By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“All right,” I say, snapping my notebook out of my bag, reflexively bowing to my duty as a journalist one last time. “Orwell said that the quickest way to end a war was to lose it. How difficult is it for you to talk about immediate withdrawal from Iraq without essentially asking Americans to embrace the decidedly un-American concept of losing?”
“The longer we stay there, the heavier the losses. People understand that. It’s time to recognize that it’s a war based on lies,” Kucinich says. “Orwell raised the question of the destruction of meaning . . . um . . . so, uh . . . hold on, I gotta . . .” Again, he is gone, off to stand with his wife at check-in, carrying some of the luggage with him. After waiting for a few minutes and realizing that he’s not coming back, I walk over, packing in my notebook.
“This isn’t going to work out,” I say.
“No,” he says.
“Can I e-mail you the questions?”
“No,” he says. “I’m going to be flying . . . a lot.”
“Can I call you?”
He thinks for a second. “Do you have a cell?”
“Yes,” I say.
“Gimme your cell and I’ll call you later.” I write down my number and hand it to him, then I thank him and put out my hand. His hand remains down at his side. “I trust that you won’t make any of the stuff that went on here at the airport part of your story,” he says, making real eye contact with me for the first time today. It’s the equivalent of a guy saying, I took a big steamy dump on your living-room rug and I hope you won’t tell anybody about the crappy car I drove home in afterward.
I don’t say anything.
Stepping outside again to see if I can get a ride back to Sierra Madre with Marcus or Mary, I think about something a friend of mine used to say all the time. He said that the best way to determine if a video store is any good is to find out if it carries gay pornos.
“A place brave enough to stock Shaving Ryan’s Privates and Dishonorable Discharge,” he says, “is not concerned with promoting a version of the world where only one kind of joy is tolerated.” He sees it as the ultimate metaphor for how best to measure the viability of a democracy, and he brings it up every election cycle. “Show me an American politician who is capable of balancing a budget, and who would never pass judgment on a 7-foot-tall black Tinker Bell who enjoys being blown by a line of Hispanic midgets,” he says, “and I’ll show you our only hope as a nation.” He insists that attempts by candidates to perpetuate the bogus idea that morality is something that can be adequately mapped and staked out and finally reduced to bullet points is akin to telling people that the only acceptable way to die is of old age. “And that’s why we’re completely fucked as a species,” he says, “because most people in the world aren’t smart enough to realize that trying has nothing to do with it.”
It takes Congressman Kucinich four days to telephone me. According to Mesoamerican myth, Quetzalcoatl was born after a four-day gestation to become, like every other deity, the god of (your-opinion-here). For some he was a compassionate god of self-sacrifice and butterflies, for others an absolute bastard of water and wind. There are many who believe that he wasn’t divine at all and, in actuality, was a wayward Viking, or, if not a wayward Viking, then a wayward Buddhist missionary or a wayward extraterrestrial. That said, nobody can know exactly who or what anybody else is completely, whether he or she is a rush job created in only four days or something allowed to evolve over eons. Everybody and everything is a conundrum, and must be, to some degree, in order to reflect the innumerable opinions, many of them conflicting, that exist in the world; the more confounding a personality or a thing can be en masse, the more reality he or she or it will be able to reflect back into the world by being able to be read as truth by people of as many different opinions as possible. Examples: the registered Democrat who has Republican values, the freedom-loving president who authorizes the use of torture in secret prisons, the millionaire who imagines no possessions, the meek who will inherit the Earth.
By odd coincidence, as with the Aztec god of miscellany, it took the political conundrum that is Dennis Kucinich four days of gestation to present himself to me reborn as his own opposite, at least in comparison with my impression of him following our first meeting. By contrast, this Dennis Kucinich, speaking to me on his own reliable cell phone, not 30 feet away but 3,000 miles away, from the floor of Congress, has humor in his voice and the confident chumminess of a friend of a friend. More important, he seems as unlikely to dodge any potentially controversial or complicated question put forth by me as Quetzalcoatl would’ve been to suddenly cast off his feathers and embrace the humiliation of becoming as vulnerable and gullible and worshipful as his inventors; a god will never look at himself in a mirror because, in a mirror, he is a dog.
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