Summer is on San Francisco’s doorstep, right there with the drunk vagrants lying in their own urine, flyers for a sweet-fluff club called “Sixxteen” touting glam-rock bacchanalia, and chinese and pizza delivery menus offering delicacies invented in cramped greasepits all over the globe. Usually I don’t pay attention to the menus since, like a missile-maker with a sweetheart Pentagon deal, I have my own shortlist of preferred vendors: Bambino’s for pizza, Big Nate’s BBQ for a slab of hormone-injected, hickory-slopped ribs, Best of Thai Noodles for a quart of chow fun, Ploy II for thai food, Campus Cuties 24-Hour Playpals for extra credit biology, and Diane Feinstein’s secret hotline when I want to rant about how phony liberals are the worst, smarmiest, most totalitarian scum-sucking sons-a-bitches this side of the Great Wall. Now, as a victim of public schools myself, I can’t say for sure where we are exactly in relation to the Great Wall, but I know it’s probably the wrong side, and it didn’t even slow the barbarians down.
Just last night I had a dream I was pitching in the major leagues. Well, not pitching in a game, but spitting and scratching my privates in the bullpen with the other relief pitchers. I didn’t know what my number was, but I was playing for one of the New York clubs, and I wore my stirrups high, like Alfonso Soriano. It was a surreal experience, this dream, because I was aware of 50,000 people in the stands, and the trapdoor beneath the bullpen mound that led to Dick Cheney’s secret hideout. All of the players and I were joking about how underneath the bullpen rubber was probably the last place in the galaxy someone would look for Cheney — but then it occurred to us that NO ONE IN THE WORLD CARES WHERE CHENEY IS besides low-level flunkies like Rush Limbaugh and Condaleeza Rice. Now my politically correct friends like to say, “At least there are people of color in Bush’s cabinet.” Yeah, sure — right next to the Jack Daniels and the kilo of coke. Red Foxx, now that’s my idea of genuine minority leadership.
If George W. appoints O.J. Under-Secretary of Transportation, is that supposed to be a victory for the oppressed and downtrodden? And what has Colin Powell ever really done? He sat on his hands as titular leader of the UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia (or was that Serbia?) while atrocities and ethnic cleansing continued. He went to Palestine and accomplished nothing. So what if he oversaw Operation Desert Storm, which sacrificed thousands of innocent Iraqis and a few Americans to protect gas and oil conglomerates, including the depraved Saudi and Kuwaiti dictatorships? Powell’s true role is to camouflage the crimes of the military-industrial cabal with his affable, well-spoken (compared to the president) demeanor. Powell represents the illusion of hope, and everyday we slide a little closer to the precipice.
Which makes me think the gist of the dream, which I reckon is actually a Hunkpapa Sioux-style sundance vision of buffalo hunts and dog stew, is that collective consciousness is rising, albeit slowly; at this pace, by the latest Rand Corp. calculations, the international proletariat will rise and seize the means of production in June of 4004. For about ten days.
As Chairman Mao said in “People of the World, Unite and Defeat the U.S. Aggressors and All Their Lackeys”:
In the final analysis, national struggle is a matter of class struggle. Among the whites in the United States it is only the reactionary ruling circles who oppress the black people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people.
So the Chairman didn’t have all of his facts right, so what? But if baseball players, even if in our dreams, begin to recognize the realities of the situation, maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we are all in this together; at least that what I thought after visiting 15th and Folsom in the city.
I had ventured to this no-man’s land of auto dismantlers and squat concrete boxes to register my keen displeasure to the local cable bureaucrats, who do not offer ESPN2 in San Francisco. After hoping to watch a little puck action after a hard day of sleeping and reading Crumb comic books, I had turned on the TV to catch game seven between the Colorado Avalanche and the LA Kings, only it wasn’t there. It can’t be because of any bias against sports, since my all-stops cable package delivers ESPN, ESPN News, ESPN Classic. So why no ESPN2? You’ve got me. We have channels dedicated to infomercials, trout fishing and crème-based sauces, but no ESPN2? It’s an outrage, and the morons wonder why everyday more people exchange their cable boxes for satellite dishes! My civic-mindedness kicked in. I decided to speak for the voiceless and the otherwise disenfranchised and hurried down to AT&T’s headquarters to lambaste the bums.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the quorum. On the dirty sidewalk outside the media giant’s prison-like lodgings I had an epiphany, or maybe a thought: do I really need another 35 hockey and baseball games a week? Is it a good thing to watch goons from Moose Jaw crash the net and throw punches at each other? You bet your sweet ass, Nancy! Thus re-inspired to give the kulaks a what-for, I stepped boldly to the threshold and pushed the door. Only it didn’t budge. I pushed again. No luck. Perturbed to the point of rage, I let my fists flail (sometimes they have a mind of their own) on the smoked glass. Again, nothing, nada. Either I was in the wrong place, or the cable gods and their henchmen weren’t accepting visitors.
Thus frustrated I shuffled down the street, vowing revenge. Then I saw it: garish neon signage proclaiming “Fresh donuts, teriyaki, ice cream, sushi, hamburgers, chow mein.” Wow. A culinary version of “It’s A Small World.” Multi-culturalism in a bowl. I had no choice but to genuflect at the altar of brotherhood, so I went inside, grabbed a spoon and headed to the counter. Suddenly I was ravenous, and ordered chicken fried rice, a corn dog, two pieces of sashimi, and a maple bar. As my victuals were dutifully summoned, microwaved and unwrapped, a jolt of patriotism surged through my grateful body. All this for only $6.41! Tears came to my eyes. I paid the bill, found a chipped plastic chair beneath the withering fluorescent light and stared at my tray. I knew that if I ate everything I’d be sick, sick of food, sick of myself, sick at the idea of being condescended to and spat upon by the corporations who exist to take my money and my pride. So I did the natural thing and bought a 40-ounce Schlitz to wash it all down.
Hand-wringing do-gooders host conferences and write white papers asking why the new generation chooses drugs and alcohol over trees and literature. But it’s only because the external world has failed them, and we the holy unwashed masses seek solace in our inner space, where we can be alone, free from the insults and prejudices of the society we were born into. We know it’s wrong, we want to be better, useful, happy. But there’s a game on TV and four beers in the fridge. Let’s order a meat lover’s pizza with our last twenty dollar bill, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.