COMES A PALE HORSE


 “Maybe you ain't walked on any highway
  You've just been flyin' in the air...


        We dropped anchor in revolution harbor, amidst a nearsighted fortune teller's tea-leaf celebration and barely stopping for a pint of ale and a breath of social respite, quickly made our way towards the land of Babylon, kingdom of treasures and pleasures and desire’s illusion of the eyes, ancient realm we’d studied up on in all the required texts.  And when we reached the timeworn storied city gates we rang our cracked bell proudly, holding the main-event tickets in our calloused hands; cheap-seat passes for the nosebleed section some acting governor had taxed us triple for, plus an added value county levy and another cut for the corrupt town council’s back pocket.  After forcing the great gates slightly ajar by reprogramming our all-in-one trillion function remote, we slipped on in to the land inside the box, land of wealth’s deception, freedom-less conformity and mediocrity’s jaded boredom, amidst mass confusion exceeding all known delusion and sorrow beyond all tears.

        “Welcome, brought to you by the American Bull Company---don’t forget our discount tickets for your Florida summer vacation” a salesmen from Magic Mountain grandly exclaimed, as a multi-colored peacock strutted his white-washed stuff and lied, “No Bull Company over here, right in line with the Gold Medallion generals and their all-electric mansion on Capitol Shill.”  Nearly hidden on the bottom far-right, big brother’s ever-watchful menacing eye silently coerced us, “Certified Bull Services this way,” as a former embedded media pawn, now buried deep within the mail room at CNN for repenting of many sins of many fathers and their even more ridiculous offspring, suddenly appeared and straightaway warned us profusely:  “Beware the sly Fox slithering several degrees to the far right of Joe McCarthy, guarding iniquity’s hen house of public thievery and social debauchery, while leaving all unsuspecting prey unfairly paralyzed in her war machine propaganda contrivance of trivial pursuit, weighed in true balances and justly found severely wanting.”

        Weeping just inside the exquisitely carved and ornamented front gates, a long-term sixties folk singer softly plucked a worn flower-powered guitar, sorrowfully hailing a big yellow taxi trying to get back to Eden's garden. ¹   And, mistaking it for certified public transportation, we jumped in without a clue as to where we were going.  The driver asked, “which way” and we said, “we’re here to see King George the Little.”  “You ain’t one o' dem lebrels”, he warned. “They ain’t ‘lowed w’thin ten blocks of de show, that is, the one’s that’s left after the rast hav’ be’n rounded up ‘n tortured by the homel’nd’s s’curity Sheriff of the Far Reich.”

        “No”, we lied, “we’re three wise men from the Mid-East, here to observe and report back to the Texaco Sultan.”  And of course, the tired hack believed us.  After all, he drove a company cab and we figured him an illegal for certain, which was true enough as we found out later, he was born in Missouri and had immigrated from a peace and blow festival somewhere upstate New York.  King George knows how to maintain his allegiance---just wave a rebel flag and promise him a shilling or two rebated right away upfront and fail to mention that his children won’t have any flowers left to sing about or ever visit a licensed doctor or be vaccinated or receive any necessary medication for their severe childhood vitamin deficiencies or live long enough to not be able to afford an education, that is, if universities are somehow, still in existence.

        And now we’re stuck in six o’clock traffic under a giant jumbotron, craning our necks to catch a glimpse of King George’s beady-eyed teleprompted image, spewing forth some tired rhetoric of much to do about nothing and nothing to do about anything that matters regarding his long since powerless subjects’ security, health, happiness and the pursuit thereof.  And somewhere between not all that carefully thought through lies of unsophisticated sound-bite sophistry and a twisted quote or two from Isaiah of old (mistranslated by his shifty-eyed father King James, commonly known as George the Plutocrat), in the midst of the city square a broken clock high above us, at the top of a lofty tower seemingly reaching above the clouds into heaven, comes slowly to a forlorn grinding halt.

        A short dark homeless man in filthy rags watches silently, sitting by the broken fire hydrant near a newsstand across the square.  Now he’s standing with a whiskey bottle in one hand and an old scroll in the other and going on about some good news he once sang and a freedom bell he once rang, angrily shouting “I warned you about the deceitful and confining freedom-less land inside the box, about the scales of justice and time’s great pendulum of judgment slowly swinging your way.  And I warned you not to listen to anyone who doesn’t practice freedom by sharing all things in common and forsaking vain religion and philosophical treacheries of mammon’s disinformation, embellished with intellectual perversion and seasoned with all-manner of social malfeasance.

        “But you chose your lonely manifest destiny and wealth’s oppressive and deceptive charade,  drinking blood with the harlots of the city inside the box. And while your science pretended that my father does not exist your educators taught your children everything they could not use and nothing that really matters.  You hoisted your jingoistic idol of John Birch up on the stain-glass steeple cross, nearby where widows and orphans hide under bridges in cardboard boxes.  And now your wicked leaders pray on capitol steps, voting for war and poverty and as a pretence, beseech my father’s blessings for unprecedented clandestine plans of universal aggression and oppression, lining Cesar’s pockets with corporation larceny’s excess while the bagpipes of petroleum’s fools gold mournfully play Amazing Grace.  And they bow to the television gods of wealth and ease, who teach you to love Lucy and follow false messiahs of self-salvational narcissistic manure and to buy and sell and crave and buy yet again, what you never in a million years ever needed or wanted in the first place.”

        In the distance down the broad way comes a thin stranger astride a tired pale horse, weaving his way slowly amidst petrol fumes rising between the rows of mostly single-passenger snarled automobiles.  “I’ve been waiting for Antiquity’s pendulum to come swinging your way, weighing you in the balance of history’s great scales of justice”, he gleefully chuckled.  “All calendar reckoning will now chime thrice into a bottomless howling scream forever.”  Jumping from his thirsty pallid horse onto the tower stairway, he quickly ascended toward the clock at the top and pulling off the great hands of time, he stuffed them non-dramatically into an invisible vest pocket.  “You won’t have much use for these any longer, for time has lost all meaning within the celebrated city inside the box, kingdom of a new world order, land of wealth’s deception, freedom-less conformity and mediocrity’s jaded boredom, amidst mass confusion exceeding all known delusion and sorrow beyond all tears.  And you won’t be leaving anytime soon, no, not in a million years and definitely not in a billion years and many more thereafter.” *

        We suddenly find ourselves outside the great impenetrable walls of the ancient city inside the box; three wayfaring strangers scared beyond all known sanity of reason, who once thought it prudent to pretend to be wise.  And we lied about some other things, definitely more than once or twice and will no doubt lie some more, no doubt more than once or twice in the near future.  Me and my brothers Stretch and Leroy, now following slowly behind the short dark homeless man who has become but a vague blur in the golden distance.  We had asked him who he was and he explained he just stopped by to make an adjustment on a phony claim or two, something about fire insurance and some worthless stain-glass sacraments it was supposedly based on.  And we had cried and begged and grabbed and shook him and would not let him go, until he had given us a free ticket ‘cause we knew our own were worthless.

        And now we can smell the great fire rising forever higher from the city inside the box, but I reckon something might be gaining on us and so we don’t look back, ‘cause we were once warned by a friend from Cleveland. ²   And we may have lied about being wise and may have lied before and since, but we work hard down at the factory and in the harbor on weekends and we don’t believe in twisted leaders who are in reality, blind followers being lead by blind lackeys of the blinder, who send our children off to die in wars they lied their asses off to get out of.  And we don’t like being deceived and being lied to for someone else’s gain and otherwise, just for the hell of it and we don’t like being burned, neither now nor in the future.  And we have suffered through many a holiday season’s artificial charade parade and somehow, through overt greed’s crass commercialization jingle and the tombstone priests and flimflam proclaimers of religion’s plasticized obeisance, we learned about three wise men who seemed to know what matters.  So we took the great fire escape and now we hold on tight to our free ticket, ‘cause we’ve been lead around a block or two and, among all the lies and the wise and the mainly otherwise, we know a good deal when we see it. **

 ...When you're on the last train to glory
    You'll know you're reasonably there” ³


GiveAsYouGet.net      TakingItGlobal.org


DEDICATED TO:  Poet laureate of a troubled generation, Joni Mitchell; if We The People aren’t more careful who we elect (or allow to be appointed), we are more than likely not to have much of a garden left to get ourselves back to.  Also dedicated to Grace Slick, who along with Bob Dylan, first taught me that songs can be a little more than about girlfriends and parties, to Arlo Guthrie, author of many great often overlooked songs, including the one covered here and to politically conservative motion picture actor Clint Eastwood who, in his own unique way, had a rather dramatic influence on my often contradicting generation.


Credits:

1. reference “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell; Ladies of the Canyon (1970).

2. Famous saying attributed (some argue, incorrectly) to Satchel Paige, who played for Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians among many other professional baseball teams and who some argue (probably correctly) to be baseball’s greatest pitcher.

3. “Last Train” by Arlo Guthrie; Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys (1973).


*FootNote:
“And the wind shall say: Here were decent godless people:
 Their only monument the asphalt road
 And a thousand lost golf balls.”

        -- T.S. Eliot, Choruses From The Rock (1934); one of the most overlooked great poetic
            works of art.

**FootNote II:  Title concept from Revelation 6:8; stranger on horse scene inspired by the Clint Eastwood motion picture Pale Rider (1985).



           


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

       No part of this material may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher and signed by the author. Inquiries: Freedom Tracks Records or requested via eMail.  Essays entitled Revolution and Revolution ~ Side B are open copyright and may be reproduced and distributed as desired.