Tag Archives: politics

American Gilgamesh: Shoots with his Right, Heart on his Left.

Have you ever read Preacher? It’s one of those transcendent comics that ran for a few years in the mid-90s. They came in just ahead of the renaissance that brought to the fore the graphic novel, a format, in retrospect, far more natural for these odd ducks. Because they are novels, with all the literary power and capability to impel reflection that word implies; they just happen to have accompanying pictures.

Preacher is a brutal, beautiful, love letter to America, written by an Irishman and drawn by an Englishman. It’s all blood and sinew, the absolute most horrific violence and degradation a very creative pair of minds could conjure, paired without a hint of whiplash to moments so funny you’ll literally have to put the book down. Sometimes they’re even one and the same, and you’ll find yourself in that “I really shouldn’t be laughing at this but DAMN” mode. The characters are that perfect mix of mythic archetypes and detailed characterization that comics are so suited to. The villains are hate-able, the heroes stand tall, but no one is simple, and there’s some sympathy to be found in even the most hateful pieces of excrement (Of which there are plenty.)

More than any of that, though, Preacher is a meditation on America and on being an American. The hero and titular character is named Jesse Custer, a hard-drinking, hard fighting, Southern-born outlaw turned preacher turned outlaw (of a sort) again. Jesse is Clint Eastwood’s frame and laid back, predatory attitude combined with the unwavering justness of Atticus Finch. He’s that sort of violent that we would call psychopathic, if it wasn’t so unerringly directed at people who really–conveniently–deserve it. Jesse is every Western hero stereotype from Odysseus to Shane, rolled into one. He swears a lot, he’s a bit more than arrogant, and he’s always chivalrous to women, if a tad old-fashioned. His very literal Jiminy Cricket is even a spectral John Wayne.

I could spill gallons of virtual ink deconstructing Jesse Custer, or anyone else in the comic’s large, well written cast. What I want to talk about more broadly, however, is Jesse’s role as the dead center, bulls-eye ideal of the American hero. What a beautiful, contradictory, and completely unattainable idea that is.

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Flip A District!

If you were watching Real Time with Bill Maher last night, and didn’t blink at the wrong moment, you saw me! Bill is planning to throw his considerable resources into flipping a congressional district somewhere in the US considered safe by Republicans to Democratic control. Now, I don’t agree with the Democratic Party on a lot of things, but serving notice to Republicans that they’re not safe anywhere when they get as insane as they have of late is, I think, a higher calling.

Tennessee district 3 is a uniquely suitable candidate for this. Our congressman, Chuck Fleischmann, is exactly the sort of empty suit, indistinct, no account shill we all claim to despise, a safe vote for the national Republican party in whatever foolishness they choose to pursue. Moreover, recent events with our Volkswagen plant provided Fleischmann a unique opportunity to prove himself something more, and stand against his party in its clearly hypocritical interference in the interaction between a private corporation and its employees. He dropped the ball completely.

Yet there’s more! At the center of all the Republican hypocrisy was Tennessee senator Bob Corker. Corker lied — outright, no excuse, clearly and without argument, lied — that Volkswagen would pull a planned SUV line from the Chattanooga plant if those workers voted for the union. Volkswagen immediately contradicted his statement, but it didn’t matter, the damage was done. Corker’s lie clearly influenced the vote, and public sentiment district wide against the union.

Corker is the former mayor of Chattanooga. The cherry on top of the whole sundae of striking back at Republicans for their hypocrisy is that we’ll also be giving Corker a black eye, one that you can be assured will be carried into the senate chamber.

The fact that Bill Maher chose to show my video amongst a dozen or so others of the HUNDREDS he has received means he and his producers are considering TN 3 for the Flip a District effort. We can make this happen guys! Like my video, share it on youtube, and tweet with #flipadistrict your dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.

Better yet, make your own video! Make it a whole lot better than mine! Just be sure to include the #flipadistrict hashtag. You don’t even have to be a resident of TN 3 to do so.

Let’s make a difference.