Culture vulture

Photo Illustration by C. Owsley Rain

The best things in life are free, but
As a child growing up on a Montana ranch, Culture Vulture became aware of the concept of “breeding” as the means of reproduction at a very early age. Mares and stallions, cows and bulls, sows and boars, hens and roosters, their corporeal interaction seemed perfectly logical and easily understood to my 4- or 5-year-old mind. My father may have cringed a tiny bit when, after viewing a particularly spectacular breeding session between the ranch’s prize stallion and one of the many brood mares, I asked, “Daddy, do people breed?” But if he did flinch, it wasn’t noticeable, and his reply satisfied my curiosity without going into needless technical detail.

With that problem solved satisfactorily my mind was free to engage other, less easily answered questions: How do the pictures get inside picture agates? How come some people are mean? Why don’t snakes have any legs? As we rode along the dirt roads in the pickup truck or, even better, plodded across the range on our horses, my dad would do his best to help me understand the mysteries. It was great. Eventually, of course, my curiosity lit on a set of interlocked questions that defied a logical explanation from my dad: Why is there money? Why do some people get paid less then others? How come everybody doesn’t just do their work and get given everything they need? Why doesn’t everyone be friends?

You can give ’em to the birds and bees
Those are the questions that still haunt me late at night when I’m trying to reconcile my very human appreciation of beauty and sensual pleasure and social interaction with a history of humanity clouded by war and commercialized pollution and racial hatred and homophobia and religious oppression and economic exploitation and thieving corporations and the lying politicians who serve them.

It boils down to is the fact that I lead a sheltered life: Everybody I know is nice. The only time I’ve ever been beaten up, it was by a group of teenage strangers. And I can’t help but think that if we’d actually know each other we’d be friendly acquaintances rather than some old long-haired dude and a of kids who tried to kick his head in for no discernible reason.

And give me money
I just can’t shake the absurd belief that if only people treated each other with courtesy and respect rather than acrimony and blame the world might be a better place. Less exciting for those who enjoy the thrill of physical danger, perhaps, but that’s what paintball battles and X-treme sports are for, if they’re for anything.

What all this is building up to, if such a disjointed ramble can be said to build up to anything, is the attempt of a young mind to develop a method of spotting the stumbling blocks that litter the path toward peaceful coexistence. Oddly enough, when one lists the impediments to tranquility, it looks like a list of the things people seek as their means of obtaining personal happiness or self-definition in the world: money, sex, religion and freedom of choice.

Next week: Are corporations a manifestation of demonic summoning?