Dear Dirty America


Warren Buffet, Ice Cream, & the Secret Beacon to Happiness & Wealth

July 09
07:30 2012
Los Angeles

Strange occurrences happen to me nearly every day, and I wonder if that is normal for everybody, or if it’s just me playing up the drama of incidents that are, actually, not peculiar. Maybe I set out on my daily journeys with a circus styled mindset. Maybe it’s that kind of bizarre thinking that creates a wild mental headwind, and eventually, toward the middle and end of the day, it attracts the most unsavory characters within a rather sickening city.

For example, the other day I’d gone out to get a simple ice cream cone from Grand Central Market, near Pershing Square. I craved a waffle cone, with a scoop of cookies and cream smashed into the cone’s opening. I’d gotten a cone at that market before, and it was especially good. The ice cream shop owner was especially friendly, which meant I was glad to hand over a couple of bucks to him for the treat. Someday, I’d like him to write an article for DDA about his experiences selling ice cream in that marketplace. Next time, I’ll spring it on him.

Would you like to write a raw piece for Dear Dirty America? I would ask straight out. “I’m not a writer,” he’ll  probably say. Bullshit, I’ll tell him. Everybody’s a writer. But not everybody could sit here and sell ice cream in this racket.

The reason I so desperately wanted an ice cream cone at one in the afternoon was, I suspect, because Warren Buffet is always eating one in every picture he takes. It’s like his secret to success. He’s doing awfully well mentally and financially, it seems. Maybe that damn ice cream has an element of goodwill and universal prosperity linked to it. Since living in the Real World, I’ve begun to understand everything in this country is talked about in coded language. Ice cream might be the secret beacon signaling happiness and an abundance of dollars.

Mentally and financially, I could use the help. And an ice cream cone in a marketplace full of cooking meats and the smells of fresh Mexican food wafting so thick it’ll stick in your hair until after the next time you shower is highly desirable to a person like me. I don’t eat meat, but I like the smell of people eating it. I like the sounds of their teeth tearing apart juicy, innocently white strips of chicken (I always think of the infamous pigeon roast on Sunset Blvd on Jan 13, 2011). The cheap red plastic chairs and tables all occupied by families and Los Angeles business people licking the flavored secretions from their lips and fingers, and then lifting another handful or forkful into their open oral cavities, to begin once again that most atavistic squashing of food.

That kind of brazen barbecue environment stirs the primal ions in my blood. And I, too, was among that zealous crowd. I must admit I tongued and licked, sucked and slurped at my ice cream cone like any other man, woman, or child. But not for one second could I lose myself completely into that sharp sweetness that pleasantly irritated the upper right section of my palate. Delectable ice cream, and certainly whipped by a professional maker, but nothing in this world can dull my constant concern that the Final Days have already begun dropping off the calendar.

I’m talking about the Doom and sure feelings of the very painful end to something. To Something. But what? Can you feel it? Sit still, take a breath. Can you feel it? I can’t stop sensing it. I can’t escape, for even a second, that around-the-corner sense of peril. The feeling that we should all be running away from whatever it is that’s coming, and that awful knowledge that a) there is nowhere to run, and b) even if there was, nobody would.

Is it the imminent financial collapse? Or the police state? The surveillance society? Our limited freedoms being permanently molded into a tiny maze where humans have only the right to shop for products made by the corporate world. Watch the TV programs assigned to their screens. Listen to the same music played by every radio station. Comment on the same movies in every theater. Society rapidly contracting into One culture. One world. One main stream of ideas and ideologies. You’re still free to think outside of that, but you’ll be one of the few, because the rest of the worker bees won’t have the mental capacity to understand anything not relegated to their authorized mediums.

Might that be the disastrous end I’m fearing and feeling? A Monsanto world. Disney-entertained. Products supplied by Koch Bros. The judges. The courts. The congress people. The president. All acting on the stages funded and built by Monsanto. Everybody gets a goddamned iPhone. And that’ll be enough. We’re handed our responsibilities. Given our saviors. Authenticated by an electronic ID card. Nobody could dare walk out of line. Not with all the cameras. All the police watching the people. The heavy metal domestic tanks. The constant advertising. Choices between warm and cold shit. But after the Great Collapse, that’ll seem like Good Living. Vote Red. Vote Blue. You did your part.

If anybody thinks back at the system, or opens his mouth to say otherwise, the police might not even need to get involved. He’ll be lynched by his own neighbors. Everybody will be trained by Homeland Security to keep a wary eye out for acts of dissatisfaction or dissent. We’ll all have Google glasses that will further direct us where we need to be.

I hope I’m dead wrong. Impossible to enjoy an ice cream cone while in that deadbeat rut. Before I die, I’d love to take full pleasure in a waffle cone stacked with three scoops. The bottom cookies and cream. The middle fudge brownie. The top vanilla. But that kind of bottom-feeder delight serves no true purpose, and seems far too frivolous for times like these. If only I knew there was no hope for redemption from this Capitalist, Fascist bullet train of death and despair we’re riding and fueling. But I do have hope. It’s that friction between wretchedness and hope that whips up such stultifying levels of personal paranoia.

We’re all plugged into the corporate system, anyway. The corporate state is Republican. It’s Democrat. It’s Romney. It’s Obama. Neither man will save us. Neither will their wives. They offered us great plastic and metal toys. We took the bait. Where would we run if we wanted to escape? Who is fit enough to live in the desert, truly off the grid, like a modern day Charles Manson?

That reminds me:

My uncle lives on a ranch in Western North Dakota. I’ll never forget the first steer I saw slaughtered. The first Big Animal I witnessed falling to its knees so suddenly it made my knees hurt. My uncle expertly held an old rifle. He aimed it at this big, clumsy brown animal. The steer’s hide looked soft and a little dirty. My uncle steadied his feet and placed his eye behind the sights. I was a young boy. My eyes got wide. The steer’s eyes were as calm and peaceful as ever. I’ll never forget them. Brown and wet and large. But no urgency.

Run! Run you stupid brute! Run! my little boy mentality shouted at the animal. The rifle cracked. The steer’s legs buckled and all that beef hit the ground. A small puff of dust blew out from under the carcass. My uncle handed the rifle to my father, and then jumped the pen, grabbed a giant knife, and stood over the shaking animal. One red dot in the center of the beast’s forehead was the only visible difference from ten seconds before.

My uncle stood over the body. He grabbed the steer’s snout and jammed the knife into its neck. He vigorously sawed at the strong hide. Blood puked out the slit in rhythmic waves. Mucus and blood spurted from the round black nostrils. The animal kicked. Just nerves, my father always said.

Would that steer have had a chance just by running away? Probably not. Was that steer destined to have a chance? It would have had to jump the fences and still make a getaway in a countryside filled with farms and ranches and fences and pastures. That animal was not living in a world sympathetic to its well-being.

That is the urgency and helplessness I detect in the air. A somber, joyless reality among us. But again, it might just be me. And where would we run? Perhaps the best, most sensible solid act we can do is forget about it and enjoy every piece of chicken. Every steak. Every bite of seasoned potato. Every slurp of soda. Come to think of it, that steer had been chewing on a few strands of straw when it went down. Did it enjoy that straw up until the very final second of its life? I’m sure it did. That’s what that steer was meant to do. That’s why it was given living breath. To eat grass, to chew on straw, to get fat. To get slaughtered.

Are we any different? You wouldn’t know it, judging by the atmosphere in any bar or restaurant. A bunch of sleepy, wet brown eyes staring idly ahead at walls littered with meaningless junk that some uppity designer or owner thought precious and mood-enhancing. What do those people see while they’re chomping away at yet another high-calorie meal? Hopes for the future? Sex? About going to the bathroom? A TV show? Being a child? Retirement? Their jobs? Paychecks? Money? What?

I’ve always eating with the instinct of survival blasting through my veins. Fast. As quickly as possible. An animal at the watering hole. Never turn your back for long. There is no more time for savoring food and drink and sex and television.

I could be wrong about all of it. My friends who are on Prozac tell me there is nothing to worry about. Obama loves you. Mitt Romney isn’t too bad. Israel is treating the Palestinians like so many head of cattle, but isn’t that always happening somewhere on earth? Politicians have always been corrupt. Washington DC’s working parts always needed a lot of money to keep them lubricated and turning. Life is better now than ever before. Yeah, there’s a ton (trillions) of student loan and credit card debt, but that’s because people are living better lives. And it’s only debt. At least people have money to play with.

Sixty years ago Jack Kerouac nervously fingered a few dimes in his trousers’ pockets, and every time he saw a coin on the San Francisco sidewalks, he scooped it up. A dime for a jug of homemade wine. His friend, and still-living Beat poet Michael McClure told me, “We didn’t have money back then like you kids do now.”

Maybe the world isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s just CNN’s 24-hr news feed that dampens the experience. Maybe we shouldn’t know about the millions of homeless, destitute people forced out of Iraq. Or the million plus killed since Bush Sr’s bombing campaign, to Clinton’s bomb run, to Bush Jr’s invasion. Maybe that’s just how the world is, man, and we should let the big boys and the analysts crunch the numbers, and leave those destroyed, murdered, impoverished, sorrowful people where we can’t lose any sleep over them — as just numbers.

Fuck, man, I don’t know. I’ve got a bad feeling through all of this. When the space aliens make full Disclosure to Earth, let’s hope they have absolutely no sympathy for the Iraqis, or all the downtrodden human beings of the world. Let’s hope they aren’t violent saviors set on handing justice to the bullies of the world. If so, this country might not stand an assault with advanced weaponry from Zeta Reticuli.

As for that first paragraph, I’ll get to that in another post. Unsavory characters, and so on. This article spoke for itself, and it wanted to portray itself far differently than little old me had first imagined. Writing a pointed, responsible article is like steering a dinghy into a hurricane. Why would anybody do that? Not by choice, anyway.


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