New Century Blues
Nine journalists died last Monday morning in Kabul, with another shot dead near the Pakistani border. According to news sources it was the deadliest day in journalism in Afghanistan since 2001. As of May 1, The Gun Violence archive has reported 4,685 gun deaths and 79 mass shootings for the first four months of 2018. Welcome to the New Century. Mass shootings are as de riguer as suicide bombs and you'd shudder to think the aughts were a better time. Ah but don't too wise. W. and his cabal are War Criminals who were never tried. They ran on compassionate conservatism and “humble” foreign policy but only won by 537 votes in FLA before those 2 planes hit and changed everything forever. That’s all it took to usher in the New Dumb—and the people went in for it so let them. The intervening 8 years of Obama's tenure weren't peaceful either but they're looking like a paradise from here.
You can believe what you want in America--as long's you're Christian, you love cops and guns, you're not a woman or black or gay or Honduran or think funds are better spent than on the education of the poor. This current swing out we're doing now is the New Dumb Reigning. Trumpism is Bushism writ large and it's all a further mutation of Capitalism clamping down, choking out the middle class and shitting on the poor--the slow death of the New Deal in an arms race with ecological collapse but the real shame of it all is the failed arena of American news media. The only upside to things going sideways in the New Century is the truth is what you want it to be and a hack like me can throw his hat in the ring, perpetrate truth and call it journalism.
We fought for safety and freedom and we don't have either. That's a lot of lives lost in The Long War for nothing. We got fooled again, but, you can die out here too, something blacks have always known--living in the America is deadly. In the New Century, death can take you by surprise anywhere from an elementary school to a Waffle House in Tennessee. Put all that out of mind with Netflix and awards shows and hip hop and outrage culture, drugs and alcohol (thriving like they do), new age and memes and Yoga. Put all that aside and calm your nuts and let seize your reptile mind on the fact that our lives on this planet are finite and running down. Estimate is our ticket's up in eighty years before it becomes unsustainable on the terra firma. But is that really a surprise? When it’s 90 degrees in New Paltz 2 weeks after the snow was still coming down, anyone from Noam Chomsky to Wayne LaPierre knows it's the weather of the apocalypse. This is the end Beautiful Friend. There are boons to all of it ending, though, and soon. Paul Ryan stepping down increases the likelihood he'll be maimed in an accident with a riding mower, or simply catch any one of several diseases covered by his federally subsidized healthcare and rot the fuck away like he should. Another fortunate byproduct of the end of the world is the embrace of apathy. It's always happy hour now, Pal, your wedding vows have stopped short of forever, a living wage is neither and your children will be shot dead in school or grow up dumb in the New Century.
This is where I get off and where we part, Citizen. I've no use for you or liquid camaraderie in the Land of the Free. All the last person who tried to conversate with me on the dayjob got was a dry laugh and a stone face. Talking politics is like pissing in the wind. This country is mired in 7 wars, interventions or conflicts and the big story in American News Media is the hush order of a porn star versus the demented ramblings of a cross-eyed and crooked ex-Mayor who in a just world should also hit the horrible disease lottery and suffer in a profound way we can witness and watch along with on our incredible, new and lightning fast media. There's something brewing in the Other Hemisphere but beyond the throes of outrage culture, who can tell what it is? Trump's withdrawal from our nuclear deal with Iran is presently inscrutable and probably bad. It used to be fun to not care, and I didn't mind you so much when we drank. Now that I'm sober I'm coming to grips with the fact that I've always known you were the enemy. I don't have to leave home to fight a war. Henry Miller was right, and James Baldwin, and when I think about courage all I can think of is Jimmy. There was a time when our President spoke well of others and simply spoke well, but...he was a black man and the black man is the fly in the ointment and bane of the Republic and reason why 62 million of you would rather forgo healthcare and science, a checked police force and peace in our time.
Easy, right? That's what you're thinking? It's so easy for me, I've no skin in the game. I'm not married, I drive a Japanese car and don't have to work day labor anymore. Well, citizen, you're right. You made your choices and I made mine. There are whole segments of the population of the greatest country in the world without a choice between murder and madness. But that ain't me. It's filling the suburbs, though, dimming culture and pushing real people out of the city, too. Something rank and foul and corrupt is on the rise. The working poor and the straight up poor are coming for you. Uncle Sam will sell you protection but you're gonna have to arm yourself and toe the jingoist line. Hate and anger can make you mighty but you're gonna need an enemy and time marches on. Eventually, and especially without healthcare, you'll be too weak to fight. Just ask Chris Cantwell. Like a fart in the wind.
It might easy for me to judge and stand down and fly high the Jolly Roger but, let me tell you something--apathy is boring. Desperation, too. I'm in it for the high action and I'm straight edge, so, the next best thing to bellyaching with a bellyfull at the barroom with you, or, chasing tail on the dirty streets of this whorish town full of technocrats and privilege is the Beat. Ya heard? I'm taking it to the street, where the truth is, and I'm getting the fuck out of dodge. 2-5k ought to make the nut, and equip me with everything I need to produce, report on and document: the end of Empire, America abroad, the complete dissolution of modern morality concurrently plummeting with the U.S. Dollar, and the grappling and contesting of outrage culture-the bloodsport of the New Dumb, the pillorying of American News Media, a gun accident involving Ted Nugent, the New Dumb in the wasted corridor of the Western Hemisphere and the cruel and twisted New Century rivaled by the rising dragon of a Chinese one.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, but—if they won't let you in come back with the mirrorless and a set of credentials. I'm back in the Journalism business.
Zee wango, zee tango.
Photo by Nancy Wong || CC-BY-3.0