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