Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Windsor, N.H.Foto by J Nousak, perhapsOuray Canyon, Colorado, 1901Windsor Hotel Fire, NYC 1899WTC, Sept. 11, 2001US Army virtual reality battle training systemSpielberg/Hanks WW2 Pacific war television movieBillboard, Minnesota Jan 2010WTC 7 Building collapse, 9/11/2001Nascar race, 2010Tea partyBaker, CaliforniaMcKittrick, CaliforniaGrand Canyon US Gov’t. Budget Director, Peter Orszag

Republican Congressional leadersBody of Tacoma cop-killerCisco network wiringYob, metal band“Bullet” by Alfredo MartinezArizona-Mexico reservation fenceDown Mexico way, Ciudad Juarez, US consulate staffNevada, nuclear bomb test siteLethal injection room, LouisianaMuseum of Modern Art, NYC

There are people who have an appetite for grief; pleasure is not strong enough and they crave pain. They have mithridatic stomachs which must be fed on poisoned bread, natures so doomed that no prosperity can sooth their ragged and dishevelled desolation.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Desolation Row

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

Bob Dylan, 1965

From US Army Official Website

Each year, officially, acknowledged in the national budget, the United States spends some approximately $700 billion for “defense” – to say weapons, institutions to deploy them.  The balance of the world spends a bit less than that cumulatively.  This number, however, is naturally deceptive (paranoids usually hide their truths) and scarcely tells the whole story.  The 7 hundred billion is the Department of Defense budget.  Included within it, for example, is not the cost of the manufacture and maintenance of our nuclear weapons, which falls under the Department of Energy 28 billion dollar budget.  Nor does the CIA’s massive budget – it comes under “Security.”   Nor the new Homeland Security Agency.  And so on.

FBI counter-terrorism $2.7 billion At least one-third FBI budget.
International Affairs $10.1–$54.2 billion At minimum, foreign arms sales. At most, entire State budget
Energy Department, defense-related $20.9 billion
Veterans Affairs $66.2 billion
Homeland Security $54.7 billion
NASA, satellites $3.4–$8.5 billion Between 20% and 50% of NASA’s total budget
Veterans pensions $58.4 billion
Other defense-related mandatory spending $7.5 billion
Interest on debt incurred in past wars $57.7–$228.1 billion Between 23% and 91% of total interest
Total Spending $1.003–$1.223 trillion


Also one of the nation’s larger money-makers in the export realm is armaments, much of which is not included in the “Defense” budget, though our collective energies are consumed in the making of these exports.  To say the financial cost to American society for its cumulative expenditures on so-called defense is in wildly out of proportion to any supposed threat, as shown in the expenditures which our would-be opponents spend.    America’s culture is deeply distorted by this obsession with “defense,” which in truth is not at all defense, but rather an aggressive, historically grounded, offense.

See this for clarification

Domestically this distortion is shown in the incapacity of the Congress to address the militarization of our society, as exampled in the difficulty of closing military facilities – bases, factories – owing to their role in the economy.   Likewise in cultural terms – as seen in video games, in the production of the major producers of “entertainment,” as seen in our sports – we have become (or perhaps always were?) increasingly violent, finding cathartic “solutions” in simply killing those with whom we disagree.  Our daily lives are littered with the by-product – the numerous rampage killings that fill the headlines, that leads to endless empty philosophising from our erstwhile pundits as to why we have such a consistent pattern of socio-pathological behavior.  To understand why one need only look at our government’s behavior, at our mass media, at our sports mania, and finally at our own collective willful denial.   America is a violent, ugly, destructive society, which wreaks havoc on the world at the drop of a pin, that sucks up the material wealth of the world in wild disproportion to our numbers, all the while claiming rhetorically to be ever the white-hatted good-guy.

F-22 fighterUS Army environmental video training systemUS Marine, Helmand province, Afghanistan

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Since its inception America has always been at war with itself – though largely suppressed there has always been a minority which rejected and resisted the processes of colonization, who defended the original native population, who fought and denied the legitimacy of slavery, who resisted the wars of expansion (Mexico, Spanish-American), and more recently those incursions and wars in Central America, the Caribbean, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.   But, in the cumulative history of the United States of America, warring has persistently overwhelmed and defeated the tendencies of peacefulness.   The present day is little different.

Obama signs the 2010 638 billion dollar DOD bill, announced as a “cut” but in fact the biggest everSarcophagous, wounded Greek soldier