Thursday, December 31, 1998

Just say no to dregs

OK, kids. Here are the dregs of my hard drive. Random trains of thought that never quite left the station. Ready or not, I'm sending 'em out anyway before the year ends.

Remember. Just say no to dregs...

* * *

Brazil Nuts dept. (leftover from Sept...I think)

The Right is crying out for Clinton to pay the costs of the damn investigation against him. Sorta reminds you of the "information charges" in Brazil ...don't it?

* * *

Dick Clark's rictus grin sure reminds me of the year end skeleton moldering away...

* * *

This year 2000 shit is just a little too close to Isaac Asimov's Nightfall for comfort....

It's gonna get freakier and freakier, kids. Yes, indeedy...

The Y2K bug I'm worried about is the one between the ears of human beings. Goddamnit anyway, here's David McCallum on a show called "Ancient Prophecies" on The Learning Channel spouting drivel about the fucking end of the world...VISIONS OF DOOM AND PAIN! EARTH CHANGES! OH MY GOD! THE VIRGIN MARY APPEARED TO...

Pure hoodoo. Hoodoo on the "Learning" channel, yet. McCallum spouting this crap with a straight face. Unbelievable...

It's all so fucking stupid...

Stoopid or not, there's this superstitious bone in us crazy human beings that gets freaked out at the thought of 1999 (woah! 666 backwards) rolling over to 2000....

The end.


Prepare to meet thy God.



And I know it's all bullshit. I know it's just a load of mystical crap....just like those rationalistic scientists in Nightfall.

Which doesn't help much when the fires start burning...

As I've got a superstitious bone of my own.

And am two steps away from holy terror at all times as it is..

So have a Happy New Year folks....

While you still can.

Sunday, December 20, 1998


OK, additional thoughts on the metaphysical game of Twister Clinton's tangled himself into. (And the Democratic party, in general.)

It's my -- doubtlessly oversimplified -- reading of Aristotle that politics is the practical expression of philosophy. I.e., you have a certain view of the world, the universe, ethics, and human nature. You translate that view into a political philosophy, and from there, into a course of practical action in the political sphere. After that, you find a lot of other people who sort of agree with you and try to make it happen. Political philosophy is the operating system of democracy. Citizens debate the philosophical issues first, before anything else happens.

For whatever reason, there's not much real political debate in late 20th century America.

In mainstream politics, the 45% of Americans who believe in a relativistic morality find themselves in a twisted position indeed. The Democrat party represents their philosophical worldview. But the Democratic party can't openly state that worldview -- they have to wrap it up in politically acceptable code. The result is a constant disjunct between stated belief and real belief.

To put it plainly: We don't believe in God—or not believe in God. We don't believe in an absolute code of right or wrong, either. We can't come out and say it. But the Democrat party stands for our non-beliefs. Although, sadly, they can't actually say it either.

Obviously, I'm talking about the twisted position of mainstream liberals in mainstream American politics. None of this applies to, say Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, the late Bill Hicks, etc. We still have a thriving -- and totally ineffective -- hard left who say exactly what they mean and get nowhere.

Saturday, December 19, 1998

If Clinton made an honest speech

Well, They got what they wanted. The Impeachment has begun. I guess it's time to set the record straight.

Some of you hate me. Some of you love me. Some of you want all this turmoil to go away. But America is in crisis -- a crisis that I will freely admit I have largely created.

I've been accused of lying -- and I have done so. Hell -- I'm goddamn good at it! "What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" -- but I've had a lot of practice, people! Oh yeah! I'm a GOOD goddamn liar...and that's the truth! I'm such a good goddamn liar, I believer whatever I'm saying is the truth at the time I say it.

Lying is my superpower. But it has always been the power my enemies hold over me. My weakness is my strength. My strength is my weakness.

And now, I have fallen into the trap They set for me. I let Them back me into a corner. They got me just where They wanted me. Funny thing...that may just be Their undoing!

Because I've been backed into a corner where, goddamnit anyway, I've got nothing to lose anymore. No reason, finally, not to tell the goddamn reason not to say goddamn on television! feels good to say goddamn!

From now on, I might as well start telling the truth.

So here it is, America:

Back in the 60's I found myself in a fork in the road...change the system from within or destroy it from without. Two paths you can go by -- just like it says in Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." Letting the system remain was no option at all: America had become a machine producing death -- just plain obvious to anyone with the eyes to see it.

So I worked from within -- ignoring the "sell out!" jeers of my radical friends -- climbing the political ladder and giving away little pieces of myself the higher I got. I surrendered my principles one by one. I cut my hair. I shined my shoes. Even so, I had hoped, to the end, to hold onto my balls. Still do...

That's the price you pay for changing the system from within.

Fact is, I couldn't be honest. Like millions of other baby boomers, I had to grin and pretend to a false morality I didn't believe in. I couldn't stand up and tell the world that I didn't give a good goddamn who screwed who or what they put into their bodies just so long as they didn't hurt anybody. I couldn't tell the world that Hillary and I had an open marriage and that was just fine with the two of us and nobody else's damn business. Couldn't admit, in public, that, as with so many others of my generation, my life was not about self-sacrifice -- but the pursuit of self-gratification and self-actualization.

In this, I remained a true citizen of the Woodstock Nation -- a member of the counterculture that stood up against the death machine that was America in the 60s -- for awhile anyway.

As Toynbee pointed out, every generation has a mission. History judges each generation according to whether it succeeds or fails in that mission. This mission is assigned by a process Toynbee referred to as "challenge and response." History hands you a challenge. How do you respond?

Looking backwards, the challenge of my 1960s generation was to take the war America had won against the Nazis in Europe and bring it back home -- and defeat the Hitler within. Our mission was to create social justice and equal opportunity in a colorblind, egalitarian society. To end the powertrips and racism. To end the waste. To stop living like pigs...

The old Leftists used to call that "solidarity." The New Leftists used that word too, until we forgot what it meant. That was part of our Revolution --

The other part being sex, drugs and rock and roll.

I'm here to tell you, after awhile it gets kinda hard fighting for social justice and the perfect orgasm at the same time...

Which is why, like many of my generation, I discovered that it was easier saying it than doing it. Talk is cheap. As cheap as a feel-good donation to "We are the World" or some similar festival of hype, bullshit and self-promotion on the part of a bunch of self-indulgent pop stars past their peak disguised as charity...

This all happened gradually. No signing your soul on a deed to the devil in blood. No door to open or line to cross. Just a process of gradual corruption. Piece by piece, principle by principle.

And then -- one day -- you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror. You look -- and the Dad that ran away from you is smiling right back.

What you realize -- what I realized -- is that, like every generation, we had become our parents. Our parents, meanwhile, were trying to pull a Joshua number and hold back the sun. They wanted to keep time's wheels from turning. They didn't want to pass the torch onto us -- ungrateful bastards that we were -- though they were content to sell us shit.

But sooner or later it had to happen. No matter how much they fought it, no matter how hard they worked out or how much Grecian Formula they applied -- the day had to come when George Bush, Bob Dole and Private Ryan were just too damn old for the White House. That day came. And on that day, I was just about ready...

I had reached the last rung on the ladder, the end of my sell-out climb. I had climbed this far by lying, of course. There was no other choice...

The Republican party had come to represent the worldview of folks who believed in some absolute moral standard -- God, the ten commandments, heaven, hell, thou shalt not -- the whole nine yards. Now, of course this was a cover story for the agenda of various corporate interests -- but plenty of folks sincerely believed in that cover story. And sincerely believed the Republican party represented them. Millions of people...

Millions of other people believed in a relativistic world view. Essentially, these were the children of the counter-culture. The democratic party was the only party left to represent this viewpoint -- as the last ditch redoubt of the ragtag remnants of American liberalism and the American left, strange bedfellows though they were...

Trouble is, you couldn't own up to the core beliefs of that constituency without committing political suicide. The other shop could holler "God told me that abortion is wrong!" We weren't free to holler back "Good and evil exists in your head, fucker!" They could say "Gay marriage is an abomination!" You couldn't say, "Who cares who screws whom?" They could say "War on drugs!" You couldn't say, "What's wrong with getting high every now and then?" They could say "Prayer in schools!" You couldn't say, "Let's leave talking to ghosts to the nuthouse."

So the democratic party was left in the nasty position of being the practical political expression of an unspeakable worldview. We can't say "God is dead -- the universe is meaningless -- there is no value except the value we create -- vote for me!" We can't say anything except pure flying horseshit. Just flapping through the skies like Pegasus dropping his load on the world below...

Salute the flag! Support our troops! Praise the Lord! America's great!

In other words -- we have to lie.

The reason our friends on the Right hate me so much is because they know this. Somebody who represents a relativistic way of seeing the world ain't supposed to get to the White House -- the reason I'm there is I cheated. I lied....

They know. And so they hate me.

They know that, despite my suit, tie and haircut, I'm a goddamn draft-dodging, pot-smoking hippy in the White House.

And that's what this is all about.

I stand before you as a walking Hegelian contradiction. I had hoped to bring about a Revolution of social justice and equality. I had also hoped to party hard.

Holding onto my balls, in other words.

And every time I grabbed another stolen piece of pleasure out of the nooky jar, that's when I'd tell myself "This is the real me. All that horseshit for the camera's just an act. This is the real William Jefferson Clinton. I just don't care...this sure FEELS like Revolution...WOOO-HOOOO!"

That's what they figured I was doing. And they found me out...

It's come down to this. My generation failed in its historical mission. We lost the Revolution -- because you couldn't live a life devoted to pleasure and solidarity at one and the same time -- at least not just yet. Instead of liberating the future we fucked it -- just like me and Monica, though technically speaking that wasn't intercourse. How goddamn symbolic it all is, huh?

Now the death generation wants to bring me down -- because they want to impose their view of reality on America like some thermoplastic mold. What they want is a schizoid, perpetual-motion machine -- the Puritanical America of public discourse full of flag-saluting, Church-going, parade-marching, war-supporting sacrificial patriots -- and the Love for Sale America of the capitalist marketplace in which everything and everyone has a price and honor, love, loyalty and compassion do not exist. An America of atomized selves trying to buy their sense of identity and belonging back based on the latest glittering horseshit they see sandwiched inbetween a bunch of actors pretending to be real people on television. Trying to buy their souls back -- but just going deeper and deeper in debt in the endless mall of Satan's Company Store America...

Once again, America wants to eat its young -- in this case the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the WWII generation. Listen up kids...

Seeing as how they've got me on the ropes, I can be honest now. The tube's been lying to you. You can't have it all. You can't do anything you want. You can't grow up to be President, even if you get to wear the suit. The tube promises a party but that party's about to end. This is what this is all about...and I wish I hadn't lied about it.

All you young folks out there who either don't believe in God or don't believe God particularly cares about whatever gets you through the night are going to be screwed. You will learn to wear a public face and salute what They tell you. You will wear a suit and tie and shine your shoes...forever. You can be your real self in the dark, of course -- They'll be making money off that too. But out in the open, get ready for a whole lot of smiling and saluting if you don't all get together and stop Them now. The time has come to fight!

Relativistic amoralists of America -- I call to you now! The time of decision has come. My generation failed in the '60s, but perhaps it's not too late. The challenge has come before us once again -- and perhaps for one last time -- we can still bring the War back home!

That is the challenge of history. That is my challenge to you today -- my challenge to all you bad boys and girls out there who got me elected in the first place...

Animal House America -- I call to you! Unbelievers, hedonists, pagans and pleasure-seekers everywhere -- I call to you! My call goes out to all you hard-working, hard-partying folks out there who are sworn to fun and loyal to none -- and you know who you are!

Revolution now! Revolution TODAY!

Hear my call. Accept the challenge of history. Stand up. The time is now...

The time has come to stand up and fight for what you don't believe in.

Good night, America.

Friday, December 18, 1998

He who sins, grins

OK, now that we're on the eve of Impeachment, I'd better wrap this up.

As my five loyal readers may recall, I promised a deeper delving into the nature of the Republican hysteria regarding Clinton. I asserted that it wasn't about sex. I advanced the thesis that the target of the ClintInquisition was the nature of sin itself. I said I'd make that more specific. Now here's the payoff.

In simple terms, some Americans have an absolutist view of the universe, others have a relativist view. This tends to break down to religious vs. non-religious, fundamentalist vs anythingarian, conservative vs. liberal, Republican vs. Democrat.

For the sake of argument, lets say that 45% of Americans don't believe the Bible is literally true; they may or may not believe in God; either way,they don't believe God has established a black and white code of morality that applies to all humans; they don't believe in an absolute sexual morality or think that taking drugs is immoral either. As to what they do believe, that might be summed up as, "If it feels good, do it," with the corollary that "if it's between consenting adults and doesn't hurt anybody." While we're on the subject, most of this 45% doesn't believe in American exceptionalism -- or think that our nation is a "New Israel" established by God to ride herd on the rest of the planet. On top of that, this 45% tends to take a utilitarian view of human institutions -- including Capitalism. I.e., Capitalism has value in terms of the "greatest good for the greatest number." Property ownership is a convenient legal fiction -- not a God-given right.

OK, I could go on, but you get the idea.

Basically, the Democratic party represents this 45%. The turd in the ointment? The Democratic party can't baldly state what they believe in. "Hi, we're the party of atheists, agnostics and moral relativists." Uh-uh. They have to speak in code -- namely, the code of America's civil religion. They have to salute the flag and play name-dropper with God and Jesus when they make speeches.

So, Clinton, when he's screwing around with Monica Lewinsky, is being absolutely true to his innate value system. I.e., two adults are creating sexual pleasure consensually. There's nothing wrong with it. If it feels good do it.

The Republicans aren't mad at Clinton because he broke their moral code.

They're mad at him because he doesn't believe in the code in the first place.

But he pretends to.

That's why they froth at the mouth and call him "liar" ...

Next up, as a thought experiment, let's imagine what speech Clinton would make if he were absolutely honest ...

Monday, December 14, 1998

Writer’s Bloch or “The horror, the horror.”

Gotta hand it to Robert Bloch, horror auteur extraordinaire. There's a man with staying power...

In addition to the original Psycho, two Psycho sequels and a staggering number of short story collections, Bloch's novels and linked-story collections include American Gothic, Atoms and Evil, Cold Chills, Cunning, Fear and Trembling, Firebug, Flowers from the Moon: and Other Lunaciew, The Jekyll Legacy, Kidnapper, King of Terrors, Lori, Lost in Time and Space with Lefty Feep, Midnight Pleasures, Monsters in our Midst, Mysteries of the Worm, the Night of the Ripper, Night World, The Opener of the Way, Out of My Head, Out of the Mouths of Graves, Pleasant Dreams, The Will to Kill, Star Stalker, Strange Eons, Such Stuff as Screams Are Made of, There is a Serpant in Eden, Unholy Trinity …

Besides novels, Bloch is one of the all-time greats when it comes to short stories -- my favorite being A Toy for Juliette, a study of Jack the Ripper, for which Harlan Ellison did a follow-up called, A Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World.

And, hell, some of these titles may be wrong. Bloch is hard to keep up with -- staying power AND the man writes like a sumbitch to boot. A REAL master of horror, right up there with the King.

Any one of Bloch’s titles would make a kick-ass sci-fi and/or horror movie. It’s a gold mine of concepts, largely untapped.

So why do a SECOND adaptation of Psycho? A shot-for-shot remake of the first adaptation -- Hitchcock's genre-changing, all-time classic? What was Gus Van Sant thinking? Who pitched this idea?

FLUNKY: Say -- I know! Wouldn't it be great to do another film adaptation of a Robert Bloch horror story? Whaddya think, Mr. Van Sant?

VAN SANT: I like the idea! Which one?

FLUNKY: I dunno, Mr. Van Sant. There's so much to choose from, it’s staggering. I printed out the list …

VAN SANT: Gimme that! (snatches list) Wow.

FLUNKY: He’s what you call prolific.

VAN SANT: This is gonna be a hard one, all right. Wait a minute. Wait … it’s coming to me … (snaps fingers) I’ll do Psycho ... AGAIN!

FLUNKY: That’s brilliant! What's your take?

VAN SANT: I'll do it in color and show Norman jerking off!

FLUNKY: I love it! What else?

VAN SANT: Nothing else! I’ll do exactly what Hitch did, shot-for-shot – and put my name on it!

FLUNKY: You’re a genius, Mr. Van Sant!

OK. What's the point of this ridiculously expensive post-modern stunt? Aside from the fact that Vince Vaughn must really need the money, what exactly does it prove? Basically, this movie one big copy. Hell, I'm a cartoonist. I can do that ...

Say,'s a little magic trick! Watch as I make a photocopy of an old "Prince Valiant" comic page outta one of my I bring it over to the light table, get out the pen and ink and -- presto! I make a tracing that's exactly the same as the original! Now I'm as good an artist as Hal Foster!

Wasn't that amazing?