The Friends of California Libre...

19 September 2007

What Would 9/11 Be Without a 9/11 Screed?

Greetings, friends,
First, a minor housekeeping note:  I've completed the modifications to the web version of this blog, which is available 24/7 at .  If you would like to subscribe to this feed (instead of reading e-mail), look for the small blue +ADD FEED button on the left side, or go to the very bottom of the page and look for "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" if you know how to add an RSS feed.  Or you can click on the Atom link right here!

I'm pleased to inform you (on time, for once) that TODAY is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (thanks, Mike):

And not to make some of you feel your age, but in a month this song (which just popped into my head) will be 15 YEARS OLD!

The title of this SCREED was suggested by Robert Barkaloff, and I emphasize his point by finishing it a week late.  Well, I've had other things on my mind.  I'm letting "Liberty Day" (or was it "Freedom Day"?) slip by this year, with all good wishes to my friends in New York City, and of course, happy birthday to Roberta again..."you donkey Americans, you even ruin my birthday."

This has been a dramatic week for me, natch, and not exactly how I'd expected or planned.  It began when a writer who, oops, I already thought was dead took her leave of Planet Earth:
'Wrinkle in Time' author dies at 88 -*

For us writers and readers of science fiction, Madeleine l'Engle was a of the first authors I remember.  You New Yorkers keep your eyes peeled...there'll be a public memorial for her soon at St. John the Divine, which should bring out some serious literati.

And speaking of literati...just a few years ago, I would have been shaking off a serious hangover last Sunday in the aftermath of the thirteenth Peg Entwistle Memorial Equinoxe party.  For reasons that need no belaboring, the last such celebration was September 2005 at Jason Rhoades' ranch in Wonder Valley, also my fortieth birthday, which attracted all of two people, one of whom probably ripped off my stash.  In 2006 I once again found myself outside of Los Angeles on 16 September, the day in 1932 that Peggy Entwistle gave it all up and jumped off the HOLLYWOOD sign.  This year I spent the day out in the desert with Robert Barkaloff and three Japanese kids...a great way to kill a lazy Sunday.  But it is sad how that tradition was, apparently, so much only mine.  Too bad.  I'll be spending the equinoxe itself at the Greek Theatre, because I gave myself an early present, a $60 ticket to Air.

Last Thursday I made up for not having a party by conducting the first reading I've done since early 2000, and signed many copies of my first published book, Scream at the Librarian.  It was a complete success, by any estimation, and I'm indebted to Kim Light for it, along with all the people who inspired and celebrated with me.  I'm glad that this success came to me late in life, when there was no doubting the collaboration it demanded.  In case you thought I might get a swollen head, at eight PM I was taking plaudits from friends and colleagues, but by ten PM, I was eating dinner alone at the Astro.  I'm glad I love to write, because fame and fortune aren't going to mask the truth of my life.

As I did in the few years after leaving Berkeley or in the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake, I've rounded another sharp bend in the road, because when I look back, there's nothing behind me.  I have a sense of completion that others might interpret as isolation or abandonment.  But as I wrote in a poem many years ago, I've chosen quality over quantity, and whenever I stray from this choice, life finds a way to correct me.  It can be depressing and I don't recommend the solitary life to everyone, but it has a clarity that few people get in this world, and I am glad to have it.  There's no way to go back even if, cringing, I fled back into the comforts of my glamorous life.

Yesterday I went to see "In the Shadow of the Moon", a documentary about the few astronauts who went beyond the orbit of the Earth, to circle or land upon our dusty companion.  Though we've all seen the footage over and over, it's still awesome to see it in context, and hear how deeply it affected the men who lived the adventure.  Most of them are well into their seventies, and it's something of a shock to realize how many people have no recollection of the Apollo program at all.  I'm going on 42 in a few days and I barely remember it; I was 6 when Apollo 17 left the last bit of space junk on the Moon.  In seeing this film, I find this absence a profound tragedy...the space program was a tremendous inspiration to me and must have been to millions of others everywhere.  Since then, the only ambitions of America and the First World have been self-indulgence, greed, and destruction.  Some might say we've accomplished a tremendous amount since then...the exploration of the Solar System and the titanic library of the Internet for starters.  I'd agree, but these are the leaps of our technology and our robots, not individuals.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a given that human beings were going to spread out across the Solar System and the bottom of the seas, that we were going to find a new respect and curiosity in the world and form a real human society.  Except for a lucky few scientists, that hasn't happened.  Instead our energy is channelled into a self-indulgence that, in retrospect, is truly disgusting.  I am not a moralistic person...well, not completely...but if I tallied up my accomplishments in the 1980s, it would not look good.  By removing a productive outlet for our curiosity and ambition, my entire generation has been wronged.  A decade ago I would've blamed the boomer generation before me and, after Bill Clinton wasted his eight years in office, I still do somewhat.  But now that I'm the same age as my parents were when the shit hit the fan in the 1970s, I think my generation gets to take some of the blame.  We never articulated any overarching ambition other than to snort as much coke and laugh it up; now that it's translated into babymaking and house hunting it's more inocuous, but no less self-indulgent.  I'm now watching the first generation behind us hit adulthood, and it doesn't look good.  There are some plans to go to Mars, and global warming is going to provide a really good excuse to drop the indulgence and get our shit together.  I hope so...every moment we spend like this is a waste of time and energy.  And that kind of waste is over for me.  People need broad goals, and they need change.  I hate to quote "Dune", but it's true that without change, something inside us sleeps.

I don't think we've seen such negative ambitions in the United States since the 1920s.  When our friend Osama bin Laden showed up last week, that prissy little fuck who has the audacity to dye his beard black, it should have shamed us that we couldn't even manage what our grandparents would have done in an instant, chase that MF into his grave.  Look what we did to the Japanese, destroyed several cities, killed hundreds of thousands in revenge for Pearl Harbor.  We helped the British do the same to Germany in return for London.  And what do we offer New York?  Nothing.  I'm still waiting for you New Yorkers to wake up and assemble your own strike force.  No one in Afghanistan or Pakistan will stop you...they may hate Americans but they understand payback.

We have some twisted men at the top who understand that Osama alive is better for their "war" than Osama dead:
Into Thin Air
By Evan Thomas

The way we're going, Osama bin Laden will kill himself by accident, or be martyred by his own men, before we get a crack at him.
Tanzania sorcerer dies in failed underwater spirit stunt

But we've got our own fish to fry, right?  For example, let's start a completely unrelated war that will have people desiring revenge against us for the next hundred years:
Civilian Death Toll in Iraq May Top One Million
By Tina Susman
The Los Angeles Times

Some of our "smartest" leaders knew exactly where it would lead:
Dick Cheney on Iraq in 1994

But hell, everyone has the right to change their mind.  At least his prediction turned out to be correct, so he knew what he was doing in 1994:
A New Intelligence Report Paints a Bleak Picture of Iraq
By P. Strobel and Leila Fadel
McClatchy Newspapers
US-Backed Iraqi Government in Chaos
By Steven R. Hurst
The Associated Press
Iraq Set to Disintegrate, New Study Warns
Der Spiegel

Of course, the government has ruined our Army, so at least we won't be losing any more wars any time soon, right?
GIs' Morale Dips As Iraq War Drags On
By Tina Susman
The Los Angeles Times
Fatigue Cripples US Army in Iraq
By Peter Beaumont
The Observer UK
Army Too Stretched If Iraq Buildup Lasts
By Lolita C. Baldor
The Associated Press

Not that we don't treat our fighting men great:
US Deports Parents of Dead Soldiers
By Domenico Maceri
New America Media

Even the military has a breaking point for this absurdity:
DOD Stops Plan to Send Christian Video Game to Troops in Iraq
By Anna Schecter
ABC News
Pentagon Won't Make Surge Recommendation to Bush
By Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Newspapers

But with God on our side, there's nothing we can't try:
Fringe Evangelicals Distort US Military Policy
By Thomas D. Williams and JP Briggs II, Ph.D.
t r u t h o u t | Special Report
Guns For Hire: Secrecy, Torture, Religious Zeal Distinguish Mercenaries
By Paul J. Nyden
The West Virginia Gazette

And remember, Jesus has pull everywhere (thanks again, Robert):
Subject: BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Malaysia closes Jesus row paper
Maybe he's come to save them with a beer and a joint ...

This all means nothing to the idiots in the White House, to whom Jesus is just some hippie; it's war all the time:
Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look
The Associated Press

We'll only help those as ready to kill as we are:
US to Give Israel Record Military Aid
By Aron Heller
The Associated Press

And as discreet:
US Confirms Israeli Strikes Hit Syrian Target Last Week
By Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper
The New York Times

No, I predict it will take every person in the range of this SCREED, and just as much turmoil as we suffered during the Apollo program in the 1960s, to stop this government from sinking us into a war we really can lose, and spectacularly:
The "Proxy War": UK Troops Are Sent to Iranian Border
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent UK
US Weighing Terrorist Label for Iran Guards
By Helene Cooper
The New York Times
Bush Threatens to Confront Iran Over Alleged Support for Iraqi Insurgents
By Ed Pilkington
The Guardian UK
Bush Setting America Up for War With Iran
By Philip Sherwell and Tim Shipman
The Telegraph UK
Proxy War Could Soon Turn to Direct Conflict, Analysts Warn
By Julian Borger and Ian Black
The Guardian UK
Pentagon "Three-Day Blitz" Plan for Iran
By Sarah Baxter
The Sunday Times UK
Bush raises the stakes over Iran bomb with warning of 'holocaust'
US Actions Against Iran Raise War Risk, Many Fear
By Warren P. Strobel and Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Newspapers
Drumbeat for Attack on Iran Grows Louder
By Thomas B. Edsall
The Huffington Post
Bush League War Drums Beating Louder on Iran
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor
Cheney Urging Military Strikes on Iran
By Warren P. Strobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Newspapers

It gives you a lot of confidence to see the "checks and balances" of the Fed at work:
Bush, Congress Could Collide on Iran
By Matt Stearns
McClatchy Newspapers

But hey, that's why this is called California Libre, right?  That's why I'd take Oakland over Los Angeles, or Vancouver over Oakland, or Europe over Vancouver.  Because even if I never make it to the surface of the moon, I'd like to pour my resources into the effort to go back and stay, and those ambitions are gone from this bristling, impotent, whiny country.

I dare you to watch Ken Burns' documentary on World War II and tell me that those Americans would have fucked up this badly.
America Watches Its Stars Wane and Its Stripes Fade
By Philippe Grangereau
The Sole Superpower in Decline: The Rise of a Multipolar World
By Dilip Hiro

But hey, we've still got DEMOCRACY.
Public to decide fate of Bonds' record-breaking ball

Vive le screed!

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