Zooropa (How U2’s Fall from Grace was indicative of a problem in the larger picture)
(To be written)
“Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”
– Simon & Garfunkel
In the fall of 2003, Dylan began his third year of Junior College. A personality conflict with one of his high school teachers had resulted in a low grade and being passed over for a baseball scholarship. The teacher had for a long time shown Dylan a sort of special affection. He and Dylan were much the same in many ways; quiet, solitude seekers who believed in the beauty of accomplishments achieved which served the heart. He admired Dylan’s love for baseball because he seemed to truly love the game.
The complication arose from Dylan confiding with the instructor about his girlfriend. Dylan was very much in love with Katie in his senior year. The two were inseparable and, at the same time, very natural together. Their relationship was the envy of many, some became green with it. The instructor warned him away from her. He’d had a bad divorce and was something of a hermit. He told Dylan she would be his undoing. Dylan ignored his advice. He and Katie stuck together until Katie went away to college. And when she left they agreed to leave it be. It happened like this:
As we walked toward the pier I wanted to stop and write down a short poem that had begun composing itself in my head but I knew she would consider it an inconvenience. Had I grown so far out of touch with my true self that I would compromise even this small bit of inspiration to keep the peace?
Perhaps if I insisted she would have seen me in a different light, the old light, and the end wouldn’t have come so soon, or not at all.
Her initial attraction to me was my poetry.
Had she grown to see it as being trivial or was I seeing it that way?
I had read some Dylan Thomas the night before and now, walking toward the end of the pier, above the sea and parallel to a rocky point, I felt compelled to write about the briney, saltsun sea, of mermaids and mermen, starfish and spindrift. But if I stopped I’d shatter the silence and solemnity of our procession, I would.
What about spontaneity?
Spontaneity breeds spontaneity, what a chore.
Better to let her dictate the day.
She once said she loved me for my spontaneity; now any deviation seemed like a nuisance, to whom?
We continued on in silence, in a procession, feeling the weight of the casket.
Finally we reached the end of the pier, and as we stopped at the rail, I felt a sort of momentum pushing me beyond it, as if reaching toward a non-existent other half.
We faced one another in the process of turning around.
“Beautiful day,” she said.
“I need to go.”
“I think we passed a restroom on the way out, let’s go back.
“No, I mean, I want out of the relationship. At least for now.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I think it’s… well, I think it’s the best thing… our bridge has become a pier and… you know what Joyce said about piers.”
“A pier is a frustrated bridge.”
– James Joyce, 1914
High School had been to him surreal. Surreal in the realm of the social scene. He liked his classes well enough and had even managed to make the honor roll a few times. But the social scene was to him something from the pages of National Geographic, a strange world with strange customs. Perhaps he’d been somewhat sheltered in his youth or, perhaps, having lived a priviledged life, parented by extremists, he didn’t understand people unlike himself.
Giving a nod to his parents profession he had written an article for the high school newspaper, under an assumed name of course, to avoid repurcussions:
While ordering lunch in the cafeteria I overheard a conversation wherein a young man was expressing his belief that “Hip Hop” was the music of social change. After thinking about it for a while I have this response:
Hip Hop has brought about little more than a change in fashion. Politically it’s been ineffectual. Real musicians like Louie Armstrong, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes along with the Motown label made great strides toward advancing social conditions in the United States while Hip-Hop has turned back the clock. Its title alone sounds like a little girl’s jump rope game. Stringing meaningless multi-syllable words together proves nothing but that human beings are equal to parrots. Young mono-syllabic minds offer frail fortune in fragmented sentences.
Viewing it as a “cultural phenomenon,” as so many DJ’s and talk shows are doing nowadays, lends far too much credence to it. And I believe this stems from a sad desperation to believe that there is some sort of a music scene and from not being able to see the proverbial forest for the trees.
When viewed from the outside, it appears to be a sappy fad that should have died ten years ago with Public Enemy. Since Public Enemy, with the exception of Outkast, the whole movement has amounted to little more than an opportunity for middle class kids to cop an attitude and pretend they’re from the inner city.
Wannabe hippies were no better in the 60’s when they left their Mommies and Daddies mansions and decided it would be cool to panhandle.
Where are the real movers?
The jock crowd seemed to have the most in the way of tradition. A tradition of being mostly mindless, hormonal jackasses. There were exceptions but most were just repeating the same nonsensical patterns of the two or three generations that preceded them. Assuming themselves to be the royalty, or elite, of the school they would strut peacockish with a hip hop swagger believing they were the rightful heirs to the overblown, commercial obscenity of professional sports. Making the varsity team was to them synonomous with being the “first round draft pick” in the NFL or NBA. “Look on my greatness and bow down.” Their only saving grace was that they didn’t experiment as extensively with drugs as many of the other groups.
The “hippies” were, well, hippies, at least in terms of style. The major difference with those of the 60s and 70s was they didn’t seem to believe in much of anything and couldn’t even conjure a respectable appearance of being truly counterculture. An overabundance of knowledge concerning the intestinal tract could keep them in conversation for days while they listened to one another describe their aches and pains with great intent and compassion. “I ate some cheese yesterday, by mistake of course, and I was totally laid up all night.” They might be members of environmental organizations but none were active. Protesting with any kind of passion was for “those fringe freaks.”
Dylan’s father had written the following to this effect:
by Morgan Blake
When an old woman with a cane, or a child, stoops over to pick up a piece of trash, they’ve accomplished more toward a cleaner environment than the average environmental non-profit. Why? Because the movement is run by trust-fund types whose sole expertise is the writing of applications for grant money for their supposed “cause.” And the definition of this cause is exactly where we see the issue beginning to blur and become grey.
The grant is intended to cover the expenses incurred from the doing of the work that will lead to the fulfillment of the cause. This has come to include any number of “research” or business trips to places like Vail, Colorado, Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii or trekking in the Himalayas complete with a guaranteed spiritual awakening. Add to the list the essentials for these jaunts; a fully current wardrobe of Patagonia clothing, maintenance of a ready-to-go SUV, the ever-essential top-of-the-line, hiking, climbing, surfing and/or sailing gear and of course a good bag of pot.
To be sure, many of them still don the standard pony-tail and/or groovy facial hair but this is where the comparison to the radicals of the past, the kind that would chain themselves to a cactus, stops. With the exception of Alasdair Coyne, there isn’t an environmentalist with as much passion as you might find in the average baked potato. Unless of course, its been repressed and is hiding under all that tasteful self-control. Alasdair is radical and he still believes in loving children and not population control.
And he doesn’t care if you shop at Trader Joe’s.
Dateless since the senior prom, the women in the movement are generally hairy and somewhat homely, and they tend to pair up with their male counterparts because they sense an opportunity to dominate. And being in possession of more than their fair share of testosterone the pairing provides a balance. These ladies are quite outspoken and the casual listener, while a bit taken aback, is invariably dazzled by her political erudition, even though her logic reveals that she hasn’t read a newspaper in 10 years. But she has such ease with condemning any and all persons not sworn into the “We hate the Republicans go-Ralph Nader-go” club that for a moment one is swept up, ready to take up arms, if not for the quiet, and feminine retort from the male in the pair that says, “this is a process.” This line I suppose is what dazzles the staffpeople in the “environmental” departments of corporate America as they write checks like doctors giving out prescriptions. But one shouldn’t feel sorry for the shortcomings of the checkwriters, what they give away comes back to them tenfold as they subtly, yet deftly, wave the green banner and turn a profit for the “cause” of the bottom line. Is this Symbiotic or parasitic?
Drug-induced dementia has led these folks to believe that Ralph Nader is the only true presidential candidate, even when you explain to them that if it wasn’t for Nader, Gore would have had a clear victory. But remember, everything is the Republicans fault and none of these folks could ever be challenged in their thinking; they dare not get out of their own way in following Nader, whose presence in the race was this dynamic’s most clear case in point, not to mention how it represents that ego and money drive even those who appear to be doing the right thing. There will never be a green party president and it’s true that no one in their right mind should ever want there to be.
It’s just that invoking the name of Ralph Nader insures your admission to the club, keeps the trust fund flush and maintains the many who might otherwise have to get a real job. And get a real job they should because almost nothing in this country that might be considered a victory could not have been won by the writing of a few letters from a few concerned citizens. Groups invariably become reflections of the established forces they wish to oppose and we should all be on our guard any time someone asks us to join. If you want to meet people, go to a coffee shop, a pub, or take a class at the local college. If you want to change the world, watch “Erin Brockovich” (cost, $3-$4 at your local video store), and start writing letters and carrying signs.
I’ll say it for you, “He’s probably just jealous.” I am. I envy a good clean scam. Where’s my wagon?
Many actually thought Morgan was jealous. It was their way of disposing of him. Morgan believed that these folks believed in nothing and were uncomfortable with people who had passion.
And further, true passion for anything seemed to have become equated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anyone who could get really upset about anything must have something clinically wrong with them. The PC movement had infiltrated society and campuses on all levels, which on one level might be seen as a good thing, the flipside was that the PC movement had brought with it a load of jargon derived from Freudian psychology. And no one dared speak ill of anything, except maybe someone else’s choice of music, and that was pushing it. Remember Columbine, you don’t want to set any one off. We must be “pro-active,” which many times can be translated thusly: don’t place blame, instead be an enabler and wait patiently until 3 people are killed at an intersection before you put in a streetlight (this works literally and figuratively).
All, excepting the following, were to some degree or another infected with the Holly-Rock Syndrome; a disease that made each and everyone of them believe they were on their way to the bright glory of superstardom. They were in a constant state of becoming, supported by everyone else’s constant state of becoming. Thoreau once said that we were to all live true to our nature, music and poetry would ring from every street corner. The truth is someone was going to have to be the garbage man, and someone else would have to be the server of your lavish, rock star feasts.
The ones considered (sarcastically) as freaks by all were the kids who actually enjoyed listening to what their teachers had to offer. There was no real connectivity to this group. Most who could be placed within this “group” were loners or, at most, traveled in pairs. They didn’t require jerseys or tie-dye to distinguish themselves. What they had was inside them. And though it made them nearly invisible to the other cliques, it would be them that would later carry on the important battles for a better world. Groups, unless they have within them independent thinkers, are just potential lynch mobs.
And then there were the middle-of-the-roaders, just sort of plain folks. There’s was to live quietly within the American dream. They were average, and probably the most fortunate in terms of their outlook on life. They were as political as they felt was their duty as Americans but they were also as fun-loving and easy-going as it was their right to be. This is America, not Communist Russia and, to their minds, it might not be perfect, but they have it a hell of a lot better than many.
But as much as Dylan liked the honesty of these folks, he knew he had to find out who he was by finding some form of love within himself.
A friend approached him in the hallway one day and asked, “Why don’t you dress different. I mean like what’re you into?”
And Dylan replied, “I figure the more I stay the same and just dress normal, the more I become different.”
One might think Dylan and Morgan were terminally self-righteous. It was perhaps closer to the truth to think that what they wanted was to expose the extremists on both sides of every argument and bring the world to a coherent center and a wide space of common ground.