Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear John

Germantown/Louisville December 2012

  Yeah, of course things are all right.  Not sure what you saw in the post that made you think otherwise.  And I  certainly don't mean to be cryptic; as a matter of fact, I try to be the opposite.  I guess what I'm talking about is unconventional (at least in some circles) so it comes off as cryptic.

  I've just had this feeling lately that things are always more or less the same. Going back and reading previous birthday posts reinforced that idea.  Always hurried, always run down from the retail Christmas season, the same sort of cryptic avoidance (see? then I was being cryptic) to keep things from getting too personal, the same sort of vaguely pissed-off attitude.  I've been pissed off for, like, 36 years now, from about the time I got old enough not to be scared of everything.  Nothing changes, the river still looms.

  Of course, there are the things that do change: the river is a flowing.  I've lately realized that I have a much harder time hauling guitar amplifiers around.  And I have one of those goddamn CPAP breathing machines now, though I really shouldn't bitch about that too much, since I sleep much better now, and my snoring doesn't keep my wife awake anymore.  But, jesus, that has to be about the least sexy thing imaginable.  Not that I'm exactly an underwear model otherwise.

  So, yeah.  I had that year where I went on blood pressure meds, when my blood pressure was so high the doc almost checked me into the hospital.  I got bifocals the same year.  A few years down the road, I got this CPAP machine. My hair is starting to go white for real, but it's still mainly that dirtwater blonde it has been forever.  I suppose the next thing is that I'll start losing it.  I don't mind bald per se, but I've got the lumpiest goddamn head you could imagine, so I won't wear it as well as some do.  Though again, I'm not exactly George Clooney here.

  The thing though, is that a lot of people think that "nothing new" means no novelty.  I don't feel that way.  Of course, there is always novelty, even if it is the novelty of aging.  It may be different, but there are always joys to be found. Like, in some ways, there is nothing like the rush of being young and in a rock -n- roll band, but there is nothing like being fully in control of your vision when you are older & in a band.  Not to mention the fun little things, like showing up at a hipster music festival, being twice as old as almost everybody there, and still being the loudest and most obnoxious band.  Anything is cool, as long as you don't turn into Tom fucking Petty or something.  Oh, sorry, you're not a Tom Petty fan, are you?

 I mean, you can't pretend you're young and have the whole world in front of you anymore, but the experience and "wisdom" you get (some of us, at least) is a fair trade. The people who are old, bitter, and out of touch are that way because they are disconnected.  I would argue that seeing life as a river would help get around the bitterness of a life that passed you by: it's all there, all the time.  Different phase, maybe, but all there.  There are always reasons to choose anger, there are always reasons to choose depression, there are always reasons to choose joy.  May as well choose joy.

  Anyway, I do appreciate the concern, but it is unwarranted, I assure you. Hope you and the girls are doing well.  I would send you the latest recordings my band has done, but you would hate them, so I won't bother. I will, however, send you more of the solo stuff when I record some.  That's more in your wheelhouse.

  Take care, and merry Christmas.

B -

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear Jenny

Germantown/Louisville October 2012

I had a dream with you in it last night . . . 

Okay, don't break a sweat here.  It's been a long time since we talked, I know, but this isn't any kind of dormant weirdo desire or anger stuff.  We had our time, it was over, we went on our own separate ways.  No ill will, no angst, no unfinished business.  No lingering "what ifs".  I don't think either one of us regretted the time; matter of fact, I'd say I enjoyed it, and I hope you feel a little the same way.  But, like I said, don't let this letter concern you re: my state of mind.  

And really, it was you, but it wasn't you.  Identity slides all over the place in my dreams.  Like, I "know" the person in my dream is X, but really it's Y identified as X in the dream.  Or it's X with dramatically different physical traits, or a barely recognizable version of X physically and/or personality-wise, and so on.  And then, the identities start shifting and sliding around; or more accurately, the identity remains, but the attributes of X's identity shift and flash almost randomly.  Strangely, it's usually just the women in my dream that have kaleidoscopic identities.  I'm not sure if that's a tell or not, but there's very little I hate more than half-assed psychoanalytic dream interpretation.  Well, okay, there's a lot that I hate more, but let's just say that it pisses me off.  Interestingly, when I tend to have dreams about women I know without the dreamy shifting identities, they tend to be quite, uhm, colorful.  I end up obsessing about them for just a little bit after that.

Anyway, you were pretty close to you in this dream, the you that I was dating about the time we split up.  Except you were dressed like some 90's butch grunge lesbian, with black jeans, black rock T-shirt, and the kind of square flat-billed slightly over-sized baseball caps that the kids wear today.  You were wearing it low over your brow, and you had the remains of that asymmetrical haircut you wore when we first started dating tucked into the cap.  You might have even had a wallet chain, if I remember . . . so, yeah, very unlike you. We were at a party, or I was at a party wondering where the hell you were, since you were supposed to be there with me.  I'm running all over hell and back, house to house, having these little scenes and conversations, and all the while I'm wondering where you are, and occasionally asking people, but trying to not look like I'm looking for you, because I was afraid you might be off with somebody else, and I didn't want to be a sad sack or a cuckold or anything.  We were sort of dating, but pretty much done, like the end of our relationship in real life.  After a while (and several little encounters that were at the same time bizarre and mundane, like only dreams can be), I found you.  When I asked you where you were, you were kind of mumbly and evasive, and I had a hard time figuring out what you were saying (again, unlike you, and more like me when I wasn't in the mood to be communicative), but after I asked you to repeat yourself a few times, and after giving me an annoyed look (one of my tics!) you said, low but clear, "I found a new job".  "Great!" I said.  "But you're not going to like it, because it's in London" you say.  Which, to me, was very odd: we both knew we were on the way to splitsville (dream subtext), but here you were being concerned with how I felt about it.  After a couple of minutes (dream time), while you hemmed and hawed about moving to London, I figured out that you were really trying to decide if you were going to ask me to go with you.  This was a surprise, since my first thought when I heard about London was that it would be your graceful out, since our thing was clearly waning; I was actually touched that you were considering taking me with you, and I said that I would go, but only if you really, really wanted me to go.  As soon as I said that, I had a little pang, because I thought maybe you were trying to get me to let you off the hook by refusing to go, but instead I decided to go with my own feelings instead of gracefully uncomplicating the end of our relationship.

The dream ended not to long after that, without any resolution.  I remember also as some point inappropriate nudity was involved, but I figure everyone has inappropriate nudity in their dreams on account of some pop culture collective unconscious, along the lines of how everyone says aliens kinda look the same after they see them. The thing that was interesting, though, is how similar to the end of our relationship the dream was.  I knew your attention was wandering long before the end.  It was a bit of a shock to me when the topic first came up, when I went up north with you to drop you off at the hospital.  I don't think either one of us really acknowledged it then, but that was the dawn.  And we hung on for a bit too long, with you wanting out without really having the will to end it, and me not giving you the easy out you wanted.  The end was a simple acknowledgement of the way things were.  And, like I said, we went on our way, no unfinished business.

The cool thing about the dream was that it was like a little visit with you.  Sort of like if I had bumped into you on the street after not seeing you for a couple years, and we went to have lunch together.  No muss, no fuss, no uncomfortable intimacies on either side.  It's been a long, long time since I've seen you (I think I actually have seen your husband more recently than I've seen you, the one and only time I met him).  The nature of social media means that I am, in some small way, connected to you, but it's not the same thing, of course.  I have sussed out that you have had some serious health issues lately, and that seems pretty deep.  I'm not going to probe you on that; it's a heavy deal, and there's no need to share those depths with me, since that would mean bringing them back to the surface.  Everything I hear about your husband tells me he's a great guy, and I'm sure you have all the support you need.  We had our intimacy all those years ago: there's no point in trying to go back there again.

Well, this has been a bit of a ramble, and perhaps a bit odd.  I suppose I could tell you other things, like the fact that my second marriage is going quite well, or that I've gotten kinda fat (well, you can probably see that on facebook).  I could talk about middle-aged things like blood pressure meds and bifocals; I could tell you that I'm still playing the same kind of music that you disliked all those years ago; there's lots I could say, but this is going to be it.  I dropped this on you because I thought you might be amused by it (I'm guessing your sense of humor hasn't changed; that seems to be the one constant for most people as they age).  I don't expect any real answer to this letter.  As I've said, we had our intimacy, now we don't.  Just know that I'm sending good thoughts your way, that I'm doing well, and that I hope you are doing well also.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Dear Grace

Germantown/Louisville 2012 

I gotta say I'm not with you on this whole idea you have of "compassion".  If compassion is "feeling/sharing suffering", then fuck compassion.  I think it's a bit presumptuous - and I think you would agree with me here - to believe we can feel or share anyone else's suffering. Where I believe we really separate is that I don't even think it's worthwhile to mentally approximate someone's suffering.  Empathy by itself never contributes to a solution, and upping the total of suffering in the world is never a good thing, even if it is (just?) empathetic suffering.

I think of compassion in a less empathetic, more intellectual sense of the word (I know, right?).  I think it is important to understand as much as one possibly can: you can't ever fully know another person, but you can have a context for that person.  Again, if you go back to linking compassion to suffering, and you propose a limit to compassion based on suffering, then I don't think ANY compassion is a good thing.  How much suffering does one have to encounter before compassion is jettisoned?  I know, that's essentially the point you are trying to address by linking action to compassion; but to me, that still sets up a calculation of suffering, and doesn't answer the question "how much suffering is too much suffering?", much less the question "what qualifies as real suffering?".

If, on the other hand, you dispense with empathy, and strive for understanding (context), then you don't subject action to some calculation of suffering.  You don't, for instance, differentiate between murderous child soldiers or mercenaries whom you feel should "know better": one just moves to stop violence and oppression, no matter what the source.  And again, I know that's what you're pointing toward, but a calculation of suffering is moving the wrong direction.

So, leave empathy and compassion out of it altogether.  It is a simple question of resisting violence and oppression.

On the other hand, if we leave out empathy/compassion, we should always strive to supply a context for any action.  Why did a given act happen?  Forget feelings, what are the motivations?  How are these motivations formed?  How can one go further back up the stream of an event to eliminate the poison which informed the event?

We can, of course, get totally lost in labyrinthine weaves when we try to get to the root of motivations, and that really wouldn't do either, would it?  First, I say never assume bad faith on the part of the opponent: I always believe an opponent is simply misguided until proven otherwise (and really, aren't the most evil of bastards at some level simply misguided?).  Secondly, realise that ignorance and ill will frequently have the same outcome but different solutions.  Third, don't become a slave to your ideology; or, fight for the good, not the right . . . and if one can't tell the difference, it's time to search one's own soul for error.

Anyway, we're probably not far off here, but any calculation of suffering is, at best, a waste of time.  If that seems callous, then think of it as a more efficient way to fight oppression, and it then becomes less so.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Attn. ______________ Team Members

Exciting news: we are updating our in-store music!  The current Heartsound/Mood Media unsigned artists playlist will be replaced by a major label playlist.  You will notice that the new music selection has a variety of artists, including Billie Holiday, Harry Connick Jr., Coldplay, and Snow Patrol.

The genres of music playing in the stores will be comprised of cool jazz, soft modern rock and light electronica.  This new music will support our brand image of being revolutionary, comforting, dynamic, technical, active and modern.

No action is required.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dear Tracy

Lake Leelanau August 2011

  Okay, this one is a little odd.  I'm not sure if you know the answer, but if you don't, maybe you can point me to someone who does (maybe Harold?)

  I was at a used bookstore up in Northport this afternoon, and I ran across something that looked interesting: a trade paperback version of Chris Offutt's Kentucky Straight autographed by Offutt and inscribed to Jim Harrison (!!). The inscription was something like "to a writer who has deeply inspired me" or something like that.  It was going for 85 bucks, though I might be able to talk them down a bit.  My question is: what would something like that be worth on the open market?

  Or a second question: how is it that something like this becomes an object in the marketplace?  Like, how would you feel if you walked into the local Unique Thrift and saw that painting you gave your boyfriend in high school? Not "you" specifically - don't know if that's your speed or not - but, just generally, this thing that used to be a private symbol of an intimate relationship re-purposed & hanging on the wall with a little price sticker on it . . . how would that feel?  Maybe it's some jacket that you spent way too much money and way too much time picking out for this guy, and now it's just hanging in a shop for cheap, or maybe marked up because it's "hip" and "collectible".  Or, maybe you're a fledgling writer, and you're getting some good notices, and you get to meet a writer whose work you really respect, and you give him a copy of your blood & tears with a humble inscription/tribute to his genius . . . only to find it years later, in Dog Eared Books in Northport, Michigan, marked with a collector's price.  How much would that suck?

  I have little flashes like this when I see one of my old band's CDs in the used bin . . . "couldn't take it, could you?" . . . but this is really different, isn't it?  I've never autographed anything for anyone as far as I know (oh, wait, there was that undergrad literary journal I got published in back in the day, for the guy who lived next door to me in the dorm), but if you're the type for whom the whole idea of inscribing things rubs against your self-image, then you do it, and it essentially gets discarded?  Whoa.  How can you not feel, a least a little, like someone has rejected you?  And, based on the inscription, how much more does it suck because you really put yourself out to that someone who rejected you?

  Or maybe it's not a big deal.  Lord knows I don't hang around the Iowa Writers' Workshop or anywhere like that, so what do I know?

  I would try to authenticate it, of course.  It does seem reasonable that Offutt would be inspired by Harrison, and Harrison lived around here until 2001 or so.  Kentucky Straight had been out a few years by the time Harrison headed out to Montana, but perhaps Harrison, who seems a bit anti-social, wouldn't have sought out a new writer unless somebody put a book in his hands.  It seems that "somebody" was Chris Offutt himself.  Bottom line, if I could pick this up for $75-$85 and move it quickly for $150, then I'll send mom back up there to pick it up for me.  Otherwise, I'll let it go.  I'm not much of an autograph collector, myself.

  Well, let me know what you think.  If I need to run this by someone else, point me their direction.  Otherwise, talk to you soon.


P. S.  I know what you're thinking: "Who gives a fuck about an autographed copy!  Just read the book."  I'm with you there; if the book would have been $5 instead of $85, I would have picked it up.  I'll probably get around to getting it sometime, but my reading list is getting out of control since Borders marked their philosophy books 50% off & I went crazy on the Baudrillard and Zizek books.  And as for Harrison, I have a brother who swears by him, but those Hemingway types annoy the hell out of me.  His appearance on that Anthony Bourdain show didn't do much to dissuade me of that notion, either.  Because of my brother, I always wanted to like him, and someday I may . . . but, right now, if Offutt's way down the reading list, then Harrison isn't even on it.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dear John

Lake Leelanau July 2010

  I have a Rolling Stones playlist that is, like, 8 1/2 hours long.  86 songs. Obviously, it's weighted a bit front heavy, seeing as how the Zombie Stones are still disturbing electrons far beyond the normal lifespan of flesh and blood rockers.  Anyway, shit starts to go south around track 71, "It's Only Rock -n- Roll (But I Like It)".  It's a natural progression, at least in rock -n- roll: a medium whose currency is immediacy finds longevity more than antithetical, it finds it downright destructive.  You know, "Miss You" is a totally badass song, but its bohemian narcissistic darkness is the death of rock -n- roll in that rock -n- roll, even at its most narcissistic and death obsessed, faces the moment actively, even if that activity is obliteration (a la The Stooges).

  Some Girls was released in '78, the summer going into our senior year . . . I got it early enough that I actually have one of the uncensored covers, if you remember.  These two facts are mere coincidence and somewhat irrelevant, but seem worth mentioning  for some reason.

  Is "Miss You" somehow inferior to the rest of the Stones oeuvre because, as death-obsessed cabaret music, it's no longer rock -n- roll?  Well, no, I would have to put it fairly solidly in the strong part of the Stones canon, not as good as "Paint It, Black" or "19th Nervous Breakdown", not as good as the golden age that starts with Their Satanic Majesties' Request and ends with Goat's Head Soup, but better than some early hits such as "Lady Jane", "Sitting on a Fence", "The Spider and the Fly", etc.  No, the problem with "Miss You" (or, more accurately, the Rolling Stones from "It's Only Rock -n- Roll" on) is that it's death.

  Now, it's fine to view death from a distance . . . educational, even . . . but the problem is that the ultimate proximity to death is death.  My postmodernist tendencies taken as given, there's not a lot that I concretely believe in; but death is ultra-conceptual, death is death.  Certainly there's a distance between hearing "Miss You" and getting hit by a car, but there's a certain parallel between the contemplation of both . . .

  I'm having a hard time remembering when we graduated, perhaps you can help me: was there already, even back then, the stink of death around us?  I know we had a certain level of cynicism, listening smugly to our Zappa records and disrespecting everything around us.  But we read Henry Miller and Hunter Thompson, and isn't that optimistic?  Didn't Thompson try to prune away everything that was dead around him?  Did not Miller live life as if it were the annihilation of death?  Isn't optimism at the very core of the larger revolutionary urge?  Didn't we feel we could rise above all the shit around us like a phoenix over the rancid valley of indecision?

  Well, maybe, but it's hard to remember.  I do remember how everything was foggy and diffuse, how modernism had spent itself in an orgy of equivocation, how the present became fractured into splinters of impermanence.  I remember the impossibility of decision, the impossibility of committing to anything at all . . . "So I'm just sittin' on a fence / You can say I got no sense / Tryin' to make up my mind / Really is so horrifyin' / So I'm just sittin' on a fence".

  Everything around us seemed in shambles, and there was nothing to hold on to.  The sixties had developed into narcissism, rock -n- roll was dead.  Miller was in retirement at Big Sur, one foot in the grave.  Thompson was beginning his decline into irrelevance and self-caricature.  Rubin was on Wall Street, Neil Young was voting Republican, and sixties activism had mutated into Chicken Soup for the New Age Soul.  The faith of a generation - not our generation, but very close to it, and one we looked up to - was thoroughly betrayed.

  I often wonder: was the idea too big, or not big enough?

  The Rolling Stones are rock -n- roll, of course.  They played the Super Bowl a couple years back, and I remember thinking "these degenerate fuckheads have always remained true to the game" (and, I might add, they were raunchy, edgy, and pretty good . . . of all the old rock bands, only Cheap Trick is better, and they don't have even a shadow of the legacy to live up to).  You know, the problem is that rock -n- roll wasn't big enough for the Rolling Stones.  They ran out of rock -n- roll in the mid-70's.  They did it all, they used it up.  And when rock -n- roll was done, they still remained faithful. Unfortunately, their fidelity to a concept they had already fully realized turned them into rock -n- roll zombies.  All they could do from then on out was zombie rock, music that was mere simulacra.  At least you could always outrun them.

  Others that came after them were able to revive rock -n- roll, to make it live again.  Problem was, every time they did, the useful lifespan became shorter.  The Stooges were three and out.  The Clash, sort of a Rolling Stones obsessed with confrontation and politics instead of blues and sex, didn't have the highs The Stooges had, but managed to stretch it over five albums.  The Pop Group, two albums.  Gang of Four, one.  The Buzzcocks, one and some singles.  Wire, three.  Black Flag, two and singles.  Sonic Youth, five if you're generous.  Bad Brains, two.  The Minutemen, a handful of e.p.s and one glorious album . . . well, you get the picture.  You could kick rock -n- roll back to life, but every time you did, it came back a little paler, a little shallower.  These days, rock -n- roll is measured in songs instead of albums and careers.  The time is coming, very soon, where rock -n- roll will be measured in moments.  And so, it seems, the entire world.

  If I remember right, you were a Vonnegut man.  I too was a fan.  I think we both identified: in the face of continuous insult and horror, all you are left with is incredulity.  All you can do is laugh that fatalistic laugh.  But that's not enough, is it?  That's all I got from Vonnegut, and that's why, as much as I felt him, I had to put him down.  I needed more.  I still need more.

  But more is hard.  That's the big problem, isn't it?  What happens when everything you can believe in gets used up, gets pushed to its very end, to the point where it becomes what it hates?  What happens when even success and failure equal the same thing . . . namely, an ending?

  Well, you get up in the morning, that's what.  I think that's the only thing I've learned in my entire life.  You can talk about the diaphanous curtain that wafts around reality all you want, but you still get up in the morning, and that is its own clarity.

  "Was the idea too big, or not big enough?"  That was a rhetorical question.  Of course the idea was not big enough.  If an idea can be used up, it's not big enough.  Until the map expands to the size of the city, it is not big enough.

  You know what?  God bless the Zombie Stones and their incorrigible hides. You just keep going, keep tramping off into uncharted territory, waking up to every new day.  Long may they wallow in futility, searching for the ever-more-rare nuggets in the dirt, the moments of clarity and immediacy like that Super Bowl throwdown from back when.  After all, we've already determined that rock -n- roll has come down to being measured in moments, haven't we?  Who's to say the Zombie Stones don't have a moment or two left?

  And that's kinda where all this is going: you just keep getting up in the morning.

  I say I may have learned only one thing, but let me add a couple corollaries: 1.) the idea is yours; and 2.) no matter what, you will fail.  It breaks down something like this:

  1. You keep getting up in the morning to chase your big idea.
  • The idea is one you create.
  • No matter what, the idea ends in failure: either the idea is too big and can't be realized, or it's not big enough, becomes realized, and you have to start over either with a new idea or an expanded version of the old idea.
 I know it's hard to think of success as failure, but you know what?  The world keeps spinning around, and just when you think you've got the game won, you're not even on the same field anymore.  Some people think that sucks, but not me: it's reason to get up in the morning, which, as I've said, is the only thing I've learned in my entire life.  It's been popular to site variations of Samuel Beckett on this, from Mao to Zizek:  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.

  And as far as death is concerned, it's only a problem because we refuse to acknowledge it as part of life.  Some things have more death than others - like "Miss You", or getting hit by a car - but everything alive has death riding shotgun.  It's just that sometimes death is fighting with you over what's on the radio, or what CD to put in the changer, or trying to crank up the air conditioner when you are already freezing; and sometimes death is asleep with its head against the passenger side window, just a little drool forming at the corner of its mouth.

  Yup, that's pretty much it.  One thing hasn't changed from back in the day: I'm still in love with really big ideas, in love with maps as big as cities.  Ideas that you can get lost in, like infinity . . . because there's always something new, another corner to turn.

  Anyway, I had to break that Rolling Stones playlist in two because it kept crashing my mp3 player.  If you want, I can email you links to the playlists; but, knowing you, you would rather I burn you CDs . . . but that's piracy, you know?  Wouldn't want Keith to have to bum cigarette money just because we are illegally sharing his songs.

  Hope things are going well for the family.  We should try to catch up this fall, before we all get wound up for the holidays.  Talk to you soon.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Attn.: Bosses

Germantown/Louisville August 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

  Hey, it’s me.  I know you’re not paying attention … I mean, I know on some computer somewhere you’ve tabulated my various rantings, verbal and otherwise, and neatly cataloged them by occurrence of certain suspect keywords, but it’s not like you’re really paying attention … but I’m going to go on and say this anyway, with you just sitting there ticking off notes on a pad like some malevolent psychotherapist or something.  
  Have you ever tried to steer a boat at low speed?  Especially one of those inboard/outboard jobs?  A-and, like maybe on a shallow river, with the rear outboard unit raised up to avoid churning up the river bottom?  See, it’s not easy, and sometimes you’re cranking hard to the port, and the boat seems like it’s not moving at all, until boom! the bow comes swinging around, and all of a sudden you’re running upriver leading with the starboard side, the bow hard on the port side, and you’re desperately wheeling around to the starboard, trying to straighten out?  Or even just trying to run the damn boat in a straight line, and at first you’re patient, but then you start swinging a little more with each correction, and pretty soon you’re running a zigzag down the river instead of a straight line … 
  That’s how it is trying to run people the way you do.  And, I gotta say, I think you over-corrected after this Obama thing.  After all, he wasn’t ever really that far out of your wheelhouse, was he?  I mean, it’s not like he was even a Kucinich or a Sanders, much less a wild-eyed, bomb-throwing radical like you make him out to be … 
   … yeah, okay, you didn’t make him out to be that, but some of your minions did, and you can blame that directly on the kind of conditioning you subjected them to, so it’s like you handed them the gun and told them to shoot, even if you didn’t pull the trigger … 
  (lord above, I hope that never happens literally … and I don’t suppose you do either, when it comes right down to it, since that would put things outside your control, at least at the outset …)
  … but anyway, I know you needed a course correction after Bush, since the blinders were starting to come off your subjects, so you tossed them Obama.  And then the boat started to come back hard starboard.
  Well, you know what?  Shit’s not so easy anymore, is it?  The operant conditioning sunk down & mutated in ways you didn’t really predict, didn’t it?  I mean, I don’t know why you didn’t see it, ‘cause you’re not stupid.  Maybe you just chose to ignore it because you didn’t think it would matter.  Well, it did.  As they say, play with fire and get burned.  All those scared, xenophobic, broke ass bastards you created, ready to mobilize as your fear-fueled shock troops … well, they’re mobilizing all right, and it doesn’t look like they’re so much under your control.  Why, I do believe Mitch McConnell actually broke a sweat (as opposed to his usual sheen of slime) during the debt-ceiling fiasco.  And now, there’s that whole S & P downgrade bullshit, and it seems that the boat is waggling all over the place while you’re swinging the wheel around like a madman.
  ‘Cause, you see, your zombie strike force has turned on you.  Well, not exactly “turned on you”, because that would require consciousness of the situation, and we both know that’s not the case.  Let’s just say “done gone and blowed up in our hands”.  Yup, the Tea Party almost went and scotched the whole deal for you.  It seems that they don’t have your, uh, moral flexibility, and they’re taking these dancing phantoms you’ve dressed up as threats and beamed directly into their brains and responding to them with a gusto which would be, frankly, a bit admirable if it wasn’t so damn pathetic and wrong.
  I’ve got to give you credit.  You managed to paint Obama as “the man”, which he is, and simultaneously a left-wing radical, which he isn’t (how you managed to pull off that Karl-Marx-as-Mandingo thing is totally beyond me).  You created your zombie shock troops to resist fine intellectual distinctions (or, to put it another way, blatantly ignore anything resembling logic), so they can - with disturbing focus - criminalize him as the establishment ogre and, at exactly the same time, the thing that would destroy the order of things as they are (that is, the establishment).  Really, my hat’s off to you.  The audacity behind this project is breathtaking.
  But now, as they say, the worm has turned.  Seems the Tea Party has taken various parts of your faux doctrines seriously, and they are turning the tables against you.  That whole debt phobia thing you came up with to limit the size of the government?  Yeah, they take that seriously, and they don’t care if it fucks you up, because they got GOD on their side, and if you’re not on the side of GOD, then you’re on the wrong side.  And you know what?  It doesn’t matter that you created their GOD, because no matter how much you imbued this GOD with your values, it’s GOD they worship, not you.  By the way, congratulations on that whole “invisible hand” thing, you did it really well.  Perhaps a bit too well, if you catch my drift.
  Listen, I know there are contingency plans.  I know that you moved to co-opt the Tea Party quicker than you moved to co-opt punk rock (“cash for chaos” indeed).  I remember the Tea Party conventions with $500 tickets at the door (though I have to admit confusion here: are you trying to sink the Tea Party under the weight of its own inconsistency, or are you just trying to turn it into the old boys club it really wants to be?), I see the astroturf organizations that are blatant even to the brain-dead faithful.  I know you will have essentially neutralized the Tea Party’s more unruly characteristics by the next presidential election.  I, as always, have faith in your grim efficiency.
  And it’s not like I’m going to join them.  The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.  I’m not interested in joining the jihad, even if it brings down repressive oil money regimes.  In the same way, I’m not interested in joining the Tea Party, even if it brings down the international bankers.
  All I’m trying to say is this: chickens tend to come home to roost.  It may take a while; they may be really fat, stupid (by the way: props for criminalizing education - it’s the best/most destructive thing you’ve ever been able to do to the people of this country, far worse than any Bush tax cut or any blow to campaign finance reform), blind, and lazy, but chickens come home to roost.  Faux intellectualism has a way of turning into real intellectualism.  Faux populism has a way of turning into real populism.  At some point, one of these Tea Party geniuses will be sitting in his (or her) La-z-boy watching the History Channel (‘cause that’s the propaganda they reach for when they can’t stand one more second of Geraldo on Fox) and say “Hey, that Lincoln guy we always say is the greatest president ever?  You know what?  He pretty much stood against everything we stand for.”  At about that point, wheels will start to turn … 
   … and wheels turning is never, ever, good for your project.
  So, yeah, I know you’ve got a plan.  And I have faith that your plan is a good one, damn its evil eyes.  But it seems to me that, even though we both know it was bullshit theatrics of the highest order, this whole debt crisis thing had to be just a little bit of a wake up call to you.  What is it in your nightmares?  That someday, instead of trying to convert government, the Tea Party will try to convert culture?  Well, they’re trying to do that already, and though they are currently marching to your orders, that may not always be the case. They call government a scam; they may soon see that it is your scam.  They are more likely than so-called liberals to see that these so-called financial markets mean nothing to anyone but you and your systems of repression.  They may soon see through the shit brown veil to the threats that are real.  And, if that day comes … well, I know you can resist it for a while, but the handwriting will be on the wall, as they say.  It will then become a question of when, not if.
  Well, that’s pretty much it.  Here’s a Blue Oyster Cult playlist for you, and I’ll be at work Tuesday.
  Until we meet again, assume that I am plotting your demise, as you are mine.