Feb
7

The Beast is Red, Chapter 2: Invisible Asia




Posted at 5:07 by Mister Leonard Pierce

This is, I must begrudgingly admit, not a great town for hydrocodone. At least, not from where I’m sitting. Which is currently in the back of a taxicab (driven by a resentful Turk, silent as the Teskilat-i Mahsusa) wheeling at reckless speeds through the taxpayer-funded parks of Washington Northwest. The dangerous urban velocity, the jogging lobbyists, the metropolitan greenery – so tempting as a dumping ground for talkative interns – it’s all conducive to a heightened sense of paranoia. Which is my natural state; the last time I was in the capitol, just a month after 9/11, I was walking on glass, set off by every bad look, assuming that everywhere I tread there was the red dot of a laser sight accompanying the back of my head. That’s the way I like it, baby; I don’t want to live forever. But the artificial narcotic calm that comes from my new white chalky pals in the plastic bottle is upsetting: here I am in the lights of Leviathan, his terrible teeth all ‘round about, attempting to open the doors of his face, and all I can think is “I wonder if it’s too late to get room service?”

Indeed, I’m beginning to understand the appeal of prescription drugs for the denizens of this town. Government largesse is strewn everywhere, on the very skyline (paid for, as the license plates remind me, by taxation without representation), but no one comes here to crusade, no one stands up and thanks their bloody luck that they live in a country rich without precedent and capable of shaping such a city. Misbegotten Mark Antonys without number flock here to claim that they come not to praise Government, but to bury it: but they’re really just here to game the system, to play a big session of Nomic that will result not in the drying up of Washington’s revenue stream, but only the redirecting of it into the right pockets. It’s not really a question of starving the beast; it’s a question of starving the people who might just happen to need the beast. The right drugs can help you pretend that it’s all just larks, with no consequences to the people driving your cab or bringing you your dry cleaning.

Lesson learned: when I arrive at the hotel, two Young Americans for Freedom are trying to check in using a credit card not belonging to them. Rules, of course, are for poor people, and they seem to think that if they berate the poor West African guy working the front desk, they’ll get what they want eventually. They may be wrong, but God damn it, no late-shift immigrant is going to tell them that. Modern Washington, the Washington of Bush and CPAC, was built to keep people like him from telling people like them what to do. I breeze in past them, a solid citizen with my own plastic, and take my place on the fifth floor just in time to replenish the opioids in my system: the flight in took me right over the Pentagon, and every time I fly that route, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s the last thing a bunch of people ever saw. It rattles me, rattles me like I was a Cameroonian hotel management student getting berated by some short-con trust fund kids. Things are already going badly and I haven’t even set foot in a CPAC event: it’s far too early to be wondering “what in God’s name am I doing here?”. Steady on, man: think of your colleagues at the American Milk Solids Council, who are counting on you to rub the right elbows and ensure that we can sell baby formula to Botswana without some meddlesome paper-peddler going on and on about necrotizing enterocolitis.

What I am doing here is to separate bad from worse. The convention will be attended, largely, by two groups of people: the mainline Republican rump who think George W. Bush was, and is, doing a Brownian heck of a job, and the radical right who think that the problem with Jolly George is that he’s not heartlessly conservative enough (whether socially or economically is a matter for a whole ‘nother fistfight). To put it another way, here we have the people who look at the wreckage of the American 2000s and pronounce it a wonderful thing, and the people who look at it and say “Yeah, it’s pretty awful, but if we tried, we could make it a whole lot worse”.

Meanwhile, China quietly rounds up dissidents in preparation for the spectacle of the Olympics. Someday they may show up and collect for all those wonderful, worthless weapons that allowed us to humble their Russian neighbors, but like every other bill the Republicans rack up, that’s for someone else to worry about. In the elevator up to my floor, two men in golf hats (golf hats? At 8PM?) talk about how high taxes will make people leave the country and stop producing if Hillary gets into office. (They’re apparently laboring under the misapprehension that Americans still produce things.) This is a real threat in the world of CPAC, while things like massive health care shortages, an increasingly ill-educated population, dependence on dwindling natural resources, and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor are the stuff of fairy tales.

I’ve arrived too late for the pre-CPAC Diamond Reception and too early for the expensive hookers to start roaming the halls. The soda machine costs a buck and a quarter for a can, so I decide to just wait for the boy to bring my bottle of gin. Then, before the pills kick in, a moment of imperialist panic: What if there is no boy? What if there is no gin?

71 Comments »

  1. g said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:19

    I am in awe.

  2. White Male, Jew of Liberal Fascism said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:25

    two Young Americans for Freedom are trying to check in using a credit card not belonging to them.

    Woulda been fun to find out who that credit card belongs to… any bets its some kind of publicly-funded agency?

  3. Arky the Blasphemer said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:26

    Brilliant!

    Keep in mind: You’re across the street from a liquor store and less than two blocks from a CVS if you need a refill on any of your [ahem] prescriptions.

    Or just mix Nyquil and TheraFlu and start singing “Fly me to the moooon!”

    Make sure you learn the Metro route to the airport, we’re supposed to get hit with another cab strike soon.

  4. Candy said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:28

    Seriously. Only two entries in, and I’m convinced this should be published. Rolling Stone, New Yorker . . . this is Big Dawg stuff. I got goose bumps.

  5. g said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:28

    I am vibrating with sympathy, Mr. Pierce. Today I spent in a smaller version of the Hell you are braving.

    My employer sent me to a 3-day conference for the music industry at a hotel in downtown LA – a hotel famous for its 70′s era surrealistic architecture. Today I sat through 2 panel sessions, one discussing the consolidation and corporatization of the live concert industry as if it were a Good Thing, and speculating on which venture capital investors made more money on it, and why; the second discussing new opportunites for corporate sponsors to “brand” artists and vice versa – someone actually said something about talking with artists to determine their personalities and beliefs and think about “what brand would they be if they were a [product]?”

    After someone spoke with pride of their efforts to start the relationship with developing artists, so that you could “brand” someone with your beer, soda, car or cellphone as they were just starting out in the business, I felt nauseous and left, skipping the end-of-the-day cocktail party.

    I walked back to where I parked my car, over on Hill St. where the $12 daily maximum was cheaper than the $36 charged in the hotel garage.

    As I got to the corner of Hill & 5th, there was a guy on the sidewalk blowing “There Is No Greater Love” on a trumpet with a paper cup on the ground next to him.

    I stopped, and pulled out my wallet and stuffed a $10 into his cup, telling him, “Thank you for playing live music.”

  6. Rightwingsnarkle said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:31

    So, who’s along to do the illustrations for this gig?

  7. Rightwingsnarkle said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:32

    Nice mood piece, g. Very nice.

  8. fe said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:33

    Awesome. This could be a new Fear & Loathing, etc.

  9. White Male, Jew of Liberal Fascism said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:38

    http://thehill.com/markos-moulitsas/immigration-the-big-fizzle-2008-02-05.html

    So while the public is concerned about immigration and wants a solution, the solutions preferred are practical ones, nowhere near as reactionary as those proposed by the rabid anti-immigrant zealots.

    Today’s Republicans, however, have nothing better to run on. Their ideology is tired, having failed the test of governance. The public is no longer scared into submission by threats of terrorists on every corner. But since fear-mongering worked so well for the GOP for so long, party leaders clearly feel that they have nothing to lose by trying to turn hard-working immigrants into their new bogeymen.

    And it’s true. They have nothing to lose … except more elections.

  10. Greg T. said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:44

    Damn, that last paragraph is just choice.

  11. ignobility said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:55

    What if there is no boy? What if there is no gin?

    How did I get here?

  12. Me said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:56

    You’re lying about being high. Either that, or you pre-wrote all of this.

  13. HumboldtBlue said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:58

    Well done.

  14. Mona said,

    February 7, 2008 at 5:59

    Yeah, but come on, college kids are always stoopid about credit cards, and think if they take Dad’s or their rich friend’s, this isn’t gonna be a problem.

    Stick to the stuff that is singularly laid at the feet of CPAC types.

  15. Chris St. James said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:03

    Enjoy yourself my liberal friend for you are in the hall of heros. You are sitting at the feet of giants. Long live the Conservative Coalition!

  16. Antarcticat said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:03

    Brilliant.

    My God. It’s so difficult to attend those events in Washington, much less write about it. You’ve got the good perspective.

    Carry On,
    Dave

  17. MileHi Hawkeye said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:04

    “Steady on, man: think of your colleagues at the American Milk Solids Council, who are counting on you to rub the right elbows and ensure that we can sell baby formula to Botswana without some meddlesome paper-peddler going on and on about necrotizing enterocolitis.”

    +10!

  18. Greg T. said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:09

    Here’s more choice LP:

    Owning 2007: Ten Fragments from an Exploded Culture

    REVIEWS OF THINGS THAT ARE TERRIBLE: a new series

  19. J— said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:22

    Sadly, No! favorite Julia Gorin will be signing books on Friday, just before the big Blogger of the Year award ceremony.

  20. Adara said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:39

    You win.

  21. Hollywood ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©? said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:46

    J— said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:22

    Sadly, No! favorite Julia Gorin will be signing books on Friday, just before the big Blogger of the Year award ceremony.

    She’s funny.

    Heh heh ha ha uh hah hah hah.

  22. J— said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:51

    She’s funny.

    Nothing compares.

  23. Smut Clyde said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:59

    who are counting on you to rub the right elbows
    Not to be pedantic or anything, but I believe that you’re supposed to rub shoulders and bump elbows. Go around rubbing bits of other people’s anatomy at random, and anything could happen.
    OK, so I was being pedantic.

  24. Strangefate said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:59

    Shouldn’t someone be posting a Ralph Steadman drawing in there somewhere?

  25. zoe kentucky said,

    February 7, 2008 at 7:00

    Good luck, darling, you’ll need it. I write this as someone who has been where you are, attending CPAC solo as an undercover liberal spy. (You are going undercover, right? You have to pretend to be one of them to get the full treatment. Make sure you have some stock answers about who you are and what you do.)

    Seriously, CPAC rocks. It’s a surreal, nightmarish carnival of conservative delights that is open to anyone with the money for a ticket. I went to CPAC (’99, ’00, ’01 and ’02) and still have very fond memories, like the time I was in the lobby and turned around and nearly knocked down this very little man– who happened to be Ralph Reed.

    My overall impression of CPAC attendees is that most of them were people who were hated in high school and are still looking to settle the score– although they weren’t hated because they were “different” as much as because they were self-righteous assholes with persecution complexes.

    If I still lived in DC I think I’d go considering the circular firing squad the wingers seem to be standing in right now. I so wish I could be in your shoes.

    Be prepared to feel giddy the first day, like you’re hiding a delicious secret, and really dirty by the second and despondent by the third. It helps to take little breaks every so often, go out and get fresh air.

    Also, I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t matter how many showers you take, your brain will still feel sticky and dirty for a few days afterwards.

  26. fardels bear said,

    February 7, 2008 at 7:01

    The YAFers trying to charge their hotel on someone else’s credit card is a metaphor (a sign of valid and substantive literature [or is that foreshadowing?]) for George Bush’s economic policies. Pay for endless, unwinnable wars and tax breaks for your rich friends and charge it all to future generations. Being a Conservative means someone else pays the bills.

    Bloody symbolic, Mister Leonard Pierce.

  27. Dick Durata said,

    February 7, 2008 at 7:22

    MLP, one should take care when mixing downers and alcohol (gin!), and care might be hard to find when you add CPACsters to the already volatile stew.
    You sound like a veteran of the Chemical Wars, but my Jewish mother side cannot be fully suppressed.
    Godspeed!

  28. Gary Ruppert said,

    February 7, 2008 at 7:54

    The fact is, I am here at this conference, and we are looking for you. You will be exposed.

  29. zoe kentucky said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:01

    Good luck with that, Gary. You have no idea who you’re looking for– tis the beauty of the internets and it is called anonymity.

  30. Lawnguylander said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:03

    If you’re playing a character I would have his back story include service in the Brooks Brothers Riot. If Gavin photoshops you into that picture you can show it to the YAfers and you’ll gain instant entry into their circle. If you carry any scars claim you got them from the talons of some feminazi lawyer for the Gore campaign while you were stuffing her into a dumpster. Once you’re in, ask them what they think of the new Jason Mattera joint. Flyest thing ever or just dope as shit? I want to know if YAFers are lame enough to think that’s cool.

  31. zoe kentucky said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:04

    Not to mention that CPAC is what, 30-years old and held in public in DC? They KNOW they’re being watched, they know that they’re being watched and monitored (look no further than the CSPAN cameras).

    Get a grip, man.

  32. Jennifer said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:06

    If I was writing the review of the movie of the book of your collected reflections on your CPAC odyssey, Mistah Pierce, I’m pretty sure it would include the phrases “heart of darkness”, and “what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”, as well as at least one reference to Yog-Sothoth, or as I like to call him, Dick Cheney.

  33. floopmeister said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:12

    Gonzo.

  34. Smut Clyde said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:24

    here I am in the lights of Leviathan, his terrible teeth all ‘round about, attempting to open the doors of his face
    According to Job 41:15, you’re sharing the interior of Leviathan with “a close seal”. One more reason to wear a wetsuit.

  35. wombat said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:42

    Hey Duke! Where’s the ether? …and your Samoan attorney?

  36. Lesley said,

    February 7, 2008 at 8:58

    Leonard in the hotel sauna

  37. Thursday said,

    February 7, 2008 at 9:28

    Lawnguylander -

    I had never heard of Jason Mattera until that link. You, sir, are a degenerate baboon: the initial shock froze my nerves, and I endured nearly a minute of that feeble banter before panic set in and I rebooted my computer with a sanity-preserving ideomotor twitch.

    Why, oh WHY is that man talking like a 1987 Salt-n-Pepa interview? AGGH!

  38. justme said,

    February 7, 2008 at 9:43

    Fucking awesome.

    g-
    Tha biz can be a tad disheartening at times, no? Something about vampires minting fortunes by crushing and fermenting the dreams anything with a soul.

    Rightwingsnarkle-
    So, who’s along to do the illustrations for this gig?
    I suggest Francis Bacon, but he’s kind of dead as well as overpriced.

    Chris St. James-
    You are sitting at the feet of giants.
    Yeah, but if they’d lay off the Burger King and hit the gym now and then, they might be presentable in public.

    Gary Ruppert-
    and we are looking for you.
    Yes, Gary, it’ll be easy. Just find the gent in the Wal-Mart suit.
    Oh. Right.

    You will be exposed.
    Oh. I hope not. We all know how badly that turned out last time Len was found without his knickers.
    No? Crap, I shouldn’t have said anything.

  39. Smut Clyde said,

    February 7, 2008 at 10:21

    You are sitting at the feet of on the faces of giants.
    Fixed.

  40. islmfaoscist said,

    February 7, 2008 at 10:47

    the doors of his face…

    the lamps of his mouth. This is clutch reporting from the heart of the beast. Now get out there and throw some grit in their gears. Repent, Harlequin, said the Tick Tock Man.

  41. Anne Laurie said,

    February 7, 2008 at 10:52

    “..two Young Americans for Freedom are trying to check in using a credit card not belonging to them…”

    Woulda been fun to find out who that credit card belongs to… any bets its some kind of publicly-funded agency?

    Nah, Mona’s right — either they lifted the ‘emergency’ card Mommy keeps in her lingerie drawer, or they’re assuming they can bleg hard enough to pay their drunken fratmate back before *his* parents look at the monthly charges and raise hell. Excellent metaphor for the Modren Repiglican Uthe, though!

  42. BJS said,

    February 7, 2008 at 11:08

    Please tell us you registered as “Minister” Leonard Pierce

  43. Alec said,

    February 7, 2008 at 13:59

    You’re lying about being high. Either that, or you pre-wrote all of this.

    Nota bene: hydrocodone (a.k.a. Norco, or in a different less abuse-resistant formulation Vicodin) is pretty different from the kind of highs you’re probably used to. It might take you hours longer to write something, but it wouldn’t really impair your ability to sit down and do it.

    If you’re at all used to it (and it only takes a month or so), you can pretty much drive with a buzz on if you’re really intent on it.

    Better living through chemistry. I think what we tell ourselves is that at least we’re not on Oxy. But eventually, that will probably be a lie.

    (For the record, I don’t really condone the out-and-out abuse of prescription painkillers. Mood-altering drugs, sure – that’s what they’re for – but opiates are something different and a little dangerous. On the other hand, I’m not some kind of fucked-up moral crusader who really thinks that a choice between being in pain and being pain-free and tripping balls should be difficult.

    For what it’s worth, if we had socialized medicine in the US and weren’t dicks as badly as we are about prescription drugs, the average person could get their pill-based Swerve on for, what, $5 or 10 a week? $5 a day, at the most. Beats the fuck out of even the worst rotgut – and, for that matter, makes the rotgut impractical and dangerous. Besides which, opiates are nice – they’re not gonna fuck you up like booze or meth and they’re not gonna give you the incorrect impression you’re a fuckin’ genius like coke or pot. All things have their place, and as far as I’m concerned the place of the stuff I get to have because I’m lucky enough to have decent relatives belongs in every medicine cabinet across the country. It’d solve the War on Terror right quick – you try terrorizing someone whose only emotion worth writing home about is warm, pleased satiation.

  44. T. Wolfe said,

    February 7, 2008 at 14:47

    Stop it!!! Stop making me look like a hack!!!! Damn you!!!!!

  45. FGFM said,

    February 7, 2008 at 14:51

    Pam’s on it.

    http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/02/cpac-bound.html

    Enroute to DC. Hanging at the airport with (/not!) Cyntohis Mckinney Sheila Jackson Lee (forgive me , it was the braids and the politics that threw me – thanks Geoff!) who is yelling on her phone about universal healthcare. I kid you not. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Indeed.

  46. Alex said,

    February 7, 2008 at 14:55

    If you encounter a British guy called “Donal Blaney”, can you tell us who he was with and what he was doing? There’s a drink in it for you.

  47. Blue Buddha said,

    February 7, 2008 at 15:28

    Hollywood ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©? said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:46

    J— said,

    February 7, 2008 at 6:22

    Sadly, No! favorite Julia Gorin will be signing books on Friday, just before the big Blogger of the Year award ceremony.

    She’s funny.

    Heh heh ha ha uh hah hah hah.

    OH. MY. GOD! That was painful to watch. I’ve seen many amateurs at open mic night at an improv club who were far better.

  48. Dr. BDH said,

    February 7, 2008 at 15:44

    Watch out for the acetaminophen, Mr. Pierce. That and the gin could render your liver nonfunctional. A bad way to go. Lortab, Vicodin, Darvocet, they all have it. Don’t go all Heath Ledger on us out there.
    Oh, and marijuana causes gingivitis.

  49. Sarcastro said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:10

    The Beast is Red, Chapter 2: Invisible Asia

    You’re going disguised as a woman? Well, if you look like Brigette Lin more power to ya!

    Great title man. Freakin’ brilliant.

  50. Harry Tuttle said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:29

    Wow, you’ve got a Hunter Thompson/Matt Taibbi thing going here with a dash of JG Ballard. You, Sir, have gotten my attention. I only hope you did get your gin.

  51. Jim said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:39

    A suggested emendation:

    This is a real threat in the world of CPAC, while things like massive health care shortages, an increasingly ill-educated population, dependence on dwindling natural resources, and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor are “incentives for poor people to get off their duffs and do the work of real men, possibly trust fund management or chartered accountancy.”

  52. Ben said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:45

    The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth:

    Holy crap, I didn’t even notice the Zelazny reference the first time around. Well done, sir; I doff my cap to you.

  53. Robert M. said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:46

    the doors of his face…

    the lamps of his mouth.

    That was my first thought, too. Zelazny is about ten times more interesting than Job, anyway.

    As someone already mentioned, Pierce, watch the booze on top of the painkillers (if you’re indeed on Vicodin, rather than just trying out the HST rhetorical vibe). An ER trip would really wreck your time there, maybe even worse than accidentally getting stuck in an elevator with Ann Coulter.

  54. ortho_bob said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:57

    Which one is you?

    Bloggers in the CPAC bar

  55. Legalize said,

    February 7, 2008 at 17:57

    Has someone been reading Martin Amis lately? Good show.

  56. Arky The Blasphemer said,

    February 7, 2008 at 18:16

    Keerist. Do they know how wasted they look?

  57. sophie brown said,

    February 7, 2008 at 18:16

    ortho bob, that is just scary! Is that the real pamatlas or just a cardboard cutout? And if she is real, is the guy in the front about to careen into her breasts? And if he is about to careen into her breasts, why does she seem so calm?

  58. billy pilgrim said,

    February 7, 2008 at 18:36

    sophie, she’s loaded.

  59. ortho_bob said,

    February 7, 2008 at 18:46

    Wait ’til she talks them into doing body shots off John Bolton.

  60. Susan of Texas said,

    February 7, 2008 at 18:55

    Wow, posing for pictures with Frat Boy, Mama’s Boy and Grampa Jones. I’m not sure, but I think she’s about to claw out Frat Boy’s eyes.

  61. roseyv said,

    February 7, 2008 at 19:36

    I got as far as the reference to Nomic, but then my brain shut down from sheer horror.

  62. Smiling Mortician said,

    February 7, 2008 at 20:02

    My oh my. I’m just gonna set down these couple of fine novels and wait for the next installment. Go, Mister Leonard, go!

  63. sagra said,

    February 7, 2008 at 22:03

    Uhhhh… wait. I’m not a fucking genius?

  64. Dan Someone said,

    February 7, 2008 at 22:35

    Why is that woman orange?

  65. Ed said,

    February 8, 2008 at 0:54

    here I am in the lights of Leviathan, his terrible teeth all ‘round about, attempting to open the doors of his face
    We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machineand the machine is bleeding to death

  66. lexicon said,

    February 8, 2008 at 1:19

    IF you liked this and thought it was pretty cool, then you haven’t read Hunter S. Thompson.

    Go find Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and then come back here.

    This is a credible effort at homage to the master of gonzo…if not an outright plagiarization.

    oh, well…it’s fun, I’m cynical, it’s all good.

    lexicon

  67. Avalon Sparks said,

    February 8, 2008 at 3:56

    <<>

    Great writing, hope to hear more. A++

  68. Smiling Mortician said,

    February 8, 2008 at 4:59

    Hey, lexicon, I know this thread’s dead, but . . . most of us here have read HST. But he’s, y’know, deceased. It’s nice to see his tradition being honored here. Homage is a reasonable word for it. “Plagiarization,” for a variety of reasons, is not.

  69. American Street » Blog Archive » Undercover Work said,

    February 8, 2008 at 12:46

    [...] Part 2 [...]

  70. A Sane Person Goes Deep Into The Heart Of Darkness « Beware The Man said,

    February 9, 2008 at 3:06

    [...] Part 2. [...]

  71. order said,

    March 9, 2008 at 0:06

    CPAC reminds me of the late twenties and early thirties when the elite of what was to become Nazi Germany were beginning to strut their stuff.
    Next cometh the jack boots.

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