In my late teens I tattooed an anarchy symbol upon my person. It was a tattoo that I put little thought into and, at the time, was merely an extension of my love for all things punk rock. I had swallowed most everything whole up to that point in my life; America was the best country in the world, God was real and at work in our daily lives and that generally, humanity was kind and decent. The symbol (and the tattoo) became the first salvo in the undoing of my formidable years of indoctrination. It’s terrifying to realize (especially when you’re young) that the sacred things most people cherish are primarily smoke and mirrors. At the same time, its quite liberating to start living life on your own terms.
I see the world for what it is, not what I want it to be. I have come to one conclusion during my brief tenure on this planet: humanity is mostly awful. We are only as moral and as just as our options. We treat desperate and starving people with casual indifference. We kill each other over economics, ideology and the last piece of chicken. We elect demagouges as saviors and then expect them to do the right thing while we distract ourselves with another season of Game of Thrones.
Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself. -Richard Nixon
I am dumbfounded at how trusting people are of their “leaders” and how much they revere their institutions. It’s comforting to believe in something or take solace in the fact that that drug company has your best interest at heart. Therein lies the tragedy of the human condition.
Chaos and indifference can be entertaining. If nothing else, sitting atop this ash heap of history will be entertaining as shit.
Last night I actually watched the presidential address. It was not my fault. No decent hockey games were on, our DVR was empty and Jeopardy was not showing due to the speech. I will take “Apathetic American” for $400, Alex. Obama is a great orator. He is take your panties off smooth. I am so used to Bush tripping over words and fumbling around at the podium for the past eight years that it is refreshing. My love for Obama ends there, however. Aside from appreciating the historical context of his presidency, I think Obama is all spectacle, no substance. Case and point the public relations sweetness of giving a military-themed speech at West Point. Here is my rundown of what Obama said last night:
We are pulling out of Iraq and re-mobilizing to Afghanistan. This should excite you as I have talked with generals and advisers who told me this what we need to do. Here is an exact date of when I will bring home the troops. Yes, I think war is timed like a football game and America just entered the fourth quarter. Go Bears! Here is a comparison of me to FDR. Please ignore the irony that New Deal programs failed miserably and/or saddled future generations of Americans with the burden of contributing to programs that will go bankrupt in their lifetime (Social Security). Something about liberty. We like Muslims now. Support your troops. It is all Bush’s fault.
Who needs a drink? And some Obama Jesus gear? And some Hope Is Fading Fast gear?
The majority of my ancestors settled in Denver in the early 20th Century. My mother’s Italian relatives took refuge in the various brownstones of North Denver and my great-grandfather, an illiterate fruit peddler, was one of the founding members of Potenza Hall (an Italian lodge that is still standing today amidst a landscape of Rite Aids and Taco Bells). My father’s Slavic ancestors settled in the Globeville area; a hard neighborhood know for its rail yards, smelting and meat packing industries. My dad grew up in this community in a small house amongst Slavic kin who liked to drink, cuss, smoke and hate anyone who was not Slavic (my great uncle is still getting his “Gran Torino” on in a Globeville neighborhood that is now predominately Hispanic). The Western Slavonic Lodge was founded around the same time my great-grandmother arrived in Denver from what is now modern-day Russia. I think these lodges are indicative of the mindset of immigrants at the time. It was a place to gather with fellow countrymen, drink, offer support and learn about the idea known as “America.” Being “American” was important to all of my ancestors that settled in Denver. My great-grandfather, for example, when asked by his children to teach them Italian would reply, “We are in America, and in America you speak English.” I often ponder what happened to this mindset; where people identified themselves as American first and their ethnic background second. Perhaps it withered away as class systems divided. Or maybe it disappeared with our manufacturing base when we decided culturally that it was better to consume goods rather than produce them. Perhaps it vanished when people accepted that being friendly was merely waving hello to your nameless neighbor at Starbucks. It could be all these things, or it could just be that a fucking McDonalds became more important to us than a community center.
As the liberal bumper stickers affixed to assorted Subaru Outback station wagons and Hybrid SUVs have reminded me (“1/19/2009! Let’s pull bong hits!“), today will be George W. Bush’s last day in office. Tomorrow, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44 president of the United States and be the first black man to attain the highest office in the land. I am/was no fan of Bush and I tend to sway right with my vote. His rule seemed reactionary rather than proactive and he and his administration ruined just about everything they came in contact with. Granted, his presidency was not as easy as Bill Clinton’s (A sex scandal and the dot com bubble. Anything else?), but many of his problems were self-induced. Terrible circumstances either makes for great leaders or break weak ones. Will history be kind to George W. Bush? Probably not. I am guessing he will go down as one of the worst presidents in history (move over Warren G. Harding!) a ranking that he has undoubtedly earned. Obama inherits two wars, a flopping economy and a national identity on the brink of oblivion. Good luck, Mr.Obama. May you be the savior your supporters are touting you as. Especially since your success will help me move some of that Obama Jesus gear on Cafe Press.
Americans all have their own traditions for the Thanksgiving holiday. The wife and I are usually run in the Turkey Trot pre-gluttony, but in lieu of her being with child, we are skipping this year and instead I am skating in an early morning ice hockey game at Denver University. We will then partake in two Thanksgiving meals; one at my parent’s house in the afternoon and one at the wife’s parents house in the evening. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, will have a quiet holiday at home, cooking a turkey for her husband and her children named after English towns. This will occur, of course, after some guy slaughters a turkey during her interview with a local television network. We are all different, yet we are all the same.
For the first time in American history, a black man has been elected to the highest office in the land (and Colorado is a blue state now! Hooray?). Congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama; may your name and skin color piss off every Southern, backwoods redneck for the next four years. Obama has inherited a mess; the national debt, the mortgage bailout, the Iraq War, the Afghan War, education, health care, the lunatic fringe, etc. I do not like the idea of a welfare state, a national health care plan that I will never use but have to pay into regardless and punishing companies for making too much money. Mix that in with the fact that I am a pessimistic bastard harboring a healthy distrust for politicians in general and now you understand my mindset. I am hopeful the Democrats will do the right thing for the next four years. If not, I look forward to waiting in line for toilet paper and vodka with all of you.
Cafe Press and I have worked out our differences and are friends again (I am sorry I had sex with your sister, Cafe Press. Really I am). Apparently, my Obama Jesus design too closely resembled that of a copyrighted illustration and Cafe Press, rather than getting slapped with a lawsuit from an angry liberal artist that believes supply side economics are the devil, flagged it and pulled it down. Being the insufferable bastard that I am, I took another stab at the Obama Jesus illustration and think the end result is even more awesome than before.