This Thing Called Courage

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A B in my Bonnet

LET ME BEGIN by saying that I am about as die-hard a Red Sox fan as you'll find on a long-day's march, as my grandmother would say. To wit: as a very young boy during the 1967 'Impossible Dream' season, I would often drop to my knees during a Red Sox rally, clutching my Rosary beads as I garbled prayers for a winning hit. (These beads, by the by, had come from a great aunt who was a Carmelite nun, so they were doubly powerful). When the rally sputtered out, or came to a sudden, ghastly end, I am afraid to say the Rosary beads went flying across the room, with a number of cuss-words rhyming with 'Other Trucker' serving as the non-musical accompaniment. As you might imagine, this did the Rosary beads little good--

"What happened to your Rosary beads, Joey?" my mother would shockingly and disapprovingly ask, seeing them scattered into fifty pieces on the other side of my room.

"They were defective," I would succinctly reply.

Let me also add that I love the fact that the Sox won again this year; nor did I miss one minute of the playoffs or world series, even though this meant tuning the dial to the Network-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named (hint: it rhymes with 'Pox'), an unheard-of breach of left-leaning political etiquette for someone like me. And let me add further that my Dad played for the Boston Braves-- as such, like opposable thumbs and five digits on each hand, rooting for the Red Sox was a choiceless, DNA-determined thing.

Finally, let me further hasten to say that I do believe parades provide a psychologically- and emotionally-healthy outlet for people: we're so much in our own heads these days-- it's good to occasionally drown oneself (as it were) in a sweating, roiling mass of humanity.

All this being said, it still strikes me as nothing less than absurd that one week ago, 4000 people turned out for an anti-war rally in Boston, while yesterday one million people took to the streets for a rally celebrating an (ultimately) meaningless sports victory, played by overly-pampered, idolized men who (ultimately) have no loyalty to Boston other than their paycheck and who would decamp to some other city if that venue offered a more lucrative deal-- though this latter concern is, I suppose, less of a consideration nowadays, when American cities have become increasingly homogenized and turned into overly-hot, overly illuminated shopping malls (and smile for the camera as you're being filmed.) That is, when those American cities haven't been left to rot on the vine by the Federal government, like Detroit and New Orleans and every single mid-size old mill- or factory-town you could care to name.

But I digress...which, of course, is what I do best. God is in the details, as Proust noted.

The point is, imagine if you could harness that many rabid, highly-spirited people, and get them to march on the White House every month or so, demanding an end to the Bush Regime and its constant, murderous undercutting of the American Dream and All Things Good? Things would change so quickly in this country! There would be an end to the Iraq War! A permanent postponement of the upcoming Iran War! A return to democracy! An end to domestic spying! An end to torture as an acceptable American policy! An end of corporations writing legislation! An end to the myriad assaults by this administration and its friends upon our environment and our constitutional rights! An end to the emptying of our treasury so one million Iraqis and 4000 American troops can die for corporate profit! An end to 60 million Americans having no health care! An end to the vivisection of the working and middle classes! An end to-- well, you get the picture.

The conclusion I've come to is that Red Sox Rallies and such like are deemed 'sexy' by the media, and anti-war rallies (many of which resemble poorly attended, moribund funeral marches these days) are not. There are two things that will doom any undertaking in America: an inability to make a profit, and a verdict by the media, implied or direct, that something isn't 'sexy.' People these days are so afraid to do anything that might be branded 'weird' or 'fringe' by our increasingly irrelevant media. There is no policer like the self-policer, as Foucault says, and we have become a nation that, like Hillary Clinton, must take a survey first, internal or external, to see how our thoughts and actions will play out in Peoria. And most of us have a big fat tssking Peoria lodged somewhere between the pituitary and thyroid gland.

They have us just where they want us. Last Saturday, a National Day of Protest to End the War and Drive Out the Bush Regime (according to Code Pink, Peace Action, and many other progressive groups, including the one I belong to, United for Peace With Justice), anti-war rallies were held in ten US cities, including Boston. Last night on, the Boston Globe's online site, (stay with me on this) there were 54 separate stories on the Red Sox Rolling Rally. There were dozens of videos you could watch, of screaming, idolizing fans, or of Papelbon doing his kilt dance (but why wear the kilt OVER the pants? Well, that's what happens when manly pursuits became sanitized and 'family friendly,' they become emasculated and puritanical-- the only ones allowed to be 'sexy' these days are corporations and the models who shill their ultimately toxic products.) This morning, is asking people to submit their Red Sox rally photos; yesterday morning, was taking the assumptive position and asking readers to blog in with their answers to the important, "Where will YOU watch the rally from?"

There was no such curiosity on the part of the Globe before last week's anti-war rally in Boston; nor, the day after, were there 54 stories on the anti-war rally-- instead there was a lousy AP-written blurb, sans video, sans photo, buried in the bowels of the site. Despite the fact that 200,0000 people gathered in ten cities across the country, the headline for that story might as well have read 'Scruffy People in Non-Designer Jeans Tie up Traffic.'
But in the 60's and 70's, anti-war rallies were cool and sexy-- I've been told one could get laid as a result of going there (or at least there was always that possibility). They were the public plaza of America. They made things happen, on both a personal and political level. Now they are funeral marches because the media has left them in the dust and refuses to cover or publicize them. To further my claim: last night on Craigslist (which I consult for medicinal purposes only) there were many many classifieds from guys looking to hook up that began, "I'm so horny after attending the parade today." Of course you are, dear.

I think we need to inundate Craigslist with messages like the following, after the next anti-war rally: "Saw you today at the anti-war rally and even though there were hundreds of HOT men there, you were the HOTTEST. You were wearing...." and "I got hard looking at you today at the anti-war rally..." or maybe "Saw you today at the Red Sox Parade and you were wearing a Dolce and Garbana T-shirt that read 'Bush Kills People With Our Money While Schools and Highways Rot..."

Perhaps this will begin to get people to attend these more meaningful public gatherings. The problem is, people are afraid to do anything "out of line" nowadays-- after all, that might disqualify them for a photo-op on Hold up a "My Heart Jigs for Papelbon" sign and you'll be on the front page of Hold a "Bush Lies, People Die" sign and you've carelessly tossed your Fifteen Minutes into the dustbin of ignominy. As far as goes (where sports, real estate, and fire stories dominate), we have to get people, when submitting pictures of their houses for sale, for example, to have sheets draped from the upstairs bedroom windows proclaiming, "Welcome to the New Fascist Amerika" etc etc. "This smart little starter upper, close to highways and shopping, comes complete with appropriate, designer-inspired sheets with political messages, so you won't have to fuss with smelly magic markers...."

I'd love to see that-- fuck the closet space.


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