Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 27, 2010 - August 20, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010


They're so so scared of her. Maybe the best instinct they've had in decades.

THE REAL FEMINISM. FINALLY. There's a lot of noise out there right now. Some of it is good, insightful noise. (Goldberg, Krauthammer, Jacoby, and Barone come to mind), but nobody knows what's going to happen in November. Everybody's treading water. The economy is sinking, the president is distracted and on vacation (Lobsters? Really?), a variety of Dems are jumping ship, and the polling numbers are either all or mostly junk. How do you choose what's worth focusing on?

The answer is Sarah Palin. Apart from Obama himself, she's the part of the national political equation that is new. I once pronounced her near-term presidential prospects as zero. Here was my reasoning:

[I]t's no joke that there's a problematic generation gap in the GOP. Much more than the Dems, whose ranks are filled with tottering greybeards like Biden, Byrd, Lautenberg, Teddy, Harkin, Specter, Mikulski, Murtha, Dingell, Rangel, and the plastic avatar Pelosi, the Republicans have a lot of promising young blood: Paul Ryan, Eric Kantor, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Scott Brown, Michelle Bachman, Liz Cheney, Marco Rubio, and no doubt others we haven't heard of. Young not just in years, though many of them are well below the age of gray hairs and their imputed wisdom, but also young in experience on the national stage. Problem is, we need leaders NOW, and the Old Guard is too old and compromised by their experience to serve in the capacity we need. John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, Orrin Hatch, John Boehner, John Kyl, etc, etc.

So there's a temptation to, well, do an 'Obama' right back at them. Pluck some charismatic juvenile out of the crib and force them to let us follow them to the ends of the earth. In an era of instant celebrity and reality show media fads, it even makes a certain kind of sense. Pick the best looking horse and ride on the back of off-the-chart Q-ratings to glory, acclaim, and power.

Thing is, it doesn't work. The Democrats are finding that out right now, in excruciating pain. They passed up the old warhorse Hillary for a three-year-old flash in the pan who can't run in the mud or, apparently, on a cloudy day. And who, day by day, seems to be revealing himself as something much less than a thoroughbred.

But I also said:

I wrote Palin off as soon as she resigned her governor's chair. But now I'm thinking maybe I misunderestimated her. Everything I know tells me she's not ready for national office. But women have their own ways of doing things. Let me repeat that. Women have their own ways of doing things. Sarah Palin is breaking ALL the rules, every day, consistent with how she's behaved from Day One of her national celebrity. I have absolutely no idea what's she's up to. Does that make her an idiot? Maybe. Unless it makes her something brand new.

It's interesting to me that women in particular never think of other women in terms of destiny. They think of other women in terms of hard work, dues paid, credentials acquired, scandals avoided or mitigated, but never ever EVER in terms of just showing up when destiny is calling, the way Napoleon and Lincoln did.

Because most women don't think of themselves that way. At base, they know they're second rate. They have to plot and connive and wriggle into positions of power. Obey the rules. All the rules. If they deviate, even once, they're done. Toast.

Which means that the thing they hate the most is another woman who just is. I have a leg up here because I'm married to one like that. Sarah Palin breaks all the rules, recklessly, fearlessly, apparently even self-destructively. But she's a comet. None of us knows where's she'll land, how, or why. If she were a man we could describe her as a running back loose in the secondary. She could dance her way to the end zone with one counter-intuitive move after another.

But she's a woman. Which is fatal.

Except that if we're being honest about our belief in the equality of the sexes, she just might be crafting a new way. Upending all the old rules. Destiny might be on her side after all. After Obama, America might be sick to death of 'brilliance,' and want instead a candid traditionalist with five kids and a healthy openness about how easy it is to get suckered by the mass media machine.

What value might Americans place on an 'anti-politician,' one who admits she's more like us than them, one who is as demonstrably fearless as she is professedly ordinary? And far more beautiful than all her female and geeky detractors? [boldface added in hindsight.]

I'm starting to take her very very seriously. Why? Several points.

1) Obama is even a worse president than I anticipated. Which is saying something. He's cold, remote, aloof, detached, imperious, indecisive, and incompetent. Jesus. Could it get any worse? Yeah, he doesn't have Carter's sneaky child molester smile, but he's a walking reminder of every over-educated arrogant asshole we've all met in real life. That's not going to change. His first response to any criticism or challenge is to ridicule it, usually in offensive terms that make it clear he's not from any of the lower forty-eight states and doesn't care to be. Which means it's not the whole celebrity act of the Obamas people are objecting to. It's who the celebrity turns out to be.

2) Worse, for a politician, he has no political loyalties. Ironically, he has no sense of the quid pro quo that builds coalitions and fortitude in tough times. He doesn't even realize he's a pol. He still thinks he's a messiah and it's okay to throw countless hundreds of his erstwhile allies under the bus while he skates coolly away from the fracas with his nose in the air.

3) Worst of all, Obama keeps getting credit for being smart, intellectual, accomplished. He's none of these things. But the damage has been done. After eight years of being told that George W. Bush was too dumb to be President, Americans are learning that the people who tell them who's smart and who isn't aren't using criteria that matter. They're being given every reason to revert to the common sense they apply in their own lives; sometimes the people who claim to be smart are just smart-ass, worth more laughter than deference. And think about this: Bush was supposedly dumb despite degrees from Yale and Harvard. But if the supposedly smarter president has nothing going for him but, uh, degrees from Columbia and Harvard, why shouldn't we conclude that if we think he's acting dumb, he is dumb? Even if he's got that snotty intellectual attitude we mostly despise.

4) It was Obama who changed all the rules about who and what we should consider in a national candidate. And how they can go about getting elected. So who is it that's dumb and who is it that's smart if the political herd on the national scene is playing by the old pre-Obama rules and one, just one, is making up all new rules of her own?

5) Sarah's running on Facebook fer chrissakes. Who's more in touch with the "working people" of the American electorate? Obama with his mysterious classified Blackberry? Or Sarah with her shoot from the hip talent for coining more memorable phrases than an over-exposed president has managed since his inauguration? Name me one term Obama has cemented into the public discourse that has more resonance than "death panels"?

6) People are onto the MSM at this point. Here's the proof. Throughout his years of candidacy and his years of presidency, the MSM went out of their way to depict Ronald Reagan as dumb. Does it even matter now whether they were wrong or right? People know Reagan was a good president. If he was dumb, brains don't matter as much as the MSM thinks they do. If he was smart, they were engaging in such systematic propaganda, we can't believe their intellectual assessments of anyone. QED.

7) Lucky Seven. Magnificent Seven. Sarah is vetted. Nothing left for the MSM to do to her. They've done to her, and worse, what the tabloid press does to Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Tiger Woods. Hell, they've even turned vicious queers loose to investigate the interior of her uterus, giving her the equivalent of an internal gynecological exam in the name of "journalism." (TIP to the Dancing with the Stars judges: condescend to Bristol at your peril. This is bigger than your sanctimony.) Despite all the best/worst efforts of the MSM, Sarah's still standing there, gathering power...

It's called Serenity.

...transforming herself into an anti-establishment kingmaker at the precise moment in time when people are the most disposed to be anti-establishment. She's eating her opposition for lunch. No wonder they're gasping, straining, like constipated schoolmarms on the pot, as Sarah rolls on smiling and laughing and tossing off memorable phrases while they splutter crankily in her wake, scouring the Internet for the lefty equivalent of stool softeners. Which is a delicate way of saying they're full of shit.

To conclude. Sarah Palin's not Obama or anything like him. She understands the social networking scene and is as far ahead of her competition as Obama's minions were ahead of theirs. Her less than elite educational credentials are no longer as suspect as the people who have questioned them so contemptuously. She understands better than the Republican Party just how fed up the electorate is. I think she's running for president. When I think about Romney and Huckabee and that doofus from Minnesota, I think she's winning. Whatever the polls say.

And I think everybody who opposes her, Democrat and Republican alike, should be afraid. Very afraid. Because she's the 800-pound gorillagrizzly in the room. And I'm getting more comfortable with the idea of a Sarah Palin presidency. She's not going to call Marines "corpsemen." She's not going to bow to men who stone women to death for getting raped. She knows that you don't revive an economy or a nation by punishing the people who do all the work. She knows what the American military can do, she understands that lives she cares about are on the line, and she won't make deployment decisions lightly. She's not enough of an intellectual to do any of those things. And if she chows down on a king crab leg at a state dinner, she'll know what it really cost to land it on her presidential plate.

Capitalism isn't soulless exploitation. It's people taking risks for rewards that go way beyond money and trust fund checks. What Sarah knows that Obama never will. Thanks to Obama, I'm prepared, finally, to accept the risk of Sarah. Hell. I'm an American. Let's roll.

Puck Punk's Anyfell
Preseasoning Review

Even these players try harder to win than the preasoning players.

[ED NOTE. We like to think of this as Affirmative Action Blogging. Obviously, Puck Punk has gone a bit backward with his English after the Census and the Bender and all, but it's a hands across the border kind of thing, isn't it? They don't even have football in Canada (except for that weird CFL thing they do on a field the size of Area 51), but never mind that. He's trying really really hard here. It's the thought that counts, eh...?]

A BREAK FROM THE HOCKEY...FOR NOW. I want to apologize to all bodies at The Punks for being away for a long time. I become many upset when my Canadiens lose to the Phyler in the anyshell playoff and I have the hard time coming to a grip on that. At that time I am very happy to be making so much money at my job for the census, but I spend every of my money at the liquor store to go on the bender at my sadness. When I wake up, I have find out all the census job are go away, even for my boss. But he shows me how to collect the insurance of the unemployments, so that is a good news because I still have money to watch the TV. I am many luck to have this kind of good friend. But this is not why I make the writting of this post now.

The new season of the hockey is come soon, but The Punks do not want me to write about this. They say no one in America has a like of the hockey even for the playoff, so why I will write about the regular season? Instead they ask me to cover another sport, and since we are in America the only option is to make talk about the anyfell footballs.

The first part of the anyfell is always a very big deal called The Daft. It has this name because of the many stupid, spoiled college children who start to make a billion of U.S. dollars on this day for no reason except of the anyfell player union. I wish our anyshell union in the hockey was so good as this because the college children who go in the hockey do not make any of the money or even have the dental insurance. A union like this could help before very much during the anyshell LOCKOUT, not strike. But I suppose it is a good thing for the anyfell children to make this money right away since many of them are never good at the actual playings of the footballs, so they must make all their monies in a short time.

See? The Daft. As I tell you.

But then there is a break of many month after The Daft when every body must watch the news of all the veteran player make what they call the holdup. The holdup is when a player sign already before a contract to be making a billion U.S. dollars, then after they sign it they think they should make two or three billion of the U.S. dollars instead because they are many special and have many anger at the new college child of the team who makes a higher money only for sitting on the bench and not making the play. There is an argue about this and the holdup man stay on vacation while all other player of the team start the practicing. The end of the holdup happen when the owner gives out the extra billion U.S. dollars to the veteran, and then the owner makes a raise of the prices for the ticket and the beer in the anyfell game to pay for the holdup. This is why they call it a holdup, because it is the robbery of the anyfell fans.

The thrird part of the anyfell year is making the occur at this moment. It is The Preseasoning. This is the time when there are games but no one makes the effort of a care to win it, yet the anyfell fan still must pay to watch. May sports have a Preseasoning, but the anyfell has the most worst. The only big news that happen in The Preseasoning of the anyfell is when the veteran man of the holdup is becomes l'injure in the first game and all the watchers at the anyfell stadium must think about how they pay so much money for ticket and beer for the salary of the holdup man and the college child that now sit on the bench next to each other for all season.

Beside that, there are so many of this games in The Preseasonings where there is no meaning and none of the anyfell player make the try to win, but the ESPN and Tony Kornholer want to make the anyfell fan think they should see this games anyway. So I have a time at my favorite bar of the sport down on the street and watch some games of The Preseasoning so I can report about it to you and you will know about all the news of l'import that happen in the anyfell. It is a possible that some of this informations are not completely right, because I did have a lot of the drinks at the bar while I watch, but I keep a good notes of what happen, so I think it is all most of the truth.

Biltamore Birds: 23
Washington Redmen: 3

He wears the new shirt, but the same look on his face.

This game is of an interest to the Punks because the new throwerback of the Redmen is Donaldvan McVick, who before this is many years on the Bird team of Phylerdelphia. But now he is old and the Phyler Birds have the brother of Donaldvan to play throwerback, the man who likes not the dogs so much. The owner of the Redmen always has a good time to pay too much money to the players who are not very good or always make l'injure, like this man. I think the owner gets so much of the enjoy from this because he must have the hatred for all anyfell fan who live around the Washington. Because as you see, the Redmen are still making the bad games.

Eagle Phylers: 3
Crouching Tigers: 23

"Hello. I still hate you."

This game shows what becomes of Donaldvan's brother, Michael McVick. He still can not have the good game, as when before he plays on the team of the Atlanta Birds. Why so many teams of bird names in the anyfell? Anyway, Terral Owens, the gay catcher man that used to catch the throw from Donaldvan, is now catch for the Tigers and he has a good game. He catches five or ten of the touchdowns, which in the footballs scores about one hundred points. In the hockey you only get one point when you score. Sorry, I know I am not supposed to make the compare of the hockey to the anyfell.

Green Way Packers: Twenty...eight?
Even More Birds: Probably About 24

If a man wears this clothes in the hockey, he will get l'injure from his own teammates.

This game is in the Seattle, where all year it is many rain. I am not so sure about why I make a note of this game. I think it is because the colors of neon green with mustard yellow on the TV makes my stomach to feel upset at the time I watch it. There is a stain of the vomit on my note page that makes a smudge of the ink I write with, so I think the true reason will be forever le mystery.

The Fishes: 200
The Cats: 199

This is how my stomach feel as I watch this preseasoning

More animal teams. More strange colors. More of the vomit on the note page. Sorry, this is all I know about this game.

One Team With: A Higher Score
Another Team With: A Lower Score

This is how I feel at the time of the last game at the bar.

Well I must make l'admission to you: I have at all no memory about this game. I only know the last part of my note smudge is for this game that is different from the other ones, and I feel the confidence that one of the teams made the win on the other team.

So I think there are still two more weeks of the Preseasoning that every body must watch. For some reason. Because I suppose three weeks of no caring about winning the games is not enough in the anyfell. There must be five weeks. Then the regular season will start. I never give the anyfell footballs many attention before, but this year I make a good try. As long as I keep making the receive of the unemployments and can buy alcohol at the bar of sport, I think I will like to do the watchings. See you next time, and many thank you to the readers at the Instapunk who are pay the taxes for my unemployments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Decent Interval
Having Elapsed...

The ultimate liberal symbol

EMK REDUX. With all the other terrible stuff that's going on right now, I realize people might not be in the mood for a look back at Teddy Kennedy, but he's been in the col' col' ground for a while now, and maybe it's time to consider what his real legacy is.

Hmmm? Ya think? How about "perfect symbol of the left"? No way one could have pointed this out a year ago when he actually died, because conservatives are such docile wimps that it would never occur to them to call a spade a spade, and especially not when great conservative moralists like Orange Hatch loved him so much they just couldn't stand it when he died: 'O Thou Great Lberal Lion.' Because if there's one thing conservatives are good at, it's abandoning all our principles in the face of some event that allows us to weep on our sleeves like some wholesome whore at the State Fair.

Unless Instapunk, as usual, has always been pretty much right about everything. Including the fact that Teddy Kennedy was the perfect embodiment of all modern liberal political policy. That this fat, rich, spoiled, corrupt, gluttonous, drunken piece of shit was notable only for having been the ultimate exemplar of what's laughingly considered the party of the people. That this woman-abusing sociopathic narcissist, who never held down a real, work-requiring job in his worthless life, who destroyed the life of his first wife and solicited underage teenagers for sex from the window of his limousine, while making the lives of his own children a livng hell, who is nevertheless considered an icon of liberal politics and liberal vision and liberal leadership -- uh, uh, VOMIT -- was somehow admirable.

Well, he wasn't. Enough time has elapsed that we can now tell the truth. He was a piece of shit. A turd. And a smelly one at that.

But he was a symbol. From his manboobs and ballooning gluttony to his inarticulate screamings, he was everything the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has been for two generations -- a hypocritical epitome of voracious appetites, old ideas, old disproven policies, old causes, and old self-justifications for a life that anybody but a committed liberal would regard as a wasted sprawl in a gutterful of deadly sins.

Couldn't have said this a year ago. But if he really was a Catholic, he's in Hell now. You don't get to support 30 million abortions and still be a Catholic in good standing. You don't get to wait for a young woman to die underwater in a slowly disappearing air pocket while you noodle out your political career, FOR HOURS, and still go to heaven yourself, not even if you're a Shanty Irish Kennedy.

They laid him in repose and millions came to watch and adore him. They're just lucky he didn't burst into fucking flames on his catafalque.

What I couldn't say a year ago I'll say now. Teddy Kennedy was pure and absolute slime. We don't get to judge? Oh yes we do. God doesn't want us to be neutral about murderers. Or did you miss that part of the Old Testament?

Teddy Kennedy is so-called liberal America. Think about that. Think about that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Amputated President

Yeah. He loves it. Who doesn't? But the evidence
suggests he's cut off from actual feelings. Amputee.

NOT RUN FOR A SECOND TERM? RIGHT. I can sense that people are distressed about the lack of Obama coverage here. He's mooning around at Martha's Vineyard, and the pundit pages are full of autopsies of his failed presidency and even those who are predicting he won't run for a second term. Less than two years in, folks. Don't believe the post-mortems. He's going to run again. He might even win.

Why? The MSM is still on his side. Think of them as the suicide bombers of the left. The power elites in government and universities and (did we mention?) government are still on his side. The feckless and dependent are still on his side, even the ones who can't get jobs right now, because they still think the government can tell business to hire the incompetent and indigent.

But here's the big question. Are the African-Americans still on his side? He won't be able to win without them. All the polls show they still like him, but will they actually come out to vote like last time? I think that's an open question. There are at least a couple reasons why they wouldn't.

Michelle's high life is not a problem. Nobody resents Shaq. This is America. When you hit the big time, live big.

It doesn't matter that the president talks white to white fund-raising audiences and black on the stump. We all gotta do what we gotta do.

It doesn't even matter that the current unemployment situation hits African-Americans the hardest. Or does it?

Thing is, this president isn't really an African-American. Now is he? In reality he's an American-African. Who just might be a muslim.

There are no polls showing what African-American Christians -- the overwhelming majority -- think of black muslims. There's no poll breakout I've seen of how many of the approximately 20 percent of Americans who think Obama is a muslim are African-American. And there's no poll showing what African-Americans might think of a politician whom they believe to be muslim but NOT a black muslim. Not Malcolm X but Osama Bin Laden.

You see, there's a potential tear in the monolithic support Obama has received from African-Americans. Because there's always been this big asterisk nobody wants to talk about. Obama is not African-American.

He's a half-white African who isn't doing all that damn much to put Americans back to work. And if you woke him up in the middle of the night, would he be able to recognize and identify this stuff?

John Rock was born to free African-American parents in Salem, New Jersey. Not much is known of his childhood. He taught in schools in New Jersey from 1844 to 1848. While teaching, he studied medicine. He apprenticed to two white doctors based in Salem: Dr. Shaw and Dr. Gibson; studying with practicing physicians was a common way to gain medical training.

Rock also sought entrance into medical school in 1848. He transferred into the field of dentistry and opened a dental practice in 1850. Finally gaining admittance to medical school, Rock graduated from American Medical College in Philadelphia in 1852. At the age of 27, he was a teacher, dentist, and physician. Of course, the first black physician in the U.S. was James Derham. And the first black attorney to argue before the Supreme Court was James Alexander Chiles.

Oh. You don't like tap dancing? Paternalistic and racist, is it? Does that mean Gregory Hines wasn't worth admiring? You tell me. Perhaps you'd prefer the first black novelist in this awful country?

Two points. No statue to me yet, and she has two nice points.

But, you see, this is all African-American stuff, and from the hidden corners at that. Names you mostly don't know if you're not actually from here. Obama know any of it? I doubt it. And, no, I'm not a birther. I'm just reminding you that Obama is from Hawaii, and he's probably learned about African-American culture the way most white people have, by mass media osmosis and by outsider curiosity. His taste in African-American art is certainly suspect. He prefers this...

to this...

Which is to say he's faking it. Paintings aren't about typography. They're about paint, vitally deployed.

Kinda brings me back to my original question. Will African-Americans stick with him the next time around? We'll see.

AMC Coming On

TEEVEE. I don't know if you get the American Movie Channel in your neck of the woods, but there's something very interesting going on there. This post is sort of half a blessing, but it's a fervent half if half is all it is. AllahPundit is fired up about a new AMC series called The Walking Dead, which I know for a fact Mrs. CP will never watch, but I might if it shows up On-Demand at Comcast. It's got elements of The Road Warrior and one of the more stellar cast members from the short-lived but highly original series Jericho (now re-running at odd times on SyFy).

Which I'm seizing on as an excuse for a very specific recommendation and a more general exhortation to pay close attention to what AMC is up to.

The specific recommendation is the new series Rubicon, previewed in the trailer above. It's a spy story, but not in the James Bond or Bourne mold. More like John Le Carre but without his hatred of everyone and everything that's ever lived. It's an old-fashioned, slow-developing espionage puzzle blessedly devoid of clicking keyboards and flashing computer graphics. The chief props are paper files, books, and note cards (plus one classic Norton motorcycle I once owned one of myself). The acting is extraordinary all round. Standouts include James Badge Dale in the lead role of an intelligence analyst not trained as an operative, Arliss Howard as his enigmatic boss, and the truly can't-look-away-from-him-when-he's-onscreen Michael Cristopher (Tony-winning writer and director) as the maybe villain of the piece. Oh. And Miranda Richardson too. You spend a lot of time watching James Dale thinking, and you're completely okay with that. I know I've recommended more than a few shows to our readership, but this is the first TV series I'm actually pissed off about the fact that I have to wait for the next episode. That's how good it is. Only problem is, I'm not sure you'll be able to catch up four episodes into it. (Lost chickens coming home to roost? Maybe.) And coincidentally (?), the latest major addition to the cast is another alum of the aforesaid Jericho. I'm hooked. It may turn out to be another liberal suitcase bomb against the Republican establishment, but I actually don't care for once. THAT's how good it is.

I first became aware of AMC's artistic ambitions with the western miniseries Broken Trail, starring Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church. I was very impressed by that effort. It seemed to me they were looking to honor the tradition of old-time classic movies within the freer time limits offered by television. They deliberately ignored the supposed bang-bang-bang action requirement of alphabet network series television, drew a deep breath, and hearkened back to the slower pace of Shane and The Searchers. As if  they were rediscovering character development, setting, mood, cinematography, and, well, composition. They realized television gave you the room within which to do these things, if you only had the nerve to learn from the old masters and take the time to do it without marquee faces, one-liners and cheap climaxes.

I said earlier that this is only half a blessing. I've tried and failed to appreciate such critically acclaimed AMC series as Breaking Bad and Mad Men. They don't do it for me. But I accept that I'm simply not the intended audience for those works. And I'm guessing they're drawing praise for the same reasons I like Broken Trail and Rubicon -- thoughtful writing, skilled actors rather than stars, and the kind of attention to cinematic detail that results in something more like a long-running movie than a TV show.

My opinion. For what it's worth.

Goodbye, Penny.

She just disappears. She was crazy. Never part of the story.
She just thought she was. In her crazy crazy ether dreams.

WE BENT OVER BACKWARDS TO ACCOMMODATE HER. NO MORE. Penny is banned. Hate to have to do it. But it's necessary. As long as she focused her bitterness and incoherent nastiness on me personally, we could absorb it. But she's moved on to attack other people we care about. Not a bad woman, perhaps, but a woman who needed to be put on a train and sent away.

"I wasn't quite as sick as I made out."
What needs to be done needs to be done.

She's on the train now. We'd never shoot a woman. Unless she tries to come back.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Full Business: Ron Paul

THE DAFT DOCTOR. Boss wants me to post. I don't even remember the last time I posted. Let's see how rusty I am. Is this even the right website?

We at InstaPunk have taken shots at Ron Paul before, but we've never deigned to give everyone's favorite Republitarian the full business. The above video, posted yesterday by the Capitalism page on FaceBook, brings the doctor as close to relevance as he's likely to get anytime soon. Batter up!

The interview starts of strong enough, and Paul comes across as fairly lucid-- for a politician, at least. The best line of the piece starts at 4:42: "We have lost our understanding and confidence in how free markets work." He's right. And it explains a good chunk of this loon's appeal. Economics, and specifically capitalism, has been almost enitrely withheld from the last few generations. It simply hasn't been transmitted. It's been available, sure, but anyone who's wanted to learn it has, essentially, had to educate themselves from scratch. It should have been taught alongside history, and math, and cursive. In every year of K through 12. But it wasn't. Which has had a dual effect of victims of economics deprivation: Economics irritates them, and they have a sense that they need to know about it. Enter Ron Paul. Those who are at least somewhat educated can tell he's off his hinges, but he is clearly possessed of an understanding of economics. In that sense, it's good that the uneducated are drawn to him.

The interview-- and Paul-- falls apart after the commercial break. It starts off on a shakey foot. Paul addresses Moore as though the tub is simply misguided, as though he's fueled by a sincere desire to help the poor instead of simple Marxist envy. When InstaPunk warns us about niceness, this is what he's talking about. We shouldn't treat our foes as fair-minded just because we'd like them to be.

Which brings us to Afghanistan. First off, he fails to call Moore on the left's 180 on the morality of the Afghanistan operation. Has the congressman just not been paying attention?

Then the circus truly gets underway. It's just about impossible to overstate how irrational his isolationism is. At bottom, his position is, Leave the rest of the world alone, and they'll leave us alone. It's not just misguided. It's not just wishful thinking. It's irresponsible, malignantly dangerous buffoonery. And he has no excuse. Go back to 2:17. Listen to him describe the impact of the Singaporean and Indian markets on American hospitals. He knows that the rest of the world affects us. Why does he only allow the existence of non-American initiative when it strengthens his argument?

Because he's not a serious thinker. He's a show-off. A blowhard. A minstrel (not in a racist way, relax) for the more absurd stripes of libertarianism.

I have to admit. It's nice to have a politician who's even heard of the subjective theory of value, or the primacy of the individual. The "daft doctor" and the Paulistas are necessary steps in our civic evolution. But steps is all they are. And the first steps of a new development in any sphere are rickety, faulty, and practically scream their need for further improvement. The first car isn't even road worthy today. Montesquieu was an early, insightful pioneer of liberty, but any nation that followed his recommendations to the letter would collapse in short order. And I don't want to be within a hundred miles of the first hypodermic needle.

We need guys like Paul. We also need guys who are better than Paul. Lots of them. More than just this guy. And way better. And we need them fast.

As a palate cleanser, here's another video posted by Capitalism. One heralding the success of a more rational foreign policy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Old Man in the Picture.

. Your first piece in the MS. Whether you know it or not, I'm thinking you're reacting not to my writing but to the photograph.

He was my namesake, the first Robert Fisher Laird. (I'm the third.)

It's almost impossible to write about him. It always seems Reader's Digest overdone.

I tell people in person, but I never write about it.

He can't have been a saint. No one is. If I were Faulkner or some other southern writer, perhaps, I would have discovered the vice in him that makes me feel superior. But my own dad (RFL, Jr. a.k.a. InstaPunk Senior) never did. No one else in my family or of my acquaintance ever did. He was the man with the cane who came off the porch to drive away the hoodlums. It actually happened. Only not from the porch. He was on the main street of Salem, close to eighty, armed with only a cane, and afflicted with a physical ailment that sounds more literary than real to everyone you tell. The thugs fled. He had gray eyes that could see into your soul.

Let me back off. Nobody has those, except in southern novels. And he wasn't southern. I can't remember the last time I saw him. I remember the occasion. I was fourteen, home from prep school for Easter break or some damn thing. They'd just rushed him to the hospital. He was 82. And I insisted on going to the hospital to see him. My parents rightly said no, no, no, but I refused to be denied. And at the age of fourteen I became a sufferer of what wouldn't be discovered for a few more years -- PTSD. For years afterward, I could not remember what I saw in that hospital bed. I blanked on it completely. I had a conception of it I could not visualize. A man who aged a hundred years in a single day. I was also the one who heard the phone ring that night, the call from the hospital. I ran to my father, but he was already out of bed. I'd heard the phone, but he still somehow knew before me. As with so many things, we didn't discuss it until many years later. And when he did speak of it, my dad was characteristically terse. "He came to me. Before you told me about the call."

What does it mean when everyone speaks of a person in sainthood terms? His doctor was a shallow, narcissistic, social climber asshole with a bitch wife. And I can still remember eavesdropping on his conversation with my grandmother after the death. He was in tears. The tears were running down his sunken, pampered cheeks. "No one will ever know just how much pain he was in every moment of every day."

Why I can't write about it. It's a Lifetime movie, not real life.

But my sister and I knew that it wasn't a Lifetime movie. When we stayed overnight, we knew the nurse would come at something like six in the morning to change his "dressings." She was a kind but annoying woman, who seemed to want to bask in her role. Like she was keeping him alive or something. She wasn't. He was the one who was keeping him alive.

After she left, he got dressed. In a suit and tie. Every day. Every goddamned day. He had a wicker chair in the upstairs sitting room. I don't know why it was comfortable, because he couldn't lean back into its upright back. He rested his elbows on the armrests, he drank coffee, and he was happy to see us kids awake. His voice was soft but clear, a kind of loving brush that went well with his mustache. He had a mustache voice. His hair was snow white. It had been since the age of twenty-one. I don't know exactly why, but it turned white overnight, when he was twenty-one. He didn't have to speak loudly. Maybe you were always straining to hear. I don't know.

The stories he told you were rarely about his adult life. Other people told you those. He repeated himself. He told you the same stories, the way old people do. He talked about growing up in Germantown, Pennsylvania, with five other brothers. We all loved the story about the housekeeper (his mother died when he was four) who insisted the doctor should intervene because all the boys were too thin, and the doctor took note of the fact that all the boys ran everywhere and asked the housekeeper, "Ever seen a fat greyhound?" But he wasn't forgetful. He knew what you were studying in school, he still knew his Greek, and, oh, by the way, he had founded the school you were studying in, and was the head of the Board of Trustees, and the Senior Warden of the church that backed the school, and, yeah, he was living his painful days to make sure you got the education you needed.

There was one story he told about his childhood. I'm pretty sure he wasn't trying to show off. He was telling us something about life. In Germantown, there were a lot of brick walls surmounted by cast iron fences. As a kid, he was doing a kid thing, walking along the top of the wall with his arm over the top of the spiked iron fence... when he slipped. He was impaled through the soft flesh of his shoulder. He was hanging there.

The grownups came , eventually, and hoisted him off the iron paling. He said to us, "I was crying. Then the doctor said to me, 'Why are you crying? It doesn't hurt.' And I realized he was right. It didn't."

He showed us the gossamer remainder of that long ago hurt. On his old old arm. Just to let us know that all hurts can go away. even though they always leave their scars.

Because all grandfathers want to be heroes to their grandchildren, right? Like the way he told us about his attempt to sign up for the military in World War I, and they turned him down because he was a chemist. "You're 4-K," he told us of his classification. "What does that mean?" "It means we take you AFTER we take the women and children."

It was left to other people to tell us of his much more interesting personal history. His father was a successful industrialist with a significant fortune, but Boppa (our name for him) wanted to make it on his own. He started a dyeing company that got burned down by a German employee saboteur at the outbreak of hostilities and Boppa spent fifty years paying off all his debts because you can't go bankrupt. He went to work for DuPont and became a kind of chemical troubleshooter. During WWII, a lead ethyl leak at the Chambers Works in New Jersey threatened the lives of all the employees. He went into the plant all alone to shut off the main valve and came home a poisoned madman, hiding in a closet and threatening to kill anyone who came near him. His brother, another spectacular member of his family, somehow got from Philadelphia to Salem in 45 minutes (this in the days of the ferry) with a made-up, spur-of-the-moment antidote and saved Boppa's life. (I have firsthand knowledge of the brilliance of this doctor. I had my face ripped apart by a heartworm-maddened Irish Setter and the last vial of "Uncle John's" Arkase eliminated my scars The nurse who told my mother I'd be disfigured for life was flabbergasted. Arkase. I come from more talented stock than I am.)

There are are also the people my grandfather put through college, whom nobody knew about until we buried him. And there are...

Oh forget it. Those of us who knew him know. He also came to me after he died. I won't try to convince you. He just did.

But I suppose you're wanting to know about his medical problem. Fair enough. When he was sixty-five he was diagnosed with skin cancer on his back. He underwent radiation treatment. The radiologist forgot and left him on the table too long. I don't know how long 'too long' is, but at the end of it my grandfather had a hole in his back the size of a fist. It could never heal. For seventeen years, the hole in his back had to be dressed like an open wound every day, and once a month the surgeon (the one who cried) had to pick decaying bits of bone out of the perpetually open wound. He forgave the doctor who made the mistake. Did I mention that he was an Episcopalian Christian who taught Sunday school and believed what he taught? Still, no wonder that when the final illness came, his body literally fell apart in a few hours. All that had been keeping it going was will. The one horrifying detail I could remember from the hospital was that he was lying on his back.

A few final thoughts... It's not all Lifetime Channel or even Hallmark Channel. My Dad once took a swing at his saintly dad on the tennis court and got decked forthwith. A brilliant uppercut, I'm told. It's hard to live up to a giant. My dad tried in the hardest way. All those combat missions. And I'm even worse. But here's the deal. Boppa and I were closer than my dad was with his dad. He knew, I'm convinced, what I was here to do. When he died, I felt like my real father had died. When I was fourteen. But the last thing he said to me was, "Be a good boy." And then afterwards, the day of his funeral, he said, "I know you will be." I haven't always been. But I've tried.

No matter how bizarre it sounds to you, that's what I'm trying to be. He had gray eyes that could see into your soul.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blood and Entrails. Everywhere.

King Robert the Bruce

FORUM FLUMMERY. I was going to let this go by. In fact, I apologized when I read it. But I simmer and stew and suffer. Like all Scots. Here's what I was told at the InstaPunk Forum by William Ashbless:

From up here in the stands, I can see how you'd end up with a shortage of opponents. You're the 9-foot-tall gladiator with the wicked blade that goes through skulls like butter. Most people can't take you. Many of the ones who try are too stupid to realize how outclassed they are. The hamburger that gets made of them only serves to affirm the suspicions of the more wary.

I've been reading you for a while, and commented only very little. Much of the time, I agree and there's nothing to fight you over. Often I don't know enough to tell whether I agree or not. On the occasions I don't agree... well... Cyclists know that when you're out on the road in traffic, having the right-of-way still doesn't mean shit when everyone else is driving a 2-ton vehicle.

If I may be blunt: it's not just that you win, but that you're so brutal about it -- wailing in with that huge Scottish claymore, splashing blood and entrails everywhere. If what you're wanting to do is dispatch enemies, I suppose that's a good way to go. But if you're fencing with friends (or pupils), you pick up a foil and go for the quick, surgical touch. My foil instructor in college would hit with the same move, over and over, until we caught on to what she was doing. She could take us out whenever she wanted, clearly; but that wasn't her objective in our salle. (I don't know where she went when she wanted a real match -- she'd fought on the women's Olympic team and was very, very good. True competition was probably hard for her to find.)

I'm well aware that I haven't earned the right to critique your approach. And I am in awe of your intellect. But... well... there it is. (I am now prepared to sacrifice myself to illustrate my point.)

So, I thought, he has a point. I can be mean. Maybe I shouldn't be. So mean, I mean. That's why I apologized.

But I've been thinking about it. Had dinner this evening with esteemed family members who are, well, RINOs (e.g., no problem with the Ground Zero Mosque), but don't seem to regard me as a monster. They weren't aware of this website, but it came up in the context of Psmith and Raebert, and I found myself having to explain what's unique about InstaPunk.Yeah, we're political, rightwing, etc, but what I found myself proudest of was what's truly the thing no other website can say. And that's what caught their attention. That we don't ban people, but if you're a troll, IP or CP or LP or somebody will sally out to kill you, "splashing blood and entrails everywhere." They LIKED that.

Let me rephrase that. Old-fashioned liberals seem to like the idea that the First Amendment is self-policing. Start a fight, don't whine about the blows if the other guy is a better fighter.

Which caused me to rethink my apology to Ashbless. He wants me to use proportionate force (I should emulate foil girl...) Just enough to win. But not enough to hurt. Others are saying similar things. These are your friends. You don't always need to go for the ten-count knockout. And that sounded reasonable. Until my RINO relatives made me think about it. They said, we'll love to look at your site and even if we don't agree, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

No. It isn't. The truth is precisely where I say it is. Or I wouldn't plant that stake in the ground. I'm not gambling, negotiating, or bargaining. I'm not inching toward a compromise between my "extreme" ideas and the more "reasonable" ideas of those who have lived their lives steeped in the mainstream media. My whole purpose in being is drawing lines in the sand. I'm right. You're wrong. NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE. Even if you're William Ashbless.

My job at this blog is to defeat the opposition whenever it conflicts with my views. Crush, annihilate, destroy and lay waste the opposition with every power at my disposal. What I'm sensing is not a principled opposition to this idea, but rather a revulsion  against the fact that my responses result in "blood and entrails."

Yeah. They do.That's wrong? No. Only if you're a second generation setup for moral relativism in all its forms. What I learned from my relatives. You see, I'm thinking that their objections to my arguments weren't so much about actual disagreements, but sheer wonder that anyone could or would dare to say what I was saying. They couldn't believe that an apparently well-educated and cultured man of the 21st century would say what I was saying with a straight face without getting struck down by lightning.

Which is only a stone's throw from saying all commenters need to be treated with kid gloves, because we're all human and fallible, after all, and, well, lightning strikes the good as well as the bad. Can't we all just get along?

So, as I said, I thought about it. My relatives are wrong. About everything. Ashbless is wrong. About me. My job is, always has been, and always will be, about squeezing the life out of every wrong-headed idea I've ever discovered on the Internet or in the MSM. Period.

No matter how many entrails squirt across the horizon. And no matter how many happy friendly bunnies get devoured in the process.

Follow me. No bunnies will die.

Friday, August 20, 2010

BOZ BAKER'S PORTRAIT (SCROLL). St. Nuke superintended the creation of The Boomer Bible. Then he was assassinated during his coronation as King of Punk City. Why? Because he was a prick. The anthologizers of punk writing had this to say about his final solo work:

Promoters of the punk writing movement have labored diligently to endow Punk City’s first king with a genuine historical mystique. Not only is he given credit for the writing of The Boomer Bible, but also for acting as both teacher and surrogate father to the ‘subjects’ in his petty kingdom. As it does with many historical icons, the truth tends to reveal St. Nuke as a less than admirable personage. In a work called Konfessions—left unfinished at his death—St. Nuke wrote candidly about the single-minded obsession with power that fueled his rise to dominion. The following excerpt from the beginning of Konfessions is brief but sufficient to solve any so-called ‘mystery’ about the character of St. Nuke. The bottom line? This is a piece which could probably be produced by any urban gang leader with powerful enough text correction software. All the textbook neuroses are here: Narcissism,  pychopathic ego, delusions of grandeur, and frequent detours into psychotic alienation. Long live the king.

And here's the actual text that survives...

Your book is finished.
2  Now comes the great emptiness. Impossible to prepare for. It is spring again, but not everything gray turns green again. Did you?
3  Moses stayed in the wilderness. The claptrap has it his daddy told him to. But you know better and so do I. Mo was a wilderness guy, used to that ache, that rage, that solitary singleness. Desert seduction.
4  The pleasure was not in climbing to the mountaintop, but in coming down. Coming down with commandments, slaughtering the golden calf with words, mere words.
5  But after the calf the calf killers take the same dry tablets every day. Someone else’s medicine. Not much of a palliative. Is it, Harry?
6  Only one of us will take the cure. Which will it be?
7  So long since we talked. It’s been a trip. Sometimes I wish you were here to see it. But if you came, my boys and girls would take it hard. They’re good at that.
8  They don’t understand you. Not yet. It will take them time and they have so little. If I could feel anymore, I would feel for them.
9  Sometimes I dream of Rio. Not that I’ve seen it, but I arrive at your villa, dressed like you in white. In the dream at least my wounds and scars are healed.
10  You push past the servants to greet me. We have a drink on the high terrace, and the clink of ice, the sweet honeysuckle, that faint smile of yours are all there is—except the human spike of Aldo Morro, with its faint smile, impaling the bloody sun.
11  In the dream I tell you how it was in Punk City. You want to know.
12  “Tell me,” you say, “about the beginning.”
13 Then it is my turn to smile. And we grin, like boys, and the butler comes to announce the guests.
14  But I don’t think I’ll get to Rio. It doesn’t look to be in the cards. Yet I feel you waiting anyway. As I am waiting for you.
15  I have it in mind to tempt you here. An idle fancy, but we have some things you haven’t seen. Now wouldn’t that be a novelty?
15  Forgive my drivel. I am tired tonight. Too tired for more tonight.

Temptation. The idea grows on me. Your other kingdom, the one you haven’t seen. Won’t you come home, dear Harry, and meet your boys and girls?
2  They are out there, writing. Ants carrying their crumbs through the narrow tunnels.
3  Punk City is a colony of ants. But not so easy to kill. I have pulled them underground. Not to save them but to use them. This I could only tell you.
4  I know most of their names, the insides of their infant minds, and yet I spend them like handfuls of pennies.
5  Twenty yards from where I sit, underneath the courtyard bricks, four hundred bikes are sitting in the dark.
6  They are not your Angel hogs, fat flatulent farmyard beasts. Tonight they will awaken like cats, silent stalkers.
7  A youngster named Bobby Shiv will mount up with forty four others, ten bands, and do a job in the Northland.
8  Some of them will not return.
9  Therefore they will ride double on their way out. All the bikes must come back.
10  If one of the riders dies, the others will strip him of his armor and weapons and leave the undistinguished corpse behind. If half a dozen die, their bikes will still come home.
11 But every one of the forty four soldiers is writing, at this very moment, content to be less valuable than a motorcycle and yet on fire with the need to leave his mark in words. Ants with an attitude.

When is a metaphor not a metaphor?
2  When it is not simply a parallel but a template that molds and drives the story. Like you.
3  The colony is not directed by a king. It is the queen who makes sense and order of all those tiny automaton deeds.
4  Alice Hate is the queen.
5  I am the drone consort, my value spent now that the eggs are laid. Other drones are queuing up, eager to fertilize the next generation.
6  What have I created, in the name of creation?
7  Is this the question that occupies you? I suspect that it is.

My body is torn to pieces. I am the fossilized spring of Punk City’s mind, my scars the dry, white beds of the bloody rivers which fertilized our grand conception.
2  I stood and bled in the Blade to purify our tongue and thought. Now I ache and sweat and shiver from the scourging of remembered darkness,
3  Yet I do not feel myself sanctified—only tainted and diminished, fading, shrunken, ill.
4    Are these the stigmata of sacrifice—or the vengeful recurring infections of a maimed imperfection which can never be made sacred?
5    Do you still tremble in fresh agonies from ancient wounds?
6    Can you heal you? Or only those who injure you?

How does the gourd feel, when it has become an instrument at the ritual?
2  Does it know itself as the painted husk whose hollowness is what both elevates and slays it?
3  I am a gourd at the keyboard, typing to hear the echo of my hollow being, all that is left of me, the click of dead seeds bouncing inside a dead shell.
4  You are a gourd of remembrance, a cerement of the mummy of faith. Gourd of gourd, rite of rite, very gourd of very gourd...
5  I understand the white suit, the white hair, the sunglasses. I put on the blue face of St. Nuke each day, usufruct of Kassander, because this is the face through which I have looked out upon life, the face I have impressed on the world. Without it I am blind, impotent, without a perspective from which to perceive and act.
6  I understand the disappearance of Venus and Apollo. They became the marble that worshipped them. Just as the priests intended. Capture the gods and lock them in the temple, where they can do no more harm.
7  This I have done to you. How many times?

I shall call this piece “Konfessions of Nuke.”
They will find it after my assassination. My successors will explain it, twist it, suppress it, as they will. But the file will live on in the system, find its own victims.
2  Will it find its way to you? The question seems a door to philosophical speculation. But I will defer that for now. Are you even familiar with Augustine?
3  A builder of orthodoxy, inevitably canonized by rules of his own making, describes the path he has taken to his chosen god. And there is no purpose in the journey if the path does not begin in sin and darkness.
4  You know where my journey begins. But I must be obedient to the template in some measure. There is a line through this field that represents the perspective of the saint, looking back. Perhaps you can use it to sew up my shroud, covering the dough while it rises for another baking.

I was born—and by ‘I’ is meant Nuke, of course—of the system. There is a queen. There is a colony. There must be a chosen drone.
2  Kassander was the first. In a sense he sired the queen and was therefore doomed.
3  You had your purposes too. The initial conditions must be set just so, or the stories end before they get started.
4  The stories have been, are being, spun, and I need not repeat them. Augustine’s is not a tale of plot, but of interior transformation.
5  I could say, with justice from the standpoint of the saint, that there was no interior at the inception. This, after all, was your selected premise.
6  There was a face drawn in greasepaint, an elaborate set, hundreds of extras, a few well crafted props.
7  And there was the queen, finger of the creator, hovering above the scene.

Too, there was the system.
2  From a certain vantage point, the system makes even the set irrelevant. There are directors who choose to stage Hamlet in street clothes, in a theater naked of concealments, loading all the burden of magic on the words themselves, and their performance. The play’s the thing.
3  So it may be that there is no need of Punk City in the flesh, as it were, so long as there is the system. Mercado’s folly, a chip set and software suite that sucks crumbs from ants and chews them into an electronic chimera.
4  But Rosenkrantz, on stage, does not see the ropes, the lights, the orchestra, the balcony. If he thinks he sees them, he is imagining beyond the boundary of his role, engaging in a flight of fancy.
5  The Nuke of the stories may be acting on a phantom set. That is the choice of the storytellers. The Nuke of the interior life is, however, a creature of Punk City. He has been given a set (so to speak) of initial conditions, to which he responds.
6  In the absence of an interior, it is these which must be described.

There was a punk writer band called the Epissiles. Workers in the colony. They had names, faces—the same face, really, a concoction of makeup that conveyed facelessness.
2  St. Nuke was one of their number, a faceless face with a name devoid of lineage.
The Epissiles had been set in motion for some reason. Does it matter which reason?
The energy that gave them momentum came from two sources, the plot and the props.
3  The plot was their father, and so needs no explanation, except to say that it gave them a conflict in which to establish being, if such could be accomplished.
4  The props were mostly technological. A chip and software configuration that accepted input from varied instruments.
In the absence of an interior, the instrument was the identity.
5  Zero Daze, destined to become the great manipulator, began his career hunting and pecking the keys of a jury-rigged plot synthesizer.
6  St. Nuke held the macrophone, capable of translating his spoken words into electronic characters.

A suggestive term, electronic characters. Mere pulses of electricity, on, off, in some combination that might have meaning to the right reader, called in the argot of the technologists a user.
2  St. Nuke was not yet the user in this configuration. He was himself an electronic character, an outline figure on a screen, a combination of pulses being stored for someone else’s use.
3  For my use. For yours. For anybody else’s. But not for his own, not that he knew of anyway.
4  Unable to read, he yelled into the macrophone, watched his voice turn into photons on a cathode ray tube, recognizing ‘I’ because he knew the character, although this is a statement which, like many statements of fact, contains no particle of truth.
5  He yelled “I, I, I, I, I,” and drew satisfaction from the obedient, repeated echo on screen. This was not an existential satisfaction. It was not psychology but physics.
6  It was like blowing into a balloon and seeing it inflate.

I do not mean to bore you, but you have inquired (in mind at least) about the beginning, and the beginning is always the trickiest part, the part that just might be impossible.
2  First there is nothing, a blank sheet, and then something appears upon it, a scene, a character, an initial cause of some kind. We want to skip ahead to the complications, the confrontations, the consummations of the tale. When we skip ahead, as we always do, we miss all the grandest miracles.
3  The first word we place on that blank sheet carries with it a universe of assumptions. I tell you a name, and believing that you are receiving, you give everything in return.
4  You give a space in your imagination in which this name puts on a face and body, breathes, turns imputed sense impressions into imitated thoughts. You supply the sound of voice, the meaning of sighs and smiles, the assumption of identity.
5  It is you who perform the miracle, the granting of life, and all the rest is trivial compared to this one triumphant act of creation.
6  But in this case the routine, divine gift must be withheld. The story does not begin with identities implied by words. It begins with only words, or less than that, the mere images of words, stamped flat on our blank sheet of paper.

St. Nuke mills about on the stage, a name for which no lines have been written, on a set not so much designed as collected, an assemblage of objects around which a play might be written.
2  A chorus has also been assembled, that is, a rabble of voices, also without written lines, who will also mill, commenting on the inscrutable scratchings of the not-yet author.
3  What might they say during this gap between notion and creation?

“It does not add up to anything yet. There is a lack of what we might call a discernible intention.
2  “First, there is the hurriedly scrawled name of a child’s poem, underscored, as if it were some kind of clue.
3  “There is what must be a tentative list of Dramatis Personae, although they seem less like characters than record labels, slapped down thoughtlessly, as if out of the blue—Johnny Dodge & the 440s, the Duke & his Angels, Liz Smack & the Hypos, Kassander & the Doomslayers, Cadillac Mope & the Spraycans, Kobra Jones & the Snakes, Slash Frazzle and Hate Mail, Mr. Magic, Gypsy Jackknife, and others too numerous to mention.
4  “There is a wandering ‘what-if’ statement, not sufficiently developed to serve as a premise—What if there were a locale populated by complete nonentities, deprived of even the shared roots of an inner city gang, a beach on which the flotsam of big city bus stations is continually washed ashore by a tide of indifference and despair?
5  “There is, off by itself, a word in upper case—TECHNOLOGY—under which appear random notations: Mercado, the ruthless executive seeking a testbed for breakthrough computer designs... punks as guinea pigs, or hamsters running their wheels inside... a catalyst of some kind... what? who?
6  “There is a long series of contextless words: drugs, bikers, Philadelphia, books, baby boomers, the Tarot, law, a king, warfare, massacres, art, a traitor, a messiah.
7  “And there is also a statement or commandment or exhortation: Let them make themselves up, come what may.
8  “Are we to understand that these unidentified personae are expected to write their own lines, turn this rubbish into scenes and acts and moments of illumination? Impossible. They will never get past the beginning.”

Yet we have, in a sense, gotten past the beginning. I can hear you laughing, Harry, because you know that this is only a partial truth, like so many others.
2  I mean it in the sense that somehow a context has been established, pulled together out of the rubble of incipient potentials.
3  I am holding your book in my hand. We had to have written it. Punk City is embedded into the landscape of Philadelphia with a certain momentum that sends our poor children out to wage war against the tribes and fiefdoms of the city’s underworld.
4  St. Nuke the King must therefore have a history, some chronology which flows from a beginning, a beginning that is thus necessarily a fait accompli.

Now for the partial untruth of this assertion.
2  We have never gotten, will never get, past the matter of our beginning. It is our obsession, the eternal center of our being, whatever that may consist of.
3  I know that you understand this, understand it better than anyone, but I know, too, that you regard it as our responsibility to explain it to ourselves, however long it takes.

I am but a chapter in this story, I know, and I have completed my contribution—all but the ending, which is the most important milestone for those charged with finding the beginning.
2  I have pondered my ending, anticipated it, and in some fashion I do look forward to it, as you, I know, must be aware.
I have dreamed it,
3  Too vividly not to recognize its verity.

The king is struck down in public, before the assembled multitude.
2  He has not been popular. He has rather been feared and obeyed and admired, but not with affection.
3  He has demanded too much, and he has transfused his own strength into others, who have been preparing to sever the umbilicus and assume the responsibility which the king has for so long undertaken on their behalf.
4  The king must die. That is all.
5  There is a faithful right hand who also anticipates assassination, stands guard fiercely to prevent what cannot be prevented. His hand moves more swiftly than a pulse of fear in the gut, but not swiftly enough. The king is stabbed to the heart. He has one moment in which to see all that has been—one piercing true perspective from the threshold of his end.

This one moment is an eternity.
2  All other moments are part of it, including this one, so that he has the experience of watching himself live the eternity in advance within the larger eternity which is beyond the vision and outside it.
3  In that one eternal moment he knows what can be known, which is enough.

It ends there. He was killed before he could add more.

BOZ BAKER AGAIN. Yeah. Boz had a tough time after meeting St. Nuke. Here's what he learned as a "new journalist" sentenced to be a dog: in Punk City:

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Boz the Dog, who is the narrator; Mr. Magic; Johnny Dodge; and others who are mute auditors. The Scene is laid in the Whoreshop, amid the clank and clatter of the punks at table, eating and working.

I went yesterday to the Whoreshop with Alice Hate, and she tied my leash to a table in the corner before leaving me to go converse with her band.
2  I had expected carousing and revelry, but instead the groups huddled at their tables and worked earnestly with decks of cards. They were, I gathered, planning their next day’s writing on the BB, but I could not understand how they were using the cards and why.
3  I watched unobtrusively for a time. The table to which I was tethered was occupied by Johnny Dodge and the 440s. Soon Mr. Magic joined them, sitting on the bench in a position near me, and without joining in the generally shared pretense that I was not there.
4  He gazed at me with an amused smile that displayed the brilliant whiteness of his teeth against that rich black skin, and he asked if the dog was comfortable.
5  I replied that I was as comfortable as could be expected, but curious.
6  What, he inquired, was I curious about?
7  About the cards, I told him. For I could not deduce their purpose or the source of their apparent authority. Were they analytical tools of some kind, or, as they sometimes seemed, a device of religion?
8  Both, Mr. Magic said. Of what purpose was belief if it did not assist in the making of decisions about every aspect of life?
9  I asked: Of what then is this belief constituted?
10  “Of all beliefs,” said Mr. Magic.
11   I confessed myself bewildered. For it has always seemed to me that one of the purposes of religion is to distinguish between what one should believe and what one should not. This is the great boon of religion, and the great bane.
12  Mr. Magic smiled. “That is because you have no experience of the ancients. In the early days your archaeologists find so confusing, the differences that arose were not over which gods one should believe in, but over which gods one should worship.
13  “In fact, all cultures and all peoples did not doubt the existence of their neighbors’ gods. Nor do the punks. They have much to learn, of course, but they have learned that they do not yet know enough to claim that Buddha is real while Jesus Christ is not.
14  “The difficult part of their education is achieving the ability to suspend their disbelief in all things.”

I objected to what Mr. Magic was saying: “Surely this is merely an epistemological position, not a religion. For it cannot explain the use of cards as a device of religion.”
2  “It was you,” Mr. Magic said, “Who introduced the word ‘religion.’ I do not regard it as entirely apt. However, I have allowed it because I suspect that what you are after—you who were once a writer—is a story. Is it not the case that this is the principal perspective from which you relate to the word ‘religion’? That since none merits your belief, you regard them all equally as mythology, as fanciful tales of the story of Mankind, each with a moral, or moral system, attached?
3  “Yes,” I said with a certain surprise. “I have found many of the stories intriguing, even when the explanations and instructions seem inadequate.”
4  “Then I shall tell you of the punks’ beliefs in that form, though you are bound to be misled.
5  “Still, it is your choice and even your need to be misled; otherwise, you would encounter many phenomena which do not yield to your analysis.”
6  “I encounter them all the time anyway,” I told Mr. Magic. “This community is such a one.”
7  “Yet the failure of your analysis is always attributed to a want of facts, not to any fundamental error in your system of analysis. As if you could understand what mystifies you if only you knew more of the story?”
8  “I suppose that is true, at least partially,” I said. “Of what man is it not true?”
9  “Of many,” Mr. Magic said, including several here in this community which you find so unyielding.
10  “But I have promised you a story that will enable you to apply your infallible analytical method. Would you like a bowl of water first?”

“Even your own histories,” said Mr. Magic, “include accounts of the king known to the punks as Kanatos, a pharaoh who maintained beliefs so astounding to his people that they sought to destroy the record of them after his death.”
2  “Akhenaton?” I asked. I recalled that the Encyclopedia Britannica refers to him as the first true individual in recorded history.
3  “An interesting observation,” Mr. Magic remarked. “But one that is the first step on the primrose path you are determined to walk. Since you show some familiarity with the Egyptians, are you aware of the concept of the ka?”
4  “Only vaguely,” I said. “It is one of several spiritual aspects of a person. It is usually defined in terms of what it is not. It is not the soul. It is not the ghost of the deceased. It is, I believe, usually translated by Egyptologists as ‘double,’ and yet it is depicted not as an image of a person but as a small winged being which accompanies the person in life and must be somehow placated in death.”
5  “Yes,” Mr. Magic agreed, “the translators have had difficulty with the ka. What they have no way of knowing is that the ka was regarded as a being, one not identical with the person it accompanied, but closely associated nonetheless.
6  “The translation ‘double’ is not correct. It would be more accurate to render the term as 'mirror image,’ with many subtle connotations attached.
7  “We moderns have lost our wonder at words, but the ancients regarded them as magic, one of the deepest creating principles of the universe. Thus, the mystical Hebrew fascination with the name of God as an unknowable, unmentionable totality unto itself. And thus, the Egyptian belief in another creator god, Thoth, shown as an ape and described as the father of writing.
8  “Seeing a divine element in words, the Egyptians came also to believe in the power of words to engender new beings, the spawn of those who said and wrote them.”
9  “But,” I said, “it is still the soul with which the Egyptians are principally concerned in their funeral rites.”
10  “Indeed,” said Mr. Magic. “The soul is a giver of life. The ka is a life given.
11  “Man is not simply a thing created. He is himself a creator, and his own creation goes on without him, pursuing its own course.
12  “While the Egyptian had an obligation to his ka—a responsibility not to hinder or hobble it, not to offend it with hypocrisies or disrespect—his prime duty was indeed to the soul and its progress in the life after death. This is reflected in the religious writings the archaeologists have been able to decode.”

I had an inkling of the heresy of Kanatos: He tried to change or reduce the emphasis on the soul?
2  “Yes. For it was he who detected that words also create new life in us.
3  “He became, in our terms, aware—in a way that his people had not been before.
4  “He felt in himself the power of words to extend his perception, to help him feel, savor, understand the experience of life more fully.
5  “This extended awareness he believed to be the gift of the ka world, a grateful offering made to us in the same way that we make offerings to our creator.

I digested this. Then I considered the politics of the situation, which are always important: “I take it that this was ominous to the Egyptians of his time?”
2  “Not at first. His was an awareness not shared by his people.
3  “He alone conceived of a space within his person in which thoughts created a universe that mirrored or reflected the physical world.
4  “He was among the first to look inside himself for wisdom, and in doing so, he perceived his connection to his ka, which fed him from the accumulated wisdom of all that had ever been thought and said and felt by people before.
5  “This was the treasure of the ka world, the stored legacy of human experience made directly accessible to the living.
6  “To Kanatos this seemed infinitely more powerful than the secondhand symbolic wisdom of the gods, because it infused him with a sense of the richness of his own experience, a capability to relive and learn from that experience which was not provided by mere obedience to the gods.
7  “He therefore made the error of seeking to replace worship of the gods with awareness of the hierarchy of beings he experienced through his own ka.
8  “His inflexibility in this caused the gods to rouse the people against him.”
9  “Then you are implying,” I said, “that there was no real inconsistency, that he made an error of politics, not philosophy.”
10  “That is correct. The gods of the Egyptians were also present in the world of the ka, inevitably so, for the ka were the offspring of the Egyptians.”
11  “But they had a different hierarchy?”
12  “Yes. For theirs was a world in which no experience is ever lost, nothing ever entirely forgotten. The gods therefore take on a different aspect, and the organization of experience is based on other elements.”

“We are close to the story of the ka world,” I remarked.
2  “Indeed we are,” replied Mr. Magic. “As Kanatos saw it, the ka world was born from our world with the creation and growth of human language. The existence, the echo as it were, of spoken words was undying.
3  “As the echo appeared to fade, it was merely passing into another realm, where words of like origin clustered together, taking on the semblance of a winged vessel that flew on eternally, giving voice to its contents. This was the source of the small birdlike image captured in Egyptian hieroglyphics and passed on unchanged through the centuries.
4  “Yet the growing power of language was also changing the world of the ka. The beings grew larger as vocabulary increased in size and could carry more experience.
5  “Undying, they felt their own growth and desired it to continue, which meant they sought to establish connections in our world with other human beings, so that these could benefit from the stored experience of the ka, which in turn received new experience.
6  “The cycle thus created led to the existence of ‘greatwings,’ ka beings so immense and wise that their choice of human infants to join with—from several to many at a time—became a guarantee of greatness in our world, a step toward the emergence of a new kind of human experience.
7  “This new kind of experience was the awareness enjoyed by Kanatos, who believed himself the chosen one of the greatwings.”

“We are all chosen, aren’t we?” I commented. “And, of course, where some are great, others are greater.”
2  “Yes. The greatwings, like human beings, tended to flock together, like to like. Their purpose in being was to express the experience they contained, which they did in the manner of musical instruments, sounding themselves in great chords or songs that joined with those of others in their flock, and so filled their universe with the music of being.
3  “And, like the human beings from which they sprang, the ka, too, were not simply created things, but creators.
4  “The music of the great flocks, and of individual greatwings, sired other new worlds and beings, which—derived from the language and memories of humankind—acquired a materiality of their own, and became a kind of timeless analogue of experience we would recognize as akin to ours.
5  “Over this new material world the greatwing choirs, as the flocks may be called, presided as our gods do over us. Depending on their inclination and personality, they protected, they ruled, they inspired, they tyrannized, just as our gods do.”
6   I asked: “And then a turning point of some kind was reached?”
7  “Your instinct is always for the story. Yes. With all acts of creation there is some separation, some sharing out and reshaping of energy and a momentum to the appetite for energy of the thing created.
8  “The material world of the ka created its own new world of the echoed word, which in turn gave rise to its own physical realm.
9  “And now you must imagine the process of a balloon blowing up a balloon, which blows up another balloon, into infinity.
10  Each new inflation is a recombination, a unique set of possibilities realized, but the process of generating new recombinations must come to an end unless the source of possibilities is always expanding.
11  “The ka world, created by us, came to need us, to feed on us, though not to drain us necessarily, for what was exchanged for our experience was the limitless reimagining of our own potential as it was being tried out, so to speak, in the worlds of the ka.
12  “It was this echo within an echo, this dream within a dream, that exploded into the awareness of Kanatos and those who came after.”

Every story has a conflict. I mentioned this to Mr. Magic, who did not smile.
2  “In this case, the conflict originated among the first greatwing choirs. The distinctive song or symphony of a choir is inevitably an expression of meaning, a definition of the oneness in which each individual voice is an indispensable part.
3  “As the choirs were not the same, their meanings were not the same, and the worlds they spawned were not the same.
4  “The structure and content of each world was an acting out, an incarnation if you will, of all the aspects of meaning contained in the oneness of the choir which created it.
5  “The worlds thus created were not different in the sense that varieties of flowers are different, or breeds of dogs. They differed in their very essence, as joy differs from sorrow, or intellect from emotion, or order from randomness.
6  “Some embodied a kind of self-contained equilibrium that separated them from the others without giving rise to real conflict.
7  “One example of such a world is a realm we human beings have dully explored without contemplating either its source or its relation to us. You undoubtedly know it as ‘mathematics,’ and like so many others you have probably given no thought to its actual location in our universe, if it has one, or to its ironically illogical superposition of reality and unreality.
8  “Mathematics has a perfection of consistency which seems to demonstrate its independence from mankind, while its purely conceptual state of being, as we perceive it, would seem to demonstrate the opposite—that its existence depends entirely upon the imaginative functions of a powerful organic brain.
9  “For the world of mathematics is not ‘there’ in the sense that the moon and sun and stars are ‘there.’ It is not even ‘there’ in quite the sense that the laws of physics are ‘there,’ pushing and pulling on the stuff of the universe with a uniformity we characterize as laws.
10  “In mathematics there are infinities of existence which cannot be manifested physically at all, as in the infinite set of unreal numbers. Because it extends so far beyond what is physically and practically necessary, mathematics is not simply a useful component of our universe, but a universe of its own with infinite, sometimes useful interconnections to ours. And it is a universe that will never yield all its secrets to the counters and measurers and calculators who profess to understand its nature.
11  “It is this characteristic of unreal reality from the human perspective that binds together all the ka worlds. What separates them from one another are the discordancies which exist between some of the largest and most powerful of their number.
12  “Such discordancies are so great, and so naturally inevitable, that they must be resolved, as discrepant musical elements must be resolved before the ear can register a sense of completion. The process of reaching such a completion is itself the  purpose and meaning of all music.
13  “It is at this level—as a journeying toward meaningful completion—that a perpetual state of what can only be called war exists in the ka realm among the domains of the Greatwing Alba, the Greatwing Raptor, and the Greatwing Raven.

“Each of these immense greatwings—Alba, the Raptor, and the Raven—presides over its own land, islands, if you will, in the sea of music called Mareka, which is the ocean of all possibilities.
2  “The land of Alba is Iris, the land of the Raptor is Kain, and the land of the Raven is Eden.
3  “The polar opposites are Iris and Eden, and in between stands Kain, eternally riven by the conflicts of the poles.”
4  I interrupted: “The old morality play.”
5  “How could it be otherwise,” Mr. Magic inquired, “in a world born of the human realm?”
6  “But note that the play is not instructing us. Rather it is reflecting us and influencing us, in infinite reciprocity.
7  “The play does not tell us what the meanings must be. It rather characterizes the nature of the competition for interpretation of our experience.
8  “The Choir of Alba sends its greatwings in search of human hosts who can be induced to provide a certain kind of experience to fuel its growth. Likewise for the Raptor and the Raven.
9  “But as the ultimate fathers of the ka world, it is always we who choose which kind of greatwing to join with, and even if we want such a joining.
10  “There are many who do not accept the greatwings, just as there are many who are regarded by the Raptor and the Raven not as hosts, but as prey.
11  “They circle above the tiny stubwinged ka of those who choose to go it alone, and at times they swoop to swallow those who are not strong enough to defend themselves.”

“And the climax of the play?” I asked.
2  “There are times when the balance of power tilts,” Mr. Magic said. “When too many choose or are devoured by the Raven and its hunters.
3  “For the land of the Raven is the darkness of Eden, where the completion of the music is found only in silence, in the extinguishing of all memory, the termination of all thought, the stillness of the ocean after the last ripple of possibility has been flattened to nothing.
4  This is the definition of the Raven’s uniqueness. The completion of its music means the end of all music, by all choirs. It therefore cannot be permitted to accomplish its desired resolution. 
4  “But Alba does not prey on those who choose not to join him. His music requires joy and loving union, and Alba never, almost never, intervenes in the physical realm of men. It is thus the Raptor which must intrude directly in our world when the Raven nears its coda.
5  “The Raptor can accomplish such an intrusion by three means.
6  “It can hunt and swallow vast numbers of stubwings, to keep them from being used by the Raven.
7  “It can also, in dire crisis, command its mightiest and most ancient greatwings to join with individual human beings, not as one of many human hosts as is their custom, but one to one, so that if the chosen human being can survive the joining he will be the direct recipient of all the power and fire contained in a single greatwing.
8  “Finally, in extremis, the Raptor can itself join with one human being, who has by this union the power to alter the course of our world directly.”
9  “Meanwhile,” I asked, “the Raven is doing nothing?”
10  “On the contrary,” Mr. Magic informed me. “The Raven uses much the same means to defend its gains. And the Raven in many respects holds the advantage. He and his greatwings have the power to attract and seduce the fearful. The Raptor has sway only with those who possess courage and will.
11  “Yet the battle between them is eternal, and never yet has the Raven prevailed when the Raptor goes on the attack.
12  “Aha!” I barked. “Good triumphs over evil. End of play. Standing ovation.”

Mr. Magic wagged a finger in my face. “I warned you that you would be misled by the story,” he said.
2  “The punks believe,” I suggested, “that they are the chosen of the Raptor in this round.”
3  Mr. Magic did not answer directly. “They are endeavoring to learn from the story, which they do not claim to understand entirely.”
4  “And the link between the punks and Kanatos is the cards?”
5  “In a manner of speaking. You are perhaps familiar with the Tarot, which is often attributed in some measure to Egypt.”
6  I nodded.
7  “The Tarot you know is a garbled version of the one that actually emerged in Egypt, which like the ka, reflected the story—meaning all stories, in all possible combinations—with a template for calling specific permutations from the infinite sea.
8  “The template provided by the cards is unbounded, like its source. Yet it is simple to invoke, which is a help to the uninitiated who need assistance in their learning.
9  “The punks, like you, are concerned with stories, and for this reason the ka Tarot is valuable to them in their work and in their lives.
10  “There is, however, nothing automatic about the learning catalyzed by the cards. It occurs gradually, or in spurts, or in experiences of a transformational nature.”
11  “I think I might be able to help the dog understand the uses of the cards,” said Johnny Dodge, who had been listening to our conversation.
12  Mr. Magic smiled. “I could think of no one better suited to the task,” he said.

Johnny Dodge extracted a deck of cards from inside his heavy coat. “I can explain much that you are curious about,” he said, “but it will take time. Several hours at least.”
2  “I have nothing but time,” I told him.
3  My new instructor smiled. “I believe you are wrong about that,” he said. “A dog runs out of time the moment his master—or mistress—lays a hand on his leash.
4  And then I remembered that I was still under sentence as Alice Hate’s dog, and I blushed as a jerk on my collar informed me that my mistress had indeed plucked up my leash, her business at the Whoreshop concluded.
5  “Perhaps tomorrow,” said Johnny Dodge. “Perhaps your mistress will be minded to take you for a walk to this location at the same time tomorrow.”
6  I felt myself pulled away, heard the husky voice of Alice Hate humorously urging me to be a good boy and come along.
7  “Tomorrow,” I growled at Johnny Dodge. “I will hope for tomorrow.” 

Just as he feared, Boz died in Punk City. But not before he wrote again. Just saying...

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