Fear and Loathing in 2002

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By Shane Dingman

The snot is building up in my head like a malignant flood, in the cold it turns to sticky ropes that extend from my nose and threaten unwary passersby. My lips are a cracked and burning like a Vulcan landscape, and my joints and muscles creak like they are made of ground up shot glasses and used condom rubber.

I have a cold, and through the blear of NyQuil cut with DayQuil I have been lead to insights so strange and terrible that I’m compelled to share them. Or rather force them down your collective throats like one more dripping turkey drumstick and one more queasy helping of mashed potatoes. CHRISTMAS ISN’T OVER!!! IT’S JUST RESTING!!!!!!!

All during the holidays I kept expecting to pick up a newspaper and see in gigantic three inch type, bin Laden dead, Omar dead, Bush dead. No luck on any score though, and now I’m beginning together what must be obvious to everyone outside the U.S. media: tracking down war criminals is no easy business.

The U.S. would have had more experience with this wicked game if they had ever taken an interest in the loveliest war zone on earth, Bosnia and Croatia. For years after the Hague called practically every member of the Serb military a slavering war criminal, the most outlandish barbarian of that bloody gang, the warlord Arkan, cavorted with prostitutes and drug dealers throughout Serbia’s hills and valleys. Free and unmolested from the farcical international manhunt, Arkan met his final justice at the hands of rival thugs, gunned down in the street like the wild animal he was. Never send a government to do a gangsters work, I guess.

Speaking of Gangsters, I’ve recently been to the town built on mod money and idiocy, Las Vegas.

In the cold desert around Las Vegas I cringed at the awful import of Vegas. This was America, Thompson was right. This place had all the retarded rules and evil suggestiveness of Hunter’s vintage version, but it also mirrors the gilded nonsense that dominates us as we twist in the breeze at the morning of the millennium. This new Vegas is hollow and corrupt in its grip on the imaginations of its visitors, just like the promises of the new era are written on cheap paper and sold for half a broken dream each.

It is the last refuge of the unreconstructed American white man, the man who shamelessly whores and lies, gambles and drinks. In short, I loved it and recoiled from it.

What draws the women back can only be the cheap joylessness of living on the false edge. The rush of losing money to a greed-raddled machine that loathes and loves its investors. Or maybe it’s the creature comforts of being able to smoke everywhere, including elevators and nurseries. Or the untrammelled freedom to carry open drinks around the street with legal prostitutes on each arm. Oh yeah, there are man-whores too, mostly of the bi-sexual nature. A town without newspaper boxes is a town to be suspected. All the free whore catalogues you can stuff down your pants, but it it’s a newspaper you want, there are specialty boutiques in Caesar’s Palace for FREAKS like you. The people who built Vegas turned the faucet of madness all the way on and broke off the handle.

The thing is that Vegas thinking enters into your daily life too easily once you’ve been there. Everything becomes chance. Speeding down the 427 you suddenly calculate the odds of going over the side and surviving. Slim to none.

And on returning to the land of the so-called sane people, Toronto the Good I found myself with a Vegas hangover. There’s no other explanation for the high stakes betting with the local children. The towering egotism and swaggering high-handedness with which I dealt with the dry cleaner’s assistant. But who’s to blame me, this whole thing is unfolding on us at a rapid pace. The new year blew in like a crippled geek falling down a steep slope. We were still lurching around the detritus of the last year, trying to figure out what happened to our commitment to democratic principles, and POW! 2002 is not going to be a fun year if you’re not already teetering on the edge of hysterical madness. All this horrible shit from last year is flowing down hill, threatening to drown us before we are ready climb the next mountain. Those of you who value the status quo, including the freedom to borrow and spend beyond your means, had better just accept that the shit rain will be more than a conventional umbrella can stop. Down in the states the Dems are feeding amphetamines and Drano to the shit-weasel campaign managers to get them mean enough to take history for a ride in the mid-term elections. Hoping to undo the final fetid but of Newt Gingrich’s legacy and retake the House in a cage match in the snake pit of post 9-11 political posturing.

Closer to home we have our titanic clashes of tools and hayseeds. By which I mean the two leadership conventions in the largest collection of right-wing demagogues in the country, the Ontario PC Party and the Reform Party. My predictions are simple and direct. Eves will stomp that chump Whitmer like cheap grapes, but be more seriously challenged by the Chris Stockwell camp. Still, he will win for practical reasons, and no doubt beat Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals like a gong again… unless he’s caught in some awful leg-hold of political wretchedness. Stockwell Day is going to get diced like squid in his demented attempt to stay at the head of a party that loathes him, not that anyone cares about him or about the future leader of the party. Reform is a spent force, all you have to do is refuse to call them by the management consultant name they whipped up and you remember why we hate a party that tells everyone east of Manitoba why we’re not good enough.

Cazart! This year is starting off with a killer hangover, but maybe if it gets whipped like a stray dog it’ll turn out all right. I have hope… And a sack full of psychotropics I picked up in Vegas just in case.

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