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Mcmansions, SUVs, Mega-Churches and the Baghdad Embassy: Life Among Dim and Brutal Giants

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Phil Rockstroh Donating Member (106 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:03 AM
Original message
Mcmansions, SUVs, Mega-Churches and the Baghdad Embassy: Life Among Dim and Brutal Giants
In microcosmic mimicry of the plight of the besieged middle and laboring classes, my parent's Atlanta neighborhood, as is the case with many others in the vicinity, is being destroyed, in reality -- disappeared -- by a blight of upper-class arrogance. The modest, post-war homes of the area are being "scraped" from the landscape as an infestation of bloated mcmansions rises from the tortured soil. These particleboard and Tyvek-choked monstrosities loom over the remaining smaller houses of the area, as oversized and ugly as mindless bullies, as banal as the dreams of petty tyrants.

In the surrounding suburbs, in a similar manner as mcmansions eclipse sunlight, throwing the adjacent houses into half-light, mega-churches eclipse the light of reason, leaving their congregations in an ignorant half-light of dogma and superstition. Of course, these true believer lunatics are wrong about everything, except, perhaps, for their elliptical apprehension regarding the arrival of proliferate cataclysms in the years to come. Oddly: Although they promulgate dire warnings on the subject, they seem gleeful at the prospect of wide-spread suffering.

How could they not be? They've seized upon a fantasy that allows them to escape from the tyranny of their own life-suffocating belief system. Attempting to subdue the suffocating dread of their corporately circumscribed lives, they wish for the destruction of the entire planet. Hence, their escapist fantasy, by the necessity of narrative, is huge, outrageous -- apocalyptic. The progenitor of their End Time tale is this: The believer's emotional inflexibility begets a form of ontological giantism -- a phenomenon that arises when one's worldview is too small to explain the larger world. Therefore, a story must be created that contains violence and terror on such a massive scale that its unfolding would kill off the entire, problematic world. "That's right world, there's not enough room on this planet for both you and my beliefs. One of us has to go."

Upon the nation's roadways and interstate highways, the overgrown clown cars of the apocalypse, SUVs, Humvees, and oversized pickup trucks also evince hugeness to compensate for the feelings of those folks inside the grotesque vehicles of being crushed by alienation and isolation -- not only while on the road -- but by the realities of an existence within a hapless, oil-dependent empire which is itself powerless against the changing realities of the larger world.

In the ranks of the exploiter class, the fat salaries of CEOs separate them further from the general population of the consumer state (that they take every opportunity to bamboozle) as the American public itself grows fatter and fatter in body mass, vainly attempting to sate an inner emptiness borne of their perceived helplessness before the predation of corporate culture.

Concurrently, in Baghdad, the U.S. embassy, which, when completed, will be the largest "diplomatic" compound on the planet is, in fact, an inadvertent monument to the mindless colossus the U.S.A. has become. The structure is as accurate as the art of architecture can be in its depiction of the spirit of a nation's people. As big and bloated as our national sense of exceptionalism, it stands in the so-called Green Zone of Baghdad, shielding those who will be bunkered down within it -- not only from the murderous madness unfolding outside its highly fortified walls -- but from reality itself. A massive emblem of the arrogance of power, the embassy is a testament to how the noxious vapors of cultural self-deception can be made manifest in reenforced concrete, armed watchtowers and razor wire.

Through it all, like some eternally slumbering Hindu deity, we Americans dream these things into existence. Far from blameless, we continue to allow the elites to exploit us; therefore, we enable and sustain their titanic sense of entitlement. In turn, we accept their paltry bribes and, as a result, our banal, selfish dreams have conjured forth George Bush from the zeitgeist. Ergo, Bush is a man whose impenetrable narcissism is so grotesque and ringed with fortifications, that all on his own he constitutes a walking analog of the American embassy in Baghdad.

In addition, we Americans continue to believe our fables of righteous power: Big is good, goes our John Wayne jack-off fantasy. Our leaders must be large: Only Mcmansion-like men, such as Mitt Romney, are acceptable. We believe: Dennis Kucinich is too diminutive in physical stature to be president -- with the length of his body being roughly the size of Romney's head.

In turn, our national landscape is stretched to the breaking point: Cluttered upon it, gigantic islands of garish light torment the night, scouring away the stars, estranging us from imagination, empathy, and eros, and leaving us only with the insatiable appetites of consumerism. Thus, around the clock, inside enormous, under-inspected, industrial slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, underpaid, benefit-bereft workers ply their gruesome, monstrously cruel trade, then the butchered wares are transported by way of brutal, double and triple-axle trailer, diesel trucks over stygian interstate highways to sepulchral supermarkets and charnel house restaurant chains. Insuring, we flesh-eating zombies are provided with all the water-bloated, steroid-ridden meat and industrially farmed, pesticide-laquered vegetables and starches -- The Cuisines Of The Living Dead -- we could ever crave ... uum, uum, it's the Thanatotic yumminess of empire's end. Try our convenient drive through window. Would you like us to super-size your order of commodified death?

Hyperbolic ravings, you say. America is not a culture in love with death.

Let's see. Drawing upon just one example: The corpses of well over half a million dead Iraqis testify otherwise. Moreover, the continuing Iraqi resistance to our occupation speaks volumes as well. Yet still, most of us cannot hear their elegy of outrage over the din created by the parade of killer clowns that we have mistaken for the pageantry of nationhood.

How does one slow this juggernaut of psychosis and curb these acts of murder/suicide being perpetrated on a global scale? Truth is, we might not be able to stop it, because this is what lies beneath our unlimited sense of entitlement and self-defeating arrogance: a death-wish that manifests itself as exceptionalism and may well destroy the nation by means of imperial overreach -- which is, of course, the time-established method by which empires dispose of themselves.

Further, this state of affairs is exacerbated by the narcissistic insularity of our media elite. At the end of the day, it's their tumescent egos that are distorting our societal discourse; their vanities and attendant self-serving pronouncements are little more than steaming cargos of horseshit, carried and delivered by one-trick-jackasses -- jackasses endowed with the singular skill of being able to read a teleprompter ... Fred Thompson, your agent is calling: You have an important call from Washington, DC.

Notice this: The more permeating the rot becomes within the system's structure the more huge and pervasive the edifice of media imagery will grow and the more trivial its content will become. The closer we come to systemic collapse the more we will hear about celebrity contretemps. Cretinous heiresses and shit-wit starlets, with shoddy mechanisms of self-restraint, people the public imagination, because they carry our infantilism, embody our collective carelessness, and, in turn, suffer public humiliation, as we desperately attempt to displace, upon them, the humiliation of our own daily existence within the oppressive authoritarianism of the corporate state.

Correspondingly, there is a well-known (by those who care to look) link between fascism and corporatism. To Mussolini, the two terms were interchangeable. According to rumor, we defeated fascism, during the first half of the 20th century. Yet, at present, we spend our days sustaining a liberty-loathing, soul-enervating corpocracy. To live under corporatism is, in ways large and small, to be a fascist-in-training. Everyday, hour by hour, the exploitive, neo-liberal concept of work devours more and more of our lives. As a consequence, the true self within is crushed to dust and what remains rises as cultural squalls of low-level fear, with its concomitant need for constant distraction. As all the while, the psyches of the well-off (financially, that is) become inflated, gaudy and ugly; in short, internally, they become human versions of mcmansions.

Freedom is a microcosm of the forces of evolution engendered by living in the midst of life -- a mode of being that apprehends and is transformed by the beauty, sorrow, and wit of the world. Conversely, authoritarian societies are collectives of accomplished liars and lickspittle ciphers, where one must conceal one's essential self at all costs and the soul falls into atrophy.

To what extent does authoritarian rule diminish both the individual and a nation? Simply, take a look around you and witness the keening wasteland our nation has become. Furthermore, our emptiness cannot be filled by any amount of wealth or power. This is the reason the obscene amounts of mammon acquired by the privileged classes is never -- can never be -- enough to satisfy them, for their inner abyss is boundless. In a similar vein, no amount of killing can sate a psychopath's emptiness. Dick Cheney will scowl all the way to the boneyard, hoping he can ascend to heaven by scaling the mountainous pile of corpses he's responsible for placing there.

In folk stories, when giants are about, drought and famine withers the land and starvation stalks its people. Accordingly, the ruthless giantism inherent to the Corporate/Military/Mass Media state has withered our inner lives, blighted our landscape, and left us powerless before a huge, demeaning system that devours our time, health and humanity.

The bone-grinding giants of the American corporate and political classes have shot the Golden Goose full of growth hormones, enclosed her in an industrial coop, and hoarded her voluminous output of eggs. Yet, nothing satisfies them.

Meanwhile, online, we struggle in a Jack in the Beanstalk Insurgency, hoping that from things as tiny and seemingly trivial as mere beans -- our postings, exchanges and periodic meet-ups -- the fall of tyrannical giants might begin.

Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: philangie2000@yahoo.com
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Burma Jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:11 AM
Response to Original message
1. This would make a nice poem
"Slouching toward Bethlehem to live in a McMansion"


A couple of towns here just outside DC have banned the practice of slapping McMansions in old neighborhoods while the County has set aside about a fourth of the land as an Agricultural Reserve where each house must sit on at least 25 acres and farming is subsidized, it works out OK. But, it just goes to show that a local government has had to regulate the desires of people to have big impressive houses wherever the hell they want.
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Vanje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. There is no such regulation in my red state.
No rules to preserve farm land. The breadbasket of the intermountain west is growing commuters now.
Guess we can always import our food from china.

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Phil Rockstroh Donating Member (106 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. RE: Guess we can always import our food from china
That will prove rough going, in the age of peak oil.

To quote James Kunstler: The age of the 3000 mile tomato is over.
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Captain Angry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 12:05 AM
Response to Reply #4
24. Hey! Those commuters have great lawns.

Grass has to be the only crop grown on earth that is pampered and not consumed. How vain and wasteful the human species has become.

People water, fertilize, de-pest, all to grow a thick lush lawn. Then they cut it really short and dump the trimmings in a landfill somewhere.

Don't get me started on golf courses.

I live in the mountain west as well. We have nothing but houses going in over old farmland. I'm not that old, but when *I* can say "when I was younger, this was all farmland," there is a problem.

Each house with a sprinkler system and a lawnmower.

Thanks to housing developments and their covenants, you can't even *NOT* grow a lawn in some places. Want to Xeriscape? You'll be sued. Want more than a one row garden in your back yard? Lawsuit land.

I'm saving my money. One of these days, the bottom will fall out of the market, and I'm hoping to buy some decent land somewhere that I can put it to a sustainable use. But I'm just weird.

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provis99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 03:55 AM
Response to Reply #24
28. private covenants sound worse than any government regulation I could think of
Jeez, who wants to live in a covenant neighborhood where they regulate the color, density, and height of the lawn on your own property? Sounds like private-sector fascism taken to its logical, loony extreme.
No wonder people are moving out of the suburbs and into downtown areas of cities; its to recover the quirkiness and individuality that exists there, as opposed to the bleached blandness of covenant-land in the burbs.
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Shallah Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 07:08 AM
Response to Reply #24
30. America cultivates 3x as much lawn grass than any other watered crop
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4618.c...

This historical trend would have far-reaching repercussions for middle-class home owners in the 21St century who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars every year on the upkeep and maintenance of their lawns. According to a 2002 economic impact study published by the University of Florida, the lawn care and turf industry generated a staggering 57 billion dollars annually and employed 800,000-plus people.

Using satellite and aerial imagery, research scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have calculated that approximately 162,000 square kilometres of the United States is covered in turf -- an area roughly three times larger than any irrigated crop currently under cultivation. And lawns are thirsty, consuming approximately 270 billion gallons of water a week in the U.S. -- enough to irrigate 327,000 square kilometres of organic vegetables.


A relative recently moved to a desert area out west because of her job. She bought a house in the middle of desert in one of a multitude of recent developments in that area. Just over 10 inches of rain per year and every house has bright electric green grass. the back yards are hard packed sand utterly lacking in organic matter that would support the grass. water sprinklers not only water the grass but wash driveways and the streets clean of dust in the photos. how can people think this is sustainable? I wonder if any of them think of this at all.
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Captain Angry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #30
41. I doubt any of them think about it at all.

Bought house? Check.
Greener lawn than neighbors? Check.
Better car than neighbors? Check.
Better vacation than the neighbors? Check...

When I owned a house, my neighbors hated me because my lawn was 3-5 times taller than theirs, and it just didn't look right. I said, we don't live on a golf-course green. There is no reason to have short grass. Second, dark green grass on dark brown earth is a lot better for everything underneath the ground than the bright green grass on the hard dusty brown ground.

Guess who got the complaint letters? And when I only watered during the dry season, and let the rain handle the rest? I was the bastard.

Glad I sold.
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CRH Donating Member (671 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-30-07 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #1
43. The 'Agricultural Reserve' (s) of DC rural planning, ...
complete with subsidies for those who can afford 25 acres and a house. It is indeed an amazing country we live in, when this is our example how our local government saves us from our desires through regulation, while subsidizing wealth within a few miles of the inner city turmoil and poverty that defines our nations capitol.

You are right, it would make a nice poem, Requiem of Social Disorder by Political Order.
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Vanje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:16 AM
Response to Original message
2. "overgrown clown cars of the apocalypse'
Edited on Thu Jun-28-07 08:17 AM by sheeptramp
my favorte line. might have to appropriate it sometime
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lisby Donating Member (254 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 07:45 AM
Response to Reply #2
32. Mine too. nt
:spray:
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glowing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:22 AM
Response to Original message
3. Your essay is absolutely dead on. Your description of Corporate
Amerka is exactly how I would put it. Yet, I feel there is still hope in that essay.

I've read a lot of great work here, but yours is the work of Thomas Paigne. I hope it is published far and wide. Every word and every line was careful and deliberate. You were not writing as if there is shame to be had, but facts that have become us. And I still felt hope in the piece. It feels as if you put a lot of intent into your work....
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tblue37 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 10:10 AM
Response to Reply #3
10. I have already sent it to a bunch of friends--
properly credited, with link. I bet it shows up all over the Net by tomorrow--though many won't bother to credit it, of course.
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:23 AM
Response to Original message
5. "...Thanatotic yumminess of empire's end."
Edited on Thu Jun-28-07 08:24 AM by Turbineguy
Whew!

:yourock:
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nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 09:22 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Rather like T.S. Eliot minus the footnotes in Greek!
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RedEarth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 08:54 AM
Response to Original message
6. kr
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sui generis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
9. Didn't Lincoln say something to the effect
that no man is so much better than you that he has the innate right to govern you without your consent? I paraphrase, possibly badly.

It's another take on "government is at the consent of the governed".

I am an irascible anti-authoritarian and super individualist, almost Randian, except for the heartless crap. I also believe in social evolution, and that periods of elitist excess are followed by periods of elitist populism ("reverse snobbery"), which aren't qualitatively much better or more ethical.

At some point though, you have to go from being a victim of the evils you perceive to doing something about them, besides sing a swan song, however lovely. McMansions, SUV's, and petty tyrants have always existed to validate the middle class in one form or another, and certainly not just in our lifetimes. And people have been kvetching as long as there have been fullers and bakers painting their marble statues garish colors and stampeding their fancy palanquins through the agora. What has changed, besides converting some of the want-to-have's to the have-to-have's, to perpetuate dimness and brutality?

The trick is, if you join with power in the hope of changing from within, are you good enough to govern in turn? To resist the temptation of a McMansion, an SUV, and petty tyranny? The road to hell, and all that . . . .

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Phil Rockstroh Donating Member (106 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 10:36 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. The mob is not required
to change society. Quoting from the documentary, "Punk: Attitude<.>" (And myself from a previous essay.)

I viewed , recently, in which independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch posited that art movements (and political ones as well) don't need the masses, they just need a committed 5 percent ... the masses will follow. There is no need to inform the mob; a mob, by its very nature, is uninformed -- and unteachable. The belief in the existence of an informed mob is like believing in the existence of that chimera called compassionate conservatism -- and we've seen where credulity to that sort of crazy talk leads.

As was the case with Punk, which Jarmusch termed, "do it yourself art" -- one needs passion, commitment, conviction -- tempered by an ability to apprehend and uniquely interpret changing realities and circumstances -- plus an inner reservoir of courage and follow through."

Passion and commitment do change things ... but one must not choose safety over the truth of their heart. That's the thing that traps most folks -- shuffling toward the Siren Song of Security after they've been abused a bit by another deity, The Bitch God of Necessity.
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. "The Bitch God of Necessity"
:rofl: you turn a mighty fine phrase.
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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 03:07 AM
Response to Reply #9
27. Even you frame those things as "temptations"
I, for one, could have any of it and choose not to cuz its fucking BOOOORING.
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Phil Rockstroh Donating Member (106 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 06:30 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. Same bromide, different name
One is rarely (if ever) bored when one stays with the truth of the heart.

It's not a matter of Puritanical or Calvinistic "temptation"; it's a matter of staying with the being-in-the-present urgency of the soul.



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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #29
35. Truer words haven't been spoken
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sui generis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #27
37. nuance though
it's not "temptation" to excess so much as temptation to convenience. If you have three children under the age of five in most states you need three child seats. Are you including minivans in the SUV category? Or are all good citizens required to have multiple family vehicles and drivers?

Not trying to be crass, but people gravitate towards things that appear to convey convenience to their lives, justifiably or not. Of course, status symbols as well, but a two-income dual professional household that requires two wardrobes of business attire, plus additional casual wear mean that people are going to look for things as mundane as clothing storage, and McWalk-In-Closets seem to fit those bills for many. The "designerfication" of Target makes everyone want the cool glitzy thing they saw representing middle class success on their favorite prime time soap.

I'm not saying that's the way it should be, just the way it is. We have always been sheep, most of us.

And even where apparent excess might seem justified, very few people make personal convenience choices based upon excitement (or boredom).

No, my point really was more that the pendulum swings every couple of decades. Whatever we (the bloated excess people AND the strident "should-be" people) choose to defend, we all feel superior to those who disagree with us, always feel justified in our choices, whatever they may be.

I think if we judge it shouldn't be the symptoms of our ill social conscience, but the causes of it. If we seek to change it, it should be at the source, not the outcome.

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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #37
38. I'm not buying any of it
People rationalize things out of convenience or out of the need to fit in or that its good for the image or good for the career. Bollocks!

How often have you actually gone over to the house of your collegue? It takes minimum effort to fit in to an acceptable extent...the rest takes just a little spine to stand up for yourself as an individual.

And as for convenience...bullshit. Everything we buy is just another inconvenience at this point.
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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. "The pendulum" is such a pundit-like thing to talk about...sorry...
Edited on Fri Jun-29-07 04:29 PM by info being
I'm interested in the vague possible notion that something can be true and lasting...not just a ho-hum pendelum.

I don't get it...I have more money than I know what to do with...yet the last thing I want to be bothered with is buying / building a house...shit buying anything new at this point cuz it just takes time to figure out what to do with. I live in a three room apartment cuz I don't like walking for ages just to find my wife.

*Simplicity is convenience.*

Such an American perversion of thought to talk of all that crap and the need to manage all that crap as convenience. Its like calling it temptation. Both notions are absurd. Those things are burdens. Burdens.

So what is this perceived convenience you're talking about?
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RJRoss Donating Member (98 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 11:48 AM
Response to Original message
12. Nice work, Phil!
Enjoyed this essay almost as much as "The Land of the Bubble People". Our country truly is in danger.
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petunia.here Donating Member (102 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 01:12 PM
Response to Original message
14. Thank you for putting into words
exactly what I see and feel.

A part of me actually hopes for a massive implosion. We deserve it and I think ultimately we need it. Hell, the world needs it to happen. I don't see anything awful that has been put into place being reversed. I think that hope died along with the Alito and Roberts placement. My family is bracing for it. I know some people think we're a little nuts but who isn't a little crazy these days? In my gut I think we're right. In my heart I desperately want to be wrong.

But you know, the supremes keep giving more rights to non-sentient entities and taking rights away from human beings. And here we sit and bicker amongst ourselves over candidates who will not change anything for us in any truly meaningful way. At least none that will get elected in our corrupt system.

I wish more people would see that it's no longer about who will get the nom or win this election or that, but that "we the people" need to get together across party lines (and not just dem and repubs) to really enact some change. I don't know exactly what the right answer is but I do know enough to see that more of what we've been doing doesn't work.


Feeling a little fatalistic today.

K&R
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maggiegault Donating Member (510 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 09:05 PM
Response to Reply #14
23. I feel the same way. And when the inevitable implosion happens, WE will all be fine.

I cannot say the same for the McMansion Slackjaws, who are already losing their massive shrines to spending out of their means because of their shady mortgages and not having a pot to piss in.

We pay for everything outright. If we cannot pay "cash on the barrel," as my Dad used to say, it doesn't get bought. We have a mortgage. No credit cards. Two paid-off cars. Anything that gets charged to a department store credit card (for the extra savings) gets paid off in the same month. We have invested wisely. We have no children.

What a mess the younger generation is inheriting from their moronic elders, to whom American Idol and Paris Hilton was more important than the rape and murder of the United States of America.
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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 01:14 PM
Response to Original message
15. brilliant . . . absolutely fucking brilliant! . . .
I've never seen a better description of the corporate media . . .

"this state of affairs is exacerbated by the narcissistic insularity of our media elite. At the end of the day, it's their tumescent egos that are distorting our societal discourse; their vanities and attendant self-serving pronouncements are little more than steaming cargos of horseshit, carried and delivered by one-trick-jackasses -- jackasses endowed with the singular skill of being able to read a teleprompter ..."

thanks for stating so eloquently what most of us are thinking, but can't quite articulate . . . at least not like this . . .
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
16. Nations are generally at their most ostentatious before collapse
America will be no exception- the only question is, how precipitous the decline and fall will be.

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Delphinus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #16
42. And how soon.
Wonderful piece, Phil. You certainly have a way with words. :)
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 02:59 PM
Response to Original message
17. Excellent, excellent stuff.
Bravo.
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ringtailtooter Donating Member (76 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 03:00 PM
Response to Original message
18. 
I live in the epitome of macmansionville, Naples, FL. This is the land of CEO winter homes and nouveau riche snobbery. This is the new Palm Beach if you will. We just had a record breaking real estate sale last month, a macmansion on the beach went for a paltry $40 million. If you want to see the playground of those corporate whores and hawks of this administration, come on down. Be sure to bring the Bentley, you wouldn't dare be seen in a Ford.
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FloridaJudy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
19. Excellent post! K&R n/t
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
20. I knew before your last line, you were a poet, this is sheer poetry.
I can't match your words Phil, so please just accept my applause and recommendation.

:applause:
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
21. Very nice article. I am impressed with your writings more and more. K & R.
Some of it is a bit extreme, but I find no real faults with any of it.

These two lines are particularly spot-on

Freedom is a microcosm of the forces of evolution engendered by living in the midst of life -- a mode of being that apprehends and is transformed by the beauty, sorrow, and wit of the world. Conversely, authoritarian societies are collectives of accomplished liars and lickspittle ciphers, where one must conceal one's essential self at all costs and the soul falls into atrophy.

Notice this: The more permeating the rot becomes within the system's structure the more huge and pervasive the edifice of media imagery will grow and the more trivial its content will become. The closer we come to systemic collapse the more we will hear about celebrity contretemps. Cretinous heiresses and shit-wit starlets, with shoddy mechanisms of self-restraint, people the public imagination, because they carry our infantilism, embody our collective carelessness, and, in turn, suffer public humiliation...


Spot-on, and noticing the circus was getting louder/crazier in direct proportion to the atrophy of the mechanism of freedom was something I noticed years ago.

(ever notice Phil, how badly it sucks to take the long view in a world where most are unable to see past next month? to see shit years before others do, and have them dismiss you, then to be proven right so many damned years later they can't even remember you got it correct...bet that's happened to you, too, a few times, eh?)

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Phil Rockstroh Donating Member (106 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-28-07 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Thanks Tom
RE: and have them dismiss you, then to be proven right so many damned years later they can't even remember you got it correct ...

Yep, I've been talking about Global Warming since the 1980s ... Not actually, sought after dinner party repartee during the Reagan Era.
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northofdenali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 02:35 AM
Response to Original message
25. Hey, Phil, welcome to DU -
why we attract so many talented writers, artists et al, I don't know. I do know I appreciate them as they emerge!

K&R and bookmarked. I know exactly what you mean about your parent's neighborhood - my mom is now 92, and barely hanging on - and a Yellow Dog Dem to the end.

When you get tired of the Big Apple, come up for a visit. It'll kick start your poetic/bardish genes big time!
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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 03:05 AM
Response to Original message
26. The best revenge would be for us "little people"...
...to be having a better time than those ass-clowns. The sad truth is, Americans lack enough imagination to turn off the TV and live.
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marions ghost Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 07:33 AM
Response to Original message
31.  As you say, we all enable and sustain
the 'impenetrable narcissism' which characterizes our government, media and corporate entities.

Quote from your excellent article:

"Through it all, like some eternally slumbering Hindu deity, we Americans dream these things into existence. Far from blameless, we continue to allow the elites to exploit us; therefore, we enable and sustain their titanic sense of entitlement. In turn, we accept their paltry bribes and, as a result, our banal, selfish dreams have conjured forth George Bush from the zeitgeist. Ergo, Bush is a man whose impenetrable narcissism is so grotesque and ringed with fortifications, that all on his own he constitutes a walking analog of the American embassy in Baghdad."

------------------
Exactly.
Once you really understand the condition of pathological Narcissism you start to understand how exploitation works, how it suckers others. There are no boundaries, no brakes. A Narcissist will use, abuse, and exploit without the slightest intrusion of conscience. And they do it while creating the appearance of themselves as fine, upstanding citizens. We are suffering under the reign of a whole cadre of them, and those who admire them.

When will we have had enough?
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 08:11 AM
Response to Original message
33. Well done sir!
You've captured the spirit of how the core ills are linked and are conspiring against the natural happy state humanity deserves or at least deserves to strive for in natural freedom.

And welcome!
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 08:33 AM
Response to Original message
34. Awesome.....
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insanad Donating Member (286 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
36. America, The Paris Hilton of Nations
Wow Mr. Rockstroh, 
  It sounds like you've been hit with the jawbone of a
thesaurus. Reading your prose outloud produces quite the
tounge twisting effect and one cannot do so without coming off
a little bitter, dis-enfranchised, and surely acidic. In fact,
I think I need to take a shower to get the bile off, maybe
even shave my tongue a bit. Anyway, it was entertaining
reading and many of your rantings resonate with my own
thoughts, (although I could never conjure up so many
multi-syllabic words to describe such simple thoughts as,
"America is a bloated, self absorbed, corrupt nation
headed for a Hindenberg type explosion"). 

   As an American, and a draftswoman who has the grotesque
honor to design and draw these McMansions for the very people
you describe, I see the folly of this consumption of
resources, products (both natural and man made) land, and all
that goes into them as a sign of our demise. 

   When I started drafting it was not uncommon to design 1,200
square foot homes with attatched garages as starter homes for
young couples. In this amount of space one could manage three
modest bedrooms and two baths, a combination living/dining,
kitchen/laundry and if I was really creative, a run of stairs
to a basement.  This seemed to be the norm for several years
but then due to home shows, television promotions, etc. each
year the demand for bigger, fancier, more ostentatious homes
grew and grew.  Now I don't recall the last time I designed
anything less than 1,900 sq. ft., not including garage or
basement, and it's very common to design 7,000 sq ft homes
with four garages and guest quarters. 

   The thing that amazes me is that once these monstrosities
are built, they must be furnished, and then the real colors
show in the values and tastes of these people.  My husband and
I live in a modest 1,300 sf three bedroom home and since our
children are grown, we seldom use the two guest areas, which
we close off and to avoid having to heat or cool them.  In
these McMansions it's not uncommon for only two people to
inhabit 7,000 sq. ft. with furniture galleries in each room,
designed and decorated as a monument to their wealth and
accomplishments.  His office, her office, her craft/hobby
room, his den, her Master suite and 600 sf bath, his Master
suite and bath, the guest quarters, the home movie theatre
room, the family room, the grandkids playroom(comlete with
built in playground), the second kitchen and barbecue area for
the yearly party, the pool/game room, the excersize room
complete with three overhead televisions, the storage room
with large shelves for storing more stuff they never use, the
concrete/rebar reinforced gun vault, and on occasion, a spa
with cedar sweat lodge.  These are just some of the things
that many of my cleints consider "Standard". 

   While the little homes of the 1950's are being demolished
to make room for these obese houses, the raw materials and
products that went into building them is being dumped into a
landfill and new trees, new steel, new plastics, more asphalt,
more glass, more oil to make olifin for plastic carpets, more
paint, etc. is being produced to go into the gluttonous homes.
 I see it all around me, the consumption of natural resources
and they fill Home Depot, Lowes and other home improvement
stores daily with more and more and more.  

   Sometimes I go on trips with Google Earth.  When I fly over
the Northwest and Canada I can zoom in on these places that
look like a green pasta sieve, full of little brown or yellow
spots. As I look closer I see that the logging has punctuated
the hillsides so that the entire landscape is nothing but
logged out barren hillsides, with just enough trees left near
the tourist travelled roads to give the illusion that it's
still a lush green landscape.  When I've driven in the NW I'll
see a truck with huge timbers and part of me is jealous
because I know how expensive and valuable larger trees have
become and I know they're going to build someones McMansion. 

   Maybe I'm a hypocrite too. I have drawn my own dream home a
zillion times, sometimes it's big and includes an indoor
waterfall and trickling stream or rooftop garden, and other
times I try to imagine what my absolute minimum needs are and
design something to accomodate them.  The old 850 sq. ft.
cabin we bought in the mountains was built in the 1860's and
we've rennovated it, but as I've learned and now suggest,
"Friends don't let friends buy old houses".  What a
pain in the arse and pocket they are.  They leak, they are
drafty, they are full of mice and bugs, they sag, the floors
squeak, the windows rattle, the walls are musty, but I'll be
damned if anyone threatened or offered to tear it down I'd
defend it with an uzzi. There's a history and character there
that our tract home in the city cannot even hold a candle to.
Most of the time, I'm actually more at peace and happier
there, without any ammenities other than a leaky roof overhead
and an indoor toilet that runs continually, than I am in a
nice air conditioned air tight home with a dishwasher and
large screen tv.  Maybe it's the location that gives me the
sense of connection. Suburban life seems to suck the soul out
of most people. 

   As I see the hillsides and valleys consumed and clotted
with these homes I am filled with a sense of sadness and loss.
Not just for the simpler values that were part of the smaller
home era, but the loss of farmland, the loss of community and
connection when everyone went to the community pool or local
bar to watch sports rather than hiding alone in their own
overstuffed chair to watch on their dolby surround sound home
theatre. I believe that most of my cleints that build these
big houses are using the spaces to keep away from each other
rather than to create family unity.  Their kids have their own
playroom, above the garage or in the walkout basement, but in
truth, most little children would rather have a cardboard box
full of tupperware lids and spoons and sit on the floor near
mommy while she's cooking than be off in some lonely toy store
of their own.  

   Almost without exception I find that most of these people
live in these enormous caverns for a couple of years, and then
they downsize, or lose it to bankruptcy because they find that
the utilities, the furniture payments, the HOA fees, taxes,
etc. are more than they bargained for.  When someone else does
win the lottery or sell daddy's farm, or whatever they do to
suddenly come into the big money, they want their own version
of a McMansion, complete with their own gaudy dreams (which
lately have included stripper poles and blacklight stages) so
the other McMansions sit empty and dark, waiting for someone
to have the same gloppy dream as the original owner.  

  One can't watch the news or read the paper without being
assaulted with the tripe that surrounds Paris Hilton or other
vapid slutty celebutards.  That we give such a gnat any
attention at all is a sad commentary on our culture and
intellects. Sometimes I think many Americans behave like the
Paris Hilton of nations, self absorbed, dumb as a
post,spoiled, irresponsible, and a terrible example to the
other nations who want to look up to us. With all our
resources, all our wealth, all our talents and gifts we still
choose to strut around in the latest outfits, tossing them off
daily for the next and the next, each time consuming and
trashing whatever we grew bored with. 

   Today I choose to not be one of those consumers.  Today
I'll drink tap water (run through a filter) and drive my 11
yr. old car to my 140 yr. old cabin and give it a big hug for
still standing, albeit a little bent at the knees.  These are
small and paltry efforts, but sure beat whining about stuff. I
don't think people who buy McMansions read this stuff anyway
so to try to shame them into a more responsible, less
consumptive mode is pointless. It just makes us who live in
less, with less, underpaid, and under appreciated feel better
to point to the bloated obese American consumers and say,
"I'm not like you. I'm good. You're bad. I'm smart,you're
stupid.".  Yes, that does feel good.     
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info being Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #36
40. If only it were that sexy
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CRH Donating Member (671 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-30-07 02:39 PM
Response to Original message
44. Well written overview of the excess that becomes the vision of success, ...
for so many in the worlds wealthiest society. The grand majority of people in the US no longer realize the difference between wanting and needing, and see not the emotional peril in living a life, when enough is never enough. Instead what they can not have, they dream of having, until their happiness is dependant on escalating material visions.

It was much more simple and real in my grand father's days, when happiness was found in the people around him and the circumstances he and his family created. I remember the simplicity of the happiness he held most dear, so basic and profound. He once said, ...

--- If you are honest, you work hard, and you take good care of your family; you might not always have everything you want, but you will always have everything you need. ---

The mcmansion america today, social and material, is so far beyond the profound simplistic happiness he experienced, as to seem to be of a society of different origin. Is this really the same country, and are we really the progeny of his generation? Can we consider the technical industrial computerized society we pass on to our grandchildren, a better world? If not, why not? Is the root of our salvation in retracing our steps to those more simplistic and viable days, when I was we, when my was our, when contentment was within our own doing?

Your testimony of mcamerica leads me to believe the latter.
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