She Asked "Are You Happy?"

I don't think anyone has asked me that question since I was barely more than a toddler and back then I didn't comprehend the question. She said that the things I write and the way I carry myself say to her that I am, at my deepest, very sad. I don't know about that but she is right insomuch as I am certainly not happy but what she didn't seem to understand is that unhappiness is sometimes by design.

Happy is what you get when you have nothing to struggle over. Happy is the way one can only be with one's eyes closed. Happiness is ignorance, feeling safe in a world that offers no safety. People's lives wither in the pursuit of happiness. Happy people have nothing to fight for, nothing to strive towards, no seed of discontent to drive them forward. All the greatest people have been, at their deepest, incomplete. Alexander the Great, Socrates, Napoleon, Mark Twain, Ayn Rand, Martin Luther King Jr., Van Gogh, Nietzsche, Marconi, Einstein, Marx, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, Lance Armstrong, Muhammad Ali, Emile Durkheim, Orson Welles, Susan B. Anthony, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Aquinas, all had an axe to grind. There is something innately pathological about greatness. None of the people behind the engine of history have been, at their core, happy. Indeed, they may not have been capable of the emotion. It may not have been part of their being and this is part of why they fought and strove and risked and made a part of the world over in their image.

I am not so much of an egomaniac as to suggest that I am on the level of any of these people but I do know that I am not fodder and that I will never be content to be part of the vulgar mass. In the words of Bob Fosse "My friends know that to me happiness is when I am merely miserable and not suicidal." Happiness is settling. Happiness is blindness, powerlessness, hopelessness. Happiness is mediocrity. Happiness is surrender.

No, I'm not happy and I don't ever want to be.


A Chorus of Factory Girls

It comes wrapped in red. It's responsible for the economic rise of a major American city. It's ingredients have been blamed for all the ills of human kind. It is the single most recognized icon in the world, surpassing the Nike swoosh, the American flag and the face of Jesus. It's also one of the few incarnations of the corporate hegemony from which I may never be able to stray.

I'd thought I was done with it, really. I'd given up Cuba Libres for gin'n tonics. I'd taken to drinking iced tea with my dinner. I'd convinced myself that I didn't even really like it: too sweet and too acidic at the same time, aftertaste of old orange candies. It's bad for you and I had convinced myself that I was not going to like it.

This feature has re-educated me in the simple fact that, at certain times, the things that are supposed to be bad for use can be oh, so good. Whether it's a big meal after being away from home, a beer on the Fourth of July or a cigarette after a good lay, some indulgences are defined by the moment in which they are enjoyed.

The other night, after our fifth consecutive thirteen hour day, my coworker nicked one for me from the crafty cooler without stopping to ask what I'd actually want. They were apparently out of Fresca, anyway. He offered it to me after we were in the car an on the way back to the hotel and I had no other option but to go thirsty. The day had been very long. The work had been arduous and the temperature had ranged from a brisk thirty - eight to a comparatively stifling eighty. I hadn't sat down for more than fifteen minutes the entire day.

So, with nothing else available, I popped the top and sipped. Oh, lords above and all the joys of the flesh I have never experienced something so wonderful, the sweetness, the tang, the fiz. In my post-shoot gloom I had found a new paradise. I had strayed from the altar but the burdensome path of professional duty and laborious thirst have returned me to you.

Or maybe that's too profound a way to say that I've rediscovered Coca-Cola.


Live In My House. I'll Be Your Shelter.

I’m sick of it. I’m absolutely fed up. This asinine argument has gone on far too long and I’m just done. Forget full faith & credit. Forget ‘the cornerstone of our society.’ Forget denying rights to Queers and definitely forget what it’s going to do to the children. So much bullshit has been foisted on the world in the name of defending the children that I sometimes wonder if we’re better off eating the children than making them into adults.

I’m always inclined to think that, once an issue becomes truly intractable, as gay marriage or right to wed, depending on which spin you follow, has, then you’ve reached the point at which people have stopped examining the issue and started rooting for a team. That’s usually when it’s good to start looking at other approaches, no matter how ludicrous they might at first seem. So here’s my suggestion for this obstinate issue.

Let’s do away with marriage altogether.

I imagine most people seize up in the gut at that statement, so let me clarify. I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t love one another and go through life as a unit if they choose to do so. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have weddings or wear rings or call each other husband and wife or husband and husband or wife and wife or spouse and spouse or whatever they want to call each other. I’m not saying people shouldn’t form family units. In fact, I am advocating no fundamental change in how our society operates. What I am saying is, take the government out of the equation.

Most of the legal ramifications regarding marriage have to do with tax law, property dispensation, insurance rights and decision making in catastrophic situations. Virtually all of these have reasonable, and often simpler, analogs through contract, medical or business law. In a legal sense, that’s all a marriage is, a business arrangement, a sharing of property, responsibility and decision making authority. Let’s treat it like what it is.

In fact, I can think of a number of benefits to such an arrangement.

* Those under 18 can’t enter into legal agreements so state to state disparities regarding the legal age of marriage become irrelevant.
* Arranged marriage, as it is practiced by some groups, would become illegal as a form of coersion.
* Financial arrangements between married couples would have a new range of flexibility and prenuptial agreements would become nearly mandatory, perhaps cutting down on much of the bad blood that comes from divorce related haggling.
* Fraud and tax evasion through spousal property laws would be eliminated.
* Spousal privilege, the inability of the state to compel a person to incriminate their spouse in court, would be eliminated. (One can argue whether this is in fact a benefit but I’m going on the assumption that more transparency in justice is a good thing.)
* The automatic medical authority given to spouses would have to be replaced by an explicit chain of authority as defined by the patient, probably in the form of a declaration made to a doctor or codified on insurance policies. This could sidestep the possibility of legal quagmires like the Schivo case.

These are all practical benefits of getting the government out of our married lives. This issue goes far beyond the practical. This is largely a gut argument and the argument is primarily over the word “marriage.” Opponents of the right to wed consistently say, as I believe Karl did in a previous comment, that they are not opposed to homosexual couples living whatever lifestyle they choose nor are they opposed to those couples receiving the same legal benefits and privileges granted to heterosexual couples. They just don’t want to call it “marriage.” Fine, let’s not call any of it marriage, not on any legal document, anyway.

The government does not get to decide who our friends are. The government does not get to decide how we run our families. The government does not get to define love. The sanctity of two people’s love is not dependant on a license. If we’re going to argue like this over the word, let’s take the word out of it and let each family define it as they see fit.