Friday, September 29, 2006


Here were the two top headlines at the New York Times online today:

1) Senate, 100-0, Backs Budget for Pentagon; and

2) Democrats Seee Strength in Bucking Bush.

Now, please, am I the ONLY one who finds this funny? And you won't hear a peep about any of it on the good Dem sites. The motherfuckers will back the warmonger's budget but attack the warmonger. Democratic confusion. Pure and simple.

Banned and Not So Confused

Wow. That was easy. Snarky Boy has managed to be banned from most of the liberal Vermont blogging sites within a mere few weeks of operation. Ha! I’ll put that on my resume. Frankly, I’m surprised this nest of ninnies allowed as many opinions to their left as they did. But, like the good cowardly liberals that they are, they’ve effectively donned their Stalinist tendencies and purged themselves of a need to heed anything to the vast left of the middle from which they stand – er, make that: sit. Standing would imply a bit too much action on their part.

The last of the ninnies to officially bounce Snarky Boy from his site is none other than Peter Freyne of Seven Daze. I guess he doesn’t like to be reminded of his dopey past and lethargic present. Whatever.

Like the previous liberal bloggers who’ve so joyfully practiced censorship, Freyne did it quietly, without notice to his fawning readers. It’s easier that way. While I know it’s a piece of cake to rush the gates and post under different names, I’m not going to do it. I proved my point. Now they can have their echo chamber and their oh-so wonderful beliefs that there’s nothing to the left of their pretty little opinions.

They will, for example, drool over Bernie, cream their panties over Lamont, and certainly get on the Hillary bandwagon when called to do so. Sadly, that’s the Vermont liberal way. It’s an insider’s club that is more stifling than any liberal movement in America. As they’ve proven with their blogger-censorship, you either praise and get in line or you get banned – all in the name of political change!

Luckily, Snarky Boy’s got some large national venues to play to – I’ll let you in on those in the near future. I tried to play in Vermont with the understanding that it would not last due to the clubbish nature of liberalism here. And I was right. Vermont likes to pretend to be alternative but it’s really all for show. The truth is that Vermont liberals are as scared and compliant as the sheep that used to roam here.

But I ain’t knocking at that door no more.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just Read It

Oh boy, Snarky Boy hates work. And I’m not talking about painting, either. I wish I were painting. Those were the good old days. I’d paint by day and come and kick your sorry asses around at night. No such luck now.

With a bum hand and newly acquired fear of all things sharp, I’ve now landed what most of you would consider a “real job.” And it sucks. The good news is that it involves writing mostly, with some research thrown in for good measure. The bad news is that it also involves an insane timeline, requiring all too much of Snarky Boy’s attention. But the best news is that it pays well. It would have to given the ownership of my mind that it requires. And Snarky Boy ain’t cheap.

But to hell with that gossip. Let’s talk politics. It’s certainly no surprise that the only real race for elected office this year involves the one where no incumbents or currently elected federal politicians are involved. Yep, that would be the race to fill Bernie’s seat being waged by the She-General Rainville and the Nerd Boy Welch.

The brainless partisans out there would have you believe that there is a good choice here. The good Republicans can’t stop slobbering on themselves for landing Rainville as a candidate under their umbrella and the good Democrats can’t stop slapping their own backs for getting behind such a “nice guy.”

But the truth is that they both kind of suck. Rainville simply can’t be trusted because she wasn’t even sure if she was a Republican as recently as last year and now she’s a gung-ho Republican. Worse, she still seems to think the Iraq war that she so proudly sent her charges to is a good idea. Fuck that.

Welch, on the other hand, is your typical mainstream Democrat who seemingly has his hand on the political weathervane more than his own beliefs and passions. He’ll bitch and moan about everything Republicans do AFTER it’s obvious that his polling data apparently confirm that what the Republicans did is, indeed, unpopular. Some leadership.

Like I said, the choice just sucks in this race. But it would be very hard to believe that Welch could blow it in an election year that should see widespread Democratic gains nationwide. And I think Welch got a huge electoral gift recently when Governor Douglas apparently lost his marbles and picked a fight with Vermont’s congressional delegation over federally-protected forestlands.

Douglas was obviously trying to throw a bone to his far-right supporters but quickly realized that that’s one flimsy branch to be hanging from. I mean, come on, have you ever heard the nutball at the Vermont Traditions Coalition, Steve McLeod, speak? Here’s a hint: He’s convinced that ATV riding is a long-standing Vermont tradition. Like I said, he’s a nutball.

But Douglas’ slip into the wacko never-never-land of right wing lunatics will certainly cost him some support come November, especially if Scudder Parker can figure out a way to coerce a camera or two to actually cover his campaign. And with the Douglas/Parker campaign tightening up a bit, that means shorter political coattails for Rainville to ride on. Thanks, Jim.

My prediction: Welch will win and we’ll all be bored with him.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vermont Media Incorporated; Graff Jumps for the Money, His Colleagues Say "Hooray!"

Did you catch the news that the former head of the Associated Press in Vermont and current host of Vermont Public Television’s news weekly, Chris Graff, just accepted a high-paying job with the National Life Group in Montpelier? If you did, you no doubt read the fawning, uncritical version about his jump to feed from the corporate trough. You had to, because there were no other versions, not even in our state’s so-called alternative publications. Surprise, surprise.

Unfortunately, it’s another sad example of the tight-knit nature of Vermont’s incestuous little media club. It’s the media club that acts more like a cheerleader for the hype of Vermont rather than digging for the reality. It’s the media club that never, ever asks a hard question of our incumbent politicians (and you wonder why they serve for life). It’s the media club that rarely embarks on investigative reporting. And it’s the media club that loves to backslap themselves and bring the *
And the good members of the club played along. You’d expect the bland reporters at the Times-Argus and Free Press to run with this story in the same way they run with most stories: print the press release and go back to sleep. But I can’t seem to shake the naiveté that our “alternative” publications would dig a bit deeper on this story. Alas, they didn’t. Peter Freyne at Seven Daze and Shay Totten at the Vermont Guardian covered the story just like you’d expect a butt-kisser to cover it: Yeah, Graff! Go, Graff! Our hero!

But wait, I can hear you saying, what’s the story beyond washed-up media guy lunges for the golden parachute of corporate life? Well, try these lines of reasoning:

* It was only a couple of years ago that National Life laid off a slew of employees and sent their jobs to India. And they handled it very poorly, breaking promises with long-time employees and treating them as if they were lepers in their last days of work for a “local” company they thought they’d be with for their entire working careers. And the men who orchestrated it: Brian Vachon, the man Graff is replacing and Tom MacLeay, National Life’s CEO, a man described by Graff as his “long-time close friend.” Well, how about asking Graff about what he thought about his friends’ treatment of their employees a couple years back? Or how about asking him if he would have handled it differently? Or if he had compassion for them?

* The Vermont media club also could have used the Graff announcement to question the ridiculous notion that the Vermont media is some liberal haven. If the head of the AP and the host of the state’s most popular news weekly is best friends with Republican corporate honchos and quite comfortably takes a job with them, how liberal/lefty can he be? The answer: He’s not, and the real problem with the media – other than their clubby nature – is their corporate mentality.

* What about the conflict of interest regarding Graff’s announcement that he was hired by National Life but staying on as the host of VPT’s show for several more months? It was only in July that environmentalists made an appropriate stink over Natural Resources Secretary Tom Torti’s announcement that he was taking a job with the Chamber of Commerce but wanted to stick around with his current job for a few more months. And Freyne and Totten jumped all over that one. But why won’t they jump on this one? Answer: They might not get invited back. If they’ve got no problem with a National Life executive hosting a news show, why not advocate that the head of GE edit the Free Press editorial page?

* The media club could also take the Graff announcement as an incentive to look into how many Vermont journalists do what Graff is doing: burning out in journalism and moving into corporate flack jobs. What does that say about Vermont’s journalism jobs? What does it say about how current Vermont journalists behave towards corporate power when they know about this obvious career path?

The late, great Pulitzer used to say that “newspapers should have no friends.” The folks in the Vermont media seem to have misread his quote, thinking instead that newspapers are a way to MAKE friends – not to mention money. But while they continue to backslap and cajole their way around their club, the rest of us are getting the shaft by the fact that they’re not doing their jobs. Sadly, there is no muckraking in Vermont. There’s only glad-handing and press release regurgitation. And there’s absolutely nothing alternative about any of it.

Shame on you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

News Flash: Chavez Attacks Bush; Bernie's Still Grumpy

[Photo: Chavez Promoting Chomsky at the UN]

Bravo to Chavez! How refreshing to see a public figure speak their mind about Bush. If you haven’t heard, Venezuela’s leader took the podium at the UN today and called Bush “the devil.” Nice touch. But the best part was that he also took a copy of one of Noam Chomsky’s books on US hegemony to the podium with him – and held it up as he referred to it!

Now the question is, what will Bernie say about all this? Being the fair-weather friend that we know he is, I’m sure the great wall of Bernie silence will greet this news. Bernie loves the photo-ops with Chavez’s representatives when he can promise cheap oil but runs like hell when his friends out radicalize him (which ain’t hard). Don’t forget, Bernie’s too tumid to even endorse a motion to impeach Bush, let alone call him the devil he really is.

Hey Bernie, guess what? There are poor people all over the world, and their suffering, too. You say you want to be different. So start being different.

Speaking of Bernie, I was out on the town last night and bumped into a few all-too-happy Bernie supporters. You know the kind, they’re the ones who get all googly-eyed when they speak of him and rattle off the times they’ve spoken with him one-on-one and all but promising never to wash their hands after touching the old fuck. Ew.

They even got all misty-eyed when I told them about my bandaged hand and the impact it’s having on my financial well-being. Hey, liberals are easy. If I could have just kept them on the tear-jerking train, I’m sure I could have had free drinks the whole night and probably some pocket change, too. Hey, liberals are even easier after a few drinks.

But Snarky Boy came to the fore. Fuck. Sometimes I just can’t keep that bastard from taking over. And I proceeded with this line of questioning:

How can a grumpy, joyless, angry old bastard like Bernie make so many people so hopeful and happy? And I’m serious. The fact that he can pull this off is almost enough to convince me that the man’s nothing short of magical. I mean, think about it, Bernie is the last person any sane person would want to hang around with for more than the length of a short stump speech. The guy’s just all doom and gloom. Worse, he’s always pissed and never happy. And yet he’s got legions of people out marching around in their Bernie-red shirts, smiling from ear to ear, and acting like they’re out promoting some modern incarnation of “Up With People.” Sorry, but it’s just fucking weird.

There’s an old lefty political message about personifying the change you want to see in society. Now let’s pretend for a second that Bernie’s personifying the change he wants to see in society. How goddamn ugly is that? Bernie makes Castro look like fun for crying out loud; at least Castro goes to baseball games and even dances from time to time. Not Bernie. He’s just pissed. Worse, he’s pissed AND ineffective. Even worse, he’s pissed, ineffective AND he compromises himself into irrelevancy.

Personally, I keep waiting for Bernie to break out of character and declare the last 20 years nothing but a grand act of guerrilla theater that he concocted during his pot-smoking Stannard days. You know, the days when he carried Chomsky books around and called presidents the devil, just like Chavez still does today. My guess, though, is that somewhere along the way he realized just how lucrative it is to con liberals. And now he’s most certainly going to be the dourest U.S. Senator in history! And the angrier he gets, the happier his followers get.

Why can’t I just keep my fucking mouth shut? I can’t even stay in character long enough to get a free beer. Some people never learn. Oh yeah, baby, I’m the leader of that pack.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bernie Fucks Over a Friend (Again)

Fuck. I hate when I agree with Republicans. But here it goes: Why is the mainstream Vermont media letting Bernie Sanders completely off the hook when it comes to the fact that his leading national spokesperson, Willie Nelson, was just busted for possession of pot and ‘shrooms? Please, don’t get me wrong, I love the altered state more than most, but the hypocrisy of letting Bernie walk scott-free on this one is beyond ridiculous. It’s another reason why I want to be a Vermont incumbent politician when I grow up, mostly because the watchdogs of democracy – the media – in this state seems to think their job is to make icons out of our elected officials rather than covering their dastardly deeds and poking around in their nefarious affairs.

Imagine, for example, if Tarrant, Rainville, Welch, Parker or Dunne were found to be running commercials that featured a recently arrested pot-possessor? The shit would be hitting the fan and their campaigns would be spiraling into the realm of the McMullen zone. But not with incumbents. And, please, spare me the “Bernie’s not the Senate incumbent” crap. He’s the one running with the nice federal paycheck and, thus, he’s considered the incumbent. And if incumbent is too strong a word for you, try this instead: power elite. Yep, swallow that one, Bernie’s a member of the power elite, mostly because he’s been a federally elected politician for eons and he’s worth ten times the rest of us average folk. Deal with it.

If Bernie had balls, he’d come out right now and declare his support for Willie, the guy who came to Vermont to lend his support for Bernie. But Bernie ain’t that kind of a guy. Instead, Bernie will ignore Willie and probably pull the commercials featuring him faster than you can say “fair-weather friend.” And that’s the Bernie that Vermonters should know more about before we stumble into the voting booth in November.

Bernie could also stand up now and talk about the ridiculous nature of the drug laws his friend Willie was just busted under. But that’s not what Bernie’s about, either. That would be truly alternative. And that would mean sticking to his principles when his principles might endanger his political career – a place Bernie’s never, ever gone before.

The Bernie Show is about one man and one man only: Bernie. He won’t go to the mat for anyone unless he knows the cameras are rolling and it’s going to benefit his angry-ass more than anyone else in the room. And he won’t stand by a friend when a friend needs his support most.

Don’t believe me? Just try to find a word of support or concern for the man standing next to him in his commercials.

As a working painter to the left of Bernie’s nonsense, I think his political career can be summed up quite simply this way: Bernie hates people but loves himself. And we, as Vermonters, are stuck with his charade of care until the Vermont media wakes up, realizes what they’re supposed to be doing, and provides the same kind of coverage for incumbents that it provides for challengers to high elected office.

Hey Vermont media – especially Fryene – stop kissing Bernie’s ass and start kicking it once in awhile. It’s called democracy. And if it’s good enough to export to Iraq, it should be good enough to be practiced here in Vermont.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Middle Finger Mishap

Yo. I’m back. And don’t even ask what that little break was all about. Because, if you do, I’ll just say it was weird. Really weird. But suffice it to say that I’m typing with a fucking gauze wrapping on my stitched-up middle finger. I know, I know, the first thing that comes to your warped minds when I say middle finger is the infamous one-finger salute. Your sick minds want to think that Snarky Boy got cocky with my middle finger and one of those Harley fellows at my favorite watering hole took offense. Well, sorry about that, but it didn’t happen that way. Nope. It was a stupid goddamn painting accident. And let this be a lesson: When flesh runs across metal flashing, shit happens. And if those pussy Democrats would have actually passed a healthcare plan that mattered, the whole thing wouldn’t have cost me nearly two thousand dollars to stitch up. Yeah, two thousand dollars, mostly because the Doc at the radar station (that’s a Captain Beefheart reference, for those of you in the great musical void) was worried about bone damage. Bullshit. He was more worried about his medical license than any bone in my body. Trust me on that one.

There. Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask?

But I send heartfelt Snarky thank-yous to the fine folks who crammed my email box with notes of wonderment about my whereabouts. And, yes, I even enjoyed the large number of inquiries that went something like this: “Ha! I knew you’d run out of steam. I’m glad you’re gone and I hope you never come back.”

You gotta love that shit. I mean, these folks are the ones obsessively check, check, and checking to see if Snarky Boy is posting anything new but then they take more time to send me a note expressing their pleasure with what they assume is my demise. Oh baby, feel the logic.

Typing, as you can imagine, absolutely sucks now. I feel like a monkey with a mitt at a keyboard. And, no, not one of those purple-assed-baboons I liked so much at the zoos of my youth. I’m just a regular old monkey, if there’s such a thing, with a bandaged hand, an anxious mind and a throbbing hand that won’t allow me to work like I should be in this most busy time of year for painters. Good thing it’s the middle of the month because I’ve got a couple of weeks to ponder how in holy hell I’m going to pay the bills.

But the torture of the financial pinch was nothing compared to the torture of being forced to read – and not respond to – the sophomoric nonsense of the Vermont blogosphere. I’m sure, for example, you all witnessed the sheer ninniness of all the “Fred Tuttle” write-in crap. Volumes of bullshit were spilled on this one, with the great boring pontificators (especially Odum and his crowd) lecturing from on high about the merits and demerits of democracy, open processes, more processes and some more merits on the processes of democratic processes. Sorry, but that’s what they sound like to me when you get into their echo chamber of irrelevancy. Are they just trying to imitate Charlie Brown’s teacher? Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha.

I am, however, getting worried about Baruth. It’s been nearly 10 days since he posted a photo of himself on his site (besides, of course, the one that stares you down every time you visit). What’s up Phil? Getting shy over there? Remember, it’s all about you, baby. You and you alone. Don’t let us down. Because there is NO story without YOU in the center of it, Phil.

And the primary yesterday was a total fucking bore. Even though every blogger without an original thought pondered and fretted over the possibilities of “cross-over” voters in the primaries, it didn’t happen. And I knew it wouldn’t. Political elitists from all stripes have one thing in common: they don’t trust the common man and woman. But the common man and woman never pay attention to political elitists and their meaningless worries and, so, went and voted like they always do. Ho-fucking-hum.

The best irony of the primary day was that if there was any “rigging” of the ballot by anyone it was Bernie Sanders and the Democrats. They played out their little charade of letting Bernie on the primary ballot just to keep it “clean and clear” for the November ballot. And then Bernie did his famous smack down of the Dems this morning by thanking them for the 94% support but “no thanks.” Do they really think we’re all that stupid? I guess so.

The relationship between Bernie and the Dems is not too dissimilar to the relationship between the wife-beater and the wife. The wife-beater does the smack down one night and then gets all kissy face the next morning. The relationship is totally toxic but the wife is seemingly stuck for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is the comfort of the familiar – even when the familiar is so goddamn abusive. And what’s the best advice we all give the wife: Run! So, listen up Democrats: Run!

Or, if you’re not going to run, at least start asking him some serious questions. I’d suggest questions like these: What legislation have you introduced or supported that would end the Iraq war now? What legislation have you introduced or supported that would lead to the impeachment of Bush now? Why are you so joyless? If you had your way, would we all have to be as angry, humorless and just plain grumpy as you always are? And, finally, when’s the last time you begged for a hot-oil hand-job?

That would make things interesting, no?

Speaking of the primary, congrats to Eddie Munster –er, I mean – Matt Dunne for his victory in the Lite-Guv race. It must not have been easy to take on and defeat a man as popular as Huey Lewis. Huh? What? Are you serious? Oops, I was just informed that that was NOT Huey Lewis he defeated, but John Patrick (add a few more waspy names) Tracy. Sorry about that.

The best post-campaign coverage of the day came from the Burlington Free Press this morning. It was the photo of Tracy walking forlornly by Dunne at a busy Burlington intersection yesterday morning after realizing that he had been beaten to the coveted spot. And Tracy lives in Burlington! So not only did Tracy have to wake up as a loser this morning but he also had to see himself completely portrayed as a loser in the above-the-fold photo in the state’s largest newspaper. Bummer.

But now Dunne gets to face the Mr. Magoo of Vermont politics, Brian Dubie, in the general election. Worse, Dunne had to wake up on his victory day to find a headline in the morning papers touting the fact that Dubie has been called to service in Iraq as a member of the Vermont National Guard. Too bad Dunne won’t use this as evidence that Dubie’s in complete support of Bush’s stupid war. I mean, come on, how much more can a guy or girl support the war than show up for duty in Baghdad with nary a word of complaint?

And to hell with you if you believe for one second that this Dubie deployment is anything but staged. Come on. And the timing! Dunne should also start asking why regular joes are being forced to go sweat their asses off in Baghdad for 18 months while Dubie gets a ONE WEEK deployment. The joke's on us -- and the mainstream media for lapping this up like it's not the political stunt that it so obviously is.

Besides, how cruel is it to offer to send a Dubie to help the troops and it turns out to Brian Dubie? That's hardly the Dubie those poor fellas need about now. But, just like a good high, he'll be gone before they knew it.

I’ve got more to say – surprise, surprise – but my finger hurts.

I’ll be back soon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Rummy Don't Matter No More

Shhh. Be still. Real still. Do you hear that? Yep, that’s the hum of nonsense spilling forth from all the mainstream Democrats in their never ending attempts to fuck up an election.

You can hear it in a Peter Welch campaign ad. You can hear it in a Peter Freyne love letter masquerading as a newspaper column. And you can hear it in all the blind little Bernie supporters who keep screaming about some boogie man lurking when all I ever see is an obnoxiously rich opponent making a complete ass of himself (that would be Tarrant, folks).

Let’s face it, Democrats don’t know how to win. In fact, I’m convinced that they’ve convinced themselves that it’s not politically correct to win. Kind of like the folks in the Burlington ‘burbs who’ve convinced themselves that they shouldn’t let their kids keep score at their soccer games. Get over it, already.

Oh sure, the Democrats will almost certainly gain seats in Congress and even make some headway here in Vermont. But for those of us who actually care about essential issues like the war, the impeachment of Bush and health care, we’ve got nothing but more frustration ahead no matter which party is in control of Congress next January.

We always know where the rightwing stands. They’re all too fucking clear about their lust for power, world dominance, abuse of our civil liberties, and just sheer greed. And, in a way, it’s a relief to come up against such honesty, especially when you try to figure out what it is the mainstream Democrats stand for.

And what do the Democrats stand for? I don’t think they know the answer to that question. If you don’t believe me, consider all the nervous prattle going on right now about the Democratic call for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. This half-measure of near-nothingness is about as typical of Democratic action of late as anything.

It is an absolute no-brainer that Rumsfeld is a complete ass. In fact, I don’t even think Rumsfeld would argue that point since he seemingly takes such pleasure in the role. But he’s basically irrelevant. It wouldn’t matter if Donald-fucking-Duck were the head of the Pentagon right now because the Bush White House would be telling him where to take his stupid quacks.

But that hasn’t stopped all the electoral-season Democrats from getting up on their silly hind legs and making the removal of Rumsfeld issue number one for the week. Why? Because it’s easy. And the mainstream Democrats of today love to take it easy. Because if they ain’t taking it easy, they’re having to take a real stand. For some strange reason, that really sucks for today’s Democrats.

If the goal is to stop the war and get rid of Bush, why can't the Democrats call for an end to the war and the impeachment of Bush? This "remove Rumsfeld" stuff is just busy work, yet another half-measure from a party that continues to be afraid of boldness and apparently confused by what it wants or believes.

This is the time to be asking Democrats -- especially Bernie -- what they've done lately to stop the war and to get rid of Bush. That's what we want, isn't it? Instead, we let them off the hook easy by simply calling for the removal of Rumsfeld. Sorry, but that's a no brainier.

The truth is that Bernie hasn't done a thing to end this war. And he's very publicly refused to endorse efforts to impeach Bush. But the Vermont liberals -- led by the Freyne cheerleading squad -- are refusing to demand that he (and other top Dems) listen to, respect and ACT UPON these deeply felt opinions of Vermonters.

Think about it, when the Republicans wanted to stymie the Clinton agenda (whatever the hell that was) they didn't ask for the removal of his Health Secretary because of the blowjob he received, they asked for Clinton's removal. Likewise, the Dems shouldn't be wasting their time on Rumsfeld and, instead, aiming for the main man himself.

Let's face it, Bernie's got the easiest campaign in the nation for U.S. Senate. Tarrant is a fucking idiot, we all know that. So instead of doing the obvious and jumping on the bandwagon that can barely hold anyone else, wouldn't it make sense to start pushing Bernie to do more than he has for the left that he proclaims to be a part of? Because, as it stands now, he's taking us for granted and completely getting away with it.

Yo Democrats, the next time you're yucking it up with Bernie, why don't you ask him these simple questions: 1) What legislation have you introduced to stop the war? 2) If Bush is as bad as you say he is (and we know he is), how do you plan to remove him?

And, please, enough with this Rumsfeld nonsense. It's not going to happen and -- even if it did -- it wouldn't matter.

Trust me, the Democrats are going to fuck this election up. They may win, but they won’t know what to do if/when they do. And we only have our weak-kneed activist left to blame for it because we’ve been letting them all off the hook by cheering all the stupid shit they’re saying and not demanding REAL answers to the VERY REAL problems this nation is facing.

Mark my snarky words.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pom-Pom Patriotism

That was weird. The weekend, that is. It’s called Labor Day but, from my humble snarky perspective, I didn’t see much by way of celebrating anything close to labor. I saw commerce, plenty of that. I saw faux-patriotism, oh-so-goddamn much of that. And I saw more consumption and more patriotism. America is one big fucking party, people!

Or maybe not. Here I come, the dark force of reality once again.

Let’s start with the parade I got totally snookered into participating in. Yeah, you read that right; the Snarkmaster was actually in a parade over the weekend. And it wasn’t just ANY parade, it was the Northfield Labor Day Parade, the granddaddy of Vermont Labor Day parades, right there under the shadows of Norwich University, home of tomorrow’s killers – er, I mean – soldiers.

My involvement in this little debacle is a long story and, of course, it involves beer and the late night consumption of, well, more beer. You see, Snarky Boy’s got a bit of drumming in his past. And my drumming prowess gets really exaggerated with each beer and each hour that passes on a Saturday night out. Hell, on some weekends, by midnight I could almost convince myself that I was Gene Krupa. Oops, that reference might have dated me a bit. Let me retract that last reference and, in its place, insert Dave Krusen (that would be the drummer for Pearl Jam, folks).

Well, Snarky Boy got to drinking and talking on Saturday night and the next thing I knew I was confronted by the absolute, immediate and necessary need for someone with rhythm to sit on a Labor Day float and thump a drum for a float that will remain unnamed. In a haze of happy thoughts and inflated rhythmic prowess, I accepted the offer and even promised to attend a most ridiculous “practice session” the next morning. And here, for honesty’s sake, were the same seven words bounding about my throbbing head while I was on my way to that rehearsal on Sunday: “What in the fuck am I doing now?”

Let’s get one thing straight right now: Snarky Boy doesn’t even go to parades, let alone participate in them. Modern parades in America – especially in this “time of war” – remind me a little too much of 1930s Germany for my tastes. It’s that uniformity of thought, worship of symbols and the near-delirious cheers for all-things-American that I find more than a bit uncomfortable, especially while bullets and bombs are flying in our nation’s name.

But to actually BE in a parade is a whole different ballgame. Well, that’s not really true, because it’s the same ballgame. So, let’s put it this way, to be in the parade is like being in the same game but only on steroids. Oh yeah. You’re really, really, really in the fucking game.

As you know by now, Snarky Boy finds himself in a lot of rather odd social situations. But let me say right now that parade participants are the most bizarre human beings this odd duck has ever – ever – come across. If the Titanic had cheerleaders, these folks would have volunteered for that duty. They’d have stood there with happy smiles and pom-poms, cheering the wonders of the ship as the son-of-a-bitch filled with icy water. Go team, go!

And the happiness of it all! Ah, the joy of obliviousness! The freedom of nothingness! The weightlessness of pure, simple thoughtlessness! The blessings of mental blankness! The ecstasy of the uniformity! The sheer fucking euphoria of the conformity! Shut up and wave those flags! Loose yourself in the pomposity of it all!

And, whatever you do, don’t even think about honoring the poor laboring bastards serving you the hot dog you’re still going to bitch about. Or the underclass kid sweating his ass off in a stupid desert thousands of miles away, wondering if he’s going to take a bullet for this nonsense or make it home to serve you your next hot dog. Don’t, don’t, don’t think these thoughts. Because this is a time to celebrate. To wave the flag. To cheer the (sinking) ship. To swim in the delightfully shallow waters of all things Democratic or Republican. It’s really that simply, you know? And, besides, it’s more of that us vs. them thing that really makes us special.

Nope. We’re not going to think about any of that on Labor Day. This is a celebration. And in modern America we have two times: non-celebration times when we don’t think about things that matter and celebration times when we don’t think about things that matter. So there. Deal with it. And stop thinking, you commie prick.

So, there I was, banging out a ridiculous rhythm for this unnamed float while the crowd literally went wild in a rather ill defined fit of patriotic joy. And it would seemingly never end. But since my float was among the few without a military theme, I could sense the disappointment in their applause. We were like the child who didn’t quite live up to their parent’s expectations. Oh sure, the applause was still there, but the disappointment was palpable.

I only got caught up in one spot of bother, too. It happened in one of those all-too-frequent occasions when the parade stops for too long while the goddamn Shriners take their time going on and on with their motor vehicles and silly hats. What, may I ask, do the Shriners do anyway? If I were an alien and forced to watch a parade and then guess their function (which is damn close to my reality anyway), I would guess this: they’re a bunch of happy-go-lucky drunk bastards out on furlough from the mental unit to entertain the rest of us out of our beliefs that this whole thing is all rather ridiculous. And I bet I’d be right. I mean, come on, what do a bunch of fat bastards riding go-carts over obnoxious SUVs have to do with helping children? The joke’s on you.

But that has nothing to do with my spot of bother. Not at all.

I got in a bit of a verbal pickle during one of those Shriner stops when I wasn’t drumming and, thus, thinking. And when I looked up and saw all the people waving their flags I couldn’t help thinking of the cowardice of it all. I mean, how much courage does it take to wave the American flag in America? We’re all fucking Americans, aren’t we? I think we all know where we live. It’s not like they need to remind us that Vermont is still a member of the United States of America. So where’s the courage in flaunting the flag?

So the Snarky Boy got in a whole heap of trouble by asking a rather brawny bunch of dimwit flag wavers this simple question: If you’re so proud of that flag, why don’t you wave it where it’s not safe to wave it? You know, some place like downtown Baghdad?

But before it got too ugly, the Shriners started moving again and all Snarky Boy got was a Coke can thrown my way and more than a few middle-finger salutes. Whatever.

I did my duty, though. I entertained the mindless masses. I visited the belly of the beast and left with a rather simple-minded assessment: We’re fucked.

I hope enjoyed the break. There’s nothing but joy ahead.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Novel, a Day, and Us

Thank goodness Snarky Boy came home to some messages of interest in the novel I’m working on. I was about to give up on all hope for humanity. But then – oh the glorious “then” of it all – one of those calls showed up on my little snarky machine: “We like the first chapter, please send more.”

And it’s Friday to boot. Hey gang, drinks are on me tonight. Well, let’s get reasonable here. Make that: first drink for the first three who say “Congrats, Snarky,” get a free drink. I have, as you know, been on a goddamn ladder all day.

My work for the state is about to end and I’ve been hustling around at lunchtime and the early evening to bid on more paint jobs for the privileged. Like the bizarre fixation on people mowing their lawns shorter and shorter until the brink of lawn death, people are painting their fucking houses way more than they should. And, in case you didn’t notice, Snarky’s got a thing or two with offering opinions.

I went to a house today, for example, in one of those all-too-popular streets in Montpelier to look at a possible job. If I wasn’t super sure about the address, I would have never believed that this house needed anything – not least of which a new paint job. But, sure as shit, these folks came bounding out of the house like I was Santa Claus or something, offering refreshments and giddy as all hell about throwing money my way.

“Thank you so much for coming,” declared the little lady. “We’re so excited about getting on your list.”

What the fuck? List?

I guess this is what it comes to in moneyed suburbia – even in Vermont. Somewhere and somehow the sense of accomplishment amongst the middle classes got totally perverted. Instead of being proud about something you’re doing that actually matters, you hire people to do things that matter. Yep, you hire a guy to trim a tree, a different guy to mow the lawn, an even different guy to paint the house, and then another clueless fucking stranger to – what? – wash the windows. And then they act like they’re “getting things done” by crossing off some list they’ve simply called to do the shit they should be doing in the first place. Oh, poor bastard, you need a vacation!

The relationship between the hired guy and the guy who’s hiring (and, please, get over the sexist nature of this, I’m only talking about the guy-on-guy hiring here) is as odd as it gets when it comes to the things like painting, mowing and the like. These are, after all, the kinds of things their fathers tried to teach them to do for themselves. But now they're slackers. They’d rather pull the blinds so you don’t see them watching television while you’re scraping the goddamn lead paint off their windows than ponder what their fathers taught them.

But, let’s be honest here, it’s a dick thing, you know. To hire a man to come to your house and do the so-called manly chores is to a wonder if your dick is smaller than it should be. You’re obviously giving up a bit of your manliness and – quite honestly – the first thing most men do in such a situation is check the bulge in their pants. Trust me, I’ve been working for these fellas for years. It’s agonizing for most men. It’s worse than asking for directions, you know, because not only are they asking for something they’re also paying for it!

The best part for those of us on the other end of the dick dilemma is that these guys seem to get it in their heads (their big heads, that is) that the more they pay us the less the chance that they could have done the job themselves. That’s a bit of pathology that they’ve brought from their “day jobs,” and the more us worker-fellas understand that, the more beers we get to buy our friends on Friday night.

Okay, let me make that even simpler: The less you charge the man of the house, the smaller you’re saying his penis is. It’s totally fucked up, but it’s true. These people rely on experts all day long and when they call you up to do something like paint a fucking wall, you’ve got to act like the expert and – even more importantly – charge like the expert. It’s that kind of bullshit that they respect. And so be it.

But the good news is that I think I landed two big house jobs for the month. It’s good news for Snarky’s wallet but bad news for my writing projects and my interest in harassing – er, make that, covering – the political campaigns and issues of the day.

And then there’s that novel. I think you’ll like it. It’s about a painter-guy who is obsessed with politics, social change and the need to get people to be real and unafraid of pleasure. Worse, he lives in Vermont, a place where the thick coat of denial can run deep, where the hype of all-things-perfect can lead to most-things-being-false. I think you’ll like it. And I hope to finish it soon.

Sorry to ramble. It’s the excitement. Shit’s happening. And we’re all in this together. See you in town, my friends.