mr. grant’s rant: the nature of the beast

Surrender is the ultimate pose of defeat. Disdain and detachment are even worse because you know better. There’s nothing hip, smart or defiant about indifference…



Let us pause for a moment of reflection…

Smokebox Ten ended up as our most thought provoking collection to date. Although I’d like to think that by loosely adhering to a ‘pollution-fueled” credo, we are by our very nature political, friends and visitors have asked over the past 9 months why Smokebox doesn’t have more “political content.” My answer normally follows a groan, a wistful gaze, and relies on one if not an assortment of the following cop outs:

What’s the point? It doesn’t matter anyway. Who cares? It’s a losing battle. It’s not worth the effort. Can I have a beer? I can’t stomach politics. Screw politicians, a shameless pack of worms….

Now, you know and I know that such feelings about these matters are not uncommon. It’s hard to stay mentally engaged in a system where oligarchs and special interest groups work the gearshift of our political machine with the deftness of a stock car racer. It’s a disgraceful, irrational and diabolical arena where these complex power plays unfold. Our elected representatives are lobbied 24/7/365 by intensely focused operatives who have seemingly endless caches of money to lob around — provided votes are delivered and interests are protected. Democrats vilify Republicans. Republicans sneer at Democrats. Both laugh in the face of Libertarians and Greens. Everybody’s hollering and no one is listening. “Truth” becomes a matter of partisan spin where common sense and rudimentary ethical sensibilities are no longer relevant. Camps are divided along dogmatic party lines with no room for compromise or dialogue. Cynicism and hopelessness take root in the hearts of the remaining population that actually pays attention to or cares about such things.

Yes, certainly. But which side are you on?

Not enough people make the connection that there’s very little separating the strategies of the two warring factions these days. They all graze at the same trough, it’s only the types of feed that are different.

You can’t be serious?

Herein lies the quandary. We’ve become so accustomed to picking the lesser of two evils that we miss the real issue: that choosing sides hardly makes a difference anymore. It’s the system itself that is corrosive, particularly when each side is willing to compromise its principles shortly after the first dollars fall.

So what’s the point of worrying about it. Nothing is ever gonna change. It’s the society we live in.

The reality is this stuff is immensely important. It seems we collectively need a few kicks to the backside. A couple of Benny Hill slaps to the head. We need these reminders to be fierce in nature and delivered on a punctual basis…swiftly and powerfully. Surrender is the ultimate pose of defeat. Disdain and detachment are even worse because you know better. There’s nothing hip, smart or defiant about indifference.

Are you saying I’m smug? Ignorant? What is it your trying to tell me?

Fortunately Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins) is here to help snap us out of our stupor. His weekly cartoon strip This Modern World is a searchlight aimed directly at a self-absorbed culture so consumed with the expedient delivery of items of personal gratification that it appears to have completely lost it’s connection to the very essence of what it means to be alive. Starchy skinned anglo-Saxon inhabitants wander a Wonder Bread™ world where the happy reality is shattered only by the omniscient force peeling the characters fragile fronts back and digging at the smelly fruit inside.

Hey, that’s not funny. Whose side are you on anyway?

Listen. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, Tom Tomorrow’s got you in his scope. Like his strip, he is unflinching in his views which at their foundation seem based on an elemental sense of human decency. You won’t always agree with his position, but that’s not the point. The interview in Issue 10 is like a blast of arctic air. It’s intensity makes the skin tingle, but boy does it make you feel alive. Whether you agree or disagree with his stances, sometimes reality just hurts.

I am not liking the direction this contemplation is moving one bit!

Ultimately the most glaring truth is this: I am alarmed by the realities that the narcissistic and dimwitted denizens of This Modern World represent, aren’t you?

That’s it, I’m out of here. You’re starting to freak me out…

Much in the same vein, a reader recently sent a link along to me with the following note: “Your site is awesome. And here’s another pollution-fueled site.” Which turned out to be the home page of Michael Moore of “Roger & Me” and “The Big One” film fame. There I found a tremendous piece of commentary that I believe e v e r y o n e should read carefully, titled “Why Don’t We Just Cut The Crap Right Now.” Mr. Moore was kind enough to grant us permission to reprint his timely “message” in Smokebox Ten. We republish it here in the hope that you will take the time to read it and take his words to heart.



Originally published:
Issue Ten
June 2001

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