Genuflect by Gordy Grundy
May 2003; Issue No. 62
LIVING in WAR TIME
This is rather embarrassing to write about, so publicly, but I have little choice. It's hard to hide. You see, I stepped in a bucket. And I can't get my foot out. Neither can the experts. So I am learning to live with this bucket.
I thought I was doing the right thing, just walking along, on my sunny side of the street. Then suddenly, I step into this pail that I didn't see coming. A black leather, size eleven and a half, Lucchese cowboy boot is now stuck in a medium sized bucket. The emergency crew didn't want to cut it off for fear of damaging something. The doctors agreed that it needs X-rays and tests before they attempt a removal. It has to do with angle and pressure. My foot is stuck.
I have to learn to live with the bucket boot for a while. My pants are cut open along the side. Fifteen safety pins are keeping it together but it's still breezy. I need pants with a full zipper up the right leg. I have a pair on order, so I now wear a sarong. I look like a Tahitian cowboy, with a bucket on one boot. It's a good thing I'm not a private detective or a spy because there is nothing subtle about my approach. I am rather loud and slow. Step. CLANK. Step. KLUNK. Rather than shame the deformity, I am embracing it. Two nights ago, I filled the bucket with white sand before I went to a party. My smoker friends found my ashtray handy and convenient. Today, I have the bucket filled with water and nine little Feng Shui goldfish. I figure I need all the luck I can get.
You could say that I've really stepped in it this time. I have a bucket on my right foot and all I can do is make the very best of it. I can't get it off; I have to live with it. I have a choice and I will make this a good experience. Somehow. To find the best for all involved.
My friend Marsh explains himself with his hands, gesturing as if he were rocking a salad bowl or a globe from side to side. He says that the political flavor leans a little to the left and then it shifts a little to the right. And vice-a-versa. It is this motion, the flow and the pull, the anti- and the pro, that keeps the equilibrium of a democracy.
The world has truly never been smaller. Right now, for some people, life is a searing physical pain. For others, their heart aches to touch a loved one. Some people are angry and half-mad. Others are anticipating a financial windfall. Most are fretting. Somewhere in the world, two people are falling in love. Some are spooning, holding one another and feeling an intense comfort. Some people are so stinkin' dirty that they can't even remember how good a hot shower once felt. Some are scoffing at ideas and some are passionate about them. Some are easily convinced and others are thinkers. For some, life is no longer worth living. Some know that they have a friend. Right now, somewhere in the world, two people are laughing and giddy. Others are humorless. It happens to someone, everywhere, right now.
My friend is anti-war because he is starting a business. He is working hard but war only complicates all matters.
Now that we are in the thick of it, I feel an obligation to make the best of it. I want to welcome this new influence, this Arabian culture. It may not have been my first choice, but there are many beautiful things about it that interest me. As a matter of fact, we better embrace it because we're gonna be spending a lot of time with it.
We have to make room for another culture. Make space for one more. Where are we going to find the time? It takes a while to stir and mix a melting pot. How are we going to mend the hard core riff between Shiites and Sunni Muslims in Iraq when our very own Baptists and Catholics can't get along? Minimalists hate the Conceptualists. Blondes versus brunettes. Jews and Palestinians. We better get our deck of race cards into some kind of solitaire before we start to export our democracy. One leads by example.
Like our stepsister state of Puerto Rico, I welcome and embrace the influences that the new commonwealth of Iraq will bring. Hawaii for the waters and Iraq for the deserts. I forgot, do we winter in Iraq or do we summer there? To get a jump-start on the game, I've been looking all over town for a good Iraqi restaurant. I look forward to a good kebob.
The hip-hop station on my radio dial is starting to bounce to a Gulf Coast beat. Pimp out the East Coast--West Coast. Da action is in da Gulf.
Rich city kids in New York are no longer part of a posse; now they have a Secret Police.
Night before last, rather than throw a punch in a bar fight, I merely tossed my shoes, intended as a huge insult. That may work for the Arabs. It worked out very well for the guy who ran off with my shoes.
Gold leaf is in. Gold veined mirror. Gold striped wallpaper. Sixties redux. By June, big gold faucets will be available at Home Depot and Ethan Allen will give us the Las Vegas version of overblown high French furniture, antique'd white with gold pinstriping. Pimpy Uday. Outre Qusay. Arab camp. I remember the Beverly Hills sheik who painted his fence of life-size nude statues, in natural tones.
I refuse to wear a caftan, although I bet it'd be comfortable. I don't wear underwear and a caftan would be just a little too much air.
You can rest assured that the fashion houses will react fast and go Gulf Coast. 'Harem' is not a bad influence. A harem is an interesting notion. Do they have harems in Iraq?
Looks like the burka will make all of the 'OUT' listings.
Unrest in the Mid-East? You bet. The Arab male is uneasy. The men are shuffling their feet and laughing nervously but they don't know why. They can feel it coming. They just don't realize how powerful it will be. That oncoming wave of WomanPower is gonna knock 'em off their feet. The mullahs will be working overtime to keep the ladies down, but now the burka is off.
I haven't seen any photos of good-looking Arabian beauties yet, but I'm sure the fair vanity magazines will beefcake the men and Sports Illustrated will swimsuit the girls. Thank god for the infidels.
Swarthy is in, which is very excellent. To look into the loving, adoring eyes of an exotic, well, it's like an instant vacation to another world.
The British will become an influence again. Which is fine. Maybe the Mods will resurface. Or hopefully a movement like them will cause some trouble and fun. British gangster cinema is great. I like the British fine artists. I approve.
Yesterday, I walked outside through the carved Moorish doors at Union Station and an odd-looking fellow handed me a flier. I thought it was a travel ad. The graphics were minimal and tasteful. The copy read, "This Spring Break, ESCAPE to the HyperReal. Come FLY with us." That's all it said. When I looked up, he was gone.
Just think. There was probably some guy and a girl, kinda like you, who stood somewhere right around here, over two hundred years ago. He was thirsty, she hadn't slept well in a while and they were thinking, "It's gotta get better than this.
I really think my nerves are pushing the seams. My timing is off. The synapses are misfiring. The veins in my red eyes glow like lava. My neurology has been acting up again. Everytime I hear a car backfire, I think the terrorists are attacking Los Angeles. I know they're dying to. I am compelled to check on world events every ten minutes or so. I can't sleep. I can't eat. Thankfully, I can still drink.
"The stress of advanced technology on my newly evolving brain has created a conflict in my neurological system," or so says my psychiatrist. I've been a little edgy. The LA Times says that folks are exhausted from watching the real-time battle on TV. I'll say. I sure am. And I don't even own a TV.
"The technology of communication has evolved faster than our brains have. When we process too much too fast, we blow a fuse in our Emotionalism." I believe that's what my psychiatrist meant. My main man, Doctor Emile Von Burstebagge speaks in such a heavy Austrian accent that I rarely know what the fuck he is saying. I think he means that each bit of information we get has a corresponding emotional reaction of some duration and priority. So if your dog dies, you will feel real bad for three weeks. If you get a nickel-an-hour raise, you will feel real proud and elated for about twenty-five minutes. What I think the doctor is trying to say is that as your bean gets info, it has to process that bit emotionally as well as conceptually and objectively. The more info your noggin gets, our Emotionalism gets swamped with too much to do, like more than we can handle. We start skipping or shortchanging stuff. We start living less well. And therefore we stop living. "Neva has zee human rr-race, as a schh-pecies, been mo' shallenged! Yah!" sputtered Burstebagge. He took a swig of coffee that smelled an awful lot like schnapps and slowly cleared his throat. He shrugged his shoulders, "Zat's leaving een vor-time."
OPPORTUNITY, LITERALLY, ON EVERY CORNER
Only in America, can someone like me, an undercapitalized and unincorporated aesthetic, stand shoulder to shoulder with the titanic likes of Halliburton, the Bechtel Group and the Parsons Corporation. I am bidding for several Iraqi reconstruction contracts and I feel very positive about my chances. If this were Stalinist Russia or keep-it-quiet Cuba, I would be tortured for daring to dream. It is only in a free economy that one can discover an opportunity and act upon it.
Right now, there is an unexpected gold mine in the fine arts. Some artists are going to have to paint over the millions of Saddam portraits with Gee-Dubya's profile and I aim to be in on the gold rush.
NATIONAL EMPOWERMENT IS PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT
I no longer part my hair down the middle; I now have a blow dry freedom cut. Right after the first 'Decapitator' hit Baghdad, I had my stomach surgically stapled. I have lost 80 pounds and I look great. I feel great. The polyethylene pec implants have given me a physique that even Tarzan would admire. New vein-popping biceps make it look like I've been pumping iron all day. Viagra has put a tiger in my trunk. I smile with pearly capped whites. My jaw line, once concave, now juts forward like Kirk Douglas. I have to be careful where I swing it. My chin implant is made of glass.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based painter. His visual and literary work can be easily found at www.gordygrundy.com
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