Raise Less Corn, More Hell
Here is your presumably eighth rendition of Mi Mamacita Communista, or Things My Mother Taught Me, which I first wrote for May Day 2008, shortly before the country found its mind and elected the smart nice black guy, and started serializing I guess in 2012, when I bought this joint. Some different things have happened since then! I no longer think Stalin was hilarious, and it turns out Daniel Ortega is not that awesome of a Nicaraguan president, so that's upsetting. Some other things are even more upsetting, like pretty much all of it. Didn't see "global pandemic" coming, or at least not exactly when it did, in the middle of impeaching the criminal president. Who is Donald Trump.
This year, for the first time in my lifetime, and I am a spritely nice grandmother, we can't put on our Marching Zapatos of Occupado Justice. Isn't that a strange how do ye do? This year, protesting is for anti-vaxxers and gun nuts only — they're allies now, along with Johnny Reb! — while the rest of us focus on being okay with just losing a year, and getting through it. It happens sometimes, you lose a year; it just doesn't work out. This guy says every hundred years, the world loses a year together. We're on hold. We're in stasis. I just looked up stasis to make sure I was using it right, and yes, it's a long period of inactivity. It's also civil strife. How did the dictionary know? We'll be fine.
My sweet progressive neighbor stopped by the fence yesterday while we were doing our Mother's Day deck gardening. (Never saw "living in Montana" coming either!) I had my small daughter (didn't expect her too also!) back up a few feet from said sweet neighbor and explained lightly we are "corona-aware." Oh, I'm not, my sweet neighbor said, sweetly, and then explained that she has "heard different things," for instance am I not worried they might be making it up to use a vaccine to chip us? No, honey, they don't need to chip us, I promise. We all have cell phones! She believes in global warming; new diseases can come out of the frozen tundra at any time! It was a gentle two-minute lecture instead of a 10-minute one, to give her something to ponder instead of getting defensive and frozen in place. It's very rare in Montana still, I acknowledged, but it just takes one. I don't think she heard me at all, so now "sweet neighbor who could kill us by breathing on us at any time" is a thing I did not see coming either. Oh 2020, you sly dog, with rabies and the brain worms and some nazis sometimes.
Mi mamacita communista is still in Oklahoma, still has — unaccountably — not been burned for a witch, and had a little bit of cancer these past couple of months. Now she can shoot arrows better, Amazon-styley. She's lonely out in the country. She yells at people in the hardware store if they don't have their masks on, because none of them have their masks on. She has been prescribed a medicine that takes her estrogen away, so she is all testosterone all the time, stone cold yelling at people in hardware stores and, pace Andrew Sullivan, punching God in the face. Appreciate your estrogen is a new lesson she has taught me, still teaching me lessons 47 years later. Love your mother.
And so today is May Day! We can have — or heave! — a cocktail for the working man. We can put on Our Marching Zapatos of Ocupado Justice! We can do lots and loads of things! But me, I'm missing mi mamacita communista. She didn't die or anything, she just retired and moved back to Oklahoma, where they still (unaccountably) haven't burned her for a witch.
These are things my mother taught me.
* The dog can drink out of the pool.
* It's best if the babies are naked.
* Protesting is fun! Marching is better!
* It is our patriotic duty to cuss loud and creatively. Lenny Bruce wants us to stick it to the squares. For America. And the children.
* Good names for America's pets and children include Rosie, Emma, Fidel and Diego, and any of her children who don't comply will have their kids' and pets' names changed unilaterally. Rodents should be named after baked goods.
* The best name for getting arrested under while demonstrating is Emma Goldman.
* Good places to get arrested are the Nevada Test Site, Diablo Canyon, and the mean streets of Thousand Oaks, California, during Gulf War 1.
* Bad places to get arrested are on warrants for failure to appear.
* All the words to "Union Maid."
* Contra Barbara Ehrenreich, it is perfectly acceptable to pay a lady to clean your house. You just have to pay her three times the going rate, and you may not use the sort of slave agency that can afford to advertise in the Yellow Pages. You must find a lady via reference or supermarket bulletin board.
* C-Span is a joy and a privilege.
*Do not stand around doing nothing if someone else is working. This applies equally to camp-outs and the lady cleaning your house.
* High levels of wealth may be forgiven if they are spent on cliffside or canyon Modernist homes.
* How to make freeway offramp banners out of bed sheets and shelf liners.
* How to choose a losing candidate.
* The names of a high proportion of local flowers and trees.
* The "Hail Mary."
* The "Our Father."
* Liberation Theology.
* All 15 stanzas of "The Cremation of Sam McGee."
* There's no need to hold a grudge for more than a couple of hours, unless your friend is 100 percent right and you are 100 percent wrong, in which case you may stay angry for the next 15 years.
* Blame America first!
* Un pueblo unido … can never be divided!
* I should not wear whore shoes. (She finally gave up on that.)
* Good places to pick fights are at parties and in line at the grocery store.
* There is never an inappropriate time to talk politics.
* DO NOT fail to appear.
* Fun fact! Ronald Wilson Reagan = 666
* George H.W. Bush: Not much better!
* Also, April Glaspie totally told Saddam we didn't care if he went into Kuwait.
* Seriously, that whole war was based on LIES.
* You know, as opposed to this last one.
* I would regret my Nader vote like she regretted hers for Eldridge Cleaver.
* Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
* No, really, I am not allowed to vote for Ralph Nader.
* WHAT DID SHE TELL ME!
* Read "Catch-22." A good place to do this is on the sand at Hermosa Beach in 1966.
* Read "Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit."
* Read Mother Jones and the Utne Reader.
* Read "A Prayer For Owen Meany."
* Read Evelyn Waugh and the sainted Miss Ivins.
* Erma Bombeck was funny too. No, really, she was!
* Read Eda LeShan, and take her childrearing tips to heart. Forgive yourself if you snap and smack your kid, but it's a lot better to do it because you're out of control than if it's in-control and premeditated. Also, kiss your husband or wife before your kids when you get home from work, because the best thing you could possibly give your kids is parents who are happy and in love.
* Read e.e. cummings, Bukowski, and Thompson. The best way to do this is out loud at the dinner table. Also, the scene in "Tracks" where someone takes a shit on Louise Erdrich's pillow.
* Reading trashy romance novels is giving me a skewed vision of life, and I will never marry and will always be sad.
* I should marry an ugly guy. He will love me.
* I should do my son's homework for him but make him watch. Eventually he will pick it up by osmosis.
* It is better to have a kid who cusses than a little prig who goes "ooooh I'm telling" when someone else does.
* If you don't take your kids to parties and restaurants and concerts and galleries and city council meetings, you are loosing an idiot on the world.
* That entails making them behave. Princes and princesses reflect badly. On YOU.
* A little violence never hurt anybody, so there's no reason not to take a three-year-old to see Lethal Weapon 4.
* Weed will save you from alcoholism.
* There will come a day when I no longer look cute on a barstool.
* How to make a martini.
* How to clean a kitchen.
* How to do all her phone-treeing for the Democratic Club meeting.
* How to use chopsticks.
* Water is life.
* My plants are screaming in anguish.
* If I don't water my plants, she is going to take them away, because I do not deserve to own plants.
* Also, my dog.
* And my son.
* Whom she will rename Fidel.
* Both of them.
* If people start with their overwrought bitching about STALIN! And 20 MILLION DEAD! don't bother to respond about the Butcher of Santiago making Chile safe for capitalism, and our complicity in the Disappeared, or about any of our other complicities (even Iraq). Just point and laugh.
* The Contras really shouldn't have raped those nuns.
* Roberto D'Aubuisson really shouldn't have assassinated Archbishop Romero and Che.
* Ronald Reagan really shouldn't have committed treason by sending George Bush pere to Paris before he was elected to promise the Iranians missiles should they be kind enough to keep our hostages just a little bit longer.
*No, Ollie North did not look "sexy" in his uniform, Jesus Christ.
* Viva Sandino!
* Viva Chavez!
* Viva Fidel!
* It's okay, I can love Jimmy Carter if I want.
* Too bad about Ronald Reagan's treason and all.
* How to pronounce "primer," as in a schoolbook: short i.
* How to pronounce "mauve": long o.
* There are UFOs in Topanga.
* Just because you are driving a crappy old Geo Metro does not mean you are friendless, as the crabby cop who kicks your 57-year-old schoolteacher ass will discover when the former head of Amnesty International and the legal director of the ACLU takes your case.
* The Southern California ACLU got its start in San Pedro, after Upton Sinclair got arrested for reading the First Amendment out loud on Liberty Hill.
* Serious people don't care if a boycott's "over" or "doesn't exist."
* Brown rice, not white.
* All the words to the 1930s lullabye "Lilac trees," including the spoken coda: "And then the little pickanniny [!] boy got sick and died, and all the little white children were sorry they didn't play with him."
* Just try not crying yourself to sleep every night after that!
* If you love Martin Luther King in 1961 Oklahoma, boys in your high school will threaten to "make you dead."
* Down with Whitey.
* And the Man.
* And most women too!
* If we're going to be so un-American as to actually love the Constitution, that means the Second Amendment too.
* But not the Eighteenth!
* Because it was repealed!
* When your kid has to write an essay on What the Flag Means to Him, and you are writing it for him just like she told you to, be sure to include The Right To Burn It.
* Why are you leaving out the best part?
* She knew you were going to leave out the best part.
* Love your mother.
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