Monday, May 30, 2011

Elle Est Morte: She Said She's Dead

"She said she's dead."

"Dead? Dead how? Dead tired?"

"Just dead. She said she's dead like an eggplant, dead like a cantaloupe."

"Dead like a cantaloupe? What kind of freaky talk is that?"

"I don't know, that's what she said."

"But that makes no sense. She's going to kill herself like a fruit?"

"Why not? She's already dead."

"She's got two kids to take care of! What about them?"

"How can a dead person raise children? She'd only fuck them up."

"She has to do it anyway. It's a mother's duty no matter what."

"But she's dead. Dead like a carcass in an onion field."

"She said all that?"

"She said she was dead in many ways."

"So I guess she's dead. We need to do something then!"

"What do you do for the dead?"

"What about her husband? Surely he can do something."

"He's the wrong man for the job, part of why she's dead."

Part eggplant

"She should get the right one then!"

"Adultery? Divorce? That's for the living. She's dead."

"I'm sick of her being dead. What kind of woman gets into a mess like that!?"

"Kind of woman that marries the wrong man."

"Exactly. All she is now is a burden on us and I'm tired of carrying her."

"Let the dead bury the dead."

"Indeed. I have a thousand things going on to keep me alive. A thousand! No time for the dead."

"That's good to hear."

"She's just going to have to understand she got herself into this mess and she's going to have to get herself out of it. I can't live her life for her. It's her choice to keep living with the wrong man and living a lie. She should have done something while she was still alive."

"She only speaks honestly when she's dead."

"Well, it's too late then!"

"It's easier to speak when it's too late."

"OK, that settles it. There's nothing anyone can do. She's dead and we're alive."

"Yes, she's dead and we're alive."

[long silence]

"Actually, I'm dead too."

"So am I."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Last Moments Of A Street Hustler

", no, no, no, no, no, no..."

Those were Butch's final words as he looked up at me with his eyes saying, "Tell me this is not happening." I don't think I'll ever be the same.

Nobody ever dies like in the movies where it's all nice and neat and the person's at peace, uttering a few last sage words before departing. No, Butch knew he'd fucked up. Not just the moment that got him fatally stabbed in the back, but his whole damn life. He needed the impossible now if to survive: to stop the endless bleeding. It had always been that way for Butch.

This is a hard tale to tell. Butch always brought me a good feeling, carrying a natural high. I never not looked forward to seeing him and there was no lying between us. Maybe we didn't always speak the whole truth but if we couldn't speak honest words we'd speak nothing at all. So I could only suspect when the final straw had broken his back. If you get beat up once, you get over it and go on. But when it happens every day you reach a point of no return. But the world only notices your last beating, not the five thousand fucking nightmares that went on before.

In the streets there's a code: never question another man's pain. We all slip up and do it at times but if you hold on to it you're out. That's how we identify friends from enemies. We hear you cocksuckers on the radio and TV mouthing off from your comfy homes proclaiming your bitter hearts, calling us bums and lazy and other things not of your business. Trust me when I tell you I anticipate your death very greatly.

Butch was beloved - but still a fuck-up like all the rest of us. And on this job he went too far. I begged him not to get back into the drug scene, that it was like playing Russian roulette. But as I look back on things now, I can see that's exactly what Butch wanted: to get out one way or the other. Something had died in Butch, like a man who'd lost his way in the desert, time had run out. That's why he went back to doing a "hard job".

I was furious as he dragged me into this mess but would it have made a difference had I been more adamant in my refusal? Butch could be a wildly frustrating guy - we all are. So maybe my own guilt held me back somewhat in my due chastisement. Strong people are rare in the streets. Plus I did not want to violate the code though something told me this rip-off he'd planned was driven by a need only Butch could see. In the end, I told myself that he and his compadre Derrick were pros and knew what they were doing. Not like they hadn't done it before.

Maybe Butch thought this would be easier because it was at a dentist's office - even if it was on the oh-so-harsh Martin Luther King Boulevard. Fuming, I sat in the car as both driver and backup. "Goddam idiots better know what they're doing!" I seethed as I watched them surgically disable with military precision the two heavys standing out back. I'd always been proud of Butch and Derrick's cold-blooded steeliness in executing their plans. Maybe this would work out after all and my inner alarm a false one.

Surely it's staged.

But Butch had gone soft. It was like sitting on an ant hill waiting for them that Saturday afternoon where the sun was warm and the streets blowing dirty dust. I remember noting the piles of trash as if they were modern art statements on the lives of the people who lived here. Want a life changing experience? Go to the free clinic on MLK and see up and front and personal the faces of human misery thrown into the clutches of an indifferent society only handing out as much help as needed to save face.

These were the thoughts going through my mind, painful images flashing back as I peered up into the sun from Butch's piece of junk car. I couldn't deny it: death was in the air. I bolted up in my seat and grabbed the pump action when I heard the German Sheppard barking. The dealing dentist kept him inside the office as another layer of projection. Obviously, Butch did not know this. He must have scouted it out during the week not realizing the dog would be there on weekends. You see, Butch was a notorious animal lover and could never kill a dog.

I could hear take-no-prisoners Derrick's voice urging him to kill the dog barking through the screen door. Derrick was scared and frustrated as he saw Butch freeze, unable to pull the trigger. And it was in that moment of hesitation where clarity was lost that some crazy guy - probably alerted by the dog - came rushing out a side door and suicidally lunged a knife into Butch's back. Derrick and his Fu Manchu moustache shot him down cold with one precise shot. I grabbed the shotgun and rushed over - too late.

Not the way to freedom

People do die, I remember thinking as tears streamed down my cheeks. Derrick was yelling at me to get the hell out but I couldn't hear a thing. All I could see was the Butch of old, charming the pants off everyone, our Cool Hand Luke hero. His high point had been getting in with ex baseball player Rafael Palmeiro who was partly financing a gigantic real estate project in Grapevine. Butch had won him over and was going to be in charge of security for the site. To a man, all of us in the gang were proud as hell: Butch making legit money, off the streets at last!

But the 2008 crash put the project on indefinite hold (now dead) which put Butch back with us on the streets again, hustling our way day-to-day for food and shelter. Life on the street is hard but it's the last free place in the world. Put Butch in a suit and he'd be just another asshole choking on his own bullshit. His charm laid in the fact of his anchoring belief, "Life is fun! Come along for the ride!" We marvelled at his ability to sway even the most hardened of souls. But he needed the base of the streets to keep his soul alive. Yes, his star was never born.

When I looked up Derrick was gone, having taken off in the car. My instincts for survival took over and I started running away, dumping the gun in a predetermined safe spot (I always find one before any hard job) but my head was spinning in this surreal daymare. Time warped into another dimension and the colors started to bleed and slip, nothing was real as I was running into nothingness that could only return me to where I was before, torn between two worlds. My spirit was back there with Butch. We were laughing like old times because both knew it would never end. We were forever friends. This wasn't supposed to happen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Samurai Sansaki, A Sword Is No Home

"It's good to live in violent times."

So sneered a smiling Sansaki, a bloodied ronin (freelance samurai) both feared and loathed - and both of which he considered attributes. In an age that would come to be known as "The Era Of Warring States", Sanaski had found a home. To him, any hell was home - and any home hell.

Nights were a death by a thousand cuts, slicing him into a scrambling panic, surrounded flashing steel blades until finally he'd awaken clutching his chest in mortal pain. His hair turned an early white, giving him the freakish look of a strained politician. Each morning was the same, the fire in his belly calling out for death, craving the sight of life passing from another man's eyes. Only then could he feel alive.

In peacetime he'd be a criminal, a murderer for hire - or for fun. But these were not such times. These were times of warlords and chaos, of anarchy and human injustice, and ultimately the time of the sword. The boiling lump churning unbearably inside Sansaki released itself only through the metal attached to his hand, like an artist with a pointed paint brush, each one revealing his inner self.

Sansaki couldn't do women. A retail transaction held no lure for him yet into what home could he walk with his bloody sword? Rejection hounded him everywhere - except in battle. His opponent could never match his mania, his drive to reach the climactic moment when his sword pierced and penetrated vital organs as Sansaki's fury stood complete. In the fleeting moments as the doomed victim writhed to the ground, Sanaski came closest to his own personal heaven.

In battle he was reckless, pushing himself to the edge, looking over the edge of death into the abyss of freedom. Always he pulled back. Oftentimes he'd allowed himself to be cut he so loved the sight of flowing blood - be it even his own. If Sansaki's sword could have any dream it would be to find an immortal body to mangle over and over, trapped between life and death, never finding peace. Within battle no external sword could take him, outside battle he could fend off no internal sword. He was his own immortal body, a slave to his blade.

Already he'd become local legend and mythical terror, parents warning children that "Sansaki feels nothing his sword does not slice." Children were duly terrified - mostly because everyone was. It was when he was called out in a bar - though Sansaki did not drink - that Sansaki uttered his infamous motto as he was challenged, "Hey Saki-san, what would you do if there was no war? What else you good for?" Saki-san never looked up from polishing his blade, replying only, "It's good to live in violent times" - confirming he was good for nothing else.

Even if he were to be cut in two, no blade could slice Sansaki like a blood-letting question. He lived in constant fear and turmoil of who might ask him what next. He'd bluffed his way through at the bar - adding to his legend - but if he'd been pressed further a fate of deathly living would have been forced upon him. What if they'd held him down, peppered him with inquisitions he dare not answer, reducing him to tears? But who searches for integrity in times of war?

Sansaki's force field relied upon the belief he was a soul without feeling. As such he was feared, at times even exalted, but always always avoided. Of his many secrets was the clan leader's nephew he'd hacked to pieces in a late night fit of righteous rage. The nephew was drunk and belligerent with dreams of ultimate power restlessly seething below the surface. When a kuroneko - black cat - dared cross his path he cut it down in cruel horror. But it was as if the blade had cut through Sansaki himself as he witnessed the barbarity. So chopped up lay the final body his sword cuts could not be recognized.

"What if they were to make fun of me for caring about a cat? I needed that cat! I'd be mocked right out of the clan, my fraudulent ways exposed. My reputation...must stay alive. Love is beyond my reach. I must walk this road alone. But loneliness I cannot slay in my frustration."

Exposure invaded his dreams, other samurai donning cat ears and meowing as he passed. Children fearlessly laughing at him, an oddity of life, a shameful samurai. True samurai have no feelings! Sansaki was the truest of all: no relationships whatsoever - except with his sword. Take that way and he had nothing. Which means, of course, he had nothing.

Had he not led such a bent life, Sansaki's instincts and sense of tactics would have made him a great general. Whereas other fighters saw only the opponent in front of them, he saw the battlefield as whole, allowing him to flow from one spot to another of the greatest strength. He used this ability to ruthless advantage. Also, he picked to follow what he saw as the strongest clan leader: the up and coming Oda Nobunaga who'd stormed his way to power against all odds.

But this sort of success seemed boundless to Sansaki, a never-ending struggle to stay atop the fence of life and death. A perfect hell. But the gods demanded he take responsibility and choose. Forsaking his instincts - having deemed himself a bad man, after all - he choose to switch sides and fight with the Takeda clan whose leader had been killed by a lucky sniper shot. The son who assumed power was rumored to be weak but who knows, maybe Sansaki could rise to the top, taking his rightful spot.

Warily eyeing the sun as he climbed the famous mountains of Kai province holding the Takeda castle, Sansaki dreamed himself in a different land and time, free to walk away and live a man's life of love. The wearying wars, the petty plots, the worship of violence - all illusions blown away by the true dreams of man. A fearful question hounded him among the beseeching autumn trees: "Don't you want to live forever?"

"Don't answer! You'll be revealed a fool! You're only good for killing. No woman will have you. Walk this march of death, enjoy these last few moments of nature's sweet necter. Besides, when have you ever lost? You never lose! The future is bright still!" Sansaki dropped to his knees, a face crinkled in confusion, praying for the branches to show him the way home. Stunned by the silence, he rolled over on his back, an innocent patch of blue sky passing overhead. Sansaki dreamed to die as he lay.

The Battle of Nagashino took place in 1575 near Nagashino Castle on the plain of Shitaragahara in the Mikawa province of Japan. Forces under [heir] Takeda Katsuyori had besieged the castle since the 17th of June. The Takeda forces attacked the castle because it threatened Takeda's supply lines.

Both Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga sent troops to break the siege and their combined forces defeated Takeda Katsuyori. Nobunaga's skillful use of firearms to defeat Takeda's cavalry tactics is often cited as a turning point in Japanese warfare; many cite it as the first 'modern' Japanese battle. In fact, the cavalry charge had been introduced only a generation earlier by Katsuyori's father, Takeda Shingen. Furthermore, firearms had already been used in other battles. Oda Nobunaga's innovation was the wooden stockades [that protected his Arquebusiers] and rotating volleys of fire which led to a decisive victory at Nagashino.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

So Newt Is...Scarface??

Separated at birth?

"I only tell you once. Don't fuck me, Tony. Don't you ever try to fuck me."
-Alejandro "the Snake" Sosa, South American drug dealer (fiction)

"Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."
-Ronald Reagan, Central American drug dealer (non-fiction)

Rarely am I inspired to delve into the day-to-day minutiae of politics because its relevance is about the same as yesterday's wind. Most everyone likes to discuss the weather whereas I prefer to discuss weather trends. And besides, these people are so obvious it's like shooting fish in a barrel and that does nothing to improve my aim.

But when you get a fish like Newt, well, by God, hand me the shotgun!

Since the 90's, I've always called him the "Firestarter". He laces his commentary with more napalm than any bomb dropped in Vietnam. His tactic is a scorched earth policy that leaves his opponents shock and awed at the depths to which he'll sink. Newt has a unique and gifted way of raping the truth while wrapping it in a pseudo-plausible package which he then launches like a fireball to explode at the threat of any rational discourse.

In fact, he's so incendiary I often watch Newt just so I don't miss the moment he finally bursts into flames. Gee, I really want to see that.

The Newt-Man had to be the inspiration
for this on some level!

But something came over Fig Newton man I'm hesitant to describe. Was it ethics? Was it a case of outsmarting himself as he attempted to position himself like Obama: as a man above the fray and the Cossack partisans? Or was there some sort of glitch in his programming that sent the Newt bot into a haywired frenzy? Lord knows he's been scorching his brain for years and perhaps he'd severed one receptor too many.

I'll be generous and grant Newt as having an actual thought (breaking Republican commandment #1!) and that he was sincere in his criticism of both the Republican health care plan (aka Bataan Death March) and Paul Ryan's psychotic budget plan that hunts down the poor with a relentless and lethal mania. (If the Rethugs were to put out a first person shooter video game, the "enemies" would be the homeless, gays, peaceniks and anyone caught having a tolerant thought.)

So perhaps Newty realized he needed to salvage the career of political satirists when noticed his fellow cabal mates to be so over-the-top in their disconnect to reality that it was impossible to devise any concepts more absurd than the ones being proposed. So he broke faith and uttered a *gasp* true statement:

The former House speaker broke from his party leadership on the Hill by stiff-arming the budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and passed last month in the House.

"I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," said presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, in a controversial Meet the Press interview last Sunday. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors," Gingrich said.

Ouch! That dose of reality had to hurt the teenage fantasists that make up Republican leadership. (Eric Cantor truly lives on a cloud - of pollution). Reality is one thing in which no conservative has any interest because it destroys all their plans for witchcraft and world domination. It's tough being a toe-tapping warlock.

The right wingnuts were apoplectic at Newt's betrayal

"I am not going to justify this. I am not going to explain it," [a whiny] Limbaugh said Monday to his national radio audience.

"The attack on Paul Ryan, the support for an individual mandate in healthcare? Folks, don’t ask me to explain this. There is no explanation! What do you mean, 'If I don't explain it, who will?' There is no explanation for it," Limbaugh said. "First off, it cuts Paul Ryan off at the knees. It supports the Obama administration in the lawsuits that 26 states have filed over the mandate. I guess, what? Back in 1993, Newt supported an individual mandate, everybody should buy insurance. I am as befuddled as anyone else is what I’m telling you."

Rush then went on to hold his breath until "mean Uncle Newt takes it all back!"

Paul "Mad Hatter" Ryan also took exception on Newt's failure to sell his soul for Ryan's magical mystery budget:

"Rep. Paul Ryan fired back at Newt Gingrich on Monday after the ex-House speaker panned Ryan's Medicare plan as "right-wing social engineering."

Ryan, [appointed] chairman of the House Budget Committee [in a bout of insanity], argued that his proposal is not "radical," as Gingrich alleged during an interview over the weekend. And he questioned why Gingrich was choosing to align himself with Democratic critics of the GOP budget proposal.

"With allies like that, who needs the left?" Ryan quipped, during an interview [where mascara ran down his face like Tammy Faye Baker].

Republicants try to look like humans -
but it's not easy!

It was this same breach of unethical ethics that got Tony Montana killed in Scarface. He refused to kill the man prosecuting the drug cartels while the man's kids were in the car. This made Tony's partners in crime very, very angry as they sent a hit squad to his house to kill him DEAD.

Similarly, Newt's own momentary lapse from parroting right-wing fascist ideology has caused a Republican firing squad to be assembled. These Republicans are quite a devotional lot and take their vows quite seriously (fanatically?). Vows to worship money, trust in blind greed and destroy the environment. And with vows so very well funded they get all sorts of righteous indignation going when their wicked ways are threatened.

Poor Newt. He tried to be a man, to be an adult even if for just a few seconds. Now he's backpedaling furiously, apologizing for any perceived integrity he may have shown and crawling back to his evil masters like a repentant Vader. But even so his Presidential corpse is rotting for all to see and mock. So let that be a lesson to ya, Newt: you're running with the wrong crowd if you want to stand for truth, justice and humanity!

Check out this video from the last RNC convention! No honor among thieves!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Have A Potted Plant - And Die!"

Nobody understood: I didn't want to die.

They said at the employment agency they'd give me one more week, out of pity. But no more. Then I was going to be at the end of my rope. That was the longest week of my life. It was like a countdown to a execution.

That Monday morning I entered the building with pleading eyes but they all turned away. I was just a temp worker anyway. Disposable. I was like the green recruits in 'Nam. You didn't want to know them, not expected to survive.

But in my case I was targeted for termination. Them work people didn't hear my conversation at the agency. I told them I had no place else to go. I had to have this job. I'd do anything: work all the hours they want, take the lowest pay, do what no one else wanted to do. Just don't throw me out into the street, please. I don't want to die!!!!

She said she'd like to help me like she was reading from a script. I was just an actor in a play, my plight not real. She'd turn off her TV of bad life and I'd be gone, telling herself I'd be sure to turn up somewhere somehow on another episode. I knew how she felt. I couldn't believe this was real either. Yet here it was Monday morning and I'm walking these linoleum floors a condemned man.

You can't understand how I alone I was. Or if you can, you sure didn't show it. As everyone else was watching the clock tick for the day to end, I was praying for time to stand still. To get myself through the day I kept telling myself a miracle reprieve would come through. That any moment they would call me into the office, telling me how much they need me, saved from the gallows.

But that second hand kept moving mercilessly around the dial. I felt like a rope had been tied around me, dragging me closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. I could see that edge, it was Friday at 5 o'clock when I was expected to turn in my badge and die a crucifixion on the streets, my week's pay to grant me a final meal.

I had no real friends and even so hard to imagine anyone could let me live with them. Family was far and rural in dead and jobless towns, places of even less hope. I came to the city and failed. Monday night I sat in the corporate park after work, still hoping someone would rush out to tell me it'd had all been a mistake. But soon, even the sun abandoned me.

Tuesday was a blur, I was very busy with no time to think and it was glorious. Yes, that really was just a bad dream before. Now I had woken up to find out everything was fine: my life had value after all. At lunch I happily chatted with the real employees, not feeling so much the stranger on their land. What a blessing to find out I was a real person! Thank you! All I needed was a chance.

But 5 o'clock came again and my bubble popped as I watch the truly real people get in their cars and drive away as I waited at the bus stop. They were headed off to distant planets where I could not go: to homes, to families, to lives, to a future. I had all the hope of a lottery ticket of ever seeing a life like that. My car had shot an engine rod. I had to take a chance on a eleven hundred dollar piece of junk and the dice turned up snake eyes. Some guy gave me 75 bucks for it to so he could fix it up for his brother.

Tuesday night I decided to defy the gods and go back to the feeling I had during the day. I bought a new toilet seat to replace the cracked one in my apartment. Walking through the store was a surreal trip of pain as I pretended normalcy, that I was one of the lucky ones, that I had a brother who was fixing up a car for me and everything was alright. After all, only a man with a future buys a new toilet seat, right?

I only felt more isolated posing as a man of success. The girl who checked me out smiled at me and the effort to feign one in return felt the same as emptying my bank account. What would she say if she knew of my coming doom? Would she turn away her face like the people at work? Who wants to see the decaying leper? Please be convenient and die unseen. But that's what I was doing, obliging them. No one thanked me.

Wednesday morning they were making hump day jokes on the radio. I could hear it in someone's cubicle. I truly envied those little cubicle havens. To me they seemed palaces of the gods. People put up family photos and funny sayings and were allowed to create their own little world any way they liked! Who gets to do that? How can anyone get into that position? Many were unhappy but didn't they realize they were life's winners? I was in awe as I went around emptying the trash, peering into lives God actually loved.

Thursday I had a hard time keeping it together. Didn't they realize time was running out? Save me, please! Where's the call from the governor to stay my execution? I can't live on the streets! I've had all I can take already. Why does no one believe me? I'm not making this up, you fuckers! That bitch receptionist said I had "scary eyes". It's a goddam scary world, you cunt! You try living in it! You don't care with your fancy desk and husband and Mexico vacations. Eat dirt!

I tried to watch TV Thursday night but all I could think about was how I could get jobs like them. Could I host a TV show? Now they're making fun of a guy doing poorly at his job. Don't they know his life is on the line? Help him! It's not fucking funny, you assholes. No wonder no one watches this shit. They never have anyone you care about die on TV. I'm the guy in the off-colored shirt with Kirk and Spock as we beam down to a hostile planet. Guess who's not going to survive the commercial break?

Friday came. As I listened to excited plans for the weekend by untouchable girls I could not muster a smile. I had masturbated Thursday in a last fit of protest. How was I going to jack off living on the streets? Do it now while still poaching indoors. If I could just have one of those girls I don't think I'd even care about dying after that. But the janitor man didn't dare ask and I didn't have a hope of pleasing the likes of them anyway.

I didn't eat lunch that day, my stomach too tight. I fantasized if this was how a condemned man felt on his final day. How the fuck you get a appetite for a final fucking meal? This is horrible, this is hell. The walls are closing in. I didn't get any sleep the night before, I kept waking up, my chest pounding in terror. A knife was in my heart and I couldn't pull it out all day. Please stop the pain! Please let me live! Somebody hear me!

But like grains of sand in an hourglass time slipped away and the world turned dead and cold. I didn't see colors anymore, just shades of grey and deep black. The bomb really dropped, I was shell shocked. As some final futile gesture they'd given me a potted plant as a going away gift. I think they wanted to throw it out anyway. I was supposed to be too stupid to know better so I obliged their guilt but still they wouldn't extend my contract. Felt like living with my parents all over again.

Nothing real happened after that. I decided my fellow man wouldn't really do this to me. All this shit was just in me head and I knew just how to prove it. I went back around to the bushes where I had stashed my gun earlier. The magazine was full which I thought was a good thing, every bullet a chance for redemption I remember thinking. When I walked back in the last thing I clearly remember was that bitch receptionist had already gone home. I thought that curious because surely God hated her as much as I did and wanted me to execute justice.

Had even God abandoned me? I ignored the sign and started patrolling the office for any workers still there. They're goddam lottery winners. Don't tell me they think they really deserve to live!

That's when I heard the first shriek. It was the most wonderful sound I'd heard in years. Then another and another! They were pleading with me, begging for me to let them live! I wanted to kiss them in their horror. Feels like shit doesn't it, begging for your life! But guns have no ears! I fired a shot over their heads and there was no mistaking the hell I heard in their voices then. Welcome to my world, folks!

They hid under their desks in hopeless pretense. God, do I know that feeling! If I could have listened to them sniveling and sobbing for eternity I'd of died a happy man. The feeling of power and exhilaration was godlike as I watched them muster up the courage to look at me as I passed by. Yes! Yes! Now you have the look on your face I've had to hide for a fucking week! I fired more shots to ripple through their souls but whenever someone cried to me I just told them, "Sorry! Nothing I can do! Have a potted plant!"

When the police came I finally knew relief, almost collapsing in the handcuffs, drained of all life. They went around making sure everyone was OK. Since the receptionist was gone I took that as a sign God didn't want me to kill anybody. They don't know how close they came. The cops yelled like crazy and threw me to the floor when they came blowing in. What are they so mad at me for? Ain't done nothing that hadn't been done to me. You gonna arrest them fuckers too? Why the fuck not!

Life is good here in the psyche ward. They fucking feed you here no matter what! I watched the janitors clean up the place - serving me! - and I feel like king of the world. They keep asking me what my problem is and I keep telling them I just want to live. But I'm still not reaching them and I don't know why. Except when them folks was screaming at the office no one has ever heard me. I can't breathe in this world you made, folks. Why doesn't anyone believe me??

CODA: I hear they got no more funding for me, state got no money. Knew this was too good to be true. When I get out this time, I'm gonna kill somebody for sure. That way they gotta take care of me. I wonder who I'll kill? Maybe it'll be you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let Freedom Ring?

It has to start somewhere. Somebody has to say, "Enough!" Not because anyone else will or won't say it, but because it needs to be said. No one said "Enough!" when they came to take away the Jews. No one says "Enough!" as we enslave the poor and weak. No one says "Enough!" to anything that harms us.

We only say "Enough!" to our conscience.

So please, do not go on record. Be like the silent Germans who didn't want to make waves. Be like the CEOs who smile as they kill. Mock those who stand against the winds of woe. It is not I who will judge you, but history. That said, I already think you're a dick.

I understand you don't believe you deserve freedom. Demand it anyway. I understand you fear to claim your life. Live it anyway. I understand you question your judgement. Trust it anyway. Life first, all else second. You won't be popular, you won't be loved, you won't be praised. What you will be is alive.

Iraq Veterans Against The War

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Anvil Of The Sun

My head splits in two
On the anvil of the sun;
Waters of the desert
Belong to all and yet to none.

Godard's "Week End" was full of speechifiers

Some mornings you wake up and you just want to kill somebody.

"The number of people who can help me is the same number of people who could help Jesus on the cross."

Tony was a speechifier, as I call his species. They got a truth to tell you and by God you better listen! Usually it involves some unfair aspect of society the speaker is unable to overcome - and it's killing them. But with every passing speech the lecturer finds a world either too crippled or too bribed to give a damn. At that point, some people go quietly in the night. Others go out blazing, like Tony.

It's amazing how an unexpressed truth can swallow up a life. It's like being tied to a gigantic boulder pulling you down a hill. You can make a superhuman effort and stop the inevitable slide for a while, maybe telling yourself you have won "victory" and "the future is yours" and other fashionable deceptions but time is not an ally as the pull becomes too much once again and your grip starts to slip anew. And no matter how outrageous or how horrific your fate, the boulder does not hear your cries as it finally slides off the cliff, taking you with it.

Sort of like the American economy.

Tony's life ended long before the shooting. He was a man being ripped in two. The woman in the store said she never thought Tony would do something like this. If so, she must be one of those who profess blindness to be an asset. To me, the only shocking thing was why it took so long. Anyone who cared to could see this coming. Tony was the most dangerous of all creatures: a man with a gun intent on doing what's deemed the "right thing".


Enron Traders Caught On Tape

(CBS) When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.

"Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing," a trader sang about the massive fire.

Four years after California's disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard – on audiotapes obtained by CBS News – gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.

"He just f---s California," says one Enron employee. "He steals money from California to the tune of about a million."

"Will you rephrase that?" asks a second employee.

"OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day," replies the first.

The tapes, from Enron's West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down.


"This shit ain't gonna work."

That was Tony's tip off line. For me, it meant leaving because I didn't want to hear Tony's shit one more time. He's a part timer at the shelter like I am, depending on his circumstance, but it took only one listen to him for me to know he was headed off his rocker. What bothered me, though, is that he would often use the same words I use because, yeah, I'm always saying in so many words "this shit ain't gonna work" too. It's what everyone without hope says.

And I can't say I don't understand his urge to shoot someone as he was always threatening to do. In Texas, we have a hard time believing anything involving a gun can be a bad thing - until, of course, that bad thing happens. So remarks about shooting people and whatnot pretty much go unnoticed, to think of them otherwise considered some form of Yankee liberal heresy. But I gotta tell ya it's tough when you see a volcano about to blow and no one cares to listen.

What split Tony in two was his wrestling to survive without living. On one hand he'd mightily shoehorn himself into some low paying menial labor to get by but his soul unbearably demanded more. But satisfying his soul put him back on the streets again. He would often argue out of both sides of his mouth. If someone complained about their miserable job he'd jump all over them for not "doing what you have to do." But if someone tried to ram a job down his throat, Tony demanded he "had to be free."


"Shoot 'em all and let God sort 'em out" is a common
phrase I hear. The boy was 15, picked at random.

The Kill Team: How U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians

Early last year, after six hard months soldiering in Afghanistan, a group of American infantrymen reached a momentous decision: It was finally time to kill a haji.

Among the men of Bravo Company, the notion of killing an Afghan civilian had been the subject of countless conversations, during lunchtime chats and late-night bull sessions. For weeks, they had weighed the ethics of bagging "savages" and debated the probability of getting caught. Some of them agonized over the idea; others were gung-ho from the start. But not long after the New Year, as winter descended on the arid plains of Kandahar Province, they agreed to stop talking and actually pull the trigger.


Tony said his one wish was to "punch God right in the goddam mouth."

I can understand that too. Who is left to help us? Tony actually had some dead-on insights on how "our system is fucked up more than you know", not honest like we claim, and is not viable and careening out of control onto doom. I wonder if he lived out his life just like that to prove his point - because that is also a dead-on description of himself. Like I said, the power of an unexpressed truth is amazing. The words of the prophets are indeed written on the subway walls.

Some people will say, "if only he couldn't have gotten a gun". But that sidesteps both the problem and the solution. Just like with Tony, it's obvious America is on a death trip. Some say to admit that is to make it so, but the reality is just the opposite. Tony was always claiming someone was "fucking him" and in the article he says that's why he had to shoot. As I look around me, I see a disintegrating nation full of Tonys, shooting everyone (with all types of bullets) who's "fucking them" - whether real or imagined.

Is anyone listening? It's the cry for love.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Meanwhile, Back At The Terrorist Ranch...

The witch is dead! Problems solved!

Bin Laden has been killed! At last our wars have meaning! We can start to become safe again because, yes, we really can kill everyone who's a threat to us. And even though we say we cannot, we are going to relax now. Hope springs anew and the world is turning to love.

Hard not to drink the Kool-aid, isn't it? We're so tired of hearing how we're being pissed on we're finally starting to believe it really is raining. But that, my friends, is what the Bible refers to as tearing apart the seals of life. Poison is not food, lies are not the future, death has no hope. And it is always good to face those facts.

But let us turn our eyes back to America's biggest and most lethal enemy: greedy Americans. In my previous post I spoke of the eviscerating rape currently conducted by Oil speculators, aided by the government entrusted to protect us. We can blame the speculators, we can blame the government, but it is we who allow these sort of people to live free among us, damaging lives without restraint or penalty.

My man Ed Wallace has come to the same conclusion:

After three months of reading oil reports I concluded that, in terms of legitimate discovery pricing for crude, today's oil market does not line up with reality. While I said so in the Star-Telegram last weekend, a similar column of mine came out at BusinessWeek on the 19th of the month and immediately became their most read story that day. They say that timing is everything: Two days later President Obama said he would put together a task force to investigate, seek out and report any "fraud or manipulation" in the oil markets.

This task force, apparently, would answer to Eric Holder, our Attorney General. And immediately the Associated Press quoted Holder as saying, "It is also clear that there are lawful reasons for increases in gas prices, given supply and demand." That column continued, "Given that no evidence has yet surfaced of actual fraud or price manipulation in [the] oil market, Obama's remarks appeared, at least in part, as more of an attempt to assuage public anger over rising gas prices."

Then last Saturday, Reuters offered a follow-up article which stated, "Barack Obama told Americans on Saturday that there is no magic bullet to bring down high gasoline prices ..."

Really? This all seems so strange. In 2008 this same Barack Obama, albeit then running for the White House, had plenty of so-called magic bullets to shoot at the high price of oil. Moreover, he was fully aware of what was causing the oil spike of 2008 - which happens to be the same things pushing prices up today.

See? I know how to get your attention!

Yup, the dog and pony show continues. The blind eye sleeps well, assuring itself all is well and our leaders can be trusted to do the right thing (even if we ourselves are not!). But I look at it like this: the people who enact harm on us need to be stopped at any cost. The first step in doing that is to admit to yourself who you are and what you are. That's where the truth starts.

It's bad enough that we forget Obama's campaign pledges, but he at least should remember them well. So should his opponent, Senator John McCain. In the 2008 election's last months, this same John McCain suggested that the only way to lower oil prices was more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Remember his catchy "Drill, Baby, Drill" slogan? But even as he first uttered that phrase, McCain too knew what was really behind rising oil prices.

It turns out that on June 22, 2008, three weeks before oil peaked at $147 a barrel, Obama said that if elected president he would crack down on speculators in the energy markets to rein in runaway fuel costs.

The same Reuters article that discussed candidate Obama's plans to put sanity back into commodities trading also quoted Jon Corzine, then Governor of New Jersey and a former CEO of Goldman Sachs. Corzine backed up Obama's position, saying, "I think everyone believes that there's too much speculation in the oil markets."

In case you don't remember, Obama's plan was simplicity plus. He wanted to close the "Enron Loophole" that exempted many energy traders, letting them place bets on oil electronically and outside the regulation of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, on the dark and unregulated exchange. He also wanted to investigate how the higher leverage amounts speculators were using extended the price impact of their oil bids.

So why is that loophole still open? Why do we allow ourselves to be exploited? Why are the most vulnerable among us considered the least valuable?

Is the answer to those questions that things are the way they are because we are an honest, selfless nation of integrity? This wholesale robbery operation is not an anomaly, nor a temporary aberration, nor a blind spot by a well-meaning people. This is a known, highly organized criminal enterprise. Justice is not determined by what we do or don't sanction (see: greed and witch burning). Justice is determined by the fruits of our endeavors.

But let's not let McCain off on this either; he didn't win the White House, but he's still one of America's most powerful Senators. He couldn't wait to say Obama was trying to steal his political thunder about ending this commodities foolishness in 2008, so why hasn't he put forward the legislation to do that by now? He said he knew how to stop speculators from controlling prices beyond legitimate supply and demand issues. Obama said he knew the same thing. And even the former head of Goldman Sachs weighed in and agreed with them. Yet nobody's done a thing to fix it yet.

And people wonder why I don't vote.

The same day my column appeared in BusinessWeek, five days before a similar piece appeared here, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson spoke to the Financial Times. I'll supply his quotes and leave you to decide whether oil prices are correct today:

"The market is well supplied, with inventories in the U.S. at near-record levels and stock levels in Europe and Asia within the normal range. So there's plenty of oil on the market. Libya is not causing a major headache and [Exxon] did not have any particular difficulties in finding alternative crude supplies. I see early signs of consumption growth destruction. The Saudis did make available additional crude; what they found ... [is] nobody was buying it."

That's right. Buyers are turning down oil, but the price keeps climbing.

Far be it for me to disturb anyone's slumber as we rack up more and more charges on our environmental and economic credit cards. How does one pity someone who insists on putting their finger on a hot stove but not get burned? Life is better than this. It does not have to be as hard as we're making it. I just don't get why everyone is OK with dying.