Freaky White Men
You know, I spent an hour and change yesterday writing a big old reactive post about the whole Don Imus affair, and I’m actually kind of glad the computer ate it, because this whole thing is getting way the fuck out of hand, and I’m nauseated by the way the media keeps humping this story like the proverbial dog at the fire hydrant, and if we’re going to hinge a discussion about racism on this asshole’s remarks, well, I may just have to rip my eyeballs out with a coat hanger and/or move to a bunker in Nevada and broadcast extraterrestrial conspiracy theories on AM radio a la Art Bell. So I will say this: Imus is a dick who made a stupid, crass, racially charged remark, and while I certainly think he deserves to take some well-deserved shit for it, there is a difference between a true racist and a person who makes racially charged remarks yet does not, prima facie, support the institution of racism. Imus, I suspect, is the latter. Rush Limbaugh, whom you may recall made the remark, “Who cares about black people? They’re like 12% of the population,” is the former. And while millions of dumbasses depend on Limbaugh for moral and political guidance, no one depends on Imus for anything (including, I suspect, entertainment). But no one sees fit to call Limbaugh on his OxyContin-laced shit because, as my friend the Pirate pointed out, IOKIYAR (it’s OK if you’re a Republican), and Imus is not, to the best of my knowledge, affiliated with any political stripe. Hmmm. Maybe I should change my voter registration for the sole purpose of being able to spew all sorts of racist, sexist bilge and not get called on it! [/sarcasm]
All righty (lefty?), then! Moving on to What Is Truly Important In Life, my deepest, most insincere apologies to my friend Marcia, who would have had me watch “The Bachelor” on Monday night, but whose edict I cast aside in favor of an awesome documentary about Jonestown on PBS. Ahhh, nothing like spending an hour and change sacked out in front of the tube with a pseudo-religious mass suicide cult! (For those of you who know nothing about Jonestown, the charismatic, if extremely fucked-up Reverend Jim Jones was the founder of the People’s Temple, an ostensibly Socialist organization (yay!) that relied upon good old-fashioned religious chicanery like faith healing in order to manipulate its followers (boo!). When San Franciscans got wind of Jones’s darker practices—he raped more than one of his female disciples, and may have done the same to some of the men—Jones moved his followers to the jungles of Guyana and established the communal cult known as Jonestown. On November 18, 1978, Jonestown came to an end when 909 of its residents drank Kool-Aid mixed with cyanide. I’ve heard that the Kool-Aid ingested was not, in fact, Kool-Aid proper, but a cheaper house brand. Details, details. I suppose it matters to the Kool-Aid marketing department. At any rate, hopefully I haven’t given away too much of the plot for you to lose interest. If you really want to freak yourself out, then listen to the recording of Jones’s voice on the PA system exhorting his followers to “hurry up, we’ve had a good run” as they drank themselves to death. Scary. Check your local listings and all that.)
Apparently I just can’t get enough of those 1970s-era sociopaths, because Tuesday morning found me in the company of the final pages of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, his “true-life novel” account of Gary Gilmore, who murdered a gas station attendant and a hotel manager in Provo, Utah, and was subsequently tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in October 1976. (Hey, me too! Well, I was born that month and year, but y’know, same difference.) Gilmore gained notoriety by arguing vociferously for his own death, which, when it was finally carried out on January 17, 1977, was the first execution carried out in the United States after a five-year moratorium. Now, when I say I was in the company of the final pages of this book, I have to stress the word final, because DAMN, it is one long-ass book. Nine months in 1,024 pages. Jeezus! It’s awesomely well-written, to be sure, and I have to give props to anyone who can crank a thousand-plus pages out in 15 months, especially when budgeting time for interviews, but hell’s bells, Gone with the Wind was 1,037 pages, and that spanned twelve years! What kind of speed was Mailer on that he could squeeze every last drop of minutiae out of everyone from Gilmore’s lover, Nicole Baker Barrett, down to the guy who was supposed to be running the gas station the night Gilmore shot Max Jensen? Seriously, I want some! I can’t even write a page a day without ripping it up and starting over about ten times, fer Chrissakes.
Bleaugh. Anyway, if you have the stamina to plow through a thousand-page book, go for it. It’s worth it, if only for the chapters leading up to Gilmore’s execution, in which Gilmore and his family/friends are, no lie, hanging out and boozing it up in the visitors’ lounge at Utah State Prison. I mean, dag. The Rosenbergs didn’t get a fraction of that kind of treatment, and they were innocent. Ooh, it makes me wonder…
Before I make like a seam and split, I’ve just been invited to post on another blog, Ornery Woman, which you should check out regardless of whether or not I’ve vented my womanly spleen. Hee. (I'm gonna need to after writing about all these dudes.) Oh, and if you can tell me what form of execution Utah uses, I’ll give you a prize. Or something.