Tuesday, December 15, 2015

7486. BELOW THE WATER LINE (pt. 104)

(pt. 104)  section:b
My friend Jimmy Yacullo and I had a special 
language for a while going between us  - nothing 
particular, just a group of odd notes and phrases 
we'd do. One of them that stands out, because it's 
still useful, is 'half-mouth.'  We'd use it as code for
when we thought someone wasn't being truthful 
with us or we weren't quite getting the whole story.
'He's half-mouthing me again.' Another one was,
'you can't bend the batter, man.' That was not a
baseball reference (Jim was completely without
sports in his blood  -  unless maybe you count
target-practice as a sport), but actually a baking
reference  -  to batter, the way it's mushy and
plastery. I guess you actually can bend it, but we'd
not thought it through that far. What we meant was
that someone was twisting things, fabricating to us,
making up shit that they thought we'd be too dumb 
to catch. A way of saying 'no, don't do that.' Jim
also developed a really odd penchant for catching 
girls up about their own maturity.This was his and 
his alone idea, nothing to do with me; except that one
day I asked what he was up to. He claimed 'knowledge'
because of living at home with a mother and a sister.
I have no idea what he was thinking. He'd get a girl
aside and start asking her personal questions. Like about
what she used for her period. He say 'Do you use Kotex, 
like in my house?' And then he'd purposely mis-spell it
back to her as Cotex, spelling it aloud. If the girl didn't 
catch it, or correct his spelling, he'd claim to know she 
was lying and she was just still a kid. Well, I guess.
Never made no never-mind to me.
But, where I was going with this was that - back to that
Vietnam stuff from last chapter (part A anyway) - it turned
out that our own leaders and government were 'half-mouthing'
us all along, and expecting us boys to fall for it, And sometimes
literally too. The schlockmeisters on the radio and all the other
propagandists, they even had the audacity to play things like
'Soldier Boy, oh my little soldier boy, I'll be true to you' and
other such heart-rending crap songs about soldiers and girlfriends
and the war and all that crap. It was a long, slow development,
up through the ranks, this war was  -  beginning by about 1959
after the French defeat at Dienbienphu, and when then later the
Kennedys and the American Government had President Diem
killed. Then there was General Thieu, and Corporal (later 
Colonel) Ky, and all those later military mafia 'in-country' lackeys
we were supposed to die for. No fucking way. It was more like
dying for Dow Chemical, and the profit margin bottom-line of
Monsanto and General Electric and Lockheed. It was all 
well-planned and implemented with deliberation and care.
A regular War Machine. 
Then even religions got involved. Lying, class-A sycophants 
of  all the bad government stuff happening. Things outrageous, 
like collections for the troops. Just tons more of horse manure 
brought inside. Do you not wonder, then, how war  -  that kind
of war anyway  -  ruins minds and destroys people, even without
a bullet sometimes being fired? It wasn't really about to be
anything at all except about advancing the march of disgusting
materialism and the staid rationality that made zombies out of
people. Which is what they wanted. The mass of ordinary men, 
for the most part, just move along, poked and prodded, to do
what they're told, ask few questions, and keep things rolling.
Value judgments are not becoming, they're not 'your' place. Go
to Disneyland or somewhere, and shut up. People fall, or can fall,
for the literal cant and 'truth' of what's presented (a fake truth, a
moveable truth, a paradox genuine, this obfuscation and twisting
of words. See, under 'George Orwell', 1984, the title. Or maybe
try, under Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World', the title). If the
pressure and the propaganda are done right, it's all very easy.
A slide right into place. Look at today's world, where everyone
is on constant edge about some peril or another  -  perils 
manufactured, issues that don't truly exist  -  perched on the
edges of their chairs with new medical syndromes to be wary off,
terror threats, school violence, guns, watching for the clues and
symptoms of this or that, ideas hatched, heeding advice from
nasty, obsessive people just out to make a buck  -  in so many 
ways it's no different except by scale from any of the old-time
prairie-wagon cranks and quacks who once roamed the
countryside of America, proclaiming this or that elixir, medicine,
formula, potion, miracle or condition, with the talent to cure. 
They'd speak to the open and flaccid ears and minds of the
'moral' populace scattered about : the quaint, pure mothers, the
budding daughters, the ambivalent men, playing of off the weird
sexual and psychological mores of the time so as to get people
to the point of where they wanted them to be. It's all about the same
now, except the concentrations are different and denser, the people
are massed or distracted, the message may be more precise, and
better formed to fit the formulae of the day : 60-second soundbites.
One-hour infomercials. Whatever new 'distraction' works better and 
best. We worry and we cry through the loam of our days now  -
directed by crooks and morons. That's the way the Vietnam War
suddenly presented itself to me  -  as an 'operational' undertaking
to alter, steal, and transform America. And it worked. And I wanted
no part of it. Absolutely none. I had come up through the dirts
and dregs of Avenel  -  my little heart was still in the trailer courts
and the woods and fields, even as they were falling. I was a
swamp-dweller and I couldn't stand the supposed 'clean' air of 
their wretched highlands. I 'd sooner walk into traffic at Avenel
Street and Route One and get run down, than to play the cards
presented on their creeped-out table of fools. That much, I knew.
I'd have to say  -  and this sounds weird coming from me  -  the 
things Avenel had prepared me for had been loneliness and sadness, 
sorrow and fear. That's about it. The rest I had to work out, by
surprise, in my own ways. My friends had all scattered, we weren't
'kids' so much anymore  -  everyone was chasing something different.
The sports guys went one way  -  Bobby Pirnick and Tony Aquila
to minor-league baseball contracts, in fact. Army guys, college guys,
Freddy Kellish to teacher-prep stuff, everyone to everywhere. There
wasn't much left. The prying pliers-face of the USA was squeezing.
At this point (and I had to learn all this myself. Thank God for
libraries and journals) the USA was playing a form of global 
power-chess with any portion of the world it chose. The killing 
of Diem and the backing of the other stalwart Vietnamese leaders
(a rotating-door bunch of fools and crooks anyway) was all done so
as to advance and further (which always looked a lot like 'fuhrer'
to me) the expansion and the advancement of US involvement there.
Global and strategic politics to be played on the backs of millions
of dead locals, tens of thousands of dead American boy-soldiers,
the decimation of lands and properties, defoliation, deforestation, 
contamination, chemical and carpet-bomb warfare. All of this was,
again, I must reiterate, done under a fabric of lies, distortion and
deceit. History was being simply re-written to fit the playbook.
The newer scope of the newer rifle-barrel. For a fourteen or
sixteen year old kid, like me right then, recognizing all of this
was a shocking eye-opener. I remember when Johnson sent the
marines to the Dominican Republic, it didn't take much to see
what was going on  -  all around, Cuba, Venezuela, Africa,
Libya, Algeria, Asia, Russia. You could pick your spot and find 
there a re-alignment of the world order underway. All being
manipulated by American and American Corporate interests
and power. It's worse now. By far  -  and remember, all of this
was before today's climate of Wiki leaks, Internet mass
communication and all the frivolities and stupidities of crazed
material culture. It was all just beginning.
In 1964 Barry Goldwater ran for President. He was a strange,
serious guy from Arizona, part Jewish, part cowboy. No
intellectual in any sense  -  not that such ever mattered at
this level of politics, or any. Big, thick-rimmed black glasses,
a weird stare. Like a school principle or something anywhere.
Not a likable guy, not much of a laugher  -  lots of turquoise
and SW Indian jewelry and boots and things. Guns too.
Probably never had a chance in hell against Johnson; he was
just a throwaway candidate, against the return of Nixon, and
the liberal bullshit of Rockefeller, and he actually paved the
way for the very nascent, eventual candidacy and Presidency of
Ronald Reagan. Try as I might to make sense of his policy work 
(and I did, a dweeby little kid reading up on this crud in the
seminary library), nothing came. He was an intractable heavy,
in my view. I'd read 'Conscience of a Conservative,' his dumb 
book, to learn what I could of him, but he seemed a snail, a
rational, utterly dead and boring dullard, with not a creative
spark of any sort. No hope. No happiness. No daring. I don't
think there is, anyway, such a thing as 'Conservative' pizazz or
glamour, but I searched. I remember while in the seminary, the 
nominating convention that year was in Atlantic City  -  not that
far off, really, from Blackwood where I was  -  and became an angry
'coronation' of sorts of right-wing 'extremists', as they were called. 
Nothing of the sort, of course. It was just the same enforced politics
 of the powers that be and always were, now trying to retrench from
all that lefty, liberal LBJ stuff they hated so much. They saw it all as
an endangerment for their business-interests and self-power-
politics. Two years later, it was pretty much an exchanged premise,
with the triumphant LBJ faction of Democrats pretty much doing 
what the Goldwaterites had been promising to do anyway. Vietnam.
Haiphong. Hanoi. And the rest. No one dropped nukes, granted, but
then that was all media hype anyway. No one had any such real
intentions. It was a black and white fantasy  -  all those deep and 
serious men of politics bloviating and speaking to cameras and
microphones whenever they could. Both sides played hard  -  media 
and pols, hard to the camera and hard to the nerves. Scaring everyone. 
Everyone was trying to establish their 'media' presence (a new-fangled 
thing then) : soon it would rule the nation anyway  -  all the
manufactured news-bites, evening broadcasts, false-front issues, 
race-baiting, double-speak, excuses, stealing, and obfuscation. 
Really, really, I just wanted to scream. I used to sit around in
the seminary library with that little book, as mentioned. It never
made any sense to me, nor had it any consequence or reasoning that
I could find. All insider talk from a half-wild Indian-lands half-Jew 
from Arizona, playing at politics. He was right up there with his
doppelganger mirror-image of sorts, the New York version of
Goldwater  -  though 'Liberal'  -  Arthur Goldberg, appointed both
to his United Nations position and then to the Supreme Court,
by Johnson. The best part of it all was when that guy in Atlantic City,
at the convention site, climbed up onto the big billboard overlooking
the scene, ocean and boardwalk and all, to change it from 'Barry
Goldwater : In You Heart You Know He's Right', by adding the 
addendum, 'Yes, Extreme Right.' Pretty funny it was, the next few
days, to see that reprinted broadly in all the newspapers. 
Between myself, and all that I made up of the world around me  -  
the little ideological struggles I involved myself with  -  the issues I
faced all seemed important. As I mentioned, to be one of those 
today-kids it would be so vastly different, and empty. The
informational level is completely not the same; the idea of
inter-action with things, activism and sense of self, seems now to
have completely altered the parameters. It sort of had to be  -  
after all, it was soon to be my own life in the balance; the
precipice I faced was the one that would affect and alter my days. 
I had to fight it, and I had to take a stance. Steadily, and quickly.

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