Editor's Note
This Issue
Back Issues
Contact Us





A Proposition
Before the Apocalypse


Things are changing here in America. We’ve all heard that by now. Sure, you’ve seen flags taped to car antennas and innumerable yellow ribbon magnets affixed to their backends, and heard about people, not neighbors, thankfully, who proudly proclaim, just like in High School, that Springsteen is The Boss, and that there’s nothing that a good carpet bombing can’t fix ASAP. But is that really it? What we haven’t heard is what, or how, things are, in fact, different. Besides the potential of lurking death if you so much as venture outside your house, I mean. Well, my friends and dearest devoted readers, it’s a good thing that I’m willing, for you, to come out of short-humourist retirement and offer to answer some questions, again, as always, for you.

Why me, you ask? Who else, I ask, leaving out any question mark as a sign of the confidence I feel you feel in me. You, who know me so well, recognize my unique qualifications, as the kind of guy who may or may not be quite all there (or here), to speak authoritatively in times such as these, times of frontiers, times of borders, where all where and when is in flux. Qualified I may be, but let me qualify this by pointing out that it was Bishop Odo, not Deep Space 9 shape-shifter Odo, who could be counted on to crack Norman heads with his club in the last successful invasion of Britain before that of the Pakistanis and West Indians, who succeeded, gloriously, where both Napoleon and Hitler failed, as perhaps Mr. Buchanan, once the Great White (a liberal concession for a feisty Irishman) Hope, has failed to document. That is a disclaimer designed for the literally-minded among you. Yes, they do exist, as do the Irish, and could even be, regretfully, on your email address books. Hobbits would be much more interesting but are, alas, only computer generations.

It is the third paragraph. You, my dearest devoted friends and readers, are about to hit the delete button. You cannot hide this desire from me. Delete you may, but consider the risk. These are dangerous times (well, not really for people like us, yet you may find it in yourselves to grant the conceit) and dangerous times demand a bold and prophetic vision. Are you going to get such a vision from your trust-funded, pot-smoking, hippie roommates? Are you aware that we stand together on the cusp of a new millennium?

Are you listening?

I think that you aren’t paying attention, sometimes. My editor blames the author’s prolixity and overuse of the first-person. Can’t we get away from this blame game, I beg?

And my attempt to speak to you is just another sign of my willingness to give to you, and of how much you take from me, all of it irreplaceable, yet freely offered, ultimately to be squandered (by you, not me) in flesh-potted charnel houses of a remarkably wide, and somehow disappointingly and predictably inert, variety.

Forgive me as I sob into my handkerchief, and go outside to find one of the neighbor’s cats to kick. This is a time of trial (Please forgive, for the sake of our mistress Art, who kneels before us, mouth welcomingly agape, the egregious stupidity of this statement and those which follow). So what’s new? It’s always a time of trial. We all constantly find ourselves, in quiet moments of reflection, as jury, judge, defendant, prosecutor, defender, and executioner of the self and its foundational delusions. Free at last of the poisonous external suggestions of drugs and psychiatrists, and thinking clearly. Every moment of existence is a trial, not to be judged in locally determined semantic legal terms, but in the uncodified and inexpressible intuitive terms of a morality slightly more universal than that offered in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, though only slightly, since that’s a pretty good paper which we should all get in the habit of reading more regularly.

That is, if we’re fair, and I know you, at least, are. How do I know? I don’t, not really. Just trying to call your bluff.

We aren’t capable of Reason at times like that, when we are lying paralyzed and helpless in a hypogogic state, unless we realize that is at these times that we are, in fact, the most reasonable. What good is what they term Reason, anyway? It’s nothing more than a delusional construct, a hangover from the Enlightenment, so called, as pertinent today as a powdered 18th century wig or a whalebone corset, becoming as both may be for young men and women alike. The reasonableness I’m talking about does not reside in taxonomically determined certainties derived from false prophets, such as Linnaeus or Aristotle, who concealed themselves under a cloak of invisibility they labeled philosophy or, worse yet, science.

No, let’s forget about those guys.

Worse are the whorish scientists of the social, who wrap anecdotes in the flaky pastry of the quantitative revolution, topped with the sauces of increasingly complex statistical models. The presentation may be attractive, but duck basted in espresso and Grand Marnier will still give you the runs, leaving you drained and in need of the liquids and nutrients which you expel so noisily and forcefully, thanks to the tasty feast which you, in your innocence of digestive results, gluttonously consumed and purchased.
Are you still with me? I doubt it.

You are thoroughly and politely disgusted. I hope that you have ordered a subscription to the Washington Post (its article on the so-called “Jersey Barrier” was a sparkling semi-precious gem, perhaps the equivalent of a garnet, in the charm bracelet of near-excellence which was last Sunday’s edition). You think that nothing has changed as you sit in your Downtown loft, only reading this up to this point because ‘Andy’ published it (Thanks, Andy, you remain master of the elegance of boiled wool) and you’ve gotten into the habit of moving your eyes from left to right, then very quickly from right to left, then more slowly from left to right once more. Unless you aren’t a gentile. Or unless we aren’t anyplace but Utah, where most of us most likely are gentiles, and, as in all promised lands, including Downtown, words don’t matter. Nor actions, although the American harem remains an attractive, though foregone, example of an attempt to establish an earthly vision of the Platonic ideal, regrettably sans boys, upon the smelly salt pans of the otherwise unappealing milieu that is the rest of this unfortunate country. What matters, and you’ll have to trust me on this, is just faith. That’s what make NYC and Utah so great. Both the Promised Land, although one is, literally, and the other is, too, blessing all in between, from east to west, in their divine embrace, creating a great land united against the great enemy of the Pacific rim, the volcano and its sempiternally seductive ally, Hollywood.

Do we remember? Can we remember? You and I are revolted by this sort of provincial, flag-waving, heterosexual, monogamous roadblock. We feel that we must be waved through all obstacles since we are driving imported automobiles and have so very many important things to do, now and forever. That’s the sort of thing that God and his economic ministers understand.


Yes, and we haven’t been pulled over for years.

No, of course not. A mistake. You are not the sort who keeps a club or a machete under your seat as a matter of course. You do not own a gun, or think much of those who do. Here’s your license and registration, with apologies.

We have reached a moment of crisis in the tedious narrative of inherited expectations. If a sympathetic character had been introduced earlier, perhaps a grandmother, an unbent survivor of decades of patriarchal imperialistic plots to strangle her unique individuality, I would be forced to kill her off right about now. I wouldn’t want to do this. You would demand that I do so. You demand this sort of sacrifice, ritually determined, as a sign of your contemporary sensibility and its garrote of breederish fidelity. You always do, despite your claims that you are more advanced than those who engaged in the blood rituals of old. Or more capable of consumer discrimination than the average reader of a serially-published 19th century novel, or of a comic book.. The bad ones, I mean, not the good sort, like the ones featuring Brock, for example, who lived in what appeared from the outside to be a refrigerator box but, upon the granting of the viewer’s entry, revealed a mutating vision of splendorific liveability which, in execution, still defies the visions of the Feng Shui-ed professionals who can forget that all a person wants is a suspended bowl containing a Siamese fighting fish and a girl handing over selections from a cheese plate while she pees on you.

But if a sacrifice must be offered, if a scapegoat must be found (your choice, not mine), let it be the temporary prejudice for numerically-based Reason and its caste of self-appointed interpreters.

Doesn’t that sound reasonable?

You demur. You hesitate and mumble when actually presented with a good deal. It’s unbelievable, really. I’m going out of my way, you know. This typing gets in the way of useful activities, like tying flies. And yet, and here’s the rub, the burr beneath the saddle, the flaw in the fly-line, the flat tire in The Bronx on the way to a weekend on the Cape, you still might choose not to buy a decent horse at a decent price because you haven’t seen somebody jump it over a tiny puddle.

The offer still stands anyway.



Editor's NoteThis IssueBack IssuesContributorsContact Us