U.S. politics as professional wrestling

One time many years ago I bought a T-shirt that depicted a donkey and an elephant doing battle inside a wrestling ring in typical pro wrestling style: extravagant, flamboyant, over the top. The caption read something like “US Government Wrestling Federation: It’s All Fake.”
Sagacious commentators like Gore Vidal and many others have been telling us for years that our political system is dominated by a duopoly which is really two wings of one Business Party, one of them slightly more moderate than the other, but both fundamentally subservient to the oligarchy. I think you would have to be either seriously deluded or disingenuous to disagree.
During the fake health care reform debate of 2009, Anthony Weiner remarked that Democrats show up at a knife fight carrying library books. And traditional, gullible liberals often lament that their leaders aren’t mean and ruthless enough to go up against the evil Republican opposition. I think Anthony’s remark is profoundly insightful, perhaps even more so than he intended. Assume it’s true: Obama carries an armload of library books as he goes up against his vicious knife-wielding foes. Why? Why on earth would you do such a thing… unless… he doesn’t really mean to win. Oh dear me, it’s all fake!
I am reminded of the pro wrestling analogy as I watch the Obama administration pretend to care about the interests of ordinary people.
Here he comes, approaching the ring: Barack “Mister Main Street” Obama, wearing his coveralls and hardhat, carrying his lunch pail. He is lucky enough to be employed, it seems. Before entering the ring he punches his timecard on a clock installed outside his corner by the promoters, and the crowd goes wild — their hero, a working man!
And now, here comes The Republican, in full evening wear. Cigar in hand, pocket watch on a gold chain, he steps into the ring, removes his top hat and hands it to his valet. Mostly jeers and boos come from the crowd but you can hear he has his supporters as well: those who like to imagine that their own interests coincide with those of The Republican. Now he pulls out a wad of cash and starts counting, driving his enemies in the crowd into a screaming rage. He jeers at the rabble, finally hands his cigar to his valet and gets ready to rumble.
The action begins, the Republican and Mister Main Street pound the shit out of each other for several minutes. Oh, the drama! Oh, the entertainment! How diverting! Finally the Republican beats Main Street senseless and wins the match once again. Tax cuts for the rich, billions for criminal wars of imperialist expansion, austerity for the rest of us.

Obama, arugula-eating elitist

Now we’re told that according to the latest desperate right-wing smear campaign, Obama is an arugula-eating elitist. A celebrity intellectual, not in touch with common folk.
Let’s accept that for argument’s sake. So much the better. I am a well-paid, educated super-liberal white male who reads books and speaks a second language: an America-hating elitist snob if ever there was one. Therefore, I like Obama better than McCain because I have more in common with Obama. What a happy irony! Who would have imagined forty years ago that a white guy like me would end up voting for the black guy because we were in the same social class.
By the way, my gratitude to The Daily Show for keeping me informed about politics.

A Tale of Two Serial Killers

When you are a season behind in your Dexter viewing, because you discovered it belatedly; when you are netflixing Season One in order to catch up; when you have just finished watching episode 11; when you have just seen Rudy kidnap Dexter’s sister: that’s when you say, goddamn that fucking Ice Truck Killer, I fucking hate that prick!
It’s a tale of two serial killers: one ever so nice, the other as mean as can be. I can’t wait to see the nice one tape the mean one to a table and cut him up with power tools.

Colbert for President

I am immensely grateful and relieved that Stephen Colbert is running for the highest office in the land. Now, at long last, I have a viable alternative to holding my nose, getting on my knees and acquiescing yet again to that most revolting of compromises, the Lesser Evil. I can go into the voting booth, have an enlightenment experience, jettison all that foolish left-wing progressive delusion, and suddenly become a conservative. Then I’ll write in for Stephen Colbert.
Think I’m kidding? Yeah, I am kidding about the enlightenment part.

a weekend with the Dalai Lama

This past weekend His Holiness was in great form (ouch! no double-entendre intended). A friend and I went to five two-hour lectures on abstruse Buddhist texts about Emptiness by Nagarjuna. I am more interested in Zen than I am in the Tibetan brand, but I invested the time and money in this event because I thought I could learn something from someone so highly accomplished. And I believe I did.
But this was not for wimps, no. This was a dense, cerebral exegesis of a difficult and arcane text. Much of it went over my head. It was hard to stay awake — nay, impossible. I nodded off more than once, especially after lunch at one of those good restaurants on 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth. And magnificent though the interpreter was, I think occasionally the message suffered some in translation, and became less coherent. But in case you missed it: all phenomena are empty, that is, devoid of any independent, intrinsic objective reality. Any questions?
Still, I think all this teaching went somewhere other than /dev/null. Some things are difficult to grasp, and you begin to get it after several passes at it. Moreover, as my own teacher points out, Emptiness is a matter of insight. Therefore, back to the mat.
On Sunday afternoon H.H. gave a “public” talk — geared for general audiences. He spoke the whole time in English, and was superb. The man has an uncommon gift for connecting with audiences. And he is obviously a highly evolved, wise, compassionate, all-around advanced human being. As are a lot of people. I see no reason to deify him.

SUV for Tom Glavine

It’s great that Tom Glavine has won 300 games and received lots of formal recognition for it. He’s a remarkable athlete and has conducted himself admirably both on and off the field. But I hope I am not the only one who finds it disgusting and perverse to reward a millionaire with an environmentally hostile thing like an SUV. What on earth is the point?
In other news, however, the Mets did kick the Marlins’ asses today, which is as it should be.

The Sopranos ending was fine

I know it’s old news now — a week old. But here’s my belated two cents.
The ending was fine! Fucks everyone whining about? I heard soundbytes on the radio from irate fans complaining about not getting “closure.” Closure? Don’t make me puke. You need to see Tony’s brains splattered all over the onion rings in front of his family in order to achieve closure? That’s pitiful.
What is wrong with a little ambiguity? Either he got shot, or he didn’t. The end.

Good riddance, Imus

I am happy to see you go, I-man. I have always found you annoying, stupid, spiteful, and not funny. Free speech is fine and well. Free speech makes it OK for me to say that in my opinion, you are an asshole. It’s also true that money talks and shit walks. Hence your departure.
See, there’s another mini-scandal here that few will probably remark on in the mainstream media. CBS only saw fit to fire you after it became apparent that it was detrimental to its business interests to do otherwise. First they were like, oh! That racist sexist talk is unconscionable! Two week suspension! They didn’t show you the door until the advertisers started pulling their ads.
While I’m at it, I am tempted to blame you for Corzine’s having gotten so banged up in that auto accident. If he hadn’t been on his way to a meeting about this Imus affair, he would not have been at that location on the Garden State at that precise time and…. nah, that’s bullshit. But it’s tempting.

How to React to Three Celebrity Deaths in December

(1) Augusto Pinochet. You are dancing in the street. It’s a pity that he died too comfortably, and that we did not get “closure” through the criminal process, but my, it’s great that he’s dead. Let the champagne corks fly.
(2) James Brown. You feel rather sad and wistful, especially if you grew up with that DC Sound in your ears. He had soul, and he was super bad. He may have had a fucked up personal life, but the man was one hell of a performer and his contribution was major. Let us raise our glasses and drink to his bad self.
Here’s a quick James Brown/LSD anecdote. Once upon a time a buddy and I were doing acid. As the drug’s effects were coming on, we listened to the Greatist Hits CD on which the second track is Sex Machine (Get Up). It begins with James Brown proudly proclaiming how he intends to do his thing. Then the music kicks in, — a-pampampampampampampam Get Up, Get On Up — and suddenly you’re in this exquisitely transparent and open texture, a perfect balance between the instrumental parts, with just enough space between the notes, and a bad-ass groove that defies description. Then come the self-referential lyrics about taking it to the bridge, threatening to take it to the bridge, building up an immense tension… it is music that celebrates itself, boasts and braggs about itself, revels in itself. I remember listening, incredulous, astonished at the genius of this achievement. I decided then and there that this was one of the greatest songs in the history of recorded music.
This is, by the way, an example of the Acidmaster’s Paradox. It often happens that tripping on LSD takes you not farther from but closer to the true nature of reality. You may be fucked up beyond reason, yet you are seeing things revealed as they are. I knew Get Up was great, but I didn’t fully appreciate its magnificence until I heard it while tripping.
But I digress.
(3) Gerald Ford. You don’t really give a shit one way or the other. You dismiss the mainstream media bullshit about how heroically he healed the Watergate-traumatized nation by letting Trickie Dick slide. There was a deal, so he dealt. He played the game. Now we are hearing about how he told Bob Woodward — gasp! — that the Iraq invasion was a mistake! Oh, what genuis, what vision! By the way, it was no “mistake.” It was a major crime against humanity for which its authors deserve to hang, not unlike the above-mentioned General, come to think of it.
If you went three for three above, high five.

August 2006

This is the one blog that emphasizes quality over quantity — usually. This entry is the exception to the rule, because I felt I had to blog something in the month of August lest an entire month go by with no blogging.
Blogging is for self-indulgent egomaniacs, and losers with nothing better to do than sit in front of their computer on a Saturday night at 11:08 pm drinking beer in solitude… no wait. Nevermind.