Why the bass player cried that night

Five or six years ago I tried blogging. We lived across the RR track, right next to the RR track, our too picturesque view of the world being the RR track and beyond it the large warehouse of a large dry cleaning establishment into which I never saw a single customer walk, which let the letters of its neon sign evaporate into the ozone one by one before closing up shop, and as part of an old edition of Bigsofa I made a page called Across the RR tracks then decided to convert it to a blog. I had worked up a nice graphic of a RR track and a decent layout. I set up the blog at Blogger. I got up maybe two or three mundane posts with great difficulty as Blogger didn’t like to work for me, and then couldn’t get it to work again, which a number of people were complaining about at the time, that Blogger had completely broken on them or they could only get it to work occasionally. It was then a fairly unreliable service. I tried again for a little while but was uninspired also by the blogging community. Either I didn’t know my way to certain parts or what I was looking for just wasn’t there yet. If there was a progressive political closet I didn’t find it and six years ago there weren’t many doors to knock on. Saying I was unimpressed sounds judgmental when the situation was that the usual subjects weren’t any I felt moved to link to, or follow or comment upon. I see a couple of the same voices out there doing politically-based blogs now but they weren’t blogging politics back then.

Who were the archibloggers in progressive politics?

Two years ago I started thinking of doing MT.

PHP scared me. I worried about a database going down, disintegrating, and losing everything.

Sticking with HTML, I started an online journal for H.o.p. a year ago in a homeschool blog community. A Reason for Being was to record things for H.o.p. we came across on the web and also for me to record things for him from the time that he might want to read about in the future, and if I did it online I knew I’d be less likely to daily complain about the usual warty existence hogs with which many of us think we have unique conversation (some of us do). A Reason for Being was thinking I might connect with progressive, eclectic homeschoolers who homeschooled because they didn’t want their child going through the school hell they’d gone through, didn’t want their child’s mind programmed by the State, and maybe, like me, had a child who would have been at odds with authority from day one (he didn’t get it from me, I didn’t start getting into intentional trouble until I was ten, though I was unintentionally in trouble from the beginning). We weren’t homeschooling for success. H.o.p. does things his own way and will never be in a Spelling Bee. We weren’t homeschooling for religious reasons and I didn’t set up the journal as a blog with a comments feature because the homeschoolers who blogged were usually homeschooling for reasons contrary to my own and I didn’t see any reason for us to be commenting on each other.

Though it was H.o.p.’s journal, set up for recording his favored links and things I thought he might want to read about when he’d grown up (plus it provided a little news for family), it became increasingly a place for me to post about Iraq and Bushdom and the upcoming election. I didn’t post a lot of what I was thinking about because it was H.o.p.’s journal and I didn’t want him clicking a link and ending up viewing atrocities. We talk politics and some about war around H.o.p. but we don’t expose him to certain aspects. Once he glimpsed over my shoulder the Abu-Gharib photo of a man with a bag over his head, standing on a box, his forced position curiously reminiscent of a martyred saint, curious because of the xtian beliefs or background many Americans in Iraq may hold. That invited confusion and mom trying to explain government and thugs not just torturing but intentional dehumainzation. I didn’t want him randomly clicking links on his blog thinking one was going to lead to elephants or sphinxes and landing in the Iraqi Theater of Blood.

I had happily found progressives blogging on the upcoming election and though I knew better than to be hopeful, believing Bush had it in the bag by hook or by black box ballot, I permitted myself optimism. I was excited about the blogs I was reading. The immediacy of them and wealth of well-written commentary. There’s a troll with every bridge and hill, I know, but never mind.

I knew better than to be hopeful about the elections.

Years ago, back when I was young and about as cynical as I am now, I was sitting one night in a Country and Western lounge. I’m not the Country and Western type. My husband is a musician and the C/W gig was a matter of income. The lead singer was a Vietnam war vet who never talked about the Vietnam war. The place was a small dive on the other side of a 24 hour restaurant at a motel where construction workers stayed while working away from home. It was popular in the way C/W lounges with an illuminated disco floor the size of a child’s wading pool and a good band can make and keep a lounge popular even when the toilets are always backing up and flowing over into the restaurant. It was painful but I met also a few interesting people I’d not have met anywhere else.

Anyway, the bass guitarist and husband and I were sitting watching the returns on the Carter/Reagan election (told you this was a while back). We were watching the election returns in this C/W bar where the C/W patrons were, for the greater part, filtering awareness through the sheen of speed and coke and Jack Daniels, and though the television was on and tuned to politics during the band breaks I don’t recollect if anyone else was watching except for me and my husband and the bass player who unabashedly broke down in tears when Reagan won. Hands clutching beer bottle, he disintegrated. Said not a word, just cried. I thought, well, there goes our future. I didn’t know how citizens could be duped into voting for policies that would squander their future, but it had happened and I decided then that elections were a sham and what most people wanted was a Big Daddy Hollywood sham artful smile. They would sooner eat easy lies any day than hard truths. Eat what didn’t challenge. What they wanted was to preserve the suburban status quo, to get back what they could feel slipping away beneath their feet, to cast it in concrete and not blow away like the rest they were dooming in their ethical dustbowl. The bass player cried and I knew I was right, that the future was down the tubes for people like us. Not just four years of it. The long haul.

Five years ago I knew not to be naive but we had two-year-old son who I wanted to impress upon an idea of possible hope and community interest, didn’t want his earliest memories to be of mom being cynical-pessimist, and we took him down to watch us vote. Georgia was a Gone State, already slated for Bush, but our election booth territory was managed by people who even under those harsh greening school cafeteria fluorescent lights looked heart-warmingly god-damned happy to see us there though we were obviously not conservative, they looked so god-damned happy to see H.o.p. there as a toddler student of democracy, they looked so god-damned thrilled that everyone there was taking part in the process and that they could help, they looked like people with faith in weights and balances and the casting of the ballot. They smiled ear-t0-ear and looked so god-damn happy to see us they might’ve even asked for photo ID and I might’ve even complied without thinking twice (photo ID not necessary in Georgia until recently) because they all looked so blissed smiling wide at everyone and because I was in from the sticks not having voted since Reagan first won. As Georgia was Republican-occupied territory, our vote was for Nader, hoping to break out of the two party system. We put our “I’ve voted” sticker on our beaten up van because to us those were our “We voted against Bush” testimonials.

Last fall, I knew not to be naive. I felt the Bush camp would arrange a Bush win one way or another. But I guess because sometimes you’ve got to I also permitted myself hope over Kerry though he too often infuriated me during the debates. Too conservative. But he wasn’t Bush. Bush has a brain so I can’t say that Kerry had one and Bush didn’t. I think I was excited watching the debates because I couldn’t rationally see how anyone out there–anyone–could possibly not be horrified by lying, sneering, contemptuous Bush not even attempting to look like he gave a shit, like he didn’t already have the election wrapped up in a Diebold box. I couldn’t see how anyone wouldn’t be infuriated by Bush meeting them at the lowest common denominator possible. I knew too that people were chowing down Bush wholesale, contusing lies and sneering contempt with manly no-grays-allowed leadership.

Election day came. I was more than ambivalent. We had a sense of imperative-but-lost-mission.

Still, what pre-election provided was a shard of hope. A “maybe in spite of”. Or just another sham that one purchases because living in Philip K. Dick’s “Radio Free Albemuth” kills the spirit. Afterwards? I wasn’t immediately depressed over it. My depression over the situation set in later. What’s to do when there’s nothing to do. When there’s Bush, and the Senate is Republican and the House is Republican and Georgia is Republican through and through and you don’t trust Democrats anyway because they’re mostly voting damn Republican. When you don’t believe in the process also partly because part (small part here, but a part) of your ancestry got rubbed out by America’s so-called from Sea to Shining Sea Freedom Road that hypocritically flung American Indians in the trash because it was part of manifest xtian corporate destiny, the too-bad had-to-do for sake of Freedom’s Empire.

Bah humbug. When others are talking about “loss of freedoms” I’m thinking, yeah, uh-huh, right, think about the fundamental lies that the house is set upon and and think again. But I say it too, “Look at what has been done to our freedoms”, because that’s where I’m at as a twenty-first century citizen. And my thinking has been that America doesn’t stand a chance until it honestly admits the truth of its land/freedom base rather than not excusing by excusing with had-to-be and winner takes all as a matter of might and sleight-of-hand and disappearing ink making right.

I thought what’s the point in blogging. Not in general. Personally. Then I thought, come February, build a podium and climb up on it with the rest of them because it’s not a matter of what’s the point, it’s a matter of not stopping talking or acting, even if no one’s reading or listening, if no one’s talking with or back at you, keep on talking because if one doesn’t then it’s too easy to settle into the losing or winning ethic that Mediagirl was blogging about the other day. Accept that it never and didn’t and never will matter if one speaks, doesn’t matter what one has to say and thus what one’s thoughts are, accept that there’s no point, and then there one is, a purchaser of the ethic that winning is all.

The last thing I want my son growing up without is respect for his voice and his thoughts.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

2 thoughts on “Why the bass player cried that night”

  1. That’s due to me being slow on getting some text up on the pages. Was going to do that then link. And then didn’t get around to doing anything about it at all. Slow. Will tend to it. But thanks alerting me because had it been an uninentional dead link I would want to know.

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