Parker Posey Stole My Car

 

Aquarian Weekly 4/13/05
REALITY CHECK

PARKER POSEY STOLE MY CAR
The Hazards of This Gig Come Home To Roost

Parker PoseyMost times I do not take this column seriously. Some of you have noticed. Others get angry and call me names in print, which I relish. The best and the brightest get hammered in print. Ask Tom Delay. He was vilified in this space two weeks ago. I sent the damn thing to his office. No response. When I followed up they said something about spending all their time keeping him out of prison. I understood implicitly. “We spend half our time getting into things and the other half getting out,” I said. It was loaded wisdom. They agreed and excused themselves, and I told them to add the joke where it fits.

Anyway, we have fun here. I like it. They pay me. Then other times it becomes serious, personal. Like last month when an Arab doctor’s lawyer contacts my Webmaster threatening lawsuits if some madness written about him wasn’t removed from the Sound-Off page of my web site. Sure, like I had any idea what was going on there, the usual stuff: overt racism, violent overtones, sex bating, and general stupidity. We had to take the whole thing down. I’d like to publicly thank Chief Wonka for jumping into action to save the day.

Needless to say, I am sick of being sued or defending the first amendment in court. I just want to write, cash the check and go home to my wife and cats. Is that too much to ask?

Take, for instance, last Thursday, when I was doing research for a piece I’d been commissioned to write for New Jersey Monthly on independent film-making. I’m lazy, so I usually begin by picking the brains of acquaintances in whatever business I’m covering. Sometimes you get great stuff, inside info, because you don’t have to pry with friends. Other times you get taken advantage of, hoodwinked, sandbagged. This was one of those times.

So, the thing is, I missed my deadline for this paper last week because of the mishaps that resulted from this “assignment”. It wasn’t even a column that was late to press. I was submitting the poorly edited rants you people send in the guise of “reader mail”. But I could not get it in on time because my car was stolen on Second Avenue. Stolen by an actress. You may have heard of her, Parker Posey.

She’s been in some things. She was in House of Yes and she had a part in You’ve Got Mail and the lead in a few others. She’s in that Christopher Guest troop that does all those great satires on acting and folk music and dog shows. Anyway, she’s an acquaintance; some with lesser credentials might call a friend. But she is my enemy now. And if she doesn’t do jail time for this there will be trouble. I have friends in higher places than Hollywood. The hammer will have to come down.

Posey is loaded. Come on. How much do you think she’s worth? Got to be a couple of million, minimum. Why would she need to pinch my Toyota RAV 4?

At first, as in most cases with me, I figured the whole ordeal an oversight. She said she couldn’t find a cab. This is not news. People often say these things in Manhattan. They say them all the time. But then your car doesn’t usually disappear. I write “usually” because in the 1980s’ your car disappeared quite a bit. I lost two of them to chop shops and one rental to the brownies. But this is the new era in NYC. Lock down. The car, by all measures of logic should have been there.

Now, my wife claims I told Posey to “have it back by two”, as in two in the am, which is nonsense, because at this juncture for me to make it past eleven is pushing it these days. I wake up in cold sweats at 6:30 every morning, so burning late nights is out of the question.

Not to mention, Posey is loaded. Come on. How much do you think she’s worth? Got to be a couple of million, minimum. Why would she need to pinch my Toyota RAV 4? I could tell she admired it. Although she had no problem spitting her sunflower seeds all over the floor and barking to me, “Why don’t you have this car cleaned, Campion?” It was a fair question, but hardly worth using in court as an admission of guilt. “I like black mini-SUV’s” she noted later. I remember that. Once again, initially, I thought it the kind of things friends say. Idle compliment. Meanwhile, it turns out, she’d been eyeing the thing for years.

“Parker Posey?” the cop told me later that night. “She’s a huge car jacker.”

“What is this, some kind of Winona Ryder thing?” I asked him.

“Worse,” he laughed. “She won’t break down and weep and beg for mercy. She once whipped the keys of a bailiff’s Ford Explorer off the chest of a judge in Dade County, Florida.

“Isn’t that where they busted The Lizard King for flashing his pecker on stage?”

“Please, one loon at a time,” he chuckled. “At least there wasn’t a kid in there.”

I knew better than to report this. Insurance fraud pays heavy penalties in this state. It was a difficult claim. Actress asked to borrow my car, and the next thing I know I’m checking into the Park Central at quarter to three in the morning with my wife standing on the lobby sofa demanding to see a vegan chef.

Good thing for the venerable crooner from Brooklyn, Buzz. He saved my ass. Hired a car service, from which I phoned the editor of this periodical and got the letters in eventually. Sorry, Terry. Couldn’t be helped. I believe the excuse I used was mayhem. Now you know.

Finally, I received my car late Sunday. It was missing about 240 miles. The interior smelled of stale beer and the faint embers of soot. There was a note on the dashboard written in red lipstick. CLEAN THIS FUCKING CAR. I swear on the living soul of our holy mother of god, this is not over.

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The Government & Terry Shiavo

Aquarian Weekly 3/30/05 REALITY CHECK

DECONTRUCTING THE CONSTITUTIONHow The God Fascists Are Trampling On Your Inalienable Rights

Tom DelayThe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. – Amendment X United States Constitution

“I was in the house when the house burned down.” – Warren Zevon

This government’s deconstruction of the Bill of Rights and Constitution since 9/11/01 has been outright oppressive and downright criminal. It has managed to make a complete mockery of Amendment IV and Amendment I, and now the 109th Congress has seen fit to ignore Amendment X in a grandstanding political maneuver so patently absurd it bares serious scrutiny by the members of this republic.

The Terri Schiavo case is the very reason I repeatedly tell friends and colleagues to read their constitution. Read it every day. Download it off the Internet, take it out of the library, buy a hand pocket version of it, and get to know it well. It is all that stands between you and government tyranny or the wonton desires of fanatics. And this, my friends and colleagues, is the age of King George and the God Fascists. The Enlightenment is in a shambles. Superstition and false morals have invaded the system like parasitic vermin. Get it in writing, team up the lawyers, and be willing to fight dirty.

This is no time for outrage or long-winded speeches. This is a time for reflection and reaction both personal and public. It is time we put our houses in order, ready our muskets and wait for the hordes to come charging over the mountain, because they have long begun their ascent, and it does not look to be abated by law or reason.

Know this: Elections and sedition are for sheep. Wolves earn freedom. It’s time for a serious uprising.

The blind audacity of the federal government to halt its tasks for the will of the people and suspend the law of the land while the president of the United States rushes in at the eleventh hour to sign law based on an individual case of state rights is martial law. Period. The irony is that this is a Republican run federal government, which claims in its stringent platform to defend state rights and reduce the powers of the federal government.

Whle you chew on that one let me take a moment to point out that I do not agree with the actions of the subject’s husband. He doesn’t want to divorce this poor woman, so he demands she starve to death? This is a murder of convenience. This is not a mercy killing. If someone is unable to function and has a living will that stipulates they want to pull the plug, so be it. This is not one of those cases. Also, I would like to make clear I do not agree with the woman’s parents either. By law, and this is why I am so adamant that the denial of basic civil rights to gay marriage is so egregiously unconstitutional, a spouse has full and complete rights. This is not negotiable, nor should it be.

The Terri Schiavo case is the very reason I repeatedly tell friends and colleagues to read their constitution. Read it every day. It is all that stands between you and government tyranny or the wonton desires of fanatics.

But make no mistake; this is a clear case for the state’s court system. This is why we have it. Checks and balances. Simple civics. Look it up. The federal government has three basic functions, uphold the constitution, protect the borders and deliver the mail. One out of three is not good enough.

The funny thing is the federal government’s failure to protect the borders on 9/11 has caused it to usurp power and enact crazed laws all over the joint, from the vague terminology of the Patriot Act to the loosely translated use of the military. These leans on civil liberties are not ideological – conservative nor liberal, they are unconstitutional. They are above the law. Just like congress sticking its nose in Major League Baseball over drug abuse when dozens of businesses in this country piss all over the environment, create new and improved toxins for us to inhale and ingest, openly steal money from stockholders and farm out manufactured labor to Dickensian work camps all over the Third World. How about the FCC imposing $500,000 fines for ambiguous indecency standards while huge foreign conglomerates own 70% of the airwaves and the White House infiltrates news programming with fully-produced propaganda schlock?

Am I the only one who is incensed at these sanctimonious cretins pointing fingers and riling up the locals on certain issues, while blatantly ignoring others? Am I the only sap who gets miffed when shitheels like Tom Delay run roughshod over the ethics of his office while working diligently to block an investigation, and then has the unmitigated gall to stand before the American people and talk about morals as if he invented them?

I’m also not amused at this nonsense about the sanctity of life. Oh, boy, these phonies can’t wait to wave that tattered flag at you. Then you realize that 40 million Americans are currently denied health care and their government has done nothing to even investigate it. They did manage to pass a Medicare bill last year that handed the pharmaceutical companies a blank check, but that was when morals took a back seat to Calvin Coolidge’s axiom that “the business of America is business”.

All this noise about Terri Schiavo is just that, noise. It has no legal merit, and morally it is thorny and sad. I detest the details as much as the next guy, but she should not be a political football for the federal government. This incessant meddling and horseplay with its power and reach has gone above and beyond for too many consecutive months to let it stand much longer. And although I am all for the federal government intervening when an entire race of people are denied civil rights, it is not for the government to intercede on the behalf of one person who does not effect the general populace.

Finally, if I may be so bold, it needs to be mentioned that Shiavo is in this condition because she was a world-class bulimic, resulting in heart failure and irreversible brain damage. She destroyed herself by her own free will, kind of like an alcoholic or a junky. And I ask you, how much of a furor would the Moral God Police be whipping up if this were a hobo junky from Harlem?

I wager none.

Now, let’s all hop off the high horse and get back to screwing up Social Security reform and spending our money like drunken sailors.

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Condoleezza Rice Spins

Aquarian Weekly 3/23/05 REALITY CHECK

CONDEE SPINS ETERNAL

Secretary of ShiteI feel for Condoleezza Rice. I really do. I like her. I think she is by far the smartest and most sincere of the wild and wooly Bush Cabal. And as allegedly misguided as she was along with everyone else at the helm before 9/11, I believe she was just another sad symptom of the illusion this country’s government had lived under since the end of the Cold War.

But it pains me to see her eat shit the way she has time and again in front of the American press, the international press and a host of world leaders. Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State, could no longer eat the shit. This is why he is gone. But Rice auditioned well for the job during the 9/11 hearings when she went toe-to-toe with Democratic senators on “what the big boys knew and when they knew it”, prancing deftly around facts and timelines that showcased her considerable mettle and loyalty to the cause by gobbling massive quantities of excrement and emerging as a martyr for the good and true.

Don’t get me wrong; Secretary of State is a pretty good reason to eat shit. Hillary Clinton feasted on the stuff just to be first lady. Most people do it to keep a mid-level gig in some faceless corporation. Secretary of State is a few heartbeats from the presidency and comes with a cachet rarely, if ever bestowed upon intellects. Former recent secretaries like Henry Kissinger (Nixon’s savage bombing of Cambodia), Cyrus Vance (Carter’s disastrously planned rescue attempt of the Iran hostages) and George Shultz (Reagan’s Iran/Contra fiasco) gorged on the dung. Piles of it. And not one of them is getting into to heaven for it.

But I was not particularly fond of any of these gentlemen, and I never got the willies as I do now watching sweet Condoleezza parade these spin doctored fabrications around the globe like a jabbering marionette. It is sad and disturbing and I can no longer abide it quietly.

To wit:

On the leading candidate for Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jafari, a “former” terrorist (former terrorist like being kinda pregnant or sorta dead) and well-known American foreign policy dissenter (a nice way of saying “hates us”) Rice has been laughably extolling his virtues to defend the purported democratic process. Last week Rice stated that Jafari “will be a fighter in the war on terrorism”, which is completely antithetical to the profile the CIA is willing to cop to and just plain silly talk.

The fact is a toad like Jafari and the predominant Shiite presence in the Iraqi democratic process creates another sort of anti-American political conundrum for the current administration. This is why falling back on the “fighting for the freedom of Iraqis” fable following the flop of the “US threat and WMD” song and story leads to wider problems. Not the least of which is Iran, considered among many US officials for close to a decade as the “real enemy”, now developing a nuclear bomb with no counterbalance from a weakened Iraq.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Concerning the uprising against Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon, a fishy stage show reminiscent of CIA-instigated protests in Central America for three decades and a cheap political attempt by the Bush administration to label a “victory for freedom”, and the subsequent mass retort provoked by the terrorist all-stars known as Hezbollah, Rice is coy. At once she manages to denounce Hezbollah as a “rogue terrorist outfit threatening to the United States” while responding to its legitimate political power recognized by the UN as a shoulder-shrugging downside of the democratic process. Rice knows well the powder keg that is Lebanon, and to spin a freedom march from the obvious seeds of another likely bloody civil war is so patently ridiculous not even this loose canon president is dumb enough to sell it.

Rice’s dance of the absurd is in lock step with the fantasy this administration has concocted since its many-layered theory of war two years ago in Iraq.

Truth is Lebanon has been, and always will be a breeding ground for anti-Israeli fervor. Syria’s military presence, while abhorrent to the new and improved Middle East freedom chatter of this government, is a necessary evil for the security of Israel and American concerns there. Despite Syria’s disdain for Israel, ironically, after years of horror in Beirut, the Syrians brought order and managed to expunge the IDF, leading to immense popularity and more than a little anti-American sentiment. But there was also a sense of lockdown, sovereignty, and protection. Left to its own devices, the Lebanese could prove more troublesome to US efforts in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict than most know, except Condoleezza Rice. She knows.

Rice’s recent appearance on “Meet The Press” had her chewing on chunks of crap when faced with the administration’s proposed appointment of a lunatic like John Bolton to ambassador of the United Nations. “He has a wealth of experience in UN affairs”, Rice told Tim Russert, which is tantamount to saying Michael Jackson is familiar with children. Bolton, known inside the Beltway as Bush’s Pit Bull, has publicly mocked the UN, calling it, among other undiplomatic descriptions, “obsolete”. Yet Bush, after grandstanding international unity all over Europe last month to help pay for the Iraq money pit, is sending this maniac into the cauldron of a corrupt and bitch-slapped conglomerate reeling with a lethal dose of figureheaditis. Rice, for her part, is rubber-stamping Bolton as “a very important part of my team.”

Anyone who listens to Bolton for 30 seconds knows he is an ass. He is the worst kind of myopic bully, the type of ideologically rabid monster this space warned against should Bush continue to run amok around this planet. If he is unleashed on the international scene he will no doubt be an embarrassment to an already yawping farce, and it is disconcerting to me that a brilliant and normally even-handed Condoleezza Rice has to vouch for it.

…when first we practice to deceive.

Rice’s dance of the absurd is in lock step with the fantasy this administration has concocted since its many-layered theory of war two years ago in Iraq. This maze of circular logic unleashed on the American public is so convoluted in patriotic pap by now it defies definition. Alas, Condee rides the dragon, and I feel for her.

In the spirit of this thorny trap, Rice has taken to calling the current opium-rich, unprecedented production of drugs in Afghanistan (described haughtily as a victory in freedom during the presidential campaign) as “a narcotics problem”. Yes, and Anne Boleyn had a headache. She also dubs Korea a “willing negotiator” sounding more and more everyday like Chamberlain handing Hitler Eastern Europe on a platter.

I have found it in my heart to forgive Rice for trying to tame this monstrosity, the way I gave Powell the benefit of several doubts before he went off the rails at the UN with tall-tales that embroiled this country in a bankrupt police action under questionable pretenses. My leash, irresistibly short for the authors of this mess, is longer for bureaucrats of the system, but for sweet Condoleezza and the looking glass on Pennsylvania Avenue, the slack is tightening.

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Explaining Media Liberal Bias

Aquarian Weekly 3/16/05 REALITY CHECK

LIBERAL BIAS IN THE MEDIA Explaining The Obvious To The Uninitiated

Dan RatherThe exit of embattled CBS news anchor Dan Rather this past week has renewed age-old discussions on liberal bias in the media. This always brings a smile to my face, for I, as consequence of experience, have always known that the accusation rings hollow in the sense that if by painting the press with one bold ideological brush stroke will somehow force it en masse to either back off its alleged job as public watch dog or make it more rancorous against the purveyors of liberalism. This has never been the case, nor will it ever be, no matter how many Dan Rathers are thrown under the bus, anymore than the moral lunacy of the right will be curtailed by revelations that Bill Bennett is a terminal gambling freak.

I have no love for Dan Rather. I met him once about 20 years ago, maybe more. I don’t remember. It was long before he was stomped by thugs on Park Avenue for failure to acknowledge “Kenneth’s frequency”, but long after he started a mosh pit on the floor of the ’68 Democratic Convention. He was perfectly cordial. I never saw him as an elitist or even that passionate about anything, really, least of all frequencies or punk music. He was a newsman. You can identify their species from a mile away. No sense of humor or fashion, myopic dinks with a tinge of nervous energy you might misconstrue for pretension. I don’t think he wanted anything more from life. None of these people do. They live for news; disaster, murder, political suicide, celebrity implosion. Personally, I never forgave Rather for that farcical report on the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in which he presided over a theater of the absurd proving “without a shadow of a doubt” that Oswald acted alone. Honestly, its fictitious zest made the Bush National Guard Papers seem tame by comparison. But that’s my problem.

Sure Rather is a liberal. So were Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, Jacob Riis and Walter Winchell, Margaret Fuller and Ernie Pile. Most reporters, journalists, newspersons are liberal. Unless you’ve studied or practiced this craft, it is apparently hard to grasp. This is true of yammering asses like William McGowan or Bernard Goldberg, neither of whom know the first thing about reporting the news, but answered a curious calling to write books featuring “in-depth analysis” of American journalism. Some might call this stupid. I concur. These poor saps are busy discussing party politics in the cauldron of human nature, a folly if there ever was one.

In order to get up for a life of reporting, one must believe one can/will change the world, make government work diligently for the people, expose the bad guys, celebrate the common man, while repeatedly taking shots at the rich and powerful for the general good. It is a tough calling in a country where the rich and powerful run things, make laws and do whatever the fuck rich and powerful wants. This is an acceptable reason for the remainder of journalists not already raging alcoholics or recovering from some kind of addiction to barely cling to a last remaining shred of sanity.

Shitty hours, crappy pay, lunatic editors and horrific travel routes will leave even the most centered among us with a flimsy excuse for optimism. Believe me, when you’re dealing with the sickness of the human psyche on meager wages and no sleep, you are bound to steer your allegiance to things like civil rights, government programs, underdog causes, conspiracy theories, counterculture pursuits, etc. Big Business, Real Estate Moguls, Religious Fervor, Military Industrial Complexes, Imperial Foreign Policies, and the odd nasty political malfeasance tend to rile these creatures up.

Shitty hours, crappy pay, lunatic editors and horrific travel routes will leave even the most centered among us with a flimsy excuse for optimism.

This is why most of the modern American newspaper chains were launched by Socialists back when Socialism meant power to the people and the rejection of money and progress running roughshod over natural resources, human dignity, and the truth. There was always a sense among the originals that the press would not only keep the tyranny suffered under King George at bay, ala the searing pamphlet by the first subversive patriot Thomas Paine, but it must also force the issue of change and progress like the printed abolitionist movement from brave souls like Horace Greeley, who started the Herald Tribune as a daily anti-slavery rant or Mary Livermore who published the Woman’s Journal as the genesis of suffrage.

Journalists are also skeptics. They need proof for stuff. Lovely and warming concepts like God, country, and apple pie don’t swing a good reporter. It’s the facts, ma’m. The beauty of skepticism leads to edification through research and training in diverse thought (another key reason people keep missing for why most American universities or higher learning institutes breed liberal idealism). Not accepting tenets on face value, to question everything from traditions to subtle to overt forms of bigotry is the foundation of journalism and, for that matter, a free society for which journalism is supposed to serve.

It always struck me as odd that people do not bat an eye when conservative thought enters free enterprise or fiscal responsibility (sans military build-up and corporate stock and tax fraud) but yet find it necessary to debate the leanings of journalists.

But saying that liberal optimists who have convinced themselves that what they do is important for the survival of the republic and not for greed or fame or notoriety is not necessarily true either. Every news jockey in this country would trade some part of himself or herself professionally to get ahead, find a bigger audience and translate that into cash. This is especially true in American journalism.

I personally know heavy leftists who lied to FOX News, the National Review or the Washington Times to get a gig in a more conservative news organization, and vice versa to get gigs at the Village Voice, the New York Times, or Newsweek, more liberal publications.

So, in the end, the publicity monsters like Pulitzer and Hearst still beat in the chests of our journalists, who begin their journey of reporting with all the wide-eyed cheer of the most naïve college sap and end up voracious capitalistic fundamentalists. It’s a crude journey, even for someone like Dan Rather, whose only crime was laziness and the false sense that being rich and powerful makes you resistant to accountability.

That kind of armor is reserved for the presidency.

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Hunter Stockton Thompson 1937-2005

Aquarian Weekly 3/2/05 REALITY CHECK

HUNTER STOCKTON THOMPSON 1937-2005

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. ThompsonHunter Thompson is to me what Jesus Christ is to Born Again Christians. Period. Whether you go for that kind of thing or not, I think you get what I mean: Before him, darkness, afterwards, everything. Salvation. Enlightenment. Resurrection. If you think the comparison mad or inappropriate, perhaps try on John Lennon’s quote about Elvis Presley – “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

Maybe those are not fitting enough analogies, but it’s the best I can come up with minutes after hearing of Thompson’s death, a suicide, like Hemingway, his hero – alone, at home, dead. Thompson once wrote about Hemingway’s fatal gun wound, brutally eloquent and without regret, like everything he would ever write. No compromise. No wavering.

“That power of conviction is a hard thing for a writer to sustain,” he wrote of Hemingway’s suicide in the spring of 1964 for the National Observer. “And especially so when he becomes conscious of it.”

My worship of Thompson’s work, and the man himself, dedicated to living the soul of his craft, wasn’t a gradual awakening for me. It was sudden, like a rubber mallet to the temple. No, it was more like a blow to the solar plexus. Remember when you were clocked so hard as a kid your lungs would cease to function for what seemed like an eternity? They used to call it “losing your wind.” Yeah, from the first line of the first piece I read by Hunter S. Thompson, I lost my wind.

Nothing was ever the same for me. Career, books, journalism; I owe a great deal of it to Hunter Thompson.

I have read better books by more accomplished authors, studied the work of finer satirists or social and political commentators, and followed the careers of more influential journalists. But not one of them, none had the concussive impact, the bone jarring, blood-rising, skin-tingling assault of the worst of Thompson’s work for me.

If you do not know of it, then you have missed out. Just know that authors inspire young writers, but scribes like Thompson, Twain or Mencken do not inspire, they abduct. Taken hostage, bound and gagged and beaten mercilessly from the first sentence. It is violent and disturbing, like all of life’s greatest gifts, not unlike an actual birth, with pain and screaming and blood everywhere.

Freedom. Danger. Humor. Anger. Honesty. Spite. Abuse. Fun.

Words as weapons; torrid, irrational, explicit, the literary equivalent of the frantic grappling of a drowning man. When nothing else can capture what kind of bizarre existence we endure, there are always the words. Strangling perception. Furious and unyielding. Funny as hell. Serious as a cardiac.

This kind of emotional sucker-punch will get you moving in the direction of your muse. Yes it will. You will write, motherfucker. You will not shy from the gory details, and you will not let the phony bastards have the last word. Not when the words can flow like a viscous, pounding flood; a storm of words lunging from the page. I didn’t read Hunter Thompson. I felt Hunter Thompson. I did not guess. I knew, intrinsically, like Saint Paul on the road to Damascus. Thrown to the ground from my steed. And when I got up, I could not help but write.

If you have the slightest tinge in your constitution to write, really write, without the net – to stand in the fire and take the ammo, tear out pieces of your id and juggle your ego, take strides on the wild and peer unblinking into the abyss, then you know about Hunter Thompson.

I knew about Twain and Mencken before Hunter Thompson. I knew about Kerouac and Kesey and Vonnegut. I stood in awe. I enjoyed. But when I read Thompson, I wrote.

If you have the slightest tinge in your constitution to write, really write, without the net – to stand in the fire and take the ammo, tear out pieces of your id and juggle your ego, take strides on the wild and peer unblinking into the abyss, then you know about Hunter Thompson. You know about the writer, because the real writer does not claim, he testifies, he does not loiter, he arrives, he does not parry, he plunges.

Praise the Lord.

Unfortunately or fortunately for Hunter Thompson, he plied his trade in the age of celebrated stupidity. By which I mean the age of non-readers, non-thinkers, voyeurs and reactors. I believe Thompson called it a Generation of Swine. Ironically, these are the same people who worshipped him as an icon of the drug culture, of the violence and despondence that comes from ignorance. They know him best for the beast and the clown that beats in the heart of the maverick. And he wore the cloak of outlaw well. He lived the art, as I mentioned above; the man as the craft. Not a fabricated, distilled version of the artist, and brethren to his poetic and musical partner in crime, Bob Dylan.

Another pretty fair satirist, Oscar Wilde once mused, “I use my talent for my work. I save my genius for my life.”

How do you explain Thompson’s finest work, his most historically revolutionary art, having been published in a rock n’ roll pop culture magazine? Long after Thompson had begun to invent things like “new journalism” and the word he coined that now appears in Webster’s and the modern encyclopedia, Gonzo, Rolling Stone magazine acted as the launching pad for one of the most prolific periods of journalistic fiction in modern times. Hunter Thompson as his generation’s acrobat.

That is where Thompson set his bazookas on politics. He survived Chicago in ’68, Saigon in the last days, hit the road with the McGovern ’72 campaign, ravaged Watergate and Nixon, and beyond. Way beyond; “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” beyond. It was the book that cemented him as the 20th century Dante. “Pay the ticket, take the ride,” he wrote. Stare into the face of madness, bad craziness, regret and fury; that is what he came for, and now he goes back from wherever these brilliant creatures come from.

And I will miss him and pang at the thought that he will no longer write. Forget the booze and the drugs and the bombs and the sex and the rest. There will be no more missives from Hunter S. Thompson. I will miss his infrequent and badly handled visits to New York. I will miss my stolen chats with him, the contents and subjects of which I will take to the grave. I will miss the way he raised his eyebrows when he was thinking and that mischievous chuckle into his armpit whenever he was sure there would be trouble.

His friend and colleague, British artist, Ralph Steadman once wrote of Thompson, “He raged against the coming of the light, rather than the dying of the light.”

But I think the Good Doctor of Journalism said it best: “There is not much mental distance between a feeling of having been screwed and the ethic of total retaliation, or at least the kind of random revenge that comes with outraging the public decency.”

Amen.

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Steroids In Baseball

Aquarian Weekly 2/23/05 REALITY CHECK

EVERYTHING WE WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT STEROIDS…BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

Bloated BarryI’ve spent more time in Major League clubhouses than most people not garnering a full-time paycheck to either play the game or cover it. And I predominantly did so during what is fast being noted as the Golden Age of Steroids: 1988 to late 1994, before the great fiscal implosion when whiney owners cried poverty and greedy players harrumphed all the way to closing down the season. There was a lot of joking about “the juice” back then. Kind of a locker-room jock thing you sometimes overhear, because you’re there. That’s the nut of journalism, a professor once told me. “Half the battle is just being there,” he would say. And I was.

I talked City Lights bookstore with Will Clark, listened to Guns N’ Roses with Don Mattingly, and conversed on hitting, food, films, and fashion with George Brett, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn. I chatted with Ken Griffey jr. about rap music and sports cars while Randy Johnson put his fist through a wall. I watched Lenny Dykstra nearly take a clubhouse boy’s head off with a nine iron. I did lunch with Rickey Henderson, whom I more than suspected had a crush on my girlfriend. I was even snubbed by Cal Ripken jr., David Justice and Nolan Ryan all in the same week.

Those were the fun moments in an otherwise highly competitive media circus. It wasn’t the good old days when sportswriters went “slumming” with athletes, as my friend Roger Kahn used to call it, but it seemed by the late 90s’ when I meandered back for a few seasons in the capacity of a radio reporter there was more of a lockdown on players. This was when the evolution of steroid and “performance enhancement” drugs had taken the game’s brightest talent and turned them into Greek gods, smashing baseballs and records all over the place. By then, no one joked anymore. And they sure ain’t joking now.

In the glaring light of the BLACO investigation, which provided evidence that Barry Bonds was a human chemical spill, leaked grand jury testimony from Jason Giambi, a grandstanding Senate hearing, recent FBI testimony from a decade-long investigation, spanking new revelations from Bonds’ chippy and a sensationalistic tell-all tome penned in part by recidivist goon, Jose Conseco, there has been an outcry from fans and the media to “clean up the game”.

Thing is everyone knew about steroids for a long time. The players damn well knew. The aforementioned Rickey Henderson told me the entire Oakland Athletics team laughingly dubbed the monstrous Conseco “The Bionic Cuban”, and in a more public display the late Ken Caminiti announced to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci that he won the National League MVP award jacked to the tits on steroids. The owners knew too. Of course they knew. They had plenty of inside information and a slew of photos of bars and girls and the other off-the-field recreations of their multi-million dollar investments. Why wouldn’t they know? And as much as they loathe admitting it, the media jock-sniffers knew as well. But they were too busy falling over themselves to either worship or slander these poor bastards they covered that they ignored the obvious signs. Ignored or chose to ignore for the paycheck.

These are facts, not paranoid rantings. Look at the recent unprecedented explosion of power hitting numbers since the mid-90s’, which rivals the “Live Ball Era” in the way that this is the “Live Player Era”

The last thing I need to read right now is another sanctimonious hack-job by that bleating dwarf Mike Lupica on sadness and outrage when he made a fortune on a book celebrating the McGuire/Sosa home run chase in ’98. What a hypocritical suck ass that moron is.

Unfortunately, for me, I haven’t made a bundle from MLB. I worked for a modest, but award-winning Westchester weekly called the North County News, did some radio and hosted a baseball interview show on local television. So I was more or less free to run around decrying the bloated statistics these freaks were putting up, while my colleagues in the sports media biz like that chickenshit Lupica were calling me a paranoid cynic.

What these people failed to equate was the game’s collective insecurity about failing to compete with the more popular NFL and Michael Jordan’s game. And all the mini-ballparks, jacked balls, and lousy diluted pitching talent seemed to conveniently mask the Herculean offensive numbers that were jumping off the bats of unnaturally huge athletes, the kind of human parade floats that forced pro football to change their policy on steroids a decade earlier.

Hey, when baseball hit its first monetary crisis after the 1919 Black Sox scandal when a mobster called Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series, the game’s patriarchs, realizing the popular impact of the newly realized home run, livened the ball. This “Live Ball Era”, of which the last Herculean freak Babe Ruth hailed, produced some of the most ridiculous offensive numbers the game has ever seen. Even in the late ’60s’ when pro football began to knock baseball off the America’s Pastime pedestal, the game invented the Designated Hitter, a clamp down on the spitball and lowered the pitching mounds to promote more homers, more runs, more cheering, and bigger heroes.

These are facts, not paranoid rantings. Look at the recent unprecedented explosion of power hitting numbers since the mid-90s’, which rivals the “Live Ball Era” in the way that this is the “Live Player Era”

Only two men ever hit 60 home runs in a season before 1998. From 1927, when Ruth hit 60 homers in a season, to 1961, when a journeyman called Roger Maris hit 61, 37 seasons passed. During that time and until the mid-90s’ only a handful of guys ever hit 50. In fact, only two, maybe three guys hit 50 from ’61 to the mid-90s’. Since then, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and now Barry Bonds have hit 60 or more homers six times. McGuire hit 70 in ’98 and Bonds, who claims to not realize he was taking steroids – and this from a health nut I saw tell a reporter he doesn’t shake hands because of germs in 1991 – hit 73 a few years back. And although I will not pour over the minutia of baseball statistics, I can conservatively say the 50 mark has been reached three dozen or more times during this insane run.

Where was the outrage all along? From fans? From owners? From ESPN? From that lying sack of monkey dung Bud Selig – Commissioner of the Freak Show?

Was this detonation in offensive power all crappy pitching, juiced balls, enhanced workout regimens and advanced vitamin intake?

Consider the plainest testimony of all, believing your eyes. Just look at these men. Look at them in their prime, and look at them in their mid-to-late thirties, and now forties. Can humans gain uncharted muscle mass in months? Can a human being go from a lithe, muscular form to a hulking beast in a few years, while managing to age along the way?

It’s a ridiculous mockery of common sense.

Should a man’s hat size increase while lifting weights? His complexion?

It’s a pathetic joke.

Now everyone is getting righteous and giving speeches and whipping up investigations.

Home runs are fun. Who cares if players are drugged up?

I enjoy the fruits of industry. Who cares if my water supplies are contaminated?

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Michael Jackson Is In Deep Shit

Aquarian Weekly 2/16/05 REALITY CHECK

MICHAEL JACKSON IS IN DEEP SHIT

The Jacko ShowPretty soon Michael Jackson will go on trial for molesting a prepubescent cancer survivor.

I think I need to write that again, because for reasons best left to sociologists or the producers of Entertainment Tonight, I’ve been seeing a great deal of undo attention paid to his fashion choices on the way to the courthouse, his entourage, the whole umbrella waving thing and the occasional babbling nonsense from a family member.

Let it sink in: Pretty soon Michael Jackson will go on trial for molesting a prepubescent cancer survivor.

In all due respect to those of you that complain of the coarse “gutter” language displayed weekly in this space; that is some serious shit.

And if you even remotely read this column, you know well that for the very first time (drum roll please) I believe a major league celebrity is actually going to see time.

So if you care about such things, I’d alert those people who managed to interpret the O.J. Simpson verdict as some kind of culture victory, because this generation’s Fatty Arbuckle isn’t just hitting the gold record wall, he’s fixing for an orange jump suit.

Don’t get me wrong; there is still a sinisterly cynical part of me that fully expects there to be some kind of pay off scenario.

But so far, unlike the last time (as if there being a last time is anything less than unconscionable) there is a motivated witness and no sign of a civil suit. These people, the kid and the guardian, are serious, and that is bad news for the King of Pop.

But for those still holding out hope that this is all about greed, celebrity bashing, or let’s pick on the easy mark with the mannequin face and the Howard Hughes existence, the facts of the claim seem somewhat hazy. Specifically the gray area between a confused and embarrassed child unwilling to come forth that had to be coerced by adults and the ensuing imagined revisionist cries for help to expunge any blame or embarrassment. Kids do this all the time, regardless of the gravity of the event.

To wit: A few years ago the kid (and by kid I’m stretching it, because at 12 years old myself, or anyone I grew up with would have found it laughably ridiculous to end up being seduced by a 45 year old weirdo with cotton candy and merry-go-rounds) was seen across the globe in a highly publicized British documentary putting his little head on Michael Jackson’s shoulder as the singer effused gleefully his joy and inalienable right to sleep in the same bed as visiting young boys. From there the poor kid was understandably abused by his friends, given the third degree by mom and sent to counseling where he began spinning explicit stories of inappropriate behavior and blatant sexual encounters.

Once the councilor alerted the authorities light bulbs went on.

This is a classic example of wrong time, wrong place, wrong defendant.

Jackson has a past with the LAPD. They were railroaded in 1993 when a second accuser bailed and the remaining alleged victim reportedly took $20 million to make the case go away. Now with the latest allegations, there would be a hue and cry. “What the hell are you people doing about that crazy middle-aged man running around a private compound with little children, many of them unsupervised and ending up in residence?”

For those not buying the paranoid mania defense, there is also the handy; if Jackson had a sexual proclivity toward young boys he would have been more careful about hiding it. Instead, almost immediately after the ’93 case was settled he was back in the public eye romping about with children and inviting scores of prepubescent boys by for sleepovers and whisking their star-crossed parents to Vegas or around the world in his private jet. There were never any of the usual fronts, unless you count the overtly business-arranged marriage and child rearing that is far too bizarre to sanely extrapolate here.

But forgiving Michael Jackson for a robbed childhood splashed upon the public, repeated beatings by his father, and the heaps of mental abuse a child must endure when being whisked around the world and sharing hotel rooms with older, sexually-charged brothers is one thing. Letting him walk on what could be the ugly results of these abuses by abusing (in one form or another) other children is an entirely different animal.

Hey, I think anyone paying attention realizes that for whatever reason Michael Jackson, through his art, his lifestyle, his physical manipulation, his strangely affected public image has been crying out for help. He is a victim in too many instances to cite, but this should not get him off this time.

Neither will the fame nor the money that has sheltered him for decades. And it’s not only paybacks for Jackson. This is a far different culture than when the O.J. Simpson Trial became the Great American Circus. There is a serious lockdown on social mores today. The Republican/Conservative government take-over, the FCC threats of imposed decency (spear-headed in an ironic twist by Michael’s sister Janet’s Super Bowl incident), explosion of hard-line religious fanaticism, and a 9/11 backlash that has given the FBI free range to spy, confiscate and infiltrate anyone anywhere. Not to mention the comeuppance for a long nasty history of Los Angeles Police Department screw-ups.

And we are talking about a prepubescent cancer survivor here.

This is a classic example of wrong time, wrong place, wrong defendant.

Michael Jackson is America’s celebrity experiment. Some kind of preternatural Skinner Box child, who grew up in a fishbowl with no boundaries and sense of self beyond what the Billboard charts indicated. He is a mess. And that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t get the rest of us messy. And this case is messy. Very messy.

If he is guilty, he goes to prison. Case closed.

If he is not, and this is merely a way we can regurgitate our cultural mistakes, exorcise our age of celebrity worship/assassination by making Michael Jackson a pariah because he cannot relate to anyone over the age of 13, or, god forbid, a woman, that we need him chained in the attic like our own Motown Boo Radley, then we wear his shame.

Either way Michael Jackson is in deep shit.

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A Citizen’s Guide to Tax Reparations

Aquarian Weekly 2/9/05 REALITY CHECK

TORCH SONG OF THE MONEY WISEA Citizen’s Guide to Fair Tax Reparations

“We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”– James Madison

“Pay me, sucka.” – Muddy “Mississippi” Waters

My attempt two years ago to secede from the union failed miserably. Some bullshit about landowner’s rights and state dues and back taxes, loop holes all. The best attorneys I could find in the tri-state area were felled, leaving me to write off 250 yards of barbed wire and six long months of trying to wrest a work visa for my wife out of the State Department. Heavily maligned and poorly executed as it was, my reasons were well argued and my solvency was good, but New Jersey is a tough nut to crack. Ask our last governor, who played the gay card and was sent packing. Suffice to say; if you want to claim your meager patch of land as a separate nation, sans an application to the UN and a working military, it is nearly impossible on this soil. Trust me on this.

However, in the spirit of such a bold move, this year I will attempt to recoup any personally earned or gained moneys funneled into the Social Security fund for the past quarter century plus with the caveat that I will ask for nothing from the United States treasury when my time is due.

It is important to note; whether this government restructures Social Security or crosses its collective finger for the future, it will not longer be my concern. I certainly hope things work out for the rest of you. I’ll be happy to keep tabs on the results for this gig, but for now I wish to take personal action and pull up stakes.

To this end, the letter I drafted and submitted through my congressman is lengthy, boring and mostly pointless. The highlight is thus:

“I wish to extract any funds I have heretofore put into this forecasted bankrupt mechanism of government. I will pay any penalties, sign any affidavit, and secure any insurance needed for such a transaction. You will never have to worry about me again. I shan’t come crawling back with my hand out. Enclosed is my Social Security Card to be turned in with extreme malice. This is not a joke or a symbolic gesture of dissent. I want my money and I want it now.”

We’ll see how that goes.

When I pay for an automobile and it breaks down every day and the radio doesn’t work and the brakes are faulty I don’t allow the dealer to tell me to “hang in there” and “the thing moves in a forward motion, so that is some sort of victory, no?” I chuckle and demand a refund.

In the meantime, it is important to note that all this decrying of Social Security lately, years too late for my blood, has to take a back seat to the money pit that is Iraq.

Anyone calling the 1/30 election there a victory is not familiar with the term. Victory, according to Webster’s is “an achievement of mastery”. Although it is a miraculous achievement that the country was not burned to cinder with rivers of blood running in the streets of Baghdad, I would not call the voting process a victory.

Here’s how I define victory:

Remove US troops from the equation and have another one of these babies. Let freedom ring, so to speak. Then we’ll have a fair result of political expression. If I had armored guards surrounding me I could sleep comfortably on Webster Avenue in the Bronx with two grand in my pocket. Some might call that urban safety; others might deem it a fixed game. I side with the latter’s camp on that one.

Granted, I expect our president, the architect and CEO of this doomed operation, to call it a victory. At this point he would be wise to call the safe passage of camels and one-legged peasants to the Euphrates a victory. But ignoring the company spin line, I agree with one thing King George has decreed time and again; the birth of a democracy is hard. There was plenty of bloodletting here in the first few attempts at voting. Jesus, this republic went nearly a decade with no constitution, bill of rights, an army, or anything resembling a federal government. It was fun times for anarchists, land barons and religious folk, but it wasn’t a nation, and neither will Iraq be until the foreigners get the hell out.

Until then I suspend optimism and look to aggressively recover my investment on this abortion, especially in the wake of hearing talk there will be another $30 billion needed from the taxpayers to continue policing chaos.

No sir, not me. I’m done paying for this thing. I’ve seen the results. Not a big fan. When I pay for an automobile and it breaks down every day and the radio doesn’t work and the brakes are faulty I don’t allow the dealer to tell me to “hang in there” and “the thing moves in a forward motion, so that is some sort of victory, no?” I chuckle and demand a refund.

This is a case for an old fashioned do-over. I no longer want my money going toward this thing. If all the flag-wavers want in, great! Good luck to you. Count me out.

That’s right, I’m on record: I do not support our troops. Shudder if you must, but at this point anyone choosing a free trip in uniform to the Middle East over prison does not get my support. My pity? Yes. My sympathy? Absolutely. Support? No more. No how.

I choose instead to ignore the pentagon, these silly Donald Rumsfeld press conferences and whatever statistics anyone wants to e-mail to me on either side of the debate, and object conscientiously.

As a stockholder in this country and its actions here and abroad, I will happily wave my right to sue the company on misuse of funds and misleading investors on the length and breath of things if I can simply bail out with my losses. I’ll even cease trashing the thing in print. I just want whatever percentage of my taxes that have gone to Mission Iraq returned promptly. Fair is fair.

And in order to quell any suggestions that I move to another country, I say no. I like bad television, shitty food and sports. I prefer instead to enact my rights and cause trouble with the hopes it will inspire the spirit of democracy and freedom the world over. That, and I’m a selfish prick.

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In Bush We Trust

Aquarian Weekly 2/2/05 REALITY CHECK

IN BUSH WE TRUST

Buddies Forever“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.” – George W. Bush Inaugural Speech 1/20/05

Aside from the whole FDR fear thing and the “Ask not…” rhetoric from JFK, George W. Bush made as bold and weighty a statement on the occasion of his second inauguration than any president of the past century, and despite its ragingly sanctimonious myopia, one this space applauds heartily. Honestly. I’m not kidding. I am all for it.

It’s a nice sentiment, a tad hyperbolic and utopian, even blatantly idiotic in its far-reaching schmaltz – something most might say with no real intention of ever seeing it through, like the romantic fool telling his beloved he would die for her. But I think this guy is serious as a heart attack. He had better be. That kind of proclamation is not something the citizens of this country or the rest of the world should take as political grandstanding. So I’m behind it one hundred percent, and anyone who is not does not get to continue along with me or George or the rest of the human race. It’s a new day. We are now the judge, jury, and police force of the world.

Hoorah!

So despite the fact that I believe, deep down, this president is likely as full of hot air as any who have preceded him, a well-earned pessimism of the office, I will stand with him, and most importantly, hold him to it. The slate is clean. All sins are forgiven: The bad economy and foreboding ridiculousness of this Medicare mistake, the outrageous deficit, the egregiously run and vaguely explained war, and all this jabbering about God and morals aside; for once I will give management the benefit of the doubt. Does this guy deserve a lick of it? Nah. But never again let it be said I am not for the success of this or any president or the ambitious goals of our government.

Here’s the catch: I want George W. Bush to back up his words. I am rooting for him. I will sit here and wait patiently for the results, as should you and the rest of the planet, whether you think him a dog, Satan, a brilliant savant, or somewhere in between. Granted, he had a previously unprecedented shot to capture history with the world watching mere days and weeks after 9/11. He fucked that up. Big time. Then we have “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

It’s a big leap, but good for him. Reach for the stars, I say, the last go-round for the big cowboy. So let’s roll up those denim sleeves and slip back the ten-gallon white hat and get to work. Four years ain’t that long.

Here’s the catch: I want George W. Bush to back up his words.

All who live in tyranny would start with China, which this country openly trades with and the UN recognizes despite its historic and continued crimes against civil and human rights, forced abortions, execution and mass imprisoning of dissenting citizens, religious leaders, writers, artists etc. Oh, and that nastiness with Tibet. Oooh, that’s bad, man. I can’t wait for King George to spit in their face and demand to let their people go. My testicles tingle at the thought of it.

Then it’s onto Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. These guys are nuts. That Kim Jong Il makes Saddam look like Bazooka Joe. After the tongue lashing we give to China, George will go medieval on those fuckers. I will be so proud to be an American again; leading the way, not caring a lick about economic solvency or international trade or what China or Russia might think. Stick it to them, like France and Germany, and all those countries that really don’t help our economy and oil consumption, a true humanitarian gesture – might I add daringly, a Christian offer of peace and empathy.

Then it would be onto Africa, where in the bloody Sudan, which according to Amnesty International and the highly credible contributors to Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/) is a top candidate. Since February 2003, its city of Darfur has been the scene of massive crimes against civilians of particular ethnicities in the context of an internal conflict between the Sudanese government and a rebel insurgency. Almost two million people have been forcibly displaced and stripped of all their property and tens of thousands of people have been killed, raped or assaulted.

How about Rwanda next? Those people have needed help for a decade, while we were cockfighting with Iraq thousands were being systematically slaughtered in a seemingly endless civil war. I think a selfless act of diplomacy and harsh words from our beloved King and his army of freedom fighters would not only be appropriate, but damn heroic.

Finally, we will choose gain over pain as we stand firm against America’s favorite monarchy, and the central figure in the 9/11 attacks and most of our problems with terrorism for the past fifty years, Saudi Arabia. Oh, this will be a tough one for our intrepid King George. It will take guts to jab our allies, our major Middle Eastern oil source, and a contributor of billions of dollars to our corporations and real estate concerns here at home.

Oh how proud we will be to see the tough and rumble George W. Bush, so brave and steadfast in his speech, back up his bragging like Muhammad Ali and smite the enemies of liberty and freedom. The oil companies – his political base – and conservatives and liberals alike will shudder, but he will not waver, because “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

We’re waiting…

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Beware The Doctors

Aquarian Weekly 1/19/05 REALITY CHECK

MALPRACTICE LUNACY OR MEDICAL TYRANNY?

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – William Shakespeare King Henry VI, Part II, (Act IV), Scene 2

Beware The DoctorsDoctors really don’t know what they’re doing.

Take one aside at a mixer after his or her third Manhattan and ask. They’ll tell you. And when you’ve talked to enough of them off the record it will hit you: No one has a clue how you tick or what keeps you ticking. It’s a crapshoot, like predicting the weather or prognosticating the Oscars. My mother calls it “the educated guess.” Call it what you will, it’s wacky science and you’re the lab rat.

That being established, no matter the circumstance or political rhetoric, should there be any legislation passed that would diminish the amount or severity of liability placed upon doctors, hospitals, drug companies et al, if these guesses go awry. Otherwise what is now a free-for-all in medicinal darts will turn into something out of an Aldous Huxley novel.

What the 109th congress will now debate, along with the desperately needed – but doomed to oblivion – Social Security reform, the fate-sealing eternal tax cut, what to do about the gluttonous 23% increase of federal spending the past three years, and more nonsense about adding bigoted amendments, is the extent of your right to protect yourself from the tyranny of medicine.

By which I mean for instance a maddening expansion of pharmaceuticals consumed by Americans in the last decade. This alarms many pundits. I am not one of them. If people need to be medicated to stay the fuck off towers with an automatic weapon, I’m all for it. Most of us are nuts. This is a fact. Medicine has curtailed the results of this; a cause for celebration, not harangue. The self-righteous louts who deride the medicated are delusional, which is our most heinous social malady. But, alas, there is no drug to assuage the delusional, unless you count religion. I do not.

Of course there is always the odd prescription of mood-altering drugs to depressed teenagers with suicidal tendencies that sort of-kind of might cause an increase in depression and suicidal tendencies or the sedation of rambunctious toddlers with some nifty narcotic to zombie them up. But I’m not sure what level of outrage this rouses in the grand collective, so I’ll call it an epidemic for lack of a sane definition.

They can tort reform all over the map and you’ll still pay through the nose with less or no rights in case all this guesswork lands you in a wheelchair or worse.

However, anyone who has been to a physician in the past few years knows well of what I broach. And I’m not talking about massive screw-ups like people dying on operating tables or given a lethal dose of something or a frighteningly bad diagnosis that leaves them crippled or dead. It’s the quick check-up to unnecessary craziness that needs to be accounted for.

To wit; I was diagnosed with high cholesterol two summers ago. My doctor could not whip out the samples of Lipitor fast enough. He was busy cranking out a handy prescription when I suggested exercise and diet. Soon after the obligatory derisive chortle, I demanded I have three months to lower the “bad” cholesterol naturally. I did. Lipitor and my doctor lost out.

Now assuming the best-case scenario, which doesn’t have my doctor in cahoots with a massive pharmaceutical company, and he isn’t a lazy ass, he was likely guessing that drugs were best for me. I disagreed. I guess I lucked out.

But if you take this story and ratchet it up considerably to bring in larger physical problems, you might get the picture.

The government wants you to believe that lawyers and frivolous damage claims are ruining the medical profession, keeping you from the best care, and jacking up the cost of health care in general. This is bullshit, like most of what this government, or any government tells you. The fact is the toothpaste is out of the tube when it comes to health costs. They can tort reform all over the map and you’ll still pay through the nose with less or no rights in case all this guesswork lands you in a wheelchair or worse.

Bash lawyers all you want. It’s fun. I do it in weaker moments. Bashing attorneys is the comedic equivalent of the fart joke. It never fails to get a laugh. It’s cheap and it always works. But when you are damaged goods, you had better get a good one or you will be one of the forgotten.

Many malpractice lawsuits are out of control, but making laws to curtail or put restrictions on the amount and severity of legal recourse is how this country deals with aberrations of any kind; throw the baby out with the bathwater. The federal government, the FBI and the CIA can’t protect us, so chuck civil rights. Lunatic children shoot up the schools, outlaw guns and video games. Drug problem? Jail everyone. Homeless problem? Make them disappear.

Why should the American people give up the right to sue lousy doctors or negligent hospitals just because the denizens of our court system cannot tell the difference between a frivolous lawsuit and a legitimate claim? We have regulated ourselves silly. So much so, that many of us crave some form of chemical to keep us from facing the truth.

And what is the truth?

The AMA and huge Pharmaceutical corporations have stronger lobbies in Washington than you and me. They dump tons of money into campaigns. Those campaigns find themselves in chairs in congress and they make the laws. We eat shit.

This is how it works.

Shakespeare knew this. That’s why the above quote, often misused to mock the law profession by those who still think Randy Newman hates short people and we didn’t steal Texas, is really about the first sign of abuse of power. A character that goes by the name of Dick the Butcher, whom the author describes as “the head of an army of rabble and a demagogue pandering to the ignorant” and who plans on overthrowing the government, utters it.

It is a warning about letting things run smoother by giving up the right to have a voice if you become a casualty.

Consider this another, if not less literary, warning.

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