Triumph of the W
always loved circuses and I have an abiding fondness for whores. The coronation
of George W. Bush at the Republican National Convention last week in Philadelphia
was the Cirque du Soleil of contemporary American politics, a slick and brilliantly
choreographed Nuremberg rally of friendly fascism. The delegates were a cheerful
and surprisingly diverse bunch, brimming with confidence and relentlessly charming,
surrounded by whores of every shape, size and description, from the corporate
carnies with their lavish spreads and open bars to the beautifully coiffed bimbos
of Big Media, dashing around madly with their cellphones in search of the perfect
soundbite. As the event commenced on Monday, the Governor’s name was placed
in nomination without opposition. Laura Bush and Colin Powell delivered the
opening speeches. Powell is a man of astounding presence.
I’m not cynical: I
voted for McCain in the primary. Some people would call that naive. His unbelievably
beautiful wife Cindy reinforced the convention theme of inclusion when she rose
to "enthusiastically and unanimously" cast all 30 Arizona delegates
for W. Cindy McCain might be the most beautiful woman inside the Beltway.
Outside the stadium, the
world was encased in oppressive tropical heat, and the night had brought no
relief. A storm was needed, a midsummer gullywasher to cleanse the atmosphere.
I went back to the motel. The pool closes at 10, but the fence isn’t that
high and it was pretty late and I am Randall Flagg, at least as far as the front
desk is concerned. I took a quick dip and hustled back to my room, where I mixed
a Bloody Mary, got stoned and switched on CNN. I set the thermostat at 65 and
considered the day’s events. I had to get laid. The convention had made
me incredibly horny; maybe the CIA was beaming libido waves at the media tents
or something. Thinking about the convention and watching the CNN footage was
making me hornier and hornier. Maybe this is some kind of new kink, or karma
for being registered in this $50 a night anonymous motel as Randall P. Flagg.
I called an escort service
from the yellow pages and ordered a white girl with munchkin tits. An hour later
she arrived, cute, a little scruffy, somewhere in her mid-20s. She asked to
use the bathroom. When she came out, I offered her a drink, which she declined.
I gave her the money up front, as is the custom. She wanted to smoke. "The
room is posted as nonsmoking. I didn’t think I’d be allowed to."
I offered her an American Spirit. She declined, saying that she smoked menthols.
Hers were down in the car, she said. "Can I just duck down and get ’em?"
she asked. "Of course," I said. And thus vanished $185 into the steamy
Jersey night. Maybe I am naive.
morning I got up at the crack of dawn and resolved never to trust a whore with
my money except when paying my taxes. I headed over to the Annenberg Center
to check out dope day at Arianna Huffington’s theme park of political correctness,
the Shadow Convention. Today’s theme was the failure of the drug war, a
subject certainly near and dear to my heart. I found a great parking space on
Filbert St. and a nice construction-site dumpster to hide behind while I smoked
The Lindesmith Foundation
was in there shilling for the rehab industry, pushing for more tax dollars for
so-called "treatment" and beating the drum for legalization. I ran
into Dana Beal, who is looking better than I’ve ever seen him. His color
is good and he seems to have finally shifted out of rant mode. He was there
with his traveling ibogaine show. I’d love to try that stuff. I’m
not interested in shedding any habits, but I hear it’s pretty neat.
Inside the hall some woman
was going on about how the drug war disproportionately lands on "people
of color." I hate that phrase with a deep, abiding passion. It is completely
and blatantly racist, a tactic for the exclusion of whites from the discourse
unless they accept the prescribed mantle of guilt. This is the punishment whites
get for being the first race to ban the practice of slavery. We’re still
waiting for the Africans and the Asians to catch up.
I went out to smoke a cigarette.
The LaRouche people’d had a booth set up on Sunday. I was hoping to hear
their take on dope day at Arianna’s World, but they were gone. Apparently
Arianna doesn’t think that the political group that was furthest ahead
of the curve on the evils of the IMF/World Bank crowd deserves a voice. The
vindication of Lyndon LaRouche is an interesting and seriously underreported
phenomenon. Everything he warned against regarding the International Monetary
Fund and the World Bank has come to pass. Not only was he right, but his ideas
have been embraced by the ruckus crowd. Those people you saw in Seattle, those
new activists hurling themselves against the New World Order, are acting out
in the streets the very ideas that the LaRouche crowd has been quietly circulating
for decades. They’re closet LaRouchoids, these wonderful kids. He’s
been out of jail for six years. I wonder what he’s up to now.
I ran into Bill Weinberg
of High Times–pull his string and he makes a Stalinist comment.
He’s a nice enough guy, he just can’t get laid and won’t pay
a whore because he thinks it exploits women. I called him a lesbian and he walked
away. Sarah Ferguson from the Village Voice tumbled by with DJ Spooky
in tow. It was so refreshing to meet an erudite and well-grounded young black
man that I decided to join them for a beer. I had missed Jesse Jackson, thank
God, and Sarah was gushing about his appearance and how she yelled, "Run
Jesse run!" at him. Well, she just got back from a couple of weeks
in Amsterdam, so maybe it’s just some form of postorbital delirium or something.
Spooky was readying for
some event he was working that evening and Sarah was off to join up with her
anarchist buddies and maybe spend a night in jail if possible. I decided to
go back down to the FU Center for the afternoon festivities. I smoked another
joint on the way, the buzz taking the edge off the excruciating humidity. After
clearing the remarkably well-organized security checkpoint, I made my way to
Media Tent #3 and scanned the day’s press releases. I saw where Rudy Giuliani
and Little Ricky Lazio were going to put in an appearance at 5:30. I never miss
a Rudy appearance if I can help it, and the idea of Rudy in Frank Rizzo’s
town just had too much appeal to pass up.
Back while I was watching
my hometown go up in flames courtesy of the race relations industry, Frank Rizzo
was the mayor of Philadelphia. Frank held the line and took no prisoners and
no bullshit to keep Philadelphia from burning. He once raided Black Panther
headquarters, had them stripped and lined up facing a wall on the street, and
graciously allowed the newspapers to photograph this event. When he took office
the second time, he made his most memorable quote: "I’m gonna make
Attila the Hun look like a faggot." He once left a black-tie dinner to
accompany his bomb squad in defusing an explosive device left in midtown. The
photograph of him wearing his tux and carrying a billy club is the quintessential
portrait of Frank Rizzo. I lived in Philly for a little while, under Rizzo.
People who cry and whine about Giuliani have no clue: Rizzo makes Giuliani look
Local law enforcement agencies
from sea to shining sea will be conducting seminars on the absolutely stellar
performance of the Philadelphia Police Dept. during this convention. Uniformly
courteous and the absolute masters of impulse control, they refused to take
the bait and completely disarmed the ruckus crowd. Their tactics will be the
defining characteristic of law enforcement response to provocation from now
on. This was a remarkable surprise, perhaps the least expected development of
the whole convention.
I was hanging around the
alley between the media tents and the second security checkpoint smoking a cigarette
when I thought I spotted Don King heading my way. Alas, it was only Al Sharpton.
I was puzzled as to his reasons for being at the convention site; the riot potential
was centered around the crowd up in Center City, and the moneyed liberals swarming
around Arianna’s World seemed like a more likely audience for Fat Al’s
routine. I followed him into Tent #4, where he held a little press conference
to blather away about "racial profiling" and his skepticism about
the new image of the Republican Party.
I went back outside to shake
off the stench of the man and ran into Rev. Jerry Falwell. He’s a really
big guy. He looks like a well-aged linebacker. He seems very happy. I introduced
myself and we strolled together down the alley exchanging pleasantries. I explained
to him that I’d just spent a few moments in the company of Al Sharpton
and felt like I needed a bath. He laughed, a great hearty kind of laugh, almost
the classic "Ho ho ho!" He was very nice, and it occurred to me that
with a white beard and the red suit he’d make a perfect Santa Claus. (I
mentioned my encounter with Falwell to Dr. Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple
of Set, and he said, "A retired guard from Alcatraz once opined that Machine
Gun Kelly was a very nice fellow, except when he had a machine gun in his hand.")
Inside Tent #3, I got a
front-row seat for Rudy’s appearance and spent a little time chatting with
a very enthusiastic young man from a college newspaper in Oregon and Marie Cocco
from Newsday. Marie was lamenting the fact that Rudy wouldn’t take
her questions anymore, and this college kid offered to ask a question for her.
Rudy and Ricky swept in exactly 15 minutes late and Rudy stepped up on the podium
to introduce Lazio to the crowd. New York Republicans are the red-haired stepchild
of the Republican Party. The whitebread Stepford bourgeoisie that dominates
the party is unsettled by the unwillingness of the New York crowd to go along
with their squeaky-clean Midwestern agenda, especially as regards the dancing
fetus issue. The anti-abortion crowd is completely batshit; they’re as
bad the gun control idiots. I’m anti-abortion, but I’m pro-choice.
You can’t legislate morality, just as you can’t legislate racial tolerance.
It just doesn’t work, and the attempt infringes upon everybody’s rights.
As the saying goes, "Never try to teach a pig to sing: it only wastes your
time and annoys the pig."
Rudy’s looking good,
and he’s adapted a new, slightly self-deprecating style that plays very
well with the out-of-town crowd. He works a room as well as any stand-up comic
I’ve seen. He seems very real. Little Ricky is a nice-looking kid, and
he’s smart enough to let his mentors do most of the talking, for now. George
W. is by no means the sharpest pencil in the box, but he knows enough to listen
to good advice and let his best talent address their various areas of expertise.
He listens to his father. He knows how to delegate. I hope Lazio continues to
do the same.
Halloween and Thanksgiving in DC this year because the witch is flying north
and she’s bringing the turkey with her. It occurred to me that George Bush
the Elder might have morphed into the Wizard of Oz when we weren’t looking.
The choice of Cheney over McCain seemed to reinforce this feeling.
George Bush the Elder has
always given me the creeps; he’s the Lee Harvey Oswald of presidents–too
many lines converge there. I had to have a drink. I found it odd that there
was no source of alcohol in the four huge media tents. I got a tip from a Texas
delegate in a cowboy hat that there was booze on the opposite side of the stadium
from the media tents, in something called the Victory Pavilion. Whoa, I thought:
booze at the Victory Pavilion. Maybe Leni Riefenstahl will be there, I can get
I hustled my sweaty ass
through yet another smooth, well-run security check and made straight for one
of the four bars set up in the foyer area of a labyrinthine complex of flexible
transient structures. It turned out that this Victory Pavilion was the nexus
of the corporate rave scene going on, the wildly private and opulent soirees
being thrown in various hotels and restaurants around town sponsored by various
multinationals and other huge corporate entities. Here they had nice spaces
under the tent, stuffed with cozy rented furniture and a cornucopia of delicious-looking
Phillips 66 threw me out
of their little party just as it was beginning. I was circling the hors d’oeuvres,
trying not to drool, when some really cute little Midwestern-looking white girl
with a cellphone appeared and asked me if I was a delegate. I told her I was
media, and she told me to leave. She wasn’t nice at all, not like Jerry
Falwell, that’s for sure.
Merck Pharmaceuticals patented
MDMA ("ecstasy") in 1914, and I figure that now that the litigation
industry has scored big with tobacco, pharmaceuticals are moving into range.
I wanted to talk to somebody from Merck about this. I didn’t even try to
get into the party, but the barely articulate rent-a-cop at the gate got really
nervous for some reason, and the various gray suits I cornered were no help;
no one would talk to me.
I got another beer and walked
out behind the media tents, where I smoked the last joint I had in my pocket
in preparation for John McCain. I wanted to be ripped for this. I’m a Frank
Capra fan and he’s good at hitting that button. He took the stage to the
theme from Star Wars and proceeded to reinforce the inclusionary theme
of the convention with a beautifully crafted and wonderfully delivered speech
in which he made a couple of glaringly fallacious assertions, mainly that "Americans
don’t like sore losers" and that "Cynicism is now suffocating
the young." Considering how America is still smarting from the Vietnam
debacle and examining the naivete of the ruckus crowd, I’d have to say
that he was just dead wrong on both points. McCain does talk a good game, though.
George Bush the Elder resembled
the Wizard of Oz especially during the tribute to Presidents Ford, Reagan and
Bush. A favored anecdote regarding young wild W has to do with his meeting the
Queen of England for the first time at a state dinner at the White House. He
drunkenly blurted out to Her Highness that he was "the black sheep"
of his family and queried, "Who’s yours?" to which Elizabeth
replied, "None of your business."
Wednesday I caught Ralph
Nader at an event billed as the National Youth Convention up at Drexel University.
I made it a point to inspect the media sign-in sheet. There were 15,000 media
personnel in town to cover the 4000 Republican delegates. Out of those 15,000
media hypes, the number covering Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader
consisted of myself, one person from The Washington Times, two from the
Philadelphia Daily News, one from the Hearst chain and Joe Klein from
The New Yorker.
Nader is Nader, the rumpled
übermensch of American politics. I’ll bet he drives his own car. If
he has Secret Service protection, they’re invisible. He answers any question
put to him in a sincere and forthright manner. He’s the real Frank Capra
character in this election, but the age of Frank Capra has vanished with the
clarity of purpose that drove the fight against the Axis. There is nothing crafted
about Ralph Nader, he is not a market research-driven being. He spoke at length
about how we are amusing ourselves to death, and said that "You used to
hear that a rising tide would lift all boats. Now you have a rising tide lifting
all yachts." He went on to point out that we should "never confuse
charity with structural justice," suggesting that charity is a pressure
valve for the corporate state. There were echoes of Guy DeBord in his presentation,
particularly when he quoted Cicero as saying that "freedom is participation
in political power." He reminded his young audience that turnout among
voters aged 18-24 averages 30 percent.
Nader mentioned that he’d
written both Gore and Bush regarding an old proposal by Richard Nixon for a
guaranteed minimum income for Americans, something that Nixon called a "negative
income tax," which was denied him by Congress. He emphasized that the economy
is now twice the size that it was when Nixon proposed that, and informed us
all that as of yet, neither Gore nor Bush had taken the trouble to reply. Nader
may yet capture my vote from Pat Buchanan; God knows I have more respect for
him. The absence of media coverage and his almost certain exclusion from the
debates is reprehensible and distinctly Orwellian. W is going to win in November,
but Ralph Nader should, and this is one of history’s great "they should
have" moments, like Adlai Stevenson or Barry Goldwater.
I went downtown to a reception
honoring Henry Hyde sponsored by William F. Buckley and National Review.
Every thinking woman I have ever known has at one point or another had a crush
on Bill Buckley, regardless of politics. I hear he’s a major pothead and
has been advocating decriminalization since the Nixon administration. He was
red-eyed and grinning his trademark 1000-watt smile as he entered Mitchell Hall
at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. This fete was held in the same
building that houses the Mütter Museum, America’s premier freakshow,
and I got a wonderful and enlightening private tour of an exhibit on presidential
maladies by Dick Levinson, director of public affairs for the facility.
I shook Mr. Hyde’s
hand, thanking him for his service to the republic and promising him that the
next time I lay eyes on Alec Baldwin I will kick the fat son of a bitch squarely
in the nuts with all my might and inform him that Henry Hyde sends his fondest
regards. It’s the least I can do. Mr. Hyde was quite amused.
I met the young Turks of
the infamous Young Americans for Freedom, the Yippies of the right wing. DC
Chairman Darren Marks filled me in on their latest pranks and provocations,
including their stalking of the Free Mumia contingent bearing large syringes
and jumper cables. When I mentioned my brief tenure at High Times a couple
of guys from National Review opined that High Times has the best
softball team in New York media.
One extremely satisfying
turn of events was the political burial of Newt Gingrich. The slimebucket had
no significant role whatsoever in the convention: no speech, no photo ops, no
attention at all. His name wasn’t even mentioned in the course of the official
events. He was sighted by a Philadelphia Daily News reporter at a White
Castle in South Philly, which is thankfully as close as he’ll ever get
to the White House. It’s heartwarming to see a vile creature like that
finally achieve the disgrace he so richly deserves. There’s a lifesize
statue of Kate Smith on the south side of the Spectrum, facing the FU Center.
When they say, "It ain’t over till the fat lady sings," she’s
the fat lady in reference. She finally sang for Newt: It’s all over now,
I rested up and got laid in preparation for W’s climactic appearance before
the convention. A brief thunderstorm rolled through as I bobbed around in the
pool, motel personnel striving in vain to persuade me to quit the water. I pointed
out that worrying about lightning is like worrying about sharks or Lyme ticks:
there’s no end to it and I will not be bothered with it. Either it happens
or it doesn’t.
I drove over to the FU Center
and caught W’s excellent speech from the bar overlooking the media seats.
He was a cheerleader in school, and that quality served him well as he whipped
his troops up to victory in an impassioned speech in which he cited the missed
opportunities for change and social justice that have streaked past the Clinton/Gore
Gore is a goner, a hopeless
case. The George W. campaign is a juggernaut unlikely to stop or turn in its
relentless and seemingly inevitable path to the Oval Office. The only possible
threat is the vast Silent Majority of American voters who fail to turn out at
the polls owing to cynicism and disenchantment with the process. If they were
to turn out in numbers and vote for Nader or Buchanan, the entire shitbag of
American politics would be turned upside down and the kleptocrats would be forced
to resort to their tactic of last resort: assassination. This entire election
is a Stephen King novel; the only question is whether it is The Stand or
The Dead Zone.
The sun is rising over the
pool. To the west, Los Angeles is still in darkness. In Las Vegas, the spiritual
heart of America, statistical anomalies are piling up and fortunes are being
made and lost in whimsical gestures fueled by piped oxygen and free booze. Today,
Randall Flagg is checking out and moving on. There is no inevitability as long
as there is a willingness to comprehend what is happening.