Friday, September 30, 2005

In The Wilderness

Kyle stepped over a nodding junkie. Then another. Took the stairs instead of the elevator. You get cornered in there. No light. Gotta stay in the open. That much he learned so far in the city.

Kyle was Midwestern. From Indiana. Fond teen memories of summer drive-in nights. Best friend lived in a trailer court. Portable village where kids ran amuck and parents lounged in lawn chairs. Down the road, corn fields. Barns. He really liked the rotting barns, looked like they would implode. He sat inside them for hours. Watched the sun set through timber cracks.

Other than that Kyle hated the Midwest. Planned his escape from 12 on. Everyone so fucking provincial. Proud to be narrowed. Afraid or envious of everyone else. Forced smiles. Fake laughs. That's how you lived till you died. Fuck that. Seriously fuck that.

His best friend was smart, secure. Walked confidently. Won instant respect from everyone. Why he liked Kyle Kyle couldn't guess. Kyle was a loser. Timid. What he knew he kept to himself. What he hated stayed inside. Maybe that was it. As much as he resisted, Kyle was as Midwestern as the rest. A narrow kid with big thoughts, but nobody knew. Except his friend.

Kyle talked about the city sophomore year. His friend rolled his eyes. You're not going there, man. Crazy. First time Kyle saw his friend afraid. Whenever the city came up, his friend shot it down. Looked at the ground. Rubbed his boot in the dirt to wipe it out.

But city thoughts kept Kyle alive. He read the city's Sunday paper in the school library. Spread it wide on the table. Movies he'd never heard of. Books not taught in school reviewed. Tall buildings and rush. Thinking action concepts nonstop. His friend was right. Crazy. Beautiful.

Long walk to his temp job on Wall Street. He didn't mind. Warm fall weather blue sky over the buildings. Started early, took his time, took it all in. Had to wear two pair of gym socks to fill the oversize wingtips his grandfather once wore. Only nice shoes he had. Same white shirt everyday. Two ties every other. His hair was growing out after three years of Army brushcuts. Shoulder length when he went in. Now just over the ears.

Down the canyon to the mass of close buildings at the city's lower end. His building was the last one before the water. All glass. Clean. Revolving doors consuming and spitting out people in nice clothes. He worked in the copy room, 35th floor. Did massive Xerox jobs. Collated reports. Color coordinated market projections. The guys he worked with had been there for years. Crude fast talking group. Picked up on this rube first day. Hey Iowa, why you here? Hey Kansas, stop staring at those buildings outside. Pull that corn outta your ass. Play us some banjo.

Kyle took it smiling. Worked as many hours as he could get. Weekends too. Rarely saw his roommate and just as well. Shared a one-bedroom in the middle of smack central. Filthy vacant lot next door lined with addicts. Buckets on ropes go up with cash, come down with white packets. Most of the apartments were shooting galleries. One across the hall from their place. Junkies pounding on that door all night. Shouting. Begging. Crying. Scoring then slumping in the hall. Every morning at least two or three laid out, drooling on their soiled shirts.

Kyle got used to stepping over them. Crazy, like his friend told him long before.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Governor Maniac

When Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter appeared on one of the interchangeable cable chat shows and bemoaned this descent into populist barbarism. The Harvard boy was stunned that a former pro wrestler would be running a large American state. I recall reveling in Alter's discomfort, partly because most Harvardites I'd met or known were unbelievable snobs and elitists (big shock, eh?), and nothing warmed me more than to see one so anguished by this statement from the lower orders. But the other reason was that, having long before soured on the American political system, I felt Ventura's victory would help to break things up and put added pressure on society's contradictions. There's a little Lenin in everyone, and that was my October moment.

(Alter and I would butt heads via email less than a year later, an experience that taught me how overrated a Harvard education is.)

Since that heady time, things have tumbled rapidly down a steep jagged slope, and I no longer get the kick I once did from watching cultural deterioration. So when I read that Ted Nugent is planning a run for Michigan governor in '10, my inner-Lenin morphs into a grimacing Alter. Not that a lunatic like Nugent wouldn't provide a semi-entertaining show, however crude, nasty and loud. But seeing what I've seen around this state, I wouldn't bet against Nugent should he grab the GOP nomination. His stated views may alarm the genteel and sensitive, but for a large number of Michiganers, esp in the sticks, Nugent is purest mainstream.

I mean, what camo-clad-gubmint-hatin'-heavily-armed-mammal-slaughterin'-good-ol'-boy wouldn't warm to this?

"[C]ops that have their legs blown off and soldiers who are in wheelchairs and children with leukemia, who don't get the money because some fat pig welfare brat is sitting on his worthless ass."


"I'll show you some security and I'll show you some peace: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. You fuck with us and we'll fucking melt you."


"[The Confederate flag] a historical symbol of a lifestyle and a freedom and an independence below the Mason-Dixon line that many great men and women gave up their lives for during the Civil War. To me, it represents a certain defiance against federalism, a certain defiance against other people telling you how to live your life. And I wear it because I'm a big fan of defiance."


"If you can't speak English, then get the fuck out of America."

What an inaugural speech Governor Nugent would give! Raw nationalism and jingoism mixed heavily with musings on the spiritual wonder of killing and gutting wild prey, followed by some Hezbollah-style rapid fire in the air and primal screams to rouse the faithful and put the timid on notice.

Think that wouldn't jolt C-SPAN viewers?

Now, granted, this is all five years down the road, and the future's not fixed, as Doc Brown repeatedly tells Marty McFly. And there are those who point to the growing opposition to the Iraq war, both within and outside of the military, as a sign that the pendulum is swinging away from the grotesque and insane. As a friend told me when I mentioned Nugent's possible run, "No chance. The guy will be totally marginalized way before then. His type is already on the run."

As much as I'd like to believe that, I'm not totally convinced.

Recently, the must-read Billmon meditated on the "genocidal skeletons hanging in the American closet" after being exposed to war-gore-for-porn exchange offered to American combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He explained that up to that point, he was conflicted about an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq. But after seeing what the war is doing to the minds and psyches of this generation of soldiers and Marines, Billmon reached a decision:

"We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from falling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent."

In other words, to achieve what we claim we wish to achieve in this "war on terror," we must go the Full Tilt Gonzo Nugent route. We must open every fascist pore and show no pity on the guilty or the innocent. We must condition ourselves to endless death, torture, misery and destruction. Anything less is abdication and surrender.

While a majority of Americans have, for the moment, turned against the above scenario, one wonders what would happen should even a mini-9/11 occur stateside. Americans are so conditioned to believe that they are uniquely good and that their country exists outside of history that another terrorist attack might send them back to the simple pleasures of "You fuck with us and we'll fucking melt you." Any attempt to put the madness into perspective will once again be seen as treason -- only next time I suspect that attacks on dissenters, who'll be viewed (and already are viewed by many) as a diseased single unit, will go beyond the verbal and rhetorical. Islamic fascists have a lot in common with our domestic Phalange, and any attack unleashed by the former will re-energize and further empower the latter.

Enter Governor Nugent.

Then again, maybe I'm reading too darkly the national soul. I sincerely hope so. But there's a nagging voice within that keeps saying, "You ain't seen the worst of it yet, pal." Such are the thoughts of one trapped in a world of Holy Warriors.

"You see that gut pile?" Ted Nugent recently asked a New York Times reporter profiling him, pointing to a hole in the ground filled with maggot-covered animal parts. "That's my fucking church."

Let us pray.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tennessee Tuxedo RIP

Been swamped of late, but didn't want to overlook the passing of Tennessee Tuxedo, the cartoon penguin who entertained me through much of my early youth.

He died Sunday after choking on cod paste in his retirement pen at Megalopolis Zoo. He was 82 (197 in penguin years).

"Tennessee drove my father nuts," said Sylvester Livingston, son of the late zoo keeper Stanley Livingston, who endured much of Tuxedo's schemes and antics. "But I think deep down Dad loved him. I mean, Tennessee was a talking penguin who could've gone to a bigger zoo, like Bronx or San Diego. But he stayed here. Plus, he wore a hat and bow tie, which none of the animals do any more. He was special."

Tuxedo was the last of his generation. He survived Underdog, the Go-Go Gophers, Commander McBragg, Klondike Kat, Tooter Turtle & Mr. Wizard, and Phineas J. Whoopee. But friends say that Tuxedo never got over the death of his close companion Chumley, who succumbed to a massive coronary in 1987. While the two fell out over Chumley's decision to have a solo career, the duo reconciled in the early 1980s, performing in dinner theaters and appearing at county fairs before Chumley's health began to fail in 1985. After his partner's passing two years later, Tuxedo went into retirement, and graciously received fans who visited him.

Tuxedo will be erased, his shavings scattered to the wind at an undisclosed location in a private ceremony.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


To all of you who emailed feedback to me over the past week or so. I'm surprised yet humbled that I've touched so many lives. And a bashful thank you to Helen and Sekei who named their newborn son after me. Keep him away from cheap gin and he should be fine.

It seems that the majority of you want me to do pretty much what I already do, which keeps me from wasting time with experimental approaches a la William Gass and Cantinflas. There were several calls for more humor, and one request from a Repub relative of mine to be a bit more fair to da prez.

As I've already told him, the site ain't gonna change that much.

There's a lot to dig into. Serious spade work awaits.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I may have found a way around this crap. Let's see.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Imagine my shock when this morning I read that supermodel Kate Moss admitted to using coke after the Brit tab Daily Mirror published action pix of her snorting a few lines. If nothing else, Moss knows how to hone the edge of her brand.

But there's fallout -- Swedish clothing company Hennes & Mauritz, which had hired to Moss to model the Stella McCartney line, has now dropped her after receiving numerous complaints that they were too lenient on the blow-happy waif. As an H&M spokesperson put it, the company seeks only those models who are "healthy, wholesome and sound."

Sounds like most supermodels, yes?

When I was much younger, single and bopped around NYC, I partied with various models and photographers, and those girls loved to get blasted. They drank, chain-smoked cigs when not dragging off blunts, and yes, they did blow. They also were sexually promiscuous (not with me, alas) and tended to favor women over men.

Heavy drinking, drug taking lesbians. I haven't been near that world for quite some time, but something tells me that little has changed. And if Moss, who is part of the posing elite, is snorting coke, does anyone honestly think that she's the only one?

H&M's "concern" over Moss is of course PR driven. The clothing and fashion industry is big big business, and anything that gets in the way of pig profits must be steamrolled while consumers and clothing outlets are shown happy faces or anything else that will divert attention. It's part of the Glossy Lie, one of freedom's snazzier traits. Without it, nearly every celeb-sucking magazine and gossip show would probably disappear. And we can't have that.

When it comes to drugs, H&M assures us that it Just Says No, thus its devotion to "wholesome" values. When it comes to those in the Third World who stitch and sew H&M's apparel, or those workers who are involved in union activities in its subcontracted factories and sweatshops, H&M's concept of wholesomeness takes on a different meaning.

A random sampling of H&M's greatest hits from the past few years gives us this:

1997 (The Philippines, From Swedish TV): Angelina Ingco, a woman working for an H&M subcontractor, tells that she is the only one in the family with a decent job. Her husband is unemployed. The money she earns (100 pesos) is just enough to buy food for her family. The factory she works in is noisy, looks untidy, and children can often be found sleeping on piles of garments. She brings her daughters with her, because she has nobody to look after them. In the Novilon Garment factor two hundred people work from 8.00 am until midnight, and sometimes throughout night, depending on how quickly H&M wants an order in. Angelina tells that her daughter does not officially work at the factory, but that she performs certain tasks for the company while she is there . . .

Another 500 people work at home for subcontractors supplying H&M. The TV team visited a homeworkers' community. Women and children embroider on H&M sweaters by hand. A girl tells that she performs this work when she is not too tired. On Saturdays she combines this work with housecleaning. These tasks can occupy her until midnight. The girl earns 12 cents (US) for each sweater that she embroiders on. It takes her 8 hours to do 2 sweaters. Another girl, Jo-Ann, is 9 years old and folds the sweaters inside out. She is a homeworker and works for a subcontractor. She earns 1 peso for each sweater 4 cents (US). After 4 hours of work she earns 12 pesos.

2003: In Bangkok, workers as young as 16 years old sew H&M clothes until 11 pm nearly every night for illegal wages. The legal minimum pay rate is 4000 Bt (Thai bath) or $96 per month. One worker reports that she receives only 1500 Bt, or $36 per month - barely more than $1 per day. If workers lose the H&M labels, they are fined $5.

H&M fails to implement its Code of Conduct that requires that local law be respected. According to worker reports, all three fire escape doors have been kept locked.

2003: In Indonesia 500 workers producing H&M walked off the job in protest of wage rates that are below the legal minimum. At the factory producing for H&M, some people work up to 60 hours per week - sometimes taking clothes home to finish sewing - for as little as $1 per day. When the workers walked out, the factory shut the doors, locking them out and refusing to let them back to work. The entire workforce at the factory -- 2,000 workers in total -- went on strike in protest of the company's illegal wages and forced overtime and in support of their locked-out co-workers. Management immediately hired local thugs to intimidate and threaten workers.

And while H&M now insists that it has cleaned up its act, some concern remains, esp from the labor movement. Whoever's sewing H&M's clothes these days, let's pray to the Almighty that they aren't doing drugs while working (though how someone can stitch for 16-plus hours at a time without some kind of stimulant is beyond me). Wholesome sweat means wholesome apparel, sold at affordable prices.

HAR: Speaking of supermodels, here's one of my favorite jokes I wrote for Bill Maher:

"It appears that supermodels are getting smarter. According to a recent fashion study, only 43 percent of supermodels still refer to the sun as 'that shiny thing you get a tan from.'"

Though I was told this was very funny, it never got used. And I doubt that it had anything to do with Bill's penchant for dating models.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Zero Nation

Just watched "Zero Day", Ben Coccio's subtle and disturbing dramatization of the Columbine killings. The now-familiar saga of two alienated high school seniors who plan a military assault on their classmates is told through their home video journal, where they display various emotions about what is to come. But no matter how angry, sarcastic or flippant they get, they never second guess their ultimate goal.

Played convincingly by Andre Keuck (above, left) and Calvin Robertson, who use their real first names, these boys have prematurely reached the philosophical and emotional ends of their lives. At least that's what they want us to believe. They give several justifications for why they will do what we know they will do. Paying back bullies is backdrop: Andre and Cal simply see no point to growing up in a world where people are unconscious to the deeper truths of loving one another, being tolerant, caring and kind. They see everyone around them trapped in a mechanized emotional state, and their planned assault is meant to wake people up to what truly matters. Of course in order to do this, many people must die. Those about to be killed will experience a heightened awareness of life for the first and last time. Those who survive will reconsider their sleepwalking ways, and will fully embrace life regardless how minute a moment.

The idea that those about to die violently at the hand of another will understand life's real meaning is nothing new -- Manson Family member Sandra Good once spoke of killing "the grey people" so they could experience "the total now" just before the end. Many murderers conceive all manner of excuses, sometimes couched in benevolent terms, to justify or explain their brutal conduct. But in this fictional case, Andre and Cal seem to genuinely believe that they're spreading the love through chaos, fear and death. As I listened to them express their philosophy, I was reminded of those humanitarians who advocated the invasion of Iraq. They, too, spoke in tough love terms, only in their case, an entire country and region served as Columbine High. Had Andre and Cal not killed themselves after their murder spree (the ultimate expression of self-love), they probably could've worked as editorial interns at the Weekly Standard and National Review. They certainly have the rhetoric down, though unlike the editors and writers for those and kindred mags, Andre and Cal personally do the deed. Real war hawks stay as far away from flying bullets as they can.

Gus Van Sant's Columbine take, "Elephant," slowly unfolds at a dreamlike pace, showing us the same scene from numerous perspectives. Ben Coccio's film, however, hits us in real media time, an immediacy that gives "Zero Day" its punch. (When the boys enter the high school and the security cams broadcast their rampage, the terror seems somewhat antiseptic and removed, which makes it even worse to witness.) The one, minor quibble I have with Coccio's effort is that Andre and Cal are almost too rational in their thinking. They are clearly intelligent, imaginative and dare I say sweet. Even on the eve of their assault, we get a glimpse of their softer sides, and you want to grab them and say, "Yo, fellas. Let's have a beer and really talk about this." A part of you thinks that you could turn them away from committing mass murder.

I never thought that way about the real Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. I've listened to several of their audio tapes, read some of their rants and watched some of their pre-assault videos, and there's no evidence that I could find that these two were deep thinkers, esp Harris, who seemed extremely aggressive and downright crazy, though a lot of that may have been due to some severe emotional problems. Whatever the cause, Harris was no Andre. Perhaps Coccio sought to blur the lines a bit by making his teen killers accessible and seemingly more insightful. It does enhance the drama and heightens the horror. It also suggests that any kid could do this, not just marginalized outsiders like Harris and Klebold.

Films like Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" show how average kids can be made into killers of people in other countries. "Zero Day" gives us the flipside, which is more frightening to confront because there is less to immediately grasp. The war that animates Andre and Cal is not overseas but inside their heads. That's something you can't march against.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Red State Son is not long for this world, and neither is American Fan.

Is this a money pitch? Naw. I'm simply rethinking my entire online operation (such as it is). The plan at the moment is to scrap both this and the Fan site and re-emerge with a single, polished domain of my own, complete with a new design and most likely some ads. As Son approaches its first birthday, I've decided to do this thing for real, and stop dicking around with Blogspot.

What I'd like from you is some feedback: What would you want to see on the new site? What kind of topics would you like me to tackle? Subjects to analyze and explore? My passions are politics, pop culture and sports, and that's probably what I'll focus on. I want to get away from the blogworld, which is essentially headline chasing and multiple piggybacking, and settle deeply into a groove. But as you know, I tend to veer all over the place, which in market terms is considered "off-brand." I suppose I'm looking for my brand. As I roll this over in my mind, any suggestions or thoughts from you would be most appreciated.

So let's see those emails! In the meantime, I'll keep this pop stand open until it's time to shut off the lights.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Most everyone today will share their thoughts about the madness, butchery and corruption unleashed four years ago. If you want some of that, you know where to click.

Instead, I'm going to give you three poems by Michael O'Donoghue, who's been on my mind a lot lately. These are from a private volume titled "Bears" which he published in 1979 through Ghost Fox, Inc., his personal company. Only a few dozen people received "Bears," and to my knowledge, none of the poems (save one in "Mr. Mike") have appeared publicly. I think they capture the mood of the times quite well. This is for you, Michael.


Bears are gnawing on the carpets.
Bones are tumbling into tarpits.
Nolde's gone and so is Arp. It's
Later than you think.


The people fill the stadium
To see mice dance on radium
And icepick murders are the rage.
The bears are dead. Unlock the cage.

The Royal Fusileers believe
That Persians take ten years to weave
The carpets of the British king.
The bears have eaten everything.


As cold as zombie blood
On Martine and the bear.

Death is a virgin
And snow is her veil.
It covers a bride
And it covers a trail.

As cold as careless moths
On Martine and the bear.

Each flake is different
And all flakes are the same.
There's no one to bless
And there's no one to blame.


Saturday, September 10, 2005


One of the films I watched while sick, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," I hadn't seen in full for quite some time. I'd forgotten what a quiet little masterpiece of human longing and suffering it is. Lasse Hallström's vision of rural Iowa life (from Peter Hedges's novel and screenplay) is both heartbreaking and emotionally liberating, poetically captured by cinematographer Sven Nykvist. The performers are all wonderful, and "Grape" is a true ensemble piece. Despite the big names and familiar faces, you instantly sink into the characters' reality, and once there, you feel the tremendous weight most of them endure.

I won't explore the entire plot -- if you haven't seen "Grape," then I suggest you do. But the main nerve deals with suffocation. Johnny Depp's Gilbert keeps a blank stare on his face in order to suppress the fear, anger, frustration and sense of hopelessness that boil just beneath. Gilbert is the Grapes' acting patriarch, his father having hanged himself in family's basement many years before. Whenever there's trouble to be handled or money to be earned, it's Gilbert's responsibility. He must look after his two sisters, his mother who, in reaction to her husband's suicide, became an obese shut-in, and his retarded younger brother, Arnie, who's about to turn 18.

Arnie was Leonardo DiCaprio's big screen breakthrough, for which he earned an Oscar bid (but didn't win, surprise, surprise). Playing a character with severe mental problems or emotional limitations has pushed many an actor into caricature overdrive, physical exaggeration and wild gesticulation being the usual mainstays (see Brad Pitt in "12 Monkeys"). Not so with DiCaprio: his Arnie is naturally realized, a frail, extremely sensitive boy whose body is growing into manhood while his thoughts and emotions are forever trapped in a child's mind. It's a marvelous performance, alternately sweet and gut wrenching, and makes you wonder why DiCaprio remains so underrated.

However limited Arnie is, he moves much more freely than do most of the other characters, each of whom is chained to some kind of emotional weight, or in Mama Grape's case, psychological and physical despair. For them, every day is nearly identical in that they must find ways to function without breaking down or flipping out. (John C. Reilly's handyman Tucker seems the exception, a cornered optimist who can find meaning in the smallest places.) Breathing space is limited. It appears that only death can air things out, when not providing escape for those who've breathed long enough.

Gilbert finds his escape in Becky, a young woman who's traveling with her grandmother and forced by truck problems to camp near Gilbert's small town. This is perhaps Juliette Lewis's best performance; Becky's self-confident sweetness is casually revealed. After meeting Gilbert, she's in no hurry to leave, and adapts quickly to the slow pace of her temporary surroundings. While waiting for the spare truck part that will force her to go, Becky begins pulling Gilbert out of his hardened shell and shows him another way to look at life. For all the torment and anxiety Becky senses within him, she clearly sees his need and ability to love. Helping Gilbert to see this himself brings her closer to him.

This is the grace note, a glimpse of possible redemption in a larger, muted tragedy. It seems that in our larger, not-so-muted tragedy, glimpses of possible redemption are becoming much harder to find. The fictional inhabitants of Endora, Iowa aren't the only people who are suffocating.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Aliens

Been re-reading parts of William Burroughs' "The Place of Dead Roads," a sci-fi time traveling Western saga filled with gun battles, queer sex and extended philosophical riffs. But no matter what time period Burroughs wrote about, his mind was always on the present.

In this section his protagonist Kim Carsons, master gunfighter and humanist, reveals that an alien strain -- they -- is infesting human beings at an alarming rate and must be resisted: "Far from seeking an atheistic world as the communists do, we will force Christianity to compete for the human spirit."

Burroughs was aiming primarily at our domestic Born Again phalange, but you'll probably recognize some other actors currently on the global stage.

Kim now realizes that they can take over bodies and minds and use them for their purposes. So why do they always take over stupid, bigoted people or people who are retarded or psychotic? Obviously they are looking for dupes or slaves, not for intelligent allies. In fact their precise intention is to destroy human intelligence, to blunt human awareness and to block human beings out of space. What they are launching is an extermination program. And anyone who has sufficient insight to suspect the existence of a they is a prime target.

He listed the objectives and characteristics of the aliens . . .

1. They support any dogmatic religious system that tends to stupefy and degrade the worshippers. They support the Slave Gods. They want blind obedience, not intelligent assessment. They stand in the way of every increase in awareness. They only conceded a round earth and allowed the development of science to realize the even more stupefying potential of the Industrial Revolution.

2. They support any dogmatic authority. They are the arch-conservatives.

3. They lose no opportunity to invert human values. They are always self-righteous. They have to be right because in human terms they are wrong. Objective assessment drives them to hysterical frenzy.

4. They are parasitic. They live in human minds and bodies.

5. The Industrial Revolution, with its overpopulation and emphasis on quantity rather than quality, has given them a vast reservoir of stupid bigoted uncritical human hosts. The rule of the majority is to their advantage since the majority can always be manipulated.

6. Their most potent tool of manipulation is the word. The inner voice.

7. They will always support any measures that tend to stultify the human host. They will increase the range of arbitrary and dogmatic authority. They will move to make alcohol illegal. They will move to regulate the possession of firearms. They will move to make drugs illegal.

8. They are more at home occupying women than men. Once they have a woman, they have the male she cohabits with. Women must be regarded as the principal reservoir of the alien virus parasite. Women and religious sons of bitches. Above all, religious women.

Sick & Delirious

Hello again. Been awhile, no?

Haven't blogged since Sun, and I was briefly reminded what life was like before I committed to this damn thing. Not to say that I spent the week smelling roses, watching hummingbirds flit while drinking a rich Cabernet. If only. No, the first part of the week I was burned out by this wretched samsara world, a sphere where people seem only able to connect through physical pain and personal corruption. One of the last sights I saw before unplugging was that the military was preying on Katrina's refugees, taking advantage of lives ripped apart in order to finish the job by sending these poor people to Iraq. Reminiscent of the instant military drafts of Irish immigrants during the Civil War (beautifully captured in Martin Scorsese's lush but uneven "Gangs of New York"). Squalid. I mean, really no fucking shame.

"Hey, we were woefully negligent after the hurricane hit. But sign up with us anyway and see what a real human meatgrinder looks like up close. You'll forget all about this flood the second you hit the sand. Promise!"

It was then I realized that I don't have the stuff to be a Real Blogger: someone like Steve Gilliard or Billmon of Whiskey Bar who can crank out post after post after post about the same topic for days on end, and do it well. (I won't bother to link here -- go to my blogroll and check for yourselves if you haven't already.) I simply lack the blog gland necessary for such continuous output. As I've threatened so many times before, but have never really done, allowing headlines and breaking news to guide my tapping hands, I want to pull back from the immediacy of the carnage and meditate on deeper topics, or at least topics that move me. Here's to those of you out there not holding their breath.

The latter part of this week was spent splayed on my couch, in front of the TV, sick as a dying pig. Some viral bug infested me and put me out. My entire body ached as if dealt a thorough beating, and my head felt as though squeezed in a vise, my teeth screaming in pain from the extreme headaches and psycho-sinus congestion that was barely relieved by a steady diet of antihistamines and pain killers. Trying to sleep under these conditions is nearly impossible, and all the toxic sludge in your body and brain bubbles up to maximum intensity before mercifully evaporating, leaving you spent but somewhat cleansed. But it was in the maximum intensity stage where darkest pain and strangest hallucination met. There were moments this week where I was far far away from everything I knew and cared about. Tough to blog under those conditions, though had I the energy to sit at my desk, you would have been treated to some pretty wild images.

In my more semi-lucid stages I flicked through all 10 of my HBOs, catching parts of movies I've already seen or saw long ago, the familiar noise providing mild graven comfort. I also watched entire films I heretofore missed, like Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvey," about Gilbert and Sullivan's conception and staging of "The Mikado." A lovely film it is, too. Jim Broadbent is marvelous as Gilbert, as is Allan Corduner as Sullivan. Nothing like a dramatization of the English musical theater of the 1880s to perk one up as the used tissue pile steadily rises from the carpet.

But now I'm back among the living, if I may use so loaded a word to define our present state. I fear going back to the blogs, for I know the madness and sorrow that awaits. Please bear with me as I slowly plug back into the Matrix to see what fresh horrors the Machines have programmed for our amusement.

MISERY LOVES COMPANY: After hailing Billmon's stamina above, I see today that he's hit the wall and needs time off. I bet he does. What an eloquent workhorse he is. Yes, Bill, rest, read and don't get sick.

And Riverbend has returned. She says that she hasn't felt like blogging of late, which is understandable, although unlike us stateside, she has a pretty good reason, considering where she lives.