What's about to happen, and Why

August 23, 2017

Wrath

7:30am and I'm still awake from last night, snorting and grumbling and yanking the covers from my wife's side of the bed like the cranky, irritated golem I am.

Ah, the world is a runaway shit train and it's going to get a hell of a lot messier before it gets any better. Climate breakdown is crashing through mankind's diddling rhetoric like a horny rhino with a swinging sack full of stormy spooge, and only the greedy and the muttonheaded are denying its arrival.

As bad as things are in Texas right now, 1/3 of India is under water as a trillion ton floating chunk of Antarctic ice slowly melts in the first act of a species extinction that, on a smaller scale, played out a long time ago in the Pacific Ocean on Easter Island where a population of warring fucktards mindlessly destroyed their limited resources through envy and pride and gluttony until there was nothing left to eat but each other, leaving behind row after row of giant rock heads with stupid looks on their faces that seem to say, "Yeah, we uh..we fucked up. Think we could uh, you know, maybe get another chance?"

No, you can't have another chance, you goddamned chump sticks. You woke up in paradise with the brainpower to keep it a paradise and you squatted your big fat collective anus over the magnificent gift you were given and dumped a hot, runny load of ego and ignorance all over it.

Go fuck yourself, mankind. A virus that kills its host deserves its fate. Long past the point of return, the best you can hope for is to slow its arrival but the hideous, screaming, strangling death of your mother is a lock. Keep braying in your social media corral with the rest of the herd while the corporate elite steal your water and poison your air and bang your daughter purple with the lifelong enslavement of debt. Keep eating from your concentration camp-processed flesh factories and keep throwing a billion plastic bottles into your acidifying oceans every single day, ya monkey spankin' thumb swipers.

While shooting a scene last week, I wanted to have an actor step on a rake so that his character could accidentally knock himself out, but I couldn't figure a safe way to do it without seriously injuring the actor unless we took time that we didn't have to replace the long wooden handle with something soft that LOOKED like a long wooden handle. So I said forget it and I threw the rake aside and we invented an easier, less perfect way to knock him out..then I turned around, stepped on the rake and smacked myself in the fucking face.

That's some funny shit, my friend. And it's an excellent metaphor for how mankind has handled the stewardship of the planet.

John Bizarre

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She-Goat

Most of what passes for entertainment is what, in 1509, Erasmus referred to as "dumb shit" in his essay Laudare Stultitia (Praise of Folly). My Dutch is mediocre, my Latin is worse, but I just don't like any of these English translations so as far as I'm concerned the phrase "mutum stercore", even in the early 1500s, translates to "dumb shit".

Reality shows, YouTube videos, social media noise, video games..all of the distracting "mutum stercore" that keeps the working class from focusing on the causes of their nagging despair and economic enslavement..all of it..plays into the psychological need to avoid dealing with the dire realities of the present and instead revert to the instant gratification of an electronic ice cream cone for the screaming inner brat.

Erasmus, of course was more concise in his assessment: "Stultitia est ulna res, quod tenet iuvenis propinquo et senectus procul," which, to the best of my ability, translates to "Folly is the single thing that keeps youth nearby and old age at a distance."

It is this same folly that allows Americans to sit on their hands while their elected representatives in the Senate vote down a proposal (61-36) to repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force in Afghanistan and Iraq - the blank check that gave the Cheney/Rumsfeld Administration (as well as all subsequent administrations) the go ahead to loot the US treasury for trillions of dollars, set the entire Middle East on fire, and turn the US military into a thinly veiled security force for multi-national energy, mining and weapons manufacturing corporations.

It's what Erasmus would have called "stupri absurdities" or "fucking bullshit".

Those 61 members of the US Senate who voted down that proposal do not represent the interests of the American people. They represent the corporations that profit from the continued exportation of war.

If you asked 100 people on any American street if the Senate should continue to authorize the US military to spent HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR on endless, deliberately un-winnable wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and other countries rather than spend that money on universal healthcare for every American, massive job creation in the state-by-state rebuilding of urban and rural infrastructure, and tremendous tax breaks for US-based, small corporations willing to invest heavily in renewable energy companies that employ American workers at decent wages to create an energy independent America for the 21st century, you would NOT get 61 of those people voting as the Senate did.

You know that old phrase, "the fox is in the hen house"? Yeah, well we're a little past that now. The fox has already eaten all the hens and he's turned the hen house into a bachelor pad where he smokes crack and jerks off to porn all day, kicking' it 'till the farmer figures out why the egg production has stopped.

While Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is my current favorite malcontent, I do enjoy the way Erasmus liked to whip out his Dutch crank and swing it in the face of religious authority. You have to admire the balls of a high profile guy in the early 1500s publishing this Latin sentence -

"Nulla recta invideo habent enim si nutrix capra cum laeta deae eram duobus uberibus"

or

"There is no reason I should envy you for having a she-goat for a nurse while I'm getting suckled by two jolly nymphs."

The "fox is in the hen house" quote is probably more relevant to what I was talking about but Fuck yeah, Erasmus!

John Bizarre

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September 3, 2017

September 22, 2017

Floating on my bag of coconuts

Imagine taking your smart phone, your computer and your television, turning them all off, and then leaving them off for a month.

A month.

You tell everyone who needs to know that "I'm gonna be electronically unavailable for a month, so if there's something truly urgent taking place that absolutely requires my attention you can just tell my contact at such and such a number and he'll slip a note under my door and maybe I'll open it and maybe I won't, but really, I did use the word unavailable and I'm sure you'll be able to figure out how to deal with whatever comes up and, y'know what, sweet jabbering Jesus, I just need a breather from all this twaddle for about 30 days and I bet when I get back everything's gonna pretty much be the same, only faster, more annoying, and a fuckload louder than I remember it."

At the beginning of '94 I gave away all my possessions and moved to Amsterdam, Holland to build a rickshaw and just loaf for a while, much like Larry Darrel plans to do in New York at the end of a book called The Razor's Edge. The idea was to work for myself when I wanted, for how long I wanted, IF I wanted, and make enough money, when I needed some, to just hop on a train to Budapest or Brugge or Barcelona or wherever the hell I felt like going, and hook up with people in hostels, people from all over the world who, like me, just want to drink coffee and smoke Moroccan hash and sit at an outdoor cafe with the International Herald Tribune watching the world go by, maybe go to a museum and try to find a Frans Hals or two, play some guitar on the street for a few hours and make enough cash for some bread, cheese and wine, then go find that Italian chick with the thing on her face and tell her she's fulla shit before I run out of money and have to hop a train back to Amsterdam, unlock the rickshaw and make enough money for another adventure.

I ended up doing that for two years.

It was before smart phones, I didn't have a computer and I don't remember there being any internet cafes in Amsterdam at that time. If they were there, I wasn't aware of them. I didn't have a telephone and my pain in the ass Nigerian roommate, who considered life to be little more than one long argument, wouldn't let me use hers. So once a month I would go to a "phone place" and pay some money up front to call my mom and dad and tell them I was alive. I also kept in touch with some friends through the post office now and then, but that was it.

No texting or facebook or twitter or email..none of that. Just a single phone call once a month and the occasional letter. All of my other interactions were present and immediate, happening moment to moment and there were no recordings of any of it, except for one time when I gave Ricky Lee Jones and her husband a ride from the train station to Paradiso on Weteringschans and her husband sat on the floor facing backwards in the front of my rickshaw with his VHS video camera shooting Ricky and me as we chatted, cruising down the Prinsengracht.

It's funny for me to think of Ricky Lee Jones going through her old home movies and stumbling across this footage from her mid-90s tour through Holland when she had this weird American rickshaw driver with a long red beard who kept talking about the Jacob van Ruisdael clouds and the anarchist coffeeshop on Marnixstraat where the smoke is a little thicker.

It's hard to describe the level of freedom you have when you let it all go.

I've lived a lot longer than I had planned. I was pretty sure I'd be dead by 1997. Somehow I..couldn't quite make that happen. Many of my closest friends are dead now and I miss the level of chat we used to have. I could call up John Weiss and Dave Feinman with a wild hair across my ass about Marx or Trotsky or Hegel and they'd both be on board for a back and forth for as long as I had the wind for it. And often, after a particularly thorny intellectual odyssey, maybe a week later, both Weiss and Feinman would each send me a letter carrying the conversation further, long letters, like 9 or 10 yellow legal pad pages long, often written on both sides.

I still have the letters. I miss those guys.

A few days before I left for Amsterdam, my friends Steve and Julie handed me an empty journal, telling me to fill it up and send it back to them. It was a wonderful gesture and I followed through with fulfilling their request. Years later they gave it back to me and I read through it, reliving some of the moments I had forgotten. It was crude and clumsy and clearly written by an animal..but it was mine.

There was a moment during those years when I found myself at a corner of Hyde Park in London arguing with a communist at Speaker's Corner who really had that red snap down. He was wiry, maybe even gaunt, and his feet were filthy and his teeth had been condemned by the city and due for demolition, but damned if that guy didn't know his rap. He talked me into a rhetorical alley that I couldn't find my way out of and I walked away to get some coffee and think about it. When I came back he was taking a break, sitting next to his soap box with who I assumed to be his wife and child. They looked desperately poor. I walked back up to him, handed him some money and thanked him for the talk. He took the money, smiled slightly and just nodded his head, staring off in thought.

Probably the most Socratic cat I've ever met.

For reasons I can't explain, I just remembered Bookie Brooks, an enigmatic stoner dude I knew in Portugal who had this curious command of the language where he would never say, "Fuck you" or "Eat Shit" when he was pissed at you. He would instead jack his thumbs toward his crotch, lean into you with a tight look on his face and say, "Bite a ball, dude. Bite a ball." I've never met anyone else who has ever used that phrase or managed to shoot that level of particle acceleration through his eye.

More often than I care to reveal I feel like Steve McQueen floating on a bag of coconuts at the end of Papillon, looking up into the sky and yelling, "I'm still here, you bastards!"

Age is the wrinkled hand that wipes away dust from life's windows. I still believe ideas are the greatest accomplishments of human beings, I still believe the reward for having lived a good life is having lived a good life, and I still believe the best philosophers rarely wear shoes.

John Bizarre
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September 14, 2017

First, let's understand a few things. The day after Bannon and Trump announced that their overall agenda for National Socialism and a more aggressive economic engagement with China would be better served with Bannon back at Breitbart as a propagandist (directly controlling the narrative in a civilian capacity) and Trump in a newly adopted neo-con friendly role (placing a more traditional, Reagan-like face over the ongoing corporate coup d'etat), Bannon declared in an interview that the Trump administration America had put into office is now a closed chapter.

And, to an extent, that might be true. But imagining Bannon and Trump will no longer be talking to each other every day is naive. This is primarily a cosmetic move, or perhaps more accurately, a move similar to castling in chess when you create a safer space for the king through positioning.

Bannon seems genuinely motivated by ideology while Trump seems almost certainly focused on legacy and reelection. In his few months as chief strategist, Bannon managed to use his influence with white nationalists to create what he hoped would look like an emerging race war, the plan being that if the democrats could be manipulated into focusing on identity and race for a while, republicans could use economic nationalism to grind them into powder again during the next election cycle.

Second, the American invasion of Afghanistan has never been about defeating al qaeda or the taliban. From the outset it has been about securing the energy pipeline from Turkmenistan, annexing the opium trade to finance black budget operations, stealing mineral rights for western mining corporations through complicated international laws and, most importantly, using Afghanistan's strategic position as a military command center within central asia for the looming and depressingly inevitable showdown with China, Russia and Iran.

The trick to getting away with it, since the beginning of the century, has been to frame it for Americans as a clash of civilizations with wholesome, Judeo-Christian spreaders of democracy on one side and dirty, heathen, suicide-bombing savages on the other. Somehow, that dizzy, fat-headed explanation has been all that's required for private contracting corporations and weapons manufacturers to loot the U.S. treasury for 16 years.

It's not a coincidence that only one week after the founder of the Blackwater murder-for-hire companies, Erik Prince, offered up the idea of privatizing the war in Afghanistan, Trump then announced he would be sending 4,000 more American troops into that country. After a reportedly exhaustive deliberation with his war horde at Camp David, Trump emerged with a dark and deeply cynical Afghan policy - further beat down an already war-weary American public by sending even more Americans into a deliberately un-winnable war. Then, after enough body bags come back, repackage yourself as an innovative president with a shiny new, modern sounding plan to privatize war, hiring mercenary armies to do our murdering for us, legitimizing private defense forces that operate under no ethical or moral requirements, paying for them through debt-financing by corrupt congressional fiat and, ultimately, reducing the U.S. military to coast guard status while elevating hired thugs to the level of an un-challengeable dominating global army that answers only to the shareholders of a handful of multinational corporations.

Once the government of the United States officially gives its system of defense over to a private, profit-driven corporation, the American people no longer have a system of government that has anything to do with democratic principles. The merging of economic nationalism with National Socialism in combination with corporate leadership and a mercenary defense force is the end of even a pretense of liberty.

The door is closing fast on human freedom. There is really only one way out: Resistance; quiet, sober, non-violent, yet overwhelming resistance by like-minded people who would like to see the left..maybe move back toward the left again, who would like to see the concept of people over profit become a consideration in every decision, who would like to see the national zeitgeist move toward the fundamentals of democracy in the workplace, who recognize the inherent beauty of universal healthcare, who understand the importance of bringing the little guy back into the game, and who want to move past the simplistic, 140 character noise machine and return to an honest, unreserved atmosphere of open dialogue and conflict resolution through patience, understanding and, above all, reason.

Jeez, we can at least be THAT good, can't we?

John Bizarre


That night…in Vegas..

About 10:28 that night, one of our guys backstage got a text from a friend of his in the fire department that there were multiple shots fired at Mandalay Bay. We all scrambled to get information and share it with friends and family as fast as we could while running on and off stage, changing costumes and flipping stages. At finale, I got another round of applause for each of the ladies then ran off stage, out the door, down the stairs and into the casino.

It was 11:09pm. Once in the casino, I didn't actually run but I walked very fast. The casino crowd clearly had not heard the news yet but the yellow t-shirted security guys clearly had because they were popping out of everywhere and some of them were pressing their middle fingers into their ear pieces trying to hear better.

I was focused on only one thought - get to my wife and get her out of here.

I whipped through Harrah's, ran across The Linq walkway and thread my way through an outdoor area of The Flamingo, leaping over rocks and bushes, trying to make a straight line to my wife and then to our car. The valet guys at The Flamingo, who are ALWAYS on it, had our car ready to go. We leapt in and scooted out, making our way up to Paradise, around to Desert Inn and over the bridge to the west side.

Now I feel I have to tell you this because it happened and it may be important later..

As we drove on Paradise, Desert Inn and the rest of the way home, we listened to a police scanner that a friend had made available to us. For that half hour drive we listened to police officers at different locations report information back and forth, coordinating different response teams to different locations.

We both distinctly heard one officer report that a woman at The Tropicana was suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, and another officer report that there had been a shooting at the front desk of NewYork NewYork. The reason this seems important to point out is because many hours later, very early in the morning as we scanned all the major news and social media outlets, we noticed something..

Some of the talking heads on the network television news channels were weaving the same words into their reporting of the event. It went like this - "..and we are hearing that no shots have been fired at any other locations and no one at any other location has been hurt.."

Every time we heard that, my wife and I looked at each other with lifted eyebrows. By 5 in the morning, after we had heard those words, almost verbatim, repeated on a number of different channels, it was hard not to hear it as a guided narrative of some kind.

Now it's certainly plausible that, in the heat of the moment, people had been reporting things to police officers that they thought had happened, and officers were then relaying those reports back to dispatch. But that's not what it sounded like when we heard it coming in over the scanner. It sounded to us more like the officers were reporting something that they were dealing with rather than something they had been told.

It only struck us much later, when network news seemed to be making it a point to mention that those incidents had not happened.

It's odd, that's all. As you get older you more readily recognize patterns, and it seems like we've seen this..kind of thing before.

Anyway, we crashed about 6am and when I woke up a few hours later my incredible wife Nancy was already up coordinating efforts to pick up donations from people all over Las Vegas and drop them off at different pick-up sites, and get the stuff (water, energy bars, battery chargers, clothing, etc..) to the family and friends of victims as well as everybody else who had been thrown into that horror. On our routes we passed blood drives with people lining up down long blocks. It was magnificent to see the people of Las Vegas pull together so fast and so effectively, and all day you could feel that we were really part of one family, a human family that really cares for each other. You got to see how good we can be.

I don't know, you just had to see it.

The hate that creates human slaughter, and the reward of notoriety that it receives, is the poison that chokes the life out of this human experiment. We really have to get past this as a species.

It's hard for me to describe how much I love my wife tonight.

John Bizarre

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