June 20, 2009

Shameless Revisionism: Soapblox Rants #4 (2008-2009)

Another weekend, another edition of Shameless Revisionism—this time the first of two posts re-capping a slew of more quasi-political rants from the Soapblox-powered mega-blogs like Daily Kos and its ilk. I've griped before about the dubious usefulness of the political blogosphere, but the increasing infantilism of these particular forums in the wake of Obama's election is becoming a major turnoff for me. Triumphalist late adapters are like, so uncool man.

Seriously, though—these periodic bursts of ripoff gonzo from yours truly did serve a nominal purpose: the oft-mentioned one of being warm-ups and cool-downs while I was writing a novel. Sometimes this even produced some interesting stuff that—intentionally or otherwise—blurred the lines between gonzo and fiction. Very soon these things began to outnumber the actual book chapters I was supposed to be writing, but I ended up finishing anyway, so no harm done. Theoretically, anyway. As always, click on a post's title to see the full shebang:

Ringing the Mighty Cowbell of Rageohol (Dec. 19, 2008)
The self-righteous whining of my fellow squishy liberals began almost immediately after the election, and had built to a melodramatic crescendo a month later. No one was safe—from Joe Lieberman to Rick Warren, there was always a new unacceptable reconciliation from Obama, and people...didn't take that very well. This piece was my witty riposte to all that silliness, despite being neither witty nor ripped nor post. Oh well.

Good goddamn, these new-presidency-birth-pangs sure are pretty fucking loud, aren't they? I don't know about the rest of you, but I thought I was finished for the year—it's way, way, way past my politically-psychic bedtime—and I've been looking for a nice quiet place to lie down ever since Election Day, but no, the infant Obama administration and its erstwhile supporters on the "far left" have both robbed me of my sweet repose. Everyone seems to be swilling the sour grapes of Rageohol this winter, but as the whole world collapses around us all yet again, we still can't seem to admit that Teh Rage is our precious cause of and solution to All of Life's Problems.
The Invasion is Immoral and Will Not Stand (Jan. 4, 2009)
Israel's shit-stupid invasion of Gaza brought out a rare entrapment piece from me—a simple, dumb metaphor that used non-specific innuendo to equate the Palestinian territory with (um, uh) Isla Vista. It got way more attention than it deserved, but thankfully, most people took it as the lame joke that it was. Not really my finest spew, so double oh-well.
And yes, I am indeed referring to the perennial tribulations of a densely-populated coastal enclave, whose Mediterranean climate is nevertheless blighted by overcrowding, poor sanitation, feudal landowners, ruthless violence, substance-fueled orgies, moral depravity, and other shameful hallmarks of absolute degradation. Like most abused third-world scapegoats, it has been ever thus. It's no secret that most of the awful situation's current problems have their roots in a violent conflict from about forty years ago, during which a repressed populace, driven to mindless self-indulgence by their wretched condition, rose up and physically defied a tyrannical ruler by destroying a hated local financial outpost of his military-industrial empire. His incompetent but brutal viceroy then unleashed the porcine rage of local law enforcement, causing further destruction and death. The upheaval was crushed, however, and a pattern thus emerged that would repeat itself across the ensuing decades..
The Insurgent Power Plays of Electrified Youth (Jan. 11, 2009)
My fellow Venturans David and KK ran for the California Democratic Party Assembly District Delegation back in January, and this semi-fictional piece grew out of my trip up to Santa Barbara to vote for them. Later in the year I joined their Ventura County Young Democrats organization, but predictably I've so far failed in every way to become a decent local activist. They both do it very well, however, and are real troupers for enduring my gonzofication of their efforts.
So I was flying through Seacliff at about eighty miles an hour when the universe suddenly and spectacularly decided to align in my favor. An unseasonably glorious sun shone down on the 101 freeway, and as I threaded the California coastline's spine on my way north to Santa Barbara, I felt the soft and deadly tentacles of contentment wrap themselves around my decaying cerebrum—and I was okay with that. Yeah, because the combination of dramatic scenery, agreeable weather, a fast car, and an adorably earnest song about the collapse of Antarctic icebergs erupting out of the stereo was quiet a potent one, yo. I mean, you try to be a cynical asshole when the coda of "Larsen B" dumps you in its warm bath of epic Euro-echo right when the Rincon headlands loom up ahead like inverted Cliffs of Insanity. It's virtually impossible—or at least that's what I told myself in that giddy moment—so I just let it happen, you know?
It was Foolish of You to Come Here Tonight, Tom (Jan. 31, 2009)
I've never liked Tom Daschle, but I took no pleasure in watching his political self-demolition when Obama nominated him to be HHS Secretary. Nah, that's a lie—I laughed out loud and had way too much fun blasting out this goofy rant. After the dubious quality of the previous two, it was good to know that I still had the skills to pay the bills.
The inherently stupid hubris that afflicts all powerful people is truly an awesome thing to behold—especially once it begins to make their brains dissolve into warm muck, forcing them to flap their arms in panic and whimper like eunuchs on national television. We all got another good look at that phenomenon this week, of course, when the Gods of Karma claimed a further Democratic victim in the secretary-designate of Health and Human Services: Tom Daschle, whose prediliction for expensive automobiles and erudite drivers landed him deep in the freshly-dug Obama Transitional Ditch of Shame. The secretary-designate will have to scratch and claw his way over the heads of other ridiculous degenerates already caught in varying levels of corrupt stupidity—the shifty Tim Geithner, the hopeless sot Bill Richardson, the crazed Rod Blagojevich—and for a man who wears pretty red-framed glasses, that won't be an easy task.
The Bipartisan Kleptocracy Will Never Die (Feb. 8, 2009)
For an agnostic-type guy, I sure do go all-in for that original sin stuff. Case in point: one of my pet theories about the good old U.S.A. and how it was crippled from the start by the twin crimes of slavery and genocide, topped off by some good old-fashioned grand larceny. I was not in a friendly or sympathetic mood towards the Wall Street bailouts, shall we say.
Because hey, let's face it—the kleptocratic impulse is strong in the United States of America, and indeed always has been. When you found a nation on theft, slavery, and murder, you're powering the subsequent society on some of the biggest, baddest voodoo that anyone has ever known, and it's only a matter of time before you'll miss a few payments and a phalanx of repo men come knocking. Hand-in-hand with that compulsion is, of course, the reflexive fear that has convulsed generation upon generation of Americans since day one of the Jamestown settlement—the sort of skittish glance over your shoulder to make sure no one's coming to Take Your Shit. The sort of projectionary flinch that's so familiar among thieves convinced that they're surrounded by more thieves, because how surprising is it that other people want to sneak our stash when we did the very same to them? Isn't that how the universe works?
A Perpetually Sputtering Bonfire of the Ptolemies (Feb. 14, 2009)
This piece is actually one of my favorites, but it took a while to get down the right way. Much of it was done in conjunction with "Bipartisan Kleptocracy," as well as a good re-reading of all my Peter Green books about the Hellenistic Age. The problem here was that my supposedly tossed-off gonzo essays were now requiring a little too much pre-planning, outlining, and conscious thought—and not enough spontaneity. "Ptolemies" seems to work in spite of that, though.
That was Tony Soter's last relatively normal day in Newport, because he was soon indicted by the L.A. district attorney on a galaxy of charges: insider trading, racketeering, obscenity, fraud, tax evasion, and much more. His army of lawyers was no help—half of them were tangled up in the same mess—and his many high-profile friends all over California experienced convenient fits of devastating amnesia when confronted with the reality of what would become the most embarrassing confidence scam California had seen since the passage of Proposition 13. Soter's life deteriorated rapidly at that point—his son was captured by insurgents in Anbar, his wife ran off to Bali with Anthony Kiedis, his daughter was sold into slavery in Mazatlán by her Sinaloan dealer, and his Balboa mansion was burned to the ground by those same vengeful Mexican servants. He is currently on twenty-four-hour suicide watch—but of course, it could have been much worse. At least he never had to submit to the indignity of a castrated bonus or a $500,000 salary cap like his Wall Street counterparts. That would have been entirely too shameful.
Pachydermicide, the Perennial Sport of Kings (Mar. 25, 2009)
Another one that took a little while to materialize—but I actually began it on the day I went to visit my wife's classroom. I just hung out in the back and typed this up, using the "Boy's Own" voice that Welsh lampooned in "Marabou Stork Nightmares." It was a fairly un-subtle dig at the way liberal blogs were continually obsessed with Republican idiots like Rush Limbaugh and his inept, raving followers—instead of letting the facts on the ground sink in, such as "we actually won one, people."
I have always considered myself a sportsman, old boy. Not such a striking thing to admit, I'll allow—but in the current age of crass exhibitionism and crude violence, the simple sportsmanship of big-game hunting does seem to still carry a certain cachet with the public imagination. As it should—and has, for many years, thanks to great men of the past—but of course, when I mention the word "hunting," the unfortunate modern connotation is of half-wit archer-apes with cat scratch fever running around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. However, those damn fools will have a long row to hoe before they do true damage to the hunting ideal, eh what? Quite. Anyway, it's a barry tradition, hunting—but lately it hasn't packed the same wallop for me and my fellow sportsmen. While my mates at the lodge are not exactly sure why, I think it may be the dwindling number of big-game targets out there; for men like us—pachyderm-hunters—the world is no longer a target-rich environment.
The rants got progressively less political from that point, and next week I'll get into some more esoteric pieces that were only tangentially appropriate for the Soapblox venue—but were nontheless fun to barf out onto the page. Check in next weekend for a heaping helping of vengeance, regret, melodrama, sarcasm, and other happy topics. See you then.

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