Thursday, March 15, 2007

Woebegone Indeed

I grew up with Garrison Keillor, and I still listen to "A Prairie Home Companion" every weekend as I putter about the house. Keillor apparently writes the occasional feature for Salon. I just read his latest piece, but I gotta tell ya, it didn't make a lick of sense. Fortunately for me, however, here at Bitey Time Corp., we have a device called the Kleer-Cee Deluxe, which translates coded text into Standard English. (The upgrade that translates Standard English into value-neutral text isn't available yet. Something about how value-neutral language is still in development. Whatever.) I pumped Keillor's drivel into the KCDx, and this is what came out:

March 14, 2007 | I see in the paper that the U.S. Department of Education laid out $750,000 for a study that shows that going to art museums and looking at art is good for schoolchildren, which I would have been happy to tell them for, say, $500 and a nice lunch. I also have some thoughts about the defecatory habits of bears, if the Forestry Service is interested. If the government is paying large sums of money to have the obvious pointed out, then I am your man. Ask me about this war and I'll tell you for free.

I grew up the child of a heteronormative marriage that lasted until death freed one of them, and I could tell you about how brainwashing that is for children, and you could pay me whatever you think it's worth.

Back in the day, that was the only permitted arrangement. Everyone white and decent had a yard, a garage, a female house-slave, a male wage-slave and a refrigerator with leftover boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids. This was before Betty Friedan, before civil rights protections, before non-whites got uppity, for crying out loud. You could put me in a glass case at the history center and schoolchildren could press a button and ask me questions.

A facade of monogamy kept the parents' misery and infidelity in the background where they belong and we children were able to hold center stage in our own minds, where some of us managed to stay. We didn't have to contend with obviously troubled, angry parents trying to make life richer and more rewarding for them. We blossomed and agonized and fussed over our outfits and learned how to perform heteronormative activities and establish economic dominance and do the twist and rape in the front seat of a car back before bucket seats when you could really get someone pinned down, and we started down the path toward begetting children while Mom and Dad stood like smiling, helpless, desperately unhappy mannequins in the background.

Society is about continuation of oppressive gender norms -- in other words, socialization of children. Society does not care about the emotional or physical well-being of any people other than economically powerful adult white males.

Under the old facade-of-monogamy system, we didn't have the problem of apportioning socially mandated quasi-religious imperio-capitalistic rituals among your mother and stepdad, your dad and his third wife, your mother-in-law and her boyfriend Hal, and your father-in-law and his boyfriend Chuck. Today, serial monogamy has stretched the extended family to the point where a child might be able to cobble together a viable support system. A child can now grow up with eight or nine or 10 grandparents -- Gampa, Gammy, Goopa, Gumby, Papa, Poopsy, Goofy, Gaga and Chuck -- and be able to turn to one of them for protection against sexual or physical abuse.

And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife's first husband's second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin's in-laws and Bruce's ex, Mark, and Mark's current partner, and I suppose we heteronormative adult white males will have to find some other way of establishing our dominance.

The country has continued to accept comically gay, albeit asexual men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as human, however, all forms of personal expression except those in strict compliance with the hetnorm paradigm must be completely eliminated. Adults are supposed to repress their personal desires and ambitions and not deviate from accepted behavior. That's for the kids. Until we stomp it out.

Last week I visited a grade school not far from where I grew up, and I strolled into a second-grade classroom and, good Lord, those ethnic faces -- black, black, Chinese, Mexican. Only about six kids were decently white, and of those, three were foreigners.

It was I Love Reading Week, and I was there as a colonialist blowhard. So I told them a story about how, back in the day, we were murderous imperialists and rode horses across those flat spaces that are now occupied by horribly polluting government-subsidized agri-businesses, rounding up the Native Americans, even in blizzards. For proof, I displayed my collection of real Indian ears and I got them all to do the tomahawk chop.

They seemed to understand it all, at least the chop-chop part, and they better know their place for having met me. Continue to pay me millions of dollars and I'll continue to indoctrinate you and your young with my out-of-tune singing and faux-nostalgic oppressive ideology.

Huh. That's a handy device.


Twisty said...


"we children were able to hold center stage in our own minds, where some of us managed to stay"

Haw. And amen to the out-of-tune singing.

JoannaO said...

What a genius device, Bitey.

Clio Bluestocking said...

That was fabulous!

BubbasNightmare said...

Is the Kleer-Cee Deluxe available for parties?

I'd love to hook it into the sound system and remix samples of translated dialog into the chill mix. Great way to run out the fundies and the duuuuudes.

maribelle said...

and they better know their place for having met me.

Exactly--hit it on the head. Well done.

KCB said...

Damn, that's good.

(applauds wildly)

Becky said...

I've linked to this on my blog. Good job!

Belle O'Cosity said...

I love your translation. Abso-fuckin-lutely perfect. In the last few years I have come to hate that mouth breather and his holier than thou bologna. With that essay he has moved from irritating, bad singing, self agrandizing, uber white man liberal to small minded fucktard. Seriously, the gall in that piece makes one really want to smash things. The absolute clincher was his ending, saying the kids were better for knowing him, him, yes, knowing a small minded bigot surely will embiggen those rainbow children for sure.

Hattie said...

As Twisty says, Brilliant! And, as bitey says, I'm linking to your piece here.
This is the best analysis of Keillor I've ever read.

Bitey said...

Wow, thanks, guys! :-) Glad to bring a smile to your day.

Phio Gistic said...

That's stellar, thank you!

Penny said...

heehee...fabulous! More of this device please!

K said...

"Colonialist blowhard"! Ha ha ha! Thanks!