Ten Years of Reality Check Column

Aquarian Weekly 8/8/07 REALITY CHECK


Ten Years Of Treachery, Mockery & Felony

The only people who know about mercy are the ones who need it. – Charles Bukowski

I have been putting words in this space for ten years this month. Ten years. I have never held a gig for that long, ever, anywhere, for anything. I am a freelancer. This is not a job description or any kind of reasonable vocation, it is a lifestyle, no, a malady, no, more like a virus one accepts to live with until they find a cure, but then you realize you’re immune to any vaccine so you endure, because you must. But between the years of 1997-2007 I held firm my position here at The Reality Check News & Information Desk, thanks to the bravely insane people at The Aquarian Weekly, four hearty managing editors, the precipitous influence of the Internet, and the most diversified, deranged, and ornery readership in the Fourth Estate.

JC in ItalyMillions upon millions of words, week after week, month after month, about subjects far and wide, opining for pennies, editorializing for catharsis, shoveling wit on the cheap. This is the fate I chose willingly, or not.

A few months after the publishing of my first book, Deep Tank Jersey, written in the shadow of the region’s finest pop culture/music magazine, its then managing editor, Dan Davis, began harassing me to explain myself. I could never quite grasp his motives, but he kept buying me drinks, so I indulged him. Then I began turning the tables; sending letter after letter to the editor’s desk about kidnapped journalists I dated in college, my meager affiliation with local sports figures, and one lengthy missive decrying a barely-cobbled New Jersey State Commission protesting a Marilyn Manson show at the Meadowlands.

Speedwriting senseless junk and repeatedly faxing it to editors seemed like a good idea at the time. I had quit all modes of journalism for almost two years and was sufficiently bored with book-plugs and writing fiction, so I spent enormous blocks of my time aggravating legitimate periodicals with the most rancid and unconscionable spite imaginable.

So to my beloved readers, friends, family, and citizens of earth, I say, thank you from the bottom of my vapid heart, tortured soul, and fractured brain. It has been a pleasure to expunge my bile before you.

Soon after, Davis stopped buying rounds, which I took for an ominous sign, and hired me to pen a sports column for another publication. I did so, reluctantly, having toiled in every mind-numbing corner of sports journalism for six years. But free drinks are a powerful aphrodisiac for the freelancer. Never attempt it. They’ll end up sleeping on your couch and making long distant phone calls to their agent by morning.

Here’s where my affiliation with this magazine becomes hazy. Someone, and it may have been Dan, hired me to lend my voice to some half-baked editorial experiment; three generations discuss issues, one younger, one more grizzled (me), and one more established. Lord knows who those other people were and where they now reside, but I kept plugging, week after week, sending one onerous sentiment after the other, exceeding an impressive personal record for vulgarity and wrath.

And here’s the deal: No one objected. No one. Occasionally I would get a phone call wondering if I had been abused as a child or accidentally doubled the medication, but for the most part I kept sending column after putrid column to press and these maniacs kept printing it. I only walked into the offices once the first year and a half when the surprised receptionist actually remarked that I “didn’t look like a monster”.

It was a venerable laugh-a-minute soul by the name of Chris Uhl who then suggested I take this exercise up from 500 to 800 words and call the thing Reality Check. I wanted to call it Fear No Art. He refused, claiming it made no sense. I asked if he had even read my work, to which he responded, “Mildly”. Later I signed on with a web-based content firm run by a crazed renaissance man called Chief Wonka, where he set me up with a nifty web site and published the first three years of Reality Check in a compendium called, you guessed it, Fear No Art – Observations On The Death Of The American Century.

The demented Wonka and Uhl, who succeeded Davis as managing editor, used their posts to bate me into seducing libel. We came close those first few months, but alas, my years of training had bested us. I would not be going to jail or be successfully sued, although on four separate occasions the weak and stupid attempted it. But we sent them packing, humiliated by defeat and shunned as constitutional pariah. I knew my First Amendment rights and would continue unabated to stretch their limits for a decade. Much of this harangue appears in Midnight For Cinderella – Reality Check Papers Volume II, released late last year.

The new boys on the block, J.J. Koczan and now Patrick Slevin have more or less left me alone or come to my aid when the heat was on. I thank them as I thank my editor Terry Allen, whose preternatural adherence to deadlines would give the most ardent fascist pause. I also send plaudits to publishers Chris Farinas and Diane Casazza, the latter of whom I never met, who I think still gain a measure of profit from this enterprise, and anyone else on the masthead who’ve helped me wax exotic, sell books, and act like a petulant jackass for ten long and painful years.

The Desk has moved several times over two states these past years. We’ve taken on some fine young journalists, radicals, freeloaders, and substance abusers; I met my wife along the way, suckered her into hitching her gorgeous/mad wagon to mine, and help plant our freak-flag on the terra. I have befriended and made enemy of some notable celebrities, politicians, and artists in every realm. They read my stuff, and yet continue to drop my name in respectable circles. I am a better man for having known, spoken to, skewered and lauded them.

I have asked a good many of them to lend their thoughts, recollections, disgust, and blame to this space over the remaining weeks of this month. Why would I subject myself to such a professional roasting? For one, I have not taken two consecutive weeks off from this mess in ten years, and two, I’ve been meaning to get a well-deserved public butt kicking before autumn.

So to my beloved readers, friends, family, and citizens of earth, I say, thank you from the bottom of my vapid heart, tortured soul, and fractured brain. It has been a pleasure to expunge my bile before you.

Here’s to another decade, or not.

IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS YOU KNOW IT AND HE FEELS FINE – Observations on Ten Years of Reality Check

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

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Michael Moore & His “SiCKO” Utopia

Aquarian Weekly 7/4/07 REALITY CHECK


It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play. – Miles Davis

Michael Moore is one of the few completely moral public figures left. He really is. Everything you read about him, his over-zealous bending of truth, his leftist propaganda, and his antipatriotic rhetoric, pales in "Sicko"comparison to his impeccable moral structure. He’s a rock of optimism and compassion in a selfish, paranoid, dehumanizing world. Moore may be misguided at times, even silly, and after watching an advanced copy of his new documentary “SiCKO”, I render, certifiably insane, but he is nothing if not a true Christian; champion of the poor and unfortunate and the bane of the coldly unfeeling machinations of corporate greed.

But when the credits role on this baby, there is only one sicko remaining, and it is Michael Moore.

Here is the premise of “SiCKO”: We need to have an American health care system that caters to the whim of every whining poof in this country, and in the meantime, wrest its control away from evil pharmaceutical companies and voracious HMO’s while handing the whole kit-n-kaboodle over to the federal government, like in Great Britain, France and Canada, where all the infirmed are treated and no one is denied, doctors are rewarded monetarily based on performance, drug companies swoon, and respect for common decency trumps the hard-line of profit.

Without certain hidden sacrifices, this kind of utopian pabulum only works in the Hundred Acre Wood alongside the impenetrable spirit of Christopher Robin’s sweet and lovable pal, Pooh, but here on planet reality, and more specifically, the Untied States, it is bankruptcy personified.

For two hours “SiCKO” poses plenty of engaging and serious questions about the corruption of health care in this country, but in beseeching the heavens for change, never answers the most glaring one: Who will pay for it?

Assuming drugs and doctors don’t grow in the rabbit tunnels of Wonderland, problems abound.

Firstly, while France has the finest health care system in the western world, they have built it by raising taxes, halting wage increases, and cutting back on social programs. We have all seen what kind of manic furor these sacrifices incite around here. A quick research on Great Britain’s National Health Service reveals tons of bugs; long waits, limits to care, sub par doctor requirements, etc. These are quirks the British with their stiff-upper-lip culture permit. We have feebly quivering lips attached to people who love to sue here. And Canada? There have been a series of studies that reveal many under their system must get supplemental insurance to bolster questionable general coverage.

Let’s see: Pay higher taxes, give up our handouts, and still pay for additional coverage? You supply the joke here. I’m tired.

Let’s see: Pay higher taxes, give up our handouts, and still pay for additional coverage? You supply the joke here. I’m tired.

Moore spends an hour of his film lauding other nation’s superior health systems, but fails to broach the tax burden on the citizens, aside from two minutes chatting up one pleasant couple outside London, which reveals nothing. He sure doesn’t dare mention the enormous size, ill-health, and voraciously self-centered nature of our citizenry in comparison to these other proud but comparatively tinier, far healthier, and socialist-leaning countries. And he sure as hell, although he just finished one such film last time out, doesn’t broach the complete and utter dysfunction, corruption, and abject idiocy repeatedly portrayed by our federal government.

Face it; we’ve seen how this nifty government of ours has mishandled its only true task: Protect of our borders. In the last 10 years alone we’ve been invaded by millions of illegal aliens and had two major cities attacked by third-world bandits. And to combat this we’ve decided to absolve the illegal aliens and cram billions of dollars down a sinkhole called Homeland Security. Yeah, no thanks. If I have to pay exorbitant sums to keep the government’s gloved finger out of my asshole every year at my physical, I will.

Don’t get me wrong; Moore is dead on about insurance and pharmaceutical companies. They do not exist to aid, but profit. They are companies, not churches or charity groups or Friends of Jesus. They do not exist to pay out. They exist to hold on. This is economics 101. Simple mathematics. Human compassion and empathy have no place in business, and business, as with everything else, is the way of health care here in capitalist land.

Apparently this has been lost on Moore, whose opening quote in “SiCKO” is “I thought insurance companies existed to help people?” This is when you get the feeling the next Moore film will be about his disillusionment with the whole Tooth Fairy con.

Insurance companies are a rip-off. Of course they are. This is the case with all insurance companies. Just try and get them to honor their agreement. It’s a scam, and everyone knows it. It’s like professional wrestling or religion or diet pills or civil rights or seven dollars for a cup of coffee. It’s the American way. We buy into it in a kind of mass delusion. It’s comforting, like back when the school nurse told you that you were fine as blood gushed from your forehead. As Homer Simpson once philosophized, “It takes two to lie, one to lie and the other to listen.”

But despite the air-headed cries for equality, there are moments of truly brilliant satire in “SiCKO”: A Star Wars scroll, complete with soaring John Williams score, of the plethora of pre-existing ailments that allow insurance companies to deny you coverage, a tape of Tricky Dick selling us down the private-care river, a hilarious recording of a young Ronald Reagan spouting red-scare drivel to prevent a restructuring of our health care system, and a list of kickbacks from huge drug companies to members of congress, including our boy president and former HMO combatant and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The ending alone is a thing of beauty: Moore takes a group of ailing 9/11 volunteers rejected for care by the federal government on technical terms to Guantanamo Bay prison camp to receive the free health care provided to imprisoned terrorists.

But, alas, there is no practical answer for greed and fear and rip-offs in “SiCKO”. As everything we discuss in this space, Moore’s bogeyman, as in “Roger & Me”, “Bowling For Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” is systemic. So, instead of weeping at the unfortunates in Moore’s film, or dreaming of a day when people actually give a shit about each other, we offer this:

When you purchase insurance – health, home, car, whatever – make certain before you hand over your money and sign anything, that the insurance company provides, in clear and understandable language, a guarantee (in writing) of what you as a principle are entitled to, from that moment on. Insurance is a contract. Consider you are signing away your firstborn or a kidney, not purchasing gum from the corner store. You must make these bloodsuckers accountable at the time they take your cash, not when you request their cash, because if there is one usable aspect to “SiCKO” it is that if you deal with ruthless robber barons, you, in turn, must be ruthless.

Failing that, stash the money you piss away on health insurance and use it when your spleen explodes. Or find a political candidate who will stand on a platform to rid the federal government of useless pork like Homeland Security, NASA, Air Force One, Social Security, the Vice Presidency, and defer those monies into a National Health Care system that will only moderately drive our taxes up. Or, as we like to say here on planet Reality Check – “Ready Your Muskets!”

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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Free Paris Hilton

Aquarian Weekly 6/20/07 REALITY CHECK


TV is both beautiful and malignant, restricting reality to a small gray tube – we are spectators – metamorphosed from a mad body dancing on the hillside to a pair of eyes staring in the dark. – Jim Morrison

Paris HiltonParis Hilton is being railroaded. Period. She deserves to be in prison as much we do for putting her there. What the hell is the point of making a ton of cash in this god-forsaken society if you can’t get your wretched progeny off? If I’m a Hilton right now, I’m furious. This is a capitalist republic built on slush funds for the guilty, not a two-dimensional breeding ground for vindictive celebrity witch-hunts. If we put every rich asshole in prison for flouting our conventions we’d have none of them left, and then what would we aspire to? And what if we didn’t have celebrities? God forbid. Do we even exist without gawking at images of youth, money, beauty and its innocent stupidity to sustain us?

I think not.

Be careful what kind of icons you imprison. They reek of your worship and curiosity and their hides reveal many of your fingerprints. The law is bullshit. Anyone with money and celebrity gets off. The list is long, with its most renowned heroes being O.J. Simpson and Richard Nixon, both of whom should have rotted in jail, but did not. Simpson brutally massacred innocent people on a street in a major American city and Nixon tried like hell to obliterate the very fabric of this government. Paris Hilton? She is merely dim and famous – a dangerous combination.

Martha Stewart is dim and famous and look where it got her.

Paris Hilton is being crucified for a minor crime because she doesn’t appear real. She is an invention of television; a cartoon heiress, Internet slut, a party minx straight out of Melrose Place. She’s a soap opera villain, who weeps on cue. We want her to hurt. It makes us feel superior, or at least not inferior.

In reality, Hilton is merely a scapegoat for our outrage, like that vacuous uproar a few months back over a disc jockey’s mumbling gaff. “We’ve had it!” we shout, echoing the fabricated indignation of those sanctimonious hypocrites over at teenage-boy central, ESPN, who deride the abuses of hockey fights and macho taunting and the antics of dumb-ass jocks, while displaying them over and over and over and over and over.

We have made a messiah of cheap whores and goofs and then decry their notoriety. It’s Greek tragedy: “Who did these horrible things to me…? Oops, it was I!”

We love our victims, though. Our media-created victims especially. Shelley’s monster, like Michael Jackson. It’s enough we ogle him like a circus freak. His credit is good and his reach wide. He is either framed or predatory. Who cares? NEXT! Yes, and what about the culture urchins who brandish guns with posse thugs rambling though our underbelly beyond reproach, lauded for a violent nature infused in their veins since childhood. Ah, and the poor rock stars – in and out of rehab – phony martyrs with mawkish constitutions, begging for forgiveness from Jesus.

I’d take Jim Morrison any day. Jim went down like a man, gobbling ungodly fistfuls of hallucinogens with a preternatural glee; a real Neanderthal wit, our clown gypsy – jacking off on stage, calling his audience slaves and idiots. He knew the score. And he apologized for none of it. A true American original, an icon of substance.

Now we have front-page squalor of young millionaires drunk and loud, flashing their cunts into snapping cameras. What’s left? “THE TRIAL OF LINDSEY LOHAN – Guilty For Being 21 With Cash”. Who among us would be alive today with that type of scratch and celebrity? I wager none. I would have been a corpse by 1985 with half that chick’s cash.

I await the next Britney Spears meltdown, don’t you? This just in: Kids don’t meltdown, they’re confused jesters begging to be smacked (not physically, symbolically, we do not advocate hitting children – well, maybe Spears, but that’s it).

Truth is I dig Paris Hilton. She reminds me of immortality, strutting over the bones of the vanquished, sporting an impish shit-eating grin, as if she’s hiding Egyptian secrets. Our Boy President has that grin. He was also once damaged goods, but now his secrets come with big guns and consequences. His parents kept him from war and prison, so why can’t the Hiltons keep poor, misguided Paris from our vengeance?

Another truth is our prisons are over-crowded as it is. What part of society is this woman harming? Our sensibilities? Are you shitting me? Have you seen what you people love? What I love? It’s barely coherent. It’s sickening. It’s gorgeous in its wasted mirth. I marvel at our recycled pop sewage. It fills line and lines of this space weekly. Locking it up is no answer. I guess it’s an answer, just not THE answer.

I drank Saturday night with more dangerous outlaws than Paris Hilton, and I’m one of them.

That’s why I always say: Just give me the money, jack. You can keep fame. Fame is for suckers and suckers pay the freight.

Free Paris Hilton.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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God Smotes Jerry Falwell

Aquarian Weekly 5/30/07


Falwell's JusticeEditor’s Note: We received a curious e-mail at The Desk around midnight on 5/16 from a giddy James Campion, who, lying in a champagne haze in his villa on the Amalfi Coast, had just been informed of the passing of Jerry Falwell on the BBC. It simply read – “Today there is proof there is a Living God, Creator of all things, great and small, protector of the weak and arbiter of ultimate judgment for the wicked. I know because I just received a telegram from Her. Make sure it makes Reality Check before the body’s cold. The world must know the truth! I am saved! Allah, or whatever, be praised!”

The following is what we received via Federal Express the next day. For reasons apparently only known to omniscient rulers of universes, g, as She likes to be addressed, writes in lower-case. This has lead the rest of us to believe e.e. cummings may have been some type of supernatural being, but that is for another column. Also, the thing came written in Portuguese, so take that how you would like. I can tell you, it was no joy ride translating it. There’s more than a little pressure that goes with interpreting the Lord’s commentary.

dear humanity,

sorry it took so long to ace jerry falwell. i’ve been kinda busy, what with eons of nonsense from the fifth galaxy and all these universes running disjointed from one another. who has time for the fun stuff, like striking down one of the truly grievous assholes ever to bi-pedal his way around a planet.

i wanted to begin by apologizing for all of falwell’s ridiculous hate-speak in my name. none of it is true. not a lick. he made it up. all of it, especially that goofy shit about me leveling judgment on 9/11. falwell was so full of crap even his name wasn’t falwell, it was fartknocker. but i guess it would be pretty hard to be taken seriously as reverend fartknocker, so he changed it.

so pretty much falwell was a lie, completely and consistently. he was the one who hated homosexuals and feminists and fornicators and pornographers and pro-choicers. not me. i don’t hate anyone. not even jerry. i make everything, right? without me, nothing. consequently, as a deity, i cannot stomach jack-offs running down my creations. this is why jerry had to go, eventually. i just never got around to it.

i bet your asking right now, “why doesn’t she smote osama bin laden or kim jong il or rosie o’donnell? a fair question, but one i don’t have to answer because i am all knowing and all powerful, and most of all, mysterious. i work in mysterious ways. you ever hear that bit? that one is true.

but back to falwell. creatures like this really burn me up. they’re always going on and on about what i say and what i stand for, but what it really comes down to is all that stuff is their own agenda, heaved on me so they don’t have to be guilty about shaming others or judging others or feeling superior to everyone. guilt, by the way, is also my fault. but it’s a necessary evil. believe me when i tell you, you guys need it. earth is fucked up enough. could you imagine if no one felt badly about it? jesus. oh, and speaking of jesus, i didn’t kill him or ask him to die or anything like that. that’s more ego bullshit from guilt-mongers, but i digress.

i must also apologize to jerry’s followers. i am sincerely sorry he was a lier and a con man and an insecure weasel. you may as well move onto believing in something else. try scientology. i dig that one. it’s as good as any of the other junk, just without all the land grabs, suicide bombers, and funny costumes, and you get to hang with celebrities. by the way, i approve of all religions, and most horse racing results, also the fact that the smartest man in the universe is bound to a wheel chair, and that most evil fuckers have all the money. why not? makes for interesting theater where I come from. life ain’t fair. maybe you heard that one too.

look, i’m not really one for getting involved with you people. the flood thing was the last of it. i got a lot of guff for that one. so, sue me. it was a knee-jerk reaction. i was pissed. didn’t you ever fly off the handle and regret it? but you ain’t god, so no one notices. but every once in a great while I need to get involved, and i thought it was good a time as any to set things straight with falwell. oh, and i would be worried if you were pat robertson or any of these other poser do-good pansy-ass dipshit preacher types. i might do a whole sweep come september. anyway, that’s my deadline.

okay, I gotta go. so keep screwing each other over and fucking up the planet. we have a pool over here in the nether regions of the galaxy. we’re pretty sure you guys will go belly up first. i’ve got the year 3048. of course everyone thinks it’s fixed since i see all and know all and stuff. but who’s gonna argue? i’m the big cheese.

go in peace, or something or other

– g

ps – by the way, satan says hi.

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Kurt Vonnegut – 1922-2007


Aquarian Weekly 5/2/07

KURT VONNEGUT, JR. – 1922-2007

All this happened, more or less. – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Slaughterhouse Five

Kurt VonnegutThe greatest living American author is no more. Who’s left? Salinger? That’s about it. In the last few years we’ve lost the liberator, Kesey, the hammer, Thompson, and now the conscience, Vonnegut. What is left us, Mailer? Please. Wolfe? Nah. Vidal. Nope.

I know I’ve lived too long now. I hate aging. It slowly brings to an end everything left to believe in. There, I said it. I believed in Kurt Vonnegut. I wanted him to be immortal. Yeah, I did. It’s silly. But there are far sillier things to believe in. I use this space weekly to decry them. This ain’t one of them.

I suppose when I heard the patron saint of humorists, our Mark Twain, our flatline realist, our goofy satirist, our voice of reason crying in the wilderness had left the mortal coil, I thought of Slaughterhouse Five. Who didn’t? But for me it represented a first. It was the first true novel I ever read. And it moved me like nothing else, save maybe a few Who songs and a movie or two. Firsts have a way of doing this: First love, first car, first ass kicking, first success, first failure. The written word as epiphany. “So it goes.” It said. “Poo-tee-weet” it said. This was wisdom best heeded by youth when you could still change things, or at the very least believe you could still change things.

This is what Vonnegut taught me: Even if you can’t shift consciousness, make sure you record the nonsense before it fades from memory: the horrors and inequities and petty human frailties, the feral meanness that runs free in our blood.

I liked the idea that Vonnegut was still breathing because he never gave up being a cockeyed pessimist. He was good at dualities because he said over and over “Think for yourself.” He never left a building without conveying that.

I liked the idea that Vonnegut was still breathing because he never gave up being a cockeyed pessimist. He was good at dualities because he said over and over “Think for yourself.” He never left a building without conveying that. And he never let a day go by without living up to the living embodiment of the phrase. Vonnegut was good to us because he shared his complexity. He did not hoard it like a monk. He shared it. No tourniquet needed. Let it bleed, as the Stones once sang.

Vonnegut echoed what my mother had spent my formative years paining to impart: The only people invisible in this world are those who allow destiny to kidnap them. This is the falsehood of existence, that we are cursed or blessed or blindsided or handed labels and stations and fates. It is a lie easily punctured, a ridiculous crime perpetuated on us without individuality, without promise, without grit and without pride.

All that Rand bullshit that took thousands of words in The Fountainhead to decipher, Vonnegut managed to unfold in quick-witted sentences with a laugh included. The long diatribe about self-worth and freedom from the fold jam-packed with engagingly damaged characters making a mockery of “decent society” and “cultural mores” and the “prison of conformity”.

From Billy Pilgrim to Kilgore Trout there is a wonderful absurdity to Vonnegut’s humanity. And why not? He considered himself a Humanist. Sometimes we put a busload of fate in subjects that are flawed and weak and terrified, so we can’t help putting our faith in words. Sometimes it’s all that’s left us. Separates us from the animals. Sometimes it puts us right next door. Most times right inside.

Vonnegut’s best books, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater put you inside the animal/human, and make you feel his/her confusion, pain, joy, and still more confusion. His best characters have a floating sort of feeling, but not surface floating, submerged. It’s the kind of daily drowning that makes us gasp for air, makes us wonder what’s above the surface, like heaven or aliens or universes piled upon universes, and in its wake how we’re so insignificant and randomly forgotten if not for each other.

And that’s why when Vonnegut returned from the horrors of the Second World War, he had no choice but to get to the bottom of the animal/human and down to the study of existing in impossible surroundings – waves crashing, the undertow pulling us downward. Then, unexpectedly, hope. Weirdly so, as if seeing a horse dealing blackjack or a three-headed waitress serving you coffee. Hope, appearing out of the carnage of our torment. Hope as a bird, a sunset, a child’s laugh, the bending of time.

Hope as a word.

Vonnegut, as all great writers, wrote because he had the need. And it’s that need that appears on every page of his best work, a desperate plea to the author or authors of this absurd waltz of life. My favorite of his quotes, and one I used at the heading of my only finished novel to date, is “In nonsense is strength.” Oh, yes. It says nothing and so much all at once. To live, to hope, to dream, to shoulder on, one must find strength in the meaningless random ballet. The alternate route lies madness.

Yes, I believed in Kurt Vonnegut.

He was America’s greatest living author. Unfortunately it is a title which demands existence.

Now what?

“So it goes.”


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NBC Airing Virginia Tech Killer

quarian Weekly 4/25/07 REALITY CHECK

NBC & THE NETWORK RUBBER NECK The Virginia Tech Killer’s 15 Minutes Of Infamy

Peacock PeddlerRandom violence is really interesting. Especially epic slayings by lone nuts for no fathomable reason. Big ratings. Big talk. Big headlines. Big reasoning. Tons of that. Why? How? All the silly incomprehensible psychobabble getting to the bottom of nothing. Sure it’s scary. There are badly wired humans everywhere. At any moment they go off the rails and things get broken and people get hurt. This happened at Virginia Tech last week. Horrible stuff. Can’t be explained, like hurricanes and earthquakes and Nazis.

I’m fascinated by it. So are you. Of course you are. Repulsed? Sure. Frightened? Perhaps. But mostly fascinated. Glued to the gory details, the fallout, the grieving, and the endless lists of possible motives. I’m not particularly surprised, but then again I believe just slightly less than half of our populace is capable of crazy random shit. I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often. Maybe not 32 massacred kids in a relatively mellow bucolic college campus, but you know what I’m getting at.

And you know who’s banking on our fascination with this? The media: network television, cable stations, newspapers, radio, you name it. Nothing new here. That’s what they’re here for. Tragedy is party time for news geeks. None will admit to it in public, but they all do the hula victory dance every time feces hits the fan somewhere, in the bullpens and pressrooms, and especially at corporate headquarters. I’ve been there, Jack. Oh, it’s mass orgasm, believe it.

You think I’m being Mr. Bad Ass Cynic again? Well, maybe you’re right. But as evidence I present the airing of the Virginia Tech killer’s mailed video/print/digital photo manifesto this week.

The purpose of all media, no matter how much the talent or producers or fans think their special slice of it changes lives, advances society, or shifts politics. It is show biz, period.

The National Broadcasting Company won the sweepstakes on this puppy, as they did with the Imus flak, since they were the first to sack his sorry ass and then unconscionably lead the evening network news broadcast with ten (Ten!) uninterrupted minutes of racist hysteria last week. Unconscionable unless of course we keep our eyes focused on the aim and purpose of everything media: Ratings Equals Cash.

Maniac sends multi-media diatribe to major news organization before slaughtering innocents.

This is the Holy Grail for those profiting on news broadcasts.

Hey, maybe the murderer was tuning in as Brian Williams was gushing trumped-up show biz empathy all over the Rutgers girls basketball team last week. Figures here’s a sucker who will make me, a lonely, lunatic misanthropic jag-off famous. Hey, it’s as good as the video game, bullied, victim of a sick culture, gun-happy theories.

Okay, so back to Ratings Equals Cash.

I must go on record as stating that I have no problem with this. It is a sound business axiom like Profit Is God, Downsizing Is Good For The Soul, and Fuck The Public.

NBC News exists to sell time. The purpose of all media, no matter how much the talent or producers or fans think their special slice of it changes lives, advances society, or shifts politics. It is show biz, period. And this is not a new phenomenon. No, sir. This goes back as far as jogging Greek messengers who were wacked for unpopular presentation. Got to feed the audience, buster. W.R. Hearst knew it. He was an onerous mutant and a great newspaper mogul, and the main reason he once owned 80% of the mass media in this country. Now it’s more like six mega-conglomerates controlling all of this country’s mainstream media, and they know damn well the shit you will eat, and you will gorge, my friends, you will gorge.

No, reporting the news as entertainment is not the issue here. I love it. Keep it coming.

My gut-churning disdain begins with the smarmy, apologetic, touchy-feely rhetoric being spewed by dime-store barkers like Williams and his ilk as they roll out the dung. Give us some credit. We know we’re slowing down to see the gruesome car accident, a mass rubber necking. We don’t need the laughably affected facial expressions of remorse and stilted voicing, fidgeting shoulders and slight dips of the head.

“I’m sorry folks, it’s so sad and heart-wrenching, but here’s the crazy guy!”

The whole thing is fabricated and insulting and patently false in the most insidious way. Just play the damn tape of the psycho rambling on about being ostracized and emotionally wounded and spewing the same tired falderal made famous by the usual Chuck Manson wannabees. I would respect these assholes so much more if they would just be honest: “Here is some sick stuff, you’re going to be horrified and sickened and won’t be able to turn away, then let’s get right to the cheery Sally Field pharmaceutical ad.”

What is the difference between this and the exploitation of the Elephant Man?

What is the difference between this and Britney Spears tantrum updates?

Then the president of NBC or some other bloodsucking corporate suckfish comes on MSNBC later accompanied by Williams to “explain” the need for true journalistic integrity in accepting the package and waiting two (Two!) hours to alert authorities – two hours to dupe tapes, make copies of the photos and comb over reams of gibberish. Two hours to get the campaign ramped up, slap “NBC Exclusive” tags on every photo and every second of amateur YOU TUBE video.

And this on the heels of NBC acting all sanctimonious last week in the wake of Shock Jock Crucifixion. So what’s more offensive, I ask you: Name Calling 101 or airing the meanderings of a mass murderer 48 hours after the tragedy?

I don’t find either offensive, but apparently this is a hot topic right now and I figure since everyone is so up in arms and sensitive to public decorum and decency, where do we go on this one?

Oh, and by the way, NBC eventually got around to the real story, why the local authorities and college security allowed an armed and dangerous killer to put together a promo package, go to the post office, leisurely stroll around campus armed to the teeth and eventually butcher 31 additional students over a three-hour window.

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Of Villains, Victims & Vengence

Aquarian Weekly 4/18/07 REALITY CHECK

OF VILLAINS, VICTIMS & VENGENCE The Sad Spectacle OF A Radio Has-Been And Student Athletes

Don ImusCondescending. Patronizing. Exploitive. Hypocritical. Disingenuous.

All the words that make this supposed democratic society of equals so pathetic. Think about it. We celebrate victimization by patronizing our citizens and demonizing our stupid, all the while changing our tune as we go. We’re so caring. We’re so combative. We love a damsel in distress. We love our mob mentality simplifying our woes with phony rhetoric and fabricated outrage. We love bloating the worth of our celebrities and then pricking the inflated egos we create. And we love our noise, a whole lot of noise, signifying nothing.

So an aging record-spinner cum shock-jock who’s one claim to talent is selling mouthwash in 30-second spots and who’s managed to bilk boatloads of money for over three decades mongering vitriol for cheap laughs has found his borderline. Everyone has one, the place where you peer into the abyss and never return. Calling female, African-American student athletes racist and misogynous names was Don Imus’ borderline. He crossed it and paid with his gig.


Not sure a true free society should have borderlines, but that’s just me. I’m consistent. And that means I ‘m consistent in my continued assertion that this is not a free society. It comes with a price. Everyone pays it. Imus paid it.

Okay, whatever. He’s just one rodeo clown. There are plenty more where he came from. Plenty right now as I write this making fun of everyone and everything with goofy sound effects and guffawing background sycophants. The FCC fines some and others are canned. Some move to satellite, some die out naturally. It’s called entertainment. I don’t particularly find it entertaining, but then if everything I found stupid and offensive were banned we’d have a couple of things on PBS and that’s about it.

The real issues in this whole Imus pogrom are race and decorum.

We’ll call them victimization and profit margins instead, because we’re not full of shit.

If I were a Rutgers women’s basketball player, a young person making my way in the world, as I was once a young man, I would not as I did not want people “helping” me out. People are always running to help the kids. People are always so protective and understanding and know exactly what kids need, from Columbine to MTV to Drug Counseling ads to “Vote Or Die” threats. Insults. Patronization. How demeaning it is for the Al Sharptons and Jessie Jacksons and Brian Williams and New York Times columnists to scramble around like blind lemmings “assisting” the poor kittens trapped in a tree.


How demeaning it is for the Al Sharptons and Jessie Jacksons and Brian Williams and New York Times columnists to scramble around like blind lemmings “assisting” the poor kittens trapped in a tree.

If I needed assisting, I surely wouldn’t solicit it from opportunist ex-cons, anti-Semites, talking haircuts, and a bloodied corporate media sacred cow. All of these parasites exist to feed off the poor and disenfranchised whom they keep that way by being de facto big brother types, a classic big-dick, male-ego, daddy-figure mentality that reduces women and minorities to victims.

And how about the University of Rutgers’ travesty of organizing a press conference and propping their indentured servants up sporting their nifty college uniforms and making them answer questions and offering weak and defeatist statements like “These comments have diminished our accomplishments” or succumbing to this nonsense about how they are scarred victims of name-calling.


This was never about women’s rights or race relations. This was about exploitive media whores and social-baters making another cause celeb of innocents. Turning people into symbols, a sadistic human trait as old as Jesus on the cross. In essence reversing the prime reason for protest: Halting bigotry. It is the ultimate bigotry to assume young black women are in dire need of defending: Poor little girlies are wounded and can’t get up. Let’s fight their battles and protect their fragile constitutions. Boo-Hoo.

If I were allowed to advise the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team, this is the statement I would ask them to make: “Who is Don Imus? Is he a vacuum salesman or something? Well, whatever he is, he’s entitled to his jokes and observations. None of it has a thing to do with me, really. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, as long as those I care for and love respect me and I am not discriminated against in the law of the land, it makes no difference what mumbling fossils say about me on the radio. And I don’t want any apology either. He said it, he stands by it. Apologies only serve the attacker. I will not give him the satisfaction of personal redemption. That’s between him and whatever moral structure he subscribes to. But I do implore anyone who might care about this to never listen to or watch a product peddled by Imus’ employees or purchase products of those sponsoring said shows. Thank you.”

Which brings us to our final villain in all this exploiting and self-aggrandizing twaddle, NBC and CBS.

What a bunch of grab-ass, money-hoarding bottom-feeders these networks are. Always have been, always will be. Who are they kidding with their somber statements of regret and morality? Where was their morality for close to a week after these statements were uttered? You know when NBC News President Steve Capus and CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves whipped off their counterfeit mea culpas? When the sponsors hit the road, that’s when. They come on all high and mighty after the fact, as if these written apologies laced with touchy-feely blather mean a goddamn thing beyond saving a buck.

And then we hear the bald-faced lies from their spokesman claiming they were throwing away money by bravely sacking Imus. No they’re not. What money would they make now? None. Who was going to sponsor this idiot after this? No one. What company is going to pay a non-profit entity $10 million a year? Not one.

So what have we learned from all this, kids?

Morning radio jack-asses use bully hate tactics to garner ratings and big pay checks, but they live dangerously.

CBS, NBC and the former sponsors of the Imus Show are the true bigots because they believe that African-American women are worthier of moral outrage and action than Catholics, gays, Jews, Muslims, civil servants, and let’s face it, everyone else breathing.

People who get crazy defending everything believe their subjects weak and incapable of standing up for themselves, further perpetuating their bogus status as minority.

And finally, if someone somewhere utters a hateful thing about you, it therefore defines you, destroys you, and diminishes everything you have accomplished and stand for.

I feel better about things now, don’t you?

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Why I Should Be A Jurror

Aquarian Weekly 4/4/07 REALITY CHECK


The following was presented to the Passaic County Courthouse on 3/27/07 in care of the honorable Assignment Judge Robert. J. Passero. Unfortunately or fortunately the author did not stick around long enough to experience the privilege of serving as a juror. He was dismissed for being a freelance journalist.

Your honor,

In accordance with my citizen’s duty, I am obliged to show up today raring to judge. Lucky for you and the great state of New Jersey, judging others is one of my strongest attributes. I have taken the art beyond mere hobby. To judge, for me, is a way of life. And, be assured, I do not take lightly the right to join a congress of my peers to cast aspersion on another in legal and binding terms. On the contrary, I am deadly serious about the opportunity to stand between someone’s freedom and incarceration, pay-off or rip-off, fractured contractual agreements and daily mishap. If I may be so bold, I say Yee-Ha!

I have also accepted that we now live in a police state, and to stand against the jack-boot mentality would only alert the authorities to my otherwise radical subculture lifestyle, and this will not stand. Not with summer coming and my thirst for questionable activities gaining sickening momentum in my heart. If nothing else, for the sake of propriety and subterfuge, I shall act attentively prosaic and do my part.

Last, but certainly not least, I thought, being straddled with this damnable writer tag, it is also my duty to express some of my personal feelings about this whole “standing in judgment” thing.

First off I think the Biblical axiom attributed to Jesus about “not judging, lest ye be judged” is silly. This is a scurrilous misquote, among a glaring host in the thing. Jesus was a big-time judger. He judged the sick and the lame, the criminal element, and the overall loons of his society as enviable reflections of a flawed Godhead. He also made it his business to judge religious folk as hypocritical vipers damned to a soulless eternity of blackness. Far be it for some twenty-first century middle-class jackass like me to argue with that kind of beautiful craziness. So count me in.

Secondly, I am well acquainted with guilt. As Master George Carlin once said, “I don’t need to see any evidence, I can pick out the guilty right off.” I’m guilty. You’re guilty. Who isn’t? No one is purely innocent. The whole system is out of order. We can’t handle the truth. All of that. I feel guilty for even writing this. I’m sorry. I take it back. I feel better now. You see? Guilt is good.

Finally, if you must know, I think the law is more or less a nifty concept, when and if it applies to my general philosophy. In the interest of full disclosure, let me list some of the prime examples for you:

1. I will never have a hand in convicting anyone of strictly a drug-related crime. I do not believe drugs, any drugs, or in the case of this country, certain recreational drugs, should be illegal. To qualify my meaning of “strictly” – the possession of or selling of said drugs. If a person goes mental on drugs and stabs his grandmother or steals my car to pay for a drug habit, then all bets are off. I do not see these infractions as “drug-related”, however. They are related to the acts of stupid fuck-ups. Stupid fuck-ups come in all shapes and sizes, whether on drugs or booze or caffeine or dumbstruck by any other vice. I read somewhere some dipshit went ballistic after seeing a Disney film and shot a grocer. Should we then ban Goofy? I think not. It is our character, not our use of narcotics that makes us guilty.

2. I’m a big fan of the death penalty for rapists. The type of rape matters not. Rape equals death. I also think the victim should get to perform the execution, and not some pussy lethal injection either. Chain the fuckers up and let the woman have at it with the medieval weapon of her choice, a mace, spear, sword, or whatever the big log with the spike in it is called. Also, women rapists don’t count. Men expend countless amounts of energy fantasizing about being raped by a woman, any woman. Believe it. And no sexy teacher seducing a teenaged boy is going to jail on my watch either. I just would like to know where these teachers were when I was breaking the world record for jacking off.

3. The penalty for any questionable business practice, whether ripping off the government, illegally dumping toxic waste, corporate tax shelters, bait-and-switch, outright lying, surreptitious sub-contracting, insider bribes, identity theft, conning the elderly, or shitty customer service should be punishable by rank. In other words, find the CEO or president of the company or proprietor of the concern and castrate him, or remove the uterus if it happens to be a woman. These people cannot be allowed to produce offspring. And please, mother of God, let me sit on that jury.

4. Crooked politicians should be taken to the state capital and exposed in stocks. In addition, each taxpaying citizen of the county/state/township gets to come down and throw one piece of rotten fruit at them. If it is a servant of the federal government, the accused is to be shackled to the Capital rotunda and all tourists (they must be American citizens) get to kick them in the ass for one month.

5. All celebrities breaking the law, with the notable exception of substance abuse, should be deported. Just kick them the hell out of the country for life.

6. Any persons torturing animals must be sentenced to listening to my wife scream in their faces until they become unconscious, and then taken to live in a dog kennel for no shorter than one calendar year.

7. Since your courthouse stands in downtown Paterson, home of an alarming number of 9/11 hijackers, I would be remiss in not mentioning terrorists. I believe anyone caught in the act of terrorism should be executed on the spot. If they are Muslim, shoot them with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood, like Patton. This way they are defiled and cannot go to heaven with all the virgins.

I appreciate your time and consideration and want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make public my hopes and dreams for a stronger and more God-fearing democracy. The court system is the backbone of our society and it is only as good as those who sit in the jurors’ box. I only hope, nay, pray that more people think as I do with the same awe and fervor for our great institution of law.

Yours in litigation,


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Free-Trade Propaganda

Aquarian Weekly 3/28/07 REALITY CHECK


Uncle SamHave you seen the new ad for the Armed Forces? The Columbia Broadcast System has been running it incessantly during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Prime audience. Good demographic. No doubt. Young men 18-35. It is very moving, almost sweet, and dripping with Americana. Nothing wrong with that. It is effective propaganda, the core of any good ad campaign. It shows a decidedly enviable side of the story. Just not the whole story. Nothing new there. However, there is no other voice refuting it, providing an alternative viewpoint, as with the other junk pitched during sporting events. And this I have a problem with.

In the ad we have a young man, white, middle-class, midwestern farmer’s son – healthy, handsome, prideful, articulate. He stands dressed impeccably in his U.S. Army uniform, adorned impressively with shiny brass, a beret slanted upon his shorn crown. We have the proud father, a graying middle-aged man, choked up about his once mixed feelings when the kid came to him for permission to join the service, but how it has made him a powerful, disciplined, respectful young pillar of society. We have the mother gushing. We have the backdrop of wheat fields and cows grazing, a classic field tractor set beside a sun-baked wooden fence harkening to a romantic time long ago.

The tag line is “You made them strong – We’ll make them Army strong.”

It is an excellent piece of propaganda. Truly. I am not being facetious. It is well crafted, drifting towards maudlin but not quite sickeningly so. It is certainly better than all that nonsense about joining the army to learn computer skills and blow up stuff and run around with face-paint brandishing guns and “being all you can be”. It is homespun and relatable, and it honestly depicts the backbone of this country. Without a functioning army and the sacrifices of thousands upon millions, I would not be writing this today. You would certainly not be reading it.

Why not have a wounded veteran, a young, good-looking, articulate soldier tell potential recruitees what happened to him/her?

However, I think it patently unfair to not have an ad running during the basketball tourney that depicts the other side of the pitch. Isn’t that what a free-trade democracy is all about? Isn’t that why we endured the Cold War against the Godless Communists?

I see an ad for Coke. I see an ad for Pepsi. I see and ad for Nike. I see an ad for Reebok. I see an ad for Chrysler. I see an ad for Toyota. I see an ad for this hotel and that hotel, this airline and that airline, this computer and that computer, and so on and so on. All of it is some form of propaganda, some less subtle than the next, but hardcore propaganda at its best. Playful half-truths and a few forgivably blatant lies set to music or basked in humor. People going to great lengths of travel, construction, and emotional entanglement for a goddamn light-beer that tastes like cat piss. It’s silly stuff, mostly. But there is a myriad of choices available. There is a free enterprise, competitive nature to it that makes living and consuming in this nation a hoot.

So why not see an ad displaying the risks of joining the U.S. Army? Otherwise it is flat-out brainwashing, made ever more frightening by the fact that it is bankrolled, produced, and disseminated by the federal government, which is supported and bankrolled by the American people. Isn’t a one-way message forced down the citizenry’s throat one of the prime reasons why our armed forces went all over the globe defeating corrupted governments and blind dictatorships in the first place? Ironically, isn’t that what we are ostensibly trying to build in the Middle East?

Why not have a wounded veteran, a young, good-looking, articulate soldier tell potential recruitees what happened to him/her? How about some of these kids in the hospitals – maybe even shoot it from the lousy conditions at Walter Reed as a realistic backdrop – warning viewers of the very real and consequential risks involved with serving in the military?

Obviously the federal government is not going to trot out a legless victim of war, a soldier with permanent brain damage, or a disgruntled participant in a foreign conflict who was promised computer training and fun in a submarine but is currently barely surviving in a desert halfway across the globe. Maybe there should be a privately funded ad run during major sporting events featuring indentured servants of large universities (basketball factories) trumpeted by ex-jocks and exploitive network freaks streamed to a nation of gambling addicts.

It is not too much to ask from the longest-running democracy on the planet.

I know the other side of my argument: We have to have a strong military, and the armed forces – the Navy, Air Force, Marines – produce fine young people, take kids from bad environments and dead-end lives and gives them important jobs, engendering a sense of pride and accomplishment. Are we to allow this institution, the bedrock of our nation, to falter? And I say, not at all. But if we allow only one side of the story, the young, handsome, middle-class white kid from the sticks, to be the only spokesman for the institution, we are not serving the citizens of this country to its fullest. Not the kids. Not their parents. No one. Not without telling the whole story.

Of course I’m dreaming. This is never going to happen. Run an ad telling the complete truth about service in the U.S. Army? Think of the revenue CBS would lose. The CBS Network News has never recovered from the stink of leftist anti-American slants following Dan Rather’s botched Bush bashing two years ago. Think of the exodus en masse of the sponsors, so afraid of appearing unpatriotic, unthinkably running their parade of deceit next to brutal truths. Think of the furor to be raised by the holy-than-thou NCAA, so filled with phony, money-gorging mutants.

One last thing: People are always whining about stuff on television offending them. Well, allowing a single partisan, biased, and wholly propagandized version of a pitch without refute offends me.

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Snow Day

Aquarian Weekly 2/21/07 REALITY CHECK


Frozen precipitation has a way of bending the mind. Terror rules the day. Otherwise functioning humans with nary a care in the world become jabbering loons, dangerous to themselves and others almost immediately. Motor skills are abandoned and concern for their fellow man forgotten. And those are the lucky ones, the ones that get out. Look Out!The rest batten down the hatches and disconnect the phone lines, light candles, and hold solemn vigils, praying to Jehovah to spare them. Occasionally they draw back the curtains, slightly, to peer into the engulfing white, sigh despondently, and then scramble about to make certain the children are still breathing. It is strangely Pavlovian, a conditioned response to bad weather that devolves the best of us.

I should know. I’ve spent many a grueling hour driving in deep, blinding snow – day and night. I used to deliver medical records at all hours traversing all types of terrain – mountain roads, winding cliffs, city streets (all five boroughs) in and out of the weird and crippled psyches and speed-addled truckers. Adverse conditions have caused me to participate in several multi-car pile-ups and once even forced me to flip a brand new company truck. Upside down. Lying on the cab’s inner roof with my precious contents sprawled about me, serenaded by a radio blasting something by Stevie Nicks.

Still, it is hard for a former professional like myself to fathom the pure fear that grips the hearts of travelers up here. It is as if they had forgotten the concept of pedal/brake. There is no logic to their methods. And when they do manage to operate their vehicles it’s like being led through soup on an anchor. Sideways. Wheels spinning. Cars sliding. The panic visible in the frantic faces of overwhelmed motorists struggling to reroute the random whirl of the steering wheel, locked in a futile wrestle with inertia.

Ice makes fools of us all. No tread equals no control and no control equals either rapid speed decline or feral abandon. There is no in between. A handful of drivers ignore the conditions altogether. These are your four-wheeling types, splashing and crunching over all kinds of ice and snow with little regard for the space outside their capsule. This causes the already nervous set to recoil in horror, prompting a strange ballet of spastic prudence and reckless assault. But I prefer bravado to caution. At least I know where the bold are headed. The paroxysmal driver is hard to read. Anything could happen, and often does.

We live somewhere in the middle of these extremes: Total, crippling conditions and a minor ice squall paralyzing the entire state. We should, theoretically, be able to handle six inches to a foot occasionally, without widespread mania akin to a Wellsian radio serial.

But it still makes no sense. It snows more than a little around here. You would assume familiarity with vacillating weather patters might have a positive effect on the overall performance of the locals. I know it’s been a light year, accumulation-wise, but it’s not like it hasn’t stormed in half a decade. Down where my parents reside in North Carolina there is a declared state emergency once anything frozen appears in the sky. Dark clouds send weathermen to their knees with convulsion. Clamoring hordes pile into supermarkets pushing and shoving for milk and bread, as if faced with pending doomsday. Schools are closed for a month, the mail stops, and the National Guard is on alert. Once in a great while mistakes are made and people disappear, but the governor is on record as stating, “It is a small price to pay for safety”.

However, we northerners should never be shocked into terminal frenzy over a little snow. We live in the mountains. Yes, the mountains. There are mountains in New Jersey, as I have repeatedly explained to my friend Ani Difranco, who lives in Buffalo, where it snows for keeps. She doesn’t believe me, as I do not buy her horror stories of snowdrifts burying dogs and sheaths of solid ice that crack trees in half. Sometimes, she claims, people don’t come out for weeks on end and even then are armed to the teeth and driven around in heated bubble cars, flashing their ID’s to the authorities whenever they need to transfer through the old Underground Railroad tunnels.

Buffalo is the read deal. Or Syracuse, where my wife’s family lives, pummeled by four, five, six, seven feet of snow in mere days. My poor mother-in-law is practically a shut-in, reduced to recording the fallout in digital photographs to escape madness – 12-foot drifts covering every man-made structure as if the Loch Ness monster was feeding in her backyard. For months no one within a 100-mile radius believes the sun will shine again, much less the vague promise of a beckoning thaw.

We live somewhere in the middle of these extremes: Total, crippling conditions and a minor ice squall paralyzing the entire state. We should, theoretically, be able to handle six inches to a foot occasionally, without widespread mania akin to a Wellsian radio serial. This is not Minnesota we’re talking about here. Out there, the very idea of venturing outside is considered suicide. I have seen video of a man tossing a pot of boiling water and it freezing in mid air.

Ah, but at some point there is joy in the brave snowmobile souls who begin trudging through the tundra outside my house for fun and sport, whizzing down back roads as if chased. I could hear their clarion call. Burrrrrrrr. Look at us, free of fear and angst and embracing nature! “Join us!” they shout with unbridled glee. I am envious, sipping coffee from the relative warmth of my office lair. Then, without warning, “Look out, Junior!” BAM! Jesus, now the cops are here and an ambulance siren wails closer. I’m trying to finish a column on snow and now this. How ironic. How inconvenient. I live here for quiet, not the incessant pounding at my door and these insipid cries for aid; “Help us! Help us! There’s been a terrible accident!” The voices cry out. “Go away you crazy bastards,” I scream. “Can’t you see the storm has rendered me incapable of even the most random act of kindness!”

Their shouting is followed by the intermittent pelt of snowballs, which spurs an angry wave of my fist through ice-streaked windows. I would call the cops but one of them has joined in. There is no law now. The weather has rendered these bumpkins to anarchists. Right in my front yard! They would sooner let their friend bleed to death than let me be.

My wife has gone berserk, ordering the cats to defend our honor and raging incoherently when they do not.

Soon, I remind myself, it will be spring.

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