Barack's blog talked about his role in opening the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. What he didn't mention is my favorite aspect of this museum. They have these multimedia presentations of Lincoln and the most important people in his life, including, obviously John Wilkes Booth.
Someday Fritz Wilson will be known as having been one of the most important people in my life.
Anyway, they decided that Booth's famous cry of "Sic Semper Tyrannus" was too archaic for today's audiences so they had an actor record the dialogue samples "I must kill Lincoln!" ("But first, dinner!", I made that part up) and "Vengeance shall be mine!" Now Booth killed Lincoln to avenge the Confederacy I guess, but "Vengeance shall be mine" is awfully personal. But it plays in perfectly to my plan to write a screenplay for a revisionist biopic of Lincoln. You see it turns out the Booth family had a long history of violence, going back to the mid-1850's, when Booth's father led a pro-slavery militia on a bloody rampage through central Illinois. This murderous attack reaches its climax when the elder Booth brutally attacks the gorgeous young ingenue Mary Todd, at which point Lincoln wrestles him to the ground and impales him with a gaslight lamp, leaving John Wilkes an orphan. This incident lends a new element of complexity and motivation to the Booth character, which had always been lacking.
I got cable/Internet service the other day. Soon, I'll be able to write this blog from home! Maybe that will slightly increase my productivity as a worker! Except not yet because it's technically my roommate's and she haughtily informs me I need something called a "wireless router". Hmph, I was using computer bulletin boards when she was in...junior high. Also, the cable TV doesn't work, I had been lusting after the ability to watch the Daily Show every night again (in and of itself worth a couple of dollars a day, and screw "student loans") but all I get is a text box informing me that the channel should be available "shortly". The customer service number has an area code of 630. Fuck 630. The O'Hare suburbs have never done jack for me. 847 is an area code of great honor, 773 and 312 are stalwarts and even 708 has served its time. But 630? They can fuck themselves. I have no time for 630.
Macbeth preview is tonight, I think it's pretty good. It's a show I'm very much ready to have open so I can concentrate on the play writing and ocasional lounging around. But I wear armor. And I brandish sticks. "And you know that can't be bad..."
I’m presently in a state of near exhaustion from Macbeth, which I of course, embarked upon just after finishing Hamlet. This leads me to the conclusion that I’ve been doing entirely too much for William Shakespeare’s career. This leads me to conclude that we’re going to have to part ways for a while. I love you kid, and you’ve got a bright future, but I need some time off…
Of course the real source of my exhaustion, depending on how you look at it is the eight hour workday I have here at the Adult Education Store, which is a solid six hours too long for me, at least. Some new managers have come in, apparently intent on whipping the place into shape. I’ve been joking in the Willy Loman/Shelley Levine style that the sharks are circling and that I’m going to be on the street begging for scraps soon. But truthfully, it’s one of those eras where everything at my job seems to be swirling around me and metamorphosing before my eyes. But eventually it all rights itself and I still have a job. Damn it.
Barack has a blog now. He’s theoretically writing it himself. I hope it gets increasingly casual and personal and it’s eventually anecdotes about going to the grocery store.
Mike and Anna Bonick, a couple of friends from college who went on to be in Lysistrata 3000 have just had a baby. I like babies. Wonderful little anarchists they are…
I have to say the last two weeks, with its popeless vacuum, have been a wild, whirling time of spiritual anarchy. “Well, it’s a fine April afternoon and I’m feeling indulgent, I think I’ll…USE SOME BIRTH CONTROL! WHO’S GOING TO STOP ME? THE POPE? MWUHAHAHAHA!!!”
But those days are at an end now that there’s a new sheriff in town.
Continuing our “Nazi” theme from last week, we learn that a former member of the Hitler Youth has ascended to the role of Peter’s successor and Christ’s vicar on earth. Now this is unfair of course, as the official story is that his family was staunchly anti-Nazi and that he was guilty of nothing save being a teenager in 1940’s Germany. But he operated an anti-aircraft flak cannon! He was trying to shoot down Yossarian from Catch-22, and as Yossarian always said “The enemy is anybody who’s trying to kill you.”
I’ve heard for years that JP2’s successor would inevitably more conservative than he was, and it looks to be true, to the delight of many of our own right wing twits. The more I read about the new guy, the more I don’t like. Like how he was in charge of expelling “deviant” (that’s deviant in the theological sense, not you know…) from teaching positions at Catholic universities, he was apparently instrumental in the denying John Kerry communion conspiracy during the 2004 election, which, as a sort of Catholic, seriously disturbed me at the time. Right wingers like the Church because they see it as authoritatian and antimodern, which they like, although, as usual, it’s far more complicated than that. Right wingers love to slam what they refer to as “Moral Relativism”. You know what, I don’t like moral relativism either, but I understand what it means, but I don’t think they do. One of my favorite websites is maintained by, I think, a Protestant seminary student, who offers a far more brilliant rebuttal to this ignorant love affair than I can. I especially liked the moronic National Review article he linked to, which equates “relativism”, basically contemporary liberalism (loosely defined as the idea that people have the right to do what they wish with their personal lives) with Nazism and Communism, and contains lunatic gems like this:
In his most formative years, Ratzinger heard Nazi propaganda shouting that there is no truth, no justice, there is only the will of the people (enunciated by its leader). As its necessary precondition, Nazism depended on the debunking of objective truth and objective morality. Truth had to be derided as irrelevant, and naked will had to be exalted.
To anybody who said: “But that’s false!” the Nazi shouted, “That’s just your opinion, and who are you, compared to Der Fuehrer?”
To anybody who said, “But what you are doing is unjust!” the Nazi shouted louder, “Says you, swine.”
Relativism means this: Power trumps.
That’s right, Hitler and Stalin were radical, relatavistic liberal democrats. And when you disagreed with them, they responded by…shouting you down!
I leave you with this brilliant e-mail exchange between the good Marc Heiden and myself:
ME: Did you know Ratzinger was actually *Dean* of the College of Cardinals? Do you think he was a crusty old character, constantly trying to outwit Cardinals Tettamanzi and Arinze because of their wacky antics?
MARC: Can there be any doubt at all? And if we can take this analogy into increasingly bizarre directions, just imagine Pope John Paul II with Superintendent Chalmers’ voice discovering the College of Cardinals in shambles after a Tettamanzi – Arinze prank and shouting “RATZINGER!”
We've had a lot of fun with Nazis on this site and I don't want any of my younger readers to get the impression that Nazism is fun or something to try at home. Nazism isn't cool guys, and you'll just wind up getting hurt.
That disclaimer aside, I shouldn’t let too much time pass before I comment on it, something I do all too often with this little blog, but I was kind of disturbed by the 40 year sentence imposed on white supremacist leader Matthew Hale, the Chicago area supervillain PreppieNazi. Matt Hale was sentenced to 40 years in prison for conspiring to murder a Chicago judge, the same judge whose family was killed, many months later in an unrelated incident. Hale is an undeniably bad person, an enemy of freedom, as W would say. And conspiring to murder people is a bad thing, for which you should indeed go to prison.
But here’s the thing, I think he’s completely innocent. At least that’s the impression I got from scanning the press reports at the time of the trial and since. The evidence was basically recordings of him with his “security chief” who was a government mole saying things like this:
GOVERNMENT MOLE: So we should kill that judge right?
PREPPIENAZI: Hmm…What was that you were saying earlier about how Jews are bloodsuckers? I really agreed with that.
The prosecutor pretty much admitted what a flimsy case it was, and openly said that Hale was a shifty operator and the jury had to read between the lines to see the true nefarious intent. Now, I’m no fancy big city lawyer (like Fritz) but that really isn’t my understanding of how it’s supposed to work. It’s supposed to be beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt. What it’s really about is wanting someone to blame for the Benjamin Smith murder spree and the recent Lefkow killings, the killers in both cases are dead, but we’ve got this guy who’s alive and an asshole so let him rot and maybe people will think we’ve done something about the racial injustices in our society by taking a bold anti-Neo Nazi stand.
Absent any real evidence of his guilt in the alleged conspiracy, it seems an awful lot like we’re sending someone to prison for his beliefs. We’re not supposed to do that. These jackasses get off on fantasies of martyrdom and persecution and we’re feeding those fantasies by incarcerating him. Truthfully, I think it is indeed possible that he encouraged the psychotic Smith to kill, cynically knowing he’d be safe, and able to reap the rewards of the publicity in the aftermath. I may think that, but I can’t prove it, and neither could the Justice Department, which is why they trumped up the Lefkow thing.
My idealism about America comes from a number of corny sources, not the least of which, as always, is DC Comics. Superheroes know how important it is to Get the Bad Guys, but they also know that there’s a Right and a Wrong Way to do it. The good guys Play by the Rules. This is taken to rather absurd extremes in comics, like Batman or someone really should have killed the Joker by now, but in general, I believe playing by the rules is a sound principle. It is in fact synonymous with having principles. We defend the rights of those we hate and that’s what makes Us different from Them and all that clichéd but true stuff.
I have to admit I felt kind of sorry for him when he pleaded the injustice of the sentence, but I’m such a bleeding heart I remember feeling sorry for Jeffrey Dahmer.
I have the night off from Macbeth tonight, the first night off in a really long time. I think I might traipse through a bookstore. I haven’t done that in ages. For an extended period anyway…
As of last night, my new play, Activision is complete. Or rather the first draft of it is. I foresee a very different second draft as the current one is very far from what I want it to be. But it’s a milestone, light at the end of tunnel and all that. For now, I’m focusing on things like Macbeth and furnishing my new apartment and stuff like that.
I finished writing the last scene (although not the final monologue which I wrote at home) at downtown Evanston’s beautiful Unicorn Café, you’re beautiful, Unicorn Café and please keep the hot chocolate coming. While there I noticed a tossed aside copy of the New York Times and I read one of those idiotic pop sociology pieces that always makes me want to hurl large objects at other large objects. But this one is probably worse than all the others I’ve read. The article, by Jennifer 8 Lee, was about how straight men are uncomfortable hanging out together in pairs and engaging in any non-sports or non-business related activity, such as going to a movie or having dinner. It seems that straight men don’t do this sort of thing because they’re afraid of seeming gay, and when they do socialize one on one, there are “elaborate, delicate, social rituals” like making sure their chairs are sufficiently far away from each other at all times. Reading this article was like sci-fi, I mean, seriously, it was so far from my own experience it was like reading about alien creatures from another world. The Planet of the Absurdly Insecure Frat Boys. (No offense Fritz) One of the things I like most about the Internet is that when you read something that batshit deranged in the print media, you can instantly confirm that lots of people agree with you that it is in fact, batshit deranged. I discovered a number of good new blogs today. (I’m still working I swear) But it bothers me that these things get out there in the world. Straight men as a whole, need better media representation and I respectfully suggest that we fire our current agent.
Speaking of how I’m not gay, I was hanging out at a gay bar on Friday night, Sidetracks, which is a joint that has a big movie projector that shows clips of musical theatre pieces and other campy works of general interest to the partakers of Chicago’s Boystown nightlife. While watching I came to a shocking conclusion. They showed a clip of the movie Victor/Victoria and I noted that my parents were big fans of the movie when I was a toddler. Then there was a clip of La Cage Aux Follies and I remembered my parents telling me they were big fans of that too. And that’s when it hit me: back in the early 80’s both of my parents were incredibly gay. I’ve told you about my psychotic uncle Gerald haven’t I? My father has a thoroughly unpleasant younger brother whose favorite things other than drugs, alcohol and gambling are racism, misogyny and homophobia. I must confess that I’ve always enjoyed tormenting this sad waste of flesh, especially as I had to share a house with him for many years, (he and my dad both live with their elderly mother, my father to take care of her, my uncle to steal from her) Gerald decided at some point in the last couple of years that I’m gay (and he doesn’t even know I hang out at Sidetracks!) and if he ever answers the phone while I’m looking for my dad we have witty conversations like this:
ME: Hi Gerald, rob any old ladies lately? (He has)
GERALD: Gotten any dick lately?
But anyway, he thinks I’m gay but little does he know that his burly Union construction worker older brother is the true source of mincing camp in his immediate family…
While we’re on the Nazi front, one of the less pleasant bosses here at the Adult Education Store where I work put up a bunch of trite “inspirational” signs for her employees, the underpaid overworked customer service reps to gaze at. I’m glad my own boss doesn’t go in for that kind of bollocks. One of the signs says “Don’t find a fault, find a remedy”-Henry Ford. Among Mr. Ford’s lesser known but also incisive quotes are of course “Fuck the Jews” and “You know who’s great? Hitler.”
But I kid Henry Ford, the Nazi thing aside, he was actually one of America’s more decent capitalists.
Taking shrewd advantage of post-Easter sales on Friday my lifelong friend/current co-worker Marc bought a giant chocolate bunny wearing glasses and reading a book. The bunny’s name, the packaging announces, is the Professor. Marc displays the Professor on the top shelf of his cubicle. I think he intends to display it indefinitely, which is wonderful, although I sometimes glare at it avariciously…
I have the charisma of ten trucks!
I saw Hedwig and the Angry Itch onstage and Sin City in the cinema over the weekend. Both were awesome. Both involved the removal of penises. I want to keep mine.
I assume I’m not the first to inform you that JP2 has died. I have to admit this has not affected me as much as the death of the Blue Beetle. Few people have ever so incarnated their position for me as he did. I think he was in office since I was a year old, and he simply was “the Pope” there is no other. George Bush will never be just “the President” because I’ve known other presidents, Richard M. Daley will never even be “the Mayor” as hard as he tries, but John Paul was the Pope. I don’t mean merely to me because of my age, I mean that I think he really captured the essence of popedom and did the job like it’s supposed to be done.
As always my glancing at mainstream media coverage indicates that the media sees it’s job as to repeat the center-right mush of conventional wisdom over and over again and avoid saying anything meaningful, genuinely insightful or the least bit contradictory at all costs. The Pope “toppling Communism” (with a little help from Ronald Reagan and Sylvester Stallone, never mind all those faceless slavs jumping on tanks) is part of the script, any role he may have played in the protection of pedophiles isn’t. I’ve nothing really against the man, only, he was the representation of the Church, which I’ve had a lifelong ambiguous relationship with. I’m very far from someone who will engage in knee jerk attacks against Catholicism. Rather than love or hate I feel a deep seated ambivalence towards it. I think the Church would be a pretty fantastic institution if it got over some of its troglodyte attitudes towards human sexuality.
For awhile Friday afternoon, there were conflicting reports among my coworkers as to whether the Pope had in fact, died already. The uncertainty created a sort of “Schrodinger’s Pope” scenario, during which I wondered what would happen if the Pope were shoved in a drawer with a radioactive isotope.
Moving week went well, thanks in large part to the extraordinary help provided by the great Molly Fitzgibbon. And my dad, but he’s always taken for granted. The apartment is bounteous and I like it. The first night in a new place often feels like you’re a guest in someone else’s home, in this case moreso because of its size. After a while I got used to the idea that this swinging pad was mine. Then my roommate arrived and started making the place her own, which is a good thing because I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do with it. One of my favorite things about moving is that it's a chance to put different pieces of the city that I already know, but in an isolated sort of way, together in my head. Not sure if that makes sense but basically, I have an intimate picture of say, Clark and Foster in my head, same for Lawrence and Western, but walking from the former corner to the latter, puts the city together for me in a way that I never have before. And that's cool.
Many merry days would seem to be ahead except that we apparently have an Adversary, in the form of a crotchety old neighbor. At about midnight on Saturday, I had a couple of mates, Rob and Henry, over, along with my roommate Reina, the four of us were having a grand old time when the elderly man banged on the door to complain of noise. Four people talking. On a Saturday night. If that’s too noisy, I anticipate the future will be rife with trouble. This was bad enough but on Sunday night at 10:48, he returned to make the same complaint, this time it was just me and Reina. This is not to be tolerated.
I assumed I was moving into a youthful neighborhood but I should have known the Man would send his evil agents to keep tabs on me to prevent my brilliant, witty conversations with my friends from becoming a threat to His precious System. If I should die in the fight to be free, where the fighting is hardest, there will I be…
Activision has only one scene to go…I hope it comes tonight…