An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board
I'm madder than an anarchist with a wet pack of flag-burning matches. Back in the sixties, the North Vietnamese said they'd never equate America with its government. Twenty years later, the carrot-eaters of MRR-land aren't as smart as Ho Chi Min.
I don't like the George and Dan show any more than you do. I, too, think the Supreme Court deserves a hand. . .grenade. But I'm not anti-American.
What dragged this dead horse to my beating? A couple of grad students from the local retard school. . One is the demonstrations against the 500th anniversary of Columbus Day. The other was the cretinous anti-constitution article in a recent MRR. Trying to be more PC than my IBM clone, these guys make America, rather than the government, the bad guy.
I've written before about why America is the greatest country the world has ever known. I'll probably repeat a few arguments. You won't notice. You've probably been reading the zine for six months. In another six months you'll be reading Forced Exposure or Cosmopolitan, so it doesn't matter.
If I said it in one sentence, it would be America is great because its culture comes from the street rather than from history, politics, or intellectuals. I'm never one to say something in one sentence when I can say it in a hundred. So here goes:
Even though the young Elvis stamp won, at least it's Elvis. We've had Lou Gehrig, the Babe and Louis Armstrong stamps. Now we have The King, but not our king-- or queen. We don't have one. We never had a living president on a stamp. We never had any living person on a stamp, coin or bill. Americans don't make idols. We don't invest the living with the power that comes from being on the corner of millions of letters.
It may seem like a little thing, but it's not. Take the Queen of England(!) The Brits plaster her face in more places than we put NIRVANA pictures. She's the symbol of England. What she says and does are intimately tied to the country. The BBC banned THE SEX PISTOLS' God Save The Queen because it insulted her-- and thus England. What kind of psychological power must that have?
Sure we've got pop stars and politicians. We've got religious evangelists and talk show hosts, but they don't last. Public idols come and go with the latest issue of TV Guide. No one's word is gospel here. At least no one alive.
I'm in Japan with my pal Fred Ni. Fred's parents are from Taiwan, but he grew up in North America. He speaks no Japanese. The clerk looks at us and speaks to Fred.
Nani-o hoshii desuka? She asks Fred.
Kare-wa nihongo-o zen zen wakaranai. (He doesn't understand any Japanese) I answer, angrier than I should be.
It's not America, I remember. In Japan, people decide if a person looks Japanese. Fred looks more Japanese than I do.
America is great because you can't not look American. You can be black, brown, red, tan, pink, white, yellow. You can have kinky hair, straight hair, no hair. You can be blonde, brunette, auburn, black or green haired. You still look American. Sure there's racism here. But even the most racist wouldn't deny that they're prejudiced against other Americans. This multi-racial pluralism gives America a unique culture, free from the in-breeding of other cultures. Exception for a few lunatic white and black separatists, you don't hear calls for ethnic independence. With more groups than Yugoslavia or even the former Soviet Union, we're all Americans.
This diversity is all over the place. What country has more fanzines, indy labels, bands, chapbooks, fringe groups, and who-knows-what other weirdness than any other? Yep, the good 'ole U.S. of. In our cultural diversity, there's room for everyone. Our Americanism is the common belief in the worth of the individual-- and individual responsibility. The bad effects of this belief are no national health care, and lots of people in jail. The good effects are a grand culture of unimaginable diversity. Too bad FACTSHEET FIVE is gone. It made it easy to prove. Still the proof is there-- as sure as the MRR ink on your fingers.
Every possible interest, every sub-interest, every weird thought, is available to you if you want it. You don't need a license to use a xerox machine. Audio and video cassettes are cheap. Why is the U.S. the only country where amateur pornography outsells the pro-stuff? Individualism. We want to jerk off to real people, really doing it. Even Amber Lynne gets boring. (Ron Jeremy was never a thrill.) But my neighbors Joe, Mary and their German Shepherd. That, I want to see.
The Weekly World News could only exist in America. It probably has only a slightly higher percentage of lies than The New York Times, but they're so much more interesting. Americans want spectacles. If you lie to us, don't do it in the guise of sober truth. No one was angry when the WWN printed a story that Central Park squirrels addicted themselves to crack. Lots of people were angry when The Times stole that story and printed it as the truth.
Why don't Americans care about politics? Why is the voter turnout so low? Of course, part of the answer is that folks feel that neither party offers anyone worth voting for. More importantly, Americans don't feel that politics has anything to do with their lives. Americans are apolitical because politics are social and Americans are not. I've been in thirty countries and seen more single American travellers than single travellers from anywhere else. We're loners. We fend for ourselves and like it that way. Our lives don't change very much from election to election. Even an event as destructive as The Gulf War changed our lives very little.
What do Americans really care about? What's the biggest selling paper in the U.S.? The Times? The Wall Street Journal? Nope. The National Enquirer! Who's been fucking whom? Who's a homo and who's got AIDS because of it? What does Bill Clinton think about a national health care program? Who cares? Who does Bill Clinton screw-- enquiring minds want to know!
The Germans, who read politics into the way flies land on a dog turd, think this is unconscionable. They think Americans have no values, caring about stupid personal affairs rather than political programs. As usual, the Germans are wrong.
The National Enquirer and it's fellow tabloids are part of America's greatness. They prove we judge our politicians, not as Gods with their pictures on stamps and coins, but as humans who fuck up and fuck around. I doubt if there's another place politicians get more attention or less respect than they do in America. Americans don't trust government and never have. They know that politicos are sleazebags. Nothing gives us greater thrills than seeing it proved.
This brings me to the constitution: a document of government distrust if there ever was one. The propagandist who wrote the MRR article about the constitution, claimed to expose that it limited majority rule. Yo sucker! If there were majority rule, you'd be dead! Majorities are assholes. Majorities can take your freedom, your property, and your life. If you don't like it, tough! You're a minority. The greatness of the constitution is that it protects minorities from the will of the majority. It fails, when it doesn't protect them enough.
The Third Reich was majority rule, at least in the beginning. Could you imagine a society where most people don't like punk rock? (I know it's hard, but try.) If you have nothing to protect your rights, majority rules and bye bye punk rock. Could you imagine a society that doesn't want Negroes to participate equally? If they're the minority, in a majority-rules society, bye bye Negroes. Why should someone have more rights because they belong to the biggest group? Should we reward conformity? Why are their rights more important than mine? If we were to change the government at all, I'd say give more voice to minorities-- not less.
Speaking of minorities, that's another part of the greatness of America. We've got tons of them. They help make a unique AMERICAN culture. Rock'n'Roll wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for colored folks and hillbillies-- both minorities. Art-Graffiti, Indian blankets, baseball, rap, hot dogs, hamburgers, bagels, nachos, reggae, tons more. They've all come from minorities and are now American. We're United in being American. We don't need culture or language imposed from the outside, We'll use what we've got, thank you.
[Note about our neighbors from the North: Did you know that it's against the law to have English signs in Quebec? Nationalists ride around looking for violators to report to the police. Such are the evils of "official languages."]
Other countries have years of historical baggage to weigh them down. There, you have to go someplace-- like an opera house or a museum-- for culture. In America, culture lives on the street. It screams from ghetto blasters and cars with flashing lights around the license plates. It hides in a cheap Mexican restaurant that never takes down its Christmas decorations. It's in the subways, scrawled on the walls or the trains themselves. Sure it gets sucked up by corporations, who turn it into product. But the corporations are slow. Culture changes faster than they can suck it up. Our art starts on the streets, usually among the poor people. Most always among one minority or another. It doesn't start in a history book or government culture center. That makes America different from-- and better than-- anyplace else in the world.
--> I just got my copy of the MRR Queer issue. Most everybody has the same line: "Whatever you want to do is ok, as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else."
Sure, it's ok. Sure, there shouldn't be laws against any consensual behavior. That doesn't change the reality. Monosexuality is a disease. It's a degradation of humanity's natural polymorphous perversity. People are entitled to keep any disease they want, but let's recognize it for what it is. It's ludicrous to say that suburban housewives and Castro Street clones are at the same level of mental health as David Bowie or Gore Vidal. They're not.
--> Bad Taste of the Year Award goes to BENNETON who advertise their clothes with a picture of a dying AIDS patient. It's the first time anyone used death, grief and disease to sell horizontally stripped fashion. In a way, that's another piece of greatness about America, the freedom from taste. Sure it's stupid and offensive, but it's also different. Where else in the world would anyone even think of such a thing? Leave it to crass capitalism to slay the sacred cows. If I can't slay 'em all, someone has to.
--> I don't know if it's a hustle or not, but it looks good. The "Center For Intelligence Studies," the pro-CIA group, has closed. Or so they say. Their new appeal for funds claims they were taken under the wing of "The Conservative Resource Center." (PO Box 6536, Arlington VA 22206.) Their new name is PROJECT NATIONAL SECURITY. They still ask for money, making me a bit suspicious. Anyway, when you write to them, they'll send you literature with those nice postage paid return envelopes. Be creative!
--> Further Evils of Unionism Dept: New Jersey tacked an extra 19% on to hospital costs that were paid by insurance companies. The state used this money to pay healthcare for poor people. The insurance companies passed on part of this to their customers-- like some unions. Those customers still paid much less than it would cost for private insurance. New Jersey unions objected to the 19%. The courts decided in their favor.
Now, nobody pays for the poor. They die.
--> There's a new installation at the Alternative Museum on Broadway. An artist videotaped the answers a proposition. Two screens play in the museum window, showing those answers. Here's the proposition: You have a chance to be on national TV. You can say what you want. Your statement, however, is limited to one word. After that, you must keep silent-- for the rest of your life. In effect, your broadcast word will be your last. Not all the respondents I saw spoke English. I only remember four of their responses: love (predictable), money (should've been predictable), irony, and survival.
--> Fine warriors against the totalitarianism of THE WAR ON DRUGS are the folks at the International Coalition for Addict Self Help (ICASH, PO Box 20882, Thompkins Sq. Station, NYC 10009) Send 'em a couple of dollars for their newsletter THE ADDICT ADVOCATE. Remember, A free America, or a drug-free America. You can't have both! (Bumper stickers are available from me for $2, c/o Seidboard, PO Box 137, Prince St. Station, NYC 10012)
--> Aaron, the guy who put out PROBE magazine, wrote to me. That's the funny 'zine where Ben reviews records by looking at their sleeves-- not listening to them. He forgot to write his address on the letter. Who knows where the envelope? Try again and let this be a lesson!
--> Those girl jerk-off letters are still coming-- and so am I. My new fave is from a girl who wears crotch pulling shorts in gym class. They rub her clit when she does sit-ups. I'll bet she's got Schwartzenegger stomach muscles.
The grossout letter comes from a girl who got stuck in a truck full of snickers bars. Yep, all that chocolate, melting with the warmth. Ugh, what a mess. It probably tastes better than it sounds, though. Keep those letters coming, but where are the video tapes??
--> Chain letter of the month: "Pantie Parade Club." You send a pair of unused (damn!) woman's panties to the first name on the list and the put your name on the bottom. If it works, you get dozens of panties for the price of one. I'll send a copy of this letter to the first six people who write to me. (DON'T SEND ME PANTIES, BUT AN EROTIC PHOTO WOULD BE NICE). If you don't get an answer, that means you wrote too late.
--> I got a letter asking me to contribute my "most carnal desire" for use in a mysteriously named 'zine. I'm not sure that I have time for the research. But YOU should write to them with your "most carnal desires." Send them to PO Box 437, Provencetown MA 02657-0437.
--> Aahhh such diversity. Isn't America wonderful?
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