"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 18 April 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Single Bullet-Point Theory



Timothy McVeigh gets fan mail.


"I don't know if you have a

grandmother living," went one

letter recently quoted in the

Los Angeles Times, "but I am a

grandmother, and I wish you to

know that you have been on my

mind almost daily and I ask God

to give you strength.... I feel

in my bones that you did not do

what they accuse you of."


To which we can only say: Ending

a sentence with a preposition?


That odd feeling that requires no

evidence sure would save time on

jury trials, wouldn't it? This

osseous intuition isn't unique

to Grandma, either. Dexter King

feels it too, and recently

tested his intuition coldly and

analytically, using the

scientific method: "Did you kill

my father?" King asked late last

month, as he shook the hand of

the man convicted, following a

confession, of having done

precisely that.


"No, no," James Earl Ray said, "I




Well, hell. Can't argue with that -

throw open those cell doors!

King certainly bought it,

telling Ray that he believed him

and would do everything in his

power to make sure justice would



Ray and McVeigh are, of course,

both "patsies," human stand-ins

for the cold gray institutions

that really pulled the trigger

and lit the truckload of shit

and diesel fuel. Just ask

around at the next gun show you



And this is hardly a new story, or a

new observation. But taking a

quick look through the news

while you're on the way to the

lingerie ads, can you not notice

that marginal beliefs are

(still) leaking out of the

margins? Dexter King? Grandma?

The John Birch Society had

better get that Jew banker thing

trademarked while they can still

claim ownership.


The sound of all that


yammering has a single, simple

lyric hidden beneath the cymbal

crashes and symbol clashes, just

as it always has: I'm impotent,

the songs goes, I'm powerless

and scared. And coda at the

second bar, please, conductor.



Impotent? Us? Dexter and that

little old sweet thing who bakes

us cookies and asks embarrassing

questions about our friends?


Yes. Action is the unique

province of institutions. Of

course one man couldn't destroy

an entire federal building,

taking casualties in the

hundreds; he's just some guy,

right? Of course one man

couldn't destroy Martin Luther

King, particularly now history

has made King himself an

institution. Individuals have no

effect on anything but the dog,

who starves if we don't come



There are plenty of causes, but

the full bill for our collective

loss of faith in the antiquated

notion that individuals can take

meaningful action, can only be

delivered to the news media.

(Don't send it to their office -

try the bar around the corner.)

Newspapers and Peter Jennings

still offer the window on the

parts of the world we can't

actually see out of our windows,

and entire notions of cause and

effect are born in the nightly

narrative that plays out around

all that blowdrying.



There's precious little news in

the news, these days - precious

little x is doing y, which may

cause z to happen to you. The

"news," even excluding the

still-appalling O. J.

clusterfuck, increasingly plays

as unreality - extraordinarily

remote theater of cruelty. The

news is who gave money to the

DNC, but not the firehose stream

of laws and regulations that a

metastasizing federal government

continually screws down a little

tighter. Asset forfeiture abuse?

Taxpayer-funded corporate

welfare? The more than a

thousand new laws, say, that the

California Legislature creates

every single year? Uh - we go

now to Oklahoma City, where CNN

reporters tell us how they feel.


And so we head into the brave new

world, but there's no delivery

tag on the package. Shadows defy

engagement - and if shadows

don't move the game pieces, who




The answer to that question is

sometimes enormously tangled,

but it's also always finally

simple. They combine into a

reticulate committee, They wear

the mask of their institutions,

They obfuscate and complicate

and throw up the old favorite

"you couldn't possibly

understand" as flack, but They

are always us: The Man is a man,

fumbling and about half-bright.

If someone would bother to show

us his fingerprints on our

lives, or put his picture up

above the fold, we'd be able to

see him as him.


If we had access to quaint old

who, what, when, where, why, and

lonely h-word how, we wouldn't

have to invent all of it to

cover the fear of never knowing

which hand turned the wheel.


And Grandma would save a few

pennies on stamps.

courtesy of Ambrose Beers

Fish Image
The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

Fish Teaser

net.moguls Link
Fresh Fish