Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Getting Old Sucks

" ....Some things you do for money, some things you do for fun, but the things you do for love are going to come back to you one by one...."

                        -Love, Love, Love by The Mountain Goats.

I've gotta be real with you, dearest motherfuckers, I'm not really in a blogging kind of mood today. Not that there's nothing going on, quite the contrary. The Russian Witch Trials are still chugging along with the mainstream media working themselves up into a near masturbatory fuhrer, the likes of which this foul country hasn't experienced since the height of the Monica Lewinsky fiasco. The Saudis are currently engaged in some kind of bizarre "Mean Girls" style tiff with their former flunkies in Qatar for reasons no one seems to fully comprehend. And the United States Military is once again openly committing crimes against humanity by gassing Raqqa with white phosphorous.

No, there's plenty to write about but my heart just isn't up to covering the rest of the worlds problems today. I've got me a serious case of white-people-problems this week. Stage 4 white-people-problems. This week we slapped my grandmother in a home, to put it colorfully and I can't help but to feel like the whole damn world is inside out.

My grandmother was a complicated person. On one hand, she was a Marine Corps officer's wife, a Boho folkie, a tireless civil rights supporter and a Kennedy Democrat. On the other hand, she was also a Marine Corps officer's widow, a rabid Fox News junkie, a casual racist and a Reagan Democrat who practiced passive aggression like a martial art. Truth be told, she could be a real bitch, I suspect that's were I get it from. Our arguments are still the stuff of family lore and our relationship hit the skids on more than one occasion but she always took the high ground and buried the hatchet when I needed her most.

More than anything, though, my Nana (call her grandma at your own risk) was a brilliant artist. Just google Janet Sullivan Turner if you don't fucking believe me. She could do it all: Impressionism, Abstract, Pop Art, painting, sculpture, installation. She could do shit with trash and rusty car parts that would blow your fucking mind. She was a respected figure in the prestigious Philadelphia art scene for over forty years and for good goddamn reason, she did things her way.

I say 'was' because my Nana has dementia, which is why we had to move her out to a home in the sticks, where me and my folks live, from her house of more than four decades in the crumbling Philadelphia suburbs. She's still her but she isn't. Part of her is missing and that part grows a little bit bigger everyday. The home we moved her into is nice but it isn't hers and it never will be. She looks lost there. Defeated. Like a wild tiger in a cage at the zoo. She may be safe but there will always be a faint glimmer of the wilderness in her eyes. A tiny flickering light that screams freedom. It doesn't feel right but it's the best thing we can do for her. It's the only way we can be sure that she's safe. But that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.

Getting old sucks. There's no way around that brutal truth. I've already been through this once before with my other grandmother which makes the statistical odds of me facing the same fate higher than I prefer to contemplate. It feels tragic that we're all more or less damned to leave this world as helpless as we come into it. But if we're truly lucky, the love that we give to the people who mean the most to us will be payed back in full when we need it most and we'll find it somewhere deep within, from a place even dementia can't reach, to be big enough to let go of our pride and except this gift.

Me, personally, though. I'd rather got out like John Dillinger or Che Guevara, in a blaze of glory. Shot down in the streets by the state I've devoted myself completely to annihilating with a laptop, my weapon of choice, in my hands. And the last words I type will be....

Peace, Love and Empathy- CH

....Somewhere on the other side, my Nana will ask why I had to go out that way. My response: I learned it from you bitch. I learned it from you....

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post.

The Times They Are A-Changin' By Bob Dylan
The Suburbs By Arcade Fire
Landslide By The Smashing Pumpkins
Both Sides, Now By Joni Mitchell
Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying By Belle & Sebastian
Hurt By Johnny Cash
Love, Love, Love By The Mountain Goats
My Way By Sid Vicious

Note to dearest motherfuckers-    With my birthday next week and the Fourth on the next, I'm going to take a brief sabbatical to play video games, eat Thai food and blow shit up. All things considered, I feel like I kind of earned it. But I will be back in July with an anti-Hollywood Summer movie list so stay tuned and blow something up for 'Merica, goddammit!

Friday, June 9, 2017

More Summer Reading for Freaks and Radicals

For me, if its summer, that means three things: The Jersey Shore, yard-sailing and phoning it in on my blog with easy breezy posts like my second annual summer reading list. Your average summer reading list is typically equal parts bourgeois banality and elitist snobbery which is a fancy way of saying they're fucking shit. Nobody reads the books on them or at least nobody wants too. They just feel an obligation to so they can brag about being an intellectual without the inconvenience of actually trying to fucking learn something you're not told to learn by an authority figure, be it your fifth grade teacher or Time magazine.

So this years list is all short, sweet and weird. That doesn't mean everything here is for everyone. But if you consider yourself to be a freak and/or radical such as myself then I'm pretty sure I got you covered. None of this shit is new. I don't really give a fuck about new. But it's all still relevant and its all still fun if your fucked up enough to enjoy it.

Nineteen Eighty-Four  By George Orwell

The amazing thing about George Orwell's 1949 sci-fi classic about doomed lovers in a dystopian police state isn't that it's still relevant after all these years. The amazing thing is that it seems to become increasingly relevant with each passing year (Samsung recently came out with the first Telescreen). It's also the first novel I ever loved and it just gets creepier every time I read it.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

The only thing more revolting than the horrors of Room 101 is how happily its victims assimilate to their imprisonment once they've been rat-caged. Even our dear hero Winston Smith comes to love Big Brother in the heady afterglow of wartime. Sound familiar? If not, your on the wrong blog.

What Uncle Sam Really Wants  By Noam Chomsky

This little book was the first thing that really ripped the wool from my eyes in regards to America's roll in the universe. In only a few dozen pages the venerable MIT Professor systematically decimates the premise of America as the benevolent superpower. Using an exhaustingly sourced patchwork of documents, NGO reports and eye-witness accounts, Noam Chomsky proves without a shadow of a doubt that American foreign policy is dictated by an overwhelming preference for death squads, dictators, torture and genocide. If your not a card carrying, bomb throwing, enemy of the state by the last page then congratulations! You're a psychopath! You should fit right into this fucked up country.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

More of a lowlight than a highlight, but the harrowing first hand story of an American nun, raped and tortured by a death squad in El Salvador, only to be released after the squads unseen, American English speaking Commander realized she wasn't a local still fucking haunts me. Absolutely soul Shattering....Having fun yet! Were just getting started.

Fight Club   By Chuck Palahniuk

" I am Comrade Hermit's yammering larynx." Chuck Palahniuk's twisted tale of an insomniac who starts an underground boxing club with his enigmatic split personality that evolves into an anarcho-primitivist terrorist organization is often snubbed by uptight literati as little more than a Gen-X Catcher in the Rye. As usual, the snobs in the straight world couldn't be farther from the truth. It's actually a brutal, homoerotic, satire on what passes for masculinity in Post-Modern America and it's also one of the funniest books you'll ever read if you don't make the common mistake of taking it too seriously.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Everything that comes out of Marla Singer's vile mouth is priceless, "You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night then you throw it away. The condom, I mean. Not the stranger." But my favorite bit is the back and forth between the nameless narrator and god in the mental institution " across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him" ending with the classic one-liner "Yeah. Well, whatever. You can't teach god anything." Ain't it the truth.

Against Empire   By Michael Parenti

An excellent companion piece to What Uncle Sam Really Wants. America's finest Marxist historian, Michael Parenti, makes a quick and compelling argument against the empty promises of hyper-interventionism and corporate globalization.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Parenti's analysis of George H.W. Bush's '92 campaign visit to a supermarket, where the incumbent presidential candidate is shocked by the "new" technology of the check-out price scanner, as being emblematic of America's vast class divide is as prescient today as it was then. When a man who clearly hasn't even had to shop for his own groceries in decades can still tax a pauper you know we're ripe for revolution and that was Nineteen fucking Ninety-Two. Our current president could fucking buy Bush Sr. like a goddamn bicycle on Craig's List.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas   By Hunter S. Thompson

If it's a novel then it's my favorite novel. If it's a work of non-fiction then it's my favorite work of non-fiction. Either way, whatever the hell it is, the late, great, Doctor Thompson's savage, drug fueled journey into the dark heart of the American Dream aka Las Vegas is the number one reason why I write anything....You know, aside from the war and oppression and shit.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Thompson's rightfully sainted Wave Speech halfway through the book is not only the finest thing he ever wrote but is quite possibly the finest thing ever written. A poetic requiem for the promise and tragedy of the counter-cultural revolution that was the Middle Sixties in California. It's enough to bring a tear to even the most jaded anarcho-punk's eye.

Hard Boiled   By Frank Miller

Frank Miller's bug-fuck nuts, ultra-violent, dystopian, shooting fest is basically one long, excruciatingly detailed, gun fight and one of my all-time favorite graphic novels. It's basically like Where's Waldo with blood, guts, skyscrapers, flying cars and homicidal cyborgs. I can't honestly tell you much about the story-line other than it involves an insurance investigator named Nixon who discovers that, unbeknownst to him, he's also a robotic hitman for a major corporation, but it's one wild fucking ride regardless.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

The whole goddamn thing! Like I said, it's basically just one long bloodbath and it's fucking perfect. The kind of illustrated madness that could only come from the early Nineties.

The Communist Manifesto   By Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

I know, I know, not exactly a crowd pleaser, especially with some of my more libertarian minded dearest motherfuckers, but just try reading the first section aloud on the Fourth of July, surrounded by bombs and stale jingoism, and tell me it doesn't give you chills. No? Well maybe it's just me but on the right night, in the right light, it sounds like a godless prayer for the damned classes of a late capitalist society. You can almost hear the Internationale playing from the smokey abyss like the Karaoke music of a distant haunted cruise ship. Still nothing? well, fuck you guys then.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

The first section, the finest and most bombastically poetic analysis of class struggle ever committed to pulp, is really the only section worth reading. The other two are sadly little more than sniping bitch-fests lobbed against Marx's former allies in the libertarian left. Just think Mean Girls with a bunch of bearded, old, European socialists and you basically get the picture.

Less Than Zero   By Bret Easton Ellis

"Everyone's afraid to merge in L.A." Bret Easton Ellis is probably my favorite novelist and the fact that he wrote this book, his best selling debut, at twenty-one never ceases to blow my mind like a job. Nothing captures the soulless hedonism of the Beverley Hills elite like Less Than Zero, Where every character comes across like a board sociopath out of ants to burn. It's like Keeping Up with the Kardashians directed by Werner Herzog. You'll never merge again.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

Clay's flashbacks to his summers spent in the lonesome desert surrounding his grandparents Palm Beach mansion read like ghost stories of a haunted childhood. I don't think anybody has come closer to capturing the grief of burgeoning adulthood better on the written page. The humanity revealed beneath his nihilistic facade only in the past tense make the increasingly heinous events in his current life all the more harrowing.

Addicted to War   By Joel Andreas

American Imperialism has never been this much fun! Joel Andreas' classic adult picture book on America's long and bloodthirsty history of hegemonic conquest, from Manifest Destiny to the War on Terror, comes across like Schoolhouse Rock for anarchists. It's the funnest way to learn that you live in a monster.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

The first edition of Addicted to War came out in 1991 in response to the first Persian Gulf War and it's stinging coverage of that often glossed over desert bloodbath is second to none and more relevant now than ever considering that that bloodbath continues to this day, 26 years later.

Howl and Other Poems   By Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg's obscenely beautiful tribute to all the freaks, fags, junkies, commies, hustlers and basket cases who crashed and burned during the grey flannel drudgery of the Forties and Fifties in order to make the liberation of the Sixties possible. Forgotten martyrs in an invisible war. Ginsberg lays their bodies blemished and bare and anoints them with the sacrament of the finest poetry of this or any other century. Bow to the master, dearest motherfuckers, for if you consider yourself to be among the freaks and radicals that make this world worth fighting for, then Mr. Ginsberg is your shaman, the only priest you'll ever need, and Howl is your Apostles Creed.

Highlight (spoiler alert)

As exquisite as Howl is, my personal favorite work of poetry is actually America, which can be found in the Other Poems section. A Hilarious one sided conversation between an irate malcontent and a mute and remorseless nation state, America is one of the single biggest influences on this equally irate blog and the genderfuck malcontent who writes it.

Well that's it, dearest motherfuckers. That's my list of fantastically deranged and totally inappropriate books. The kind your teachers fought to ban and your finest fake news outlets do their damnedest to ignore. If ten books in one summer is to few for you then your clearly either smarter than me or you have more free time. Either way, I hate you and you can go fuck yourself....Or just check out last years more exhausting and obscure list. I would talk more but I still have a chapter of a book on the Weather Underground that I've been trying to finish for three weeks now.

Happy reading and Merry Summer.

Peace, Love and Empathy- CH

Soundtrack: Albums to listen to while reading these books.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Greatest Fits By Ministry

What Uncle Sam Really Wants

Bedtime For Democracy By Dead Kennedys

Fight Club

Doolittle By The Pixies

Against Empire

Raw Power By The Stooges

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Clouds Taste Metallic By The Flaming Lips

Hard Boiled

(Album) Generic Flipper By Flipper

The Communist Manifesto

Pink Flag By Wire

Less Than Zero

Pretty Hate Machine By Nine Inch Nails

Addicted to War

Combat Rock By The Clash

Howl and Other Poems

The Velvet Underground By The Velvet Underground