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Day 17

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Schlock and Gawk

Don’t Look Back

by ADAM ENGEL

Again I saw that goofy puss on enormous screens around Times Square and glossy magazines and color photo Gab-loids galore peddled alongside “Hustler” and “Chic” and other clean, honest, American porn at corner kiosks, and despite myself I laughed and gave Dubya some degree of credit for his courage. Imagine not merely owning a mug like that, but exposing it daily to worldwide scrutiny and certain ridicule! On the other hand, it is a beastly face, both goofy and menacing, the face of an angry mutt, a punim I’m sure had been pummeled much by the sons of other oilmen, spooks and politicos during its formative years. Might be the reason behind all that inarticulate rage.

We Americans must be a craven, sinister lot to “rally round” such a kisser and follow its hollow eyes to only god knows what circle of hell. Or maybe we’re just a nation of children. Somebody must lead the children, since they are obviously not responsible for themselves. Someone must save us from ourselves.

True, we’re bombarded on all sides with propaganda, but who isn’t? People the world over pay lip-service to their government’s bullshit, but they don’t take it SERIOUSLY. Can you imagine showing someone in that Axis-Of-Evil-To-Be, France/Germany/Russia, USA Today or the NY Post or TIME? The ridiculous prose, the blazing graphics — all for about three pages — then ZAP! right to the celebrities and how rich and playful they are. Oh, and beautiful and lovelorn and tormented by TIME and Fame.

I watched the Americans around 42nd Street and Broadway — Times Square — with their heads down like dogs who crapped Mom’s Persian rug — close; Iran’s next — or better yet: Raskolnikov. They knew they’d done something horribly, horribly wrong, something that no one, not their lawyers, shrinks, Yoga masters, dieticians, would help them get away with. But all they could talk about was the perceived payback, not the crime itself:

“We’re on high alert.”

“Do you think they’ll hit New York again? My Uncle Dom has a place in the Pocanos..”

“Just stay away from crowds…”

“Oh, what about the children?”

Yeah, what about us, stained as we are with other children’s blood?

Think about that scene in Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” when our long-suffering narrator, Alex, takes his ultra-violence kick a step too far and kills a woman. His erstwhile youth probation officer, Mr. Deltoid, comes to visit him at the station house and explain some hard facts. Like for instance, Alex is in a different league now. No longer under Mr. Deltoid’s cruel, yet familiar, quasi-avuncular jurisdiction.

“You’re a murderer, Alex. A MURDERER!”

Those damned and damning Gab-loids like flashbulbs in our faces. True, the “Grey Lady” or “Iron Maiden” or whatever the hell they call the New York Times peddles as much poop per paragraph as any other paper, but at least the NYT attempts to make it look real. They go on at some length, 20 inches and more in those articles, to mimic objectivity and in-depth analysis, even though they’re going over the same lurid, Pentagon-approved twaddle and could probably insert “dummy” sentences, like naughty kids writing “punishment essays” after school (“This sucks!” in the middle of a two page essay on “How to Behave Patriotically in Class” etc.). Really, who would notice?

But do we children believe everything the fourth estate (heavily mortgaged to what Blanche Dubois delicately dubbed “epic fornications”) tells us? Hell, even a child — uh that’s us, I think — can look at all the keen graphics they’re hawking and see a bunch of U.S. soldiers bogged down in the sand, fighting an angry native populous (last time it was mud, not sand; it was mud in Vietnam, was it not?) or giant mushrooms of fire erupting from a city that from far away looks very much like LA.

What, are they gonna tell us that no civilians are gonna get hurt, maimed, killed, obliterated, that perhaps thousands of human beings aren’t being wiped off the planet by blast waves and fire? Are we stupid? Are we insane? Have we no grasp of the reality of the situation, or are we so sensitive to our powerlessness that we lay awake at night plagued by syndicated Kafkaesque nightmares in rerun (the rights to Franz’s nightmares are owned by Fox, I think, but I’m not sure)?

It sucks being a kid.

Imagine if, in this nation of 280 some-odd million decorticated zombies looking for the optimal personal solution and feel-good formula for weight loss, self-esteem, pine-scented genitals, whatever we’re supposed to be lacking, whatever essential trait we were somehow born without, there were ten million committed ADULTS. That’s not even five percent of the population. Imagine if we were part of this cabal of Grown-ups. Ten million of us to stop paying taxes, march en masse to OUR capital to demand an immediate end to this illegal, immoral, insane war. Ten million MATURE HUMANS who might threaten to really screw things up by standing up for Truth, Justice and the…uh, the American (??!!) way. Or even just sit down and do nothing — in the middle of our respective town plazas or main streets or whatever. Traffic jams. Resistance. Rebellion, dispassionate yet absolute. Bartleby the Scrivener: “I would prefer not to.” How would they clean us up? Kill us? Throw us ALL in jail?

Possibly.

For instance, what’s with those brilliant colored blast photos on the cover of every journal, website and magazine? Intended to titillate or intimidate? I mean, We The People, minors that we are in every sense, are still SOMEWHAT important, aren’t we? Should we be worried? They wouldn’t try to shock and awe US, would they? They’re not trying to scare US with all this high tech military might we paid for with our hard-earned dollars. Right? Uh…RIGHT?

Oh, fuck it. Who wants to grow up here anyway? Maybe it’s time for a bunch of us kids to just up and leave. Skeedaddle. Become bona fide RUNAWAYS. Find a way out of this interminable childhood in some foreign land. We’ll grace the sides of ten million milk cartons, we’ll be famous.

Just don’t look back, or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.

The minute he stops vomiting, ADAM ENGEL’s gonna pick his ass up off the bathroom floor and high-tail it to the Island of Lost Boys or Misfit Toys or someplace where “the Main Stream” is wide and full of fish, plants and clear water. asengel@attglobal.net

Yesterday’s Features

Pablo Mukherjee
Watch Their Lips

David Krieger
Shock But Not Awe

Linda Heard
Winning Hearts and Minds Bush—-Style

Imad Jadaa
The Beautiful Face of America

ADAM ENGEL
Buckets of Blood

Patrick Cockburn
Kurds Unimpressed

David Lindorff
POWs, Torture and Hypocrisy

Robert Fisk
The Coup That Didn’t Happen

April Hurley, MD
A Doctor’s Outrage in Baghdad

Gloria Bergen
Chretien’s Shame

Reema Abu Hamdieh
The Smell of Death Surrounds Me

Website of the War
Iraq Body Count

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