September 15, 2014

How We Live Now


Now the wintertime is coming,
The windows are filled with frost.
I went to tell everybody,
But I could not get across.

-- Bob Dylan | It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

Chico, CA: Early September, 2007

This September, as in most Septembers, the days have been hot and parched here in the upper reaches of California's Imperial Valley.

This year, as in most years, wildfires have been stalking the region sealing the old folks, the ecosensitives, and the ever-proliferating hyper-allergenic inside behind their oxygen canisters, filters, and mounds of medications. The local TV weathermen make much of little, delivering the particulate count as if every second carbon atom spelled doom for untold numbers of weakened and afflicted Americans. It's all part of the shameful litany of vulnerability chanted so often that many previously tough Americans come to believe they are as insubstantial as moonlight at noon. It's how they live now.

The valved hum of the Highway 99 rolls relentlessly beyond the buttresses of the razor-wire fence and medical offices. The artery flows north and south through Chico, elevated until it drops down into the tabletop mesas towards Oroville on one end and the rolling walnut orchards towards Red Bluff. From both directions the road pumps into town, after the morning rush, the hardcore unemployed, the morbidly obese, and those obsessed with vapid shopping sprees in sleek aisles bracketed by cheap Chinese chintz. It brings them in to the all-you-can-stuff-in Country Town Buffets and the big box stores of Costco and Wal-Mart. Hard to figure that with so many working we can still have so many with nothing very special to do with their lives, but that is why we have daytime shopping networks and enough free parking at the mall to handle everyone who might, just might, show up on December 23rd. This is how we live now.

It's a Tuesday, six years thirteen years on from that much more memorable September Tuesday in New York City. To an extent, the qualities of today here in California mimic that day. Clear and calm and not all that hot. The light breeze moves the surface of the apartment complex's pool just enough to put a ripple on the clear water of the cool chemical soup. Every so often a car playing old rock anthems cruises into the parking lot with some half-heard lyric…. "Won't get fooled again?"…. too faint and quick to know for sure. The tennis courts bake in the afternoon sun but it is unlikely that they'll be used. They not much more than a selling point for a property purchase. It's how we live now.

Through the ground floor windows of the apartments here at night I note the proliferation of the large plasma screens washing the rooms they dominate in an endless retinal massage of football players, fools, and TV personalities such as an Oprah interviewing other TV personalities such as a Letterman in an endless round of media auto-fellatio. Mesmerizing meaninglessness. Just what the doctor ordered. Tomorrow, the expected sun and the expected heat and the expected high level of particulate boogey-men will be back to fade the parched concrete by the pool a still lighter shade of grey. Tennis courts and swimming pools can't hope to compete with pure plasma, xBox ecstasy, "social software," porn-on-demand and Grand Theft Auto. It's how we live now, a reality faded media gray.

Six years back the New York winter had faded the snapshot faces of "the missing" by February. Faded even those images their loved ones had sealed in plastic. Earlier than that (Was it before Christmas?) the spontaneous shrines of candles, keepsakes, images and children's sad art signed by whole "second, third, fourth grade class" that appeared in Penn Station and elsewhere across Manhattan had vanished over one weekend. Somewhere in the system officials had decided that enough was, at last, enough and had the tokens taken to wherever such tokens are taken. Perhaps the landfill in New Jersey where so much of the Ground Zero refuse, once hauled out of the pit, was taken to be sifted by ever-finer screens for something that resembled human remains. Perhaps that is where all those millions of pieces of fourth period art went. Or even more efficiently "disappeared." Difficult to know. Nobody was tracking the details. There were too many of them. That was how we lived then.

How we live now is in a space where the blood-oath "Never forget!" has been efficiently "disappeared" as well. Instead, the oath has become -- at most -- the question, "Have you forgotten?" popularized a year or so back by a maudlin Country and Western tune of large popularity but little distinction. Once a blood-oath becomes a question the answer is always -- for most -- "Yes."

For those who have not forgotten and who still hold to the oath of "Never forget," such an answer affirms only the shallowness and self-deceit of the growing mass of fellow citizens weary of war at six removes; of those eager to "move on."

And while this is neither unexpected nor incomprehensible, it is disheartening to see the shameless use of this urge daily -- most explicitly in the work of the media-traitors that compose the group of the same name; a group that seems always fully funded and well beyond any consequence as yet for their treason. A group for which "Pride in Treason" seems to be a checked "Yes" on the membership application. This too is how we live now.

Well, what of it? Let those diseased with decadence, dead of heart, steeped in cowardice, roiled by hate of that which nurtures them, and possessed of souls riddled with the chancres of the spirit brand themselves. The better to know them in a future time. Such beings always proliferate in the dark passages of history; and always play on the mindlessness of the masses. It is their insect nature. You can see it in the species from the maggot men of Palestine on up the mold chain to the preening Congressman prattling about "patriotism" while selling his country out for tin or a tickle. There will be more. Mark them well. It is how we live now.

How else should we live now that for most the first fear has faded and no more bad days have come their way? You can't promote a war of survival when your politics have only promoted a time of "perfect public safety here at home." The argument that "there have been no attacks" is not just a desperate demonstration of efficacy, but a perverse demonstration to the senses that there is indeed no real war upon us at all.

A war is not demonstrated by an absence of attacks on the homeland. Absence merely demonstrates the convergence, on a day to day basis, of somewhat effective methods of interdicting attacks, no little luck, and the forbearance of the enemy to engage directly what can be won more easily by disengagement. Enemies do not strike to enrage the foe, but to kill them in large numbers and break their will to resist. Absent the capability to do that, a wise enemy who thinks in Biblical spans of time will make few large moves and many minor ones. The London Blitz was such that no British citizen was in doubt that a great number of Germans were working night and day to kill him. A war of attrition against American soldiers in a distant land, with a casualty rate so insignificant that each killed or wounded soldier can be lionized, is hardly a war that presses home its lethality to the vast mass of work-crazed or leisure-soaked Americans.

The absence of enemy action at home is seen, over years, as the absence of an enemy, as an absence of intent, as no war at all.

One can easily fall under the spell of this month's cover story in the Readers Digest, "The Miracle of Sleep." One can be lulled into the illusion of peace on earth just sitting here by the swimming pool while the old man beyond the fence walks his dachshund from the comfort of his motorized wheel-chair, and his grandson in cut-offs and a t-shirt pedals lazy circles around him on one of those retro red Schwinns that is suddenly – like so many other ironic and harmless artifacts of the 1950s – back in style again. Back to the fifties with the aging children of the sixties – O paragons of cowardice -- in control of the Congress. It's how we live now.

War? Ask not what is it good for, but where is it? Ask also how long you think this luck will last?

Posted by Vanderleun at September 15, 2014 11:20 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Another fine essay. But what is the conclusion, the "take away"?

Perhaps it is this, America and Western Civilization as a whole are finished, and it is time that the barbarian (muslim? liberal?) wave wash the debris away so that something new can be born.

Posted by: Bob Sykes at September 13, 2007 5:41 AM

Something tells me that history will pay us a visit within 12 months. If the U.S. does strike Iran, I do not envision Iran going quietly into the good night, whispering apologies and mea culpas. I DO, however, envision our magnificent leaders in Washington strutting before the cameras like the cocks they are...putting all of us through endless rounds of "What did he know and when did he know it?" and "Why didn't he connect the dots?". All of this would be combined with calls from groups such as stating that there had better not be a response. After's only one city and the mushroom cloud will probably dissipate in a few hours. No harm done.

Posted by: gabrielpicasso at September 13, 2007 7:52 AM

Too many are convinced there is no enemy or, if there is, he's really no threat. Too many believe this country is so deeply flawed we deserve to lose. Too many believe the President is stupid and venal, waging war for fun and profit. Too many won't take the time to inform themselves of what is at stake. They'd rather watch the big plasma and listen to big media campaign against whatever it is that Bush tries to do. Yes, as you say, it's the way we live now.

In a savage land where the summer temperature soars into the hundreds, where sand and dust infiltrate every nook and cranny, and where a long, hot shower is an unheard of luxury, incredible young men and women daily place their lives on the line. They get minimal support from their fellow citizens, their lives are hard, and the danger from IEDs is ever present. But they do not want to quit, they have not lost sight of finishing the mission, and they shake their heads in sad resignation over those at home who raise the flag of retreat and defeat. That's the way they live now.

May God have mercy on us when we can no longer find such warriors who will forsake the mall, the gaudy materialism, the media spectaculars, the ease and warmth of home to go stand on the wall and defend our freedom.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at September 13, 2007 9:52 PM

I have to say that all the above sentiments are included in my own pessimistic outlook on the future. To sum things up: it looks bleak for civilization. We can see with our own eyes how it was that the Romans disintegrated from within. It looks like we'll continue to decline unless some miracle occurs. I guess the leftists won't mind the horrors that they are heading us toward. Better to live under "a great, strong leader", like a Putin, Castro, Noriega, Chavez or any of the other nut jobs these asses seem to gravitate to. Mandatory check-ups? Thanks for your concern John but I'd rather you stay the hell out of my body. Perhaps we'll do better under a one party system (sarcasm). We can call it the Democratic Party. Or better yet: The American Social Democratic Party.

Today, in D.C., a band of patriots called The Gathering of Eagles stand against the hordes of 'rats which include Code Pink, Anarchists, Truthers, and other Cindy Sheehan/Ron Paul type wackos. We won't hear much about the Eagles, but the leftist propagandist press will surely advise that Cindy et al were there...making noise. It is funny how these types "care about the troops" when they can contort it into their scheme to win the White House. I was able to attend GOE 1 last March 15th and would have to say that it really was great enjoying my First Amendment rights, letting these fellow homo sapiens (Hitler and Stalin were also. I can't call them human or people, though) know what I think of them.

I've done what I can. I try to stay informed. I vote. My two adult children and I have been in the military. My son is in Law Enforcement (the left would call him "a pig") and has occasion to patrol and protect a major bridge for all of us, including the America haters that cross along with the rest of us.

My daughter proudly fought for freedom for Iraqi's. She is preparing now for future deployments after she graduates from West Point. I'll be getting more calls from "over there" telling me crap like she's not allowed to shoot back at snipers unless she can positively identify their position and about the IED's that she survived.

I'll again endure many sleepless nights. The thought of her next deployment brings tears to my eyes right now, but she is an adult, a patriot, and she wants freedom for all people. And it really pisses me off when I know the leftists "want to bring the troops home" when all they really want to do is have Bush and America lose this war.

Gerard, my family hasn't forgotten September 11, 2001.

Posted by: JD at September 15, 2007 10:21 AM

Maybe that is the way some of us live now. Not others. We do work to support the troops in the right way. We still believe in the goodness, rightness and power to attrack others of our way of life. The may be those who denigrate that way of life but most of the rest of the world does want what we have to offer. Those are the ones we need to listen to, not the loud, obnoxious and offensive tools of that defeated ideology responsible for more deaths last century than any other - Communism.

God Bless the USA. Do not lose faith in what is truly right or we shall surely be lost.

Posted by: Robohobo at September 15, 2007 8:58 PM

Another work of art, Gerard. Thanks for the public service.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at September 18, 2007 1:07 PM

I tried. I pointed out, to those I could get to listen, that our president is not evil or stupid. I pointed out, as best I could, the ways he is being unfairly branded for doing the job that he was elected to do,that being, acting in the best interests of America. I told them that the President only is doing what he believes his God would have him do. That he will ultimately be judged differently in the history books than he is by the evening bufoons on TV. I tried and am still proud to stand up for him and our country, but I truly fear that all is lost. I will continue, of course, for we cannot all surrender. The media and the supposed educators have got the masses brainwashed. May God help the U.S.A.

Posted by: roger williams at November 30, 2008 9:28 PM

Interesting to read pre-Obama posts. It feels like a lifetime ago. American history will forever be cast as pre-9/11 and post-9/11. While we will never really be post-9/11 in our hearts, I hope and pray we are post-Obama in 2012. "A war of attrition against American soldiers in a distant land, with a casualty rate so insignificant that each killed or wounded soldier can be lionized, is hardly a war that presses home its lethality to the vast mass of work-crazed or leisure-soaked Americans." I am finding it is becoming more difficult to speak frankly about the war(s), this far in, around vets and/or family members of those serving. Children are growing up without parents, spouses without spouses, serving 3 and 4 tours. Even our expressions of patriotism or support of their mission seem ill-received. The pessimism is becoming palpable. We are at risk of developing a new facet of political correctness if something doesn't change.

Posted by: RedCarolina at September 8, 2011 6:25 AM

I can't help feeling the whole thing was overhyped considering our presidential choice 8 years later, a megamosque will be constructed nearby and the term terrorism has been forbidden. I can hardly wait to see how Obama turns this anniversary into his reelection event.

Posted by: RedCarolina at September 8, 2011 7:20 AM

I can't help feeling the whole thing was overhyped considering our presidential choice 8 years later, a megamosque will be constructed nearby and the term terrorism has been forbidden. I can hardly wait to see how Obama turns this anniversary into his reelection event.

Posted by: RedCarolina at September 8, 2011 7:21 AM

I can't help feeling the whole thing was overhyped considering our presidential choice 8 years later, a megamosque will be constructed nearby and the term terrorism has been forbidden. I can hardly wait to see how Obama turns this anniversary into his reelection event.

Posted by: RedCarolina at September 8, 2011 7:21 AM

apologies - my stupid smart phone did that.

Posted by: RedCarolina at September 8, 2011 1:04 PM

I have noticed, beginning with my much loved grand daughter, that the peace symbol has become a fashion accessory among the young.

It give me chills and I clamp down hard on my tongue to keep from upbraiding my loved one. Her grandmother thinks it is fine; how can you object to peace? This from a two decade plus wife of Naval Aviation. She forgets, but I hearken to another time when the symbol was the icon of mindless, but self-serving, protest against that which was not understood. I recall that many of the earlier wearers were the ones who spit upon our troops as they returned from their ordeal at the behest of our government. I have no doubt that it would be the same, except for the fact that the "peace lovers" are not now at risk. Our professionals take on the risk, while the peace lovers go about their sweet lives, and indulge in an occasional pro forma shudder at the thought of "terrorism". Some of the rising generation has even begun to proclaim that they are the first to live in dread. Really.

Nothing is learned. I suppose nothing is ever learned. "Peace at any price?".

Ending on a better note. The professionals do stand strong; stronger than ever. Some have been our bulwark in some of the worst hell-holes on earth. Others were revealed to us on 9/11/2001. Recent documentaries give us a glimpse of the great strength and calm courage that was manifest on that awful day. They walk among us. Let us hope that their numbers are sufficient the next time we need them.

Posted by: Oldflyer at September 13, 2011 6:02 PM

This essay reads best in a gray dawn of vague rain. Like a funeral I attended recently, the guy wasn't that great when he was alive.

He left the average configuration of wife and children, two anna haff was it, or three?

Family members that only gathered for funerals, any weddings and birthdays taken off the list of must-attend;
church members too graceful to state they never saw the family except on Christmas and Easter; Lodge Brothers that, the only thing they could remember to say good about the guy was - he always paid his dues.

And so it was with him and many others that lived and died and the clocks didn't even hiccup.

Our Nation is the same way now. The old-timers, I hate to keep using the cliché about "Greatest Generation" but that's what it was.

Any Boomers old enough to learn from Grandma and Gramps and the guy ran the hardware store, his face half plastic because he forgot to duck one time on the Rhine,
and never ever mention Auschwitz, he still wakes up in cold sweats about that.

We thought the 9-11 incident would renew us but it soon gave way to memorial t-shirts and a tour of the new old Ground Zero monument, closed Mondays for cleaning by workers that don't know anything about the place since their native language doesn't have a phrase for terrorist massacre. Heck, if they got it translated correctly they might even mourn for the pilots, casting an envious eye up to wherever it is they stash the virgins. Kinda like 99 Red Ballons but without John Lennon crooning.

In time we forget the bad stuff, our brains on defensive amnesia. So when the patina wears off the latest new thing so new we can't even issue recalls yet, we kinda peek at some bad things: The year my father died. The breakup of my first marriage; that ... oh yeah, didn't something happen in New York there? ... um it was before Hurricane Sandy, er, lemme see now ...

Lessons like that, God or Mother Nature or whatever your Higher Power is, they figure we are so dense, a few clicks above smart monkeys only because we screw up more than our simian aunts and uncles. I never saw a chimpanzee wanted a sex change.
Oh oh. Drifting a bit, hang on. Ok we need some lessons repeated until we die and get extinct and let the chimps have the keys to our condo. Or, we learn the lesson and do whatever it takes to sustain our Nation and our way of life.

The only lesson I will call your attention to is the threat of Islam:

While all is being said, not much is being done.

To address a scourge such as Islam we must think in terms of extermination.

Think: Dresden;

Think: Hiroshima and Nagasaki;

Collateral damage? Every time some unfortunate guy gets beheaded and the video goes viral?

Really, collateral damage? You're worried some kids or old people are gonna get killed?

When they kill one of ours, we kill one hundred of theirs.

It has been seen and experienced in most every other country in the world, from the "super-powers" to the Third World yocky-dock countries: Islam is not a good thing. It benefits nobody, apparently not even the adherents.

What is more important, innocent non-Muslims or psychopathic suicide-prone fanatics?

We all listened to rumors that something bad is gonna happen on 9-11. Instead of cowering and hoping that it won't happen near us we should be fire-bombing Baghdad and other concentrations of Muslim terrorists.

Can't find 'em? Enlarge the target area.

Folks, as unpleasant as it may appear, going against spiritual principles that I and many others espouse in Christianity, the only solution for the Muslim threat is to kill every last one of them, their families, their friends, their neighbors; to lay waste to their crop lands and salt their wells, to destroy their buildings such that no two stones lay atop one another.

The justification, if one is needed, is that the Muslims are Evil.

Posted by: chasmatic at September 16, 2014 6:49 AM

The fools and crapheads keep talking about a 'proportional' response to murderous IS/ISIS/ISIL/al-Qaeda/...
They are presenting proportional to mean equal or equivalent, whereas proportional most accurately means a ratio of one thing to a [corresponding] other. For example, the quantity of lamp posts to the quantity of grains of sand on earth.
chas has it right, 100-to-one retribution; 100 of them dead for every one of ours. I'd raise the proportion to at least 1 million to one. Why allow any deaths or damage to one of us when we can prevent it by demolishing one million of the murderous Muslims preemptively? Imams, mullahs, politicians, teachers, and funders of murderous Islam should make up a good part of that million.
The murderous activists will be pleased to be sent on to their pimp's Paradise for their just reward with syphilitic male and female virgins. Syphilitic because their creator is similarly diseased. Other halal vittles, preheated, will be available to them in Hell.
Western civilization is far from finished; it's just slow to reach its boiling point. When it does it will be known as the Western Cauterization of Islam.

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