at the O-naugural
|Feb. 8, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An imposter almost thwarted Barack Hussein Obama
in the final stretch along the road to the White House. Despite Obama’s
Secret Service protection, extra layers of security around the Capital,1
and precautions such as removing public garbage cans,2
these government employees were ineffectual in preventing a faux Obama who
advocated pulling troops out of the Mideast, repealing the PATRIOT Act,
and making U.S. dollars redeemable in gold again. Naturally, he had to be
However, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man happened to be available
to save the day.4 I.e., he continued the long tradition
of superheroes, usually private actors, buttressing the corporatist, managerial-therapeutic,
warfare-welfare state. Why do you think they really wear masks?
Thus, at the stroke of noon on a cold, clear Jan. 20, Obama stepped
to the lectern to be sworn in as president by U.S. Chief Justice John
Roberts. Whereupon they flubbed the recitation of the oath of office, just
as they’ve flubbed their constitutionally proscribed roles.5
Actually, the swearing-in was somewhat anticlimactic because that hyped
event was something Americans have speculated about since at least the ‘60s.6
He couldn’t even inspire an outstanding tune out of the dozens composed
worldwide during the campaign. In fairness, neither could Ron Paul. The musicians must’ve decided
not to waste interesting melodies on mere presidential candidates. It’s
not like the good old days of the Reagan administration. Now there was a
president who could inspire tunes.7
Two days earlier, Obama told a Washington rally that there’s no obstacle
that can’t be overcome.8 What he may only dimly realize, because
he’s succumbed to his own hype, is that he and his ilk are the chief
obstacles we must overcome.9
For example, he has a record of ducking tough votes. When he did vote,
it was in tandem with the likes of nominal rival
John McCain, to expand the size and scope of the corporatist state.10
For example, the inauguration cost a record $170 million, the cost of
which was partially borne by Wall Street executives from the corporations they voted to bail out last fall.
Elsewhere, that’s known as a kickback.11
In other cartoonish aspects of the inaugural, a lawyer complained that
5,000 port-a-potties wasn’t enough.12 The Whiskey Rebel estimated
in his online diary that each portable toilet would have to accommodate
an average of 200 to 400 people and securely contain at least 28 gallons
of human waste in a congested environment.13
Between that and the missing garbage cans, the crowd of
about 1.8 million people left at least 130 tons of garbage for the National
Park Service to clean up.14 All of which proves what many of
us have known for years: Washington is full of crap.
I don’t emphasize this aspect of the inauguration just because it’s
funny. Rather, it’s an effective metaphor for the Obama administration.
While he’s droning away in the presidential bubble, his supporters who
lacked enough “clout” for the VIP section were out in the cold and deprived
even of satisfactory relief.15 In fact, this is why the
black superheroes were unavailable – they were stuck in line to use the
toilets. After all, what’s more important, Obama’s golden moment, or your
bowels? If you have to think about your answer, you probably voted for
Obama. Even ticket holders were turned away.16 If he’ll
do that to his own supporters, imagine how he’ll treat the rest of us.
“Fool Me... and Won't Get Fooled Again.”
The day’s highlight came when the inauguration crowd audibly booed
the incumbent in his last minutes in office. Dubya’s expression indicated
even he got the message.17 Austin Dispatches, of course, had
been warning the world about Dubya before he was president.18
Similarly, we were onto Obama years ago.19
Which brings me to the one good point in all this: Obama replaces George
W. Bush, a pseudo-religious, wastrel, sociopathic scion20 of
a particularly venal patrician political dynasty,21 who campaigned as a yokel, ruled as a tyrant,22
and left us and our country poorer, weaker, and further shackled than before.23
So much so that he ties with Woodrow Wilson as the worst U.S. president ever,24
a verdict that may be revised in Wilson’s favor as further evidence is uncovered.25
May his future gravesite be perpetually soaked in urine from those he’s
On the Town
Jan. 6: At dinner in North Austin with several acquaintances,
a colleague – who shall remain nameless for the sake of his career – attempted
to gain the table’s attention with a disgusting account of behavior he
witnessed in the men’s room at the Nashville airport. I won’t burden you
with the details, but it was disgusting – hilariously so. I thought, anyway.
Everyone else thought it was inappropriate for the dinner table. If only
Later, someone else critiqued the new Tom Cruise Nazi movie as dull.27
Cruise was earnest and presumably Aryan, perhaps because he couldn’t peer
over his Ray-Bans and flash a cocky grin, or dance about in his underwear.28
Seemingly, he also has the rare knack of making Nazis boring.29
Jan. 22: With creeping age, “Melanie Ordones Welker” appears
to have finally relaxed in my presence.30 We caught up
at Austin Uptown’s salsa social.
“I still should be looking for a job, but I haven’t been,” she said.
“I shouldn’t brag, but I just paid off my car
note. That way I have a place to live, no matter what happens,”
I said, to her genuine laughter.
The Master Gets the Last Word
My favorite author, John Updike, died Jan. 27, age 76.31
His work was among my earliest serious adult reading, after I graduated
from comic books and juvenile histories of World War II. His characters happily
babble in the lingo of their non-literary occupations, rarer in contemporary
fiction than should be. When Updike did write about a writer-protagonist,
it was an excuse to gleefully satirize the literary world.32
He inspired me to become a professional writer, though whether he’d want
to accept such credit will forever remain conjecture.
Characteristically, Updike even got the last word on his death in a
poem published posthumously in the New York Times:
It came to me the other day:
The Importance of Being Ernesto
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”
Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”
For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.33
Based on Chronicle articles, “Ché,” the biopic of Ché
Guevara, Communist mass murderer and bungling guerrilla, seems to have
the combined flaws of “Kill Bill” and the definitive
director’s cut of “1900,” a six-hour art film glorifying Italian Reds.34
Months after release, pundits are still nattering about the biopic
“Milk.”35 The openly homosexual San Francisco supervisor, slain
30 years ago by the Zodiac serial killer36 – no, actually
it was a fellow supervisor – instead of being hit by a softball,37
or dying of AIDS38 – has since become the topic of at
least two movies, a stage play, and an opera. That’s just an off-the-cuff
recollection; he may have inspired more additions to that oeuvre that haven’t
impinged on my consciousness. Now that he’s safely dead, Hollywood is happy
to milk his faggotry for all it’s worth, at least at Oscar time. Moreover,
this is the second such flick in two years where the homosexual protagonist
dies violently.39 Is there a subtextual Tinseltown death wish
that media studies professors should be “deconstructing”?
Austin Death Watch
Google shut down its Austin office.40 Freescale Semiconductor
put its workers on a week’s worth of furlough.41 In good news,
the City has imposed a hiring freeze.42
The Statesman reports the cost overruns on the light-rail project were
a “mere” $17 million. The officials who provided the information say that’s
good by the standards of such projects.43 The Senate is balking
at a $27 million price tag to restore the torched Governor’s Mansion. I
like Statesman columnist John Kelso’s suggestion: Buy a doublewide trailer.44
Police report a rise in assaults in most sections of town.45
Meanwhile, a former Austin cop with a chequered career is sitting in the
Williamson County jail on a bank robbery charge.46 The Travis
County Green Party co-chair dropped dead at 44, probably from malnutrition
brought on by an insufficient, vegetarian diet.47 The local
origami social group has folded. The leaders tried to paper over the fact
that it’d lost its edge.
On my lunch break, I learned Circuit City declared bankruptcy and is
going out of business. By the time I arrived at the outlet at the Arbor Walk
shopping plaza after work, the selection had been fairly well picked over.
Yet even discounted, the store’s stereo components I want were still priced
higher than what I can pay for them online.48
Cap Metro disrupted traffic, by closing Kramer Lane for upgrades
to the railroad crossing, beginning at the evening rush hour of Jan. 16.
Dumbasses.49 A donut shop opened in the mini-strip mall at Parmer
Lane and Tomanet Trail. An IBC bank branch office has opened in the neighborhood
The January issue of The Good Life is that magazine’s last. Despite
being a “progressive-leaning magazine,” it was still a useful news source.51
DC Comics is cutting back Mad magazine’s publishing schedule to quarterly
instead of monthly. The usual gang of idiots won’t be so usual.52
1 “Obama Inauguration Poses Massive Security Challenges.”
The Hamilton Spectator 7 Jan. 2009, final ed.: A1.
2 Dvorak, Petula. “The Trash Was Historic, Too.” WP 22 Jan.
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8 Jan. 2009: 1D.
5 Shear, Michael D. “Obama Sworn in Again, With Right Words.”
WP 22 Jan. 2009: A4.
6 Wallace, Irving. The Man. New York City: Simon and
7 “Hails to the Chief.” The Onion 22 Jan. 2009, Austin
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9 Kass, John. “Unlike Media, Obama Knows He’s No Wizard.” Chicago
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10 Freddoso, David. The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely
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11 Mayerowitz, Scott. “What Recession? The $170 Million Inauguration.”
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12 “ ‘Father of Potty Parity’ Calls 5,000 Johns ‘Inadequate.’
” WTOP-FM 13 Jan. 2009; Sun, Lena H., Nikita Stewart, and Meg Smith. “No.
1 Priority: Porta-Potties on Mall.” WP 19 Jan. 2009, final ed.: B1.
13 “The Whiskey Rebel” [Phil Irwin]. 13 Jan. 2009. Whiskey
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14 Dvorak, op. cit.
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16 Constable, Pamela, and Mary Beth Sheridan. “ ‘And Then We
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