The sun is coming
The dragon flies
His breath will drown
This world with astral fire
The sun is coming
SB1070 was implemented in July of 2010. Barring any hail-mary moves, The June 6th rally in Phoenix was to be either the last, gargling breath of short-lived outrage, or the first, coughing start of a broader pro-immigrant movement that would be co-opted by bleary-eyed liberals with aims to re-create a halcyon hallucination of the Sixties. No, neither of these happened, of course. The federal government stepped in and ordered Arizona to strike parts of SB1070 it deemed unconstitutional, and Jon Stewart’s Sanity Rally filled the need for pointless and futile nostalgia. Nothing changed. The stalemate deepened, with Arizona seeing much conflict in the coming months. Nazi rallies, elections, criminal probes… nothing changed at all. So, what was the point of our trip? Why, to observe, report and–unlike the popular deification of the myth of Murrow’s or Cronkite’s “objective” journalism, to speak about what wrong there was. There was plenty to speak about, as we discovered.
We in the Washington DC area live an insular life that is prominantly at odds with the majority of America– politics are our sports, we drink too much coffee, talk too fast, and eat, digest and excrete political gossip faster than the alimentary tract of the typical resident of Middle America. How is it, then, that three of us decided to cram ourselves into a rented compact and tear-ass through the beige and khaki bowels of this great land for the sole purpose of attending and reporting on what amounts to not much more than the weak-kneed snarl of a bloated, elderly wolf? How much of America could we see at night, from the bug-smeared windows of a non-descript domestic car? Such was America. Much had changed since the definitive road trips of our past– gone are the screaming, bat-out-of-hell tears across virgin plains, the introspective journeys where another mile ticked off on the odometer represents another step into the tightly-woven psyche of men escaping the soul-crushing tedium of middle-class life. We weren’t trying to recreate Duke and Gonzo, the Blues Brothers, Kerouac or Cassidey; we were not escaping life or futily pursuing it, but rather we were part of that elusive creature so many other seekers and True Believers burnt out their lives for the opportunity to chase.
For lack of a better term, yes, we were on a mission. We were heading into the grist of a point of cultural friction– something not uniquely American at all, but endemic to all cultures, whether coagulated into a syrupy mess or boiling over in vulgar displays of power. Xenophobia. The errant belief that the reason your life is in a shambles is due to people slightly different than you with whom you do not interact. That’s why were were on this trip– not for pleasure, not for some burnt-out mantra of “consciousness expansion” but for the tactical purpose of reporting on a group of opportunist local racists who decided to leech some limelight from a crisis two thousand miles away. Such is the fate of those who pursue “independent journalism.” We go where we think the story is, we fight with people with superfluous items like “official press credentials” and “training,” and we get our stories out later. Our pay is measured in negative amounts, our backs are twisted from sleeping on bus station benches and we derive an immense feeling of satisfaction and completeness from the arduous completion of tasks that may seem nothing more than asinine to the casual observer.
Our job was therefore not official, but no less important– ours was the penultimate example of the simple human desire of curiosity taken and stretched to its limit. Sure, we knew in the back of our minds that this rally had every possibility of being a bust– no more than fifty people could show up and no counter-demonstrators– but the whole purpose behind the taking of a road trip and not one by train or airplane is that we were going to get some god-damned perspective. We were hunting the story, and there’s no better way to track the fucking thing than to get some vox-pops from people we meet on the way. SB1070 is something that ought to frighten the tar out of every liberty-loving patriot; we were going to get the truth from the true patriots– either they’d be as shocked and agog as we were, or they’d underscore how hypocritical they were. Fascism, apparently, is only fascism when it happens to other whites.
Perhaps instead we were also chasing the romantic ideal of the muckraker– the lone reporter that lives off of coffee and cigarettes with a fedora pulled low over a trench coat pulled high, lurking in car parks and dusty street corners waiting for the damning evidence that will ruin the lives of total scumbags. We were assassins. Ismaili. Hashisheen. We had no fear of death or career suicide because we had no lives to kill and no careers to wreck– we were free. We had tasted all that the garden of delights had to offer, succumbed to the houris of independent journalism and drank our fill of the wine of life. Heaven was not our reward for a life lived in obedience to a ghost in the sky, nor was it something that would never be ours. We had been given heaven on earth!
A late august evening slides into nightfall, the pained wheezing of insects desperately seeking their final mates eases as the oppressive yoke of the sun is lifted by the glistening tendrils of night the earth sighs and the chorus is stirred by the first cool touches of wind
The fine powdery soil that had mixed with our sweat had already dried leaving a thin film on our hands that stuck us together, the harder we clasped them
Nuit arches her back and we run, the coolness of space licking off the fatigue of the day’s sun We’re spinning in blackness, no lights except for the stars, no one watching us but the countless eyes of the galaxies and when we break apart, we tumble away, raising great clouds of unseen ejecta
We crawled towards the sound of each other’s delirious laughter, grasping and gasping in the dark– and as we blundered against each other, your face veiled in the thin ambient glow of the cosmos, I saw your eyes soften before you grabbed me, kissed me and cartwheeled away, giggling and awing
You and I, dirty cat and dirty mouse, careening through space and time.