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Of Pocketbooks and Politix
Necessity is the mother of invention. Survival is a bastard.
Friends, Romans, countrymen is one of my favorite salutations. It implies equality, loyalty, comradery. I don’t remember the year or the school, but I was Mark Antony in a play. What I remember most is learning and memorizing Antony’s eulogy of Julius Caesar.
One of the most powerful speeches by Shakespeare, obviously, but I probably have a different take on this thing. It surely influenced my thought process and future sense of self. Antony’s sarcastic, mocking use of the word honorable to describe Brutus became a blueprint for how I dealt with bullies.
Believe me - short, red-headed, and bespectacled is a lethal combo for attracting emotionally-insecure, mommy-addicted, dense-headed brutes. Biting sarcasm that girls got but was lost on the the swaggering moron in front of me became a solid defense mechanism. After learning to avoid that first swing, my survival chances increased dramatically.
At least I got the girls laughing at the real idiot for awhile. But I realize I learned a much different lesson from those experiences. I learned crowd psychology. I created my ability to influence crowds with my words. I sensed in the organic gatherings that attend a hi-school hallway fight a longing for something.
People want to see the bully go down. Or conversely, to see the bully prove his point. I believe there were more of the former than latter. The crowd is invested in a side. They want a winner. Or at the very least, a concrete outcome. Most people hate ambiguity. Don’t believe me? Watch a person order at a festival food truck getting slammed.
As the crowd builds behind the person, their anxiety increases. They have to make a public choice. The order-taker is multi-tasking and distracting, inquisitive and impatient. The mood is urgent. The crowd is hangry, restless, and drunk.
They start twitching, unsure of what they want. They ask their friend “What do I like again?” or another responsibility-shifting question. A simple choice becomes an insurmountable mountain. Finally, they stammer out “Uh, uhm, the chicken sandwich, uhm, I think. I guess. Yeah . . .”
Stay close to hear the response when their order is called “I didn’t even want this, I just ordered it.” I see that all the time. People stumbling and bumbling through their very own life, not even sure of what kind of food they like to be confident enough to order it.
I use Shakespeare’s salutation sincerely to address you. Intrepid friends, faithful readers, loyal community, lend me your eyes. We all lead busy lives so I’m not sure if you noticed I’ve been absent for a week or so. I’ve noticed, and it created a certain level of anxiety in me.
Since starting this project way back in the lockdown of the early-20s, I’ve posted twice a week in a disciplined manner. That’s kind of fallen to shit lately. It’s also been a lesson in the difference between vulnerability and self-induced victimhood.
Taking time off to heal the body is perfectly acceptable and indeed a wise and noble choice, “she’s rehabbing and will be better than ever!” Calling off because I need a mental day or have an emotional speedbump? How do you fake cough that call?
The difference is, with vulnerability, it takes self-awareness to use that time beneficially. Self-induced victimhood pops a beer at noon poolside. I done both. Paid the price for one and working on the other. Both have their utility.
I ran across the picture of the coal miner at the top on a Yahoo page of all places - they don’t usually do normal-people stuff. I thought it a compelling image. So do a lot of other people. You can check out his story here. It got me to thinking about this upcoming election.
And some other titles and tidbits I ran across. You know me well enough to know where I stand and what I believe. That belief includes the absolute and resolute belief in individual liberty and personal freedom. For me, of course. And for all of you more importantly.
This will be an election unlike any other in history. And just like every other in history. Are we arrogant enough to believe that the issues facing the country in 1812, or 1864, or 1944 were less intense than the one we face today? I don’t know, maybe in degree, but even then, not sure.
This is a moment in time. It will be chronicled and remembered. A million different ways. What way will you remember it?
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I just had to click on this one, right? No, we’re not. But we are a bunch of real-ass people with solid work ethic, a sense of humanity, and the survival skills to be the last one standing. Always.
There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.
There's been a load of compromisin'
On the road to my horizon
Regret is just one of the demons I ride
Look hard. Dig deep. Reach to the bottom. For that is where you find the terms of the bargain. What bargain you ask? The one that we all make. Our own personal deal with the serpent.
Call it what you will. Call him what you will. If you believe in God and His will, then the Devil is 50% of the package. If you worship Satan, it’s pretty much 100 percent. If you’re in between, let me know what that feels like.
But there it is. For some, it’s called settling. For others, delayed gratification. And for those truly self-righteous, self-sacrifice. Huh? How can selfless sacrifice be even remotely considered a pact with Lucifer?
Lt. Dan was robbed of his destiny. The destiny that the devil had insured was his, and had been ordained through multiple generations. That payoff is not eternal life, but eternal honor. We sell ourselves short when we don’t see, or won’t look, at the other side of the deal we’ve made.
The first rule of selling, and lawyering too, is only asking questions one knows the answer to. The first rule of survival is don’t ask questions. Especially why and how ones. That’s a fine way to get dead quick.
I been thinking and writing lately about personal demons, and how we frail humans learn to coexist with them. In my talks with artists, musicians, athletes, celebrities, and just everyday folk, regret surfaces as a comment theme.
As I age, knocking on the door of 60, epiphanies seem to be in greater supply than ever before in my life. Like all other things, the word seem is a huge fulcrum point. In sentences and in lives.
The reality is, epiphanies are as plentiful as they have always been. I’m just at a point in my life that allows me to absorb and act on them.
Kent’s warning is particularly apposite today, because we live increasingly in a world in which words and words alone are the measure of all things, especially vice and virtue. A good person is one who espouses the right opinions, and an even better one is someone who trumpets them. The converse is also true, that a bad person is one who does not have the right opinions, and an even worse one is someone who trumpets the wrong opinions.
How insensitive, a sitting US Senator got assaulted by a neighbor, and Paul and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter had this take. Wow, strong words. Karma’s a bitch, right? Or in this case, a psychotic homicidal maniac illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet and a hammer. And living in a Sanctuary City. You invited him.
Blaming violence on political opponents without a shred of evidence is backfiring.
Basically, the new kid in school just punched the bully in the nose. In front of everyone. As Nelson likes to say
Be curious, unafraid, and, most of all, happy. We don’t get a mulligan here.
I wrote a feature piece for mxdwn.com currently in editing. This is the soundtrack to the piece. It’s a comparative analysis of two masked artists, Tobias Forge of Ghost and Orville Peck. I stacked the tracks of their new albums 1/1, 2/2, 3/3 etc. and the result is pretty amazing. Give it a listen.