Um. I'm not sure about this. My recent illness had, as the earlier three bouts have had, a certain hallucinatory quality, a clarity, not a fevered delirium, not a spinning turntable of Ray Miland Lost Weekend dementia with mocking laughter and skulls and snakes an' shit. Mescaline, not LSD, if that means anything to you, and if so you ought to be ashamed of yourself. It would kill your mother if she knew.
Sometime in that period I saw George W. Bush standing with the First Lady, he was saying something about immigration, I think, and she was just this incredible phony person standing sorta next to, sorta behind him. It may have been her body language, or my enhanced psychic receptivity, or maybe I made it up. But she seemed to be laboring at the Stepford bit, which seems to come so naturally to her. It was the first time I remember seeing her where I imagined there was something going on in her head. I listened to some Pere Ubu on the grounds that I wanted to do something with this free psychedelic experience, but David Thomas made me laugh and it hurt to laugh. I went to bed. That was Friday.
Then sometime over the weekend Alton Brown pronounced "Herculean" correctly. He might be the only teevee personality I've ever heard do so. I immediately forgave the schtickiness he's descended into in the past few years, but not Iron Chef America. That was Saturday. I went to bed.
The punchline isn't that when I woke up Sunday I was no longer hallucinating but "conservatives" were. They were--David Brooks removed all doubt--right where I'd left them. I was worried, briefly, about the Others, though. The local news, for one. You'll remember that Mitch "Apple Box" Daniels is about as popular as foot odor, and the poor dears are having a hell of a time figuring out who's ass they're supposed to kiss. There was a brief reprieve when the new fireworks law, aka "fuck it, just go ahead and blow shit up", went into effect, giving Channel 8 the opportunity to hand over a film crew and five minutes' air time to the barely literate "owner" of a major fireworks retail barn and site of a future test of local emergency preparedness.
It was the sort of thing that twenty years ago would have run as a "would you look at what sort of toothless cousin-marry-ers are running loose in [name Southern state]?" feature. The "operator" of this business--which, incidentally, neighbors have been trying to close down for years--kept squawking sentence fragments about "Freedom" and "America", and I kept waiting for someone to walk into the shot and give her a doggy treat.
I've lost track of how long this has gone on. In my youth Indiana, like the civilized world, restricted the sale of major explosives to people who had legitimate reasons to topple buildings. It was a rite of summer in certain quarters to drive to Tennessee (ten feet over the border sufficed) and come back with a trunkload of M-80s. I myself enjoyed the occasional Roman candle fight or the amateur theatrics involved in keeping a straight face while somebody's dad demanded to know how the aluminum siding got blackened. Then suddenly such playthings were openly available in Indiana, provided you signed a piece of paper agreeing not to set them off. Seriously.
There was no question about why the law suddenly changed. Fifteen-year-old boys are not, as a rule, politically connected or effective organizers, and emergency rooms, so far as I know, don't have lobbyists out trying to drum up more business. The only question was why the local media seemed oblivious to prima facie evidence of a state legislature with a For Sale sign out front. It's the same legislature which last year removed the restriction on setting the shit off--which, of course, had been roundly ignored--on the grounds that it was "hypocritical". But it wasn't hypocritical, of course. Hypocritical is where you deny the thing you're really doing. In exchange, fireworks retailers will now be collecting a surtax to fund fire safety and preparedness and, I hope, to fund several masses in the Fire Marshal's memory.
Y'know, it's not that I find watching shit blow up to be an obvious substitute for a satisfying adult sex life, though I do. It's not that this is willfully marketed as a question of "Freedom" when real freedoms are trampled with impunity, nor that as we face a national military manpower crisis Indiana is giving our most natural recruiting demographic a good reason to stay home. It's not even the thousands of injuries--mostly to children--these things cause every year. It's the frickin' tawdriness of the culture, the grubby everything's for sale reality behind the Culture of Life sermons and the Support Our President yard signs. It's Chinatown. Where they've been selling firecrackers for generations.
I'm still a bit tetched. I thought this was gonna veer off onto Richard Viguerie's WaPo Op-Ed, not because it or the spectacle of "conservative" rats deserting their own ship is particularly amusing at this point, but because last night Norah "Bot" O'Donnell did a piece on it on MSNBC, and either she couldn't be bothered learning how to pronounce "Viguerie" or the rest of us have been saying it wrong for twenty-five years. Why don't we have a better press corps? Because we deserved the one we do have.