a America, thanks in part to those tenets first declared 218 years ago, a man is innocent until proven guilty, supposedly (though try telling that to OJ).
Of course, I concur. But whether or not Dapper Dan, that icon of American honesty, is guilty or no, the fact is over half a million dollars of your money is gone and nobody is going to accidentally move a paperweight and find it and all be forgiven. Now when dealing with tales of government corruption, we've grown so used to millions and billions being stolen or squandered that, if taken in that context, the figure seems paltry. Heck, right now there are probably guys hitting .240 from the three point range somewhere and still making that kind of dough, so what's the deal?
Even the ever acerbic and presumably unimpeachable Mike Royko has done columns forgiving "Rosty," that loveable lout from the Windy City, Illinois, a power player in the big house, Dapper Dan, the statesman. Of course, old honest Mike, the no-holds-barred-honest-as-the-day-is-long-ear-to-the-street-newshawk that he is, is also from Chicago and probably plays in a league closer to Dan's seven hundred thousand dollars in spare change than the average Americans $16,000.00 yearly income.
Now think of it like this: It would take that average American a working lifetime, 43 years and 8 months, to earn equal the amount Dan Rostenkowski, the political insider who can opt, as he often did, to have his power breakfast, three martini lunch, and hundred dollar a plate dinner picked up by some lobbyist, his housing, health, transportation and postage expenses caught by you and me out of the goodness of our hearts; and due to some sort of misplaced loyalty to the bought and sold conception of the legacy of those men 218 years ago, and all that, besides getting paid eight and a quarter times that average American's 16 Gs, is rumored to have stolen.
What can you say? Figures.
The Flintstones are the popular film this summer, having both a unbeatable combination of several generations growing up with the cartoon version, and this current era's rampant desire to go Neanderthal in all cases, going for it. Other than that, two things have dominated the news over this last month: O. J. Simpson and North Korea. Neither of these actually qualify as news per se. In the first instance, the event is little more than a typical domestic squabble gone bad, featuring name players. In the second it's the same scenario without the name players. OJ, guilty or no, is simply the fashionable court case media lusts to temp and distract us with; and the global soap opera of is it or is it not a crisis in North Korea sounds like a whole lot of smoke to turn the mirrors away from some something else.
Let's see: Also from the first, there's the case of the White House aide spending 13 Gs of your money to squeeze in a quick nine at the links. That could be it. Last month before this story broke USA Today ran a story on Clinton as a hot and heavy golf hound and, in those kind of circles, it is often little monkey do what big monkey do and throw their proverbial wrench into it for everyone.
The second possibility of what we are not supposed to look at and so must be distracted from is good old Rosty, that loveable scamp, scrapping with his lawyer and instead the press buried the fact that Stacy Koons et al get away with personally paying Rodney King no damages, while sticking the city of LA with $3.8 mill in hospital bills. Hey, it’s government money right, nobody'll notice. Just as nobody will notice that since 1980, the USA has tripled its prison population, to the point where one in every two hundred and fifty of us in doing time to serve their country on this the noble holiday for freedom.
Oh hell, that's plenty and it all figures doesn't it? Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the fact that, these days, liberty and justice for all are trademarks instead of watchwords. Maybe I should take the rest of the month's worth of newspapers back to that Southern White Pine forest in East Texas and ask them to turn them back into trees. Maybe the Rockets will take the series and break into that big money marketing and make 43.75 times my wage for selling me some new kind of sneaker.
And maybe they already did.

--mikel weisser writes from the west coast of AZ and is away from this column for the next 2 weeks. peace & love & stuff