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Return to 'Black Planet'

By Mark Flanigan · April 18th, 2011 · Living Out Loud
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Exiled from Main Street XXXVIII: for B.K.

Growing up goth in the late-1980s, I was of course a big fan of MTV’s 120 Minutes. Who could argue with two hours of late-night alternative music videos and the occasional interview when one was nocturnal? Thus I find pleasure in the fact that 120 Minutes has just returned to the airwaves as I currently write for an alternative weekly.

Coincidence? Perhaps I should send the show’s creator, Dave Kendall, a candelabra in thanks.

More pertinently, I recall a 120 Minutes interview with the lead singer of The Sisters of Mercy, wherein he was asked if he voted. Andrew Eldritch answered something along the lines of: “I don’t vote for turds; I flush them.” Or maybe it had been Dee Dee Ramone.

Either way, I’m reminded of this quote as the colors of my HOPE poster continue to fade. I mean, has there been a time in which the latter has been embraced only to find cynicism being fostered in its stead so wholly? Not since I quit getting high every day, it hasn’t.

One of the greatest bank heists in history, perpetrated by already wealthy crooks, nets zero inmates. This while the budget/deficit battle aims its sights on the unarmed that posted their bail.

As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman stated, courtesy of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “... of the $4 trillion in spending cuts (Republican Paul Ryan) proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans.” The hits just keep on coming ... to the lower classes, of which the middle is now a part.

While the justified anger that fuels the Tea Party Devolution is wielded like the knife of a self-mutilator, the match of a self-immolator.

While our very government nearly shuts down because the dog and pony show was in town.

Were there any winners?

Certainly not the Environmental Protection Agency, whose budget was reduced by 16 percent. But who in this day and age is worried about the environment, the Japanese? And what engine fuels our wealth more than our planet?

The National Endowment for the Arts, which helps many of the seven million artists and art-related employees in the United States, was thankfully spared. As was Planned Parenthood. And funding for PBS and NPR, too. The latter of which prompts me to wonder, “If we had done away with it, who might remain to cover our two-and-a-half wars instead of Charlie Sheen?”

My cynicism, sadly, is such that it has me envisioning years ago a group of fat cats convened in an attempt to continue their economical dominance. One of them meekly asking, “What about throwing a black guy out there? Maybe that’ll placate ’em.”

The powers that be in place by dint of anything but chance conceding the brilliance of said plan after vowing “to find one that doesn’t embarrass us.” Unlike the last guy.

One thing you can say for President Obama, I can at least consider going abroad again without being shamed, even if I can’t afford to. And the Democrats, for all their faults and in contrast to their opposition, survive as the Party of Conscience — in so much as there is an inherent kindness behind some of their incompetence. And if we’re to go down, should we not do so with a modicum of grace?

Anymore, our situation is reminiscent of a mid-'90s Britpop song. It’s become the haves against the have-nots again, with the one caveat being many of the have-nots — perhaps as a result of a perpetuation of ignorance via our dilapidated educational system — have been boondoggled into joining the haves at their own expense with hopes, I guess, that the little money they pocket might be transubstantiated into gold at the local casino or, failing that, there’s always that Good ol’ American work ethic to fall back on.

Overseas, at least.

What we need now is for the Republican Party to produce a truly viable candidate, one beyond the unpalatable and fatally flawed group already on display. Not to vote for necessarily, but to force our purported agent of Change to distinguish himself from whatever credible sheep-in-wolf’s clothing the Republicans proffer, in an attempt to re-galvanize the base of voters who elected him in the first place.

After all, Obama’s politics of compromise seem to be netting merely a further erosion of the middle ground between the very rich and the marginally poor: tax cuts for the wealthiest, cutting of after-school programs and HIV/AIDS prevention, while the steady beat of defense spending continues unabated.

I propose a new tax — new to the Democrats, anyway — one I like to call “The Adversary Tax,” in which political victories are backed up by a noticeable lack of bipartisanship on the pretense that a diluted vision only flirts with blindness.

I unfortunately grew up in the household of an alcoholic, and the mantra I often heard was, “It has to get worse before it gets any better.” Perhaps that applies here, but I don’t see how. Can things get any worse?

Sure, maybe there will be, in the coming days, the unveiling of a true alternative — a vote cast without fear because the scales won’t be tipped from good-intentioned liberals to, say, dangerous zealotry. Even then, especially in light of the recent backwards steps concerning election reform, it takes a lot of money to win. And, as the history of alternative music will attest, when you throw a lot of money at something, it almost invariably is ruined: For every Nirvana, there are a thousand Holes.

I’m gonna go get my raincoat out of storage now.

 
 
 
 

 

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