Monthly Archives: December 2011

Poem for 2011

As 2011 winds to a close, I reflect on everything that’s happened in the past year, and make it rhyme, with this:

Poem for 2011

It’s been a year since we were here, on this side of the sun.

I hope it’s not been bad for you, and that you’ve had some fun.

We’ve lost a few along the way, they’re buried on the hill.

But the human population now surpasses seven bill.

The earth did shake and roil the seas with horrendous consequence.

And millions spent the end of March in flimsy little tents.

The nuke plant went ka-plooey, at least reactors one and three.

And number two got screwed up too, or so it seems to me.

The spent fuel all caught fire and the cores they melted down

They contaminated everything for fifty miles around.

It got into the air and it got into the sea.

It got into the food supply and showed up in people’s pee.

It drifted all around the world, floating on the breeze.

And a hundred-million tons of it are headed here by sea.

The first of it arrived today, on a beach in Washington

So take a Geiger counter if you comb the beach for fun.

But that was not the only thing that happened here this year.

This poem just might take awhile, so grab yourself a beer.

After eight years in Afghanistan, they finally got Osama.

But they found him in Abbottabad, which caused a bit of drama.

It seems the Pakistanis weren’t so keen to be invaded.

And although they’re still our ally, we are now quite widely hated.

But at least the war in Iraq has now ground to a halt.

What a mess we made there and we know who is at fault.

Because Bush has been convicted of war crimes down in Malaysia.

He’ll have to be more careful now, when traveling in Asia.

And certainly we can’t forget about the Arab Spring.

I would be remiss if, of them, I did not sing.

In Tunisia and Libya, and in Syria and Yemen.

And in Cairo where we saw the streets full of Egyptian men and women.

They overthrew Mubarak and they killed Qaddafi too.

That might make you kind of nervous if, in fact, you are a Jew.

If that thought makes you queasy, this one should make you puke.

 The Mullahs in Iran are still working on a nuke.

 Meanwhile back in Europe, where we thought everything was swell.

 They’re out of cash to pay their bills, with nothing left to sell.

 They’re rioting in Athens and in Italy and Spain.

 They’re calling for austerity, but no one wants the pain.

 And now, here in the US, much to the one-percent’s chagrin.

 There’s people in the street who won’t stop until they win.

 They’ve occupied the cities, and they’re getting in the way.

 Even though the cops hit them with clubs and pepper-spray.

 Yes, things are heating up here on this fragile little ball.

 And I’m afraid that I don’t mean that metaphorically at all.

 The ice just keeps a’melting, as our carbon footprint grows.

 Just what that will mean for us, I guess God only knows.

 So, its bound to be exciting on this spinning little sphere.

 I hope it turns out well for you in the coming year.


On The Money, Gilligan’s Island as Economic Metaphor

On the Money,

Financial Advice for the Working-Class

Gilligan’s Island as Economic Metaphor

So, I found myself wondering recently, as I’m sure you often do, “Why were two millionaires on this little tour boat with five other people?” Then it finally hit me. After forty-some years, the Gilligan’s Island metaphor for the US economy became obvious to me.  Others may have unraveled this mystery (although a cursory Google search revealed no evidence of this), and Herb Schwartz may have spilled the beans about it himself, but I figured this out for myself, based entirely on my own extensive knowledge of the show.  Although I have not seen an episode of Gilligan’s Island in at least 20 yrs, I reckon that I have seen every single episode of the show at least five times, and I think about the show often.

 

Like most television programming, Gilligan’s Island was an expertly crafted piece of capitalist propaganda. While intended as light entertainment for the masses, on a subtler or subliminal level Gilligan’s Island reinforces the guiding myths of capitalism, and provided a working metaphor for the crisis facing capitalism in the sixties. That’s a crisis we continue to face today, so it’s still relevant to revisit Gilligan’s Island to see what we can learn from it today. That’s probably why the show is still on the air in over 35 countries, including the US.

 

Let’s start with the castaways themselves, representing the major segments of the economy:

 

We’ll start with the millionaire and his wife. Mr. and Mrs. Howell represent the power of capital. They are the one-percent. They are not portrayed as mean or ruthless people, no, they just have class and enjoy the finer things in life. When the castaways need something, Mr. and Mrs. Howell always have it, and are willing, after some coaxing, to part with, or share it. Why did they take so many changes of clothes, and their record collection, among other things on a “three hour tour”? We’ll never know, but they have stuff, and can be persuaded to put it to use, if you can explain to them, how it will benefit them.

Now let’s look at the movie star, Ginger, the hot seductive starlet in the sequined dress. She represents the propaganda industry. Seemingly, she appeared in every movie ever made. She knows a lot about deception and seduction, at least about how they did it in the movies.

 

The Professor clearly represents the scientists and engineers responsible for the technology of modern civilization. He knows how everything works, and can make practically anything out of what they have on hand, except a new boat. This really sums up our situation regarding technology. We can make nearly anything, if we put enough energy into it, except a new place to be, or a way to get there.

 

You’ll also notice the Professor is rather fond of Mary Ann. Mary Ann, the All-American farm girl, represents the agricultural industry, our nation’s farmers. Now that high-tech, automated farming methods dominate the American heartland, the farmer relies on, and trusts, university professors, high-tech machinery and chemicals . Mary Ann is as sweet as pie, innocent, and full of colloquial wisdom, but she looks up to the Professor as a kind of father figure.

The Skipper represents authority. He’s the military (a retired Navy man), police, judge and jury. As captain of the SS Minnow, he wields absolute authority over all of the others, at least when they are at sea, but now that they are shipwrecked, he’s still the biggest guy.

 

That just leaves Gilligan, the American worker. The bumbling buffoon who wrecks everything because he can’t do anything right. Everything depends on Gilligan, and that’s where everything goes wrong. Gilligan does all of the back-breaking work. He does most of the digging, carrying, running, and any other unpleasant jobs.

He takes orders from the Skipper, because allegedly, he works for him, or at least did when they had a ship. But even on dry land, Gilligan endures lots of abuse, mostly from the Skipper, who regularly insults, and abuses him. The Skipper sleeps directly under Gilligan, so Gilligan has no privacy. When the Skipper snores, Gilligan has to endure it, but the Skipper will poke Gilligan if he snores at all.

 

This brings us to the SS Minnow, the scuttled, unrepairable tour boat. Chartered by Mr. Howell, for himself, his wife, and a few of his close associates, the SS Minnow represents the US economy in its entirety. The SS Minnow embarked on a three hour tour. We can call that the period of economic prosperity that followed WWII.

 

So, this “fateful trip” began back in 1945 with the conversion from a war economy to a consumer economy. This era of unprecedented economic expansion led to a massive growth of the middle-class that fueled suburban sprawl and the era of cheap, disposable consumer goods known as the “Populux Age”

 

That is, the SS Minnow sailed on, full speed ahead, and Gilligan was satisfied with his wages as first mate. In fact, he was probably overpaid, considering how incompetent he was. He’s just lucky to have a job at all, right? So they sail on, but they hit some rough seas, and then become shipwrecked on an uncharted desert island.

 

In the early sixties, some of the serious consequences of our expanding consumer economy were beginning to show themselves. Three years before the debut of Gilligan’s Island, in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, implicating DDT, once hailed as a scientific breakthrough worthy of a Nobel Prize, as responsible for massive bird die-offs and extinctions.

 

Roadside litter became ubiquitous and impossible to ignore, leading to the, very famous, “Crying Indian” commercial. From our manned space program, we began to see the Earth, not as a huge endlessly abundant, endlessly resilient womb, but as a delicate wisp of gas between the surface of a tiny marble, and the vast emptiness of space. Suddenly, in the sixties, it became apparent that if we continued this expanding consumer economy, we would all soon drown in our own waste, rough seas indeed.

 Crying Indian Commercial

That’s why the SS Minnow no longer sails full speed ahead through open water. She’s run aground on an uncharted desert island with finite resources. They all want to get back to their old familiar lives, but they’re stuck on this island, trying to make the best of their new situation, and always trying to, “get off the island”

 

The Professor has no college, Mary Ann has no farm, Ginger can’t call her agent, the Skipper has no ship and the Howells have only a few baubles of their once great wealth. They all continue to reenact and maintain their hierarchy, because they all imagine they will get back to civilization, and because they are all clever enough to convince Gilligan to do their work for them, however badly.

 

The Skipper is, understandably, attracted to Ginger, who is in turn, attracted to the Skipper’s power. Ginger uses her sex-appeal to gain a degree of control over him. Gilligan on the other-hand just goes to pieces around Ginger, and she has little use for him. The Professor sees right through her, whenever she tries to use her seductive powers on him.

 

Ever wonder why we have so many TV shows about cops? The propaganda machine targets those in authority more even than it does the working masses. That’s because it is more important for the cops and military to believe in the American Dream, than it is for the masses, because the rest of us will do what we are told when they point their guns at us. That is, when the Skipper gives him an order, and hits him with his hat, Gilligan will do whatever Ginger wants.

 

The Professor is smart enough to trick Gilligan into doing what he wants, himself, and the Howell’s simply treat Gilligan as a low-level servant. Gilligan will do anything for Mary Ann, just because he loves her. They all reinforce the idea that Gilligan is dumb, incompetent, and wouldn’t stand a chance on the island without the rest of them, even though he does most of the work. Gilligan, is just dumb enough to go along with it, giving the whole oppressive hierarchy, the appearance of a happy family.

 

I’m afraid things have gone from bad to worse on the island in the intervening 55 yrs, but it seems that Gilligan may have finally had enough. The Skipper has become much more sadistic, and carries a sack of buckshot in his cap. The Howell’s enormous wealth has grown exponentially. A few of the Professor’s experiments have gone awry, with terrible consequence, so the castaways don’t trust him so much any more, even Mary Ann has her doubts. Ginger’s as seductive as ever, but she struts around in a thong now, and has had more than a few wardrobe malfunctions lately, testifying to the fact that it’s harder to get and hold people’s attention in this day and age.


Reader Participation Part II

Reader Participation Part II

You were all so responsive and supportive in the NCJ “Best of Humboldt” contest, that I thought we could try it again. This time it will be much simpler and more fun. I promise! I set up an extension of this blog at the humor website “Funny or Die”. There, you will find three humorous pieces that have not appeared in this blog. All you have to do is vote “Funny” or “Die” at the bottom of each piece.

So please, click the link and decide for yourself. Is “50 Reasons Why Your Vibrator is Better than a Boyfriend” funny, or does it deserve to die?

We often imbibe a little more than usual around the holidays, so reading “Warning Signs that You Might Be Drunk” might help you remember the tell tale signs of inebriation before it’s too late, and you might think it funny, or wish it died in an auto accident on the way home from a New Year’s Eve party.

Finally, at http://www.funnyordie.com/lygsbtd , “Why Beer is Better Than a Girlfriend”, a piece I wrote for all of my single male friends who are lucky enough to have beer this holiday season. Does it make you laugh, or do you want to punch me in the eye?

 

I hope to post more pieces to funny or die in the near future, so check the link to “lygsbtd at funny or die in the links section of this blog from time to time.


Christmysteries

Christmysteries

Well it’s Christmas time again, a time of Holiday cheer and Christmas spirit, and also a time of great wonder. There’s the wonder of a crisp still winter’s eve. There’s the wonder of the miracle of the virgin birth, or at least the first successful coverup of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. There’s the look of wonder in a child’s eyes when he meets Santa for the first time and thinks, “What kind of sicko creep wants little kids sitting on his lap all day?” and realizes, “If he thinks I’m good, he’s going to break into my house at night.”

 

Christmas makes me wonder too. And so, beloved reader, I offer these Christmysteries as my gift to you this Holiday season.

 

Where did X-mas come from?

 

Why not C-mas, or Chr’ms?

 

Do Jews ever spell Chanukah X-ukah?

 

Does Christmas spirit always mean alcohol, or can it also be marijuana, cocaine or MDMA?

 

Why doesn’t your family ever get you what you really want for Christmas, like an 8-ball of coke and a night with a hooker?

 

Is “Who-hash” any good?

 

Did visions of Sugarplums dancing in a child’s head inspire the California Raisins ad campaign?

 

Were they drug induced visions?

 

Why can’t you buy eggnog in July?

 

When did people stop using Christmas lights to replace candles, and start using them to make their homes look like casinos and living rooms look like discos?

 

Say this one five times fast when you are drunk: Why wreaths with red ribbons?

 

How do they make a dozen pine cones reek like a whole warehouse full of cinnamon?

 

So the sleeves are green, what color is the rest of the shirt?

 

Did anyone ever like fruitcake?

 

What’s in Santa’s pipe and why are his eyes all red?

 

What’s in candy-canes and why are they the only food product without an ingredient list printed on them?

 

Does anyone over five ever eat them?

 

Since most people just pack the candy-canes up with the rest of the Christmas ornaments, how old are the oldest candy-canes still in continuous use?

 

 Where will we tell kids that Santa lives when there’s no more arctic sea ice?

 

Why do people wait in line for hours, spend money they don’t have, and fight the crowds on Black Friday, when you can invariably find all of the same stuff in about 14 months, in a thrift store for $5?

When were there ever twelve days of Christmas?

What are “lords” and why are they leaping?

Is that like a congressman on the take, or when your landlord commits suicide?

Why would a reindeer’s nose glow?

Santa lives someplace where it’s dark 6 months out of the year. Do you expect me to believe that he finds his way around by reindeer nose light?

Why doesn’t Santa have a fucking Mag-Light? He must have given away a billion of them as presents.


Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

Now, I don’t really celebrate Christmas, or consider myself a Christian. I do like to celebrate the solstice in my own way, but solstice isn’t very funny. On the other hand, making a Christmas wish list is an age old tradition that’s about as silly as they come. Christmas is so funny that I wish I could be Christian just for the ironic, “camp” value of it, but the whole incest/sexual abuse thing that’s connected to it really poisoned that scene for me. But I won’t let that stop me from showing you my Christmas wish list. Won’t you please help my wishes come true?

 

I wish Bod Dylan had never made that Christmas album.

 

I wish Santa Claus was a hot young Latina woman instead of a fat white guy with a red nose.

On second thought, this woman would have frightened me as a small child, and no retailer would ever hire me to pretend to be her. I certainly can't afford to wish away any of my few remaining employment options

I wish we could forget the real meaning of Christmas.

 

I wish they had Holiday Inn’s in biblical times. If they had, today, nativity scenes would have three wise men sitting around a table sipping soda from disposable cups, next to Joseph, Mary and Jesus on a Magic Fingers massage bed.

 

I wish mistletoe was a kind of footwear that fired rockets.

 

I wish Jesus were a hot young Latina woman instead of Jewish baby boy.

 

I wish they would stop making candy-canes, and start making candy-crutches and candy-walkers.

 

…and I wish they would make them out of chocolate instead of peppermint hard candy.

 

I wish breweries would stop making “Holiday Brews”. I don’t want any spices, fruit or herbs in my beer reminding me that it’s Christmas. I want my regular beer to remind me that Christmas is just another day full of crap to get through.

 

I wish Metalica would make a Christmas album.

 

I wish “Black Friday” was more like the Steely Dan song of the same name.

Steely Dan, Black Friday

I wish Salvation Army Bell-Ringers would switch to a different ring-tone.

 

I wish, as a culture, we had a better way of celebrating a holiday than by shopping.


Word Power, Graminivorous

Word Power

Graminivorous

gra min iv o rous (gra min ‘iv o rus) adj, feeding on grass.

Not feeding on Grandmothers


On The Money, Bad Year for Rhinos, but….

On The Money,

Financial Advice for the Working-Class

Bad Year For Rhinos, But…

More People Than Ever Wear Tommy Hilfiger

 

So now it’s official. Poachers killed off the very last wild Black African Rhinos this year. Also the Vietnamese government announced that the Javan Rhino is now extinct within it’s borders. Rough year for rhinos. Some Javan Rhinos still survive in the wild, in Borneo and Indonesia, but the Black, or “hook-lipped” Rhino is gone for good.

 

While a few Black African Rhinos survive in captivity, human activity has completely wiped them out in the wild. Agriculture and logging reduced their habitat to a fraction of its original size. Big game hunters took their toll, especially in the first half of the last century, but poachers, feeding the insatiable market for rhino parts in China finally wiped them out. This market grows ever more insatiable as China’s middle-class continues to grow.

 

Yes, the growing Chinese middle-class exerted more economic pressure than the Black African Rhino could endure. Now the rhino is gone forever, but millions of Chinese people now want Tommy Hilfiger. There’s one more reason Middle-Class people suck. Every year the number cell phones and SUVs increases, and the planet’s biodiversity shrinks as the middle-class fantasy of imaginary affluence continues to destroy the Earth.

 

Black African Rhinos lived in forested habitat and browsed on shrubs and low trees, using their, prehensile, hooked lip to grasp twigs and small branches.

White African Rhinos, or “wide-lipped” rhinos are graminivorous. They have a wide flat “lawnmower lip” not unlike a cow.

Javan Rhinos also live in forests, browse with their hooked lips, but are smaller than their African cousins, have smaller horns, and look like they are wearing a suit of armor.

All rhinos are more or less the same color, greyish brown.

Now the Black African Rhino is gone. The Javan Rhino stands on the brink, threatened by habitat loss and poachers. A growing economic demand for rhino, tiger, leopard, and elephant parts insures that poachers will continue to take their toll on these animals.

 

The European middle-class wiped out most of the fur-bearing animals in North America. The North American middle-class wiped out most of the South American, Indonesian, and Southeast Asian rainforests, now the Chinese middle-class gets its turn, and the Black African Rhino is just the beginning.

 

If you’ve seen one middle-class family, you’ve seen them all, and the planet would be better off without any of them. The Black African Rhino, on the other hand is a unique species, particularly suited to its forest habitat, where it played an important role in the forest ecology. Among other things Black African Rhinos are the forest’s firefighters. When they smell smoke they rush in and stamp out the fire. Their forest habitat will never be the same without them, and the planet’s biodiversity is diminished by their loss. They are missed.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers