Saturday, March 24, 2007

Parody Central

If you’re as old as me (1962) then you may remember fondly those adorable Woody Allen films from the 1970’s, where the obscurely clever, loveable, less-than normally endowed mensch held his own against the too-perfect, master-race types surrounding him.

So where am I going with this? Well, around the time of the ’74 oil embargo, Americans began witnessing a progression in our art, in our zeitgeist – from Wagnerian drama, from iconic, blond-haired, blue-eyed, master-race heroes, to the ironic anti-hero, who sort-of wins, mostly in spite of himself. It was out with Burt Lancaster and Lawrence Olivier and in with Woody and Jack Nicholson. Watch Five Easy Pieces if you question my logic.

But look out your window today. The roads are disintegrating, the bridges are rusting, debt levels and every measure of social and economic justice has never been more off balance. “Keep Montana Green” said the discarded half of the mud-flap by the side of the road, near the walking trail, lined by giant piles of dog shit and empty, plastic water bottles… Today the anxiety, fear and hatred seem more palpable. Like Iraq and Katrina, if it isn’t completely broken in America today, it’s fucking close enough!

So can we turn to our leaders, to our President of less than average intelligence and stuttering, halting, dry-drunk speech? No! King Midas in Reverse isn’t going to fix it. He’ll only make it worse, certainly in democratic terms. And it only took six years for a majority (71%) of us to figure this out. But then, for a nation founded on the extermination of one race and the enslavement of another, I guess that’s about par for the course.

So again we turn to our artists, to the purveyors of new culture. And by virtually any objective measure, even irony is dead and we’re full-on into parody. We’re no longer anti-establishment – we’re anti-everything – so you just can’t shit on something hard or fast enough. The Daily Show, Real Time, YouTube, American Idol, The Colbert Report, Best Week Ever, Countdown, PBS: it’s all very much the same lately – “there’s nothing to believe in; there is no hope; please allow us to demonstrate…” Is it any wonder then that in America’s cities today, murder is once again becoming the new black?

And what of our future leaders? Let’s review our dubious field. First we have Droopy, the sad, tired, old neo-clown. War just can’t go far enough fast enough for Droopy and he has the scars to prove it. Then there’s The Transvestite, our law and order candidate who was lucky enough to preside over the devastation of 911. But don’t forget that he relocated the NY Port Authority to the WTC after it was bombed once already in 1993, and seems somehow determined to screw (then marry) his way into the annals of American political history. Finally, lest we forget, we have the matron of compromise who’s too proud to apologize. If Republicans are The Pigs, then she’s Miss Piggy-Lite. Who else could promote change without changing and peace through war?

So who would I vote for? I’ll vote for Obama if I get the chance, but Hugo Chavez would be my first choice. My second is probably Leonard Peltier or Nelson Mandela. After all, could victims of U.S. and South African apartheid possibly fare worse than the so-called anointed? I think not. To paraphrase Rilke through Patti Smith “Those who have suffered understand suffering and thereby extend their hand…”

So in the end, I’ve turned to myself. I’m a political anarchist with a day job in the military-industrial-complex, trying to teach it GPL software. But I’m working my way out, believe me. The IRA balance is $400K, and if the meter hits $650K, I’m a tuned-in, turned-on, dropped-out, off-the-grid, vegetable farming, meat eschewing, hippie, anarchist, with a 3 story stone house that functions quite well as a lookout tower. My own power. My own water. My own rules. Give me liberty or give me death. After 6 Million years, this monkey caught its reflection in the mirror and chuckled, ala John, Bill, Stephen and Keith. Next stop anarchy!