Greetings. I am Upton, the new writer here at The New Apocalypse. I’d like to thank Mr. Herrick for his introduction in the previous post.
As was mentioned by Herrick, we met at what was, at the time, the biggest dive bar in New York City. It was also one of the few places where you could get a drink for any price close to reasonable. It was a haunt of mine mostly for the cheap drink and good people watching. The place was roughly the size of a live-in trailer and about as luxurious. The clientele generally consisted of punk rock kids and seasoned drunkards. Most of the Williamsburg hipsters stayed away from the place, though it was the bar where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs formed.
I was drinking a Corona out of a bottle (one of the two beers served there) and heard some guy in an ragged blazer ranting on about Wall Street and the collapse of the housing market (Note: This was back in late 2007). Most people were ignoring him in that way that New Yorkers do. I was a transplant in the city and could tell that he was, too. The city must have been taking a toll on him, I thought. Why else would he stumble in here?
We got to talking and drinking and found we had a lot in common. A general distaste of most things (especially in the Bush II years) bonded us. I was a nice, warming thing to meet someone like him a city that was both literally and figuratively cold.
We shared a joint outside after last call and Herrick mentioned that he was starting a blog. Good God, not another one of those, I thought. I was less warm to the idea as I was a writer for print and, like many at the time, I saw blogs as an enemy rather than a future. But I wished him the best in his efforts. I stumbled back north to the L-line, and then home. I never really expected to see Herrick again.
But here I am, broke as hell living in Oregon. It isn’t where I thought I would be, but there are worse things. Things have changed a bit: The Mars Bar closed down, we have a new (er) president, work is harder to find, the garbage island in the Pacific is bigger every day. I recently went to a dive bar off Broadway called The Half Time that boasts $1.75 tallboys of PBR. I’d found a new home.
And who was in the bar but that crazy bastard Herrick! We started talking a bit more and he told me once again about his blog. I’ve become more open to the idea, so I agreed to come on board. Why not? It’s not like I’m getting paid to do anything else…
So I’ll be joining you here for a while. It should be a blast.
Dawn has broken over a United States of America transformed. The world will never be the same as it was when we woke up on the morning of November 4th, 2008. This morning is a new morning, full of sweet promise for most and full of bitter defeat for the rest.
- He is a man (check).
- He is in his 40’s (check, gotcha).
- He will have massive Christ-like appeal (okay, I guess I can see that comparison; he is pretty popular).
- He will deceive the nation with persuasive language (uh, did Obama ever lie once during the election?).
- He will promise false hope and world peace and people will flock to him (um… correct me if I’m wrong, but neither candidate was running on a world peace platform, though I guess Obama did use the word “hope” during his campaign and people are sure as hell flocking to him).
- He will be of Muslim descent (okay, argument over; you crazy Christian assholes lose; Obama is Christian and was baptized in the Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988; that means he is a reasonable Christian who wants to help people instead of destroy them like you).
With all of that religious swift-boating propaganda behind us, it’s 10:00 a.m. pacific time on November 5th, 2008 and the current electoral vote count is 349 for Barack Obama and 163 for John McCain. Two states – Missouri and North Carolina – haven’t yet been called by most respectable outlets, but I’m going to go ahead and call them…
Missouri will go red with McCain bringing in 50% of the vote over Obama’s 49%. McCain is currently winning this state by only about 6,000 votes with 100% of precincts reporting, so they are counting carefully there. But I’m going to give McCain – who, let me remind you, has already lost – the benefit of the doubt and say he wins this state.
I’m going to go ahead and call North Carlolina for Barack Obama. The President-elect is bringing in 50% of the vote in North Carolina compared to McCain’s 49%. Obama is currently up by about 12,000 votes in North Carolina with 100% of precincts reporting.
So what does that mean?
Well, I’ll tell you. It means I was right when I said a week before the election that Obama would win with 360 electoral votes to McCain’s 178 (well, almost; things went even a little better than I thought they would). With North Carolina going for Obama and Missouri going for McCain, that puts the final electoral vote count as follows:
Barack Obama 364
John McCain 174
I hate to be the kind of person who says, “I told you so,” but… wait a damn minute! I love saying, “I told you so!” I fucking told you so, America! Despite the fact that all my liberal friends and acquaintances were scared to death McCain was going to pull some kind of rabbit from his top hat in the final days of the election, I remained unafraid on the eve of the ballot count. While my friends and I sat down to watch the election coverage after a lovely Thai dinner, they were nervously buzzing before the television was turned on. Then, twenty minutes later – at 8:00 pm Pacific time – the election was called in Barack Obama’s favor as the results of Washington, California and my home state of Oregon came over the wires. It was only twenty minutes of election night angst for them before I could start dancing and screaming, “I told you so, motherfuckers!” And I had been smoking and relaxing since I’d gotten home from work, drinking coffee and beer. In other words, it was the most relaxing election night I’ve ever experienced, and the most gratifying.
A lot of people are wondering: what do the results of this election mean for America? Well, since I’m busy telling you what to think about everything else, I’ll tell you about that too…
America has finally proved that – while many of us are still racist assholes – most of us are (somewhat slightly) enlightened people who do not believe black people are inferior, and we really can’t get too grandiose and pretend this means much more than that. Racism still exists, and don’t let Bill O’Reilly, Pat Robertson or anyone else tell you different. ‘Nuff said there.
What about Implications for the Democratic and Republican Parties?
The real news is this: neoconservative Republican politics is dead and in the ground. After two landslides for Bill Clinton and a landslide for Obama, the country has said firmly for the past two decades that it is a left-leaning nation. Those two elections which George W. Bush won (well, sort of) by narrow pissant margins have today been revealed for what they are: flashes in the pan.
I compare the neoconservative victories in 2000 an 2004 to what scientists call an extinction burst: a sudden resurgence in a negative behavior or a viral infection before it burns out completely and disappears.
Am I saying that Republicans will disappear? No. I’m simply saying that the new Republican party cannot afford to let itself be run by evil dictators in disguise like the Bushes, who use people like Karl Rove to steal their elections. If the Republican party wants to survive in the future, it will have to change itself into a more palatable organization which accepts that they are in the minority and most Americans will disagree with them on all the issues that matter. In other words, Republicans have hit the wall and they will adapt into something we can all respect or they will eventually die and be replaced years from now by something like a Democratic monopoly or – holy shit – a system where Independent candidates can actually run for election in a major office and win.
How do I know a Democratic shift is happening in this country and will continue to happen in the future? Well, I’ll tell you. As I said before in “Further Proof that McCain/Palin Supporters are Retarded…” trends show that more and more people will continue to become more educated, more intelligent, and will continue to register Democrat in greater numbers. Meanwhile, Republican supporters (pictured at left) continue to dwindle as time marches onward.
If all of that previous information isn’t enough to convince you, the National Student Mock Election, which just closed at 12:00 p.m. eastern time on November 4th, shows 64.12% of the popular vote going for Obama and only 32.31% for McCain. For those of you who don’t know, this mock election has students participating all around the country in high schools and middle schools, and most of its participants will be able to vote in the 2012 Presidential election. If I were a Democratic candidate in the next Presidential election, I would be pretty happy to know that two thirds of first-time voters will probably be registering Democrat.
To sum up, the American People have been fooled by Bush and his neoconservative friends before, but they were not fooled this year by neoconservative predators like John McCain and Sarah Palin posing as maverick house pets. As W. said…
Good work, America. Way to get a black guy into the Oval Office. Way to change history. Way to shove your collective boot up John McCain’s withered old ass. At least for the next four years, we can tell lunatic fringe right-wing conservatives to fuck off, eat shit and – most importantly – die.
If you look over a list of films by Oliver Stone, you begin to see a pattern: all of them are controversial, topical, relevant and brilliant (except for Alexander and World Trade Center; those were pieces of shit). Oliver Stone’s latest film, W., is no exception to the brilliance of his earlier career. He has fully redeemed himself for the terrible transgressions of Alexander and World Trade Center (god, the hours I lost watching those…). I’m just going to come out and say it: In W. Oliver Stone has made the most important film of his career and will probably never top it.
If Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July were critiques on the terrible machine of modern warfare, if Wall Street was a critique on the greed and corruption of the financial machine in this nation, if Natural Born Killers and Any Given Sunday are critiques on the twisted bent or utter irrelevancy of modern media, if Nixon is a critique of corruption in modern politics, then W. is an utter fucking slap in the face to George W. Bush and everything that has allowed his administration to happen. Wow, that was quite an “if, then” statement.
The most terrible tragedy of George W. Bush’s life and of our generation is that George W. Bush is actually a fairly likable guy when you meet him and just shoot the shit about football. Pretty much everyone who meets him in real life thinks so. That’s why the motherfucker got elected. How else do you think it happened? It’s not because he has good policies or is very smart, now is it? Anyway, enough of that tangent. Even Elizabeth Banks (playing Laura Bush), who met the Bushes once at a White House screening of Seabiscuit, said that while she utterly loathes Bush’s politics, she found him to be a very charming and funny.
I ate another special rice crispy treat before going into the theater on the opening night of W. and boy was I happy I did… The special treat allowed me to relax a bit, and thus relax my raging hatred of George W. Bush for a time. While my defenses were down, I was struck by Josh Brolin‘s rendering of George W. Bush as a confused young man who wants only to do right by his father (played gloriously by James Cromwell) but is constantly overshadowed by him and his brother Jeb. I’m just going to come out and say it: I felt sad and sorry for George W. Bush, the evil dictator himself.
That is to say, the film served as a reminder to me that I should passionately hate Bush the Politician and leave Bush the Man alone. Bush was not a villain in the film; he was a likable and charming young man who was turned into a likeable and hatable pawn in his autumn years by puppet masters like Dick Cheney (played hauntingly by Richard Dreyfuss) and Karl Rove (played by Toby Jones). No, this movie does not excuse Bush. His tragic flaw in this film is his total inability to finish what he starts or to think a course of action through before it ruins him. The movie merely reminds us that there are far more people to blame than just Bush alone for what has happened under this administration; this is where the villains like Rove and Cheney enter the story of W. and muck things up for our hero (?) by exploiting his tragic flaw.
Dreyfuss plays Cheney with a perfect level of private malevolence. In one of my favorite scenes, Cheney explains in a secret war strategy meeting how Iraq is just the first step in a leapfrog tactic to eventually capture Iran and its oil reserves, thus establishing a U.S. empire. Bush in that scene appears skeptical of Cheney’s ideas but eventually goes along with the plan after careful moral nudging from Cheney and others.
It’s in this way that the film begins as a biopic drama and then transforms into a tragedy of epic (Greek, even) proportions. By the end of the film, things are getting a little eerie as you are occaisionally reminded of Oedipus Rex.
What I’m trying to say is that this film is fucking powerful and you should see it. It is the only movie of its kind ever released during the term of the world leader it is about, making it probably the most topical biopic ever made. And on top of that, it will be talked about for decades to come, whether or not it does favorably at the box office. I give it five out of five Flaming Cocks of Justice or whatever (I should probably work on the rating system, huh?).
Anyway, check out the trailer and then go see the son of a bitch. Enjoy, dear Constant Readers.
Those words come from now retired pen of the German journalist, essayist and romantic poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), and he should know something about the subject of censorship. Heine was born a Jew and converted to Christianity later in life (why, I’ll never understand). Because of this conversion (or transgression, depending on who you ask), his success was met with praise by some and derision by others. His works were censored and rejected by religious Jews so much so that when a memorial was built for him in Düsseldorf years after his death, certain people in positions of power blocked its placement. The memorial (pictured left) never saw the light of day until some rabid German American activists financed the transport and placement of the statue in – of all places – the Bronx, New York (you can see the shit pot itself in the background of the photo).
So where am I going with this tirade? I’ll tell you. I’m here writing as H.J. Herrick, but that’s not my real name. “So why would you need to use a pen name?” you might ask. And I would tell you, because the First Amendment right to free speech has become conditional in this country, where once it allowed anyone to say anything they wanted any time, no matter what. In Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision (thanks to Samuel Alito – a G.W. Bush appointee – who cast the deciding vote) that “the First Amendment does not prevent employees [of the United States government] from being disciplined for expressions they make pursuant to their professional duties.”
As it happens, I am an employee of the United States government, and I once kept a blog that was in some ways similar to this one in which I said some so-called “controversial” things about completely rational members of our society such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (pictured left).
Maybe I should have thought more carefully about my actions before speaking out against people like Pat Robertson, who prayed live on national television for more Supreme Court Justices to die so G.W. Bush could appoint more “family friendly” (his words) conservative Justices. Maybe I should have hesitated before lambasting Jerry Falwell when he said about 9-11, “…when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen.” Maybe Pat and Jerry aren’t all that bad, and maybe no one should speak up when they do things like that.
Yeah, right… fuck that. Those guys are infectious human waste, and every reasonable person on the face of the Earth knows that. The problem is that too many people on this cursed globe in this foul Year of our Lord 2008 are anything but reasonable. It was one of these assholes who found my old blog and complained to the Men in Charge about it. I found myself in the boss’s office being talked to by an intimidating number of Suits, and I was told that they couldn’t force me to take down the blog, but that if I didn’t they could make a recommendation for “termination” because of the controversial nature of some of my posts, and the fact that all government employees are held to a higher standard of public image.
Whatever. They wanted to suck Pat Robertson’s cock. Either that or they wanted to cater to the people that made the complaint, cowering in fear that an oppressed “minority” such as Christianity (the largest religion in the world with 33% of the planet’s population counted as card-carrying members; Islam is in a close second with only 21%) might protest their allowing an atheist like me to speak my mind. The fact that the human resources department at my place of work could dedicate enough time and man power to have a dozen employees print off every page of my blog (which was many hundreds of pages by then) and read over them carefully looking for any quote they could use against me in court should I decide to take it that route, is staggering.
Anyway, I didn’t want to deal with an extensive court battle about my Constitutional rights when those rights – I knew – had already been stripped of me by Garcetti v. Ceballos. I decided to cave into the man, and bide my time until I could begin again under a pen name, and take the fight to those swine with the written word all over again. So that is where you find me now. The only thing that protects me now is my anonymity: those two fake little initials and that German-sounding last name, Herrick, which means “war lord.”
I chose that name – Herrick – because war is what we are embroiled in today in America. I’m not talking about some conflict on foreign soil; I’m talking about the war of ideas that’s going on in our places of work, our homes, our schools, our businesses, our court houses, our fucking cafes and public swimming pools even. None of you are safe. None of you can avoid choosing a side. We live in a world that is being torn into two sides. One of them is imperfect, but at least tries to protect us from those that would take away our freedom. The other is actively trying to enslave us through fear under the illusion of democracy. If someone doesn’t speak out in this conflict, and if you don’t listen and think, we are all doomed.
After all, just as Herr Heine said, “Them that begin by burning books, end by burning men.” In more ancient eras, in some other countries today and perhaps even in the future of our own nation, I would not just have been threatened with “termination” or fired outright; I might have been put in prison, or dispatched in the street. If we are to stem the tide that threatens to drown us, we the oppressed must speak out.
We live in apocalyptic times: times in which the fate of society hangs in the balance and in which we hold the keys either to our own salvation or destruction. I’m not a religious person; I don’t believe there is any old fuckhead with a beard in the sky waiting to judge us. The only people who will judge us are our descendants, and we will be judged by them based on the world we leave for them. Heine also wrote, “Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us, and the prophet who wishes to write a new apocalypse will have to invent entirely new beasts, and beasts so terrible that the ancient animal symbols of St. John will seem like cooing doves and cupids in comparison.”
Truer words had never been spoken when they were put to paper in 1842 in the Augsberg Gazette. We live today in those wild, dark times Heine wrote about over 150 years ago. The Beasts that torment us are worst than dragons from the Pit; they are televangelists, Presidents, police and so-called journalists like Bill O’Reilly (on film flipping the fuck out, below). Their followers are sheep armed with ignorance and guns, and someone is giving booze to these goddamn animals (thanks for that line, Hunter Thompson; may you rest in peace).
Whether we come out the other side of this New Apocalypse clean or filthy depends on whether we stand for our principles now, before its too late. I’m issuing this call to all you Dear Constant Readers out there: speak up. Tell ignorant assholes they are ignorant assholes. Punch them in the fucking jaw. Talk to people who will listen to you about things that matter. Tell those people who have not chosen sides why they should choose ours.
And if you’re one of those swine who thinks a government employee shouldn’t be able to say Pat Robertson is a cocksucker in their spare time, then you should go out on your front lawn and eat a gun, you son of a bitch.
Some of you more moderately minded people out there may think that’s a bit harsh, but I’m not inclined to agree. I believe what Herr Heine said about forgiveness of one’s enemies (and these people are our enemies; make no mistake): “One should forgive one’s enemies, but not before they are hanged.” (I promise that’s the last Heinrich Heine quote for a while.)
I think I’ve said enough. Is this what they call a mission statement? Well whatever. Close enough for government work. I can feel those fuckers closing in on me. It’s time to take refuge in the back of some dingy bar and self-medicate. I’ll write to you when I’ve evaded my would-be captors, Dear Constant Readers. Fight the good fight! Kill Pat Robertson and I’ll pay you a million dollars! Two million for Falwell! (Wait, too late.)
I’ll catch y’all on the flip side. This is H.J. Herrick, signing off.