Sunday, April 20, 2008

Guam!?!? Are You Fucking Kidding Me!?!?

I mean seriously, you have to be fucking kidding me if you think that having Guam, of all places having a say for the presidential race is good for our democracy. Let me be the first to say, "Fuck Guam". I fully believe that if Hillary was set to win she would have said that it was important that their voices be heard.

I wonder if gynecologists are ever asked, "Hey if you're not doing anything this weekend, would you mind coming over and having a look at the wife's plumbing? You know, maybe give it a tweak here and there?"

Perhaps that's a little outlandish, but why is it then that people have no problems asking construction workers to come over and "give them a hand" over the weekend? You wouldn't ask your teacher/professor to come over and give you a lecture on Early American Romanticism. And yet. And yet I must go and install new locks into a friend's house. That is after turning down another offer to go and work a side job. Twice, in fact as if not working Saturday meant that I would want to do it Sunday instead. Let me make this quite clear. 40 hours a week is more than enough work for me. Weekends are spent doing yard work, getting shit faced and catching up on domestic matters.

Interesting conversation over at the Cedar Lounge about elitism and our presidential election as of late. But I think maybe that the more important question one about the white working class in particular feeling bitter versus being bitter.

Now for many, especially internationally the requirements of US Presidents (especially after Dubya) will be low. As Malcolm noted in the seventh comment here. And that is exactly where we go wrong. I would cite if I may, the an early comment left in Malcolm's old place which I not only stand by but feel to be my penultimate contribution (despite three plus postings so far about said upcoming election). Typos and all it really does mark out how I feel about the election and politics in my country.

But back to the comment. This post was supposed to be out before the Pennsylvanian primary finished but as happens the date has come and gone with nothing more than a sigh of exasperation as Hillary soldiers on and shows no signs of stopping no matter what. Obama may do better to take some hints from someone who has been in his position before and simply destroy the brain. I mean seriously tell me there's not a resemblance here.

You can see it in her eyes, those glasses she's gnawing on are only a placebo for her real desire. Suffice to say we must all remember to "organize, before they rise".

But I digress. The comment,

"They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

To me this is one of the first honest things Obama has said on the campaign trail. If anyone wants to get upset by something that Obama said they should've been paying attention to this little snippet,

"Here's the thing, Missoula — I just like saying Missoula, by the way. It's a good name. Missoula. A lot of vowels."

Wow! Now that's leadership material, I know I'm convinced! Okay before I get too carried away with my own shit there are two things that need to be addressed. These are the topics Obama was addressing and the hype and accusations flying around Obama.

While I respect WBS I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one. Obama is an elitist. Let's be clear that just because C. Wright Mills writes something doesn't make it so. He wrote that Hungary '56 was the archetype of a Marxist uprising. Let me be quite clear. My family went out in '56. My wife's family went out in '56. We've met and dealt with a multitude of 56'ers. It may have been many things but it was not a Marxist uprising. But back to Obama and the power elites. I don't particularly care about the semantic particularities that pervade leftist blogs but lets be honest. If you're running for the highest office in the land you're an elitist. You may not be a member of the elite per se (that much I will begrudge) but once you attend an Ivy League school you leave your "common man" roots behind. Joe Blow is quite content to pay his mortgage, stow a little away for retirement and get shit faced on Friday nights, Sundays during football season and any particular day during National Hockey League play-offs (go Avs). Basically we're content to simply fuck up our own lives and leave everyone else alone. To be a politician is to be be extraordinary in the most basic sense that you want to screw with other people's lives. So yes Obama is an elitist, so what? That's like saying shit stinks. We may not like to acknowledge it, but we all know it's true.

Of more concern to me is the rhetoric that flies around Obama. In looking for his insightful comment about Missoula I came across a comment on his appearance in Missoula,

"JC, (0.00 / 0)
Obama really IS another Kennedy [
my emphasis]. So, if you young folks missed the Kennedys the first time around, go see Obama. He's the real deal. We loved the Kennedy's back then, and people now love Obama"

This is quite worrying to me. While Ted Kennedy may be quite safe for re-election I loathe and mistrust the Kennedy legacy. I don't particularly care about JFK's womanizing, though he did set the bar rather high. Of more concern to me is the secondary Kennedy brother. I reflect on Malcolm's post about RFK. To me the face of Jim Crow America is not the face of an overweight Alabama Sheriff but the face of a young and aspiring Kennedy. Yes RFK's rankling of Hoffa does chafe my ass in that he equated corrupt business unionism with the threat of communism and the threat of the general strike (which is a legitimate aspiration for labor IMO) thereby tarring all unions as red havens even though he knew otherwise. But my real issue with RFK is that while he was attorney general he approved letting J. Edgar Hoover loose upon Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole.

So although history in the main sense blames backwoods hillbillies we would well to remember that the Kennedy bhoys were quite content to suppress the civil rights movement when it suited them. It was only when resistance to civil rights become a liability did the Federal government crack on organizations like the KKK, ie pragmatism rather than principle. And that's fine, who are we to judge history?

Here's the the thing though. I've noted before how long time Democrats are dropping out of the party over their concerns about the party. Muddying the waters is of course the uniquely American idea that we are all middle class. But immigration is really muddying the waters. Now maybe I'm being hyper sensitive but when there are signs in my friend's yard all year round about stopping illegal immigration. Lifelong democratic voters who say they'll stay home before voting Republican defend Douglas Bruce in regards peasant comments. And extremely conservative Catholics say that we need a "revolution" (his words), I start to worry.

"Why?" you ask? Well as much as the term fascism is thrown around in terms of everything authoritarian it should be remembered that it does have rather specific connotations. Importantly it has to do with non-traditional conservative thought and hostility towards the left. I don't know if what I'm seeing counts as fascism. I wouldn't characterize the men I work with as fascist or even really authoritarian or reactionary. Men like my coworkers and friends have made up the back bone of the union movement for a generation. Maybe some would consider them as "Reagan Democrats" in our brave new world of infinite special interest groups. But it wasn't always as such and the fact that that term is getting a new and ever increasing demographic during a Democratic resurgence should be cause for worry.

My concern is not if we take to the barricades, but that when we do that it will not be in defense of the general ideals set forth by the Confederation but by those espoused by the National Syndicalists and their relative successors. Although to take that seriously, one would actually have to study fascism, conservatism, and liberalism and their place in society, something which we are ill prepared to do.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Why Some Legends Should Be Left Alone

Alright so I don't get out much, I know. I see more movies at home than I could ever hope to see at the theatre. So it's no surprise that I just saw "I am Legend" last night on DVD. I doubt anyone remembers the book. I mean to be honest even though they took the title from the book it was really just Omega Man with the Fresh Prince of Bel air (spelling?) instead of that guy from the Planet of the Apes. I read the book well over a decade ago (sixth grade to be exact and from a decrepit Denver Public School library).

There are so many things wrong with the movie that I don't even know where to start. So why don't we just start at the ending. The only reason I remember this book is the ending, which is the title. The whole point of the story is that far from being the end of society it's only the beginning of a new society and that our hero is the new villain of said society who are far more advanced than our protagonist previously gave them credit for. This is not only highlighted by the fact that the vampires can stay in the sun for certain periods or that they could have captured/killed him at really any point, but that they have created new myths (yes this a recurring theme here). And he is at the very center of them as the new boogie man, hence, "I am legend".

Now I will give Will Smith credit that at least in this version our protagonist meets his end with his blowing up rather than the Omega Man's sorry ending of the crucifixion of the new savior. What really chafes my ass is that the movies are exactly the opposite of the what the book was trying to get at. Just before he blows himself up along with the lead dark seeker Smith sees God's plan and gives the cure to two other survivors who then go on to escape. The background at the ending is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting with the gate opening onto village in Vermont complete with a white washed Church (we're assuming Protestant) and American flag in the scene (and they arrive driving a Ford). And the flag, that's another thing. It's not on a proper flag pole that would suggest a military installation, but rather on a normal flag holder that Joe Blow attaches to his front porch to show his patriotism. And that's the idea. That American values such as homespun patriotism and God's divine plan will prevail over all else.

Even the alluded to subtext fall within this paradigm. When Will Smith captures the female whom he eventually cures (until he blows her up). Her mate comes after her, providing the catalyst for the entire movie. So even though we see Smith shortly afterward lamenting the total de-evolution of mankind we know that the creatures can still love one another and as we find out, learn and imitate. But again all this is for nothing as it only serves to reinforce the ending which is that with the cure the "dark seekers" can be saved and civilization rebuilt between the twin pillars of faith and country.
Instead of the bold idea of a new society of which we as human beings are no longer a part of it is a reaffirmation of our society and God's plan.

But it is that bold stroke of daring that separates the mundane from the spectacular and it is why over a decade later I still remember holding onto that thin, worn out copy of the book stunned into contemplative silence by those three little words. And this movie will only be remembered as a footnote to that and then only as an example of why some things are best left alone.
Charlton Heston Was a Bad Ass


Regardless of views on his later politics, anyone that can survive the Planet of the Apes is worth remembering.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

May God Reward Those Gallant Men...

I saw this week that the Edentubber Martyr's memorial has been vandalized. I must admit that I'm not a memorial kind of person and have never seen said memorial. Unfortunately I've encountered other monuments that have been desecrated.

I should state as a disclaimer that I don't necessarily equate the Ludlow massacre monument with a group of individuals (however well intentioned) who blew themselves up. But I can appreciate what a monument means to a community, particularly an embattled one.

While in Ireland I did go to see Milltown and Sean South's grave. In Milltown particularly the flowers and memorials were fresh and well kept. Regardless of politics one had to appreciate the state of the Republican plot. I saw the Republican plot in Limerick during the 50th commemoration of Sean South and so we were all of kind of packed around McGuiness as he spoke and then we listened to a rather off kilter rendition of Sean South of Garryowen (and yeah I bought the book).

The Edentubber momunent (or at least the commemoration) has not been without "controversy". I had been looking for the Edentubber Martyr's post as a segway into my time in stab city (which I enjoyed immensely BTW) during which I got caught up in a RSF demo, got questioned by Special Branch*, and then marched with the Provos because really, after shopping for hours in the rain I thought, why not? On the way, I noticed that a thread on an earlier posting from El Blogador. At 91 comments at the time of my reading its doing fairly decently at stirring some debate. But lets be honest. There's really no need for all this commotion if we could only appreciate for a minute the concept of contextualization. Now, now, I know that it was brought up and summarily dismissed by the third post. But lets be honest that has more to do with party hackery than anything else. El Blogador while an honest sort, has occasionally (As I've pointed out before) been known to descend into party hackery. Now I'm not at all cynical at the fact that an SDLP blogger is playing up being a Republican Party shortly after certain happenings (And yes I do know that self linking is a totally Pete Baker kind of move, but fuck all).

But as I was saying, on a dreary new years eve...I previously noted that I happened upon the 50th anniversary of Sean South. Not the commemoration, by any means but the one in Limerick, which while not bad was certainly not not up to par with having replica weapons and trucks in tow. Never the less it was interesting and enjoyable. If only for the fact that it was the only time in Ireland that we were able to sit and have a drink with someone on a normal basis (after the fact of course). The secondary chuckle brother was there of course, as was Martin Ferris. We saw the signs and because of my neurotic nature showed up over half an hour early.

Due to my ignorance of Irish politics I had no idea that the RSF commemoration was due to assemble shortly before (ie 2:15 RSF v 2:30 PSF). So we showed up at 2:00 when we saw the piper started to assemble. At the beginning I was a little a startled by the lack of support of support that PSF was able to pull for this event. Now I knew that Sean South was no Bobby Sands but I figured that the 50th anniversary would be able to draw more than some pensioners, a few Fianna and some rather thuggish looking individuals in army sweaters who turned out to be the color guard (A personal note If I may, if you must be dressed in paramilitary get up of green sweaters then please ensure that you're in decent shape. Man boobs are quite unbecoming, no matter what your politics may be).

We chatted for awhile with a younger fellow who was looking a but rough from a broken nose ('tis the drink you know). We were chatting with him when Special Branch came upon us after hassling the Fianna kids got boring and approached. As our companion was local it was the usual name and address. They seemed shocked when asked for my hometown and I replied "Denver, Colorado". I didn't see fit to explain that I really hadn't flown all this way just to attend a RSF event as I generally dislike authority and political policing especially.

What I was struck by in regards to Martin's speech was the disconnect between talking about the past and talking about the future of Stormont. It wasn't that I felt he was insincere, just that when it came to talking about the North and the political situation he was in his element and he was able to develop a rhythm that his references to the commemoration (Sean South) was lacking. One must think that when one addresses numerous funerals of his contemporaries historical figures tend to be somewhat dull in their color. Or maybe it's the famous disconnect between the South and the North, who knows?

Though I would like to tackle the myth that Sean South...Wait hold on for a moment. We've totally had a domestic intrusion into our fine Saturday morning of blogging, drinking and generally being a lazy bum. While I can enjoy Mexican food with little or no ill effects, the cats are apparently a different story and they decided to voice their displeasure by vomiting on the stairs and peeing outside of the litter box. My lovely wife was feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole thing so I decided to help by offering to buy her breakfast. This cheered her sufficiently that I could retreat here to commiserate on what a bad person I am for leaving my lovely wife (still recovering from surgery mind you) to clean up two out of the three bodily functions any animal can produce. God I am such a horrible human being.

But I don't feel so bad that it's impossible to continue this narrative. So where were we? Oh yes Sean South. His death launched him into the pantheon of martyrs which is fine but his remembrance is ensured by a song which is as often as not is just another bar room ballad (and this for a member of the Legion of Mary). I've got nine copies of the song at last count. Mainly because at the commemoration people kept mixing up the words between versions and it piqued my curiosity, so I went digging for versions. May it be noted for posterity and no other reason in particular that my favorite versions are Charlie and the bhoys live version which starts as fairly respectful (complete with some lyrics form the Battering Ram version) and quickly descends into barroom irreverence complete with wrong lyrics and the crowd chanting "the I, I, IRA" in the background. Next up is the Oliver Kane version which is fairly run of the mill except for the fact that he uses an accordion. Straight up that makes him the shit. If you play the accordion you're cool, no ifs, ands, or buts. At the bottom of the pile is (of course) an American band by the name of Shillelagh Law. Seriously, if your going to call yourself an Irish rebel band then you do need to have some respect for the subject matter. Their version, complete with harmonic overlay from The Minstrel Boy and with an ending that proclaims loudly, "Tonight we invade England!" followed by drunken crashing and horns is actually very disrespectful. Now following that condemnation I will actually get into what I wanted to say to begin with.

No matter how big an event his funeral was and no matter "canonized" he's been after the fact you have to know that somewhere is Limerick in some bar some guy on his way to take a "slash"**(thank you Malcolm) was saying "I knew Sean South, and he was a fuckin' prick. Fuckin' piece of shit was probably happy to die with all his Catholic clap trap about martyrdom and what not". Not pretty, but probably true.

*I would've sworn that the lead detective was Micheal McDowell out on a weekend jaunt to harass "Republicans". The quotes will remain until we figure out who's really a Republican and who's just a communalist/nationalist/fascist/bigoted/defender.

**What the fuck is it that the Irish have about using the trough in the pisser? I mean seriously, you can save civilization, but you can't move on up the to the urinal? I mean hey, maybe you're just nostalgic about about getting piss on your shoes and having your drunken compatriot chit chat with while he sways precariously over and you wonder how disgusting is it to know that not only do you have your own splash back to deal with but also this inebriated stranger's as well.