|by Thom Fowler
The opening night film of the Silverlake Film Festival was called LETTERS OF THE UNDERGROUND and featured a handful of shorts by various directors based on famous modern American letters from the likes of T.S. Eliot, Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. Once considered outsiders, these writers are now the cornerstones of the literary world. And I don’t mean the yarn-spinning of Stephen King or Tom Clancy but the jerks who are stupid enough to want to interpret the world through writing. Kerouac’s Ten Rules of Fiction practically defines modern American literature and has directly inspired the literary aspirations of countless people. One thing he accomplished was taking literature out of the “establishment” and giving it back to anyone who wanted it. You did not have to be a learned man of letters to say your peace to the world. Kerouac was very hip.
In case you didn’t know, Americans no longer have any rights. I expect to be secretly executed without trial for sedition for suggesting that we must protect democracy and utilize it as an important political system. Some people often mistake me for a revolutionary. I don’t think revolution solves anything except instilling a whole new bureaucracy. We don’t have clearly defined goals as a citizenry when it comes to using public policy to support our private desires, which is what politics is all about. What are our goals as a civilization? Not our reactionary goals, like “I must protect myself from those who wish to hurt me” but proactionary goals like “what kind of a society am I helping to create through every single choice I make.” It’s easy to know what you want for yourself, but what do you want for other people?
For example, Barbed Wire. What is that about? It should be called Barbaric Wire. Our whole way of life is based on fear, paranoia and violence. I’ve always said that our quality of life is directly proportionate to the state of women in the world. If you want to protect yourself from Osama Bin Laden or, now that he’s probably dead while some people in government lie about it because they need to keep the fans of aggression towards the Islamic Oil Bearing Middle East as hot as the ovens at Belsen-Bergen, our new bogey-man Saddam Hussein, support the health and safety of women, elicit and empower women’s full participation at every level of private and civic life. Enable women to feed and care for their children and for crying out loud, stop taking away their boys and turning them into cannon-fodder. Encourage and appreciate their contributions and magnify their voices. Except for Condoleeza Rice’s. She’s a traitor. She’s also the soft, black, female face of Rich White Male War Mongering. Its so very simple.
This war in Iraq is not about defending democracy or protecting ourselves from terrorists. It’s a diversionary tactic by a group of men who covered up their research that smoking causes cancer and still spends money trying to get people to smoke. I’m not against smoking (rather, I’m not against you having a choice to smoke), but let’s look closely at that model. Would you convince someone to drink rat poison in small amounts over a long period of time if you were promised one hundred dollars every time you did? Those men not only would, but do and they spend a lot of money to make sure that you never stop to think about it.
The real issues right now are economic and environmental issues. Basic quality of life issues. The real threat to our well-being is lack of fresh water and clean air, is global warming, is an economy that has been manipulated to support the wealth of a very few, is a population growing faster than the number of stucco homes that can be built over the habitats of the other creatures of planet Earth. And I have to fault the mainstream media (of which, I suppose I am a part) of kow-towing to the “suggestions” of government officials in their propaganda campaign. Heil Hitler!
The entrenched administration wants to make being a dissident a crime in support of what I’m still trying to figure out. Far right wing what? Kill homos, non-right-wing fundamentalist Christians, enslave women and keep the oil flowing? I don’t really know what the agenda is of the current administration or why they are working so hard to maintain absolute control over how you feel and what you think and to support their work at any cost to you. They call it a sacrifice for the greater good. It’s a sacrifice for THEIR greater good. The Bush Administration is working very hard to make sure you never find out what they’ve really been up to. It’s a pogrom. A crusade. And free-thinking progressive liberals are the target. You may as well tell a tree not to grow as try to stop the historical dialectic of thesis/anti-thesis. I often say that The Bush Administration is a crisis for American Democracy but I also see it as growing pains. Let’s hope we survive this disease without any brain damage.
Okay, you can have your American Dream, your nice, clean, sterile America but you’ll have to take your pills every day and please report any inconsistencies in official ideology or skin color to your co-workers to office of Homeland Security.
The unfortunate side effect of a competitive economy is that I must seek to take food out of your mouth in order to put it in mine and that has a deleterious psychological effect on a basically compassionate person. And its also ironic that a vocal minority keep insisting this is a Christian nation. It is anation, founded on philosophical not religious ideals, inhabited by a great many kinds of people, among them Christians, who also represent a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices, prejudices, protests and complicities.
I’m so sick of God and people talking about God. I appreciate the sentiment of God Bless America, but it is also deeply insulting not to mention blatantly coercive social control. You are with us or you are against us. What are “us?” What exactly am I supposed to be goosestepping to? What am I serving through my actions?
I’m not the only writer to address the American national character but now is an important time to keep refreshing the message. Now that we have been stripped of our basic rights by a president who was illegally inaugurated.
I mean, hello. Pick up the clue phone. It’s been ringing off the hook.
Here’s a list of what your rights used to be and what has happened to them as reported by the Associate Press September 5, 2002. Just for fun read the text and then read the contrary by adding the proper negatives and see which one feels better.
You used to have freedom of association. But now, government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.
You used to have freedom to obtain government information but now, the government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges and has encourage bureaucrats to resist public records requests.
You used to have freedom of speech. Now, Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to terror investigation.
You’ve seen those television spots “Freedom – Protect It” where the guy goes into the library, asks for a book and the librarian asks for his name and address and as he walks out, two black suited guys approach him? The suggestion is that we must go to war with Iraq so we can continue to read and say what we want except that the same government who paid for the ad has already taken away that right. So I ask you, who do we go to war with to protect our “inalienable rights?” That’s right, the Bush Administration.
You used to have the right to legal representation. This right was established on June 13, 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding the case of MIRANDA v. ARIZONA, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) which created the now infamous Miranda rights that are read to you before questioning in the event of an arrest. “You have the right to an attorney. If you can not afford one, the court will appoint one.” The Government may now monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
You used to have a constitutional freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. That would be the fourth amendment. The government may now search and seize American’s papers and effects without probably cause to assist terror investigation.
You used to have the right to a speedy and public trial. That would be the sixth amendment and another of our basic rights as citizens of this great experiment called The United States of America. Now, the government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.
Evidently, the constitution is just another piece of paper Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush use to wipe their ass once they get their head out of the way rather than the cornerstone of the American way of life, the one they are theoretically protecting. No wonder critics have taken to calling G-Dub “Osama Bush Laden.”
And lastly, you used to have the right to Liberty. This used to be a free country. Now, Americans can be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them. Stalin made millions of people disappear. Artists and intellectuals were among the first to go as they always are when an autocratic dictator takes control, or in the case of George Bush Jr. installed by the Supreme Court – the same body we trust to interpret the constitution has also used it for toilet paper. Are you scared yet? Do you know what has happened to America? Eventually, in Stalinist Russia, people with beady eyes would be kidnapped and executed. Benito Mussolini had that same predilection.
Thank you Donald Rumsfeld for your selfless devotion to my happiness. I rest easy now knowing that the chicken will be in the pot and the car will be parked in the drive. God is on his throne and all is well with the world.
Dr. Mark Van Vugt of the Psychology department at the University of Southampton in Highfield, Southampton, England, did an interesting study comparing management styles to government leadership. He came up with something that we all just know mostly from first hand experience. “Dictatorships don’t work. All that happens is that people want to leave the country.”
Was America sleeping when this happened? Really, I’m just completely disappointed in my broadcast colleagues and the editors of city papers who erred on the side of ratings getting sensationalism that keeps us in BMW’s rather than informing the public and reporting on the biggest story of the era. America Turns From Democracy To Dictatorship. Investigative journalism is not a high priority anymore. I’m a celebrity journalist, so I don’t have much room to talk, and I’m about as yellow a journalist as they come but I expect my peers, who walked the same halls I walked, read the same books I did and live in the same world I do, to set the tone for the national news media and report the facts, not the propaganda. You are smart enough to think for yourself, I hope and I hope your editor is encouraging you to flex your impressive intellectual might rather than editing your stories to suit the sponsors.
One cute, subtle and probably unintentional detail of my favorite network newscast, the local NBC news in Los Angeles, the ‘A’ in the “Breaking News” banner has a circle around it, which you may know, is the symbol for Anarchy.
We need renegade journalists and cultural critics. We need modern men and women of letters to keep the conversation about our culture relevant, challenging and exciting and to explore life with brutal honesty and to satisfy our curiosity and intellectual cravings. We need to ask why the sky is blue and why zebras have their stripes again and again because there are so many ways to answer those questions and that is what makes it interesting to read all those essayists and pundits and columnists.
Oh, it is also banned books week. Support the first amendment and read something that was once banned. The American Library Association maintains a comprehensive list on their website at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/top100bannedbooks.html. Me? I’m going to read THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison again.
God Bless Satan.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=620
originally posted: 09/24/02 18:21:13