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

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

Friends

Nick Masesso, Jr.

“United we stand-divided we fall” — The Liberty Song, John Dickinson

The test of a true friend is their willingness, upon your request, to offer a hand to one of your friends; someone they may not even know.

As I read Michael Moore’s autobiography “Here Comes Trouble” I was stunned by the avalanche of hate that descended upon him as a result of his acceptance speech at the Oscars after he won the famed prize for his first film “Bowling for Columbine”.  While a few luminaries like Meryl Streep and Martin Scorsese clapped wildly in approval, others like Robert Duvall went on the attack. Upon returning to his hometown in Michigan he and his wife were bared from their own property by three truckloads of horse manure piled waist high in their driveway and signs reading COMMIE and TRAITOR tacked on their trees.

As threats of…

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Indian Summer

“The Indian Summer of life should be a little sunny and a little sad, like the season; infinite in wealth and depth of tone, but never hustled”. – Henry Adams

Returning to my comfort station, reclining as calm and safe as a man watching a snow storm from his fireplace, resplendent in my throne as form-fitting as a dentist’s chair; the Technicolor movie that never ends burns outside my writers window; bringing me once again to a level of consciousness and sense of detail rarely met. The weather seer on the magic box tells me this very day brings forth the peak of Fall’s funeral colors.

Autumn leaves empty of promise as a woman past the magic of birth cascade choreographed in a wonderland as quiet as asylum walls, yet hot as the boiler room of the damned; death colored egg yolk yellow and shot through with veins as red as Gods blood rainbow arcs as colorful as a shower of dying clowns.

They flutter, cut loose and fly in somnambulist vertigo exhaustion; oscillating on the almighty hawks reaper winds; looking like pixie magic carpets; organic meteor showers in this curious early evening; creating a musical serenade of tiny organic castanets inside north-lands mystical Peter Pan Neverland forest; then land in quiet triumph. Wood smoke clings to a darkened moonless sky like a quivering mist shaking in its tilt above and across a glass smooth lake.

Another more common death notice arrived across the wire today; my Muse, most dear to me, robed in colors soft pink and regal purple, is feeling the loss of one most dear to her. Though channeling the bereavement, nonplussed, she is comforted in the knowledge that every description of the end was never other than glorious. I will save a leaf or two in memory of this years last interment procession and place in them the memory of their best days, as I hope the amulet I sent her will assuage the injury and immortalize the sad event; elevating both their status to symbolic yet sacred sarcophagus.

The moment speaks an echoing acoustic truth; as above so below. The last chapter of Fall’s story mimics our own, or so we hope; that like natures end-of-days cycle we too, in our last evolution, will rush forth most musical and magnificently colored in our ending hours. Snakes shed their skin and stay; trees release their leaves yet still breathe and we jettison our flesh and blood while our soul essence linger. This Indian summer is the perfect time for the rewards of that esoteric existential wondering.

In this cycle of life, death and rebirth the deeds we leave behind are the steps of the dance we taught our brothers and sisters; they stay as rhythms they will never lose. We celebrate souls that pass to the other side in the same way we celebrate Indian summer;  just another life form bound by the rules of nature.

Saturday Afternoon – Sunday Morning

“I was an assassin and I had a job to do. How was I to know that girl was an assassin too” Battle StudiesJohn Mayer

It was one of those perfect days. They’d slept like children until noon. She brought the steaming cappuccino he liked and those warm croissants from the French bakery. They lay content and silent while she picked the crud from his eyes then wrapped around him like tin foil. When they’d finished caressing like pandas he watched her pad around the pine floorboards and listened to her footsteps echoing in the hall. She wore the jewelry he’d bought her just the other day and that tight silk dress with the low-cut bodice that made him blush with joy. They headed out on foot into the overcast San Francisco afternoon under a stone gray sky that threatened rain. They made it to the Bijou just in time for the feature film, missing all the advertisements and trailers. They found the seats where they always liked to sit, dead center, empty with no one in front of them.

Afterwards they strolled down the block to the hot tubs and found the fiberglass tub was available and they hadn’t even made an appointment and that never happened. They brunched in that new Italian restaurant she’d been going on about. The virtuoso violinist played their favorite song just for them. They hit the door of her apartment just as it began to rain and they hadn’t brought an umbrella. He took her hand and led her straight into the bedroom. They dove into the bed and she switched on the TV just as the evening news was starting. “Christ, Salinger is dead”, he said. He kissed her cheek. “Turn it off angel”, he said.

He was the last romantic; a real 1950’s, Roman candle, hot pink, Hollywood bright lights romantic, an anachronism.  He was a member of an endangered species, the only one left that believed in things that can’t be proved to exist; things like god and love, one that was soon to be extinct. He was a deer running free through the woods without a care. But he was already wounded and bleeding out. He just didn’t know it, not yet.

She was a level-headed gambler on the road to alcohol; an upper middle class Jewish princess from Evanston, Ill and a Yale graduate, an art major. She was fond of photographing things that had already happened. She belonged to that 1970’s feminist freedom crowd that worshiped at the feet of Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug; the ones that had burned their bras and had evolved some would say selfishly, into rejecting motherhood.

They’d made love and dropped off to dreamy slumber as they often did when at four a.m. he suddenly woke feeling scared and lonely even though he always felt safe with her in their lovers bed and she was still right there where he’d felt her warmth every night now for, what was it, a year, maybe more?  He loved her queen size bed with its goose down blankets and cloud soft pillows. But he loved it mostly because she was in it with him every time he wanted.

She was sitting at the edge of the bed not quite next to him when he suddenly opened his eyes as if he’d been frightened. She’d always said that she liked to watch him sleep, something about the breathing in and out and in and out she said. She told him that she had left him while he was sleeping.

A cool breeze disturbed the Irish lace curtains and they billowed to ever so slightly touch the pad of his index finger as he reached for a cigarette and that made it twitch like he was caressing the trigger of his loaded gun which he kept under the pillow. He scratched a pimple on his neck and looked at the hand painted wooden pendent he’d given her that was sitting on the night stand. The one that sweet seventeen year old virgin had given him on his trip to the outlying reaches of Guatemala. A gift for a kindness he’d done for the beautiful girl and her mother. He remembered then, that when just last week he offered her the heirloom she’d balked, asking him if he was sure he wanted to give her such a fine thing. He knew then that she’d eventually leave him.

She began to tell him about her new boy friend, her new apartment, her new life. She asked him, giddy with excitement, if he’d come over and see the new place. She’s already mopping up the blood he thought, and it hadn’t even happened ten minutes ago.  He didn’t remember too much after that, only that after some time she married the guy she’d run off after when she left him in the afterglow, in that bed, on that gloomy afternoon. He guessed the guy she married was the best part of his luck. She said she loved him cause’ he drove a pick-up truck.