The Baltimore Riots are over. Freddie Gray is still dead, obviously. A half dozen officers have been charged in relation to the killing, but their subsequent convictions remain to be seen. The folks from Baltimore didn’t even give the justice system a chance to fail, like those in Ferguson did, they just assumed it was broken and started throwing rocks.

Hell, why not? After all, rock chucking and fire setting has been the traditional response of minority communities to an equally longstanding police tradition of targeting said communities with violence…and usually getting away with it. This tradition spans a half century at least. Not that cops weren’t killing poor black folk prior to the sixties, but it wasn’t really until the sixties that people began to respond by rioting and looting. Up until this time, somehow, being shot by the police wasn’t the black community’s biggest problem.

imageIn the 1960s, Americans did more rioting than any other decade, four to five times more in fact, than the thirties, when people were as broke and hungry and abused as ever. In 1964, a New York police lieutenant shot and killed a fifteen year old Harlem kid in front of his friends. A shit storm ensued, on the spot, and the rioting crowd swelled to more than 4000. For four days, angry citizens threw rocks, set fires, attacked the police station and, of course, looted stores…all to no avail. The police lieutenant remained in the clear. Irregardless, similar riots occurred that year in Pennsylvania, Chicago and New Jersey, initiating a 51 year old cultural trend which has yet to have any real impact on the problem, but has retained its position as the black community’s go-to response in such matters.

Not that someone, somewhere, consciously plans these actions as a response…like I said…it’s a cultural trend. Riots tend to happen in clusters, at least with regards to cause, and the clusters typically span across a few decades. In the first couple decades of the 1900s, the thing was for a big gang of whites to get together and murder blacks. Racial attacks, like those in Tulsa and Rosewood, left hundreds dead. The other thing was for primarily white union members to violently suppress others’ opportunities for the same contracts. After the 1927 Herrin massacre, when rioting strikers looted gun stores and shot down a bunch of black strike breakers in cold blood, the focus of labor riots shifted to workers rights for a decade or so. Racial riots shifted in nature as well, decreasing in levels of violence and intensity, and for the first time, minority groups became the willing participants of melees like the Zoot Suit Riots, instead of the victims they had been in the past. Things then quieted in the fifties…the calm before the storm.

The sixties were indeed a perfect storm, a convergence of unrest so varied that the parties involved fed off one another and mustered a collective momentum not seen since the American Revolution. “There was madness in every direction,” wrote Hunter Thompson, “you could strike sparks anywhere.” For some reason, in the 1960s, a lot of Americans decided that they deserved to be treated equally and they took it to the fucking streets. If the blacks were rioting about being victimized by white cops, why shouldn’t drag queens riot too? After all, by the sixties, a black guy at least had a perceived right to walk down a sidewalk without being arrested simply for being black.

imageNot so for drag queens. While homosexuality in general was frowned upon and in fact legally punishable, it was sometimes hard to prove. Crossdressing, on the other hand, was also illegal and very easy to prove. During a customary raid on a gay bar, “suspicious ladies” would be led into the restroom by a female officer who would check for penises. Offenders would then be arrested. I’m not kidding…that’s the power of the American tax dollar as hard at work as ever…Stop-and-Frisk meets TSA. So on one particularly balmy 1969 New York night, the patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, decided to fight back.

After refusing to consent to a penis search, several people were arrested. As they were being led to police cars, a crowd gathered outside. Witnesses reported an arrestee pleading for bystanders to intervene. And then, after suggesting that the cops be paid off on the spot, someone threw a penny. And then another. And another. And then a rock. And then it was on. A hailstorm of foreign objects rained down on the police officers, who were forced back inside the bar for their own safety…or driven into the bar like cattle…take your pick. Outside, a surge of entitled gay rage spread throughout the crowd. Participants have expressed a collective feeling of having had enough. Things had to change, and it all had to start somewhere.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the mob had gotten to the officers cornered in the bar…your guess is as good as mine. Not that they didn’t try, mind you. Multiple accounts indicate one or more alleged drag queens ripping a parking meter out of the sidewalk and then using it, siege style, as a battering ram against the buildings entrance. Unsuccessful, they attempted another classic siege strategy, setting the building on fire. Remember, these weren’t Roman centurions. Or common street thugs. These were dudes in dresses with size twelve star-spangled pumps who’d probably never hurt anyone before in their entire lives.

And they beat the shit out of those cops. Another witness recollected a drag queen straddling a prone policeman, cowgirl style, while (s)he thrashed him mercilessly with with one of those big assed shoes. And it wasn’t just the cross dressers bashing white devil cops with their purses…though the imagery is almost too awesome not to dwell on…but the vast majority of New York’s gay community. Just as the police eventually managed to summon assistance, home phones all over Greenwich Village rung off the hook.

imageShit got wild. The city had to send in their tactical riot squad to extract the officers trapped inside the Stonewall. The gays rallied enough reinforcements to sustain a full length Broadway style kick line while still managing to overturn cars, light fires and chuck rocks. I have yet to figure out what could possibly be contained within a transvestite’s purse to make it heavy enough to smash a police cruiser’s windshield.

By sunup on Saturday, the violence had stopped and the crowds had dispersed. But it didn’t last. Saturday night’s rioting was described by some as being even more intense and violent than Friday’s, although accounts vary. Nighttime clashes with police continued through the middle of the next week, and then the fighting was over. The gays went back to their lives and the police went back to oppressing them. It wasn’t long before Inspector Seymore Pine was raiding gay bars again, despite the fact he’d barely escaped the Stonewall Inn alive.

But while laws hadn’t changed, attitudes had. The gay community found that in order to riot about their right to be gay, they had to come out of the closet into the light of police cruisers and paddy wagons set ablaze. I’m a clinical sociopath – I know what masks and closets feel like – and I also know how liberating it feels to let your nature shine in the bright light of a fire you intentionally set. It feels fucking good. And for the gays, it took, so as the fires went out and the day broke, they discovered the sun feels even better.

New York City saw it’s first gay publications and the community began to associate on another level, that of activism. The conflagrations, it seemed, hadn’t gone out entirely, but had activated secondary fires in the hearts and minds of the homosexual collective. By the next June, they organized a march in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots. News had spread, it seemed, as had the metaphorical flames, and marches were held in a number of U.S. cities. It’s 2015, and this month, they’ll be marching again. Betcha didn’t know that’s where Pride parades came from, did you?

The black community just had their latest parade as well. It was in Baltimore this time, but instead of commemorating the beginning of a rather successful movement, or even the previous riots in Baltimore, it was just the same old noise. From Harlem to Watts, L.A. In 1992, Ferguson, Baltimore…nothing changes but the names. The significance of the community’s rage against the institution, however justified, is ultimately lost in the lawlessness that inevitably takes control, so much so that when Bill O’Reilly pointed out how dem colored folk need to do some policing of themselves, he kind of had a point.

imageThe gays understood this. For them, Stonewall was nothing more than a rallying point, a catalyst that drew the community together and brought the issues out into the light. When the fires went out and the sun rose, they began to organize, and then to move forward. I dare say that the effectiveness of the gay rights movement has far surpassed that of the civil rights movement. A big part of this, I think, is a level of cohesiveness that the black community has never attained. Close they’ve come, but never enough so for a cigar.

I’ve always framed the civil rights movement through the Martin vs. Malcolm paradigm…that is…non-violent resistance vs. resistance by any means necessary. Both have their place, both are useful, even necessary…but they can’t work independently of one another. Non-violence means nothing if one has never experienced violence just as violence itself loses significance when there is no foreseeable hope of peace. Resistance is a school of thought unto itself and in order to be successful it must be inclusive of all approaches. The very notion of a Martin vs. Malcolm paradigm demonstrates an internal conflict which dooms the movement from its inception and therein lies the lack of cohesiveness.

Before Stonewall, the gay rights movement was, well, still in the closet. Associations like Mattachine and the Daughters of Bilitis were established in the fifties and advocated for the rights of gays, but encouraged members to assimilate into straight society. Their strategy was to gain ground by convincing the mass culture that they were no different. A Mattachine march on the White House went unnoticed, in fact, because it was just a dozen or so dudes in suits walking up and down the sidewalk. A couple of years after Stonewall, there were over a thousand, and everyone noticed them.

Frank Kameny, the MLK of the gay rights movement, was critical of the Stonewall riots, as well as the sudden outing and publicization afterward. He later regretted his initial opinion, however, when he realized that even with his twenty years of work, it wasn’t until after Stonewall that he was able to garner the necessary public support to be the first openly gay candidate on a Congressional ballot. Kameny and the old schoolers had indeed assimilated, but it was not within the culture which they had expected. It suddenly became apparent that they didn’t have nearly as much in common with mainstream white America as they did with a handful of rock chunking transvestites.

For the last century and a half, black people have faced the same dilemma, at least with regards to their identity and position within America’s social food chain. The Martins preach assimilation and love while the Malcolms demand resistance against oppression. Both sides pretend to want to understand one another and work together…but ultimately, the push and pull they exert prevents any sort of unified black identity from ever really emerging. And identity is what it’s really all about, in the end.

“Ya wanna know how we screwed up in the beginning,” asked hip hop activist KRS-ONE in his song Higher Level. “We accepted our oppressor’s religion.”

It’s an excellent point. Why in the world, I wonder, would a people with a history of being enslaved subscribe to the very religion used to morally justify the wrongs inflicted upon them? When an imprisoned Paul met a runaway slave names Onesimus, he instructed the man to return to his master. When he decided this didn’t make him a big enough asshole, he wrote his Letter to the Ephesians, wherein chapter 6 admonishes slaves to be obedient to their masters as to their Lord Jesus Christ. Really now, Paul, really now.

So for me, with an outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to take a guy like Martin Luther King seriously. It’s even harder to stomach Baltimore mega church pastor Jamal Bryant, who, throughout the Ferguson and Baltimore protests, urged the community to calm down, drop the stones, stop setting fires and looting items that corporate white insurance companies would ultimately be paying for…to settle down and be, well, good ol’ friendly American negroes.

How would Stonewall have turned out if that one drag queen suddenly dropped the parking meter and proclaimed: “Settle down boys and girls, and remember that these policemen have rights too…now get on home now…and let these nice boys go back to institutionally molesting our entire culture!”

See what I mean?

imageSo by the time the Baltimore riots were winding down, the black community was getting two barrels of advice to settle down and straighten up. Besides Bryant’s calls for nonviolent protest and peace, local gang leaders joined in as well, yep, the same guys who make the cops trigger happy and scared to begin with. The big question is, should the black community be listening to either party? Are religious leaders who propagate the same religion used to justify slavery thinking in terms of what is best for the people? Something tells me that Jamal Bryant, in his casual business attire, his downhome southern preacher affect and his 7500 strong flock of income producing sheep, has very little in common with those marginalized and murdered by the police culture. And as for the gang leaders, they are at least as bad, if not worse, than the nightstick toting police who beat their asses. Neither non-violent passive resistance, nor the white Jesus, nor black tar heroin will correct what is wrong.

But you can’t tell that shit to America, black or white. Americans are too busy singing praises of Baltimore’s own dragon lady and house nigga extraordinaire, Toya Graham. Graham claimed international fame after attacking her brick lobbing 16 year old son in front of news cameras. I’m sure you’ve seen it…it’s all over youtube. What really struck me was the public’s reaction, as well as that of local government, which was overwhelmingly positive. In any other context, a mother shown on live TV to be striking her teenaged son on or around his head while screaming profanity at him would be labeled a child abuser and likely prosecuted. It suddenly becomes acceptable however, and even praiseworthy in this situation. But the kid wasn’t looting or stealing or selling drugs or even back talking his mom…he was chunking rocks with his friends, all in support of one particular friend whom he claimed had been beaten by policemen.

imageOf course, Graham was praised by everyone from those old wrinkled bags on the View to Baltimore’s own police commissioner. “Good job Toya,” they all seem to say. “Way to use violence to instill the values of assimilation, submission and tolerance of abuse into the next generation.” Her pastor, none other than the aforementioned Jamal Bryant, also spoke warmly of her actions, as did the ghost of MLK.

The ghost of another “Milk,” on the other hand, probably sees it a little differently. Harvey Milk (first openly gay politician in office…and the first of such to be assassinated…and the second cause of the second series of flamboyantly gay riots) came out of the Stonewall era. He wasn’t militant or violent and he wasn’t nationalistically homosexual. What he was, was part of a very small demographic of American people who decided they weren’t going to fucking take it in the ass anymore, metaphorically speaking at least.

This demographic, though small, included a wide range of differences…from men who like men, to women who like women, to drag queens and whatever the hell you call women with mustaches and workboots, pretty much everything 1969 America regarded as sexually deviant, except perhaps the pedophiles and dudes who like to screw wet tree stumps. The diversity of the movement didn’t stop there either; differences based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomics, the same shit we all argue about-these differences were deemed secondary and sidelined in favor of the larger picture. And to show for it, they have a strong movement that has only gained in momentum. And they also have the Pride parades, their equivalent of the American Independence Day.

It’s hard to say if that is a reality the black community will ever be able to attain, but my magic eight ball says they won’t. The situation has been as it is for too long and the people involved, sadly, are trapped-unable to stop snapping at the bait. A free meal from a burning CVS is no different from the false hope offered by Jamal Bryant and his hoes and his precious white Jesus…one way tickets on a train with no real destination in sight, that is, save the mirage of equality and the fallacious notion that our country is built upon it.

And ain’t that just the awful, bloody truth of it all?

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“So I made up the whole crucifixion thing…sorry…but still, when you piss off this many weird cat ladies, it’s only a matter of time before they radicalize and come after you…”

For about a week now, I’ve been traveling with an automatic rifle in the front seat of my truck. At dawn and dusk, I find myself cruising the back roads of my neighborhood, searching, stalking, hunting. The beast doesn’t know I’m gunning for him…or maybe he does…maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find him. Or maybe I’m just no good at hunting tomcats.

imageI ought to be, that’s for sure. In the southern Appalachian mountains, far from stop lights, street lights, neon lights, any light beyond God’s great blanket of stars, shooting tomcats is somewhat of a tradition and it stretches back several generations, at least. My dad tells stories of growing up in the 1950s, riding around in the backs of pick up trucks, blasting stray tomcats to pieces with shotguns and .22 rifles. Pops is in his mid sixties now, a little worse for the wear, but still drilling stray male cats like it’s his fucking job.

It’s because it is and, in a way, always has been. In his youth, those heavily armed boys in trucks collected bounties for the cats they killed. Back in those days, see, bird hunting was the hot shit activity in these parts and the uniqueness of a man’s bird gun coupled with the prowess and intelligence of his dogs was a big part of how dudes back then measured off against one another. Of course, you had to have birds to shoot, so collectives of hunters went to great expense to propagate the existence of game birds, particularly quail and grouse, in the region. The thing about game birds is that they are ground nesters, the easiest pickens of all for a lazy assed tomcat, and stray cats were wreaking havoc on the baby birds. Hence the bounty on feral tomcats.

These days, Pops doesn’t bird hunt. We both have really awesome bird guns and the bird dog who lives with me is so damned smart we assign him chores, but no one shoots birds anymore. We do, however, still shoot feral tomcats. Pops just got one last week, as a matter of fact. He claims he nails a couple per month, and I don’t doubt it, but I don’t think these cats are as feral as they used to be, though their impact and behavior aren’t really affected by whether or not they have permanent homes. Free roaming male cats are nuisances…they always have been…and they always will be.

My folks have three barns and a little over a dozen horses. Having horses means hay and feed, which is to say my parents maintain a small army of female cats who help keep them from being overrun by rodents. They, and anyone who employs cats will tell you, to hire females because they stay close to home and hunt much more than the males do. At any given time, they employ between eight and twelve cats for this purpose, and employed is exactly what they are. Their cats have names, health plans, room and board. In exchange, they kill the fuck out of some rats. Part of their health plan, oddly enough, includes the armed protection of a retired Army Ranger when stray tomcats wander in and attack them.

Yes, that’s a real thing. And it’s fucking brutal.

A loose tomcat, feral or not, may range and, in fact, claim several square miles as its territory. Tomcat behaviors, on these prowls, more often than not include vicious attacks toward smaller cats. Throughout the spring, we’ve been waking in the night to the sounds of cat fighting outside. The first few times, it was easy enough to release the hounds into the night, to break up the cat fight and then return. Everyone goes back to sleep. Three months later, the dogs are staying in and I’m going out, at three a.m., in boxers and boots and eight rapid fire rounds of turkey shot, scanning a Surefire light for the trespassing brute but finding nothing.

Our cat, Bunny, a five pound calico female found in the street as a kitten, has enough bald spots and scratches and bites that she doesn’t really even want to be outside at night anymore. Instead of killing mice and rats and moles in her own yard, Bunny is spending her nights sleeping on her spot on the bookshelf, where it’s safe. And I don’t blame her. The fact is, I don’t really like being in the yard either. Besides brutalizing smaller cats, tomcats tend to engage in territorial marking, called spraying.

imageAlso a very real thing. And it’s really fucking nasty.

Ever wonder why your front porch suddenly smells like concentrated cat piss one morning? It could be a stray tomcat, homeless and hungry, but it could just as easily be someone’s “pet,” who has chosen a spot ON your home or IN your vehicle to point his furry little cat cock at and mist with urine, hot and sticky, and specifically for your personal enjoyment.

Think it’s not personal? I used to, till I got to know my ex’s cat. Patch was a big grey tomcat with a white spot and he fucking hated me. When he wasn’t out prowling, he was peeing on my stuff. He ruined MY couch by peeing on the headrest in MY spot…he ruined MY leather armchair…and he hit my laundry basked, repeatedly. Only my stuff. So one morning, after discovering a basket of clean and pissed laundry, I’d had enough. Patch got snatched, pitched and pinned in the bathtub. Then he got a dose of his own medicine. I don’t care what you say. That malicious bastard was hurtin’ for a squirtin’ and deserved every damned drop of it. Fair’s just fair and I’ll stoop to a cat’s level if I have to.

Which brings us back to my mountains in the present day, with my bleeding and battered little calico cat, my front porch reeking of piss, as does the inside of a vehicle after I forgot to put a window up one night…back to the rifle in the front seat of the same vehicle…back to the hunt at hand. A feral cat is my likely target, and I hope this is the case, because discovering that it is someone’s pet wouldn’t make much difference to me, other than the fact I’d be angry at one of my neighbors for being such an irresponsible pet owner as to allow their animal to become a nuisance. Make no mistake, this animal’s days are numbered.

I doubt, however, that I’ll post a picture on Facebook. Or maybe I will. It really depends. If it’s a headshot with an arrow like the one Kristen Lindsey posted, I totally will. What an awesome shot…Kristen, my hat’s off to you…to take with a bow and not document and subsequently share. Hunters kill things with sharp sticks all the time and the pictures get published in magazines, so what’s the difference? Killing game, such as a harmless little bunny rabbit, with an arrow is considered a feat of marksmanship and talent in the hunting community, but for Kristen, killing a loose tomcat by the same means is proving to be a costly error.

imageIf you haven’t read about it, last month (April 2015), Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey shot a tomcat in the head with her bow and arrow and then bragged about it on Facebook. It went viral, of course, and a backlash of social pressure cost Lindsay her job and prompted an official investigation. Thus far, the D.A. isn’t moving forward. Facebook is enraged and circulating petitions not only for her criminal prosecution, but for the revocation of her license to practice veterinary medicine. Seems a bit much, to me, especially over a creature whose behavior could easily be considered antisocial to begin with.

Sorry cat owners, but that tomcat who is so sweet and cuddly at home is very likely causing problems when you let him roam, even if you’ve had him neutered. Which really sort of means that YOU are actually the problem and that is this particular tomcat, later identified as Tiger, the pet of an “elderly couple,” was not so much the problem as were his owners. Maybe Kristen should have shot them in the head with arrows…or maybe not…but either way, they were long gone. As in moved. As in moved and left the cat. As in abandoned. According to their former pet sitter, “Amy,” who has created a page telling Tiger’s story and ultimately soliciting donations, Tiger’s owners made some sort of arrangement with a neighbor to care for Tiger so he could continue doing what was most important to him, roaming the countryside and sleeping all day in a “barn.” One day, Tiger disappeared. That is, he didn’t show up to eat food and sleep before leaving again.

I’m not kidding. Read it here.

After a week or so, Tiger’s disappearance was solved when he appeared on social media, speared on an arrow like a shish-kabob by a college educated chick with a compound bow and a hell of an eye. A lot of people are really mad about it. The Bryson, TX news station KBTX, who has been most closely covering the story, actually had to disable the comments on their online news articles due to “repeated death threats being made against the veterinarian.” Small protests of weird cat ladies have gathered outside the Austin County courthouse demanding “Justice for Tiger” and the identically named Facebook fan page has garnered in excess of 50,000 followers, all squealing and wallowing in self righteous anger, seeking to destroy a human life they actually seem to place less value on than a damned pissing old tomcat.image

I don’t give a shit if he did have a name. More power to him. Now his name is mud. How you like them apples, weird cat ladies?

Apparently, you don’t like ’em at all, because like the KBTX news website, Tiger’s Facebook fan page has to specifically ask users not to contribute death threats to the comment threads. That’s right, even more death threats made by even more people who are even more concerned by the rights of a tomcat to prowl freely than a working, tax paying, American citizen’s right to due process and more importantly, her right to protect private property from untagged and unleashed “domestic” animals known for engaging in destructive and antisocial behavior. Remember now, Tiger wasn’t killed in his own yard and I have a solid understanding of how wandering male cats treat the property of others. image

These crazy old bags of shit are even invoking the great and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation in their hopes that someone else is something close to being just as sinfully stupid and silly as they are. Since the FBI is apparently maintaining statistics regarding animal cruelty, it only seems logical that they’ll be dispatching the Behavioral Analysis Unit from Quantico any moment…that Hotch and Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid from TV’s Criminal Minds will be Leer jetting down to Texas to solve the great mystery of the impaled tomcat before framing the events with a relevant quotation like:

“A man has to work so hard so that something of his personality stays alive,” said Albert Einstein. “A tomcat has it so easy, he has only to spray and his presence is there for years on rainy days.”

Something tells me that the FBI doesn’t really give and shit and isn’t coming, but I certainly hope that all of Kristen Lindsey’s haters are holding their breath for it. After all, every time an ignorant piss-faced fart knocker chooses not to breathe, someone much more deserving of oxygen gets a chance to. And I like that idea. I also seem to like the idea of having a forum where I can rail against people like this…maybe a little too much…so before I go too far, I’ll just bring up one more teeny tiny eensie weensie little thing…

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“Dead Cat Protest…or…The Society of Heifers in Sweats?”

Of the 50,000+ people who support the persecution, prosecution and/or execution of Kristen Lindsey for “cruelly” killing a tomcat, how many of these same people choose to purchase poultry and meat from corporate American factory-farmed sources? From the looks of the asses and bellies of the protesters, I’d say a good portion of the McDonald’s customer base is represented here. Some of these folks are people who couldn’t give a shit less about the treatment of the chicken or cow that ultimately provides sustenance for their worthless little life and don’t hesitate to contribute a few bucks here and a few bucks there to a system which has actually institutionalized real-life animal cruelty.

Maybe ganging up on lone archers like Kristen Lindsey makes them feel less like the mush-filled douche bags that they are. Or maybe they actually think they’re doing a good thing.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end, unless you’re the human being whose life is being ruined by a bunch of stupid assed cat ladies. If you’re a roaming tomcat anywhere in rural America however, you should know that someone, somewhere, likely has your number and your days of terrorizing sweet little calicoes and squirting piss wherever you see fit will result in exactly the sort of “Justice” that old Tiger received.

Weird old cat ladies who befriend and “claim” wandering tomcats would also do well to remember this.

When I was a boy, my father taught me a lot of things that I’ve come to find useful. He taught me to steal without getting caught. He taught me to lie and cheat and conspire. He taught me how to assault other people in public and get away with it. Coincidentally, he taught me that Yankee people are a vile, distrustful bunch, devoid entirely of morals. Go figure.

Now if you aren’t sure what a Yankee is, or are wondering if you are one and if I’m about to viciously insult you, I’ll explain. “Yankee” is a slang term southern Americans use when referring to northerners. It is a derogatory, dehumanizing term closely akin to the word “nigger” but generally is considered socially acceptable and is more commonly used. Ethnically it is applied to groups with European heritage who have assimilated entirely into the white culture. Sorry minorities, but white southerners have separate epithets for you…Yankee appears to be a white thing.

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“The Yankee states are the blue ones.”

It’s also a perspective thing, which means it depends upon who you ask. Yankees, to most folks, are people from the northeast. Northeast of what, you ask. Why, northeast of the person you are asking comes the answer. To a true southerner, anyone from two or three towns to the north is a Yankee. If you’re from New England or anywhere close to New York or Chicago, you are also a Yankee. Anyone west of Iowa is generally not a Yankee but if you live in south Florida and aren’t Cuban, then you probably are one. Virginia is considered somewhat Yankee-ish, but somehow West Virginia and Kentucky aren’t really. Does that make any sense? At all?

So, back to insulting Yankees, it wasn’t long before I started to see that northern, or Yankee, people behaved a little differently than what I was used to in the small southern Appalachian (pronounced Apple-atch-in) town where I grew up and presently reside. My early dealings with transplants from Ohio and New Jersey supported my father’s statement, but after my first couple of years in the military, I began to see things a little differently. The lack of morality he described was actually, as near as I could tell at least, simply a different interpretation of the term. They had intact moral systems, but they were nothing like what I was used to.

It’s a cultural difference that can only be described anecdotally. On a recent road trip, while the wife was inside a small post office, I was flipping through the rental car’s satellite radio and happened upon the Vivid Video porn radio station. Yep, porn is on the radio and I’d tuned into a call-in talk show. The topic was “cream pies.” Now if you don’t know, I’ll tell you. If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph because this shit is nasty. The contextual meaning of “cream pie” on this show involved a man licking a strange man’s baby batter out of his own wife’s hoo ha. Yuck city.

All of the six callers I heard before my wife returned were either from Massachusetts or Ohio, with most being from the latter. Does that mean people from Ohio are disgusting and devoid of morals? Maybe. Ohio also has the highest rate of human sex trafficking in the country. It’s the place where your child is most likely to be abducted a block from home and wind up being pimped out in a truck stop two weeks later. All I’m suggesting here is that the sexual culture in that region of the country may be a little different than what most folks consider normal and when it turns bad, it also happens a little differently.

When I related my story at work, it was met with disgust and contempt, only later to be generalized into a series of epithetic jokes with each being more crass and foul than the last. In a fundamentalist Christian culture, such sexually deviant behavior is considered morally repugnant on every level and for a number of reasons, despite the fact the act itself is a consensual one, between adults and occurring behind closed doors. When a guy from Ohio hoovers up a puddle of some other dude’s man-mayonnaise, he calls a nationally syndicated radio show and frankly discusses it. But if a guy from the N.C. hills ever even had the inkling that he might enjoy such a thing, he’d be on his knees begging Jesus to forgive and redeem his sinful, broken black heart. One guy feels guilty, one doesn’t. Same mouthful of sour milk bubble gum. What gives?

Back in the forties, the U.S. instituted the draft and started shuffling soldiers off to fight the Nazis. The Nazis, as we all know, we’re bulldozing their way across Europe and North Africa looting, pillaging and trucking Jews away to labor and extermination camps. The American soldiers were appalled by what they saw. The big question here is: why weren’t the German soldiers appalled as well? After all, they were tasked with doing the work and saw it much closer than anyone else. Why did the Germans not experience overwhelming guilt and simply stop the butchering? It almost seems as though the Nazis had produced some sort of psychopathic super soldiers, incapable of feeling or remorse or love, like the Terminator but with less-cool catchphrases like “Seig Heil. ” That seems unlikely, considering that psychopathy is thought to be on the rise and presently only figures at an estimated 4% of the population. Note: feel free to replace “Nazis” with any other genocidal social group, including Colonial and/or slaveholding Americans…

It’s more likely that the Nazi propaganda machine created a culture and moral structure conducive to what it intended to accomplish and left the grunt work not to clinical psychopaths, but dedicated citizens and soldiers who believed what they were doing was best for their social group, or at least doing what they could to fit in. It’s hard to feel guilt or remorse when you don’t believe you have done anything wrong to begin with. This statement is key to the understanding of how morality functions both socially and neurologically.

Conventional morality means nothing to me. I do not experience the sensation of guilt. Or remorse. I understand, concisely, the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, but I possess no innate inclination to prefer one over the other, especially when it comes to the way I relate to others, nor am I pathologically predisposed toward one over the other. In a clinically sociopathic brain, morality deals with what is best for the self. For me, right and wrong only really applies to what is either beneficial or non beneficial for me.

Most sociopaths, the ones who will speak openly, report their lack of engagement with traditional morality as an evolutionary advantage. Non-socios see it as a harmful social disorder. Fundamental religion happens to frame it as a separation from God. When I was young, attending private Baptist school, I was taught that my conscience was akin to the Holy Spirit, and that it lived in all of us. The Spirit would pack it’s bags and hit the bricks, however, if we should ask it to do so. The Spirit never “convicted” me with feelings of guilt when I was naughty, no matter how naughty, and I began to wonder if I’d asked it to leave without even realizing.

Maybe I had, but I must have been tiny when it happened. Long time readers of my blog will remember an early post (click to read this post) which depicted a four-year old Jason pitching a kitten into a red hot wood stove. While I’ve never repeated that sort of behavior in any way, I’ve never felt any sort of guilt or emotional torment as a result. The Holy Spirit has never had anything to say to me about it, although my grandma sure as hell did. What I remember clearly are the two sequential ass bustings, separated by a period of time out in the corner. That and the smell of burnt cat. That sort of thing sticks with you.

Lacking a conscience and the capacity to feel guilt, in and of itself, doesn’t make a person a monster. The smoking cat may claim otherwise, but remember that the cat is in fact smoking, which severely biases the cat’s scientific opinion. The supposed lack of conscience, in any context, serves only as a behavioral enabler and to understand it’s true implications, the very concept of morality must be reframed. Right and wrong, it seems, are not necessarily what we think and are a hell of a lot more static than we’ve ever imagined.

Most religions teach that God, besides being the Creator, is also the “law giver,” as in the decider of what is moral and what is not. In other words, the idea of conventional morality, to a believer, is a universal constant defined by a higher power. The problem with this is that the idea of right vs. wrong varies between individual cultures and according to time period. Four hundred years ago, the moral way to deal with “witches” was to crush them with large stones. While this behavior was acceptable in 17th century Christianity, it is no longer considered justifiable. In a few centuries, the dividing line between right and wrong shifted drastically. These American centuries also saw the enslavement of the black man and the genocide of the native people, all justified in the minds of the offenders by the popularized form of morality present at the time. Sometimes, religion itself was used to explicitly justify such savage offenses. In the film Django Unchained, Tarantino depicts a slaver quoting Genesis 9:2, common piece of scripture used to normalize slavery as he uses a bullwhip against another human being for breaking eggs.image

Morality, the idea of right vs. wrong, is a concept that evolves within the culture in which it presents, and nothing more. It exists as a behavioral framework that provides a consistent standard wherein people may coexist peacefully with one another. It’s the reason our societies have come so far and is absolutely necessary for the survival of our species. Morality, at its root, serves as a tool for the perpetuation of the species and therefore, must evolve with the times in order to remain effective and beneficial to the larger group.

If I experienced guilt, it would not be a feeling that I had sinned against an instituted universal order. This paradigm is no more measurable than it is tangible when considering that standard moral programming is not a feature humans are born with. What I should have experienced after I burned the cat is a form of anxiety. Things like roasting live cats are considered deviant in terms of common behaviors exhibited by the majority in a culture. Committing such acts, for most people, results in a fear of being ostracized by their social group. Morality, rather than referring to the intangible and static concepts of right and wrong, actually reflects the societal standard of normal behavior. The feeling of guilt is not related to the Holy Spirit, but is in fact a sensation of emotional displeasure experienced after behaving in such a way as to risk the security of one’s social identity and status. It’s an important tool which exists to link humans together and help them relate peacefully and harmoniously with one another.

For me, it’s not that easy. There is no little voice in my head providing an evolutionary cue as to how I should behave with regards to others. In this aspect, the anti-sociopath crowd has a point; I, and others like me, seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to naturally fitting in with the rest of society. We are presented, as such, with a choice. A person with an antisocial personality can choose to either ignore social convention and live at will or cognitively engage the system, mimicking the moralities imposed on others, and fit in the best way possible. Or, at a bare minimum, not be burned at the stake by a bunch of pissed off villagers. While fitting in takes considerable work and finesse, it is in the ability to make this conscious choice that the sociopath derives his own evolutionary advantage.

Unconstrained by any sort of neurological directive to conform, I am free to define my own personal code of morality as I see fit. On the one hand, were I a malevolent sort of a creature, a pathologically offending victim of intense childhood trauma, then you could see how lacking this behaviorally inhibiting brain function might cause a lot of problems. But on the other, that isn’t the case at all and not only am I completely free to choose my own right from wrong, I am able to do so objectively.

For example…

I’ve done my level best to convince a close friend of mine that eating commercially processed chicken, especially from fast food joints, is socially irresponsible and perpetuates cruelty. Chickens are not protected by cruelty laws, they are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, raised in tiny boxes, cooked and sold by people not being paid enough to live, the whole spiel (read more about this here). His answer:

“The Bible says nothing you eat can defile you, only what comes out of you can defile you. And I like me some chicken.”

You don’t really see the cost of being locked into an institutionalized system of morality until you observe said behavior being framed by such a ludicrous and contextually inappropriate justification. The pathological need to be a part of a certain social structure usually serves to inhibit harmful antisocial behavior, but in this case, the behavior’s lack of significance within the moral framework only serves to perpetuate it. The social culture of Evangelical Christianity, amongst others, not only fails to identify the social issue as a problem, it draws on the Genesis 1:28 claim of man’s dominion over the Earth as justification to say nothing.

In other words, if my friend and I eat factory farmed chicken for lunch, we should both, by all rights, feel guilty for doing so. But neither of us do. He doesn’t because it’s not a part of the social-moral paradigm to which he subscribes. The Christian belief system simply doesn’t choose to prosecute the perpetuation of cruel acts against defenseless creatures as a sin…so there is no reason for him to feel guilty. I don’t feel guilty either. Not that I would have actually eaten the chicken, but it wouldn’t matter to me if I did, not from an emotional standpoint anyway. I’m free, remember, to define my own terms of morality and in this case, humanity sits in the sociopath’s corner, as does the evolutionary advantage. Think I’m full of it? Change the example of two guys eating chicken to two German soldiers in World War II arguing about how ok it was to go along with the popular Nazi definition of morality in those days.

Whether it involves torturing chickens for profit or the mass murder of millions, the implications of how a person defines what is right and what is wrong can be a very serious business, even more so if a man decides to trust another man to do his moral reasoning for him. Religious institutions, for example, provide much of our moral framework. Despite their tax-free, non-profit status, these organizations still function as bureaucracies and by their very nature, create self perpetuating ideologies which may or may not be beneficial to the overall social group. This is why the Catholic Church has been behind so much mischief, historically speaking. An institution, like a clinical sociopath, is incapable of experiencing attacks of behaviorally inhibiting conscience.

Objective morality is the middle ground between a lack thereof and that which is externally imposed, both of which result in selfishly motivated and anti social patterns of behavior. No matter who you are, building an internal moral framework which is objective and based truly upon “Do Unto Others” principles takes hard work and a discerning eye for the greater social consequences of your behavior. All of it.

Something which seems so trivial as purchasing a chicken biscuit from Chik-Fil-A should by all means be deemed socially irresponsible…immoral. A four dollar decision enables the abuse of animals for the pure selfish sake of profit margins as well as the practice of dramatically under compensating employees. It’s only four dollars, but it’s still four dollars. I can see this objectively because, ironically, I don’t have morals. Or a conscience. Or a guilt complex. The same lack of neurologically forced social engagement that let John Gacy sleep soundly atop the corpses rotting in his crawl space enables me to point a bony finger in the face of popular convention and proclaim, in the words of ultra-galactic asshole James MacDonald,

“For shame!”

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Ain’t the world a funny place?

Dear God, I prayed, if you’ll keep me from getting my pants paddled off in the principals’s office, I’ll never, ever, ever choke my chicken again. If God had a nickel for every time a little boy struck up that deal, there’d no longer be any point in being God. Retirement would ensue and someone, anyone, any number of anyones could be paid to fill in. Cause that’s a lot of nickels. I’m just one guy with one chicken, after all, and I bet I’m worth at least a buck in that context…

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“Early masturbation prevention.”

Any thirteen year old boy recognizes the sacrifice that giving up moose milking amounts to and those bargains are never struck lightly. A kid promising an end to fireman time implies either some serious business with Santa or the prospect of a man sized dose of judiciously applied corporal punishment. It’s a hell of a thing to give up, and if you’re still keeping up your end of the deal seven out of ten little boys made in childhood, then my hat’s off to you and I submit you are the better man. While it’s easy to understand the value which both adults and children assess in such activities, it sure is funny how we seem to think Jesus and Santa Claus place a comparable value on our abstinence.

The idea, as silly as it may seem, is not based in the naive foolishness of childhood although it’s logic is indeed most foolishly childish in nature. This system of logic, somehow, managed to provide us with such cultural gems as circumcision, cold breakfast cereal and that little thing we refer to as the Jewish holocaust.

As long as the proverbial dolphins have been swimming and squalking, man has been doing his damnedest to flog them into oblivion. In ancient pagan societies, both man and god were frequently depicted with fistfuls of frankfurters and handfuls of hair pie. All this changed, however, when the Jewish rabbis started to get jiggy with their interpretations of the Tanakh.

Genesis 38 tells the story of Onan, son of Judah and brother of Er. When Er was killed before procreating an heir, tribal law dictated Onan must impregnate the widow Tamar. Onan, Er’s current heir, didn’t like the idea of competition for his brothers estate and saw his insemination of Tamar as little more than pissing in his own nest. So at the last minute, he yanked his rabbit out of the hair hat and “spilled his seed on the ground.” And God killed him for it.

Onan’s responsibility to Er’s widow is known as a leverite marriage and was common during the times when tribes did not marry outsiders and the gene pool was constrained. His neglect of this responsibility would have had greater implications for their community and was most certainly an outrageous act, hence God’s wrath against him. Somehow, someone along the line interpreted this paradigm as being inclusive of the leaving of cream cookies anywhere save the fertile cookie jar of one’s wife. My personal theory is that early Catholics recognized the potential for profit in their Pennies for Penance campaign and began taking confession from the St. Peter Beaters and the Rosary Rubbers, along with cash settlements.

It’d be interesting to know how much they’ve made through the centuries, but that’s just me and I’m a goon for figures and statistics.

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“Modern Masturbation Prevention”

Fast forwarding to Victorian England, things hadn’t changed much. Pickle tickling and nub rubbing were still considered mortal sins, but it certainly didn’t stop people. Laws emerged equating the act with sodomy, some as silly as those preventing women from the traditional method of horse riding. Ever wonder where the side saddle originated? Well now you know. When the Puritans first sought solace from societal evils like Christmas by coming to the New World, they brought this retarded-assed way of thinking with them. And smallpox. But that’s another story.

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“Ellen White, the face of sexual abstinence.”

America was indeed founded upon a tradition of preachers railing against slippery clown punching while people went right on ahead and did it anyway, albeit with a serious sense of post punch guilt. No American religious sect has been so influential in its history of pud pounder persecution as the Seventh Day Adventists. The Adventists, who derived a good bit of their dogma from the hallucinations of a woman named Ellen White espoused clean living free of meat, alcohol, caffeine and, of course, any sort of battling of the bald bishop.

At the time, however, most bishops weren’t really bald and no one knew what the hell a fireman was. Dudes were still sporting anteaters, except for the Jews, who’ve been mutilating their children’s dingalings for centuries. In America, it all sort of began with Ellen White and her husband. And John Kellogg. As in Corn Flakes.

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“Battle Creek Sanitarium, early 1900’s.”

In the late 1800’s, the Whites operated a convalescent home for Adventists in Battle Creek, Michigan. Over the years, they had cultivated a relationship with a young Kellogg and upon his graduation from medical school, invited him to supervise the revitalization of their ailing facility. Kellogg took the bull by the horns, renamed it the Battle Creek Sanitarium (coining the term sanitarium) and began to diversify its activities. Previously focusing on popular water cure therapy, Kellogg began to include all sorts of cutting edge alternative therapies and even invented a few of his own.

Considered a highly competent surgeon and an ardent anti masturbation advocate, Kellogg encouraged and helped largely to normalize the practice of circumcision, a procedure which he claimed was “almost always successful [as a preventative method] in small boys.” Circumcision obviously doesn’t prevent masturbation, but his motivation was corrective and he suggested its application as a punitive measure against older children and to be administered without anesthetic. While the cultural practice eventually found its way into hospitals and is now performed humanely, we still mutilate our children’s penises because some dumbass and his hallucinating benefactor said it was a good idea.

It’s barbaric, that’s what it is, and those people are assholes.

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“John Kellogg’s old stuffy ass in a scholar costume. His medical degree took two years.”

When John Kellogg wasn’t fighting the good fight against one-eyed wonder weasel wrangling by sewing foreskins closed and sprinkling carbolic acid on clitorises, he was devising new and ingenious ways to make people’s intake of bland, whole grain based diets simple and efficient. Simply put, he was trying to make a kibble for people to eat. Corn Flakes happened by accident, when some dough Kellogg and his brother made was erroneously allowed to mold. Lacking in funding, they rolled and processed the dough anyway and after toasting it, finally produced the desired result.

John Kellogg began shoveling it into his patients just as fast as he could bake it, the younger brother, Will, had different ideas. He formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company, later changed to Kellogg’s, and began to mass market the product. He realized, intuitively, that the product tasted like the moldy corn dough that it was and therefore required a little more incentive to make it palatable to mainstream consumers. So in the same manner John Kellogg was selling it to his patients with a line of bullshit, Will included a booklet called Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures, which sounds suspiciously racist.image

It wouldn’t surprise me, given the older brother’s views on race and segregation. While Kellogg raised a considerable number of orphan children during his sexless marriage and a number of them happened to be black, his opinions on segregation and breeding between the races intensified as the 1900’s began.

Kellogg was a big proponent of the theories that clean living resulted in good health, both physical and mental, and that feeble mindedness and the like resulted from character flaws related to immoral practices like shucking your own corn. He started to rethink this as a result of experiences with his adopted son George. Even after stapling the boys foreskin closed with a bit of silver wire, the boy remained weird and sort of retarded. Eventually, it dawned on Kellogg that the boy’s having been found eating garbage next to his dead prostitute mother likely had some effect on his behavior.

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“This is a real thing. Run, quick, tell David Carradine before it’s too late!”

This revelation ultimately led to Kellogg’s establishment of the Race Betterment Foundation. Always one to push a bad idea to it’s fullest extent, Kellogg began to suggest, and in fact insist, that the white genetic code mustn’t be polluted by the likes of idiots, blacks and other such immigrants. He joined ideological forces with biologist Charles Davenport, another founder of the eugenics movement, and began to form the “scientific” framework of the movement itself. This ideology unfortunately mainstreamed into common practice and American society began to take upon itself the responsibility of deeming who was fit to reproduce and who wasn’t. Those deemed unfit were summarily sterilized, often without their consent.

Not one to be bested by the American competition, Adolph Hitler found that the eugenic principles fit nicely within his own ideas regarding ethnic purity and frequently praised the efforts of the westerners. American eugenicists accepted the pre-holocaust Nazi leader warmly and contributed significantly to the poorer nation’s research programs. Hitler, in the spirit of Dr. Kellogg, took an awful plan to the extreme.

While the sterilization of “useless eaters” prevented the perceived drain on resources for future generations, it did nothing for Germany’s current state of cash strapped-ness. In the years leading up to World War II, Hitler’s Nazis surreptitiously rounded up those they deemed unfit and began to quietly euthanize them. Feeble minded children were whisked away to “special schools” where they were never heard from again. Most of these children were strapped to beds and perished from starvation and exposure through windows opened to the harsh winter elements.

Before a Nazi ever touched a Jew, several hundred thousand people had been murdered, primarily the developmentally disabled, but also including homosexuals and members of ethnic gypsy minorities. In pre-war Germany, if you were eating and not paying taxes or breeding in an approved manner, you had to go. And eventually, the tax on being Jewish was raised to…everything. Make no mistake, the holocaust was about economics just as much as it was about racism.

By 1924, thirty American states had passed legislation rendering compulsory the spaying and neutering of those deemed feeble minded and unfit for genetic citizenship. Carrie Bell was the first to be singled out in ’24. She was regarded, essentially, as white trash with too damn many kids as it was, and ordered sterilized. Her 1927 appeal to the Supreme Court was a failure and a history of 60,000+ sterilizations began. The 1927 Buck vs. Bell decision has never been formally struck down, although as recently as last year, North Carolina was still paying out settlements to citizens sterilized without consent as late as the 1970’s.

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“The new Hallmark thank-you card for our parents.”

So in the present, while we’re no longer force neutering any of our citizens, mothers still make a culturally acceptable choice to sexually mutilate their sons based upon ideology perpetuated by a hallucinating religious zealot suffering from a traumatic brain injury and a “doctor” who taught supreme health was obtained through abstinence from turtle tugging, frequent enemas and a diet rich in heavily processed moldy corn.

In the long run, America and the rest of the world would likely have experienced a different track of history had they rejected the path Darwin’s ideas lead them down and settled for accepting his ideas on a more basic level. Whether man came from monkeys or not, lots of people would have been better off if they’d just appreciated the similarities between the species and followed the example of the pathologically bologna bopping Bonobo monkeys. At least they don’t butcher each other and if they do, they do it one handed.

Think I’m bullshitting you? Look it up.

And enjoy your fuckin’ Corn Flakes.

“Hey,” said my best friend through the phone, “I just wanted to let you know I had to kill the rooster today.”

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A Golden Polish Rooster

“How bad did he mess you up,” I chuckled, surprised it had taken so long. I’d given him the rooster, a Golden Polish, and some hens around a year ago, when he decided to take up the hobby. “He didn’t get your eyes did he?”

“That son of a bitch…” he went on, telling a story that anyone who has ever raised chickens can certainly relate to. It was one of those hell spawn roosters, a shining speckled brute with a spiked hair do and the attitude to match. He’d come to live in terror of his rooster, never naming the bastard for fear of offending it and provoking more of its vicious attacks. It was the kind of rooster that would intentionally roll eggs to the edge of the coop, then lie in wait around the corner, or scooch down on the roof just above. Anyone stupid enough to fall for this ploy deserved the raping that would no doubt ensue. You’d be surprised, by the way, just how big a chicken dick really is.

imageMark said that when the feathered demon jumped out from behind the wall, that it had that look in it’s eye and he didn’t want to know how big a rooster cock is anymore than you do. It had charged him several times, flailing, jumping, spurring, all at head height, all in his face. If you’ve ever been subject to a full size, full scale rooster attack, it’s damned scary…and some roosters don’t play. This was one of those roosters and it didn’t respond to anything but violence, and then, only a little. The basic tactic, with a rooster like that, is to stun it with a broom for long enough to get your eggs and get the hell out of the pen.

And it’s all about preemptive strikes. Don’t be afraid to plot out the best way to sneak up on him and hit him with a tennis racket because you better believe he’s thinking the same thoughts about you. Make no mistake, some roosters are flat out terrorists, controlling their flock and access to it by the most vicious means available. The only thing that stops them from crucifying and burning their enemies, which include anything not a hen, is their lack of opposable thumbs, or fingers…plus the fact that chickens are stupid. Well that’s three things. So sue me. The point is, fair’s fair and I’ve never been afraid to sneak up behind one and punt it like a football, at least, not after it tried to kill me. And rape me. And rob me.

They rob you, by the way, for the same reason they rape you. It’s all about power and control. And fear.

imageMy best friend hit his rooster in the head with a metal pipe. He said it wobbled a bit, something like Foghorn Leghorn after the dog hit him with a cast iron skillet, and then fell over, dead as a door nail. Or dead as a damned raping flogging rooster that got hit with a steel pipe. Take your pick.

Speaking of skillets, that’s where his rooster was headed when I talked to him. He’d already plucked it and singed off most of the little hairs. There’d been a good sized chicken under all those feathers and I informed him that it would be one of the best dinners he’d ever had. It comes pretty close to being a free meal (which tastes awesome on its own) when you kill a chicken like that but moreso, there is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that tastes better than eating a thing that you deeply and truly hate.

Trust me.

When I was a kid, chickens were not enough for my parents. Nope, my folks took up registered Brahma cattle raising as a “hobby.” They said it built character for me and kept me out of trouble. They were half right…it’s hard to go cause trouble when you’re mired to your waist in mud and cow flops…as in physically impossible.

There was one cow out of the lot, the used cow that came from a commercial farm impregnated with a possessed halfwit calf, the evil cow, the one with that same look in her eye…her name was Snowflake. And that monster bitch hated me. After being chased, butted, pushed through barbed wire and electric fences, I came to hate her too. So when it came her time, when Mom and Pops finally hated her as much as I did, they loaded her in the trailer. Destination: butcher shop.

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A Brahma heifer with “that look.”

In retrospect, my parents probably thought it was cute as they watched me, from afar, saying my goodbyes to the condemned prisoner. I was saying my goodbyes, all right… I told that cow they were going to take her to a warehouse, perhaps the same warehouse where Lethal Weapon was filmed, and Gary Busey was going to hang her from a chain. They were going to drip water on her and shock her teats with a car battery. Then, Mel Gibson was going to choke her to death with his sweaty Mad Max crotch maneuver.

Take that evil cow…how do you like them apples?

About a week later, Snowflake returned to us. It was Saturday afternoon when two big beefy guys showed up in a refrigerated delivery truck. With two sets of hand trucks, they proceeded to re home the demon cow, forty paper wrapped one pound packages at a time, in our downstairs freezer. They’d moved about half a cow when they had to take a break so Pops and I could hit up Sears for an additional stand up freezer. You’d be surprised how much beef comes out of a cow.

You’d also be surprised how good she tasted. Granted, she was a grass fed animal and, besides tormenting me, she’d never worked a day in her life, so she’d be tasty either way. But as tender and marbled as her ghost was, it was my intense hatred for that animal as an individual that really made the little flavor explosions on my tongue go pop. The wide white scar on my right palm, still prominent three decades later, that came from being shoved and bullied through a barbed wire fence made her dead, seared and pecan encrusted flesh taste like…victory. Victory, with a side of Appalachia blood-feud vengeance.

Like I said, nothing tastes so spectacular as the thing that you hated when it was alive.

After Mark’s call, I found myself wishing his chicken dinner wasn’t a three hour drive away. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a despised and persecuted piece of fowl, longer still since I’ve eaten any sort of fowl at all. And I miss it. But, once you’ve snatched an attacking rooster out of mid air and promptly twisted it’s head off before plucking, cooking and eating it, good old American factory farmed chickens just don’t cut it anymore.

Not that they ever really did, for that matter. If you’ve even driven past a commercial chicken operation, and the wind is right, you smell death and decay. Yep. That’s what those long, narrow, low topped buildings are and that smell is exactly what it smells like it is. Nothing that comes from that can taste good. Or be good.

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Battery hens…or…where your eggs come from

Most commercially raised chickens spend their entire lives in boxes large enough only to contain a motionless chicken. They’re usually genetically modified, growing rapidly and spending significant portions of their short lives in tightly confined pain. Overcrowding leads to rampant disease, which leads to massive doses of antibiotics which, well, leads to even worse disease. Chicken labeled “free range” isn’t much better. The chickens have about the same amount of space, just without the cages, so in addition to all the other existing problems, free range chickens can add fighting into the mix. Think I’m jiving you? Look it up.

In America, the birds we raise and eat enjoy few, if any, legal protections, aside from those that prohibit bloodsports like cockfighting. Legislation such as the Humane Slaughter Act does not cover fowl. So when I make a joke about executing a rooster, South American style, with a machete, I’m only half joking. The fact is, if I want, I can throw a dozen or so chickens in a barrel of boiling water and mass scald them to death because it’s cleaner than chopping off a live head and easier to pluck them while the blood drains. Besides, it’s totally legal.

If I desire to perform live vivisections and bizarre biological experiments on my chickens, that’s also, basically, legal. Not that I’ve ever done any of that, nor do I intend to, for that matter. I’ve just never been able to bring myself to hate an animal enough to torture one just for the sake of it…or even to make a quick buck…and that’s really what it boils down to. A baby chick, ordered through the mail, costs about a buck. By the time it’s big enough to eat, I’ve had four to six dollars in it. That doesn’t count the time it would take to pluck, butcher, clean and package it in fancy plastic wrapping. Or transport it to a grocery, either. I’ve had, said and done, about twice the amount of investment in one chicken as Tyson or Purdue, and I guaran-fucking-tee you they’re still clearing a substantial profit, even when you walk out of the market with a four dollar frozen pullet from the clearance shelf.

At the local farmers market, a medium-large bird, dressed and ready for the roasting pan, comes out to about twenty five bucks. A high price indeed, it’s one I’m not really willing to pay, nor is most of the rest of the country, especially not when several manufactured chickens can be procured for the same cost. A lot of the people who buy these chickens could care less if their dinner was tortured or abused or poisoned. A farm animal, to a large segment of America, is an abstract concept, something that can’t be related to because most Americans will never meet a cow or a chicken up close.

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Free Range chickens are worth the extra $$$.

For every car-jacking face-raping son of a bitch rooster, there are a dozen hens who like to have their feathers itched after eating grapes and worms from your fingers. Live creatures with unique personalities. People sort of realize this, I think, and marketers draw on classic and recognizable barnyard imagery when choosing advertising buzzwords like Farm Fresh, Cage Free, Free Range, take your pick. They don’t really mean anything, except that you’re going to pay a little more for basically the same bird.

Vegetarian-fed is my favorite marketing term. In order for egg shells to be sufficiently strong, chickens require additional calcium, usually in the form of bone meal or crushed oyster shells…not vegetarian. Chickens that are truly free ranged eat a diet pretty high in bugs and worms…also not vegetarian. The vegetarian-fed claims are basically a reaction (or an offhanded admission) to the revelation that commercial chickens are often fed other chickens, dead chickens, diseased chickens, leftover bits that can’t be sold. Efficiency at its best…

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One of my Cochin hens talking to the Vizsla

My chickens like cole slaw and macaroni and cheese. And lots of grapes. They like to sit in tiny nests for days at a time, trying to hatch eggs I’ve already snagged. They also like to run loose in the yard, digging holes, eating bugs and shitting on everything. And I mean everything. They’ll coo at you when they want something and they’ll come when you call them. Chicken keeping, at its essence, is a symbiotic relationship between two species where both sides bear a responsibility to the other as well as an opportunity to benefit from the experience.

When a big rooster violates this relationship by trying to blind you with his spurs, it’s entirely appropriate to baptize his ass into glory with the head ringing end of a garden spade. And then you eat the old hateful thing for dinner. What happens, though, when man starts to systematically violate the animal, to treat it as though it’s hated, even when all the animal has ever done is hold up its end of the deal? One man gets paid and the other gets fed…and the chicken gets fucked…that’s what happens. And I think that’s sad.

So, as a personal rule, I choose to only eat chickens who have been righteously hated and killed in self defense. That, unfortunately, means I don’t get to eat chicken often, not ever, really, and that’s ok. It’s a small price to not have to pay to not be complicit in what amounts to legalized systematic abuse, hateful treatment for the sake of profit instead of hate itself.

It’s ok to hate a rooster when it hates you first just like it’s ok to knock it’s head off when it tries to kill you. Like I said, the hatred, a natural phenomenon of the man-bird relationship paradigm, simply makes a Southern-style home fried chicken dinner that much more spectacular. Or anything else, for that matter.

Three years ago, when my fiancé and I were vacationing at the Outer Banks, we were suddenly attacked by a massive swarm of black biting flies. We were outnumbered, overwhelmed, panicking from one painful attack after another, and running like hell for the car. Once inside, safe from the nasty little bastards, our breathing slowed and our heart rates approached normal. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my bicep as one bit into me. Too busy feasting upon my blood to notice he was being snatched by his little wing, he found himself staring into my eyes, legs wiggling and wings buzzing, it was his turn to panic. Fair is fair, and I don’t care what you say, that parasitic little beast knew it.

Wanna know how that hateful little blood sucking black fly tasted? Just like it sounds…delicious.

 

http://www.murdercroweatcrow.wordpress.com

 

A small sprinkling of snow entered my car as I rolled down the window.

“What’s wrong officer?”

“You seem lost,” he answered after a few seconds, knowing damn well that didn’t constitute probable cause to execute a traffic stop. “Can I see your license and registration?”

Getting lost on Beech Mountain is not at all uncommon. Once off the main road, it becomes a maze…a spiderweb…of identical dirt roads, miles of them weaving through the trees and bending around the mountainsides. The roads focus around a half-assed ski resort, reminiscent of Hot Tub Time Machine, and a golf club.

“I’m not,” I answered, gathering my documents. “I’m headed to check out the electrical system on a house my friend might buy and he gave me bad directions. I was headed back up to the top of the mountain to try and call.”

Cell service is spotty and unavailable for most of the 3000 houses that line the windy narrow passages, only 10% of which are occupied year round, and it’s patrolled by an eight man staff of externally sourced police, some from the same region as most of the property owners, south Florida.

“Do you have anything in the car that you shouldn’t,” he asked next, “drugs, weapons, anything like that?”

This is rural North Carolina. Appalachia. Resort town. Rednecks with shotguns and OxyContin crazed hillbillies are as common as tourists in Landcruisers…

“Nope,” I answered, “just electrical tools and trash.”

…just as common as guys who do electrical work and favors for their friends on snowy Tuesday afternoons.

“Do you mind if I have a look inside?”

Whooooooaaaa…the locally sourced police didn’t usually act this way.

“I do mind,” I answered. “I haven’t done anything and I have things to do.”

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Arrest photo of the actual cop…er…ex cop…

“If you don’t consent Mr. Brennar,” he said, “I’ll have to call the county K-9 unit. You might be here awhile.”

I chose my words carefully, considering factors such as his ethnic and regional heritage, the number of witnesses, his ultimate willingness to push the issue and most of all, the fact that I, for once, was innocent and simply being harassed. He was about to discover that I was, indeed, his huckleberry.

“You go ahead and do that,” I said, stone-faced, “and when I’m done suing you for illegal search, you’ll be back to pruning palm trees in South Beach. I’m a decorated veteran and if you want to violate my rights, you’re going to have to make that call.”

“Wait right here sir,” he responded, his voice quivering in anger.

He stomped back through the snow to his cruiser like the spoiled little shit that he was, angrier than a child denied dessert before the due process of dinner.

The officer ran my information, in vain, before returning and sending me on my way. Nothing more was said of the search, nor of my rude and racially insensitive remarks. I bid him a good afternoon before abandoning my friend’s house prospect and heading home.

imageThat shit wouldn’t have worked out in my favor if I’d have pulled it on the same guy in Metro Dade. In Miami, if I’d have implied he was a Tin Starred Landscaper, he’d have called an army of assholes just like him and they’d have dragged me from my car to the curb. After being Tased and maced, I’d be pseudo raped by a dogpile of angry blue men, each getting their licks in, one indistinguishable from the next, even with multiple angled helicopter footage. I might even be killed. And that’s considered preferential white guy treatment.

If I’d have been black or Hispanic, they’d have just killed me, maybe without even pulling me over, as their dash cams recorded them screaming at me to drop the knife. A box cutter would later be found in my tool bag, locked in the trunk. But, as it was, I drove home feeling pleased with myself for such a tiny victory against the heavy handed oppression that seems so prevalent in the big city police departments. For once, I’d succeeded in emasculating a tiny piece of the authoritarian culture, and it warmed my cold Grinchly heart.

The point of the story is not to pat myself on the back for racially insulting a pushy cop (I’ve done plenty of patting already, trust me), but that the encounter went just as it should have, anywhere in the country, regardless of the racial element. The officer, after blatantly ignoring his constitutional obligation to establish probable cause before pulling me, attempted to intimidate me into submitting to a further violation of my rights. His behavior, and its potential for affecting me in an emasculating way was returned in kind, tit for tat, certainly not rewarded. I, on the other hand, experienced a psychological reward, a wonderful mix of chemical endorphins, and it probably makes me more likely to act the same way again.

So it’s probably good that I live in a little town like South Park where I can get away with bullying a bitch-assed city-mouse cop…as opposed to somewhere like New York City…where a guy might find himself being cop-raped with a toilet plunger. To death. Talk about emasculation…

…and speaking of rape…

imageI suspect the psychological implications of being dominated and brutalized by those in authority might be very much akin to those of being ass ravaged by a mob of big soapy meat daggers in a cold, dark prison shower. In each situation, feelings of powerlessness and dehumanization are easily inflicted through detention/immobilization and reinforced, often enough, through pain. While one might not be able to relate to the actual experiences of being detained and beaten any more than being cornholed inside out by a pack of Aryan brothers, it’s more understandable, in these graphic terms, the sort of feelings that might result.

And that really only applies to the survivors of police bullying and brutality. Last night, I spent the better part of two hours watching YouTube videos of unarmed civilians being shot and killed by American policemen. I spent this time wide eyed, intently watching as though I’d bet money on the outcomes, watching sometimes handcuffed people bleeding to death in the streets, with no clip being repeated save one, that of five heavily armed New Mexico cops firing on a homeless goofball who was camping in the desert. After gassing and shooting him multiple times with assault rifles, they fired beanbags into his motionless body and argued about who was going to secure his four inch knife and get the cuffs on him. He died shortly thereafter and not a cop lost a job. Incidentally, the victim just happened to be white.

It’s not just the black men who are gunned down and beaten, although they certainly constitute the majority, but it’s people of all races and backgrounds who make up the larger cultural subgroup of the disaffected. They’re often poor, mentally unstable, unemployed or homeless, sometimes drunks or addicts, but the common thread is a lack of an ability and the financial means to stand up against overreaching authority. For every dead Sunday school teacher with fifteen bullet holes in her car and an angry community demanding accountability, there are a dozen, or more, socially disadvantaged minorities with holes in their bodies where holes don’t belong. We never hear about those people because they often have no one to speak for them and even if, it turns out that most people simply do not care.

It must be a sobering thought, likely one nestled in the forefront of the consciousness of America’s disaffected city dwellers and for minority groups in general. Sobering, that is, to realize on some level that the value of one’s very right to exist rests upon the whims of a police subculture which not only assesses them at a lower value than those who have the means to defend themselves, but actually targets them because of this weakness.

And it seems to only get worse.

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GITMO in Chi-town?

A Guardian article claimed recently that the Chicago P.D. have been operating a “black site” for a number of years, sort of a way station between apprehension and booking where off camera interviews have been allegedly conducted and these interviews were described as being both coercive and abusive in nature. The police denied it, of course, but I also remember a fair amount of denial when it came to accountability regarding the goings on at Abu Gharib and GITMO. It’s only natural, after all, when you’re asked about systematically violating people’s human rights, to deny everything.

In the end, denial only carries you so far. Sooner than later, reality pulls up with a past due bill and a collector who looks like Jason Voorhees with a head full of PCP. If you’re lucky, at least. When the CIA was beating and torturing people, essentially raping away the masculinity and self respect of people like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the other leaders of ISIS, we’d all like to think they “misunderestimated” the outcome of those interrogation sessions, but who knows…it’s not like it’s the first time humiliation and brutality sparked the flame of violence and hatred in a man’s heart.

imageWhat we can all safely assume, is that if you spend your time turning fellow prison inmates into your own personal sex dolls, one day, eventually, you’re going to get stabbed in the neck with a fucking toothbrush. That’s just how it is and it’s just as true when it comes to other forms of physical and emotional emasculation. The more a man is subjected to such abuses, the further he has to go to find balance again, to feel strong and to stop feeling raped.

Back when I was a squirrely little third grader, I thrashed a classmate, mercilessly, in the bathroom after recess one day. They sent me home for fighting, of course, but allowed me to return after hearing the truth from my mom. Not one to tattle, I’d neglected to mention to the principal that right before I beat him stupid, the other kid had been intentionally pissing on me. Nor was I one to relish an ass beating from my pops, so I’d told my mom the truth. And then she smelled it on my jeans and my red Chuck Taylors. It was exonerating for me; the other kid stayed suspended. That was ’86…or maybe ’87.

Times has done gone and changed on us.

By the time I graduated high school in the mid nineties, corporal punishment and a student’s assumed right to defend himself from bullies were a thing of the past. My response, as appropriate and effective as it had been, was to be tolerated no more. In the new century, I’d likely have faced criminal charges for seizing that mealy mouthed bastard by the throat and playing “Ring Them Bells” on his skull.

Today, children are allowed only a little leeway when it comes to preventing bodily harm, just as adults are, but as a general rule, we’re expected to tattle, to file reports, ultimately to defer our own protection to others. That’s all well and good…it’s just fine to tell the teacher after it happens…but it doesn’t do anything to stop some degenerate pre teen from whipping out his weasel and watering you like a houseplant in the first place.

Between the schoolyard and the streets of adulthood, things don’t change much. Bullies continue to rob, rape and urinate on decent folk, and the expectation remains to defer protection to others, in particular, the police. Again, that’s all well and good, but what happens when the policemen are the ones with their anteaters out splattering warm urine on anyone close enough to get hit and too poor to do anything about it? Who do you tattle to?

imageSomeone, at some point, thought it was a good idea to complain to the federal government, who responded by promptly by issuing surplus military hardware to any cornpone breadbox bunch of keystone cops with the space to store it. City police departments, seemingly, have gone without armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles for so long they forgot how much they needed them. That’s sort of like me tattling on the bully, only to come to school the next day and find him wearing a Kevlar Hall Monitor vest and a Skorpion machine pistol, with the principal helping him aim his little piss rocket towards the smaller children.

Sort of…you get the point…at least if you’ve lived somewhere like Ferguson you do.

I know where you think I’m headed with this…to the mattresses no doubt. The clinical sociopath is about to suggest we start locking and loading on the Big Blue Dick, that the two cops shot in Ferguson, the other two in Los Angeles, that it’s been a long time coming and the poor should rise up against the oppressive white devil swinery… That sort of shit, right?

Sorry to disappoint, but that just ain’t the case. Not that I’m against fair play, mind you. On the contrary, I vehemently disagree with peaceful protesting, turning the other cheek, all that worthless crap, especially when the other side is squirting tear gas into a crowd of the same people who pay their salaries. But, I’d be encouraging people like Eric Garner or the two Columbine boys, and that doesn’t solve anything. My solution, simply put, is easier, and lies in the future generations.

In the same ways our children have learned to trust those with power to protect their rights, they can relearn to trust themselves. We can teach our children that, as the larger social collective, they hold the true power to redefine our culture. They can learn that the things we protect and hold dear, the materialistic trappings we are so afraid to lose, mean nothing when you’re being beaten or raped or murdered…mean nothing when your brother or neighbor is experiencing the same. Through our children, we can reestablish our social identity as one which simply will not tolerate a bully culture, much less pay its salary.

Indeed. The answer doesn’t involve conferences and legislation anymore than it does Molotov cocktails and lynchings of murderous asshole police. The place to fix bully problems is in the third grade, on the level plane of boy’s bathroom floor tiles, with a dad-taught right cross and a punishing series of left jabs, all empowered by a fundamental understanding that not being suspended for fighting is infinitely less important than not being urinated on.

Before I was a veteran, I was a veteran.

During the 1980’s, a series of wars and skirmishes broke out across the Appalachian region of North Carolina. These engagements went largely ignored by the news and popular media, who instead chose to focus on the conflict between Afghanistan and the drunken cockfight formerly known as the Soviet Union.

imageBy December of 1979, the people of Afghanistan were openly revolting against a series of newly enacted socialist peasant raping reforms and the leaders appealed to their sugar daddies, the Soviets for military support. The Soviets responded by mobilizing airborne brigades and sprinkling Red Army paratroopers all over the Afghan countryside. On December 27th, Soviet troops reached Kabul and the special forces promptly paid a visit to the president bearing a message from the closest thing the communists had to Santa, General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. It was a swift execution, Dirty South Style, on his knees with two in his head.

On the other side of the globe, an invasion of another sort was taking shape. In 1981, as the Soviet “intervention” was gaining serious momentum, a secret meeting was convened in New York. One of the men in attendance was Archie Goodwin, a well known author of, well, comics. Goodwin was charged with creating a public face for the impending invasion, as well as writing what amounted to a manifesto calling for the overthrow of the worlds governments and their subjugation to “Cobra, a ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world.” image

The invasion, although eventually reaching an international scope, began in the United States heartland. The news of the impending attack was heard solely by America’s youth, who were suddenly faced with the reality of what it means to become a man in America. And they began to arm themselves. Hushed calls were made from design studios to corporate board rooms. Sweaty hands shook firmly before dialing China and lining up ordinance production.

Little boys in North Carolina, meanwhile, were making lists and submitting them to their Secretary of Armaments, Santa Clause. Beginning on Christmas of 1982, the young American patriots began to amass troops. The small, localized militias grew slowly, with neighborhood warlords graduating to generals as troop strength swelled.

The overall resulting military collaborative became the cultural phenomenon collectively referred to as “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.” Hasbro, an American company with manufacturing facilities in China, began to extensively produce weaponry and the 3 3/4″ plastic men the young generals needed to combat the dreaded Cobra Commander and his shock troops.image Back in Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation wasn’t going so well. The Afghan Army was expected to do most of the front line fighting but apparently when it came to killing their own people in support of a doctrine that directly contradicted their belief structure, they turned out to be squeamish. Roughly half raised a black flag and joined the revolt. The rest, mostly, just hung around and talked shit, waiting for the next paycheck and often, doing more harm than good. More and more, the Soviets were finding it necessary to use their own troops in direct combat, something they’d hoped to avoid.

The mujahideen, Afghanistan’s rag tag conglomerate of a resistance, proved to be much more effective than Soviet command had predicted. Able to attack without warning and then disappear back into the populace, conventional military attacks against the mujahideen were obviously ineffective. This resulted in a tactical shift, and the Soviets began to view the Afghan countryside as what amounted to the mujahideen’s supply lines, resulting in the implementation of scorched earth strategies. As the civilian body count climbed, the Afghan clergy issued a decree, or fatwa, labeling the atheist-socialist controlled invasion as an attack on Islam as a whole and declared it the duty of all Muslims to join or at least contribute to the effort against the Russians.

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Soviet AK-47, preferred weapon of Clint Eastwood’s enemies and Cobra troopers

The mujahideen army grew exponentially, peaking out in excess of 200,000 fighters, many of whom were called Afghan Arabs, foreigners who had heard the cry for help and came to kick in. Such an influx of personnel required armament, much as the G.I. Joe armies back in North Carolina. The American adults, along with those of Saudi Arabia and a few others, began to funnel cash and weapons into the mujahideen using Pakistan as their primary conduit. For the first few years, Afghanistan’s foreign support network contracted with independent arms traffickers and provided the resistance exclusively with Eastern Bloc ordinance procured from China, Czechoslovakia and even the Soviets themselves.

The Pakistani government, heavily influenced by Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Islam, disbursed the armaments disproportionately, basing their issuance not only upon the prospective faction’s potential for sending Rooskies to be judged by Allah, but their level of commitment to hardline ultra conservative Islamic principles as well. Nothing about warfare, it seems, is ever fair and things were no different back in the mountains of North Carolina.

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G.I. Joe Headquarters

My sixth birthday signified my entrance into the global G.I. Joe battlefield. Since the war had begun, I’d engaged in daily after school battles in my friend Wyatt’s basement. Wyatt commanded the neighborhood’s only true G.I. Joe stronghold, the massive Headquarters play set he’d gotten for Christmas. Again and again, the open topped plastic fortress was bombarded by the likes of HISS tanks, Fang helicopters and the dreaded Hydrofoil. Each time, we were able to repel the attacks using the fort’s laser cannons, removable missiles and Wyatt’s brigade of tanks and trucks, all maintained in the service bay.

As often occurs in such guerrilla style commands, infighting broke out. Wyatt, while a highly capable leader on the basement battlefield, was a poor politician and proved ineffective at maintaining cohesiveness amongst the lieutenants who’d joined from around the neighborhood. We all began to personally arm ourselves and the intense battles pitting the G.I. Joe forces against those of Cobra became interspersed with sectarian cap gun violence in the back yard. The infighting nostalgically culminated in our first real casualty, when a kid named Heath stepped on an old land mine in the back woods, driving a three inch rusty nail through his foot. Although a resulting ceasefire refocused resources on the war against Cobra, the damage was effectively done. As the hype around G.I. Joe grew, our small coalition factionalized and in the fall of 1984, I began to stockpile ordinance of my own.

The Silver Mirage motorcycle was the first thing I acquired. It was awesome to behold, a magnificently flimsy, unsteerable thing of a sidecar equipped motorbike, broken in the package even. It was the first tool of war that was mine. I’d suddenly become my own boss and sweet Jesus it felt good. I wanted more. My small yet successful engagements with Cobra outposts such as the Bunker, as well a few against a new enemy known as the Transformers instilled within me a strong resolve as a military leader and tactician, thus I began pleading with the Congressional Parental Undersecretary to authorize an increase in the household defense budget.

imageLater in 1984, as I was planning a series of waterborne creek assaults on a backyard Cobra cave complex, my father burst in with a VHS tape containing information that “everyone” needed to see. The Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan had expanded to America and it was time to open our eyes. The tape was a newly released copy of the John Milius film, Red Dawn.

Eyes wide, I was engrossed with the concept of American children rising up against the Cobra-like invaders and I instantly identified with them. From my parents living room, I witnessed Hollywood destroy previous records for depiction of on screen violence and loved every blood soaked minute of it. I wasn’t the only one of my generation who suddenly became aware of the Communist invasion, and it also began to play out in the back yards and playgrounds, running concurrently to that of the battles against the Transformers and Cobra: The Enemy. But, despite even the bloodiest fighting against the commie forces, the war against Cobra still managed to intensify in some sectors as generals like Wyatt added elements such as the fucking U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier to his arsenal.

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Official toy of the Spoiled Bastard

Unequitable distribution of war resources often led to jealous sectarian clashes, with well funded warlords such as Wyatt being accused by rival factions of back room talks or flat out collusion with the communists and thus militarily engaged in conventional cap gun and motorized squirt gun combat. The truth is, we could have, and maybe should have used nukes against guys like Wyatt but found ourselves concerned with global fallout. That is to say, no one kicked his ass for being a stuck up spoiled prick because he’d have told his commie mother and there’d have been hell to pay.

Back in Afghanistan, the Soviets were starting to pay like that. As money and manpower flowed freely into the mujahideen’s ranks, their effectiveness as a fighting force against the invaders increased. Victories against the Soviets prompted further tactical shifts. Soviet offensives became more brutal, incorporating heavy aerial bombardment of civilians and militia alike, as well as the use of chemical weapons.

During the heaviest fighting of the mid eighties, when troop strengths were the greatest, a young Saudi jihadi with a degree in economics created a splinter faction using money inherited from his billionaire father. His name was Osama bin Laden and his group was the forerunner of Al Qaeda. Between his own cash and some outside help, Maktab al-Khidimat, became a notable contributor to the resistance. Bin Laden himself began to gain notoriety of his own following the Battle of Jaji.

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Hamster not included.

On the Carolina front lines, my own army had grown dramatically. In addition to a small fleet of assorted armored vehicles, planes and helicopters, Santa found my war efforts and ideology worthy enough to provide me with the Mobile Command Center. The MHC changed the war against Cobra altogether. It was a rolling, three-story, unfolding monstrosity that took a team of technical experts until New Years to assemble. It contained a repair bay, missile command, brig and on the top level, there was a trap door large enough to accommodate a marauding yet very confused hamster as it swooshed down an eighteen inch escape slide. Cobra simply couldn’t compete with heavy, mobile firepower like that, not even by weaponizing giant hamsters.

In 1985, mainstream America finally became aware of the true scope of the Cobra invasion when Sunbow Entertainment produced a 95 episode series of animated documentaries about the conflict. Weapons sales soared and plastic man recruitment was at an all time high.

The fighting was also the heaviest during this period (1985-86), and many of the G.I Joe generals began to show their true colors. While some welcomed outside factions such as the Transformers, many generals were distrustful of the giant robots and felt there was “more than meets the eye” going on. As a result, Transformers and their leaders were more often than not targeted for persecution and or elimination.

Heavier ordinance, of the Chinese pyrotechnic sort, was becoming widely available to anyone brave enough to cross the border into South Carolina and obtain it, and its use soon became widespread. In a struggle for neighborhood supremacy, some despotic fartknockers committed what accounted to genocide against Transformers and other minority groups including M.A.S.K., The Masters of the Universe and those Voltron cat things. The only thing more devastating than using an M-80 to destroy a disloyal Joe soldier is using six of them to blow Optimus Prime into more pieces than that crying kid who owned it could ever realistically pick up. My Little Ponies were slaughtered wholesale and melted down into something that actually sort of looked like soap.

Indeed, playground warfare had evolved significantly since the days of beheading Barbies in windows and door jams or simply using stones to drive those snug scrawny bitches up to their necks in the cold, red North Carolina clay. By the end of ’86, even those of us commanding the most modest armies had become drunk on our own power, and this arrogant aggression soon spilled over into our ongoing war against occupying Soviet forces. The first real hard shots sounded like the ultra realistic rob-a-liquor-store-with-it cap guns we were all packing, but as it turns out, Wyatt had introduced South Carolina bottle rockets into the fray and was in fact firing them towards our position.

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The Stinger, a gift from Allah and whitey

About the same time, a new weapon was introduced into the arsenal of the mujahideen, not entirely dissimilar from a bottle rocket, called the Stinger missile. Afghan fighters were being butchered, at this point, by the Soviet use of areal bombardment and attacks by heavily armed helicopter gunships.

The west, apparently as tired of fucking around as Wyatt was, just gave a whole bunch of the Stingers, shoulder fired, laser guided and capable of dropping an aircraft from 6 km away, to the Pakistanis. Pakistan, of course, did their best to arm those who were most committed to mad dog Islamist policies, like bin Laden and the assholes who would become the Taliban a decade later. Many Stingers, however, found their way into the hands of fighters commanded by Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Massoud was an old hand in the war. A native Afghan, he’d been one of the subversives who’d bristled under the Soviet thumb since even before the invasion. He commanded a large contingent of rebels in northern Afghanistan, where most of the heavy fighting took place. The Stinger missiles were the wind that turned the tide for the Afghans, giving them a much needed edge against the superior Soviet air power that had been driving them further and further towards defeat. Massoud’s men, with the precision of surgeons, used these wonderful American toys to drill new assholes in the Russian hardware, as well as the Russians themselves.

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“Yes we can.”

As 1986 began to lean towards 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed effective control of the U.S.S.R. and announced, much as Obama did, that the Red Army would soon be returning to the mother Russia. Although at great cost, the Afghan and Arab mujahideen conglomerate had succeeded at driving out the great and powerful Soviet war machine. Contrary to popular western theorists, the Golan-Globus contrived character of Rambo had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

The victory was the product of a home field advantage, surgically applied firepower and a whole hell of a lot of religious, self-righteous indignation. Unfortunately, as the cease fires set in and the Russians prepared for withdrawal, the commanders of the mujahideen armies realized that a power vacuum was developing in Kabul and began to view each other not as allies, but as rivals.

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Cobra Commander…a snake?!

The North Carolina battlegrounds were evolving as well. By 1987, Cobra seemed pretty well done for. Cobra Commander had gone to the North Pole and been turned into a snake by weird mutants (WTF??). Most of us simply didn’t buy the official story. Around the NC campfires, the theory was that Serpentor had assassinated Cobra Commander on the shitter and gone on to turn Cobra into a live Miami drag show comprising elements of Shakespearean thespianism and down home Tijuana livestock lovin.’

Hasbro began reissuing old equipment, repainted and rebranded, a shiny example of the military industrial complex at its most money-grubbing pathetic best. Without Cobra Commander, the once powerful G.I. Joe armies fell into decline. Repairs ceased and the thundering war machine slowed to a crawl, a weekday after school rerun.

The decline resulted, as in Kabul, in a vacuum, but ours was resource based. As armies of plastic men took up less space in war budgets, more funds became available for the same resistance leaders to focus towards the ongoing struggle against the communist occupation of the playgrounds and increasingly, against each other. Arms makers like Hasbro and Mattel fell away from prominence and were slowly replaced by the likes of Crosman and Daisy. Christmas weapons shipments changed shape. Instead of large square packages filled with unassembled plastic bits, we began unwrapping long rectangular boxes containing the 4th grade equivalent to the Stinger missile.

By spring of 1988, the Great North Carolina BB Gun Wars had begun. The Soviet menace was losing face and strength in the eyes of the world. It showed in our battles against them on the playground, which became fewer and fewer. The Soviets were withdrawing, much as they were in Afghanistan, and like any post-war army, we still needed someone to shoot at. Luckily, we still had our old rivalries from the Cobra wars and it wasn’t long before someone shot someone else in the ass with a pellet gun.

Everyone thought it was really funny, because it was, and not a week passed before new alliances were formed and we began actively engaging in open live combat. Our new weapons equalized us on the battlefield. Wyatt could bring all of the bottle rockets he wanted, but he still had to stick his head out in the open to fire them.

The Afghan mujahideen had won, sort of, against the Soviets, but their fight, just as ours, was far from over. As Soviet forces exited to they north, they paused and spent three days in the Panjshir Valley violating the ceasefire with Massoud’s army by steadily shelling and firing rockets at them. The attack, which inflicted substantial casualties was a preemptive effort (rightly so) aimed at protecting the Soviet installed puppet leader, Mohammed Najibullah, formerly the head of the Afghan secret police. Najibullah was tasked with basically continuing the same policies that lead to the war in the first place.

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Massoud and his homies

With continued outside aid, mujahideen fighters united under Massoud and in 1992, the communist presence was eradicated from Afghanistan and hopes were high for democratic elections in the near future. In the meantime, civil war raged. By 1994, a generation of hardline Pakistani radicalized refugees returned as the Taliban. Within two years, the Paki and Saudi backed group had driven Massoud and his hopes for Afghanistan into exile and instituted their oppressive form of authority. Massoud’s forces remained loyal, later becoming known as the Northern Alliance.

A year before the Soviet evacuation, bin Laden’s modest force had gained its own autonomy. Bin Laden saw al Qaeda as sort of an Islamist jihadi version of the A-Team and declined to officially integrate himself into the Taliban. When Iraq invaded Kuwait and moved dangerously close to the Saudi border, bin Laden eagerly offered the services of his mujahideen army to his native Saudis. When they declined in favor of American intervention, bin Laden’s focus shifted and ultimately, he found his new war.

Much information exists to suggest that bin Laden’s al Qaeda was responsible for the car bomb that killed Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9th, 2001, the first shot fired in a war that bin Laden felt the 9/11 attacks would render inevitable. The Soviets, withdrawn from the situation and destroyed from within, have offered the best perspective on what the foreseeable future of Afghanistan holds in a statement made by former Captain Tarlan Eyvazov:

“Children born in Afghanistan at the start of the war… have been brought up in war conditions, this is their way of life.”

The boys in North Carolina, like our Afghan counterparts, had succeeded in driving out the invaders. But, also like the Afghans, we found ourselves continually engaged in the throes of all out civil war. Our newly acquired pellet rifles amounted to being little more than muskets, low powered and slow to reload, but when they’re the best thing available, they’re certainly sufficient. Our fathers, who’d ultimately planted the idea in the first place were surprisingly cool with it all, but the Maternal Oversight Committees labeled the use of pellets and BBs as atrocities and war crimes, which forced the fighting out of the neighborhoods and underground, into the forests.

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The Crosman AR-17

Hidden fortifications were quickly constructed and the evolution of our fighting became evident. Gone were the flimsy twig forts of the Soviet/Cobra wars and in their place rose cobblings fashioned from old pallets, used lumber and anything we could find that would stop an air rifle that had been pumped up 46 times. Cardboard and duct tape were adapted into crude forms of body armor and used to cover exposed patches of pellet susceptible flesh.

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Daisy Model 45 Semiautomatic pellet gun

As the fighting again intensified, I signed a secret treaty with a collector of Cobra war relics and used the subsequent profit to purchase a CO2 powered semi automatic handgun, modeled after the Colt 1911. It complemented my Crosman AR-17, a pellet firing cousin of the M-16A1 rifle. I kept the new weapon a secret, tucked under my combat clothes in a vintage canvas shoulder holster and waited for just the right moment to deploy it. The wait wasn’t long.

The summer of 1990 was accentuated by the Battle of South Springhaven Court, the last major military engagement of my adolescence. The small cadre of fifth graders, of which I was a part, found ourselves out manned by forces loyal to Wyatt, who had slowly morphed into a tyrannical seventh grade version of Stalin himself. There were only five of us in the tiny fort and the bigger kids were unleashing timed volleys of pellets and BBs, balancing their rate of fire with reload time so we had no safe window of escape. A fourth grader named Richard suddenly screamed out that a BB had penetrated the skin just behind his ear. The shooting stopped and except for Richard’s wailing, it all grew silent. After a moment, we heard Wyatt’s voice clearly.

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They don’t hirt THAT bad.

“You faggots better brace yourselves,” he yelled in a way reminiscent of the Soviet nerve to hand Afghanistan a bill for their invasion services. “Because we’re coming in and that little kid owes me money for my pellet that’s in his head.”

We were screwed like the pooch. The woods began to fill with thick, white smoke. The smell of South Carolina pyrotechnics filled the air. Wyatt and his men were using a smoke screen. They were going to storm our fort and fuck us up. The BB guns were ineffective in close quarters and those boys were much bigger. The mountains grew silent, save the crackling of leaves as Wyatt and his troops closed in. Our only chance was to use the same smoke as cover and we knew it.

Rifles pumped up, we assumed a triangular formation and pushed right down the center, hoping the enemy had fanned out enough to make their lines week. The older boys were too cool for protective snorkel masks and cardboard, so the first two we encountered got hit close range by the aforementioned 46 pumps, which stopped them cold. Although our rifles were empty when we encountered Wyatt and Heath, our crude body armor easily absorbed their hastily fired shots and all that was left was to get away. Wyatt and Heath, thinking us unarmed, attempted to close in for the kill.

They stopped suddenly and began to back away, however, when I whipped out the CO2 pistol. That awful fascist son of a bitch Wyatt got a look on his face like he was about to get shot sixteen times with a pellet gun.

I shot Wyatt sixteen times with that pistol, center mass, at a practically point blank range. And then we ran, reloading on the move, all the way back to the relative safety of home. It was the closest thing we could have achieved to victory, but it was ours, as we hadn’t been wedgied or beaten up, and so for the moment, it was enough. But like the Afghan kids, it had become what we knew and as Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner put it,

“G.I. Joe was my first recruiting officer.”

 

*This edition’s highly offensive comic strip has been posted to Facebook.