February 7, 2012 - January 31, 2012
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Super Bowl Weekend:
The REAL State of the
can say whatever he wants in January, but nobody's
listening. The time when all eyes are upon us is the Super Bowl in
February. In America the Super Bowl is a whole weekend. In the rest of
the world, it's the four or five hours encapsulating the game itself.
What should the world think?
First and foremost, that this apotheosis
of American "sport" is no longer a sporting event. Let's not forget
that the rest of the world has its own Super Bowl, the
World Cup Soccer Tournament, which engenders emotions tantamount to war
but never becomes, well, the imperial circus our own football
championship has become. World Cup games have intervals between playing
periods, but they do not fill them the way we media-addicted Americans
do. The literal
centerpiece of our most prized travesty of sport is the Halftime Show,
in which we presume to offer the best of American entertainment,
meaning an act that will appeal to the largest possible number of our
population with the least controversy. Which is to say that it is
somehow representative of our shared tastes and values. Otherwise,
there wouldn't have been a towering outrage about the exposure of one
female nipple a few years ago. (Which the rest of the world doesn't
care much about btw. Only Americans don't want to know that women have
nipples. uh, I do) What we saw this
weekend was the latest NFL/NBC assessment of
mainstream American entertainment preferences. Really?
Do NBC and the NFL really believe it is noncontroversial and
quintessentially American to crown this ultimately American event with
a performance by an expatriate with a fake British accent
condemned a sitting American president to foreign audiences?
And then, of course, it's simply an unfortunate
happenstance that one of her Brit extras at Super Bowl 2012 flips
the bird to the American audience and says "Fuck you." Sure.
What's not a happenstance is
Madonna making her entrance drawn by Roman centurions, in a context
that cannot be regarded as anything but a jeering comparison of America
to the Rome of the Caesars. An over-extended empire living on its
past, rotten to its core and on its way out, postponing the calamity by
distracting the masses with bread and circuses. All of us who are
watching are the real fools. Hey, look at M.I.A.'s right hand sweeping
the tiny apron aside from her red panties while the left is giving you
the middle finger and the cockney mouth is giving you the FU. (Guaranteed: no guy saw the finger.) It's called misdirection. Like the whole Halftime Show.
Sorry, NFL. You've been had. (Your own insistence on Roman numerals is
an intrinsic accomplice.) She's no longer a gap-toothed, down home
American girl of easy virtue. She's Mata Hari on a world stage built by the Babbits of Middle America. She's laughing her ass off. At you. Sorry, Madonna fans. You've been had. She doesn't want to
entertain you as much as piss on you and laugh at your applause and
adulation. Sorry, guys of all ages. You've been had. There will be no
wardrobe malfunction because she's learned from YouTube that her arms
and hands look like harpy claws and she no longer wants you to see
anything of her cosmetically reengineered body but one flash of gold
rimmed panties. Yuck, yuck, NBC. All that GE money and White House
cronyism is coming in pretty handy about now. I'm sure Caesar Obama is
laughing up his sleeve. He's the emperor who has done more than any
other to open the gates to the barbarian hordes. By all means let's
cheer the imminent sack of Rome. Madonna the 80s whore has become
Medusa the black-clad high priestess of a new dark age. The murderous
mirror that reduces life to stone with a lip-synched incantation of the
tired tired catechism of royal presumption. What we fought a Revolution to get rid of and have now forgotten. The United States of Alzheimer.
I'm sure the foreign audience got the message. And I'm sure they love it. Like all kids love it when the teacher leaves the room. (U.K.? Fuck you. And I can't remember if I said this because my memory isn't what it used to be: Fuck you.) Aren't those Americans crude, ignorant and awful? Of course they are. We're doing so much better since they started hating themselves as much as we hate them. Aren't we? Sure you are.
What should Americans think? Well. There's so much more content to work
with. First off. The Madonna part. Who gives a damn about a 50-plus year old hag nymphomaniac who hates America and never could sing? [Spit.] At best it's boring. At worst it's, uh, boring. Who in the hell could get worked up about Madonna? Her face looks a wide version of David Bowie's, frozen in space-time, only with a blonde wig. Didn't she used to have tits? We could at least get worked up about Lady Gaga. Everything else aside, SHE can sing.
Next: Probably 500 hours or more of network sports channels and local
sports channels offering analyses of why the gladiators of New York
will beat the gladiators of Boston, or vice versa, which they
confidently expected you to watch all fucking weekend. Did you?
Pre-game shows that lasted as much as eight hours apiece on game day.
Did you watch? Statistics vs statistics. Eli vs. Brady. Brady vs. Eli.
Eli vs. Peyton. Coughlin vs. Bellichick. Gronkowski vs. Cruz. The
Rematch. NFC East vs. AFC East. NFC vs. AFC. Red Sox vs. Yankees (uour
favorite). Flashbacks to David Tyree. Brady's fire vs. Eli's cool.
Giants trash talk vs. Patriots simmering desire for revenge. Hours and
hours and hours and hours and hours of bullshit. Did you watch?
Or did you pursue the counter-programming (adjudged a total failure by
rating firms... apparently, we want
this kind of nonsense to distract us). Marathons of Absolutely Fabulous (BBC America), Say Yes to the Dress and Toddlers & Tiaras (TLC), and on
the ID Channel, murder after murder after murder. You know. The
American way that proves women are so much better than men, unless the
even more enlightened LGBT denizens of the Logo Channel are somehow
putting us all to shame without our knowing about it because nobody's
Or were you researching all the bally-hooed Super Bowl commercials that
were leaked ahead of time on YouTube so that you could place bets on
which would be most and least popular? In the process, did you notice
what these ads were saying about us as a people, about "the state of
the union"? That men do nothing but drink beer? That wives are
universally sanctimonious shrews? That teenagers are solipsistic
monsters with cellphones glued to their uncomprehending ears? That
small children are uncontrollable divas who must be catered to from
their first word onward? That your sons are retarded idiots? That your
daughters are streetwalkers in training? That hip-hop transcends the
entire prior history of music? That individuality consists of tattoos?
That (to men) trucks are pagan idols? That (to women) yogurt and weight
loss programs are almost as life-saving as collagen-inflated lips? That
the new spiritual enlightenment is high-speed internet access? Unless
it's German or Korean cars you can't tell one from another? That the
way and the life and the truth are basically a matter of the latest
color-coded cellphone? That peeing in the pool is synonymous with
No? Maybe you're one of the ones who just liked the gazillion dog
commercials. Because in an age when all innocence has been one-linered
into sarcastic oblivion and sexual/fart jokes, dogs have become the
last fleeting repository of a sense of innocence we've lost but somehow
remember. We're terrified and tyrannized by our own children, but we
can still respond to the pathetic desire to please of Wego the rescue dog,
go to any lengths to provide his love objects with what they
really value: Beer. Unsaid? We don't deserve him. Unstated? We don't
care. We're here to drink beer. Funny? You be the judge.
The State of the Union? Not good. Unless, improbably -- buried in all
the thousand hours of degenerate crap -- you somehow managed to dig out
the buried lede. A game between the New England Patriots and the New
York Giants. It was a great game, despite the 30-minute halftime that
was really 45 minutes. Both teams were spectacular. Neither gave up,
ever. For all the hype and distractions, it came down to a final play
that could have decided the game. Yes, Eli was great. Cool and weirdly
confident under pressure. Brady was great. One of the greatest ever. I
used to hate him. Now I know he's an ultimate warrior, and I will never
criticize him again.Manningham was great. So was Wes Welker. And on and
on. In a great game, mistakes will be made. There are are no goats.
There are no losers, so long as everyone is giving his all. And they
Is America at halftime? No. There's no final Mayan clock unless
you're just counting down your own final days, which is an
understandable distortion. If you're eighty going on I-want-the
academy-to-remember-me after I die.
The State of the Union? Better than expected. An ultra-rich prettyboy
named Tom Brady cared so much about losing that he was absolutely
devastated by a loss he never even imagined could happen.
This is not
humiliation. It is passion. I feel only admiration.
(And speaking of Roman copies, does this
one ring a bell?)
That is the American spirit. He will be back. And so will we. Not in
the gimpy, half-assed apologetic terms of Eastwood's ad, but with the
full-throated roar of our tradition.
If you're truly American, rich and handsome and impervious to humdrum
annoyances don't count as negatives. When you fail to do your best or
to accomplish what you set out to do, that's what matters. That's what
distinguishes us. Not assigning the blame or the costs of failure to
others, even when others might be to blame. Leaders are the ones with
big enough hearts to take on the hurt for everyone.
Why we like dogs so much. Their hearts are pure. So are the hearts of
the best of us, rich and
poor. Forget the millions involved, who hasn't see the most vital pups
jostling each other for dominance?
Which isn't a bad thing. At all. Even if only child Obama will never
have a clue.
State of the Union: Heart. Still. Beating.
Keep it that way.
Will and William. You both
move me. I have something specific to tell both of you. I promise not
to disappoint either of you.
In the interim, what I have to say to my critics:
Me? I'm still here. And I will be. Talking too much, as usual.
Friday, February 03, 2012
The Other Baby
"...and all the
children are insane..."
I TRIED. But we weren't all
insane. Just most of us. There were those of us who weren't hippies or
revolutionaries or hateful of our parents. I wasn't getting along
with my father, but I asked him if I should volunteer for Vietnam. The
only time he ever gave me advice. I guess he meant it. He said, "Don't
go to war if your country isn't determined to win. I don't want you to
die for nothing." Given that I wasn't listening to him much in those
days, I hedged my bets. I decided on finishing college. I think I got
the last II-S deferment ever granted, based on the fact that I was 17
when I enrolled. When I was classified I-A, I sent a polite
letter to my draft board, asking them to check the calendar.They did
and gave me the II-S. Then, when I was 19 and graduated, I had my year
of lottery eligibility. I was in the top third, certain to be drafted.
But that was the year the draft ended. No one was called. The brokered
surrender had been accomplished.
Had I escaped anything? No. The rest of my life was going to be the war
I didn't fight in. The draft-dodgers captured everything -- the media,
the courts, the publishing companies, the universities, science, the
arts, the government.Why I wrote The
What none of you youngsters understand. Or you oldsters who graduated
before us. It was an impossible time to be young. How do you decide?
The current Occupy movement is just ridiculous in comparison. Imitative
crap. We were kids whose parents had been shaped by the Great
Depression and World War II. We had issues, not iPods. I can still
remember, clear as day, the first time I heard the song up top. I was
in a dorm room, after hours, breaking the rules. I hated it. And I
loved it. The world would never be the same again. The same way I felt
about all the rock and roll masterpieces that defined the sixties.
You wind up living a double life. I loved the Rolling Stones and yet
hated the anarchy they represented. When I watched Gimme Shelter, I so
wanted Jagger to be a hero trying to save the victims. He almost did that, but not quite. I
forgave him anyway. Because I am a child of the sixties.
I am. I'm a Baby Boomer. I've lived and felt and fallen victim to all
our fads. I've had a couple of mid-life crises, quite in line with the
media-generated stories of same, and now I am growing old and feeling,
feeling mind you, that it's your responsibility to take care of me.
Except that I don't. In my mind, I can go all the way back there and
see that not even millennials owe us a free ride. Don't get e wrong.
We've done our share. The great technological leap forward we've seen
in our time wasn't the product of the so-called Greatest Generation. It
was us. The Baby Boomers. We had talent, education, and a chip on our
shoulder. We're the ones who made a world in which completely ordinary
folks own an SUV, a laptop computer, a 60-inch high-def TV, and a phone
that can do more than what a state-of-the-art minicomputer could do in
the sainted sixties.
But we let our children down. Catastrophe. We have produced children
who not only don't know their history but actively scorn it.
Awful. Why I don't turn them away when they come here with thir
tantrums. We're all guilty. Even the Baby Boomers who knew where all
this was headed when it started. We should have fought harder. It's
I'd like some satisfaction. But gunning down children who aren't smart
enough to know the score isn't it. NOT satisfying.
My way of of apologizing to Helk and FA. I forgive you. You know not
what you do.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
His name was
Satie. He could chill. Other guys wrote down his
music. He couldn't be bothered. Because he was so into chilling.
KEWL, OLD STYLE.
It's all getting nasty. Stop. Here's what Gallup is showing right now:
There's at least a possibility it all might work out. Just don't be
thinking that means it's time for Ron Paul. It will never be time for Ron Paul.
I'll make it easy for you. I draw, I shop, I animate. Does that
make me not a graphic artist? We'll see. This is a slice dealing only
with the Shuteye Train.
Steve, star of Shammadamma. By the Shuteye Train.
The Shuteye Train.
As pursued by Feds.
Shuteye Train. As drawn by Gypsy Jackknife.
btw, anyone who wants a framed version of any of these need only ask.
can be arranged. With frame, signature, and everything.There are at
least two other portraits of the Shuteye Train. Sorry to disappoint, FA.