Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Complaints (2003)

FROM THE ARCHIVES, MAY 12 - This originally ran in Punk Planet 55.

COMPLAINTS

1. AL SHARPTON'S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY FORCES ME TO EXAMINE UNCOMFORTABLE AREAS OF MY OWN LIFE

It's early in the 2004 presidential campaign, but already the Democrats are in the Differentiation Stage, which is the period of any public race when national candidates must prove they are not the same person as one or all of the other national candidates . By my count, the office-holding five official contenders break down into two camps; Cretins (Howard Dean & John Edwards, both of whom I detest right off, not so much for being pro-Yucca Mountain and pro-death penalty, but because both are suspiciously smarmy young men in the Giver Of Unsolicited Backrub variety), or Ninnies (Dick Gephardt & John Kerry, both of whom I've detested for a while now, not so much for being half-assedly pro-war, but because they have so clearly been wheedled into public service by their wives, or past gambling debts), with the occasional, rare combination known as Creeninny (Joe Lieberman, whom this magazine is not yet paying me quite enough [although: 50 bucks a column now!] to dig up anything good about).

That leaves Al Sharpton. Anybody who lived in New York City in the 1980's is more or less obligated to hate the man. And, deep down, I suppose I hate him too. But of all the Democrats running in '04, Al's the only guy who says the things that need to be said. And, unlike Ralph Nader, the chap can give a wonderful speech. That he's made sweeping, irreparable mistakes with his life (the Tawana Brawley case for the right, his stint as an FBI informer for the left), AND has never been elected to so much as public custodian AND still runs like he actually means it, is a welcome note of inspiration in this fog of post-Election 2000 cynicism.

Which puts me in a moral bind. If Sharpton has held public office exactly as long as I have, and if he's made far greater blunders than I have, and 2004 will actually be the first election in which I'll be old enough to run... what exactly is stopping me from running as well? It's getting harder and harder to ignore the question. I mean, shit. it's not like I have a particularly high paying job weighing me down. Sears of Montclair Plaza reneged on their offer to let me unload trucks all day, and the Borders across the parking lot didn't seem to think I had sufficient fire in the belly to man their coffee counter. The presidency pays top dollar. Frankly, I could use the money.

This dilemma raises further troubling questions of cabinetry. Jello's brief '00 campaign opened the Fantasy Lineup Question. If elected, would his cabinet have been drawn from the pantheon of My Rules-era Glen E. Friedman photography frontmen, or a regrettable assortment of present-day Alternative Tentacles regulars RE: Lynn Breedlove, Wesley Willis, and Dreadlock Guy from Alice Donut? Sharpton's candidacy reopens this challenge. Would his cabinet be composed of other social justice activists - Jesse Jackson, Kweisi Mfume, Randall Robinson - or a regrettable assortment of his loutish, portly peers such as Michael Moore, Rikki Lake and Jim Belushi? In turn, this forces me to ponder if my own cabinet would be composed of my esteemed fellow columnists or a regrettable assortment of current associates from the men's room at the Montclair, CA Greyhound station??

2. IT'S BECOMING DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE THAT THIS IS THE YEAR I FINALLY GET MY ACT TOGETHER

My annual month of resolve was a lot more plausible in 2000 (Year Of The Dragon), 2001 (Snake) and 2002 (Horse). A sentence like "Year Of The Sheep is the year I get it all figured out!" doesn't really cut it. Try saying this one into the mirror if you doubt me. Unfortunately, the jokers who wrote up the Chinese zodiac thought it'd be a real hoot to stack the deck with a succession of lowly beasts, and now I have to suffer the consecutive years of chimp, cock, dog, pig and rat before finally, in 2009, arriving at the rather manly Year Of The Ox. But I do have a good feeling about that one.



3. MUSTARD, MEET SHIRT!
Why does God allow this to happen? What is it about this one condiment that says to the world, "the wearer of this stain is untrustworthy for even five minutes alone with a 59 cent Bic pen, let alone a job application"??

4. LOU REED LIVES
Am I the only person on Earth who understands than when Lou says (to the L.A. Weekly, 1/31/03) "I hope your readers know who Ornette Coleman is", what he MEANS is "My life has become an impossible lie. I seek an end to my misery." I'm not calling for a formal fatwa here (too much paperwork). But I have to wonder why this jackass is still awarded public forums. Am I the only one who sees the grinning skull of evil under that mysterious, cracked leather face? Am I the only one who has noticed that this same face has recently been photoshopped onto all four bodies of the Rolling Stones? Am I the only one who has a hard time envisioning historians of the 32nd century sitting around and discussing how important Velvet Underground were??

5. THE TOUR OF 9/11 RUBBLE MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE
As of this writing, there's a big pile of bricks and girders and twisted metal on the floor of L.A.'s Union Station. Presumably the whole thing is covered in a fine layer of industrial toxins and bone powder as well. The pile is cordoned off in plush ropes and marked by a plaque I haven't yet read. I haven't read the plaque because I'm avoiding the display, and I'm avoiding the display because CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH IS STILL REALLY, REALLY FUCKING DEPRESSING. Let the good people of the 32nd century examine the pile. Speaking as a strict 21st century kinda guy, I must say I am in equal parts disturbed that: a) someone in New York thought that perhaps the rest of the country had sorta forgotten their woes and should be treated to a big pile of hazardous crap, b) I need to be reminded on my frequent Metrolink commutes that my port of arrival is also on someone's secret top 10 list of Shit To Destroy, c) that the world is, fundamentally, a cruel, asymmetrical place where pain, violence and broken objects are the rule, not the exception.

6. NO ONE IS SIGNING MY PETITION
I don't see the humor in my proposal to have Courtney Love inserted into President Bush's ass. Enough is enough. Really. This kind of execution-as-public-spectacle was a weekly occurrence in the ancient world. Go see Lord Of The Rings if you doubt me. But I am going to need at least
30,000 signatures for the United Nations to take me seriously and hey, where are you going?