Don't tell people what you're going to do. It just gives them an excuse to second-guess you. Shutup until you're done, then tell people what you did.
-- D. Bowen
Doc and Pops treated me to lunch yesterday. It was all Doc really. He's not angry, he's a happy man but you have to listen a long time until you know that. He's deep in the middle of a struggle, the dimensions of which seem to be beyond him and all of us. But that's how he lives. He's the manly man - the one that rushes into the middle of the conflict. He enjoys donning the armor and putting on a heightened sense of awareness so that he's always prepared. He said that we don't understand, that he's made of cork and nothing can sink him, but you can tell that he's surrounded on all sides by deep, dark, cold water. That is the life of one LAPD officer.
The context of the quote comes from Middle America, the America of South Dakota, the one that doesn't exist here. He said that he told people that he was going to buy property in South Dakota, something that is supposed to be a crazy endeavor for a black man, in certain minds. But he got there explaining the dimensions of fear.
He put himself in the shoes of fear. He was walking near his home in downtown LA and a white woman was coming up the street towards him at night. He described himself in silks, carrying groceries - but he knew what was coming. Her jaws were clenched, she was scared to death. What could he say to put her at ease? A second scenario. The Asian woman alone in the elevator with the black man. Scared to death, but he's a cop. She's actually safer around him than anyone else. People in Los Angeles are living with Black Pathology Television in their heads, and that's all they know. It's not America.
Switch gears. What is the black man's greatest fear? He has run out of gas out in the boondocks and is lost. He has to get service at the lone gas station run by Bubba. Out front is Bubba's red pickup truck with the gun rack and inside is Bubba wearing a plaid hunting jacket. What can Bubba say to put him at ease? Doc runs down the specs on the pickup truck - he finds where Bubba's love is and the bond is made in 20 seconds. A second scenario, reality. He's driving from Yankton to Wakonda South Dakota. He talks to the man who tells him a shortcut. Wow, thanks. Takes 15 miles off the trip but you have to go through some cornfields.
One hour later it's dark and he is at the corner of Corn and Stalk. The sky is clear and the land is flat. The stars are out and they come all the way to the horizon - not that he can see it because he's in 8 foot corn as far as the eye can see. He stops the car and puts on the blinkers. He's lost in South Central South Dakota in the dead of winter and it's mind-numbingly cold. The car pulls up slowly. A woman gets out, white woman and she asks what she can do to help. "I'm lost and I'm trying to get to Wakonda". Wakonda is a five block square of houses in the middle of 1000 square miles of farmland.
She says "Follow me".
That's where America is, Doc says. Not here in the Los Angeles where officers of the law are not permitted to look at anyone's breasts lest they get written up administratively. Here, everyone is afraid of men who have to be men. It's enough to defeat the courageous. So he's out to rescue liberty and wondering where everybody's honesty has gone.
Doc has got a fantasy. It's about living where the living is honest and good. Right now he's got some small parts of middle America but in the future it's in Western Australia. Out there where people don't step on each other's feet you understand that you have to look out for your neighbor. Western Australia is like Africa without the Africans. There are no tribal conflicts, no wars. Millions of acres of unpolluted wilderness and gorgeous shorelines in a constitutional republic with liberty. Western Australia is like what America used to be before it got too crowded and hated - where people had to work to make life work rather than spend all their time trying to vote themselves into existence and politick themselves into the receiving end of demographically proportionate patronage.
I don't know much about Kenny Chesney. That's something both Doc and Pops share that I know very little about, but I do know the effect he has on people that love and respect his music. It was on the list of basics that you need for a life of liberty in Western Australia, including the four-wheel drive, the Brazilian wife, the cargo pants, Tommy Bahama sandals, and a year's supply of Chimay Ale. Silly me, I kept wondering if he was going to say broadband access. But I couldn't disagree. I mentioned Bora Bora, but he said no. Not enough land, you'd get cabin fever. You need to see out to the horizon full of land and know that the land is free.
Pops still sends all the emails about Obama in 48 point caps. Sometimes he sends them in different colors. On the way to the spot yesterday I saw a poster from the Californian Medical Marijuana League inviting people to Celebrate Change at some rally. At the bottom of the poster was the notice that smoking of medical marijuana was not allowed at the rally. Funny we were just talking about that. Funny they had to mention it. Funny I can't remember when so many people made such a big deal about going to any Inauguration. But Pops doesn't care really about winning any political battles - really, not any battles at all. All he wants is to spend enough time with his 10 grandchildren to enjoy the fact that they're not engaged either. So that's why there is no method to his madness. He's just being, as the kids say, 'random'. Well he does know how to pick a good ale.
I'm watching romantic comedies because people knew, back in the days of Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, and before, what their roles were. They knew how to be men and women and not issue administrative citations for improper breast observation. Masculinity and femininity have lost their moorings because the Boomers felt obligated to reject EVERYTHING and celebrate that as freedom. But now all of the descendants who watch television and movies don't know how to deal with each other's passions, and the land doesn't require them to meet people on the road and be something more than 'a young hispanic female', or however the description comes across the network. Because when Americans react to each other in the modern terms, it's based on demographically assigned fears. Walking on downtown streets and riding in elevators and shouting out of cars in traffic doesn't require people to be Americans, and so America is lost here in Los Angeles, which very few people identify as land that goes out to the horizon where the people are free.
So the votes are in and the symbol is in place but life doesn't change. It's no surprise that people of a sort would vote for the man who talks the right game, but the talking is not going to change. The clenched jaws of fear are unable to open and ask "How can I help", not here in the urban jungle. That counts for the Los Angeles with the Latino mayor and for the America with the African president. It's not the adjectives that count, but the verbs.
Living in fear vs living in freedom is always a matter of reaching out to touch in truth with passion. I sometimes wonder if we do that enough, and today when its 20 below in South Dakota and sunny and bright here in the Southland, I think the difference has to do with the demands of the land. Out here we wear sunglasses and only smile if we've had our dental perfection done.