"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Aug 27, 2010

Questions About A Category of Belief

If human persons, especially in their groups, had any ability to fashion a utopia, would they not have done so already? Why do people always delay their perfections, postponing them beyond the present, or beyond time itself? Why do they presume, often on a magical premise, that just around the corner, some new technology, technique or technician will possess the secret key which unlocks a hitherto hidden set of human skills and attitudes which will, upon discovery, transform the nature of the beast itself?

Does this belief in uniformity of human nature, of an accessible goodness at the heart of human cruelty, trap its believers in fixed feedback loops, ones which blind them to the contingencies which bind human conduct?

Does this indicate a subliminal understanding of the limits of community, which many refuse to admit, so much in fact that they project perfection into the supposed soul of men, or into their economies of thought, so that once released it can bring about a new man, a metanoia?

Or, does it reveal a comprehension of the error which resides in the belief in any sort of perfection, unity, harmony or enduring justice, but which they refuse to state for fear of the consequences?

Doesn't perfection fix events in a crystalline form, preventing any further change by locking into imaginary place all the relations which the dreamer of perfection holds as just and true and right?

I don't know. Do you?

Aug 18, 2010

Faggot: A Revaluation

As I write this, I wonder if I'll hit the "publish" button. If you read these words, I've done it - against my own instincts, or some of my judgment.  I divided myself into thirds, as I ran, working out the body of my argument.

The first part, the portion of my original perspective, settled immediately on go. Proceed with the thought, I muttered to the other thirds. Do it.

The second facet, that innately cautious steppenwolf fragment of my mind, hesitated, playing the role of the imaginary superego, worrying the three and a quarter readers of this diary of stupid, wondering if I'd manage to alienate them all.

The final third managed only silence. Observational, amused, mildly detached. "Who cares?", that buddha smile seemed to ask, implying a hint of a sentiment: "The all father wove the skein of your life a long time ago. Fear profits a man nothing..."*

So - I type on, not knowing if I'll actually present it for criticism, critique and condemnation.


It begins with a video game, an entertainment I allow myself from time to time, slaying animated pixels with aging fingers dancing in keystrokes. We lose a match, and the avatar of an anonymous nobody types, all caps and exclamation point, "FAGS!!!!!!!faggotsFAgs!"

Which prompts me to reply, "Do you mean to imply that the other seven of us are queer?"

"FAGGOT!!1!," he responds.

Me: "Well, I'm not actually homosexual, but I see no reason to belabor the point."

He switches to private messaging, "Suck my dripping black cock!, faggot!"

I reply, smiling through my fingertips, "Methinks you lack a sense of the ironic."

"FUCK U FAGGOT MOtherFucker," he sends back.

Me, again: "You want me to let you copulate with me and suck your "black" cock," but I am...[I run out of characters for the PM, hit send, and finish the reply]...the faggot motherfucker, eh?"

Him: "I'm not a fag you fag fucking FAGGOT!" I can hear his words as screechy screams, his octaves overlapping.

Me: "Well, I have your text here, and you seem to suggest that I ought to do gay things with you."

Me: "I'm not gay, but honestly I'm flattered. It's been a long time since a handsome gay man found..."

Me: "...me so irresistible and attractive. Should I ask my wife if she's offended?"

Nothing comes in reply.

And then still nothing more. I chuckle, and hit the "enter match" button, hovering over the screen. I have time to kill before my kids finish their chores. The timer counts down. Resets. Several times. I grow bored, hit "cancel" and turn to grab the novel at hand.

His last message pings into the chat box, "I'm not gay, dude. I don't mean your [sic] gay. I mean you m8s wer [sic]..."

"...fucking weak ass players. I hate fucking loosing [sic]."

And there it was, one of the new and very modern (perhaps post-PoMo?) meanings of the term. An analog to "bitch," which on top of meaning "breeding whore" and "woman as chattel," has also come to mean "weak ass" guy.

Faggot, as Loser. Someone who accepts a lower rank. One who kneels and accepts the dominance of others.


Which I found rather inspiring, when I really thought about it. I like this usage. I like what it evokes.

I don't care one bit about sexuality, so long as all the participants do their thing willingly. You can suck cock, or play model housewife, or wrap yourself up in bondage and submission, for all I care. You can do the auto-erotic, or the anerotic. You can partner up in a loving and monogamous gay marriage, or trip the vampy halls of amphetimated orgy parlors, seeking pleasure in bi- and tri and poly- hetero anonymity, and it matters naught to me.

I cannot wrap my head around wondering or worrying how other people copulate. I really can't. I cannot honestly imagine a more tedious and ridiculous waste of my time. Well, perhaps playing cricket, or the stock market, or Barack Dubya Obama...

I don't care about gay, straight or bi-, and like Ethan, I doubt that sexuality unravels itself in ontological categories of Victorian classification.

But, and let us chalk this up as whopper of a caveat, I have no damned fondness for kneelers. For people who take a knee. Who serve a master willingly. Who ply sycophantic crafts and the courtier's homage to power and might. For cops and prosecutors and mafia under bosses. For shop floor tyrants and people who vote for Democrats or Republicans, for Labor or Tory, for Christian Democrat or Revised Media Tinpot Fascist. Or, the people who work for them. Or the Democrats and Republicans, themselves.

For the bourgeoisie. For everyone and anyone who does obey, willingly. For people who choose to lose, because the alternative bears too heavy a cost. Because their dignity fails them, or they never had enough of it.

Now, I don't mean to include actual victims. People bowled over by adversity, by war and slaughter, by abuse and violence. These are my people. I understand them. I come from them, and to that sept and clan I remain loyal unto my own death. I'll oppose a motherfucker, if he goes after any man or woman who bears that shared mark. I respect survivors, even the damaged ones. Especially the damaged ones.

I mean, instead, those people who by some defect of character, some eagerness to please, some urge to obey, willingly take a knee and do the awful that men do to others, in exchange for benefit and accolade.

Servants of power.

You know - faggots...

* - from The 13th Warrior, which my wife loves and the few local feminists I've known in person really, really hate....

Aug 17, 2010

Against Christ (I)

I don't believe in God. What follows, though, doesn't proceed from my rather general and mildly antiseptic godlessness. I offer, for however long it interests me, a critique of the text. As for faith, it has nothing to do with me or the eye I've turned on the text, except that I find it pointless and self-defeating.

Faith, if it has an object, negates itself. The assertion of an object of faith negates the premise of faith itself, that of believing without knowing, of fidelity without certainty - so that any faith in some thing, entity, cause or purpose acts as a declaration of the end of faith (and this applies as equally to the faith -isms, rooted in a perfect or perfectible futurity, which so afflict the human gnosis).

A person cannot have faith in a thing declared or known. If a person knows a thing to exist, he does not have faith. He has knowledge. The patterns in his memory conform to and represent an actual set of events which do not obtain solely in imagination. If he has faith, he cannot know. Faith occurs within the symbol logic of the brain, and has no object outside of it. I do not doubt the actual experience of faith, for the record. Faith, as experience, rather obviously occurs. A Pentecostal adherent, in the repeating instants of glossolalia, has a demonstrable faith in the meaning of this experience. She just cannot prove it. The moment she proves the object of her faith, she has no faith.

Seen this way, any faith must exist without certainty of its object, and therefore either deprive itself of all doctrine (and all religion) about that object, and right conduct with regard to it, or negate itself by those declarations, by assuming the pose of knowledge and certainty. You can have faith in God, but never certainty. You can have an absolute certainty in the existence of God, and right conduct, and in doing so lose all claim to faith.

Faith, as a self-defeating feedback loop. 

Which has nothing to do with its utility, or the pleasure any number of people derive from "fiddling with it," to paraphrase Heinlein in one of his finer literary moments.

For mine own, I quite enjoy religion, so long as it has lots of ceremony, and little in the way of doctrine, belief, moral assertion or need of proselytes. A solemn midnight Mass, in Latin, by candle light and trained chorus, can provide no small measure of real fun and enjoyment. As can group prayer of the sort Coleman Barks envisions, when he muses on Rumi, in Coleman's brand of hills and forest Islam. Or in the intoxicating asceticism of the Shaivite sadhu.

Anyways, as to the text...


We meet the biblical Jesus in a genealogy. The first words of the New Testament declare, "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ..." He has a lineage. He arrives, in the words on the page, as the Christ. Already deified. Already God. This happens immediately, in the Gospel storyline. Matthew does not introduce Jesus as the boy. Nor as the man, on the verge of his anointing. He exists, for the reader, as the Christ, the son of David and Abraham. He descends, as Christ, through a family tree of kings and prophets.

He possesses, in his person, legitimacy. Right there from the beginning, the authors, redactors and editors want their readers and listeners to understand a core belief. Jesus the Christ has a claim to human kingship. A big damned deal. If you have the inclination to believe anyone has the right to claim sacred dominion over others, Jesus has the pedigree. And the Gospels let you know it right away. No subtle build up of dramatic tension, revealing the wandering healer as a lost or hidden king at the crucial moment in the narrative, just as evil verges on triumph.

Nope, not for this religion.

You don't get any bigger or better than Abe and Dave, when it comes to Lions of Israel. The founder and the exemplar, the first prophet and the prophet king, most beloved.

Big mojo, these gents; or so the Tanakh tells us in its tale spanning generations of bloody handed holy war.* God so loved Abraham, and the sons of Abraham, that he killed and killed and killed. He slaughtered their enemies with plague, fire, heavenly assault, ghostly death, flood, war, great kings up from the East, traitorous wives, spying whores and trumpets sounding. You name a kind of killing, and God has done it for Israel. Often enough, in his nastier snits, to Israel.

Jesus arrives as the legitimate, genealogically sound heir to this. As the foretold final king, descended verily from God himself, he inherits these deeds of his Father. He inherits this in his flesh, in his incipient claim to dominion. A son placed on a throne, the way to which paved with blood and bone. A throne gained by sacrifice, by bloodshed and murder, consummated in his own. Of infants ripped from wombs and whole towns put to the sword to make straight the way of Israel, and its so-called successor, Mother Church.

That birthright, Jesus inherits.

We should remembers this, perhaps, as we proceed...

* - archaeology seems to differ; see The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand

Aug 13, 2010

Where It Gets Local

I do not like Frank Guinta. I don't like his wife. I don't like their kids, or at least how they've raised their kids. I don't like anything about his politics, his religion-on-his-sleeve crusade against local taverns and demon alcohol, his Giuliani love, or any of his handling of local affairs.

Frank Guinta's head hosts a plethora of small sins, and a few large ones. I won't run too close to a lawsuit, but I've long held in semi-confidence why he hates all those taverns and their pretty, pretty waitresses.

But unlike his predecessors, Frank's peccadilloes tend towards the personal. He has weaknesses. But I doubt if he ever took a payout from the Greek, Lebanese and Israeli gambling consortium, or staffed the bureaucracy with cronies, for dollars. He hasn't ever insured a historic mill that burned in a nifty and profitable fire. He didn't cook up the civic center white elephant and the sweet location which just happened to benefit not a few members of the Board of Mayor and Alderman.

Frank doesn't have the lean, mean look in his eye - because his political fortunes rest on the complacency of a willing and dwindling whitish middle class electorate, not on the mobbed up kleptocracy which has long run this shit town mill city cut in half by a poisoned river. Sure, he cried lawn order just as the West Indians, the Hispanics and the Haitians started to move into the city in larger numbers. Sure, he went after City Welfare as soon as the Sudanese, the Pakistanis and the Dominicans showed up on the rolls. Sure, the cops spend a whole lot of time, now, around their satellite offices in the two predominantly non-white neighborhoods.

But, when you count on French and Irish Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Lebanese Melkites for your political base - you have to worry the non-Christian and dark skinned outsiders, you know, for the public theater and whatnot.

White people need their fears confirmed, daily, or they stop buying shit and start listening to muses with groove.

So - when I read this today (in the HuffPo of all places, as if this makes for national news), it stank of a hatchet job. It stank of payback. Frank and his wife have a lot of ca-ching. She worked for Bezos. Bezos pays his management well. The Guintas pay for nannies and Frank's considerable girth, out of that ca-ching.

Still, Frank's enemies in the local GOP finally have their payback opportunity. Courtesy of the "liberal" HuffPo. Funny stuff, eh, Frank? Your Republican enemies went running to a liberal fashion rag. Heh.

Frank made one of those fatal errors. He did not calculate his political fortunes properly. He backed Giuliani, when the poobahs went for Romney. He went solo, when the panjandrums wanted a united front against hated Lynch, the "Jew Prosecutor*" and the cunningly boring and inoffensive Carol Shea-Porter. Sure, he's got some national backing - but here, where it counts, he's made some enemies of former allies.

But Frank's biggest crime, of course, has nothing to do with the machinations of state party politics. The problem for Frank? Frank doesn't do conservative conservatively enough. He doesn't hit that really strident note. He might even have tolerable opinions about abortion, stashed away behind his Catholic crusader shield. He doesn't whine about Jesus as often as he should. He doesn't embody a real hate for tolerance. He play acts the rough stuff. He might even understand that changing demographics change fate, or some such. He even has a few wacky libertarian ideas. I've heard him mutter them.

And for that, Frank, you will go through this ringer with barely a friend to help you. Perhaps, if you survive it, you'll get bold enough to do some damage. Or not. I don't really care.

* - overheard with mine own ears, one night in my restaurant, hosting some local Chamber types

Aug 11, 2010


Sasha* never saw her 25th birthday.

Andy* never saw his 30th.

I knew them more than a decade a part, both in their youths, both in their wasted primes. Sasha lived with us, when my ex- thought Jesus wanted her to bring home every hooker, addict, whore and lost case in the city. At one point, we had seven people in our flat, four of them "sex workers." Of those four, three have died. Perhaps I'll have the courage to tell more on that, later.

Andy worked for with me, then for me, after he got me a terrible job I desperately needed. I'd just got myself fired for letting my employees unionize. They lost their jobs the day after I lost mine. Of the nine people terminated over that two day period, seven of us had children to feed. A lesson, there, about who really has power.

I used to let Andy and his friends skip school at my store (the delinquency officer had no mandate on my premises), and smoke pot (discreetly, please...) behind my dumpster, as long as they kept their compatriots from robbing me blind. They also had a willingness to solve problems which kept the police away. It worked out well. And we became friends. Sometimes good ones. Sometimes, the age differences really showed.

I learned to accept that Sasha would invariably come home green skinned with heroin. I cleaned her vomit, because she never failed to overdose. I tucked her sheets, and went to work to feed them all. Three jobs. No days off. I ran a kitchen for a coke fiend by day. I washed dishes at a Greek restaurant by night, taking home lamb and spinach and pita to feed my house full of permanent guests. I worked in an industrial laundry part time, on the weekends.

I enjoyed that work, they simplicity of it. I really did. I grew lean. Felt the palms of my hands grow rough with callouses and burns. Felt pride in the gifts I could give, the guests we could feed, the feasts we could fashion. Too much pride for bitterness to take root, there, at least.

Once, Sasha thanked me. I tell you the truth - gratitude sometimes covers everything.

Every now and again, while my ex- fucked whatever rich bar troll she thought would free her from the grime of our shared existence, would erase our failures of the spirit, our lost faith and the ashen hulk of our dying affection, Sasha would comb my hair. She didn't judge. She didn't commiserate, either. I tell you no small thing: rare, the person who can share a moment, carrying into it neither solace nor condemnation.

Somewhere along the way I realized Sasha never had a chance. That the heroin did her a truer solid then any person every had, and ever would. As dirty a wet chocolate mess as I've ever known, but she taught me how not to judge her. And when I agonized over my faithless ex-, Sasha taught me a truth I've never forgotten.

"It's just an orgasm, Jack," she said, "She fucks away her demons. Don't we all?"

I met my ex- by accident. When I needed to flee the law, she came with me. She didn't hesitate. I liked that. And I expected too much. When you start by abandoning everything, what else do you have to give?

We lived homeless in Maine. For the summer. We both loved a fiery Jesus. I prayed with Benedictine monks: matins, lauds and vespers. She turned everything into sadhana. We fucked for Jesus. We washed dishes in the shekhinah of the Lord. We preached on street corners, wild haired, sticky with rootless wandering.

She dreamed big and terrestrial, of church complexes and flocks of disciples, of the gospel in the flesh, of a barbarian horde of faith and redemption. I built empires of the spirit, in my head. I learned the Bible, the Quran, the Gita. Eckhart and Boehme, de Mello and Merton. Juan de Yepes, Julian, the Theresas and the Cloud of Unknowing. Vedanta. The Upanishads. Laotzu and Chuangtzu.

Doomed, you see.

Both running from life, from sexual violence. Running into the mist and fog of obfuscation, of other worlds and other realities which didn't have our pasts at the heart of them.

At seventeen, a holiness preacher raped her. He told her Jesus loved her, and she should show gratitude to the messenger, the apostle who saved her. He took her childhood and she has never gotten it back, no matter how hard she tries. He taught her to fear demons, demons in her vagina. Demons in her breasts. Demons in her lust and loneliness. Demons which she learned to see, hovering before her eyes. Demons which I imagine still haunt her, though that singular, revolutionary Jesus has long died and gone to Sheol. The preacher smashed her to pieces, and I don't think they've ever coalesced again.

When she finally found the courage to speak, to cry for help - they ran her out of town.

As a witch.

I kid you not.

For that alone, I can often forgive the horrors she would later visit upon me...

At a younger age than that, a right bastard took mine. I'll write no more than that except to tell you that sometimes, I could kill that faceless motherfucker, that I kill him more often than not, in the myriad ways I have sabotaged my life. I've also killed him by staying alive. I killed him, homeless in Boston, fighting for a sense of myself that survived the degradation, the grey filth and wanton abandonment that comes in the shadows and subway tunnels of an old American city. And I killed him the day my firstborn fought his way out of my ex's womb, when she and I became such bitter enemies that to this day we find our baser instincts strangle to death the common bond we ought to share.

At eighteen, Sasha's sometimes boyfriend brought home his teammates, and they gang raped her until she passed out, and then they raped her some more, the lot of them drunk on booze and violence. He finished her off with a pile of shit. Literally. He took a shit on her chest, as she lay unconscious. After he'd pissed all over her bed. Her only possession, the only thing she had of home, of a childhood a lifetime now and three thousand miles away. Wanted for the rape, and for sexual assault of a minor, he fled the country. I think he still lives on mommy's money, somewhere off the Adriatic.

My ex- found her not long after, though I'd known her a bit in passing. And she passed in stupor and self-destruction, deep into our lives, a worm forever in my memory.

At twelve, Andy's father died of a heroin overdose. At thirteen, a temporary step father discovered the fragile boy's guileless ego, and raped it into submission. For the next fourteen years of his life, until his death at twenty-seven, he kept himself numb with booze, and other drugs. Then, finally, with heroin. He sought a perfect love. A lover who could never harm him. Who could love him without judgment. That lover doesn't exist, but who can tell that to a boy hanging from the meat hook of violation?

The heroin killed Andy. Or he killed himself with it.

Sasha died of AIDS, alone in rooming house studio no one knew she'd rented. HIV she contracted the night of her rape, in all likelihood. But, who knows? Her rapists took everything. They left her convinced only of uncleanliness. And it became her gospel. She hooked, and sometimes I think she did it not only to complete her degradation. But to return it tenfold on every single bastard who thought he could buy her. I don't blame her. I don't judge, though I know the consequences spread further than the likelihood of her comprehensible vengeance.

Andy never took his vengeance. He turned on himself, instead; his life a short, sharp experiment in deliberate self-destruction. He purged the rape with poison. He purged himself of his self.

My ex- sees enemies everywhere, though she doesn't call them demons anymore. She can accept no blame, no hint of opprobrium. She can admit no wrong. What good has that ever done her, to confess to error? To cry out from weakness? Not one bit. I hate it, but I cannot blame her.

Sasha made her filth into a faithless religion. She had more courage, in that, than a generation of good Christians, Jews and Muslims. Than all the generations of them. Sure, she fucked away her demons. However temporarily.

We all did.

Andy and Sasha died young. Too young. Sometimes I think they got the better deal. More often than not, I know better than that...

 ...and sometimes I know that surviving comes with a unbearable cost. That vengeance sweetens the suffering, and makes you wonder, even aloud, if you have what it takes to seek straight and true the path to the heart of the monster, to the place where you turn violation and violence into your own damnation, to a damned liberation - so long as as those who visited it on you suffer. So that all their proxies, that the multitude alike to them in the world, suffer too.

My ex- flees all punishment. She refuses responsibility. Rape punished Sasha, hounding her to a decayed and infected end. Andy punished himself, squandering every accumulated quantum of potency on self flagellation.

And I, weak and stupid me, try so hard so make it through a single day where I can put my head to sleep having rightly differentiated between recompense and punishment.

I think there's a difference. I've come by the thought honestly, though I admit the inevitability of my own errors of judgment.

Those who punish almost always have power. The rapist punishes. The warlord punishes. The judge, the CEO, the executive, the President - they punish. The soldier punishes the recalcitrant native. The abusive husband punishes his wife for anything. And everything. They inflict violence as punishment - violence to shape the memories of their victims. Violence that begets submission. It commands obedience. Punishment seeks submission.

The punished take vengeance. Vengeance restores. It offers a sovereign truth. It declares the end of submission. It liberates. Vengeance doesn't require a single change of heart. It doesn't need anything. It demands. It demands, instead, a restoration. It breaks the bonds created by punishment. The punishers can take it, or leave it. Their opinions don't matter. Often enough, it destroys those who seek it. And many choose to accept that cost.

Can you judge them for it?

Do you judge us?

Do you even have the gall to dare?

* - in case it needs explanation: not their real names...

Aug 10, 2010

Mass Graves

"Iran has dug mass graves in which to bury U.S. troops in case of any American attack on the country, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard said."

Assuming for a moment that this propaganda* has even a hint of a shred of truth, how does it begin to compare to the massive death already wrought throughout the region by forces of freedom and liberty?

I know, I know. Truth has nothing to do with it. Agitprop like this serves the purpose of associating Iran with "mass graves," and the US with Israel in saving the rest of us from mass grave digging, nuclear bomb seeking, homosexual stoning, monolithically evil and Islamic anti-Jewish Iran.

* - accompanied by this photo. Unsubtle:

Aug 9, 2010

A Prisoner's Revolt

My wife's father feels imprisoned.

Caught in a medical cycle as relentless as any other set of fixed ideas, he cannot leave the mechanically assisted corpse ward nursing home, until he "improves his strength." He cannot "improve his strength" trapped in a dim room, attended by overworked, low wage "health care" workers and bottom of the barrel physicians.

So, we've spent the last week with him, trying to get him to "improve his strength." Which amounts to wheeling himself around the old person prison, through the miasma of antiseptic spray, false smiles and stale urine. (Yes, you can tell the difference between fresh urine, and stale.) Down to the so-called library, with a half dozen books on tape (all potboilers), a book of common prayer, a handful of suspense novels, a bible, a big screen teevee, and the titles of the works of Shakespeare painted on the walls.

He could leave at any time. Against medical advice. You want a peek at that bill after insurance gets to walk away from it?

Currently imprisoned one floor up from his wife of nearly seven decades, he can barely bring himself to see her. She doesn't remember him. She doesn't remember any of us.

No one blames him for fleeing her open casket room as soon as he can, wiping at his tears, his Yankee shame fraying as he struggles to reconcile the unnameable regrets which play across his brow and eyes. My wife certainly understands. She does not visit her mother's medically assisted corpse. I do that, for her.

So, yesterday I took the long-short ride down the elevator, crossed the hall, and took a right towards the brain damage ward. Pressed the red button that lets guests in, passed through a doorway which keeps freedom out. Rehearsed the exit code that unlocks the gate, when a visitor wishes to escape. Guests leave, and the prisoners remain in their digital and wheelchair chains.

Our eldest came with me. A kind boy. Generous and sweet and willing to please others, without ever sacrificing his dignity or self respect. He has learned how to say, "No!" and mean it. He still knows how to give, to give freely that for which he expects no return. In my more honest moments, I know he deserves a better father than I. He always will.

We entered the dining room, crowded in on ourselves immediately by the stink of death, the too loud television, the whirring of pumps, of oxygen machines and dispensary carts.

My mother in law sits alone, staring into naught.

Two days ago, she had pudding on her face. Yesterday, dried potatoes.

Her attending ghoul smiled at us, as we approached. Hey, "P-" I said, picking up her spoon, trying to ignore the aide I have long come to hate.

"She isn't going to let you feed her," the douchebag ghoul muttered through her clenched teeth and pressed lips, approximating what I think she thought of as a smile. She wears eyeliner on her bottom lids only. Her eyes speak a litany of malice, and contempt. I have no doubt that she hits her patients. And steals their mementos.

As I turned to my wife's mother, reaching for the spoon, the ghoul returned to her task. Yelling, bullying the ancient woman into whose mouth she attempted to shove a piece of shit brown donut.

"No, I won't!" her ward yelled, in a surprisingly resonant voice, rich with defiance. "You're not my mother," she continued, pushing the cheap pastry from her captor's grasp. I put down the spoon. The boy and I watched, he nervously smiling.

"I am. You can call me mommy," the warden ghoul whispered, her shoulders hunching, mimicking the threat posture of other great apes. She loomed, her chest expanded. She gritted her teeth, showing them plainly.

Her prisoner did not appear to take notice.

"No, I won't!" she yelled again, her eyes almost twinkling, shedding their rheumy age. The other captives, women of varying degrees of dignity and decrepitude, had all turned their heads, or rolled them, to watch now. A second attendant arrived. The nurse stood up in her booth.

The donut went in, forcefully.

"You need to eat," argued the ghoul, her hand hooked in a claw. They held their prisoner's jaw, working it. The rest of the captives returned to their meals. One closed her eyes, her mouth turned down in naked sadness.

I probably have it wrong, but they seemed less alive, more defeated.

As if the remains of their independence depended in no small part on the outcome of their comrade's defiance. Conversation did not pick up again. Power had won. Again. An ancient truth, wearing the guise of nursing home modernity.

With a great portion of my own cowardice stuck in my throat, and avoiding my son's eyes, I turned back to my own task. My mother in law did eat, and readily. Ham puree and powdered potatoes. She let me feed her. 

Her own revolt? I don't know. The ghoul who ruled her every day could not get her to eat; the son in law she doesn't remember could.

I want to call that rebellion.

I really do.

Aug 4, 2010

Finally, A Use For the Camera

Whilst I personally loathe cameras, people who need to record their memories on film or in digital format, and photo taking in general, I could learn to live with Eastman's Demon if only for this:

"...More recently, a New York Police Department officer was thrown off the force — and convicted of filing a false report — because of a video of his actions at a bicycle rally in Times Square. The officer can plainly be seen going up to a man on a bike and shoving him to the ground. The officer claimed the cyclist was trying to collide with him, and in the past, it might have been hard to disprove the police account. But this time there was an amateur video of the encounter — which quickly became an Internet sensation, viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube alone...." 

I don't know if someone else has already proposed the idea (probably), but I'll echo an obvious sentiment: the more of this, the better. Film the cops, and spooks, and otherwise faceless bureaucrats, and government tools, and corporate executives, and their lawyers, and accountants - whenever and wherever you can.

Allow them neither rest, nor peace. Ever.