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November 22, 2012 - November 15, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Meaningful
Secession

Key moments 3 min and 5 min in. We are blinded by their malignant tactics.
Cheesy clip? No. Note the protection of the referee. Respect for law. Us.
We have to remember, first, who we are before we mount a counterattack.

PARDON ME FOR REMEMBERING. This was interesting. I chose to change the subject from the lachrymose self-flagellation of Republican politics last week and got a lecture:

This is not the moment for clever metaphors or philosophical musings or literary references or any distractions whatsoever. It is the time to understand that we are at war with the NWO infection that is destroying our country. Focus. Forget what InstaPunk was originally intended to be and transform it into a weapon of Resistance. This is your destiny.

I responded, of course, but I have received no further orders since, and I do have more to say.

This is precisely the time for clever metaphors, philosophical musings, literary references. and other distractions. It is time for cultural secession. ALL the political talk and all the political action for the next few months is nonsense. Sorry.

Why I'm persona non grata at all the other righty sites. They're still parsing and fretting and second-guessing and compromising. They define themselves in relation to the victorious opposition. They're pussies.

The first "Resistance" is retreat to the interior conviction. Even in the midst of the fight. Who. Are. We?

What do we believe? Why do we believe it? Why should we ever compromise what we believe, regardless of polls, scores, and headlines? What exists at our center, our core, is not a chip on a game table.

After we're done with the interior reflection part, the first step toward "Resistance" is actually passive. My only message for this post.

Lots of conservatives will argue vehemently against boycotts. Because boycotts are what they do, and we don't do what they do. A load of crap.

I'm not talking boycott. I'm talking cultural secession. Boycotts are publicity stunts. Not what I'm talking about. I'm talking withdrawal into our own value set. No publicity needed. Celebrities who insult you or your values? Stop patronizing them. Don't watch their TV shows, their movies, their award shows, their tweets. Television series that sneak in cheap shots about Christianity, Bush, anything you hold dear, cut them off like a delinquent debtor. Mass media that seek to sell you on the beauty of a sexual lifestyle you don't like, quit finding fault with yourself. There is no religion worthy of the name that requires you to love behavior you despise. Tolerate it? Yes. Forgive it? Yes (Unless you're Islam.) But love it? No.

Starve them. Don't watch channels that keep rerunning five year old global warming specials. Don't buy music by clowns who hate capitalism. Don't go to movies starring Clooney, Baldwin, Penn, etc. Don't buy newspapers whose movie reviews somehow always hate you. Don't even watch Fox News. Their message is the most pernicious of all: "You're watching us, so you obviously don't know how how to spell, read, or think. Congratulations. You're just a fucking creationist idiot filling in time till the next Alex Jones broadcast." Overstated? Two names. Steve Doocy. And Peter Doocy, Fox's go to correspondent on fucking everything. Wean yourself. Learn the revitalizing power of the past. Something every gay fashionista couldn't live without. Even they know a little something about truth. It's not all sci fi, comic books, gross-out jokes, and Ayn Rand. Sometimes Chanel really is timeless. Think about it. Or failing that, just think. For once.

Yes, there are movies you could watch, books you could read, songs, operas and symphonies you could listen to that don't involve posting on Facebook or cursing on Twitter.

What do you do instead? You tell me. Start rediscovering your roots. The first step is realizing that we're all alone out here. Really, completely alone. Resistance is the stuff you do next.

More on this later.





The Anyfell

NSFW: You're on your own with the lyrics.

NOD TO PUCK PUNK. The most popular sport in America. But let's look at it. In each city it's a monopoly. And how does it work? Rich men buy a team. That's capitalism, right. Not exactly. It may be how everyday people think capitalism works, but it couldn't be farther from the truth. There is no competition.

There is no competition. Why ticket prices keep going up and up and up. No other game in town. Why the NFL is a telling metaphor for what is going wrong in America.

Every city has a sports talk radio station. Fans get mad when their teams don't perform. The radio hosts fan the flames. Blame the coach. Blame the owners. Blame the players. We deserve better.

True. But what the sports talk hosts never mention is that the fans, more than the owners, really do own the teams. The more they rail, and fume, and derogate the men in charge, they never ever seem to remember the most important fact.

Which is that the NFL is not a football game; it's a stadium business. Asses in seats at $300 to $1000-plus a butt-cheek. And who pays for the stadiums? The citizens of the cities in which these teams play. Even Rome, decline and fall era, didn't have the gall to make the suckers pay for their own bread and circuses. But Rome didn't know about bond issues, and they didn't have Teevee.

Fact. I've been to dozens of Phillies games, and more than a few NHL games, including the Flyers, but I have never in my 60 years been to an Eagles game. Too expensive. And I'm not alone. Tens of thousands of devoted Eagles fans have never seen their team play in person. But every citizen of Philadelphia is paying for the Eagles, because the stadium was built by public debt. The owner of the Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, has seen his investment stake balloon to $3 billion. How? By providing Super Bowl champions? No.
 
How do monopolies prosper? Econ 101. By charging above market price for everything. The stadiums built by public monies, through political deals that value fan loyalties over bridges, highways, and schools, also include space for vendors who charge double the going rate for hot dogs, beers, and fried potatoes. The fans get it in the neck at every turn. Even the ones who never go to games pay twice the legitimate price for the fan jerseys everybody suddenly now has to have.

A long long time ago, you didn't show up at your team's game as Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, or Brian Urlacher. You went as yourself. You didn't even go to the supermarket as Tom Brady or Troy Polamalu. I know. Men used to wear coats and ties and usually hats (not caps) too, and ladies wore slips.

But we're all united by the GREAT THINGS about the NFL First, it's so egalitarian in the current American sense of the term. Meaning, there's a top-heavy totalitarian organization that looks like it's trying very hard to keep every playing field level with a lot of rules and dictatorial edicts about how you get on the playing field in the first place, which is why is everything is utterly and absolutely parity-like in the NFL unless your quarterback is named Manning or Brady, which is the moment when the draft and the salary caps and revenue-sharing and all that crap go right to hell.

The second great thing is the way professional football has become such an avenue of opportunity for the, uh, less advantaged among us. Think about it. A hundred years ago, football was a game played by elite students who were going to fo other things with their lives. Today, thanks to the NCAA and regulations and freedom of opportunity and shit, it's this huge business that provides economic opportunity to about 200 of the 250,000 illiterates who get recruited and then can't possibly have enough time to study for a college degree before they get jettisoned into careers as Domino Pizza delivery boys. 

And the 200 who get drafted into the NFL! Wow! Boy do they get rich!



Except for the ones who die young and impaired* Which doesn't happen very much because the NFL has an incredibly strong union that has always cared more about its members than, say, the power and privilege of the union leadership.


*er, a lot of them.

So maybe the giant bureaucratic structure is at fault because all it cares about is money. Or maybe the players are at fault because all the union and its members have ever cared about is, uh, money. Or, alternatively, the fans are at fault because they have sat, like frogs in a simmering pot on the stove, while the game they love has progressively contrived to exclude them from actual attendance while they pay more for jerseys, hats, wall posters, and flags than their grandfathers ever paid for seats at the game.

For example. In Philadelphia, fans who can't afford to attend Eagles games are presently paying bond interest for not one but two huge stadiums -- one for Phillies, one for Eagles -- which replaced one economy-priced stadium that was home to both baseball and football, while the original home of the Eagles, Franklin Field. still stands in the city of Philadelphia, boasting almost exactly the same fan capacity, c. 65,000, as the new place. But without slots for kiosks offering $8 beers and $10 dollar crab fries. Clear fan favorites. You see, Franklin Field is old. It didn't suck several hundred million dollars out of city coffers that could have gone to Obama's vaunted infrastructure "investments" because Franklin Field was already paid for.

Are you laughing yet? Let me distill it for you. Owners and governments are ripping off fans, who are so seduced by the bread and circuses offered that they don't even pay attention to their nominal rights as voters or the real levies imposed on them.

I forgot about the media part. They whale on the faults of players and coaches. But only certain players and certain coaches. And never owners. How come? Donovan McNabb never did any wrong. Tim Tebow never did any right. San Francisco, whose fans killed a visitor last year, is terrific. Philadelphia, which once booed a a skinny drunken amateur Santa Claus, is the worst city in the league. Andy Reid just sacrificed a talented player's career in a vain attempt to perpetuate a failed career. Yet he's a great coach who deserves to go out on a grace note of dignity. Meanwhile, all the Raider coaches (and players) cycled like crap through Al Davis's geriatric administration are just fleeting history. And if the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets were suddenly evaporated from the NFL altogether, ESPN and the NFL Network would have to fill a 40 percent hole in their programming.

Parity. Are you starting to get it?

There is no parity. Only half a dozen teams ever win the Super Bowl. Steelers, Patriots, Giants and a few others. That should tell you something.

There is no intelligence. People care more about their NFL team than they do about the country. Listen to SportsTalk Radio. If you don't give up after that, nothing will ever make you give up.

But maybe that's the answer. Never give up. A dumb country is a healthy country? Really?

uh, whatever.




Thursday, November 15, 2012


My Favorite Historical Novels

It's not how far you're willing to go. It's how
much you can control when you go there.


TRY SECEDING FROM THE MEDIA. Call it more procrastination of my self-appointed assignment, but responses to my Secession post have reminded me of a service I might offer to those who are as anxious to avoid the daily news as I am. One way to avoid assault by our infantile media is to turn them off and curl up with a good book.

So I'm offering a short list of my favorite historical novels. It's definitely not a "Best" list, since my knowledge of the genre is quite limited. I just have some books I've read and liked, which is to say I got something from reading them that lasted beyond the moment I read the last page and closed the cover.

They're not all great literature, though some are. What they have in common is that they deal with real moments in history and attempt to portray those moments without resorting to the "close encounters of the most convenient kind" approach employed by pop writers like Herman Wouk and John Jakes.

The list consists of five books by various writers and one writer who gave me five more books. Here goes:

Andersonville by McKinlay Kantor.

The story of the infamous Confederate prison in Andersonville, Georgia. A giant stockade guarded by teens and old men and equipped with almost no facilities enabling of life. Filth so extreme that a cut in the morning could lead to death in the afternoon. Yet the characters are so riveting that you're able to wade through it as if it were a page-turner. Not all your favorite characters survive. The pain is made real. It's the book I thought of when I first saw the set piece in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly about the doomed Union commander who died content in the knowledge the bridge his men had been dying for was blown to smithereens.

P.S. I read much later an account of the writing, a siege that made a personal connection with me, because I've been there. The hero of the account, incidentally, was a Doberman named Lobo, who made the writer write when he thought he could write no more. Lobo, cursed with sight hound genes, died tragically the way sight hounds often do, when an ignorant veterinarian gave him the wrong anesthetic. Well, that's neither here nor there. The book stands on its own.

Burr by Gore Vidal

Surprised? Even evil men can have one good book in them. This is Gore Vidal's.

He's helped no end by the fact that Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson's vice president, is one of the most spectacular villains of American history, the man who created the first constitutional crisis in a presidential election, the man who shot Alexander Hamilton to death in a duel, the man who betrayed his country in a wild scheme to become emperor of Mexico, and the man who was suspected of having a long-term incestuous relationship with his own daughter. All this is squarely in Vidal's wheelhouse. The result is a kind of American homage to the Roman historian/gossip Suetonius (the source of Robert Graves's I Claudius), a malicious inside-baseball skewering of the personal foibles of almost all the founding fathers. It's hilarious, obviously suspect by its own context, and a clear confirmation of the dictum that real life can be stranger than fiction.

The first time I ever realized that the early years of our country might have been wicked fun, not just a drudgery of symbols and moving statuary.

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

I know they maybe tried to make you read it at some point and you probably resisted. The language can be off-putting, remote from our time. But that's part of the value now. This is what it was like to fight in the Civil War. Fear, horror, cowardice, and courage intermingled in a zone where a wound could land you in a surgeon's tent equipped with a bone saw and not much else. It's not that long and it IS a time machine. If you feel the need of one about now.

Mila 18 by Leon Uris

The story of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, from which Israel was most likely born. Children with Molotov cocktails battling SS tanks and winning. There's a good deal of soap opera too, but the narrative never strays far from the plight of those imprisoned within a walled city inside a city without much help from anywhere, while the deportation trains leave for points unknown carrying away all those who cannot fight and will never be heard from again. It reads like a thriller, but it's no fantasy.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The French Revolution and the Terror. Yes, there's abundant Dickensian sentimentality and plot coincidences galore, but it drives inexorably to the most vivid depiction yet created of the Guillotine and the frenzy -- and the frigid calm -- of the peasants' revenge against the monarchy and life itself. It is the hero's severed head which delivers the concluding apostrophe (contrary to the sanitized clip above). Many books have famous beginnings or endings. This one has both: "It was the best of times...", "It is a far far better thing I do..." Beat that.

Kenneth Roberts

Here's a précis of his historical novels from Wiki:

Roberts' historical fiction often focused on rehabilitating unpopular persons and causes in American history. A key character in Arundel and Rabble in Arms is American officer and eventual traitor Benedict Arnold, with Roberts focusing on Arnold's expedition to Quebec and the Battle of Quebec in the first novel and the Battle of Valcour Island, the Saratoga campaign and the Battles of Saratoga in the second. Meanwhile, the hero of Northwest Passage was Major Robert Rogers and his company Rogers' Rangers, although Rogers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. Oliver Wiswell focuses on a Loyalist officer during the American Revolution and covers the entire war, from famous events such as the Siege of Boston, the Battle of Bunker Hill, the New York and New Jersey campaign through the Battle of Fort Washington, and the Franco-American alliance, to less-remembered events such as the Convention Army, the exodus to Kentucky County, the Siege of Ninety-Six, and the resettlement of the United Empire Loyalists, as well as providing a later look at both a dissolute Rogers and a frustrated Arnold among the British.

I haven't read Arundel, but I've read the rest. I recommend them.

Northwest Passage

A rip-roaring adventure story. Major Robert Rogers invents guerilla warfare and then, betrayed by his British commanders, single-handedly brings his men alive through hundreds of miles of wilderness to safety. And he's also a bum, a drunk, a deadbeat, and a cad. Like many heroes. Something to remember about now.

Rabble in Arms

By the end you can almost understand why Benedict Arnold turned coat from blue to red. He, too, was a great heroic figure. What changed him? He stopped believing his country had the leadership to win and survive its own corruption and small-minded politics. Hmmm.

Oliver Wiswell

What it was like to be a Tory during the Revolution. For more, read my comment on it in the previous post.

Lydia Bailey

How the United States lost Haiti when Haiti wanted us. Once again, small men in high places. Outstanding.

Boon Island.

Not sure it qualifies as an historical novel, but it's one of the best survival stories I've read, so it's here too.

Obviously, I like Kenneth Roberts. But don't feel bad if you don't. My wife informs me she just can't read his stuff. And she's read the entire oeuvre of Dostoyevsky, which I simply can't do. So read what appeals to you. I'm not instructing, just offering alternatives to the 24/7 nonsense of the news.





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