Thursday, October 26, 2006

The meaning of history

Talking with my 16 soon to be 17 year old daughter has become more and more of a chore for both of us as she moves into the habits and deceits of adulthood and its attendant alienations. But it is always worth it as I get to hallucinate backwards into my own high school memory miasma and get reminded where my demons come from. Clearly they don’t come simply from high school, but its certainly one area where they do come from.

The little voices in my daughter’s head have been put there by her parents, teachers, peers and god knows what other projectors of the American mentalité but as we were talking I could see simply they are actually alien to her spirit. “Aaron Burr” she said, “is longer than I though it was.” This book she is reading was this mornings worrying burden. And so we take our worrying burdens around with us until they become little robotic architectures of concern that rarely let us have a moment of peace. When somebody talks in a history class about our Puritan roots, this is exactly what the fuck we should be thinking about. A little Puritan devil robot has been injected into the minds of way too damn many of us and it makes us all alienated from the ground we walk on.

The meaning of history is that these memes or whatever some scientist might try to call them are the ghosts of our forefathers, spewing their regrets forward into the future for as far as we have the lack of imagination to cull their shit from our brains. And shit we have in our brains, given our desultory present of war and gasoline. The Cadillac Escalade parked in front of us at her school is an emotional reaction to something in the world that is beyond reason and colored with hubris. The person who drives it marks their personality with just one of the most obvious shades of brainshit that the Puritans (Republicans?) have bequeathed us. And there are ten thousand more flavors of these little demons floating about in each and every one of our heads, and its no wonder we try to stun them out with drink or sex or some sort of sensory overload because they are parasites on our free enjoyment of our own liberty to figure this world out for ourselves.

History is bunk: this is supposed to bug a historian but frankly it has gained a new appreciation in my lexicon thanks to my daughter. Not because she would ever say it out loud. What I see in her eyes is the dull polluting sheen of our smoggy past. Don’t ever forget that there were a tremendous amount of assholes that lived in the past. Try not to honor them with your worried mind.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jerry Brown Uber Alles

The Dead Kennedys were on the XM this morning and I heard them in a new way, thinking to myself what the hell is wrong with this state, both the one I live in and the one I live in. Yeah, you've got to start questioning things when the San Diego Union Tribune, one of the most reactionary, imbecilic, asinine, puerile, misguided, petty and ugly papers to befoul a major US metropolis endorses the former future king of the universe, Jerrrrrryyyyy Brrroowwwnnnnn for Attorney General of the State of California. Holy shit. The UT is a petulant, flatulent declawed and dentured leopard trying to change its raggedy ass spots. Just like Jerry fucking Brown.

And then it hits me, we are Minnesota. We are that lame ass state with Jesse Ventura for a governor, only now our JV governor sounds like he has a blue-bellied lizard in his mouth everytime he opens his Austrian yap-yapper. We are a laughing stock. No wonder I am having a seriously bad time with my internal demons. They are struggling to get the golly god damn out of me because they are embarrassed to be living inside my stinky folds in the Disneyesque hellport. I've have accomplished the well neigh impossible task of shaming my dirty bits. The suede-denim secret police have set up residence in my discontented consciousness and I can hardly enjoy my personal revolt against the revolting banality chasers because I have lived in the sorriest city in California for too damn long. Still, the burritos here are really really good.

Update. I want to correct one of my earlier comments about the Steve Foley incident. He was drunk and he was driving. He will rot in a compound surrounded by guards from MADD until he perishes from this sunny purgatory and moves into a crypt of questionable taste upon his ultimate demise. The UT reports today that the cop never did show a badge. So when somebody with a really bad haircut driving a small Japanese car tries to pull your drunk ass over in the middle of the night, just remember, only cops have those kinds of haircuts. And they like to shoot Negroes (if your feeling black, that's probably close enough) especially if you got a white woman in the car with you.

Monday, October 16, 2006


One thing that makes me sick with anger is poaching. Not the killing animals without a license type. I'm speaking about car behavior. People who are always trying to get one more foolish space ahead in their race to be in front of somebody they don't even know. They don't leave a space to merge into when they clearly see that you need to get over. They pull into the lane that must exit because it is moving faster than the rest of the freeway and then they muscle in at the last second back into the main artery so they can poach 5 or 10 or even 3 spaces. They park in places that are attached to a particular business a take that space away all day so that people who might actually need to get into that business have to hunt for a space farther away. You could probably add to my little list. And you could probably add other public behaviors that qualify. We could probably agree that it is an ethos of the age.

Its not just selfishness that makes me want to get some sort of weapon (non-lethal, of course!) and put it to them right where it grinds a hole in their panties. It's the willful disregard mixed into a slothful inattentiveness that makes me consider going berzerk. We all should be fanned a little room to be stupid. We all do selfish things that if we had a chance to contemplate them minus the swirling miasma of the average inertial shitstorm which defines "normal" city behavior we might not so readily acceed to. But don't cry if somebody decides to crap in your gruel. I know its possible that I deserve something back for my ignorance that is not pleasant. I just wish some of these poaching cows get tipped over today.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Evolutionary Biologists Lack Imagination

Years ago when I thought it might matter to somebody, I used to ask the question “why do men have a refractory period after orgasm?” This question was the completing half of the more interesting question (for me) “why can women have multiple orgasms?” Scientists of the evolutionary stripe have tried to answer the question of why women have orgasms and when they talk about it even the folks who think like Desmond Morris and decide that it is so the cervix will dip into the semen pool and get a better shot at fertilization seem to miss the point that there is little evidence that this matters in the least. Women who don’t orgasm get pregnant pretty damn well. That would have to be the truth given that apparently something like 75 percent of women do not regularly have orgasm during sex. Something like 10 percent never have orgasms, and they get pregnant with no apparent difficulty.

Besides the obvious point that the EB researchers never seem to consider that patriarchy might have something to do with the success rate for female pleasure, the question of women’s ability or inability to have orgasms and its evolutionary advantages have to been seen in the larger context of the evolution of culture. And I can see a really obvious and supportable hypothesis that Sarah Blaffer Hrdy danced around in her book called “The Woman Who Never Evolved.” She pointed out that some primate males will not kill the offspring of any female they have mated with. Females that mate with multiple males end up protecting their offspring. More pleasure might equal more sex might equal either females needing more rogering for orgasm or maybe more orgasms period.

But if you extend this to a cultural analysis rather than simply a mechanical one, you might suggest as I will that females were the centerpiece in the development of better male relationships. Males that are hypercompetitive are freaking dangerous. And males that find ways to share stand a great deal better chance of working together as a team to survive and prosper. The development of the tribe does not go together real well with nuclear families. To wit: if you make sexual behavior a group activity you end up with an extended family of males who, by not over stressing on sexual availability get to focus on other behaviors that enhance the survival of the group. If a female can nail multiple men (which is something that some women can and enjoy doing) she becomes a very culturally valuable creature. Ramón Gutiérrez in his book “When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846” points out that one of the first things that Spanish clergy noticed and had to “fix” when they met up with the Pueblo Indians is that they didn’t seem too possessive about their women and they didn’t really freak out properly when their women laid the Spanish soldiers. Shame had to be taught. There is a reason they call it the missionary position, dumb asses!

Beyond this crazy speculation, there is the work of those scientists who point out that sperm behave in a manner that shows they figure they have to fight off other flavors of sperm to get their uber boy to the egg. Some cohere and create plugs to wall off the passage to the gamete while others sprint to the goal. And then there is the issue of why women bleed every month. Simply they do so because it is good for them. Semen is a disease vector. Blood is a cleansing agent. And women who have sex with only one partner actually adapt to that reality and biochemically make it easier for those boys to come home. Which suggest that less is not more from an evolutionary point-of-view.

Given our obsessive issues with fidelity and virginity and the attendant ownership issues, we might just stop for a moment and decide if all that bullshit has made the world a better place or not. This all ties into heaven and especially hell, and the freaked out masculinity that needs to be assured and coddled and told that the kid really is theirs and that in some psychic way they do get to live forever. Living in the sexual regime of the male has defined our human history. The evolution of sexuality has a role to play in figuring out where we went astray and headed on into making violence a copartner with sex. If you don’t believe me this is the case, ask a Bonobo. Or go to your local women’s shelter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The White Guy

I was seven years old and in love with all things sport. I remember pretty clearly when Tommie Smith and John Carlos walked up to the podium to accept their medals for winning the gold and bronze medals at the Mexico City Summer Olympics. I remember very clearly the two men swinging their medals casually like whirlygigs as they walked off the pedestal after standing and listening to the national anthem. I vaguely remember them being haranged by the ABC broadcasters for being disrespectful. But I don't remember anything about the white guy. And he died last week.

I had no idea that Austrailan Peter Norman knew what Smith and Carlos were up to. I had no idea that he wore a human rights badge in solidarity with the two black Americans. And even reading the local paper which pointed out that Norman was "a physical education teacher" I would not have learned that he paid a real price for standing up there and supporting their protest. He was blackballed from the Sydney Olympics. He was left to be a P.E. teacher and he didn't complain about it. And Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral. The three had been friends ever since that day. Carlos's kids called him "Uncle Pete." There's something damn beautiful about that white guy. I'm going to make sure that a few more folks remember him.