I contend that America needs to know more about herself – her likes, dislikes and how she spends her time on a typical working day. A look at the Digg website revealed a lot of interesting information about what seems to matter most of all to a culture bereft, as I contend, of self knowledge. I, like so many on Wall Street, believe that America could use a haircut and possibly a shave.
At number one after only two days...a two part video of a time lapse series taken from an oil tanker making its way through the Houston ship channel at night. That would be the same Houston ship channel that, along with Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon remain the three most likely targets for a terrorist attack going forward – according to intelligence professionals who have become cynical as well as long in the tooth for lo' these last twenty or so years. A beautifully shot and well-edited short film of the night lights of Houston as seen from the perspective of an artist not yet bludgeoned to death by the "oil bidness."
At number two after only two days...the weirdest car accident since...well, I guess, since the invention of the wheel. A white van speeding away from police crashes into a blue pick up and rolls over on its side. Crashes from the side are among the most dangerous kinds of collisions because of their propensity for producing sheer injuries to the internal organs. This apparently did not happen to the driver of the pickup as he can be clearly seen limping after two or three of what turned out to be some twenty individuals, presumably illegal aliens, who disembarked from the capsized van. I am not at all sure if there was a passenger in the pickup truck who was injured, or if anyone remained in the van because of injury. But the poster of this fine slice of slanted Americana would like us to equate the plight of illegal aliens in the United States with so many circus clowns stuffed into a Volkswagen Beetle. Hilarious – unless someone you have known or loved has been killed after getting T-boned by a vehicle going half as fast as this white van was when it crashed into that blue pickup truck. The driver is clearly on the passenger side of the blue pickup doing something more important than stopping the wanton criminals engaged in bringing us a less expensive agribusiness, landscaping or construction industry.
Number three begins to take on a more self-reflective tone as an entry from stickycomics.com presented us, six days ago, with hand-drawn icons of things our grandchildren will never understand – analog clocks, cursive handwriting, VCR's and, of course, newspapers. These things are so last week, after all. What is interesting to note is that this hand drawn comic does not appear to have been drawn by an adult, but rather a precocious teenager, or someone slightly younger. Very astute and humorous. The list stops at these four and, since the US is pretty much a left-to-right reading nation, one can only presume that the death of the newspaper was intended as the punch line. No mention of glaciers, civil liberties or the convention against torture were included or mentioned in the comic.
I'll stop my list at four, too, because it is arbitrary and this week's number four just makes me want to pull out my clippers and start sheering sheeple left and right.
Number four, for the past four days, brings the quaint notion of citizenship to the fore with a request, nay a demand, that the potential juror be excused from his obligation to serve as both a citizen of the United States of America and as a resident of the great State of Montana. I'll include this proto-citizen's words verbatim because they really say it all.
Under the sworn oath portion of the hardship petition it reads:
"Apparently you morons didn't understand me the first time. I CANNOT take time off from work. I'm putting my familys well being at stake to participate in this crap. I don't believe in our 'justice' system and I don't want to have a goddamn thing to do with it. Jury duty is a complete waste of time. I would rather count the wrinkles on my dogs balls than sit on a jury. Get it through your thick skulls. Leave me the f__k alone."
Poetry from "der Homelund" comes in many forms, first as anarchy, then as ignorance. This submission ranks somewhere between those two and slams into the latter "signpost" at breakneck speed before the end.
These submissions reminded me of the days when I was first ambulating from one place to another, from the barbershop to the local hardware store. I loved the hardware store and I hated the barbershop. The hardware store had bells on the door to alert the older gentleman in the back that someone was coming to call. The floor was hardwood, worn down soft and pitted. Bins of shiny metal toys were everywhere, like this was the place I'd need to come to find extra pieces for my Erector set. The older gentleman with the receding hairline behind the counter always appreciated seeing me come in and browse his two or three aisled establishment. Perhaps because he liked that I was curious, or perhaps he was relieved that I wasn't one of the black kids who liked to come into places just like this and steal things because they were getting back at, "whitey," or dicking with, "the Man." At least that's what the consensus was among the white adults and the few black adults the white people would ally themselves with. Be afraid of uppity black people. Be very afraid. But let them shine your shoes by all means.
The barbershop scared the hell out of me mostly because the barber was a member of our church and I was an altar boy. So that meant I had to sit perfectly still and grit my teeth while this professionally licensed and almost medically attired purveyor of fine Brylcreem snipped, clipped and buzzed his way into my skull. He could have a "DA" and a flat top, but I had to have a crewcut. Father's orders. It was the discipline that I was to be taught, not the notion of a budding personhood that would come to have needs and wants that I would have to be able to distinguish between and then meet through whatever means I could achieve, legally and peacefully. It was all a blur to me and not just because that set of electric sheers was sending secret messages to the multitude of fillings in my teeth. At least I had teeth. At least I had a father who would pay to put fillings in the baby teeth of his son's mouth, even though he never stopped bitching about it or yelling about it at the top of his lungs. Nevermind that I was always running around with holes in my sneakers because tennis shoes were supposed to last longer than two months. I guess my father grew up walking and running through dirt streets or grass and had no idea what asphalt and concrete do to the sneakers of a kid trying to outrun every black kid in the neighborhood for fear that I might catch something from them and spread it around.
No one told me I didn't have to run, even when I was afraid, I just did. For a long time. I kept my opinions to myself because no one likes a smartass and a really well-spoken smartass is obviously one who incurs the wrath of everyone he comes in contact with. Starting with my father and fanning out into the neighborhood, I had to devote the time normally spent coming up with zingers and one-line insults to scanning the territory for signs of unfriendlies. Keeping an eye out for Arab terrorists is a considerably less paranoid way of spending my time than the way I grew up.
Now that I've given up living in fear and have learned to love my paranoia, I could give a rip who wants to kick my ass. Get in line. I care about what I care about and, apparently, that means that I am going to spend a lot of time alone. People who care about some things and care deeply about still other things cannot hope to find a trustworthy or lasting connection with a society that finds its ignorance to be a source of strength, even a cause for good humor.
It's supposed to be springtime in Texas. It feels like Summer. The only reason I know it's Spring is the sudden increase in dead animals along the side of the highway, and grease spots in the middle of the road that used to be the family pet. This is apparently a "southern" sort of phenomenon and something that all southern boys and girls grow up learning to ignore or deny. So the denial of a typical southerner tends to be rather well developed by the time they achieve voting age. I'm relieved to have learned this because I thought this was just a Texas thang.
If the South does ever rise again, bring a shovel and lots of plastic bags...and maybe a bag of ice to salvage a fresh kill. Hell, don't be shy: bring a bag of briquettes and a Weber. There is no point in crying over spilt blood when there's people who need a good feedin'.
See you next time with the latest and greatest in coiffeur as America learns to cut its own hair, again, from the South, up.