Category: Things we all know


As far back as I can remember I had one desire that transcended every other: I always wanted to be a human being.

Things worked out fairly well, to a point.

But there was this constant, nagging knowledge that I wasn’t quite making it.

After a while I stopped fighting, gave up the ghost. It became obvious that I was never going to be like my peers; my Dad or my Mom; my sister; my cousins; my uncles; my kids…

They always told me that there was this line, the crossing of which would take me to a whole other place, where nothing I had learned in my life — on the ‘right’ side of the line — would apply.

Of course, the first thing I did was cross it. I tried it once, then twice, then again…

After a while I was crossing that line every day.

I still do.

Because, you know what?

They were right, bless them.

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Some time back, in a comment on someone else’s blog, I suggested a semi-tongue-in-cheek but arguably useful alternative to voting in an American election: “…revolution, possibly beginning with an assassination…”

I mentioned no names, of course, but it didn’t take much working out.

Because the comment could have been construed as incitement to commit an act of terrorism, and because everyone knows that the CIA monitor the web, it was removed.

Are they watching UK television too?

Take note of the phrase: and any leader who is oppressing the people.

A literary hit-man

I used to write scripts for Tommy (Fatboy) Devine. Tommy Devine is ugly. You want to know how ugly he is? I’ll tell you.

When he’s born (series one, episode two) the midwife, a twenty-eight year old gay word puzzle enthusiast from Ohio, threatens to assassinate his mother. When he sees the kid he just falls apart; it’s like he takes it personally, you know? Like little Tommy has rained on his parade and it’s the mother’s fault.

“How could you do this?” he pleads. “I mean, how?” He tosses his face mask and surgical gloves to the floor with a theatrical flourish. “I mean, at some point during the last nine months… well, you must have had some idea. Surely you couldn’t have carried that around and not known, suspected even…? Couldn’t you have done the decent thing?”

The mother, a giant hover-fly, passes out. Her wings collapse, creating a huge draught, which blows the anaesthetist off his feet and scatters instruments, swabs, wipes, anything that isn’t tied down, all over the room.

“Ho hum,” sighs the midwife. “You chase a horse and you catch a dog. Story of my life.”

Tommy plays all the parts, it’s Fatboy world: every character in every show looks like some version of Tommy.

That first script earns Jonny Hilltown — a.k.a. my good self — a personal assistant called Dragona Hartley. Dragona believes in absolutes and, like Tommy, she likes to generalize.

Did you know that gangsters use the word “f**k” more than any other, with the possible exceptions of “money” and “no”? That gangsters in the main don’t have what you might call a good command of the English language (the same can be said of comedians)?

“You know why?” asks Fatboy. “I’ll tell you why,” breathing cigar smoke and garlic all over my new wool suit. “It’s because they’re all spiritual Italians and Greeks. Ok, some of them really are Italians and Greeks. But the ones that ain’t, actually are, in that spiritual sense. You get me? It’s that cultural thing about body language that the spiritual Italians and the spiritual Greeks share with the Italians from Italy and the Greeks from Greece: the hand gestures and stuff. It’s the same with accountants: spiritually they’re all Jewish.”

Then his eyes narrow, his head tilts to one side and he looks me square in the face:

“You want to know something about writers? I’ll tell you about writers. All writers drink in the afternoon. Did you know that? All writers are spiritual drunks – even the ones that don’t drink.”

Waiting too long for somebody in a crap bar is an absolute pain in the arse. I’ve been doing it all my life.

“I don’t believe in absolutes,” she says. She has the makings of a movie hitman’s mustache. I decide to call her Mustache Petronella, but not to her face.

“Don’t killers believe in absolutes?” I ask.

“You think death is an absolute?” She flicks her cigarette so the ash just misses the ashtray. I can’t help thinking this is a deliberate act.

“If the act of causing it is a deliberate move, with intent, with extreme prejudice, then I think it is, absolutely,” I tell her. Then I go to the washroom, where an accomplice has previously hidden an unregistered lap-top behind a cistern.

I come out typing.

But she is gone; in her place sits Nico, with the lithe body and the smooth-skin-high-cheek-boned-oriental look. He’s a static boy from the other side of Snake River who loves his knives and his brothers. He talks lingwo, spits out words and phrases like bursts from a MAC10.

I get straight to the point: “What about the kid?”

“Yeah, always knew him. We grew up knowing each other. Went to school together. All that thing.” His eyes never meet mine while he talks; only in the pauses.

“Then why did he die?”

“Because his name come up! It’s easy to get blowed. Word is he got mixed up in this Muslim Boy thing, did something that doubled back on his people. Maybe it was meant, maybe it wasn’t, maybe didn’t even know what he done. I don’t know. Anyway it doesn’t matter, it’s happened… he’s gone and that’s it and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. They killed him, shot him in his mouth and throat. Tomorrow it could be me or you.”

I don’t write scripts for Tommy Devine any more.

“In all-too-real worlds beyond our reach, everything tends toward permanency. Whatever the discussion may be, whatever issues may seem to be gripping Washington or the nation, whatever you’re watching on TV or reading in the papers, elsewhere the continual constructing, enlarging, expanding, entrenching of a new global system of imprisonment, which bears no relation to any system of imprisonment Americans have previously imagined, continues non-stop, unchecked and unbalanced by Congress or the courts, unaffected by the Republic, but very distinctly under the flag ‘for which it stands.'”

In August the Imperialist Bush neo-con administration and its associated “big 5” media corporations proudly proclaimed that Abu Ghraib prison had been emptied of detainees and was to be turned over to the “Iraqi government”.

Well, it’s one thing to close a prison but quite another to release its inmates. So, what happened to them?

Have you heard of Camp Bucca? What about Camp Cropper?

Perhaps you have heard of the latter: it started off as a “temporary facility”, a “bunch of tents” appended to the US base adjoining Baghdad International Airport (which, incidentally is now one of the many “enduring camps” that have, since 2004, become fair-sized American towns, complete with Pizza Huts, Burger Kings and mini-golf courses) and is now a 60 million dollar state of the art prison.

The emptying of Abu Ghraib may have made big news; the filling of Camp Cropper, however, didn’t get a mention.

So, what about the other one, Camp Bucca? You can’t read about that anywhere, says Tom Engelhardt and, what is more:

“While arguments spin endlessly here at home about the nature of withdrawal ‘timetables,’ and who’s cutting and running from what, and how many troops we will or won’t have in-country in 2007, 2008, or 2009, on the ground a process continues that makes a mockery of the debate in Washington and in the country. While the ‘reconstruction’ of Iraq has come to look ever more like the deconstruction of Iraq, the construction of an ever more permanent-looking American landscape in that country has proceeded apace and with reasonable efficiency.”

Currently the Bush administration, in the name of the American people and financed by their tax dollars — and, due to the complicity of our “leaders”, in the name of the people and courtesy of the tax Sterling of the UK — is holding 14000 prisoners in Iraq; possibly more that 500 in Afghanistan; and nearly 500 in Guantanamo. Most of these individuals are beyond the jurisdiction of any system of justice.

And if all of the camps that we know about are shut down none of those prisoners is going anywhere closer to justice soon, because a globally outsourced penal system has been created to absorb them.

If you don’t take the time to read Tom Engelhardt’s article you deserve what may be coming.

In response to that statement some may say that knowing the facts doesn’t eradicate the problem. I reply in this fashion:

To win a war you must first know your enemies.

Click here to take that essential first step on the road to victory.

“A very rude remark”

The Bush War Party apparently picked up a few tips from watching Mafia movies: it seems that Pakistan was strong-armed into co-operating with America’s war on Afghanistan, according to today’s Telegraph.

“President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said that after the September 11 attacks the US threatened to bomb his country if it did not co-operate with America’s war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

“Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age”, was the gist of the ultimatum, allegedly delivered to Pakistan’s President Perves Musharraf by deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

It proved to be an offer Musharraf couldn’t refuse; shortly afterwards US fighter jets were using Pakistani airspace in their offensive against the Afghan militia, who were allegedly protecting Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

Perhaps tomorrow the Telegraph will tell us something we didn’t know.

Yeah, right.

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