I just can't, not no more, raise no, not even a whisper, of a woody, for Memorial Day.
Because I know, as WWII South Pacific combat vet James Jones did know, that all the dusty decayed discarded dead, on that day remembered, all—every one, always and forever, alpha onto omega—died in vain.
Jim’s face was set like a slab, his expression murky and aggrieved, as we stood on the marble reading the Gettysburg Address engraved against one lofty wall, slowly scanning those words of supreme magnanimity and conciliation and brotherhood dreamed by the fellow Illinoisan whom Jim had venerated, as almost everyone does, for transcendental reasons that needed not to be analyzed or explained in such a sacred hall. I suppose I was expecting the conventional response from Jim, the pious hum. But his reaction, soft-spoken, was loaded with savage bitterness, and for an instant it was hard to absorb. "It's just beautiful bullshit," he blurted. "They all died in vain. They all died in vain. And they always will!”
I, personally, think it more appropriate for a nation to celebrate a Mammary Day. Rather than a Memorial Day. One in which the people celebrate breasts: givers of life, founts of Eros. Rather than some ghastly, worm-turning, Thanatos-gasm: writhing in the death-dust of lives insanely expended, ended for no—never-now, never-then—reason.
But I know that this shall not soon be. For the Thanatos—this time, this place—is just too strong.
And so, as a bridge, I suggest honoring those, on Memorial Day, who did not sign up to kill. But who, not having signed up, were killed nonetheless.
And the people of the US, they could do worse, than starting with honoring William Moore.
Moore was a Baltimore postal worker who set out in April of 1963 to walk from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. To deliver a letter to Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. Urging him to accept integration.
On his walk, Moore wore sandwich boards reading "Equal Rights For All & Mississippi Or Bust" and "End Segregation In America—Eat At Joe’s Both Black & White." The cart he pushed bore, among other signs and sentiments, a "Wanted" poster adorned with a sketch of a Jewish carpenter from out of Bethlehem, captioned "Jesus Christ: Wanted for sedition, criminal anarchy, vagrancy, and conspiring to overthrow the established government."
On April 23, on his third day out, and less than 70 miles into his walk, Moore, in Alabama, about an hour northeast of Birmingham, was shot twice in the head. Killed. His body left by the side of the road. Alll the folks down there: they know who killed Moore. But no one has ever been charged, much less convicted, of Moore's murder.
Moore's final walk, this was his third, lone, Freedom Walk. He had first walked from Baltimore to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. On his second walk he marched on the White House, arriving as Martin Luther King was released from Birmingham jail. His letter then addressed to President John F. Kennedy announced his intention to devote his 10 days of vacation-time from the US Postal Service to walking to Mississippi, and offered "If I may deliver any letters from you to those on my line of travel, I would be most happy to do so." White House guards refused to admit him. And then to accept his note. Because JFK. Contrary to the these-days mythology, JFK just didn't much like shit, involving humaning, Negroes.
Moore, a former US Marine, had previously been arrested for standing in line to a whites-only movie theater with black people; their crime—"trespassing." He also once marched around a courthouse, in 16-degree weather, with a sign reading "Turn Toward Peace."
On Moore's final walk, as soon as he crossed the state line into Alabama, he was assailed by white motorists who denounced him as a "nigger-lover," and pelted him with rocks. On April 23, radio station WGAD in Gadsden, Alabama received an anonymous phone tip as to Moore’s location. Reporter Charlie Hicks drove out to find Moore walking along a rural stretch of Highway 11 near Attalla.
Moore told Hicks, "I intend to walk right up to the governor’s mansion in Mississippi and ring his door bell. Then I'll hand him my letter." Concerned for Moore’s safety, Hicks offered to drive him to a motel. Moore declined. Less than an hour after Hicks left him, Moore’s body was found by a motorist about a mile farther down the road. Shot twice in the head at close range with a .22 caliber rifle. The gun was traced to one Floyd Simpson, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a frothing, foaming racist, with whom Moore had, earlier in the day, "discussed" integration, interracial marriage, and religion. "I don't see how anybody," Simpson later said, "could believe in such things as intermarriage between the white and Negro races unless he was being paid for it. I told him they are having trouble in Birmingham, and I advised him to turn back as he would never get through Birmingham." Though Simpson was arrested and briefly held, a grand jury declined to charge him, and he was never tried for Moore’s murder.
Another white man, who had encountered Moore on his walk, observed: "I wouldn’t say that guy was fitten to be killed. I'd say he was doing what he thought was right. I shook hands with the man, and he seemed alright to me.”
Over the next month, 29 other people, black and white, tried to complete Moore's walk. All carried signs reading "Mississippi Or Bust." All were arrested and jailed.
The New York Times olympically opined that Moore had died on a "pitifully naive pilgrimage"; two years previously, in the wake of brutal assaults on Freedom Riders, a Gallup poll found that 63% of white Americans who were aware of white civil-rights activists, like Moore and the Freedom Riders, disapproved of them. Just weren't ready yet, most white folk. Most, still, aren't.
After Moore's death, Jerry Handte of the Binghamton Evening Press wrote this:
Bill Moore's life was full of paradox. Although he was a vigorous crusader, he was a gentle one. He adopted such causes as civil rights, world peace, and bettering the lot of mental patients without the bitter invective and seeming hatred of opposition often characteristic of reformers.
His letters to newspapers were marked by humor, a quality usually conspicuous by its absence in the declamation of idealists.
Most crusaders are didactically sure of their ground: Mr. Moore usually admitted the possibility that he was not the sole possessor of wisdom, inviting men of good will to examine the issues in question together.
Would that we all—"gentle," "without bitter invective," "marked by humor," "admitt[ing] the possibility that [we are] not the sole possessor of wisdom"—might learn from William Moore.
In April of 2008, two people completed Moore's walk, traveling the 320 miles from Reese City, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi. There, together with Bob Zellner, one of the original post-Moore Freedom Walkers of 1963, they delivered Moore's original letter. Which contained the words "the white man cannot be truly free himself until all men have their rights," and "be gracious, and give more than is immediately demanded of you." To Mississippi's then-governor. Who refused to accept it.
That man was Haley Barbour. Former chair of the Republican National Committee. Then-head of the Republican Governors Association. Who had recently shrugged off Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's decision to honor the treasonous slave-holders who fomented the Civil War by designating April as "Confederate Month"—in a proclamation that mentioned not a word about slavery—as "a nit," "not significant," harrumphing that those who complained were "trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t amount to diddly."
These people haven’t changed. Haven’t changed at all since the days they left people like William Moore dead by the side of the road. All that has changed is that today they more successfully hide their hate and fear and rage and dark thoughts of murder.
William Moore was nobody. Just a guy. Who had flowered into the great wide open. And so went on a walk. To receive bullets in the brain. And so it goes. The way it, still, is.
I suppose the truest expression of present-day Thanatos Memorial Day in America in 2015 occurred a week or so early. On May 17. In Waco, Texas. Where many men whose knuckles naturally dangle all the way to the ground—some of these men in uniforms, some not—went utterly wild. And, like something out of a fourth-rate revival of The Wild Bunch, shot the shit out of each other. And, to drag it down to the level of a Porky's, this occurred outside a would-be titty bar.
America uber alles.
The first thing that needs to happen is the town of Waco needs to change its name. I realize that the name derives from the Waco subset of the native Wichita people, who once occupied the area. But the white people killed and/or drove off all the native Waco. Many moons ago. And, in English, monikering your town "Waco"—let's face it—is equivalent to dubbing the place "Batshit Insane."
Look: so long as the place is infested with white people, dominant language English, the Law of Naming will provide that in "Waco" black teenagers will be hauled out of the jail to be tortured, mutilated, and burned, before an appreciative—yea, orgasmic—audience of some 15,000 Caucasians; crazed clusters of tornadoes will suddenly sweep down upon Waco and kill many people for No Reason At All; epileptic foam-flecked guitar-screechers without discernible brain activity will set up there in Waco their camp, down the road from the press center of the dumbest chief executive in the history of the US nation; demented-preacher compounds, there in Waco, shall be besieged, assaulted, burned, and melted, and on live TV; and, finally, this latest—dumbkopf gangs of de-evolved knuckledraggers, both inside and outside the law, shall go utterly wild, inside and outside a craven sadsack would-be titty bar, said knuckledraggers employing all and every weapon of the 21st Century larval American, leaving nine dead people on the ground; 18 humans, more or less, wounded, to various degrees, in the hospital; 170-some arrestees clapped in the hoosegow on $1 million bail each; and more than 100 motorcycles seized and shoved into the guv’mint grinder so they may be transformed and purified into death-dealing cannons that may be shipped overseas to—"quite rightly"—kill brown people.
Do you want this to stop? Then, first, change the town’s name. Ditch the "Waco." Try something like, oh, say, "Tranquility." Or "Peace Corners."
Motorcycle gangs are deeply stupid expressions of the lizard brain. Fight or flight. That's all. That's all they are. And, like wolverines, they never do the flight. Just the fight.
They were born, these motorcycle people, in the years after WWII. When returning American veterans, their souls utterly destroyed in Europe and the South Pacific, discovered their beings screaming at the prospect of settling peaceably down into some sort of Leave It To Beaver.
My father was one of these people. He returned home to Iowa, all of him over there in the South Pacific utterly lost. He waved goodbye to his then-wife, who at home there in Iowa had breezily fucked his brother, while all of her husband was dissolving on Guadalcanal. He bought himself a motorcycle, inscribed Indian. He climbed aboard, and drove as west as west gets—to California. He’d seen, over there, overseas, in some malarial mud-ditch, a soaring "Why We Fight" propaganda short, that set forth as Shangri-La, a burg, in California, called Modesto. Over-arched with a sign that did do read: "Water. Wealth. Contentment. Health." My father drove cross-country, determined to reach this Xanadu. It would be there. It would be there. It had to be there. It would be there. It would be there. And found it. He did. And found it, eventually, the same old shit. And proceeded, then, there, to drink himself to death. Though he spread the death out over thirty-some-odd years. Which is why I'm here.
Other dead-souled WWII vets who climbed aboard bikes never even tried to reach a Xanadu, or sink to a Beaver life. They instead mimicked, stateside, their overseas military life: always on the road, in platoon clusters—now called "gangs"—loyal to no one but each other . . . and anyone who was not each other, could, and should, whenever it seemed Right, just like back in the day in the uniform, fighting for the good ol' USA, be beaten, stomped, knifed, shot, raped, killed. Left to lie where they lay. Or, at best, be buried, with most often pure contempt, in a shallow grave.
Such people—yea, verily—they were not exactly employable, back here in the States. Least not in any traditional sense. And so they inevitably, eventually, drifted into criminal enterprises. And, indeed, methamphetamine, said death-dust is in America attributable to the industry of the Hell’s Angels, the ur of such motorcycle gangs, who filled the void of the US government's senseless suppression of the cocaine trade, with busy-bee manufacture and distribution of the fave stimulant of the crazed genocidal murderers of the Third Reich. And so, those who wanted to be lifted stimulant higher, drifted from a drug that encourages one to fuck, and to dream big, to a drug that encourages one to senselessly tinker with the bowels of many cars at 3 a.m., and shoot many rounds at fearsome hallucinations menacingly creeping across the lawn.
I have had a number of glancing acquaintances with the Angels over the years, and in my experience these are "serious people," as is said of the Sicilian Mafia, or the Chinese triads. They really will kill you, if you are not of them, and they are beered up, and you look wrong at something they think you should look at right.
The Angels, though, these days, are considered by many "next-generation" biker gangs as "wussies," who should all be put to sleep.
This is a common and dispiriting penis-pattern upon this planet. Akin to the "punks" of the '70s-'80s, who decided that planet-transgressive artists like the Stones, the Kinks, David Bowie, the Who, etc., since they seemed to be engaged in the effrontery of getting old, should instead die. And at once.
Ancient, imbecilic story. Expressed by the Lizard King, succinctly, this way:
"I want to kill you."
And so, one of the stories emerging from the Waco slaughterhouse, is that bikers affiliated with "The Bandidos," experienced a frenzy, because a rival gang, "The Cossacks," were affiliating with the Angels.
This apparently caused seminal fluid to poisonously back up into many lizard biker brains, until many dozens of de-evolved nimrods—beginning, banally, in a bathroom—were wailing on each other with fists, chains, knives, guns.
They then spilled out of the confines of Twin Peaks—the would-be sadsack titty-bar that allegedly willingly and even avidly invited these biker geeks to revel there weekly—and rolled out onto the street. Where they were joyfully gunned down by badged and thereby protected gangs of state-sanctioned killers—as of this writing, it is surmised that at least four of the dead were laid into their graves by agents of law-enforcement.
That is really the cush place, these days, if you want to kill. Behind the badge. There's a serial killer in Scottsdale, Arizona, for instance, one James Peters, who has killed seven people, behind a badge. And is out there, stone killer, Officer Peters, even now: he be, gunning, as we speak, for more.
the killer awoke before dawn
he put his boots on
he took a face from the ancient gallery
and he walked on down the hall
Like, if you’re supposed to be a rebel, and thereby all righteous and shit, then why the hill-sam are you wasting all your wanking, wailing on other revved-up bike rebels, who are just like you?
Because you’re a fucking moron.
These "turf" wars, indulged in by these backward-penis pinheads, are beyond de-evolved. If, like, you're so wild and free and against "the Man," why the fuck would you not then be united with the one and the all and the many just like you: and, thereby, united, whip your chains and knives and guns, all united, at "the Man"?
Because you're dumber than dirt. That's why. And—probably—a chickenshit. For sure, you're a nimrod, and par excellance. Because, in the end, you're rebelling against nothing but being a decent human being. For, in your willingness, in the end, to inflict but pain, you are a creature of Thanatos. Your brain is swollen with seminal fluid, flowed backward. Backed up, stinking, foul as pus.
This Twin Peaks. Where all you limp-dick motorcycle cripples did gather.
Apparently this Twin Peaks chain came to be because it was determined Hooter's was "too tame."
At the beginning of each shift, Twin Peaks women are lined up and graded like pieces of meat:
Before each shift at Twin Peaks, a Hooters-like restaurant with 57 locations across the U.S., managers line up waitresses and grade them on their looks. The women get points for hair, makeup, slenderness, and the cleanliness of their uniforms: fur-lined boots, khaki hot pants, and skimpy plaid tops that accentuate their cleavage. Their job, between serving sports-bar fare with names such as "well-built sandwiches" and "smokin' hot dishes," is to beguile the mostly male customers, flirting to get them to empty their wallets. They may also have to fend off patrons who’ve washed down too many of the house beers, including the "Dirty Blonde" or the "Knotty Brunette."
Twin Peaks is the most successful example of a new generation of restaurants, what people in the industry euphemistically refer to as "the attentive service sector" or, as they’re more casually known, "breastaurants." Twin Peaks Chief Executive Officer Randy DeWitt doesn't care much for the word, not that he’s complaining. Last year, Twin Peaks was the fastest-growing chain in the U.S., with $165 million in sales.
Ersatz sex uber alles. Obscenity. This is not a true manifestation of Eros. If it were, the biker boys would not have spilled out, killing each other, into the parking lot. That's Thanatos. If Twin Peaks truly were of Eros, they would have spilled out, into the parking lot, fucking.
None of this matters, really, because all of these people are over.
The bikers, the cops, the Twin Peaks people. They are uncountable light years in the past. It’s just a strange period we’re in now. It’s like all the time has come today. So, at the same time, we've got people like these bikers, and their mirror-mirrors the cops, beating the bejeesus out of each other, like apes at a water hole. While we've also got other people, preparing to shed the shell, and proceed as energy beings, into the great wide open.
Strange days. Days of Otis.
Wherein Buenaventura Durruti one minute correctly pronounces: "We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. We carry a new world, here in our hearts. That world is growing in this minute." And the next minute, receives in his flesh, a senseless bullet, that stops—for a time—his heart.
S.E. Hinton, she wrote the best motorcycle novel ever. When she was 16, and drunk. Francis Coppola brought her on film-set, and together they transformed her book into my favorite of Coppola's films. Rumblefish. Together they hired Michael Smuin, then the king of American choreographers, to stage the "fight scene," so it could be shown in the zenith of no purpose, without meaning, perverse, death-mouth, ode to Thanatos. Just "another glorious battle for the kingdom." As Motorcycle Boy condemns it. Coming in at the last.
They think they are all emulating him, all these sad little boys: Motorcycle Boy: these combatants, reflecting him, in stories they've told, faslely, of his glory. But he is no longer anywhere near their world. As he never was.
Any real motorcycle boy knows, like Hinton's Motorcycle Boy, that the motorcycle is precisely the opposite of fighting. It is about solitude. It is about aloneness. It is about understanding the need for room. It is about knowing that "rumble fish: they try to kill themselves, fighting their own reflection. They belong in the river. I don’t think that they would fight, if they were in the river. If they had room, to live. Somebody ought to put the fish in the river."
Nobody in Waco, uniform or no, was trying to put the fish in the river.
All the live-long day, every day, we are besieged by news of people, actively working, not to put the fish in the river.
I am these days, always, just shutting these people, out.
Because I just don’t care anymore.
About anything. But putting the fish in the river.
My father knew this. As a motorcycle boy. On his Indian. Riding as West as West gets. He knew the rumble fish kill themselves, fighting their own reflection. He knew they belonged in the river. That they would not fight, if they were in the river. If they had room. In the river. He knew somebody ought to put the fish in the river. But he just couldn’t get there. Because they killed him. But he hung on, long enough, to make me. And, so, now: I am in the river. And I am sweeping in here with me all fish within my reach. For I am of sweet thing. Yeeaaaahhhhyeayeayeayeamymymymy. Sweet thing. And I shall drive my chariot down your streets, and cry . . . . sugar baby . . . sugar baby . . . sugar baby . . . .
And our name, it always has been, and always, shall it be: