going to canada

Are we actually going to start talking jive about leaving?  Just when things get crisp?  If this is a test, then it is surely a multiple-choice test wrapped in an essay and almost certainly to be punctuated by some oral examinations.  Prior to these attacks, I would talk openly about my intentional & eventual departure from the United States.  For an amalgam of reasons, it represented more a traveler’s attitude a la Jake then an abandonment complex.  Prior to these events, I had a nebulous yet pungent sense that, as a US citizen, I was viewed very negatively thru out the world.  Having such close friends & ties to Oh Canadia, I heard stories such as: “If you’re ever in a tight situation overseas that’s going to turn horrifically grim, just claim to be a Canadian.  Under no circumstances should you boast American heritage.”  But such was the stuff of colorful conversation, backed by no real concrete animosity TOWARDS the US.  It was just one more tale in a saga that literally (ok, in analogy) saw the US scorned like a bad lieutenant with too much power, too often wielded to service his own ends.  As an American, I was lumped into that category and brandished the same.  Again, I was apprehensive about my perception abroad as an American.  Therefore, I sought the day when I could travel so far abroad and for such a period of time that I would be able to see what the baby & the bathwater looked like.  From the outside.  To be sure, I believed that my US education had raised me to see with an Americans’ eye what the only the inside of an American cocoon looked like.   As well, that this ego-centric, fiscal-driven, quasi-colonist mentality I began to develop sometime after puberty was, for the most part, transparent to the majourity of my fellow Americans, but painfully clear to the rest of the world.   I was going to alter this with a world-view.  I was going to combat this with a mind more open then it was cynical.  But I grew complacent.  I began to seek more tangible goals such as (perceived) economic gain, or (simulated) social status.  My goals became those bettering myself and the woman I love.  Introversion.  Isolationism away from those odd feelings concerning what it felt like to be an American living in America.

Until today.  Until the Right Now.  Until the conversations getting tossed back & forth these past 72 hours.  Not only between the leaders of the world, but also between the Circus – some of the only constants I can rely on right now.  Long-dormant thoughts are coming to the surface.  Viewpoints once thought to be reactionary or counter to the views of the many are finally being expressed.  Spades will be called spades and it will be a long and arduous road.  History, both revisionist and sacred will be examined.  What you hold to be truths & your rights as humans will be tempered against those who have been denied and can only hope for those same unalienable rights.  Shame on you if you think I am in any way justifying the actions of those who would commit such atrocities in their pursuit of these rights.  This is the shocking jolt.  This is the rude awakening.  This is the point in the existence of this country where the truth be told that we, as the United States, are no different for we have committed the same such atrocities.  Albeit thrice removed.  Atrocious that we should continue to call our foreign policy one of peace KEEPING.  However you view the US intentions overseas, one only need look at the suffering that continues in those same lands despite these dollars & peace accords.  One only needs to look at the severe breakdown within our own nation to realize that our current foreign policy is nothing short of re-arranging the deckchairs on the titanic.  How many more of OUR dollars will be spent hunting down faceless symptoms of an overseas religious war before an American teacher gets a fiscal recognition?  How many more people have to die?

You think that the current US military deployments to go about “ending states who sponsor terrorism” will EVER bring about peace in the Middle East?  It will only spread it thinner.  It will not be addressing THEIR issues and THEIR resolutions.  And here is something that will really bake your noodle:  Try and wrap your brains around the possibility that the attacks on our soul were borne OF our soil.  Think about that.  Remember Oklahoma and how cruel & misguided our initial assumptions were.  Just: what if?

I talk as if there is actually some shred of hope that the US will take the high road.  That they will do the right thing by cooling off and taking a levelheaded human approach to this.  It won’t happen.  As I snap this rant off, the engines are revving up and the fog is getting mixed.  When the shit starts, you & I, as Americans, will only know what we are spoon-fed.  The path we take, regardless of accuracy or lack thereof, will be touted as justification and rectification.  Even so-called credible non-US sources such as the AP, BBC or CBC(!) will have little recourse but to run with whatever direction the momentum dictates.  And you wont know the difference.  And the rift that caused this most-recent link in a long chain of events will continue to fester.  Only clichés will suffice.  Eye for an Eye.  But the real adage will be clear only after a painfully long distance of time & blood:  That wrongs do not negate wrongs.  That the path to peace must now be viewed in terms of the path less traveled.

But hell, if shit gets funky in here, I got plenty of room up in Ontario.  I’ll bring the fishing tackle; you bring the propane & the Molson.

SPEW :: the world playground

created: September 12, 2001

the arab kid, the jewish kid, the american kid

This can be seen in the analogy of a schoolyard scuffle. There’s this little Jewish kid that keeps getting bullied & beaten up by the Arab kids because this little Jewish kid wants “something” all to themselves. They keep trying and never getting it. They gain the trust and the strong-arm friendship of the big American kid. The American kid makes it really happen for the Jewish kid. Like a bodyguard, the American kid pushes the Arab kids out of the way and lets the Jewish kid have this “something” all to themselves. The Arab kids are clearly no match for the American kid in regards for this “something” the still covet so much. However, the Arabs continue to deal with the American kid, trading things, and generally being civil while publicly making statements about their hatred of the American kid in regard to the Jewish kid.

The Jewish kid is not the exclusive recipient of the American kids strength and reverse bullying. There are plenty of other kids on the playground that either rely on the American kid to get what they need, or allow the American kid to take what he wants. The American kid is simply too strong to resist. Better to ally with so great a presence then to resist. And this ends up breeding this seething hatred towards the American kid. He is perceived as the policeman of the playground. Talking peace between some one moment and then bullying and oppressing others the next. Yet always talking civility and peace.

So while the American kid continues to aide, protect & support the Jewish kid, the Jewish kid becomes this truly strong entity. The Jewish kid has dealt with a lot of shit in the past – horrible things – never to be forgotten. These things have only made the Jewish kid stronger. So much so that every time the Arab kids make an attempt at the Jewish kid or the “something,” the American kid only tends to break up the fights now. The Jewish kid is holding his own. The Jewish kid even goes so far as to make simple offerings to the Arab kids to use the “something.” Yet the Arab kids rightfully begin to rise up and say “wait, this is ours in the first place. It has always been ours. And Jewish kid, the only reason why you have it now is because you and that American kid took it from us.” Eventually, this leads to the Arab kids to the wrong approach by taking potshots at the Jewish kid, soliciting the assistance of Arab kids from different playgrounds, and generally making the Jewish kid hold the “something” even tighter. Every day that goes by, the Jewish kid grows more & bolder with their possession. They say that the Arab kids are wrong when they say that the “something” originally belongs to them. That the Arab kids are simply never going to get it back. But the Arab kids, they want this “something” so bad that it just consumes them. They’re simply bitter to the core about how they cannot have this “something” and the only reason they cannot is because they don’t have the power to take it back. It gets to the point where some of the other American kids no longer care to protect the Jewish kid. Not because he can take care of himself, but rather their good-natured peacekeeping measure of intervening between the Arabs & the Jewish kid in the first place was no longer such a wise decision. That, the American kid should have never gotten involved in the first place. The Arab kids couldn’t agree more. To be sure, there are plenty of other kids on the playground that support the American kid no matter what he does, even in regards to the Jewish kid. But for the most part, in the eyes of the Arab kids, the Jewish kid and the American kid are alone in the protection & support of this “something.” The Arab kids are growing tired of the current situation of repression & denial. They know that they can never actually rise up and take the “something” because there is clearly no way that they’ll ever be able to hold onto it. The American kid is too strong and the Jewish kid has far too tight a hold on it. They’ve tried calmly talking to the Jewish kid, as well as with the Americans. The American kid has repeatedly expressed to the Jewish kid that they might want to think about sharing the “something.” And to a certain degree, they have. They’ve allows the Arab kids to sit next to it, to look at it, and to generally have the sense that they have the “something” back. But not without heavy sacrifices. The Jewish kid is very possessive, honestly believing in their hearts that the “something” is rightfully theirs. They never let the Arab kids forget that the “something” is theirs, and that the Arab kids will never fully get it back. So while the day-to-day activities on the playground are sometimes free from scuffles, the tension between the Arab kids and the Jewish kid is always there, and the American kid is never too far away from either of them, either to break up a fight with calls for civil conversation, or roughing up some other Arab kids who feel they’ve got the right idea by talking & getting violent about their quest for the “something.” There are good days and there are bad days. Some days, the Arab kids will be horrendously cruel in their attempts to get the “something” back or to hurt the Jewish kid. Other days, the Jewish kid will be equally cruel in taunting the Arab kid with the “something”, pushing the Arab kids away from the “something” when all they want to do is just “be” next to it.

All they can do now is to plan how they can eventually get the “something” back. And if they cannot get the “something” back, well… at least they can continue to send messages to the Jewish & the American kid. Messages that they are serious. On day, after a period of some unrest between the Jewish kid and the Arabs, something happens. Something massive to the American kid. The American kid gets knocked down in a hard, disturbing way. The American kid is stunned. The American kid is knocked so off-balance that he doesn’t know how to digest what has happened let alone process what to do next. Immediately, the American kid is thinking simultaneously about a multitude of things. How to retaliate is one of the initial emotions. The American kid is so used to being the strongest most feared kid on the playground that they cannot avoid these feelings of retaliation and snap judgments. And that finger pointing is as initial as anything else. They are simply so damn sure that this was the work of the Arab kids, or at least some small portion of them.

SPEW :: go back in the chain

created: September 12, 2001

go back in the chain. go back as far as you dare. Try and objectively determine what is broken & how it got that way. Against all better process, attempt not to figger out the WHO and WHAT NEXT. For those notions shall only continue to make this horrible wheel turn & turn & turn ad nauseum. Instead, go back in the chain and try to figger out the WHY. Understand the why, and you will understand the WHAT NEXT. THere is an emprical reason for it. There was a point. “Crazy” people dont just pick targets. They wanted the fucking floor and they wanted undivided attention. So they have it. I’m sure as hell listening. And you know what? I wont be able digest the point of this if the US immediately comes back swinging like some bully not used to being knocked off his feet by an unseen blow. It takes strength to indiscriminantly torch 3rd world countries thay may or may not harbour these “forces of evil.” But it takes a stronger nation to wipe the soot & dust from its eyes and not only listen to, but comprehend the REASONS for why this happened. This was not the first stone cast. THis was, in the eyes of many, a clear retaliation. One that i do NOT agree with. THere were as many alternate methods to send the massage as there are casualties from this one. But some would say that this might be the only thing that America would listen to. SOme would say that this, at the very least, was fire with fire. Taste of our own medicine. Again, I DONT BUY THIS. I just feel it necessary to say publickly, against ALL SEANS BETTER JUDGEMENT, that i’m scared shitless that the US will simply do as they have always done and open fire in general directions. A threshold has been crossed. An opportunity is at hand. This may not come again. At least not without a repeat of yesterday updated for the times, strengthened to break thru even more years of US foreign policy. You’re living in a bubble if you think that what we saw yesterday and the taste in your mouth is something new to the world. I’m nowhere near a school of thought where this was in any way “deserved.” But this was long overdue. I’m more disturbed then i have ever been in my life at the scale of this. Yet whats more, this is not the worst it can get. This can escalate.

Again, go back in the chain and ask yourselves the hard questions. Read your history books, even the ones that US children read. Get the angles & perspectives an event like this deserves. Educate yourselves and realise that history clearly is the only God right now. What happened in peoples lives, or in the course of their nations that they need to do THAT to get attention or get revenge? Go back as far as you dare, for some of the most grevious events on the timeline going backwards are NOT subjective. Rather, they’ve very clear origins. Opinions & national fervor asside, we must not cast another stone. Wrongs need to be righted, and examples must be set. And therein lies the toughest task. We as HUMANS – not american citizens or allies thereof – need to stand down and be as lucid as possible about what will come out of this.

I am not a religious man. And i had no idea i was a patriotic man until that was me sobbing at those images. But I feel it necessary to pray to “something” that would bring about peacefull resolve to this. I pray that not one fucking bullet will be fired in any shade of retaliation for this. I pray that leaders of nations will come together to talk of a peace that will be the most difficult any of us have ever dreamt of. Past grievances will be addressed, and new lines will be drawn. For the current situation is obviously not working. But its not for the US to fix! Our attempts at fixing broken things have, in my eyes, CAUSED the monumental & irrevocable actions yesterday. I have no illusions that heads will NOT roll from this. And yes, I hope they’re the right ones.

I’m fucking ranting now, and beginning to well up again. I don’t have any of the answers I’m requesting you all ask of yourselves. The salve here, for me, is the painfuill process of asking the questions in the first place. It feels the right thing to do – to challenge my patriotism & sense of revenge. For if there is one clear clear thing I feel in all of this: its that the typical US fire “from the sky” reaction is the worst possible one we could ever take. If we do, then we are ABSOLUTELY NO SANER then the humans that flew those planes yesterday. No different.

I fucking scared. I’m scared that its too late. I wish I had more faith. I wish I had at least more hints as to how to express this to you all.

madonna show review :: oakland, september 2001

i’m not sure terms like “amazing” or phrases like “she puts on an awesome show” would suffice.  nor am i sure that that i can even begin to express them here for there was so much to process.  we were 20 rows up from floor on extreme stage-right.  so extreme that we could at times clearly see thru the stage into the direction & wardrobe changes.  but the stage/set itself wasnt so large as it was tall.  odd platforms here, solitary handles way up there.  soon, all surfaces of the set would be crawling with these cut, lanky, androgenous beauties.  those handles, once far out of the reach of any platform *we* could see, were now being used as purchase for creatures part Wild Boys (duran duran), part Fame, & part Sid Vicious.  The british/scottish punk element permeated quite literally only 1 song off anything *other* then either Ray of Light or Music, and that was Holiday.  some would say she was obligated to play that one given the town we live in, to say nothing of the 100’s of queens packing the front of the stage 12 deep.  so the songs were all late-model, fully exercising the William Orbit vein.  video screens like nothing i have ever seen.  they were not “monitors” in the projection or tube-screen sense of the word.  rather – and kevin you may have seen these – they were blocks of what looked like 1000’s of tightly packed lightbulbs, giving any image shown on them a clarity out of this world.  smaller 2ft x 2ft blocks of these, spread all across the rigging & musician “pods”, displayed random sqaures of what the larger monitors displayed rather then miniature versions of the same.  these massive monitors, in true madonna-style, would raise up to become the elevated dancefloor lit-from below.  every other performer was either hanging from wires or flying around the set swinging from them.  with mic in-hand, madonna too would be flying 30 miles per hours, 50 feet up, only to land squarely in mid-verse.  she never let up.  songs blended together as they spanned a heavily intricate & dramatic stage-show.  and thats just it: last night was only *part* rock concert.  it was dozens of runway models sprinting around a fashion shoot, meets the matrix, meets a country-western ho-down.  but *all* gautier.this was the first show i’ve ever really been to where i didnt have that life-force longing to be behind either soundboard.  and it *wasnt* my proximity away from them.  it was my proximity *to* other elements.  i was thouroughly entertained.  i should have expected this.  the people-watching was tops, better then a tombstone saloon yet costumes just as familiar.  I saw the thing on HBO and that simply didn’t touch this.  It only hinted at themes & perhaps a setlist.  Nothing but being there could approach it.

Perhaps maybe, the unashamed fantasies of being one of her dancers on the stage with her.  THAT’S what it meant.