or the 50 Year Cover Up in Plain Sight
When I grew up we watched Westerns on our new T.V. sets and it was so popular
that local stations had their own cowboy heroes to introduce the cowboy heroes
of the old 1930’s and 1940’s shoot em’ ups — brave riders who drew fast, shot straight
and were always good, selfless protectors who rode off into the sun after the showdown.
They had names like Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard and The Three Mesquitos and
what a joy to see them loping into the camera toward us ten gallon hats tall in the saddle
who would hop from horseback to tree limb, from tree limb to float down near ground
dangling from perfectly thrown rope and ascending back again onto galloping horseback
they were so graceful in all they did skipping back and forth over whirling lariat only
to tip their big hats forward over their brows never looking for trouble, always first to find
a clever way out of confrontation available to another way so steadfast, humble and true
that each episode they show us that even the most draconian conspiracies always contain
the seeds of their own destruction and innocent unpretentiousness will always prevail
and away we will gallop on our great pony to cut them off at the pass and bring the word
that must be heard to all those who never know what’s really going on and only to stop
for a moment just in polite farewell to turn and doff those huge hats on their rearing steeds
and then shyly disappear in a cloud of dust out toward the brilliant sunrise of the future
where life is waiting not just for them but for all of us so that as we reveled in this simple
purity fads broke out for Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett and every kid had to want a real
genuine raccoon skin hat and before it was all over gambler and land speculator Jim Bowie
had his own show “Jim Bowie, Jim Bowie’ was a fiercely fighting man and Thunk! His massive
curved fighting knife blade sticks still quivering in a tree. I’ll never forget finally seeing the show
Gunsmoke for the first time at my cousins’ house in Detroit because back in those days of rabbit
ear antennas we only got 2 of the 3 networks and Gunsmoke turned out to be as grim as Wagon Train.
Something truly horrible was always about to happen out on the old frontier and yet the New Frontier
was endlessly empty space itself. We always seemed to be looking for another new frontier over & over.
Now I wake after watching a historian talk until midnight about our forever war that he says
began when cousin Jimmy Carter made his Carter Doctrine vow to defend American interests
in the Persian Gulf when the U.S. (us) was already supporting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan
to give Russia its very own Vietnam and Charlie’s War was arming Osama bin Laden and in fact
creating his base “Al Qaeda” so named after the C.I.A. data base kept at the C.I.A. training camp
in the tribal areas. Yes, we were helping those tribal people to kill the Russians then yet soon enough
there they were inexplicably, inexcusably flying planes into the World Trade Center Towers and
then their trainer from that (C.I.A.) training camp was being tortured in Thailand of all places, gee,
how did all those revolting developments happen? Heh? And how did we end up with a war on
whistleblowers waged by the president who had promised the most transparent administration ever.
Maybe if we had a draft we’d have some skin in the Terror War game? But it’s all so bucolic
as we all graze in those virtual fields forever in that Forever War of, by and for Terror. When, oh,
when did the Black Site Gang take over? When did the president become the Drone Ranger?
When did the president become Corporate Caesar? Who can say to Boudicca with her daughters
in scythed chariot that their children will become the head of a greater empire than the Romans?
How do we live with the Sixth Extinction in the eternal moment? Hi Ho Silver and away when
the U.S. never did buy silver and it was the great inter-war great depression and F.D.R. that finally
got rid of gold redemption and Nixon himself who of course got rid of the Gold Standard so those
banksters have been quantitative easing whether Keynesian or Monetarist for 40 years and it turns out
Watergate and Iran-contra were just way stations on the continental migration to the Current Age
State of lawlessness and total surveillance states and it seems the Lone Ranger has become the Lone
Stranger who is really the Drone Ranger and his theme song, the William Tell Overture that once
I used to put my grand babies to sleep with a gentle hand on their smooth backs bump per rump
per rump rump rump has turned into childish chant that in my head repeats over and over
Drone Ranger Drone Ranger let Precious Peace come over
Drone Ranger Drone let the Forever War be over
And where’s the Lone Ranger now? And when will we hear Happy Trails to you?
And never be heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day?
Oh, out on the interstices of cultural borders and out on the frontiers and the tribal areas:
Happy Trails to you until we meet again
Happy Trails to you keep smiling on ‘til then
Who cares about the stormy weather,
as long as we’re all here together
Happy Trails to you until we meet again x 2. (Thank You Dale Evans. Goodnight).
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.