MIKE FELTEN writes: I got a little peeved at all the smack I've been hearing and I did some research. I don't believe that George Bush getting his shotgun out and marching through Iraq was a response that Osama didn't reckon on. It was a skull and "cross" bones exercise. We are the ones that are bleeding. These rich boys aren't. Osama isn't strapping bombs to his chest. If we look across the horizontal line, we see it is a war over profits and the profits of the blood of National Guardsmen and suicide bombers stay on one side of the line. The soldiers on all sides are clinging to dreams, while the leaders collect the toll.


Went out to my car last night and there was a ticket on it. The city was cleaning the streets. I didn't park where they were cleaning, but I was within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant. US$100.

The wife threw out the copy of Rolling Stone I was reading. Inside it was an order that I was working on. We salvaged it from the garbage. It does have a funk about it and I'm not sure what some of the orders are.

I put on a live Merle Haggard CD and thought I'd sort some more of my CDs. One fell behind the huge video rack that I have. It clipped the outlet that the lamp was plugged into and I was plunged into darkness. I got out the flashlight and tried to bend my arm back enough to plug the lamp back in. I succeeded in cutting my arm.

I turned off Merle.

I put on cable. The feds on the Sopranos seem to be bigger bastards than the crime family. At least the criminals seem to have some sense of honor. At one point the government agent wanted to control a foreign national who is implicated in a murder. "Let's tell them it has to do with terror," the g-man says.

I've been suffering insomnia lately. I keep trying to figure out a way to innovate and keep my head above the rushing tide. If I try to close my eyes and just go to sleep, I instead find myself thinking.

We haven't had a president of the United States that had a real job since Reagan had to sign on with GE to support his family. By real job, I mean employment, not appointment. Bush I, Clinton and Bush II never had to work part time at the Quick-Sak to pay a doctor bill. They never had to find work so that the kids could go to school in new shoes.

So I watch Jan Michael Vincent in White Line Fever. Jan is playing an indie trucker, Carrol Jo Hummer, up against the evil trucking empire. I don't really know why the empire is evil. They just don't want any independents and Carrol Jo insists on being independent. The empire strikes at Carrol Jo. Carrol Jo strikes back. It escalates. Finally they burn Carroll Joeís house and his pregnant wife loses the baby and is told that she can't have another. Defeated, a slump shouldered Carrol Jo goes back home. Miraculously, the house doesn't look burned at all. He goes inside and shuts the door. All is silent and then you start hearing a bass line. Pretty soon, Carrol Jo bursts through the door with his shotgun in his hand. He gets in his truck, runs the gate of the trucking company and knocks over the company logo. He wakes up in the hospital and is wheeled outside where all the indie truckers applaud. End of movie.

Was there a point?

Was there a positive resolution possible?

I crawled into bed. I was already going to be tired.

I once traveled across the country with three brothers. I sat in the back seat with the youngest brother while the other two argued about everything. They fought about where we should eat. Once we pulled up to a motel and they argued about who should go in and register. We pulled back on the highway and drove another couple hundred miles before finding another motel. After we checked in we hit the bar. It was a Monday football night when Cosell and Meredith were still on. It was a big deal. The bar had free hot dogs and cheap beer. That satisfied everyone. We were sitting by the hot dog machine. A cute girl walked up and asked how much the hot-dogs cost. Brother #1 said that they were a dollar. The girl reached for her purse and he told her to forget it, that it was free for her. She smiled and thanked him. Then a local hero chimed in. "He's a liar, the hot dogs are free."

Brother #2 said, "You don't call my brother a liar," (even though he had been regularly calling him a lot worse). Barstools were overturned and there was a scuffle. We all got our licks in and they kicked us out.

We went back to our room and the brothers found something else to argue about.

I watched the digital clock turn a little bit closer to the time the radio would go on.

I was feeling a lot like that night at the motel. We could've avoided the fight and were probably in the wrong, but once somebody started talking smack we had to stand up.

I've tried to maintain perspective when reading the news. I try to listen and to understand. I've never been a lemming rushing in the flow of the herd. In fact, swimming upstream seems to be the norm for me.

Yet, with the memory of Merle singing, "when you're running down my country, you are walking on the fightin' side of me," Carrol Jo getting pissed off with his shotgun, and sleep toying with me, I got a little peeved at all the smack I've been hearing.

First let me tell you, I did some research. We haven't had a president of the United States that had a real job since Reagan had to sign on with GE to support his family. By real job, I mean employment, not appointment. Bush I, Clinton and Bush II never had to work part time at the Quick-Sak to pay a doctor bill. They never had to find work so that the kids could go to school in new shoes. Hanging around Dad's office doesn't count either. VP Cheney never had a job either. Everything has been a progression of one opportunity after another. If you look at the life of Osama Bin Laden, it has been much of the same. All these bastards could've hung out at the Skull & Bones together with the other guy running for president, John Kerry (who had an equally tough childhood, having to spend all those summers on that estate in France).

What do I have in common with any of these bastards? I'm closer to the poor guy who joined the National Guard to make a few bucks to pay the rent and wound up in Iraq indefinitely, while his family struggles to feed itself. I can see that I'm closer to the hopeless true believer who straps on a rifle or a bomb to do the bidding of the Osama/Bush. We are stuck in the mire of our current situations and like Carrol Jo; we take that shotgun down from the wall in anger and are pointed in the direction of the "enemy" by some rich maniac with an agenda.

Unfortunately we are told that the delineations in this conflict are a vertical one. We are told that most Arabs/Muslims are good people, but we must strike at the heart of the "terrorists." We insist that despite the photos of torture and the jackboots walking across various countrysides, that most Americans are decent and caring people. It is such a gray, gray area that we hear Gene Simmons of Kiss ranting on about Arabs and we see the hatred for all Americans on our nightly news.

If we drew a horizontal line in the sand, it seems to get clearer for me. While our sons and daughters are in Iraq trying to earn tuition money, trying to better their position in life - our economy is going to shit. If this is a war about oil, why are we paying US$2.36 a gallon for gas? If we look across the horizontal line, we see it is a war over profits and the profits of the blood of National Guardsmen and suicide bombers stay on one side of the line. The soldiers on all sides are clinging to dreams, while the leaders collect the toll.

My friends from BigO in Singapore keep a running total of the days we search for the weapons of mass destruction. I saw all the weapons of mass destruction that I needed to see on September 11. I don't need to see any more. I don't believe that George Bush getting his shotgun out and marching through Iraq was a response that Osama didn't reckon on. It was a skull and "cross" bones exercise. We are the ones that are bleeding. These rich boys aren't. Osama isn't strapping bombs to his chest. The planned actions of the terrorists had the planned response, it lit the spark, and it enabled the devastating reaction.

On a battlefield, a good soldier does not question his superiors. He believes and trusts in them. September 11 forced us to believe and trust in George Bush to lead us. It was not an enviable position to be in for most of us. He was more appointed our leader than he was selected, but we had no choice. I've tried to withhold criticism for this reason. Mutiny is a serious offense if it is groundless. The treachery has to be proven beyond a doubt. We were put in a position where we had to trust that George Bush cherished the lives of American soldiers, had a regard for the welfare of the American people and the peoples of the world and had to have faith that he would do the right thing for his country and his family and our families. A betrayal of this trust and faith is the most heinous of acts.

Do most Americans believe this betrayal has occurred? I can only speak for the unsolicited venom toward our leadership that I hear every day in my small fiefdom. That answer is "Yes."

VP Cheney never had a job either. Everything has been a progression of one opportunity after another. If you look at the life of Osama Bin Laden, it has been much of the same. All these bastards could've hung out at the Skull & Bones together with the other guy running for president, John Kerry (who had an equally tough childhood, having to spend all those summers on that estate in France).

That said, again in BigO, M Shalid Alam, a professor of economics from Northeastern University (that's the one in Massachusetts, folks) insists that Americans are duped by our media into believing that we are the "greatest country on earth" and "that we are the last great hope on earth."

I've never really been anywhere except the United States. I have no hankering for the rolling hills of Lebanon or to go somewhere and eat a raw potato for dinner or to wipe my ass with a leaf. Yeah, I think it is the greatest country on earth. Can we do better? By a mile.

Are we the "last great hope?"

I read a story (maybe in BigO again, maybe not) about a young Palestinian girl who had her brother and father killed by the Israelis. Her response was to strap on a bomb and blow up a bus. The Israelis then blew up the family home. It just goes on and on. We count the dead in Iraq and trade atrocities. We fall in the trap of excusing our prison tortures with a "what about" those guys that were hung from the bridge or that Berg kid that had his head cut off. We can go on and with justifications and retributions. I don't know if we are the last great hope, but I haven't seen anyone standing up and saying enough. Not to discount those who protest throughout the West, but it is the American people who are going to make this end.

Acts of terrorism will prolong the conflict. They create an "us against them" attitude. Bush is waiting for another good blast at the American people. It will get him elected again. If only Osama can serve him so well again. We will be willing to surrender all that is precious to us to preserve our union. I fear that after all is done, all we will have left is an empty shell that used to house what was important to us.

It irks me to see those like my friend at Northeastern pointing the finger at only one side and talking trash from the safety provided by the United States. If you live in the belly of the beast you should do your best not to irritate it. This is not the perfect country, but we aren't the evil empire either. We have to join together to correct the course of current events. The evil lies not exclusively in the east or west, but in the moneyed chambers of power.

The clock radio clicked on and I was still wide-awake.

I got up and made myself a glass of Ovaltine. The wind was blowing in a way that put my house under the traffic pattern for O'Hare. I always wonder if one of the planes is going to come down.

Instead of the morning talk I put on a DVD-R. A friend of a friend was at a punk rock show and at the merchandise table someone was selling burned copies of the MC5 - A True Testimonial. The DVD should have been released by now, but a falling out between Brother Wayne Kramer and the producers ran it into the courts. It never is supposed to come out.

There was a flurry of e-mail postings and Detroit News articles. I donít know who was right. All I know, it is a damn shame that I can't sell this. It brought back a lot of the life of the '60s.

Kramer at one point sums it up by saying one night he was having great sex beyond his wildest imagination and then went downstairs to find the band van firebombed.

It was a great DVD and, come to think of it, seeing it as a bootlegged copy burned and bought at the merch table of a punk show probably was in keeping with the spirit of the MC5.

It would take a double shot latte to get me through this day.

I walked outside. I had parked too close to another fireplug. Another US$100.

The city council was going to approve a zoning change to allow Wal-mart to come into Chicago today. US$200 worth of tickets was about a 30-hour Wal-mart week if you managed to get one of those fine positions.

Maybe I'll crank US$200 worth of extra sales out today. Maybe not.

In any case, it would be just another day in this paradise.


Note: You can visit Shalid Alamís website at
http://msalam.net

Mike Felten runs Record Emporium
Visit http://www.recordemporium.com/

Mike Felten & Landfill Records at
www.mikefelten.com




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