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W elcome to Hotel Satire, a place for people who believe that Dad should be in command, Mom should be in the kitchen, ready to serve (and look good while doing it), the kids should be studying bible verses, and Armageddon is coming soon, so we can start over and get it RIGHT this time. This month, Hotel Satire is pleased to being you comments from our own Mrs. Geoffrey about the current state of affairs.
Hello, this is Mrs. Geoffrey. I am sitting here in my expensive townhouse, gazing out the window at the beauty of an approaching New England fall foliage season. A bird flutters by on its way south. Nature looks so beautiful and peaceful this time of year. And yet, I feel quite sad—sad and terrified.
I wander to the breakfast nook where the maid pours me a second cup of coffee. My eyes alight on the latest Boston Globe headlines. “More than 70 held as Al Qaeda Link is probed.” It’s all about how the U.S., British, and Pakistani investigators suspect “the foiled plot to bomb airliners bound from London to the United States was organized with support from surviving elements of the Al Qaeda network that launched the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States…. Dozens of arrests were made in Italy and Pakistan….”
“Pakistan and Italy,” I shriek. “Surely, we should immediately resume bombing Iraq!? Or is it Iran?” The newspaper falls from my lap to the floor. A tear forms and I moan, “What will happen to the investments my hard-working husband bought with money he inherited?”
I instruct the maid to make sure the windows and doors are locked and to check on the Mercedes. I rush to draw the curtains when I notice a homeless person staggering toward the house. I check that the safe in Geoffrey’s study is locked. I am reminded of an article I read in a recent newspaper about a reality TV-style independent DVD series called Bumfights. The series was filmed on the streets of suburban San Diego and Las Vegas and “portrays homeless people fighting one another, being pushed down hills in shopping carts and jumping off buildings into Dumpsters.” Terrifying! Although the producers seem to have been charged with conspiracy to stage illegal fights (they paid homeless men $5 to, for instance, run headfirst into milk crates stacked in parking lots), no matter. Clearly, homeless people are brutes and terrorists out to steal my expensive jewelry. They may even have ties to Al Qaeda, for all we know, reason enough to bomb Iraq—along with some random strafing of suspicious types (you know who I mean).
I cancel reservations to our favorite exclusive resort/spa in the Bahamas and call Chuck at Charles Schwab. His ad in the morning Boston Globe , reminds me that “with the CD market hot right now, it’s easy to go with the CD rate…, but with Schwab CD OneSource, you can get CD rates from banks across the country, all in one place.” Chuck will enable me to keep my cash where it’s ready for even greater opportunities in my husband Geoffrey’s investment portfolio. Chuck, after all, says “I’m sitting in cash. I’m moving to cash. How about, I’m investing in cash.”
I don’t have a clue what Chuck is talking about, but his ad makes me feel a tad better—until I return to the morning news. This time I read all about how the neighbors of the “terror bombing suspects” dismiss the “notion of a plot to bomb airliners.” Rather, they say, “The arrests this week were part of a plot to demonize Islam and divert attention from trouble zones in the Middle East…. Most said they were stunned by the arrests and skeptical that the nine young men arrested from this community could have done anything wrong.” Seems they were all nice young Islamic British citizens and “wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
Some of those neighbors go so far as to blame the current situation on Blair and Bush!!!! I shriek for the maid to take the newspaper away. “Surely,” I stammer in terror, “this means we need to nuke the young people, as well as their naive neighbors, as well as North Korea or…Iraq, yes, Iraq.
I turn on the expensive plasma TV in our media room and hear all
about Fidel Castro’s operation. “Thank goodness, we don’t
have to worry about Cuba invading the U.S. anymore,” I remark
nervously. Wait, what if Castro’s illness is a plot? Is the
U.S. government under Castro’s orders because they keep harassing
that nice Posada Carriles whose freedom fighting fervor saved us
from an attack by Flight 455? I hear the TV pundits talk of an upcoming
invasion, but they seem to be talking about the U.S. invasion of
Cuba. What a relief. It’s about time. Castro has curtailed
our investment opportunities long enough. Bomb Iraq (and Cuba),
please, so we can all carry toiletries on airplanes again on our
way to searching out lucrative investments.
I turn off the TV and peruse the NY Times . There’s a reassuring article about “Spartan,” a decorated war veteran, Buddhist (?), lover of books, and member of the Minutemen, who are “dedicated to fighting illegal immigration on the Mexican border.” I order his video interview Meeting a Minuteman . Some call him a vigilante, but to me, sitting in my townhouse waiting in fear for immigrant scum to pillage my Persian carpets and bric-a-brac, this Spartan fellow is a 12-gauge, 9-millimeter carrying concerned citizen/freedom fighter. I feel reassured enough to order a noon cocktail with my cracked crab and Waldorf salad.
But I am not reassured for long. Another Times article writes how the “Partisan Divide on Iraq Exceeds Split on Vietnam.” It’s all about how my beloved Republicans are trying to preserve our freedoms and weed out bad people while the Democrats are criticizing them for doing just that, thereby laying us open to more 9/11 type of horrors. “‘The present divisions are quite without precedent,’ said Ole R. Holsit, a professor of political science at Duke University….”
Says the Times , “The White House’s top political advisors are advancing a strategy [pre-election] built around national security, arguing that Iraq is a central front in the battle against global terrorism and that opposition to the war is tantamount to ‘cutting and running’ in a broader struggle to keep America safe.”
“Noooooooo,” I scream, “Cancel the elections. Democrats should be declared illegal under the PATRIOT Act. All this dissension and discussion is destroying our democracy.”
I continue in a state of fear until my husband Geoffrey comes home. I ask him about his day. He tells me he just came from a chat with Governor Romney. Apparently, the usual pinkos are accusing Romney of racism because he referred to the Civil War as the “war of Northern aggression,” while speaking in Charleston, South Carolina.
I sympathize with that nice Romney (he’s so good looking), but can't really concentrate, due to my anxiety over an imminent terrorist attack on our exclusive townhouse neighborhood. I spout stridently, grabbing at Geoffrey’s ascot. “What’s to become of us? I can’t even carry-on my favorite perfume, at $2,000 an ounce, when we fly to our plantation in the Dominican Republic where we had to relocate because of that nasty Castro person.”
“Smurf?” asks Geoffrey, smacking me affectionately on the cheek. “Geoffrey,” I gurgle. “The homeless are bumfighting whilst no doubt plotting to steal our Mercedes; the Democrats would have us cut and run; immigrants are sneaking across the border to steal our children and jewels whilst terrorist bombing plots are interfering with our investment portfolios.”
“Nosens,” says Geoffrey, spitting a bit. “What?” I twitter. “Nonsense,” Geoffrey barks, clearly annoyed at having to repeat himself. “But Geoffrey,” I sputter, veins popping. “The country is more divided than during the Vietnam thingie. And you remember what that did to our stock options.” I hyperventilate.
Geoffrey tells me to get a grip. He says that regarding our investments, nothing can really make a dent in the amount of wealth we’ve been able to accumulate since the Reagan/Bush (the elder) 1980s. As company CEO he says we are earning twice the GNP of Central and South America.
“Blurp,” I reply, somewhat cheered. He tells me that our beloved Bush has made moves to prevent unpatriotic attempts to bring charges against government officials and others for “committing war crimes,” thereby adding to the aforemention divisiveness. It seems the Bush administration has “drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policy makers from possible criminal charges for authorizing humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees.”
“Oh, how lovely,” I mince. “How could anyone find fault with the Bush administration for waterpicking these middle eastern types?”
“How indeed,” slurps Geoffrey. He continues, saying that—regardless of attempts by rabid divisiveness of peace and justice activists during the Vietnam War that prevented the U.S. from annexing that country and teaching it a thing or two about democracy—investments in Vietnam have now, finally, opened up and there’s millions to be made.
He shows me an article in the “Business” section of the Boston Globe all about how rising costs in India and China mean, according to Than Trong Phue, manager of Intel Corp, that “Vietnam is where the action is now—it’s like a gold rush.” Geoffrey points out that it costs around $125 a month to hire a factory worker in China, $750 to hire a moderately skilled engineer in India, but in Ho Chi Minh City, the minimum monthly wage for factory workers is $65.
“Bleep,” I sigh, somewhat reassured by the possible pillaging of— oops, I mean investment opportunities in—Vietnam. “But, Geoffrey, what of these terrorists posing as nice young men?” I show him the article about the foiled plot. “Phooey,” opines Geoffrey.
For once Geoffrey’s "phooey” doesn’t convince me. I ask him how I’m going to purchase the lovely $2 million beach house in the Hamptons we’ve had our eye on if I can’t leave the townhouse for fear of terrorist bumfighters behind every bush. Geoffrey tells me that I don’t need to worry my pretty little head about any of this. I ask him “Why, Geoffrey, why?” and order cocktails to bolster my spirits.
Geoffrey calls me “silly,” his pet name for me and opens my present—a lovely Glock 9 mm pistol and a Walther P22. “Geoffrey,” I gasp, my loins beginning to quiver at all that firepower. “What inspired this?” Geoffrey reads me an article he read in the Globe, titled “Annie, get your Glock,” all about women becoming “at home on the range.” The article describes how “Devon Chester, a petite 24-year-old in a pink sweater and designer jeans, plants her white Puma sneakers a little more than shoulder-width apart, squares her body, leans back slightly, aims her targeting laser, and empties the magazine of her Glock 9 mm pistol— bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-bang— into the paper target 10 yards away…. It’s Sunday evening, Ladies Night at the Manchester Firing Line....”
Geoffrey tells me that if I don’t like the Glock 9 or the Walther 22, I can trade it in for an Uzi, as one couple in the Globe article did. “As Ladies Night draws to an end, the crowd at the Firing Line starts to thin out, but the Somerville couple who had never tried a gun before are still in their lane, having traded out their medium-weight Smith & Wesson revolver for an Uzi—an Israeli submachine gun that was illegal in the United States from 1994 to 2003, when President Clinton’s assault weapons ban…quietly expired. When working properly, the Uzi fires 650 rounds per minute.”
I mutter something about that nasty commie Clinton preventing decent citizens from getting their hands on 650 rounds per minute. Geoffrey concurs and promises to take me to our country estate for target practice. “Oh, Geoffrey, I feel safe now.” I move to the window, Glock in one hand, wine spritzer in the other, and take aim on the homeless welfare cheater still loitering outside. I tell Geoffrey about Spartan and ask if we can join him for target practice along the Mexican border.
Geoffrey slurps his scotch/rocks and adds that there’s no need to worry about war or divisiveness or the wrong kind of immigrants sneaking over borders. He says nothing can interfere with our god-given right to investment opportunities. He points out that no matter what the resistance, what the terrorist bombing plots, in the end, the world will be like our own personal country estate, country by country, continent by continent, as per Vietnam.
I chirp happily. Geoffrey finishes his scotch and lights a cigar—Cuban, his favorite brand. He says he feels inspired by the photo of Israeli paratroopers returning from bombing the crap out of Lebanon, singing happily as they carry a wounded comrade. Geoffrey can be so crass at times, but I love him—although I could do without the chewed up cigar that so often drips ashes down his starched shirts.
I roll back the expensive rug we had shipped from apparently terrorist-free Pakistan (since we haven’t bombed/invaded them, have we) and we do our favorite dance. You can do it too, just act out the words and sing along. Ready? All together now.
You put your taxes in
We take our tax breaks out
Blame the homeless bums
No one will figure it out
The rich you will not soaky
Cause we’ll put you in the pokey
And that’s what it’s all about
We put our businesses in
You try to kick them out
We send our troops in
Spread them all about
We bomb you to the Stone Age
With massive weapons tonnage
That’s what free trade’s all about
( we pause in the dance )
GEOFFREY: Happy darling?
MRS. GEOFFREY: Oh yes, Geoffrey.
GEOFFREY: Any particular reason?
MRS. GEOFFREY: Why, yes, Geoffrey, (screaming) it’s because we’re sooooo fucking rich.
ALL: (we dance again; big finish)
That’s what it’s all about. Yeah!
Lydia Sargent is co-founder of South End Press and Z (where she has been on the staff since 1988). She is also an actor and playwright.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.