Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 1/28/04

Artist's Statement

Before reading this week's artist's statement please make sure to read the latest news about the imminent release of my first book, and, more importantly, the announcement about my soon-to-be-legendary (or, more likely, -scandalous) book tour.

This one inspired by a recent article I read on a crucial bloc of swing voters, this election's equivalent of the soccer moms--"the NASCAR dads." As soon as I heard that I decided, well, we're all fucked, if it comes down to the Shithead Vote it means another four years of fascists in the White House. NASCAR is one of those things, like pop country music, that is a luxury and a relief for me to be able to forget even exists when I spend the winters in New York City. In Cecil County, where I live most of the year, it is as ubiquitous on the barroom TVs as Fox News and the Duke boys. Although all sports, like fashion and TV, are at best a dumb distraction from things that actually matter, NASCAR is the absolute lowest, barely even defensible as a "sport," lacking either the strategic complexity of Hurling or the physical grace of the Strongest Man in the World competition where burly guys pull trains with their teeth. It's basically cars going round and round real fast, and sometimes they crash. I realize that I sound like a stereotypical East-Coast liberal cultural elitist, the very creature caricatured and demonized by faux-populist right-wing flacks and bloggers, and I regret providing any more fodder for their polemics, and I'd quit it if only everyone would stop being so fucking stupid.

My friend Boyd sent me an e-mail me at one-thirty in the morning last week, an e-mail whose subject heading was, "The Truth":

This evening while I was driving to the pool, I accidentally let my radio dial rest on NPR. Instead of the usual weak-minded liberal bullshit, I actually heard a rare bit of the truth. A commentator was talking about the real reason that Bush will probably get elected and why his approval rating is high. "Here's what pundits and pollsters are afraid to say, and what I will now go on record as saying," he began grandly. "Americans are stupid." I nearly drove off Charles Street. He then proceeded to explain hiimself. He stressed that it's not that Americans lack the intellectual capacity or educational capacity necessary not to be stupid--rather, they simply do not have the ability to deal with a political issue that might be complex or not black and white. "The average American cannot follow an argument that is not overly simplistic, he does not want to think critically about an issue that could have more than two sides, nor does he have the ability to gather his information from anything more than a daily newspaper." He concluded by saying, "We are the stupidest country in the world."

I have little to add to this statement. There's quite a lot that's obviously true that pundits and pollsters--and especially politicans--must never say. They constantly flatter the common sense and discernment and compassion of the American People when it's clear they have nothing but contempt for us, and frankly who can blame them when we predictably vote for whoever spends more on TV time, respond as reliably as rats with electrodes plugged into our brains to negative attack ads, and get all riled up over non-issues like Flag Burning or Prayer in the Schools while they cynically fuck over our grandchildren in legislation most of us will never even hear about because we were paying attention to Ashton Kutcher or Sex in the City or NASCAR instead. We're also never supposed to acknowledge that Americans are racists who will never elect a black president; that we're sexists who will never elect a woman; that we're religious bigots who would never elect a Jew; that we're easy marks, rubes, and suckers who will never be allowed to vote for anyone who isn't a corporate-sponsored multimillionare lawyer (or the son of one); and that we're mean, jingoistic xenophobes who don't really much care who the government bombs as long as they're far away, and brown.

Plus hey who exactly are these "swing voters," who have yet to make up their minds who to vote for, anyway? It boggles the freaking mind to imagine someone out there so ignorant and indifferent that they don't see much difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates, someone who'll make up his mind pretty much right in the voting booth based on who knows what--maybe how the candidates looked in the "debates," or which guy he'd rather have a beer with, or some half-remembered factoid from a TV ad. One of the most chilling quotes I know, one that comes back to haunt me again and again, is from two-time Presidential loser Adlai Stevenson: "In a democracy, people usually get the kind of government they deserve." God have mercy on us all.

I'm sorry to sound to bitter and anti-American, everyone. I'm cat-sitting for a neurotic cat with a loud, piercing, raspy meow that won't let me sleep. Of course I have nothing but love for this country and its people.

Thanks to football fan and Washington insider Chris for both the analysis of the upcoming Superbowl (I didn't even know who was in it) and details of the new restrictions on overtime in the omnibus bill, which, in the tradition of all Bush Administration legislation, screws over the working poor to the advantage of The Man. I hereby temporarily suspend my contempt for organized sports (although not for Washington) on his behalf.


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