Aerial drones and roving robots have taken over the work of America's fighting forces. The remaining humans in the military are mostly concerned with Wiccan worship, transgender issues, and health care controversies at the Veteran's Administration. Maybe it's time to start honoring some real heroes on Memorial Day: the Tea Party candidates who lost their primaries to "RINO" Republican incumbents.
The presidents we celebrate today were very different men. Abraham Lincoln loved to talk and debate and write and read books and be boring. George Washington was quiet and dignified, never wasting words. Abraham Lincoln led the United States into war over slavery. George Washington actually owned slaves. And in finances—the most important aspect of American life—Abraham Lincoln was a loser, while George Washington was the richest president ever.
With dull eyes and open mouths, they crowd the streets and fill the restaurants. Some are teenagers, some are straight, some are gay, and far too many are married adults who would usually be found at home watching the television at night. They are the zombies of St. Valentine's Day, and they're just as miserable as they look.
Martin King—he hasn't used the "Dr." or "Luther" or "Jr." for decades now—is living proof that even legends can get tired of being legendary. Pacing his spartan office at MSNBC's studios at Rockefeller Center on a dreary Wednesday in mid-January, King is pecking a text message back to his daughter about dinner plans tonight. It is King's 85th birthday and his family and friends are holding a party at the forever popular Sylvia's in Harlem, but his first priority is his new 8 p.m. show on MSNBC.
On this New Year's Day in America, 2014, the nation's typists ("thought leaders") are required to use their long-dormant psychic abilities to designate the next 12 months as the Year of Something or Other, whether that be "accidental mass suicide" or "wearable automobiles" or "raccoon-sized talking spiders." Such predictions will generally be wrong, yet there is also the remote possibility that the simple act of making a prediction will cause it to happen, no matter how ridiculous or vile.
Ho ho, it seems we're spending this Christmastime deciding what color skin Santa Claus is allowed to have. Gather 'round the Yule log on your smart phones, younglings, and watch the old bigots on the permanent Naughty List try to invent another make-believe crisis of complexion. What race is Santa Claus? Well, if they really want to know then let's go ahead and tell them: Santa Claus is a magical human of African descent.
A weird relic rested on the bookcase in my family's last home in New Orleans: a wooden pipe that had belonged to Jim Garrison, the Orleans Parish district attorney who tried and failed to convict a local businessman named Clay Shaw for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The pipe still smelled of the tobacco its owner had packed and lit before setting it down at a cocktail party. Garrison—that's him on the right—had left the party and forgotten his pipe. And because he was still a hero to some, and especially to my mom, she took Garrison's pipe home as a souvenir.
We know what's wrong with Veteran's Day. We know this country is crawling with jobless, homeless veterans of America's constant occupations and invasions. We know there aren't enough jobs for these people already burdened with so much, and no labor market demand for the "skill set" of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and existential dread. And yet they went out there and committed whatever insanity they were commanded to commit, in the name of America, even if it never mattered to 99% of Americans one way or the other. Instead of the usual Veteran's Day garbage of saying "uhh ... sorry" to those who suffered for empire, how about giving the veterans the only thing that can hold them together: a mission.
Halloween digs itself out of the chilly autumn ground for a few weeks each year, too weird and primal for governments or religions to claim. It is an ancient pagan harvest festival and a leering plastic skeleton in a front-yard cemetery of styrofoam tombstones. It is candy and liquor, sex and death, and the only "moral lesson" of Halloween is a sneering threat from a child in the night: Give me mine or you'll get yours, mister. It is the only honest American holiday.
For centuries after his accidental discovery of the Bahamas, Christopher Columbus was a true hero of history. But then the alternative histories were published, and the colonization of the New World was revealed to be a nightmare of atrocity and terror. Still, we can learn something from this stubborn idiot who insisted until the day he died that Cuba was part of Asia.
Labor Day is a complete rip-off. Labor isn't celebrated at all—instead, a single day's break from labor is celebrated. You might think this is a stupid thing to care about, because Labor Day is really just about getting drunk in your yard, again. But that's actually evidence of this very successful con job pulled on you, the American worker (or unemployed person, or discouraged worker, or "grad student"). You probably don't even believe in Labor Day.
Independence Day is the worst of America's joyless national celebrations, the day when everyone will predictably act like a buffoon and nobody has the decency to Opt Out. From Park Slope to Silver Lake, from Phoenix to Saint Paul, the whole nation of grudge-laden bores will wrap themselves in the old Red, White and Blue in another futile attempt to out-patriot their enemies.
Today is Flag Day, America's most important holiday. And while it might seem like a good idea to wear flag wings over your bikini or use a tattered Old Glory as a summer blouse, such actions are illegal. But because there's no enforcement or punishment for hurting the American flag, freedom is constantly under assault.