Friday, June 20, 2003

Good Lord, it's been nearly a month since I prattled...Still that last one was long, so it should have lasted.

I was cleaning out my Yahoo Sent Mail folder when I ran across the following little gem...It was sent to my friends and family last November, before the invasion on Iraq and the upcoming Iran and Syria sequels, so I thought I'd archive it here instead of doing some actual writing...God, I'm Lazy.

November 19, 2002

It was a little weird.

It was as though I heard Darth Vader (the Original, not that punk ass in Attack of the Clones) saying " Congratulations Mike, You’ve officially crossed over to the Dark Side". So I looked up and I realized that I’m sitting outside of a Starbucks (Something I never do…Hell I rarely even drink coffee anymore…and I know a bunch of you who knew me when are screaming "What?" at that one), on a warm bright afternoon in the San Fernando Valley sipping a Caramel Frappacinno and watching the passing parade. I’m scrawling in one of a seemingly endless series of new blank hardcover books, which I purchase with the best of intentions to fill it full of deathless prose and undying artwork, and which will inevitably wind up collecting dust on some bookshelf in my apartment. Beside me is a twitchy guy who’s younger than I am, and yet trying to con some green teenager in a Jimi Hendrix T Shirt that he (Twitchy) was an intimate of the Guitar God’s AND was at Woodstock to boot. The kid, of course, is lapping it all up because it’s the kind of story that he wants to believe. And here’s me doing my writer thing and taking surreptitious notes, all artsy–like and I think, " This is it. There is now a big neon sign over my head with the words ‘Pretentious Butthole’ spelled out in glowing red letters, with an animated arrow pointing to the top of my LA Dodgers cap. I have officially gone Hollywood"

It is perhaps fitting then that upon my arrival home I got an envelope from the INS containing the former Holy Grail for Canadian Actors…An American Green Card…I say former because with "Runaway" production and all, the old Green Card doesn’t mean as much as it used to. The Most important thing is that I am now allowed to travel back to the Hinterland should I so choose. ( which of course reiterates the fact that in Comedy, timing is everything. 2 weeks before my Dad suffered a heart attack, and I couldn’t go see him because I didn’t have said piece of plastic and it happened the week of my interview to get said magic piece of plastic, and by the time I did have it , everyone was telling me it’s okay, don’t come there’s nothing you can do. After a triple bypass Dad’s fine now…Thank God for the Canadian Health Care System)

I figured that some of you who might have been mildly curious as to "whatever happened to what’s his name, you know, the one who left" And since this is the end of a chapter, so to speak, I figured I would take this opportunity to catch you up. Those of you who remember, that is. Or to put it another way…

Hi, my name’s Mike Hiller. Remember me? I used to have something to do with your lives at one point in time. I know it ‘s been a while, but hey, life happens…sometimes with a vengeance.

The last year or so has been interesting in the Chinese curse sense. Aside from the Green Card and Dad, I finished my first novel "The Great Heroes League" and the response thus far has been underwhelming. Of course I expect more when I send out the next volley of sample chapters…I also expect to find Air Bacon from flying pigs at the local Ralph’s Supermarket.

I also became a stepfather of sorts. I prefer the term Stepmonster, because then less is expected of me and because I have to be the bad guy more often than not. I didn’t ask for the job, It was sort of forced on all of us.

Carol has a child from a previous marriage. Child is and isn’t the proper term. Franklin’s a 24-year-old schizophrenic, who exacerbated the condition through years of drug and alcohol abuse in an attempt to self-medicate. His father Sam is 75 years old and in complete denial about his son’s condition, despite warnings (From me and Carol among others) that the condition was escalating (He felt he was the New Messiah at one point) and that Franklin would need to be declared incompetent and hospitalized. As a result Franklin went unmedicated for the better part of a year. He was also a dedicated pot smoker, which is one of the worst drugs a schizophrenic can do. It’s been known to trigger bad episodes.

Last January Franklin had a major psychotic break, which involved. an assault on a friend and killing his own dog, He then permanently blinded himself, detaching both retinas.

Needless to say Carol was devastated. Franklin was hospitalized for nearly 2 months. Surgery could not restore his sight, and it’s been difficult finding the right combination of medications that don’t make him catatonic or hyper.

It looked as if there would be more opportunities for rehabilitation up here in LA than in San Diego, so I agreed that Franklin could move in with us till a placement could be found. Besides the Medicare system had determined that he had been in hospital long enough ( although the psychiatrists disagreed and thought he was still deeply psychotic) Also his father, who is wealthy, didn’t want to pay for anymore time, because he didn’t like the "woman doctor" who was in charge of his son’s care (pity he hadn’t taken more of an interest a couple of months earlier).

So last April, Franklin moved into our small 2 bedroom apartment. It was only supposed to be for a couple of weeks until he was in a residential care program. But a funny thing happened. The Mental Health people were not equipped to handle a blind person, and neither Carol nor Sam liked the facilities they saw. The Braille Institute would not accept him for rehab and training because they viewed his schizophrenia, despite his medication, as a "potential threat to the other clients". In the meantime guess who became his primary caregiver? One hint: He’s typing to you. I had only just been given my work permit, and hadn’t had chance to find a job before this happened.

And so here I am 8 months later. Babysitter for a Blind Schizophrenic Vegan Messianic Jewish Buddhist, who writes vegetarian protest songs, all of which have the same chord progression and are 10 minutes long. Plus I have his Father coming by, who may or may not have Alzheimers (I vote does), and is so unreliable that Carol( who has to work) and I rarely get a break or any time alone together., because Franklin can’t be left by himself.

On the positive side, like I said, I finished my book last year, and have been shopping it around to agents, with no response so far, but we live in hope. I designed the CD package for Christine Lavin’s CD "The Subway Series" and it’s fun to go into a music store and see my work on the racks. I designed the T Shirts for The April Winchell Show Aids Walk Team, and we raised 12, 000 dollars for AIDS related charities in LA. (BTW April Winchell is Paul Winchell’s daughter and has a radio show that you can hear online. She’s hysterically funny and a great person.

The Elections here weren’t much fun. I’m not allowed to vote yet, so don’t blame me. Besides I’ve become convinced that Democracy has become as much of a myth in the USA as Communism was in The Soviet Union before the fall.

I don’t know about Ginsberg, but I saw the best minds of my generation turn to Tapioca pudding when a couple of airplanes took a header into a big symbol of capitalism on a conveniently media friendly date. If there were ever any evidence needed for the dumbing down of North America, it was the reaction to this event. Or maybe it’s not that we’re dumber. Maybe it ‘s just easier to believe what’s been said, despite all available evidence to the contrary. Perhaps there’s a certain comfort in knowing that what comes over the airwaves and calls itself news is at best incomplete and, at worst, out and out lies. If that’s your story and you’re sticking to it, more power to ya…We don’t wanna know anymore.

Ginsberg and Kerouac had the Beat Generation to whom life was a matter of rhythm, place, and attitude. But we are not part of them. We are not an alphabet generation, X or Y, convenient for demographic placement. Neither are we boomers, for that also divides us by age, and what’s going on defies classification into nifty subcategories. It cuts across race, religion, sex, and the majority of income levels. We are the real majority of the world. We are the ones that get it in the neck on a regular basis. We are the Beaten Generation…

We rolled over a long time ago because it was easier. Let’s face it, the majority of us just want to be left alone. The stress of real life, the one we deal with every day, is enough to tie us into pretzels. We dread the phone ringing. We jump at a knock on the door. We say silent prayers before opening the mailbox.

And we take it.

One of the things that I used to envy about this country was its ability to scream if there was a perceived wrong going on. (The Viet Nam War, Civil Rights, Watergate, and Rodney King …all the way back to Taxation without Representation). But that doesn’t happen anymore. The rise of "America Love it, or leave it" has been a virus in its spread since 9/11. Dissent has been effectively marginalized to the point where it is the product of Liberal Looneys, Communists, or Collaborators…The word treason gets thrown around pretty loosely too…

That’s just the beginning, though. Somewhere along the line the constitution became flexible. People could be locked up without representation, or even actual charges, and it wasn’t enough that they were living here. We brought ‘em over and stashed ‘em where they weren’t subject to the pesky Geneva Convention. Disagreeing with the Federal Government seems to be sufficient cause to get your computer hacked, your mail read, and your phone tapped.

And we take it.

"Extremism in defense of Liberty is no Crime"…Well, yeah…Especially when the extremism is written into law, or the parties involved choose which laws will and will not apply. The U.S. no longer wants to be accountable to the world court in matters of military action, which is understandable since a disproportionate number of US soldiers end up being charged with human rights violations when they’re overseas. The U.S, or US, also doesn’t want to take part in a number of other treaties (missile and others) that are no longer convenient to the Government’s agenda (the excuse given for not signing on to the UN Charter of Human Rights).

And we take it…Most of US aren’t even aware that there is a UN Charter of Human Rights.

Then again none of this should come as a surprise. After all you have an un-elected President in the White House, with an illegal cabinet, all with ties to Big Energy. Oh yeah, and the Supreme Court decided that the right to vote is not guaranteed by the constitution! So you needn’t bother with those troublesome elections anymore because they don’t really count anyway. And besides which we’re at "War", so constitutional legalities are moot anyway…

But we take it.

"Fiddle-dee-dee, War, War, War." It’s an interesting war. It’s not been declared against any specific country, but rather a noun. Terrorism. This means that it can go on until the word is wiped off the face of the Earth, provided that there’s one left by the time it’s done. And because it’s a Word it can conveniently be slapped onto a label and applied with ease to an offending country or organization…Al Qaeda and Earth First, after all, have so much in common.

"Hey!! We’re over there because we were attacked!"

Well, there is that…

… But there is increasing evidence that the powers that be knew it was going to happen and let it. They were just waiting for an excuse. After all, it had been done before. FDR knew about Pearl Harbor and let it happen. US wanted to get in there. There were big stakes involved. Much as there are now. The Energy Boys have been tired of the Foreign Oil problem for a long time, but until they got the Bushes into office there was no way to do it directly. The best way to solve foreign oil dependency is to take over some oil producing countries. Cut out the middle man…Good solid business strategy. The fact that a few hundred thousand people are killed in the process is immaterial…Casualties of War, don’t ya know. The people at the Pentagon and the Twin Towers were just the first sacrificial lambs. And of course the timing couldn’t have been better.

9/11…Emergency…How apropos…Almost sounds like a Madison Ave. Slogan doesn’t it? That had been done too. Those stories about Iraqi soldiers running into hospitals, stealing incubators, and leaving the preemies on the floor to die, during the Gulf War? Never happened. The story was invented by an ad agency to get Americans behind the War effort…

Junior Bush was in Trouble over Enron (again energy). So was Dick Cheney. Since they already had problems over the legitimacy of their occupation of the office, and were now under siege for their questionable dealings while drafting GWB’s energy policy, they needed a distraction. Since a War worked so well for Poppa Bush, why not Junior ?

And before you think that we’ve gone on a Magical Trip into Oliver Stone Land, here are a few things to chew over:

- The Bushes (Jr. and Sr.) have financial ties with the Bin Laden Family that go way back. The only plane that was allowed to leave US airspace on 9/11 was the Bin Laden family private jet.

Osama Bin Laden received CIA training, to fight for the Afghan Resistance against the Soviets, while Bush (Sr.), former CIA director, was Vice President under Ronald Reagan.
The Major Financial contributors to Bush Juniors runs for Governor and President was ENRON
Bush Jr. was an Oil CEO…So was Dick Cheney, whose company was still doing business with Saddam Hussein (#2 Bad Guy with a bullet) even after the embargo…
And this isn’t a fact but something I’ve been curious about. With all the incredible technology available to intelligence agencies (stuff that we’re years away from getting at Radio Shack) plus satellites that are capable of identifying the blood type of a flea on a camels butt…How is it we can never find these Monsters of the month? Hell, Osama a 6’7" diabetic and needs to get dialysis every day and we still can’t seem to find him. Saddam is still around. The Ayatollah died of old age. Khaddafy is still rocking. Is it just that the "intelligence" agencies are mind numbingly incompetent, or is there something else going on. Just wondering…

Even Oliver Stone has real enemies.

But what do I know? I’m just a dislocated Canadian

However things may be looking up. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "Well, Democracy was getting OLD anyway…" and below it was a smaller one that said " If you can read this, you are not the President"

Sorry about the rant…But then haven’t you missed those? No…I thought not.

But look at it this way, It’s not like I do this everyday. If yer lucky you might get another one in a year or so…Depending, of course, on your definition of the word "luck"

Love you all and Miss You Lots.

Mike Hiller

PS. This was written in fits and starts so if I’ve repeated my self, Tough Noogies.