Thursday, May 17, 2007

As I Went Walking That Ribbon of Highway...

Originally published on my website in November of 2004, this essay is number 6 of 13 weekly essay or short story posts. Enjoy.


As I Went Walking That Ribbon of Highway...


Everything I Ever Needed I Learned by First Turning Off the Television...

by Charles Shaver

from November, 2004

© copyright 2004-2005 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author(s) and artist(s).

This is simply a list of observations I've made as of late, with a few confessions thrown in.

I've learned fear will win you more votes than truth.

All forms of dental work is now viewed as a "luxury", despite the fact that my health is at considerable risk without receiving proper dental care. Funny, I guess my health and well-being is a luxury.

Bob Marley was not much smarter than the average man, though he was more observant and truthful.

Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Duke Ellington were the greatest composers and songwriters in American history because, while they wrote and performed largely for and from an American perspective, they were and are universal.

Tim Burton single-handedly inspired the launch of the Goth Topic... erm, I mean Hot Topic chain of stores where buying is apparently rebelling.

Lars Ulrich is a whiney little bitch.

KRS-One is a better speaker than he is a rapper, and he's a better rapper than most speakers are speakers.

John Ashcroft has resigned. Too bad the damage is already done.

Having been born in Flint, Michigan I grew up knowing Michael Moore was an idiot. While he may stand on the side of righteousness, or says so, he is often the centerpiece for his own works and therefore makes every piece of work about himself and less about the actual subject at hand. Also, anyone can present facts and say "2+2 =... well, audience? You can make up your own mind here." It's a standard tactic in propaganda. Just ask Hitler's S.S. While I, too, did not support the war in Iraq and often find myself, for lack of a better term, "on the same side of the fence" as Moore, I at least have some tact and rational judgment. His little speech at the Oscars only served to aggravate me. I understand that saying "Shame, shame!" to the president of the United States is meant to show that he needs to be treated like a child. But it speaks just as much in volumes about the speaker, Moore himself, and is rather childish, schoolyard name-calling bullshit. He does NOT represent my voice, and he represents by and large only his own.

I prefer Brian Eno over Digweed.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, even in death, is still getting ripped off.

Tupac Shakur, even in death, is making more money than my ass.

Jesus seemed like a cool guy who would have a tough time living in America today. He would most likely be stabbed, beaten and raped to death for being a dropout-hippie-freak... and most likely in his own name.

I am not a Christian, nor will I ever be.

I know that some who may take offense to any of the 'more serious' comments I've made here will use the above admission to slander and discredit me.

Despite my hopes for the best for the people of this nation, I will never be called a Patriot.

I once read about a study where historians claimed that should the United States ever fall, it would most likely be at the hands of the Native Americans because they have the greatest justification.

I know I will most likely be investigated, or further investigated, for this post.

I have very few friends, but they have each proven to be more than I've ever needed.

I know that I am occasionally filled with hate. Some of it is childish bullshit. I'm working on that. Some of it is 100%, undeniably justifiable.

Hawaiian Homelands is a prettied-up way of saying "reservation". Especially since every parcel of land is Hawaiian Homelands.

I recently heard about a senator who traveled to Puerto Rico and told the people there that they should really consider joining the United States as the 51st state and gave as an example how the Hawaiian people supposedly "begged to be a part of the U.S." The Puerto Ricans weren't stupid. They knew the truth behind the occupation of Hawai'i (unlike this stupid, idiotic senator) and most likely told him to find out about The Rest of the Story:

Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. Stupidity is having the knowledge available and just not taking advantage of it (see above example).

Stupid is as stupid does is stupid. Tom Hanks has gone from funny guy with potential to boring, over-hyped hack.

L. Ron Hubbard was once quoted as saying, "If you want to make money, start a religion."

Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath was so titled (having taken the title from a lyric in the song "Battle Hymn of the Republic" that says "where the grapes of wrath are stored") in order to escape any possible persecution as being anti-Patriotic or communist. Today he would have to do the same to avoid being called anti-Patriotic or a terrorist.

I breed mice as a hobby.

I study war-gaming theory as a hobby.

I know that people are content to just being left alone, not getting involved, and staying out of just enough debt so as not to get into any trouble with anyone.

Bruce Lee was great. His films were action-packed, often suspenseful, and always intelligent. But what made the man great was not what he did, but what he could do. Not what he captured on film, but what he said on paper, from the heart.

I have met more people than I will ever remember.

N.W.A is alive and well and living in my CD player.

Love is not so complicated as The Bard would have us believe. It is not some mystical thing that has caused the ruination and so much pain for so many of us, most especially for our young women, in Western Civilization. It is as easy as looking into a loved one's eyes and having the willingness to do whatever it takes to make a happy life for the both of you. It really is just that simple. If anything else gets in the way of that, then you're not in love. You're in bullshit Drama.

Life is a temporary existence between non-existences.

Death is the great leveler, the great equalizer. Death is what makes life precious. As we trip through that fourth dimension of ours, we eventually come to our end. It is death, and our temporary stay here in a state of life, that makes us precious. Death isn't so fearsome after all.

Waking up to find my baby kitten curled up next to me in bed, seeking warmth and comfort, shows me that life truly is beautiful.

Waking up to find my sweetheart, the love of my life, curled up next to me in bed, seeking warmth and comfort, shows me that life truly is beautiful.

To learn anything, jump in head first.

Mick Foley is a great Storyteller, but not much of a Writer. He needs to stop trying to be The Writer and just tell good stories.

Television is good for nothing, except wrestling and the occasional football, futbol, and baseball game.

I am no more precious or worthless than anyone else. I am no smarter or ignorant than anyone else. I am just tripping through life like the rest of the world without a fuckin clue as to what's going on or where I'm going..

While Confucius was a smart man who worked towards many righteous ends, and I can respect that, I still prefer Taoism over Confucianism. perhaps it is due to my cynicism for humanity.

Cartoons and comics continue to be the single most real, honest form of mass media.

With the release of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy fans, friends, and scholars of Tolkien could finally cry out in victory that this man, this author, finally got the attention he deserved. Some cried that he was the most under-appreciated literary figure of the 20th century. While I will not argue his place in literary history, it is truly deserved, I will argue that he is not the most under appreciated. The single most under appreciated literary figure of the 20th and now the 21st century is Stan Lee. While he is finally, FINALLY getting some of the proper representation in pop culture through a larger audience and film-makers who love comic books, he is still seen as not much more than that guy that makes the funnies. Yet more people across this nation can associate with Spider-Man or The Fantastic Four or The Hulk or, for myself, Iron Man than we could with Perseus or Bilbo or Frodo or Achilles or Beowulf or most other literary figures. I love Tolkien, but he is far from the most under appreciated... especially now.

What idiot at Cartoon Network decided it was a good idea to air Ray Bradbury's classic Halloween Tree on the Friday before Halloween at noon when no kids are around to watch it? Wouldn't it have made more sense to air it at noon on Halloween Sunday? This movie should be seen by all kids and kids-at-heart who love Halloween.

"Gay marriage disparages the sanctity of holy unity and religion!" says the Christian. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few little boys to molest."

Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door is hands down the best RPG I've played this year. And that includes Gayble... erm, I mean Fable.

While a somewhat solid title (I experienced some clipping) Fable did NOT bring anything new to the RPG table that Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Dungeon Siege and KOTOR hadn't already done... in some cases years before Fable ever came into being. I had already waited two years for this game. I would have waited an extra year or two to get the game I was promised. Fable is only what FF: Mystic Quest SHOULD have been. IMHO, PM owes me money.

I will hail the Shaw Brothers as much as I will hail Akira Kurosawa.

Marcel Duchamp and Clement Greenburg were both intelligent men. Unfortunately, Greenburg opened the floodgates of mediocrity and Duchamp fucked up the art world for all of us.

Read Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky.

Jack Kerouac and Andy Warhol are dead.

Wearing black sweaters and drinking coffee does not a good artist make.

Pharaohs believed that they were placed into power by gods.

In Plato's classic The Republic, his vision for utopia (ideal, peaceful society), artists not working directly for the Republic were outlaws. He feared the power that artists had to give The People a voice or to use that power to undermine the Republic. An ancient philosopher recognized the power of art. Too bad too few artists today recognize it.

We are each filters of the world around us. But what the hell makes you think you're so goddammned important that I have to spend my own precious time, money and put forth an effort to see your artwork if all you're going to do is talk about yourself? If that's all you do, it is called mental masturbation. You are only concerned for your own pleasure and seek the approval of others. You are nothing to me unless you prove otherwise. you MUST bring it home to me. Until you do so, I do not approve of you and you are NOT an artist.

Wanda Sykes reminds me of a slightly taller, female version of Gary Coleman.

Usagi Yojimbo is my favorite comic book.

We are now living in the age of information, yet no one is saying anything. Including me?

Conflict is harmony, for in conflict things are being discussed, fought over and, perhaps, resolved. Complacency is chaos, for in complacency no one is thinking, no one is doing, no one is living. This does not mean that peaceful living is complacency, no more than conflict is intellectual striving. Peaceful living and educational benefits can exist with or without the two.

The irony is not lost on me that I am taking a muscle relaxer called Clarisoprodol... a generic form of a drug called Soma.

Read Gilgamesh.

Kids today will actually spend upwards of $20 to buy a chain specifically designed for them to "look cool". What ever happened to buying a real dog chain at the 99-cent store or, better yet, getting one in a junkyard for less or even for free from the junkyard dog to wear for the purpose of self-protection?

Whatever happened to The Crass and The Clash? We could use them now more than ever.

Bruce Springsteen is more rebellious than Green Day.

The Rolling Stones remain the greatest rock band in the history of rock, even over The Beatles who couldn't... stay together...

Bo Diddly is alive and well and playing in every juke joint that knows better.

Brook Benton, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Leadbelly mean as much to me as Fats Domino and Bo Diddly.

Basho was the greatest rapper of all time. ("Too long!" *chop*)

An ocean's water has healing properties for the human body... given that the water is actually clean.

I have known more than one person who have had good, steady jobs where they make $18 an hour, eat nothing but ramen and sandwiches, and yet they still have to have more than one roommate to split the rent and share expenses.

I should have a house of my own by the time I'm 24 and... oops. I'll be 28 this year. Damn, I suck.

Did everyone just up and forget about AIDS?

"At the end of 2003 an estimated 34-46 million people were living with HIV/AIDS – 31-43 million adults and between 2.1-2.9 million children below the age of 15 years. More than 65 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS (25-28.2 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa; another 16 percent (4.6-8.2 million) live in South and Southeast Asia." [where the sex-slave trade goes unnoticed and unchecked] Source: Also check:

And here's some info close to my heart, no pun intended: "Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a virus. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted through infected blood. Hep C spreads easily when drug users share equipment. Over 80% of injection drug users have hepatitis C. Hep C can also spread through sexual activity. Hep C spreads more easily than HIV through contact with infected blood. In the US, about 4 times as many people have Hep C as have HIV. You could be infected with HCV and not know it. About 15% to 30% of people clear the Hep C virus from their bodies without treatment. The other 70% to 85% develop chronic infection, and the virus stays in their body unless it is successfully treated. Hep C might not cause any problems for about 10 years or even much longer, but it can cause serious liver damage leading to liver failure and death. Almost all cases of hepatitis C could be cured if treatment with interferon starts very soon after infection. Unfortunately, early signs of hepatitis can seem like the flu. Most cases are not diagnosed until years after infection." <~~ [from the above link] And before I have to be subjected to any of your fuckin snide-assed remarks, I contracted Hep C when I was 8-years-old during open-heart surgery and received some infected blood via transfusion. That was 20 years ago this last August.

High school has nothing to do with education.

College has nothing to do with education, but if you work at it, you just might get one.

If I sit at the computer for more than an hour, the brilliance of Asimov occurs to me.

I'm alive and doing my best to learn and teach. It's the cycle of life.

We are all human. Equality is built in to nature, but, unfortunately, not government or society.

Just before the U.S. went into Iraq, people all over the world organized and protested. It was the single largest (in number of people and expanse of geographic places) peaceful public demonstration to ever be held in the history of the world. In response, Bush said that he cannot base his decision upon a small minority who do not want the war.

I hope Leonard Peltier by now has learned to be more free than I have.

I will miss Wesley Willis.

People will hate me for the above statement.

I remember when Halloween came in October, Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December. Now it's more like Halloween starts in September, ends the second week of October and Christmas starts soon after.

Each artist has to be the shaman.

If asked the proverbial question: "If you could meet one person in history, dead or alive, who would it be?" I would mostly likely answer Joseph Campbell. But I'm unsure how much I would actually speak with him. I would most likely just sit and listen.

I've noticed a lot of artists treat the director's cut of Blade Runner like an art-house flick, yet not many understand it. They just like the pretty and degenerate scenery and enjoy watching Rutger Hauer crying.

Euro-centrism is a disease.

When it comes right down to it, if a cop is unsure of your motives and has been filled with fear and lies and paranoia -- admittedly occassolly for good reason -- he/she won't give a damn about your Constitutional rights and will care more about getting home in one piece.

The U.S. Constitution. Though it seems most people don't do much more than wipe their ass with it today (most especially politicians who make it their job to wipe their ass without looking like their wiping their ass), the one thing most people don't do is read it. While it doesn't apply to a society filled with hate, racism, and sexism (since it states that "all men are created equal"), it actually has some pretty good stuff in it and is a very well written, intelligent document.

I can't change the world, but I can plant seeds in my own garden.

With Alberto Gonzales in, and Condoleezza Rice stepping up for Colin Powell, who will take her place? Probably some other wonderbread minority.

Girls: As much as I love Popeye, Olive Oyl is not sexy. Quit trying to look like her! Eat a burger, for crying out loud. They're not even expensive! Most places now have $1 value menus! Hell, if you go to some place like White Castle, you can get TONS of burgers for a few bucks!

"Whatevahs" is a philosophy.

None of this is profound.

I am a Very Small Animal.

This essay entitled "As I Went Walking That Ribbon of Highway" is © copyright 2004-2005 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author(s) and artist(s). Contact me at

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