By Ken Krayeske • 7:35 AM EST
L ife is good. My friend Chill Will from beatbikeblog called me Friday afternoon and said "Hey, I have a pair of tickets to go see Salman Rushdie at 5:30 at the Wallace Stevens Theater at The Hartford. Do you want to go?"
Hell, yes. Rushdie is a genius, at least according to State Representative Andrew Fleischman, who we ran into at the Hartford. Rushdie has been in movies, written a song for U2, converted one of his many novels into a play, and survived a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khomeini.
And last night, Rushdie, on his first stop promoting his new book The Enchantress of Florence, was funny, despite his interviewer. Chill Will asked why he never listened to moderator Diane Smith on her morning show on WTIC 1080-AM. That's why, Will.
The highlight of the evening: Rushdie told a true tale from Persian history about an emporer who chopped up his enemy from his eastern frontier. He literally sent pieces of the vanquished foe's body across his empire. His servants boiled the skull clean, and encrusted it with jewels and gold. The conqueror drank wine from the skull, and enjoyed it. One day, he got an idea that he would send the skull to the Ottomans, his enemies on his western frontier, to show them how powerful he was, and to remind them of their fate. The Ottomans wanted none of it, and they soon invaded and our skull-cup drinking king met a similar devlish fate.
Rushdie simply concluded, "This is the kind of species we are. These are the kind of things that we do to each other."
In light of all the crazy shit that has been happening in Hartford in the past week - between Nick Carbone, the hit and run on Agenl Arce's father, a pair of shootings and so on and on - Rushdie's analysis makes sense. When considering the entire state of the American militaristic nation, where in Washington, DC to keep the peace cops have all but declared martial law, it makes even more sense.
When I talked with Carmen Rodriguez last week to commiserate about Carbone, she said that the kids who jumped Nick had never learned to be human. HPD Chief Darryl Roberts echoed similar sentiments the next day.
History is a record of man's inhumanity to man. They were trying ot make sense of our shitty selves on Jerry Kristafer's morning show on BigD 103 Friday morning, and I called in: "Martin Luther King, Jr. said the largest purveryor of violence on the planet is my government, the federal government of the United States," I said.
"The woman who called in before me said there wasn't enough money for education and police, well, if you want to know where themoney to pay for those services is going, just look at Iraq and Afghanistan and every other military base we have in dozens and dozens of countries across the world," I continued.
"If we want a civil society, it starts with us. Thank you, have a nice day," I ended with, and went about my day.
But the more I think about it, suppose we are animals, and we are trying to evolve past this violence phase which has plagued us for generations, how do we get past it when the violent people dominate?
The personal violence is so much easier to understand when we consider that our governments, to solve problems, resort to indiscriminate violence. Those boys who kicked happened to Carbone, if they were in uniform in Iraq or Afghanistan, it would have been situation normal.
So why do we wonder why we are so violent here? We need look no further than the structure which helps us determine how we govern ourselves - the federal government.
And one can only hope that Jan. 21, 2009 brings a new day for all of us, when we can hand the illegitimate presidency of George W. Bush a proverbial death certificate, like the one Salman Rushdie joked about getting from the coroner of munchkin land.
Rushdie's voice didn't crack, and the intonation was munchkin perfect when he said of Almira Gulch, "She's not only really dead, she's really most sincerely dead."