Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Listening to Venice Beach: America at Utopia

Tweets from Venice Beach in Real Time

People love or hate California, and many are indifferent or ambivalent; but no one is ever surprised by California.

Me looking out at Infinity in America at Utopia

Not that the locals don’t work at surprising you.  

In fact it’s a parade of unusual emergent events.  People riding reclining experimental bikes in the blazing hot sun; a party near the volleyball beaches will have a guy on an old bicycle on a Indian chief feather crown ride through, divers will come out after dark and go looking for sea lions, white guys with massive Rastafarian hats will walk pugs on the beach.   

None if it predictable but none of it is surprising.  Like the random distribution of light flashes on an old television tube, a kind of shared understood chaos.

Strange new things happen in Africa, the Middle East or South America.  Venice Beach, and the entire bay of LA is a stage carnival of mild anarchy that knows its place.

Southern California is banal regimentation presenting itself as Vedic self enlighten.  Everywhere everyone says the same things about themselves, they say the same things about other places and, the most obsessive topic: they talk about LA, which seems to no really exist.  You in Venice of Hollywood or some place other than LA.  LA is just a vague concept at the end of Westward expansion.

But as far as banal exhibitions of identity go, Venice Beach has created the Tibet of consumer culture.  Unable to escape the system of desire, need, cost and commodity Venice Beach puts it under a astrological sky, and gives you a sunset that strikes home that you exist on a planet.

Though everyone is working hard to be cool, everyone is watching their clothing, tattoos, stances and skateboarding.  The extreme cool of Venice Beach is a kind of satori, a forced self consciousness that combined with drugs and the sun set produce an intense state for our post-human America.

Here  banal becomes lovely and perhaps even lovable.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Accidental Empire

The Accidental Empire

I always feel uncomfortable at the American embassy in London.  I don’t like it when I have to go there even though there is a really nice proper cafĂ© owned by an Italian family who make a toasted sandwich with corn beef and a pickle around the corner.  They they put in pickle, a salty limb English pickle, in the sandwich and toad it with the pastrami and mustard.  They call it the New York, which was misleading to me as it is not on Rye and is rather small, but it is a nice sandwich. 

In the park in front of the embassy are three statues to American Presidents: FDR, Eisenhower, and Reagan.  The FDR and Ike statues are obvious being London.  The Reagan one is there to piss people off.  Unlike the other two that you can get up close to and touch the Reagan one sites beyond reach of vandals on his platform.  In front of him is a long bit text that looks like a long unrolled bronze toilet paper role.  The text goes in to why Reagan is a great man.  The other statues don’t have to explain why FDR and Ike are great men.  I even imagine the Soviets didn’t have to plaster the statues of Lenin and Stalin they put up in Hungary and Poland with explanatory text.  A statue should look heroic.  Ike looks like a right proper hero in his uniform there. 

One time my wife was covering a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline and I came out with her to get some fresh air and because I like to watch her shot.  She gets right in people’s faces and its fun to watch.  I was not up to date on the Keystone XL pipeline and I had no idea if it was a good idea or a bad idea so the protest left me a bit bored.  A Hari Krishna food bike was there and I got some rice with chickpea doll.  The protest formed a cardboard black pipe between the US and Canada embassy.  It was real fun to hear English leftist protesting against Canada, with the Keystone XL pipeline they are more made at Canada.  One time in Trafalgar Square, I saw Syrians burn a Russian and Chinese flag. Normally people burn American flags in London.  In front of the Canadian embassy I tried to flirt with a black woman who was reading Green Mars.  She was polite enough but she was not having any of it. 

Next time I went to the embassy it was to pick up a replacement passport for one I had lost in Spain.  They were friendly enough.  People who work at embassies giving passports to people who lost their passports in Spain I guess are my kind of people.  People who went to good schools but couldn’t think of a career so they ended up in the Foreign Service.  I got to London because I could program computers.  I got in to computer because that was just what came along.  There was a rigid marine in those big white hats.  Do the Marines know that blue pants and kaki shirt does not go well together?  Perhaps being a Marine means you can wear a brown shirt with blue pants and no one can say anything about it.

The last time I was at the embassy was because my wife was going to cover an Anti-Drone protest.  We got there early and went to the place with the good sandwiches.  My wife got an apple pie in a bowl of custard and when I finished my sandwich I ate most of that too. 

At this point, while reviewing this manuscript my wife insists that I extend the explanation as to the custard and pie.  I frankly do not see the reason to go in to extensive detail here but she insists that the text lacks something without a detailed account of what she calls the ‘custard soup.’  I am now following a convention quoting her terms and ideas about the custard.

My wife said her stomach poorly. I recommended the cherry pie with custard.  When my wife order the waitress regretted to inform us that they were out of cherry pie.  She even looked sad and said awe.  Despite it violating all practical reasoning I to this day believe that she really was upset for my wife that she could not have cherry pay.  My wife then agreed to the apple pie compromising, saying she didn’t want ‘just a little custard.’  So when the bowl came out it ‘a piece of pie swimming in yellow custard soup.’

Late we went back to the embassy and my wife wanted to avoid the photographers who were already there.  So we walked the other direction around where an anti-Iranian regime group was holding a hungry strike.  They had set up tents so the half dozen or so people on hunger strike, I didn’t bother to count them, could look at the US embassy as they lied their not eating. 

Then the Tehreek-e-Insaf group showed up.  These Pakistanis in the UK made up the vast majority of the roughly 90 to 105 protests there.  They were dressed in nice new western clothing with expensive watches and well groomed hair.  They are supposed to be the moderates in Pakistani politics but they looked no different to me than any other group you see on the TV screaming about America.  They carried two ‘coffins’ with them, one baby sized and one adult sized with lots of flags for their Pakistani party.  They support a former cricket player.

My wife got great shots and I read a book next to two girls in their late teens eating take away Japanese food.  I assume they were American tourists waiting for something but it was a Saturday and they didn’t seem bothered.

The Tehreek-e-Insaf and maybe six old anti-war native English shouted for about an hour.  People pushed their way in front of video recorders giving speeches in Urdu peppered with words like “USA”, “civilized”, “drones” and “America.”

They were just a bunch of blowhards but as London protests go they were not major blowhards.  London has imposed the most perfect form of censorship ever known to man, a numbing idiotic flow of constant protests.  In any given day you will hear blasted through megaphone that cows have souls and Indonesian have rights and Atos is killing people with work assessment tests and Israelis are killing children and other things you can’t make out.  The protests are now in line with the cable TV news, an endless senseless blur of assertions and images meaning nothing.

And in the center of this blur of senseless London sits the US embassy at the vortex of the shit storm of the modern world.  The Empire everyone needs.  The place where people come with their petitions and grievances and stump arms and dead children and puppets and cardboard tubes and copies of Green Mars checked out from the library and buckets of cheap take-away Japanese and expensive watches and cameras and pictures of Imran Khan and scream and beat their chests.  If America did not exist it would be necessary to create it.  There lies the source of the evil we fear is lurking in the world.  Most of the world can sleep easy at night only because there is an America. 

In reality since Obama took office this power has been growing and not declining.  The ultimate expression of this power as the dark one is most expressed not in American corporations or wars of aggression but in new technology of drones and NSA that only the Americans can create.  The fear is the technical excellence of the nation of Silicon Valley and Hollywood.  America is Santa Clause off his meds or on his meds I am not sure which one.

Not only does not one stand against America, no one really can stand against America.  We can only have one evil presence we want to believe is controlling our lives, because after all it can’t be us who is making this life we need to live.

Myself I have generally used Republicans and my parents for this.  I have not seen my parents for some time so Republicans have to do for a while.  Republicans are proving to make terrible world controlling manipulators, as they are clearly mostly nuts these days.  I can’t get a good paranoia running about Plutarch’s or the 1% probably because I know too many rich people and have worked too long in business to think that they are running much of anything.  So lately I have been devoid of a good proper dark evil force in my life and I miss it greatly.  I even miss Bush.  Lately I have been concerned that I may be becoming diabetic.  I am brushing my teeth more and more and getting worried about my weight.  If I don’t find an evil presence to ruin my life soon I might develop a serious medical condition.

Even the Reagan statue in front of the US embassy just looks silly to me. Looking at him protected by a large green platform he looks like a statue of Mickey Mouse to me now.  And I feel so empty without him I sometime need to go on Twitter and pick flame fights on the hashtag of the day, but even that is starting to get boring.

I am seriously concerned that I am developing a serious medical condition.  As I think less and less about Cameron, Blair, Bush, Reagan and J.P. Morgan I think more and more about my urinary track and heart valves my attires and how depression, alcoholism, and unbearable self-importance run in my father’s family. 

Maybe I should screw up my life?  Perhaps some insane conflict at work which forces me to shift jobs suddenly, or a impossible sexual relationship with a much younger woman connected to me by my wife, or a good solid addiction to crack would be the thing to pick me up.  I have seen it do wonders for other people.  I think most people I know keep themselves healthy and alive via a combination of addiction and work conflicts.  Of course addiction is physically demand and people, being generally lazy, of find they don’t have the stuff for it.  But then again you have AA, which can become an all consuming patterning hegemony.  My dad went with AA and it cocktail of AA and thinking Obama is a communist seems to be doing well for him.  Now that he is old enough to collect Medicare and not worry about losing health insurance he is in a real danger of finding some piece of mind.  I think Obama was a real blessing for him and I am happy for him to have found his black monster.

Bush was such a wonderful gift for me.  For 8 years everything that went wrong was Bush’s fault.  Boy do I miss Bush.  But the Tea Party and the Tories should restore me.  But I am becoming concerned that something is really wrong with me.