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Friday, July 23, 2004

revelations in the night

I think one of the reasons I find politics interesting is that people are so relentlessly stupid about it, and that includes people on the Left nearly as much as the Right. I was on the L last night when I observed an exchange between an old hippie and a couple of retro-punks that was just mind boggling in its dumbness. The old hippie is a guy who lives in Evanston and I've seen him around lots of times. I saw Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky speak one time, and she talked about how antiwar folk needed to support the Democratic candidate for President, even if it was someone like Kerry or Edwards who voted for the war resolution. And she made the damn good point that even if those guys *did* make a craven political decision to support the war, they sure as hell wouldn't have *initiated* the war if they were in the driver's seat. And this guy and his other grey haired friends were booing and heckling her. You know, if Jan Schakowsky isn't left wing enough for you, it's time to move to Cuba.

Anyway, this guy, with his various anti-Bush buttons or whatever is on the L with the two retro punks. Now these kids are easily five years my junior and they've got huge mohawks and the word "Ramones" sprawled in various means across their bodies, and they've both got the anarchy symbol tatooed on their arms. And the one punk asks the old hippie "Are you anti-Bush?" the hippie replies "I'm not for him." And the question and answer repeats twice. And the punk asks, "So are you like a Democrat?" "Hell no, Green Party." The punk seems to respect that. Then says that Bush can suck his cock.

Now, putting aside what I consider the obvious question of whether the 43rd President of the United States would have any inclination to suck this young man's cock, I've got to say I find this sort of knee jerk "The other guy sucks" stuff pretty tiring after a while. I disagree strongly with almost all of Mr. Bush's core beliefs and I think he's been a bad president and I want to defeat him. But for some reason I don't think this kid, or a lot of knee jerk leftists really *knows* why he doesn't like Bush, other than some simplistic "war is bad" formula. The punk asks the hippie if he supports democracy and the hippie says yes. The punk looks a little disappointed at that, he was probably hoping he'd agree that democracy is a bourgeois lie that should be smashed, along with the corporate whatever. The punks both say that America has never been a democracy, the hippie sort of agrees. The hippie says we used to have town hall meetings and such and that was democratic. Then the main punk says he'd never be accepted at a townhall meeting. The hippie agrees, then says that's his choice to look the way he does, and he's getting the reaction he wants. Only later does he acknowledge that he's the exact same way with his bushy, raggedy hippie beard. This is the moment the punk has been waiting for, his chance to say "Fuck them! I don't care, I'm gonna be who I am no matter what..." etc. The hippie was getting off the L at this point, but not before the punk finished his little oh so nonconformist rant with his intention to resist the coming draft by fighting until he dies (kind of ironic really) and that he would also "keep pissing on society and the government".

To everyone in "society and the government": Do you guys even KNOW you're being pissed on? Because you're all acting remarkably nonchalant about it.

Now here's the thing, at least the old hippie was roughly the right age to look the ridiculous way he looks, but I don't get these retro punks. I mean, isn't the culture creating anything *new* anymore? Isn't there anything else for the teen rebels to adopt, or is it all just too commodified and therefore compromised? As a leading creator of culture I have to admit I feel somewhat responsible.

But *come on* there are forty five year olds who used to dress and act the way you are. When I was a little kid in the early '80s they were always at my house macking on my teenage sisters. You probably weren't born then. At least be grunge or something.

And by the way, kid, you're not being "who you are". You're being who Sid Vicious was. Nothing about you is the least bit original. I don't know, I guess I've just never felt a need to fit into some mold to express how outside the mold I am and I'm just puzzled by those who do.

On the bright side of anarchy, I finally read the graphic novel V for Vendetta by the brilliant Alan Moore last week, which I've wanted to do since I was ten and just got around to, there are a lot of books like that. It was written in the early '80s, and was about a costumed rebel named V fighting a fascist government in post World War III Britain. It's kind of muddled in parts, it's not Moore's best work but it does include this brilliant speech that V makes to the British statue of Lady Justice:

"Hello, dear lady. A lovely evening, is it not?
Forgive me for intruding. Perhaps you were intending to take a stroll.
Perhaps you were merely enjoying the view.
No matter. I thought that it was time we had a little chat, you and I.
Ahh... I was forgetting that we are not properly introduced. I do not have a name. You can call me V.

"Madam Justice... This is V."
"V... This is Madam Justice."
"Hello Madam Justice."
"Good evening, V"

There. Now we know each other. Actually, I've been a fan of yours for quite some time. Oh, I know what you're thinking...

"The poor boy has a crush on me... An adolescent infatuation."

I beg your pardon, madam. It isn't like that at all.
I've long admired you... Albeit only from a distance. I used to stare at you from the streets below when I was a child. I'd say, to my father, "Who is that lady?". And he'd say "That's madam Justice." and I'd say, "Isn't she pretty."
Please don't think it was merely physical. I know you're not that sort of girl. No, I loved you as a person. As an ideal. That was a long time ago. I'm afraid there's someone else now...

"What? V! For shame you have betrayed me for some harlot, some vain and pouting hussy with painted lips and a knowing smile!"

I madam? I beg to differ! It was your infidelity that drove me to her arms!
Ah-ha! That surprised you, didn't it? You thought I didn't know about your little fling. But I do. I know everything! Frankly, I wasn't surprised when I found out. You always did have an eye for a man in uniform.

"Uniform? Why I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. It was always you, V. You were the only one..."

Liar! Slut! Whore! Deny that you let him have his way with you, him with his arm-bands and jack-boots!.
Well? Cat got your tongue? I thought as much.
Very well, so you stand revealed at last. You are no longer my Justice. You are his Justice now. You have bedded another. Well, two can play at that game.

"Sob! Choke! Wh-who is she, V? What is her name?"

Her name is Anarchy. And she taught me more as a mistress than you ever did!. She has taught me that Justice is meaningless without freedom. She is honest. She makes no promises and breaks none. Unlike you, Jezebel. I used to wonder why you could never look me in the eye. Now I know.
So goodbye, dear lady. I would be saddened by our parting even now, save that you are no longer the woman that once I loved."

Now that's writing is what that is.

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