2015. Acrylic on canvas, 108 x 52″
My last painting for ArtRage in April, with commentary:
“It’s easy enough to tell what is wrong
but that’s not what I want to hear all night long”
—Lou Reed from “New Sensations”
Okay. So Dick Cheney is going to hell. Granted, it’s a pretend hell, because real hell does not exist. One would think that if it did, a frack well or two would hit a devil head on the way down and cause a hot fracas.
Cheney knows there is no hell. There is the present moment. And in the present moment he has power and is rich, and in tomorrow’s present moment he will be even richer. Maybe rich wouldn’t be so bad if, by association, Dick Cheney had refrained from killing many people in undeclared and shadow warfare, or if his oil rig didn’t explode and dissolve eleven bodies in the ether, or if his nefarious manipulations of the Clean Air Act did not ensure a future sickness to many school children.
So I made this painting to show all and sundry the truth about justice in the secular world.
There is none. Ever. Period.
Yet I swear that people need to be reminded over and over this truism. Dick Cheney is not the problem. The people are. They are too nice, too forgiving, too live and let living. “Yeah, Cheney is bad, but don’t we all share those lower human qualities? Would not many of us act just like Dick if encountering the same situations along life’s road?”
Sure, if magically you became power and wealth in the present moment. But you never ever will. You think you might get some spoils, that your private, insignificant greed scam will pay off some day—maybe with a white Lincoln Continental for retirement. Perhaps a well lit Florida room in an affordable 55 and older community. You sold insurance at a ridiculous mark-up, but you didn’t kill anyone, so of course you have every right to cheat your neighbor. Shhhh. Live and let live. You stay silent of Dick Cheney’s transgressions hoping that oligarchy has set aside a chance for you too. Of course! Live and let live, even if one of the livers kills people indiscriminately. “Let God sort us out!”
This would be nice, but it isn’t this way at all. You and I have no mortal chance to mirror Dick Cheney. There just isn’t enough time in a life to develop his kind of misanthropy. To catch up, any adult would need a 72 hour day of taking advantage of others, while hating, and then killing some of them.
Well, could it be that Cheney lives the life of a tortured soul?
No. People with private planes do not have tortured souls. Maybe Jesus and Vincent van Gogh suffered an ever-present despair, but they often went hungry, and planes weren’t even invented in their time.
Hell is dead. But pretend hell is not. Living hell can only exist for those who are physically suffering, or have chemical imbalances that require chemicals prescribed for better balance.
So I made up this pretend hell for Cheney to perform his clean air act. Here the world is inundated by his own sneer. Hundreds of them, passing by constantly. I have Dick dress up in women’s clothing, paint his nails fluorescent rose, break a nail, and have a caldera erupt in his brain. I have made him appear as a Titan from my daughter’s manga series. He crushes a stuffed toy cat while squeezing a duck to death. There’s even a Bob with no hope painted in to tell a joke about pretend hell.
And it is a joke, because at any time, Cheney can exit out of the canvas, and holiday on his private beach. Every time we pay our federal tax, we kiss the ring finger of one of the worst human beings ever de-wombed from a mother. The joke is us. The joke is justice. A man has manipulated the law called the “Clean Air Act”, and we act like there is nothing to be done about it. We are not the people who seek a more perfect union. We are fools and cowards. We wait for bad men to do good things.
So, what is our energy future to be, even if we continue to allow the trespass of these dirty rotten scoundrels like Dick “the killer” Cheney?
If not fracking, then what? How do we achieve energy independence? And by independent, I mean local, or individual at best like your 4x great grandparents. They had wood, and then coal, and that was sufficient until the industrialists felt the greed need to mass produce shoes and then Happy Meal toys. Can the 21st century man live like mid-19th century man? I guess it doesn’t matter, and there lies the problem… Today the people of western nations do not understand the seasons of survival. Their descendants will. It’s going to get hot for all, including the top level consumers of tomorrow.
I don’t know the answers about clean energy nor all the right questions to ask about the dirty stuff. I do know that the food and plastic waste at my new job cooking for the unappreciative elderly is a carbon footprint dense enough to press a hole six feet deep with each step toward extinction. And I thought I was a humble man! Should I mention the small crime I committed by taking the job in order to support my out-of-control acrylic painting habit? Humble, ha! I am a rotten neighbor stopped at the light, alone in my automobile, thinking about the next thing I shall acquire for me, whether it’s concrete dioxine purple, or abstract holiday happiness, all illusions are locked onto the same vanity wheel, turning round and around.
A start is to stop and transport our minds five centuries into the past. Muse on the impossibility of global warming before China employed armies to build plastic toys for our dumbed-down sugar kids. Remember natural localism, the butcher and the baker, the thatch hut maker, harvest and holiday, and one hundred meaningful seasons in a year. The past will have to become the future if we want to sustain our humanity numbers and also grow grain to grind. The science devotees imagine they are alone in a warm room dreaming big while a magical god supplies them with all that neat stuff—lithium, titanium, steel, petroleum, millions of square meters of electro-goody-goodies—to one day colonize a comet and eat each other.
We can have the past right now with concentrated effort to supply good medicine (already invented) to all. To end nationalism and globalism overnight. To reinstate a very neighborly capitalism with the caveat “each family an acre to till and a central pasture outside the bastide”.
The first man to weasel two acres gets burned at the stake.
Still, Neil Young wants you and I to boycott Starbucks for its collusion with Monsanto while he rushes off in a jet airplane to his concert in Reykjavík. If Neil Young can’t be wise by now, I believe our only environmental salvation is a quick and easy nuclear winter to start up where Hieronymus Bosch left off, but replete with storehouses full of seeds, knowledge, antibiotics and well-trained Cuban doctors who get paid just a few hundred more pesos a week than a garbage collector.
Calisthenics for Tomorrow
Now that progeny is quaint
and financial schemes the wise
Threshing is the future exercise