Friday, September 01, 2006

Road Warrior: Kerouac, Cheney, China, the VFW & hot dogs

On the road again. I HATE leaving home -- but am driven to leave my cozy corner by legions of devils in my mind that whisper, "Time to go." Me and Jack Kerouac. "Jane," said my friend, "are you really going to drive that 1990 Toyota across the Sierras and through the high Nevada desert? You're crazy!" Hey, the wagon trains did it. So can I. Burning Man, here I come! Easing into the I-80 truck lane at 45 MPH, the Toyota and I aced the Sierras but it was touch and go. "If we make it over Donner Pass," I promised the Little Toyota that Could, "I'll give you the most expensive tune-up you ever had!" At Campus Auto Repair in Berkeley. It doesn't get much better than that.
We finally drove down into Reno just in time for a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. And guess who the guest speakers were? Dick Cheney and Donnie Rumsfeld. Good grief.

“The National Security Agency is only using wire-tapping on foreign-originating calls,” said Cheney. “We don’t tap domestic calls.” Yeah right. Our world delivered…to the NSA. “Using wire-tapping, we were able to discover the London airline plot,” he continued. Really? That shouldn’t have been very hard to discover. All you had to do was wire-tap the White House’s international (and domestic) phone calls.

I talked with several VFW convention-goers. “If I had known that Cheney was going to be the surprise guest speaker,” said one VFW post commander from Oregon, “ I wouldn’t have come.”

Surprise speaker? Cheney was a surprise? Since when has the Vice President [sic] of the United States of America become so unpopular he has to sneak in the back door? Top world power, my foot – when a handful of ladies from Code Pink have Cheney on the run!

Then I stopped by the corner of First Street and Virginia to chat with my friend Woody who sells hot dogs from a little stand there. “I used to be an ambulance driver in Oakland during the 1960s,” he said. “After watching a person die in front of my eyes every day for 15 years, I gave it up and started selling hot dogs.” Woody also had definite opinions on Dick Cheney. “People lacking authenticity have fooled themselves into a wrong notion regarding what is true to one’s spirit and character. Some things matter more than money. Money doesn’t mean anything to me but Cheney has sold his soul for it.” Woody sells hot dogs. Cheney sells greed and death. Who is the better man? Woody or Cheney? Who would you rather be when you go to meet God? Woody! Of course.

Then I popped back into the Toyota and drove the last 100 miles through the hot Nevada high country desert to the Burning Man arts and fire festival. As I drove, I listened to Books on Tape. “After the Second World War,” said the tape, “American absolutists in Washington pursued a policy of non-negotiation with the Communist Chinese, saying that they were evil and ‘we don’t negotiate with evil.’ As a result of demonizing a popular movement and propping up greedy dictators instead, America lost China.” Wow! History is repeating itself. Because of the doctrinaire absolutists in Washington who are demonizing Islam, America is about to lose the Middle East too. How deja voo can you get?

Then I arrived at Burning Man. Holy cow! The theme was “The Future”. It was the future all right. It looked just like a scene out of that old Mel Gibson movie “Road Warriors”. Heat, dust, people dressed in weird costumes and really funky bicycles, school buses and cars. I kept looking for Mad Max.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect out in the Nevada desert but I didn’t expect THIS!