Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cultural Colonialism and a Fish

Mack Hall

Hayden Panettiere, who is famous for playing an “indestructible cheerleader” (I’m only repeated what the AP says) on television, has directed the fisherpersons of Taiji, Japan to stop their annual dolphin fishing.

Posturing – I mean, protesting – the annual seal hunt in Newfoundland is like, so back in th’ day, like, y’know? The happening place now for posing prettily for the cameras and patronizing the benighted natives is darkest Japan. Lapsing into the imperial first-person plural, Great White Non-Huntress Hayden sayeth, “We’ve been to Taiji…it’s a beautiful place with beautiful wildlife.”

Yeah, and the local folks are so cute and quaint and folksy, too, and love to sit on the doorsteps of their ‘umble cottages in the evenings, playing the banjo and singing their ethnic songs. Of course there is the matter of their killing our animal-friends thing.

Any centuries-old culture which has found its balance with nature certainly needs to be corrected and its future planned by a 20-year-old American whose moral, cultural, and intellectual authority comes from appearing on the tellyvision.

Hayden-Sahib promises the fisherfolk of Taiji that if only they’d stop being meanies and killing Flipper she’d love to be their spokesprincess and help them promote tourism and maybe basketweaving. No doubt they’ll build a statue of her and form a cargo-cult.

Newfoundland was promised the same deal – stop beating the widdy-biddy-big-eyed baby seals to death and we’ll send you some tourists. Yes, if we all stop farming and fishing we can feed the world based on visiting each other.

Perhaps my neighbor, who raises horses and cows, could be persuaded to give all his livestock to a nature preserve – where’d they naturally be naturally eaten by the natural and organic wolves – and charge tourists five dollars each to walk across his fields and admire the clover or something. No hayrides in a wagon, though, because a tractor burns that wicked old polluting gasoline and using a mule would be animal cruelty. Let the mule, too, be recycled by cuddly carnivores.

In the summers we could all stop fishing the lakes and streams, beat our fishing poles into plowshares, and learn how to wear funny clothes and pose for pictures with tourists. With the proceeds we could put fish-flavored tofu on the table beneath an ikon of the divine Hayden.

Hey, we could sell our woods rattlesnakes to tourists as pets. The city folk could take the critters back to their high-rise apartments and snuggle up to them on cold winter nights, or maybe turn the rattlers loose in the city parks where children play. Hey, if rattlesnakes are good for country children just think how much better they’ll be for city kids.

And Newfoundland could send Hayden some harp seals for her swimming pool for her pet dolphin to eat. Hayden does know that none of these critters is a vegetarian, doesn’t she?

Japan, like Iceland and England, is a small island nation, and because of this much of her economy is based on the sea. Seafaring nations squabble with each other over limits and about who should fish where, but none of them proposes mass starvation by not fishing at all. A 20-year-old whose wholly artificial living is not based on the soil or the sea is not only presumptuous but dangerous in telling people who actually work how to live. A Japanese fisherman living a marginal life has no following of thousands of cell-‘phone twitterers whose idea of a rough day is being asked to turn in a global-warming essay on time. He is pretty much alone. The fisherman makes his peace with the sea because his living is the sea, and if he does not fish his children do not eat. To require this man to surrender his dignity and his heritage and take up selling made-in-China souvenirs to mocking visitors is unconscionable.

Eat the fish. Save the humans.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mack's Health Care Proposals

Mack Hall

Before you vote you must first (1) register to vote, (2) vote, and (3) understand that listening to the screaming fat boys on the radio does not constitute participatory democracy.

Now take your special Sergeant Preston of the Yukon secret decoder pen and mark your ballot:

Proposition 1. I am in favor of health care, formerly known as folks going to see the doctor when they need to.
A. Yes
B. No, I stand in front of emergency room doorways and strongly urge folks to go home and die quietly, leaving all their worldly goods to me

Proposition 2. The proper spelling is:
A. Health care
B. Healthcare

Proposition 3: All births will be reported:
A. In the Honolulu newspapers only
B. On cheap photocopier paper in disappearing ink

Proposition 4. All Americans will receive the same health care as Congress and the Premiere of Newfoundland.
A. When Buna, Texas freezes over
B. See ‘A’ above
C. Your attitude’s been noticed, comrade

Proposition 5. All physicians, nurses, aides, technicians, and other health care providers will be required to spend more time on paperwork and sensitivity training than in providing services to the sick. They will be supervised by trustees who have no medical experience, will have their incomes fixed by a czar, and will constantly be faulted by keyboard commandos on the ‘net. They will be sued until they are more efficient according to norms fixed by government functionaries who have no idea of what healing the sick involves.
A. Yes
B. Where’d they go?

Proposition 6: Except for Congress, all Americans will be subject to death…um, quality of life panels made up of A.C.O.R.N. and S.E.I.U thug…um, therapists to determine if they are worthy.
A. Yes
B. Comrades, take this citizen into the street and help him understand why he needs to vote ‘yes’

Proposition 7: Hospital closures…um…consolidation will continue until there is one giant government hospital in the USA, located in Area 51. Congress will have its own provisions, and that’s none of your business, okay?
A. Yes, master
B. What happened to all the good little private, religious, and local-government hospitals that used to serve America?
C. “Questions are a burden to others.” -- The Prisoner

Proposition 8: Anyone who wants to know what’s in the several thousand pages of what is said to be health care reform is a racist, a homophobe, and a homonym.
A. Yes
B. We have sensitivity training for people like you

Proposition 9: Except for Congress and the Premiere of Newfoundland, any wait lasting less than twelve hours in the nation’s one remaining emergency room shall not be considered a long wait.
A. Yes
B. Aren’t you dead yet?

Proposition 10: Anyone who actually works for a living will pay for universal health care but will not receive it; anyone who has never worked and never intends to work will receive universal health care and a flat screen teevee. The Premiere of Newfoundland, however, will not receive a flat screen teevee.
A. Yes
B. I’ve been watching reality shows; what are you talking about?


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saint Swithin's Day

Mack Hall

There are no parades for Saint Augustine of North Africa on the 28th of August. No one wears a tee-shirt with the invitational “Kiss Me, I’m African-Carthaginian-Roman,” and one looks in vain for a beer stein bearing an image of the saint on one side and “Beat the Snot Out of a Manichaean” on the other.

Saint Augustine of Canterbury is passed by, too, with no bumper stickers reading “Our Augustine Can Whip Your Odin with One Baptism Tied Behind his Back.”

November 3rd is the feast day of Saint Martin de Porres (which is much easier than saying “Saint Martin de Porres’ Day” because then one would have to calculate how many s’s to put in and just where the apostrophe ought to go), the patron saint of hairdressers and barbers. In a merrier world all barbers and hairdressers would yearly on The Glorious Third parade in the uniforms of their guilds, scissors raised aloft by an honor guard, and singing hymns to God, hymns that also mention hair.

The protomartyr, Saint Stephen, is the patron saint of Hungary, and yet no television specials feature Magyar dancers clogging (or whatever it is that Magyar dancers do) to that jolly old Budapestian song, “Attila the Hun / He Was Really Lots of Fun.” No Magyar-American senators rise unsteadily to a point of order in Congress to declare “Everyone’s Magyar on Saint Stephen’s Day!”

Saint Swithin’s Day (July 15) was a biggie before the Normans came. Robin Hood and his Merry Men often validated a statement with “by Saint Swithin,” as in “Let’s pop over to the Blue Boar Inn for a cold brew, by Saint Swithin.” And yet do pubs feature happy hour on St. Swithin’s Day? Alas, no.

Anyone seeing a flag with the Cross of Saint George almost surely thinks of soccer hooligans and British National Party thugs, not of the patron saint of England, Portugal, and Greece. There are no ditties about “Th’ Wearin’ o’ th’ Red” on April 23rd.

On the first of April most folks will play practical jokes and never spare a thought for Saint Charles I, the last Austrian emperor and one of the noblest men of the 20th century.

In the hospital named for Saint Elizabeth of Thuringen, hundreds of folks pass by a beautiful if fanciful image of her and the Wartburg every day. The ill rightly ask their friends to pray for them, but do they ask Saint Elizabeth to pray for them too? Her day is November 17th. It passes unremarked.

And perhaps that blithe indifference to most saints is better than the shabby treatment given Saint Patrick of Ireland (tho’ he was born in Britain and then enslaved by the Irish). Guided by an angel, Patrick fled his captors after many years in bondage and escaped to Gaul (France) where he went to school and was ordained a priest. Patrick then returned to Ireland to serve as a missionary among the people who had worked him in captivity. That Patrick actually forgave them and then did something for others instead of hanging out for the rest of his life in Britain or Gaul and crying into his beer about his ill-treatment is the surest proof that he was not Irish.

Saint Patrick did not serve humanity so that they might pour green dye into their beverages, wear made-in-China leprechaun badges, and get all teary-eyed about how Celtic they are. The local telly news will feature unsteady folks in the traditional Ye Old Green Tees lifting their glasses and yelling “Whoo! Whoo!” or something equally Ye Olde Celtic at the local Ye Old Irish Blarney Pub and Grille or something, but will have nothing to say of “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” (that’s a traditional prayer), or of Saint Palladius, Saint Brendan, or Saint Brigid.

Perhaps on Saint Patrick’s Day the other saints at the foot of the Throne gather around him and pat him on the shoulder and comfort him with “We know you tried your best, Paddy,” or perhaps “Maybe next year they’ll get it, eh?”


Mack Hall’s A Liturgy for the Emperor is available in hardback for $22.99 from and Amazon com. Searching for the Summer Country is available in paperback for $11.88 from Both are collections of poetry in what is known as neo-formalism, that is, they scan and / or rhyme. No vague, fuzzy, 1968-ish, stream-of-consciousness stuff from Mack!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rush Limbaugh's Bedroom and Other Meditations

Mack Hall

With the arrival of spring, or as springy as this part of the world ever uncoils, folks go outside and do outside stuff – fertilize the lawn with that bag of crumbly stuff leftover from an autumn sale, talk to the apple blossoms, comment on the bits of green poking up tentatively through November’s sere leaves, and sometimes simply sit on the steps and marvel at another new year. At such times one’s mind, unleashed from the ‘net and the radio and the telly, begins to, well, think:

Evolution is Really Real in Canada

Canada’s current national anthem, which Americans got to hear over and over during the Olympics, may soon suffer another change. Once upon a time it was “God Save the Queen / King / Labour Electorate Along the London-Birmingham Axis,” and then multiple versions of “O Canada.” The original was written by a woman and afterwards modified several times by men. Just now there is a line about Thy Sons or something, which someone says should be Thy Persons or something, and folks in Canada are arguing about it. Perhaps Canadians won’t mind a Yank weighing on some word changes:

“O Canada, What Are the Words to Our National Anthem This year? Eh.”
“O Canada, We’re Not the USA. Eh.”
“O Canada, Built on Hockey and Tim Horton’s. Eh.”
“O Canada, We’ve Got More Olympic Gold Medals Than the USA and Russia Put Together So There. Eh.”

Ooooh – I hope I’m not beaten to death with made-in-China Anne of Green Gables dolls the next time I visit Prince Edward Island.

The Death Penalty

These two headlines were one above the other in a recent web news site: “Mother Dumped Newborn in Trash, Went to Party” and “Judge Declares Death Penalty Unconstitutional.”

Swinging Singapore

Tom Taschinger of the Beaumont Enterprise, upon which The Times of London models itself, reports that Singapore still bans chewing gum. Tom finds this harsh, but, hey, it’s not as bad as some geriatric hippie in a hula shirt playing a guitar in church because, like, 1968 was so, like, y’know, happenin’.”

Spring Break – Saints Gone Wild

An Irish tourist board recently promoted ten ways to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day without going to a pub. Not one of the ten suggestions included attending Mass that day. The English tried for hundreds of years to suppress Ireland’s ancient faith; left alone the Irish destroyed it themselves.

Kiss me – I’m not Irish.

Spring Break – Body Scanners Gone Wild

Jeremy Clarkson of The Times of London writes: “We now think it’s normal to take off our clothes at an airport.”

Spring Break – Amish Girls Gone Mild

How did Amish caps become an almost requisite accessory on the covers of romance novels? Lucinda no longer swoons passionately in the arms of the Byronic pirate / Indian / outlaw; she sits demurely on a wagon seat next to some fellow named Aminadab while sporting a white beanie with strings hanging down.

One can anticipate a Hallmark movie: Amish Spring Break – Girls Scrub Floors While Fully Dressed.

Lock-and-Load Voting

Iraq voted for parliamentary seats last week, and the Religion of Peace wasn’t having it. Through bombings and shootings they murdered more people than show up to vote in some county elections in the USA. Alas that more Americans complain about the governance of the country than actually do something about it.

Where’s a Sky Marshal When You Need One?

Last week an air-traffic controller at JFK, nee’ Idyllwild, allowed his young son to radio instructions to pilots.

This is probably not permitted in advanced nations.

Rush Limbaugh’s Bedroom

Rush Limbaugh is apparently selling his New York penthouse. A purported photograph of his bedroom shows a foo-foo space possibly modeled on Cleopatra’s boudoir in the Elizabeth Taylor film, but subtly influenced by Elvis Presley’s jungle room and the poetry section of the Austin Barnes and Nobles. And the low-prole ceiling paintings and Florida beach motel murals are to die. Not to die for. To die.

It just doesn’t look very, um, Republican.