Sunday, August 27, 2023

The American Empire Has Been Burning Hawaii for Over One-Hundred Years

 "Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated. Things come full circle, back to where they started. That's revolution."

-Russell Means

“Never cease to act because you fear you may fail. The true secret is to know your own worth. It will carry you through many dangers.”

-Queen Liliuokalani

It's been weeks since hell came to Maui, but the fire is still smoldering. The sights from paradise are almost too horrific to believe. One of the most beautiful places on God's once green earth has been reduced to an ashen death heap straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch nightmare. The word 'wildfire' doesn't even feel appropriate. What befell the people of that island is something more akin to the kind of genocidal weather terrorism performed by General Curtis LeMay during the Second World War. The kind of cannibal firestorm that devoured the people of Frankfurt and Tokyo. Something too wicked to come from Satan. The cruel hand of man was clearly at play here.

As of the writing of this dispatch the official death toll stands at 115 but by the time you read this that number will likely have doubled. There are still hundreds missing. Most of them children and most of them will likely never be identified because there is nothing left to identify. Ground zero of the Maui wildfires was the ancient city of Lahaina and a disproportionate number of its victims were working class kids sent home from school while their parents toiled for meager wages at nearby resorts. There is plenty of blame to go around for this atrocity, from climate change to inept government malfeasance, but very few people seem willing to address the giant flaming elephant in the room. Hawaii's answer to the firebombing of Frankfurt is the direct result of nearly two centuries of colonialism and Uncle Sam was the sadistic, cigar-chomping, general who led the siege. 

The wildfires on Maui occurred due to a deadly combination of unprecedented drought and high winds from Hurricane Dora. Those winds appear to have brought down several powerlines but the only reason the inferno those downed powerlines conjured was even able to crash into the city of Lahaina with such turbulent speed was because western invaders had built it the perfect highway out of fields of abandoned plantations infested with nonnative guinea grass. 

This tinder had been introduced to the island in the 19th century by American government backed conglomerates like the Dole Pineapple Company who forcibly shifted the land away from ancient indigenous resource management practices to massive factory farms. When those gangsters moved on to rape greener pastures in the 90s, greedy developers and land speculators swooped in, raising the price of the unused land too high for any subsistence farmer to afford, leaving these vast grasslands to sit unmanaged until the wildfires came. And the war on Hawaii's native poor burns on without mercy.

Modern Hawaii is a neocolonial playground of golf courses and gated communities that cater to the whims of elitist outsiders over the islands' indigenous community. The fires of Lahaina simply painted this hideous picture clearly by the light of the embers. A picture of an economic apartheid state in which a spiraling housing crisis has led to the median price of a single-family home to top $1 million dollars triggering a net population loss that sees more native Hawaiians forced to find a living off their own homeland than within it.

And many of the survivors of Lahaina are likely join this picture as more than half of Maui county's population lives on an income of less than $100,000 dollars a year per family, making the price of simply rebuilding too expensive for natives who have lived humbly on their own tiny slice of paradise for generations but not too expensive for the poachers of the American oligarchy. 

While Maui is home to some of the hardest working poor in the state, their neighbors include billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Oprah Winfrey who may be all too happy to be photographed handing out scraps to the lowly native proles but aren't about to be caught offering one square inch of their thousand acre plantations to the dispossessed who can't even afford the ashes they camp on because of the very gentrification those bleeding heart colonialist's wrought for a vacation home.

The only thing more despicably Dickensian than the schilling slinging charity of Hawaii's howlie Scrooge class is the stone-cold indifference of their puppet regime back in Washington. It took nearly a week for President Biden to cut his Rehoboth Beach vacation short to so much as comment on the massacre in Lahaina, with that increasingly senile old Meiser simply grumbling "no comment" from his boardwalk recumbent bicycle before he could be dragged before a podium to hurl $700 dollars to people who have nothing while he spends that much money per second on scatter bombs for Ukraine.

Is it really any wonder that when this bastard finally managed to schlepp his geriatric carcass to the scene of the crime with his slovenly coterie of DNC apparatchiks that this shallow photo-op was met by a raucous sea of fuck you's and middle fingers from the locals? That's because Joe Biden is not those people's president and Hawaii is not American soil. It is a sovereign nation that has been illegally occupied by the American Empire since its monarchy was violently overthrown in a military coup 130 years ago. 

There is quite simply no way for Americans to comprehend the devastation in Lahaina without first knowing the history of colonial plunder that led to its destruction and I may be but a gonzo howlie raconteur, but I still feel compelled by spirits greater than my own to provide you with the best crash course that my sympathetic rage can deliver.

Hawaii declared its independence from the United Kingdom in 1829 and passed its constitution in 1840 but even as an independent and internationally recognized sovereign nation the islands continued to find themselves throttled by the ravages of colonialism. The first Christian missionaries came to the islands in the early 1820s and they quickly sold the native monarchy on the virtues of using monotheism to keep their subjects in line. They also brought diseases that wiped out 84% of the island's native population in less than twenty years and invited corporate hegemons who pillaged the land with cheap cattle ranches and pineapple plantations.

Then came King Kalakua who took the throne in 1879 and attempted to put a harness on this bullshit, sparking the first Hawaiian Renaissance by promoting indigenous culture and building stronger ties with rising powers in the Pacific like Imperial Japan. This bold campaign to redeclare Hawaiian independence only accelerated under the rule of Kalakua's little sister, Queen Liliuokalani and a coup was hatched against her by a junta of corporate gangsters in 1893. 

Led by the fascist pineapple baron Sanford Ballard Dole and backed by 300 US Marines who had a stake in keeping their exclusive toehold on Pearl Harbor, the Crown was overthrown and replaced by the self-styled and unelected Republic of Hawaii. Even then-President Grover Cleveland protested this act of unilateral tyranny, but he also sat on his hands while Dole redistributed the land to his cronies and banned the Hawaiian language from being taught in schools.

In spite of a petition signed by 95% of Hawaii's native population, Cleveland's arch-imperialist replacement, William McKinley formally annexed Hawaii in 1898, pompously declaring it to be American soil the same year that he ruthlessly stole the Philippines and Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. A fine young anarchist shot that genocidal pigfucker in 1901 but not soon enough to save Hawaii from over a century of colonial violence that includes mass militarization, ecological devastation, forced repopulation, sexual slavery, over construction and the ongoing rampages of gentrification.

A Second Hawaiian Renaissance was sparked by the revolutionary third world fever of the 1960s and 70s, with Native Hawaiians taking a page from their comrades in the Vietcong and the American Indian Movement in 1976 when they launched the brazen occupation of a little island in Maui County called Kaho'olawe which Dwight Eisenhower had ethnically cleansed and gifted to the Navy for target practice in 1953. Amazingly the American government backed down to popular local support for the Protect Kaho'olawe Movement, ending the bombing and transferring control back to the state. And from this unexpected grassroots victory a movement to restore Hawaii's God given sovereignty flourished on the fringes of country club country.

I believe that this is precisely what the people of Lahaina need right now. Not corporate charity or FEMA scams but independence from the empire that has illegally occupied their paradise and turned it into the headquarters for our next world war with China. After all, Lahaina was the original capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom and a crossroads for trade and peace between tribes across Polynesia. It seems only fitting to me that this great nation should rise again from those ashes to sabotage America's last conquest in the Pacific Rim.

My own humble tribe may be but a dozen Queer anarchists in the backwoods of rural Pennsylvania, but I speak for our one-acre autonomous zone when I call on all stateless revolutionaries to stand united with the Hawaiian nation and support an end to America's illegal occupation. Our solidarity is all we have to give but if I know anything about Hawaiian culture it's that solidarity is the only thing those proud people have ever needed from outsiders to take back what's rightfully theirs.

Peace, Love & Mahalo- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* Declare Independence by Bjork

* Misirlou by Dick Dale

* Drown by Smashing Pumpkins

* Paper Planes by MIA

* Moon Over Marin by Dead Kennedys

* Comeback Kid by Sleigh Bells

* Surfin' Bird by the Ramones

* Holiday Song by the Pixies

* Oblivion by Grimes

* What About Us by Ministry

Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Free Market Should be a Weapon Against the Rich

"Every victim of statism has internalized the state to some degree... Should the taxpayers completely cut off the blood supply, the vampire state would helplessly perish, its unpaid police and army deserting almost immediately, defanging the monster."

-Samuel Edward Konkin III

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”

-Antonio Gramsci

Everybody hates the rich and why not? We have nothing, they have everything, and they fucking stole it from us. I may not be the Castro worshipping Bolshevik I was in my twenties but as the Russians like to say, the communists were wrong about everything but capitalism. Just take a quick look around you if you don't believe me. As the world literally chokes and burns on the exhaust fumes of private jets and Reaper drones, contemporary global inequality continues to creep closer and closer to the rank levels of excess last observed at the peak of the Gilded Age and America still leads the heat with wider disparities of wealth between the rich and poor than any other major developed nation on earth.

From the Great Depression to the Great Recession, time and time again, the One Percent has dragged the rest of us to the edge of one abyss after another and they have learned absolutely nothing. If anything, they've gotten worse, exploiting every new crisis they provoke with another industrial complex that shakes us down for pocket change while they sodomize their cousins and bleach their assholes.

It's little wonder that class warfare has never been more popular. In fact, it's become downright mainstream with even the Republicans getting in on the outrage. As they desperately struggle to shed their well cultivated image as the greed-is-good party, the GOP is beginning to sound downright Maoist with their increasingly incendiary calls to use the heavy levers of big government to punish or even annihilate the coastal elites and their woke conspiracy to make working class heroes sit down to pee.

Naturally, it doesn't take Antonio Gramsci to realize that this is just another work. The Republicans despise big tech and their partners in the burgeoning green economy because those cocky new upstarts pose a threat to the GOP's own pet gangsters in the rusting industrial and extraction industries. What we're actually witnessing here isn't the working-class takeover of the GOP that populist gadflies like Steve Bannon like to wax philosophic about on their podcasts. What we're witnessing is a growing civil war between competing cartels of oligarchs during the collapse of the morally bankrupt western civilization that gave birth to them both. In other words, the silver spoon riding whores of the Second Gilded Age are building even more industrial complexes to exploit the crisis of their own demise. Dante wept for there were no more hells left to dream of.

The only real service that the Republican Party's new Hardhat Riot routine provides to the poor they seek to exploit is that this theater does a pretty fantastic job of exposing a lot of the long-standing myths about the GOP's relationship with socialism and the free market. Contrary to the ramblings of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, Republicans actually love socialism as long as it is the statist variety that transfers private property from the cold dead grip of the individual to the greasy mitts of big government. That's because there is nothing particularly revolutionary about this mutant breed of socialism. It's all about empowering an untouchable taker class to rob working people of their agency and this kind of socialism is actually precisely how the rich became the rich in the first place.

Gore Vidal wasn't just being cheeky when he called capitalism "Socialism for the rich." Every single billionaire, every global conglomerate, every Fortune 500 company is the direct product of the state. Without big government there would be no big business. Without highway subsidies and eminent domain there would be no Walmart. Without copyright laws and patents there would be no big pharma. Without the World Bank and the Fed there would be no George Soros. Without standing armies and world wars there would be no Exxon Mobile, no Lockheed Martin, no nuclear arms race, no global fucking warming.

No, Gore Vidal wasn't being cheeky at all when he called capitalism "Socialism for the rich." If anything, he didn't take that logic far enough. Any form of state socialism ultimately becomes just another luxurious plaything for the rich. Hell, even Castro died a millionaire. But state socialism isn't real socialism and capitalism doesn't have a goddamn thing to do with the free market.

Socialism at its base is any system that grants workers full control over the means of production. The very existence of the state renders this feat impossible by putting a permanent bureaucracy between the workers and the means of production, essentially monopolizing these means in the process. The free market or at least any truly free market is likewise rendered impossible by the existence of the state. The free market is essentially just the free exchange of goods and services without the intervention of coercive forces.

Quite possibly the greatest kept secret in the history of modern civilization is the fact that real socialism actually requires a truly free market to thrive. The original socialists of western Continental Philosophy, your Godwin's and your Proudhon's, the motherfuckers Marx ripped off, bastardized and then conveniently demonized, were all free marketeers because they recognized the free market as the greatest weapon in the working man's arsenal.

This isn't to say that the free market is an end unto itself. That kind of foolish utopian navel gazing is precisely what turned the International into a league of flatulence huffing dogmatic assholes. I don't fetishize the free market as some kind of silly Randian Lalaland of flowing wine and low hanging fruit. It is a tool to get what I want and what I want is the autonomy for all poor people to live in any kind of voluntary society that doesn't force its will on others because this level of universal working-class autonomy is likely the closest thing to a guarantee of living free that my own little tribe of Queer agrarian freaks is ever going to find. A simple social contract that reads 'get weird as long as I can get weird too.'

Needless to say, this unorthodox philosophy finds me at the awkward crossroads of some very strange territory. I now consider myself to be not just post-Marxist but post-left because I don't feel like any current left-wing movement has much to offer my people aside from crass tokenism and pandering assimilation. 

Quite frankly, Queer people seemed to be a hell of a lot better off in indigenous heathen tribes that pre-existed this whole left-right paradigm by a millennia. But I do believe that if the left wants to have any chance of achieving their goals, which are still largely my goals too, then they need to do the polar opposite of what the populist right is doing right now. They need to embrace the free market as a weapon against the rich as do we all.

We need to stop voting and start organizing. We need to diversify our tactics and we need to target the fixed capitalist market itself with a revolutionary campaign of guerrilla counter-economics. What the left-libertarian Gramsci, Samuel Edward Konkin III, called agorism, a complex and expanding network of voluntary exchanges that occur completely outside of the state's grasp. This wild territory already exists in the form of the black market with sex work, cryptocurrencies, dark web chatrooms, digital silk roads, undocumented labor, bootlegging and counterfeiting.

But this market needs to be radicalized with the inclusion of co-ops, homesteads, mutual aid associations, communes, free schools, squats and syndicalist trade unions. We need to integrate the underground into a united front of divided tribal organizations that can exist and thrive without the state and then we need to drop out, sit back, crack open a cold bottle of knock-off Coke and watch the billionaires of the vampire class starve without a neck to suck dry.

Because when and only when egalitarians of all stripes return to their free-market roots will the pigs of the One Percent's days of plenty truly be numbered and this is one free-market post-Marxist who's looking forward to that day with bated breath and a sharpened butcher knife.

Free the market! Fuck the rich!

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful by Morrissey 

* Beautiful Ones by Suede

* Eat the Rich by Motorhead

* Here Comes Success by Iggy Pop

* Veronica Mars by Blondeshell

* Bohemian Like You by the Dandy Warhols

* Lasting Friend by Samia

* Daddy Was a Bank Robber by the Clash

* Beginning to See the Light by the Velvet Underground

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Dancing with Sharon Tate on Vincent Bugliosi's Grave

 "Where there is official censorship, it is a sign that speech is serious. Where there is none, it is pretty certain that the official spokesmen have all the loud-speakers."

-Paul Goodman

America is a nation that loves its folklore and God help me, I do to. Who doesn't love a good bedtime story? The Good War that saved the free world from fascism, the benevolent reign of the Kennedy Dynasty over the grassy knolls of Camelot, the Space Race that put American democracy on the moon... These tales are all as much a part of the fabric of my childhood as Paul Bunyan, Jesus Christ and the Easter Bunny. 

The tricky thing about folklore though is that just because it's fun to believe doesn't mean that it represents reality and American folklore is no exception to this rule. After all, America only entered the Good War after communism had already kicked fascism's skinny white ass and the Kennedy's were just a bunch of drunken rapists who hired the leftover Nazis to put us on the moon just to stick it to the Soviets while we lost in Vietnam.

This August marks the 54th anniversary of one of my personal favorite American folk tales. One that has amazingly stood the test of time relatively unmolested by the ravages of reality. I speak of the legend of Helter Skelter, a horror story about a brutal spree of frenzied bloodbaths that claimed the lives of no less than seven innocent people including a beautiful blonde starlet named Sharon Tate and her four glamorous house guests in the Hollywood Hills. 

This story also gave America the sadistic gift of our most cherished supervillain, the hippie Rasputin, Charles Manson, who controlled the minds of a zombie army of quarterbacks and prom queens to do his evil bidding. The most incredible thing about this legend is that nearly every detail that we think we know about it comes from a single source; Vincent Bugliosi, the valiant prosecutor who used Helter Skelter to jail Charlie and his Family and turned the case into the highest selling work of "true crime" literature ever published.

The basic story goes that Charlie Manson used LSD to brainwash a bunch of all-American teeny-boppers into slaughtering several B-list celebrities and a middle-class suburban couple in order to spark a race war foretold in the lyrics of a Beatles' album. The Blacks would win but once it became clear that they couldn't handle the reins of power, they would gladly hand them over to Charlie and his Family who would rise from their hole in the desert to take their place as the rightful rulers of a post-apocalyptic utopia. This is the "official story", and most Americans still buy it even though the man who wrote it doesn't. 

Vincent Bugliosi admitted within a couple years of prosecuting the Manson Family that he didn't buy a single word he used to sentence them all to death. Over the years, while continuing to collect royalty checks for Helter Skelter, Bug has sported another popular version of the events that made him famous, claiming that Charlie Manson's real goal was to get revenge on record producer Terry Melcher and the music industry who screwed him out of a record contract by murdering a bunch of random people living in Melcher's former mansion on Cielo Drive. However, thanks largely to the hard work of Tim O'Neill's myth busting Manson tell-all CHAOS we now know for a fact that not only is this version bullshit too, but Bugliosi knew it and helped construct it anyway just like he did Helter Skelter.

There are numerous documented accounts of Terry Melcher and his celebrity friends like Beach Boy Dennis Wilson communing with Manson and his underage harem well after the mass slaughter that was supposed to have driven fear into their hearts and Bugliosi covered it all up, instructing Melcher and others to commit perjury under oath in the process. When O'Neill's findings became known, the venerable prosecutor turned true crime celebrity hounded the dogged sleuth with threats of million-dollar lawsuits and pederast slander that only ended when that crook finally dropped dead. But why? Why all these years of lies? And why does most of this nation continue to insist on believing them?

Vincent Bugliosi's motives are actually a hell of lot clearer than Charlie Manson's. The man had well known ambitions of becoming a powerful California politician and he saw this sensational case as his golden ticket to glory. This is why that scheming scoundrel began writing his bestseller before the trial even began. He even had his co-author, Curt Gentry, in the courtroom front and center every day taking notes. The only problem was that the victims at 10050 Cielo Drive weren't just well connected to Hollywood royalty but most of them were also nearly as guilty as the people who killed them, and their own crimes likely sealed their fate.

It has been an open secret in Hollywood for decades that Sharon Tate's husband, Roman Polanski and his buddies, celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring and gutterland gadfly, Wojciech Frykowski, were little more than sexual predators and wannabe gangsters. Vincent Bugliosi revealed as much to Tim O'Neill when he told him early on in the latter's investigation that detectives investigating the murder scene at Cielo Drive had discovered a tape in Polanski's loft showing Sharon being raped by two other men with her husband presumably behind the camera. Bugliosi further displayed his willingness to cover up the crimes of the rich and famous when he told O'Neill that he had instructed the cops to put the tape back. Sadly, this was far from an isolated incident. 

Friends and family of Sharon have reported that Polanski was an abusive control freak, with many believing that Sebring, Frykowski and Frykowski's heiress girlfriend Abigail Folger were not at Cielo Drive as mere houseguests but as babysitters, tasked with making sure that the pregnant Tate didn't flee while Polanski was off shooting a movie in Europe. During this time those creeps were given the full lay of the land and according to friends and enemies alike, they turned that mansion into a den of depravity well before Manson crashed the party.

Roman's good friend, famous actor/director Dennis Hopper told reporters "They had fallen into sadism, masochism and bestiality and they recorded it all on tape." Hopper claimed that police had confirmed this when he was interviewed in the days following the murders. He also claimed that three days before the slaughter, 25 people were invited to the house to witness a "mass whipping" of a drug dealer who had allegedly sold Sebring and Frykowski bad dope. 

This dealer was a character named Pic Dawson, a Canadian career criminal who led a gang of notorious drug smugglers who were all sexually involved with Cielo Drive regular, Mama Cass. According to Frykowski's lifelong friend and accomplice, Witold Kaczanowski, who was also the last man to see him alive, Pic and his crew were not just the primary source of the mansion's drug supply, they were also staking out their claim as the primary source of a trendy new Canadian amphetamine known as MDA and Frykowski had ambitions of becoming their Hollywood connect. But Dawson wasn't the only career criminal who was a fixture of this increasingly freaky Hollywood party scene. According to none other than Neil Young, "A lot of pretty well-known musicians around LA knew Manson, though they'd probably deny it now."

That's because Charles Manson wasn't a cult leader, he was a pimp who hustled underage girls to the Hollywood elites like a fringe leather Jeffrey Eppstein. The ugly truth about the Manson murders is that the people who killed the residents of Cielo Drive were likely also on a first name basis with them and this is probably why they were hired out to do it. We will likely never know for sure. Too much time has passed, too many lies have been told and most of the people who know the truth are dead. The only two things that I know for sure are that Vincent Bugliosi was a goddamn liar and Sharon Tate did not deserve to die with her captors. But every bad folk tale deserves a good one to counter it, so here's mine for you.

Charles Manson was not some criminal mastermind. He was a career con artist who was very much a man of his times. Manson began his Family as a hustle to pimp out teenage runaways to Hollywood bigshots, but he needed muscle to keep them in line, so he hired a small-time drug dealer from the Lone Star State named Charles "Tex" Watson. Watson made a failed attempt to rob a competing Black dealer named Bernard Crowe, but Crowe got the drop on Tex, kidnapped his girlfriend and threatened to come down to the derelict movie ranch that Manson and his girls occupied with his crew and wipe the whole place from the map.  Manson decided to act first and gut shot Crowe, falsely believing that he had killed the gangbanger in the process. For reasons that remain unknown, Manson, a lifelong white supremacist, also came to believe that Crowe was a Black Panther, and that this terrifying militia of heavily armed brothers was now gunning for him.

Manson conspired to hire his own army for protection. He befriended a Canadian greaser named Danny DeCarlo, who served as the treasurer for a local outlaw biker outfit called the Straight Satans, by plying him and his friends with free underage scootch. Danny even took Manson's psychotic bottom bitch Susan Atkins for a lover, but his fellow bikers soon tired of jailbait and VD, so Manson needed another way to earn their favor. Bobby Beausoleil, who served as a sort of go-between for the Satans and the Family, managed to secure the bikers with 1,000 tabs of mescaline from a local basement chemist who he had bunked with named Gary Hinman. When the mescaline turned out to be toxic, DeCarlo roughed up Beausoleil and demanded their money back. Manson's attempt to squeeze Hinman ended up with Hinman dead and Beausoleil in prison for his murder.

So, what is a paranoid racist pimp to do when he has managed to conjure up the wrath of both the Black Panthers and the Straight Satans? Perhaps pick up a hit job on some Hollywood rapists that even the Satans were afraid to touch and try to make it look like part of a Black Panther murder spree by targeting a random white couple in the burbs the next night. Sure, it's a conspiracy theory but so was Helter Skelter and, knowing what we know now, which one do you find more plausible? 

But there are still more unanswered questions and terrifying possibilities on hand here. What gave Manson the idea that Bernard Crowe, a lowly two-bit hustler, was a Panther? And why the hell did it take the cops so long to bust the Family? Manson was a violent repeat offender and a documented sexual predator, yet he was allowed to violate his parole repeatedly without so much as having a charge brought against him. Manson's own playpen at Spahn Ranch was under heavy police surveillance before becoming the target of what was then the largest raid in Los Angeles law enforcement history just weeks after the Tate-Labianca murders. A cache of semi-automatic weapons, credit cards and stolen cars were recovered from the scene, but Charlie and his Family were all released without a charge.

Call me paranoid but this list of bewildering facts screams just one word loud and clear in my ears and that word is INFORMANT. A word that coexists quite uncomfortably with COINTELPRO, an FBI/law enforcement mission to destroy the sixties counterculture by sicking its various unruly factions against each other with lies and disinformation that frequently ended in paranoid bloodbaths. 

But perhaps the scariest possibility of all is that Charles Manson, snitch and pimp to the stars, may not have even been the devil after all but rather just another bit player in a melodrama far less climactic than anything Bugliosi could build a career on. After all, it was Tex Watson who actually committed most if not all of the murders and it was Tex Watson who was the Hollywood drug dealer with a recorded history of pulling disastrously violent burns against his rivals. But unlike Manson, Tex was not a camera-ready supervillain that Vincent could galvanize voters in the Valley against.

In fact, Tex could have easily been one of his constituency's native sons; a star quarterback and honor roll student who found himself so disenfranchised with the monotonous suburban purgatory that the Greatest Generation killed and conspired with Nazis to build that he chose to voluntarily throw in his lot with the freaky people they sneered at. This more than any other folktale about the Summer of Hate seems to be the hardest and darkest for the American mind to comprehend which is precisely why it demands comprehension otherwise another Helter Skelter remains just a kiss away.

When you raise your children on lies and throw them out like trash for not believing them, don't be shocked to find them recycled into blowback when the freaky people tell them the truth. As for this storytelling freaky person, I'm just a messenger spitting in Roman Polanski's eye while I wait for my turn to dance with Sharon Tate's ghost on Vincent Bugliosi's grave.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* Happiness is a Warm Gun by the Beatles

* Expressway to Yr Skull by Sonic Youth

* Loaded by Primal Scream

* Dear Prudence by Siouxsie & the Banshees

* Frankenstein by New York Dolls

* Garbage Dump by Charles Manson

* Golden Hair by Slowdive

* Teenage Riot by Sonic Youth

* Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones

* All Tomorrow's Parties by the Velvet Underground

* Vapor Trail by Ride

* Helter Skelter by the Beatles

* My Monkey by Marilyn Manson

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Bowe Bergdahl, Sinead O'Connor and the Virtue of Mental Illness


Madness is the false punishment of a false solution, but by its own virtue it brings to light the real problem, which can then be truly resolved.”

-Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization

It has been said that these are dangerous days, to say what you feel is to dig your own grave. Truer words have never been spoken by saints or sinners. Lately, it feels like all I do is dig and no matter how deep I sink my shovel, I never seem to hit rock bottom. 

Transgender children are being mauled by legislation that brazenly invalidates their existence, my friends are being thrown out into the streets by their so-called kin, Ukrainians are peppering their neighbors' playgrounds with cluster munitions for membership in a social club that openly despises them, my found family of misfit Queers can't seem to find a vehicle that can carry us for longer than a mile without catching fire, the Sahara Desert is slowly crossing the Mediterranean Ocean onto the scorched shores of Southern Europe and it all feels so goddamn personal to me that I could fucking scream bloody murder for hours on end without ever going hoarse.

It's moments like this when I feel like I just can't fucking do this anymore. Everything I do hurts. Everywhere I step is a landmine. Everything I hear shatters my brittle heart into a thousand little pieces. And every time I lose my shit, the world stares at me like a leper at a pool party and tells me to just calm the fuck down. Every week is a new nervous breakdown, another crying fit in a well-lit public space, another fist fight with an army of angry ghosts who never seem to get tired of watching me swing my bloody fists in the wind. And it was at the bruised ass end of another one of these weeks of being thrown curve ball after curve ball that I can only seem to catch with my face that two stories seemed to hit me just hard enough to put all this carnage into perspective.

After what feels like centuries of well-publicized disgrace, former army sergeant-turned-deserter Bowe Bergdahl had the bullshit charges against him vacated just days before Sinead O'Connor lost her own 56-year battle with ghosts alone in a London apartment. Try as I might, I can't seem to separate these two stories any more than I can seem to separate the endless trials of my loved ones with the suffering of the world around us. Much like me, both Bowe Bergdahl and Sinead O'Connor are complicated characters who have been defined by their struggles with mental illness. They have been branded by friends and foes alike as being unwell. But were they really? 

Bowe Bergdahl was a soldier who walked away from his post one day in 2009 and hasn't stopped being punished for that decision since. He spent five years as a prisoner of war in the custody of the Taliban, being flogged with copper wires and kept in a cage too small for an animal before finally being released as part of a prisoner exchange in 2014. Then-President Barack Obama celebrated this shallow victory in a pointless war he actively continued to stoke with Bowe's parents at the Rose Garden but when Obama's partisan adversaries succeeded in cajoling the military into persecuting the 44th president's political football he quietly washed his hands like Pontious Pilot and ignored Bowe's parents' pleas for a pardon as a man who had openly called for their son's execution prepared to take Obama's place in the White House.

"I am sorry for everything here... The people need help. Yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live... We don't even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks." These were the words that Bowe Bergdahl sent his father in an email before he walked away from a war that would take his country another decade to admit we lost before it even began. A group of his fellow veterans who left those same battlefields to seek employment on Capitol Hill sending other people's children to die in their place are now begging the Defense Department to retry Bowe and lock him up this time. But Bowe Bergdahl is the man that we call crazy. Just like we did Sinead O'Connor.

While the music industry loudly sings the praises of their fallen prodigal daughter, 'that poor crazy girl', they conveniently neglect to mention that it was they who hurled her out into the cold for defying their decree of silence in regard to the crimes of the powerful against the voiceless. Sinead sold seven million records for these gutless jackals and was showered with trophies and trinkets before she threw it all away by tearing up a single picture on live television. That picture was of a man named Pope John Paul II. A man in charge of a church whose crimes against children were rocking Sinead's home country of Ireland to its very core at the time of her performance on Saturday Night Live in 1992. The same church that robbed her of a childhood and me as well. In fact, 1992 was also the year that I was molested in the basement of one of the Catholic Church's schools in rural Pennsylvania.

For the crime of so much as even speaking our names, Sinead O'Connor was shunned by the waking world and turned into an international pariah. She spent the last thirty years of her life being heckled and mocked and belittled as mad, ill, unstable... Even after the crimes she threw herself on the flames to warn you people of were made horrifically public, Sinead remained persona non grata while John Paul was canonized as a saint. 

But Sinead also remained brazenly unapologetic, insisting that she "fucked up their career, not mine." And perhaps that was the craziest thing about this woman. She never wanted the shallow idolatry of her vapid peers. As she proudly proclaimed of the fallout from that telltale event, "There was no doubt about who this bitch is. There was no more mistaking this woman for a pop star." Clearly, the words of a crazy woman. For daring to utter such blasphemy, Sinead would only be honored in death.

What the fuck is crazy anyway? And who exactly gets to decide? Insanity is defined as a deviation from normal behavior. But what would have been "normal behavior" for a soldier and a pop star? Had Bowe Bergdahl been sane, he would have kept his mouth shut and his rifle steady while children continued to die in the streets and turned his career as a hired gun for the state into something to brag about in a resume for public office. Had Sinead O'Connor been sane, she would have kept her mouth open but allowed nothing but silly nonsense to escape it for the thoughtless pleasure of the masses. Thank God that Bowe Bergdahl and Sinead O'Connor were insane because when sanity is defined by a society that values blind patriotism and vapid cultural ephemera above the lives of children there is no virtue more honorable than insanity.

Our twisted society persecutes those of us brave enough not to conform to its collective sickness by making us feel bad just for feeling bad about living in a world that they made bad. Well, I'm through with feeling bad about feeling bad anymore. I am ill and I am ill because this world, this society, this civilization that we all hold in such high regard makes me ill. Quite frankly. it should make you ill too. And if saying these words out loud makes me crazy then I am proud to be crazy. Just remember what I told you, dearest motherfuckers, because if they hate Bowe, Sinead and me then they will hate you too. 

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

* War by Bob Marley & the Wailers

* Black Boys on Mopeds by Sinead O'Connor

* Vampire Empire by Big Thief

* I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones

* The Day After Tomorrow by Tom Waits

* Mandinka by Sinead O'Connor

* Suffer Little Children by the Smiths

* Crazy by Patsy Cline

* Bug Like an Angel by Mitski

* Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle by Nirvana