Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Yesterday morning -- I couldn't sleep the night before, such was the excitement and expectation -- I strolled down the several blocks to the polling station on Beale Street. Memphis was still sleeping, closed -- and with the prevailing weather the last few weeks, wet.

I'm a new voter here, wasn't quite sure where to go. I only recieved my voting card Saturday. I found the station; it was closed. An elderly lady was entering it on the side. I asked if this was the voting station. She replied that it was, but that it didn't open until seven: apparently I'd misread the Election Commision's website. It was raining again by then, lightly; it was muggy and tropical. I walked all the way back home, took a shower to wake myself a bit more, and made my way back down Beale.

It was more lively this time. When I made it back to the polling stattion, the line was already out the door. A good sign. I was by now keyed-up and rehearsing the lines I'd say to the Republican goons who'd threatened to challenge votes in the city. I'd passed the Kerry-Edwards people further up Beale who were prepping a club for the after-vote party they'd posted on the Kerry website. I got my registration card ready, joined the queue. There were several obvious yuppies -- bad sign -- but more blacks and obviously aging hippies to more than balance it out. Everyone was country-courteous, but except for one loud middle-aged white woman wearing a Kerry button, nervously reserved. When a few others did speak up loudly enough to overhear, it was to remark that the lines were much much longer than they'd ever been, including in 2000. Another good sign.

My vote went painlessly, the woman who took my name was flirty, and focusing on that calmed my nerves (I have no Tennessee ID yet, and though the rules state I didnt need to have one, I'd been worried). There was no sign of the Rethuglican "observers". I reasoned that they were either too lazy to show up, or they'd concentrated on more heavily black precincts than mine, which is roughly fifty-fifty.

I left feeling better than I'd ever felt after voting, and I've not missed a Presidential election since my first in '92. I talked to some of the Kerry people at the club on the way back home, and got a sign to stick in my apartment window for the day. I came home and turned on the tele to see about every channel marvelling at the large turnout, especially on the east coast. After napping a few hours, I still felt good, even exhilerated.

The plan to join the party was undone by being glued to the television for updates. More rain.

Then Florida, and The Triumph of the Will was well on the way.

At 2 AM, or thereabouts, I called my girlfriend, whom I knew was just as distraught at the prospects as I was. Recently, I've fucked-up some things even more so than usual. Need I add that long-distance relationships are difficult? We've been off and on, and I've been here and there (she's east coast) for three years now. No more. On the bright side, I'll no longer have to be lectured that blogging is worse than a waste of time.

It was still raining.

I am a cynic who normally derides Hemmingway-esque cornball melodramas: no one lives like that, or thinks like that! But in art or in the observation of other people, what seems plastic and affected is actually profound and life-affirming when it happens in your own life. It's just too heavy to deal with, and so out with the regular weapons: humor, sarcasm, apathy. Then one reaches into the philosophical closet, to try on garmets that don't quite fit. Ahh, here's stoicism, a classic always in fashion. It's wanting of some alterations as one realises with a glance in the mirror, but it'll do. It always has.

It's a none-too-pleasing irony that many of the humanists one comes across in life are among the first to excise from themselves the heavy and painful aspects of the human condition; to close up shop, as it were, and take cover for fear of looting, while on the other hand some of the most robotic or even crass people are, when shove supercedes push, the most feeling, the -- for lack of a better word -- gamest of all when it comes to embracing the dangerous but rewarding aspects of.. what to call it? Emotion? Nah, too vague, too fortune cookie.


I suppose if I were like the majority of my countrymen, I'd raise my knuckles from the ground long enough to clasp them in prayer to my particular bronze-age deity; and after offering a requisite hosannah in gratitude that St. George had once again killed the secularist, pinko, abortionist beast in the land, ask for some sort of relief for my ..well, other disappointments, which are just like everyone else's: numerous, sometimes incapacitating, sometimes hilarious, always educational.

But I'm not, and I won't. Though the grossest sort of circumstantial materialism is at the root of most everyone's problems, believing in fairy tales isn't the answer. Most of the world is clued-in on this, but my countrymen, like Osama bin Laden, still don't get it; it's fairly amazing that the postcard from the Enlightenment still hasn't found my country's mailbox, but then as they'd say, the postal service is a government-run entity, so how can anyone expect it to be competent? Plainly, Voltaire should have used FedEx.


Yeah, yeah:

Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race
Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now looming in the headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there's a shadow on the door of a cottage on the
Shore of a dark Scottish lake

Many miles away...
Many miles away...

Incident At Loch Ness

Rather than say exactly what I think about the veracity of "Incident at Loch Ness," let me tell you a story. A few years ago at the Telluride Film Festival, Herzog invited me to his hotel room to see videos of two of his new documentaries. One was about the Jesus figures of Russia, men who dress, act and speak like Jesus and walk through the land being supported by their disciples. The other was about a town whose citizens believe that a city of angels exists on the bottom of a deep lake and can be seen through the ice at the beginning of winter. Wait too long, and the ice is too thick to see through. Crawl onto the ice too soon, and you fall in.

Herzog has made many great documentaries in his career, and I was enthralled by both of these. He's a master of the cinema, with an instinct for the bizarre and unexpected. After I saw the films, he said he only had one more thing to tell me: Both of the documentaries were complete fiction.


WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) claimed a re-election mandate Wednesday after a record 59 million Americans chose him over Democrat John Kerry (news - web sites) and voted to expand Republican control of Congress as well. He pledged to pursue his agenda on taxes and Iraq (news - web sites) while seeking "the broad support of all Americans."

Claiming a second term denied his father, George H.W. Bush, the president struck a conciliatory tone, too. "A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation," he said, speaking directly to Kerry's supporters.

"To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it," he said. "I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.

Bush didn't use the word mandate, but Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) did, and the president's intention was clear as he ticked off a familiar list of second-term goals: overhaul the tax code and Social Security (news - web sites) at home while waging war in Iraq and elsewhere to stem terror.

Still many more miles away, Iran prepares to be invaded; only a few miles away, nineteen-year-olds prepare to be drafted.

I can't afford to move to civilisation, be it Canada or Europe, or even to a country with a more functional secular democracy than ours, be it Haiti, Paraguay, Belarus. Hell, I can't even afford to move to the relatively civilised east coast of this nation, to save my relationship.

Jung's synchronicity, while a fun concept, isn't "real". But in its welding of the personal with the cosmic, it's damn useful. I couldn't get my classes in October. Commodity prices are awful, and so I'll have even less money this year. A weird drought in August and September is bound to affect my soybean yield. Alicja and I are through, which was probably inevitable, but the timing surely sucked. I still haven't written anything I'm proud of. America is now an official theocracy. The Supreme Court is destroyed for another generation. Proto-fascism is ascendant, and is now given permission to metastisise into its inevitable "mature" form, here and in Russia. I'm sure a star exploded somewhere in the galaxy, and maybe it wiped out an Earth-like planet. It's still rainy. My grandfather, who raised me as best he could when irresponsible and insane persons would not, will have been dead 12 years this coming Monday. The world now hates the American people instead of only the selected American President. Many miles away, Werner Herzog may or may not have been menaced by a creature at the bottom of a dark Scottish lake. Yes, synchronicity is a contrived thing, but I like my version of unreal explanations, which I know are unreal, a lot better than the Bushie version, which they believe is all too real.

I want a drink.

(I'll probably erase this post soon.)