Sunday, May 30, 2010


  Barbara and Shane two months ago celebrating my birthday with me in New Orleans

My friend Barbara turns fifty today.  I just now arrived home after a long drive from Hickory, last night's party spot.  Her husband Shane and her mother Joan threw the party for her, inviting her best friends since childhood along with the friends she's made only in the last four or five years or so (I fall somewhere in the middle, having known her for the past 12 years).  Barbara was, predictably, radiant, a quality only partly attributable to her physical beauty.

Everybody there said the same thing; some said it more than once:  she doesn't look fifty.  She doesn't.  I'm hard pressed to say how old I would guess she is, if I didn't know, and my best estimate would be thirty.  I might even say "at most thirty."

But the thing that stands out the most to me about last night--besides the cute dark-haired busboy clearing away highball glasses and crumpled napkins, or the sexy punk metalhead cabbie with tats and spiked collar and wrist bands who drove my friend Ann and me to and from the party venue--was Shane's toast to her.  Barbara, he said, besides the obvious attribute of her beauty, puts her heart and soul into whatever enters the sphere of her life.  (I'm always blown away by how spectacularly ardent Shane's love for Barbara is.  The man is all but dumbstruck with amazement over her.)

I can speak a little bit to her heart and soul.  I had known her for just over three years when my father died--the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Barbara took a couple of days off work to go with me down to Augusta, Georgia, to take care of the disposal of his body and a few of his personal effects.  Barbara did the lion's share of the work and all the organizing--packing away loads of junk and acting as host to about a dozen people, all strangers to me, who had been my father's friends and wanted to gather with me to express their condolences.  Barbara took it all on.

Of all my friends, and I have more than I have earned, Barbara made perhaps the biggest effort to know and understand me.  She has carefully avoided affronts to my ego and encouraged my confidence in my eccentric capabilities and values.  She has helped me out in times of need and amused me in times of celebration.  She is a free, vivacious, and generous spirit, incapable of walking away from a dare or a challenge, capable of delight and ferocity you would not believe.

Almost twelve years ago, when I first met her, I was not sufficiently impressed.  There were extenuating circumstances involved, but largely I took her to be a new-age-y bohemian with a mania for being politically correct.  I misjudged her ... by miles.  At first I could not see what a great spirit she is--of anyone I know or have known she is the most genuinely and radically human.   She has a tenacious grip on life and the pleasure principle.  She has balls the size of Volkswagens.  The most amazing dancer, the best laugher, the least inhibited about physical expressions of affection--three of my highest superlatives belong to her--with no close seconds in sight.

Of all the projects she has put her heart and soul into in the last fifty years, I feel undeservedly lucky to have been one.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank-You Notes to Moderate Homophobes


First, let me say thank you for loving me, the sinner, while hating my sex life, the sin.  Unfortunately, if that show of moderation is meant to coax me into accepting your Posturepedic concept of an afterlife, I have to tell you that, of all the things I have that I would want to take with me to your celestial city, the number-one pick (besides my dog) would be that particular sin.

Still, compared to the stoning to death dictated by your beloved book of Leviticus (perhaps inerrant in every respect except its views on shellfish, menstruation, and men with one testicle). your own modern temperance is indeed admirable.  And so I take it as a safe assumption that probably you would not want your wife, should she turn a sympathetic eye towards my own ultimate damnation, to be turned into a pillar of salt.

Kudos to you and your big heart.


Some of your friends are gay?  Wonderful.  It says so much about them that they would be.


You have nothing against gays?  I can appreciate that.  If people want to be gay, let them.  Well spoken.  How could we ever thank you enough?--and I speak on behalf of all of us

But one question, if there really is nothing wrong with gay people, why are you opposed to gay adoption on the (I have to be honest here) unlikely assumption that same-sex parents might turn children gay (even though the majority of gay people were birthed and raised by straight parents, many of whom tried over many years to instill anti-gay sentiments in their children)?

What's the problem with gay children ... if, um, you have nothing against gays?


How very thankful I am, too, that you would consider my human rights "special."  Or that you would fight to the death for my right to choose to whom or what I am sexually attracted!  You probably know so much more about this than I do, but if all that was a choice, I think somebody forgot to tell that to my cock.

What I'm About to Tell You Means I'm a Bad Person

What I'm about to tell you means I am a bad person.

I don't like children.  Not as a general rule, anyway.  I do tend to like the mentally retarded, so it's not a question of intelligence or maturity.  And dogs.  I like dogs.  Some dogs.  Well, my dog.  My guess it's more a question of aesthetics--the average adult human looks better to me than the average child does and has the added advantage of not having a voice that splinters every nerve in my body.

Even as a child, I did not much care for my peers, preferring the company of adults, where I could find it--my mother and my father were famously distant people.  I preferred adult talk on adult topics of interest.  Even when the adults weren't too bright.  I was fascinated by the adult world.  I couldn't wait until I could write in real (cursive) writing.  I wanted to read adult books--jumping the gun a few years--doing my eighth-grade oral book report on Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird.  One of my earliest remembered dreams involved me in a miniature city, in a suit, tie, and gray fedora, driving a motorized toy car on a narrow street of nothing but small people like me in their toy cars, driving to our imaginary jobs.

As a child, I resented the concept that somehow children are purer, closer to honesty, innocent.  Not the little twats I grew up with.  No way.  These were the kids in first grade who pinched me for not wearing green on St Patrick's Day--my mother, insisting that we were not Catholics, had failed even to warn me that there even was such a thing.  My best friend in third grade--a guy I had even told he was "handsome" to--stole my shoes and threw them in a creek we crossed on our way back from school.  And the kids in elementary school made merciless fun of a girl named Valerie, who had some type of condition that caused her to smell like a diaper full of two-day-old piss.  In my little Christian heart I wanted to be Valerie's friend, but, frankly, I couldn't take the odor either.

I remember distinctly having to be taught how to tell the truth.  Lying, fabrication, and dissimulation came as naturally to me as sunshine.  I once told a little girl in the playground that the Olympic swimmer and star of the M-G-M Tarzan films, Johnny Weissmuller, was my big brother, despite a 49-year age difference I was too dumb to realize.  She believed me.  Maybe.  This was a girl who always called me "Mustard," thinking she was saying "Buster."  Like I told you, me and the mentally retarded:  likethis.

One of my favorite parts of Ron Currie Jr's 2007 novel God Is Dead is his description of the USA, post-God.  The book, really dark but funny, imagines a world where God has come to earth again in the form of a woman in Darfur and for his trouble gets raped and murdered by the side of the road.  Desperate to have something to worship, the Americans begin to worship their children.  The situation has gotten so bad that the government has had to train therapists to deprogram the parents:
"Mrs. DerSimonian," I say.  "Come on, now.  Tell me how wonderful your son is."
She won't meet my gaze.  Like spooked squirrels her eyes dart to her boy, Levon.  He sits in the cage by the window, warmed by the afternoon sun, content with a coloring book and a box of Crayolas.
"Levon is fine," I tell her, my voice gentle but firm.  "Granted, he's making a mess of that rabbit, giving it pastel green fur and coloring all outside the lines.  But he's fine.  Now tell me, what's so special about him?"
Her eyes come back in my direction but focus on the wall behind me.  "You're just going to shoot me down," she says.  "Tell me how wrong I am."
"That's the process," I say.  "It's for your benefit, Mrs. DerSimonian.  For everyone's benefit, especially Levon's.  You know that."
She draws a deep, shuddering breath, closes her eyes, and puts a hand to her mouth.  "I don't know if I can, today," she says through her fingers.  "We had a scare earlier, and I'm still quite upset."
"Tell me about it," I say.
She opens her eyes again.  Her gaze falls on the sign hanging on the wall behind me, which bears, in embroidered calligraphic letters, the motto of the Child Adulation Prevention Agency:  Children Are Like Any Other Group of People--A Couple of Winners, a Whole Lot of Losers." (57-58)
That part cracks me up.  Every time.  Genius.  Or that's what I think.  My weird sense of humor.

But, then, I'm a bad person.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Living Like Jesus

I woke up this morning to a gospel choir singing "I Want to Live More Like Jesus Every Day" on Hallelujah Praise on WNCU 90.7 FM.  Rousing song.  I suppose it would be redundant to call it "inspirational."

When I was a Christian, I must have wanted to live like Jesus, but honestly I don't remember the feeling.  It was a very long time ago.  The irony is that now, as an atheist and like some kind of Christ-haunted Flannery O'Connor character, I probably live more like Jesus than I did when I was young and faithful.

No, I have performed no miracles, and I love life too much to give it up for your sorry-ass sins and the sins of the whole world.  And a lot of things that count as sins I have rather a fondness for--gossip, anger, shellfish, cheeseburgers, men sleeping with men.

What I mean is that I embrace the lilies of the field part of the Sermon on the Mount (and here I quote the New International Version of the Bible, Matt. 6.25-34):
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?"  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This is one of the most beautiful passages in the New Testament, and the one that comes nearest to the wisdom of the Chinese and Indian sages of some four- or five-hundred years before Jesus.

Carelessness, in other words.  "What me worry?" as Alfred E. Newman says.  In my poverty--that is, in my voluntary servitude to the credit-card industry--I live off luck, a salary that roughly equates to $22 an hour (what a softball umpire earns--but I get in a LOT more hours), and the generosity of friends.

I don't worry too much about the future, less out of faith or piety than out of a sense that the future is purely imaginary (the past is only three-quarters imaginary) and I prefer to live in the reality of the moment, the here and now.  Then again, this attitude is part of my nature, as I have always identified with the fiddle-playing grasshopper, not the parsimonious ants, in the Aesop fable.

Lately, I haven't worried too much about clothes--though in my youth, I jump-started my current debt on Ralph Lauren, Alexander Julian, and Perry Ellis.  Some would say I need to worry a bit more--dust off the iron, at least, and own more than two pairs of shoes (and wear more than one).

At the end of the month, I live off the food you can buy at the Family Fare stores attached to BP gas stations--beer, Diet Coke, salty nuts, and chips--to supplement my cache of beans, rice, and Louisiana Hot Sauce at home.

And you know what?  I like the way I live.

What others would see as a character flaw, I choose to see as righteousness--which is, as I see it, only what most Christians do anyway, though they may chose different texts than I.

The kingdom of God is within you.  Seek it there.  Go easy on the five-year plan.  Slow down on The Okinawa Diet Plan.  Enjoy your copy of GQ for its pictures of shirtless men.  I paraphrase loosely, of course, but doesn't everybody?

And, unlike Jesus, I have a roof over my head, though I draw the line at home ownership.  I think renting is more Christ-like.  I can't really see myself hiking from town to town, living on the road, the way Jesus did--though the idea of sleeping on the grass under trees beside burbling brooks with twelve dudes of my picking has possibilities.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Milk Day

For this evening my plan is to watch a double feature of The Times of Harvey Milk, the 1984 film by Rob Epstein and Richard Schmiechen that won an Oscar as best feature-length documentary, and Milk, the 2008 film by Gus Van Sant that won two Oscars for Sean Penn's passionate and evocative performance as Milk and for Dustin Lance Black's screenplay.   I am performing this little ritual for my own benefit, as a small gesture towards commemorating what Harvey Milk has meant to me.  I fully intend on having a good cry tonight--probably several good cries.  Along with popcorn.

Had he not been shot and killed at age 48, Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay elected official, would have turned 80 today.  It's pure conjecture, of course, but I suspect that he would have eventually become mayor of San Francisco and perhaps even governor of California--and then (here no doubt I am fantasizing) the first openly gay President of the United States.  I suspect, too, with perhaps more reason, that, given even just another twenty years, Milk would have done much in the ongoing struggle for the recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Americans beyond its current tortoise progress under the governance of overly cautious liberals and batshit crazy conservatives.

I only vaguely remember hearing about Milk's assassination in 1978, while I was finishing up my master's thesis at Marshall University.  I came to know about the Milk legacy mainly through the 1984 movie, which came out just a year after I had come out of the closet to my father and mother.

I was about thirty when I decided to be altogether balls-to-the-wall open about my homosexuality.  Milk was forty when he made a similar decision.  Milk came out a year after the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, a few years before the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexual orientation from its list of mental illnesses.  When he came out, police were still raiding gay bars.  When I came out, AIDS was spreading its deathly shadow over gay life.  The police were still harassing the clientele at gay bars (I have stories, oh yes), though not on as frequent a schedule or as large a scale as was practiced back in the fifties and sixties.

(Let us remind ourselves, as an aside, that it was not until 2003--in a US Supreme Court case argued the day after my fiftieth birthday and decided three months later--that state "sodomy" laws criminalizing private nonprocreative sex acts, including consensual homosexual behavior, were declared unconstitutional--lest we forget, that's how recently my and others' "emancipation" was proclaimed--and, lest we forget, our liberation was the decision of a very conservative court under a famously batshit crazy conservative President.  Still, it remains to be seen if and when same-sex lovers will be allowed to marry and know that their marriage is recognized in every state and if and when sexual orientation will not be an issue in determining the status and honor of women and men serving in the US military.)

In my life, I have received twenty or more death threats on my message machine over the issue of my sexuality; have had the college where I worked threatened with violence for keeping me in its employ; have had the traffic police repeatedly pull my (at-the-time) boyfriend over, call him "nigger" (he's Irish),  and body search him for no reason at all; have been thrown face down to the ground and kicked by the police as they arrested me (on a "disorderly conduct" charge that I successfully defended myself against in court--largely thanks to a number of straight bystanders, most strangers to me, willing to testify that the police attack was entirely unprovoked); have been discontinued from employment at a university for simply fundraising (on my own time) for AIDS charities; and, as a student, before I was even "out," was asked to leave a Christian college when the founder's son decided it was time for us to start seeing other people.

In 1976, the year I left the previously mentioned Christian college, my mother worked alongside Anita Bryant on the anti-gay Save Our Children campaign in Dade County, Florida.  During this time, my mother asked me whether I was a homosexual.  Cravenly, I said no.  She then said that, if she ever heard that I was homosexual, she would personally put a bullet through my brain.  Needless to say, the remark postponed my coming out to her--by about seven years, at a time when she was not in possession of a firearm.

A couple of years later, Dan White, who possessed a firearm, shot and killed Harvey Milk in his office in San Francisco.

I am not a victim.  I detest the rhetoric of victimization.  But it irks me to hear people speak of a "homosexual agenda" or to speak of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people as some all-powerful politically-correct cadre that threatens America's children and its deeply held values.  The truth is, as recent history continues to show us, the children in America who are most threatened are those who are or are perceived to be lesbian or gay--witness Matthew Shepard, Lawrence King, Constance McMillen, and (for the foreseeable future) the list goes on.  And the only values threatened by recognizing everybody's rights and granting equal protections and access to privileges are those of ignorance, cowardice, hate, and fear. 

Last summer, Harvey Milk's nephew accepted, on behalf of his slain uncle, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, and I think things are slowly getting better.  In October, a year after vetoing the bill, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law declaring May 22 to be Harvey Milk Day, a state holiday--evidence of the clout not only of Milk's legacy but of frilly, superficial "gay" things like Academy Awards.

Attitudes about homosexuality are changing--as indeed they slowly have been for the past forty years.  Before she died, even my mother came to repent of her words to me in '76 and accept my boyfriend at the time as another son to her (the Irish one who kept seeing blue lights in the rearview mirror), if never exactly comfortable with the idea of him as my bedfellow.

Anyway, to quote Harvey Milk and give him the last word, as he no doubt would have insisted:
I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And You... And You... And You... Gotta give em hope.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Whatever else his long, unprecedented life might have been, it had been fun.  Fun!  If others should find that appraisal shallow, frivolous, so be it.  To him, it seemed now to largely have been some form of play.  And he vowed that in the future he would strive to keep that sense of play more in mind, for he'd grown convinced that play--more than piety, more than charity or vigilance--was what allowed human beings to transcend evil.
.... Our individuality is all, all, that we have.  There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life's bittersweet route.
from Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins (1984)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Big Daddy Kane was in North Carolina to see the soul sensation Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro.  The place was packed.  About half the crowd could remember soul--real soul music, from back in the 1960s--the music of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown, Archie Dell, Aretha Franklin--before funk, which is to say, then, before disco and before hip-hop.  The rest were college students happily tuning into the latest retro thing.

The opening act, LA band Fitz and the Tantrums, killed, particularly on the upbeat numbers like "Breakin' the Chains of Love" and "Dear Mr. President."  In her closing number--the most familiar of her hits "100 Days, 100 Nights"--Ms. Jones invited FatT lead singer Noelle Scaggs to share the song and spotlight with her--it was a fantastic moment between two incredible talents.

And Jones used the moment to extol the virtues of singing with a live band--a tightly knit and astounding one at that, with two backup singers, a three-man horn section, drummer, bongo player, keyboardist, and three (I think) guitarists--over fronting to pre-recorded studio tracks--as the band allows her just the sort of spontaneity she exhibited over and over throughout the evening--and she lit up the small stage for almost two hours.  The lady is goddamned 54 years old, and she shimmied, boogalooed, tightened-up, mashed-potatoed, and rode the pony with hardly a moment taken to breathe.

Jones sang her best stuff--fervent anthems and R&B, songs from her last two albums like "I Learned the Hard Way," "Money," "She Aint a Child No More," "Mama Don't Like My Man," and "Nobody's Baby."  Fun party songs and the blues--but every bit of it suffused with a consciousness of where America is today--no less than Dylan did in the '60s and Springsteen and Run-DMC in the '80s.  But a highlight for me was her soulful rendition of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land"--particularly a verse I had never paid any attention to until tonight--
As I was walkin - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - No tres-passin
But on the other side - It didn't say nuthin
Now that side was made for you and me!
The concert was an Event.  A celebration of sheer human energy and heart in the face of a world that is unfair, unjust, unkind, and unloving.  I feel all wound up and elated--with no place to put it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Plus ça fin du monde, plus la même chose

Don't tell me the world is ending; I've known all about it since 1965.

At Yokota Air Force Base, where my father was stationed then, I developed a strange, age-inappropriate relationship with a private who worked under my father.  I was (let's see) twelve, and he was about twenty.  If you're worried about sex, forget about it.  Whatever abuse he dealt me, he kept it clear of my genitals.  I can't even remember the guy's looks enough to tell you whether I wish we had fucked.

This guy--who's name is lost to me now--something rather colorless like Glenn or Bruce--(yeah, I'm a Joe, so who am I to talk about colorless, right?)--anyway, this guy told me about Nostradamus.  And he told me that, according to Nostradamus, the world would end in 1969.  (This date was later confirmed for me by a "scholar"--"spokesman"?--on biblical prophecy who assured the congregation of the church I belonged to then that indeed nineteen-hundred-and-sixty-nine was when the Books of Revelation and Daniel foretold it was all coming down.)  More particularly, the GI told me, that Nostradamus, properly translated, said that in 1969 the earth would experience fireworks visible from the planet Mars.

Even earlier, of course, I had seen Twilight Zone episodes that depicted the planet's demise--along with the movies (on TV) The Day the Earth Stood Still, The War of the Worlds, and On the Beach.  I grew up during the peak of the cold war years--on SACS air bases, where, beginning in the third grade, we watched Civil Defense films showing bunnies and human (GI) volunteers subjected to nuclear radiation and had monthly Civil Defense drills in which we not only "ducked and covered" (in case of an atomic blast) but also ran to imaginary school buses which the government would provide in order to haul our innocent prepubescent asses out of harm's way--with the catch that we would "probably" never see our parents again (a prospect most of us accepted with less emotion than the agonizing death of the bunny in the film we had watched).

In the Christian high school I attended in Miami, the one I was enrolled in when the fateful year of 1969 came and went, we took a state-required course in Americanism vs Communism.  One of our assignments was to create a "Signs of the Times" notebook, in which we collected newspaper evidence that the Rapture and the prophesied seven years of Tribulation were "nigh."  I may even have that document someplace or other, though, now that I think of it, I'm not sure it's the sort of thing I would have saved.  I seem to recall that I counted the Off-Broadway success of Oh! Calcutta! as one of the clear signs of Jesus's imminent return.

Subsequently, I have survived other deadlines--1984 and Y2K, most notably, with hardly a scratch.  No doubt the Martians are still awaiting their fireworks show.

Just twenty years ago I would have guessed that we wouldn't be around in 2010.  After Vietnam and Watergate, history has struck me as unpoetically anticlimactic.  The Age of Aquarius gave way to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  In the 1980s, we got AIDS, the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, the Tienanmen Square massacre, Ted Bundy, the fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie, the Time-Warner merger, the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Prince William Sound, and the savings and loan crisis that cost taxpayers over $200 billion in bailouts (not counting the losses in personal savings)--we Americans are still under the delusion that it was only communism that collapsed in the late 1980s.  Apocalypse is, of course, not over yet--just more expensive.  Nuclear holocaust of the sort we imagined in Doctor Strangelove and Fail-Safe is bargain-basement stuff compared to the shit we're having to live with year after year.  For what it will cost to clean up the Gulf of Mexico we could have blown up the world ten times in 1970 dollars.

Almost every culture known to man has believed that the world would end in its own time--a myth I suspect that Jung would have interpreted as embodying the human consciousness's conviction that nothing can survive it.  Even Jesus and the apostle Paul advised their followers not to marry and procreate because ... what's the point?  It's all going to end before the cake is paid for and the kids are out of braces.

However, my point is not that the world is not ending.  It is, most definitely, it is.  But I suspect it's a much different process than the movies and the bible would have us to believe.  I suspect 2012 is a lot more exciting than the actual end of the world will be.  Just like a Hollywood death is so much more dramatic--and fast--than the real deal is.  Bang bang you're dead?  Try visiting an ER sometime.

But the world is ending, all right.  No doubt in my mind about that.

I sense that we face a scenario closer to the frog slowly boiling in the pot on the stove.  The fates know that if the end came too precipitously, we humans would finagle a way out of it--build arks, bury ourselves in Disneyland-sized bunkers, cryopreserve ourselves like Di Giorno pizzas, shoot ourselves into outer space to colonize new planets, or at least shoot Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck into space to vaporize any invading meteors.

Instead, we lose a few species of jellyfish, and we're cool with that.  The prospect that oil supplies are slowly dwindling doesn't stop us from destroying the rest of the planet to get to whatever little bit of it is left.  We experience disasters like those in Tienanmen Square, in Iran, after the crackdown on the post-election protests, and in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, like they are Movies of the Week--mined for their emotional tingles, then quickly forgotten.  Americans were ready to impeach a President 40 years ago for criminal and anti-constitutional behavior--nowadays, anything short of a blowjob--say, torturous interrogations, "preventive" wars, suppression of free speech, denial of human rights, etc., etc., etc.--gets barely a nod from the American public.  As long as climate change occurs slowly, in glacial increments, nobody's going to do anything real to stop it--not unless we can determine that the solution will somehow be "good for business."

The way the world is really ending is pretty boring.  It's sort of the way youth fades with old age, so that when death finally comes, inevitably, it doesn't appear quite so tragic as, say, the death of Tutankhamun or John Keats or James Dean or Kurt Cobain or Heath Ledger.  The earth doesn't appear to be dying young and "leaving a good-looking corpse" at all.  It's crumbling through slow erosion, cynicism, indifference, a cessation in the evolution of new and exciting ideas.

The world is hooked up to a life support machine called Hope.  We believe Progress is inevitable--what we get for just being the special beings that we are.  We've got facelifts and Viagra to take our minds off Health.  Elections and 24-hour news to take our minds off History.  Bumper stickers and Twitter to take our minds off Philosophy.  Vocoders and drum machines to take our minds off Music.  Shopping malls and the Internet to take our minds off Community.  Blogs, like even this one, to take our minds off the clear logical lines of Reason and Ethical Argument.

The more the world promises to end, the more it just stays the same.  But make no mistake about it--it is ending.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day! May Day!


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