Thursday, July 7, 2016

White Privilege

When I was 19 years old my uncle shot his daughter, my 2 year old cousin Christina, ten times. Why doesn't really matter. Whatever the reason- and there were competing opinions on that, believe me- someone precious died. For a long time I was so full of rage that I couldn't really even mourn her. I just wanted some kind of vengeance, for him to suffer and die, my kingdom for the death penalty! I loathed him with every fiber of my being and could barely stand the feel of his name in my mouth, even when it belonged to another Andy entirely. I forbade my family from sharing pictures of my babies with him when they visited him in prison. I didn't want him to see them. He didn't deserve to. It was only the second time in my life I'd hated someone and after about 8 years of stewing in my own bile I realized that I hated the hating possibly even more than I hated him. I hold grudges because in my experience they don't weigh much but this? It lessened me. Hating made me hard sometimes, mean sometimes. Less empathetic, less of a human being. Andy got 60 years in prison. He's served 22 years of his sentence and I don't know if he'll ever get out. I don't know if I want him to. What I do know is that I'm glad the state didn't kill him. I'm glad they did not give me the vengeance I thought I wanted.

I'm thinking about this because I know with certainty that if Andy had been black? I never would have had a chance to outgrow my hate. He wouldn't have made it into custody because they'd have shot him in the neighborhood he was wandering while carrying her dead body. Andy was guilty by every conceivable metric yet he was arrested safely- he has lived safely- all these years in part because he was white. That's privilege.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Thoughts on Dickishness

‘Don’t be a dick’ should be a pretty easy rule to follow, right? It’s simple, crass enough to satisfy the masses, and fits easily on bumper stickers and t-shirts. It espouses no religion or political affiliation unless you consider a particular fandom to be either of those. Despite this, it doesn't seem to be getting much traction and I have to ask myself why. Maybe because it's predicated on an idea that’s open to semantics and interpretation.

What is a dick?
In biological terms a dick is ‘an external male intromittent organ that additionally serves as the urinal duct.’ That means it’s useful for both copulation and elimination but in no way are those functions an indicator of social maladaptation. One could even make the argument that without a dick doing the things dicks do, we as a species wouldn’t exist.

In ethnological circles- at least according to Uncyclopedia- dicks “are ALWAYS right, even when everybody else is wrong. Even when they aren't right, they are still right.” Also,“Dicks know that to respect another person is a sign of weakness.”
(I can already see the hashtags #notalldicks and lemme just say, you need to sit down.)

I once overheard a guy in a bar defending himself on the charge of dickdom. “I’m not a dick, I’m an asshole!’ and, in retrospect, I’m asking myself, was this an error of classification? Are dicks and assholes so similar? I mean, obviously a dick doesn’t look like an asshole. At least, I hope not. If your dick looks like an asshole (or vice versa) please see a doctor immediately.

On a purely functional basis, if someone is being a dick, say they piss on you -whether actually or metaphorically- I can actually conceive of a couple of scenarios where that might be a good thing- you're on fire, say, or dying of thirst. That ‘pee on the jellyfish sting’ is a total myth and if someone suggests whipping it out to ease your pain, you should pop them right in the nuts. If instead of urine the dick in question dispenses ejaculate (hehe) I can still game out several options that in no way mean the dick is being, well, a dick. Some people like pearl necklaces.
I can't think of any situation that would be improved by someone shitting on me- which is what assholes do, or babies, to be fair. Also a certain segment of kinky folk (one hopes that in their case it's all consensual).

So yeah, maybe an asshole is worse than a dick and we need to change our printing order to ‘Don’t be an Asshole’. On the other hand, that slogan would be infinitely more vulnerable to censorship and the last thing we need as we strive toward some sort of widespread ethical standard is to muddle our message with ‘Don’t be an A@#%*&E’. Scrabble players would have to wonder what was so bad about being an abalone, alewife, or apostle.

‘Be Kind’ has brevity on its side and little wiggle room but humans have a long standing habit of codifying our laws in terms of what we aren’t supposed to do. We’re really specific too because most of these laws came about because someone somewhere made a huge mess and the family/clan/bridge club had to clean up the resultant mess. The Sumerian ‘Instructions of Shuruppak’ had such gems to offer as ‘Don’t steal anything; don’t kill yourself!’ and ‘Don’t have sexual intercourse with your slave girl; she will neglect you.’ One of the postmortem rituals an ancient Egyptian had to perform to receive a happy afterlife was to chant a list of 80 actions he had not done: I have not robbed, I have not killed people, I have not debased the god in my town. The 10 Commandments were predominantly ‘do nots’. Girls with pretensions of upward mobility know you don’t wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.

OK, that was a slight digression.

Maybe the inherent weakness of ‘Don’t be a Dick’ is that, as a culture, we’re just really super fond of dicks. And who can blame us? When they’re doing their job they’re great to have (or borrow). They have a certain aesthetic appeal. Look at Baryshnikov dancing. David Bowie in ‘Labyrinth’. One World Trade Center, or its predecessors, the Twin Towers. We idolize dicks. It now becomes clear why this movement won’t work. We need to find something that no one likes- and that’s not useful- and start from there.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Another update for my weird dream journal:
I was in this really hopping club that played everything: crunkcore, classical, atmospheric, reggae, Tuvan throat singing, shranz, country and western, funk, taiko drums, thrash, rap, and everybody was maypoling about. I went to order a drink from the bartender when the guy in front of me keeled over because his golden elixir (did I mention the bartender was a Taoist magician?) had added a little too much mercury. I'm really seriously thirsty but I neither want to live forever nor die right there so I rush off to the bathroom for a sink drink except there's so much traffic I get trapped on the dance floor.
I realize I'm surrounded by all these spiritual figures: devas, and saints, and culture heroes (for instance, Bob Marley and Cuchulainn) and it's only making me thirstier and they're doing a cross between a congo line and a circle dance so I'm having to do a lot of dodging and weaving and I'm still not getting anywhere.
There was this bit about millennial Jesus but instead of 'Jesus Saves' it was 'Jesus Raves" He had glowstick stigmata and he appeared to really enjoy dubstep. He was handing out tabs of Molly because, you know, Jesus loves you and he wants you to love him too. But I remembered seeing something about the dehydration aspect being potentially deadly so I wouldn't take any and he was all sad.
Later, the DJ said 'And now we give a great shout out to Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, and John: trippin' balls for the Lord' right before he played this song and a troupe of dervishes took over the dance floor.
I never did get that drink.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is How the World Ends

A pox on intolerant dualist culture.
We're not not simply male/female, black/white, gay/straight, chaotic/ordered. We are sentient beings spread across a wide range of modes and that compulsory, illusory choice between 'us' and 'them' is destructive to everyone. 'Them' is a lie. We are all 'us', regardless of how we speak, what we eat, where we live, when or if we pray, or how we make love.
Forcing folks into a box that doesn't suit them is not just wasteful, it's rude and unkind. Deriding people for not choosing to reside in a box is ridiculous. Killing them for it is foolish beyond permission.
Cherish difference because with diversity comes stability. Healthy ecosystems are rich in niches. They weather change well.
When you dehumanize others-regardless of why- you're devaluing your own merit as a human being. And because I'm human too, you're devaluing me. 'Them' is a lie, remember. 'Them' is a way to tap into your reptilian hind brain and get you to react without thinking. 'Them' is fear goggles super glued to your face. The only genuine way to get 'them' to go away is to accept that they are 'us'. And that means when you scream at them, beat them, burn them, force them out, kill them what you are actually doing is abandoning yourself. You are the banality of evil.
Be courteous. Nobody said any of this was going to be easy, but it's necessary.
And (tangent) for pity's sake, don't forget to tip your waitstaff.

Friday, June 27, 2014

When I get short sleep and know it's going to be short my unconscious tends to go hog wild, shredding my recent daily experience into chum for the sleep sharks. As follows:
1) I partake of a LARP extravaganza that ensues inside a mall with a cruise ship mounted on its roof, like if Mall of America decided to strap on pontoons and go to sea.
2)This LARP appears to be some cthonic melding of Star Wars: Clone Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Cabin in the Woods. I realize none of these explain the presence of the mimes but they were there anyway. (Don't ask me, I was ASLEEP, ok?!?)
3)I learn (by grim example, not mine, thank God) that leaping madly from the smoke stack of a cruise liner into its open central section, shouting 'Eat my thunderstick you alliance scum!' without checking to see if your zip line is actually zippy is a tragicomic way to die.
4)I overhear a conversation between 2 adult players in the children's fun area that goes something like this:
'Zeke, aren't these the most precious little redneck zombies you've ever seen in your life?'
'Ma, I venture to say it will be a pure pleasure to be consumed by these undead children.'
5)The term 'scrufulous fuckwidget' becomes an expression of ultimate disdain and once I achieve consciousness I agree wholeheartedly.
By and large, this was one of my better efforts and one of a handful of times I've actually woken myself up laughing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Space Limited

For my money, the end came in 2029. That’s when the Ring of Fire went catastrophically active and fault lines around the Pacific Rim were cracking like God’s own bullwhip. Pretty much any coastline along the Pacific was fucked: the western edge of the Americas, Japan, China, Indonesia. New Zealand. All toast. The Three Gorges Dam went in one of the aftershocks and took more than 20 million Chinese with it. We’d already been having problems with sea levels-- the mentals had been warning us about that since the last century-- but with earthquakes came a rash of volcanic activity and that amped up the greenhouse gas levels. The ice sheet in Greenland didn’t take it well . 2029 was our tipping point. We couldn’t tell ourselves we had time to fix what was wrong anymore. From then on we were just gonna have to adapt to what was.

The next decade was a bitch and a half so we left, those of us that could. Mostly multinationals, like Virgin or XCOR or Kistler, but some more traditionally regional concerns too, like Arianespace from the EU, and RSC Energia, out of Russia. By 2046, the technology was ironed out so the guys with the money bought in. You know that joke about ‘too many chiefs, not enough braves’? Well the problem was the chiefs didn’t want to share a ship with anyone else. They wanted off the planet, they wanted to be in charge, but the problem is living in space is hard. There ain’t no golf in space. It ain’t comfortable. It’s work, and not the kind that requires a white shirt. More like a die cast gorget that locks into a helmet assembly. What would you do?

Right. They had us build ‘em space stations. Rich man islands where gravity was constant and you could take the fuckin’ suits off. And play some fuckin golf. They left the ships to the hoi polloi and retired to their private fiefs. Those multinational stations became the new city states. It was a typical pyramid scheme: the guys at the bottom did all the grind to support the guys at the top. The guys in the middle thought a lot and tried to avoid the shit splattering everywhere because in space? Shit floats. Except on the stations, of course. There they filter it and use it as grade A fertilizer for their flower gardens. People starving all over but they still gotta have their pretties.

There were waiting lists to get berths out-Earth and you needed all kind of visas and accreditation.I had that, no problem, thanks to the army. Veteran's Affairs finally did something right there. You had to sign reproductive clauses so you wouldn’t overburden the system. That wasn’t true on Dan, but hell, who could expect Catholics to give up reproductive control? Ever been to Dan? It’s a madhouse-- they got their levels kitted out like you’re goin’ to heaven or hell or limbo or what the fuck. Who does that?

Mars wasn’t much of an option. Too inhospitable, too expensive, too damned far by a long shot. I heard 4 fully kitted colony ships got sent out before they scrapped the idea. ‘Course, it was too late for those already gone. Not like they could catch a ride home. Some folks think all those people are still out there, fat and happy, living in some kinda domed paradise. I say those folks are damnfool idiots.

I’ve worked on planet and off, in space and out. Rode a marine tug out past the Belt once ‘cus my shuttle was holed by debris. Three years of my life, near enough, lost to space junk. I’ve been all over and I’ll tell you, the moon’s your best bet. Kinder than ships, cheaper than stations. They’ve got enough food and water to go around, barely, even if the water has contraceptives in it. Not such a bad deal for an old guy. And the gravity’s light so my knees never have to be replaced, even if my eyes do. It’s as good a place as any to die.

The Trade

Brianna loved chocolate more than anything. More than God, more than Justin Bieber, more than her kitten Marcel or any of her siblings. The fact that she could now trade said siblings for that magical elixir was beyond lucky; it was the kind of thing that convinces an otherwise rational person that the world and all its satellites genuinely revolved around her.
Of course that’s what happened.
The world didn’t care that she’d found a slightly unorthodox use for her hyperactive brother Evan or her tomboy sister Mags. The world rarely pays attention to iniquity unless someone makes a video for Youtube and it goes viral. Brianna didn’t have a smartphone or wish to document her arrangements. Her mother was working 80 hour weeks at the call center. Her father was ‘whoring with that bimbo’, according to her Grandma Peach. Nobody noticed except to congratulate Brianna about how clean the house was and, in the same breath, to warn her about her weight and her skin. Chocolate, it seems, causes both acne and belly fat.