Wednesday, September 14, 2011
thegrowlingwolf Considers Rick Perry as President
"Beautiful, Beautiful Texas...."
Where I Come From
I am a West Texan by birth. My father was born in North Texas. My mother was born in South Texas. My brother was born in West Texas. My father, my mother, and my brother all died in Texas and are all buried in West Texas.
Every summer in Texas when I was growing up in both Dallas and Abilene, it got hot. As a kid, I thought nothing of going out in 100-degree heat and playing. I didn't wear much clothes at all in Texas summers. Shorts, tee shirt, barefoot. Sometimes I disposed of the tee shirt and went topless. I didn't tan, however, I burned. Turned beet red. Blistered. Then my skin peeled. Big wads of dead skin peeled off my body. Especially my neck (where the term "red neck" comes from) and back. And my forehead.
My dad had a more serious problem with the sun; he couldn't stand to get sunburned. His reaction to sunburn was to get headaches and dizzy spells and heart palpitations. My dad had the same reaction to bee and wasp stings. The sun stung him. It merely blistered me.
A deep sunburn can be quite painful and certainly is irritating. I used to rub shaving cream over my blistered skin and it helped a bit to cool it down. One of the big pranks you faced if your peers knew you'd suffered a bad sunburn was the big friendly slap on the back. "Good to see you're back!" SLAM. "Argggghhhhhh! God-damn you, you son of a bitch...." And then the laughter and hooting began. "Come on, man, you pulled that on me last year when I was burned to a crisp."
When I was a teenager, water skiing became popular. There had been aquaplaning in the past, but water skiing was just that: putting on a pair of skis and going skiing on the water, being pulled behind a motor boat while holding onto a crossbar attached to a long rope leading off the back of the boat. One of my best friend's family had a summer cabin on Lake Brownwood, outside of Brownwood, Texas, a small town about 50 miles south of Abilene. These lakes were all manmade, Lake Brownwood formed by damming up a tributary of the Colorado River.
I couldn't swim, but ironically, I could water ski thanks to a life preserver. My first time water skiing was on Lake Brownwood. It was August. July and August are the hottest months of the year in most any climates in the US. In August in Texas, the sun is a brutal anvil-striking sun, sitting as it does high up in the high sky and beaming laser-like harshly straight down.
When you were out in the middle of the lake, you got hit by the direct killing rays of the sun, but you also got burned from its reflection off the lake's mirror surface. By the time you came in off the lake after being on it most of an afternoon, you were baked to a lobster red. One of my friends was dark so he tanned. My other friend was a redhead and he suffered immensely from sunburn. But this guy was a fighter, he loved challenges, and while my other friend and I applied Coppertone or a homemade mixture of baby oil and iodine, he refused to give in to such man-made remedies; he faced the sun protectionless like a real man. And he would come back in after an afternoon session on the water skis, baked as red as his hair and the fires of Holy Hell. But then, ironically, so did my other friend and I come in burnt to crisps, too. Coppertone and baby oil and iodine really didn't work against that fierce sun. The difference, our burns weren't as serious as his burns.
Summers in my part of Texas were always dry. By mid-August rainfall was scarce to nonexistent. By August the lakes started evaporating, their water levels sinking fastly. Some time before the Labor Day weekend, Lake Fort Phantom Hill, one of the water supplies for Abilene (Abilene had four lakes from which it drew water: Lake Fort Phantom Hill, Lake Kirby, Lytle Lake, and Lake Abilene), would be evaporated down to where the lake-bottom weeds and dead trees started showing up above the lake's surface. Back in your home, the tap water began to taste funny. "Gyp water" the oldtimers called it, the earth out in that neck of the plains full of gypsum--and there were a couple of big sheet rock plants run by U.S. Gypsum over near Sweetwater 25 miles west of Abilene--sheet rock called gypsum board at one time. The combination of the gyp water with the rotting-weed water made drinking Abilene water during a rainless summer a task. Sometimes it got so bad you had to hold your nose to drink it.
Rain. When rain came it came with a bang. From suddenly roiling up skyscraping thunderhead clouds. Clouds packed with excitement. Massive blue-black clouds that buzzed down lightning bolts of a frightening magnitude. Lightning followed by atomic-bomb-blasts of thunder. All of that commotion and then a gushing of rain, those clouds vomiting out big gulps of rain that was cold rain and was sometimes full of golf-ball-up-to-baseball-size hailstones. Gully washers these storms were called. These storms passed over the city very fast and were followed by beautifully clear-skied refreshing hours--till the next day when the sun came out dressed in its devil costume and gave forth its forked-tailed hellish heat once again--though passing fastly over the city, these rains would leave behind parts of Abilene flooded, especially the low areas of town, like on the east side when Lytle Creek would flood or in my neighborhood that was located between two large creeks, on the east, Catclaw Creek and on the west, Elm Creek. Catclaw Creek would flood out over South Seventh Street and flood the low areas of Fair Park. The bigger and deeper Elm Creek would rise up mightily and look so terrifying as it neared flood stage, though it was deep enough that it only flooded up over the South Seventh Street bridge that traditionally spanned it and sometimes flooded the backyards of the big fine homes that gaggled together along the eastern banks of that creek on Elmwood Drive, the street bearing the oldest high-falutin' neighborhood in Abilene.
Abilene had a past history of flooding, a major flood that flooded the whole of the downtown happened back around the late 1900s. So, yes, there was flooding in Abilene but that was rare. Most of the time Abilene is bone dry and hot as Hades in the summer.
During the 1930s, Abilene was in the Dust Bowl that wiped out the plains states farmers and ranchers from Kansas down into Texas. These dust storms giving birth to the Dust Bowl Refugees who left Texas by the droves and headed out to Lotus Land, California. And a big chunk of my family ended up in the Los Angeles area and another chunk of them ended up in Portland, Oregon.
"Drought Refugees From Abilene, Texas, 1936" by Dorothea Lange.
Above is the famous Dorothea Lange photograph showing the packed car of a family of Dust Bowl Refugees leaving Abilene as migratory workers working their way to California (see John Steinbeck's magnificent novel, The Grapes of Wrath).
A few years back, West Texas underwent an eleven-year drought that left some towns without a water supply. They trucked water to these towns or in some cases, they built temporary pipe lines from towns with a good water supply (well water) over to the towns that were caught bone dry. The average yearly rainfall in West Texas is under 3 inches--probably more like 2 inches--I could check it but I lived out there for almost 26 years--from birth to marriage (I did spend 4 of my early years as a wee lad in Enid, Oklahoma) so I have a pretty good memory of the weather during my time there. I remember summers so hot that when ponds or creeks and things dried up, the mud at their bottoms would form octagonal plates that could be nearly as hard as concrete--huge plates of red clay mud, maybe 12" x 12", which you could disattach from the earth and sail them like Frisbees. Red mud. Red waters. Red skies. Red sunsets. Sometimes tap water running red.
The frontrunning Republican candidate for president, the honorable Rick Perry, was born in Paint Creek, Texas, in Haskell County, just 50 miles north of Abilene. His father was a rancher and community leader, a staunch Democrat, which Rick Perry was, believe it or not, too, at one time. Why Rick was even Al Gore's Texas Campaign Chairman, in the Democratic primaries of 1988. Rick became a turncoat Democrat (like Joe LIEberman) in 1989 when he became a Republican.
Is Rick Perry nuts? He's a compulsive neurotic like most American males. Is he a dumbass? Yes, in the sense he considers himself a purveyor of ideals. His problem? As a compulsive neurotic, he's overdisciplined. He's a Christian-Military man, an "Onward Christian Soldier," with a Texas A&M (with its corps of cadets) degree and then time in the Air Force, coming out of it with the rank of captain and as such a holder of authority over the lower, the weaker, the mass-man.
Texans love mavericks. Texans are proud of their outlaws. Texans like to think of themselves as "rangers," as in the Texas Rangers (whether the law-enforcement agency or the Major League baseball team (that G.W. Bush once owned)). Texans still like to think of themselves as Republicans as in the Republic of Texas, proudly exclaiming the fact that Texas was once an independent nation. Carrying on how Texas once covered a territory that ran from the Tex-Mex border all the way up into Colorado and beyond. One condition of its statehood in 1836 was that it could be divided up into other states, which it was, though what was left to Texas made it up until Alaska got statehood the BIGGEST state in the Union, and that BIGGEST state thing settled into the Texas subconscious and even though it hasn't been the largest state in the Union for 50-plus years, the Big Tex attitude stuck (Texas was and will forever be the biggest state in the Lower 48), that is unless Texas decides to secede from the Union and become a Republic again, which Governor Rick Perry has already proposed in one of his "wildest dream" threatening statements.
Growing up in Texas you heard a lot of anti-Federal-government talk. Bureaucracy and excessive paperwork and Federal intervention into States Rights was blamed on the Federal government, even though the bureaucracy in Texas politics is just as sordid and crooked and deceiving and complicated--probably even moreso.
But Texans like to think of their politicians not as crooks but as BAD ASSES. They loved G.W. Bush because he was a little bad ass bastard, a tough little prick who took no nonsense from the Federal Government. Texans have always been indoctrinated to the fact that Texas could survive on its own if it was forced to.
Rick Perry fits the Texan bad ass image to a tee. Rick Perry is a better G.W. Bush than G.W. Bush. Dig it? Like I've been under the delusion for years that G.W. Bush held the World Execution of His Fellow Human Beings Record--he executed 157 human beings, mostly Blacks and Latinos, but also one woman; innocent or not, G.W. pumped 157 human beings full of chemicals that caused them to be paralyzed to the point they could no longer breathe. But, by damn, I've recently seen Rick Perry's execution record! Holy smoke, Christian Rick has mercilessly eliminated 250 human beings (though ironically such executions haven't done anything to stop murder down in Texas, a guntoting state). Texas is still under Old West traditions--a true rightwing Libertarian state--where by God you're on your own in terms of protecting your land, your possessions, and your family, etc. And being on your own means you don't want the Federal Government (the Yankees; the Union), meddling in your affairs.
We bring up Rick Perry because, afterall, the people of Texas remember preferred G.W. Bush to the more liberal and Democrat Ann Richards. Rick, as Bush Baby's lieutenant governor, became governor in 2000 when Georgie Porgie announced he was running for president and then stole his first presidential election. Since 2000, the voters in the Great Burning-Up State of Texas have reelected Captain Rick Perry, the Onward Christian Airman, 3 times, which makes Cap'n Rick the longest serving Texas governor ever and the second-longest-serving governor in US history--a governor of Iowa served longer.
What progressives and liberals don't understand is that this country is a right wing country. Remember, the Republicans have been in power in this Land of the Brave for more years during the 20th and 21st centuries than all the Democrats put together. Since 1897 with the election of McKinley, the country has steadily elected Republicans: Teddy Roosevelt took office after McKinley was assassinated. Then Wilson, a Democrat, was in office for two terms (during World War I--Democrats used to always start wars) only to be followed by Harding and Coolidge and Hoover before FDR took office in 1932, after the Harding and Hoover administrations in cahoots with Wall Street and the U.S. Army (as General Smedley Butler said at that time, the U.S. Army doesn't work for the American people but rather for American banks and corporations (and Smedley was referring to the United Fruit Company (now cutely called Chiquita, as in Chiquita Banana, a cartoon character based on the phony Brazilian (she was Portuguese) actress and original "Coochie-Coochie" girl, Carmen Miranda)) ruined our economy and sent the nation into what so far is still known as the Great Depression. And, yes, Roosevelt and his New Deal policies did through government hiring put millions of Americans back to work, though New Deal policies didn't really get us out of the Great Depression. World War II did that. And as we now know, it was after the Japanese made a "miracle" attack on Pearl Harbor--while Hawaii was still a US territory (owned mainly by the Dole pineapple people)--that Roosevelt quickly made his famous "day that will live in infamy" speech that got us into World War II, first in the South Pacific and then later into the European campaign (something Winston Churchill (remember, his mother was an American) had been trying to get Roosevelt involved in for several months before Pearl Harbor).
Immediately after Roosevelt died and Harry S. Truman took office, the Republicans again began attacking the presidency, this time led by the racist Dixiecrat (pro-Slavery and States Rights) Party under the leadership of Democrat turncoat Strom Thurmond who soon, in revenge against Truman's integrating the US Army, took Southern Democrats over into the New South Republican Party, an effort that got the Republicans under Ike Eisenhower (his Oval Office was on the golf course--Ike played more golf than any other president ever--why, Ike even built a golf hole on the White House lawn) back into office over poor old typical Democratic wimp candidate, Adlai Stephenson, who made the mistake of thinking the American electorate (mostly all White up until the Civil Rights Act was passed under Lyndon Johnson) were intelligent beings and tried to reason with them with big words and a high-faluttin' attitude that most Americans took as looking down his nose at them to the point the Republican power brokers got to calling him an egghead, a very insulting call in terms of the ignorant and the dumbass (Mass-man, according to Ortega y Gasset). As a result, Ike trounced poor old Adlai very badly mainly with the help of the racist White Southern Democrats switching parties and becoming what they publicized themselves as "Dem-Ike-Crats."
In the Eisenhower election, FDR and the New Deal were slandered meanly--like with the singsong parody: "Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a Camel. This is the Promised Land," a slogan that had been started by the Wendell Wilkie (Nazi sympathizer) Republican effort to unseat Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential campaign, used to picture the successful Works Project Administration's job program as being Socialist and a Welfare Program giving free rides to what to Republicans were wastrels and lazy asses (liberally applied to poor White trash and all Blacks and Mexicans). These same Taftian Republicans (Torys) also attacked Social Security for the same reasons, though the original Social Security program put the retirement age at 65, which at the time, most Americans were dead before they reached it (Life expectancy figures for men and women during the half-decade 1935-1940: 1935. 59.9. 63.9. 1936. 56.6. 60.6. 1937. 58.0. 62.4. 1938. 61.9. 65.3. 1939. 62.1. 65.4. 1940. 60.8. 65.2).
Roosevelt after all was an aristocrat from a Dutch family that went all the way back to New Amsterdam days. The Dutch once they gained their independence from Catholic Spain in the 1600s became very successful investment Capitalists, bankers, mercantilists, colonizers, and slavers. It was the Dutch whose trading (stockholder) companies (they were military forces, too) built forts along the African coastline from whence they brought thousands upon thousands of slaves to Brazil (a Dutch colony before the Portuguese took it over) and their possessions in Central America and the Caribbean (Aruba, St. Maarten, etc.), and New Amsterdam (soon to become New York). At one time in New Amsterdam, it is said perhaps 40% of the population were Blacks. New York City was built on the backs of Black slaves, who at one time lived in what is today Greenwich Village, though gradually the Whites pushed the Blacks up the Island, first up into what is today Chelsea, then up into what became known as San Juan Hill, and finally up into Harlem at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Since Eisenhower, the Democrats have only won the presidency every now and then--Kennedy and Johnson following the defeat of crooked lawyer and "I am not a crook" politician, Richard Milhouse Nixon--a drunk, too, and whose wife, Pat, was also a drunk (so was Mamie Eisenhower a drunk).
Lyndon Johnson so trounced Barry Goldwater--in the "In your heart you know he's right" 1964 presidential campaign in which the Johnson forces ran the ad with the little girl playing and the big red glow of an atomic bomb being exploded suddenly on the horizon behind her as she played--it was said the Republican Party was dead in the water after that election, basing it on that election's voting records where the Democrats out-registered the Republicans by a 4-to-1 margin.
Then the Vietnam War (actually started by Ike Eisenhower, the 4-star general president) ruined Johnson's liberal look and he was forced to drop out of the race in 1969 due to the Vietnam War protesters and the Hippy movement. As became their future habit, the Democrats put up another wimp, Hubert "Pleased as Punch" Humphrey (a Sociologist via education and a very liberal Minnesotan (when Minnesota was a liberal state)) to run against the drunk and self-abusing neurotic bully Richard "I Am Not a Crook" Nixon and his gang of Republican criminals (including the war-crimes criminal Henry Kissinger (still alive and kicking with a consulting firm that has a big office in Beijing, China)). And Nixon easily beat the wimpy Hubert H. and once again the Republicans (Tories) took over the White (Man's) House. These fools were in power until Tricky Dick Nixon was caught with his pants down around his ankles in the Watergate Scandal, a political shenangigan that got him almost impeached and put Gerald "The Man Who Can't Chew Gum and Walk at the Same Time" Ford in the White Man's House, after Nixon had beaten the next Democratic wimp and loser, George McGovern. Gerald Ford was an unelected President same as G.W. Bush.
Finally, in 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, a Democratic wimp, Jimmy "Mr. Peanut and Rocket Scientist" Carter got elected--I mean Gerald Ford had the personality of a nitwit while Jimmy Carter and his wife and his mother offered a new hope for America, which is always why Democrats get elected. After Jimmy Carter fucked up and didn't bring that new hope to Americans, they trashed his ass and elected a Grade B actor with henna-dyed hair whose great claim to acting fame came as a second banana to a monkey. And Reagan soon became in the eyes of dumbass Americans a great president who to this day is still praised as the Great Communicator and is still highly respected by all Americans--I mean, he's even revered by our current Democratic President, the Great Compromiser, Barack Obama, a Democrat who the American people elected again with great hope that he would bring about change in the same vein as FDR, Kennedy, and Johnson brought about change or the promise of change. "Yes we can" Obama said over and over--per Martin Luther King, Jr.'s alliterational speech making--"I have a dream...(blah, blah, blah)...and I have a dream that...." Obama has just recently used this same alliterative type of speechmaking in promoting his Jobs for Americans speech--"It must be passed now!" In fact, Reagan's administration put us into debt and took away a lot of our rights and played bully by shooting missiles at Omar Kha-DAFFY (killing one of his daughters, I believe) and invading the small Caribbean Island nation of Grenada in which the US infiltrators killed Maurice Bishop and his whole government--assassinated them all because they had allowed Cuba to be building them a modern airport--I mean, tourism was Grenada's only means of income.
After Reagan left office (remember, his last years in the White (Man's) House he was an Alzheimer's poster boy with Nancy Reagan and phony psychic Jeanne Dixon running the government, Interim President Dixon basing her psychic authenticity on the fact she'd predicted the Kennedy assassination--something anybody living in Dallas, Texas, at the time was predicting. I recall on the day of the assassination, I went into the staff room of the juvenile home where I was the office manager. That staff room's windows overlooked the Trade Center (another World Trade Center) where Kennedy was to make a speech. As I entered the room, one of my cohorts, a guy I'd gone to high school with in Abilene, a joker of a dude, was acting as though he was sighting down a rifle aimed at that Trade Center and going "Pow...pow...pow," as though taking out Kennedy--ironically this little farce was almost in sync with when Kennedy was actually being assassinated as he drove around Dealy Plaza in order to get to the Stemmons Expressway which was then to whisk him up to the Trade Center.
My Whole Point
I didn't watch the 9/11 ceremony Sunday, though Little Georgie Porgie Bush and Pickles were there beaming and smiling and getting glad hands and wide-eyed admiration. I certainly didn't hear of anybody trying to arrest this little prick of an ex-faux-president. And Barack was there, too, and I heard a little of his speech--he quoted the Christian Book of Hooey and talked about God and his love of America--that is whatever God it is politicians thank and ask to bless America after every one of their rousing speeches. And boy howdy, folks, hasn't this God really blessed us!--recently blessing us with a hurricane, an earthquake, nuclear explosions happening, a tanking economy, jobs going asunder, banks controlling our lives, money being our true God, --so why not just say "Money Bless America."
Then later while watching the Jets and Cowboys football game from what was once called Giant Stadium but is now called Met-Life Stadium--everything is commercial now--the Mets stadium is now named after a crooked bank--CitiField--and our Randall's Island stadium is named for Carl Icahn, the junk bond crook--but enough of that--what amazed me about the football game was that Georgie Porgie Bush showed up at it for a personal appearance--and, damn, you should have seen the respect he got--the crowd went wild when he trotted out to center field to flip the coin that decides who kicks and who receives--and the players were all beaming and shaking his hand and the bands were playing "God Bless America" and then they unfurled this damn football-field-size American flag--and the crowd (mostly White males) went absolutely jerky mad with applause and pride.
The majority of White people in this country, especially the drugstore cowboy men and the addlepated men-adoring women (remember bouffant hairdos?), love Texas type males--
My point: Don't be surprised if Rick Perry turns out to be our next president (remember, three of our modern presidents have been Texans--plus, Unka Dick Cheney is a Texan).
for The Daily Growler
A Little Taste of American Art:
One of the original "Los Cinco Pintores" of Santa Fe, New Mexico, WILL SHUSTER, admiring his "Zozobra" creation in 1935--the original burning man. This is a photograph by the great American photographer Ernest Knee.
I had the privilege of knowing and spending many a wonderful evening with Will Shuster when in the late 1960s my young wife and I lived in Will's studio in back of his Camino del Monte Sol home. Will was in his 70s and suffered badly from emphysema, an illness that had forced him to retire from painting--a hell of a bad state for any kind of artist. Will smoked cigarettes and he drank cheap vodka (he told me many a night how he drank charcoal-filtered vodka because of its purity). The emphysema came about when he suffered a mustard gas attack while he was fighting with the US Army in France during World War I. Will died in 1969 shortly after my wife and I left Santa Fe for New York City.
Will was a native Philadelphian and he studied art there with John Server. He left Philadelphia where he suffered badly from his emphysema for the drier air of the Southwest and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1920. Later, Will became a close and lifelong friend with Ashcan artist John Sloane. Living in Will's studio, I had access to all of Will's and John's letters to each other over the years. It was in one of John's letters to Will in whose margin I discovered a sketch of a woman's breasts with a note saying, "You know, Will, the nipples on a woman's breasts do not point straight out at the viewer but one goes off to one side while the other one points straight out...." That amused me to the point I had my wife show me her breasts--and, by God, as many times as I had worshipped those breasts in wild and maddened love (sex), I had never noticed that perspective in terms of her nipples.
The last time I was with Will we went through a storage room to the side of his house where many of his canvases were stored. He offered me any of them for $400 each--but I didn't buy them--too bad, Will's art--as is the art of Santa Fe and Southwestern artists--is hot today, paintings I could have bought for $400 are now selling in the $25,000 range.
Blessing, Will Shuster (1893-1969)
The following is a long interview with Will conducted by the Smithsonian in 1964. Will led a fascinating life and he was a fascinating man: