Trapped like a Harley girlie man
Expanded from the Sunday, 9-26-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 10-1-2004 Comstock Chronicle
"You've been living like a little girl, in the middle of your little world"
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, "Fire," 1968
Downtown Reno got turned into both a death trap and political metaphor last week. Nobody noticed but me.
I was escorted from south Reno by a gaggle of expensive, taxpayer-subsidized Harley-Davidson hogs. Each of those things cost more today than the price of a decent house not too many years ago. I was taken by their uniformity. All Nevada plates. All the same bike with the same sound, ridden by people all wearing the same uniform Hell's Angels chic from the classic black-and-hairy period.
THE MAHATMA COMES TO TOWN
UN,R right place for controversial speakers
Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial
Debate over controversial speaker welcome
Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial
Mike on the road with Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken.
Harleys share a lot in common with homes, clothes, religions, political ideas and just about any other mass-produced commodity. Marketability, viability and survivability lie in convincing a critical mass of people that they can express their individuality by buying a rubber-stamped product.
To make consumers feel unique, they are allowed a little flexibility but are not permitted to stray too far from the orthodoxy. You can paint a tract home in polka dots and festoon it with fake palm trees, but in the end it's still a tract home. You can paint your hog any color you want, but it's still a mass-produced belcher.
The biker myth as the last vestige of rugged individualism existed long before Marlon Brando's 1953 film "The Wild One." In the 19th Century, dime novels transmuted the thoroughly Hispanic gaucho into the lonesome cowboy of the mythical wild, wild west. When ole Tex traded his horse in for wheels, the movies moved with him and the grandfathers of Easy Rider were put to celluloid.
Whitey's entire history in the Western hemisphere is simply a 500 year-old game of cowboys and Indians. Just look at what occupies the White House.
The lone cowpoke myth is a disease of mindset that last week jeopardized thousands of people right here in the heartland of Homeland Security. Mass-produced conformity can kill.
With downtown Reno's main drag blocked off from Circus Circus in the north to Liberty Street on the south, the center of the city was a huge accident waiting to happen. East-west side streets were likewise cordoned off for a full block in each direction.
The casino-friendly Harley carny show was no big deal until there interposed a long train traveling at about two miles per hour.
Center Street became gridlocked for blocks. Fire trucks or ambulances would have had no chance of getting into that steel-on-wheels ghetto should the need have arisen.
Had a high-rise fire broken out causing multiple deaths, a subsequent far-reaching investigation would undoubtedly have been ordered. If the 9/11 Report is any guide, such a disaster would be found to be nobody's fault.
Just as airport security remains cosmetic, so do so many other areas of daily life and death. Motor vehicles really are unsafe at any speed, but like the worshippers at the Holy Church of St. Harley, we routinely don our conforming blinders and pretend nothing's wrong.
When the next major attack on Americans comes (most probably after the election; Dubya is a great recruiting tool for Osama), we will witness posturing and post-mortem analysis followed quickly by a push to put our grief behind us and move forward.
To where? Why, the next cliff, my little lemmings.
Last week, downtown Reno was a microcosm of America. We live like little girls in our own little worlds, waiting for the danger to pass, meekly sitting there and accepting our fate as an inconvenience, never noticing the hazards until it's too late. Did not daddy assure us that we are safe?
Our survival as a nation will require a lot more than that. Start on Nov. 2.
"Media is the plural of mediocre."
WILLIE HORTON IS BACK AND NEVADA DID IT. Dubya and Cheney are running instant replay of Poppy Bush's 1988 rout of stick-in-the-mud Michael Dukakis, complete with the return of murderer Willie Horton (not to be confused with the onetime baseball slugger of a couple decades back).
None other than my old friend and Bush royal family confidante Sig Rogich of Las Vegas suggested the racist redux now in distribution. This scoop didn't come from a reputable national reporter like Matt Drudge or Robert Novak. It was published in the Reno News & Review by former Tribune columnist Dennis Myers.
Apparently, somebody took Rogich's advice. A cynically named soundalike of the Kerry-supporting MoveOn.org, a bunch of guys in white sheets called MoveOnForAmerica.org, have uploaded a new website. Two "TV spots" appear thereat. One features John Kerry in a shot with the Rev. Al Sharpton. The other shows Willie Horton hisself.
If you want to behold the face of modern American racism, you need look no further than there. Better suggestion: don't.
SEE THE SIG SHOW. Mr. Rogich, representing the insurance-medical-industrial complex, will be questioned by Sam Shad on Nevada Newsmakers this week. He will be rebutted by trial lawyer Matt Sharp. TV viewers can catch it at 12:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 27, on KRNV TV-4. It will rerun at 9:28 p.m. on Charter Cable Channel 12 in Carson, Douglas and Washoe. The audio will re-air on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 9:00 a.m. on KKKOH, white sheets radio for the western U.S.
Be well. Raise hell.
Welfare queens and debate chickens
A Blow Against the Secrecy State: Federal government
didn't even want to produce its photo ID law
Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial 9-17-2004
ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
The 1994 Labor Day Barbwire introduces Alex Carey
A brief history of neo-con PR and the roots of corporate propaganda
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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