had his Wilderness Years. So should she.
As everyone here should know, I like Sarah Palin, but I'm dismayed by
the amount of fire and brimstone that's surging through the
rightosphere in the aftermath of her very odd announcement. You can get
a snapshot of said F&B at HotAir, in a 'Green Room' post
that quotes extensively from Ace of Spades. Just a snippet of Ace's
...I do think I am taking off the week.
You guys only seem to want
to talk about Sarah Palin and furthermore you only want to hear the
same thing — she’s running, this is a great move, she’s now perfectly
poised for the race, etc.
It’s nonsense. And I hardly need to blog
about it, because you all
seem to know the words to the song. So you don’t need me as part of the
chorus. You can sing the same words well enough without me.
I am really tired of this relentless
nonsense and occasional
nastiness whenever someone is believed to have departed from the
conservativey correct line.
If people really are going
this nuts about it, they need to stop. Nobody really knows anything, so
everyone's speculating. Why is that the case? Because she hasn't
explained anything. Which is hardly a sound foundation on which to base
a national campaign for the presidency in the next election. Which
leads me to conclude that if she's really running, she's a fool and
should give up her plans at once. And if she's not running, for either
the presidency or the senate, all we can do is wait and see what she
has in mind.
But I can tell you what I hope
she has in mind. I hope she stays away from public office at least through 2012. I hope she
spends her time in the interim reading books and otherwise educating
herself about matters of public policy she still knows little about
beyond Alaska. She also has an opportunity to accept speaking
engagements and earn enough money to put her family on a sound
financial footing. If she wishes to remain somewhat in the public eye,
she can also ally herself with the Tea Party movement and its
trans-party calls for reduced spending, reduced taxes, and reduced
government interference in our lives. Those folks don't seem to like
officials presently serving in office, bless their hearts. And Palin
can turn a desultory rally of 500 into a fired-up crowd of 5,000.
If she takes this tack, she also won't waste much of her time
campaigning for professional politicians in order to win official
Republican backing she is unlikely to get until they come hat in hand
to her, years down the road.
Quitting her elected responsibilities before her term was complete
(regardless of how valid the private and personal reasons for it) makes
her an anti-establishment figure for a long time to come. Given enough
time, she could work that to her advantage. But not in the short term.
That's why the professional pundits are busily writing her off. A
traditional political career of dues-paying followed by big-party
endorsement is out of the question now. Any political career still
available to her will have to be nontraditional, unique, and
transformational -- of her in fact
as well as in the media image of her. That will not happen in three
years. If it even seems to, it's a recipe for disaster. She'll lose.
And if she doesn't, she won't be ready.
She's young. That's a huge advantage. Now she must learn to be
patient and learn period.
If you like her too, quit scolding those who are being critical now.
To a significant extent, they are right. If they're writing her off
altogether, only Palin can prove them wrong. And she'll need a lot more
than two or three years to do that. Fortunately, she has more than two or three years.
She has twenty or thirty.
My two cents.
Just a Hunch
BRIEF SENTENCE. Now, we're waiting. One celebrity death every day
Today it's McNamara.
This won't be a long post. Just a grim prediction. When people start to
die in increased numbers, it
means something big is about to happen. Something big and bad.
Something a lot of people don't want to be a part of. Meaning they'd rather be dead. Something about
Collective Unconscious* I just hope I'm not one of them.
is going to rain down hell on all of us. Some of us don't want to wait
for it. Some of us are willing to fight to survive it. I hope I'm one
of the latter. Which are you?
*My creation story, the one I believe, lies in the field of
potentialities between Hawking's possibly nonexistent (because always
-- Zeno's Arrow-like -- infinitely approaching the unreachable limit)
Big Bang and Roger Penrose's quantum mind. There is a space in that
conceptual interval which leaves room for all presently conceived
possibilities and innumerable ones we can't conceive of. It may allow
for all kinds of relationships that science cannot presently
comprehend, including a universe in which ideas, art, poetry, symbols
and allegories -- and Jung's synchronicity -- interact seamlessly with
the physics we keep trying to reduce to (mere) math. In this context,
there might be a place for humanity's many metaphorical creation myths
and its curiously parallel religious convictions to be something more
than fairy tales, fallacies, jokes, proofs of mankind's talent for
self-delusion, and catalysts for your contempt. The continuously
unfolding and infinitely reinterpretable story of Christ's sacrifice on
the cross may -- may, I say
-- actually be of a piece with the universe itself. These are
conceptions which have the potential to expand minds and deepen the
most minute aspects of human experience -- without consigning us all to
fanaticism or irrational denial.
Death is stalking us. Thank you, Obama.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
response to the Iran uprisings, the Honduran crisis, the Russian invasion of Georgia, North Korean
saber rattling, and for that matter
the Reverend Jeremiah Wright situation. Mystery computer indeed.
THE FUTURE COMETH.
This isn't an ideological post. Never mind that I almost always
disagree with Obama's policies and positions. This time I'm talking
about something more basic: his ability to respond to surprising and
changing circumstances. I think he is seriously deficient in this vital
Great executives, great leaders of the military and of matters of
state, tend to be men who excel at making decisions in the absence of
complete information. They have a gut instinct for judging the odds and
placing their bets when all around them are uncertain, conflicted, or
in disagreement with one another. It's not that they're shallow thinkers per se. It's
that they automatically perceive the dangers of too much deep thinking
when situations are in danger of tipping into chaos or disaster.
They're prepared to be wrong. It's not that they're necessarily rash,
either. Rather, they recognize those times when delay is more perilous
and costly than a calculated risk that goes awry. Because they'll be on
the job to deal with those consequences too.
Consider, for example, that very few great generals are remembered as
intellectual giants, able to comprehend all the complications of all
the variables in play at a given moment in time. I'm sure military
historians know of more, but I can think of only two: Napoleon and
MacArthur. Interestingly, both of them experienced dramatic instances
of what I'm calling "the blinking cursor" phenomenon, when for no
apparent reason they both shut down completely for critical hours at
the height of a military emergency. Napoleon sat down on a log at
Waterloo and did nothing for hours while the tide of battle turned
irretrievably against him, though it's possible he could have saved the
day if he had acted. MacArthur had a similar shutdown for eight hours after Pearl
Harbor, issuing no orders to protect the Clark Field air resources
whose subsequent destruction was probably as damaging as the ships lost at
Pearl. According to eyewitnesses, he was seemingly paralyzed out of
action during this interval. Like Bonaparte, he was betrayed by an all-encompassing intellect that suddenly couldn't wrap itself around the enormity of the variables in motion.
For Napoleon and MacArthur, of course, these were anomalies. For Obama
it has become an all too familiar pattern. When bumptious reality
conflicts with his ordered conception of reality, he becomes suddenly
inarticulate, repetitive, almost stuck.
The blinking cursor effect to a fare thee well. It seems to
happen to him on matters both great and small. An unexpected question
invariably releases the torrent of "uhs" with which we're all so
familiar. Initially, like a lot of you probably, I chalked that up to the
fact that he wasn't quite as good an extemporaneous speaker as he was
an orator-cum-teleprompter. Even his friends noticed.
I hoped it wasn't the case, but I did remember that we had identified
this phenomenon as serious in Shuteye Nation's Y2K AmerianGlossary, half a decade at
least before Obama rose to prominence. The Glossary defined it thus:
know. 2) An
interesting but incorrect alternate definition is contained in the
entry penned by the
Nutz Station Journal columnist known as The
The blinking cursor of
human speech, often a
screen lockup and the imminent need to reboot.
In other words, "uh" is not just a verbal tic; it's an indication of a
state of mind. Which means we don't have to hear it every time to know
that it's present. Like all those "Present" votes in the Illinois
legislature. And the indeterminate official statements that have
clarified absolutely nothing for the American people or the world in
the early stages of the Russian-Georgia Crisis, the Iran Crisis, the
North Korean Crisis, and now the Honduran Crisis.
In computer terms, the blinking cursor is a passive non-response to an
instruction the CPU, for whatever reason, can't comprehend or process.
I'm thinking this is pretty close to an accurate description of what's
happening in Obama's head when events defy his own intentions, plans,
and worldview. The Iranian people got in the way of his plan to
negotiate with Ahmadinejad. The reality did not compute and he was
unable to process it. The Honduran semi-coup does not compute with his
plans to charm the world by negotiating equably with Chavez and the
Castro brothers. Does not compute.
But it better compute. This is a world in which serious and unexpected
events happen all the time. Like an airline pilot who is paid not for
all the routine flights but for the moments of sheer terror that
require instant action, the President of the United States is paid at
least as much for his responses to catastrophe as he is for the policies
he soberly noodles out with his experts.
If Obama can't make decisions when things go differently than he
expects, we're all in a ton of trouble. Republicans and Democrats alike.
The old Boomer Bible Forum folks are checking in, here and in emails,
so I'm responding to their requests for more explanation of the
archaeological dig that turned up "proof" of the punk writer movement.
It's hotly contested to this day, but there are multiple manuscripts
that argue for the existence of the movement that produced The Boomer Bible and much else.
Here's an excerpt from just one:
Punk City Paradox
Punk City, born of Kain, and
all its wings, will fail,
Falling toward Eden, widout a sound, in the mutement
Of allathings what never were, nor will be,
The undecoming of the inpossible, what may not be,
Nor would be, all gulpated by the intrails of the Raven...
- Excerpt from CKT MS No. 616
There are no photographs in the
Cream King Trove. In their place are paintings, unschooled mockeries of
works by the great masters of every age. The three large classrooms
containing the relics of “Early Punk” include the most outrageous of
these, cartoonish parodies of twentieth century masterpieces. There are
stacks of them. Hopper’s Nighthawks at the Diner transmogrified to
Philadelphia’s South Street, where punks with pancaked faces and
black-rimmed eyes hunch over coffee at The Rattery, perusing Cliff
Notes of MacBeth, Pride and Prejudice, and Portnoy’s Complaint.
Picasso’s Three Musicians, renamed The Shuteye Train, rendered in
hallucinogenic reds, blues and greens, with a fourth incongruous figure
wedged into the tableau as if cut and pasted from the painter’s earlier
Sapinaire’s portrait of Verrone,
redone in blacks and blues as a Tarot card of The Boss, which may
represent the first king of Punk City—if we can trust the intuition
which seeks to reassemble its cubist fragments into a real human face.
But it is difficult to trust one’s intuition about punk artifacts, and
the more so with this painting, because it may be the only surviving
image of the punk ‘demortal’ known as St. Nuke.
He is the central enigma of the
Philadelphia punk phenomenon. If it existed, and if he existed, St.
Nuke is the key to unlocking its secrets. He runs through all the
punks’ abundant and wildly contradictory histories of themselves. He is
by turns a god, a mythic king, a dueling Renaissance dilettante, a
maniacal tyrant, a passionate lover, a self-destructive rock star, a
dogmatically puritanical pagan priest, an inspired spiritual and
artistic leader, a satanic villain. The blurred and fragmented visage
which stares at us from his maybe portrait is a visual analogy rather
than a resolution of the ambiguities. St. Nuke’s essence, whatever it
is or was, has been concealed from us by the filters of the punks’
borrowed styles of painting and writing. And so we yearn for just one
photograph, one single cracked and fading Polaroid of a real human
being to put with the name of St. Nuke. For even the matter of his
human-being-ness remains somehow an unsafe assumption.
But why does it matter? To what
end has this distinguished old classroom building at Eberhard College
in rural Pennsylvania been converted to an archaeological museum and
laboratory? Outside, the college’s smooth lawns are perfumed with dew
and bright with the cut-grass green of spring. Inside, the dry remains
of a bizarre urban subculture lie dead in labeled plastic bags awaiting
the revivification of understanding. Students scarcely older than were
the vanished punks at their height scurry like coroner’s clerks among
the lab tables, inspecting microscopic clues as if in search of an
exact cause of death to write on the certificate. But there are no
certificates, not of death or birth. The questions that consume these
students and their professors are much more basic: What is this stuff?
Who made it? Where did they come from? Where did they go? And why, in
all the world, is this assemblage of junk the only evidence that
anything out of the ordinary happened on Philadelphia’s South Street
two decades ago?
No one disputes that there were
punks on South Street. Like New York, Philadelphia had its own
contingent of the rock-and-roll rebels who, according to music
historian Tricia Henry, “broke all the rules and declared war on all
previously existing musical trends and rules of social behavior.” In
the late 1970s, South Street was the logical place for such a community
to congregate. And if casual witnesses are to be believed, congregate
they did. Half a dozen punk nightclubs sprang up along the rat-infested
street whose roots are sunk in Philadelphia’s colonial era, and Yuppies
now gray at the temples recall that black-garbed punks came out at
night to roam the tree-lined stretch of asphalt that merged with the
circus atmosphere of historic Headhouse Square. There were the usual
Sex Pistol lookalikes, minor league versions of Wendy O. Williams, and
endless variations on the costumes and makeup of The Rocky Horror
Picture Show (which in those days reigned at South Street’s TLA theater
in midnight shows all weekend long). Those with strong sensory memories
claim that bass chords rippled underfoot along the brick sidewalks,
shivering the tired mortar of bars, punk clothing shops, and
second-hand musical equipment stores. The only trouble is, the punks of
the Cream King Trove were not musicians but writers, and their
histories claim that they ruled South Street—owned it, guarded it, and
fought wars to keep outsiders out. This does not square with the
recollections of most.
Yet the evidence of the Trove is
physical, substantial, at times incredible, but undeniably present and
provocative. The inventory records list 643 items of (nonmusical)
computer equipment of a configuration claimed by no current
manufacturer; 13,262 computer disks of unique physical design and data
format; 1,159 weapons, including 454 bullwhips and 502 ‘swords’
fashioned mostly from extra-long screwdrivers, many showing trace
amounts of human blood; 3,844 items of clothing, including combat coats
armor-plated with green plastic circuit boards, blood-soaked gloves,
and welded steel helmets evocative of bronze-age designs, as well as
female apparel ranging from the frankly erotic to combat-scarred
Amazonian; 108 paintings; 921 paper manuscript scrolls, most of them
eaten by mold and mildew from the outside in, so that there are many
beginnings but maddeningly few endings; 16 issues of a newspaper called
The Punk City Shriek (sans photographs); five decks of well-worn tarot
cards, each of unique design and nomenclature; 126 broken sheetrock
panels covered with hand-painted script in a punk-pidgin dialect called
The Tung; one Egyptian-style sarcophagus (empty); four plaster murals
adorned with brilliantly colored hieroglyphics; 88 ‘band’ flags or
pennons; and more than 200 isolated artifacts, including such items as
a five pound sledge, a lock of hair, an eyepatch, a small vial of
elaborately cut crystal, and what can only be described as a
full-combat motorcycle featuring a computerized sonic ‘silencer.’
Confronted by such a mass of
unexplained relics, one seeks a focus, a recognizable starting point.
The one the punks nominate again and again in their writings is of
unexpectedly childlike origin, encrusted in layers of riddle and myth.
The Shuteye Train
The painting hangs over Lynn
Wyler’s desk behind a protective slab of glass.
“It’s the only one,” she
explains, “the only image we have on canvas of the Shuteye Train.”
She gazes at it with an almost
devotional raptness, her head tilted slightly upwards as if to receive
a blessing or rebuke. A lovely young woman dressed in a prim wool
jumper, she seems an unlikely candidate for obsession. Yet that is a
word she has become comfortable with.
“Maybe it’s because I remember
hearing it as a child,” she says, breaking her connection with the
painting to smile at her own intensity. “The name is from a nursery
rhyme, you know. My mother used to read it to me. I was all tucked in
and safe, and her voice was so warm and soft.” Lynn’s voice remembers
her mother’s and she recites from memory:
blue where bloom the stars
And the Mother moon looks down
To land of Fay—
Oh, the sights that we shall see there!
Come, my little one, with me there—
Tis a goodly train of cars—
“All aboard for Shut-Eye Town!”
She breaks off, blushing. “I
can’t get it out of my head anymore,” she confesses. “I am obsessed. Until a month ago I
was engaged to be married. But my fiancé got fed up. ‘You care
more about the Shuteye Train than you do me,’ he said. And when I
realized he was right, he saw it in my face and broke off it off. So
here I am, the hostage of four cubist-looking guys who, according to
all official accounts, never existed.”
She pauses, then goes on in a
lowered voice. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this but I do dream about
them. They don’t look like the painting, but I still know it’s them,
four figures in black coats. I see them pass through an intersection,
no cars, no pedestrians, just them headed somewhere at night, and I run
after them as hard as I can. But when I get to the corner and turn it,
She laughs at the suggestion that
she is suffering from a classic anxiety dream. “Of course,” she says.
“The obvious explanation. The problem is, there isn’t anything about
this whole phenomenon that yields to obvious explanations. I think
maybe that’s what this is all trying to tell us. Forget the obvious
explanations. They may work everywhere else, but not here, not on South
“Look,” she says, slipping into
pedagogical persona. “Everybody in this building is a scholar or
technical expert of some kind. We have all been imbued with the
scientific method. We have been taught the discipline of logic and the
perspective of absolute objectivity. And now here we sit, surrounded by
this mountain of stuff—manuscripts, computer equipment, weapons,
clothing, artwork, sacred relics—the archaeological remains of a fully
developed subculture that simply cannot have existed. But does logic
make this painting disappear, does it empty this building? No.
Somewhere in all this stuff there's a fact, a reality, maybe even a
truth of some kind. But everywhere we go to look for it we find filters
in the way, like deliberate screens put there to keep us from seeing
what happened. Because something did happen. There isn’t anybody
working on this project who doesn’t believe that something happened,
whether they admit it or not. And personally, I don’t think we’re going
to make any headway at all until we admit the fact that we all do
believe it happened, in spite of the evidence.”
She holds up a stack of
photocopied manuscripts. “And whatever it is that happened, it starts
here, with the Shuteye Train. It’s one of the few points on which all
the materials agree. The first verse of the Punk Testament says, “At
the beginning there was the Shuteye Train.’ Every other punk account
keeps saying the same thing in different ways.”
She reads from the top of her
Town did Shuteye Train
A nightmare children’s home ensee:
Where Fish the secret symbol reigned
O’er boomers destified for Kain
Deep in a quantum sea.
car that snores along on bloody tracks,
The tired pullman that drones our song on bloody
Gave tongue to all our hammered dreams of morning.
I return to the day a week or so
before when I first arrived on South Street, where I had come in search
of an entity known as the Shuteye Train, rumors of which had circulated
as far north as my home in Boston... The Shuteye Train, it was said,
wrote vicious stories live on stage, then went out and made them come
true. I heard that they were maniacs, that they were murderers, that
they lived in hiding, somewhere between half a step and a step and a
half ahead of the law.
Lynn Wyler stops to clear her
throat and observes, “There’s more, of course. A lot more. And these
are just the fragmentary manuscripts we found in the Trove. When—if—our
computer jocks crack the code on the disks, there are bound to be
thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of pages we know nothing about
How, then, does she go about her
work? Is anything known for sure, and what has she concluded about the
She is more than willing to talk,
to explain, to speculate, but she will not lay claim to knowledge.
“We are given their names. Loco
Dantes is their leader. You’ll find evidence of that in The Boomer
Bible. The other three are Pig Millions, Reedy Weeks, and Joe Kay.
These are obviously symbolic, selected names, but then so are all the
other names in Punk City. Eliot Naughton declares in his preface to The
Boomer Bible that the Philadelphia Police knew of an organization, or
something, called the Shuteye Train. That’s intriguing because the
Naughton preface is otherwise adamant in its dismissal of the value and
reality of the punk writer phenomenon. But Naughton died in 1995 and we
don’t know where he got his information. I should tell you this is a
touchy subject with me.
“Eliot Naughton had a brother,
Thomas, also a professor of literature, at Princeton I think, who
inherited whatever records Eliot left behind. He’s recently
published a book of his own on the subject—An Autopsy of Punk Authors
or some such condescending title—and it’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever
read. The book contains some real information. But it’s fundamentally
untrue in that it purports to know all kinds of things that are no more
than patronizing guesswork. He’s managed to beg, borrow, or steal a
handful of punk pieces—many of them tiny fragments of larger
works—which he presumes to analyze and explain as if he had read the
entire manuscript. His selections are not representative of the scope
and variety of punk writing, and his introductions to individual pieces
are nothing more than preemptive dismissals
"Worse than that, the book is
just plain terrible, a thudding academic bore. It’s as if he
deliberately wrote it to be unreadable. He’s got it so larded with
pompous nonsense and sententious academic prose that it’s impossible
not to think Naughton’s real purpose is to sabotage the publishing
prospects of everyone working on this project. I’d like to jam the
ridiculous crap he made up about Loco Dantes and the Shuteye Train
right down his lying throat. And what really steams me is that he’s
obviously got a mole in here feeding him some of our material, which is
not supposed to be freely available, and artifacts, which are never
supposed to leave here for any reason. Which means he knows it’s not a
simple-minded, easily dismissed phenomenon. But his book treats it as
an accepted reality that’s just not very interesting when a real
scholar takes the time to concoct enough dismissive lies and
misrepresentations about it. I’d love to know who’s pushing his buttons
on this, and I’d love to read some of his files, but if I ever meet him
I’ll probably light into him so hard I won’t get to find out anything.
Oh well, that’s off the subject. I won’t bore you with any more on that
“What it boils down to is,
there’s not much to go on except what we already have here. Nobody I’ve
talked to in the Philly PD will even acknowledge the existence of the
Shuteye Train. So that leaves us with the records in the Trove, except
for Frank Frelinger, of course, the last person to claim an encounter
with them, which was described in the second preface to The Boomer
“I interviewed Frelinger and came
away with the sense that he had a hidden agenda of his own. He was
keenly interested in why I was questioning him, and he seemed to have
learned more than I’d have thought possible about the Trove research
effort. I don’t assign any particular weight to his contention that
he’s had contact with the Shuteye Train, but I don’t necessarily regard
him as a liar either. It could well be that he’s just a journalist who
fell into a story he can’t get away from.
“That’s nothing new,
though. The prose passage I read you was supposedly written by Boz
Baker, the famous ‘new journalist’ of the sixties and seventies. He
died during the period when the punk phenomenon was presumably still
underway, and critics familiar with his work have told me they believe
the Trove fragment attributed to him is his writing. So he may be a
credible witness, but all we have of his account is a few pages, he’s
not available for questioning, obviously, and he never claims in the
material we possess to have seen the Shuteye Train in person.
Apocryphally, Boz Baker became obsessed with Alice Hate, the de facto
queen of Punk City, and lost interest in everyone and everything else.
For my purposes he turns out to be ancillary material. Still, he’s
another ‘real world’ witness to the supposed ‘unreal world’ of Punk
“Which leaves me to look for the
Shuteye Train in other ways. In the Trove, we have only a hanful of
fragments attributed to their authorship. We have numerous references
them in punk history—that is, what purports to be history but more
closely resembles mythology because of its apparent preference for
semiotics over facts. And we have an overall pattern of punk
iconography that seems to originate with the Shuteye Train and
continues to proliferate, most notably on the Internet. That’s the
angle I’m pursuing now.
But what of the story, she is
asked. Isn’t there a real human story to find amidst the tales of an
undying punk writer band called the Shuteye Train?
She laughs, peals of genuine
merriment. “Certainly there’s a story. There are many stories.
Every story line you could imagine is in there. At least, that’s my
bet. But if you’re looking for a single line, an epic Punk City story,
if you will, you have to be tolerant of contradictions and confusion.
You wind up having to back your way out of all the conflicting detail
accounts to the point where everything blurs, to the point of myth
really, and then you get a community coming of age story that goes
some-thing like this—
“In the late 1970s, maybe 1978,
there’s a kind of second-string punk rock community living on South
Street. It’s just an imitation, really, of what’s happening in new York
and London. But these aren’t the punks of the Cream King Trove. The
punks that go on to leave us all this are the losers and hangers-on of
South Street., the ones who can’t even get into one of the rock bands.
The Boomer Bible speaks of ‘the lowest of the low’ and it seems apt
here. The punk writers speak of themselves at this stage as being
‘noth-ing’ in the truest sense of the word.
“But then some kind of crisis
comes to South Street. Symbolically at least, it comes in the form of a
biker gang which takes over the drug territory of which the community
is a geographical part. The bikers run roughshod over the punks. There
are beatings, rapes, murders, a campaign of intimidation and terror.
“Now the police will tell you that this never
happened, that there was never any overt biker presence on South Street
at this time. That’s why I refer to a symbolic event. The important
thing about it is that it represents some kind of ultimate ordeal, a
crucible that wreaks a transformation. That’s where the Shuteye Train
“You see, there is a moment in
there somewhere that we can’t find. We can’t find it but it has to be
there. A moment of inspiration or rebirth that alters the context,
invisibly perhaps but profoundly. The underlying nature of the
circumstances acquires a radically different identity. What had been
nothing but a sordid vignette of drug abuse and aimless youth becomes,
in the blink of an eye, a heroic and even sacred quest for meaning,
redemption, and salvation. Imagine watching a movie about gang-bangers
in an L.A. barrio and then somewhere in the middle of the first act you
realize you’re watching the Iliad instead—a full-blown literal
dramatization with Greeks and Trojans in crested helmets—and you have
no recollection of the transition. That’s the scale of context change
I’m talking about, and it’s the same kind of change. That’s why it’s
also the key to whatever happened on South Street in the late
seventies. In the punk accounts, this change is represented in terms of
dramatic physical conflict.
“The hostility between punks and
bikers erupts suddenly into war. Not a skirmish, but a war. All
accounts use the word. Something has made the South Streeters resist. A
mysterious ‘it’ has intervened and empowered the punks. Even though the
challenge they face is terrifying. Here, let me read to you from the
fragment we call the Gypsy manuscript:
It is an effort, even now, to
recall this time, an eternity of fear and blood and death that made
each night into an abyss. I watched or heard it all unfold outside my
window, deep inside the hell of South Street, where the bikes rolled in
at midnight and out again before dawn. In between my memories are
splintered and painful as shattered bone. The gang had a leader, a man
with a hammer, who withstood every assault like a cliff. He appeared
one night in December when it seemed the punks were at last growing
stronger than the bikers.... It was then that the Duke spoke, in a loud
hoarse voice. “I be ready to settle this thing for good right now. One
on one. The best you got against me.”
There is a low, thrilling power
in Lynn’s voice as she utters the words of “the Duke.” It is obvious
that she can see the scene unfolding in her mind’s eyes. More of her
dreams, one wonders? But she resumes her exposition in a normal
“To me, the important part of
this passage is, ‘memories... splintered and painful as shattered
bone.’ It’s my theory that this is the key to the beginning. It won’t
come together for us because it’s not together for them, either. It’s
like some terrible wound that can’t heal—a wound that may have elevated
them but which has also bequeathed them a permanent legacy of pain.
They come back to this moment of their history again and again and
again because they want to perceive, directly if they can, the origin
of this incredible, ennobling and agonizing gift. But no matter how
many times and ways they tell the story of their beginnings, they can’t
quite get back to the real origin. There is a point at which the
physics of punk reality crumbles into jagged mismatched shards of
quasi-remembrance. And interestingly to me at least, this ‘shattered’
effect is strikingly present at the very climax of the war event, just
where you’d expect a purely mythological structure to enforce some
“You can see the problem most
clearly in the confusion of identities that runs through this episode.
For example, the Gypsy manuscript is the only eyewitness account we’ve
found so far of the pivotal showdown between the punks and the bikers.
The way he tells it, the Duke turns his challenge into a ritual that is
repeated every night: ‘The best you got against me.’ An invitation to
single combat that sounds straight out of the middle ages. When he’s
finally taken up on his challenge, who is it that comes forward to
But as everyone looked one to
another, searching for the source of the voice, four masked men dressed
in black stepped out of the ECCE doorway and crossed the street through
the snow, silent as wraiths.
“The Shuteye Train,” Lynn
explains. “’Four masked men dressed in black’ is absolutely standard
iconography for the Shuteye Train. It just can’t be anyone else. And so
it’s Loco Dantes of the Shuteye Train who engages in combat with the
Duke, and it’s Loco Dantes who ‘stuck an icepick in the monster’s ear,
deep into his murderous brain.’
The Duke dropped to his knees, a
look of astonishment wiping the menace from his face, and then he
pitched forward, blood pouring from his ear onto the white blanket of
“And then, bang!” Lynn continues,
“Just like that, according to Gypsy, the war is finished and the ‘punk
writer’ phenomenon takes over. The coming of age that is the rest of
the punk story has been initiated, and it has acquired the momentum
that will push it forward through the remainder of the history. Thus,
it is the beginning which is most important to all subsequent punk
When you look at this beginning
for the purpose of explaining the primacy of the Shuteye Train, the
Gypsy account of the duel between Loco Dantes and the Duke serves as a
fascinating clue to their symbolic identity. For this is the precise
moment at which the punks cease to be nothing, when they become victors
instead of losers and are enabled to manage their own destinies.
“That’s not how most of the punk
writings we’ve found describe this episode. Despite Gypsy’s account—and
Gypsy is an important figure, we believe, who went on to become a power
in Punk City—it is St. Nuke who is given credit for killing the Duke.
The book of Angels in the Punk Testament says, ‘Whereupon St. Nuke
planted an icepick in his ear, all the way to the handle, which slew
the one called the Duke, before he hit the ground.’ The physical
details are the same, but the identity of the protagonist is changed.
While the Shuteye Train waits mysteriously and implacably down the
street, the king figure plays the vital role.”
Which version takes precedence
with Lynn Wyler? “Neither,” she responds. “Gypsy’s is the eyewitness
account, but this does not mean that his version carries more weight
than the book of Angels, which is, after all, the document purporting
to contain the collective memory of Punk City. One could take the
obvious cheap shot and say that it’s the ‘official’ version, the one
that’s politically correct in a community writing effort being managed
by the hero of the story, but that, to my mind, is an unnecessarily
cynical explanation of the discrepancy. I think there’s a sense in
which they work best together.
“Gypsy never says that the slayer
of the Duke is Loco Dantes. He has used literary language that makes
the Shuteye Train unmistakably present at the scene, just as Angels
uses scriptural language to do the same thing. Both could be saying,
‘It’s as if the Shuteye Train were there in person, ensuring that the
punks would prevail. The outcome is the same in both versions, as is
the clear implication that the decisive factor is this invincible
presence that resides in no single person, including the king.”
Lynn Wyler smiles. “There are
those in Agley Hall who will tell you that questions about the Shuteye
Train pale beside the questions about St. Nuke. I acknowledge that
perspective, but I don’t want to dwell on it. I’ll just point out that
if the punk writer movement occurred, St. Nuke will be confirmed as an
historical personage, a living breathing human being who led his people
to a fairly notable accomplishment. This cannot be said of the Shuteye
Train. There is every chance that they were, in the context of Punk
City, the personification of an article of faith, not a physical but a
metaphysical presence of extraordinary gravity and authority. If that’s
the case, then it will be impossible to understand anything about the
punk writers without understanding how and why they came to
believe so fiercely in the Shuteye Train.”
She smiles again, this time at
the suggestion that she already has her own answers to such questions.
“Provisional answers,” she concedes. “Theirs, I believe, is the power
of untraceable memory, the authority of a reference that seems to
predate any meaning to which it refers. Like me, some one or ones in
Punk City had heard a nursery rhyme in childhood and developed a series
of implied associations—of comfort, meaning, and significantly, of
journeying—which were triggered into mental and emotional reality by
the identity crisis arising from adolescent drug addiction. The result
was a subconscious but exceptionally powerful return to the innocence
and belief of earliest childhood, which—if any of us could manage
it—would indeed seem like a rebirth. The courage to fight back comes
from seeming flight into a fantasy realm where reality itself is
diminished in intensity and immediacy.”
Does this mean that the Shuteye
Train should be understood as a kind of mass delusion, or worse than
that, as a mass hallucination of childish figments of the imagination?
And doesn’t such an explanation reduce the ‘epic’ punk story to a cheap
allegory, like some Hollywood western? The Duke is drugs. The Shuteye
Train is dreams. And when they face each other down at high noon, the
good dreams outdraw the evil drugs?
Lynn seems taken aback for a
moment, then recovers her composure. “That’s not how I think of it,”
she says. “I’m inclined to the idea that the Shuteye Train begins as an
accepted symbol without a deterministic meaning, but as the punks grow
in knowledge and experience, the preexisting symbol is used to embody
the value system that has been developed along the way. In this sense,
it’s a microcosm of the human relationship to the notion of divinity.
The image of God appears first and accrues successive layers of
metaphysical identity which reflect the minds of the believers as they
learn more about themselves and the universe.”
But is the Shuteye Train
nonetheless real? Time, it seems, for a very pointed question: Does
Lynn Wyler believe in God? She blushes at the question, crosses her
arms, glances toward the door. “What I believe,” she says slowly and
distinctly, “is that we are all waiting for the code on the Trove disks
to be broken. And while we wait, we are hoping for a miracle—recovery
of the lost testament of the punks. The Apunkrypha. I will cheerfully
change any or all of my pet theories if The Apunkrypha shows me a new
way to understand it all. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back
In case you're interested.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Queen of Punk
Alice Hate on "stereotypewriter" from
her days fronting "The Fetal Circus."
. To quote Apotheosis, our favorite commenter Penny is
than a bushel basket of hydrocephalic squirrels. But God love ya."
True. And that's exactly why we love her. I have no freaking idea where
this came from in in her comment on Dirty
Rotten Varmint's post:
In an "insta"nt, we are reminded that
they are only "polite" about their wives. Or maybe to Lake, because he
nearly "gets it", and is of course "in-step" and even more polite than
the punks on their best behavior.
DRV said nothing about wives. Nor did IP. Is she miffed that the names
named in the post were all male? That's only because the names named
are mostly alumni of the old Boomer Bible Forum, which flourished for
several years as a duelling ground for internet punks like Null (the
forum's visionary founder),
Malachi, Winston Sith, Lake, Apotheosis (under a different nom de
guerre then and a royal pain in Instapunk's side), Kajeshell,
BalowStar, and many many others who debated everything from technology
Christianity to quantum physics to, most importantly, literature and,
expressly, the literary output of the punk writers of South Street in
Philadelphia. So if Penny was offended, it was for an invalid reason
she couldn't be expected to know about.
And this is why we so love Penny. She lives in a realm more akin to
Jung's collective unconscious than anyone we know or have ever met. We
don't disregard her because she's often in touch with relevant concepts
that simply wouldn't occur to anyone else. This time, she gave us an
idea we're surprised we didn't think of before. Of course, maybe we're
wrong and nobody would be interested, but it's certainly within our
power to use this site to publish some of the works of the original
punk writing movement discovered in the "Cream King Trove" back in the
early 1990s. Would anyone like that?
Today we're giving you a sample, one that Penny's dudgeon provoked us
to recall. The punks of South Street were not sexists. Much to the
contrary. They had five kings in their seven year lifespan as a
literary movement but only one queen. Her name was Alice Hate. She had
her own band and she walked like a goddess among the other punk writer
bands of the time. When she was felled in the final days of Punk City,
punk writers -- who loved to rewrite great works from the canon for
their own purposes
-- memorialized her with this, a hand-inked parchment manuscript
recovered in poor but legible condition from the Cream King Trove:
The text is reproduced below. Bear in
mind that punk writers did everything
in chapter-and-verse, not just
The Boomer Bible. It was their
signature and an indispensable component
of the physics of their universe.
Here, where the rigs are quiet,
2 Here, where punk fiction seems
3 Dead words and failed chips’ vomit
4 On ruined reams of dreams;
5 I watch the green mold blighting
6 Remembered bands and writing,
7 Their painted wrath and fighting,
8 A mildewed frieze of screams.
I am tired of pain and anger,
2 And punks who warred and bled
3 In hope of hope hereafter
4 For offspring of the dead:
5 I am spent of floods and fires,
6 Red realms of climbing spires,
7 Green seas and woods and mire,
8 And everything but dread.
Here Alice lies for ever,
2 Beneath the Headhouse Square,
3 Where weeds and weak reeds quaver,
4 Whipped dogs and seagulls glare;
5 They sense the swallowed thunder,
6 Entombed, brave heart asunder,
7 But hear her not down under,
8 Nor see her sightless stare.
No deep looks glad or tragic,
2 No gazes veiled or straight,
3 But blueless vials of magic,
4 Blank eyes of Alice Hate;
5 Cold stones of grave decision
6 Choose neither light nor vision,
7 But gray of cancelled mission,
8 In cataracts of slate.
Asleep, without dream or dragon,
2 Inside her wall of thorn,
3 The queen does not awaken,
4 To kiss of life at morn;
5 Her tale is stopt unbidden,
6 Prince Charming’s mount unridden,
7 The ending still unwritten—
8 Her beauty full forlorn.
She waits for no lord’s favor,
2 She waits for no man’s form;
3 Forgets St. Nuke her lover,
4 The nights of moon and storm;
5 Though arms of punks surround her,
6 And prayers kneel about her,
7 No words have yet unbound her,
8 Where she awaits the worm.
From too much faith in caring,
2 From blood and loss escaped,
3 She fell to sleep forswearing
4 The hopes your gods had raped:
5 That no sleep lasts forever;
6 That dead men rise up ever;
7 That even the blackest fever
8 Yields victims who are saved.
Then quest nor queen shall waken,
2 Nor any fire or ice:
3 Nor winged foe of Raven,
4 Nor hibernating mice:
5 Nor living seed nor kernel,
6 Nor greatwing ghosts eternal:
7 Only an Eden infernal,
8 Your vacant paradise.
Punks aren't just "polite" to their women. They adore them.
Let us know if you want more excerpts from the Cream King Trove. If you
don't, that's fine. This is an appropriate candidate for "one and
only." If you do, thank Penny. It would never have occurred to us to do
without her "hydrocephalic squirrel" genius.
Poetry already. This from Billy Oblivion, our correspondent in Iraq:
We adore the women around us
As all adore that which is precious and rare
Even after life bangs off the corners and
The gilt wears off
Other blog sites worry about death threats and obscene language. We
here at Instapunk worry only about poems that go on after they've
already laid down the perfect completion. Which this was. Who else has
commenters like this?
But our question remains. Do you want more punk writing here? Or not?
. Yeah, I know, last
post excepted, we get slammed here
quite a lot for noticing that women as a sex have as many problems as
men do. Which makes us politically incorrect. It's not acceptable to
perceive that modern women have created their own mythology of human
history that entitles them to rule the roost for the next hundred or
two hundred years. Reparations, don't you know. Which is where
Sotomayor's "wise Latina woman" bullshit comes from. So I didn't post
my Sotomayor entry after Mrs. LP read it and dinged my choice of
four-letter legal characterizations beginning with "C". Even though it
was mostly about
Obama (titled "First American Consul") and featured this most excellent
Photoshop of our most p____-whipped president ever:
There's almost a Michael Jackson
quality about him, isn't there?
Kind of vulnerable, sweet, and overdressed all at the same time.
So. No Sotomayor/First Lady as WWE
bullies post. But I am
willing to tunnel a bit deeper into the whole
attitude women are exhibiting today. They think they're better and
smarter than men, and they don't care how they get to that opinion.
Which is abso-fucking-lutely typical. That's why I'm going to reproduce
the following essay in full, which I generally don't do. But I'd hate
for anyone to think that I was Dowdifying
this woman's argument via my
choice of excerpts. I apologize to the author:
I know I'd hate to have an entire post hijacked to another website.
(Yeah, it's happened. Some woman who tittered through her plagiarism:
"FYI - I stole most of this bio info from another blogger who
apparently can't stand Fox and Friends either [source].")
just can't risk being misunderstood. I'm hoping against hope she
Persistent Myths in Feminist
CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS
"Harder to kill than a vampire." That is
what the sociologist Joel
Best calls a bad statistic. But, as I have discovered over the years,
among false statistics the hardest of all to slay are those promoted by
feminist professors. Consider what happened recently when I sent an
e-mail message to the Berkeley law professor Nancy K.D. Lemon pointing
out that the highly praised textbook that she edited, Domestic
Violence Law (second edition, Thomson/West, 2005), contained errors.
Her reply began:
"I appreciate and share your concern for
veracity in all of our
scholarship. However, I would expect a colleague who is genuinely
concerned about such matters to contact me directly and give me a
chance to respond before launching a public attack on me and my work,
and then contacting me after the fact."
I confess: I had indeed publicly
criticized Lemon's book, in campus
lectures and in a post on FeministLawProfessors.com. I had always
thought that that was the usual practice of intellectual argument.
Disagreement is aired, error corrected, truth affirmed. Indeed, I was
moved to write to her because of the deep consternation of law students
who had attended my lectures: If authoritative textbooks contain
errors, how are students to know whether they are being educated or
indoctrinated? Lemon's book has been in law-school classrooms for years.
One reason that feminist scholarship
falsehoods is that reasonable, evidence-backed criticism is regarded as
a personal attack.
Lemon's Domestic Violence Law is
organized as a conventional
law-school casebook — a collection of judicial opinions, statutes,
articles selected, edited, and commented upon by the author. The first
selection, written by Cheryl Ward Smith (no institutional affiliation
is given), offers students a historical perspective on
domestic-violence law. According to Ward:
"The history of women's abuse began over
2,700 years ago in the year
753 BC. It was during the reign of Romulus of Rome that wife abuse was
accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement. ... The laws
permitted a man to beat his wife with a rod or switch so long as its
circumference was no greater than the girth of the base of the man's
right thumb. The law became commonly know as 'The Rule of Thumb.' These
laws established a tradition which was perpetuated in English Common
Law in most of Europe."
Where to begin? How about with the fact
that Romulus of Rome never
existed. He is a figure in Roman mythology — the son of Mars,
a wolf. Problem 2: The phrase "rule of thumb" did not originate with
any law about wife beating, nor has anyone ever been able to locate any
such law. It is now widely regarded as a myth, even among feminist
A few pages later, in a selection by Joan
Zorza, a domestic-violence
expert, students read, "The March of Dimes found that women battered
during pregnancy have more than twice the rate of miscarriages and give
birth to more babies with more defects than women who may suffer from
any immunizable illness or disease." Not true. When I recently read
Zorza's assertion to Richard P. Leavitt, director of science
information at the March of Dimes, he replied, "That is a total error
on the part of the author. There was no such study." The myth started
in the early 1990s, he explained, and resurfaces every few years.
Zorza also informs readers that "between
20 and 35 percent of women
seeking medical care in emergency rooms in America are there because of
domestic violence." Studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency of the
U.S. Department of Justice, indicate that the figure is closer to 1
Few students would guess that the Lemon
book is anything less than
reliable. The University of California at Berkeley's online faculty
profile of Lemon hails it as the "premiere" text of the genre. It is
part of a leading casebook series, published by Thomson/West, whose
board of academic advisers, prominently listed next to the title page,
includes many eminent law professors.
I mentioned these problems in my message
to Lemon. She replied:
"I have looked into your assertions and
requested documentation from
Joan Zorza regarding the March of Dimes study and the statistics on
battered women in emergency rooms. She provided both of these promptly."
If that's the case, Zorza and Lemon might
share their documentation
with Leavitt, of the March of Dimes, who is emphatic that it does not
exist. They might also contact the Centers for Disease Control
statistician Janey Hsiao, who wrote to me that "among ED [Emergency
Department] visits made by females, the percent of having physical
abuse by spouse or partner is 0.02 percent in 2003 and 0.01 percent in
Here is what Lemon says about Cheryl Ward
Smith's essay on Romulus and the rule of thumb:
"I made a few minor editorial changes in
the Smith piece so that it
is more accurate. However, overall it appeared to be correct."
A few minor editorial changes? Students
deserve better. So do women victimized by violence.
Feminist misinformation is pervasive. In
their eye-opening book, Professing Feminism: Education and
Indoctrination in Women's Studies
(Lexington Books, 2003), the professors Daphne Patai and Noretta
Koertge describe the "sea of propaganda" that overwhelms the
contemporary feminist classroom. The formidable Christine Rosen
(formerly Stolba), in her 2002 report on the five leading
women's-studies textbooks, found them rife with falsehoods,
half-truths, and "deliberately misleading sisterly sophistries." Are
there serious scholars in women's studies? Yes, of course. Sarah
Blaffer Hrdy, an anthropologist at the University of California at
Davis; Janet Zollinger Giele, a sociologist at Brandeis; and Anne
Mellor, a literary scholar at UCLA, to name just three, are models of
academic excellence and integrity. But they are the exception. Lemon's
book typifies the departmental mind-set.
Consider The Penguin Atlas of Women
in the World (2008), by
the feminist scholar Joni Seager, chair of the Hunter College geography
department. Now in its fourth edition, Seager's atlas was named
"reference book of the year" by the American Library Association when
it was published. "Nobody should be without this book," says the
feminist icon Gloria Steinem. "A wealth of fascinating information,"
enthuses The Washington Post. Fascinating, maybe. But the
information is misleading and, at least in one instance, flat-out false.
One color-coded map illustrates how women
are kept "in their place"
by restrictions on their mobility, dress, and behavior. Somehow the
United States comes out looking as bad in this respect as Somalia,
Uganda, Yemen, Niger, and Libya. All are coded with the same shade of
green to indicate places where "patriarchal assumptions" operate in
"potent combination with fundamentalist religious interpretations."
Seager's logic? She notes that in parts of Uganda, a man can claim an
unmarried woman as his wife by raping her. The United States gets the
same low rating on Seager's charts because, she notes, "State
legislators enacted 301 anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001."
Never mind that the Ugandan practice is barbaric, that U.S. abortion
law is exceptionally liberal among the nations of the world, and that
the activism and controversy surrounding the issue of abortion in the
United States is a sign of a vigorous free democracy working out its
On another map, the United States gets
the same rating for domestic
violence as Uganda and Haiti. Seager backs up that verdict with that
erroneous and ubiquitous emergency-room factoid: "22 percent-35 percent
of women who visit a hospital emergency room do so because of domestic
The critical work of 21st-century
feminism will be to help women in
the developing world, especially in Muslim societies, in their struggle
for basic rights. False depictions of the United States as an
oppressive "patriarchy" are a ludicrous distraction. If American women
are as oppressed as Ugandan women, then American feminists would be
right to focus on their domestic travails and let the Ugandan women
fend for themselves.
All books have mistakes, so why pick on
the feminists? My complaint
with feminist research is not so much that the authors make mistakes;
it is that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism. They do
not get corrected. The authors are passionately committed to the
proposition that American women are oppressed and under siege. The
scholars seize and hold on for dear life to any piece of data that
appears to corroborate their dire worldview. At the same time, any
critic who attempts to correct the false assumptions is dismissed as a
backlasher and an anti-feminist crank.
Why should it matter if a large number of
professors think and say a
lot of foolish and intemperate things? Here are three reasons to be
1) False assertions, hyperbole, and
crying wolf undermine the
credibility and effectiveness of feminism. The United States, and the
world, would greatly benefit from an intellectually responsible,
reality-based women's movement.
2) Over the years, the feminist fictions
have made their way into
public policy. They travel from the women's-studies textbooks to
women's advocacy groups and then into news stories. Soon after, they
are cited by concerned political leaders. President Obama recently
issued an executive order establishing a White House Council on Women
and Girls. As he explained, "The purpose of this council is to ensure
that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of
public policy." He and Congress are also poised to use the celebrated
Title IX gender-equity law to counter discrimination not only in
college athletics but also in college math and science programs, where,
it is alleged, women face a "chilly climate." The president and members
of Congress can cite decades of women's-studies scholarship that
presents women as the have-nots of our society. Never mind that this is
largely no longer true. Nearly every fact that could be marshaled to
justify the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls or
the new focus of Title IX application was shaped by scholarly merchants
of hype like Professors Lemon and Seager.
3) Finally, as a philosophy professor of
almost 20 years, and as
someone who respects rationality, objective scholarship, and
intellectual integrity, I find it altogether unacceptable for
distinguished university professors and prestigious publishers to
disseminate falsehoods. It is offensive in itself, even without
considering the harmful consequences. Obduracy in the face of
reasonable criticism may be inevitable in some realms, such as partisan
politics, but in academe it is an abuse of the privileges of
"Thug," "parasite," "dangerous," a
"female impersonator" — those are
some of the labels applied to me when I exposed specious feminist
statistics in my 1994 book Who Stole Feminism? (Come to think
of it, none of my critics contacted me directly with their concerns
before launching their public attacks.) According to Susan Friedman, of
the University of Wisconsin at Madison, "Sommers' diachronic discourse
is easily unveiled as synchronic discourse in drag. ... She practices
... metonymic historiography." That one hurt! But my views, as well as
my metonymic historiography, are always open to correction. So I'll
continue to follow the work of the academic feminists — to
when it is wrong, and to learn from it when it is right.
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident
scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of
Who Stole Feminism? (Simon & Schuster, 1994) and The War
Against Boys (Simon & Schuster, 2000), and editor of The
Science on Women and Science, forthcoming from the AEI Press.
I still love women. Here's my favorite quote ever from an academic
article: "That one hurt! But my views, as well as
my metonymic historiography, are always open to correction." Nothing
gets me going faster than when Mrs. LP starts putting exclamation
points in the vicinity of her "metonymic historiography." Dee-licious.
Brizoni here. Quick heads up: InstaPunk is now on the popular social networking site Facebook. Now you can network with InstaPunk, socially. To find us, type "InstaPunk" in the seach bar.
We tried to get a "facebook.com/instapunk" address, but the requirements were... elaborate. To say the least. They wanted the page to be created before May 31, to have had 1000 fans by then, as well as the sacrifice of a goat "without blemish," which sacrifice shall be carried out by only an authorized Facebook "Priestrix." Said Priestrix was to be paid 44 pieces of gold in a lambskin sack. We had the gold, and the sack, but found out about the thousand fan deadline too late.
What kills me is this, like, all offended attitude they copped when we offered to slit the throats of two goats for each requirement we didn't meet. As if sacrificing one goat is all on the up and up, but any more than that constitutes some big abominable moral breach? Friggin' east coast snobs.
Anyway. InstaPunk on Facebook. Check it out. I run the page. But it's good.
. "Now Honduras on the Brink..."
"Chavez threatens military
criticizes US missile defense for Hawaii..." "Israel approves 50 new settler
homes in West Bank..." "Russia
holds major war games in Caucasus..." One glance
at Drudge's headlines this morning is enough to remind me of an entry
posted here a few days after Obama's election. It's called The Gathering Storm, and here's
When Bush leaves office, it will be
marshal turning in his badge and riding out of Dodge City. It's the
worldwide fear of how the United States will react that has kept the
global pot simmering just below a boil. Even if they suspect that Bush
won't call in airstrikes or a battalion of marines in response to a
truly provocative act, they don't know it for sure. And so they
hesitate, they think and think again, and then they wait. What are they
waiting for? For Bush to be gone. As he will be in January 2009.
George W. Bush has been a one-man Cold War, the kind of stabilizing
influence created by the perception of a danger that transcends local,
personal rivalries and grudges. That's the irony of our current
situation. And it's a truly colossal
irony. Americans are tired of
being not liked around the world. Obama promises to change that. He
proclaims his intention to conclude the American Cold War against the
world. He will no longer act hastily and unpredictably. He will put
away the big stick. He will be reasonable. And we are buoyed and reaffirmed in our
support for him by the fact that the world cheers when we elect him to
Why are they cheering? Because things will slowly get better in
international affairs as the civilized norms of traditional diplomacy
are gradually restored to their proper place? Or because there will be
a sudden sizeable window of time in which a young, naive, and
inexperienced president of the United States will be trying to do too
many things at once -- learn the job, staff his administration, resolve
an economic crisis, and pursue an extraordinarily ambitious domestic
legislative agenda -- leaving the door open for bold moves
around the globe he can't possibly respond to effectively?
post gave me an idea. So I thought I'd try it
out. What do you think? If you're browser-challenged, here's an
that might work for you.
The Last Glimmer
olden days, punks
debated with scrivers. Anyone could challenge.
We were always vermin. The thing about being vermin is that sometimes
you can recognize when a dirty rotten varmint is a peer. He commented.
So he gets his time in the Blade. You're all qualified to do it too.
So Choose. Apotheosis? Lake? Chain Gang? Guy? Johnny? Tell him about the Blade.
"cap-and-trade" bill, whether it is passed or not, will be extremely
successful at achieving its purpose. Which has absolutely nothing to do
with what is written in the bill.
The Punks and the
Instapunk commenters tend to be realists. Well, okay, we may believe in
an ideology and hold to a personal creed, but our eyeglass
prescriptions are reasonably up-to-date. We know the difference between
fantasy and reality.
The political class in the Western
world doesn't care a fig for reality. And it is a social class, which
includes not just the entire political establishment proper but also
the university systems, public schools, the Hollywood entertainment
industry and the rest of the MSM (including, yes, even Fox News.) It's
a separate social class just as the Roman senate became a social class,
so completely removed from what was actually happening in the Republic
that the republican government was allowed to vanish and Caesar
elevated to supreme dictatorship on the wings of a plebeian uprising.
(One might argue that under certain emperors Rome was actually much
more "republican" in virtue than under the pampered and inchoate
Senate. Not, of course, that any of us would support a military coup in
the United States, because that would of course be much worse than the
idiots who have controlled the government in living memory. Right?
So. End of digression.
cap-and-trade bill is a playing card in a great big fantasy game. It is
not meant to have an "effect". Its very existence provides the intended
effect, because it helps add color to the fantasy world in which a
large number of Westerners live. Merely by spreading the idea of
something like a cap-and-trade bill they succeed in wallpapering the
empty rooms of philosophy they inhabit, secure in the knowledge that if
only [fill in the blank with the latest sociopolitical trend] succeeds
then Earth, 2009 will be followed by a Rousseauian paradise in which
the evil pollution of humanity will be gone, except for the deserving
few who will all get laid regularly, and will get along in perfect
harmony, except that all the brown people will of course voluntarily
stay on their side of paradise (or if they are brown, vice versa.)
(Many non-Westerners also live in a fantasy world, it's just not the
same one. At least bin Laden's fantasy has the benefit of being loosely
based on a fantasized ideal of the height of the Ottoman Empire.)
utopian world of the American Left has never existed anywhere ever. It
doesn't matter that [blank] won't actually succeed in ushering in the
first days of the unending utopia, because of course any such failure
is not because paradise without the presence of a benevolent Creator is
an oxymoron (no, of course not) but because of the evil [fill in the
blank - capitalists, soldiers, Instapunk, orcs...] who must be defeated
by the forces of Light in order for the new atheist paradise to become
a reality. The "cap-and-trade" bill is a dice roll in a giant ongoing
game of dungeons and dragons. The point is not to _win_: the point is
that the "good guys" fight orcs (capitalists. whatever.) So long as
they are fighting orcs they do not have to face the reality that they
are just playing a game and the world is never going to look like
And of course the fantasy game is unending, since they make it up as
they go along. Isn't it fun.
is why, much as the kind of curmudgeonly front-porch sociopolitical
stick-shaking seen in this post is necessary to provide perspective for
those of us who do try to keep our fantasies separate from reality, I
greatly prefer the Punk posts about important things. Like, say,
The wonderful thing about living life in the real world is
that reality is inhabited by wonderful, beautiful mysteries which far
surpass anything Al Gore's speechwriters can think up.
Yeah, DRV's a punk. He can write. Does he want to post? Or is he just a one-time
tantrum? The Blade is filled with the bodies of punks who had one great
explosion. Maybe he should write Instapunk@gmail.com for instructions
on how to post here. Didn't you know? Any
punk can post here. As long as he can withstand the slaughter we call
editing. You too, JS.
And, uh, the editing isn't about censorship. It's about grammar,
spelling, diction, and logic. Can you write as well as DRV? Or Brizoni?
Then join the front lines of InstaPunk and take your chances. Brizoni
will tell you how easy it is.
DRV already has a fan
-- and an estimable
one at that. Congratulations, you dirty old varmint you.