Quick Question... Do I love my country enough to try to save it?, or do I move on? I recall in college reading all sorts of Beat Poets, and embracing the common mythology that where they were headed to, was some fixed place with perfect days, plenty of rest, golden sunsets, and perhaps a soul mate. I recall the Book "Elegiac Feelings American" by Gregory Corso, and I recall that it didn't impress me that much, but thematically, It swam about in the same soup of warm sand, rustic breakfasts, glamorous cigarettes, and stoic half empty bottle of whisky next to a Smith Corona. Corso did serve up a nice nod to Kerouac, He scribbled in the margins, and further complained about the American Mythology, The same American Myth that we stalk today, like a varmint rooting through our trash. He was exploring a bit about where America was bound. He was miffed that everything was not coming up roses, but did he really have the same context as we today?
The Myth that the Beats were selling was one of disobedience framed by American exceptionalism, from the perspective that success could be measured through it's poets, artists, and their suffrage, (however not too much, because well, we need enough for beer, whisky, and weed) and so surviving Beats somehow surfaced on the other side with a book deal or honorary professorship. (If the heroin doesn't kill you, you could be a regent).
Nevertheless, one could get on board with the idea that somewhere in this great land exceptional adults lived out of a shoe-box, but with enough beer, sex, and manuscripts, to feel connected, float a plane of existence where one is always engaged, entertained, and in love with something.
The trouble with leaving college is the let-down. The party ends and the music stops, and you bandy about looking for meaningful relationships that never seem to approach the deep stare of some tramp, or bum you once partied with. You deflate as you unpack all of your new things into a new larger space, with more things, nicer things, and even a bed-frame. How bad can this be? Lest we unpack being furloughed from scholasticism (college) itself, we must now leave campus, even before messing around with gender roles and re-inventing oneself. So the future gen is doomed, unless we start to hand out subversive paperbacks on the street once more.
...And that's the rub. Right there! Who the fuck are we to become, without the promise of America?
Have you read the Book "Fantasyland" by Kurt Anderson. If you answered no... Then stop right here and buy this book.
We begin building the mountain of shit post college, where exquisitely loose fitting relationships served over beans, rice, chicken wings, ramen, and perhaps a joint, washed down with some flat beer, are exchanged with and for, stuff, that makes no difference whatsoever. Stuff made from particle-board, and a Keurig no less replace your Chemex; Comfort-food, swapped in where your soul once stood, you vacate the 'YOU' from whence you were cool, where you were engaged, and sloppy, and completely imperfect, for the polished person that does not give a shit nor stand for anything. So it begins that you box up the Beat-Poets, and move into a house, (finally), and that box never emerges again, because well... design wise your weak collection of filthy paper-backs which frame perfectly who you were are aesthetically not aligned with your new shitty self. Welcome to the ice age of your Kindle Book Club. We are weened on Bullshit, paisley mythologies, and ironic facial hair, true --But the clown-car doors have come off, and we take turns driving this jalopy, until alas we need to give up the steering wheel to the next inductee. "Click Here", and then swap your squalid masonry block shelving lined with cutout LP's and used Paperbacks for hollow hallowed halls where Alexa picks your literature. It's so simple, I wonder if the devil now inks deals at the crossroads with a tablet. Inducted sans signature, once we click "agree to the terms".
Here is where you have landed, This!, and it's all rainbows and unicorns, and then
and then Ampersand, and Hashtag.
and then ....It's not!
(fingers snapping, click, click, click...)
So the thing I'm seeing is that that one interesting person that you used to be, is lusting after Douche-bag Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson for scoring citizenship to Greece. I've been to Greece... A few times, and even when they were facing the worst austerity since The two world wars, sometimes worse; But the Greeks, were not dickheads, they were not spiteful, and they were certainly not divided. And Man, I can tell you that I've never liked Tom Hanks since that stupid Shrimp Franchise. Not since "Bosom Buddies", has he held anything for me, But that fucker now has me seeking an invite... Antiparos of all places. It is magical. I now like at least what he represents now more than ever because he has accomplished the one key thing that I dream about every night. G'ingTFO
So that one fictional helmet under which the Beats, and and later Hunter Thompson roamed the west to a soundtrack of Eric Burden, Jim and Van Morrison, Mo Tucker, Lou and JC -- Is, or seemed to be that complete place where even though the adults in the room were behaving badly..., The rest of we dreamers, deadheads, yuppies, rock climbers, and their Sherpas, could find air. From Astronauts, to their spouse's casseroles, we were OK. WE, the rest of us, were gonna make it through.
The beauty of the cold war was that upon matriculation from Elementary school, One knew that tomorrow may be the end, and that sat well right next to the La Choy Chow Mein, and one drifted off to sleep to dream about Fantasy Island, Gilligan's Island or even a Greek Island such as Antiparos. Your Meal kit of conflict, and pending doom, in Cold War USA, was fictionalized enough because it was so innately possible to evaporate, that we all simply kept it frozen in that floor freezer in the basement. We just floated on. Today ... Today I don't have that childish optimism. Today I find myself like many more millions, looking for fiction to fill the void, while we endure an uncivil discourse, and a civil war.
You may recall William F Burrow's "Naked Lunch". You may recall this novel fondly and still have no real idea what his lit-up mind was fetching toward, but you will recall that from the Beats to Waites, From Springsteen to Supertramp's Breakfast in America... we all used "America" in ALL writing fondly. We always suppressed our gripes, and doodled in the margins what we'd wished the truth to be, but we always revered our republic as sound. It was seen, witnessed, and proven to be a fractured but solid America, and yet today "American" becomes a pejorative worldwide. So, as I reflect over the good ol' Days when a Thermo-Nuclear War was imminent, but we more or less agreed... -- Where today is your sentiment headed?
Scribbling in the margins, whilst stoned?
A Greek Island for sure. What now of your republic?, "If we can keep it".
For me, I see such a snowstorm of divisiveness in the USA, that I wonder if kindness, and daily sunshine can melt it, even in Mid-July.
So it brings me around to that "novel" idea again... Do you work to fix this shit?, or do you buy a boat?
The lonesome "Ampersand", which is survived by it's popular sibling the "Hashtag", (AKA The artist formerly known as "Pound") Have sliced us all up in a bit of a magic act in which we the audience secretly hope the trick backfires. The Owners of this stage show set a kind and lovely lady in a box, and begin sliding swords through the box, until what remains is a box, and well a macerated pulp of what it once was. So the trick backfires, and we cant get enough as gawkers. This Internet, News-Feed, and Celebrity Shit-show, is enough to drive one mad, but sprinkle in some hatred, a plague, and landing upon your ass squarely as the laughing stock of the developed and undeveloped world, and you now face a moral crisis.
So, do we fix this shit? Do we run up there and triage what we recall it was supposed to look like? Storm the Bastille, and perhaps die trying to resuscitate this train-wreck; Or do we simply find another place to emigrate to? Is there a patch large enough to cover the puncture in this thing? "America" which has given me so much... I think I wont get stoned tonight, Instead, I'll just sit quietly listening to that hissing sound of my country as it exhales for it's last time.
Fucking Tom Hanks.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.