It didn’t snow that night and it didn’t get as cold as they said it would, but it was cold and wet enough. There was a raw wind gusting from the South where the Alaskan low pressure system had swirled up from the Bay Of Mexico and the Baja. I could hear the rain on the camper roof all night. While it drove me crazy I thought about the two snails Roy, the juice bar baristo had saved for me in a paper cup. They were probably dying in the truck cab, because I forgot to put them in the pond when I got home. He had that sensitive, irritable, adolescent attitude a lot of ex junkies have, that everything is about them and everybody is a piece of shit. Women loved him for that. More! More punishment! More disrespect! they cried. He’d probably be real disappointed if I told him the snails died of my neglect after he saved them from the celery he was washing. And I’d have to tell him if he asked because I don’t lie worth a shit.
I also thought about having to tell Rick the Home staff refused my offer of his woodworking tools, and I was going to have to sell them to pay his back rent on the garage. How could I take the last thing this clinically depressed homeless man had to believe in away from him, so my sister could sit and babble her life away in a nursing home? Just one of many human miseries I have to exacerbate in my job as trustee and guardian of my inheritance of the darkness of a little corner of the earth called Texas. It is, after all, #1 in the death penalty, & gave us three presidents who gave us three big stupid wars.
It wasn’t a hard rain but it was relentless. I couldn’t obliterate it with the white noise hiss of escaping greenhouse gasses in the tiny butane tent heater with the controls I had to smash and jury rig and the whoosh of the tiny fan sitting on top of it. Roy loved the rain. I hated it. Because it reminded me of all the times things I was responsible for got ruined in it. Finally I put on clothes and walked out into the dark and wet, bitching and moaning, trying to find what scattered toys and mementos I wanted to save.
The wreckage of my art and writing. All the things it’s impossible to talk about. Write a letter to the editor, try calling NPR, or any other talk show.. ..they call them talk shows because they can’t listen…and if you do get through, Big Money and Big Oil can always talk louder than the voice of reason. Try getting a story in to a national magazine. It was refreshing feeling the cold rain, but nobody was there.
Give me a kiss, I said to the woman in my dreams.
It’s nothing personal, I said, I’m just freezing.
Nothing ever is. She said.
In the morning the barrio was very quiet, as if all its human misery, sirens, screams and violent actors had been frozen in place. I woke up sick, remembering what it was like just getting here, as a child, unable to move anything, not even intention. And now we can do things, talk to people, move things around, make changes. Can’t we? I made a special trip down to the Gem show to talk to Kent and get his estimate of what Rick’s tools were worth. I was in a pissy mood, and determined to take it just as far as I could.
Death is just around the corner. Nothing matters anymore. Don’t you understand that?
I said to nobody as I stood in the cold all day, sorting wrenches on the tailgate, watching the storm clouds roll out of the valley, and thinking about the back of JFK’s head getting blown off, the first time we knew nothing good can happen in this world without something dark and broken inside all of us also getting its due.
Party bigwig Chuck Schumer was on TV the other night saying for the sake of party unity we “might” have to ignore the popular vote. Now the radio was saying it looked like Obama would lose Texas big time.
If only he could sweep Texas.
You can’t sweep Texas, "It’s too sorry!" my sister used to say, when she had the brains left to say anything. Or more simply, it’s too full of bullshit, or I’M sorry, the DISTANCES of “the unlikely story that is America”, the vast spaces that seemed to grant people like Bush their half vast sense of entitlement. There is no form of human thought so far that can penetrate much less inform THAT emptiness.
I stared at the grease inside the sockets I was putting on metal stringers like it was a personal archeological find, as I thought about the bitter battles I’d had with them, against the junky vehicles I’d used them on. If I could just get everything arranged just right, I wouldn’t mind going back to work….ha ha.
And if he does sweep Texas, it will be because once again the age will be handed the kind of shit that it demanded. There’s nothing of substance in Obama, just slogans.
Yeah…if you could like anybody who could command that big a demographic, it would mean you’re stupid wouldn’t it?
It means women will bare their breasts and everything else for power. You could see it at Zaire when Muhammed Ali fought George Foreman there. You could see it in Mbutu, exactly the kind of dictator the spirit of that people demanded, like the excesses of the Russian Revolution demanded Stalin…
The way post WW II U.S. housing and baby booms demanded Bay of Pigs, demanded the mob hit of 63, and Fear Of Communism, the fear that some other crook might take our ill gotten gains, demanded we shore up Pinochet in Argentina, and Posada in almost every counter revolution in Latin America, Reagan and the Contras and Granada, JHW Bush in Panama, and Iraq #1, the CIA and its “economic hit men”, Kissinger’s “economic imperative” , Nicaraugua, Guatemala, School Of The Americas, and Big Oil, and Vietnam and Iraq 2 and millions of vets coming home, the backs of their skulls blown off by absurdity
Obama’s speech to AIPAC and the speech about global warming…a betrayal…
Yeah…yeah… he shoulda told them what a buncha whiney chauvinist, professional victims they were, that woulda REALLY helped him get past the prejudice that he's a Muslim wouldn’t it? And he shoulda told us all we were already past the tipping point, and there was no hope. That woulda been real uplifting and unifying wouldn’t it?
And his bill to put private contractors under U.S. law, he just let that languish and said he couldn’t rule out the use of Blackwater, Triple Canopy, KBR/Halliburton, DynCorp, Erinys …to guard our embassy….for the foreseeable future…so where’s the hope in that?
On the other hand, Hillary hasn’t even STARTED to deal with it. And on the other hand I got a Robo call the night before from Clinton headquarters saying I’d lose my social security if I voted for Barack. I guess I must have suddenly landed in “the old and scared” demographic. And I get letter after letter from feminists asking,
"How did a historic breakthrough moment become marred by having to choose between 'race cards' and 'gender cards?'"
Sorry, sometimes I forget nothing else matters besides your issues, your childhood hurts. Maybe sometimes you forget words are birds without wings or feathers. They spend their entire lives in the chasms between us. Sometimes on a dark night with no moon you can hear their faint cries….
And they say we need a woman president, because she’ll think different.
But she DOESN’T think different. She thinks like a man. She says no dialogue with Cuba or Akmadinijad, or Kim Il Jung, no consensus building so the U.N. can have half a chance of doing its part. All her experience goes to listening to Big Money and Big Oil talk to her like she was a man so this insane war can go on killing women and children in another country. She earned a million for sitting on the board of Walmart. She says she’ll keep her relationship with J. Mack of Morgan Stanley, and keep on taking money from lobbyists because “they represent real Americans”. And Bill’s got his pals, like fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, for whose sake AIM activist Leonard Peltier will rot in prison the rest of his life. It’s Obama who’s makin like a woman.
And they say if I don’t want to vote for Hillary it’s because I’m scared to have a woman president. Scared I might feel castrated. Thanks ladies, nice to have your help, so I don’t have to think too much. Or feel castrated.
But tell you what, let’s give Barack a sex change operation….
DING! DING! DING! TRIPLE VICTIMHOOD! BONUS POINTS! EVERYBODY WINS! A black, gay, bi, transgender, woman president! Satisfied, Gloria Steinem? Or jealous? And Hillary can get a tattoo all over her face and work with Aunt Jemima by her side. FULL HOUSE! ALL THE CARDS ON THE TABLE! TEXAS FOLD ‘EM! RAISE YOUR HANDS AND STEP AWAY FROM THE TABLE PLEASE!
Why’re you so bitter?
Just my personal problem. Far as I’m concerned for all the reasons Ruth Bader Ginsberg will always be one of my heroes, Billary to me, like a lot of political marriages, is just another two headed scumbucket. But that’s probably because I’m just so stupid and wrapped up in myself I can’t hear you. I wouldn’t give it a moment’s thought. I can’t even tell you, the thing you might be missing in all this is words don’t mean shit. Follow the money, and as Lincoln Steffens proved in city after city in the thirties and forties, you’ll find big business connected to organized crime, connected to government, like the leg bone necktid to the thigh bone…and a sex change doesn’t change that.
Meanwhile WE live our lives and work ourselves to early graves like ants and bees and ciphers, while patriotic idiots scream at us on the radio. And torture and assassinations and death squad raids are carried out in our name in the third world mostly for the sake of oil. Oil in our shoes, oil in our wedding cakes, oil in our mouths, masked with tons of sugar and chocolate.
Does that oil taste good? And tell me, que es mas macho? Oil or Blood?
Who’s gonna fix it? Obama? He’s just a preacher.
NOW who’s being general? But he’s got over a million private donors. Maybe when the big boys come to him for payback he can tell them,
“Sorry, I don’t need you anymore. I have over a million small donations from people who DON’T represent real Americans. They happen to BE real Americans.”
And they’d just say,
“We wish you luck. We hope nothing happens to you, but we’re worried about your health.”
Just like they said it to every democratically elected president of every third world country that wouldn’t go along with United Fruit, Exxon, private contracting companies ruling whole small countries in Latin America, usurious CIA sponsored infrastructure loans, and all the rest of Kissinger’s “Economic Imperative” and the globalized armies of thugs it hired. And an aide gets handed “a tape recorder” as the new president gets on the plane, and there’s another unverifiable rumor of an explosion, another “mysterious” crash, and an investigation that turns up nothing.
But I need to believe in something. I can’t work without hope. Hope for the unlikely story and the lost cause that America has always been.
What’s happened to you? You always used to say,
Hope springs infernal.
Well, I changed my mind. I’m feeling weak and helpless. So sue me.
Yeah, I get it, do you?
When it got dark, I just needed someplace to go, but not far, so I drove to Albertson’s just for the feeling of getting somewhere. I noticed the guy in the white van all loaded with crap WASN'T there that night. WASN’T sitting in HIS SPACE on the bench, reading magazines, his big trembling, weathered hands pawing through the babes in the fashion section of the INSANE story that is America which, we have to keep reminding ourselves, ALL springs from the same soil, which comes from someplace beyond the stars.
The universe is at least 98% nothing. And we come from that nothing. So what is there to say?
As I carried my veggies out to the truck and drove away listening to some pretty inventive blues with those same old unutterably stupid sexual lyrics attached. But they got me on the road.
I passed the cliff where, that afternoon, coming back from a seven mile construction detour on I-10, I saw this big, tall, half naked, crazy man, pushing his shopping cart in the wind. That night his absence really spoke to me. For years I'd seen him coming down from the hills now and then where he had a cave or some kind of shelter, long suntanned arms flailing in the sun, as he talked to the traffic and his demons, going over and over the same ruts, year after year, in his damaged brain. Flailing and flailing like the ripped ribbons of his shirt in the wind. As if to say,
Don't you understand? DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?
Yes. Yes I do. I said.