The New Order
Ruey had left
early for a morning class. I had the day off from substitute teaching.
The radio was on in the kitchen, and it sounded like there was actually
going to be war with Iraq. I turned it off. I ignored the ants all over
the kitchen counter—killing things before meditation didn't seem right,
and I had resolved to get back into meditating every morning, starting
First I did some yoga to
loosen up. Next I lit incense and opened the window slightly, as Ruey
had taught me, so that God could smell it. I bowed three times. Then I
sat on my black cushion. My mind was racing, so I tried to mentally
recite the Prayer of Saint Francis to help quiet—or at least focus—its
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith . . .
God, my ass is killing me. This cushion feels like it's
made out of cement!
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled,
As to console . . .
What comes next? Fuck, I've said this a million times;
why can't I remember it? I'll do Yeats' "The Second Coming":
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Do people get that part?
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned . . .
I wonder if I should be saying this when I'm meditating?
It's a very dark poem. Follow your breathing. The whole point of
meditating is to clear your mind. Now it feels clear, but I'm thinking
that it's clear so that means it's not clear. Breathe. Breathe. My legs
are already falling asleep . . . .
I forced myself to
finish mentally reciting Yeats' poem. It didn't seem right to leave it
The best lack conviction while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
That's me. The worst.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
I'm really spacing out; where was I? Oh, yeah.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
about a beast slouching to Bethlehem, I may have fallen asleep for a
while, but years of experience had made it possible for me to sit with
my back erect and appear to be meditating even when I was dreaming. I
got up from my cushion and bowed my head to the cold floor and waited
for my feet to wake up enough so I could walk.
Ruey was at the
community college studying English. She'd left me some Chinese food
from the restaurant where she worked, and all I had to do was heat it
up. I noticed a horde of ants marching in a dark, meandering column
from the trash bag on the floor up to the kitchen counter top and
through a crack beneath the window.
Immediately the idea came
into my head, fully formed, to get my BIC lighter out of my backpack
and burn the ants. I felt like a general who had a chance to fight a
decisive battle, to inflict such huge casualties on the enemy that not
only would I win the battle, but possibly the war. I felt a childish
An instant before I flicked
my BIC, I remembered my bourgeois New Age hippy scientific Christian
Buddhist pseudo-morality and felt . . . guilty. I thought:
You will be burning God with your lighter. It will hurt these ants as
badly as it would hurt you. You're just bullshitting yourself that
there is a need to get rid of them. If you kept your house clean,
they'd go somewhere else and you wouldn't have to be Hitler of the
Ants. Their size makes it seem all right. You'd never hurt a cat, but
you would hurt ants. If you watched them suffering through a powerful
magnifying glass so you could see their reactions, you might not be so
quick to torture them.
But then other members of the
board of directors in my mind countered: You'll never get rid of these
ants if you let them run free all over your house. If you kill a few
thousand of them, they might not be such a problem from now on.
At this point, the governing
body of my mind heard a roar from the inarticulate masses, from
instinct, from the reptilian part of the brain that never evolved away
as evolution added subsequent layers of cerebral material. If this roar
could have been translated into words, it would have said: We want to
kill these ants with the lighter. We need to. It will be
fun. We demand that you let us do it.
As is so often the case with
humans, the reptilian part prevailed, but only for a short time.
The slaughter was
not as dramatic as I had dreamed it would be. I had envisioned
thousands of ants vaporizing under the fire of my mighty flamethrower.
I only got a few hundred, and they suffered and kept walking or turned
into little black corpses on the wall and floor, which were more
bothersome than the live ants—they couldn't walk away like the
survivors did when I finally took the trash bag out.
So now I was in the
unenviable situation of having sinned against God in such a way that
I'd either go to hell later or have bad "instant karma" things start
happening to me right away, and I didn't even get anything good out of
it. Some men sell their souls for awesome success in business or great
power over others, or even to commit blissful adultery with their
beautiful secretaries, but all I got was some sadistic pleasure and a
whole bunch of little charred bodies to clean up.
I started thinking about
karma and hell. If God or the Devil (I wondered if they were both the
same entity) were very tricky, the punishment could be postponed
indefinitely. I could be allowed to spend the next two years in
happiness and comfort, only to have my whole life suddenly shattered by
the onset of cancer. Or more appropriately, maybe I could be horribly
burned in a fire.
Of course the next thing I
contemplated was redemption. How could I pay for the crime against life
that I'd just committed? Feeling guilty about it wouldn't be enough.
The Catholic Church has redemption down to a science, but I could never
believe that confessing to a priest and saying prescribed prayers could
balance the karmic books. Maybe if I became a totally good person from
now on! But how does one do that? I decided that whatever system of
repentance I used, I'd probably continue to do cruel things.
Even though it was
hours away, I set the alarm on my digital watch so I wouldn't miss Tom
Brokaw doing the news. I settled down with a cup of sweet herb tea and
read a couple of newspapers that were starting to take over the floor
of our room so that I could put them in the recycling pile and be rid
of them. I liked the charts comparing the relative strengths of the
Iraqi and United States armies. The "Crisis in the Gulf"—I marveled
that the media had so quickly agreed upon a name for the almost-war—was
just beginning. (My brother called me on the phone: "They named it!") I
ended up spending the whole day reading the paper and watching the
"Crisis" unfold on CNN.
My watch beeped and
I switched to channel 4.
Tom started lisping out the
news. I wondered how a guy who lisped could make $2,000,000 a year
reading words from a monitor, but I also knew the answer: He looked and
sounded like Everyman, like a Good Dad, believable and respectable.
Every ten minutes, there were
several commercials. Call me paranoid, but I think there was a reason
for showing a Raid commercial right after Tom discussed the leader of
Iraq, Saddam Hussein, calling him a "bully" for invading Kuwait and for
holding Westerners as "detainees."
"I killed them, and I'm
glad," said a resolute young housewife standing in her kitchen. The
scene changed to a computer-animated human hand holding a can of Raid
roach spray, spraying a computer-animated roach running on a kitchen
counter. The cartoon roach mechanically rolled over and died. The
commercial cut back to the housewife in her kitchen. "Their kind
deserve to die," she said. Tom got us angry and made us feel like
solving a problem, and then the commercial gave us a problem that we
could solve, by killing, by killing creatures that didn't deserve to
live. Were we to make a subconscious transference to Arabs?
So now the military forces of
two powerful nations were poised on a border, ready to spray each other
like roaches. The men kind of looked like roaches when they put on
their protective gas masks and rubber suits.
Ruey and I rented
part of a home in a nice neighborhood in the Hayward hills, across the
bay from San Francisco. Our next-door neighbors were Steve and GiGi.
They were beautiful, affluent, and young. With their pretty blond
children, they looked like a car commercial.
Steven was a sales rep for
Lowenbrau beer. He worked his way up from driving a beer truck. He
looked athletic and self-assured, with curly brown hair, light eyes,
and a ruddy, round, youthful face. Steve looked like he knew what was
going on in sports. Sometimes he sat momentarily on the new redwood
deck jutting out from the side of their two-story home. He played
guitar a little—Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, and Eric Clapton. He drove a
nice company car.
GiGi was a cute, blue-eyed
blond on the edge of being beautiful. She had gorgeous long legs which
she showed off in jean mini-dresses and little shorts. She had a big
smile and a high-school voice. GiGi said "like," "ya know," and "he
goes" (instead of "he said") a lot.
I really wanted to hide a
microphone on the end of a low branch that extended from the tree in
our back yard to the window of the kitchen where GiGi talked on the
phone, fed her kids, and argued with her husband. Sometimes, while
recycling the bottles and cans Ruey would bring home from the
restaurant, I listened beside their new redwood fence. But I was always
afraid that somebody in one of the upstairs rooms might notice that I
was eavesdropping, so I hurried up with my work and got back inside the
I wanted to have a hidden
video camera in their bedroom. I was consumed by curiosity about this
couple living the American dream. What do they do in bed? How do they
talk to each other? Are they always superficial? How do they relate to
their children? What do they say about the "Crisis in the Gulf"? I
thought that if I understood these people, I would understand the
future, my future, and the destiny of the United States.
My first real
experience of war—outside of watching it on TV—was when I saw a wooden
leg hanging on the wall inside the garage of a neighbor who lived down
the street. I was about eight or nine, young enough to touch it right
in front of the man who owned it. I was amazed that it actually had
toes, wooden toes. It seemed like kind of a sad thing, but I was too
young to feel sad about something like that. I asked him about it. He
said he was a paratrooper in the war and that he had lost his leg.
Somehow I knew it wasn't cool to ask him any more questions. I could
see that he was standing on two legs as he tinkered at his workbench,
so I guessed that he had on another fake leg and the one on the wall
was a spare. I guessed that maybe he had on a more modern one with toes
My second experience of war
was listening to my sixth grade teacher read us gory, glorious stories
about the Green Beret fighting communists in Vietnam. An American
soldier would get blasted right out of his boots by a mortar shell and
be hurled into the air, only to land on his bare feet and keep running,
firing away with his machine gun. My teacher had lost one of his lungs
in Korea. He thought it was a lung well spent.
My third experience of war
was asking my mother about the Vietnam War. She told me it was wrong.
She told me about peaceful ways of settling problems. I learned from
her about Gandhi and how he would fast and get himself arrested because
others were starving and oppressed. I remember we were sitting together
on a big chair and she had her arm around me. It wasn't until years
later that I finally figured out what my mom had meant when she said
that Gandhi could feel other people's hunger.
My fourth real experience of
war was when my father sent me on a mission to find banana leaves he
needed to test a foliage-penetrating signal flare he was developing. My
father was a research chemist and project manager at an explosives
company on the outskirts of Los Angeles County. The flare was for
pilots shot down over Vietnam. It was supposed to blast up through the
thick jungle canopy, cutting through leaves along the way. I was in
junior high, and I had one of those Stingray bicycles with the little
wheels and a long seat so you could ride double. I rode through the
suburbs of the San Fernando Valley gathering banana leaves, doing my
part for the Vietnam war effort.
The Air Force had contracted
with the company that my dad worked for to have a large metal tower
built somewhere in the Mojave Desert, an hour east of L.A. Several
layers of banana leaves, some of which I had actually gathered, were
stretched and secured in special holders at the top of the tower. I
wasn't allowed to go to the testing, but I heard all about it. My dad
brought home two expensive new multi-channel walkie-talkies that were
used for this project and let us play with them. I still have them. I
don't think the flares worked, but the Air Force had a lot more money
to pay my dad to go back to the old drawing board.
My dad described
the ordinance he was working on from week to week as our family ate
dinner. Sometimes he illustrated his points on a chalkboard he had
installed by his place at the dinner table. One night, right at the
table, he produced from his pocket some things he called
fléchettes. They were little metal darts with fins on them, like
little rockets, stamped in a special machine from regular nails. He
drew a land mine on the chalkboard, showing us the small explosive
charge it contained that lifted it from the ground when it was stepped
on by an enemy soldier. Inside of the mine were hundreds of the little
metal darts. Once the mine lifted about two and a half feet off the
ground (the average height of a Vietnamese man's genitals, my dad
explained), a larger charge would go off, sending the darts flying in
all directions, two and a half feet off the ground. He said that this
was a heavy psychological deterrent to a Vietnamese soldier thinking of
crossing a field that might be mined.
Later I learned that the
North Vietnamese didn't have the medical facilities to remove the
fléchettes from deep inside the bodies of the men, women, and
children who were hit by them, and that the wounds they caused would
fester and hurt for months, sometimes killing the victims, sometimes
My father was such a good
teacher that I could see vivid pictures while he spoke. When he
explained napalm, I could see the burning jellied gasoline sticking to
a man's skin as he tried in vain to get it off his body. I could see
the skin blistering.
My fifth experience related
to war was when my dad bought a cool, 14-karat-gold peace sign tie pin
to wear on his ties at work.
My sixth experience of war
was when my parents took my two brothers and me to an antiwar
demonstration. I remember that we wore black arm bands and marched
through a military cemetery that had thousands of identical white
I saw new graves of soldiers
who had just died in Vietnam. The graves didn't have crosses yet, but
pushed into the freshly dug earth were stakes holding small
battleship-gray metal frames for the names of the soldiers. The paint
was chipping off the frames and they were rusty. An old typewriter had
been used to type the soldiers' names on cream-colored index cards,
which were covered by transparent plastic that had been used many times
before and was beginning to yellow. I took a picture of a grave and
marker with the Cannon 35-millimeter camera my uncle had lent me.
My uncle wouldn't be needing
his camera for a while. My seventh experience of war was seeing my big
uncle—my macho, former low-rider, kind of scary uncle, who was always
too rough with me when I was growing up, my role model for how to walk
and act cool in L.A.—going off to war. He was a sergeant in the Air
Force and he was wearing his dress uniform, which was pretty
impressive. He was crying like a little boy as he prepared to walk down
the passenger loading ramp into a United Airlines flight to Vietnam.
His mother was crying and so was my dad. I was still in junior high and
I was surprised at how everyone was acting. I wasn't very sad.
My eighth experience of war
was listening to Uncle Glenn's tapes from Vietnam. His tapes were very
interesting. He lived in Saigon with a sweet young prostitute. He was
in love with her. Uncle Glenn was an electronics technician, so he
didn't have to fight. He just fixed radio equipment. His experience of
the war included having sex with many Vietnamese women, getting
hepatitis, and smoking a lot of marijuana.
My ninth experience of war,
listening to Uncle Glenn's tapes, led to my tenth, which was finding
some incredibly good marijuana hidden in my parents' bedroom. Something
Glenn said on a tape gave me a hint that he had sent some to my dad. I
searched through my dad's closet and found it, just as he'd mailed it,
packed into the spout of a beautiful tea pot. (I remember that the tea
pot came in a padded basket intricately woven out of colorful
electrical wire stolen from the U.S. military by a Vietnamese
craftsperson.) By this time I was a freshman in high school, and I was
smoking marijuana whenever I could get my hands on it. But the kind of
dope my friends would come up with and share with me was weak. It was
Mexican leaf that you had to smoke two whole joints of to get high. We
always had sore throats from it. I remember we used to ask each other,
"Do you feel it yet?" My cousin Cliff always felt it. "I'm getting a
buzz already," he'd say, but I never believed him.
It was with Cliff that I
smoked the first joint of "pot" that I "pinched" out of my dad's
"stash." When we started to "come on to it," we felt our hands leave
our arms. We became paranoid, afraid to be alone, overwhelmed by the
smallest details. Closing our eyes was impossible; it would have been a
one-way ticket to spin-out land.
I'm out of fingers,
so won't tell of my eleventh, twelfth, or one hundredth experience of
war; for me, everything after smoking my dad's good pot was influenced
by war; everything was an experience of war. Who I am was influenced by
the hippie counterculture, which came into being largely as a reaction
to the war. I partook of the drugs, religions, sexual behavior, and
eating styles spawned by this counterculture. The quality, or lack
thereof, of education I received, compared to what it could have been,
certainly resulted from the bleeding of our national wealth into a
costly war, at least as much as it resulted from my being stoned a lot.
The kind of career I chose—that is, not to have a career—when I finally
decided to go to junior college, was a war experience. I chose to be a
revolutionary against my own government!
I determined at that time in
my life, at age 24, that this was actually the most practical, logical,
pragmatic career choice available. I used to argue with other students
at Chabot Community College: "What good is it to become a stock broker
if we all get wasted in a nuclear war three years from now and there's
no stock left to sell and no people left to buy it?" 15 years later,
those guys were probably stock brokers, and I was a substitute teacher.
Their houses were warm, while the converted apartment Ruey and I lived
in was cold.
Another person who
made the career choice to become a radical while attending classes at
Chabot Community College was Erik Larsen. Unfortunately, he made this
decision while he was in the Marine Corps Reserve. While the world was
waiting to see what George Bush and Saddam Hussein would do next, Erik,
because of his great speaking ability, became the most prominent
soldier to speak out against U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf. He had
begun the process of becoming a conscientious objector before Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait, because of his dawning recognition that the Marines
were no longer about honor or justice. He was sickened by the chants
the troops were taught to recite in boot camp, and even more so by what
he learned in college about U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam, Central
America, and Panama.
A local political group held
a meeting for people to discuss the possibility of war with Iraq and
what we could do about it. That's where I met Erik. While waiting for
the meeting to start, I noticed Erik and did a double take. I walked up
to him and said, "I just saw you on TV this morning. Aren't you Erik
Erik's speech to the
gathering about the situation in the Persian Gulf was simple yet
powerful. He was comfortable fielding questions, and quite relaxed,
even though he knew he was days away from being imprisoned. After the
meeting, I had a lot of questions for him. We walked to the local
microbrewery and had a few beers.
Erik agreed to
speak at a meeting I arranged at Logan High School, where I worked as a
substitute teacher. About 50 students and five teachers showed up.
There were two newspaper reporters. The students were on the edge of
their seats as they listened to Erik's stories about the military. He
sang some of the Marine Corps marching chants for them. One went like
Rape the town and kill the people
That's the thing we love to do
Rape the town and kill the people
That's the only thing to do
Throw some napalm on the schoolhouse
Watch the kiddies scream and shout
Rape the town and kill the people
That's the thing we love to do
Sticks like glue
Sticks to the mamas and the papas
And the kiddies, too
His decision to
become a C.O., he said, was made after the six Jesuit priests were
killed and de-brained by the U.S.-backed ARENA government in El
He retold a story, told to
him by some of his Marine buddies, about how they had been instructed
to hide the bodies of dead Panamanians after George Bush's bombing
attack on Panama, Operation Just Cause, in 1989. Erik described Marines
putting bodies in black plastic bags, loading them into jeeps, and
taking them to open-pit graves; he discussed his feelings about this.
He explained a little of the history of European and U.S. involvement
in the Middle East and how the United States "military-industrial
complex" was desperate to create a new enemy now that the Cold War was
The students were sympathetic
to his cause, but the general consensus was that since he had signed a
contract with the military, and since he had received training, medical
benefits, and money for college, he should honor his contract.
The high school principal had
insisted, when I was filling out the forms required to have a guest
speaker, that both sides of the issue be presented, so Erik debated
with a young teacher who was in the Air Force Reserve. This teacher
said that when you join the service, when you sign that contract, you'd
better take it seriously. It's like getting married, he said, not
something to be gone into lightly or escaped from just because you may
not agree with exactly what's being done. He went on to defend American
involvement against Iraq, saying things such as, "What would have
happened if we hadn't stopped Hitler?" He was a pretty weak speaker
compared to Erik.
question-and-answer period, I raised my hand and addressed the pro-war
teacher: "I'm going to ask you a question that may sound absurd, but
maybe not so absurd if you consider the 3,000,000 dead in Indochina,
the 70,000 dead in El Salvador, and the 500 to 1,000 recently killed in
Panama. If an 18-year-old man joined the German army at a time when
Hitler was helping the economy and building new roads, and then, two
years later, he found out that Hitler was using the military to round
up Jews and kill them, should this young man continue to honor the
contract he signed with the German army?"
The teacher turned a little
red, but managed to answer. "The United States always tries to do the
right thing," he said, "and we always bring our war criminals to
trial." He mentioned Lieutenant Calley, the officer charged with the My
Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. His argument was weak; Lt. Calley
was just a scapegoat for the hundreds of lieutenants who burnt villages
and slaughtered innocent women and children over there. But I didn't
answer him. It was a meeting for the high school kids, and I didn't
want to get the other teachers in the room too excited for fear they
might take over the discussion.
What I had said was
paraphrased the next day in the last paragraph of an article generally
unfavorable to Erik in the San Jose Mercury News:
(November 15, 1990)
But Larsen got his share of support, too. Substitute teacher Jeff Syrop
cited what he said is a common criticism in Hayward of Larsen—that he
failed to live up to his contract with the Marines. He likened that to
an 18-year-old joining the German military, only to discover two years
later that he would be expected to aid in the extermination of Jews.
I was at Logan High
on January 16th, 1991, at three in the afternoon, when a rally
sponsored by our World Events Club was being held outdoors in the
school amphitheater. (When we founded the club a couple of years
before, the students and I were afraid to call it the World Peace Club
for fear that the school administration wouldn't allow us to meet on
campus; we might be considered too political.) The purpose of the rally
on this afternoon was to discuss possibilities for a peaceful
settlement of the conflict with Iraq, the pros and cons of protesting,
and whether our country should start the war now that Bush's January
15th deadline had passed. There were about 75 students, 10 teachers,
and two administrators present.
Both sides of the issue—to
attack or not to attack—were expressed by students and teachers as two
cordless microphones were passed around from person to person. A
Mexican-American teacher took a mike and talked about how he had felt
about the peace protests going on in the United States during the time
he was fighting in Vietnam. He said it was like playing in a football
game and suddenly seeing all of the fans on the home-team bleachers
getting up and leaving. Some of the kids who had previously considered
themselves peaceniks were buying into this.
There were a couple
of teachers who spoke at length just to hear their own voices over the
loudspeakers and to show off for the other teachers; I'm not sure what
exactly they were talking about. One seemed to be saying that there
were different rules for big countries than there were for small
countries, and that Saddam Hussein had no right to commit atrocities
even if George Bush did.
A couple of ignorant,
inarticulate boys talked at length about how they wanted to join the
Marines to support our troops. "My country might not always be right,
but I believe we should serve our country. We gotta support our boys,
'cause if there wasn't guys brave enough to fight for freedom, then we
might not be the greatest and freest country in the world. Those people
in Iraq, ya know, they don't have a choice, and like, all those
protesters don't know how good they got it. They should go and live in
Iraq for a while and see how they like it. I'm going to be an
infantryman, and, like, I'm afraid of dying and stuff, I mean, I want
to have a family and I don't want to die before I really even like get
a chance to live, ya know, but if I don't fight, there might not be any
country for my kids to live in . . . ." I noticed one of the school's
vice principals look down at his beeper and get up to leave.
Finally, one teacher spoke
eloquently for peace, but it seemed to me that what she said was not
only over most of the students' heads, but the teachers' as well.
In situations such as this, I
usually try to form one very strong statement, a large-size paragraph
in length, in an effort to blow away what I think is the idiocy of the
speakers who have gone before me. This time, though, I thought that
there was such a paucity of logic and such a plentitude of vacuous
thought being shared, that I was almost resolved to keep my mouth shut
for once in my life. But finally, I came up with my statement and
turned it over in my head a few times so that I could speak forcefully
and clearly. I raised my hand and motioned for a microphone, and one
was passed from hand to hand towards me. Right when I had the
microphone in my hand, the administrator who had left to answer a page
came walking back into the amphitheater with a quick, purposeful
stride. He grabbed the other microphone and said, "I just got off the
phone with my wife. They just announced over the radio that there is a
squadron of jet bombers over Baghdad and that the bombing has started."
I sat there dumbfounded,
looking at the expressions on the faces of the people at the meeting as
many of them experienced their first beginning of a war. One teacher,
the Air Reservist who had debated with Erik Larsen, looked the most
upset and scared of anybody there. After all my study and preparation
to be a revolutionary, there I sat with a microphone in my hand, and I
One of the students had a
portable radio. I placed the microphone next to the speaker. We could
all hear the war starting. One by one, people got up and quietly left.
The teachers and most of the
students didn't notice that a newspaper reporter, oblivious to the fact
that war had begun, had just arrived to cover the meeting. Earlier in
the day, the principal had gotten wind of a mass student walkout in
protest of the January 15th deadline for the beginning of war. He
headed this off by getting on the school PA system and telling all the
students that there would be a rally after school, sponsored by the
World Events Club. A history teacher had called the local newspaper,
thinking that this might be a newsworthy meeting.
A few stragglers and World
Events Club loyalists had stayed behind to have a "radical" discussion
with me, the school radical. I spotted a couple of them talking with
the reporter. They were telling him how disappointed they were. They
realized that they'd been tricked by the principal to sublimate their
planned seventh-period antiwar demonstration for this tame rally.
The reporter was happy to see
me. At least he'd have one teacher to interview, even if I was only a
substitute teacher. He scribbled in his little notebook as I spoke
about the meeting and how strange it had been to learn of the war
starting right in the middle of it. But when I began speaking of the
importance of protest, of it being more important to support the kids
who had not yet joined the military than the ones who had knowingly
signed a contract to commit mass murder at the will of George Bush, his
eyes glazed over and his pen stopped in its tracks.
I continued speaking—hoping,
I guess, that the reporter would have a photographic memory and a
change of heart—about former CIA director Bush arranging with Iran in
1980 for the continued captivity of the American hostages so that
Carter would lose the election to Reagan, about the hostages being
released the moment Reagan put his hand on the Bible to become
President, about the missiles and other weapons Bush had promised and
delivered to Iran.
Now the reporter was looking
very impatient. I went on anyway, showing off for the couple of
students who hadn't yet wandered away: "Congressional law was broken to
give money to the Contras to kill thousands of Nicaraguan peasants.
Reagan and Bush paid for the killing of 70,000 farmers in El Salvador
with our money! Bush killed 1,000 civilians in Panama in order to
arrest one man who used to be on his payroll! Two of Bush's sons are
under criminal investigation for using their names and influence to rip
off American taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars—Zeb Bush in
the HMO medical scam in Florida (which the media has ignored) and Niel
Bush in the 'Savings and Loan Scandal.'"
Now the reporter was looking
at me impatiently as if I were a mental case. I was shaking a little
and my right eye was twitching, which didn't lend credibility to my
speech. I fixed him with my eyes, daring him to walk away, which he did
anyway. "All these people wrapping themselves in the flag and getting a
hard-on for war are going to be chumps, and I can't believe they don't
see it. We're going to be a nation of chumps!" I called after him.
The next day I read the
article he wrote in the Argus News, in which he gave me two
paragraphs. Here they are:
Jeff Syrop, a substitute teacher who joined the
after-school discussion prior to the bombing, said it was ironic.
"It was really strange to be discussing it and then hear a
radio broadcast tell us that what we were just discussing had
happened," said Syrop, 37. "I'm sickened by it."
Fair enough. The
front page of this newspaper had a full-color map of the Middle East
with Iraq in the center covered with red arrows and orange stars
representing flight paths and bombing sites. The headline in huge
letters read "BULL'S EYE!"
Tom Brokaw's news
show, "The Crisis in the Gulf," became "America at War." Tom must have
known it was coming: NBC had new theme music already written and
recorded and all of the elaborate "America at War" graphics had already
been made before the first missile was fired, before the first bomb was
dropped. Ruey noticed: "It's the same song but they're playing it
slower and more serious."
As Ruey and I were eating
dinner at La Imperial in downtown Hayward, all eyes were on the TV at
the end of the restaurant. Usually tuned to sports, the TV now showed
the bombing of Iraq. When the screen showed bombs falling and exploding
over Baghdad, several men stood up at their tables over their super
burritos and Dos Equis beer and cheered loudly. A video of a "smart
bomb" homing in on its target and exploding brought more shouts and
cheers, exactly like a big touchdown by the 49ers.
"Welcome to America, Ruey.
What does an ingenuous Taiwanese girl think about this country?"
"Insane is my answer.
Selfish," she said.
I read some essays
written by eighth graders in a class I was substitute teaching the next
day. "If my uncle gets killed over there, Saddam Hussein is going to
have a strange feeling in his ass. That's because I'm going to go over
there and shove a grenade up his ass." Another student wrote about how
one of the first things Bush said after becoming president—that now,
nobody could make him eat broccoli. "What a childish, psychopathic
thing for the leader of a great country to say," he wrote. He cited a
bumper sticker he'd seen which said, "If war is optional, it's murder."
After my initial
act of ant genocide, using President Johnson's logic that once you've
gotten blood on your hands, you might as well finish the job, I engaged
in another ant massacre, this time shooting them with water from a
yellow plastic squirt gun molded in the shape of a machine gun. A few
days later, I tried my hand at chemical warfare, using some Windex
spray on the troops. This was months before the "shooting war," Desert
Storm, actually started, when our operation was still called Desert
Shield. Our troops and troops from France, England, and other countries
supporting the UN action were camped out in the desert, protecting
Saudi Arabia and waiting to see if Saddam would willingly withdraw from
Kuwait. I told my friend, Richard, that God had singled me out and was
watching my treatment of the ants, using me as a test case to see if
humans were ready to finally do away with war. I suppose that after my
third ant massacre, God realized that humans still enjoy cruelty and
slaughter. Perhaps then God caused George and Saddam to do the crazy
things they needed to do to put a war into motion. Now that war had
started, I no longer killed ants. I wanted to be a good example of a
I was more
interested than ever in the behavior of my neighbors, Steve and GiGi.
GiGi's younger brother, just out of high school, had been staying with
them while he looked for a job. I saw GiGi in front in her cute pink
shorts, watering her lawn. "I haven't seen your brother lately. Where
is he?" She answered that he'd joined the army and that he was in the
Persian Gulf. I could tell it was a difficult subject for her, so I
didn't press for any more information. But I wondered about what he was
experiencing and how it would affect GiGi if he died. Did his eyes get
burned during gas mask training? Did he have nightmares during boot
camp? Is he safe now? Will he be captured and tortured?
At first, Steve was willing
to talk about the war on our chance encounters at the mailbox or
picking up our newspapers from the driveway. Now it was just "How are
you?" "Pretty good. How are you?" "Just fine." One thing to their
credit is that they didn't fly an American flag on their house, and
they didn't put up any yellow ribbons, either.
This was understandable.
Almost everyone who could afford to live in this nice neighborhood in
the hills had graduated from college and had become materially
successful. These people were a little more politically aware and
perhaps a little less susceptible to media manipulation than the
working-class people in the flatlands.
Suddenly, the poor and
middle-class neighborhoods in the Hayward had sprouted American flags
and yellow ribbons. Trees, telephone poles, and lamp posts everywhere
were bedecked with yellow ribbons tied in bows like bows on a little
girl's church dress. Small American flags and yellow ribbons were
flying from car antennas, and some of our more patriotic citizens
installed actual flagpoles waving full-size flags from the back of
their pick-up trucks. Construction workers, teachers, school kids,
checkers at the supermarket, everybody seemed to be wearing little
yellow bows pinned to their shirts with little American flag pins.
At this point in time, I
would have been afraid to wear my dad's old peace sign tie tack in
The air attack had
been going for a month, and it was still called a war, even though
there was almost no opposition to "Coalition" bombers and
reconnaissance aircraft. Since the media were being censored by the
military, I could only guess, but after almost a month of "carpet
bombing" Iraqi troops with fuel bombs and conventional high explosives,
I guessed that tens of thousands of men had been incinerated as they
cringed in holes and underground bunkers or cooked to death in tanks
and personnel carriers.
This war reminded me of the
time years ago when a roommate, a fat woman who kept a very clean
house, spied a roach on the kitchen counter and sprayed it. The roach
just kept walking even though my roommate was practically drowning it
with Raid. I could see a cloud of Raid mist covering our dishes in the
dish drainer. Later, when she wasn't looking, I washed all the dishes
again so I wouldn't get cancer.
It was a cold
winter, and, speaking of insects, the ants were still with us,
conducting maneuvers in our kitchen. They were all over the place.
After the war started, though, I treated them as honored guests. Hey
God, look at me! Are you watching, God? Look, I'm not cruel anymore!
Bush had taken to
calling the coalition of nations he bribed, blackmailed, and bullied
into supporting the UN Security Council measure authorizing force
against Iraq, the "Allies." Reagan took us back to the 50s, and now
Bush, that crafty time traveler, had taken us back even farther in
time, to the 40s, complete with Allies, Hitler, amphibious landings by
the Marines, and words that Americans hadn't heard since World War II,
words such as "sortie" and "scorched earth tactics."
"Allied" casualties were very
light indeed. So far, most of the casualties had been from "friendly
fire." According to the media, there were days when not a man on the
Allies side was lost. In Israel, there were very few deaths from Saddam
Hussein's overgrown bottle rockets, the Scud missiles which were
pointed towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to fly until they ran out of
fuel and crashed, usually missing their targets. Most of the Israeli
deaths were from fright.
It was a relatively
safe time for the ants at our house and for the Allies, but it didn't
feel safe for me. It was during the last days of the "air war" that I
waited for the results of my HIV test.
The technician at the county
hospital stabbed my arm five times before she finally got blood; my arm
was bruised for days. After getting some odd rashes on my face and
having a sore throat that wouldn't go away, I started to get paranoid
about having AIDS. But maybe my poor health was related to the stress I
was feeling about the war. Also, because of the war, I became more
aware of my fragility as a human. Ruey and I lived on the Hayward
Fault, known worldwide as one of the most active and dangerous possible
sites for a great earthquake. A 7.0 or greater quake was scheduled to
destroy our neighborhood some time during the next 20 years, in
geological time, about half a second.
This was my war as much as it
was the war of the politicians who put it into motion and the people
who supported it. My taxes went towards the reality we were creating
for young men forced to serve in Saddam Hussein's military. I pictured
an Iraqi guy sitting in a bunker. Suddenly there is a huge blast and
concussion. When he regains consciousness, he can see the shiny white
of his own exposed ribs. His friend is lying beside him dead.
When he described what it was
like to see Iraqi troops in Kuwait from his plane, Marine Lt. Col. Dick
White said: "It was like turning on the kitchen light late at night and
the cockroaches started scurrying." Our leaders were getting ready to
start the "ground war." It was taking too long to exterminate the
roaches, so now we had decided to go into the cracks and walls to get
Now our men, too, would have
the chance to see their own bones exposed and to be splattered by the
blood and entrails of their friends.
Like I said, as a
kid I wasn't saddened by my "war experiences." I actually enjoyed
violence. I used to shoot real arrows up onto the top of the elevated
freeway looming above our backyard in L.A. and listen for the metallic
sound of them hitting cars. BB-gun wars were a favorite pastime of my
brothers and I, stalking each other through the trees on the side of
the freeway. Sometimes we'd become allies and shoot at the windows of
the "old lady's house" down the street. But during the Persian Gulf
War, I was very sad about war.
I was embarrassed, too,
because I'd waited for Bush's deadline, January 15th, like a kid waits
for Christmas. I was against the war, but I was excited about it too.
If it started, it would be my first war.
I kind of got stoned and
missed the Vietnam War. Although I had long hair, played Bob Dylan
songs on the guitar, and knew about some bizarre ordinance used against
the Vietcong, I really didn't know anything. The names of the Secretary
of Defense, the Secretary of State, or the Head of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff? Nope. The history of Vietnam leading up to the war? Nope. Yet as
far as I knew, my life was on the line—I came of age to be drafted
while the Vietnam War was still being fought.
I do know a lot
about the Persian Gulf War. (Apparently, that's what history, at least
our history, has decided to call it. It was over. The "ground war"
turned out to be a combination turkey-shoot and round-up. Noam Chomsky,
the world-renowned linguist and expert on U.S. foreign policy, called
it a "nature walk." The Iraqi soldiers couldn't surrender quickly
enough. But some felt that they had no choice but to fight, or they
were sufficiently afraid of their cruel leaders to fight even though
they knew they were doomed. After the "battles," Iraqi men in these
divisions were found "carbonized" in their tanks and troop carriers,
according to the newspapers. A famous picture, captioned "Gruesome
Traffic Jam" in the Examiner, showed hundreds of Iraqi or
stolen Kuwaiti vehicles that had been destroyed as Iraqi soldiers tried
to retreat from Kuwait. They contained a lot of toasted humans.
Saddam Hussein was still
alive, running the country from underground in one of his German-made
bunkers, and his Republican Guards were killing their fellow Iraqis to
maintain his rule amongst civil war and anarchy. Starvation and
epidemics of cholera and other water-borne diseases were widespread
after the destruction of sewer and water facilities by Allied bombers.
Thousands of Kurdish and Shiite refugees were stuck on borders. The
Kurds in the north were freezing to death. They could be seen on the
nightly news walking barefoot through snow.
Many of the rich Kuwaiti
sheiks and sultans, however, had now returned to Kuwait, and American
companies were receiving fabulous contracts to rebuild their country.
My childhood hero, Red Adair, had over 500 oil-well fires to put out,
over a year's worth of work. Scientists felt it a strong likelihood
that the soot from these fires would shorten the growing seasons in
Europe and Russia, possibly resulting in famine.
The same year, 27 million
people starved to death in Africa, but that was another story, and it
didn't seem to strike the media as being nearly as newsworthy as the
fact that Iraqi troops had gutted a museum in Kuwait.
deteriorated further, and I spent all of my time, except for when I was
working, in bed. After taking the AIDS test at the county hospital, I
returned a week later and sat nervously in a waiting area in a cold
hallway along with several other nervous people. We all clutched our
test receipts in clammy hands, waiting for a nurse to call out our
four-digit numbers. When mine was called, I walked into an office,
carefully surveying the face of the nurse who was about to break the
news to me. "Your test came out negative. You don't have AIDS." I was
mildly relieved. But I was still quite worried about my health.
Several months after the
test, my throat was so sore that it hurt even to drink water. It was
difficult to control classes at the high school and the junior high
schools without raising my voice from time to time. I was sweating at
night and had sores inside my mouth. I had no health insurance, so I
had to wait two months for an appointment with a specialist. Every few
weeks, when the pain got unbearable, I went to the emergency room and
some young doctor would look at me for a moment and give me some
antibiotics. I'd take a few days off work and then go back again, until
my voice gave out.
They say stress and
sadness affect the immune system. Well, I was heart broken by the war,
by seeing my fellow citizens celebrating massacre and so naively
believing the distorted news media.
When the air war was still
going strong and the ground war was just beginning, I recorded the
Super Bowl on my VCR. George Bush and NBC used this national sporting
event to make propaganda rivaling the films made for Hitler by Leni
Riefenstahl. I recorded the opening ceremony and the half-time
Whitney Houston was
adorable—a life size black Barbie doll—as she sang the Star Spangled
Banner more beautifully than it's ever been sung. Her brown skin
glistened, her face set off by a red scarf tied about her hair. All
80,000 people in the stands held color-coded red, white, or blue cards
to create a gigantic wall of stars and stripes as fighter jets flew
overhead. At half-time, a little blond boy on a huge stage surrounded
by cute kids of soldiers in the Persian Gulf sang "You Are My Hero" as
slow-motion shots of our troops in Saudi Arabia were shown on our TVs.
The picture faded to George
and Barbara Bush in their living room at the White House, addressing
the nation and our troops. We continued to hear the rousing, patriotic
music from the football field in Florida even as George and Barbara
spoke to us. As if this wasn't enough, there was a short "newscast"
that had a commander surrounded by troops telling them what would
happen to them if they stepped on various kinds of land mines used by
the Iraqis. He picked up one from the sand and said, "If you step on
this, all that'll be left of you is your shoes." He picked up another
and said, "Now this one, this one'll turn you into red mist." The
coordination and choreography of this event were such that someone from
another country could have easily thought NBC was a propaganda organ of
the U.S. government, and not an independent television broadcasting
I was afraid. The
sick feeling that one has when one reads Orwell's 1984 was
with me always; I felt as if I were in that book.
In July, 1990 the American
ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, virtually encouraged Saddam to
strike against Kuwait. On August 1st, Saddam Hussein was still our
friend and ally, the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. loans and
advanced military technology. During his war with Iran, we had given
him real-time satellite surveillance pictures that enabled him to
prevail over his enemy, largely by using missile attacks against areas
populated by civilians. His human-rights abuses were of no concern to
our government and were unknown to most Americans, unless they happened
to watch the news the one day that a 20-second spot on the gassing of
the Kurds was shown. But on August 2nd, one day after August 1st when
he was our friend, Saddam became a "Hitler" and "The man who gassed his
We had just had a
war, yet I had not see one injured or dead American soldier on TV. Our
reality was, in many ways, actually more exaggerated than Orwell's
book, which was supposed to be allegorical or satirical, but not
Two of my letters
to the editors of the San Francisco dailies were published. Here they
(San Francisco Examiner, May 2, 1991)
I was saddened to read Seth Rosenfeld's good article (April 20)
regarding my friend and neighbor, Erik Larsen, the Marine from Hayward
who spoke out for peace and refused to serve in the Persian Gulf. Now I
know that this person, the bravest and most patriotic man I've ever
met, is in prison in North Carolina facing a possible death sentence.
Erik began the process of becoming a conscientious objector
long before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in response to U.S. policy in
He knew that for him, a radar mechanic, war would be
relatively safe, yet he chose to risk his youth in prison and even to
risk his life in an effort to save the countless lives that would be
lost if the war were to start. Erik wasn't afraid to fight. He's
fighting right now.
I believe the reason Erik Larsen has been singled out for a
possible death sentence is that he was such an effective speaker during
the war. He traveled all over the world in an effort to build support
against the war.
Erik is one of the true heroes to emerge from the "crisis
in the gulf." His only crimes were that he was patriotic and generous,
not cynical and selfish, and that he believed in the America that we
were taught about in public school. True, he failed to follow his
commander in chief. Why? "My actions," said Erik, "are ultimately
accountable to a higher authority—namely, God." A society that would
put Erik in jail would certainly imprison Jesus or Buddha.
(San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 1991
THE "M" WORD [the Chronicle's title]
Editor—Why are we afraid to use the "M" word? When the most powerful
military nation in the world goes up against a hungry, frightened army
having no air support, no reconnaissance and mostly old equipment, and
when the number of pilots we lost in the "air war" was only slightly
more than would have died if a training exercise of such magnitude had
been conducted, let's call it what it was: a massacre.
From my journal, June 12, 1991:
My health is
better. I finally got to see the throat specialist at the county
hospital after waiting two months for my appointment. He prescribed
chemical warfare against the bad synapses happening in my brain; he has
me on Valium. Also, I'm seeing a psychologist named Jules.
Summer vacation has started
for me. Ruey is at work at the restaurant. Since she has recently sold
several paintings, we'll have enough money to spend a week in Hawaii
with my dad [an English teacher, no longer a munitions maker] on our
way to Taiwan. I will teach English all summer in Taiwan. Ruey will
paint her beautiful pictures and socialize with her friends and family
I'm back to killing ants. My
weapon of choice is the vacuum. However, there is an ant walking on my
computer keyboard even as I write, and I've decided to let it live.
Steve next door is playing
his guitar on his redwood deck. He's playing the Pink Floyd song that
has the lyrics, "I have become/comfortably numb." GiGi is doing illegal
day-care so they can keep up their nice lifestyle. I heard her talking
on the portable phone she carries around while she watches the kids in
the back yard. She told someone that she and Steve are going to their
cabin this weekend. Her brother came home from the Army on leave,
strong and confident. He never saw combat, but he played a lot of chess
and cards in Saudi Arabia. He did get gassed pretty badly during a
Erik Larsen is still
imprisoned in North Carolina at Camp LeJeune by the U.S. Marines, who
refuse to honor his right to be a conscientious objector.
General Ramsey Clark, who served under Lyndon Johnson during the
Vietnam War, visited Iraq after the war and found that the United
States military (and the "Coalition") had destroyed 95 percent of
Iraq's roads. Most water and electricity systems, even in small
villages, were destroyed. The Coalition bombed almost all small-town
post offices. Many hospitals were bombed, some more than once. Doctors
worked without electricity, medicine, or rubber gloves in cold rooms
with plastic taped up to cover the blown-out windows. The Red Cross
says that 200,000 Iraqi babies under two years of age will die of
malnutrition and water-borne disease by this October. The Kurdish and
Shiite refugees are still camped out on the borders or fearfully being
"repatriated" into their ruined villages, hoping that the U.S. will not
human-rights abuses against Palestinians and others living in Kuwait
included torture, severe sentences routinely handed down on the basis
of questionable evidence, and rape—especially of Asian women—by Kuwaiti
troops. One man was executed after a summary trial for wearing a Saddam
Hussein T-shirt. According to Amnesty International, these abuses
surpass those perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's troops while they
occupied what Bush called "this freedom-loving country."
There are still 500
oil well fires burning. The smoke plume from the fires, south and east
of Kuwait, stretches from Ethiopia to Bangladesh, about 1.8 million
square miles, an area half the size of the United States. At this size,
the smoke blocks 10 percent of the light from reaching the ground.
There's nothing to worry about, though, according to a recent report by
a team of U.S. scientists. At its darkest part, an area that would
stretch from San Francisco well into the Midwest, over 63 percent of
the sunlight is blocked out. No problem.
Two countries are
destroyed, the wellbeing of entire peoples is threatened, and
resolution of the hostility between Arabs and Israelis seems as remote
as ever. American troops are bogged down in Turkey, committed to stay
for years to protect the Kurds (or at least until after the ‘92
presidential election here). Saddam Hussein is still in power. Many
newspaper columnists have written that Bush's New Order seems a lot
like the old order.
large American city has had huge victory parades.
[taped into my journal] (San Francisco Examiner,
June 9, 1991)
WASHINGTON—In a sea of flags, hoopla and sunshine, America on Saturday
unashamedly and exultantly celebrated a great military victory.
On Monday, New York will
provide a rival show to celebrate the rout of Iraq. But this was
President Bush's war, and on Saturday the commander in chief celebrated
For 90 spectacular minutes,
the wagons of warfare rolled in the biggest military celebration here
since the end of World War II. More than 10,000 veterans representing
every unit that served in the Persian Gulf took part in the march-past
and fly-past. Thirty-one bands played in the $12 million extravaganza.
For the 200,000 spectators
the U.S. Park Service said were on hand Saturday, it was worth every
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the
biggest hero of the war that made him a global celebrity, led units of
the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy and the Air Force past the packed
review stands down Constitution Avenue.
Not a technological star of
Operation Desert Storm was missing. But the trump card belonged to the
Air Force—three F-117 "stealth" bombers over Washington, dark wedges
against an azure sky.
"America endures because it
dares to defend the most ennobling virtues of man," Bush said. "We went
to the gulf not because it was the expedient way, but because it was
the American way."
Bush's voice choked briefly
as he said Kuwait is free because "we dared risk our most precious
asset, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our husbands
and wives—the finest troops any country has ever had."
The few scattered peace
demonstrations scarcely dented the overwhelming mood of patriotism.
On Monday, New York
had a ticker-tape parade (more time travel by tricky George Bush). 140
miles of yellow ribbon were cut into one-inch segments and packaged in
little plastic bags to be distributed to the crowd in this carefully
orchestrated event. People dropped the ribbons from tall buildings as
the troops marched through the "Canyon of Heroes" up Broadway. 500
pounds of old ticker tape (ticker tape isn't even used anymore) was
procured, to give the parade a real World War II feeling.
Bush is insane. The
night before Desert Shield became Desert Storm, the night before he
unleashed the "air war" in which the United States and the Coalition
would drop on Iraq six times the explosive force used to destroy
Nagasaki, Japan, the night before the United States began the total
destruction of the "cradle of civilization" that I had learned about as
a child in school, the place with the first alphabet, the place where
math was invented, the place that had the first guest professorships at
universities, George Bush prayed with Billy Graham, one of the greatest
religious hucksters of all time. While Bush displayed his convocation
with Billy Graham in front of TV cameras to show the American people
that he was about to kill Iraqi people for a godly reason, his regular
minister joined peace marchers protesting the bombing in front of the
In the upcoming election,
Bush didn't want to be bogged down, like Jimmy Carter was, with a
situation in the Middle East. Or maybe the whole problem—a definite
possibility, according to some doctors—was simply that he was suffering
from a hyperthyroid condition during the whole conflict, which, once
the war was over, manifested in a potentially dangerous heartbeat
I admit it: Bush is
not Hitler; he's more like Hitler Lite. But when I watch Bush talking
on TV and listen to his words, I feel that I'm looking at sheer evil.
He killed for personal power and prestige, and he caused the deaths of
perhaps a half million people and intense suffering for millions more.
He was willing to destroy an entire nation in order to dispel his
"wimp" image, foisted upon him earlier by the media. It's hard to
measure evil, but if I were writing the history books, I'd put Bush
right up there with Hitler and Stalin in the Evil Hall of Fame.
Now, the Middle
East has virtually dropped out of the news. Let's see, what's
happening? There's a volcano in the Philippines. What else? A plane
crashed in Thailand. Abortion is illegal in Louisiana, even for rape
and incest cases. The Supreme Court has ruled that it's OK for police
to search everyone on a bus or train, without a warrant, to facilitate
the arrest of drug smugglers. Jay Leno will take over the Johnny Carson
I've settled down
from my constant anger and amazement about the war. Now I'm not sure
what to worry about most. The depletion of the ozone layer? The fact
that India's population is growing by the equivalent of an entire Japan
every year? That a Mexican worker accidentally spilled some highly
radioactive cobalt pellets at an iron foundry, and now, scattered
randomly in restaurants throughout the United States, are 4,000
radioactive table legs?
There was an insane minister
selling redemption on TV last night, but it was scary to even look at
him, and I can't afford it anyway. The Beast seems to be slouching
towards Bethlehem at a faster pace, and I continue with my
© Jeff Syrop, 1991