Monday, September 22, 2008


He came up out of Illinois, the land of lake and prairie at the edge of the old frontier. It was said that he embodied that inestimable power of man to break loose the stagnant slough of times gone by and call down Heaven to Earth. It was said he proclaimed the dream born in the crucible of the sixties: he would stand on stage and preach national redemption before the flash and glare of the cameras. From the dingy tenement kitchens of Chicago where the cold leaked through cracked plaster to the rusty fire escapes lacing up the brick walls and the weed-choked lots where little girls jumped rope and kicked up dust – I know it, he seemed to say, I know it all. I know the hooded alleys and I knew the sound of cards slapping on the table during poker and the men's laughter drifting up from the streets on the stifling summer evenings as I sat with the single mothers and desperate fathers, pondering our collective destiny. I know you, the common man, and I have come to lift you up. Those twelve years between since you first demonstrated your faith in me have been marked by a peculiar concentration in the air that has permeated America’s bones from New York to Los Angeles. Something is going to happen.

And so it was, to the great joy of many Americans, that he announced his presidential candidacy. His relative lack of experience was immediately subordinate to his overwhelming ability to proclaim the WORD. For he knew that Illinois could not contain him; he saw a future of no limits . . . no boundaries . . . for a journey like the exhilarated rush of a car down the highway in a wide open space somewhere with the hot wind in your face . . . speeding towards an unknown destination with a blend of wide-eyed innocence and wild abandon. . . .

* * *

When they heard he was in town, the reaction was to be expected. They came out of school, spa, supermarket, studio, bar, bank, office, auto shop, hospital, library, laboratory, laundromat, lecture hall, mall, museum, marina, arcade, café, cinema, hair salon, toll booth, gas station, police station, airport, amusement park, firehouse, warehouse, church, synagogue, mosque, Wal-Mart, video rental place, boutique, bookstore, pet store, party store, craft store, convenience store, liquor store, drug store, dollar store, hardware store, sporting goods store, all variety of other stores, fancy restaurants and fast-food joints; they were from the cities, the country, the suburbs. On car, truck, train, tractor, bicycle, subway, skateboard, scooter, Rollerblade, motorcycle, moped, pogo stick, plane, horseback, camelback, and on foot, they rode, drove, jumped, skipped, and ran to see the One Who Would Speak.

They packed tight into the stadium.

He emerged from the wings.

The silence was deafening.

He leaned forward over the podium. “I promise you hope,” he announced. “And I promise you change. Hope and change, I promise you! Yes, I promise hopeful change! I shall bring you changing hope! Because I HOPE FOR CHANGE!”

It was the most beautiful speech anyone had ever heard. People turned to one another and wept. Glorious, glorious! O, sing to hope and change! O, sing in exultation! O . . .

“. . . And they will not ONLY attack you if you try to point out what’s going on in White America, US of KKKA . . . The government gives them the DRUGS, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America’?! NO NO NO! Not God BLESS America, God DAMN America, that’s in America for killing innocent people! God DAMN America for treating our citizens as less than human! . . . We BOMBED Nagasaki, nuked five more than the thousands in the Pentagon and New York, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians, and black South Africans, and NOW we are INDIGNANT because the stuff we’ve done OVERSEAS has been brought right back into our own! front! yard! America’s CHICKENS – coming home! – to roost. . . They live below the sea level, they live below the level of Clarence, Colon, Condoleeza . . .”


Now, now – don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Obama. He may not be my first choice for President, but I don’t think he’s a bad choice either. It’s just that I had a couple of really gung-ho Obama supporters in one of my classes last year and I kind of wrote this silly little piece (based loosely on a scene from William Burroughs’
Naked Lunch) during the Wright scandal to annoy them. It was originally posted on Facebook.

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell.


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