Letter from California
08/22/04 0608.21 PST
San Jose, California
After a hectic week at work, the political world in a total uproar and a busy home life I finally got some quiet time on Saturday to wander in my roses and daydream. Sometimes it seems wrong to waste hours in idleness with the election on, but I had helicopters over Mesopotamia in my head and I just needed a little solace from the blooms.
I was born and raised in Livermore, California, and was a sophomore in high school when Jerry Brown was governor and ordered the helicopter application of malathion to eradicate the Mediterranean fruit fly. For months helicopters whop-whop-whopped across the valley one night a week, guided by searchlights, spraying a sticky mist of insecticide over every square inch.
The partying crowd soon figured out that sitting on the roof, listening to Pink Floyd and smoking pot while watching the lights and the choppers was pretty cool. There was a futuristic inspiration--implausible as that may seem in the thc-soaked, testosterone-poisoned zoned minds of teenage white boys--in seeing the precise march of the columns of light and flashing flying machines.
A lot of people drank on the roof and watched too, not just the potheads. There were persistent rumors that serious Floyd and Deadhead suburbanites were dropping acid and watching the choppers naked, but nobody really believed that, this being Livermore aní all.
That Fall I walked into my fatherís world history class for the very first time and the lecture was on the cradle of civilization, the Tigris and Euphrates river valley. Iraq.
Last Wednesday the news was on and the anchor said the city of Najaf was being bombed by F-16ís, strafed by Apache attack helicopters and pounded by a C-130 gunship. I wondered what it would be like to watch such a horrifying spectacle of flying American machinery over the city. I knew the boys would be watching.
I grew up with helicopters that went after fruit flies. Iraqi boys are growing up watching American choppers kill humans in the cradle of civilization. It just seems incredible that I could be alive 25 years later and remember when Iraq was just an item on a test, the lessons of Vietnam would always be learned and earnest young boys, stoned but alertly watching nonetheless, chatted idly about baseball, girls, jobs and road trips while watching helicopters spray insecticide. That American choppers would butcher humans in Najaf for no good reason was never a possible future scenario. Impossible.
Even though the election is 72 days away, is it too late? Has Iraq spun out of control and we just donít know weíre watching the early stages? How much blood has to be spilled before we somehow find a way out? If we beat back the swift boat attack and Kerry wins, will it really matter in diverting a bloodbath that could kill millions of souls?
I donít know. I wander in my gardens and wonder if a blog post or a contribution or tabling will really stop the insanity heralded in by election 2000.
Sorry I havenít posted much lately. Itís just that Iím very busy with work and familyógoing back to school with the wife teaching is a very big deal in this houseóand when I do get the time to think I really donít want to half the time, yearning for a time when there wasnít a war to think about, or a past war to manipulate such current filthy political tactics.
I know with all my heart there is no other answer than to defeat Bush. Iíd just be lying if I didnít say Iíve got this sinking dread itís already too late, weíre living the total nightmare right now, and that things will get very much worse before they get better. It wonít get better for a long time.
Permanent pessimism is not an option at work and certainly not at home, so I approach thinking about politics carefully. I think Kerryís chances of beating Bush are extremely good, actually. Itís just that I canít focus on the nightmare too much right now or Iíll inevitably denigrate the obligation of duty I have to my career and family. That, too, is not an option.
Itís not a matter of energy or work discipline. Itís too many lies and helicopters in the news that inevitably lead to sad daydreams of innocent days long, long past, a time where America was at peace and the president was actually elected. Itís hard to deal with all the sadness.