America on Vacation

I took a vacation in March, fleeing Philadelphia’s worst winter for two weeks in California, sans TV, newspapers and internet. Boy, am I born to vacate and recreate. California’s serf’s were up, all tan and happy and wind-blown, swimming and sunning and surfing and hiking and blading and biking.

And I’m right there with them. I’m all about the coastal mountains now. Here’s my California kaleidoscope: the wind-whipped peak of Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park, the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Children’s Pool Beach, where much of my favorite movie , The Stunt Man, was filmed ( “Hey, there’s where Steve Railsback saved Barbara Hershey from drowning!”), the narrow trails and exquisite smells of Topagna Canyon, the modest, quirky, creative San Diego houses with backyards sporting orange and lemon and tangerine and banana trees, the nightly exodus to every beach to see the sunset, the tide pools and sea anemones and surfing dolphins at Torrey Pines Beach, the sea otters resting on kelp beds at Point Lobos, the macabre canopy of gnarly leafless oaks lining the country roads in Napa’s wine country, the tears streaming down my face as I stood on one of Big Sur’s cliffs, finally, seeing it for the first time after having my imagination fired in my twenties by Henry Miller’s writings — the fog, the green, the blue , the white bubbly Pacific champagne, thunderous hundred foot waves rearing up and collapsing on the rocks, all along that world-wonder coast and — turn around — dense towering redwood forests on more spectacular mountains, and the Henry Miller Library in the middle of it all with editions of his “books of wisdom” tied up and hanging from strings from the ceiling like a funky mobile galaxy. Then there was the Doors’ “Tell All The People” blasting out from an open window on a house on the Santa Monica Beach — the Kush Doctor, the medical marijuana clinic, by God California’s got it going on!

You can be homeless and jobless but still have all the good shit of the Santa Monica Beach available to you. Now I see the merits of the human turtle. I’m willing to embrace my own inner permanent camper. Work? Well, c’mon — work gives you cancer and kills you. If you think I don’t have the science to back that up I say: probably most everybody who ever died worked at some point in their lives, whether smokers or nonsmokers, vegans or carcass-eaters — so work’s the single biggest risk factor for dying. Real tortoises can live 150 years and if we give up the hare of the dog’s life that bites us, I bet we can get back to those Biblical life spans. If we give up looking for work that isn’t there, if we give up working jobs that don’t really support us but only keep us in lifelong debt, if we give up work that we have no interest in, if we give up work that’s theoretically useful or helpful but, in practice, isn’t really useful or helpful because the profit motive gets in the way, if we give up work that’s so destructive that it shouldn’t be done at all — well, there really isn’t any work left to do. Time to hit the beach.

The Old American had a house, a car and a garage. The New American, still finding it hard to give up the old opulence, has a 10 speed, a great sleeping bag and some really big saddle bags. Oh sure, there will be extended families flaunting their wealth by riding custom-made “homes” with 5 and 10 seats but they will be a tolerable minority. The new sportin’ Spartan American will be much more fit and healthy. Ideas of housing, security, stuff and roots are all incompatible with reality. Home schooling? How about classes on the beach everyday? How ‘bout classes in redwood forests? Kids, there will be surfing recesses and then it’s back to the sea salt mines to learn how America is a shining city on a hill, best viewed from a really fluffy sleeping bag in a park.

California is too beautiful to waste on civilization. Florida, by comparison, is ugly, ruined, overdeveloped, gone. Florida is like Pigeon Forge with manatees. I say we move everybody out of California who has any money or a motor vehicle and turn it over to the homeless and carless. It would be the Trail of Tears (of joy) as the homeless watched celebrities and car dealers and the military move their asses, tanks and Hummers out of the state. I want to see Philly’s homeless squatting in those homes on Malibu Beach. ( I was oddly reassured, about what I’m not sure, by those celebrities having crappy-looking pickup trucks and white cargo vans in their driveways. They’re ready to pack their shit and git!) It’s past time. Where is it written, except at the Supreme Court, that only rich people should see glorious ocean sunsets.

The only disturbing thing that I saw in California were a handful of antiwar protesters in Napa. “War Is Not The Answer” said one of their profound signs. What? Yer not really feelin’ me, pal. That doesn’t square with all this murder I feel in my heart. You see, for me personally, and the entire world’s working class, war and fighting back, is the only answer. War is working just fine for the people who it’s being waged for. Dubya’s wars destroyed one of Israel’s enemies, sent Lockheed stock soaring, planted American military bases in Mesopotamia and got the price of gas for Exxon up from a buck-twenty-five a gallon to over $4.00 a gallon. Not to mention all the security and surveillance industries serving America’s totalitarian needs. Seems like some clear-cut victories to me. War works — if you win it. But you don’t have a shot at winning it unless you actually fight it.

So I’m not coming to any protests by party-pooper progressives for anything less than signs like these :

“You Capitalist Bastards, Wait Till We Get Our Chance.”

“Obama And Congress, My Life Means Nothing To You and Yours Means Nothing to Me — I Live To See You Get Fucked.”

“Joe Lieberman And John McCain And Lindsey Graham Are Traitors To The Constitution And Hideous Warmongering Motherfuckers Who Don’t Believe In Due Process, Habeus Corpus And The Rule Of Law.”

“The US Government Is An Illegitimate, Exterminationist Bankrupt Criminal Syndicate: One Nation Under a (Fiat) Dollar, Of Wall Street, By War Street, For Israel”

“Wall Street Owns The Congress — Hey, Senator Dick Durbin Said It!”

“US Government, I Root For Every Poor Person In The World Who’s Fighting Back Against You, Whether Leftist Rebels In The Jungles Or Islamic Fundamentalists In The Deserts.”

“President Smiley Face Is A Blood-Soaked Barbarian Who Murders Innocent People Around the World With Death Squads And Drones.”

Napa protesters, that’s what it’s going to take to get me to join you. (The problem with progressives is that no one can tell the difference between when they’re fighting back and when they’re surrendering because the action is the same: vote Dumbocratic.)

So, until then, I’m partyin’. And, undoubtedly, here’s something else progressive drudges will protest, when the shit finally hits: One day Americans are going to go all the way in a joyous righteous rebellious bloodbath — it’s not gonna be some Hollywoodically correct magnanimous Avatar shit where the defeated American mercenaries get to slink back to their spaceships to no doubt plan their evil counterattack. No, on the day of judgment in America, there will be dozens of gallows erected on the national mall and millions of Americans will put their names in the hopper, the greatest lottery in history, the Empowerball Jackpot, to see who gets to be the honorable hangmen to put the nooses around the necks of politicians, bankers, polluters, war criminals, war profiteers, Nazi-like media propagandists for war, and all the miscellaneous murderers and rapists and plunderers of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Colombia and Iran and Pakistan and Somalia and Gaza and the West Bank and Lebanon and everywhere the boot of capitalist America stomps directly or covertly on the world’s poor and disenfranchised. There will be giant vats of champagne, and music and a great celebration, a proud celebration that JUSTICE HAS FINALLY COME TO AMERICA. The whole world will leap to its feet in ovation! And these bodies will swing until they rot and stink as a reminder to every would-be capitalist tapeworm that the only legitimate power, authority and concern is the working class. “Break out the champagne!” will be the battle cry. That’s how you capitalist bastards and bankers and war criminals will know to run for your lives. “Break out the champagne!”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that feels better. Now that that’s out of my system, for a little while, I can ask: Was any awakening ever anything but rude? As soon as we got back to Philly, we became aware that all manner of evil/commonplace things had happened in Washington politics: The HMOs and drug companies delivered their coup de grace with passage of “health care reform,” an ingenious phrase because it tells three separate lies in only three words. These guys are poets! It’s such a waste to have them in Congress!

And in Israel, Vice President Joe Biden was “humiliated” by another of Netanyahoo’s open proclamations of genocide of the Palestinian people, sugarcoated by the American media as “settlement-building.” I said, “That can’t be. It’s impossible to humiliate a pompous cheerleader for war and a bagman for the credit card mobsters.” And I was right. Biden was not humiliated in the least, because shortly thereafter he gave a speech at Tel Aviv University where he said, “Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States.” Now. Still. Wow. And no editor or columnist from the Philadelphia Inquirer would call attention to this bizarre statement that a foreign country’s interests is the center of an American vice president’s political life. Probably because hiding, minimizing and making excuses for Israel’s apartheid, violations of the Geneva Conventions and routine atrocities are some of the pillars of the Inquirer’s work.

Also, while we cats were away: Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain introduced “The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act” which would let His Highness Obama put into military custody anyone he says is a terrorist “suspect,” without charge and without trial for however long the “war on terror” lasts — meaning however long capitalist stooges such as himself decide to keep it going by wrecking nation after nation all over the world. This spit in the faces of Jefferson, Franklin, Paine and all the rest applies to American citizens arrested on American soil. I love how the bar gets lowered from “terrorist” to “belligerent” — maybe next year Lieberman and McCain will sponsor “The Smartypants Act.” “Belligerent” actually gets closer to the truth of what exterminators like Lieberman and McCain are all about — belligerence isn’t all that far away from resistance and stubbornness and noncompliance and free thought and expression.

As most of my writing here is quite “belligerent” I can only say, See ya in Guantanamo, my fellow proletarians. I do love warm weather. Still…

Hey, you! Obomba! Obummer! Mr. Bad Trip! Would it be asking too much of you to move the new improved Gitmo to Big Sur — could you do one little fucking positive thing for this member of the American working class?

RANDY SHIELDS can be reached at



Randy Shields can be reached at His writings and art are collected at