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Out of Sight, Out of Mind


My brother ­ we’ll call him Sam, seeing as that’s his name ­ works in a daycare center for lunatics. You can’t say he isn’t public spirited. I wouldn’t set foot in that place with a police escort and a hazmat suit to use the pay phone, but Sam just shrugs and says “where’s the corn chips”. He’s the very thing the Powers That Be in this country are trying to wipe out. Not only does Sam work in a place devoted to public health, it’s special needs public health. And not only that, the joint is black-owned. You cannot imagine a facility less beloved by the Republicans. Reagan did a lot of damage back in the day, yet he zapped only the most helpless people in society. Bush Jr. has been handed a more comprehensive task: don’t just attack one part of the system, poison the whole thing. And yet, I wonder what the plutocrats intend to do with all the crazy people and the old people and the poor people when their boy succeeds in starving off the remaining few bits of the Welfare State. Because all those unfortunate folks will get even skinnier, but they won’t disappear.

My brother is one of these Kung Fu experts that can wrench a man’s head off using only his arm hair, but instead of attacking, he merely stands there looking so menacing you finally strangle yourself unconscious to end the terror. He has studied every fighting form imaginable: master of the Mincing Buffalo, the Swift Goose, Irritable Monkey, Colorado Bulldog, Peculating Dragonfly, Hesitant Mantis, Crouching Walrus, and Snoozing Chuckwalla styles, among many other species. He is nearly invincible in hand-to-hand combat. While this is as useful on a day-to-day basis for most people as being able to inflate your ears like balloons, it is impressive to see. Add to this a wall-to-wall dermal tapestry of densely-needled tattoos, a condition of advanced emaciation, and eyeballs so sunken they look like bird’s nests with eggs in them, and you have an intimidating kind of person. Yet it is precisely his physical training that makes him perfect for his job.

With a gentle pressure, Sam can cause an agitated 300 pound maniac to sit meekly in his chair. No pain is caused, no cruelty delivered, just a slight application of an unopposable force to which even the most demented and bacon-smelling lunatic must yield. It’s just the sort of thing that used to get discovered and written up in professional journals, back when the public weal was of any concern. Time was, the authorities would have noted this quiet, gaunt guy handling these immense psychotics with ease, and they would have investigated what was going right with the system. They would have found out Sam was a Kung Fu expert, and they would have started teaching some sort of modified Kung Fu technique to the nurses working with dangerous nutcases. I would call it the Schizophrenic Wildebeest Style, but nobody’s asking me. Nobody’s asking Sam, either. They just give him a modest raise every couple of years and don’t remark on his full sleeve tattoos. And yet, there could be a revolution in the care and treatment of loonies, if only the revolution wasn’t focused on ending the care and treatment of everybody.

Not that there’s a concerted effort to close mental hospitals like during the Reagan years. As I already said if you would just pay attention, please, the situation is actually far worse. There’s a concerted effort to cut off funding to pretty much any institution that does anything that rich people don’t require and middle-class people (you remember them) don’t want to think about. Every once in a while some well-off kid suffers a dorsally angulated solitary metaphyseal greenstick fracture in the distal radius and has to go to the emergency room and his parents ask, why is the only emergency room in another city, but for the most part nobody wants to know. Out of sight, out of mind. But out of mind is exactly the condition of the guy who will be wandering around naked and yelling in your front yard, if we don’t start taking the Bush budget cuts seriously.

It’s not just people in need of psychiatric care that will get screwn. Anybody that needs a little help to pay for meds, anybody older than sixty that doesn’t have a fat retirement account in euros, anybody disabled in the service of the country, all little kids that aren’t born rich and idle, the list goes on and on. I only focus on the mental cases because I’m worried my brother will lose his job and go crazy. If that happens, there isn’t a man alive that can make him sit meekly in a chair. And he knows how to find my lawn.

BEN TRIPP can be reached at

His book, ‘Square In The Nuts’, has been held up at the printers by thugs but will be released as soon as hostage negotiations conclude.

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