My Friend Joe

My Friend Joe


I can see that you are feeling as so many of us have felt so often in recent years. Some part of it, as we both know, has to do with our advancing age, and our first taste of that deep existential tang of the void ahead. On the other hand, we must admit that it makes both the squealing laughter of children, faded romance rekindled and the hypnotic eyes of serpents alike all wonderful on this earth. Perhaps the best part of it for me is that I am learning the inner joy of the wildness of old men, defiance for the sheer hell of it.”

Along the calle de los angeles
A loosened pebble clatters
Says all that I know

Something like that.

In art and labor,


Dear Joe,

Yeah Joe, very something like that. The New Year is meaningless, again; except to hope that in the heated-up Society of the Spectacle, goodwill, basic human kindness will be more real, less commercial, calculated and finally arched toward truth. But, that part of the Matrix is sublimated by 60% off sales, which are the new charity these days, the new love, the new fulfillment. Things are real now in this age of past prime empire and increasingly, according to the gears of history, truth will disappear, but wreak its internal havoc as the middle collapses and extremes furiously collide.

People? well, more like SIMS avatars, created by the fantasies of subjective service, controlled by tribal religion in fear, disposed and remade according to convenience and credit shopping budgets. Death stalks the ‘Holy Land’ and our new king avatar says nothing. The peoples of Gaza are a video game. Where’s the outrage in that? The tribe of Moses replenishes the manna of heaven by flooding the earth with blood. According to CNN, FOX, the blathering screens, and howling hairdos, all victims are terrorists, even the dead babies.

It’s become impossible these days to take critique off the edge or stand a moment too long in the entropy without that sense of nightmarish nausea:I know by now at this late age that I will always be an American. And as such, I will ever be prone to its national character weaknesses, chiefly its arrogant blindness and fear of the slightest discomfort, all of which are inculcated in us by our corporate state as it grooms and squeezes Americans, who until recently were the most profitable herd of so-called “citizens” on the planet.) As they say, you cannot run from your own identity, or your problems or the problems of your herd. But I have learned this: You can sure as hell get out of the path of the fucking herd when you hear it coming.” Joe Bagent

“I will always be an American.” So true, even after all these years of delusion, illusion, and disillusion, believing in the extraordinary myths of democracy, American justice and the will to well being for all. Many of us believed it in spite of the trajectory of critical reasoning and the collective truth of history. None of us could admit that our dream was merely a generational peak of expanding empire and that our glorious lifestyle, way-of-life, was made possible by the suffering of the greater world and that our blindness to that truth poisoned the very waters of our hubris and set the entropy of our collapse in motion.

Many of us fought like hell against the soulless bottom line of corporate paradigm, which has remade our brave new world into a neo-aristocracy, fulfilling the promises of Nietzsche, Borg, Rand and Orwell. When that avatar of death arrived, we shouted “Bush!” and scrambled like several other million alert blog-revolutionaries to do the work of truth telling. Maybe we made a difference, but mostly not. Truth was no match for the Spectacle of reality. America had long disappeared, at least as we once knew it. Congress seemingly out of touch was merely following the will of a shadow government operating beneath the entertaining play of a faux Democracy.

No justice touched or will touch the criminal enterprise of the past decade. Obama, with a genius and honey tongue for tight administration will in general consensus govern by corporate board and will have very little effect on the floating, garbage heap of ruin which he presumes may lead to union. That he is the first black man to hold the Presidency is a Spectacular theater totally divorced from actual greatness. Watching the Obama show time morph into Clinton redux is to realize the most insidious reflex of the Empire’s will to maintain itself. Looking outside the window over the frozen lawns and river beneath I feel deeply that winter is here in America and that it is from now on advancing into the depths of the earth and will deny spring to all those whose have bought into the ‘Change we can Believe in.”

At this moment, I remember so clearly the zest of long gone decades, the struggle for human rights, civil rights, the battles for an equal justice, and democratic America based on the most extraordinary governing documents ever composed in the western world. I remember the first test of those beliefs, in Berkeley, in the sixties at a non-violent demonstration where cops rioted, busted my head, tear gassed at close range, broke the wrist and leg of a young woman next to me and in full fang betrayed the truth of American promise: violence and power. Kent State was not an exception, but the growing normalcy of a growing militarized civil state.

It feels like that now. Nothing holds for wild old men, wild old women, except to abandon the killing fields, get out of the way, go underground, mentor the murdered values of justice, democracy, equal and civil rights. Live well, grow food, raise gardens, make art and love, sing, dance in Sara’s circle, burn down Jacob’s ladder and above all tell the stories in exile as we, strangers in our own land, weep for want of truth made whole.

“Defiance for the Sheer Hell of It!”


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