Saturday, February 07, 2009

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN
EX-OTHER PROGRESSIVE:
Of Bedridden Soul Searching, Emails from Sorority Militants, & Other Fuckings with the Man

Politics, the environmental crotch rot,
Whole forests destroyed while
the world's too hot to Live in...
Where the fuck do I begin?


A baby is dead from an overdose,
Mama tried suicide after suicide
But couldn't get close enough to meet
the Big Man in heaven,
The TV sliced and diced God down
to sweet meats sold in a goddamn 7-11.


- Spoken word performance notes,
"Unus Marx," Greeley, Colo., 1997

[Sick Week 2009 soundtrack by Demago]


OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- In a previous life, I reminded myself recently, I was more of a free spirit, an artist and a troublemaker.

I spent the better part of last week in bed, burning up with fever and shivering inside a cocoon of blankets, trying to remember what that was like - to be full of wanderlust, radicalism, passion.

To be free again, an artist, a rebel...I really used to believe...we'd build our children a better world...

And as I stared at my netbook screen, blankly trying to recall that part of my past in an attempt to write something coherent, I was forced to acknowledge one of the most terrifying aspects of "adulthood."

Somewhere along the line, I sold out.

Sorta.

Man, just like the goddamn Baby Boomers and my own generation and every generation before mine. Like the Socialists and Anarchists who took refuge in the Democratic Party in the wake of Joe McCarthy, like free-market libertarians sought shelter in the Big Government Republican Party.


I simply did what every adult does when the status quo autopilot takes over - I took the acceptance cookies the established, entrenched powers-that-be waved in front of me, hopped in their van of conformity, and let myself get skullfucked by the blood soaked clown suits of industry in the name of some bullshit American Dream I can't afford.

We all sell out.


As I lay in bed, sick with the flu, I couldn't figure out if it was a high body temperature making me shiver, or if the ideas running through my mind...

* * * *

At one time, in what sometimes feels like another life, I was a poet, a painter of abstract curios and refurbisher of curbside furniture, a fun guy to invite along on a trip to the local cooperative for green tea and social justice debates. I played guitar, dammit, in punk bands and around campfires and on porches surrounded by Mexican women!

Potlucks with farmworkers and attending lectures by former Black Panthers! Volunteering to pick herbs for holistic practitioners! Working with street kids to help keep them from getting raped or to escape abusive parents!

Man, I was a bit of a radical back then... damn fever... messing with my head...

Once upon a time, I shared a stage with gay men who wore the most beautiful flowing dresses and proud dyke wordsmiths, performing spoken word in front of small crowds in equally small college student housing. I'd attend protests and riots and create my own scene, wherever and whenever...

I wrote for 'zines, published a small campus satire, held court in hotel rooms along the Central Coast with self-described Art Fags and performance artists and free verse fratboys and surrealist painters who worshiped Captain Beefheart and Brian Eno...

... Jesus Christ, all those nights talking to hookers and drunken fishermen... going back to a cheap motel room with friends to change American literature forever... God, we were such dreamers...

And then, yes, I sold out.

Writing for 'zines under assumed names gave way to writing for the better paying mainstream media, my own poetry became a rambling shit stain across a thousand spiral-bound notepads, and then, yes, I became a librarian when the last vestiges of my militant independence drove me from a rather amusing career as a sports broadcaster.

I shivered and shuddered beneath the sheets, fever raging through my body, thinking such things.

Well, then there's the blog, right?

You sold out, Jason, but that sweet militant bastard is still in ya, somewhere....

* * * *

After the fever broke for good, days later, by the time I'd caught up with work enough to even look at Zenformation Professional shit, I came across an email from someone who I'm sure will read this sometime soon - an undergrad lurker, a sorority girl and, simultaneously, a newbie campus agitator spurred to action by those "stimulating" clusterfucks the Man keeps peddling down in Washington.

Apparently, my double-fisted "Fuck You!" to the Bailout Buddies during Authoritarian Presidential Erection 2008 earned me some serious campus street cred with beyond-mainstream college students, especially those who thought that I only write about drinking, women, and other fucktardish things.

Yeppers, my political views make it hard (sorry Dems) to distinguish between two sides of the same Benevolent Dictator coin. And my opinion hasn't changed a lick - and I don't give a flying ratfuck about Aretha's goddamn hat, either.

Anywho...

The longtime reader, who I'll call Miss Panhell, wanted to share with me her own double-fisting tales, thank me introducing her to both open-source operating systems and a couple of really great bands that helped her get through a nasty break-up...

There's a sorority girl who's reading Emma Goldman and Noam Chomsky these days, exploring a world she didn't even know she could explore on her own, as a person and not as an output widget in some Higher Education Degree Machine.

Haha wow you're not old! You give me hope because you never sold out, a line in her email read. Sometimes I feel like I've been selling out my whole haha baby life.

And, as I sat in a coffee shop responding to her email, I laughed and remembered my feverish fits of self-doubt and fluish self-assessment:

We all sold out. You, me, everybody. If you think otherwise, well, you're a fool.

But we can always steal that shit back...


And the visual of a sorority girl going to a frat mixer and bringing up things like the international banking industry's exploitation of Third World workers and the rights to breastfeed in public I've got running through my head right now?

The perfect camouflage in this increasingly batshit Kapitalist Kingdom.

You go, girl.

If you hadn't emailed, I probably wouldn't have had the balls to write this.

- # # # -

6 comments:

librarianwoes said...

Tomatoe, tomato...

Sold old or grew up? Welcome to adulthood Jason. Life, the Man, whatever has beaten us all down. As you pointed out, sooner or later it beats the vast majority of us down. For most of us, idealism gives way to just trying our best to live until life kills us. If we have families it happens even quicker because of the responsibility involved to keep them alive.

Of course, some of us never sell out... Many of these people end up in jail, doing something that gets them killed in a violent manner, or they off themselves in the process.

I'm old enough to know that just making it through life is a miracle and that being an American makes me fortunate enough to do the (very) little I can to make other people's lives better. Not living in a grass hut or a shanty town as most of the World does affords me the ability to do so.

Change happens slowly. Giving to charity, and volunteering are little things that We as Americans can do and should do to make the World a better place. Although with an unemployment rate of 17% based on pre WWII measurements we're in a much worse position to do so now then we have been in a long time.

Sadly, this is what happens when Capitalism takes the crazy train and the checks and balances turn a blind eye to reality just to make a quick buck. The Haves and their lives of excess have derailed and the entire World is now suffering for their hubris. The last time 1% of the American population had 25% of the wealth was 1929... And history certainly seems to be repeating itself.

Until someone figures how to rid Homo sapiens of greed, or our desire to just kill the fuck out of each other for little reason things will never change. That's not selling out, that's who We are.

Kate said...

whoa. Jason this is so revealing but yea definitely earned some street cred.

ok maybe you are old :P seriously I have actually had those conversations about breastfeeding not at mixers but after chapter.

thanks man. made my weekend!

Anonymous said...

fuck yeah breastfeeding in public.

Anonymous said...

yea is it just me or is obama turning out to be just bush in blackface.

YEA! thanks for giving greek activists a shoutout. was a theta myself and i marched and organized and did all sorts of things.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Woes:

Grown up, sold out... synonym concepts really in our society. We tend to bury new ideas, change, and accept the status quo in adulthood a lot easier because, well...

We are quite the nation of pussies these days.

And we'll keep crashing, starting trade wars that make Iraq look like common sense, etc. - until we knock the snot out of ourselves, starve a lot of people...

We deserve the bitchslap to our consumerism. We earned it.

Kate:
You're welcome, chica. Keep up the reading and agitating - change comes from robbing the robber barons through their own perceptions, their own system. Once they're broke, then, heh, we can hope.

Anon 1:
Heh. Yeah, have you ever noticed that whenever some poor mom gets humiliated in the press for whipping it out in some mall or park to do what WOMEN HAVE BEEN DOING SINCE THE DAWN OF MAN, it almost always turns out that the histrionic complainant rambling about either a)how immoral it is, against God, etc., to do such things in public, or b) some anti-kid spinster?

Anon 2:
yea is it just me or is obama turning out to be just bush in blackface.

Well, haha, that's harsher than I am. Damn. :)

librarianwoes said...

Who's the bigger fool? The fool who sees reality for what it is, or the fool who wants reality to be what he wants it to be?