Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gravity’s End Zone

by ADAM ENGEL

I’m bad. Bad to the bone-marrow. B-b-b-bad.

Nevertheless – and how’s this for “Un-American” sour grapes? – THE MAN is so deep inside my head I can’t even croak-out without melodrama, without conjuring up some fantasy scene outta one of HIS TV shows. True, I haven’t watched television regularly since I was about fifteen, but those first fifteen are formative years. While Europeans my age were learning languages and culture, there I was – and I sure wasn’t alone –

watching “Three’s Company” and “Happy Days,” so now I can’t even check out with dignity. My head’s full of sentimental romantic fascist crap. It’s an insult to humanity, a fart in the face of life itself. Enough to drive a man mad. For instance, I’m thinking

(we-ell maybe not exactly)

wild west shoot’em-up war movie, I’m the hero saves the day, sleeps with all three Andrews Sisters, rolls mean old Mr. Potter off a cliff, smiles and waves for the camera for viewers of the FUTURE (uh…that’s probably you)…

but possibly

me and those women from that “Friends” show up all night talking about life and love and sex and death and whatever minor plot twists they typically cram into a twenty-minute episode and I won’t have sex with any of them we’ll decide we’re too vulnerable or some shit like that and it would ruin our friendship or god knows what perversities they indulge in – really, I’ve seen snatches (heh, heh) of that sit-glum while passing in and out of television blue-lit rooms: their spiel is sicker than de Sade’s, who at least wrote about HUMAN stuff

or

I hit the game-winning HOME RUN match set love (or whatever they do in tennis) forty yard serpentine rush to the end zone TOUCHDOWN

but really more like

(Zee Plane! Zee Plane!)

Thomas Pynchon reads Counter Punch. Why not? If he’s gonna read anything, it’d be CP, eh? So Pynchon writes to me:

“Really dig your stuff. Keep cool, but care.

Best,

Tommy Boy”

And for a moment I believe it. It’s like when some guy offered the Beatles $50 million to reunite for one concert tour or something like that when I was fourteen, or when I went to visit Keats’ house on my first and only trip to England. Only, the Beatles didn’t get back together, and Keats’ house was “closed for renovation we regret any inconvenience,” and that’s the way it goes. Then again, there was that one Sunday in the early 70’s when Charles M. Schultz accidentally put a real phone number in one of Lucy’s cartoon bubbles and millions of readers flooded the lines – “Hello, is Lucy there, what about Linus?” – and the flesh-and-blood people who actually “possessed” that seven digit code had their phones ring-ringing off the walls all day, and when they answered there was a nano-second pause on the other end, a pause of, I don’t know, hope maybe? That maybe, maybe, this could be, like, real? But nothing in America is real, is it? Yeah, yeah, I know: Death and Taxes. Fuck ’em both.

So I get this email from <Kenosha.Kid@blicero.gov> and after I get over that cocaine rush of hope and excitement I fall deep into cocaine blues. Dark moon reality cold-clocks me upside the head.

I write back,

“Whoever you are, thanks for the lift. But, as Nancy said, “Say No to Drugs.” Too old – really – to deal with this kind of game. I’m sure the real TP would appreciate the humor.”

Then he writes back,

“No, really, really. I AM Thomas Pynchon.”

And since I happen to know a guy who not only knows TP’s wife, but worked on some kind of digital literacy program where TP’s kid went to grade school, I write back,

“If you’re Tom Pynchon, ask your wife, or your son, who Kevin Kanarek is.”

And he write back and tells me. Not only that, he invites me to lunch.

“A-and bring Kevin along too, if you want,” he adds.

The fantasy progresses to me and Tom becoming pals. He encourages me to work on a book and gets me an advance and I go into remission just long enough to write the book, and Pynchon and Don Delillo and Ishmael Reed and Robert Coover write rave reviews, and it sells, and I have some money to leave behind for my wife and dog and a legacy for the readers of “The Imperator,” the Jericho Senior High School year book, 1983 (why do I still want to impress those people?).

Yeah, well. Back on earth…

I actually was a celebrity a couple of weeks ago, when I went to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside D.C. Not only had I actually lived to the ripe old age of 38 (so far) with Diamond-Blackfan Anemia, but in 1966 or so, the infant ADAM ENGEL was actually one of the first to receive and respond to the Prednisone treatment by THE Dr. Diamond himself. Needless to say, the NIH wants me to undergo some of their test treatments (they call them “Protocols”) with nasty drugs – For FREE! – so if one of them does the trick the government can give it away to some drug company which will charge me two billion dollars to use the “treatment” if I’m still alive two years from now. Just call me Slothrop. And don’t call the NIH at all.

But why this need for the game-winning home-run? The Super bowl-winning touchdown and spike in the End Zone, all cameras upon me? I thought I would have grown out of it by now. No, that’s a lie. I thought I would have done something of, for lack of a better word, VALUE, by now, and that thing, a book or something, would have allowed me to grow beyond the tired sports metaphor and die in peace.

But Americans never die in peace. Most of them, at any rate. They’re too burdened with all the shit they were told they were supposed to do but never did and probably never could. They’re too guilty, too ashamed to die.

Like in that book, “A Fan’s Notes,” by Frederick Exeley. Guy can’t live his life cause he’s not Frank Gifford. Never gonna make that game-winning touch down for the New York Giants his father so adored. No spike and dance in the End Zone. Just booze, cigarettes, anxiety, depression, roast beef, meaningless labor, death. Like Daddy.

So it was Daddy’s fault all along! Then again, who’s Daddy, usually, but another incarnation of THE MAN? A mannequin with tapes in his head. DVDs, now. Microchips. Daddy gone digital.

Terrible, but true: most people you meet, particularly in a “professional” capacity, are recorders, digitized to interface in real time, albeit somewhat limited by the unfortunate sloppiness of wet-ware. Meat-puppets fronting for THE MAN. Here’s a fun experiment: watch a night of TV News, if you can stand it, then go around asking people, particularly “professionals” in suits, official-looking coats, arm-bands, uniforms, funny hats etc., what they think “about stuff.” You’ll get minor variations on what you heard and saw the night before. Maybe a harsh opinion or two added courtesy the NY POST or Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly or whoever. Like that kid’s game, “Telephone.”

After all, it was THE MAN, or his white-coated representatives, who condemned me to death. Tell you the truth, I don’t feel THAT bad. They tried the same thing with Pynchon’s Tyrone Slothrop, but he escaped, sort of. Why not me? Is it not my right as a “free American citizen” to skeedaddle when the Reaper (or THE MAN) comes a knock, knock, knockin on my door? Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin, I say. Go away. Piss off. Die, Death, and yer little MAN too.

Okay. It’s settled, then. “I’ll die on my own time,” as my friend, Paul, said to THE MAN’s white-coated toadies when given a similar prognosis almost a decade ago.

Now, it’s one thing to cheat Death, but THE MAN is a bit more wily and cruel. How to escape the corny, mawkish scenes THE MAN put in my head, the sentimentality and illusions? Don’t think they’re harmless fun, those corny greeting cards and cliches. Out of such cerebral dysentery patriots, Liberals and talk-show hosts are made. False feeling. The soap operas and sticky sweet flash-backs (often of experiences you’ve never actually had) the MAN and his Media slather all over your brain like Aunt Jemima’s-plastic pancake syrup. Looka dat nice smiling auntie Jemima (a bit updated: thinner, especially the nose and lips; capped teeth; cleaner kerchief; lighter hue) jest so happy to be cooking home style Frankenfood for THE MAN, pouring his sticky brown maple-flavored lab-fresh chemo-spunk all over your frozen waffles.

That’s the real sickness anyway…all the rest is just biology.

ADAM ENGEL can be reached at bartleby.samsa@verizon.net. But Death be not SPAM. He has your IP number, Death, so don’t try any of those cute aliases like light@tunnel.org or gotcha@butterfly.net It’s “Block Sender,” all the way, dig? Anything You send gets the bum’s rush straight to Engel’s “Delete” file.

 

Adam Engel is editor of bluddlefilth.org. Submit your soul to bluddlefilth@yahoo.com. Human units, both foreign and domestic, are encouraged to send text, video, graphic, and audio art(ifacts), so long as they’re bluddlefilthy and from The Depths.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyon
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]