A ONCE-A-WEEK (or so) LIST OF WHAT I GIVE A DAMN ABOUT. WITH 10 = MOST IMPORTANT; AND 1 = NOT SO MUCH
Three cyclists ride into a bar
A Catholic on a Tricycle,
An Agnostic on a Bicycle,
and a Jew on a Unicycle
They all fall down..
DEATH DRUGS AND ROCK 'N ROLL (While falling off a bike).
Quality, Innovation and Culture are three words that haunt me. How do we quantify Quality? Is there a score between one and ten? Does a Mozart sonata get an 8 out o 10 versus a Chopin polonaise that gets a 9? Does James Joyce’s "Ulysses" score a 9 versus Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities" at 8? Why is an original Rothko worth more than a Milton Avery?
Who are you wearing?
But more importantly, how do we deal with the quality of our mortality? Does the culture of death impact our lives, or do we simply bury it in the sand until it impacts us or those close to us? Can the quality of death be improved with innovation?
QQ:1. A PETRO STATE OF MIND
The quality of leadership that we would most likely embrace, I imagine, is honesty.
The "Art of War" suggests that the most valuable weapon of power that one can have, far beyond position and armament, is intelligence.
Intelligence, by its very nature requires secrecy. If we want our leaders to be honest, yet require them to protect our interests with powerful intelligence, then there is a blatant conflict. We can't have secrecy and honesty existing at the same time. Do we elect our leaders to lie to us? Where do we draw the line? Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, no its an Obama-drone a-coming' to getcha! Constitution, what constitution?
In Canada, "Our Dear Leader", Harper has built a wall between himself and the press. He has drawn his line in the sand. He is holding his cards close and he is up to no good. Based on his hegemony, the quality of life and the quality of death will be profoundly impacted in Canada as the leader imposes his paternalistic agenda. Intelligence now rules with its necessary ingredient of secrecy. The fact that he may have stolen the election is a matter of internal national security.
Immediately after the recent federal election the leader of the opposition Jack Layton met an untimely death when he was most needed.
Mortality strikes again. Jack Layton was a bike rider.
QQ : 2. STAR BREITBART NOT SO BRIGHT
Our leaders are not only the elected dudes who run things. We also have our media ranters and ravers. One of these leaders with a following in the millions, recently met his maker. His name was Andrew Breitbart. He was a despicable human being who ranted and raved mainly about small issues that roused small people with small minds. He got mileage out of Anthony Weiner's small weiner and tweeted briefs. Destroying Shirley Sherrod and Acorn were equally small potatoes that got this aggregator/thief an unfortunate amount of inappropriate mob response. He ran a business and raked in the dough based on lifting copyright and disseminating edited bits to edited morons.
The sympathetic press regarding his demise is mystifying.
Rush Limbaugh has now taken up the mantle of 'Supreme Idiot', but he has an out. He has always described himself as an entertainer first. I love his take on those pesky cyclists: “Frankly, if the door opens into a bicycle rider, I won’t care" is a direct quote from the Rush comedy show. Rush does occasionally reveal his internal straight man.....that of a sad, sick fuck.
Here is the important distinction between the two. Brietbart was a martyr. Limbaugh is a self-admitted clown and cyclist hit man. He will never gain martyrdom.
It is the quality and timing of Breitbart's death that gives him significant attention. The latest rumors even accuse the administration of having him whacked.
That he leaves behind a wife and kids does not make him a better person, just a better martyr.
QQ 3. FATHER, SON AND THE HOLY GUN
Should we celebrate Osama Bin Laden being shot in the face by our elite commandos?
Was this a happy-making event? I wonder if we had sent the Mossad to bundle him up, cart him back to a courtroom and put him on trial and then shoot him in the face, would that have been more appropriate? Does the quality of death matter? We are constantly reminded of the suffering of Jesus as he experienced the torture leading to his death.
This suffering is presented to us as an example of martyrdom that is meant to instill a multitude of feelings including guilt, sympathy and obedience. The quality and pain of Jesus' death experience is held up as deeply significant.
Had Jesus been shot in the face like Osama, would we be similarly impressed? The symbol of the cross would have no meaning. We would be genuflecting to another symbol, the military assault rifle.
Oh, I forgot. In America, we already do that.
I wonder if Osama ever experienced the joy of riding a bicycle? The resulting prostate issue could have gotten him in the end without the commando intervention.
QQ 4. HOW ABOUT THOSE TITANS?
A worldview from the vantage point of Nashville, Tennessee is a narrow focus that does not distract our attention from important matters. These deep and significant issues include the daily rag's headlines describing the Titan's fortunes, tornado predictions and random shootings. Tennessee Republicans have voted for Dick Sanitarium in the recent primary. Dick's views on capital punishment are unclear. He seems to be much more concerned with the quality of his ejaculate than a choice between lethal injection or hanging as an option between two varieties of "cruel and unusual".
The unborn have taken on a priority far greater than the disenfranchised, the hungry, the poor, the sick and the dying. Let's hear it for the unborn. I can see those headlines in The Tennessean now: Unborn Titans Defeat Tornados While Random Shootings Protect Our Homeland.
No condoms for you; not if you want to go to heaven.
QQ 5. WHEN IS A CITY NOT A CITY?
My experience of 'cruel and unusual' is the synchronicity of stop lights along the newly deconstructed St. Clair Avenue in Toronto. City planners have seen fit to have all traffic along a five mile stretch stop at exactly the same time with synchronized red traffic lights, for no logical reason. This is my version of purgatory.
My vision of hell, would be trying to ride a bicycle along that same stretch of bitumen. The city planners did not plan for bikes, they are so 2013. Only lemmings would take to cycling along this treacherous roadway.
It is a death sentence.
QQ 6. IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
We are encouraged to ride our bikes to contribute to the greening of our environment.
Coincidentally,a disproportionate number of my closest friends have recently been struck down during their participation in this deceivingly, seemingly benign activity.
Bob, in a coma, almost died in Europe after being struck by a speeding car; Richard on a bike path in Melbourne broke his neck; Geoffrey, my closest childhood friend is just recovering from an almost lethal brain injury after a fall from his bike.....and then there is Marvin. What can I say? The prize, however is held by my new friend, Henry, who was charged by an elephant on a highway in India while riding his bike. That inspired my new anthem for his tour company, Tour d Afrique. I'm not sure that he will be riding from Cairo to Capetown for a while.
I have covered the planet on my bike. I'm not afraid, but I am conscious of the dangers. I will not ride along that lethal stretch of St Clair. I am, however concerned with the quality of the air in Toronto which according to some reports is the third most polluted city in North America. You can actually taste the air on a bike during the summer in Toronto. A taste of coal, anybody? Perhaps, this is held as a secret in the interests of national security. That air quality does, however support an inordinate amount of respiratory medical intervention that supports the larger pharma and surgical economy.
QQ 7. BEAT IT
Propofol is an amazing drug. It was responsible for Jacko's demise.
I had a taste of it for an age-appropriate medical test. It put me out appropriately, but allowed me full coherence and mobility immediately afterwards. It's a miracle.
So, in their infinite wisdom, there are a few states and countries that permit some individual choice regarding death. Perhaps this is innovative. Perhaps the quality of our death is worth some examination. If our consciousness can be so easily suppressed with a drug like Propofol, then martyrdom is removed from the picture.
Imagine the possibility of not being tortured, not experiencing unnecessary pain, not facing an impossible depletion in the quality of life. Hook up to the IV and be done with it. Why is this concept so horrifying to so many? We deify the unborn and the dying more than the living. Another martyr,
Dr. Kevorkian, died for our sins. He was interested in the quality of death and was demonized for it.
QQ 8. HIPPOCRATIC HYPOCRISY
An innovative approach to death and dying is a morbid topic at best. Except when one impotently watches the torturous struggle that the contemporary medical industrial complex imposes on us. The large question remains as to whether it is the responsibility of a doctor to alleviate suffering. The tri-cyclists seem to want to keep us alive at any cost in order to have us replicate and re experience Jesus suffering. My mother begged and pleaded for relief for her suffering in her dying days. It was not permitted. The system required her to suffer.
We cling to life at all costs and put our faith in technologically advanced medical procedures that at times can achieve miraculous results. We hang on and survive a bypass, a transplant, chemo and radiation, mastectomies, hysterectomies, hip replacements and all the cutting and slicing that fuels an industry overwhelming in its size and scope.
Is there any room for a conversation about the quality of this innovation?
I am not convinced that the extension of our life span by this industrial intervention is a universal good. It is particularly disturbing to observe the recurring reports of torturous pain and suffering that many of these interventions create. In my mother‘s case, the system overwhelmingly created more pain and depleted the quality of her life. It did not allow her the decision to plan or participate in decisions regarding the quality of her death.
My father died under similar circumstances, in a hospital, delirious with failing kidneys and hospital-induced infection.
It is perfectly clear that the majority of medical interventions make perfect sense based on precedent.
I would have died multiple times without the intervention of my dentist. I prefer not to suffer a violent death based on an infected tooth. The path and the plan are generally clear when it comes to simple dentistry. Without that skillful diagnosis and intervention we would suffer inappropriately. My dentist deserves sanctification. He spends half his working week treating the homeless and the poor, pro bono.
So, once our teeth are fixed, what then?
QQ 9. TO HELL AND BACK
Returning to the haunting concepts of Quality, Culture and Innovation, I ponder the quantification we as a society have historically given to the value of life. The saying says that "life is precious".
When we lose the ability to give and receive love, when we lose the ability to give and receive beauty and when pain and suffering are our only experience, then we should have a choice.
My friend Marvin sketches and paints, has travel plans and continues to make music. He says that he has no physical pain. Marv has chosen life. He could use a roof.
Geoffrey dotes on his grandchildren and looks forward to his getting back on that goddamn bike. Rodney's humour and his ability to share it never fails and Bob continues to re-invent himself every day. Dan is in the Philippines touring and Allan continues to make music. These boys from my youth still strive for quality, culture and innovation because of the positive outcomes of medical intervention.
QQ 10. DR. DOCTOR
On the other hand, my friends who are doctors have another perspective.
They will not ultimately allow the system to determine the quality of their death.
When it comes to that they all have access to the good drugs.
Perhaps they know something that they are not sharing.
Now I have a headache.
Etched on my stone tablet
Editing : Batsheva