“Alabama Island” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 21″
“Alabama Island” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 21″
Wow. I just heard Benjamin Ferencz, a 97 year old man, speak on NPR about his experience at Nuremberg as a prosecutor. Eloquent. Articulate. Shaming in under four minutes these propagandists that lock us up in our insides day after day. NPR is the only talk-radio available that isn’t outright hate and blame politics, and I only listen to it because corporate commercial radio is horrendous, and I often get lonely in my carpeted projectile, seeking the human sounds.
The enemies are in charge. That is national politics in a nutshell. You, dear reader, unless Syrian or a close second, have never woke up with a thought of Syria until your weak government and its propaganda boot-lickers told you to think about it. And that was just because they began a campaign to mutilate its children. There are no proportions in death! The majority of our leaders are the enemies of peace, and all that you hold dear. They are puppets to a system none of us understands or trusts. But a system that kills—not at all like a Final Solution, no. Our leaders and their little pretend soldier boy army kill from the sky, like Hitler would if he possessed drone technology. Like Roosevelt did with big bomber planes, and would again and again, whenever poor, geographically unlucky, peoples got in the way of his nightly fireside bourbon and pie.
I hate power because it clears cowards of murder. Any man or woman who kills for a system is suspect. And any soldier of any nation who has ever harmed a non-soldier is the most base and decrepit human being ever to inhale and exhale life. Why? Because it is abuse of power on a micro level, with few watching, and nothing to be gained. Absolute cowardice!
NPR and its fifty like apologists of these criminals and their crimes are guilty Joe Goebbels’.
From the “interview”:
How has it affected the International Criminal Court that the United States is not a member of it?
The United States is a great democracy. When World War II was over, Americans were loved everywhere. They kissed me and hugged me and everybody loved the Americans. Not today, not today. Because now they say the Americans, look, they don’t want to go onto the court. It’s not the Americans. It’s a small minority group, and you need two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty which created these courts. You can’t get two-thirds because you’re always a few guys from the south*. Entitled to their opinion, entitled to respect, but we don’t have to be guided by backward-looking thinking.
You’ve hit here on a great paradox because you’ve made it clear that you think that war is terrible.
War is hell. It’s not terrible. It’s awful. And in addition to being cruel and mean and rotten, it’s stupid, because look at what we do now. We take young people, if the heads of state can’t agree, you send young people to kill other young people they don’t even know, who may never have harmed them or anybody else, and they get tired of killing them and then they stop and each side declares victory, rests for a while, and they go back again and they start killing each other again.
You’re getting me wound up, and I feel very strongly about it.
I have boiled everything down into a slogan: Law not war. Three words. If you could do that, how you would change the world. You’d save billions of dollars every day to be able to take care of the students who can’t pay their tuition, take care of the refugees who don’t have homes.
And the next question is, how do you do it? I have also three words: Never give up. And that’s what I’m doing. And all I can do as an old man [is] sit here in a little bungalow in Florida and urge the world to come to its senses. Good luck, world.
* “…A few guys from the south
Maybe Benjamin and Ron are kindred spirits…
The Civil War and Its Aftermath Turned the People of My Country Into Retarded Ogres
1861 should be remembered as Confederate Independence Year. More good for the earth would have come from their temporary, destitute freedom. Less species would have suffered worldwide. Global warming might have slowed, and my nation’s people would have had the opportunity to progress over time into a more humble, less warlike mob of drugged lab rats.
The Confederation wanted out of creeping industrial fascism. An agrarian economy with cash crops cotton, tobacco and procreating slaves could support itself, at least for a decade or two before the procreating slaves, overwhelming in number, rose up and slaughtered their oppressors. The dark skins would have a window of opportunity of a decade or two before the light skins could develop their own industrial fascism. Meanwhile, fruits of the bell’s kitchen garden would not trade well for the metal things needed to quell an overwhelming rebellion. Snotty okra for Gatling guns? He-he. No way.
So the slow, independent South strolling into the 20th century would either be experiencing its own civil war of rakes and hoes and rotten persimmon bombardments, or the new Haiti would have already instituted its Tim Dove laws. Jeff Davis would be shining shoes for a Nat Turner penny outside Natchez City Hall. Either way, the old Southern white way would have got its just desserts without the help of Northern bankers, industrialists, and multiple farmer boy cannon fodder.
And the world would have been better off by far without the post Civil War Military/Media/Medical/Educational Industrial complex.
I imagine all the good and bad of Northern society at best would have developed into a modern day Netherlands, or for worse, a fascist Germany or Italy, long ago defeated by pretend morally superior nations without an atomic bomb.
Today we aren’t so lucky. The South won. Its leaders waited the prescribed ten to fifteen years of Reconstruction, traded their bull whips in for lynch ropes, and took back Congressional seats by pious campaigns of fear and force. Now the white elite of the South, who were half to blame for the carnage of the 1860’s, and all to blame for slave quarters, sat themselves in tall-back leather chairs, scheming,
“We’re gonna get our revenge on Boston and New York if we have to legislate against the negro and the North for all of Hell’s eternity.”
And they are.
So why did the North fight to the death to keep the South unionized?
Northern industry never invested much of its wealth in quaint Southern towns of violent racial pride. So it had nothing to lose and much to gain with a southern departure. New York already had enough destitute West African and Irish-Italian slaves to stuff into their air-challenged factories. What wealth the South enjoyed beyond cotton and tobacco was trickle down from Northern prosperity. Picturesque, Southern genial society was, and is, a ward of the Federal system. A powerful welfare culture. The result was an illiterate, brutal post Civil War generation, very poor and very bored.
Many joined the military. Many invaded the West. Washington’s justifications for heinous acts of the time, whether against the Sioux, African or Philipino, were made in a large part by defeated peoples with a tremendous axe to grind. Their influence grew and grew.
Today, people of the Netherlands are more tall, robust and gay than the saturated-fatty folk of the U.S.A. Their south is tulips and pot cafés. Their North is tulips and pot cafés. The majority supports sustainable methods of agriculture, pure juice drinks, pregnant mothers, and joining together to ride bicycles to save the earth (even with the knowledge that their near future is an undersea Atlantis).
In the Netherlands it is elementary that since the famous draw at Appomattox Courthouse, the U.S. Southern military elite pushed its Northern brethren to adopt Jerry Falwell’s Bible as Army field manual. Today the Pentagon is run mainly by children of an angry God. General babies, a lá Stonewall Jackson. They are fearful, racist, faux-christian bullies with rage issues, put in charge of nuclear silos and submarines.
The Netherlands knows about the hijacking of America by its military. All of earth’s leaders do. For example, how else to explain why an invasion of sovereign nations a half a world away (Iraq, Afghanistan) was not countered by world war?
Because the world’s leaders know damn well who has dominion over the earth. A five minute conventional war would not be tolerated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Soldier to soldier combat died long before Wilbur and Orville made their contribution to mammal extinction. “Killing babies from a very safe distance,” has been the U.S. military motto ever since General Sherman concluded that different colored peoples of any nation or tribe would fight to the death to keep their fair share of tillable earth. Today this modern industrial military is American just like apple pie and picking off an old person from a mile away. Its generals, via the gestures of a puppet government in Washington, have made it very clear to the rest of the world that any brave, armed resistance from other capable nations will result in nuclear Armageddon. Immediate annihilation of all the tulips in Amsterdam.
In the Netherlands, people are well aware of the Neo-Nazis holding the earth hostage. And they know how this came to be.
In 1861 Northern Christians in charge of weapon’s factories, sympathized with influential abolitionist movements. Southern Christians whipped black people like wild dogs and justified it with the teachings of a sadistic God. Both the North and South were reading the same editions of the New Testament which explained ambiguously how to deal with enslaved families of a different color. They got into a ferocious religious battle. The abolitionist God was victorious, although still very racist, and got so stupid forgiving to allow his ugly side equal membership into heaven’s situation room.
Wars around the world, the tidying up of native peoples and paving of their lands, the leveling of California, draining of the Colorado, the new construction of football stadiums and the re-reconstruction of McDonalds on the same exact spot of soil, among other industrial insanities, has finally lit the fuse of earth’s nervous breakdown. Along with the eager help of nuke-ready warmongers, Mother Earth is set up nicely to eliminate 75% of her species.
This scenario could happen under the rule of any modern, hell-bent psychopathic culture. It’s just that doom might have been postponed if the North left the South alone, to justifiably be murdered in its sleep by any desperate lobby with a conscience.
So merely a hundred and fifty years later, moments after a mass invasion of a very weak Iraq, slaughtering millions of living creatures, with the ignition of flora and fauna to make a sand dune Jehovah wet his pants from fear, the United States president was asked by a staged reporter if he trusted his faith at this trying time of exploding to pieces other people’s babies.
In the Netherlands the question would not be about a genocidal leader’s faux-faith in a fighter pilot God, but rather how to compost his drawn and quartered body properly in a flood plain. So not to toxify the tulips you know.
It is the Old South that has usurped political action in America. It has got its revenge. The Confederacy is ringmaster of this super silly circus nation, and all earthlings suffer dearly for it.
An artist I met a couple years back at a gallery where we were both showing, messaged me two days ago asking if I had any baseball paintings. Her friend was curating a show on the theme, and for some reason she thought I might have something.
I had nothing two days ago. I do now.
For years I believed Fidel Castro tried out for The Washington Senators, failed, and evolved into the Cold War bat boy for the K.G. Bee-bees. A very popular children’s American history book series said so, therefore it must have been true. I began to paint from my thought-dreams what I imagined a different outcome had Castro 3rd-stringed on the Senators. How dare this super jock take away my hopes to live out the rest of my days like an old man of the sea. Why didn’t he try harder, go into coaching, teaching, anything but anti-J.P. Morgan socialism? Then I came upstairs to get the spellings right (when applying the permanence of paint I check every day spellings online, like “Washington”), and I discovered the truth. Fidel Castro was no great ball player. All the photos circulating the globe of him in a baseball uniform (Barbudos) was from just one game, a fund-raiser to keep the nation’s triple A team financially stable. He was never scouted by professional baseball. Nor was he even left-handed, as the false history claimed (people of the 60’s must have assumed that left-handed people leaned left in politics). Even the photos in the book show him wearing a glove on the left hand.
So I changed the painting midway through. I hope the Spanish translates, “The bearded one was not left-handed”.
Let this serve as cautionary tale. If you believe in a C.I.A., and the good it makes of a world, then turn off all wired connections in the house, listen to NPR, watch government sponsored television like the PBS nightly news, have a scotch on Sunday afternoon, and allow high school history teachers to repeat the stories of their parent’s childhoods. If, on the other hand, you wonder as freeborn American why you could not travel 90 miles south of the border for most of your life, connect to the Internet to discover a recent history of world lies. And please remember this, if you get anything from my painting… Knowledge is not power. In my experience, the people who know the most, tend toward aloneness. Power is maintained by control. And control is born of lies. Lots and lots of lies. So many lies.
I call Neil Young to finish this post.
This week’s painting is my Great Grandfather writing words of wonder into his journal on February 3, 1900. In November I have a show in Hamilton, N.Y., the town six miles east of Lebanon, where he was born and raised. Four generations of my father’s family lived in Hamilton—it was a great place to be in the 19th century. So many triumphs of the future began in Central New York. I am making a painting for each grandfather who lived and died there.
In this painting Henry is dreaming of the night before when Mr. Hatch loaded thirteen boys and girls on a bobsleigh, hitched a team of horses and took them on a midnight ride to Hamilton. He left several of the boys (Henry included) at Colgate Academy to continue their studies into the Spring. Henry wrote of the night:
“We had Will’s big team and a bobsleigh with a big box and plenty of blankets. I had the darndest time I have ever had and so did some of the other people. [A line of his secret code I have not yet deciphered]. We were packed in like sardines in a box. There was 13 in the lead. It snowed and we had to raise umbrellas and do other things to protect us from the storm [more secret code].”
On the next page he writes:
“The following reaction is said to take place by the union of potassium iodide and sulphur, under slight pressure:
KI + 2S —> KISS
This is a dangerous experiment and should not be tried in direct sunlight or where too many people are near.”
At the exhibition I will show work that attempts to make history live again in the blockheads of the 21st century. It’s the teens I want to impress. They can learn a world they never knew, and begin believing again in the simple made extraordinary. Yet even in isolated Hamilton of the digital age it is nigh impossible to keep this thing from encroaching on their dreams.
Colgate University could do a good turn for future generations by killing its wi-fi connection and reinstating practical subjects like agronomy and electrical engineering onto its liberal curriculum.
Fat chance. Even university president John or Jane worship God Iphone.
And so come the days and nights of my autumnal dreaming.
It is the best season. I was telling our new American friends at breakfast about the wonderful sights, sounds and smells mixing up the air of late September. Rotting apples, cool, tropospheric oxygen, the great Lake Ontario turning over, the rustle of leaves, the indifference of shorebirds—rarely do the people of my town shed even a tiny old prejudice for this exhilarating season.
The same human-made facades, factoids, and dedication to “going through the motions” never interrupts these wild natural changes which have motivated all life since the axis tipped our planet into time.
We are inertia. We have stepped out of the natural cycle and therefore abandoned our right to nature and lifetime. Two hundred years ago, verily each new morning came with its own season. Weather mattered. The days’ sunlight was all light for the fuel-less poor. Nature and superstition was medicine and cyclic with each new moon. Gratitude was universal, for life alone was celebration before the advent of antibiotics and the indoor toilet spoiled this species septic rotten.
So all places in the temperate latitudes, my town included, have a natural cycle that hasn’t changed much in ten thousand revolutions around the sun. How has evolution visibly affected the raccoon’s nature since the time of Zoroaster? Different shedding pattern perhaps? Increased saliva production? Either way, the unnecessary raccoon receives no consideration from the species that matters most to all the rest, by virtue of its once in an earth time extreme negative consequences. No imaginary gods have ever possessed our power to destroy. We have gone from top of the food chain, to top of the mountain and erupted our hot lava all over the mass of life. Not a regenerative cure either. No strong comeback in sight for the multitude of existing species. Not while we are left comforting ourselves year after year. The humans are anti-fecundate. Our lava is pure poison, creating lakes and rivers of quicksilver, lead, cadmium, wet boxes of macaroni and cheese…
So for the record of the future, before the mortal gods diarrheaed up the universe good and proper, I compare the following account of the physical and intellectual activity of the man of today (who thinks he is a god), with the man of two centuries past, (who possessed a healthy respect/fear of the supernatural). Both had profound effect upon their selves, families, and the real world at large. I will argue that an abrupt change in comfort level brought about by the defeat of the supernatural has sped up evolution in the species too fast and way too far.
When in a billion years some evolutionary descendants of the bird and butterfly become literate in the ancient human languages, they shall discover this account of the fall of man, more succinct in its specificity than the gore of nuclear war, ecological catastrophe, and total economic collapse. This is the doom at a micro-level, brought to you and yours by the planet’s original sin—blind indifference to human greed and issues of entitlement.
Let it be known to all and sundry that the sun rose above the rooftops this morning and I climbed out of our big bed to tell a tale about my disconnection to the natural world. Kinney drugs and easy listening music sent from above to shower the shampoos and vitamins with good feelings. Howls of the September wind gust against my west window. I will go for a walk about town today to exercise my heart. I wanted to walk west ten miles to the beautiful land we purchased on credit. Our border turkey got mauled by a wild animal last month. Maya discovered the mutilated pile as she ran over the hill to play with some of her favorite things. Wine is good for the heart they say, which is okay, because they must know that the Inca are the ancestral keepers of all Chilean grapes made in France. And just look how playful the shadows dance across the faces of the natural Inca savages, roasting cavies on a stick. Four glasses of water to deter the threat of cholera because those smart-ass Indian laze-abouts knew enough to keep the water supply higher than the cesspools.
Charles Dickens didn’t know. Friedrich Nietzsche doubted plenitudes of germs coexisting on the shitty thumb of his wipe hand. So let’s study and debate his deep thoughts. And tell sentimental tales by the firelight of all European shit-stinkers of old. Pizarro was astonished by his plate of potatoes and roast cavy on a stick. So he killed everybody. Our doctors of history study ancient killing sprees of sociopaths to secure a sound future of status and Tide detergent. The scent of mountain laurel sends a current of ecstasy through the good doctor’s veins. Delusions of grandeur? Perhaps. If he could still hold a dream of historical monsters while clad in llama leather, and roasting his dinner of skinned cavy on a stick.
The walk will begin at the 1940 cement path wanting for human feet, poured lovingly by talented screen-door dreamers of a more innocent time, when some crafty Japs and Huns of the earth were getting bored with all their stuff too. The beautiful, spreading white clouds of the September sky. Harvest time is here. I’ve pulled some red onions that I started from seed. Tobacco hangs dead and drying in my summer kitchen. I can’t wait to get chickens when we move out to our beautiful land. Them, and the Internet to keep in touch with fluctuations in the manic international barometer.
I go to the NOAA Hurricane site whenever I need to be reminded of how we long for clan creation, post-natural, or man-made disaster. I am very lustful at 45, and racking homemade country wines, I still don’t have the power to spank my kids with a stick, knowing very well that I’ve encouraged them to trust in creatures that look like them. Even the sociopaths, who are everywhere outside of some rural communities in Africa and South America.
The September morning for a man of my height, from this spot two hundred years ago, would begin in a mild adrenaline rush to secure a food source, since an animal or man snuck up in the night and stole his leather bag. The walk that would follow would somewhat mimic the morning time of the wolverine or beaver watching from a safe distance as the big thing on hind legs prowled across the meadow.
The sociopath among the commoners did not yet exist, for the birth of refrigerator magnets had yet to electrify a memory bin in the brain to collect the insane knowledge of laminate flooring and the logo colors of professional football teams.
In fact, fellow sociopath, let’s just take a break from the coffee-time prose and imagine the rest of this guy’s September day—the morning, afternoon, and evening before arriving at a most difficultly obtained comfort provided by a wife and children, who, once again, praise god, were not slaughtered in their sleep by other wild men practicing survival.
Grab another cup of Ethiopian coffee, or glass of Argentinean wine, set the book down, and muse about the rise and fall of the human empire. Our innocent man of the past will make it back to his family, with just a minor bruise and a scratch. No infection will develop, and he got word that the tribe is setting up winter quarters three days’ walk away.
Hallelujah! His family is free for the time being. They shall sleep easier in the coming months, with only minor adrenaline-induced dreams of food and drink procurement.
Did you feel an enormous weight lifted from your chest? Did you gaze out the window at the September sunset and imagine the purity and strength of heart in the man who has never known Cheerios? What wonders would have occurred for our race if this survivor of the forest got a grasp of the germ theory and modern plumbing before the advent of anything manufactured by more than a few pairs of human hands! Perhaps some ecstatic, private life out of early twentieth century, northern Norway?
No. I go on a walk espousing the virtues of Nobel dynamite. It’s good for my heart. It’s even better for apathy, and a long life at any cost. The sounds of my September morning are replete with the machinations of the industrial dynamo. One can strain an ear to hear the joys and sorrows sung by non-thermostatically controlled men of two centuries ago. A quiet hum from some friendly ghost in the quivering leaves. A diesel motor running at the stoplight. Behind the wheel sits a creature who deserved the wrath of smallpox, cholera, and bubonic plague, but got a dose of sentimental entitlement instead. It thinks someone or something should care that it passed kidney stones last December.
Earth needs a vicious Cortez of the animal or vegetable kingdom to covet the shores of our species. Some force must bang us back to the beginning or the end, whichever behooves deciduous trees the most.
For it’s either the host of them coloring a September breeze, or an army of these diesel truck idiots burning them to the ground.
The woodchuck can’t stand history. He’s going for a swim. You should too. The following post can be shared as a history term paper for anyone still doing term papers.
Presently I am studying local history books to obtain a clearer understanding of our past. I want to get it right. So, I have spent the last two afternoons reviewing some scholarly works about the initial growth and inevitable decline of our fair city. One thing keeps popping up in my mind while reading over their careful words—probably more so because the birds are chirping and spring is caressing more body parts than what my mind can control. What I wonder is this: Have any of these scholars ever aroused a member of the opposite sex? These authors have published dry, authoritative books. I know how difficult it is for me to write clear, grammatically correct sentences passionately, especially when I feel the need to get some angst off my chest immediately. I loathe the words that cloud my meaning and put rules and limits to my desire. I am a bad writer. I too often wonder why I have chosen word arrangement to help make my art manifest. Perhaps genetic connection to the yankee masochist lifestyles of my forebears. I seek constipation. I need to feel the acute pain of squeezing words out onto paper, otherwise I would not be able to justify my work. Still, I know that the more serious my writing, the less joyful my manhood, my sex, and my rise and fall of personal happiness. History, local history to be sure, should excite in the mind creative ways to improve one’s sex life. Most other explanations, I believe, are a type of depraved mental masturbation. One can place himself into the imaginations of dead people, what a man ate, how he ate, and the enjoyment he got out of eating. It is fun to put a life into ghosts. More fun to give them an imaginative sex drive. But man, if you just read the garbage I read at the library… It’s as if the living, breathing men and women of yesterday were walking, talking wooden beams, thinking only about money and never moving a muscle to sweep away the layers of dust collecting in their skulls. This cannot be true. And why I never respect the work of scholars. Unimaginative bores. History is only a game, folks. It should be as sacred as you hallow the dirt wherein their skeletons lie. We are 21st century men. It’s bad enough that we are so lonesome, frustrated and undersexed… But to bring the dead into our thoughts while we live with reproductive enthusiasm… Depraved.
For two days I’ve bombarded myself with the insanity of what scholars think is human. The fearful won’t dare make history their own. They research only what is written, and what is written on the pages of Oswego’s history is enough to make a young buck desire sleep instead of food. The philly to turn against the colt, the colt to leave the fat, dripping nipple alone… Yes, it is well known throughout the kingdom that the story of mankind depresses animals to death eventually. You may wonder why it is your dog will not read. But I know mister that if he read a single word of your book, he’d lose the stretch in his back and the warm pops on his tongue that give him freedom of movement and the delicious desire to lick himself clean.
Even the animals are wise to the need of why history must be avoided. Man is specie-centric to the point of flagrant stupidity. The animals have been laughing at us for quite some time. We know it too, which makes this business of history an even more ironic and embarrassing affair. The university professor, eager with an idea to write about nineteenth century architecture in Oswego, wakes in the morning with a dead man’s house opening its doors to her brain. The brain is a fungus smothered with an incestuous family of fat parasitic worms. It hops up the lake stone stairs marking the caller’s path to the non-existent mansion. A squirrel with a nut sits on a stone where the wrought iron fence was once attached. He takes a curious look at the brain while it waits for the invisible butler to answer the knock. Too beautiful an autumn day for a brain to call. But it does anyway. It makes every attempt to ruin these beautiful days. The most obtrusively rude organ of the body, the brain. “Yes, madam?” The butler asks the brain.
“I’m here to see the master of the house.”
“He’s counting his matches madam. He’s up to a 149,546,760 at last count.”
“Matches. How odd!” Replies the brain.
“Each match is worth .01% of one penny, madam. We have an elevator and I am a dumb waiter because of the matches. The mansion is built on matches and dead Irishmen making matches for money madam. So will you please go away and take that filthy body with you?”
“Well, I’ve never!”
The squirrel drops his nut and runs off in terror as the brain leaps up into the body of the professor. The brain in the body gets into her car and rides off dreaming about Turkish pillows and camel leather toilet seats in a bedroom of a house that does not exist. Neither the body nor the brain see the squirrel leaping into the road in chase of a round nut rolling in the wind. “Kalump-thump.” Squirrels on tree branches and sidewalks turn to witness the hit and run. They are wise to the stupid evil your lazy history causes. The brain in the woman rides off into the sunny morning. “How amazing,” she wonders… “Matches made all of that.” And the squirrel’s last breath is wheezed in the road. There might remain a remnant of his carcass left when her book comes off the press.
For the life of a squirrel, the passing of a day, and the teeny titillation from another rude brain, the following is the professor’s creative account of a once in a lifetime visit to the ghostly match kingdom:
“By 1906, the Diamond match factory hired 500 workers and manufactured 150 million matches per day (two matches for every person in the United States).”
Facts about nothing. I am stopped in the head right now. I can’t think straight. I am a poor historian. Also, I am incredibly horny these past few weeks. My wife’s hormones are focused on baby care. It’s not her fault that I exhibit the stallion’s flehmen posture anytime she gets too close to me in the same room. My lips shoot up past the gums. I show my teeth, and I might even be grunting. But she’s a mare with foal, and I best be careful, else a hoof in the mouth is the only piece of her that she’ll give willingly. So to divert the loins to the subject of creative history, I’ll write the story of this old house.
Out of the folder of records obtained from the real estate agent, was a map of our neighborhood in 1875. All the houses on this street were blank squares. Except for ours, which had “SAL” written on it. Saloon perhaps? Yes, why not? It’s 1875, and their are tall ships at port, and sailors on the prowl. There are working men getting rubbed the wrong way for the six thousandth time, and slutty Oswego girls, just like today, giving sex for drinks, but plenty of drinks first. I’m sitting in the kitchen/dining room of what was once, 125 years ago, behind the bar on a Friday night. Good business this Friday in summer. The sun just set itself down for the trillionth time and there’s a city full of thirsty men. Ah, it’s a blessed bygone era when wives are kept and abused coolies, and husbands are free to do as they please. If the worker gets caught cheating on his wife, she keeps her mouth shut through dinner, and asks for a new hat at bedtime. If the woman cheats on the man, she gets beaten to death and arrested soon afterwards. The role playing world of 1875. The men work for money and drink. The women slap the kids and bake. Oh yes, and a good chunk of the world dies off early because nobody is taught how to properly wash his face and hands.
Here we are at Throop’s saloon, me an da boys. Aye, it’s a roody noyt dis soommer. All day long we set at they docks unludin’ loomber in ure wool pantaloons. Me an Jack, we bean to Flangee’s bar oulready. Aye, un ware tahnked full abrew. Dis life is a pacer, ware tinkin’. Aye, an eats a good ting to da polite bubs o society dat weave refraned froom blowin up da whole show, yaknow. Ha, lookee dare. Aze tat Mayster Condee? Aye dey reech fat baysterd. Hey Jack, lookee dare. He’s taken to yer seester. He best be a watchin’ out, cause Ize got me ize owner. Ah goad damnit! Sheeza laufin’ with em. Ah damnit, now sheez blooshin’. Holy mudder a Mary Jack, Abbey’s walkin’ out da door wid dat fat ass. I’ll kill em I tellya, if he even tinks a-touchin are wid his grasy fangers. Ah shoot up jack, ya parevert! For da lard’s sake, man, sheeze yer seester.”
West fifth street in the summer of 1875. The lawns are freshly trimmed and the street dust has finally settled. The crickets in the brush play a happy tune nobody can hear. The buzz of a million wet manure and piss drunk flies drowns out any chance for a peaceful moon rise. The night is hot. The servants leave their master’s houses, wide-eyed and ready for whatever the night has in store. Some walk up to Throop’s saloon. Some go home waiting for their husbands to come back from Throop’s. The children from the big houses play games in the road. If a dirty Irish or Italian boy skips by, the rich kids call for the nearest butler to chase him away with a stick. The sun’s gone down and the moon is up.
Compared to the shacks set up around the rest of town, these mansions are enormous palaces. The gaslights are lit. The mosquitoes are out happily spreading disease. Master Condee and Abbey, hand-in-hand, have turned the corner and are heading toward his four story palace at the end of the street. He made his fortune in textiles. He’s the richest man in Oswego, but thinks himself no stuffed shirt like his millionaire neighbors. He’s got a rise in his pants for Abbey, and is starting to pant slightly while they push through the thick night air.
“Aye, mayster Condee, yashare know ow ta make a goil laugh!”
“Thank you Abbey. It’s one of my secrets. Let’s not tell anyone.” He brushes his hand across her ass.
“Mayster Condee, please, no.” protests Abbey.
“Look, you Irish whore, I’ll fire your pretty ass right now if you don’t let me look under that dress.” He takes hold of Abbey by the shoulders, shakes her up a bit, and throws her down on the grass in front of the Lewis House.
“Please Mayster Condee, no!” He falls on top of Abbey, muffling her cries for help with one hand while climbing up her dress with the other. A voice calls out from the Lewis House.
“Hey Condee, quiet down. Jesus Casanova, give the girl a break!”
“That you Bill?”
“Yup. C’mon Condee, leave the little vixen be.”
“She’s Irish Bill, come have a feel.”
Bill Lewis puts his finger to his lips, gets up from his porch chair and walks across the lawn to where Master Condee and Abbey are struggling.
“Well, okay Condee. She sure looks pretty good. I’ll bang her if you promise to keep the screams down. I don’t want Alice to hear.”
The two millionaire Oswegonians begin the rape of the Irish girl Abbey. Suddenly the millionaire’s heads are cracked open with wooden bats swung by two figures standing over them in the darkness.
“Well lookee dare Jack. Deez tings have anoother use now dontay?
“O Patreek ya play da game o baseball bater dan any man I seen.” Jack bends over to help his crying sister get to her feet.
“Did da peegs getcha Abbey?”
“No brudder. Dat fella dare, he come close dough. I taught he was un nice man. He said he would take me out of da factree, an give me a jewb washin’ his cloothes. Aye da peeg!” She kicks Master Condee’s bleeding head.
“Yo jack. Let’s take deez bastards away.
“Ware to Patreek?”
“Aye, down to da docks. We’ll send em out ta sea nailed to da hull of da next tug. I tooed ja ya shadn’t let em taker outta Throop’s.”
That is the most concise history of the nineteenth century in Oswego that a living man need remember. There were tall people, short people, Polish people, Irish people, stupid people, smart people, violent people, gentle people, horny people, dirty people, weak people, strong people, rich people, poor people. There were parasitic people who spent their lives enslaving people with less means. And there were people who let them. Nothing has changed. Except today rich or poor, everyone is exactly the same. Especially here in Oswego, where rich, poor, young and old alike share the same respect for bad history.
Man they’re all just too white for me. This city is so old. White old. Every face is so god damn pale and old. The women who stay here, the younger women with children, artificially tan to hide their white oldness. These brown-faced women with light hair, they’re all so old already. And their voices! You have to be an outsider to hear the Oswego dialect. A phenomenal tongue. You would leave thinking of the depressed white planet, Oswego, and everyone almost dead with just a few more stingy breaths to breathe. Even the children are sad and their depression takes on new and interesting forms of mental derangement. They’re white too. So white and dirty. Sometimes it’s almost too much for me to bear—Wait. I’m jumping ahead of where I want to be right now. I’m already at the Walmart when I should have limited the first twenty or thirty pages to Oswego’s rich and colorful history. But no, it’s not going to be that easy. This old whiteness. It is all encompassing to a sensitive man. What the hell am I doing here? Cold March winds, and I’m out walking an empty downtown night with my face buried into the collar of a thick red plastic coat, made in Paraguay. Oh God, please bury me head first in the hot marshes of Paraguay! Let only my feet stick out for the sun to tan. It’s a different sun in Paraguay, I know. A happy sun. A sun of the four seasons. A dangerous, exciting sun. The natural born brown children crawling through the tall grass are thankful for civil things like laughter and cooked suppers unexpected. They play around the white man’s feet stuck out of the ground. God must have put him there. Imagine their thirty cents a day went into sewing the coat laying beside his feet. Each is truly happy that a day worked is another yam purchased. How proud a thing the human being should be.
This afternoon I became infected with the 24-hour bug of Oswego. It can turn a proud man against himself in a day. Make him want to butcher the art of French cuisine and open a corn dog stand and deep fry in fat for kids. The bug in the brain. It’s built every business downtown. It took over operation of The Palladium Times and shows itself in the photo of a hockey player on the front page of section two in every winter issue. The thirty-six hair care studios have the bug. Artificially browned women with dyed blonde hair gossip about whose husband is screwing the baby-sitter. All are either reformed or presently smoking coffins and alcoholics. Oswego’s bug is inevitable and true. It’s disease is widely accepted and recklessly encouraged.
I tell you that, once infected, no matter how free in thought and step he once thought he was, the proud man of this city must re-decide each new morning whether or not to step in line with the rest of the white brigade. At all times in Oswego, there is an internal battle being fought, one with effects more damaging than any petty skirmish played out by cowardly soldiers of the past. The men who played shoot me for pay at the fort across the river—they alone knew the joy of a bullet in the eye. Man the whole town in the nineteenth century stunk like dirty animal ass everywhere. If I was a young farmer spending my Saturday evenings watching my mother wipe the brown grease off her belly rolls, I too would jump at the chance to fight the British. I would wonder out loud what the taste of lead was like, fight hard, and die glad without any prior knowledge of the statue to be erected in my honor a hundred and seventy-five years after my death.
Honor me? For being a farm boy full of holes? Jesus, if the stupid fools only knew what I was really made of. Lookyhere… Girls my age were scarce in 1814. Dad looked the other way the day I pressed up against our cow. It felt good, and I did the same for Dad. “Ma’s belly stinks, son,” he would tell me, while dropping his trousers. Then crazy Willie came by the barn that night to tell us the British were cannoning the fort. “Aw Dad, lemme go an fight! Please?” And Dad kinda felt sorry for me cause when he was young he had Indians to kill and squaws to play cow with. So he said, “Sure son, you go play with crazy Willie. But cha can’t take my musket.” So I went to the fort and the fellas there made me Colonel cause I didn’t bring a gun. They said “You’ll be our fifth Colonel. Don’t expect to live long. There’s a cannonball with your name on it, farm boy.” But I didn’t care. I didn’t mind dying. And so that night a cannonball knocked my head off.
But then jest the other day I was bobbing my head down from the clouds, as I do now and then, and there was some old hag who looked just like my grandmother with spectacles on making a speech by a statue. She was talking about me! Said I was an unsung hero of the War of 1812. Wow, that shore made me angry. She said it was people like me who made life sacrifices so that people like her could waste their lives away dedicating statues to illiterate cowfuckers. I got mad right then and there cause my ma always told me that to lie was sin and sin was death. So I undid my trousers and started to pee on my own parade. Shoot, I didn’t die for her or anyone else. Liars and thieves I tell ya. So I pissed on her until she finally stopped talking to pose for her portrait beside my statue. And then when everybody went away I let the sun back out.
Now I smile from my home in the clouds whenever I see a drunk taking a leak on my statue. Once a guy stopped to read the inscription beneath the stone carving of my dying self. He laughed so loud that the fish stopped swimming to listen. I knew that he knew me better than any old hag without life in her blood. I knew that he alone would tell the real history of Oswego.
From Last Communion:
Pre-review of Spielberg’s “Lincoln”
I have not seen the latest big screen hit by Steven Spielberg, multi-millionaire gatekeeper of the popular American historical record. But I am sure it is filled to the scalp with good triumphing over evil, eventually, after evil gets its prime pick of the impoverished hoards.
Abraham Lincoln instigated the murder of 600,000 people. He and his war party wouldn’t just let the unhappy south go. Not because the majority of southern light skins feared out of their minds their dark skinned slaves (which they most certainly did), and Abe was going to punish their unchristianity with expensive artillery and boy meat in order to free their day and nightmares of slave revolt and retribution—No, honest Abe, like today’s trustworthy presidents, was a political tool of the establishment. He got his orders from private pressure. For whatever reasons, unknown today like droning babies in Pakistan will ever be known tomorrow, Abe set his mind to kill a bunch of politically ignorant farm boys to prove a point. He and his counterpart Jeff Davis executed about 500 of their own just to show that state business would always trump the harvest-or-starvation business of families.
The Emancipation Proclamation (as if an entire race of individuals had to wait for an unwashed, frontier lawyer to declare their freedom), was an inspiration for the masses, a war tactic, and maybe even a private joy for a closet abolitionist President, but it does not negate the reality of Abraham Lincoln as Ghengis Kahn-like slaughterer of innocents.
My ancestors in Hamilton, N.Y. hated slavery, preached abolition, and yet still sewed farm shirts with textiles grown by slave labor. Hypocrites yes, but not deserving to be conscripted to die while a President-king and his wife complained to the cook about too much salt in the sauce. Yet they were, and their friends and brothers died from battle or later from wounds and conditions caused by the war. I still hold the U.S. government accountable for their wrongful deaths. As should any person descended from that “peculiar institution” called the United States of America.
Oh yes, and the Santee Sioux have a right to desecrate the memorial to the “Great Emancipator” whenever on holiday in our nation’s lockdown capitol. As all American schoolchildren know, he, the great Abraham Lincoln, signed on to the largest mass execution in American history.
And then had some ex-slave cook his dinner.