Vote? For Who?

“Egotism is nature’s compensation for mediocrity.”  L. A. Safian

Well, old Friar Angus is all worked up today.  I was watching a bit of news, getting my daily dose of depressing dreck, when apparently I misheard the announcer.  Turns out next Tuesday is eLection day, not eRection day.  How incredibly disappointing.  Oh well, let’s soldier onward and discuss the upcoming eLections.  Let’s see, who do we have to vote for?  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.  What a fucking mess.  How can I tell you who to vote for when not a single one of these fucktards are worth the oxygen they consume?  As usual both sides are in a pissing contest, and all we’re getting is wet and stinky.  Let’s go back to the beginning…

The people who started this country were pretty damn smart.  And brave.  They were willing to THINK ABOUT STUFF and then FIGHT FOR IT.  I really like the civil rights they were trying to institute, so maybe we can figure out who to vote for by seeing who’s fucking up the Bill of Rights more severely.  Score card please:

First Amendment-  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Seems simple enough.  Whoops, both sides lose.  The left doesn’t get the free speech part.  Hate speech?  Really?  Don’t see that in there.  The right is profoundly unclear on the establishment of religion part.  Both sides ignore the freely petition clause cause neither side will tell you what the fuck they’re doing once they get in power.  And freedom of the press apparently doesn’t include the press being free from the same corporations that elect senators.

Second Amendment-  A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Clearly a win for the right.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll get me ass arrested if I load my .357 and carry it to Safeway on my hip.  The left is happy to crap all over this one.

Third Amendment-  No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Wow, both sides get a win.  They can’t seem to figure a way to fuck this one up.

Fourth Amendment-  The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I’m afraid the left wins this one.  Those law and order types seem all to willing give up these rights in order to feel some kind of false security.  Rendition anyone?  How about the ‘war on some drugs’?  Nope, the right is wrong here.

Fifth Amendment-  No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

I think we have another tie.  Both sides vote for shit like seizing the property of accused drug dealers or damn near anything if you put ‘terrorist’ in the name of the bill.  This one has been so compromised that the blame easily covers both sides.

Sixth Amendment-  In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Another tie.  Money, influence, racism, entitlement, and corruption have fucked the system up beyond all recognition.  A pox on both houses.

Seventh Amendment-  In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Wow, another one where there apparently was no reason to fuck it all up.  Who knew?  Isn’t this fun, and when’s the last time you actually read this document?

Eighth Amendment-  Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment-  The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment-  The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I went ahead and consolidated the last three because both sides regularly stomp all over all three of them if it suits their agenda or their never ending squabble for power.

Where does that leave us?  Both sides are busily devouring the constitution like fat hungry tyrants, leaving us whatever small scraps fall off their richly appointed table.  That wasn’t much help.  Maybe we can look at individual races…

How about California Governor- A rich entitled woman who never bothered to vote and has repeatedly ignored both laws and common decency.  She smacks employees, keeps an illegal housekeeper, uses her wealth to get her misogynist son out of assault charges, and has absolutely no qualifications for governing.  Or you can vote for a guy who has spent his entire life running for office.  Bleaaaach.  Okay, I’ll try the California Senate race-  Another rich entitled woman who doesn’t vote and gleefully almost wrecked HP while sending thousands of tech jobs to India is running against a woman who’s been in the Senate for 28 years and has accomplished ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Fuck.  I give up.

So maybe the answer is don’t vote.  Just throw up your hands and walk away.  NO NO NO.  Then the fuckers win.  They want you to be apathetic.  They want both choices to suck so you stop paying attention.  Don’t fall for it.  I’m voting, and here’s my new voting guidelines.  Follow them if like…

I will vote FOR any candidate if they:

* Promise to tax rich people.

* Have a history of actions that have some relation to their words.

* Seem to have some affinity for the Bill of Rights.

* Don’t mention God in their campaign

* Don’t take obviously hypocritical positions.

* Are anti-corporate power.

I will vote AGAINST any candidate if they:

* Are clearly stupid and are proud of it.  Candidates must know things.  (Sorry, Ms Palin.)

* Get their best friends wife drunk so they can fuck them.  (Paging Gavin Newsom.)

* Tell me about their relationship with God.  No candidate knows what God thinks or wants.

* Leave their previous job in shambles.  (Ms Harris and many others.)

* Talk about ‘small government’ while at the same time proposing a hundred ‘christian’ social programs.

* Talk about ‘civil liberties’ while supporting a hundred programs that force social engineering and reduce personal responsibility.

I know.  This won’t leave me too many good choices.  But we have to start somewhere.  And I’m reposting two earlier political posts.  It won’t be as fun as eRection day would be, but go vote anyway.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

The Rev is Dead, Long Live the Rev…

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” -Thoreau.  A-fucking-men!

Sometimes one gets a little ahead of one’s self, especially when one is striving to live an extraordinary life.  And that’s what happened to me.  My life began to outpace both my physical and emotional health.  So I took a short sabbatical from the world.  I stopped working, started rehabbing, and let my alter-ego Rev Che take over some of my duties.  Now, as I mentioned in my last post, that extended vacation is over.  My body is strong again, my emotional life is back in order, and my spirit is all fired up.  Rev Che has been retired, and Angus is back in the pulpit.  So now what?

Well, boys and girls, let’s gather in the virtual church and hear some preachin.  Many years ago when the earth was young and we were just innocent, wide-eyed tadpoles, many of us would gather in pubs and studio apartments and enjoy mind altering substances.  Deep and Serious Conversations would ensue.  The Definition of Art.  The Meaning of Life.  The Nature of the Universe.  The Existence of God, Karma, or a Holy Spirit.  What is Ultimate Truth.  You get the idea.  I’m not sure we came up with a lot of usable answers, but at least we asked the fucking questions.  And I’m still asking them…

What is Ultimate Truth?  I don’t know.  But one cool theory we came up with is that truth always conflicts with itself.  The theory went like this:  Yin yang is the most basic law of the universe.  Light balances dark, good balances evil, etc.  Anything that seems to be true must obey this law.  In other words if you believe something is true, it’s opposite must also be true.  If the opposite is false, then your truth is false too.  There’s a lot of evidence for this in theoretical physics.  But we can talk about the implications of that later.  Just go with it for the moment and let’s move on.  Cause I want to apply this idea to survivors of abuse.

Whoops, just took a left turn on you, didn’t I?  Well hold on tight, we’ll get there together.  The best description of being an abuse survivor I ever heard came from a friend of mine who shall remain nameless because I don’t have permission to out him.  He described it as ‘the feeling of always being lesser’.  That’s fucking genius, and hits it right on the head.  And it leads to one of those conflicting truths.  One that I’m stuck in the fucking middle of.  (Damn, I hate ending sentences with prepositions.  Oh well, I’ll get over it.)

Kids that grow up in physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive families grow into interesting adults.  Of course many of them end up in jail or repeating the abuse.  But the ones who avoid these traps have interesting things to say.  In an odd way they’re unattached to regular society.  They aren’t beholden to tradition or social castes.  They make the best artists, the most profound writers and musicians, the greatest social commentators and philosophers, the way far out inventors.  Their pain and alienation find expression and move humanity forward.  There’s about a million good examples of abused misfits who create greatness because they aren’t restrained by what came before.  I won’t bother to list them, just go into any good museum and look around.  But let’s get back to me…

Both my parents were insecure, abusive fucks.  I grew up with a Greek Chorus of “you’re useless” and “what’s wrong with you”.  After a couple years of drug abuse and recovery I found myself as a young adult without much of a helpful past.  All I knew was that I was useless and would surely fail at anything I tried.  But I was still young and I had to do something with my time.  So I started to learn stuff.  Ask questions.  Take in information.  And try just about anything that looked interesting.  Looking back it was a strangely free time.  Regular people don’t ever get that kind of chance.  They’re supposed to be doing something useful like pursuing a career.  But since I’d been repeatedly told that wouldn’t work, I got to do other stuff instead.  And something magical happened.  I learned how to be good person.  I figured some crap out.  And eventually I learned that those two sad little parental units were wrong.

So now I know a lot of stuff.  Useful stuff.  Like how to heal yourself.  And where to find joy.  And how to center yourself in the middle of a shit storm.  And what to do to make your body stronger and more useful.  And how to have better relationships.  And tips to help you live a little better than you are now.  And how to have more fun.  And how to find God or whatever is out there, for yourself.  And why things are such fucking mess.  And writing this paragraph is killing me.  Cause I won’t ever escape that feeling of being lesser.

See, we’re back at the conundrum.  Abuse survivors see the world differently.  And the things they see are useful and sometimes transcendent.  But their own damage, that feeling of being lesser, keeps them from having faith in what they see or the confidence to share it.  Because they know that they aren’t worthy or capable or good enough.  The abuse enables insight, and makes it nearly impossible to share it.  Do you torture yourself by hiding what you know, or do you torture yourself by sharing it?  Ask Gaugin.  He’d tell you that there’s no good answer.  It’s the truth, so both things are right.  And both things are wrong.

So where does that leave me?  Damned if I know.  I’ve decided to put what I know in a book.  A big fucker that covers everything I’ve learned.  But I’m not sure if I’ll ever let anyone else read it.  I might use this blog to put pieces of it out in the world as I finish chapters.  Or I might not.  The world needs new ideas.  It needs a revolution.  I might want to be involved.  Or maybe not.  Arrogance and anxiety, fury and fear, bombast and bullshit.  Let the battle rage on.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion!

On the ABCs- Astrology, Birthdays, and Cowboys…

“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” – Pierre Auguste Renoir

Well well well, dear congregation, it seems to be navel-gazing time.  All the signs point that way.  The days are getting shorter and colder, the last trip has been taken, baseball season is winding down, my self-imposed sabbatical of healing is finished, and I observed my 48th birthday.  So gather around the big giant belly with me and let’s see what lint has collected in the little hole before we soldier onward…

The last 6 months have been interesting although I feel I’ve been out of synch with the country.  While I’ve been healing body and soul it’s been going to hell in handbasket as my father used to say.  Oh well, so it goes.  I don’t really feel like raging against the world right now.  Besides, we’re supposed to be introspective today.  Hmmmm, oh yes, the birthday.  48 is an interesting number.  47 is dull.  49 is just waiting to be 50.  But 48 has symmetry.  2×24, 3×16, 6×8, 4×12.  48 sounds substantial without yet sounding feeble.  Mature but still robust.  I like it.  And it’s the kind of number that suggests new beginnings, a new cycle starting.

I’m not too big on Astrology.  Don’t have anything against it, particularly.  Just very skeptical that someone’s actually figured out the universe to the extent that astrologer’s claim to have.  But the human brain likes patterns, and astrological systems are as good a pattern as any.  The Chinese astrological pattern has a twelve year repeating cycle.  Each year is assigned an animal and given those characteristics.  I like this system because I’m born in the year of the tiger.  I love tigers and have one tattooed on my calf.  If I were born in the year of the rat I might not like it so much.  I also like the 12 year cycle part.  It breaks down well.  Years 1-12 you grow up.  Years 13-24 you mature and find your place in the world.  Years 25-36 you master stuff and start a family.  Years 37-48 you apply what you’ve learned to the world and care for your family.  Years 48-60, well, I don’t know yet.  Everybody’s cycles might be a little different, but you get the idea.  And now I get to start a new one.

I think I’m drawn to this pattern because it meshes with my reality.  The last few months have been spent winding down from the last cycle and preparing for next one.  Probably nothing astrological about it, but it fits my current narrative so I’ll go with it.  As some of you know, I’ve had more than my share of careers.  Worked at IBM, managed and bought for bookstores, worked as a trainer, started a nonprofit, taught both adults and kids, and worked with high needs kids.  So now what?  Well now I’m ready to write.  I have hundreds of pages of notes, all this blog junk, and two almost completed books from years past.  It’s time to get serious and put it all together.  By this time next year I hope to have it done.  And that’s not all.  I want to design and market custom canes along with a ‘how to” cane self defense manual.  And I want to have more fun.  Oooh look something shiny!

Oops, looks like the ADD is kicking in.  Sorry, we’re supposed to be navel-gazing, not planning for the future.  Where were we?  Oh yeah, thoughts on getting older.  I think age should bring immaturity.  As I get older I become more and more comfortable with who I am.  And I care less and less what anyone else thinks.  This means I get goofier and goofier to the outside world.  (Cue Sly and the Family Stone, Thank you falettinme be mice elf.) When I was 24 I took myself and the world very seriously.  I worked hard at making good, mature long term decisions.  Now, at 48, I realize none of that shit matters.  Maturity should be left to the young.  I’ll take the perspective and freedom of age instead.  But there are a couple of things I would like back…

Mornings suck.  I’ve always been a night person, but this is ridiculous.  I’ve been kind of hard on my body.  Two black belts, a couple of marathons, some knee surgeries and various broken bones (including every toe at least twice), a love of motorcycles, occasional binges of rum and cigars, thousand of gallons of coke, you get the idea.  Every morning hurts.  It literally takes about 30-45 minutes before all the parts start to work.  I used to bounce out of bed and run 5 miles before anyone else was up.  Now it takes serious concentration to get to the bathroom and the couch.  Once I’m up for a while I can still kick some serious ass.  I can still stay out drinking all night in Vegas, but don’t fucking talk to me until the old bod finally gets the kinks out sometime after breakfast.  And it’s probably only going to get worse.

Speaking of things getting worse, I just can’t listen to most new music.  I know it’s just a function of being old and cranky, but there it is.  I like county music, rock, folk, disco, 70’s r&b, early punk, whatever, but I can’t abide by most new stuff.  Nickelback , Lady Gaga and Katy Perry bore me to tears.  Hip hop is okay in small doses.  New punk seems derivative and lame.  I KNOW that old age is forcing me to dismiss new music but I’m powerless to change it.  Guess I’m stuck with Springsteen, Meatloaf, the Ramones, Waylon Jennings, and Leonard Cohen.  Probably my loss, but there you go.  I’m old.

Which brings me to my last bit of self indulgent introspection on age.  That strange feeling of belonging to something that’s disappearing from the world.  Of being a dinosaur in the age of mammals.  Of being the proponent of a lifestyle that the world has moved on beyond, and the soulful sadness that comes from this knowledge.  I’ve spent a lot of the last week thinking about Wyatt Earp and the last cowboys.  Wild and free men who lived on the edges of civilization, moving around from town to town in an era of anarchy of violence.  (Look, I know I watch a lot of movies.  Just indulge me here as I wallow in nostalgia for things that never were.)  As the west was settled and the middle class moved in they must have known that they were the last of a dying breed.  Their way of life was marginalized as “civilization” became the new norm.  And some of them must have thought “this sucks”.  That’s kind of how I feel.

I’m an all American male.  I like rich food and dangerous shit.  I ride a motorcycle.  I drive an old car with no air bags and drum brakes and I drive it FAST.  I was once pulled over for going 142 mph on Interstate 5.  I like to punch stuff.  I get drunk, smoke cigars and flirt with attractive women.  I need a wife and a hot girlfriend.  I’m completely politically incorrect.  I also believe in kindness and compassion and squishy romantic love.  I think on the whole hippies had it just about right.  My heroes are Hunter S Thompson and Indian Larry and I know they were grinning at me last week as I flew through the Tehachapi pass at 95 mph on my big white Harley, screaming “You can’t catch me, I’m the fucking gingerbread man” at the hailstorm coming up behind us.  I read good books and shoot big guns.  When I watch a movie I want to see nipples and explosions or I want to cry at the end.  My music and my vehicles are too loud.  I’ve never been in a fucking Walmart and I hate corporations in general.  I have tattoos, a green mohawk, and I don’t own a jacket, a suit, or a tie.  And I can get along with almost anybody.

As I look at our ever homogenizing, safer and blander world I feel like I imagine those cowboys must have felt.  The last of a dying breed.  The rich get richer.  The mommies of the world want to bubble wrap everything.  Being a man means following the rules rather than making them.  Go to church, go to work, be a good little bee in the fucking hive.  Don’t read, don’t think, be quiet, and don’t have too good a time.  What about global warming, the environment, saving the children, your long term financial outlook and your life insurance, the sensibilities of everyone else?  Stay with your own kind.  Judge everyone by their politics or their party or their religion.  The world is heading toward a safer, blander, more corporate future.  It’s getting more ‘civilized’ and ‘caring’.  And I’m not.  I’m old, and I prefer individuality, non-judgement, joy, fun and genuine kindness.  HST and Indian Larry and Waylon Jennings are gone.  David Alan Coe and Leonard Cohen are fading.  Old uncivilized cowboys riding into the sunset, leaving a duller world behind.

There we go.  Now we’ve found the depressing, melancholy mood I was looking for.  Let’s revel in it for a while.  Cause next week we move on to the future.  A final depressing thought.  At a recent country concert the opening act was some little 16 year old Disney produced fuck.  In his opening remarks he said “I’m just like Hank Williams except I don’t drink”.  No asshole, you aren’t.  Hank Williams never sold his soul to the evil mouse.  And his drinking and pain and angst and anger informed his music and his life.  That’s what makes art.  You’re a dipshit.  And to quote my friend Karl “Hey you kids, get off of my lawn”.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.