Thursday, January 23, 2014

Poverty Never Sleeps

"Let's admit it. At our age it really is all about the lifestyle at this point."

Her gorgeous bare foot dangled in the air in careless disregard, cocooned in a reality of her own mythmaking. Her two friends - one coiled cobra-like on the sofa, the other sitting rigid as a palace sentry - also enjoyed the rarefied air of the penthouse far from the great unwashed masses below.

"A room with a view, so to speak," proffered the Rigid One.

"Oh, exactly," agreed Cobra. "We deserve better. They get their raises and we get our better views. Everyone is the same."

"That was such a lovely movie, 'A Room With A View'. I do so yearn to see it again," Foot Lady lazily drawled.

"Oh, it was dreadful, I thought," Rigid objected.

"That's only because you married that dreadful Cecil instead of the dashing George," Cobra taunted in feigned mirth.

"She did quite well," Foot interceded. "How many hundreds of millions is it now?"

Rigid was too offended to respond. She hadn't always been rigid and hated the hardening over the years. But a bad marriage wrings the water from the cloth until it's dry and stiff - and unwanted.

Come hither, honey, and we shall feign a kiss!

Cobra felt the need for a shit as she'd never forgotten her having to once slither from the gutter. "I read the most wonderful article on wealth concentration. Did you know the top 85 people in the world are worth as much the bottom three and a half billion!"

"I saw that!" exclaimed Foot. "I did the calculations and I'm worth about sixty five million Pakistanis."

"At least we won't have trouble finding help or have to worry about overpaying," Rigid dryly observed.

"Greed, greed, greed. People talk about it like it's a bad thing," complained Cobra. "But how else is the world to progress? Who wants to still be living in a cave?"

"What's the point of suffering?" Foot Lady mused. "I have faith in our Maker and He most certainly does not want us to suffer."

"I just know I don't want me to suffer!" laughed Cobra.

"And it's OK to be greedy as long as you give to charity like I do." Foot dutifully crossed herself.

"Oh, bah," sneered Rigid. "That is so pretentious. You're making a hypocrite of yourself." She kept her eyes firmly on her tea cup.

"Are you saying I should give nothing at all? That's absurd. I can't betray my saved soul."

"So, so dishonest," sniffed Rigid. "One should be who she is and not pretend otherwise."

Cobra laughed uneasily. "Did I tell you we put in an ad for a kinky maid? Dear hubby wants to watch as I paddle her bottom in her French maid outfit. And who knows what else might happen!"

"Oh, that's awful!" scoffed Rigid, burning in howling jealousy with her wanting to spank anyone.

Foot disagreed. "Nothing wrong with a consensual situation as long as everyone agrees."

"Oh, of course it's fine. Will be giving her extra money over a regular maid. Perhaps some college student in need of tuition. I think she'd be most grateful to get her books paid in exchange for a few stinging swats."

Rigid was writhing in agony, expressing her raging desire in pretended scorn. "I suppose that will be one more thing you'll videotape..."

"But of course!" cheered Cobra. "And you'll be the first person to see it."

"Oh, I shouldn't want to I'd think."

"They need us, actually," Foot Lady philosophized. "You can see they need orders and guidance from their superiors. After all, there's a reason we live in a penthouse while wretched beings roam the streets. Oh, if only they could see how very dearly they need save their souls!"

Cobra felt it finally the time to let loose a zinger she'd been holding back for years. "I voted for Obama - twice!"

Cacophonous outrage delighted Cobra as she saw the hurt looks on her friends' faces. A back-stabbing of the highest order! Anarchy in the streets!

"You two should calm down," Cobra scolded. "You're always so conventional -"

"Convention is what maintains order," maintained Rigid.

"But don't you see the beauty of it? Haven't we gotten wildly richer over the past few years, more than ever before?"

"That's still no excuse to support a man not of the true faith," Foot protested.

"But you get the best of both worlds! All those bastard liberals always slandering us got nothing to say when I tell them how I voted. They think he's mister anti-greed when really he's passing all the policies we want so it's a win-win!"

Rigid was unimpressed. "You're playing with fire. You should stick with your own kind."

Foot was tempted by the idea of having a godly image. "So what exactly do the liberals say when you tell them?"

"Oh, at first they don't believe me but I saw through that black fraud right away. But are they ever drinking the Kool-Aid! They congratulate me on seeing the light and how I did what's best for society and how progressive and open-minded I am to vote for a darkie. It's really most hilarious. Wish I had been rolling film on that!"

"Progressive and open-minded? They really called you that?" inquired a disbelieving Foot.

"Oh, yes. I'm a frickin' FDR in their eyes. Want me to invite you to one of my liberal parties so we can laugh at them?"

"Oh, never!" Foot shuddered, fearing her desperate longing for liberal approval might show. "I wouldn't do that. It's just weird how they think, is all."

Rigid fumed like a verging volcano. "You open your mind to that liberal trash they talk and you'll find yourself just as corrupt and irresponsible as they are. All they want to do is hand out money to people without jobs until there's no money left to give. It's an outrage!"

"So I take it you won't be joining me on our march against Wall Street this weekend?"

"I should think not. Imagine attacking the very institutions upon which society rests!"

"Oh, you worry too much. It's not like everyone's going to stop being greedy overnight - or ever. But it's a riot to listen to them. They think they're saving the world with their angry signs and dumb internet rants. Does no one want to come?"

Foot felt guilty - and was annoyed with herself for it. "No, I better not. It could get violent or something."

"You two take yourselves too seriously! It's just a game. We couldn't rig the rules if they didn't let us. Everyone's in on it so how bad can it be?"

Rigid visibly bristled, bringing her to have the final say. "It most certainly is not a game. Lives are at stake - very real lives and very real suffering day and night without pause. It's the kind of horror one can't imagine, as if being buried alive and not a soul to hear your screams. If you think I would ever allow such an atrocity you've got another think coming! It's something that cannot be, must never be and must be eradicated from the face of the earth at all costs!"

Stunned breath-holding silence hung thickly as a dense fog. Finally, Foot leaned forward into the soup.

"You mean just shouldn't happen to you?"

"Quite right!" Affirmed Rigid. "What did you think I meant?"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There Came A Man Who Did Not Know

Nobody knew where the Stranger came from and nobody dared ask. Maybe we were afraid of the answer. Rumors naturally filled the gap. The most accepted explanation was he fell from the sky. Not that we really thought that's what happened. It's just that it so overwhelmingly felt that way.

The most curious aspect was that he lacked something we all had but had something we all lacked. That's about as close as we ever got to a definition. To know any more we'd have to take a harder look at ourselves. No one was up for that - at least not publicly anyway. The savage must vilify that which is not to his understanding to keep his world alive. The more well dressed the savage the greater the vilification.

Why he picked a farmer's market to announce his presence is anyone's guess. Perhaps because it sold the most basic tenet of life: food. The Stranger just walks right up, grabs the juiciest apple he can find and bites right into it. He smiles at the merchant as he starts to walk away.

"Hey there! You! Come back here."

"Why certainly, how may I help you?"

"You can help me by paying for that apple!"

"Have I not already? It is delicious."

"Are you nuts or something? Either you fork over the cash or I'm calling the cops."

"OK! See you around then."

A sharp eyed officer responded to the merchant's complaint. "You with the apple. Get over here. What is this nonsense?"

"Is eating nonsensical? What am I missing?"

"Stealing is what's wrong. If you can't pay the man I'll have to arrest you."

"How can I pay what I do not understand?"

"You saying you didn't swipe that apple?"

"Is not eating what they are for?"

The merchant went red in the face. "Them apples is for sale only!"

The officer had heard enough. "Ok, buddy, I'm gonna charge you with shoplifting. No more games."

"I'm afraid I don't see the problem. Is this man not happy to provide apples to share? Why do it if it does not make you happy?"

The sharing of the apples actually did make the seller happy. It was, in fact, a point of pride for him to have the best apples for sale in the market. He tried harder, he always said. The Stranger piqued him into a guilt he did not understand.

"It's a business, pal. I got expenses to pay for. People start freeloading and I got no more apples to sell no matter how much I like it!"

"The apples will cease to grow without pay?"

"I ain't talkin' to you no more. You got something wrong with your brain."

The officer was also highly agitated at this point, even with the farmer. "You pressing charges or what?"

"Nah, he's a retard or something. Just get him out of here."

"Ok, buddy. Move along. You've caused enough trouble."

"But doesn't everyone eat?"

"Just go!"

The Stranger's story ignited the market. Who was he? What was wrong with him? Why didn't he understand even the most simplest of concepts? And, secretly, they wondered why he caused such an enraging internal consternation. They damned him but knew not why, protecting their wares as he passed by.

As the Stranger left he passed by a street worker packing asphalt who cursed his life's misery and drudgery; a prisoner of fate.

"Excuse me, sir, I just overheard your pleas of despair. Why not simply do something more to your liking?"

"Fuck you!"

"Why does the idea of doing what you like cause such anger?"

Every system the same

"Are you some sort of half-wit? I'm feeding my family here."

"But despair is injurious to health and therefore is self-defeating to your stated goal."

"What planet do you live on? For your information I was a store manager for the past thirty years. Now I'm fifty-five years old and no one will touch me except the rip-off contractor I work for now. You got any bright ideas, asshole, I'm all fucking ears."

"I already gave you my bright idea."

"Just fuck off, wise guy, before I punch your face. Frickin' moron."

"What is moronic about promoting your welfare? Had I said, "Be miserable!" now that would be moronic!"

The ex-manager's co-workers held him back as he lunged for the Stranger's neck. The Stranger was perplexed by the man's red-faced fury and murderous eyes.

Walking on, the Stranger heard even mores stories of woe. Of "required ulcers", "mandated heart attacks" and "futile flat-lining." But he found that as curious as they found him. What's to be gained by all this, he wondered. Do they not want to live?

The Stranger was startled by that very question being posed to him. "Don't you want to live, man?"

That question was posed to him by someone commonly referred to as homeless.

"But of course. Is that not the universal desire of every human on this planet?"

"It's the desire of this human! But if you keep telling folks ta does what they want then you ain't gonna live, man. They'll put you down, shut you up and lock you away sure as shit."

"But for a man to do that he must first imprison himself."

"Don't count on that stoppin' anybody!"

"I'm at a loss how anyone can see that as in his best interest. Everyone must do as he pleases for life to work out."

"Dude, that just ain't gonna happen. You're wanting a miracle!"

"It is those who ask for life while imprisoning themselves who ask for the miracle! Nay, they ask the impossible."

"I can rap with that. Everyone gotta breathe, man. But way things is now if everyone starts breathing the whole system comes tumbling down."

"Is not breath inevitable?"

"Right there with you!"

"But does no one not see the absurdity of maintaining this course?"

"Hey, man , it's the people with all the stuff who make the decisions. Only decision they're going to make is keepin' everything the same so they can keep their stuff. What sucks is most everyone else still thinks the same even if they got nothin'."

"But this planet belongs to no one! Who made the sea, land and air?"

"I dunno that but somebody made the Porsche over there and I don't reckon that guy getting in is going to give it up."

"Even so, the materials of a planet are not of his making."

"You could make that argument to him! Can I watch?"

The Stranger sauntered over to the driver. "Sir, I have good news! No man has possessions so no man may be possessed."

"What are you? Some commie freak? Get a job."

"Would you not submit that the fruits of the world should be made available to all?"

"Uh, no?" The engine was also gunned twice in response.

"But a society under delusion of possession will then also seek to possess you."

"Right, that's why I got a car alarm, three guns, two bandito belts, pepper spray and real loud whistle. I know how to live, motherfucka!"

"A free man does not live under duress and a man not free does not live."

"No free man lives like that scraggly fucker over there and you can have that too, you freeloading jerk!" Porsche possessed man screeched away.

The homeless man was amusingly impressed. "Man, that was great! I'd give you something just for watching that if I had somethin'."

"No need for that when I do as I wish already."

"So you ready to give up asking peeps to do what they want?"

"Why wouldn't I have interest in every soul breathing?"

"Hey, I'm cool, man. Do your thang! I'm doing mine too." Taking a well wrapped joint from his pocket the homeless man took a pleasureful toke and held it out to the Stranger. This, however, was spotted by the farmer's market policeman who'd been following the Stranger in bitter resentment.

"You there, stop that!" whined the officer.

"Sure, man. But you gotta wait your turn." The homeless being winked at the Stranger and giggled.

"I'm taking you to jail. This is outrageous behavior! Children could see you. Now turn around while I frisk you."

The Stranger was appalled. "Uniformed man, I'd like to know by what sense you might imprison this fellow. I can't see how this is any of your business."

"You're a real smart ass, aren't you? Now shut your trap or I'll run you in for obstructing justice."

"How could mere words ever obstruct a man truly in the right? I can tell you, though, that I seek to obstruct no justice but I surely must stand in the way of injustice."

"Good. Now stay out of my way as I make the world safe."

"You make the world safe for endangerment? I say your actions are at odd with your words."

Just seeing this makes some people cry - to violence

"You really do got something wrong with you, don't you? This man is breaking the law!" The homeless man, inspired by the Stranger, stuck out his tongue. "See? See the anarchy! My job is to enforce the law. If I don't then I don't eat, my wife don't eat and my kids don't eat. If I gotta choose between endangering a law breaker and my family guess which way I'm going to choose!"

"But that's no choice at all! You are contributing to social disorder and chaos, undermining the necessary trust every society needs to exist. You cannot tell me you think endangerment wise."

"Ain't my job to think. That's what the law's for. When the law changes I'll change too."

"It's every person's job to think. You are violating the social contract and committing dereliction of duty."

"Dereliction of duty is what I'd get if I don't take this man in. Another word out of you and I'll take you in too!"

"But you don't want to take either of us in. Can you not see that is the source of your anger?"

"That's it! I'm taking you in! Let's see if some jail time straightens you out."

"Is freedom a crime on this planet?"

"Damn straight it is if you got it and I don't. So in you go! No more freedom for you!"

The next morning before the judge the Stranger had a question. "Excuse me, sire, are you so cold as to have to wear a robe?"

"The robe represents justice."

"Can not justice represent itself? It is a curious religion to believe one needs certain clothing to rule fairly."

"I can certainly see why you're here for obstructing justice. I'm ordering 30 days suspended sentence. Interfere with another officer and you'll find yourself serving out your time."'

"I fail to see what exactly that solves."

"It solves a complete lack of respect for the law."

"But is not the law to enable social order? This officer was endangering a fellow citizen. I merely stated thusly and the officer took offense."

"You cannot take the law into your own hands!"

"Why not? You are."

"I'm qualified to! Bailiff, get this man out of here!"

Reporters were waiting outside, curious about the Stranger who seemed ready made for curious quotes.

"Stranger! Why did you eat the farmer's apple?"

"He kindly brought it so I kindly ate it. You know as well as I it's the natural desire of every soul to contribute."

"Yeah, but you didn't contribute anything to him!"

"Verily, I did. You should have seen the satisfaction on his face when observing my delight with the bite."

"But the money? What about not paying the money?"

"I see no relevance outside of what took place. If you wish to fantasize otherwise then you waste your life."

"But everyone fantasizes about money! Don't you know you'll die if you don't too??"

"I'll die if I do not waste my life? Dear sir, listen to the illogic of what you're saying!"

And so it began: The Great Debate. It was as if the Stranger were a giant magnet helplessly pulling in the world around him. Most everyone had to argue with him! Only exceptions were those like the homeless man who laughed and giggled as the happy Stranger engaged with an increasingly bitter populace.

National microphones were jammed in his face as around the world voices felt compelled beyond reason to chime in on the Stranger's sentiments. The remarks were variations on the same theme: "He just doesn't understand responsibility! Not everyone deserves a Porsche! He's out of control and blind to reality! Someone needs to shut him up!"

Even more infuriating were the donations that flowed into the Stanger that many said kept him insulated from the demise of his philosophy. "He'd sing a different tune without money coming in! Tell those people to stop doing what they want or it will ruin everything!"

Finally, the inevitable happened as a shot rang out to stifle with a rifle the Stranger's voice. The world resumed its death march but never with the ease it had before. Now and forever the Stranger's voice echoed in their ears as they cursed themselves for having given him global coverage. They could not unhear what they heard nor unknow what they knew. Some say the Stranger must have been an angel for in the eyes of angels we are a planet possessed of mad fools who deny what they want for no reason.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Simon Says

Before he was Bond he was the Saint.

As a personal joke I call him Simon Templar, after the great Leslie Charteris figure monikered "The Saint". The Saint was a swashbuckler trapped in the twentieth century who, luckily for us, still found no shortage of adventures or distressed damsels. His weapons were his keen mind and an able body always ready to deliver a blow to the solar plexus.

My Simon was nothing like that, however. He was slight of build, graying heavily in his mid fifties and wholly and utterly abandoned and tossed away by the world. To be unemployed in your 50's now is a fate unspeakable in its nature and unforgivable in its demise. God damn this world. Who the fuck are you to throw away anybody? Here's the face of reality as collector car prices skyrocket in society's last dying fantasies.

Another personal joke of mine is my role as "vicar". I've talked before how I'm recruited as a confidante before I'm even asked. Why wait for an answer, they reason, when they already know my answer? Harry is someone who "understands" - a very precious commodity among the we downtrodden. What I fear - what I suspect - is that possibly there's some unacknowledged good in me that allows this to happen - and if so, makes my betrayal of living friendships all the more wretched.

So what did Simon say? Simon said, "Soon, I won't have any way of surviving." That's it. His life story in one sentence. It's a delicate confession if landing on the wrong ears. A confession that can be used for persecution and damnation. But in that quiet tone of resignation he screamed from the mountaintop to a world too frantic to notice. We have stuffed our ears and stiffened our necks in indifference.

For those with six-figure disposable income times are booming

It's a line that could be interpreted in many ways by many ears. Was it a plea for help? Was it a bold, objective observation? Or was it an indulgence of self-pity? Where love comes no man knows but does his heart ever cease in its desire? The beating heart shall always desire life - but life is not always forthcoming.

In the twilight world of the shelter can be heard many concerns. It is a withering world, a world that disintegrates the bones and dissolves the mind; a place of restless, eternal grieving. Like the loss of a loved one, you can't believe it's happening but it is. Today I'll pretend all is well and tomorrow I'll let in the truth's hell. You start vain arguments with yourself on what is real and what is not. If you squint your eyes hard enough maybe you can still see your loved one alive.

Simon's proclamation struck terror in my heart, forcing me into my own short dance of denial. But I knew I'd do him no favors offering false hope and, in fact, by his confession was trusting me not to do so. I didn't ask specifics because they are immaterial when no solution is to be found. We were simply two helpless, hopeless men sitting on a bench alone in a crowd. 66 and sunny, the day was serenly beautiful - and so out of step with the world.

Maybe Simon was running out of saved money that had been keeping him afloat. Maybe his relatives - or some other means of human support - were going to cut him off. Guilt often drives people to get on their high horse and do the wrong thing. What I suspected, though, was Simon was running out of himself. He couldn't do things against his will anymore. He couldn't fake the smile. He couldn't push the broom across the warehouse floor and pretend it gave his life meaning.

Boy, do I know those sinking, crushed feelings, like David Copperfield dying in the child's factory.

But Copperfield had his life ahead of him and Simon has his life behind him. I tried to show him a story once on the cruel plight of fifty-somethings, the most unwanted of the unemployed age groups. I wanted him not to feel alone and if he were blaming himself to see that he was being too hard on himself. He refused to look at it. He still needed to pretend his loved one was alive.

The other reason I suspect I receive spontaneous confessions is because I'm the biggest loser of all. Who fears telling of shoplifting to a murderer? Time is no more my ally than Simon's. Realizing this, I pondered my possible responses.

"So what are you going to do?" "Something might come up." "Isn't there anything you can do??" "Is there someone who can help?" "There's always the lottery!" "Bank robbery can't be that hard." "God's a dick."

Don't worry. It's only this way
until you die.

I wouldn't want to hear any of that myself so I offered only silence. But my silence said a lot. He knew I was giving him credit, that he was not speaking lightly or out of turn, that to the greatest of his abilities he could see no way out. I wanted to scream for him as my mind raced to find an answer. It struck me as we sat outside in absolute stillness as the gorgeous day brought out revelers in the morning light that our drama was set in a different universe.

It's a stupid compulsion men have. I've complained about it myself and yet here I am on the spot just as guilty as any other diminishing jack ass. We always have to have an answer for everything. It's fucking required. "I am in world of shit, Private Pyle." But I wasn't concerned about my silence. I was just concerned at missing a good response if there was one to be had. This was headline news Simon was giving me.

I sighed in frustration, causing Simon to turn his head towards me. Time for my confession. "I don't know what to say, man."

With just the hint of a smile not fully reaching his lips, Simon replied, "I know."

He turned his head back and paused for a respectful moment, then got up as the feeling of wanting to explode overpowered us both. I wanted to yell out, "Hey, everyone, did you see what just happened here? Do you see what's happening to us? Don't you want to live?"

But what's the fucking point? People already know. Then I stopped to consider than if in Simon's "I know" he was warning me of my own fate. Very possibly. Very possibly so.

No man should be in Simon's position. He is not the transgressor here. I've hear lazy people who've never met Simon declare him lazy. I've hear corrupt people who've never met Simon declare him corrupt. By proxy he is slandered and villified and persecuted on a daily basis. But it is his persecutors who truly have no future and on the Day of the Lord will find themselves in the face of their self-made doom without recourse.

Perhaps by inflicting this fate on Simon it's their way of expressing their own unspoken hell, as being those with whom no life can be trusted.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy Anniversary WWI. You Sucked! (With Film Recommendations)

Pan Ice 49
When I took that bleak pic above, it reminded of a WWI battlefield

I'm no WWI expert or buff. My knowledge of it is cursory. I never really understood its origins and my interest is minimal. But if I had to vote for the shittiest war of all time, this would get my vote.

Time is accelerating as we rush to the end of this generation (of Jesus). I'm thinking not much changed in the world between 1000 and 1050 but 50 years after the start of WWI the world was engulfed by Beatlemania. That's such a vast divide it's hard to even comprehend. From a world obsessed with war to a world obsessed with song. 20th century warfare meant a new consciousness of war, its futility and insanity could no longer be repressed in our minds. We'd decided there's no place in the world for humanity.

When I heard of man killed recently for texting during a movie, I thought to myself, "That's not why he was killed. The shooter was a ticking time bomb and sooner or later something was going to set him off." That's how I look at the roots of WWI. We were a tinderbox ready to explode needing any fig leaf of an excuse to rage fire across the globe. It wasn't because a certain incident started the conflict, it's because we wanted a conflict we found an incident.

Future SS officer

In the film, "The White Ribbon" we see the true causes of that global conflict. There are many historians who know the facts of WWI but facts alone do not provide the truth (though that is a common pretense of historians). Based on actual incidents, the children of a German village are victimized by the highly suppressed/repressed times where technology was making the world a smaller place and the shame of our ways gets harder to hide.

The aberrant behavior of the adults with their rank hypocrisy and sadistic impulses to "punish" played out a world of inescapable horror for the children. They in turn acted on what they are being taught, mimicking the observed behavior in unspeakable cruelty. We see this generation as ruined, lost souls buried too deep to overcome, who will one day rise as a generation of dark Nazi warriors. While watching the film, one has the urge to scream, to explode, to rebel against the silence and hopelessness. As the story ends with the beginning of WWI one has the feeling of this entire inner turmoil finally coming to light.

When one is hopeless, nothing is off the table. War gave the excuse to engage in our worst impulses, devising poison gas and other unthinkable nightmares to inflict on our fellow man. The designer of the machine gun said his weapon would prevent wars because its use would be too horrific to contemplate. But these were hopeless beings who felt they already faced only doom; loss of reason as self expression. Even the tactics emanated from twisted minds with mandated suicide rushes on bunkered machine gun nests. And the men obliged because they were that worried they weren't men.

Patton really overrated war

WWI does not have the cult status of WWII. There is no Time-Life series detailing its every aspect. It was just shit pure and simple. Who wants to relive that? Where's the glory? Where's the simple good vs. evil storyline? Instead, our vision is blurred and marred. The new organized tyranny of "systems" that enslaved us in factories and rural farms with never a cent to be saved led to this frustration of epic proportions, a force we'd not fully felt before. Remember, the people left in Europe were the ones without the gumption to flee to the promise of the New World.

There are events planned to commemorate WWI as 2014 unfolds. I don't see how anyone can examine this war and get a good feeling about it. It's painful to realize its monumental waste of time and the shattering destruction enacted, like mindless beasts set loose from their cages. What exactly did this war accomplish? The War of 1812 stopped the British from impressing American sailors, the Civil War ended slavery, WWII ended an attempt at global domination by one nation. But WWI? No ready answer comes to mind.


Some further images:



There are some enlightening films of the "Big One". Kubrick's "Paths Of Glory" is outstanding in its parsing of the French commanders' outrageous egos and ruthlessness when conducting the war, unable to hold themselves accountable while doubting the bravery of men ordered to pointlessly die.

The preeminent film in my opinion is 1930's "All Quiet On The Western Front", based on a German novel of the "soul destroying" hell of WWI. We follow a gung-ho German soldier boy as he's gradually hollowed out by an experience too terrible to convey. No one wants to hear his story. While on leave, his hometown only wants tales of how great it is fighting for glory in the anonymous killing by mustard gas and endless shelling.

But we also see the flipside, of a small sliver of hopeful humanity leaking through despite the inhumane conditions. "Joyeux Noel" tells the tale of a Christmas truce between soldiers engaged in a bitter battle. What's unusual is this truce is declared by the soldiers themselves. As the two sides joyously eat and drink together it's obvious they have no idea why they are fighting. Afterwards, when the superiors find out they are livid with the soldiers' betrayal of stupid warring. Their reaction is to crush any humanity gained.

Jean Renoir (son of the famous painter), perhaps sensing the coming doom of world war released in 1937 his immortal "La Grande Illusion" - a film banned in both Germany and Italy. It's the story of two men on opposite sides of WWI who clearly in other circumstances would be friends for life with great affection. They joke together when they can but also are duty bound to resist the other leaving the viewer helpless but to think of the stupidity of blind duty and the inevitable tragic end it brings.


In a scant 50 years, that dawning sense of humanity that did leak through despite all efforts of two world wars blossomed in a decade of colors and dance. Those who clung to war were left behind, bitter in their conservative outlook. What does it say of us now we have let those unbalanced voices dominate our culture? Regardless, I present to you those legendary boys from Liverpool and the seeds of dreams they sprinkled on a hard world:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Investigating The BIGGEST Conspiracy Of All!

Hello everyone, Jacob Jerusalem here to tell you all about the story catching like fire across the country. Some call it crazy and some call it as real as the sun. But I'm here to get to the bottom of it and bring you the truth! These are hard times we live in and some say those times will get much, much harder in light of recent events. So I ask you today the question burning on so many Hebrew minds: Did we or did we not kill the Son of God and if so, who is responsible?

I have here with me Prickus Maximus, the man who did the actual nailing to the cross of the man called Jesus of Nazareth and alleged Son of God. Let's find out what he thinks!

"Prickus, when you were driving nails through this man in order to inflict a slow and tortuous death and in the process send a message of terror to the populace, did you notice anything unusual?

"Sacre bleu! I do not understand all this commotion. It was just another crucifixion. I'm expert from that scoundrel Spartacus and ze 2,000 slaves I help crucify. Got a bonus for that, did I!"

"You didn't feel any extra twinge of guilt or sense of injustice?"

"Well, now you mention I did feel something. Sometimes I get ze extra pleasure in my job and I feel a stirring in my loin cloth. Some killings are just juicier than others if you know what I mean, hehe."

"Don't you ever feel bad about inflicting so much torture on the world?"

"Ah, no, no. They are just criminals. Never feel I bad! Like I say, only sometimes I get ze extra thrill. I get ze perks!"

"May I ask you a personal question? You do not talk like a typical Roman."

"Yes, yes I am Gallic. Caesar came and made bitches of us. My mother say to me to join people who cannot be beat. I took Roman name and got proper job and now I'm somebody. Hi, ma!"

"Look, ma! I am no longer ze nerd!"

"So just to confirm, no regrets here, no feeling of remorse?"

"Remorse for doing ze job without questions? Don't be silly. I don't so ze thinking. I just do ze killing. I cannot be blamed for that!"

There you have it, folks. A blameless soul who, in fact, felt an extra sense of joy in this particular crucifixion. Does that sound like that could be the Son of God to you? I ask, you decide! Next we meet with Pontius Pilate, the man who brought this criminal Jesus to justice.

"Tell me, good sir, do you feel the Son of God was killed by your decision?"

"First, let it be noted at no time did I lay a hand on the gentleman in question. Nor did I even have a role in his final fate. I offered him a chance to defend himself, he demurred - most likely out of a sense of guilt. To be even more fair, I left it to a jury of his peers and it is they who made the final decision. I was merely a tool of justice."

"So you don't feel a grave mistake has been made?"

"By the gods, no. Law and order must be upheld at all costs and a zero tolerance policy is the best policy. I believe in being tough on crime to protect the good hearted citizens in whose care I have been entrusted with."

"You realize it's bad grammar to end a sentence with a preposition?"

"Fuck you, you liberal media biased bastard! I ought to throw you to the wolves like I did that Jesus fucker."

"You mean you'd throw me to the good-hearted citizens?"

"Yes, of course. There was no Son of God here. No betrayals, nothing to see. Just another person who thought he could question our system and disrupt the order. Conservative is as conservative does, my friend."

"I hope to be reincarnated as a
rural Texas District Attorney."

Certainly no one in the justice system seems to think anything was amiss. But are the authorities simply part of a vast cover up who colluded over late night wine devising this man's fate? Jewish minds want to know! Perhaps the temple elders can shed some light on the situation.

"Rabbi, did you know this Jesus man?"

"Sir, I served with Jesus. I knew Jesus. Jesus was a friend of mine. And sir, you're no Jesus!"

"Whoa, sounds like you got some sort complex going on here, Rabbi. I just wanted to know if he was the Son of God."

"He made that claim and for that blasphemy he died. He was a lost sheep who strayed from the holy tenets, making up rules as he saw fit and invalidating the church of the one and only living God."

"So you see these rumors as completely unfounded?"

"Absolute rubbish. We in the temple are devout followers of the true God who loves us. This fellow was proud and made the most horrible accusations upsetting many believers."

"Sort of like Pussy Riot?"

"Wait? What?"

"Never mind. Could you give us an example of his outrageous accusations?"

"Indeed I can! He said we were lost sheep who strayed from the holy tenets, making up rules as we saw fit and invalidating the church of the one and only living God."

"So he was accusing you of his own sins??"

"Exactly! May God forgive him. We all mourn the loss of a soul but had he been true he'd still be alive today - like I."

"Thank you, Rabbi. This has been very insightful."

"That's what I'm here for: truth and guidance."

Making the unfaithful cry!

It certainly seems there's no love lost among the faithful for this fellow who boasted to be their king. I, Jacob Jerusalem, am starting to wonder just how this rumor got started. I can find no basis for it even as it's the talk of the countryside. Let us stroll to the famed local watering hole Abraham's Bar and Grill to see if we can finally get to the root cause of this story.

Ah, a fine debate is in progress. Let us listen in!

"You're nuts, lady. Just because you say it with conviction don't mean shit to me."

"We will regret this! We have sown our fate! Now we each must carry a cross until the end of time if we are to overcome. Admit the mistake before we are plunged into dark ages of misery."

"I don't need your mystical shit, lady. Ask me we're better off without that outsider pissing off the Romans."

"The Romans are not the ones who can save you!"

"They are the job creators and only a fool fights against that."

"Kiss all the Roman ass you please if that's all your lips are good for."

"Get off your high horse, lady. There was nothing special about that man."

"Say, Levi, you were there when he died. Remember how the sky thundered and temple curtains ripped in two and you said you felt a fear like you've never felt before?"

Hot Galilee volleyball!

"Shut up, Gideon. That man masturbated like all the rest of us. It was nothing more than Abraham's damn falafel giving me indigestion. I ain't afraid of nothing or nobody and I ain't talking about this crap anymore!"

Was the entire rumor due to this one stubborn woman? Amazing! I had to find out more.

"Pardon me, but are you one of the nuts who say the Son of God was killed by a conspiracy of losers?"

"It is a fact! Why do you people refuse to see? We must wake up or it will be centuries upon centuries before we can recover."

"But how can you know this was the true Son of God? Is it perhaps you are bored with your life and making up wild stories like this is a way to entertain yourself?"

"I will not stand for your hominem attack! This isn't about me!"

A man interjected at this point.

"Excuse me, Mary, but it is about you. You are too hysterical. You need to be a more effective advocate if you are to sway people to the truth."

"Piss off, Rueben. They have hearts! They can see as well as I can. They can go sway themselves. But I cannot stand to see even more needless suffering. This has been the tragedy of tragedies!"

"But didn't he say we were saved by his death?"

"You idiot. He didn't have to die to save us. That was our choice. He knew we'd tear him apart if he spoke the truth and yet spoke it anyway. He knew he'd receive hate for love and yet loved anyway. And he knew he'd be killed if he did not stop but continued anyway. I cannot imagine anything more unnecessary than killing this man, you fools."

At this point the bar erupted in anger with cries calling for the woman's death if she did not shut up. But she would not budge as she was dragged outside. It is logical that a rebel like Jesus would also have rebellious followers. And in that I think we have found our answer, folks.

I can confidently report that a few - but highly dedicated - followers of the this Jesus person have inflated this man beyond all reasonable proportion. It is understandable to speak highly of one's leader but this sort of behavior is self-serving and detrimental to society at large. Implying the majority who voted for the death of Jesus are wrong and these few so-called enlightened ones are right is the height of hubris.

I've got a bad feeling about this

To be fair, I also asked about this Judas fellow who is said to be Jesus' betrayer. But he is now conveniently dead and those who ascribe his suicide to guilt are merely speculating. And that's all we're really left with here: speculation, idle gossip and a bored populace taken in by the symbolic story of the day. This man Jesus will fall into the dustbin of history like any other justly convicted criminal. I bring you good news: In our society we can trust!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Was Just Supposed To Be An Action Flick (Movie Review)

Talk about your haves and have-nots!

Been quite a while since I watched 2007's "Elite Squad" set in the notorious slums of Rio De Janeiro. I was ambivalent when I put it in my queue but after watching the epic "City of God" set in those same slums I became fascinated by this sort of wild west in a labyrinth that consumed miles of land and lives. Inevitably, one's true character is revealed when living in that de facto prison.

The slums of Rio make Boyz in the Hood look like a picnic. They are a suffocating, inert place of hand-to-mouth living where only the very exceptional escape. For me, it's borderline unwatchable especially since I know that many films will exploit a situation like this to set up some sort of hero to "clean up" the place and save the day and blah, blah, blah. We like to think some force can save us from ourselves but there's not.

Don't get me wrong, done correctly without pretension a hero flick is quite enjoyable to me. "Die Hard" or "District 13" are fun watches - I just don't consider them social commentary. The original "Elite Squad" was social commentary so I had to squirm as I watched a special squadron of police (BOPE) set up to fight not only the rampant drug dealers in the slums but also the vast corruption of cooperating police forces.

I wanted a grittier look at the favelas (shanty towns) that I had originally witnessed in "City of God" which stretched out over several decades showing the temptations and dangers from a middle class perspective. The picture painted by "Elite Squad" was much bleaker and darker and the amount of firepower by the criminals was horrific as well as people having no real police force for protection. Who do you turn to?

"Elite Squad" provided that answer but I never really bought that as a solution. Problems like the favelas require a much more complicated answer than a host of AK-47s. That's just sticking your finger in the dam to buy time until a real solution comes along. I thought to myself, "That shit won't work for long." Turns out, the filmmaker was thinking right along with me!

The sequel "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within" had a promising title but really I just expected the further adventures of the BOPE unit. Instead, I got one of the most satisfying social commentary films I've seen in a long time. I guarantee you, no American movie would embrace these sort of truths which makes fools of so many various groups. It would not market test well.

What we have is a reprise of the first film's characters who kicked ass and brought at least a semblance of order in parts of the slums. But we find this only allows for the institutionalization of corruption by the state as predators of a different sort come swooping in. Cops get a regular cut of the drug dealers' profits, duplicitous politicians buy favela votes with the seeming order they have brought and in the end no hope is to be found.

Yup, not exactly an American ending.

Director Padilha is brilliant in showing the interconnecting interests of the corrupt officials while Nascimento, the hero of first film who leads the BOPE squad, spends this film slowly but surely having his eyes opened as to who the real enemy is: the enemy within. When he refuses to play ball he's removed from his command but actually given a promotion to a position where it's expected he can do less harm to "the system". But Nascimento has plans!

Still refusing to see there is no ultimate authority of good he hatches a plot to starve the favelas of drugs. No drugs, no drug money, no money for corrupt cops. Cops will have to go on the straight and narrow then! But this backfires in the worst way. The criminal cops merely adapt by taking a mafia-like control of the vital utilities of the vast favelas. Cable, water, electricity, etc. must all run through the cops now and they find themselves making many times the money they did from payoffs. Oops.

What I found particularly satisfying was the shameless two-faced depictions of the politicians. They are running their own game from the highest quarters using the deadliest weapon of all: politics. I loved the scene of them whooping it up and dancing with the very favela residents they are screwing over. The fearful residents wish too hard for the idea of protectors and when the drug violence is minimized these creeps come in as conquering heroes. The theatrics, the glory, the adoration they all clearly relish. No different than a Ted Cruz rally here in America.

In the end our hero is left with only one thing: the truth. First he must realize the reality of his situation to get it out and then he must rely on a population that actually gives a damn about the truth. There is no worldly solution for the second part. What is encouraging is the reaction to the film. Over 11 million viewers made it the most seen movie in Brazilian history. It also became the highest-grossing film of all time in Brazil, surpassing (the god-awful) Avatar.

"Elite Squad 2" is the final film in a trilogy by the director which explores Brazil's cycle of social inequality and a search for real solutions. Had I known he was only exploring the false ones to expose them I would have had a much more enjoyable experience. Now that you know, go watch them!

American trailer naturally markets it as an action film. Don't be fooled!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Gods Must Be A-holes!

"Let's find us some humans to toy with and torture!"

"Did you find another one?"

"Yes! Yes! Dropped him right into the Maze!"

"Oh, goody! Let's go watch. It never gets old no matter how many souls we snatch."

Unseen and unknown, the gods played their games lie Venus fly traps waiting for victims. The weak, the blind, the willfully ignorant - the gods care not why you fall, only that you do.

"I hope he's a big dummy!"

"They're the funniest!"

"There's the man in funny clothes. He really thinks they make him special! Let's listen in."

The Maze was inescapable. But the sheer size of it gave false hope - if only temporarily. This presented a dilemma for its inhabitants: Explore and lose all hope or sit still and forever wonder of the truth. This made for a predatory situation of vampires and zombies, one drowning soul clinging to another, the blind leading the blind. "Success" in the maze was a relative term, indeed.

The man in the multicolored coat spoke to the maze's newest entrant.

"Smile and rejoice, my son! You are saved! No longer do you wander lost among the free. Salvation has reached you."

"I heard this could happen! You mean I finally made the right decision? Oh please do my thinking for me."

"Yes, my son. They don't call it A-Maze-ing Grace for nothing! Guidance is what I'm here for, to give life purpose and meaning. And besides, letting me guide you gets me really hawt!"

"Come unto me!"

"That's a good thing, yes?"

"Very good! The gods very much want me to fuck you in the ass right now!"

"Wow, when I was free and stupid I thought that the worst idea ever. But now I'm saved and holy and you promise me it will please the gods - "

"You have no idea how much it will please them! You'll be a favored child for sure. Your butt will serve a higher purpose."

"OK, let's get it on. I want all the saving I can get!"

The gods were, in fact, very much amused.

"Listen to him squeal! We've got a special one here."

"Yes, let's call him Super Pig. Let the adventures of Super Pig begin!"

Super Pig left rubbing his butt while promising to return weekly to the declared holy man. It wasn't long, however, until he ran into a dreaded Malcontent.

"Just got ass-fucked, eh, buddy?" smirked the Malcontent.

"Yes, sir! The holy man was really proud of me and the gods are pleased too. Life really is about doing for others."

"Good to see you've got it all figured out."

"Was lost but now I am found!"

"Tell me something, if that guy had been wearing shorts, a beach shirt and sandals would you have let him fuck you like that?"

"Oh, of course not! I'm not just some sucker who fell off the turnip truck."

"Well, that's what he was wearing before he saw you coming down the path, turnip breath. Kinda makes you think, huh?'

"No! I don't have to think! I'm saved. What kind of person are you spreading lies like that?

"They call me the Malcontent. But don't let my truths get in the way of your happiness."

"Indeed I won't! I'm going to find me some positive people and leave you to yourself."

"Sounds like a plan. Hope you like walking funny, butt monkey."

Super Pig was very angry. Why do some people have to tear everything down! They aren't happy unless they're making everyone else miserable. If we could just get rid of those people everything would be fine!

In his hour of angst, Super Pig found succor in a bombastic and confident Voice.

"May the gods damn free-thinking liberal Malcontents. They mock us because they know we're right. One day their kind will perish with the inevitable coming of righteousness. Haha, maybe we'll keep one or two around in a zoo as examples of the foolishness that once was."

"Such a voice! Its confidence erases all doubts. Damn that Malcontent! He almost got me thinking there for a minute and made me lose my way."

The Voice called the sheep into the fold. "Be smart! Let I who has smarts on loan from the gods show you the way. Whatever I say, just say, 'Ditto!'"


"Perfect! Let me reward you for your obvious intelligence as I brand 'Ditto' on your forehead to make you a true Dittohead and show the world you're in the know!"

"Thank you! Thank you!" squealed Super Pig - who also did much squealing during the branding but "it is worth it."

As Super Pig continued his wanderings in the maze he found much delight in finding others who'd been buttfucked and branded as he had. "It's like joining a club!" The B&B Club - as they were known - bragged of claiming even Supreme Leaders among their ilk. "Our numbers are growing every day. Freedom is for losers. We're large and in charge!"

The B&B Club also had dire enemies of their state called the Lame and Loonies (L&L Club). The L&L's said the B&B's were wrong in all that they did. The L&L's also refused to be branded or buttfucked and this enraged the B&B's to no end. But the L&L's were so lame they wanted to be "fair" and never confront - only complain about - the B&B's because the L&L's "truly want to make life in the maze work". Try as they might, the L&L's could never match the B&B's conviction. This too amused the gods.

Super Pig loved it that his side was winning. "That makes me a winner too!" But there were no winners in the maze. A growing number of Hysterics could be found roaming around, screaming "There is no way out! We are doomed!" Most - and deliberately so - had not explored the entirety of the maze to see this claim is true. They soothed themselves with the thought, "We can't all be idiots. The Hysterics must be mad."

But the Truth gives no quarter and the Days of Ignorance inched ever closer until the doom of the Maze would be undeniable. The Mazers sat upon this truth like a lid on a boiling pot. They harder they tried to suppress it the angrier they became. But themselves they chose not to blame. And since the gods they served they had ordained to "love them" the Mazers had to look inward for enemies. Super Pig had an old score to settle.

"The gods want me to kill you!"

"Where is that Malcontent? I'm so angry I could explode! He made me feel like an idiot for being buttfucked and branded. That bastard! That's not a very godly thing to do. We must erase the ungodly from us or we're doomed!"

But the Malcontent had been booted from the Maze by the gods who could no longer suffer his mockery. "HAHAHA! Justice has been done. He'll be left to think for himself and no one will give him food or shelter. Serves him right for trying to ruin everything! The future belongs to us Mazers!"

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Vampire Defanged

It had been five years since she and the family had moved to the Bay area. Like all the previous moves she fed off the change as a fresh distraction and energy boost. She would marvel on endlessly to anyone who would listen of the exciting new surroundings and sights she'd explored. It made for a wonderful cover story for her life: the Successful Person Succeeding.

And also as before, the tank ran dry with no way of refueling. That familiar restlessness that could not be bargained with would creep inside her like a turning worm and the slow descent to hell started yet again. At times she thought she'd go mad saved only by the expensive proof of her furnishings as circumstantial evidence of her well being. This time had to be different. The moves were becoming too obvious a sign of telltale unhappiness.

She didn't make friends like she used to. With every move she drew further and further inward, less trusting glances over her shoulder. Her de facto best friend suffered the same sort of empty life and she took comfort in her friend's shallow outlook. It gave her a certain sense of moral superiority and that was getting harder and harder to come by. But she was reaching a tipping point and needed a change in behavior. A confessor her friend would be!

"Do you want to know a secret?"

Well, this is different! She's always so closed off like she's too precious to share. God, I hope she's not going to tell me she's a lesbian.

"If you feel comfortable, sure. To tell the truth, you've seemed listless lately. I thought perhaps it might be the pollen."

Oh Lordy, she always brings it down the most shallow level possible. I bet I'll wow her with my depth of integrity!

"I told you how many times we've moved before, this last time from one coast to the other. I guess you could say I've been searching for something. What, I'm not exactly sure."

The words shocked even herself, coming out so freely and clearly, removing the mist from even her own eyes. Yes, she was searching for something. Careful, don't go too far!

"Do you think you found it here at last?"

Fool! I'm searching on the inside, not the outside. I'll have to explain every last damn detail to her! But it's time I did something. I'm going to show I've got liberal courage and honesty too.

"There's someone out there who thinks I'm very special. He wrote a book of poetry about me. For him I was the only one - or no one. I still think about him when I start feeling...not special."

One thing her friend did not need explained was an unromantic husband. They were both trapped in marriages of convenience and forced to realize the illusions of youth. They had reached the point that appearances were all they had left. Romance was for movies.

"So you're searching for him?"


"No, it's enough to know he's out there, pining away. If only I could combine him with my husband I'd have everything."

"My Freddy could use some improving too. He thinks it'd kill him if he had to send me a bouquet of flowers. What ya gonna do?"

I'm spilling my life's guts out here and she's talking of flowers! She can't even grasp the gravitas of a life such as mine.

"He sent me a manuscript of his poetry. You've never seen anyone so in love. The fate of his life was in my hands. I was the star of his nighttime dreams. I threw it away, of course. Not something I could keep around the house."

"Heck, you shoulda married him!"

"He didn't have the stability I required. Life is not a fairy tale. Besides, I met him after I was already married."

"Tough break. So whatever happened to him."

"I don't know. I'm sure he's wandering around lost without me. Point is, he depends on me."

"Tough break for him! But you sound lost too."

With her fading identity, disintegrating self-image and bloating body from over the years, she was not ready for criticism such as that. She still had the world, she could not be lost.

"No, he's just something to think about to remind me I'm special. We all need that."

"Maybe he's moved on and you're old news to him. That can happen, ya know."

Ha! She thinks I don't have the gritty objectivity to have asked myself that question! I'll be as a god to her.

What she did lack was the gritty objectivity to was to answer it correctly.

"No, he can never move on without me. I'll always be special to him."

"You know what you are! You're a vampire!" Her friend blurted out as if she'd just opened a box and discovered something horrific inside. "You're just living off that boy to keep alive!"

A shot aimed squarely at her heart done without intention, shattering her to pieces. She had wanted to confess - but not to be exposed as a fraud! From winner to loser in the twinkling of an eye. She physically doubled over from the wound driving back home not through her previously high tone paradise but in a suburban hell where every house was a fa├žade of something sinister.

Her friend couldn't understand what the big deal was. Long ago she'd accepted the ugliness of life as an inevitability. That's just the way it was regardless of choices. You become a zombie and go on. Why get upset?

But for a dreamer to be ripped of her dreams, it was a big deal - the biggest deal of all, a nuclear apocalypse. Though greatly relieved to find her friend's later acceptance even after her awful Revelation, the next three months were spent in counseling and medication. But for her to be stuck in a world of vampire movies and book series, she had constant reminders as to what she feared she'd become.

She sank into bi-polar despair. One moment all was right with the world and the Revelation had never happened - or of it did happen it had no meaning. She was still as safe as ever. But in the opposite extreme her life was over with no hope of escape. She had ruined everything. Being too much to think about she prayed for an answer while secretly hoping she could somehow find a way to keep her old lies alive.

That's why when she returned from shopping one day and saw an envelope taped to the door with her name on it her heart raced like never before. The universe had answered. It had to be him! She was saved. With this one final bite she could live the rest of her life. It was in this moment she could finally articulate that which had been her greatest fear: that despite her marriage, her 2.5 children, and her luxury lifestyle, she had lived her life in vain, devoid of meaning, only taking never contributing, a parasite upon the planet, one who had wasted her gifts.

The note gave her the truth she'd long sought:

Once I thought you were
the sun and the moon and the stars.

Boy, was I wrong.

You're just an ordinary cow.

Choices had meaning after all.