Crossing the Rubicon

Crossing the Rubicon

Whatever moral ascendancy

the Presidency once held was lost today.

The 2/3 of white men

and 54% of white women

who voted this charlatan in;

must now allow reason to overrule passion

and admit that this is cancer –

and vow to neither cringe or retreat

until we the people excise its poison.

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Nigger

Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits” – “seven words you can never say on television” – George Carlin 1972

I’m thinking about Bill Maher this morning and the brouhaha kerfuffle over his quick joke gone bad last night on live TV; wherein he used the word nigger. Even as I write this I wonder if I should capitalize the offensive word. You get the beef right. It’s, far as I can figure; the only word in the English language we aren’t suppose to say no matter what. If a black guy is on the roof of a burning building and the firemen show up you can’t point and say “Save the nigger”. In that context it would be a slur. But what about in some other benign context. Should the same rules apply?

I spent thirty of my last thirty-five years in Oakland, CA and for a hand full of those years worked in inner-city programs. In one C.E.T.A. project of forty-four folks I was one of only two whites and the other white guy was the director; a man who prior to this assignment may well have never met a black person. The guy rarely left the office and spoke to us from a privileged perch. I however, was in the streets with the guys and surely; I never said the word in any context. It’s never been a part of my vocabulary. I was a bit of a leader I suppose and as a running joke the guys took to calling me “say so” (my last name is Masesso). So as the nickname suggests; I wasn’t shy. When I was fifteen years old I was sentenced to the state reformatory for juvenile delinquents at Saint Charles, Illinois. I spent a year there. Out of two thousand inmates the white kids made up only 15% of the population. I said all that to say this; I’ve spent the better part of my adult life in the company of black folks. So given that fact alone I think I have some right to a “say so”. And I say take a chill pill on this one.

Some of the black guys in the juvenile facility, that’s a kind acronym for a gladiator academy where the age group was 15, 16 and 17 years old; prime fisticuffs period in any mans life and since these were, according to the state of Illinois, adjudged by a judge, delinquents, the toughest and most dangerous of the bad boys of that era, some would react violently to anyone black or white who used the term and some on the other hand would say it all the time. By the way; the term “Black” in those days, 1962, was also a slur and never said. The proper term then and you had to use it; was Negro. Say Black and you’d for sure be in a fight. Things change.

What seems completely lost in the current mess is Maher used the term in a benign context. He didn’t use the word in the context of a slur or in a derogatory manner. He used it in reference to site an historical fact; used it within a common colloquialism of that period of time and one that survived historically and is well known and still used today. Malcolm X most famously popularized it in the 1960’s; often using it in his explanation of how history had hung over in this particular regard to the current period. The phrase in question was in fact, in the way Bill Maher used it, self deprecating.

Surely just saying any word in a benign context can’t make you anything; certainly not something as specific as a racist or a bigot. Its all about the context. I’m writing this to defend the guy even though he’s apologized as he should but moreover to defend our right to speak freely without having the inquisition foisted upon us. Hearing the chorus of rabid calls for him to be made to disappear offends the memory of Mario Savio, Lenny Bruce, Salman Rushdie and all lovers of free speech. Anyway, this is what prompts my Sunday Morning concern and results in this; my little missive.

I know, I know – this column may well lead to all manner of repercussions for me from those easily offended – but frankly; I don’t give a fuck. Wait; can I say fuck?

#nigger # free speech #Bill Maher

Noise

“For the most sensitive among us, sometimes the noise can just be too much.” – Jim Carrey – upon hearing of the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

The cross city bus clamors out a murderous seasick solo backed by an orchestral scrum of whizzing internal combustion engines in uproarious brawl spewing invisible air and ear pollution death while begging for second gear; both instruments of audio-olfactory destruction, an offense to the ear and nose from landlocked personal space-ships bumper to bumper on the narrow streets of San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood; all, along with the antique streetcars sing out a cacophony of noise so disturbing I had to hold the phone, physically 1,500 miles away from the action, six inches from my ear.

Our story’s hero Jeff is laboring, careening up and down intensely inclined ski sloop streets chasing said bus while he screams into his cell phone at me “Man, the first thing you’d notice if you came back is the noise”. I tell him he’s preaching to the choir. The air in my environs of northern Wisconsin is so calm I can hear the sound of autumn leaves rustling along the well-kept lawns and iridescent blue birds singing their daily arias.

Writers flood into big cities, whether they know it or not, to be uncomfortable; since like the late, great Charles Bukowski opined “no one comfortable ever wrote anything worth a damn”. The city is life on steroids; it’s intensity keeping us all tense. The boulevard is a raging river of humanity and sometimes inhumanity. There is rarely a shortage of stimuli upon which to opine. Here the writers cup runneth over.

Our hero confides he’s been reaching back into his past to make that connection that sooner or later, sooner I think for some of us given recent societal developments, we all eventually make; that DNA linked memory to our roots. Jeff is currently covered by a warm blanket; surrounded by like-minded west coast social justice warriors – yet when looking back over his shoulder in contemplation of revisiting comrades from his mid-western past; he is floored, repulsed and catatonic over the addiction he sees in his childhood pals adherence to the new ersatz fascism; the redneck noise that is Trumpism.

In the same way it’s nearly impossible to escape the noise coming at us all like a Chinese parade, from eight different directions all at once; it’s the same for our natural inclination to decipher the content and arrange it in some assemblage of bite-size order. Is it as it seems? Is the new avalanche of information overwhelming our capacity to upload, sort-out and categorize it’s meaning and importance so we might get a handle on our collective future?

It can’t only be me and our hero who, overwhelmed by the noise, wish solace in heeding the wise voices from our past. Timothy Leary’s advise was “tune-in, turn-on and drop out.” Or the angelic voices of groovy guru of the day who suggest wandering in an open field for mindfulness training. Or the Birkenstocks environmentalist who insist we head back to nature and hug a tree; or the mental spiritualist that whisper meditation is the key. Maybe the best of them are the Tantra yogi’s who claim sexual pleasure is the way in and out; that the answer is a bit more of the old in and out. Being a hedonist myself I tend to flow in this direction.

Yet, with escape valves in place in case of overload and prayers to the universe for guidance, I can’t help myself wanting to sort through the noise and discover, like a pathfinder, which direction to point; for myself and others. The Stoics posited that the philosopher left the cave, examined the outside world and returned to tell the others of the joys and dangers outside the cave.

Now they’re be a noble and heroic cause; to be a fearless scout in the face of unknown dangers; to be a trailblazer for the greater good in a quest to report, interpret and transmit the findings. The conundrum seems to be we can’t translate through the noise to know what’s coming if we disengage from it.

In the end I’m left perplexed. Shall we try to make a path through the noise though we fear not knowing the answers and fear worse not even understanding the questions? Are we all just like our hero; wishing to be heroes; but succumbing to the dictates of surviving the day and reach for the safety and sanity of just catching that bus? #rednecknoise #Stoics #Trumpism #CharlesBukowski

Trump Trumps Reagan

And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.”Marcus Aurelius

A dog chases a bus; the bus stops – the dog catches it; what now?

The last time the money changers and the Army guys took over our government was during the Alfred E. Newman What Me Worry presidency of W; and you don’t need me to tell you how that turned out. The two sensational wars and the brilliance of the snouts-in-the-trough types like Dick-less Chaney and the top Wall Street-walkers detritus still lay smoldering at our feet.

This new Trump pseudo-populist phenomenon looks to be a replay of the 1980’s Reagan revolution when it became fashionable among the elite money fetishistic to popularize the bumper-sticker ethos “maximizing share-holder value’. This greed for its own sake origination created an accepted ethos of the T-Boone Pickens Green Mail artists of that era, set free by Reagan’s firing of Air traffic Controllers, signaling labor unions would be crushed.

That message was received by the twisted Orwellian named “job creators” and along with it came the export of manufacturing jobs sent overseas where peasants fresh from their countryside’s pure agrarian economy, paid $1.20 an hour for assembly-line factory jobs, would later land in suicide nets, as in China’s Apple works, after experiencing the sweat-shop working conditions, or as we like to call it, (absence of) regulation; the new drumbeat of the well-heeled mouth-pieces like Mitch McConnell. Americas middle-class lunch-pail voters who put both Reagan and Trump in the catbird seat where left abandoned; dazed and confused. The fat cat scoundrels disguised themselves wrapped in the American flag while secretly masturbating to their money porn financial fantasies under it.

The current zeitgeist buzz-phrase “economic growth” harkens back to the Ronnie-the ray gun Reagan era asleep at the wheel administration touting the maximizing of shareholder value and explains the diversions of Nicaragua, Grenada and soon thereafter Panama and explains why the old man left office in disgrace; a doddering, confused inept; not that dissimilar, save the aggression and vulgarity, to Trump’s persona; Americas’ Eddie Haskell president. The maladroitness of Reagan had him dismiss the Gorbachev plea at Reykjavik to ban all nuclear weapons because he’d seen some reality in the fiction movie that was Star Wars. Trump sees the future of nations as nuclear armed; locked and loaded on hair triggers; saving the USA from the cost of defending them.

Trumps picks for cabinet posts, like Reagan, signals, also well received, that agencies meant to foster our health and welfare will be headed by terroristic bomb-throwers set on blowing them up and killing them off. The Republicans long fantasized wet dream of shrinking government small enough to drown it in a bathtub seems to them closer to fruition than ever before. Their giddiness at the prospect of privatizing everything worth a buck has them caring less that the boss is a no-nothing gasbag shill. Someone might tell these diamond encrusted turds that America is not a business and they should not attempt to run it like one but the dazzling shine off their Gold Rolex watches blinds their cerebral cortex.

The Reagan period of selfishness, like Trumps soon to be phantasy, also laid waste to where we started; when capitalism was first envisioned; the idea that the corporation was a guest in the community. Now we’ll no longer be so crass as to subscribe motives to maximizing shareholder value; no. Now it’s the smoke screen of hire America and buy American “corporate responsibility” for the greater good of us all as cudgel to make their actions sympathetic to “America First” and their motives to lift ourselves up as pure as the driven slush.

There are a whole lot of literati out in the hustings angst filled over current affairs and rightly so. We seem to have elected a jackass bully with self-esteem issues to pull the levers of power and he’s handing those levers off to billionaires and x-generals. Is there another war for profit in our offing? Well; since no one, most of all the King himself, knows his next move; stay tuned.

Seems to me the best detergent against a stain is exposure. Once realized, once hung upon their own jaundiced cynicism; charlatans, most especially the narcissistic variety, fold under the weight of their own self-serving ideology. Shouting them down in the public square is thirst quenching but provides them with persecuted status; the very thing they claim; much like the long-suffering white nationalist Neo-Nazi shit bag fanatics. Let their actions speak I say; good citizens will recoil in disgust. In the interim we are left to hope the nincompoop don’t get us all killed from stupidity while they focus on coming after our social safety net. #TrumpTrumpsReagan # T-BoonPickens #wedon’tgetfooledagain #Newbosssameastheoldboss

Carnival in Purgatory

Baby here we stand again, like we’ve been so many times before. Even though you looked so sure; as I was watching you; walking out my door. But you always walk back in like you did today; acting like you never even; went away.” “Here Come Those Tears Again.” – Jackson Browne

I didn’t want to hurt her feelings so I went to the poetry reading. The roads snaked like a river, a main cable that plugged right into her. I knew as I hit the door it wouldn’t be anything. These academy kids had all the juice squeezed out of them years ago. In another ten years they’d be looking out office windows in high rise buildings on some Market street wondering why their lives were so meaningless.

The room was full of zombies, walking dead, fake people who never stared into a wound in their lives. They hid it, ran home and Mommy put a bandage on it. They would never find out who they were. Lonely, troubled, anxious women surveyed the room for their next victim.

The poets read, barely audible, terrified, like the words were precious, frail and fragile. The future chief of police shushed the crowd. It’s was pure Valium, plain oatmeal, no one laughed, no one cried, no one kissed, no fights broke out and no one bled, not even the poets. Burroughs, Bukowski, Kerouac and Ginsburg somewhere on the ethereal plain bent over retching, leaking blood from their eyes. I knew if they could hear such pabulum they’d never stop throwing up. It smelled like slow death in there; malaria, nightmares. I had to bounce.

I could feel her pulsating torment all the way up the stairs. I made my way to where the vibrations emanating. The room had those suicide windows. Shit man, somebody turn down the lights and put on some make out music. She was the only thing there that was alive. She buzzed all sadness and lonely eyes begging for relief. I headed for the door.

The cool night air slapped me awake. I started the engine and gave it some gas. I was covered in a patina of regret. I headed for the Bay where the fog cleansed me. By now Cassie was cleaning the spoons and closing the lights. A June bug flew from the warmth it once knew. I measured the distance between our hearts and caught the last train for the coast. #love # passion #poets #carnival #purgatory