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Left Hook Columns

Revolutionary Road

scan0125(Excerpted from Chapter 1: Flatlands: The Grateful Unrich…)

The more we understand that the problem is unjust structures rather than individuals who can be held personally responsible, the easier it is to forgive the individual and hate the system.  Individuals are only vaguely aware at all, of what they are doing – like children playing with matches. - Albert Nolan

I am by birth a flatlander- one of those quiet church-reared types- bound to Calvin’s work ethic and the dirt that taught me never to complain.  Those things never change. South Dakota’s harshness breeds self-restraint, self-sufficiency and self-deprecation. Unintended brutality seems as normal as the rising of the sun each cold winter morning.  I grew up showing cattle, became a star middle linebacker, a decent trombone player and an unwilling Homecoming King.  The trip to the barber was mandatory and always on schedule.

Where I come from poor kids are late for the school bus every morning.  When they do finally show up they reek of bacon grease, their hair is uncombed and their clothes are comparable to the rags my mom uses in her tidy and expansive kitchen.  But behind our picket fence facade, my father the farmer is as indebted to the local banker as anyone else.  The farm crisis is coming.

When dad runs head-on into a gravel truck after delivering a prized Polled Hereford bull to a buyer in 1978, we are forced to auction off my grandfather’s original homestead and move to a trailer in the small town of Faulkton – whose tiny population of 900 has moved quickly to buy up our bargain machinery.  They are doing my mom a favor I am told by several friendly satisfied bidders.  There will surely be a party at the Mason lodge tonight. Maybe the local banker who lately fancies himself a rancher will even cook up some free brats for this grand economic occasion.  I go to work for a neighboring farmer at age twelve for $2.25/hour.

I graduate salutatorian and would be valedictorian had I not told the school principal he was “a fucking asshole”, after he ejected the four of us who had the nerve to disregard his sudden suspension of a tradition fondly referred to as Senior Skip Day.  My remarks earn me an extra two days from school.  Though I earn a goodly amount of Schmidt big mouth money plowing a farmer’s fields those three days, I miss a chemistry test, get a “D” in the class and wind up a close second in the all-important GPA sweepstakes.

The expletive-worthy principal later intervenes to nix a scholarship I had earned.  With a much smaller scholarship in tow and some Pell Grants, I enroll at South Dakota State University – where I drink by night and frequent Dog Ears Books by day.  The owner Gwayne Roberts is an old hippie, near as I can tell the first and last such creature in my fine state – God rest his soul.

He introduces me to Sumatran dark coffee, self-taught instrument playing and the Trilateral Commission.  Gwayne retrieves my withered soul from the agricultural vo-tech which I am surrounded by and gives me that spark I so badly need.  Those lively debates regarding the carrying capacity of sows, the evils of bark-eating rabbits and the most efficient way to stack round bales just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Kindergarten

Nervously appraising the unreal, they await the gathered ceremonious

Unveiling the subtlest gauntlet as the henchman hides behind fiction

Bursting intuitive wisdom, souls shredded with sarcasm’s smile

Poisoned by venomous breathings, grasping, clinging closet madman

One prophet shifts, restless with disgust, instincts appalled by lies

Permeating persuasions of insanity form frozen reductions of wonderment

One gazes nowhere, squirming free til’ forced by the role of imposter

For the madman’s hollow charade, chilling rotten metal corpse invader

I soon discover the radical bastion known as the Rural Sociology Department.  It isn’t long before I am attending anti-apartheid meetings, having lunch with Palestinian militants earning engineering degrees and smoking ganja and Salem Lights.  For my penance, I quit jogging, intramural football and Catholic church-going.

I enroll in a class called Philosophy of Life, where Professor Dave Nelson tells me that the only problems he ever seems to have are those of other people.  We read Thoreau, Tolstoy and Emerson, who all seem to agree with Dr. Dave.  My martyrdom complex is being shaken.  Darrell Geist is in this class.  I’d always see his name on a list of activists being circulated by Rev. Carl Kline – around whom the tiny SDSU activist community coalesces.  Darrell and I are the only students on that list.  Everyone else lives in Brookings and has a day job.  Darrell quickly becomes my best friend.

I am arrested for civil disobedience at a rally in Sioux Falls for protesting US involvement in Nicaragua.  The self-important Faulkton town fathers declare me criminal and miscreant.  To the better spirits of my home town I am becoming a rebel folk hero.

Faulk County Easter Egg Hunt

Go back not to unsmiling watching razors, stupidity’s slaves

Scared sharp by cloak and pulpit, erected by green and greed

Return not to silent askers, bleeding nonsense, pet feeders empty

Lodge builder code words, nicely paneled plastic cages

Long not for McCarthy disciples, bake sales for fascism

Destroyer banker nail-pounder arcing failed attempts at Rated G

Passing birth and crucifixion, reaper plans shattered by questioning

Resurrection enlightenment ascending planetary phase awaits

Cry not for selfish egg place, robot liars seeking refuge in sadness

More eggs hidden elsewhere, some children scramble beyond boundaries

Out of reach of master-hider’s mechanical hand

Running for greener grass

I become a resident assistant in Young Hall, where I buck the administration on my fellow students’ behalf.  I meet a crazy woman named Jane who attends rival University of South Dakota (USD), where coyotes supplant jackrabbits as sum of all fears and school mascot.  When I get caught smoking ganja with a fellow R.A. one fine afternoon, I decide I will transfer next semester.  The guy who busts us – a fellow R.A. and always the yes man – later becomes an ATF agent.  I’ve always wondered if he was part of the mass murder operation at Waco.

USD is the best thing that’s happened to me so far.  Not because of Crazy Jane.  She chucks the $900 engagement ring I’d given her into a cornfield one day.  This is now the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I meet two professors whose informed opinions feed my increasing militancy towards the system.  Tom Lobe is a Marxist Political Science professor.  His classes include Comparative Communism and The Politics of Film.  The latter is the best class I’ve ever taken.  Mike Roche is a Criminal Justice professor.  He cruises around in an old VW van and goes to Catholic Church every Sunday.  On weekends he travels to Sioux Falls where he ministers to prisoners.  He refuses to use computers, claiming they are stripping us of our humanity.  Mike introduces me to the writings of J. Krishnamurti.  He is one of the most genuinely compassionate people I have ever met.  If there is such a thing as a true Christian, Mike is it.

I work three jobs and live in a $60/month basement apartment.  Thoreau has hit home.  I am ridding myself of most all material possessions.  I start rolling my own cigarettes and buy a hand-cranked coffee grinder.  My mother, bless her heart, is worried.  Her dream that I should become either a doctor or a lawyer has melted like a sudden spring thaw.

Instead I opt for a self-guided program of Liberal Studies – a highly interdisciplinary path which includes classes in political science, history, philosophy, criminal justice, Native American studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology and English.  I resolve that my life will be about the acquisition of wisdom.  I will not grovel for a career or the material wealth that follows.

Slagle Hall

Hollow plastic talks its way down cold tile tunnel

Ice face frantically plots escape, occasional weirdo smiling

Shrines to alchemists before will rationalize for free

To clone apparel somewhat people, IBM lady tapping disease

Space for rent in head where filtered lies are discarded

Incinerating dreams, rebellion; emitting toxic transience, apathy

Slamming their cage doors in remote pacified consciousness

Nodding to indictments of their melted Mother

Rattling their shackles at each new arrival of comfort

Bloody tropical extractions, Knights of Columbus death squads

Faintly I hear some still alive, gnawing weakly at wrists of despair

Turning away quickly to continue up the golden stairway to hell

Dean Henderson is the author of five books: Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel.  You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @ www.deanhenderson.wordpress.com

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “Revolutionary Road

  1. Dean, Sounds like you have a brain in your head and have traveled a bit. Question, How does a jetliner advance across the surface of the earth traveling w e if the jet is only traveling half the speed of the surface of the earth?. The evidence indicates the earth is NOT rotating. You will find no astronomer able to explain this question simply and logically.

    Flic Gordon,

    Posted by lblmer100 | January 10, 2013, 5:06 pm
    • Iblmer

      It is not a valid question. There is no astronomer who could be incapable of answering that, indeed there should not be anybody who completed sixth grade in school who should struggle with it. The earth is turning together with its atmosphere. The jet liner is flying within the atmosphere and thus its speed is relative only to the earths surface. I can see where education has taken us these days, and understand better why so many people could have been fooled by 9/11 now. :(

      Posted by Rabbitnexus | January 10, 2013, 6:38 pm
      • If there was no atmosphere you’d be right, but then we’d all be facing thousands of kilometers an hour winds not to mention being very bloody cold as well as gasping for oxygen, in the deep of space. Put another way, you can jump in the air on a moving train and land back at the same place you started from, so long as the air moving past the train doesn’t blow you back. In fact that is because you are moving fast and the air is a brake. The jet liner is already travelling backwards at the same rate of the earth, as it begins to fly against the turn of the earth and all it is doing in fact, is slowing down compared to space. However with an atmosphere to contain it all, it is like the jet is flying around inside a bottle, which itself could be hurtling through space and spinning or whatever.

        Posted by Rabbitnexus | January 10, 2013, 6:43 pm
  2. Wow, I bet that felt good! Writing that..

    Kinda reminds me of another talker of all things Americana. Old Fred Reed I call him. (haha)

    You’re a little younger, and softer of course, but still.. smart at both ends.

    I think Fred is great and so are you, Dean.

    Posted by hp | January 10, 2013, 5:09 pm
  3. Thanks Dean. For me this was a poignant story and I’m glad you shared it. Makes me wander mentally back down my own path so far. We have direction in common if not the starting place or the exact means of transport. I wonder if like me you have siblings who did tow the line and stay within the paradigm? I have and I’ve had to watch them ascend the ladder of social success and financial in ways I as the black sheep never could, and yet I don;t envy them. To me they are like houseplants in a magnificant mansion. They may have the best surrounds but they are oblivious to the value of anything. I’d prefer my out of step, unpredictable and often dramatically changing life over their potted versions any day.

    Posted by Rabbitnexus | January 10, 2013, 6:48 pm
    • By the way, received your book from Amazon the other day. (Big Oil & Their Bankers In The Persian Gulf) and will get into it as soon as I’m finished relishing Gilad Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who”. When you wrote it, didn’t you feel some despair in the knowledge that so few people actually read books, or indeed anything longer than a single page or two of anything online, these days? Anyway I am expecting an excellent read, you have some excellent reviews from the right people.

      Posted by Rabbitnexus | January 10, 2013, 9:31 pm
  4. “I will not grovel for a career or the material wealth that follows.” – Amen!

    Posted by Jon, onehumanbeing | January 10, 2013, 11:34 pm

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