high's the water, mama?
Four feet high and risin'
How high's the water,
Four feet high and risin'
Hey, come look through the window pane
bus is comin', gonna take us to the train
Looks like we'll be blessed with
a little more rain
Four feet high and risin'
- Johnny Cash, "Five
Feet High and Risin'"
I am sitting here in my office,
completely dry, writing on a Gateway computer, with a belly full of homemade pasta
salad and Pepsi. The stereo is putting in overtime today. I am listening to cool
jazz . . . Miles . . . "Kind of Blue." I've been listening to a lot
of jazz lately. I listen to jazz because I love it. But recently . . . I've been
listening to it out of respect; as if I should listen to it, as if I need to listen
to it. I feel, right now, as if I don't listen to every possible note in the genre,
it will be gone. Faded. Forgotten. Extinct.
have also been drinking heavily. (More than usual.) I've been drinking whiskey
and beer like they're going out of style. I guess I'm numbing myself, making my
mind stupid, trying to take my faculties out of reality for at least a few hours
out of the day. I can't cope with what's going on around me. Every time I turn
on a television, I want to puke. Every time I see a picture of my president, I
want to burn it. Every time I see a Bush 2004 bumper sticker I want to throw a
rock through the windshield. Every time I see a storm cloud I get nauseous. And
so, I head to the corner store, pick up a case of beer, or a fifth, or some Bloody
Mary mix and polish the shit off in one sitting. My head swims, and I don't think
about what's happening to the south of me.
Last night was
spent with my Fearless Leader Joe Giuliani at Ruby Tuesday's in Taylor. Joe is
Italian. I am Irish. Therefore we both know how to drink. The tab came to $125.00,
including gratuity to the nice kid behind the bar . . .
Yeah . . . Kid. There's another thing that's weighed on my mind lately: age. Next
year I will be 30, and ten years from now I will be waiting on 40. I am getting
old and I do not like it. But it happens. It has happened. You start to grunt
when getting out of a chair. You listen closer to jazz. The weekend bartender
starts calling you "sir" and you start calling him "kid."
And then somewhere down the road you end up on your back with the only thing you
can possibly hope for is a mortician with warm hands, and hopefully you get there
without being completely disillusioned with life, not thinking that the whole
world, the whole human race was just some cosmic accident, some joke.
don't think the end is going to be like that for me. I am already disillusioned.
I am near 30, look 33, act 16, feel 50, think like I'm 12, fuck like I'm 80, and
have the outlook of a 125 year old: bleak, weary, and covered in cataract. I'm
going to my grave with my glass half empty, probably because some schmuck took
a sip when I wasn't looking. Or maybe I spilled it. Or maybe because it's only
half empty because there was nothing good in the glass to begin with and the other
half wasn't worth drinking.
I wonder how many in New Orleans
went to their ends like this . . . with their minds black, their hearts cracked,
their outlook cloudy like the weather. I wonder how many of them thought that
their last hour on Earth was going to be spent waste deep in Gulf water, slowly
dying on the same streets that Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino walked down once
upon a time. I wonder how many of them felt betrayed, used, lied to. I wonder
how many of them knew that their mayor didn't dispatch proper measures in a sufficient
amount of time to get most people out, that there state received billions in funds
to help with natural disaster preparation yet did nothing to improve anything,
that their President was still on vacation giving Nixon a run for this money as
the commander-in-chief to spend the most amount of time on vacation and played
a guitar while the city met an Atlantian fate . . .
. . . The guitar. That now-famous picture . . . Modern country artist Mark Willis
gave the guitar to Bush. On Willis' website, the twang-riddled wonder boasted,
"How many people can say they gave a guitar to a President?"
many people can say they played an instrument while thousands of people were dying?
I can only think of one: Nero, on the fiddle, while Rome burned. But the big difference
is at least Nero knew how to play the violin. Bush couldn't strum a handsome melody
if his worthless life depended on it. Look at the picture. His fingers are in
the shape of a G chord but his hand is placed one fret above where it's supposed
to be. Just how stupid is this man? I'm not saying he's stupid because he can't
play guitar, I'm saying he's stupid because he's stupid and also doesn't know
how to play guitar. Every time I see that picture I want tot pull a Pete Townsend
and smash it over that bastard's head in the hopes I could knock some sense into
him. But that will never happen.
Knocking sense into the bastard,
The idiot probably doesn't comprehend what really happened,
what grim horrors thousands faced. Thousands wading and waiting in water. Thousands
more that could've been saved sufficiently. The birthplace of jazz, the Big Easy,
the land of Mardi Gras, is now a graveyard, soggy and damp, with corpses floating
down Bourbon Street. We've seen it on the news . . . The Hurricanes that whopped
the shit out of the southern states . . . The thousands that died . . . The millions
in dollars lost . . . The billions it will take for repairs . . . The dozens at
the top that did nothing . . . This kind of thing only happens in third world
countries, where the evil dictators in command shit on the heads of the people
and line their pockets with tax dollars. This kind of thing does not happen in
America . . . But it did. And we looked. And we saw. And some of us with a conscious
wanted to tear our own eyes out of their sockets. And this was only a few days
into the whole goddamn mess . . .
Here comes the story
of the Hurricane
- Bob Dylan, "The Hurricane"
the levee breaks, mama you gotta move
- Led Zeppelin, "When
the Levee Breaks"
Sunday, Aug. 28. The Levee
near New Orleans begins to give away. Water begins to flood the streets. 30,000
people are sent to the Superdome for coverage. There is 36 hours worth of food
there. The National Guard requests that FEMA send 700 buses to get the trapped
and dying citizens of New Orleans out. FEMA only sends 100 buses.
Aug. 29. The Levee breaks. Bush shares a photo-op with John McCain in Arizona.
Later in the day, Donald Rumsfeld attends a baseball game. About 11 days later,
the Daily Mail from the U.K. publishes an article that cites nurses and doctors
in a New Orleans hospital giving morphine overdoses to terminally ill patients.
One emergency official, William 'Forest' McQueen, said: "Those who had no
chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place
Tuesday, Aug. 30. Mass looting is reported
in the news. In many instances (some of which were cited on "Real Time with
Bill Mahr"), when a black family is shown taking things from stores the media
would refer to it as looting. When the media showed a white family, it was referred
to as "surviving." In the early afternoon, Bush strummed a guitar with
country singer Mark Willis.
Wednesday, Aug. 31. The
people that were moved to the Superdome become desperate. Food runs out. The plumbing
system doesn't work. People begin urinating and defecating on the floor. There
are three reported deaths that day (one of which was a suicide of a man that jumped
off a 50 foot ledge). There are also two reported rapes, one of which occurred
to a child. 3,000 more are stranded in a convention center without food or water.
More National Guard troops arrive . . . two days after they were requested. Governor
Blanco again requests help from Bush. Head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff
claims he is "pleased" with the way the government is reacting to the
crisis. Condoleezza Rice takes in a Broadway production of Monty Python's "Spamalot"
later that evening. Some of the fans in the crowd boo her and ask her why she
isn't in New Orleans doing her job, proving that Python fans are the upper echelon
Thursday, Sept. 1. Bush claims no one expected
the levee to break, even though there was ample warning. FEMA director Michael
Brown (whose only prior experience was organizing horse shows) claims that he
never received reports of violence or looting, even though there was ample evidence
of both. No control is regained in New Orleans, even though there may have been
ample times to do so. Condoleezza Rice visits the U.S. Open, goes shopping for
shoes, is asked once more by some passers-by why her black ass isn't in the Big
Easy helping out.
Friday, Sept. 2. Bush says to Michael
Brown, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," proving once more that
our commander-in-chief has the mind of a retarded three-year-old and the attitude
of an old Labrador resting on a porch. Also three tons of food that were being
sent to New Orleans was halted because of Bush's visit to the city. There is no
clear reason for this. 1,000 firefighters from across the nation assembled in
Atlanta to help out with relief efforts. Of these 1,000, 50 firefighters were
quickly whisked away to Louisiana. Their first order of business? Pose in a photo-op
with Bush. Their second order of business? Pose for more photos.
Sept. 5. Many by this point are moved out of New Orleans to places such as
the Houston Astrodome, and places throughout Ohio and Michigan. According to the
website, talkingpointsmemo.com: "While touring the Astrodome, Former First
Lady Barbara Bush, tells American Public Media's Marketplace program, 'Everyone
is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here,
you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for
them.'" Apparently, in the Bush family, the apple (or the hanged slave) doesn't
fall far from the family tree.
Wednesday, Sept. 7. Senator
Bill Frist says he will conduct a bi-partisan investigation as to why so many
failures happened in the hurricane response effort. He announces this at a meeting
in which no Democrats were invited.
Monday, Sept. 12.
Michael Brown is canned.
Tuesday, Sept. 13. Bush takes
responsibility for the federal government screwing things up. A collective gasp
is heard across the nation.
Tuesday, Sept. 20. God is
apparently pissed off at the Gulf Region and sends another hurricane to shake
things up a bit.
Wednesday, Sept. 21. With another
hurricane barring down, ready to blow the shit out of many cities, the official
death toll at this time is 1,036. Mississippi, however, keeps their state's death
toll at 218, even though there is proof that many more people have died in the
hurricane. Mississippi does not give a reason as to why they are under-cutting
their citizen's deaths.
Thursday, Sept. 22 and Friday,
Sept. 23. The millions that followed the instructions of their government
and fled Houston and most parts on the Texas southwest region are caught in gridlock
on the highway, running out of gas, trapped on the road, with hardly any political
officials helping out. Once again, the government, that high institution that
is supposed to take care of its citizens, fails.
I am angry with my government,
embarrassed of my country, and enraged at my leaders. This is not a Right Wing
thing. This is not a Left Wing thing. This is a ruling-class-versus-the-working-class
thing. This is about opportunists taking advantage of the privileges that come
along with being in government, yet not taking any responsibility for their actions,
not giving back to the communities that voted them in, not providing for the citizens
or the children. Poverty was plastered across CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, Headline
News, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and local news organizations. Some people, admittedly, are
in poverty because of their own actions or lack thereof. Most, however, are in
it because of lack of leadership, government, example, education, know-how, family
support, or assistance.
But you can't talk of helping the
underclass, not in this country anyway. You can't speak about free health care,
or free education, for everyone no matter what their social standing. This borderlines
on Socialism. And when you slowly explain the tenants of socialism to a capitalist
their ears start to bleed and their heads explode.
to get yours before he gets his!
He who dies with the most toys wins!
your ass off, scrimp and save!
And die fat in a suburb in the home of the
I dread allegiance to the flag
Of the United
Snakes of Amerikkka
And to the Republicans for which they scam
under Gog the invisible
Without liberty, but injustice for all
need a change of the guard, otherwise we're all going to Hell faster than Hitler
and Charlie Manson combined. Do I have all the answers? No. It is very easy to
sit back and criticize when you're not the one in charge, I admit. But, like Dylan
said, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."
Especially when you're in the middle of a hurricane.
pondering this the other night while talking to myself and punching holes in my
wall. Who could lead us? Who could be a noble, brave, upstanding person? Who is
pure and wise enough to take this wrecked nation and set it back on its hind legs?
And then, like a piano being dropped on a cartoon character from a skyscraper,
the answer hit me. It was obvious who could be our savior: Willie Nelson.
about it. Willie's wise. Willie's talented. Willie had his share of IRS troubles
so he knows what its like to be close to being poor. He's a hard worker. He's
an artist. And best of all, Willie can strum a G chord no problem.
nation under Willie would be a happy nation. The working class people would more
than likely be taken care of, a statue of Johnny Cash will be erected next to
the Lincoln Memorial, and our National Anthem will be "On the Road Again."
And, really, when you look at Willie, do you feel disdain? Do feel as if you want
to hurt the man? Hell, no! See, there will be no threat of terrorists attacking
us if Willie was in charge. How could you look at that happy old coot and want
to attack him?! It just ain't possible!
If Willie were in charge,
shit would've gotten done a lot quicker in New Orleans. It's a musical hotbed,
and Willie wouldn't let Fats Domino be stranded for two full days.
if Willie were in charge, the obvious would take place: legalized weed. There
we would be, one giant happy nation, living in peace and harmony with each other
and the rest of the world, stoned out of our gourds, with the only people really
rushing to do anything are the pizza delivery drivers hurrying to make their deliveries
on time. The only battles that will be waged are over the last Twinkie in the
box, and "High Times" would be required reading material in school.
Every child would have a guitar. And grown men can finally braid their hair and
not feel weird about it.
Well, that's a bit of wishful thinking.
As Lennon said, "You may say I'm dreamer, but I'm not
the only one."
As Springsteen said, "Every cloud
has a silver lining."
But as the Grateful Dead said, "Every
silver lining's got a touch of grey."
But as the Nuge said,
"There's hope for tomorrow, if we wake up today."
we're all gonna shine a light together
All shine a light to light the way
and sisters in every little part
Let our love shine a light in every corner
of our hearts
- Katrina and the Waves, "Love Shine a Light"