Saturday, June 01, 2019


At 5AM I was wakened by a honking car.  I got up, walking around the barely daylight house, checking through the windows and letting cats out.  The lights in the kitchen of the Baptist Church were on.  More cars than usual were driving past, which can mean there's a fire somewhere.  They don't run the siren anymore.  The firemen carry cell phones and get the call quietly.  But there was no action up the street at the fire station.

At 9AM I got up again and noted how quiet it was.  Not a lawnmower growling anywhere in a town that insists on constantly mowing.  That's when I figured it out.  This must have been the night the graduating seniors broke the rules (actually only the customary) by staying up all night and having a big group breakfast, which they normally reject.  Their preferred first meal of the day is pizza scraps and cola.  Some probably sneak beer.  Some stay up all night every night and sleep in daytime.  But the aura of the event is so strong that even they feel it is an event.  As we near lunch, the town stays quiet because all the high school kids are asleep and the grandpas are not mowing.

The first of June 2019 is already strange for those who follow politics, though few around here do -- at least above the county level.  People who watch television use it to follow sports, Fox. and low grade movies.  People like me who only access television through a computer are using the internet to buy things.  I do it myself.  I bought some cut-rate really warm socks for next winter and a very simple sideways nozzle for the vacuum cleaner which will suck dust off the tops of books without taking them from the shelves.  

Our days are invaded by smoke.  The mountains and half the lake are invisible but there is no fire in Montana -- it's all Alberta smoke, too early and in too-dry timber because drought does that.  The crops up there might not be productive.  In Montana the water is all too high, interdicting roads.  A sheet of water on the road past Ramsey's Firebrand has caused at least two cars to hydroplane, one fishtailing but staying on the pavement and the other crashing into the tavern.  In the Midwest there is too much water on the fields to plant.  Crops may be short.  We may be looking at shortages and high prices this fall.

Trump has set trade on fire and drowned our allies with insults.  We may be looking at shortages and high prices over that as well.  Statistically, we are already sinking in terms of income, health issues and never-conceived babies.  My recommendation is to first impeach Barr, who in his sinister teddy-bear way is only a new version of Steve Bannon with a better complexion, destroying the American subpoena/contempt-of-court system.  He has NO business being the Attorney General, but his glee at pretending he deserves it fuels his bland demonic destruction.

Second, will we EVER know what it is that paralyzes the Republican senate?  Can Mitch McConnell be explained by psychoanalysis suggesting he could have been saved by plastic surgery?  The rest of them make me think of the famous phenomenon of toxoplasmosis, the little brain worm that infects rats, causing them to love cat urine.  It's suggested that the most successful modern biochemical attack on this nation (excluding Japan and the Middle East) has been the idea that vaccines are harmful -- that it would be better for your children to have measles.  Some babies have died, not from vaccine, rather predictably from the measles.

Something like that has happened to our understanding of politics.  I occasionally preached about how football is like a religion, and always got a kickback from older men (younger men do not go to church) that was deeply felt, sometimes with enough rage to produce tears.  It was a truer statement than I realized.  In this small prairie town I will not risk letting it into any of my conversations.

The impact of macho sports (balls and fight cages) on American politics (probably on Brit as well) has taught certain people that winning is everything, that honor and honest umps are a fantasy, and that controlling the metaphors of team names is like winning a bloody war that destroys people.  Indigenous people will tell you sincerely that a team called "Indians" is assault.  No one has figured out yet what to do about reservation schools with teams called "Indians" or "Warriors."  Must the team be on the rez?  

When I came to Heart Butte the year the high school was started, they obsessed over basketball -- no one wanted to play football outdoors in the snow.  Contact collisions were not valued -- it was skill that counted.  The superintendent, an old football coach, changed all that.  New uniforms, team photos, special jackets, and a new cross-country bus were suddenly featured in the budget.  It turns out the special helmets don't prevent concussions, but since star players were honored with booze parties, the consequences were hard to separate.  Must they hire coaches to be administrators? 

When I think about all this, my only comfort is having seen it coming.  Every institution I ever belonged to was corrupt to some degree: schools, churches, government and the art world were invaded by particular systems of greed and covert lying.  I never knew how to oppose it.  Nor did I learn how to be independent of it.  I even include the institution of marriage in many cases, so easily turned into a racket.

When the president can play vanity games with warships, the scale of my life is far too small.  I can barely keep track of cats.  The cons and connections of the literary world, esp. on the scale of Montana, are only protected by people's need to believe in hierarchies in which they can participate by putting the most popular book prominently on their coffee tables and by turning against authors who break the dream.

But I've said too much.  Best not to attract attention.  It's safe at the moment.  Everyone's too busy to read.  Maybe too scared to think.

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