"Curses are like young chickens...." If drunken junior Bush relies on 9-11, why oh why can't I?

Just thought I'd post this here, a piece I wrote and posted on Crapshoot for the New Year January 2002. It looked at what our nation had done in the few months that followed the monstrous events of 9-11-2001.

"Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost."

Robert Southey, Poet Laureate of England, 1810

So it comes to this – most of the patty-cake press poofters have agreed that ignorance is bliss, or, in other words, life was much better before September 11, 2001.

For some of the rest of us, September 11th was the day when the corporate media-fed Americans finally woke up and got a glimpse of what we had been trying to tell them for a long time -- that this was the way of the world -- death, mutilation, loss, suffering. Believe me -- there was no satisfaction or gratification in it. Monday mornings can be rough, even the ones which bring much-needed consciousness. The chickens were flying in...

... one well-to-do lady told me, "Oh I'm so tired of hearing that -- 'the chickens coming home to roost'.. it's such a cliche."

I was polite because I like and admire this person, but it seemed as if she hadn't yet considered what that phrase actually meant and why people who weren't particularly white or well-fixed kept saying it -- it seemed that annoyance and denial had risen up and slammed the door before understanding had a chance to sneak in.

To be fair, since she is a rather accomplished artisan of words, she may have merely been reacting against that annoying habit of picking up and repeating meaningless mass media catch phrases... "It's to die for..." "Yadda yaddahyaddah..." "Talk to the hand..." "We will eliminate all evildoers..." "They hate us for our Freedom..."

Still, there are >B?enough people around who did set up gates of denial rather than allow themselves to understand that phrase that I'll let the example stand. (And wow -- think what will happen when "Eat the Rich" gets its next round of popularity.)

It's easy to be happy and cheerful when you live where most of America was living ... in a shiny, high-speed dream propped up with prescription drugs, high-priced toys, prime-time Friends, media distractions, electronic games, Victoria's Secret catalogues for the boys, stud muffins for the girls, comfort food and $2000 devices to imitate climbing up stairs. And for the truly brain-damaged and vicious -- Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson

And then we find out that people who are ostensibly just minding their own business (like, for example, the people at work in the World Trade Center Towers) get blown up, burned down, killed and wounded every day, only heretofore not in the good old US of A (except at places like abortion clinics, synagogues, McDonald's, schools, playgrounds...) And that's a shock, but there's more -- entertaining the idea that the price of our comforts may actually include that sort of crime, in fact, the getting of those comforts has sometimes insisted on that sort of crime going on in other countries. (Check out the Shell Oil action in Nigeria. Some are calling it genocide.)

The implication is hard to look at -- that each and every one of us who drives a car, watches TV, has heat and food and music CDs and VCRs and computers and running shoes and other luxury items also owns a piece of the action that was being transacted at ground zero -- some sort of suicidal protest by a dozen or so well-to-do Saudi Arabian lads. All of us -- each of us -- own a piece of it, even those of us who didn't yet have DVD and Surround Sound ...

And it was hideous and horrible and wounding to so many more than those in those buildings in New York and Washington, but even worse has been the packaging of September 11th. In the months since that day, the manipulation of our emotions has been obscene.

Most people with an active brain pattern had some human compassion for those people in New York and Washington DC, people who owned no more of the monstrous machine than we did, but just worked a little closer to the gears and pulleys.

Since then, that compassion has been twisted, used, raped, bad-breath'd, buggered, and finagled until we can't even find it any more... used to sell us those running shoes and newspapers. It's been used to sell TV viewers to advertisers and travel plans to TV viewers. Those lost lives are still being used every day as politicians dance on the mass grave to push their hoary old agendas... pay off their back-room sweeties by selling us the tired old fantasy that the rich provide the affluent society for the rest of us, never admitting that it's the rest of us who create enough wealth for the rich to get a free ride.

And because they are maintaining the lie, they're still flinging their fucking chickens here there and everywhere, without an actual thought coming out of that period of stunned silence right after the big event. All they saw was a new opportunity for plunder, and plunder on a blatant scale that would be termed, were it in an historical text book, "sacking the treasury."

Remember? Malcolm X said it right out loud way back then in 1963 but everyone got pissed off because they were upset that Jack Kennedy was killed and they couldn’t accept that some colored man could see exactly what was happening: the chickens were coming home to roost.

Thirty, forty years later -- school yard shootings, mutating viruses, drug-resistant micro-bugs -- stories of hate and fear, bizarre murders, irrational lashings-out, teenagers wearing hip boots and laboratory gloves beating AIDS victims to death while screaming “Faggot!” at them, setting drunks on fire, chasing interracial couples through the parks -- they all seem to be part of that same flock of chickens coming home, every one of them traceable to ideas and attitudes we let fly from our social norms and niceties. All sorts of chickens:

Trail of Tears chickens and My Lai chickens; unindicted co-conspirator chickens and S&L bailout chickens; Wounded Knee and Sand Creek chickens and Personal Seat License chickens at the ball games and Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn chickens.

Squawking disappointment chickens are coming in from car repair ripoffs and all the way back to the Chicago Black Sox scandals, chickens are showing up from those who loved Salvador Allende and those who thought remembering Sandino gave them some dignity and those who thought they’d puke if they had to see one more bunch of vicious insincere presidential candidates posing and flexing their muscles to show how tough they'll be when confronting some poor bastards from the third world, and chickens from college basketball point-shaving scandals and cock-a-doodle-doo’s of despair from the Cuyahoga River on fire. Self-righteous blame-pointing chickens waggling feathered fingers, squawking accusations.

They've been streaming in from all over time and place. Big old rasty chickens with scars and eyepatches are flying all the way in from Dugout Doug MacArthur’s crushing of the Bonus Army in 1932. Little nasty pecking chickens in great noisy swarms of thousands at a time have been flying in from the graves of dead Chinese in the California gold fields. Millions and millions of whining little pissant chickens are coming back from every rush hour and every corporate bottom line downsizing in America.

And all of Colonel Sanders’ chickens are coming.

Schoolyard shootings? Some kid that just couldn’t take any more wedgies -- cluck; some slow kid’s chickens squawking at the teachers’ dirty looks -- cluckity, cluck.

Sacco and Vanzetti's chickens and poor dimwitted Marinus van der Lubbe's lonely Reichstag Fire chicken. George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush's Nazi Bond chickens. George Herbert Walker Bush's use of former SS men as "ethnic consultants" in his presidential campaign chickens ... Iran-Contra coverup chickens, Phoenix Program coverup chickens ... angry little green chickens from ex-Marines who noticed how Lieutenant Pat Robertson made a phone call to daddy and got to stay in Japan getting whores and booze for the brass while the rest of them rode that wave into the swirling toilet of freezing death in Korea.

Nice folk -- white folk -- complain they're terrified to walk on the street, seeing a gaggle of black teenagers in baggy pants and backwards caps every block or so, making aggressive gestures, pointing, laughing, hostile. And if not black youngsters, then raggedy homeless people scaring them by asking for money. And it doesn’t ever seem to occur to them that this is the identical terror that has been forever felt by every black man and woman and every vagrant at every corner where white people stand.

I think it works like this: the chicken-spirits float through the air late at night looking for a home, seeking out all the woofties and flakies who can’t quite hold on to it, burned out or laid off or maybe never even able to start -- and then, like a game of musical chairs, one of them is IT -- the chicken-spirit glides in through his sleeping orifices. In the morning, the loser wakes up, loads his guns and heads for the office looking for someone to blame. Some just kill themselves. Some -- the ones flying a truly erratic orbit -- sometimes make bizarre art. Some just start ticking, waiting for something to set them off.

Some try to redeem something.

Maybe it could have been averted. Probably not, because the world is actually more or less round and what goes around literally comes around, whether it's air pollution or deep resentment. But it's too late for any of that now, so get used to it -- the chick chick chickens are back and we'd all best be getting used to eating that chicken, cause there's a lot of it coming, and it's mmm-mmm good, genuine American home cookin'.

"Oh lord I want to eat it,

eat that chicken, eat that chicken pie...

eat that chicken, Rock boparootie,

eat that chicken, razzamatootie,

eat that chicken, eat that chicken pie..."

Charles Mingus


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