When last we left, I was giving my commandments. I gave them while the little demon lay squished on my naked leg... murdered by me... crushed like a fly on a TV screen. Last month I gave my first five commandments-- aka Basic Rules.
“Okay you little fucker,” I tell the mess on my thigh. “Here are the last five. If there's reincarnation, you can follow them in the next life.”
BASIC RULE NUMBER SIX: Thou shalt SOLVE PROBLEMS BY OPENING RATHER THAN CLOSING. In politics, it's easy to see how this works. You're worried about the rebels in Syria? Offer them visas and free passage to the US or wherever else they want to go. “Supporting” people means giving them a place to go, a place where they do not feel in danger. You think the Russians are giving the Ukrainians a raw deal? Don't give 'em guns, give 'em houses in Brighton Beach... open up. You don't solve problems by killing people. Nothing is more “closing” than death.
In personal relations, OPENING means, giving up your headphones and i‑Whatever and letting the street sounds and views and random people come into your life. Much of it you won't like, but I guarantee a few grains of corn in with the general shit. Open up! See the world... your neighborhood... your neighbors.
Mentally, it means not being so wedded to a gender, race, or ideology that it colors everything you do. Let in the outside world:
Flash to Venezuela: I'm here because Chavez is in charge... the great liberator... called GW Bush Satan at the UN. Yeah! The country is a paradise: Happy workers with free land, healthcare and a leader they can trust, no?
Chavez is a ruthless dictator... the conservatives are right... at least on this one small point.
In Caracas, I stay with a 35-year-old geologist...fired from her government job. Why? She signed a petition asking Chavez to follow the constitution. That's it. Bang! Unemployed!
I walk the streets of the city... see dozens of people squatting... eating out of ripped-open garbage bags. These are not punk dumpster divers, but families, stuffing their skinny bodies. I walk to a store... buy a towel... pay cash... “¿Puedo ver su identificación?”
People don't talk to each other... to strangers. They're hostile and afraid. A teenager, dirty blond hair... an HOLA! t-shirt... worn jeans... behind me as I walk. I turn the corner. He's still behind me. I turn another corner... still there. Down into the subway... he's right behind me. A cop in the station... I head toward him... the teen is gone. It's creepy and symbolic of a crime-ridden, corrupt, totalitarian Venezuela. I was wrong about it. My open life, this time, pointed to FOX not MSNBC.
BASIC RULE NUMBER SEVEN: Thou shalt BE CIVIL. I don't fucking mean to be polite, dainty and drink beer from a fuckin' glass. I mean don't be an asshole... be AWARE OF OTHER PEOPLE.
I'm on a queen-size escalator... the DOWN side... running for the #7 train. I hear the rumble of the train... its approach... I run faster... the multicultural line of people on the right shifts slightly to let me pass. Down that left side... there she is in front of me... a white girl in a too short skirt and too styled hair... standing on the steps...thumbs flailing... feet fixed to the step.
I pound down the stairs behind her... stomping... clomping... thudding... each step catching glances from everyone on the escalator... except her and her iPhone. I'm right behind her. My arm on the escalator rail... right next to her... if I were a kidnapper... I could nap her right now... encircle her waist. She's oblivious. The train leaves. I don't push her down the remaining stairs.
CIVIL means considering the people around you. It means not standing on the walk side... not pushing to get in the train before the people inside leave... not going the just speed limit in the left lane. BASIC
RULE NUMBER EIGHT: Thou shalt ASSUME ANYTHING THAT “EVERYBODY KNOWS” IS WRONG. This is not only “everybody” as in textbooks, but everybody as in your friends... your fellow liberals... punks... feminists.
Wikipedia says: The universe is 13.77 billion years old. Everybody knows that, right? And the solar system is 5 billion years old? Huh?
What is a YEAR? It's one revolution of the earth around the sun. One year is one trip. If there is no sun, there are no years. We can't measure time if there's nothing to measure it against. It is meaningless to say one BLARF is the time it takes for a kryptonite bullet to pierce Superman's skull. There is no kryptonite and no Superman. Measuring ONE YEAR, when there is no earth or no sun is meaningless.
Everybody knows: Smoking tobacco causes lung cancer. You take it for granted... even if you smoke. Smoking is bad for kids and their parents. A smoker is a bad person. Ok, let's see.
The 10 countries with the highest lung cancer rates (in order) are:
9. The United States
The 10 countries with the highest percentage of smokers are (in order)
The US is number 51.
Only Serbia has both a high lung cancer rate and a high smoking rate. If smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, something is wrong.
What's wrong is how you think!
Looking at only one aspect... one cause... one effect... is not how the world works. Cigarette companies, in the US, are the great corporate scapegoats. Asthma? It's cigarettes. Emphysema? Ditto. Companies of all kinds can spew garbage of all kinds in the air. Workers can be exposed to the worst kind of industrial pollutants... but if they get sick... IT'S CIGARETTES. One industry takes the blame for the evils of the others. Worse, it's YOU who takes the blame. You're sick. YOU DID IT. YOU SMOKED!
BASIC RULE COROLLARY: If there's a proverb, cliché, or saying about it, it's probably wrong.
The early bird catches the worm: WRONG! Recent research shows that early birditude or night owlishness is genetic. If you're in the worm catching business, and you function best at night... catch those worms at night. You'll do better.
Women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar. WRONG! That statistic only takes into account JOB TITLES. It does not include the number of hours worked (statistically much higher for men). It also does not include the danger and therefore work years of professions at higher pay. How many garbagewomen have you seen? Pressurized can explosions, exposure to sharp objects, medical contaminants, make this a much more dangerous job than, say kindergarten teaching. The average work life of garbage MAN is much lower than that of a (mostly female job) elementary school teacher... with disease and accidental death a major reason.
Even in the same job, individual paychecks may be different but money earned per year, during the average work life, is the same for men and women. Variations of length of work hours, previous experience, length of time at the job, all are pay factors. The 77¢ figure is bogus... a relic of the way its supporters do the calculation.
BASIC RULE NUMBER NINE: Thou shalt GO ANALOG. Digital is a bunch of ones and zeros... a BINARY system. If you're not NUMBER ONE... you're a big zero. Most Western Countries are digital: one or zero. No in between. It comes from Christianity: God or Satan. You see it everywhere: Cowboys or Indians. Good guys or bad guys. Men or women. Black or white. 6 million in the ovens or holocaust denier. Conservative or liberal. Punk or mainstream. Gay or straight. No middle ground... nothing in between. Yo buckaroos, the world isn't that way.
Why do so many transsexuals think of themselves as “a woman trapped in a man's body?” That assumes there are only women and men! Digital thinking. Why not be YOU, a unique person, a unique gender, a little of this, a little of that, and something neither this nor that? You are YOU in your body. Why change to conform to a digital idea? Why cut it off if it's there for you to use and enjoy... as any gender you'd like.
Between black and white is an infinitude of gray... not to mention red or sienna. More than BEING an infinitude, the universe is a SHIFTING infinitude. Today this. Tomorrow not quite this. The next day that.
BASIC RULE NUMBER TEN: Thou shalt (often) TELL THE COMMANDMENT GIVER TO FUCK OFF.
The year is 1970. The place Beloit College. I've organized the first meeting of OPERATION MAXWELL, our political action group on campus... embarrassingly (in retrospect) named after a Beatles song. We're meeting outside, on a small concrete strip in front of a wall on front of THE QUAD... an open area when hippie students picnic, folk dance, and try to find a joint.
Gavel-less, I bang my fist on the wall.
“Okay,” I say. “I'm calling this meeting to order. We've got a lot to talk about. As your leader...”
“No leaders!” comes the call from someone. POW! A PIE IN THE FACE.... Custard....
“No leaders!” comes the call again... to be picked up by the others.
NO LEADERS! NO LEADERS! NO LEADERS!
Yeah, I engineered the whole thing. Planned it from day one... my one and only act as leader of the group was to overthrow myself. As your new commandment giver, I want to continue that tradition.
ENDNOTES: [You can contact me by email at email@example.com. Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available by subscribing to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group firstname.lastname@example.org]
-->What is it with Indiana and "freedom of religion?" dept: An Indiana Catholic school teacher was fired after she applied for insurance to cover in vitro fertilization. The church had already paid for MALE infertility treatment. The teacher sued the diocese. The diocese responded that having to go to court would be a violation of "the church's religious freedom." It didn't work and the jury awarded the woman 1.9 million dollars. The church plans to appeal the verdict.
-->I swear, sort of, dept: A Pennsylvania judge prohibited a Muslim woman from swearing on the Koran before taking the witness stand. The law in the state requires witnesses to either swear on the Christian bible or make a non-religious "affirmation." Jeezus! Can't we just get the bible out of court completely and be done with it?
-->Fuck school do something useful dept: The LA Times reports that an estimated 100,000 Mexican children under 14 work on farms that supply produce to US stores. The children don't go to school and work in 100o heat for your corn. Their parents, mostly Mexican Indians, are often in debt to company stores run by the farm owners, so the kids' "earnings" go right back to the farm.
->Keeping the Pressure on Dept: I want to thank reader George Metesky for suggesting a continuing Bring Back Mykel effort directed at Maximum Rock'n'Roll for their firing me as their contribution to the world of censorship. Send your comments to email@example.com (or post on their facebook page) with the subject line: BRING BACK MYKEL! Let me know how they answer.
-->And: I'm still on a massive clean-up/divest kick. I'm giving away DVDs, cassettes, VHS videos, CDs, posters, and a few 7-inch singles. Just pay separate shipping and handling. Details at: MykelsGiveaway