talk, talk, talk, talkin’ in circles

POLITICS

 

At L.A. City College just before World War II, I posed as a Nazi. I hardly knew Hitler from Hercules and cared less. It wa just that sitting in class and hearing all the patriots preach how we should go over and do the beast in, I grew bored. I decided to become the opposition. I didn’t even bother to read up on Adolf, I simply spouted anything that I felt was evil or maniacal.

However, I really didn’t have any political beliefs. It was a way of floating free. You know, sometimes if a man doesn’t believe in what he is doing he can do a much more interesting job because he isn’t emotionally caught up in his Cause. It wasn’t long before all the tall blond boys had formed The Abraham Lincoln Brigade — to hold off the hordes of facism in Spain. And then had their asses shot off by trained troops. Some of them did it for adventure and a trip to Spain but they still got their asses shot off. I liked my ass.

There really wasn’t much I liked about myself but I did like my ass and my pecker.

I leaped up in class and shouted anything that came to my mind. Usually it had something to do with the Superior Race, which I thought was rather humorous. I didn’t lay it directly onto the Blacks and the Jews because I saw that they were as poor and confused as I was. But I did get off some wild speeches in and out of class, and the bottle of wine I kept in my locker helped me along. I was surprised that so many people listened to me and how few, if any, ever questioned my statements. I just ran off at the mouth and was delighted at how entertaining L.A. City College could be.

“Are you going to run for student body president, Chinaski?”
“Shit, no.”

I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t even went to go to gym. In fact, the last thing I wanted to do was to go to gym and sweat and wear a jockstrap and compare pecker-lengths. I knew I had a medium-sized pecker. I didn’t have to take gym to establish that.

We were lucky. The college decided to charge a two dollar enrollment fee. We decided — a few of us decided, anyhow — that that was unconstitutional, so we refused. We struck against it. The college allowed us to attend classes but took away some of our privileges, one of them being gym.

When time arrived for gym class, we stood in civilian clothing. The coach was given orders to march us up and down the field in close formation. That was their revenge. Beautiful. I didn’t have to run around the track with my ass sweating or try to throw a demented basketball through a demented hoop.

We marched around and made up dirty songs, and the good American boys on the football team threatened to whip our asses but somehow never got around to it. Probably because we were bigger and meaner. To me, it was wonderful, pretending to be a Nazi, and then turning around and proclaiming that my consitutional rights were being violated.

I did sometimes get emotional. I remember one time in class, after a little too much wine, with a tear in each eye, I said, “I promise you, this will hardly be the last war. As soon as one enemy is eliminated somehow another is found. It’s endless and meaningless. There’s no such thing as a good war or a bad war.”

Another time there was a communist speaking from a platform on a vacant lot south of campus. He was a very earnest boy with rimless glasses, pimples, wearing a black sweater with holes in the elbows. I stood listening
and had some of my disciples with me. One of them was a White Russian, Zircoff, his father or his grandfather had been killed by the Reds in the Russian revolution. He showed me a sack of rotten tomatoes. “When you give the word,” he told me, “we’ll begin throwing them.”

It occurred to me suddenly that my disciples hadn’t been listening to the speaker, or even if they had been, nothing he had said would matter. Their minds were made up. Most of the world was like that. Having a medium-sized cock suddenly didn’t seem the world’s worst sin.”Zircoff,” I said, “put the tomatoes away.” “Piss,” he said, “I wish they were hand grenades.” I lost control of my disciples that day, and walked away as they started hurling their rotten tomatoes.

I was informed that a new Vanguard Party was to be formed. I was given an address in Glendale and I went there that night. We sat in the basement of a large home with our wine bottles and our various-sized cocks.
There was a platform and desk with a large American flag spread across the back wall. A healthy looking American boy walked out on the platform and suggested that we begin by saluting the flag, pledging allegiance to it.

I always disliked pledging allegiance to the flag. It was so tedious and sillyass. I always felt more like pledging allegiance to myself, but there we were and we stood up and ran through it. Then, afterwards, the
little pause, and everybody sitting down feeling as if they had been slightly molested.

The healthy American began talking. I recognized him as a fat boy who sat in the front row of the playwriting class. I never trusted those types. Sucks. Strictly sucks. He began: “The Communist menace must be stopped. We are gathered here to take steps to do so. We will take lawful steps and, perhaps, unlawful steps to do this . . .”

I don’t remember much of the rest. I didn’t care about the Communist menace of the Nazi menace. I wanted to get drunk, I wanted to fuck, I wanted a good meal, I wanted to sing over a glass of beer in a dirty bar and smoke
a cigar. I wasn’t aware. I was a dupe, a tool. Afterwards, Zircoff and myself and one ex-disciple went down to
Westlake Park and we rented a boat and tried to catch a duck for dinner. We managed to get very drunk and didn’t catch a duck and found we didn’t have enough money between us to pay the boat rental fee.
We floated around the shallow lake and played Russian Roulette with Zircoff’s gun and we all lucked through. Then Zircoff stood up in the moonlight drunk and shot the hell out of the bottom of the boat. The water
started coming in and we ran her for shore. A third of the way in the boat sank and we had to get out and get our assholes wet wading to shore. So the night ended up well and hadn’t been wasted . . .

I played Nazi for some time longer, while caring for neither the Nazis nor the Communists nor the Americans. But I was losing interest. In fact, just before Pearl Harbor I gave it up. The fun had gone out of it. I felt the war was going to happen and I didn’t feel much like going to war and I didn’t feel much like being a conscientious objector either. It was catshit. It was useless. Me and my medium-sized cock were in trouble.

I sat in class without speaking, waiting. The students and the instructors needled me. I had lost my drive, my steam, my mox. I felt that the whole thing was out of my hands. It was going to happen. All the cocks
were in trouble. My English instructor, quite a nice lady with beautiful legs asked me to stay after class one day. “What’s the matter, Chinaski?” she asked. “I’ve given up,” I said. “You mean politics?” she asked. “I mean politics,” I said. “You’d make a good sailor,” she said. I walked out . . .

I was sitting with my best friend, a marine, in a downtown bar drinking a beer when it happened. A radio was playing music, there was a break in the music. They told us that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed. It was announced that all military personnel should return immediately to their bases. My friend asked that I take the bus with him to San Diego, suggesting that it might turn out to be the last time I ever saw him.

He was right.

 

Charles Bukowski

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