Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dispatch from Donkey Mountain

The cozy mountain hamlet I call home has an official name, but I refer to it after its most visible life form, the Ass. It's an exciting land of contrasts, a place where big city filth meets hick-town provincialism; where the glitter of Vegas shines beside the grimness of marginal employment; where the stars come out to play and a shiftless lumpenproletariat dwells in a stupor of alcoholism and Meth addiction. She is Las Vegas' pretty kid sister turned common whore. Reno with pine trees. A utopia for donkeys, mules and horses asses, braying and neighing with gluttonous abandon at the twilight of the American Century.

Here an interminable winter mutates into a dreary, sodden spring that lingers like a virus until it kills every last particle of hope in your soul. March slides into April slides into May, an excruciating blur of muck and sleet that refuses to die. Occasionally, the sun comes out and raises false hopes, but they're are quickly washed away in yet another torrent of muddy slush.

And there is still no work.

Then, around June, happy belated summer arrives. It's as beautiful and sweet and exciting as a lover's kiss. She makes of winter a trivial memory and fills you with an appreciation of the divine oneness of nature. Your grief was not wasted. Your suffering was but a prelude to the glorious pleasures to come. The dismal spring merely cleaned the world for brilliant summer skies.

But as all of this holy feeling warms over you, an emerging vision of unsurpassed awfulness appears and throws you into an entirely new genre of pain: The America Tourist.

The attack waves begin around Memorial Day, when we celebrate dead heroes, and continue until just after Labor Day, when we celebrate workers by sending them back to work. Desecrating hordes of yuppie Visigoths swoop through Donkey Mountain in their SUV's, with God Bless America stickers on the bumpers and those phony, patriotic magnetic rubber yellow ribbons stuck to the doors - magnetic, because these sturdy patriots couldn't bear to scuff the paint on their Ford Expeditions. They roll through town hauling jet skis, speed boats, motorcycles, mountain bikes, quads and kayaks and campers. Some haul trailors stuffed with even more shit! Some tow day cruisers bigger than houses. They all burn more fuel in a day than the country of Honduras does in a week.

But they don't know that, and they don't care.

Most of them don't even know what the fuck Honduras is. Or any other country, for that matter. But they'll sure as shit rally behind the President when he and a bunch of gremlins at the Pentagon and the Weekly Standard tell us we have to bomb it. They've matriculated at the greatest college of consumption, ignorance and mindless nationalism the world has ever known: American Culture, and they graduated Magna Cum Laude. Now get out of their way, they need to finish downloading 2,000 songs on their Ipods while they warm up the Wave Runner.

By July, Donkey Mountain becomes a pornographic collage of American consumerism in all its vulgar obesity. It's not as bad as Disneyland, but it gets an A for effort. Inexhaustible swarms of aggressive fat people in baggy shorts and flip-flops trawl the grocery stores and fast food restaurants, gorging themselves on High Fructose Corn Syrup and Yellow Number 5. The kids have edible candy straws they can devour after finishing their sodas. The older children, the adolescents, already have bands of cookie dough-like fat encircling their midriffs. But nobody cares. That's because all the other clowns in this circus tent are too busy talking on their cell phones, and that's because thay all have so many interesting and important things to say, intelligent, witty things, pithy conversational gems that elevate our language above the simple grunts of lower mammals, things like, "Don't forget the Entenmann's chocolate doughnuts!" or "Honey, did you tivo Two and a Half Men?"

If they're not talking on their cell phones, their staring at them. And if they're not staring at them, they're text-messaging. And if they're not text-messaging, their simply checking the time on them. Why? Because they don't want to miss the early showing of Kung-Fu Panda or Spiderman Part-Ten.

Indians died for this.

We erased their civilization for our own, which is higher. Much higher. We're the zenith, apex and apotheosis of human evolution, the sublime fruition of human development. And what do we want after we've shed off all that bad shit like the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, slavery, smallpox, genocide and not one, but two, grisly world wars? Easy: Snack Wells and edible candy straws!

It almost makes me long for Autumn on Donkey Mountain, when everything dies.

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