Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Brave Minority Stand Against Tomatoismo.

Lincoln has always seemed more urban to me when it's raining; even more "eastern"somehow.  There's probably no good explanation for this. I recall being struck by the way BO-WSH denizens found rain to be wholly unexceptional but it's all just magical thinking on my part even so.  I would more appreciate a climate where the hydration we need came in the form of an hour-long light storm every day at sunset and be done with it.  It was in fact not so long ago, within my own adulthood even, that the Northern Plains spring was something like that.  But climate change has warped our reality already.  Now it is dry for weeks on end and when rain does come it is in the form of hour after hour after hour after fucking hour of never not raining. It's quite obnoxious for one who prefers walking for local travel. A jet stream that shall drunk dance forever now; leaving no prevailing conditions at all for a body to acclimatize itself to.

One need only look at space photos of America to see why our cultural west extends well to the east of our physical center. The Rockies and the cold current on our side of the Pacific combine to change green to brown quite suddenly from above. (Though of course it takes hours on the ground) Still there are fools, the militia fucks and more sympathizers of them than you wanna know, who still cling to that old "rain follows the plow' magic thinking; blaming a conspiracy of hippies and bureaucrats for why the interior west lacks the density and economic stability of Iowa or what have you.

Respect to the man who named his movie about the Turner rebellion "Birth of a Nation".  I haven't seen it yet.  It could suck like as not; but even so that's some motherfucking steel right there.  In "Rules for Radicals" Alinsky dismisses the supposedly vital question of means vs. ends as a red herring; and I agree with him wholeheartedly on this in the abstract. But in practice this must necessarily mean coming down on the side of ends mustn't it?   By Saul's logic for example Nat Turner was wrong for the precise reason that he lost.  And because he did lose the condition of slaves grew even more oppressive while rationalizations for slavery became even more Queen Gertrude dogmatic and intense. There is however a truly important ethical quandary here; as of course the provocation for slave revolt was far deeper than what led a minority of East Coast colonialists to revolt against Britain.

It is a lucky thing that I am of the post-modern left and thus reject the very idea that there can be either affirmation or damnation in historic origins.  When I say that it does not matter if our national origins are good or bad or that there is no such thing as any human institution having a prevailing and inherent good or evil nature there is no Queen Gertrude at all in that I assure you.  Certainly not.

Much has been made of the fat that Griffith's 'Birth of a a Nation' was a huge blockbuster and not wrongly so. This fact does indeed speak poorly of our culture.  It is no coincidence after all that the film's popularity coincided with the most psychopathic white pogroms in US history.  The William Brown riot in Omaha, murdering fucks straight up air-bombing the black side of Tulsa.  Our social trends were paralleling those of pre-fascist Europe.  Anxiety over a more urban and less routinely intimate state of being, a new ambiguity around identity and 'place'.  The idea of one's life having value precisely insomuch as one's genes exclusively did, though by no means new, given a temporally unique ferocity by these things.

Still for whatever little it may be worth it is so that no small amount of the film's profits came from a particular subgroup of people who paid to see it twenty times in a month of ten in a day.  At the core of authoritarianism and bigotry is a need for validation so intense as to be tantamount to drug addiction.  The "Left Behind" books for example did not dominate the best seller lists because they suddenly became more loved by more people than Huck Finn or Hamlet but because of a built-in audience who would by five for themselves eight for the kids and three for the church-skipping neighbor.  Or think of the old complaints about 'liberal media bias'.  Purported examples of this largely boiling down to casual suggestions that 'conservative' is not synonymous with 'normal' or that there could be such a thing as being so conservative as to exist outside of 'mainstream' social mores.  There was never quite a point when 50+% of the general US public was all "go Klan go" is what I'm saying.  We do at minimum have that small morning grace note going for us. 

I nearly wrote "extreme" where I placed "intense" in the last paragraph but thought better of it. Extreme is taken to imply "unusual" and addiction in the form of superiority nicotine or the classic cowboy combo of both is in fact the overwhelming human norm.  We are going to die.  All of our family friends and intimate partners are going to die. All of our holidays or particular styles of food, clothing music etc. that may give us some connection to folk a century removed from us on one side or the other are going to die. Of course there is no such thing as dealing with this in a rational and utilitarian manner. It is not for example such a wild leap of logic to conclude that if other religions are acceptable than one's own faith cannot actually be a cure for annihilation.

I have inherited my mother's contradictory love of salsa and loathing for raw tomatoes.  In me the loathing has in fact grown into outright phobia.  My first conception of intolerance or conformist thinking may have at age eight or so; when I saw an old woman at a church dinner spontaneously chop up a tomato and throw it into an already-prepared bowl of lettuce.  Then she grabbed three more and said "let's just throw these ones in there too.  Who was going to have salad without tomatoes anyway?"  My God but she seriously just up and fucking did that.

Or in fact my conception probably goes back even further; to when I was two or three and my grandma was about to spank me for not cleaning the tomatoes off of my plate until my mother intervened. Fuck you Grandma.  Fuck your garden fuck your grave and fuck your church.  I am free for so long as no unaltered tomato touches my lips. My mother and I are the whole of a free nation.  Any children I may have can join unless they eat that shit in which case they'll be shipped off to Spain to live as fatherless freaks with a forced name change because fuck them too.

Does it seriously not occur to some that there's a reason the word "taste" is used as shorthand for any arbitrary, value-neutral personal preference?  Well of course it occurs to them, the truly stupid are very rare, they just can't stand it is all.  They have such a strong need for assurance that they are always doing something worthwhile that they will not accept anything in the vastness of human being as value-neutral. In their eyes the neutral is actually bad because it is wasting time and is thus death. Sexual prudery and sneering contempt for tolerance are surely related to this but that's a whole nother rant.

Behind all operatic rhetoric of cultural purity or national superiority is a poorly hidden petulant child.  The elitist tyranny of holiday trees, bicycle lanes, carrot dogs with Dijon mustard, the quest for cheap arugula.      

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Just Found “Osprey” on My Flipphone Wordsearch Game


Is Fatboy Slim still making “triumphant comeback” albums?  He was never that good in the first place.  Really quite bowdlerized.  People were vaguely aware that Techno was “in” during the nineties.  There was at least an agreement among white Americans that this should be so but we didn’t really want the full force of being perpetually half-dead on hard drugs and eager to riot that came with real British club culture.  Prodigy were where that was at.

The thing about growing up on the edge of nowhere in the nineties was that we didn’t really get all of the Starbucks jokes on TV.  It was only on my trips down to Denver, walking through downtown, that I realized that Starbucks was indeed very big but not in the same way as McDonalds. They weren’t trying to put a franchise in every small town that had a halfway major highway junction.  Instead they were placing a Starbucks every three or four blocks in dense urban cores for the foot traffic.  I could have gone my whole life with the concept of businesses catering to foot traffic remaining ever foreign to me.  Once home in NP for a holiday I left my parents house, parked my van at some random spot and walked to a park or something.  My aunt saw me walking and called my mom in a panic.  My mom in turn called me breathlessly to ask if I was ok.  My aunt you see was wholly convinced that choosing to walk when you have a car right there was proof of extreme mental distress, and even my mom remained suspicious that this wasn’t the case.

There is a sincere assumption here that small towns and suburbs are known by universal genetic instinct to be the One True Human Habitat.  Their politics run from right-wing to moderate partly because they cannot fathom the city environment where different cultures and lifestyles blend matter-of-factly instead of being gracefully “allowed”.  A high degree of common background, life cycle and experience is their honestly lived understanding of How Society Works.  When I lived in Chicago and followed the standard practice of going downstairs to the corner grocery everyday for the handful I required for the next meal my mother snarkily asked me if I wished I had a car so I wouldn’t have to do that.

They are mentally aware that there are cities that outpopulate North Platte by 100-to-1 margin but again do not really grasp the implications. In their hearts they are assured that their environment is the universal norm and cities are deviant. Complete with the racial assumption that all big cities are eternally 1990’s Compton or 1970’s Beirut.   We would visit my walking-is-madness aunt in Lake Havasu Arizona, a venal orphaned cityless suburb with no sidewalks and an economy based on nothing but its own real estate growth. We would drive straight through for twenty one hours and this was as hellish as it was dangerous.  I would occasionally suggest meeting her side of the family halfwayish in Albuquerque but my dad wouldn’t have it.  “I refuse to take my family there” he righteously said. Mexicans you see.  Gangs and such.

There’s an all-night diner on East Colfax that I adore, and that I also know to be adored by other hipster/bohemians, (just who the hell are my greater in-group anyway?)  I should remember its name but I do not.  Good biscuits and gravy; coffee middling but more importantly endless. Same as a lot of places.  The new popularity of biscuits and gracy among my crowd is a bit jarring. This is my rural mother’s specialty you see. “Good hangover food” she has always said and so it is. 

Denver and even Chicago are still small enough to not quite never sleep.  They nap between three & six or so on the weeknights.  And in these hours with the quiet and the morning nature smells one can sense the layers of modern urbanity stripped away and feel the frontier outposts these places had once been; especially of course in Denver’s case.  I loved to step out for coffee in these hours either to a Starbucks or to a local place, keeping up my entrenched old man habit of reading mainstream newspapers hardcopy.  Ten minutes or so on the local and another twenty or so on the New York Times.  Strong coffee when you’ve been sleepless is like acid and orgasm both at once.

It occurs that the shape and physical size of Lincoln is eerily similar to the eastern half of Denver proper.  Replace Salt Creek with the South Platte and then like as like the railyard on the eastern side of the floodplain with downtown and the neighborhoods flowing out from there. 

I once had a friend named Gabe who made his living stealing lawn mower engines, garage door openers, things left in unlocked cars etc.  He did this both to have money for drugs (All of them) and to drive down to the Denver rave scene every weekend.  The first time I went to a party of Gabe’s his new puppy had somehow gotten out and took the underside of my car for a hidey hole.  Upon leaving I had crushed it quite to death before knowing it was there.  (Though it apparently lingered pointlessly in great pain for some minutes.)  I spent the rest of that night drunk-weeping alone in guilt but Gabe forgave me the next day.  He was actually a very kindhearted man and never once did he jack any of my family’s shit. 

By and by I started going with him on these Denver trips.  One Saturday we went to a rave that was pointedly marketed as ‘drug free’ but Gabe bought some E’s for it anyway.  He was going to give me some but got accosted by security and had to eat all eight pills on the spot.  The security man was no fool and we got kicked out.  Gabe took to the wheel of his car as usual; it never occurred to me to take the wheel as it was His Car after all, and we wondered through the northern half of downtown aimlessly for awhile while he attempted to swallow his esophagus and smoke with his left eyeball while insisting that Paul Atreides’ name was “Duke.”  The Denver PD inevitably pulled us over.  Gabe stuck his entire body out the window said “What no loves?” and asked the police where Nebraska was.  The cops laughed, knowing he was driving under the influence of something and not giving a shit.  (“Always the Nebraska kids” or something like that they said.)  It was white privilege  at its most; actually quite fantastically dangerous.  The cops pointed us toward the freeway ramp and we eventually found our way to I-76, rolling through the high plains at 110mph sometimes and 25 at others but making it back alive as so we remain.  Gabe now teaches boxing in Topeka last that I heard. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mens Hats Were Forbidden Until The End

My late grandparents house, now owned by their eldest son/my Ugly American uber alles uncle, lies along a colonial extension of North Platte across the interstate from the main body of town tucked between the rivers.  It has an elaborately finished basement that was complete with bar before granpa tired of my mother, aunts, uncles, and then older cousins siphoning liquor for themselves.  Though there are still remnants of that bar to this day so far as I know. A bottle of Seagram's gin and another of triple sec from the Kennedy administration or before; with the labeling near-identical to today's.  The South Platte river runs half a mile from the house, and I'm told that sealing the basement from water that was neither quite Platte or aquifer was a great expense. But hold it did, even against the fiercest summer storms. There had been a pool table until we grandkids stole all of the balls.  After that it was made a bench where Grandpa would complete 5000 piece puzzles in a matter of days; hacking at them for three hours at a time or more. In the rear of the basement were the laundry machines, accessorized by a chute from the main four that my four-year-old self had gotten stuck in trying to slide through. Next to that was grandpa's workshop, including a plastic sign business that he ran on the side. Next to this an ancient dead pinball machine that was gotten rid of at some point in the 90's; and next to that a fridge that held 30-packs of Beast Ice that would last for years, doled out in servings of precisely one to relatives of the senior generation when I came to visit. When I took to pilfering six at a time for myself as a teen this went completely unnoticed so far as I know. Granpa preferred bourbon, keeping up a homewrecker-per-week pace into his seventies, mixed with a flat 7-Up that no hell-fearing child dare touch.

The backyard was a full acre. It was the edge of town as I said and the neighbors always kept a horse or two. There were gophers, moles, discarded rattlesnake skins.  My grandparents kept several rows of corn and sold some too. There were many planted and eaten by my own hands and those of all the rest of us as well.  Also potatoes, always planted on Good Friday by old world Catholic custom though of course the date varies by weeks from year to year and the frontier between winter and spring in Nebraska is more arbitrary still. Still it worked. The potato crop always came through.  I remember it being unfailingly rawly cold for these Good Friday plantings and the strange appropriateness of this keeping me in the faith for longer than reason otherwise would have.

The front porch is about ten feet above ground; (as is the main floor, which became a sore problem when my grandparents became to ill to properly walk) The prevailing sound here in all seasons is that of interstate traffic and prairie wind blended as one. The sights are that of the trees that mark the property front, the hulking beast of a mailbox next to the slots for the World-Herald & Telegraph, the neighbors horses, sometimes towing a hobby wagon along the semi-rural street, the half-visible interstate with the trees of river and town beyond, to the east the hotel & gas station towers for the I-80/Jeffers Street exchange ramps, to the south the hydro plant and the rim of the valley, the short rolling grass hills that extend from this comparative hive of humanity for longer than most nations go. In the warm season Satanically large spiders where you reach uncarefully and cottonwood seeds from the river dancing about most anywhere you look. Grasshoppers as big as a grown hand, the singing barbs on their legs large enough to draw blood.  What you sense above all else on this porch is the smell of the Plains; earth and pollinating grass, wet grass, baking grass dying of thirst.

When there was a tornado warning it was the standard policy of all family branches to drive across town to the grandparents mechabasement. If worse came to worse there would be something like food in the fridge and a radio telling us of the outside world. Grandpa's electric would hold for as long as there was any electricity in the town at all. My first tornado memory that sticks is from 1986 when I was four. It was aunt someone-or-another's birthday and the extended family was in Grandma's living room watching Ghostbusters on VHS. They of course had already a lifetime of tornado memories. The great Omaha tornado, the one that had zipped up 72nd street like a lost outstater looking for Wendy's and was the nation's most expensive natural disaster until hurricane Andrew, was only a decade past; and that in turn was only eight years past when my grandparents had white-flighted the family out of Omaha into the west. Anyhow on this day in 86 my grandfather Knew that this summer storm was especially wicked. So he went out to that porch to watch the western sky and I, a big boy now, went out to join him. And it was here that I learned to Know the signs that he Knew; the smell of ozone, the strange cinematic clarity of the air, a sudden absurd iciness to the June wind, the subtle drug high of dropping barometer, the animal body sense that Something Is About To Happen.  I learned all of this on that afternoon and every tornado since has in many ways been the same experience repeated.

As I stood out there with Grandpa my mother said something or another about finding this adorable. I'm sure it was.  I was in fact a cute motherfucker when I was little. It was a few years later when I was still quite a young child that I realized that this was in fact a futile gesture on my Grandpa's part. He wasn't going to shoot the tornado or warn it against trespassing. I realized that it was actually an empty show of masculine protection, that all such gestures or nearly all were empty shows. I at least had been four years old and wired to emulate adult behaviors. My grandfather had no such excuse and now I faced the problem at nine or so of growing up in western Nebraska fully aware that the very idea of Strong Protective Manhood was a God damn fraud with all these affectedly gruff hambones about me.

Nothing came of that tornado. Or actually it may have hit a ranch somewhere to the southwest and killed some bulls. Town remained safe. We retreated to that basement for half an hour or so and my mother passed around her rum to fellow adults; that cough-syrup Captain Morgan shit that she drinks to this day; and that was all there was to it.

My uncle Dave inherited the house as I've said before.  He and my Aunt Gail keep house terribly, dirty clothes and dishes scattered about the place, my grandparents crucifixes and Marion pictures replaced by angry eagles superimposed on flags and related army shit, the magnificent garden left fallow for dogs as overweight as my uncle to flop around in. There was a family fourth of July in the backyard a couple of years ago.  My uncle had forbidden anyone from a family branch not his own from entering the house but I went in to use the bathroom anyway. "And you're here because?" he asked me, pure sarcastic anger. Asking me to state my business in the house where I'd slept in a cradle, where my single mother went to when we needed shelter and knew we would have it, with the dining table I'd help to set, the carpets I'd help to vacuum, and the grandparents I had help to tend to as they very slowly died. I looked my uncle in the eye and it was the only time in my adult life that I wanted to hit another person. As it was I told him I was going to take a piss and walked right past him.

I've only ever been able to think of two motives for getting rich. One is to travel ceaselessly until whenever I drop. The other is to be rooted in home. To one day own this house for myself. to have the prairie smell and the wind and a small plot of earth to touch and to farm and to be of. Leave me heedlessly barefoot in the sharp summer grass with the snakes hiding somewhere and I could be happy at seventy. Yet then again it is past. I have willingly made my life elsewhere and what after all could any white person on these Plains really know about loss of history or home?

I happened to be home a week before my Grandpa died of cancer, and Grandma also on her way out from the Alzheimer's that would take her six months later. My Grandpa's pain and humiliation at a ruined body had led him to scream in rage whenever he woke up and learned that the last drift wasn't It. He spoke frankly of his anger at God to the nun who brought his communion every day and this was unthinkable five years before. Grandpa was the Pope. On one afternoon I returned Grandma from a doctor's appointment and led her into his dying room.  He was facing away from her towards the wall; not by choice but because he had lost the strength to turn himself and screamed in pain whenever someone else tried to turn him. Grandma said some half-sensical nicities to him and then left. Leaving Grandpa to scream "Oh God why can't I move just enough to see my wife?  Shirley, Shirley, I love you."  Grandma kept moving oblivious to this. Sixty years of love and nearly a hundred in-laws and descendants had done them nothing to protect them from facing death with no company except their own broken selves.     

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I Rap Better Than Beran

"Endowing common sense with papal powers of infallibility isn't commonsensical. Truth defies our immediate intuition sometimes; and while it is to our benefit to find the truth this is not to say that the truth is there "for" us.  It is not. Thus whether truth is simple or complex is a matter of chance.  It has no inclination to be either."-Me

I've watched a small bit of the new series about the OJ Simpson trial.  It's good dope. The fact of the matter is that Mark Fuhrman has probably jailed several innocent black men with glee but OJ of course wasn't one of them. The paths of a racist white cop and a black man who was indeed guilty of 'savagery' happened to cross and there is no force commanding that they shouldn't have.  Crooked timber and all that.  The series amply demonstrates how the American ideal of impartial justice is often hypocritical or willfully ignored but more fundamentally it is just that; an ideal. Coldly detaching an individual incident from one's larger understanding of society and the world is just not how the human brain works. The human brain seeks patterns and narrative and strains to find evidence that its presumptions are correct.  It is thus impossible to quarantine any justice system from prevailing social biases. Or from attempts from victims of that bias to fight back for that matter.  It is also quite bittersweetly funny to have my teenage concept of the nineties as a New Dawn of Hip revealed as no such thing at all; as no more than the backwash of the eighties really.  But that's neither here nor there.

Without looking it up I know that Nebraska had a governor Thorne or was it Thorn at some point in the middle-distant past. For whatever the fuck reason I dreamed last night that he had been a semi-dictator from the thirties until the fifties; a great man who single handedly willed the Sod House republic into the modern age.  I know of that is the least bit true and I have no idea what this dream "meant".  I know that no one is wholly innocent of the fascist impulse or prevailing bigotries and of course I count myself among no one. A strong man who puts our doubts to ease and is always right by circular definition because truth is defined by the man strong enough to win the title of Father.  Sometimes people wake up to the fact that their 5-year-old perception of a world safely controlled by Big People with Big Minds much greater than their own is not actually how the world works' nor has the world ever "worked" in any way at all.  Others never wake up to this because it is scarwy.

I do know that there were Nebraskans living in soddies until well into the 1970's. I know that in Valentine the Norfolk Daily News is still more widely read than the North Platte Telegraph (though North Platte is a full hour closer) because the N/S highway for NP was not paved until the fifties and Norfolk is the nearest large town along Valentine's beaten path to Omaha. I know that the body of Nebraska is to this day that of an octopus; with multiple corridors filtering into the OmaLink and contact between these corridors being much more likely to come through Omaha's mediation than through direct north/south travel. (McCook is still faintly more foreign to me than Kearney is.) I know that the ether of grass between these corridors does effect our character greatly all the same. Makes the mindset of even our comparatively large towns and cities a bit more rural; a little more beefy, sourkrauty, light beerier, cattle tank canoeier. I am few generations removed from farms in that ether and so are many of us. There are a pack of Berans in the Ord/Burwell area; though in most cases the common ancestor is distant enough that we could legally fuck if we wanted to. It may even be as distant as Joseph the first American Beran who dodged the Austro-Hungarian draft and settled abouts Taylor.

My grandfather recalled the eight hour, 150 mile drive to Omaha in his father's Model F or whatever it was.  To this day my relations and I follow Grandpa's secret shortcut from NP to Grandma's Lutheran folk in the Sioux City/Falls area; a Byzantine staircase pattern through narrowly paved state highways and county roads.  It is faster than the interstate as a matter of fact though now that I think of it this largely depends on one's will to take advantage of 1 cop per 50 square miles country & hit the fucking peddle. The route could I suppose work the same for Denver-Minneapolis traffic just as well; and whether I am boring you with all this trivia or giving you something you may find useful I've no idea.  RIP Thorne.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

We Came to The Party to Kill The Fucking Party

The first time I heard system of a Down sing "Aya Fit Da Hey Vah!" it was a true political awakening. The first Kottenmouth Kings fan I met was a man named Keith who liked to huff duster in the absence of other drugs. He'd moved down to North Platte from Laramie where he had meth partied with the murderers of Matt Shepard among others. My girlfriend at the time was from Laramie too. She had known Keith from there and admitted to having a crush on him because of his piercing eyes, self assurance and 1999 special Slim Shady cigarette butt dye job. One day Keith got drunk at a festival in Hershey, (the first village westward) and parked some antique tractors on the railroad for amusement's sake. The combined damage was somewhere between half and a full million as I recall and Keith went to jail. My girlfriend and I turned his empty trailer into a squater's love nest for about a month.  I was there alone and high one day watching an NET documentary called "March of the Cranes" which was climaxed by ten minutes of a man in a bird suit doing his own interpretation of this dance in downtown Omaha. There was no sound but the urban ambiance while this man acted the runaway from Parliment-Funkadelic and it was one of the most enthralling experiences of my life. Since then I've made no small effort to find this scene again on Youtube etc. but to no avail. All thrill of new experience is dead to me now. I could have a child and see this thrill secondhand but even then it would still be someone else's. BB King died eight years after I would have guessed but he is dead even so. My ex-girlfriend for her part tried to ditch North Platte several times but failed. She lives on the north side now with a man named Reuben not far from her parents trailer.

I suppose that Hillary's core problem is that she is a deeply conventional person and that just doesn't gel with the Idea of a revolutionary BIg Fucking Deal first woman. She's so conventional that she'd probably need a grander reason for burning a US flag beyond fire, drugs, 'it's the 4th of July let's burn a flag in front of the fuckin Normal's kids FTW'.  The old problem I suppose of social minorities needing to be 'twice as good'.  Hillary is simply not amazing in the way we half-consciously expect groundbreakers to be. She isn't even so much "good" really, more like mall food made tolerable with Sriracha doctoring. In an important symbolic sense she is the mall; and not one of those absurd new "town square" malls one finds in the exurbs but one of those busted old malls one finds in inner-ring suburbs that aren't that sub anymore. Hillary is Crossroads Mall and Applebee's is on the fade. There are to be sure the more straightforward sexists who cannot stand any woman being more powerful and admired than themselves; and I remember the 90's when they rorschached  themselves into seeing a radical Druid priestess of some kind when there was really just a thoroughly standard white middle-class suburbanite grooving to Jackson Browne. This trope has dried out a bit over time but is still very much out there.

Those who rail most fiercely against the evils of cultural relativism or political correctness are the ones who are most in thrall to comforting non-truths.  If a perfectly neutral Vulcan summoned by Dennis DeYoung came down from the stars and scientifically proved that our own culture was superior the real no-nonsense response to this would be 'So fucking what?' now wouldn't it? What terrible danger or hardship are we needlessly subjecting ourselves to by not agreeing to presume ourselves superior?  There is none and you know this. What glorious good are we needlessly denying ourselves by not presuming we're the shit?  There is none and you know this. Oceans of ink expressing very serious concern for the survival of True Western Values. It is very serious bullshit. A lust for effort-free ego juice wrapped in the gloss of patriotic duty.

My community college history professor had his own Geocities site. Red text on black, MIDI Verdi. On his office door he had posted that bullshit story of General Pershing dipping bullets in pigs blood to put down "Muslim Terrorists" in the Philippines. When of course these people had not been moved to fight by any religious motive at all. They were Philippine independence fighters who happened to be Muslim fighting alongside the Catholics who'd been fucking backstabbed by McKinley's decision to "Christianize" them. Neither were the rebels subdued by hellfire fears of dying with pigs blood in their systems, nor as Snopes points out was Ireland kept forever British through regular Friday steak bombings.

I've read that cooking pork smells similar to burning baby and if you've read Judges; well there are certain social conditions that lead to this smell becoming common knowledge. Beyond that I've my own religious heritage of dietary laws and you have yours. 'Cultural relativism is evil' right right. But I say again that I know you don't really think so. The blind spot in our thinking isn't necessarily that their dietary laws aren't superstitious and silly, but in presuming that our religious rules are wise and good Traditional values because I am good because I am good because I am me.

The Norfolk bank murderers are Latino.  Their victims were of course white in keeping with the local demographics. The victims were "us" in this way. Teachers, plantworkers, the mid-level office workers of a prairie market hub transforming crops into finance. It seems clear that the assailants originally intended robbery and no more but they were high something panicked them and they took to slaughter without distinction leaving no one alive enough to hand over the money. There was something in Nebraska's execution guidelines requiring proof of 'special malice or depravity' or some such and so the local DA felt compelled to argue that mass slaughter had been the end itself all along. My dad expressed manful rage at the mere possibility that they wouldn't be executed some three or four days after they were arraigned.  He had little more to say on the matter as of course there was no controversy over this being a bad and evil thing; though I've no doubt my dad strained hard as he could to imagine such a controversy.

I've heard that the killers are illegal immigrants, so that if only not.... fucking Clinton...  I've also heard that they are actually citizens born and raised.  It does not matter. What I do know is that they had all been raised in Nebraska since at least toddlerhood and are in fact 'from here' in all essentials. I know that the killers are fundamentally American and fundamentally Plainsmen; instilled with our own regional iconography, our scenery, our seasons, our own particular ideas of manhood, money,  control, fond of the same drugs beloved by rural Midwesterners of all shades.  I know in other words that the Norfolk killers are in all ways "We" and so do you. You may tut about what violent rap lyrics have to say about "Their"culture.  You may insist that the exotic values of those who live on the other side of your own same snow bubble town makes "Them" uniquely prone to violence. You know it isn't true.  You know that I say nothing outlandish when I say that Evil Is We, that if you insist on "believing" that evil is necessarily or at least inclined to be exotic than you are not 'strong' and you sure as fuck ain't no God-Damned Realist. You are a fool for whom lying to yourself is your existence entire. You are an obnoxious childling who play-acts at slaying dragons while covered head-to-toe in your own sour-milk smelling lunch.

You know that the Syrian refugee is neither less or more a potential source of harm than any newborn John Smith.  You know there is no magic of rational civility in driving on the right side instead of left, miles instead of kilometers, football instead of football, one faith that declares itself universally mandatory instead of the other, beer instead of wine, baseball caps instead of lip plates, Law & Order SVU instead of naked news, cottage cheese instead of curds in the raw. You know that there are billions of complex minds humming at the same time, all of them the central character of their own stories and judging you from this perspective; perhaps unfairly, perhaps negatively with good cause. What you will never know with the certainty you would burn the world to have is that you and all who are comfortingly familiar to you are good.  The sidewalk evangelist asks me if I know for sure where I'm going to go when I die.  The answer of course is no. Maybe Wyuka if there's a plot in view of the Capitol. Or next to my mother instead, who made a truck stop hashers bastard and thus made me free.