I remember that it began…
Without shoes they wandered up and down the halls, occasionally crowding around open doors or the dusty charcoal drawings pinned to the flat board walls. Sometimes they’d peel off items of antiquated clothing they were never in danger of outgrowing, to run faster through connecting rooms. Translucent blurs of flesh and hair glided along the carpeting, slapped against the downstairs tile, tore at the dusty charcoal drawings pinned to the flat board walls.
I would find them, most often, collapsed in one large pile around, in front of, and one or two slid into, the large disused fire place of the Grand Hall. That pile reminded me of a maggot brood, squirming in blind hungry sleep.
I left them alone and I am not, altogether, sure that they were ever aware of my existence. Maybe they were, for I was constantly maintaining the House. I tightened squeaky stairs, straightened askew charcoal drawings, and polished dusty tables – for I disliked a House, any House, that House, in disarray.
Shortly after my arrival, I perceived a sort of game wherein the House’s Children would leave a pile of shoes, an assortment of marbles, and a few burned matches on the landing of the Master Stairway. Once discovered, I would clean up their little pile, collecting the marbles in a crystal ashtray from the Den (I had, as yet, not begun smoking), I threw the matches onto the top of the kitchen compost (mainly fruit rinds and plastic wrappings), then I lined the shoes (heel to toe to heel) along the far wall of the Great Hall. My neat row of shoes, I thought, would convey a happy, orderly sight upon the Children’s waking.
For the three months this routine continued, I thought nothing unusual about the nightly mess, then one night I fell asleep on my papers, and thereby, neglected my part in the unofficial ceremony. Business summoned me away that same morning of the night I overslept and unrelated but still other urgent matters kept me in the country for several days.
Upon my return to the House, I found the Children still romped and raced, coatless to upend furniture and rip down the charcoal drawings pinned to the flat board walls. But the shoes, the marble, and the matches never reappeared.
It is only upon reflection that I coincide my return with this fact, for at the time, I was, sadly, much distracted. For my work had turned for the worse and I was faced with horrible revisions due to an oversight, on my behalf, in narration. I had convinced myself for over a distressing week that I need to scrap a huge section (if not the whole endeavor).
Faced with beginning again, the flaw assumed a disastrous perspective, one of complete obsession. In order to distract myself, certain meticulous compulsions took hold. A new, violent urgency overtook my routine.
Some nights, for hours, I crept along baseboards with rag and tin, waxing the wood, over and over again. I washed down all the bathrooms daily at dawn. I scrubbed the kitchen every other day. I ate poorly and infrequently. I took up smoking while drinking, in excess.
Oftentimes, I discovered myself wandering the House, aimlessly walking into connecting rooms, while slamming doors to others. I tore pages out of books from the library, muttering soft nonsense to myself. I fell asleep screaming or sobbing.
One night, in order to escape the dreadful window rattle caused by a lightning storm, I retreated to the fruit cellar. What I discovered there haunts me still.
Along the earthen walls were elaborate cravings, deep gouges, the stark blood ciphers of some primitive alphabet forming unpronounceable words. Above and below these brutal, angry letters was a stream of delicate pictographs, representing folly and decay. Happy figures corrupted by fear, transformed by cowering disease. Mapped on the floor, in white chalk, was a complete floor plan of the House, certain rooms marked in red, others filled with blue.
In the antechamber, illuminated by rosy candle light, the children slept, not in their secure pile, but sunk along the perimeter of the room. Each child dug out a shallow individual hole, which cradled and secured them. In the middle of the antechamber was a raised dais, formed by mud in which each child’s hand print was visibly depressed and painted in stark, bright colors. Sticking out of the center of the dais was a pole from which hung numerous pairs of shoes and a bag of marbles. Scattered at the pole’s base were hundreds of extinguished matches.
I collected whatever semblance I could and quietly returned to my study. In a burst of unparalleled inspiration I quickly unlocked the plot trap I had written myself into, corrected the character flaw which sustained it, and advanced the work by several excellent pages.
The next few weeks, I remember, as a blur of productivity. The schedule I had fallen so woefully behind, I was now ahead of by weeks. I resumed my normal routine without incident, the less methodical cleaning and straightening after the children. Some nights, so caught up in my work, I ignored certain rooms especially upset by children’s activity, entirely.
A winter came and went.
The work was nearly complete, just tinkering left really, so I took to perching myself, nightly, on the front stairs overlooking the foyer. There I collected around me a generous pour of cognac, a fresh pack of cigarettes, and the crystal ashtray in which I had, once, collected marbles. From that vantage point, I observed, undetected, the House’s children’s games.
I watched them chase each other in games of tag; saw the frantic dispersal, then anticipated waiting of hide and seek; witnessed naked foot races of speed and stamina, catching only the lap which briefly shot past; I saw the imaginary gore of violent war games and each night before resuming my work I would peek in on the tiny huddle of exhausted, entangled limbs amassed in the Great Hall. A tremendous joy flooded me during that time, whether it was from the emerging contentment I derived from my soon-to-be-completed work or whether it came from some other source, I am reluctant to say. But happiness, itself, overwhelmed my last few weeks in the House.
The last six months have been a whirlwind of chaotic activity. Lecture engagements, rebuttals to errant critics, and no center for any organizing routine. Each night I sleep in a room remarkably familiar, but slightly different than the previous night’s.
And it is only now staring out a smoky window, high above a nameless city, that I realize to what extent I miss those childlike ghosts, haunting that House where I once lived. I wonder if they have moved out of the fruit cellar to leave shoes, marbles, and burnt matches for their next guest.
I saw the best minds of my generation eaten by mad, starving hysterical naked zombies dragging themselves through the smoldering streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, - HOWL, 1956. 1. The end of the world was downright evangelical. The oceans turned to fire, the skies were blocks of ice, and the earth ejected corpses. The whole affair was real Revelation style - a fundamentalist's wet dream. Only the faithful weren’t raptured. Unless by “raptured” you mean slaughtered by the mass of horrible zombies. The zombies were really, very nasty. And mean. They crawled and scooted and teetered, as they searched for their next living meal. The whole affair from first encounter to last stand happened in under a year. Closer to six months. The world went up like a kid magician’s piece of flash paper. Soon after that I met the other Ginsbergs. 2. Allen Three’s hair looked wet. Salon styled, slick. He was a picture of 1953 Ginsberg standing on a New York City rooftop. He refused to roll down the back seat window. A rolled up window was prudent when the car crept around city blocks at a strolling speed, but the car now sped along on an open road, the needle popped at the red line. So that rolled up window was a just dick move. I suspected, but never asked, if it was, only, about the hair. Allen One pulled off the road. It was late Tuesday afternoon, we were parked in the middle of a gas station island for about a half an hour. Allen One leaned over a fold out map, he had draped over the hood of the car. Allen Two emerged from the gas station’s convenience store, “Pump’s on!” Allen Three grabbed the nozzle to let forth a gush of gasoline that spilled over the sides of our various containers and plastic tubs. I ran my fingers over my bald head and pulled at my dyed gray and black beard. I stared out over the brown field across the two lane blacktop. I tapped a cigarette against the dented side of my lighter. I lit the cigarette then took two steps toward the field. I drew the smoke deep and listened. Then I saw them, a line of three tractor’s guzzled toward us, a dust wave crested at their empty hitches. “Company,” I growled. “What did you say, Number Four?” Allen One said. “Company,” I said again. The exhaled smoke swirled around the overgrown hair wildly covering my ears, I turned toward the other Allens, I pointed over my shoulder to the yellow tractors that crawled over the field. Allen Two slid his black plastic rimmed glasses to his forehead, lifted the binoculars to his naked gray eyes, pursed his lips then frowned. He lowered the binoculars and took his glasses off his face. He pulled out a yellowish handkerchief and started to clean the lenses. He stood and leaned against the car. Casual. Perfect. “Lennons,” he said. “ Johns or Vladimirs?” Allen One asked.. “The Beatle,” Allen Two sighed, “They got Brownings, though. “Really?” Allen Three said and slammed the trunk. The sun was setting, the orange dusk darkened and brightened everything. The tractors growled to a stop, fifty or sixty feet from the road. The four of us stood fanned across the road’s yellow dividing line. We held our weapons at the ready. Displayed, not aimed. The Lennons had an impressive array. Their farm tractors were modified with cages, metal sheeting, and a bright Bob Mackie inspired paint job. Each tractor was equipped with an increasingly powerful ordinance. The Lennons had bigger guns than Jesus. A skinny guy with long, straight and greasy hair, which perfectly framed his face, emerged from the side of the leading tractor. He adjusted his little round wire rimmed sunglasses. He looked at us, pinched at the front of his white ringed NYC t-shirt, then climbed to the top of the cab. He stood with his arms crossed, in a perfect imitation of that iconic John Lennon photograph. His posture was perfect. We were impressed. “How goes it, Lennons?” Allen One asked. The lead Lennon nodded and said something into a small walkie talkie. The wide barreled anti-tank guns, mounted on the tractors, went limp. I swear I heard a disappointed sigh from deep inside their repurposed metal. The lead Lennon motioned for our leader to approach. Even though I was certain it was not my turn to go, I released the grip of the gun slung across my chest and stepped forward. The lead Lennon and I stood face to face. He reached into his back pocket to pull out a perfect crumpled cigarette pack. “Good to meet you, guys,” Lennon said in a bad Scouse accent, that was mostly Midwestern De Niro. He snapped the cigarette pack on the back of his hand. His thin index finger and thumb pinched the pack hard. He brought the pack up and two cigarettes slid, filters up out of the pack. He held it out to me with a little wave. I could tell he practiced this move a lot. “Don’t smoke,” I lied. “Smart. You’ll live longer,” he smiled. “Heard about what you guys did in Salt Lake,” he exhaled a flawless straight plume of smoke into the air, his chin tilted back, “Damn impressive.” “We got lucky,” I pinched my earlobe. “Should we all be so lucky as to have the luck of the Ginsbergs,” he said. “It’s a beautiful dream, this nightmare. ”We both chuckled. “So where you lads headed?” “Greenwich Village. We hear they got some secure blocks up there. Real far out scene. Like gone.” “Heard about that, too,” he shot me a look over his small wire glasses, “we did.” “What you got keeping you here, then,” I came off irritable and it made him nervous. I’ve only been shot at by nervous people. “Oh you know - just a little compound, some farms,” he thumbed behind him, “called PHANTOM V, if you can imagine that. Though mostly, we just call it home.” “Sounds nice.” “You Ginsbergs are welcome to stay on for a bit, if you wish.” “That is a very tempting offer, but we have a schedule, you know.” “Trains do have to run…,” the lead Lennon said with a sadness that spoke less to what we lost, than what we were forced to keep. A few minutes later, the Lead Lennon flicked his cigarette butt off into the dirt field. It landed in a burst of sparks. The Lennons’ churned up their tractors, honked a few times as they started the wide arc back toward their camp. “They heard about Salt Lake,” I said. Allen Two walked toward the car. Allen #1 watched him, “Oh yeah?” 3. What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- Nation? - Howl, 1956 Three days later. We stopped at a hospital. Always dangerous, always worth the risk. It was morning, a slight breeze came off the sea. The air felt of salt and smelled of fish. Allen Two pulled the car up the loading dock. He perfectly positioned it near the doors. We locked and we loaded. Allen One superstitiously twisted his wooden prayer beads. I tapped the extra cartridge against the butt of my gun then shoved it into my front pocket. “Lessgo,” Allen Two shouted. We spread like spilled mercury. The loading dock doors were not barricaded. In fact, the place looked untouched. This strangeness put us all on edge. I felt the other Allens share that moment of desperate relaxation - which swelled through us like it was the first day of a new school year. We crept along slower than normal. We hugged the walls, guns pointed, nerves taut, and hands sweaty. I stopped my hand before it touched the spotless white wall. I did not caress the unbroken glass windows. I did not spread out on my back across the debris-less hallway floor. “Guys,I got a bad feeling about this,” I said. Allen Two stooped down. He shouldered his rifle, squinted into the telescopic sight aimed down the hall. Allen Three groaned, then, hunkered down and started to inch forward again. Allen One ran point. He always went first. He stopped at the doors near the end of the hallway. He pushed his fist into the air to order a full, immediate stop like they used to do in action movies. I lifted my pistol and aimed at the doors. We waited. The silence rang like a school bell in my head. Allen #1 slid his hand up the door, his gun followed. He pressed his shoulder against the door, it swung wide open. Nothing. Another pristine corridor stretched on, anticipating the return of the doctors and patients. Allen One let the doors swing shut, spun on his heel and walked back toward us, his gun relaxed and lowered, “There is shitall here.” “This place smells like an airport.” “I bet the shelves are stocked,” Allen Three exhaled a deep lungful of cigarette smoke. “Split up. Meet back at the car in half an hour,” Allen One barked. Fifteen minutes later, I leaned back on the metal ladder bolted to the naked concrete. I pushed my shoulder up against the roof access hatch. It squeaked and hissed as the rubber seal sucked apart. I held the top rung with white knuckles, my ankles laced around the lower ladder bars. The late morning air swept down a warm gush that smelled of daylight and tar. I clambered out of the hole in the roof, I emerged in a rolled embarrassment to agility. A glorious cloudless blue sky stretched above me. I leaned back on my forearms and marveled at the day. I was purposefully being purposeless in this mission; I chose to scale to this height instead of scouring the lockers and offices for fungibles. I nursed the resentment at being outvoted. I wanted to bail on this place and I still had that bad feeling. I heard the soft report of rapid gunshots. Sporadic then sustained then continuous then frantic. I raced across the roof, hit the low wall with some force, an immediate bruise grew across my hip. I leaned over the edge to look down the thirteen stories on a real bad scene. Hundreds of skinny zombies moved toward our car. I was disadvantaged. The angle of the roof left no subtlety to any shot I tried. My fire landed wide or dangerously close. I was of no use to my friends at the car. So I fired blindly into the wave of monsters, slowed a few but stopped none. Allen One and Allen Three opened up on the approaching horde. Allen Two tried to get the car started, but I could hear the futile whirling clicks float under the popping gun fire and hungry zombie moans. Then the first monster smacked the driver’s side window. Allen Two panicked. He forced the door open. The zombie bounced backward. It fell back on stiff knees, then straight on its ass. Allen Two leaped over the monster’s uplifted hands. He slipped along the side of the car, just as another creature lunged. It hooked onto Allen Two’s backpack which exploded like an addict’s busted birthday piñata. Prescription bottles, cream tubes, and rolls of antiseptic bandages popped into the air. Allen Two was knocked off balance. He hit the concrete with a rattle, clawed at the ground as he tried to make it under the car, but the horde closed over him in a splatter of gore. Allen Three retreated to the shipping doors. He yelped meaninglessly for Allen #1 as he held the door open. But when Allen Two went down, Allen One jumped onto the hood of the car. Allen #1 fired carefully, then wildly, as he tried to keep the zombies off Allen Two. Before he could fully react, Allen #1 was outflanked. He leaped to the roof of the car. Immediately, he was surrounded, then a few seconds later, swallowed. Allen Three had disappeared behind the closed shipping doors. In anger, I emptied a clip over the side of the roof. The monsters that fell were quick to rise again. I slumped against the wall, held my warm gun to my chest. I stared straight ahead, paralyzed by angry disbelief. 4. Allen Three stood hunched at the end of the hallway. He was wet. Wet like he stepped out of a sweat shower. His soaked clothes hung off him. His eyes were wild and wide, squinted without changing shape. He started to speak but instead of words, his lips squirted out a stream of bloody phlegm and dark saliva. Allen Three quivered in the bright florescent light, joints twisted in unnatural spasm. The hole scratched across his jugular was just an open slit, it no longer spewed blood. I lifted my pistol and shot him in the head. His horn rimmed glasses snapped in two, each lens shot off in opposite directions. I watched as he slumped backward against the doors, his shoes squeaked as he slid to sit down on the floor. 5. By my calculation, those monsters stomped around outside for nearly two months. Then they stood and waited. They oozed and dripped. I did not put much thought into it. I didn’t spend much time checking on them. They made no attempt to get into the hospital. Most of my time I spent in preparation for the day the generator would conk out. I worked to reconfigure the insides of an ambulance. I put chain link over the windows. I created a livable space with enough storage for a considerable fuel reserve. I lived on vending machine food and nitrous. I stockpiled enough amphetamines to keep me awake for months. One morning, I looked out the window and most of the monsters were gone. A couple loitered around, but the horde had moved on. “The migration habits of the North American Zombie,” I scribbled on a dry erase board in the corner of the office I used as my apartment. Later that day, or maybe it was the next day, the generator stopped. After the hospital went dark, I spent two more nights. I burned the paper in a file cabinet for light and heat. It took a few hours to load up then pulled out on the third afternoon. My plan was to continue with the plan – I headed for Greenwich Village. The ambulance was a lot slower than our old car. I feared pushing it too hard. It was the only lifeline I had, my only chance. I needed to keep it running. I drove, a week or so. The interstate highways were clogged with wreckage and unstable bridges, so I used back roads. Around dusk each day, I pulled off the road and looked for a sheltered place to park. Somewhere just far enough off the road to get a running start from whatever might come along. I ate sparingly and slept lightly. I think it was a Wednesday, when I pulled to the side of some cornfield access road. I sat with the back doors open and enjoyed a cold hot dog. A tiny whirlwind of dry husks and dust spun in the distance. I swore I had clear sight lines, so I was flabbergasted when I found myself surrounded. A group of five skinny, pale men materialized out of a turnstile of wind. They stood in a semicircle around the ambulance, arms folded, in the loitering lean of disaffected cool. They all wore white shock wigs, precariously sitting on top of their own dark hair. Two of them wore black ribbed turtlenecks, pinched at the elbows. The others donned black leather jackets like insect armor. They peered at me from behind wide lens glasses, cocked high on and perfectly fitted to their tiny faces. I hopped down from the ambulance. I bit a cheekful of hot dog, then lifted my .357 Magnum out of my shoulder holster. I held it low down by my hip. “Warhols,” I said. The lead Andy Warhol stepped forward, he floated like a marionette. He did not breathe nor did his marble eyes blink. He said with the slightest deadpan twill, “Gosh, that is a nice ambulance.” “Thanks,” I said. “Wherever did you find it?” he asked, his hands never moving from his side. “Made it myself,” I said with a flirtatious smile, then took a bite of the hot dog. “Goodness,” the lead Warhol said in a soft breath, “It is quite good.” “Take a look inside, if you want.” “Gee, really?” The Warhols sat in the back of the ambulance, perfectly erect, hands folded in their laps. I drove as the lead Andy gave me one word directions. As we pulled up, I saw that the Warhols had been busy. They had repurposed school buses, sunk them up to their wheel wells in concrete, then covered one side in steel plating. The bus walls’ hammered and dented metal circled a large courtyard encampment. A shanty town of hobbled together structures, shacks, and treeless treehouses. That night, I parked the ambulance in the middle of the Warhols’ camp. It provided a sort of marvelous novelty, constantly examined and boarded by drag queens with day-old beards and skinny women of indeterminate bruises. A few leather jacket hipsters sat on top of it running the siren during static-laced guitar solos. Finally, a few of the more robust Warhols took paint brushes to the ambulance’s side. Mostly they repainted the existing graphics in new day-glo colors. I sat with three of the Warhol elders around a large campfire. We ate tomato soup straight out of the can. “Gosh, we are glad you are here,” the lead Warhol said. “Thanks”. “Where are you headed,” asked the middle Warhol. “Mostly East. Mostly,” I said. “East is so nice,” remarked the oldest looking Warhol. “Have you been to Pittsburgh?” asked another. “Can’t say that I have ever been to Pittsburgh,” I said. “Well, Pittsburgh has...everything.”I nodded. A few minutes passed in silence. “You know who you kind of look like?” asked the oldest Warhol. I did not look away from the fire, “Nope. Who?” “Allen Ginsberg,” he said, “You sort of look like Allen Ginsberg. ”There was a pause as the others examined me in the firelight. “Allen was such a great person and really great poet,” a Warhol said. “Yeah, I guess he was,” I said and smiled.
This image is drawn by EC Comics great, Jack Kamen. I love the suburban dinner party image, overwrought with impending melodrama. By adding my stories of lower class suburban antics, the juxtaposition is interesting. Not to mention the writing under constraint – trying to condense my drinking tales to fit into that small box in the corner.
These sorts of tactics, to me, create a larger aesthetic process which seeks to confuse and antagonize the writing. It’s never been enough, just the words, I seek to tangle and entrap them.
Though I should just be funny. My writing is best when it’s simple and funny.
THE ALCOHOLIC combines two great passions of my life.
First, drinking myself into a belligerent black out to transform into a blistering human hemorrhoid.
Second, replacing text for the détournementof images.
Some of these vignettes are mostly false. Others are based in truth. But drunks are unreliable narrators.
Finally, thanks to the COVID Crisis, I have gotten to the scanning project of all the LOVE BUNNI PRESS products. I am working on a new website, at which point this blog will become archived itself. Until then…
High school is inherently violent. Between the pillars of competitive sports and the bullies that can create; between the constant ping ponging of hormones and emotions that lead to overdoes of self-love then self-hate; to the social structure pinned to a rigid timetable of obligations and humiliations; high school is mass violence, barely contained.
As a culture we rely on high school to play backdrop to all sorts of conflict narratives – most of them humorously nostalgic. The trope of the high school delinquent, the out-of-control rebel youth bucking the adult system is seen as quaint, as it is ubiquitous.
Each of us could name several cherished movies about the rebellion of teenagers against the Man. Some of them might, even, end in mass violence…
Incorporated into this, now, is the unreality of actual school shootings. Unlike the glamorization and cultish interest in specific “Serial Killers,” school shooters’ instill and afford a connection to identity, ideology, and action. They have a community.
While serial killers embody a narrative power, their murderous behavior is too individual, specifically aberrant, and too chaotic to offer a wide based ideology or plan of action. The school shooter, as perfected by the Columbine Killers, provide a clarion call of emulatable identity, ideology, and action.
My point is this – we have a white male subculture based around school shootings and attaining one day totals. We have Youtube videos of dissecting the tactical failings of Columbine and other shootings. We have a group of young boys’ ranting manifestos against bullies, withholding hot chicks, or cliquish social revenge. We have electronic connective tissue of community and identity that indoctrinates, disassociates, and encourages participation in a movement of like minded school shooter “revolutionaries.”
Mix that with their toxic masculinity, a large dose of consumer-based media fame, and a stupidly easy access to military grade weapons, you begin to see the contours of WHY this shit keeps happening over and over again. We might like it to be digestible to “mental illness” or just “guns” but not to address the Cult of Violence, is to miss a very significant piece of this fucked up shit puzzle of murderous rampage.
But just to be clear, having said all that, if it were up to me I would take all your fucking guns away from you…
First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
– MLK 16 April 1963
The biggest problem facing any real resistance to the Trumpland narrative gripping the American narrative are the aged hippies, and other middle class Liberal whites, who were college age in the 1960s and early 70s.
These folks feel they accomplished things. They take credit for ending a War. They pat themselves on the back for integrating their local public schools. They embraced the Gay Party Scene.
But now these white people are unreasonably cranky and clueless and stuck in this outrage loop that swings between feelings of sheer exhaustion and disrespect. They feel entitled to their new agey racism and hippy dippy cultural appropriation because of their notions of antiquated liberalism. They have not progressed with the Progressives.
They want to shame Trump. They think their outrage should be enough. They want the Administration to know someone is watching, someone with a TSK TSK head shake at the ready. And because of this, the Trumpites will continue smashing through the Distraction Economy, dominating the news cycles and meme generators with new meaningless provocations.
These things that Trump says in his tweets are inherently meaningless in the scope of what actual shit these tweets obscure. The United States bombs Syria and kills 200 Russian fighters (who may have been there illegally) and there is barely a blip, while Trump tweeting about the 14th Season of the APPRENTICE is bigger news. There is something seriously wrong.
And what is seriously wrong rests firmly on the shoulders of the aged hippies, sitting at home trying to do yoga in front of their endless Fox News consumption, swept up in the Distraction Culture of Outrage. A state of unease that relies upon fury and anger to diffuse any real, actual angry outlets which might threaten the status quo. A status quo that is finalizing all the things that the 1960s and 1970s radicals fought against.
Dump out the bongwater into your hanging fern and help out.
“Everyone an outlaw, until it time to do outlaw shit.”
I picked this up because THE NATION recommended that if I, a pasty suburban leftie liberal, wanted to understand the “forgotten man” Trump voter, I should read this. I find out near the the end, that the goddamn NATION magazine paid the tab on HST’s drink account to dictate this into a handheld tape recorder. Shady.
But the suggestion is not “that” wrong. As with everything HST wrote, there is a near perfect, poetic epiphany right near the end of the article/book that just sparks with soul cleansing crystal magic poetry. In the case of the Angels, HST crafts it out of the sheer loserdom that defines the cyclists’ whole reason for being.
“In terms of the Great Society the Hell’s Angels and their ilk are losers – dropouts, failures and malcontents. They are rejects looking for a way to get even with a world in which they are only a problem. The Hell’s Angels are not visionaries, but diehards, and if they are forerunners of the vanguard of anything it is not the “moral revolution” in vogue on college campuses, but a fast-growing legion of young unemployables whose trapped energy will inevitably find the same kind of destructive outlet that “outlaws” like the Hell’s Angels have been finding for years. The difference between the student radicals and the Hell’s Angels is that the students are rebelling against he past, while the Angels are fighting the future. Their only common ground is their disdain for the present, or the status quo.” p. 256-257.
Lost by their own hobbying, lost by their own addictions, lost by their own purposeful sense of community and belonging. But still given a certain nodding respect by conservative society and it’s wide belted police force. Because, the Angels, are, when it is said and done, still young white boys and probably could be rehabilitated.
HST does an amazing thing, much like Arendt, he unpacks the bluster to strip the myth down to the most banal reality of the outlaw. While he never coins the phrase, the HELL’S ANGELS can be seen as a study in the “banality of hooliganism.”
HST spreads out how popular culture, namely the movie THE WILD ONE inspired the conception of the Angels. Not only were the Angels fans, they sought to emulate and surpass the look and attitude of the bikers in the movie. But the press conflated real news with the events in the movies, to heighten the fears of small town America, when their windows rattled when a bike barrelled past.
It is really the long stretch where HST does a play by play of the party at Bear Lake illustrates just how absurd the whole game of cat and mouse becomes – where the most dangerous thing are the “squares” armed to the teeth and those teeth floating in a bile of pent up fearful rage. The begrudging respect the police afford the motorcycle revelers and the pure drunken inaction of the revelers themselves, puts a fine point on the weekend adventure.
But there are honestly disgusting and troubling aspects to the Angel’s – their attitude toward women, sex, and rape is primal and tribal. But, I wonder, to what extent does their embrace of demeaning and owning women, beating them into submission, and forcibly raping them did not just give full articulation to the mores of the post-war American spirit?
Not to mention their reactionary racism. While they seem to have no issue with individual blacks, they hate “the blacks” writ large. They fear retaliation after kicking the shit out of a young black guy in their bar. The white paranoia was conservative and unironically embracing the “law and order” tactics that are used to corral and harass them, as well.
But the most embarrassing part of the book is when the Keasey/Ginsburg crowd adopts the Angels. I mean why wouldn’t old Uncle Alan want to make it with some greasy smelling bears while quoting Whitman as he came? The Angels were made for his fiddling bits, the slumming would be delicious. He even wrote a four page nonsense poem about them – under the pretext of convincing them not to wail on his gentle anti-war protesting friends. Oh the wiles of the poet, his song weakening the brutal heart of the barbarian to spare the valley of the river nymphs!
HST’s book is an artifact to a time when America was still outraged by the unkempt appearance of the Hell’s Angels, before the “look” became ubiquitous. Now the sight of a bearded, shirtless, leather vested man’s man roaring down the highway, spilling beer and flipping off the camera is used to sell watches to stock brokers, not to instill fear into the hearts of upstanding mom and dads.
And maybe that is what the Trump supporters are most angry about. They are no longer feared and their existence considered outlaw. They are “forgotten” because their idea of outlaw culture is no longer outlaw.
Вся власть советам! -Bolshevik Slogan, 1917.
If you are a political junkie like me, you will be able to trace a map through many different shades and denominations of political thought.
You will be able to grimace at the naivete of Brutalist phases. You will understand how the path through “Smash the State” anarchism lead to Art, not Statescraft. You will struggle with macro v. micro bummer sticker slogans. There will be hard landings into soft realities. And, ultimately, you will completely fail to grasp the mathematics of Economic drivers.
Yeah. If you are like me, you will be horrified hearing yourself defending the “Intelligence” community, placing all your money on the ineffectuality of careerist bureaucrats, and worrying about the dismantling of the State.
On a nearly hourly basis, the Trump Presidency turns the world upside down. The frantic pace is the only consistency anymore. All ideology is stripped of moral pretense making hypocrisy meaningless. Finally, the cynicism of the System is paramount as we are constantly assured by politicians, pundits, and our fellow citizens that Nothing Matters Anymore.
As such, I am constantly confuzzled [reference: Winnie the Pooh] and often dislocated along my personal political spectrum. The radical ideas I hold dear are nearly fulfilled in Trump (though in some upsidedown world sorta way). The more liberal agenda I subscribe to seems woefully ineffectual or unwilling to confront the threat of Trump head on. And the Brutalist in me is an unforgiving prick that does want to watch the racist, uneducated masses burn themselves to cinders in the fire of their own ignorant fuckery.
The Angel of History
We are no longer dealing with a safe Paul Klee painting, but a Hunter Thompson Hell’s Angel, cranked out of his mind, head careening back, his beard tipped in flashing red and white, the cop siren is progress chasing him into a cul-de-sac future, trapped in a prefabricated development.