Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Il Duce’s Ghost

duceIl Duce’s ghost is restless. Summoned by the phantasmagorical fear of a people suffering from the multiple illnesses of a very sick nation, Il Duce’s ghost stalks the land. Raised from the grave by the craven babble of Talk Radio shills, pernicious corporate interests and a ruthless ruling oligarchy aided and abetted by complicit politicians bought on the cheap to act as their bagmen, Il Duce’s corpse twitters back to life.

As we count down to Harold Camping’s rapture date of 5/21/11, the frenetic fear of a collapsing world increasingly terrifies the masses. Religious fundamentalists of all stripes cry that modernity’s embrace of science and a culture of relativism is an abomination to the sight of God. The “Children of God” pine away about the erosion of the old values of the Old Time Religions; while the “Children of Enlightenment” fear that reason is quickly disappearing into a broken Hadron supercollider’s black hole of ignorance. One side is busy arming themselves in preparation for the coming battle of Armageddon while the other side lays up assets in their bank accounts to ride out the coming Day of Judgment. Il Duce is truly one of God’s favored. Anointed by fundamentalist TV preachers, he honors their creed and receives funding by Bible thumping wealth gospel believing businessmen because he promises to protects their God given fatted coffers. Only Il Duce can bring both sides together to sing praises in a divinely inspired choir.

The Federal Treasury paid a rich ransom to bankers to free our imaginations from the dread of the collapse of free market capitalism. Lately we hear murmurs that the nuke button still remains painfully close to the twitching fingers of fidgeting bankers. They threaten to shut down our tired and poor ATM networks and revoke our credit limits yearning for more debt. A strong dose of TARP II is the only known medicinal cure. Frenzied Tea Baggers scream their anger at a government intent on taxing the life blood out of its citizens so fat cat bankers can cash stupid money bonus checks. This insures that the syncopated beats of our capitalist heart continues to rock on. Il Duce is a skilled and gifted physician. He knows how to conduct the delicate procedures necessary to prevent coronary arrest. Il Duce alone knows the recipe to concoct a special brew of herbal teas. Its a powerful elixir that alleviates the caffeine induced head aches of Tea Bagger’s while keeping the circulation of our cholesterol challenged free markets flowing.

At town meetings, people in junk food fueled schizophrenic rants rave at impotent senators going through the motions of participatory democracy. The constituents insistent diatribes profess a love of country while they eagerly profane and condemn its democratic institutions. They say they are concerned about all the money being spent by the Feds. As deficit spending spirals into the trillions they shout “Who will pay for this?” and “Its unconscionable to saddle my kids and my grandchildren with this burden.” Perhaps. But we should also ask what are we doing to increase peace in a world rife with conflicts. Its just as unfair to ask our grandchildren to fight wars for which they had no grievance. Its also equally unjust to ask them to breathe air we polluted with chemicals or to drink water we spat in. I believe it is just to ask them to pay for our country’s infrastructure that all future generations will benefit from. They’ll need roads, water, hospitals and schools. I still cross bridges and traverse high ways and attend schools that were built by earlier generations. I drink water from aquifers and water systems that were built 100 years ago. New Yorkers ride in subways that were built by our great great grand parents.

Birthers are eager to de-legitimize the institutions of a democratic republic. They scream at congressmen that their actions are UnAmerican. They advise their representatives that they should read the constitution. Undoubtedly the culture of corruption consuming our politicians is a systemic disease badly in need of eradication. But emotional outbursts of Birthers shouting down representatives as they wave facsimiles of birth certificates, crying out “I want my country back” weakens the legitimacy of our government. The vehemence seems driven more by the fear of a person of color as president and the cultural transformation radically altering the ethnic landscape of America. Il Duce understands this anguish. It grieves him to see real Americans in such pain. He knows an ethnicity other then his own is unworthy to hold supreme office. The image of Il Duce is a venerated prism that must reflect the complexion of true Americans.

Federalism is not based on a two party system. It is based on a constitution complete with a Bill of Rights. It includes three independent branches of government that serve to check and balance the power of each branch. It is a system in dire need of reform but it has through our country’s history demonstrated its resilience and value as the best model to assure the semblance of a participatory democracy. It is the worthy expression of a free democratic peoples and it is certainly worthy of preservation. Federalism is not the problem. The problem lies in a compromised political process that elects entrapped representatives to office. Il Duce prefers obfuscation. Tyrants need to hold all the cards of power to smooth over the messy and uncomfortable edges of democratic republics. Its better and more expedient for a benevolent philosopher King to make the hard decisions that need to made.

The wisdom of Il Duce would be immediately put to use to make the hard choices to solve the health care problem vexing our country. The debate has stoked the howling yodelers of Talk Radio to turn up the volume of their vitriol. They have energized a nation of Valium saturated minds. They have woken millions from the torpor of ambivalence induced by the pharmaceutical industrial complex. This industry suspected of playing a role in the pharmacide of such cultural icons like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson buys spots that run in continuous loop on the grim reality TV shows. The ads hammer home the lesson that instant relief from the nausea of daily life is just a shot away. Mothers little helper dispensed en masse is as close and quick as the drive-in window at Walmart.  All for a small deductible of $5.00.

There is something in the water. America’s rivers are polluted with bio active elements people discharge from their bodies due to the use of products from the pharmaceutical industrial complex. It pollutes our aquifers. Il Duce takes a long cool drink, as he marvels at the wonder of our industry and invites more to freely imbibe.

The twittering nonsense and bold Facebook lies Sarahcuda’s minions are willing to swallow so as not to be out of goose stepping rhythm with other Dittoheads clearly comforts Il Duce. The Confederacy is rising again. This confederacy transcends the easy boundaries of geographic definition. This confederacy consists of state militiamen, libertarians and ad hoc communities springing up and thriving along the fracture lines of the urban and rural divide. They are seeking an ideology that is palatable enough to coexist with armed militias, Tea Baggers, Christian Falangists, nationalists and other malcontents. Throw in an assortment of skinheads, Nazis, White Supremacists and other national socialists and you have the semblance of a profile of the new confederacy for a new millennium. They worship force and the right of the stronger, believing that militarism is the supreme arbiter of all things. They are eager to project that power.

Il Duce’s ghost is awake and walking across the land like Goya’s Colossus. Summoned by the sycophants of right wing Talk Radio, encouraged by the Bush administrations use of the constitution as toilet paper, risen by the growing militarism and nationalist sentiment and fed by the militant anger of a people that can no longer suffer the abuse of power by the ruling oligarchs, Il Duce’s ghost has awakened, complete with freshly pressed Blackshirt.   It is ever listening, waiting for the right moment to fully materialize amidst the savagery of a savage nation.

You Tube Video: Benito Mussolini

Risk: fascism, Federalism, democracy

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August 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

St. Michael Save Us!

Michael_Jackson_an_angel_by_Ice_BeatMichael Jackson is now one with the ages. MJ’s passage from this earth marks the death of an American hero and the birth of an angel or possibly a saint. MJ now joins Elvis and Princess Di to complete a divine celestial trinity.

First there was Elvis, The King. The American dream and the innocence of an age dies way too young. No worries, Col. Parker transforms it into the tragic legend of an unsullied Americana that refuses to die even as its mummified corpse lying in state at Graceland continues to twitch from all the amphetamines old Elvis consumed during his historic run in Vegas.

Elvis, the everyman saint. Rising from the humble estate of a Mississippi delta dirt farmer. Elvis would conquer the hearts of his countrymen with sweet southern charm, an impish smile and an untamable shock of hair that flipped when his hips rocked. His love me tender silky voice had the power to weaken every woman’s knees. Countless men would also be curiously drawn to emulate his persona by adopting the vain King’s more frilly affectations. It was a curious example of socially acceptable homo eroticism in a don’t ask don’t tell and certainly don’t show society.

Princess Di, The Lady of the Lake, would follow Elvis. Her story genuinely tragic because her violent demise was not her doing. Her story truly the stuff out of a very Grimm fairy tale. A more gorgeous Cinderella could not be found. Yet her unprincely prince yearning to free himself from under the shadow of a perpetual queen would flummox his princess bride. It would doom this marriage and force the affection starved Princess into the arms of another. This fairy tale did not end well for the defrocked Princess. Her loyal subjects refused to let this very contemporary aristocrat descend to the pedestrian status of commoner. Her minions jealously guarded the memory of this royal icon. They sought to affirm personal fantasies that attaining royal status, though remote, is a possibility; and that beautiful benevolent monarchs are real people like them who deeply love and identify with their daily trials. Devoted Britoners make pilgrimages to her final resting place that is worthy of Queen Guenevere. Pricess Di is entombed on an island in an ornamental lake known as The Round Oval. The lake is located in Althorp Park’s gardens the ancestral home of Princess Di’s family. The Round Oval is surrounded by a path with thirty-six oak trees, marking each year of her life. Princess Di’s constant sentinels are four black swans that swim the lake amidst water lilies, which, in addition to white roses, were Diana’s favorite flowers.

MJ’s beatification will proceed abetted by fawning fans, a complicit family and entertainment media moguls eager to do large licensing deals to insure that royalties continue to accrue to the King of Pop estate and its agents. His veneration will address the American peoples deep seated need and unending capacity for hero worship. This need is only exceeded by our driving compulsion for instant gratification through gluttonous consumption. For many, this is the principal freedom promised to any and all Americans; an inalienable right to satiate any whim or whimsy money can buy. Nowhere in recent memory do these character deficiencies coalescence so neatly as they do with MJ.

The voracious consumption of culture knows no bounds. Like every other aspect of American life, culture as a commodity is the only culture we know. Radical capitalism has so thoroughly reified itself into the fabric of our everyday life that we find it increasingly difficult to imagine or experience human relations or interactions outside of a commercial transactional exchange. MJ significant buying power purportedly allowed him to bleach his skin, remove a negroid nose, purchase a triptych of white kids, fiance a voracious prescription drug addition and allegedly engage and cover up pedophilia activities.

MJ’s life was the triumph of consumer capitalism. Marketing changed and created MJ and the idea of MJ. From his very first appearance on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine as a member of the Jackson 5, to the ghastly image of his corpse filled body bag being offloaded from a helicopter on its way to the city morgue; MJ was a commercial vehicle, a marketing juggernaut that enriched a multitude of people, fattened his bank account and tormented and robbed his soul.

Yes MJ could have anything and everything money could buy yet he found no peace. This mythic figure created, manufactured and marketed by immutable corporate institutions seeking to seamlessly bind our mind and soul to an existential dream of material opulence in reality is much more the nightmare. It is more akin to imprisonment in a gulag of Walmarts; then the elusive personal liberation tantalizingly dangled by the broken promises of consumer capitalism. MJ’s death truly signals a hair on fire moment for our culture and no metaphor could be more powerful then his Pepsi commercial shoot gone bad.

Our myths instruct us to hold on to our Valium and amphetamine addicted lifestyles. Its the price we must pay to work and acquire the things that hold the illusory promise of freedom. We need heroes to emulate. It fuels our Viagra driven power surges in a queer transference. Its how we escape our daily pedestrian dread. It is how we live to converse with the God’s if only for a few fleeting infrequent moments allowed by the running meters of consumer rapture.

Here we are led to believe that after a heavy day of fighting the power, misogynistic rappers guzzling Christal and lighting Cuban spliffs with hundred dollar bills are the just rewards for speaking truth to power and taking on the man. Madison Avenue business is the creation of virtual mythology.

MJ’s career trajectory perfectly captured the arch of American culture since the Viet Nam war. The perfect antidote to The Black Panthers and Malcolm X, the cutesy Jackson 5 were acceptable Negroes welcomed in all white American living rooms as they stomped on Ed Sullivan’s TV Show. To the final funereal spectacle complete with a homily by Rev. Al Sharpton offering MJ apologetics and the Afro American Hollywood bourgeoisie rolling up to the Staple Center in a caravan of Black Danalis perfectly captured a peculiar resonance of Barack Obama’s America. MJ always at its epicenter. Placed their by the power of Madison Avenue media mavens and blockbuster Tinsel Town agents.

CNN was crowing how this event was about the common folk. Not the stars or glittering sequined gloves worn by MJ pallbearers. Elvis was a Horatio Alger type story. Princess Di let us fantasize about our royalty as we sat in our personal castles of over mortgaged homes cluttered with Rubbermaid artifacts. MJ was evidence of the triumph of marketing and the divinity of packaged consumer capitalism. Look again at the man in the mirror. Let it reveal how consumer fantasy makes every man King and each day a coronation through the availability of fast and easy credit.

Joseph Campbell wrote in The Hero Has a Thousand Faces “Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky. Furthermore, it is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history mythology is absurd. When a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it, temples become museums, and the link between the two perspectives becomes dissolved.

As the world begins its frantic search of Travelocity for deals for a Hajj to the Neverland Ranch, some might recall St. Michael the Arch Angel who cast Lucifer out of heaven. MJ will be St. Michael the Second. It may be an ironic twist of fate that MJ will hold second billing for eternity to an Arch Angel portrayed by John Travolta in the film Micheal. I’m sure his publicists are busy planning a PR campaign to rearrange the celestial order of things.

You Tube Music Video: Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson: Madison Avenue

Risk: culture, capitalism, marketing,

July 30, 2009 Posted by | branding, commerce, commodities, culture, democracy, institutional, manufacturing, marketing, media, movie, pop, product, reputation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghetto of Fear

Banksy BangAmidst our poverty of riches we tremble with fear and loathing. We resent the blessings The Almighty has so richly conferred upon us. A maddening clamor of a million incessant voices ceaselessly whisper “be afraid, be very afraid” dispatching us on an endless war with the infinite armies of darkness that we perceive to encircle us. This provokes an intense inner struggle with a seditious soul, a self saboteur, that endlessly works to undermine our emancipation from the ghetto of fear.

Our state of the nation mirrors our psychic state. Barraged with a fusillade of negativity from a multichannel digital discourse of real time bad news our physical state of being and virtual emotional resources are more depleted then the Treasury Department’s account balance after a TARP payment. War, terrorism, recession, home foreclosures, wealth dissipation, culture wars, job losses, the calamities go on ad infinitum. This is our daily bread. During the height of the Civil War in Northern Ireland I recall the picture of a child passing a graffiti strewn wall scripted with the question, “what will the monster bring today?” Indeed, what will our monsters bring today? Most likely more of the same. And it is the ongoing sameness of ever increasing distress that makes the crisis du jour just another routine day. Crisis has become the new normal.

We think ourselves to be unique in our victimization. Victimhood is a bad damn hood to be from if there ever was a bad hood to be from. Our national posture during the past 8 years under Bush has exclusively been about our victimization at the hands of the terrorists. We believed our victimization to be peculiarly ours because the evil doers hate us for who we are. Bush nursed it into a xenophobic obsession that led us to surrender our civil liberties, invade a sovereign nation to depose its head of state and use interrogation methods and tools refined by Spanish Iquisitioners 4 centuries ago. We rationalize it by promoting the fear that the consequences of another strike will be to terrible to suffer. It as if the entire history of civilization had never known the slaughter of innocents, the sacking of cities, the devastation of blight, plague and famine and the excessive collateral damage from the clash of civilizations. Indeed if history teaches us anything it is that egregious conflict is just another day at the office.

Fear has taken up full residency within many houses of worship. Too many sermons emanating from the pulpit preach of a vengeful God, heard by the trembling souls of congregants filling the pews responding with an affirmative amen. Fundamentalist preachers, imams and priests of all religious stripes and secular ideologies carefully construct a theology of fear to avoid eternal or temporal damnation. They warn against having your soul cast into eternal lakes of fire. Said Thomas Paine, “Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.” The admission price to the eternal paradise promised demands a vengeful soul fired by the vulcanism of fear.

Guarding your eternal well being or next life manifestation is available only by strict adherence to the fundamental precepts of a narrow belief. Non-believers are damned. Backsliders are shunned. Heretics are tortured and beheaded. Given the choice between a beheading and fearful submission to a jealous deity most will eat the bread of fear a jealous deity abundantly offers. Thomas Paine wrote that “Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”

These victims of conviction don’t get better they just continue to be victimized. The Pharisees warned Jesus that it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. Right wing conservatives need to consult this passage to understand why they should support universal health care. True conservatives are fearful this program is the sure road to socialism. Jesus asks what is more important, to cure the sick or worry if it meets the criteria of some stale dogma? I agree with Jesus and ask conservatives not to be fearful to heal on the Sabbath.

There is a comfort with the certitude the ideology of fear offers. One need no longer wrestle with the great cosmological questions of a universe that is older then 6,000 years or Darwin’s theories of natural selection and the theory of evolution to understand how species evolve. The tenants of secularism, liberalism and humanism as flowering ideals of the Age of Reason can be dispensed with as well. As we disallow the satanic verses concealed within the learned tomes of humanist literature; America, the grandest political expression of the Age of Enlightenment democratic foundations will crumble due to a poverty stricken citizenry ignorant of the cradle that suckled our legacy of liberty.

Fearful that these ideas threaten a fundamental understanding of God as the source and creator of all things they demand that their deity hide away from the prism of science, anthropology and history. Such a God is a small God indeed. It demonstrates how fear robs the human experience of a rich spiritualism and deeper relationship with a God of their understanding; condemning the true believer to a bankrupt religion of stale dogmas and inert ritualism. The Infinite One’s knowableness surpasses all understanding. All of humanity’s trite scientific inventions and worldly philosophies occupy but a minuscule portion of a single cell within God’s cranium. The All Knowing One would not have allowed the sciences, arts, philosophy and other branches of knowledge to flourish if it was not useful to serving the development of humanity and enriched our understanding of the Beneficent Ones love for all creation.

A truth I heard spoken in the rooms is that as children we are afraid of the dark. As we grow into adulthood we become terrified of the light. This profound truth speaks plainly about our mental, emotional and spiritual condition.  Children fear darkness because they think that they are alone. They tremble under their covers unaware of the protection and security of their home and a guardians presence in an adjoining room who sits ever mindful of a duty to protect the child. Darkness confronts children with a wall of uncertainty conjured from an untamed imagination. The capability to comprehend and understand the condition of darkness is merely an absence of light and is not a lair of monsters and bogymen. In workplaces all over the world workers tremble with fear in the cubicles and workshops fearing the delivery of the dreaded pink slip that condemns the worker to an awful redundancy and a certain downsizing in their standard of living. It may come or it may not. Fear and conjecture will not make it go away.

Fear is abolished when the child becomes safe in the knowledge that their guardian is near and remain fully secure in a comfortable bed. Darkness then becomes a place that doesn’t threaten but is an ideal condition where rest and the restorative power of sleep can be realized. We should engage the darkness that surrounds our nation not hide under the blankets or blindly flail away at it in an exhausting exercise of shadow boxing. It presents numerous opportunities for our nation to engage our demons and gain a better understanding of our country’s enemies and how we can disarm conflict by discovering the common ground of our shared humanity.

Paradoxically as adults we become fearful of the light. We ignore Socrates advise about the undesirability of an unexamined life. We prefer pathways of avoidance to stay secure in our ignorance. Agonizingly fearful about confronting the personal demons that continually haunt us we prefer to sit in darkness content to engage our guilt and shame in an ongoing conversation with ourselves; chaining us to the paralysis of a broken past.

We are only as sick as our secrets. Think about the sick soul of Bernard Madoff. Had he only brought to light many years ago that some of his investments did not perform well. His clients would have understood and forgiven him. He would have been off the hook and not beholden to the damnable demands of a larcenous ego and the financial ruin it brought to the people who trusted him. Or think about the obsessive mania of Dick Cheney to withhold information about events and discussions he held with parties that determined the fate and well being of all Americans. Transparency shines the light of disclosure and assessment on things vitally in need of clarity. Mature adults shine a light on themselves to conduct sober assessments and initiate corrective actions to grow and become more perfect.

The Apostle Paul reminds us not to be anxious in anything. It is an unfortunate circumstance that we don’t embrace this teaching. We have allowed fear to move into our neighborhoods and it has fully expropriated the fine residents of our communities. Fear has commandeered our country and bent it to its ugly will. Fear forces us to react to challenges with anger to engage in an endless vendetta that imprisons and tortures our spirit. It has separated us from one another with suspicion and denigrates our sacred relationship with the natural world.

We have allowed fear to become the omnipresent existential condition of our soul. It has fully eradicated the holy spirit from its rightful place as the unifying force that brings us all together in the human family. Fear is a pernicious millstone that grinds away our earthly home. Fear can be eradicated with courage reason, tolerance and faith. Certainly worthy vehicles to consider for an exodus from the ghetto of fear.

You Tube Video: War, The World Is A Ghetto

You Tube Video: Elvis Presley, In The Ghetto

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Bible, culture, democracy, faith, jazz, life, religion, terrorism, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment