—Fleshies at the Liquid Den, Wednesday, March 19, 2003
This is such an easy war to ignore. We see nothing. We hear nothing. It's J.G. Ballard's peripheral-vision World War III, a crypto-campaign documented only as a text-crawl along the bottom of the news channels. I hate it when sci-fi writers turn out to be right, and I watch the war briefings with the sound off, and I don't miss a thing. Iggy Pop clicks into sync with Paul Bremer on that soggy early morning they put Saddam behind the TV screen: "I am a passenger/I see things from under glass . . ."
This war year has been a quiet one, so I made my own soundtrack, one long rock & roll war song, from a power chord struck 35 years ago and a snare count as flat and steady as a pen tapping on a clipboard: "I knew a guy in high school/just an average friendly guy/now he's buried in the mud/she's waiting for a soldier to come home/but she'll cry and never die/thirty seconds and a one-way ride/the pounding of the drums/such a disgrace/why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?/my brother died in Vietnam/stop it/it's too loud for my ears/this ain't television/this ain't college now, students/this is the real life/the REAL LIFE!"
And it goes on. What else could you sing to me? I got friends who might go to Iraq; I got relatives who shot and killed people when they were younger than I am; I got a mile of numbers and a ton of stats; I got a stack of records that I can play through as long as the war briefings keep interrupting the late-nite TV snail-trails, and they're all gonna sync up with Washington, D.C., just so simply and perfectly. And that's the only thing that keeps me up so late: young men and women, some now dead, put what they had to say on records already gone dusty and desiccated years before I was born, years before these bombs or those started falling, before nervous self-parody mushroomed into national fiasco, and they're all still right. I like to think that makes them prescient. I have to think it just makes them smart; I have to think it makes the world something else again.
I'm sorry this isn't funny.
I am not so funny alone and quiet late at night. I watch those war briefings on TV and I watch the needle weave across the record, and I wonder which one is going to click over and off first.