I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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WILLIAM GAITHER landed a job as staff photographer for a daily paper in Clinton, North Carolina.
I met a man who raises chickens. Not so uncommon an occupation on the surface. This particular man, however, raises roosters and in an age of mass production, fifty is about the most he can manage at the height of the season. If you were interested in buying one of his birds it would cost you between $20 and $30 a pound. Alive. Dead they are worth nothing.
Enjoying lives of extraordinary creature comfort, the vast majority of whites do not complain when the law is directed against those who advocate changing the system.
Surely if there is a God in heaven he must tremble each time an Afrikaner passes from this world, rematerializing, whanging away on the Pearly Gates with his knobkerrie, irritated, wondering where the hell the boy carrying his luggage has disappeared to, absolutely vein-throbbing furious at being made to wait for entrance.
I read that a murder takes place every 28 minutes in the United States. Which seems very frequent: two real people in less time than it takes for Kojak to get his man/woman. Guns, of course, are the overwhelmingly favorite means of dispatch, and within this family of ballistics, genus handgun, species revolver and pistol, the trusty six-shooter is the hands above the head winner. Which is not to editorialize in favor of the twenty-five dollar phallic symbol, as there are many other equally efficient and often less costly instruments of destruction. There are more than a few devotees of the knife; in the Philippines (as a National Rifle Association circular once informed me) the blade is preferred three to one.
Lord knows I’ve tried! To be a little more objective when reporting the news, that is. Mother and father early on explained, somewhat nervously, that touching certain pressure points on my body more than twice a day and for longer than five seconds at a time would result in near-instantaneous deafness, weakening eyesight and the first small dust storms of a gathering insanity. It was remarkably good advice considering that neither were professional people and, knowing what I do now about the powers of suggestion and the self-fulfilling prophecy, accurate to a fine degree. Thus, when they suggested some while back that I “knock off this crap and do something serious,” I assumed they spoke of my style and were telling me, in their non-professional manner, that opinion is the kiss of death for any writer less well known and more liberal than James J. Kilpatrick or William Safire.
Surely among the most overlooked little tidbits to appear in the news last year was the revelation that the window glass in the Oval Office is three inches thick. Just a one-line filler stuck on the bottom of page 27 of the Daily Rag. Straightforward , investigative journalism at its best. Three inches. Standing between the man of the people and . . . what else? . . . the people.
South Africa first entered into the American national consciousness this past summer when the sprawling, million person ghetto of Soweto rose up in protests that the police and army quickly turned into bloody riot. As in any confrontation where rocks and bottles are met with automatic rifles, and shotguns, the casualties were one-sided and heavy. The initial deaths galvanized the emotions, and protests, counter-violence and killing spread until every major city was involved and the rest of the world at last was made aware of the horror of being black in a nation of slavers.
During the national conventions I watched as little of the Democrats and as much of the Republicans as possible. The motives for this allocation of viewing time were more subtle than an anticipation of the well publicized dust-off that Ford and Reagan were expected to have in Kansas City. In my mind there was no doubt that Gerald Ford would emerge the Champion. The only moments of suspense I experienced came from the faint possibility that John Dean, once White House Council, forevermore convicted felon and temporarily cub reporter for Rolling Stone, would be gang-mauled and dismembered by die-hard Nixon loyalists while George McGovern gave thousand to one odds he had no intention of paying off.
After a lifetime of trying to deny it I am finally willing to concede that there are forces beyond human control at work in each of our lives. Whether you call it predestination, astrology, phrenology or simply Mother Nature getting back at us for polluting her environment and wiping out the Dodo Bird, the fact remains that Something is taking an unholy delight in amusing Itself at our expense.
So it is that every fourth year we are treated to a seemingly new series of causes and slogans that are destined to end up being a further boost to special interests and privileged classes to which none of us belong.
The rigidly held prejudices and openly opportunistic public posturings so common among the old men who lead or want to lead this nation are a constant source of fascination to me. My own grandfather is a kindly old gentleman who exists in a quiet, courtly manner and is far above ever selling me out in his own interests. This enormous disparity between my own father’s father and those who claim spiritual ancestry with George Washington accounts for part of the amazement. The rest of my consuming interest clearly has to do with liking a good show and the naked lusts of these panting geriatrics is just too obscene to pass up. So it is that my attention is drawn to Ronald Reagan and George Wallace as they go through their spirited bicentennial hustles in an effort to become top banana.
In his unceasing quest to keep this country great by returning himself to office in November, Gerald Ford has been making some very troubling noises about national security lately. Initially, many of us were willing to regard speeches of this sort as little more than political necessity; a Republican candidate paying homage to the more rigid, “spare the rod, spoil the Dow Jones” spirits in the conservative camp.