How Many Hellfire Air-to-Surface Missiles Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?
"I’d like to cover a jumbo jet with the Red Hand of Ulster." Zoe Salmon, the BBC's latest Blue Peter presenter.
It's only just begun, this Year of Living Offensively. Ms Salmon caused an upset with the above statement, one which reached some ears as a correlative to Peter Purves cavorting across the studio in a hovercraft covered in swastikas.
I tried to think of the most offensive thing someone could say to me and it was probably nothing. Not that I don't hold anything sacred, or enjoy peace to knit on the underground (it's metrosexual), but I generally sense that I live in a liberal, inclusive atmosphere where a profanity illuminates the profaner more than tramping muddy boots across a virgin territory we hold dear but, more importantly, I sense that Other People probably realise that. It's about numbers. Weight. I don't have to take to a temple for sanctuary, only to find it even more dangerous there, as happens in Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's play 'Behzti' or become the wrong shade of our colour in certain police stations or face a liberating force who can't tell a Salati Sunni from a hole in the ground and like to fashion plenty of the latter just to be on the safe side.
Yet, just as the Union Jack has had attempts to reclaim what it represents from C18 in all but a few dusty circles, there seem no reasons why the Red Hand should not follow suit. Where unity itself suggests the exclusion of Others, unity itself suggests that it might be a matter of the Right. The Right in nature and in personality. Given the near fifty fifty split in the US elections, it's not as mad as all that to suggest that political outlook in the West has become a binary, personality thing. Business or heart? Which do we want to wear up front? It's the same ten bob bit, so toss for it.
In the liberal arts world, offense is about location location (theatre is nowhereland but the cathode? People can see that stuff, other people can hear it!) and who is the tarnishable molar unit we wish to protect? Kids, nans, people from Burnley? I'd say inner prudes are a figment and a wish, for we know kids can be killers and grans can be man-daffy. Where is the heart, the temple to protect?
Sacred. "June 1st 1922. When I was a younger man, I felt like I was sitting inside myself. I hated the sense that I seemed to have no fixture of personality. With serious people, I could talk seriously. With the foolish, I joked around. I used to see it as my weakness. Heck, I used to curse myself for it, this softness. Now I think I might have been a better class of cut glass, and can happily turn an angle and find a plane for any man."
The Kilwaughter Knights Lodge, Oklahoma. 1922.
Brother Dixon (looking through the window, removing his pipe): Where in Billy Dick's middin is the Grand Titan?
Brother McAfee (adjusting the radio ..fzzzz... ): Mm? The store. Matches.
..fzzzz... 'A sort of puritanism in reverse.'
I don't think Malcolm Muggeridge would have found even this to say about Jerry Springer The Opera. A sort of King Solomon in reverse, no mother wanted this homely behometh - puritan Christians slammed it because that's what they do, and liberals knew it was B to the A to the D. The fatties, wolf-marrying farmhands, middlesex angries and neo-Nazi adult babies rocked and rolled like scattered pawns, reduced to cartoon planes and angles of freakery, neutered and unoffensive for that reason. They mouthed, and chorus shot them back full of 'No, Fuck YOU's. They had a nowhere power.
F to the U to the C to the K. Derek Jarman lambasted Gilbert and George for their use of the four lettered, claiming it was not 'transgressive' at all, but the sound of our conservative elements frustrated: city workers grinding and milling an existential pain till it's visible on a Friday headbend behind the Firkin, or a spiralling Chav spraying a Cristalnacht of clutch discs, gearbox bearings and half his mates across a carpark. 'Fuck' he claimed, would not bring anyone anywhere any further towards guts, fun or freedom. 'Cunt', he explained, was for babies. Others have objected to hip hop's use of 'motherfucker', the MC5 did it years ago.
The issue is of a listener actually noticing, for I can honestly say I don't even notice swearing in song, or art, so often have I heard it. The former question - is it transgressive - is tied to that, for shifting the touch line in a taboo depends on my ears as much as your mouth, on our times and moral barometer. The moral machine doesn't suffer, it works by breaking down and repairing, and 'Fuck' has become the sound of that snap. Flavourless more than tasteless, just a floating fold of free market intensity.
JSTO isn't funny, nothing is flexed that hasn't snapped in the first minute. I ran out of it when I saw it. I think some of the audience were secretly pleased that someone was offended and I think Jerry, like a king piece walking squares around this chaos, thought I was about to vault onto the stage some transgender hands-on, but I was feeling ill and that had no connection with the content.
Were any shooting ducks worth a pop in the Soft Target range? By a nose: Christians, who don't burgle you and don't mug you, yet have often come under a kind of mid-range sixth form attack because warmongers have mongered in their clothes. History may even paint Iraq a religious crusade, for under everything, the mistrust is, at core, religious (although Jesus stands, if he stands for anything, as the opposite of pre-emptive, and if we can't wait before not turning the other cheek it's pure Sunday Best ranch dressing and racial hooplah). Non-starters: 'Trailer trash'. Why foodstamp-handlers go schizoid and peck each other in coops when they could read a book and tool up wasn't explored. All we learned was that it was fun to goad them with fame in a lens. The people who find Jez a little sacred (half just pleased to see themselves, half to be on a safer rung above the antics, in the same jeans and without 'BABYCAKES' in diamante buckshot across the derriere) stood without a spokesman, and didn't protest or wish to.
..fzzzz... Brother Dixon (still at the window): Looks like rain.
Brother McAfee (standing): Noo. Don't give me that. I can't fit this in any other time. Tomorrow I got Clyde's school play. Then it's Mae's Jim's wedding. Goddamn.
Brother Dixon (ignoring him): Nigra's off the row at midnight. He's laughing. Soon he'll have his feet up, a fat Cuban and laughing. Laughing.
Why Couldn't The Abu Ghraib Detainee Cross The Road?
Henry Charles Albert David, HeWolf Of The 'Hoheitsabzeichen' (© Google). And? He's only being retro. That said, there is a certain kind of sensitive teenager who enjoys giving you a charicature of inward-looking relatives. 'Coons' they tut softly for shock value, an in-house in-joke amongst the knowing and forgiving, or 'Catholics!' they slur in the mock brogue of their country uncle. Suddenly (I remember it well), the wind changed, they needed a shave and that charicature of theirs suddenly stuck - somehow they were the ogre they were pretending to be. And it proved not to be satire at all, but rehearsal.
How it might be well buff to be? Offense must be born of the grudge, and half of me wants the Princes to go daffy; like anyone in a form of prison they deserve to, and like anyone with a grudge they are not allowed to address or express they inevitably will. But unlike the rest of us, only they can decide if a public gaze, royalty and the modern age go hand in glove, for nothing other than their own sanity, security, and that of their own. 'Find what works for you.' A life coach mantra. And if that genuinely is innocence, anonymity and a long gone mother's-arms of trust, life-coachy humane rights deserve the ability to slip from the shutter-eyed and dead-end critical bed any time they find the fortitude to do so, abdicate their mind, curtains back and McFly away.
Secure. "June 2nd 1922. There's a good sadness to the silver of the moon, it places us on the ground, and takes us from our rooms."
Or just a joke. You might have known a few bad humour circles, often men-only spines off open plans or side projects, where the daily outdoing leads you to bond (bond what?) with jokes about spacks on a good day, this year's Jamie Bulger the next. Anything goes and the toughest, being the sicker, survives. A world-creation, an armour of holes, holes of coldness, against the real world's unspoken and worse worse game, where the grind is where we must shut down and never fly, from the windows of sweatshops where no-one stands up to shout 'This is wank' or a building site glance that says 'I don't know what the real game is, but I wish someone would ask me to play.' And just as 'The Sun' has the stance of a bovver boy but the curtain-flickering night watch of a nan dropping her dunked shortbread, puritans and offenders are heads and tails of the same ten bob. Pointing the amputation elsewhere, essentially they just need something to talk about. Essentially, they just feel a need to bond. But, crucially, they don't know who they are. So enter Sandman, lifting us back through lonely homestead gates for woody words with the true elders and a Round Three mouthwash or towel down from a sort of Dr Dre in reverse. Back off an' wait, kid. Let him dance himself a stick, then knock him outta tha fuggin box for me. Here, difference is just another reminder that we might be just a multiplicity of code, where signposts point to other signposts, and we'll fancy dress like we can hogtie and haystack them into one true voice. In all our swastika bubbles we are trying to free our desires, through the armour of cold holes, like a mirror to the forests of perception.
Yo Defense Contractor Is So Fat. When He Was Born? The Hospital Got Stretch Marks
Planet McCririck. As adult babies go, the Booby man might be king. His arrogance was a cloak for his insecurity and both were a cloak for his laziness. The spongiest targets his stoney gaze fell upon got it and I fear that if I was in the household he'd have been face-first in the lav on day one. Side-office and spine Harrow made him the man he is, and if he has never been remotely moved to remake himself, why stop a successful form of growth?
They say that cynicism is often a subtle plea for filiation. Side with me on this, it will ask. But what is soft offense but island-making, Kilroy-Sulking. Kings are Kings in that they stand alone. It's pulling together the map-scattered, a man covering every corner of the moral forest floor is suddenly a molar unit again, united in the focus of unease, in the borrowed cloak of his own fearmaker. His politics reeks of his personality and a country uncle superego, a mirror crack'd.
Scared. "June 3rd 1922. Warden James gave us copies of the Register from last week. Augustus trapped a roach under the soap yesterday, I discovered. When his snoring ebbs I catch my breath, then it returns with an inhale sharp as a horsewhip, and an exhale soft and slow as his morning apology."
No-one talks about the millenium any more, the Mondo 2000 fervour has dissipated, mainly upon realising that a wide-eyed child ripe for a world of major possibilities has been born a mite special and then some. A Granny Magnet fit only for the bucket. 'Is this some kind of a joke?' - the only possible reaction to the anti-Christian threats to high tackle Iran on the basis of satellite snaps of a bulldozer and a weeeerd hunch. How personal paranoia rises through the group and into politics (the Tory's main thrust at the next election is jizz-of-the-earth crowd pleaser immigration) is timeless tramp through the forests of phantom F to the E to the A to the R. The fear factory is our temple. Let's pray.
Kilwaughter Prison Gates. June 4th 1922. Midnight.
The Grand Titan (shouting, foot to the truck tailgate): Today you play jazz, tomorrow you betray your country!
Brother McAfee: Step outside, son. Bring your trombone and come on, now.
June 4th 1922.
Dear Mrs Peterbilt
You and I have never met, nor have we corresponded. I was told that you wished to be let be. I hope that this letter will not reopen a wound. Please understand that I have been writing it in my head for what feels like half a lifetime.
If God was Good Intentions, you would have forgotten my name. But barely a day ends when I don't ask him to bless Mrs Peterbilt and the family. Sometimes these prayers just trip off the tongue, a thing that's done, a daily duty, but sometimes I mean what I say so hard no man could ever understand. The main thing is that I have carried your name with me all this time. I have guessed at your life and your feelings, and I have guessed at who you are and where you are and how your days end. This is my last summer here and, by the time these words reach you, like the sorrowful songs say, I shall be gone.
I have had time to ruminate, go half past crazy and back again, and I will arrive at the chair safe in the knowledge that I did what I did but it was not in malice. A lot went on between people who barely knew one another but I am convinced that did not intend to kill your husband.
I ask your forgiveness. Very few men have the words to do that justice, they could take a poet and poets check out fast in Kilwaughter Prison. I have asked myself if forgiveness is its own selfishness, in a sense. I'd be a liar if I said that I don't think it is. And I'd be a liar if I thought it would unwrite either one of our stories. But, there is me and there is you and there is a world around us which we can only but try to steer from the mistakes we make.
Since imprisonment I know less and less about that world, the world outside these walls. It is not my place now and I wouldn't fit well there. I do know some things. When we are young we see the world a good and magical place. Then we notice wickedness in corners. As we grow older we witness more wickedness, and eventually, I believe, an unspoken fear starts to strike us dumb, for it is a fear that the whole damn tapdance could be all shades and flavours of corruption, and that those bright spots of joy where good children begin their days might in fact be the truly rare corners. If I have contributed to you and the family having to sit with this notion, my soul, the place we are all Gods own, begs for forgiveness.
Perhaps I have no right to, but I have found a friend in myself. For that I am grateful, for I truly believe that many never take the time to reach the other. How many know themselves, their spouse, offspring, kin and neighbor? Most, I suspect, are caught up in their own high-mindedness and never live with a true charity of heart. We're busy working hard for leisure time, fighting for peace and wondering why we pour our prayers to the ditch, and not the divine ear.
Gong and mad bourbon killed your husband. It lead the way and I followed. And although I would have denied it to you until recently, in many senses I feel that have followed my entire life. I cannot entirely explain myself there, and perhaps I still refuse to face how sustained this lack of charity has been across my waking hours, not just with alcohol and drugs and freewheelin, but also in my resolve and in my sense of fitness for the duties of life and the scorn my own failings cast back at those same duties. No child dreams of the life I lived. But, failed man or no, I confess that I anticipate the Lord's embrace like a child keen for Christmas.
Mrs Peterbilt, it is Lights Out in five and tonight I give this letter to a cellmate with midnight clemency. He has been asked to find you, but to wait till I am There before giving it to you. I believe that last requests and last words are also published on the church noticeboard (some denominations) along with reports, for those with an interest to take heed from. In a fear that he fails to find you, I take a carbon copy for the chair.
Finally his own, and forever yours
Karl 'Fred' Harvey."