Down the beach a few hundred yards from where the four of them were frolicking in the water, a couple of retarded boys were hitting a ball back and forth. They were holding paddles and hitting it back and forth. There weren't any rules, just the routine of hitting the ball back and forth. They were both wearing terribly oversized swim trunks that had to be held up with the hand that wasn't holding the paddle. Every time the retarded boys put their full attention into striking the ball with conviction they would let go of their trunks which would then fall around their ankles. From a distance, under the gray linoleum sky, the two graceless figures looked like a bad vaudeville act.
In the ocean, Evelyn's thighs were wrapped around Vance's neck. Her legs draped over his chest and were tucked back, secure under his arms. Sitting on his shoulders like this, when she looked straight down she could see the crown of her husband's head. She could see the dot of space on his scalp from which his blonde crew-cut hair swirled, a clockwise swirl.
Vance was splashing water onto Gary and Gary's wife, Hilda. Hilda was on top of Gary in the same way that Evelyn sat atop Vance. The two pairs faced each other, only inches apart. It was a chicken fight. Evelyn and Hilda were poised too high for either of their hands to reach the surface of the water, and yet both made splashing motions with their fingertips, ineffectual splashing motions in the air inches above the ocean water. Gary threw water onto Evelyn's sac-like one-piece bathing suit, which was already completely wet.
"I can splash you but you can't splash me back!" he said.
"You're such a boy!" said Evelyn.
"This is fun! Let's switch partners!" said Vance.
"Now?" said Hilda.
A huge wave crashed into them and all four of them somersaulted underwater like spastic trapeze artists before their heads bobbed to the surface. Evelyn and Hilda adjusted their white rubber bathing caps, Evelyn's with raised sections that were supposed to look like petals. Gary stood up in waist-high water and looked at Vance. Vance's pale skin was covered in goosebumps, less from the cold than from his usual free-floating fear. He stared back at Gary until finally Gary shrugged. They were standing in the Pacific Ocean. Only hours earlier Gary and Vance had gone to the voting booths together and had later each admitted to voting for Eisenhower. The feeling of closeness after that mutual disclosure did not last long. Later they had taken off for the beach with their wives. Vance drove. It took them three hours. On the way, they laughed in the car like animated lollipops.
"Hey, look!" Evelyn was pointing at something on the horizon. They all squinted to see it -- a yacht, passing slowly to the south.
"Yoo-hoo!" shouted Hilda, waving at a boat at least a full mile away.
Another wave rolled in, buoying the up with it and lifting their feet from the ocean floor. They dangled in the water, treading about like crabs. They looked like four people who had been on the yacht, had fallen off, and were now wondering why the yacht didn't stop and turn around so that they could be rescued. In their silence, they rhythmic "kerplunck, kerplunck" of the boys playing paddleball could be faintly heard over the din of the waves.
After a few minutes of watching the yacht sail by and disappear, they all four re-converged. Hilda hoisted herself on top of Vance this time and Gary dropped underwater to position himself under Evelyn, lifting her large frame up with his shoulders. The sun poked through, illuminating a small section of beach and ocean. When the light struck the four adults having a chicken fight it looked as though an enormous camera flash had gone off -- as though a photojournalist was standing clumsily on the sand, clicking his shutter and exposing them. They were shaped like pears of assorted sizes and had weird, unflattering freckles. The two retarded boys got bored at the same time and dropped their paddles. Then they sat down on the sand and looked into the middle distance wearing nervous grins.
Gary and Evelyn won the chicken fight and then Vance said, "Let's go." The four of them slowly trudged out of the water. They walked at different speeds.
In the evening they found a double room at the Malibu Riviera Motel. Vance was balling Hilda on the twin bed closest to the bathroom while Gary and Evelyn were balling on the bed nearest the window. Each pair wound up in the missionary position with the men's rhythms synchronized in a way that, from the doorway, looked like a pair of gigantic car pistons. They room had no radio. Besides their animal breathing the only sound was the occasional car passing on the Pacific Coast Highway. Gary started moving faster so that, for a few seconds, he and Evelyn became mirror opposites of Vance and Hilda. After his orgasm he slowed down quickly, then didn't move at all. Light from somewhere outside caught Evelyn's face, under the now prostrate Gary. The light speared her. She looked over at the undulating silhouette of her husband, merged with Hilda, then turned her head and peered over the back of Gary's neck. She could see, through the shredded curtain, the neon motel sign. She thought about an article that she hadn't finished reading a few days before in National Geographic magazine. It was about the Eskimos and their ingenious methods for extracting whale blubber. The photographs of Alaska showed vast expanses of untrodden snow.
When Vance finished with Hilda he said he was going for a drive. Evelyn said she'd go with him but Gary was still asleep on top of her and Vance and Hilda agreed it would be better not to wake him as long as Evelyn didn't mind just being pinned there for a while. Evelyn thought about trying to wriggle out so she could join Vance or just walk around a little, but finally agreed to wait. She had wound up like this some times, but not every time Gary balled her. It was awkward. Vance went out by himself, something eating at him, he said. Hilda sat across from Evelyn talking about life and the world in general in the way that the wee hours cajole people into talking philosophically. Both women sensed everything they were saying was ridiculous but it did not stop eithers of them from making vigorous contributions.
"Having a child is a thing of grace. Millie Bowers said so."
"Economists know how to make sure there's never another depression."
"Tony Curtis is going to be big."
"Flammable and inflammable mean the same thing."
"Vance gets rectal itching, too. It's salt deposits."
"Revolutions per minute, I think."
"Base 2 is the future of mathematics."
It went on like that all night. Gary slept and snored, his weight full on Evelyn, while Vance was driving around the parking lot in big circles.
The following morning they went into the main office long before checkout time to pay for the room. No one was there so they just waited without talking to each other. A television was on in an adjacent room and an announcer was broadcasting the details of the elections results and Eisenhower's victory. While they waited, Evelyn and Hilda sat on a couple of chairs spaced equidistant from a raised cylindrical ashtray. They sat there smoking, but the ashtray was too far away from the chair and each woman had to get up from her respective chair, take a step towards the ashtray, bend over and flick her cigarette. Gary leaned against the counter ringing the little bell and Vance stood shifting from foot to foot. Twice he said "I'll wait in the car" but he didn't leave. After fifteen minutes they heard a door being opened and shut in the next room just as a television commercial came on for a familiar laundry detergent. It was described in an upbeat male voice as new and improved. The commercial was interrupted mid-sentence when the television was turned off, the sudden quiet broken by Gary's persistent bell ringing.
"I was out back hosing down some stuff," said the clerk as he emerged from the back room and situated himself behind the counter. It was the same spooky little man who had registered them the night before. Half his face looked like it had been permanently smashed in by a man's fist. He took the money from Gary and then tried to give him a sample of some locally produced fertilizer before thanking them all for stopping by. Gary didn't want it.
"You sure? Guaranteed to beautify any garden!" said the clerk.
"No thank you," said Gary.
"Perhaps one of the ladies... just a little sample to use on your petunias--"
"They don't want any, okay bub?"
In the car, Hilda, sitting in the front seat, smiled mischievously and said that Vance was looking awfully tired as he speeded down the interstate. From time to time Gary offered to take the wheel but Vance told him it was all right. The four of the laughed on the way back, but not as much as they had laughed the day before. They spent most of the trip pointing at and naming things that they had missed the first time past.
"Dead collie. Over there."
They stopped for gas only once. Vance and Gary split it. After two hours of driving Vance began falling asleep at the wheel for just seconds at a time but every time he jolted awake he didn't mention that to the others.
Vance pulled open the garage door to his and Evelyn's house. He had dropped Gary and Hilda off at their two-story, then driven across the railroad tracks and down Chandler Road. Evelyn had said as they were pulling into the driveway that she was going to take a refreshing shower before doing anything. It had been a long drive back.
The garage was stacked so full of boxed merchandise that it looked like there was another garage door waiting to be opened after the first one. Vance looked up at the boxes, trying to remember what profit-making scheme was involved with all these fine, barely used appliances. It had seemed clear to him at the time he was acquiring them, mostly in shady dealings with impressive crooks, how they would advance his dreams. Now he couldn't remember. He wasn't positive that he could go to jail if he got caught selling any of the contents. Vance just turned around and faced the front of his car. He had had to start parking in on the driveway weeks before, when there was no longer enough space in the garage. Now he stood there as dumb as a box of hammers, staring into the big round headlights of his Rambler. A dead palm frond fell to the driveway directly between Vance and the Rambler.
Inside, Vance heard Evelyn turn the shower off. He walked into the kitchen and opened the metal lunchbox on the Formica table. He made himself a mustard sandwich on Wonder Bread but he ate all of it while looking for the plastic wrap in the cupboards. When he found the wrap he made another mustard sandwich and sealed that one up and stuck it in the lunchbox.
"I think I've got a cut," said Evelyn, sitting naked on the toilet. A pile of National Geographics sat on the tank behind her and another magazine, open and face down, lay at her feet. She was pressing a finger over her labia. Vance came in and asked her to part her legs so he could urinate, aiming precisely, without waiting for her to finish her business. A squirt of his piss grazed the inside of her thigh but her attention was fixed on a tiny area on her vagina. Vance bent down to look but he didn't see anything he hadn't already seen a few hundred times. He remained there squatting blankly gazing right into her. Then he straightened up and frowned.
"It hurts?" he said.
"Yeah, he fucks really hard sometimes."
Vance stood there, not really understanding if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Then his mind wandered too quickly for him to consider asking her.
"You're so soft and fat." He squeezed her belly. "My little tub."
Evelyn looked up and saw that Vance was getting aroused in his usual panicked way. She watched his penis get erect and was all ready to take it into her mouth but he pressed it up between her breasts instead. In his excitement his hand depressed the flush handle but the toilet didn't flush all the way. It kept gurgling and the familiar domestic sound of it broke the spell, for Evelyn, of yesterday's Election Day vacation. She was home, faced again with her appetites and her loss of control.
"Try the plunger," he said after he came. "I'm late."
"I'm gonna mow the lawn today," said Evelyn, wiping her neck clean with toilet paper.
"You want me to call Gary and Hilda?" she asked.
"All right, yeah, okay--" he said, halfway out the front door, calling back to his wife. "Go ahead, mow it. I don't know... yeah, mow it."
Vance backed the Rambler out onto the badly paved street. Then he threw it into forward and accelerated, passing most of the tiny bungalow houses that stretched out along the block. He reached nearly the end of the block before braking, the car lurching to a stop. He threw the car into reverse and drove backward, all the way back to his own house, then backed it into the driveway again. He got out, went into the house and came back out a moment later carrying the lunchbox with the second mustard sandwich in it. He threw the lunchbox onto the passenger seat, slammed the door and threw the car into forward again. He drove the car back out of the driveway and down the empty street, still feeling like he was forgetting something.
The computer / internet connection is giving me a hard time today. So instead of describing in detail this nightmare I had last night involving watching a beautiful girl overdosing on some drug to the point of her vomiting up this long seemingly endless tube-shaped stream of sudsy liquid before finally dying I am going to copy and paste something...
Yesterday was at the Left Forum at John Jay College. The first talk I attended was on the problem of alienation as described by Karl Marx. The second talk I attended was called A Brief History of the Future. The following is one of the three panelist's -- Steve Breyman from Rensselaer -- very entertaining presentation (I'm sure he would not mind my posting it here, he was enthusiastic about sending it out to people):
A Brief and Cheery History of an American Future
By Steve Breyman
May 21, 2016
John Jay College
What follows is an exercise in utopian imagination. I take a statist approach with a focus on the federal level. One could just as well fantasize at the state, local or neighborhood level. And one could just as easily focus primarily on non-state action as did Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward.
Instead, I look forward from the present. I’ll share a brief annotated timeline of the exciting changes that we and millions like us could make over the next thirty or so years. The changes are consistent with this year’s conference theme of Rage, Rebellion, Revolution. This is what might happen should we Organize Our Power.
Why is it possible to imagine such change at this moment? Because wide swaths of the American public have simply had it with the decline in living standards, the disappearance of quality jobs, and with cynicism and hopelessness about the future. There is overwhelming public disgust with and anger against neoliberalism, corporate capitalism, the system, the 1%, the establishment--whatever you call it. People are ready, nay eager to make peace with the planet, and realize the clock is ticking. Most Americans are sick of racism, sexism, homophobia, and endless wars—and those that are not, those still susceptible to the siren calls of bigotry and militarism might ultimately be brought along as their fears subside, ignorance shrinks, and prospects improve.
There is at present a sense of both crisis and opportunity that even reaches, I think, a reasonable share of the alienated, apathetic, and turned off. Divisions that may prove lethal have appeared among elites. There’s growing militancy and boldness among working people.
How might such radical change come to be? The millions of Sanders enthusiasts join with the millions of us active in diverse progressive social movements to bowl over the rich and powerful and institute a deep, lasting and long overdue transformation of the country.
Given time constraints, I can only touch on major legislation and its consequences, and will move quickly.
Annotated Timeline (the order of events is somewhat arbitrary but all could come to pass)
One or another of the wacky rightwing conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton turns out to be true and she’s forced from the race. Bernie wins the nomination and names Jill Stein his VP candidate. They cruise to an easy victory over Donald Trump who returns to r reality TV as host of “The Biggest Loser.”
The Restoration of Voting Rights Act passes: its features include automatic voter registration at 18, early voting, mail in voting, extended voting, election day as national holiday, automatic restoration of voting rights to ex-felons, an end of voter ID requirements, and other overdue reforms. Voter suppression can no longer keep progressives from the polls.
The Genuine Democracy Act passes: it institutes public funding for elections at all levels and places strict limits on corporate lobbying. Money is no longer the mother’s milk of American politics. The Act also mandates independent redistricting boards for each state and territory bringing gerrymandering to an end.
These two commonsense reforms set the stage for further electoral success of rapidly growing left Green forces. Various right wing marginal parties spring up here and there but never again pose an electoral threat.
Mass surveillance by NSA and other agencies is brought to a close (or so we think).
Thanks to the Genuine Democracy Act, Berniecrats and Greens sweep the House and Senate. The Republican Party collapses from infighting. What’s left is a rump alliance of white supremacists and disaffected former corporate Democrats. The so-called Reagan Democrats become Greens.
There’s also a left sweep of state houses and governorships across the country, led by the Greens. Texas is the sole exception.
The Longhorn State witnesses massive in-migration of yahoos, rednecks and gun nuts from elsewhere. They immediately set upon one another with formerly concealed handguns and once hidden assault rifles, including in churches and on college campuses. Texas gets serious about secession from the Union, while sane Texans move to the People’s Republic of Austin.
Guantanamo Bay is finally closed and detainees set free. The facility is returned to Cuba which turns it into an amusement park.
The Sustainability Act passes overwhelmingly. Its provisions include:
• 100% clean energy by 2030
• a just transition for those dislocated by decarbonization
• a massive, WWII style mobilization
• an emergency adaptation campaign for unavoidable climate instability
• public lands protection: no grazing, logging, mining, or fossil fuel extraction
• an end of support for biofuels, CCS and bioengineering
• an end to more subsidies for nukes and fossil fuels
• an unprecedented push for conservation and efficiency esp. for low income people
Passage of Medicare for All leads to healthcare for every resident of the US, regardless of immigration status, and to the speedy collapse of the private health insurance industry. The predicted economic stimulus from redirecting 8% or more of GDP is stunning.
Sanders and Stein are re-elected by the largest margin in American history. The Koch Bros. relocate to the Cayman Islands.
Exxon-Mobil declares bankruptcy after successful criminal fraud prosecutions and several giant climate change damages lawsuits. The firm vows to reorganize as a solar power company.
The Fair Trade Act ends US participation in so-called trade pacts, withdraws the US from the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, the World Bank and the IMF. Development and financial assistance is now funneled through the new Department of Fair Trade.
The Peace Now Act radically reforms US foreign and defense policy. It:
• puts an end to imperial wars
• Abolishes secret intelligence agencies
• fast tracks nuclear and conventional disarmament
• leads to massive spending cuts, the first-ever audit of the Pentagon, and redirection of funds to socially beneficial purposes including confronting climate change
• Closes overseas bases and ends all foreign military assistance
• Cancels nuclear weapons modernization and myriad other wasteful and provocative weapons programs
• withdraws the US from NATO and other alliances
• converts the Department of Defense into the Department of Peace with an emphasis on peace education, peace keeping, and peace making
The last coal mine in the US closes.
The EPA becomes the Department of the Environment with adequate funding and staff.
The Economic Democracy Act moves US social democracy several steps closer to socialism:
* Full employment: Living wages for all jobs (federal government as employer of last resort)
• Worker ownership/management
• Nationalization of the commanding heights (including banks, railroads/airlines, auto manufacturers, oil and gas companies, utilities including telecom providers, defense contractors, insurance companies)
• All workers, public and private, represented by labor unions
• Real, guaranteed pensions for all
• Basic Annual Income to replace shredded safety net
• Tax reform/closure of havens, carried interest deduction and other loopholes for plutocrats
--End to corporate inversions
--Closure of domestic tax havens through the absorption of Delaware by Maryland
--Enactment of Tobin tax on stock trades, ban on futures trading, derivatives and other financial weapons of mass destruction
--Confiscatory estate tax to reduce oligarchy
--a return to Eisenhower era tax levels on the wealthy and corporations
The Affordable Green Housing Act leads to a massive nationwide construction program to ensure every working person pays no more than ¼ of income for rent in state-of-the-green-art, community-centered housing complexes.
The Let’s Get High Act legalizes and taxes drugs. Substance abusers are treated as patients rather than as criminals.
The Justice At Last Act provides $1 trillion for reparations for African-Americans to be paid out as an annuity over five years. Its nontaxable cash to be used for any purpose recipients see fit. Another stimulus jolt to the economy
Jill Stein and Kshama Sawant are elected President and Vice President in a landslide over Libertarian candidates Ron Paul III and David Koch, Jr.
A constitutional amendment changes the US’s winner-take-all electoral system to multiparty proportional representation system with various preferential voting options available at the state level. It also lowers the voting age to 16. Innovative left parties spring up, led by teenagers.
Jill Stein helps engineer an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a single secular democratic demilitarized state encompassing both peoples known as Jerusalem.
The Independent Media Act passes Congress unanimously. Not-for-profit local media prosper. Community studios train all comers to be news, music, and commentary content producers. Media monopolies melt. Fox News has fewer viewers than PBS. The corporate media fades away.
The Never Again Act ends mass incarceration and does away with mandatory minimum sentences, transforms the criminal court system into problem-solving courts, vastly reduces the prison population, and converts prisons to productive purposes.
With Stein’s latest appointment, the Supreme Court now has a radical majority that works feverishly to undo two hundred and fifty years of injustice.
The Fairness in Education Act provides adequate funding for public education in all schools regardless of tax base. High stakes testing and the war on teachers are things of the past. Government support enables the end of tuition at colleges and universities.
Stein and Sawant are reelected. Vermin Supreme comes in a distant second.
The EPA Administrator announces that thanks to the Environmental Justice Act, first enacted in 2019, all lead drinking water pipes in the country have finally been replaced.
The last nuke plant is decommissioned, and the last oil and gas wells stilled. The country now operates nearly completely on solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy sources.
The Good Food Act passes. It subsidizes organic, regenerative agriculture; any and everyone can now afford it. All subsidies for non-organic food disappear. Antibiotics and other drugs in meat are forbidden. Factory farms are banned. Dietary guidelines are rewritten without the assistance of Big Food. Urban farms flourish. GMO food is outlawed. Monsanto transforms itself into a streaming music service.
Thanks to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 2020 (mandating equality across gender, race, and sexual preference) studies show that men now do as much housework and childcare as women, and that women have opened up a positive pay gap with men. People of color at last close the racial wealth gap.
National problems solved, action at the federal level slows to a trickle. People now rule themselves in small, confederated neighborhood committees.
Finally, in 2050, the State withers away.
This was of course but one possible American future. It’s not—as you know—probable at this point, but we know another United States, what Eugene Debs called a Cooperative Commonwealth is possible. It will be forged by millions of activists working together in grassroots, sustained and massive mobilizations for radical change.
Weird, so this blog is only a little over two months old (I remember that I started it on St. Patrick's Day) and one of the things I hadn't decided on is who I imagine would it be "for". Who would even read it? Even theoretically. Because if I knew that it may change what I post. At this point, the only person I am imagining would not read it is LG. She's just not a blog-reading type.
So, in a way that frees me up to write down certain things, thoughts about what is going on with LG. To use this space to sort of just get some feelings off my chest. Like: the other day at the hospital (yesterday actually) while LG was getting administered the immunotherapy drug I had an impulse to find Dr. Morgenstein and corner him. I was envisioning taking him aside, looking him straight in the eye and asking him to level with me about what he thinks is going on with LG. In other words, what her chances are. I don't know-- part of me thinks that is a very necessary and even understandable and natural thing for me to do. Then a part of me was thinking: No, of course Dr. Morgenstein is telling LG directly -- already -- everything he thinks. But then another part of me thought that may simply not be true. If he really thought -- in his experienced medical opinion -- that death was surely in the cards for LG he may very well hide behind a policy of always saying to her "well we don't know, we just have to see, everybody reacts differently, etc. etc.", at least as far as how he comes off to LG. Because so far that has been his attitude. But is he really thinking something else? How would any oncologist behave in such a situation? Would he be more "direct" and/or "honest" with me if I took him aside and pleaded with him not to pull any punches. I may have to try next hospital visit.
In the meantime, this morning I am going in to see my own primary care physician, will have blood taken for an A1C test. I have not been feeling very well. It is ironic that this new doctor I have, Maxine Orris, came at the recommendation of that guy Dan, who totally jerked me around for a year and a half on the Marilyn project. Though I may still do something on my own with that, something not related to Milo Speriglio's book.
Trying to get James and Bob to start communication soon. Bob is at Ealing today, the last major British film studio left. Pinewood, Elmtree, Boreham -- they've all gone under but Ealing Studios is still there. I think that is where they filmed those early "Ealing comedies" like The Ladykillers and The Lavender Hill Mob, with Alec Guiness.
At the hospital yesterday there was an elderly woman there, being given some medication for a blood condition she has. We got to talking. She has a German accent and she told me she came to America in 1957. I asked her how she likes America and she told me that nobody is happy here. It used to be nicer, she said, but now people are all just mean to each other and cut off from each other, their noses buried in their cell phones, and they are miserable.
She said I had beautiful eyes. How nice.
When I told her I wasn't feeling well she said to just get rid of whatever is causing me stress. Just drop it.