Dominique Mercy in a performance by Pina Bausch

Happiness is a warm puppy gun.


Many Americans, like those who rant against Critical Race Theory, don’t have much patience with malcontents like me who catalogue the various and sundry crimes in our nation’s blood-drenched history ­– the initial genocide, the horrorshow of slavery, our third world murder rates. To even acknowledge these negatives is to “apologize for America” – in the words of Senator Mitt Romney – who beneath those corporate jeans and collared shirts enjoys the freedom to wear magic Mormon “temple garments,” a tribute to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers and the bravery of those heroes who made the supreme sacrifice, etc. And who can argue with the undeniable truth that a country in which a descendent of a Black African (or a bishop in a marginalized religion like Mormonism) can rise to the highest offices of the land is truly exceptional?

temple garments

Our constitution – and this is exceptional – grants us the right to pursue happiness – whether that means spending a Saturday afternoon discharging elephant guns at a shooting range, watching Sergei Eisenstein’s,  Бронено́сец «Потёмкин, or cross dressing and parading down 5th Avenue in celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.

Yet, happiness can be so elusive. Great success certainly doesn’t guarantee felicity as Tiger Woods or Amy Winehouse can/could testify. There is, I think, in the USA a misconception that having a constitutional right to pursue happiness means that you’re entitled to happiness, and as my childhood hero Sportin’ Life put it so eloquently in Porgy and Bess. “It ain’t necessarily so.”

However, in Late Empire America, judging by the posts of my thousand-plus Facebook friends, trumpeting one’s happiness seems to be a borderline obsession.[1] Certainly, there must be battalions of social scientists studying the ratio of positive to negative posts as they attempt to determine the happiness quotient of Facebook subscribers. Certainly, among the unscientific sampling of my friends,[2] I’d say happy dominates a thousand to one.

Of course, the tendency to post positive rather than negative feelings makes sense. When one of my barmates at Chico Feo asks how I’m doing, I virtually never put into words the existential angst that shadows every waking minute of my Beckettian existence.

“Hi, Wes. How’s it going?

“Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness. No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a tiring business I always found. And when I die let me go to hell, that’s all I ask, and go on cursing there, and them look down and hear me, that might take some shine off their bliss.”

“Uh, OH-Kay. Have a good one.”

Anyway, nothing much makes sense anymore. The Trump people simultaneously long for authoritarianism while decrying the tyranny of mask mandates while the far left’s free speech intolerance is so extreme that even milquetoasty comedians like Jerry Seinfeld won’t play college campuses. 

Like Kris Kristofferson once put it, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.  

[1] On the other hand, this isn’t the case on Twitter, which teems with death announcements and the oft repeated phrase, “I’m broken,” following.  Why is Facebook so positive and Twitter so negative?

[2] I.e., “friends, acquaintances, former students, cousins, virtual strangers [including at one time Jerry Lee Lewis himself (thanks, Killer, for the Asian bikini model link)], Lucinda Williams, etc.

6 thoughts on “Woo-Hoo/Boo-Hoo

  1. “You’re on earth. There’s no cure for that….We are all born mad. Some remain so….Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” – Sam Beckett

    “When I hold you in my arms, I can feel my finger on your trigger. I know nobody can do me no harm.”
    – John Lennon

    As of now there’s some freedom we still enjoy, the freedom to hit delete or shut down, or unplug the thing and throw it in the ocean. Pull the trigger.


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