Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Death of the Great American Road Trip (or, You Can Only Look so Far to the West Until You are Staring at Your Back)

In early February, I was sitting in a friends house, before he forsook me for marijuana, and we were discussing the fact that he had never been on a road trip as an adult.  I had; in 2006, me and three of my friends went to Gainesville, Florida to visit a friend's girlfriend at college.  We were there for four days, only went to the beach once (Gainesville is in the middle of the Florida), spent most of the time at his Girlfriend's house drinking or out at random parties around the University of Florida (which seems like a pretty cool place; Gainesville is a pretty cool town).  We drove for 24 hours to get there in my friend's car, through the dirty south.  I was wearing a Slayer t-shirt with a pentagram on it, and got the stink eye from every single person anywhere we stopped.  It was pretty fun.  We stole a case of beer in Georgia from someone's truckbed, and while my friend drove, the rest of drank it all in outrageous ways, including shotgunning a beer while we were stopped outside of a church due to deadlocked traffic.  On the way back, we bought pot from a sketchy dude outside of Nashville and drove through Illinois blazed out of our minds (he was selling out of a wayside, like a boss).  It was a good time.  We were young, reckless, and pretty stupid, but we had a blast, baiting other drivers and making home-made signs to say things to other cars.  Which included having a pair of ladies flash us their breasts.  Awesome.
So my friend wanted to take a road trip either out west, or down to Florida to see one of the final Space Shuttle launches.  Either would have been cool, but I didn't have the disposable income to do it.  So we didn't.  Which is fine.  But it seems like that's something I won't have a chance to do again; that journey of self-discovery.  Like Kerouac or a monstrous incarnation of Horatio Alger: A man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.
In the end, there's a sense of sadness of that.  The price of gas has driven that concept from my mind, because it just doesn't seem feasible from a monetary standpoint.  But, that's how life turns.  One day you wake up and realize that you'll probably never drive to California.  Or that you can no longer just pick a direction and drive until you don't feel the need to drive anymore.  But in the end, maybe that's what I'll do.  Work for a while, then drive until I find somewhere that isn't here.  Somewhere I can regain that sense of adventure that has been ground out of my by my situation and by the constraints of money and life in general.
That's what my first novel was going to be about.  A man looking to escape his reality and find himself a place amid the listlessness of society and the removal of learned men from within society's apex; the death of the American intellectual.  Ultimately, I became disenfranchised with the idea, and deleted my work.  Because in the end, it echoed with the hollow jingoism of Manifest Destiny and became a bastardization of the collective thoughts of several different authors.  It became an entity that I was dissatisfied with, a culmination of useless effort and insight that was actually not insightful.  It was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  And I am glad I did not pursue it further, yet I wish I didn't delete it.  Let it remain an unfinished work, locked in a purgatory for me to rediscover later.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I hate being a car owner

So, after lucking out with the battery and electronics in my car, the exhaust goes.  And, being broke, I hold off for about a month before taking it in to get fixed because I'm broke as hell.  Now, 1200 fucking dollars to completely fix it, 700 to kind of fix it and it may need to be fixed again in a year or two.  700 it is.  Missing a flange on a catalytic converter.  Expensive.  So, I have to borrow more money to get that fixed.  Because without a car, I can't get a job.  So I plunge myself even further along the line of brokitude.

A car will be one of the most expensive things in your life.  After children and a house, it's your fucking car.  It costs a lot to get in the first place, and then the upkeep is fucking atrocious because you need specialists to fix problems you can't do yourself.  Yes, I can change my own oil and various other minimal things that need to be done like change a belt.  But weld an exhaust back together?  Nope.  Locate and fix a leak in any part of the engine?  Ha, no. Replace a water pump?  Too far out of my know-how.

So far, if my calculations are correct, my car has cost me over three times the amount paid for it, which was 1300.  The only redeeming thing here is that the car only has about 142,000 miles on it, which is really low for a sixteen-year-old car.  If I continue to play my cards right, I should be able to get another 100,000 miles out of it.  But I also need to be a little pragmatic.  The fan belt has something wrong with it, which needs to be fixed, because another winter without proper heat would suuuuuuuuuuck.  Don't know that cost, eh?

So, I need a job, so I can start saving money again for the next time my car shits out on me.  And the next time.  I desperately hope I can attain a decent job, so that maybe, depending on the cost of the next time, I can just get a new car.  But let's be reasonable.  The way things have been going, I'm gonna end up applying at the new mcdonald's going up a town over.  And I probably won't get that job, either.  AT least breathing is free

Monday, September 19, 2011

I am crawling out of my FUCKING HEAD.

I feel like I'm missing out on something, but goddamn if I cannot figure out what the fuck it is right now.  My basement looks even worse than usual, because I keep going through pile of shit to figure out what it is.  WHAT THE FUCK IS IT?  It's been bothering me since I got home.  Went out with a friend to a local show.  Good times.  But something kept pulling at my head the entire time.  Something I need to find and finish, but I'm not sure what exactly it is.  All I know is it may be important.  Maybe not now, but sometime soon.  Shit.  I need to figure this out or I'm never going to get to sleep tonight.

This is a song off of Andrew Jackson Jihad's newest album, Knife Man. Really into this album at the moment.  This is "Backpack," and it's the most beautiful, morbid and macabre thing I have listened to in the past few weeks.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just a little something I did while I was bored

The sun had hit the Western sky and illuminated the black pillars of smoke coming from beyond the big hill. It billowed forward, and hung around my neighborhood in a dark haze. It was twilight that had come hours early; no one expected it, but everyone knew it was eventually going to come. I sat on the front porch, cigarette in my left hand, bottle of beer in my right. The odor had started earlier, and was almost pleasant, like a backyard barbecue. My neighbor leaned over his fence and had asked if someone was cooking; I gave him a knowing smile and pointed over the hill. We both knew what it was, but we didn't want to say it out loud. The old man was burning the carcasses of his cows. All of them.
I knew why, of course. It was the only reason one person would kill his entire herd of cows. When the news first broke, the clamor around town was outstanding. It seemed like every farmhand was talking about it, at the gas station and the bars. I'd hear the old men croaking at the bars about it, and the young men who never escaped their parents' farm laughing about it while waiting for their truck's gas tank to fill. Other farmers who had bought animals from the old man questioned the spread of disease across their own herds, fearing the loss of their way of life, their income, and their families. Panicked minds prevailed, and the offending animals were shot and sent to the Department of Agriculture for analysis and testing. No one wanted to share the fate of the Old Man. No one wanted to kill their animals, and send black smoke into the air. No one wanted to court Mad Cow Disease.
The old man was no one's favorite; he was bitter, and resentful to everyone, but especially children. As a teenager, my friends and I would spend time hiding out in his fields, giving the slip to our parents and the small town cops we grew to resent. He started shooting at us with bb guns and chased us out. When we didn't take the hint, he came back with a .22. Bobby Flanagan's ear never grew back, and his parents put him in private school. No one liked the old man.
It was no secret that no one liked him, but it was also no secret that he mistreated his animals. Stories spread fast in a small town, and everyone knew what he did. But no one saw mad cow disease. It ripped through his herd like a wildfire, and before anyone could react, the cows were all "culled." I talked to a government man while I was down at the liquor store; he told me that it was likely that the old man's cows were infected well before this happened. He said that he suspected they'd be back, checking other farmers' herds for signs of it. He called it Bovine spongiform encephalopathy. I told him that name made it sound less serious when no one knew what it meant. He laughed, and walked out. I liked him; with one short conversation he managed to change the monotony for a little while.
With the pillars of smoke still burning, I decided to walk over the hill and see for myself what was going on. As I reached the peak, I looked into a war zone. Across the field were piles of charred corpses, revealing blackened bone and congealed fat oozing across the grass. I vomited. Twice. But at least it broke the monotony for a while. Especially when the vision of a small calf being thrown onto a bonfire became a reoccurring dream.
It was the last refuge of the damned, of sorts. The little culdesac at the bottom of the subdivision was the last stop for a school bus, and the last bit of land that was developed already, not waiting for clearance by the town board or the chamber of commerce. Every house looked so similar, you had to do a double-take to ensure you didn't just see the same house painted a different color. Even the plants in front seemed like they were clones of one another: perennials placed perfectly on the contours and corners of each house, almost in the same place. Only the colors chosen were different. It was that place you lived where everyone knew you were an outsider in the town for sure. Not born and bred. Not one of the homesteaders who spent their time working, living, and dying here. The ones who first cultivated this section of the county and dammed the river. We were reason they had to build up the schools, one of those damn people building up what used to be a quaint little farming town. A place bypassed by time. The only thing that didn't make it worse was that we weren't those damn blacks living in those cheap apartments.
When the bus came to drop the children off after school, the smoke had dissipated through the air and the smell of the fires had died down. Concerned parents were waiting to snap up the precious cargo and whisk them away inside the eerily similar houses. As they became curious, the unattended children starting looking towards the hill, and slowly began climbing it to see what was happening. The housewife across the culdesac chased them away, wielding a hose against an unlucky ten-year-old. He unhappily walked down the street, his friends laughing at him the whole way, cardinal hat bobbing through the lawns of the neighbors. They dispersed among the subdivision, oblivious of what was happening just beyond the hill.
That was more the point than anything else really. The point that the little town had grown a little too big for the homesteaders, and now it was a bedroom community for a bunch of yuppies looking for a safe place to raise their children. A refuge from the outside world with its drugs and its guns and all its problems. Those kids eventually grow up and move on, and find themselves ill prepared for the world around them, too protected in this ivory tower. Then they come home, do nothing with their lives, and watch as the Old Man burns his entire herd of cattle while the world turns around the town. Me. My friends. This whole goddamn place. Removed from the outside world. Quarantined. Waiting to be purified and released, so that our lives can finally start.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just to clarify, I do not advocate getting your bone on without a condom, but here is that research I mentioned

Ok, so I'm gonna backpedal to my previous post before I possibly do a new one within the next couple of days.  So, boys and girls, we're gonna talk about sex.  Stop laughing.  This is a serious and important discussion.
Just Kidding.
So it's no secret I like to take trips to poundtown.  It's not.  I'm a guy in my sexual prime.  HAhahaha! Oh man, that was funny.  But seriously, like most people in my age bracket, I've not given up on sex yet.  Almost, though.  There have been points where I look at my dick and wonder "should I just retire you before you get me into more trouble?"  Those thoughts last about as long as until I achieve my next erection.  Fun Fact: An ex-fuck buddy once decided we were going to see if I can maintain an erection while watching the Golden Girls.  I can.  Like, uncannily.
So, I enjoy myself occasionally.  And I once came across this little study, the one I mentioned prior: That pulling out is roughly as effective as using a condom (leads to a pdf of the article).  Now, I still have a tendency to use a condom, and every one of the hundreds of thousands of ladies I have plowed has been on birth control.  And I use a condom most of the time.  The desensitization doesn't bother me so much.  Just means I gotta grit my teeth and go for broke occasionally.  But, more than a few times, I've been with ladies who don't mind, or prefer, to not use condoms.  So, pull out method comes into play.  And, as I mentioned before, I've only had one pregnancy scare (busted condom, she was worried because she had just come off of antibiotics).  She was a week late, but then, period all up over everything.  So it worked out.  Then, being the douche that I was, I ran like the 6 million dollar man because I was terrified at the thought of creating another human being.  Didn't have sex for almost a year.
So this isn't really about my conquests.  Because that would be like a dissertation.  I've contemplated a victory lap, but most are in functioning, loving relationships that I could not offer and move up on.  So there's all that.  But, the most important thing?  I didn't want you guys to think I'm retarded by talking about pulling out versus condom use.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Can I Protect Her From This Culture?

Two posts in such a short time is almost unprecedented for me unless I am on the drunken end of the sober hyperbole.  Oh wait, I totally am.  I was sitting on my futon, because I refuse to clean off my desk right now, trying to do a little bit of writing.  I was inspired by a member of my bloglist Elliot MacLeod-Michael who has a new blog for a personal project of his.  Bro, I feel ya on the writer front.  Aside though, I was trying to work on a few nascent projects which have stagnated recently, and drew a huge blank.  So I busted out my emergency vodka, pulled out some music, and have been compiling random ideas towards short stories for a while.  So, I was listening to "Dear Coach's Corner" by Propagandhi because of my obsession with nationalism in recent posts due to my overexposure to American football.  I love college football.  The NFL is alright in my book, but I don't get nearly as excited as I do for NCAA football.  Anyways, they end the song with a certain line that got me thinking, and which I appropriated partially as the title: "How can I protect her from this culture of death?" I got rid of the death part, because that doesn't have bearing on the ideas that I formulated.  The narrator here is asking what he should explain to his niece about the culture of nationalism surrounding Canadian Hockey.  This isn't about nationalism, although that context got me thinking.  Thinking heavily, but not about my niece; I don't have one.  While my younger brother has been with his girlfriend for about four years now, and she told me that they've been discussing marriage (over a year ago), that he's not quite finished with school yet.  And you know, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes *insert name* with a fucking baby carriage.

I do not have children.  As I have reiterated many times before, I'm 25 years old, which means I am at that age where two things are happening: first, friends of mine are getting married.  My final count, which does not include engagements or things I may not be aware of, is five.  Within the last two years, five couples who are my friends have gotten married.  And many more people I was acquainted with, like classmates from high school.  Second, they have started having fucking babies.  Which is up to about four in the past year.  And a few before, and a few more friends are pregnant.  Some of them are not married (i do not care about that).  Needless to say, I'm about balls deep in the 'family creation' segment of life.  If more of my friends weren't emotionally damaged (like myself), those numbers would probably be much higher.  So there's all that.  By the time I'm thirty, those numbers will have multiplied.  I am not ready for this.  But, it gave me some insight to a potential future position I am rabidly not ready for: parenthood.

We've seen the sitcoms.  Parents and kids but heads, everyone has a laugh, that's that.  Episode over.  I remember my surprisingly normal, run-of-the-mill childhood; my parents loved each other, and yeah, they fought some, like every married couple, but they stayed together until the day my mom died of cancer.  Kind of atypical in today's world it seems, but they're most definitely not the reason I'm as fucked up as I am.  I love my parents.  They were great parents.  Which makes me wonder how I will treat my own hellish offspring.

I used to have this vision of the future: One day, I'd finally complete my Great American Novel, and be lavished in praise because of it.  But I wouldn't have a follow-up, much like Ralph Ellison, one of my idols (He did, just not nearly on the level that Invisible Man was.  So I'd find myself comfortably in a teaching position at a medium-sized American University, get married, crap out a few kids, the whole nine yards.  Then, I'd turn fifty, and off myself in my office.  Because I never came up with a follow-up that was good enough in my eyes.  And they'll find enough material to publish a post-humorous novel and a few short story collections, and my widow lives a good life fucking some lithe, young twenty-something.  And people will ask my children about me, and they'll have this to say," he was alright, but kind of a dick.  It always seemed like he went senile."  That was my vision of my future.  Instead of being corralled by vicious writer's block.  But, it takes time.  So I ain't too fucking worried right now.  Yeah, the last two years of my life have essentially been wasted time, but who counts that shit, ya know?

So, I fuck bitches.  Sometimes, I don't use a condom.  I'll admit that.  However, I use one up until a woman says that she is alright without me using one.  Yes, there is desensitization, but it doesn't bother me.  My dick is like a fucking hockey puck; one inch long, but four inches across.  It's all about girth.  Bitches love girth.  Needless to say, my condomless escapades have left me with the possibility of the most debilitating forms of STD: Children.  I have only had one pregnancy scare in my 5 years of sexual activity (I know, I graduated high school a virgin.  Rub it in.  Then, I went two more years almost.  I wasn't a ladies man.  Still fucking really aren't, just can get my swag on when applicable).  I accidentally inside her, and she ended up being a week late on her great indicator.  Turned out ok in the end; she wasn't pregnant, and I, being terrified, bolted after the prognosis was good. Felt kind of bad, but I was super scared.  That was coincidentally the day I began pulling out if I wasn't wearing a condom, regardless of birth control (I read a study where pulling out, if done properly, is about as effective as a condom.  Then again, you have to do it right, and it's kind of hard).  So, I was prepared to raise that kid if she wanted to (if she wanted a sheshmortion, I was cool with that too.  Her call.  That's what I said before the pregnancy test came back negative) which means I would have entered the realm of fatherhood.  Something that terrifies me.  Because I'm not sure what kind of father I would be.

If I had a boy, the answer is really fucking easy.  I raise him like my father raised me and my two younger brothers.  Hopefully more towards my brothers, because they are functioning members of society.  Then again, some people are just born fucked up.  I'm one of those people.  But a boy, is easy as shit.  I encourage him to be active to avoid the fatitude I myself am currently stuck with due to a lifetime of inactivity (however, down 14 pounds in the past month.  Huzzah).  Help him cultivate a few cool hobbies.  Teach him to treat women with respect (yes, I mentioned bitches earlier, but that is out of my current situation.  Witness recent posts).  Tell him if he works hard, he can achieve anything he wants.  Basically, lie to the poor kid.  Because he can handle it, because I'll make sure he can, just like my dad did to me.  I found out on Saturday the contents of my dad's "birds and bees" talk pre-college.  I never experienced it, but that's because they awkwardly explained such things when a friend of mine from high school got his girlfriend pregnant when we were 16 or so.  Both of my brother's got that talk before going to college, mainly the "sex doesn't equal love" angle.  But I got that a few years ahead of schedule (still don't know why my parents waited until we went to college.  We're a pretty liberal family.  Maybe because it's a pretty decent time for such things).  So if I have a son, I can impart the lessons my father imparted on me.  But what if I have a daughter?

My extended family is cursed with boys.  Out of a total of 15 grandchildren my grandparents have, only 3 are girls.  Out of the newest generation of children (my grandparent's great-grandchildren), 2 are girls, 2 are boys, with one each on the way.  My female cousins are like sisters to me, because my extended family is super close.  That's how we roll.  My dad's generation was really close with their cousins, same thing here.  Two of my female cousins are four and seven years older, the other is four years younger.  I'm pretty protective of my younger female cousin, but that's a long story (her brother and I are the same age).  So that's my history with girl babies.  The most confusing babies of all time.  Not initially, because all babies act the same for a year or two, but later in life.  For instance, they have vaginas.  And therefore periods.  The most terrifying thing in all of mankind.

So, if I ever have a daughter, what then?  How do I protect her from this culture that we live in?  Because let's face it, even though women can do all sorts of things, stuff that even 50 years ago would seem insane, they are still treated like women.  This isn't a sexist or anti-sexist post.  This is out of pure interest and partial worry.  It's not how I would raise her, necessarily; it's how I know she'll act.  Despite the leaps forward that women have made this century, there's still everything I have done to women that I cannot escape.  My first girlfriend, the one I lost my virginity to, who dumped me three months later because she wanted more and I wasn't prepared to commit to that level.  The craziest of my exs, who I belittled and criticized until I dumped her because of her problems.  The girl I obsessed about but could never have.  The fat girl I fucked just to break my slump.  My current obsessions, my friend who isn't mine to have right now.  Whoever her mother is.  The list could go on.  How can I ever create a member of the opposite sex if I know those things can happen to her?  If I know that douchebags who are even worse than me can defile her and treat her like shit.  It's a thought that's occurred to me.  Because even though I cannot handle children right now, I know that one day, despite my best effort, I will have one.  My brothers will carry on the family name.  I just will need a reason for a woman to eventually stick around.  Why, in this culture of bitches and hoes, would I ever want to raise a girl?  Who will eventually leave me for another man?  Another man who will defile her womanhood?  My little girl, who I treat better that my sons, because she will, and always be, her daddy's little girl?

Here is Nick Cave's garage band Grinderman with a song about fucking.  Because it's relevant, maybe:

Monday, September 12, 2011

I spent most of the day contemplating this post, and I forgot to think of a title

Let's flash back a few years, shall we?  Let's say, ten.  Ten years ago, I was a bright-eyed fifteen-year-old just a few weeks into my sophomore year of high school.  I'm pretty sure you see where this is going.  I can obfuscate it, run around it, but eventually everything is going to be apparent.  Yeah, this is that 9-11 post I was going to do.  I'm going to set aside all pretense and jump in.  And Yes, I am a day after the 10th anniversary, but I was debating if I even wanted to do this post.  I decided to.

So needless to say, at 15 years of age, I was more than coherent to what happened that day.  I was sitting in art class when the radio that was on began talking about planes crashing into the World Trade Center.  We spent the rest of the day watching coverage of it in various classes.  Nothing was really done.  No one really explained much about it, either.  I just kind of sat there, not really knowing what to feel or to think.  It was half a country away.  I didn't know any of those people in the towers.  Terrible things to think and feel, but I was never one for very much sympathy or empathy as a kid.  Just kind of watched as everyone around mourned and was scared or angry, and I just didn't get why so much.

So time changes, and I start to get it.  The whole national tragedy angle of it all.  Whether or not you knew anyone there or were there yourself, it affected your life somehow if you lived in a post-9-11 America.  Not always in a beneficial way, obviously.  And some people were effected in  a good way.  Some people found that empathy game easier afterward.  Things of that nature.  But it's the negative aftermath that I want to focus on.  And this is the part where I may offend you.  That's not my intent.  These are some observations that I have found, some are conjectural as well.  I think that all of them are important.

The rubble from the towers was still warm when the rhetoric started.  If there is one thing that the media does well, it's capitalize upon a tragedy.  Multiply that tragedy to a national scale, and every deadbeat "journalist" with 2 bit associate's degree in communications believes that they have something profound and important to say.  The media plays an important role in the world, to be sure.  But in this over-saturated market economy of ours, we are being bombarded by every Tom, Dick, and Sally's opinion of current events.  And we're well past the days of Walter Cronkite, you know, journalism with passion and integrity, when a journalist wouldn't take sides, and just report the news.  Now, yes, there are journalists who still practice Cronkite-era journalism: on television, Tom Brokaw, Anderson Cooper, and Brian Williams come to mind.  But, here we are in the face of the age of cable news.  And even a tragedy on scale with 9-11 was not spared from the pundits and the talking heads.  The backlash started that evening.  The only thing I'm thankful for that day is that was before my parents got cable television (I know, I know.  They didn't get it until I was off to college).

This is what my issue with 9-11 is.  Not what it was, a national tragedy unparalleled in the United States, but what it became within the American psyche.  I can draw parallels between a lot of different things, but I'd rather be straight up.  9-11 has become this unstoppable engine within the American mindset and within American culture since.  It built itself up so huge, that it is impossible for anything to tear it down.  I liken it to the seven stages of grief, except that almost everyone suffering from it is on 2 through 4.  I had hoped that the tenth anniversary would mark the beginning of the upturn, but it doesn't seem like it may be the case.  As a culture, we're still stuck on it.  We shouldn't ever forget what happened, history is doomed to repeat itself and all that, but we need to move past it.

The biggest part of the aftermath was the hatred.  But it was directionless hatred.  It was the minority of a minority that committed this act against the United States, but when fueled, the fires of hatred do not go out.  In the year following 9-11, violent crimes against Muslim-Americans in the Unites States rose over 300 percent.  IN A SINGLE YEAR.  Why?  Because the rhetoric.  Because when a rhetoric of hate is thrown into an already burning fire, it will accelerate.  Every person who listened to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (May he not rest in peace) found that hatred validated the confusion and shock they were experiencing.   And it has built.  It has decreased, thankfully, but that fire is still smoldering. And it cannot be put out until someone comes forward and says "yeah, it happened.  And it was the highest of American tragedies.  But it's done with.  We will never forget it, but now is time to let that fire go out.  That we will no longer allow the past to control our movement to the future.  That those thousands of people who lost their lives on that day will not be forgotten, but we will build them a legacy they would be proud of."  Of course, which is better for votes?  Which is better to create a mobilize a rabid voter base?  Ask a large amount of members of the Republican party.  Ask any pundit who has used 9-11 to fuel ratings. Ask any Democrat who has run for office in the state of New York for the past decade.  Those people helped build 9-11 into what it is.  Those people made it impossible to criticize "America."  Those are the people responsible for this culture of debased nationalism.  Remember the whole "freedom fries" fucking idiocy, because another country had the gall to question America's military action?  Good.  Someone has to call us out on that.  But what has happened in this post 9-11 America, it has become impossible to question, deny, or call out anything the America does.  Not individual politicians, but America in general.  It's become stifling, almost Orwellian in nature, but not from a government, from your own neighbors.  A few weeks after 9-11, I, as an inconsiderate teenager, made a joke about it in gym class.  Just to my friends, no one else was meant to hear it, and suddenly out comes this other dude, who barrels into me and we start fighting on the gym floor.  The entire time he's calling me a traitor and whatever else, and he's got his hands on my throat and I'm punching him in the face.  The gym teacher drags us apart, and He's got a broken nose and I have claw marks and deep bruises across my neck.  He gets sent home for emotional distress, and gets off no problem, I have to write a three page essay about something or another which I turned into a 5 page essay about censorship and freedom of speech.  Two days later, me and the guy had it out again away from authorities (I was more than content to ignore it and be done with it, but he said we had unfinished business) I dislocated his shoulder in front of a couple of dozen of my classmates.  That's what this rhetoric does to people.  Yes, I should have had a little more tact than I did, but I was a smart-mouthed little 15-year-old (coincidentally, that was my first fight.  And I won.  Huzzah).  Doesn't excuse it, but still.  I see myself as Alan Alda's character from M*A*S*H*.  Smart mouthed, talking sarcastically, and people should really hesitate to take him seriously.  But sometimes they do, and something goes down.

All that said, my thoughts to the families of those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center ten years ago.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

There's Only One Thing Better Than a Home Team Victory: Chicken Wings Afterwards

Sometimes, humanity continues to surprise me.  And, not in a bad way.  In a good way.

So, I went to Camp Randall Stadium today to watch the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Oregon State Beavers.  Wow.  It was a shut-out, Wisconsin  winning 35-0.  Wisconsin's QB Russell Wilson continued to be a great addition to the team, and both the defense and the offense started up heavy.

One of the many reasons I'm not a rabid sports fan other than College Football is how fans have a tendency to go too far.  One of those things is ridiculing other teams' fans.  I may not like Wisconsin's many rivals, but I can successfully say that I only hate one of them: Ohio State.  Nothing against that institution itself, it's among the most respected public universities in the country, but their fans and their teams always come off as dicks.  So, anyway, sports fans can get pretty hateful.  Usually, when another team is announced, they get booed.  Today, I witnessed nothing but civility towards Oregon State fans by Wisconsin fans and vice versa.  It was a nice change of pace.

On Wisconsin!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Et tu, Brute?

So I've been posting a lot about America and it's problems, and that trend will continue until probably after the 10th anniversary of 9-11.  I've been in a volatile political mood recently, incited and incensed by the left and the right, and because I'm not quite ready to commit acts of sedition against the government of the United States, I'm using this useful "blog" that I have control over to thrust my ideas to the dozen or so people who read this on a regular basis (recently surpassed 100 followers.  Pretty cool.  Wish I had a dollar for every follower.  Thanks to everyone who contributed to this point).  I sympathize, because I know quite a few of you are goddamn foreigners with your own goddamn problems in your own goddamn countries, so you may not give a shit about how we've fucked everything up over here.  But, it's my goddamn blog, and I'm bored and need to put these ideas out away from my idiot friends.  Be my sounding board, blog bros.  Let me erupt my crazy ideas all over your face like a bukkake of truth.  Yeah, that was kind of a gross image.  I apologize for that.  I could delete it, but I don't censor myself.  Fuck censorship.

I have two academic focuses to which I do the best in: my first love, literature, and my occasional mistress, history.  Not too much of a science or math person.  I can do well in those subjects, but I'm not exceptionally adept at them.  Guess I was just born to make no money in my life.  So recently, in conjuncture with my exceptional amount of free time, I've been boning history.  I mean boning up on my history.  Freudian slip.  (Look out history.  I'm going to plant my quivering rod deep within your darkest recesses).  Which, because I don't do things methodically, I'm all up in ancient Rome's history at the moment.  Then, i had what could only be referred to as a profound (albeit heretical) idea.  One of the glorious things about ancient history is how most people who have completed a basic education understand it.  Europe, North America, we both draw from the same ancient well.  (Fun history fact: Russia pre-Soviet Union considered itself the heir of Rome after the fall of Constantinople.  The Russian title Czar is a re-appropriation of Caesar.  HOORAY)  So I've been re-familiarizing myself with Rome, from the mythical birth of the original city-state, to the fall of Byzantium.  It's a pretty wicked read.  Fucking Plutarch and everyone else rolling deep.

So, every student in western society knows who Gaius Julius Caesar was.  The "first" Roman Emperor (technically his adopted son Augustus was, because he was the first to impose the lifetime rule and the more straight forward succession to the position than Julius.  Augustus fought against Marc Antony, Julius's cousin and second-in-command and won, ending Rome as a republic and beginning Rome as an Empire.  Julius Caesar was more of a short-term dictator than anything.  Created the office to foster Rome forward and away from the political squabbles of the Senate), Caesar expanded Rome's borders to include most of France and Germany, fought successful campaigns in both countries, and when was ordered to give up his position of magistrate, and instead he crossed the Rubicon and started a Civil War against then-consul Pompey.  While it is mostly believed to have been ambition and desire for power following the death of political co-conspirator Marcus Licinus Crassus (aka, the wealthiest  Roman ever and possibly the wealthiest man of all time), most accounts of the Roman government during that time paint a picture of Rome in not that great of shape.  But we know how the story goes.  Julius Caesar was appointed "dictator," not the first ever, as it was a position created by the senate following the creation of the Roman Republic, but instead of operating within the pre-determined 6 month term, he declared first a ten year term, and when he was going to expand to a lifelong appointment, he was killed on the Ides of March.

So there's your history lesson today, but it would be much amiss if I didn't write why I brought it up to begin with.  Let's face it: history is cool and all, but lessons of history to be utilized by modern times to avoid mistakes is really the way to go.  Yet, we forget the lessons of the past.  What did the Soviet Union learn in the 70s and 80s?  Don't go to war in Afghanistan.  What is the United States doing now? Fighting a war in Afghanistan.  But I digress.  We can look at Rome, and find a possible solution to America's problems.  It's going to hurt, but then again, so will everything and every idea that has been spit-balled to solve these issues.  IT WILL HURT.  We have to cut out the infection to let the wound breathe and heal properly.  It'll happen.  But it'll hurt.  It's unconventional, but in theory, it'll work.  We just need to amend the constitution to support it in the long term, or hang the part of the constitution that prevents it.  If you haven't established the idea yet, allow me to unveil it.  Drum roll please.  Create an executive position that supersedes both the legislative and executive branches of the US government for the purpose of take a knife through America's finances to get the country on the right track out of the debt crisis.  A sort of Financial consul, Caesar if he focused on carving up Rome's budget.  Make him (or her) answerable only to the Supreme court to ensure that there is no gross overstepping of boundaries.  Give a time period, sit him down with a copy of all the tax codes and expenditures, get some assistants to help him understand it, and let him cut the fat, raise revenue, and ignore the bitter partisanship that has taken this country hostage.  Of course this is something of a pipe dream.  No one would go for it, let alone any politician, let alone any person.  It's a pipe dream, and extreme measure that could solve the problem.  And it's better than the alternative that I fear: another Civil War.  Look at Spain from 1936 to 1939 if you want an example of a government that was in decline and two bitter sides that existed within a republic and ripped the country apart.  Franco's Nationalists versus the Republicans.  I doubt that America would face that issue within the next ten or twenty years, but I do believe that even if spending and debt comes under control, with the rhetoric between the Republican and Democratic parties growing harsher and harsher every day, including threats of violence, how long before it degrades?  It would be like the North versus the South (the American Civil War) except more so.  The lines are less divided.  And it worries me.  I almost welcome a general crossing the American Rubicon (probably the Potomac River, because it runs the Southern edge of Washington DC) to reassign Congress and establish a protectorate and himself as a dictator of sorts.  I really don't because of the bloodshed that would inevitably be involved, but I worry.  I wonder how long it will be before I feel that revolutionary rhetoric burn within my veins again and I go off to do as I once did.  In 2008, I attended the Republican National Convention with a couple of friends in St. Paul, Minnesota.  We were among the 300+ people who were detained by police, but we didn't receive any charges or anything similar.  We discussed going to Toronto in 2010 for the G20 Summit, but I'm partially glad we didn't because of how that turned out.  Undoubtedly, I would have ended up in the black bloc that formed.  That rhetoric has cooled considerably in recent times, after feeling like I've been kicked around by the government and special interests, but deep down, I know that if something insane happens, I'll feel that old call to action.  But I digress.  These problems need to be fixed.  It's going to hurt.  But cutting only entitlement benefits while refusing to raise taxes isn't the answer.  And only raising the taxes on the top 5% isn't the answer either.  Tax increases need to happen, based on income levels, while cutting the fat from government programs and reigning in spending.  Especially defense spending.  Because it is absurd the amount of money we spend on defense programs that do nothing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

America the Beautiful, the Idiotic, and the Self-Righeous

Saturday I was sitting on the upper deck of Camp Randall Stadium next to my grandmother waiting for a football game to start when that familiar message came over the loudspeaker: "Please rise and direct your attention to the center of the field for our national anthem." There it was. That moment before every sporting event in America where spectators rise, take their hats off and commit to the greatest act of nationalism this and other countries commit. Saturday was a surprise. Instead of the usual color guard, a football field-sized flag was unfurled, and in a completely unsurprising act, when it was shook by the people holding it off the ground, everyone cheered, but not as loud as after the "Star Spangled Banner" finished, when three fighter jets roared over the stadium. That, my friends, is this country in a nutshell: Unabashed Nationalism, displays of wartime supremacy, and American football.

Now, I don't hate America. I live here, it's my home, and therefore I have an almost begrudging attachment to it as both a homeland and a political entity. But it has let me down, hard. Year after year passes, and my bright-eyed idealism, that belief that eventually, every American will do what's right instead of what's easy, that as we progress towards the future politics would and could change, faded away and I was left bitter and resentful towards America, Americans, and fucking politicians. I may not vote in 2012 because of it. Obama let me down, and i cannot vote for a socially conservative Republican candidate. I'm not that spiteful, yet. The only candidate I've ever respected and believed in fully, former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, has declared he is not running for the soon to be empty Wisconsin senate seat in 2012. For you American readers, you may recognize Russ Feingold as the Senator who pushed partisanship away to work on campaign finance reform with John McCain, and the ONLY senator to vote against the US Patriot act. And yes, a lot of disenfranchised liberals has gravitated towards Ron Paul, but I will not be one of them. A couple of his ideas are sound, but more than enough are also fucking insane and will harm more than they help, especially his state-based concepts. Because what will happen is similar to what happened after the revolutionary war: each state functioning independently of another, and hampering business and industry between each other because of the drastically different laws and regulations put together.

So anyways, I witnessed this display of Nationalism. And other countries are the same. I know Canada is, because I've been to a Canadian hockey game (Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver or something) here in the states and they played Canada's national anthem and all 20 or so of the Canadians in the stadium stood up (a conservative estimate. There were a surprising number there. Then again, that was over a decade ago, my memory is sketchy at best). Shit, Canadian punk band Propagandhi have a song about from their newest album (it'll be at the end of the post. great song). It's not just America. But do Brits have fighter jets fly over an Arsenal game before the game starts? Do Real Madrid fans cheer their asses off when they witness an football pitch-sized Spanish flag unfurled across the field? Maybe. Then again, I did look this up. Yeah, other countries do it (Britain pretty much invented it), but they have a tendency to only do so during big events and celebrations. The beginning of the NCAA football season isn't, especially when it's Wisconsin (then ranked 11 in the nation) and the unranked Nevada-Las Vegas. And NASCAR? EVERY MAJOR FUCKING RACE! It's unnecessary, but that is what America is. Unnecessary nationalism because we have to be the best. Even when we're not. Even when we can't deal with our fucking problems.

So I'm now going to drop some more controversial views up in this bitch. And I have to throw this disclaimer up because it will come as I'm an asshole, and I am, but not with this. This is a rejection of a long-held belief by the american people. So if you're a serviceman or woman, or a veteran, and you get offended, unfollow me. And know I'm not saying this about you specifically, but as a general observation and understanding. You still here? Good.

American soldiers are not innately heroes. There. That's it. We have this mentality here in America to automatically equate military service with heroism. I disagree wholeheartedly. But, bear in mind, I think the same thing about Police Officers, Firefighters, and every single person in the fucking world. Because here's the kicker: A hero isn't a person who is born, a hero is made by extraordinary circumstances. That moment when normal people shrink back in fear, and a hero charges forward. Jumping on a grenade to save a comrade? Hero. Shelling a section of land because your commanding officer said so? Not hero. I'm sorry, I just call it as I understand it. The military is a job, just a job where the possibility of being shot at and shooting back. I respect people in the military, I really do. They do something I can't, because I have "Authority issues" and am a "free thinker." I'm not a react-act person. I question everything around me. I used to pester my parents with "why?" whenever they told me to do something. So there's that. I can respect you, but I don't think you're a hero. Because I've seen too many dumbass kids with no other options join the military and then come home lording it over me. "I just got back from a tour in Iraq because I'm fighting for your freedoms." Yeah? I just finished a ten page paper comparing the Lady of Bath from the Canterbury Tales to a symbol of male oppression against women (my professor said it was a fresh take on it that he hadn't seen before. Got an A). Sorry you didn't do well in school or were not an outstanding athlete like you falsely believe. So you're gonna be a lifer? Well, enjoy my tax dollars paying you retirement at 38. You're welcome. I've heard stories from base-life that do nothing but support my views. And I'm sorry. I respect your job, but that doesn't make you a hero.

So, now that I'm done offending everyone, I will state that Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. So, prepare for a possibly even more offensive post about America. I have views about 9/11 that will piss people off (and not that conspiracy shit). Anyway, I mentioned Propagandhi, so here's a live version of "Dear Coach's Corner." Relevant as hell. Because it's talking about propaganda in professional sports (hockey. Because they're canadian)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blood Money and Jingoism

Took a trip to the plasma depository today.  Did not make any money, because last time I tried but failed to work up the nerve, they failed to inform me I needed proof of address from within the last 30 days.  Had something from the middle of July.  But a bank statement came yesterday.  So Tomorrow, because they checked all my shit, and it twas good, I can donate and gain some cash monies.

Speaking of cash monies, came up 15 bucks from a poker game with friends tonight.  A buddy got my buy-in, because he owes me money from buying shots for bitches he was trying to stick his penis in.  He says he's gay, but he still fucks girls.  I don't get it.  Fucking confusing.  So I drank some, had my DD rock my car back home (after he almost had heat exhaustion earlier today), and here I am.  Sans anyone of the female persuasion.  Because it was all dudes.  Snausage fest.

But, It's probably for the best.  Because I cannot have a platonic relationship with a member of the opposite sex because I confuse friendship for feelings of intimacy.  I still do it to this day, and cannot break this cycle. Female followers of this blog take note: I will misread your friendly, asexual intentions and go for broke.  Because I am a goddamn idiot.

So, I've got another essay in the works based on the (American) football game Thursday night.  University of Wisconsin 51, University of Nevada-Las Vegas 17. Only got up to 17 because 2nd and 3rd string took over the 2nd half, and they are not up to starter positions, obviously.  But they gots to learn, and did pretty well, because giving up 2 touchdowns is pretty good.  Because UNLV's running back is a quick fucking bastard.  Anyway, I saw some stuff there that got me thinking.  Jingoism.  Woot.

To lazy, drunk, and tired to come up with something to say or pick that's super profound, so here's some Wugazi again.