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!


Anonymous said…
Isn’t that a little contradictory? You bark against the system and its leaders, yet your using the military-industrial-complex to a mass your wealth so you can become a tuned-in, turned-on, dropped-out, off-the-grid, vegetable farming, meat eschewing, hippie, anarchist? Why not do that now? Guessing Mandela didn’t wait till he had a fat 401k before going after his plight. Just a little something to get you riled up co-worker...
Todd Ryder said…
I never said I was the Son of God, Jay. And while personally I’ve given up on the future, I don’t think I really believe things are as bad as I make them out. For me (spoiled, lazy, American) they just feel bad.

In reality, bad is 2M doctors, lawyers and engineers fleeing their homeland (Iraq) to avoid beheading! Bad is feeling really good about yourself when your nation comprises 5% of the world’s population, produces 45% of its waste, and will simply murder anyone that stands in the way of it.

But from my own vantage, bad is not being able to afford, health care, home delivery and streaming HD video. So bad is obviously relative. But it seems this same sort of unrest, or at least restlessness, is growing as Americans (and Europeans), trapped by their own “success” (materialism), are perhaps examining the consumption fallacy, as we watch the icecaps melt literally before our eyes.

But without money, who are you in America? I’m 45 years old and simply have no intention of knowing the answer to that question – unless we all learn it together. And what’s the chance of that, honestly, in our lifetime? So my personal life goal is basically to save enough, then turn away, to hang up the phone on the U.S. of A., so to speak, as much as possible, without emigrating, maybe without personally changing, except to attain personal energy independence (a zero carbon footprint) – it is my highest aspiration.

So I admit it, Jay. Nelson Mandela is a better man than me. But then I’m not running for President of the United States either. I know I'm better than those assholes.

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