Look at all those toys! Grandma Throop must have found some great deals downtown at Woolworths and the Boston Store. Dave is the younger brother in the photograph, and also my father—an aging toddler during wartime, but glad to know that even if his Dad didn’t come back from France in one piece, at least the robin would return to build her nest in the Spring.
A nuclear free world! For the next 8 months anyway. Though on this Christmas Day, barring a big asteroid impact or an untimely earth plunge into the sun, most life would carry on even if wet markets, Hitler, and industrial pollution put humankind on a path to a point of no return.
Just a few miles away, on Rutgers Street in East Utica, four month old Keitha, Dave’s future wife, wasn’t interested in toys or boys yet. But her time would come. She married Dave 18 years later and gave birth to my sister and me assuming, wrongly, that life would go on after all that ducking and covering practice in high school. She did her part. She got down on all fours under the desk. She waited for the bell to ring and went to her locker and then to the parking lot where her steady waited with his idling v-block and duck’s ass all greasy gobbed.
Vroom, vroom. Off they went to the future, the first generation of the nuclear age.
And here I am. It’s been a long time coming. But I am here, on Black Friday, a second generation nuke boy, to show you how to shop for sanity in a departmental society. There are some great deals on the future in aisle five. .003% off the human race will insure the continuation of life on earth for another billion years or more. That’s a lot of red wagons under the tree! The store is full of choice ideas to eliminate the threat of physics and killers. There are books to read, thoughts to think, dreams to see, and guilty people to terrorize! And of course the seasonal holly wreaths, and smiling children, and yes, Santa Claus—who don’t look at all like Harry Truman, Donald Trump, or Joe Biden—the agonized prostate killers of Christmases’ past, present, and future. Our department store Santa is the bright sun on a cold December morning, promising to come back again for the next 5 billion yule logs. This Santa does justice to the death-wielders, the generals and CEOs of Nuclear, Inc. society. A Santa of increased superstition, with just enough science to protect us from disease and stupidities like nuclear technology. Santa will take the contemporary Oppenheimers back to the North Pole and drown them under the sea ice. He says either nip annihilation in the bud or suffer these sandwich eaters while they break our lives down into radioactive dust.
It will be done. It must be done. I shall not be crazy for you if you cannot go sane for me like an owl or a bedbug protects her own, sanely. And you know exactly what I mean. No other species would invite caroling doom in for hot cocoa and cookies on a cold, Black Friday night. Not after songs like, “Press This Button O Lord and Melt Our Babies!”, or “Jingle Bells, Corpses Smell”. So why on any day of the year do we give Boeing, Inc. a free pass to build and distribute a magic reindeer with sleigh to visit death upon every child’s home in a single night? How do we do this ceaseless shopping for trinkets like my dear mother the 1950s teenager thought ducking and covering would just make it all go away?
White Monday and Red Thursday happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August, 1945. Their Black Friday decorated another kind of super deal showroom, and the only present left under the tree that Christmas, was the very big surprise of any tree to be seen and/or a single toddler left to make happy another day.
Why do we allow this threat to remain 75 years after little David got bored of his presents? What the hell is wrong with our psychology? Did shock and fear flip the switch in the genes of the children huddling under their desks in 1958 while the adults in the school declared insanity the new normal? Are we present day middle-agers just genetic mutations that were inevitable from a species of parents and grandparents who wanted to kill themselves? Is this how our evolution expects us to survive another millennium and beyond—by ignoring the violent trespass of our “betters” upon our families? Basically, is our community merely a host of fearful lickspittles who won’t shame the man who profits off the promise of Armageddon? What prevents the chef or waiter from cold cocking the Lockheed Martin CEO off his “power lunch” chair? For heaven’s sake, man, he’s negotiating annihilation of earth’s species! Do you get it? Do you understand?
[Please imagine me taking hold of your shoulders, shaking you, and repeatedly slapping your face with my left hand.]
With this Black Friday Freeflow I hope to knock the good sense out of you. I dream to shock you back into thinking like a dues paying member of a sane society. There are living people lording over us a 75 year old weapon’s technology. They are not stone, or supernatural, and certainly not inevitable and forever. They are mortal men and some women who are the lowest rank of animal that human being can descend to. They make a Hitler’s planning of a Final Solution look like child’s play beside a tree on Christmas morning. The U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons will go into effect in January 2021. This last October, 50 nations confirmed their re-introduction into a sane society. I intend to join them as a nation of me. You want in on a world free of nuclear annihilation? Or do you prefer to be my enemy? It doesn’t matter. Either way, disapproval is expected. But rest assured, I’ll do what I can to save your kids a future while you live and let live these brazen killers.
Happy Black Friday!
Now for an open letter to an old soul:
I write to thank you for your critical note on social media about your preference for my non-political paintings. You caught me at the right time. I am ready to push all politics out the door and come back to the one life I have left to live on this human-dominated planet. I am not influential among my own people—let alone millions of strangers in a wide world. All my creative efforts to date have not set the Doomsday Clock back a trillisecond. I cannot persuade my daughters to recycle properly (if there has ever been a proper way), nor convince Rose to turn out the light when not using a room. I have purchased more stuff in plastic packaging this year than all of humanity discarded as waste in the 5th century. Our cat has a better diet than a medieval king. In a hundred years, Miami and your beautiful city will be flooded and perhaps depopulated.
Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. The lumpenproletariat today count pairs of shoes while species disappear.
And apparently there is nothing people can do about it, even though the current extinction (ongoing Holocene) is human-made, and human brains pray to believe that what has been done can also be undone—even if all the tree frogs of Costa Rica are dead forever.
So, if your kind criticism was aimed not at aesthetic composition, but at the futility of wasting precious life and energy on that which cannot be undone, I understand. For I have self-criticized this position for the past 10 years, especially my addiction to political thinking. It debilitates the soul, asphyxiates optimism. It makes one a slave to an unknown, yet ever present overseer. Much of my time is spent thinking maneuvers to outsmart it, but it’s a fool’s game to lose, over and over again. Its eyes and ears are everywhere and knows all my hiding places, except for one.
And what do I do?
I saw your most recent painting today, “Where Are You Going?”. It is new, bold, and mysterious. What I love most in a work of art. Nurturing child and marriage, self-taught courses in modern art history, perhaps in a big way too, the pandemic, has pulled something very new out of you. Congratulations! I admire your sense of wonder that I once had and miss to distraction. I suspect much of it comes from Alena, as my young daughters gave to me years ago when every day was new (for the girls) and repetition nearly impossible (for me). I pity mature adults who do not have a child in their lives. Boredom at the table, and ennui, the landlord, pounding on the door. Today I would offer several years off my life to help raise my granddaughters to young adulthood. Reading books, discovering nature, baking vegetable shepherd’s pie for eager eyes on an autumn night... Who has time to think on man’s folly when there is a child who must be read to?
“Late middle age” is a euphemism Americans use to bring fleeting psychological comfort during the onset of old age. But in vain. No physical way to avoid it. A great rift has begun, and I have a foot set down in both lands. However, only one beckons the living death. Each sunrise the gulf widens just a little bit. Your painting is a visual push to embolden plans that were forming to take me back to the beginning as I near the end.
I know better sense would have me slow down while the people go rush and run. I could stand very still to find personal freedom while I add my disposable habits to the plastic continent untethered in the Pacific. Any functional universe worth its eternity cannot tell time. Everything in nature is present and reasonable. 12,000 years ago the earth made mountains from glaciers moving immovable rocks. This generation it has created a petroleum island three times the surface area of France. Also, because of human beings, (a universe creation like seagulls and apples), two-fifths of the planet’s biodiversity is poised to go extinct. For brief intervals, I am able to lean on the ancient wisdoms seeking self-fulfillment, but the modern realities are stark and unrelenting. No known universe ever spawned a species capable of annihilating millions of other species in a weekend. To throw my hands up in surrender to annihilation that can only be inevitable if I throw my hands up in surrender, is a living death I am unable to adjust to with sanity. Weak men and women maintain the nuclear age, which just because it exists, does not mean it must. Passenger pigeons once nested in the same living trees I stroll beneath on a nature walk. People too might go extinct while their houses still stand. A sane universe can expect it. However, if unable to carry on its own existence, humanity is poised to take all creation down with it. I have a mortal problem with a thinking species that cannot react undauntingly under the phrase, “the end of all life as we know it”.
If I am an artist, or a philosopher, I had better take alternative paths to enlightenment. And enlightenment ain’t what it used to be. Perfect and unsurpassed awakening has remained a high achievement since the time of the invention of spoons. But today the kind little Buddhas of Lhasa look like selfish brats slurping their broth and checking their texts. My satori will come when I single-handedly rid the earth of nuclear weapons. It is the only way to insure the continuation of life for another 100 years, and perhaps an eternity.
To me, an earth freed of human power in order to protect and prolong life, is worth being political (and unpopular) in my humble image-making process. What good would a Jesus or a Buddha be persuading people to love and let go while the white light came to kill everything? Especially if the threat was human-made, created in darkness by child men, and possibly eliminated with the concentrated will and action of humankind in the present moment? Mass insanity is no excuse for the individual to seek selfish enlightenment in a world to end all worlds. These are weaker men of my lifetime who are in temporary control of the death of ages. Their arrogance is bolstered by a “live and let live” toleration from populations brainwashed from cradle to grave to let the bad people be. The least I can do with my life is creatively condemn those who design, manufacture, and accept the stockpiling of doom. I could look the other way, seek daily to improve my own lot, have everything I need under the sun and expect more… Or I can be a lone voice of protest in a world gone temporarily insane, while living love and life to the best of my ability. Annihilation was invented when my mother was a year old. Homo sapiens, who are 15,000 generations strong, are only a couple generations crazy with their death wish. I have 34 years left to persuade humanity that the old generals with their little boy medals need a hard spanking from their mommies and daddies. And their kill toys must go to the garbage. And their death dreams go back to hell.
Of course I digress and have become preachy. Let me put this into “art speak” to bring me down-to-earth and human.
I believe that art without purpose is self-indulgent like a floating island of garbage that planes fly over taking tourists to Hawaii. It can exist and will continue to exist because present-day comfortable people seek the popular contentment advertised by capitalism. However, I also believe that self-indulgent art should not be elevated to high positions in museums and human memory. Last year I wrote about how the threat of nuclear annihilation affected the art of celebrity artist Roy Lichtenstein. Rembrandt, as you know, did not imagine how anything besides God could exterminate mankind. There was a Hell to punish the evil men. Rembrandt knew about Revelations, but it was God, not man, that blew the whole thing up. Rembrandt couldn’t know about future end times wrought by nuclear warfare. But Picasso did.
So too Roy Lichtenstein.
And neither did a damn thing about it but make more pretty pictures, more comfort, and more waste.
Anyway, here is what I thought last year about celebrity artists confining their brief adult lives to self-indulgence:
As a 16 year old boy, often flabbergasted by the insensitivity and hypocrisy of man, I had no outlet other than a spoken word “why” to react to questions with myself and a world gone wrong. A friend gave me the nickname “Philosopher Ron,” which I didn’t know what to do with other than add more “whys” to a lengthening list on the sins of friends and family. I was working class, poorly educated, and limited to wonder that never took me outside my caste. I had no mentor, no teacher, no guru. So, why did the chef at the restaurant where I worked my first job as dishwasher serve late arrivals spaghetti that he scooped out of the garbage? Was his life that interesting after work to save time on the clock by washing garbage can pasta and reheating it, rather than boiling another pound? That week on my night off I watched “The Day After”, a made for TV nuclear holocaust movie that was all the rage among adults pretending to give a crap about their own government’s trespass on the rights of all life on earth. What was a moral dishwasher with the intellectual capacity of a stone, yet the sensitivity of a butterfly wing, to do with that information?
Naturally, in my station, as inquisitive young dope and novice dishwasher, I just asked “why?”, and then went to bed.
I am sure Roy Lichtenstein either watched or at least heard about the movie, for adults always talk about things the TV wants them to. In 1983 he was rich and well cared for, and although he had the eyes of many thousands of thinking peoples, he thought best to remain humble in his art and let Ronald Reagan be master of the weapons that would melt his loved ones. Roy made one political painting that year, a framed “abstract” entitled Against Apartheid, which was very safe and popular and showed that the millionaire artist cared a great deal about oppression in South Africa. The rest of his output for 1983 is more brushstrokes, more frames, and some apples. And he probably took his wife Dorothy out for spaghetti late one night, at the hour when some chefs get very bitter and angry over their station in life.
Today, Philosopher Ron cannot help but to think that all celebrity visual artists are lazy jerks to the survival needs of mankind. I think the same of popular actors, renown performers and musicians, and writers with best selling books. Each has a huge following, yet uses expression to maintain the means that keep them grounded to the same spot on the spectrum of goodness and badness. They reside where the money comes and popularity is maintained. Popular artists, like infamous presidents (all presidents), gain the world and lose their souls. It’s just a matter of fact.
Fear of insignificance keeps the successfully ambitious producing nothing to slow the race toward extinction. Whether it be pretty Pop paintings or the B83 thermonuclear bomb.
I hope you and family are thriving. We have stocked up on squash, of which there are hundreds of varieties worldwide. Though several might become extinct before Alena enters primary school.
I love your enthusiasm and will tap into it for strength. Thank you for the criticism. It woke me up to what matters most in life.
Your friend from far away and in immediate Internet contact,
So I thought to make this week’s theme about the eradication of nuclear weapons. In a non-dysfunctional world, a term like “Black Friday” would mean what it sounds like—a bummer day for humanity and perhaps many, many other things. Deals on video games and lawn ornaments have held the spotlight for too long. Time for a dose of reality.
Here is a video on how a 10 kiloton atomic bomb expresses itself. Please note, this is a tiddly-widdly nuclear explosion less impactful than Little Boy on Hiroshima. Presently, submerged off the coast of Virginia, and several other deep sea locations around the world, American submarines are hiding out each with a payload averaging 500 kilotons of bang for your tax buck. Multiply the devastation explained in the video by 50 to understand what one submarine can do to high chairs and petting zoos in a city. All this violent power from just one submarine. I hate militaries. I think they’re the bitchiest little sissies on the planet.
Here is a video of old British veterans explaining why the Queen of England needs her nostril hairs pulled out by a backhoe.
Which leads me to a pamphlet I published this year that would get me arrested in most countries around the world.
Henry Miller taunted me to write it. I didn’t reach his mark, but the taunt worked:
“The cult of art reaches its end when it exists only for a precious handful of men and women. Then it is no longer art but the cipher language of a secret society for the propagation of meaningless individuality. Art is something which stirs men’s passions, which gives vision, lucidity, courage and faith. Has any artist in words of recent years stirred the world as did Hitler? Has any poem shocked the world as did the atomic bomb recently? Not since the coming of Christ have we seen such vistas unfolding, multiplying daily. What weapons has the poet compared to these? Or what dreams? Where now is his vaunted imagination? Reality is here before our very eyes, stark naked, but where is the song to announce it? Is there a poet of even the fifth magnitude visible? I see none. I do not call poets who make verses, rhymed or unrhymed. I call that man poet who is capable of profoundly altering the world. If there be such a poet living in our midst, then let him declare himself. Let him raise his voice! But it will have to be a voice which can drown the roar of the bomb. He will have to use a language which melts men’s hearts, which makes the blood bubble.” —from Time of the Assassins
I thought the only way I could non-violently release the rancor I had aimed at the death-wielders was to write a work of fiction by a man afflicted with Tourette Syndrome. I had to make it fiction because fiction writers get away with so much these days. Jeff Bezos published my pamphlet, so I don’t think I’ll get in too much trouble, at least not without taking him down with me. What follows is the introduction to my little publication. Bezos adds these digital teasers on his popular delivery website to entice the reader to purchase. I add one here to get you motivated to hunt:
If the poet can no longer speak for society, but only for himself, then we are at the last ditch.
- Henry Miller from Time of the Assassins, 1956
It is the feeling in several countries, I know, that fiction can hurt a social order a lot. And by fiction I mean any person’s written report of what is going on in his head, as opposed to the daily news. Writers of such stuff have been jailed, put into lunatic asylums, exiled, or even killed sometimes—for putting certain words in a certain order. Politicians who do things like that to fiction writers should learn from the American experience that they are not merely being cruel. They are being preposterous, too. Fiction is harmless. Fiction is so much hot air.
- Kurt Vonnegut in Address to P.E.N., 1973
This is a work of fiction, wink, wink, twitch, tic.
- Georges Gilles de la Tourette, 1889
The fox. The rabbit. The planet.
If I stretch out in this grass and do like making a snow angel, I’ll traverse 37 species at this latitude, from bacterium to me, and harm or kill most of it. Crushing slightly some, and sending others to oblivion. I can’t run 50 yards up a hill not out of breath, but I am a god to so many things.
This is my new literature. Mine alone. It is the homemade explosive under the bridge. It probably won’t detonate because I am all thumbs with the materials. Light the fuse and hide, little artist. It won’t matter.
I am my own resistance army. General Innocent.
Streaks of rose clouds in the sky, puffs of yellow and blue-gray. This is a book of fiction, published anonymously, wasting the human beings.
The fox. The rabbit. The planet.
Man is god. A little inch worm mind splitting atoms and lording plastics over suffering fish who can’t tell what the hell is going on. Little horny inch worm minds laughing at sex jokes about black and white penises. I want to begin my slaughter of the militaries. The generals not of the resistance. Tie them up snug in rabbit-flavored rope and set a pack of starving foxes on their cholesterol faces. Two generals at a time, facing each other while their head skin gets torn off. These are the first to go. The generals are the worst gods ever allowed to eat sandwiches in public spaces.
We need lots of death howls to wake us up from sheep sleep. Libertarians call most people not libertarian, sheep. After the generals, we shall cheese grate the libertarians. Then the democrats. Then the socialists, republicans and green party bitches of photovoltaics made in China and sent over by ship shooting stranded ice berg polar bears from the bow. Oh sunny days! Onto the pretend conservatives, the white right. We’ll take images of their savior Aryan Jesus Christ and stuff them down tubular penis barrels of AK-47s and rapid fire them up holes and rotten insides of conservative friendlies—blasting out of Ram trucks and talk radio and church bells, and cheesecake smiles and every president who ever lived. Rotten stink people, killers and christs, never knowing what to do with another human being besides fuck it or fuck it over.
I want to take in so much death while living to know the sun shines brighter. To feel the breeze inspire day walks, night sleep, child precociousness, species survival. Today human gods write books about the present extinction, accepting Pulitzer Prizes like Zeus’s whores. They’re getting on planes to go count dead frogs in Costa Rica, staying overnight in the rainforest, wiping themselves with toilet paper. Putting the paper in a biodegradable shit bag.
Zeus whores. God plunderers. Yahweh fighter jets and organ dripping drones.
Today I will paint a work of art. Then I will go for a walk. I will wash and hang laundry while the gods go to Dunkin’ Donuts® drive thru and mind masturbate sipping coffee.
Yes. And I will find the nation of me on a map and swear my allegiance.
I remind myself that I want to become crazy. I want to look out with innocent bunny eyes to let you feel how you have wronged me. I know I must not be crazy because I have yet to swipe off the heads of the generals who roll their fingers over nuclear launch codes. I have let live too many killers and would-be killers, therefore I am not crazy. A good, healthy crazy would hunt humans who kill humans for sport. So I must not be crazy because I get into our new car, designed in species extinction, and drive like an erect Puritan to an all day mass market at the grocery store. There is no mention ever in the dairy aisle about the philosophy of life and death. Every one is so fucking sane.
I am queer for sure, but upstanding. I dress in finer used clothing, and do partial duty as father, husband, and light non-upheaval creative artist.
Crazy, your television type of crazy, would learn how to snap vertebrae. It would follow a fascist general into a big box store bathroom and crack his neck broken at the urinal, leaving a note— “This guy’s brother in the band is next”. Crazy would hunt these killers night and day and rest only when dreaming up new ways to kill.
So it is a very tough row to hoe, being crazy. Neither of us is crazy, but I can’t stop thinking about wanting to be.
Your kind of crazy.
I think many people resign themselves to accept a genocidal paradigm because of obeyance to authority whether it be mortal (real military) or immortal (imagined God). It’s just plain easier not to think. Why stop presidents, generals and CEOs from perpetuating evil on a mass scale? Because it blocks time set aside for lazy weekends and Thursday night golfing leagues. I get it. The future need only be determinate up to the next scotch and soda. Live and let live. Mommy and teacher taught us that. Obey authority, even while authority, dressed down in a grease-stained wife-beater, pile drives dear mommy to the floor.
Next is a primer to help those who don’t care to help themselves, let alone the little selves who came into the world never expecting to by liquidated by it.
The New God Nuclear
Last year I scoffed at the venerable Krishnamurti who once declared that the world problem is not the individual problem. Meaning that one should not bother about outside trouble until he has cured his own ailing soul. I rejected such a selfish philosophy after I woke up one morning to the doom that the world is being held hostage by nuclear weapons. There would be time I thought to play happy swami in full lotus after the earth was rid of the threat of six-hour annihilation. However… and from this day forward I will thank the new God profusely… However, thank God—thank you real, honest, and true, new God-Nuclear—that to be born again is exactly what humanity has longed for deep in its heart of hearts ever since the first creative superstition helped the confused hominid choose the correct leaf to eat.
That is this:
We have it now. A final proof of God. Proof of an evil force, like Satan, proof of hellfire, damnation, tortured souls, happiness beyond comparison, proof of extremely efficient punishment to sinners and infidels.
This God-Nuclear is real. We have seen him spit a gob at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and just like that—200,000 people, six million birds, a trillion plants and animals liquidated! That is a marvel. Barefoot Jesus made a blind man see? Whippety-doo! Small time trick of a holy, hack magician. Then this new God-Nuclear got an overnight head cold for the latter part of the last century, and now a billion women are destined to have one or both of their breasts lopped off. That is efficient punishment. Forget those whining Christians with their girly talk about “the rapture”. God-Nuclear wipes his ass with Revelations.
It was last year when I laughed at the selfish simplicity of the atomic wise man, Krishnamurti. Now, after humbling myself to the new light, after meeting the new God-Nuclear face to undeniably magnificent warhead, I see that the skinny, big-eyed prophet was absolutely right, no matter what his initial reasoning.
The world problem is not my problem.
God-Nuclear has knocked that huge chip off my shoulder. God-Nuclear, thank God-Nuclear, will take care of the world. Seven of his grand thermonukes detonated on the same day will strangle our dear atmosphere to death. That is a real, powerful force! Not likely Mohammed ever imagined such a blow! He was content with fire bolts shot from the clouds. Maybe a dark rider on a donkey wielding a magic sword to slay the wicked. When superstition was all guesswork and faith, who knew what the punishments would be? So much confusion, too many impressive demigods, little miracles, maidens and buffalo boys, entire planets and stars teeming with the unpredictability of life and weather, existing together as one big family on the shell of a floating turtle…
Once, not too long ago, every devout Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Iroquois could go into himself to perfect existence, to maintain an almost ecstatic peace and harmony. Poverty was praised, for the religious life revealed successive rewards. Karma was very real. Should life, with all its intricate detail, ever veer off course, then watch out for some nasty personal consequences! Back in those golden days of doing good for fear of God it was bad to be rich, good to be simple, bad to flaunt style, good to sleep under the stars…
It shall be like that for the visionaries once again. We will have our new Buddhas and Jesus Christs. They will carry on with amazing humility and silence, so beautifully, leaving nothing to the world but their fading inner light.
God-Nuclear exists for the increase of our spiritual bounty. No more guesswork. There truly is Kingdom come! Armageddon ain’t no lie. Why on earth are those crazy nuns beating weapons into plowshares? It must be a blind, raging jealousy of the greater, truer god. Their ancient spear and sword god comes from the darkest of dark ages, before Thomas Edison, Gatling guns and incendiary bombs. It was the Manhattan Project, not the knowledge of Jesus or Vishnu which separated the savage from the civilized. God-Nuclear waits underground and undersea with a wide, knowing smile. There is one God and it just doesn’t matter what anyone gets from this knowledge.
What this means for the spiritual boobs…
It means get back to work all of you! You are absolved of sin. The superstitions have vanished. Droughts are explained. Famine understood. The plague is all about not washing your hands after drinking shitty water. Lawlessness happens mostly from having no fear of an angry god.
Get the most out of life. Forget about progeny if you must. Love is okay. Hate is okay too if it brings you joy. The only consequences left are those wrought by breaking man-made laws and the inevitable doom of eternal silence brought to you by the new and improved good God-Nuclear.
But this should only bring the happy ones closer together. Spirituality, devotion, gentleness, compassion—these things make life worth living. More so with the knowledge of certain death for everybody, including the unborn’s unborn.
We do not respect nor understand our place in nature. I don’t think it can be helped. A raccoon with a human mind would also stomp to death flowers and bugs for sport while searching for neurosis in the Garden of Eden.
Recently, after picking up several paintings from an exhibition in Cooperstown, NY (a bit peeved that all that gooey old money ignored my work again), I stopped to visit with some ladies standing out in front of the town hall holding signs protesting the wars, drones, and kill lists of our guilty government. I walked up to them bearing one of my paintings, the one where children are nesting for bed under a fat cozy quilt, while U.S. bombs rain down from above, and a perforated American Indian man says “Armistice Day be big crock of buck dung”. I set the painting against a tree and asked my fellow sufferers to critique. Of course I thought the message was clear. The bombs were big. The text neat. The children innocent.
One said how it reminded her of mural painting in California. The others were mute but smiling, in solidarity of toleration of several years gathering on Wednesdays to deal with chance crazy people like me. Not one of them “saw” the painting until I explained to them what it meant. I then realized a sad personal truth. No one will ever “get” me. To me the painting was visual expression of exactly what they were protesting with signs and chants. Shy Ron got out of the car intent to stand with the choir, yet became the preacher by default. After explanation the ladies finally “got” the painting and my politics, and were openly thankful. It wouldn’t matter. We turn on our night lights and gas guzzle the life force. The good, the bad, the innocent and guilty, who cares? We all flush our toilets on nature, and soil the innocent.
I left with yet another example of a prolonged bitter disappointment of mine. When moderately comfortable, the human condition is the only evil in the universe.
The Morning of the Massive Chomping Mouth Bombing That Left Even the Cherry Blossoms in Tact
Little Oko was absolutely silly about the latest war. When her mommy told her about General Yoyo’s successful campaign against the Americans, she almost fell off her bicycle laughing.
“That’s funny mama. Tamari? And it flooded Detroit? Hee, hee. But nobody got hurt, right?”
“Of course not dear. Your uncle was there and he said that the Americans laughter was so loud that they nearly surrendered. The whole city was pointing up to the sky, shaking their heads and roaring like a million tickled tigers.”
“They can’t surrender mama. At least not until they retentiate.”
“That’s ‘retaliate’ dear,” said Oko’s mother. “And don’t worry. The Americans will have their chance. General Yoyo has sent warning to our city and several others to spend this week laughing as much as we can. This afternoon Aunt Misuko will take you to the foot ticklers. I hope you can get in. There will be a long line.”
“Oh mama, that’s funny. What do you think the Americans have planned?” asked little Oko, still holding her tummy after the good laugh about Detroit’s tamari flood.
“I don’t know dear,” said her mother, “but if it’s American, it will be a tremendous attack, and dangerously hilarious.”
“Okay mama. I’ll laugh as often as I can. I bet the teacher has something funny planned for us at school today.”
“Wonderful dear, but come right home from the foot ticklers. Oh yes, I almost forgot. General Yoyo wants us to watch a special on channel three tonight at seven.”
“Oh, but mama, I have crane practice tonight.”
“It will be canceled dear. The TV special is mandatory.”
“Mama, that doesn’t make me laugh.”
“No, Oko, it doesn’t. But this will honey.”
Oko’s mother made a cross-eyed look, and put a finger in her nose. Oko smiled, but didn’t laugh until her mother ran over to the garbage can and thrust her head into it. That got the child’s attention, and she pedaled off to school, giggling and happy.
Oko’s mother spent the day with her ears glued to the radio while she cleaned the bedrooms, washed the rock garden and rolled fish cakes. There was news from California. A huge fleet of airships had just left San Francisco, and was expected to reach the Japanese mainland by dawn. Oko’s mother shuddered at the newscaster’s detailed description of the American fighting force. She tried to hold back her laughter, but soon realized that it was still okay to laugh, for the rules of war did not take into account either side’s sense of humor until one country was actually under attack. That was a relief. She laughed until Oko came home.
At sunset Papa came back from work looking very tired but happy. Oko and her mother served the fish cakes with boiled rice and brought him his slippers and lotus pipe. After supper the girls performed a hastily rehearsed skit which managed to wake papa up from his sleepy state. He laughed at Oko’s portrayal of a Detroit woman lugging her garbage out the front door and discovering a tamari river gushing down the street. He begged his wife to repeat General Yoyo’s declaration of War to America. That made him giggle until he doubled over onto his tatami mat. The family laughed. Outside the whole community laughed. That evening at 6 p.m. all of Japan was laughing. So far General Yoyo’s plan to rid his nation of its laughter was going along fine. If his people could control themselves during the American’s bombardment, then the World Council would declare Japan victorious and America would be responsible for the messy clean up.
However, the General knew his people’s weakness. They had a heightened sense of humor. If the Americans thought a tamari flood was funny, then how easy it would be for their generals to get Yoyo’s people to laugh. Oh the relentless enemy could try almost anything, and it was bound to be a great success. A chicken with a parachute. Just one chicken floating down on a city could be the ruin of the Japanese people. They are so easily amused. Russia won the previous war, even without an invasion. They sent a mailer to every Japanese citizen with a photo of the Czar dressed in drag and holding a bouquet of tulips. That did it! The people couldn’t control themselves and the War Council sent word to General Yoyo that his country was defeated and they were responsible for the clean-up of a million tons of cherries and rice balls cluttering the streets of Kiev. In fact, Yoyo lost every war since the beginning of his reign. The Great War of Pigs-In-A-Blanket lost to tiny Denmark. The several bombings of flaming carved dog feces wrought by that mental Pitter from Germany. Yoyo and Japan lost to Guatemala, a country without an army, but big on coconut cream pies. He lost to Togo, France, Italy, Iraq, and committed his greatest blunder in India, where he had a sure thing after India’s massive fighting force of sixty million yogis froze to death in the high peaks of the Himalayas. That actually depressed the Japanese people. Yoyo acted quickly and suppressed the information that each yogi carried a whoopee cushion in his knapsack. It meant almost certain victory. Yoyo and his staff were ecstatic, but they weren’t thinking strategically. In fact, they weren’t thinking at all. Yoyo had vegetarian Calcutta bombed with foot long meatloaves and plastics cruets of ketchup.
At seven o’clock the entire Japanese nation sat down in front of their televisions. Oko and her family snacked on a bowl of kombu chips laughing just a little in expectation of what the General had planned. Was he going to make funny faces? Would he and his staff have a stand up competition? Were there going to be any skits or clown surprises? Papa held Mama’s hand. Oko sat on the floor at their feet holding the bowl of chips in her lap.
A stern-faced General Yoyo appeared on the screen.
“My dear people, I have asked you to join me tonight for a special reason. As you know, the Americans are heading our way, and by tomorrow morning will deliver their retaliation.”
“In the past we have aired these television burlesques to exhaust what laughter is left within us. In the past we have tried all sorts of tricks and surprises. Yet, no matter how hilarious our pre-bomb gathering, we managed to burst out laughing at our enemies’ offensive. We have failed to keep quiet in all of our wars since re-recorded history. Our people are just too silly. However, in this war the stakes are higher than usual. If the Americans win tomorrow, our representatives have agreed to relinquish all the beautiful Cherry Trees that don the immaculate cities and countryside of our precious Japan. It is our greatest gamble to date. It could be our greatest failure.”
“What you are about to see is an actual account of a horrible and brutal crime to humanity. It is an ancient video that the emperor kept buried in a secret chamber beneath his tea room. He brought it to me early this morning begging that his people not suffer the loss of their national tree and its glorious blossoms.”
“Against the desires and a unanimous vote of my staff, I have decided to air this ancient film. The Americans will have been here and gone by tomorrow afternoon. I hope that they leave without our beautiful trees. Good night.”
Oko started to laugh. “Oh Mama, I think the General wants to make us all sick from the giggles.”
“I don’t know dear. I’ve never seen General Yoyo with such a serious look.”
“Yes, he does look very grave,” said Papa, “Which means whatever he plans to do will be twice as funny!”
Oko laughed again, and then she stopped laughing...
A small girl in the forest gathering blossoms
A flash of light
A pool of bubbling liquid by a rock
A man and his son holding kites on the shore
A flash of light
Their screaming shadows painted on a rock
Limbs, torsos and heads thrown into a fire
The entire city is on fire
A hot wind to melt faces
Eyes and ears drop on the ground
An American in the cockpit laughing
The American president smiling
New York City erupting with glee
The War is over
Blood pours from the ear
of a child on a tricycle
and then she stops breathing
Oko was crying. Papa was angry. Mama ran outside and waved her fists at the night sky.
At dawn the Americans dropped six megatons of chattering teeth with gums on Oko’s city. You could hear a lone rooster’s crow. Japan had finally won a war.
Some links to follow to warm the heart over Thanksgiving weekend. Next week I promise to lighten the load so I can retain a humble readership.
Here is the reason I believe the United States possesses and threatens to detonate nuclear weapons, again.
Here is the Armageddon Wine bar I made out of a telephone table, wild berry picking, and a potato battery.
Here is the link to The Day After Movie from 1983 (in case you missed it). Watch this instead of football on Sunday and maybe your grandkids will grow up.
And finally, here is a strange attempt to share the energy-feeling circulating in my chest and arms for several hours each day. Lou Reed, Antony, Rose and Sophie were a great help with production. Thanks guys/gals.
And thank YOU for hanging on this far!
Happy Black Friday!