August 9th, 2008


Fiction: Staying Busy, part II - Strangulation

Kurt lay on the ground, amid shattered glass from a rather cheaply made carafe that held his morning Alka-Seltzer. The gash on his forehead allowed a trail of blood to flow into his left eye, but temporary blindness was the least of his concerns as a set of hands clutched his neck, pushing downward at maximum force. Aaron straddled his torso, rage spilling from his gaze, as he yelled, "I'll kill you you motherfucker!" Exhausted from the struggle to acquire a breath, Kurt let his arms fall limply to the tile floor. In his head, he repeated the mantra, "I feel nothing, I feel nothing," and aloud he spat, "Kill me, kill me."

Seeing the vanquish in his opponent, Aaron loosened his grip and sat up. Kurt coughed, wiped some blood from the inside of his lip, and resumed gasping. After a minute in that position, Aaron rolled off of him and stood up; Kurt said, "Why didn't you do it? You had me, you little weasel. Why didn't you kill me?"

Aaron said nothing, instead walking over to the closet to get the broom and the dust pan. He solemnly swept up the glass, pausing occasionally to wipe the sweat from his face, flinching as he touched what would later turn out to be a massive shiner under his right eye. Kurt crawled to the foot of his bed, turning around to sit against it. He found his pack of cigarettes crushed inside his shirt pocket, plucked the least damaged one, re-shaped it to its intended form, and lit it with a match he sparked with his thumb. With the mess cleaned, Aaron said, "If that'll be all, I've got some things to do."

"Get the fuck out of here. I'm through with you."

Regarding that remark with a shake of his head, Aaron retired from Kurt's quarters. Out in the hall, the whores held their belongings to their chests. From the fund, Aaron peeled off the hundreds and handed an equal amount to each. "What's his fucking problem?" the red-head said, scowling up at Aaron, who stood a full foot taller than her 5' 6 frame. In a low voice that exemplified an equal mix of shame and disgust, Aaron said, "Nothing. He just ... he just gets like that sometimes."

"Yeah, well he's lucky I don't have Carlos come over here and kick his ass!" said the red-head, folding her take and slipping it into her bra. "There's no need for that," Aaron said. "I took care of that." With smeared mascara, the blonde said, "What happened? He was so nice last night. Then this morning, it was like ... he was acting like we -"

"Listen, it's complicated, all right?" Aaron had obviously given this speech before. Not necessarily every time Kurt had hookers over, but enough to tire of the act, and indeed to tire of the bullshit-laden excuses he had to give. "He doesn't trust many people, that's all. Don't ask me why, I've been around it for so long now and I don't even understand him half the time.

"What can I say? He's a different person in the morning."

Just then, the bedroom door opened. Kurt had exchanged his boxers and Hawaiian shirt for an open robe and a magazine. He walked past Aaron without looking at him, then stopped and mumbled to the whores, looking at them with his one clear eye, "I apologize." Then he continued down the hall to the bathroom, locking the door behind him.
Don't Hassle the Hoff

Prove Me Wrong, Kids. Prove Me Wrong.

I'm in the process of reading Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear And Loathing: On The Campaign Trail '72" and I can't tell you how many similarities there are between that election run for the seat of the United States president and the one we're currently embroiled in today. Well, I can actually tell you the similarities, and I will.

To bring you back, in 1968, Richard Nixon won the presidential seat over democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey and independent George Wallace. This, of course, followed the heartbreaking assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, who locked up the California delegates hours before being shot at his own victory celebration by notable lunatic Sirhan Sirhan. In 1972, Nixon sought re-election.

For the democrats, in 1972, Hubert Humphrey again sought the nomination. By this time, George Wallace also ran as a democrat. Numerous others joined the fray, including long-shot George McGovern. An unpopular war was being waged on the other side of the world. Oil wasn't necessarily involved with the fight over Vietnam, but opportunism and fear ruled the day, as that Red-Menace had to be stopped at all cause. For the sake of this argument, Communism = Terrorism. The "politics of fear" was employed by the encumbant. A need to "finish the job victorious" was touted. The Democratic Congress remained futile in their efforts to seek a solution to bring our boys home. Indeed, for many of the democrats, it didn't even matter.

Sound familiar? Well, early on in the race, the front-runner - a foregone conclusion in many circles - a man by the name Edmund Muskie ran a very similar race to one Hillary Clinton. Wrap up the big names in the democratic party, lock those important delegates down, and then cruise his way through the primaries to an easy nomination down at the convention in Miami. Well, unlike this race, Muskie wasn't even in the top two when all was said and done. He buckled after the first few primaries, when the public realized he had nothing to offer. However, much like today's race, a man nobody thought had a chance - a liberal "outsider" who wanted to end the war as soon as possible, found his voice and withstood the tough fight.

Indeed, George McGovern, senator from South Dakota, was the original "Change" candidate, decades before Barack Obama. Of course, he didn't have to suffer the scrutiny of today's media, nor did he have the handicap of being the first major African American nominee, but he was labelled many things - both just and unjust - in an attempt to discredit him. They said he was for the legalization of marijuana, that he was a rabid abortionist freak, that he didn't have what it took to lead this nation in times of unrest. And when it came down to the final two, him and the simpering Hubert Humphrey, Humphrey still harbored an outside hope that the dust would settle at the convention and he'd somehow sway enough delegates to get nominated. Of course, he had no leg to stand on, and McGovern came away victorious.

Which led to the general election. While McCain may not be a sitting president, he's still planning to perpetuate the policies of the man who is. Things start to split from there, though, as Nixon was widely held in a positive light among the American people, while Bush is mostly held in contempt. Nevertheless, McCain's favorability rating still manages to defy the general perception of Republicans as a whole, so it's not unreasonable to think that he could win this thing.

What McGovern had, and what Obama shares now, is the never-important Youth Vote. People like to tout that as somehow important to a candidate, but it never made much hay in any of the elections before now, and most likely it won't end up impacting things all that much here either.

What it boiled down to in 1972, however, was the fact that McGovern's vice presidential candidate was a borderline psychotic by the name of Thomas Eagleton. After the convention, it was brought to light that Eagleton had gone through electro-shock therapy for depression. And, indeed, later on it was revealed that Eagleton was spreading rumors damaging McGovern's credibility. Had these things surfaced beforehand, he never would've been touted by McGovern, and the focus of the campaign would've stayed more on the issues and less on damage-control. The smallest things can be distorted by your opponent, until you're so marginalized that the American public can no longer see anything but the bullshit that's been spread.

A vice presidential candidate rarely helps you win elections; see: Dan Quayle; but they can definitely help you lose them. Likewise, when your opponent is a shifty scumbag who'll do anything to get elected, you can never be too careful or too confident. Nixon too tried to portray himself as a Man of the People, labelling McGovern as some sort of elite liberal socialist bent on destroying the working man. Even with an unpopular war, even with all the rampant government corruption, a very bad man can win an election over a true prince. That's the lesson to take away from all of this.

Nixon took every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He would later go on to resign after what would've surely meant his impeachment due to his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The media then was as shameless and ineffective as it is now, but one man had the courage and the foresight to tell it like it is. Even with Hunter S. Thompson's brutal honesty painting the evil-doers in their appropriate shades of black, the bulk of the American public was as willfully ignorant then as it is now. They weren't known as "Red-Staters" because they had another term at the time: The Silent Majority. They're the people who just don't give a shit about the way the country's run. All they care about are their guns, their God, and their Nascar. In that order.

I'd like to think there's enough people out there who are fed up with a government that caters to kicking back to their political contributers. Who put the working man in a distant second to the wealthy elite. But I know America. I've lived here all my life. To have that kind of faith goes against my very nature. If I can't believe in a God who created the heavens and the Earth, I surely can't believe in a nation to do the right thing.
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