July 23, 2017

Cheap Holidays in Other Peopleís Misery (January 23, 1991)


Authorís Note: Some point in mid-July marks the thirtieth anniversary of ďSlackjaw.Ē Three long decades, over half my life, of writing about myself week after week after week. What a colossal exercise in foolishness. Given that with only a small handful of exceptions, none of the columns prior to 2006 exist anywhere except in my own files, I thought Iíd mark the occasion by dredging up a few vintage ďSlackjaws,Ē just for the hell of it. This one, the last of the series, ran a few short days after the first Gulf War got underway. Along with the expected hate mail and death threats, the South Philly ladies who made up much of the Welcomatís administrative department began calling me a traitor and organized an in-house petition demanding I be fired. The paperís owner obliged, firing me for about three days. Funny to consider that had I run this story in 2003, I wouldíve found myself locked away in one of those secret CIA prisons. In any case, next week itís back to the present.

Call me an All-American, hyper-patriotic, weepy-eyed fool if you will, but my heart always goes out to the underdog. Maybe itís because I never had a chance as a kid, was always an object of ridicule, an easy target for bullies and Stupids, but now, when the odds are impossible, I always root for the obvious loser--the Rockys of the real world. The Green Bay Packers, the 27/1 longshot at the track, Buster Douglas, Willie Sutton--those people with the guts and muscle to land a king-hell knee on the groin of insurmountable odds. Even if they don't grab the roses when all the dust and blood settles, and I usually end up dropping more money than I can afford on bets, I feel better for taking the chance. At least they give the Big Boys something to worry about for a little while, and force them, usually, into senseless acts of stupid brutality which reveal the true nature of the Beast.

††††††††††† Itís the American Way. American history has always been a history of underdogs. Our culture is founded on underdogging.

††††††††††† Maybe thatís why Saddam Hussein is my new hero (as much as I have heroes), and will certainly top my list of Entertainers of the Decade.

††††††††††† At a time when the leaders of the world were throwing around loose and frightening talk about a ďNew World Order, Based on a Respect for the Rule of LawĒ (why didnít this bother anybody? Didnít it sound in the least familiar?), having meetings, producing worthless, vapid proclamations and press statements, here was this funny little man, leader of a nation the size of North and South Dakota, who actually went out and did something to fuck up everybodyís plans, throw ďthe most powerful nations of the worldĒ into paroxysms of idiocy and fool babblings and turn my horrified scowl into a wry grin. Finally, a world leader with two balls to scratch.

††††††††††† Letís face itóyou want a war. I want a war. Righteous indignation about ďthe loss of our Amerícan boysĒ aside, the news has been too dull lately. Youíre sick of good news, youíre sick of hearing about a collapsing economy, race wars and a blossoming underclass on the brink of revolt. The Left wants something real to protest again, the Right wants a chance to prove that the United States isnít the Big Joke itís become in the world community. Finally, we have a reason to choose between Tom, Peter and Dan again. Now thatís Entertainment!

††††††††††† Yeah, Iíve been waiting for a war. But Iíve been wanting one for different reasons. Iím not interested in the collective flexing of any Western dicks, and I donít give a hoot in hell about the politics of the matter. (Well, thatís not strictly true--Iím hoping for a long, agonizing, slow protracted bloody war with an enormous body count. I want to see the United States humiliated, beaten into the ground, torn like carrion from the inside out, left to rot. But thatís just me.) I want to see style, confusion, despair, excess, action without satisfaction.

††††††††††† I hate the Right as much, if not more, than I hate the Left. While the PC types hold their weak little marches, their castrato whines raising weak chants into the wind (ďHell no! We wonít go!Ē Well, of course you wonít go, assholes! Youíre rich, white college students! Who would want you?), the Right mumbles out blind and asinine patriotic babble, holding tight with some strange infatuation to the bastardized lies theyíve been fed. I want to see carnage--burning oil fields, the desert littered with ripped bodies, terrorist attacks in U.S. urban centers. I want to see the American public get that taste of death theyíve been pushing for for the last five months. I want them to look down and see their own greasy entrails spilling out of their shirts. I want them to see what all their talk of ďdutyĒ really means.

††††††††††† The day war broke out--maybe I shouldnít be making this public--the hippies I collect bills for held an emergency meeting to discuss what their individual and collective responses to the war were going to be. Well, I just about puked. Half of these skinny, upper middle class white kids were in tears, sobbing out shit like ďIíve been having mood swings every five minutes,Ē ďIím going to go to all the vigils,Ē ďIím going to fast, but I donít know how Iím going to let the public know yet,Ē and ďI would really like to do some civil disobedience (now known in PC parlance as ĎC.D.í), but I donít know that I can right now.Ē This kind of typical weakness sickens me. When it came my turn to bare my plans to help the meek inherit the earth, I just said, ďWell, Iím going to go home, pour myself a tall one, light up a two-dollar cigar, walk around the apartment in my underwear and scratch myself.Ē (Which is about right. Laura and I played gin rummy, popped a couple bottles of champagne, smoked cigarettes and scratched ourselves)

††††††††††† Donít get me wrong, though. If there was some serious action--and I donít mean spray painting ďNo Blood for OilĒ on an Army recruiting station--I mean serious action--torching government buildings, slaughtering cops, mass eruptions of tangible rage and fury, determined to bring down the Western world--I would be in the front lines, bottle in one hand, knife in the other. But I donít see that happening. Until then, Iíll just keep hoping that my hero, Saddam, will surprise everybody and lob some gas into Manhattan, or drop a Big One on Center City. Then Iíll be happy.

††††††††††† Oh, well. I think Iíll go get a haircut. Iím starting to look like a Ramone.


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