Dear Reader: This is going to be long and rambly and not very much edited because I'm typing with a half-broken hand and I'm lazy and I'm In A Mood.
It's a lovely and mild spring Saturday morning in Austin, and despite being a disillusioned and disgruntled baby-eating middle-aged atheist, I can't help but feeling like the world is waiting with bated breath in the still hush of Holy Saturday, waiting once again for the old Palestinian Con Man to pull a rabbit out of the hat. But that's just what you get sometimes when you've been raised with Jesus-colored glasses on. It's a bit like watching an episode of Top Gear
and then getting into your 14-year old Honda Civic and turning the key and pressing the clutch and putting it in gear and feeling for a moment like you're the Stig behind the wheel of a nice Porsche instead of an ordinary guy in an ordinary car. The magic of art alters the world for a moment before you settle down to seeing reality through your everyday blinders and filters and funhouse mirrors.
I suppose I'm In A Mood thanks to the intersection of three distinct influences. One, I'm still coping with my broken index finger, which makes me clumsy and awkward, which in turn makes me feel helpless and ashamed, which is an unworthy emotion because Sturdy Helpmeet™ is always offering help, a dreadful Catch-22 for her because the offer of help makes me want to do things myself, but the letting-him-do-it-himself makes me want to hear an offer to help. She can't win, and when an evil burst of frustration escapes me in the form of an oath or a bit of body language, she can't really escape. It's not her fault, and I'm ashamed of myself for not being a more graceful patient.
Sweetheart, Sturdy Helpmeet™—I'm so sorry. I'll try to do better.
Influence number two is a wonderful book called The Joke's Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, and Me
. It's artist Ralph Steadman's memoir of working with and playing with and enduring Hunter through 30-odd years of professional and unprofessional collaboration. The good news, I suppose, is that if even Hunter S. Thompson can find something like an artistic or worldviewish soul-mate in the world, then there's hope for everyone.
The bad news is that reading Hunter and reading about Hunter causes my brain to express strange chemicals. Not recreational chemicals, but something like the alien black oil from the X-Files
. It slithers over my eyeballs and makes me see the world in very black terms...I was about to say "black and white" terms, but when the black oil is active not a lot of light breaks through.
I feel Hunter's rage and frustration, and I want to howl with him and weep at the state of this broken, awful world.
On the other hand, it's springtime and I have the grim consolation of knowing that the universe really does not give a shit
what happens here. Humanity can do its utter, utter worst, and all that will mean is that a million years from now another springtime will emerge on Earth—well, in the northern hemisphere, strictly speaking, so all you poor upside-down people will have to wait—without any rotten people to fuck up the sunny post-post-post-apocalyptic view.
So that's issue number two: I'm infected with the black bile of freshly imbibed Gonzo, which is influencing in turn the way I'm processing the rest of the world.
And the rest of the world (now we're on to influence number three) seems to have contracted into the story of Trayvon Martin, an ordinary kid who was shot to death by a dangerously paranoid violent nut who's still free because our elected masters have deemed that in some circumstances, if you are sufficiently afraid of somebody, you are entitled to stand your ground
and shoot him down in the street. What constitutes a legitimate amount of feeling threatened before one uses deadly force is, of course, open to some interpretation, and in Florida the authorities have apparently decided that you can "stand your ground" if you feel so threatened by a child minding his own business that you get out of your car with a loaded gun and follow him through the neighborhood and provoke a confrontation despite having been asked not to do that very same thing by the very same police department that has decided that they can't treat you as a murder suspect because of your one-sided claim (necessarily one-sided, since the child in question is dead dead dead scream it you bastard dead
) that it was all in self-defense.
It seems to me that the only person who had any cause to "stand his ground" was Trayvon. Even if his killer is telling the truth about what happened, which I very much doubt, the only person who had any cause to feel threatened in the first place was Trayvon.
The American right wing wants us to think that being black was itself sufficient threat to justify the shooting, of course.
And so this recent eruption of America's original sin has me In A Mood. The Mood is exacerbated by images of cops beating and pepper-spraying peaceful protesters, shooting elderly black people in their homes in response to a medical alert bracelet, vanishing whistle-blowers...the list goes on. The American fetish of "security" has turned the fascist arts of murder and torture, things that used to happen behind closed doors, into a kind of state-sponsored public art.
Can we get NEA funding for pepper spray and riot armor and handguns?
We'll use them on students protesting corruption and women who need pap smears and children who want to buy bags of skittles. CNN and FOX News will be our art galleries, and our AR goggles will contextualize the blood in the streets and remind us to buy eggs for Easter, when my good Christian neighbors will celebrate the final victory of the Prince of Peace over sin and death.