Bongs and BP

These days it seems like you can’t throw a rock in Aledo without hitting a proponent of free markets, laissez faire, and the notion that it’s every man, woman, and child for him- or herself. These folks want corporations unfettered, industries unbridled, and businesses “unbound,” governed only by the “survival of the most profitable” dictum, an economic variation of the Darwinian theory of evolution (which a lot of the same folks don’t believe in).

I get this but don’t agree with it, mainly because most of the life forms (including humans) that are trying to make a go of it on this tiny blue orb are suffering under this system (as is the blue orb itself). Exhibit one, of course, would be the busted fossil fuel spigot gushing up to 60,000 barrels of death into the Gulf of Mexico every day because the obscenely profitable oil and gas industry has been woefully under-regulated.

Putting aside, for a moment, the (considerable) merits of government regulation of corporations, I have another problem with the complaints coming from the “we have too much government” quarter: If you’re going to whine and complain about regulation and oversight, at least be consistent.

For example, the Shell gas station where I occasionally stop for a candy bar or newspaper was splashed across the front page of The Community News a couple of weeks back over a headline that read “Going … going … bong!” It seems a number of Aledo residents were fired up (pardon the pun) about my neighborhood convenience store stocking water pipes or “bongs” on its shelves, especially because it sits across the street from a complex that houses Vandagriff Elementary and Aledo Middle schools.

These concerned citizens let their dissatisfaction be known, and recently re-elected Mayor Kit Marshall wasted no time in scooping up this gem of a political football as deftly as if she had been a member of the 2009 state championship Bearcat football team. “It’s totally inappropriate to be selling those [bongs] in any store in Aledo,” Marshall said, “but most especially across from an elementary school.”

Schools superintendent Don Daniel got in on the action, too, noting that it “sets a poor example for our youngsters.”

Does this mean Aledo’s top education official believes the free market sets a poor example for our kids? Does this mean Mayor Marshall doesn’t believe in a free market? Say it isn’t so.

Under a pure free-market system, my neighborhood quick-stop would be free to sell bongs as they wished, but at their own peril. If enough customers were upset by this alleged faux pas, the store might lose business. Then again, it might not — in this neck of the woods, the bongs might sell out pretty quick.

In fact, some of the folks we regard as pillars of our community — builders, developers, entrepreneurs, etc. — were at least recreational potheads when I was in school with them at Aledo High School. And they turned out all right.

How could any of us legitimately criticize their spiritual (and perhaps actual) descendants for getting high? Especially since our community and our school system put enormous pressure on our kids to be narrow-minded, superficial, xenophobic, and conformist (that is, conservative and Republican).

As much as I complain, things could be worse. I could live in Farmers Branch, where instead of restricting citizenship economically, they flag you for your country of origin. Or I could live in Arlington, currently home to the biggest fossil-fuel pimp in American politics, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton.

What was he smoking when he apologized, on behalf of all the big- oil enablers, for President Obama’s “shakedown” of British Petroleum? Is that why they call him “Smoky Joe?” Had he been hitting a peace pipe before the BP hearings?

It’s almost a call to action. I feel compelled to go down to my neighborhood Shell station and summarily apologize for my community’s “shakedown” of their establishment.

But I won’t be buying a bong. I don’t smoke pot. I watch TV instead. I know the boob tube is a “gateway” drug, but it’s a better buzz, more mind-numbing and easier on my throat and lungs. Church is good too, especially if you’re really jones-ing for a toke. You know, the ol’ “opiate of the masses” fix. Also it’s more personal and lots of folks can do it together.

I tried marijuana a few times, but it didn’t do it for me. And I have to admit I went to church once, too — but I didn’t inhale.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. franco_american1962 said on June 25th, 2010 at 8:24am #

    And everyone must come to realize that government is an unalloyed good? Yeah, lets keep to the programmatic and expectable critique of the Free-market system, and continue to deny economic freedom as an excuse for “unfettered” greed and evil. I think that I will stick to my pot, thank you very much. Has that “hope and change” left your throat raw?

  2. franco_american1962 said on June 25th, 2010 at 8:31am #

    “It’s totally inappropriate to be selling those [bongs] in any store in Aledo,” Marshall said, “but most especially across from an elementary school.” Yeah, a lot better to be selling cigs and booze near a school. No one says that limited govt., akin to something Libertarian, would be conceivable, given the inroads that socialism has made in America…or would that be soft-facism?

  3. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 8:37am #

    The problem is not ‘illegal’ immigrants- the sole problem is illegal rulers in america or india.
    Or even illegal rulers of ancient egypt an sumer. Since that time nothing has changed.
    Illegals of US are exact copy of illegals in jordan, iran, iraq, pakistan, india, UK, et al.
    U change that or expel the illegals and we solve most of our problems. And we beging to live like humans a instead as half- or quarter-human.

  4. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 9:02am #

    Oil spills, killing ‘aliens’ are ‘legal'; i.e., according to mafioso ‘laws’ written solely by mafia.
    And caponi and lucky luciano were always acting in accordance with their written and unwritten ‘laws’.

    Present ruling mafia gang in US also has written and unwritten laws; with unwritten ‘laws’ having greater import than written ones.
    Of course, mafia can rule US and terrorize ‘aliens’ only if it controls cia, fbi, army.
    Forget ab supremes; they always sing falsetto on command by mafia; which of course is always faceless.
    Forget ab prez or congress. They are also gangsters, but not as powerful as the top capos; which we never see or hear talking.

    Why talk, when tanks walk? Why ply, when jets fly? Why worship when having warships? Why pay dues when one has jooz? tnx

  5. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 11:22am #

    When s’mone attacks u with a dysphemistic overgeneralization, then, u know u’r right.
    Mind u, a generalization or overgeneralization cannot be understood; thus cannot be answered.
    What can be understood, tho, is that the person who get’s personal is wrong in some way. Perhpas, too to much anger, love for gangsters or the greatest criminal minds, or simply being made in america! tnx

  6. duaner said on June 25th, 2010 at 12:23pm #

    Bart: I think Bozh’s second comment is closer to prose poetry than a symptom of a major mental illness. Mind you, poetry often sounds a bit crazy – that’s part of its charm. And do let’s remember that “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    Bozh sounds a bit kooky because his writing is often short-hand for very complex concepts. I would also venture to guess that English is not his first language. This is no attack on Bozh – I speak more than one language and I know from experience that it’s often difficult to be 100% lucid in a foreign tongue.

    So, Bozh is a crappy typist (no offense, I hope), trying to explain complex ideas in a language other than his mother tongue. And having a bit of fun with words too – I take ‘supremes…sing falsetto’ to mean something akin to ‘the US supreme court is corrupt’. That’s poetic-comedic gold, or at least silver.

    I suppose it’s up to Bozh to try to be as clear as he can, but the reader also has a responsibility to make an honest effort to make sense of the message. I am posting this unsollicited defence because I see a lot of people making essentially ad-hominem attacks against Bozh (and many others, everywhere comments are posted), but I rarely see them engaging in real debate on the issues.

    I realize that I’m totally off 0n a tangent here, and I feel obligated to at least nod in the direction of the topic of this article. I agree that America has largely gone crazy – which is the theme, if not the actual subject, of this piece. Well, say 30% of them are totally bonkers, 30% are in denial, and 30% are desperately struggling to inject some sanity. Place the remaining 10% wherever you like.

    This is predictable, though. They are being told one thing by the dominant media, but there are these little (dissident) voices in their heads (or say, on the internet (go DV!)) that kick at the pillars supporting the worldview that they have been told is true. A hard enough kick, and things start to rock. This creates the kind of cognitive dissonance that leads to mental pathology, or at least that’s what I think I’m seeing happening.

    In more direct terms, being told one thing and observing something else makes a person crazy in the long run. I think this is what is happening on a societal scale in the US. Presciption? Counselling, I guess. Maybe some weed, too, although I’m told that THC can actually exacerbate shcizoid tendencies. So maybe just counselling for now.

    But who has the guts to counsel the ‘states about anything? I’m pretty darn sure that only US citizens can change the US – Americans strike me as a people who don’t much care for outside advice. So, crticism and activism from within is the only road to healing for the US. To get back to my original point, internecine ad-hominem in the dissident camp does not help. Let us all try to do better and provide a shining example of what sanity looks like, eh?

  7. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 12:34pm #

    TORONTO — The McGuinty Liberal government secretly passed a law giving police sweeping new powers for the duration of the G8 and G20 summits.

    The law gives police the power to jail anyone who refuses to furnish identification and submit to a search while within five metres of a designated security zone in downtown Toronto.

    The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said it was “extremely concerned” about the measures which, according to the group, violate constitutional safeguards.

    In a statement, the group said it intends to challenge the law.

    On Thursday, a 32-year-old man was arrested in downtown Toronto for failing to show police ID. Until his arrest, the new law was not publicized.

  8. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 12:41pm #

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/g8-g20/police-can-use-sound-cannons-but-with-limits-judge/article1617752/

    Now it’s called a sound cannon.

  9. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 12:49pm #

    An LRAD-X 100 Acoustic Communication Device. And what is it they are Communicating in old twenty ten?

  10. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 12:57pm #

    http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/carb/rb-l.jpg

    And the Gulf of Mexico formally the Gulf of Mexico now toxic soup about to get shaken and stirred.

    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week projected a 70 percent probability this year for 14 to 23 named tropical storms, 8 to 14 hurricanes, and 3 to 7 major hurricanes. This year’s high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic were recorded amid growing indications that global ocean temperatures are rising as the world warms. NOAA reported that last summer’s mean ocean surface temperatures were 62.5 degrees F, the warmest since records began being kept in 1880 and 1 degree F above the 20th century average. A study released last month reported that “significant warming” had occurred in the upper layer of the world’s oceans since 1993.

  11. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 1:07pm #

    Any plans for any of this well no not so far and
    Again this “sets a poor example for our youngsters.”

  12. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 2:38pm #

    duane,
    yes i thought most readers wld understand : “supremes” singing falsetto a tune written for them by unseen hand as supreme court rubber stamping an already decided upon ruling.
    And especially when it comes dealing with old- and neo-indians. English is my second language.
    However, i use english much differently than most other english users. It is less stylish, brilliant, or generalized.
    I avoid getting personal. I do not often attack even people’s ideas; i simply juxtapose my own or ours, as i say s’mtime.

    But there are lotsof mad-hateful individuals on DV; slightest disagreement ab what i say and they go ballistic.
    Many ‘jews’ get mad at me not because i am not very clear but because i am very clear.
    I also come up with ideas that do not appear in any media. That may upset some people just because i posit a novelty.
    Such as that banksters never owe money. Or that US cannot afford to win the wars in afgh’n and iraq.
    I also often posit the root cause[s] for our maladjustments. Most people never do.
    I don’t know why u use the word “lucid” as in “he cld try to be more lucid”? Why the insult?
    Why apply meritocracy to people? Isn’t that one of the roots of evil? In any case, no matter how unmeritocratic a person is, s/he deserves equal respect.
    And if a person does not understand a sentence, s/he cld, if armed with human face, ask for clarification.
    For how are we better than the ruling class if we also discriminate or show racism.
    I bet if i used an english name i wld be much less attacked personally?

  13. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 3:21pm #

    by Ann Grace
    There are 6,620,000,000 of us living in this crazy world.
    We live in one of 195 countries, we communicate in one of 6,900 languages.
    There are 6,200,000,000 of us living in this crazy world.
    We live on one of 7 continents, we support one of 4,200 religions.
    There are 6,620,000,000 of us living in this crazy world.
    But we’re all the same. We are human and we are one

  14. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 5:21pm #

    Well, as u say i proffer no thread of logic and continuity. Only ramblings. People annoyed because of that.
    Yes asocialists are much annoyed by my ramblings, but they read them and ‘jews’ go bananas over those discontinuities, threads of dislogic, etc.

    U not a ‘jew’? Chosen to hate? Ok, this the last time i respond to u or read anything us say. Why editors allow such hater and agry person to attack other people? tnx

  15. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 5:33pm #

    Don, yes,
    All of us came from one seed. In my thinking, anyway. And this being apodictic truth and the only one that cld lead to our survival on the planet. And not just mere survival, but also feeelings of being wanted-peace, living well, etc .

  16. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 5:36pm #

    And let’s say by Friday we will hear My fellow Americans people of Earth we got a situation. It is unlike anything human’s have ever faced………………………………………………………………………

    We can only Hopi

  17. Don Hawkins said on June 25th, 2010 at 5:50pm #

    http://www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/prophecy/hopi1.html

    “This is the Seventh Sign: You will hear of the sea turning black, and many living things dying because of it.”
    Hopi Prophecy

  18. bozh said on June 25th, 2010 at 6:18pm #

    English, just 15 centuries, was purely a germanic; just like german preww2.
    As such, it sufficed to express any idea whatever. It needed no latin, french, or greek to express any idea.
    German language had proven that. So, two was obviously pronounced as tvo; akin to italian duve, german zwei, slav dva; all of these coming from one indo- european language.
    But germans still pronounce it as it is written. Italian duve is pronounced as is written. Slavs don’t say do or da for number 2, but dva.
    But english two or tvo became tu.
    Apparently, the old englishmen thought that the word is richer, more stylish, and smarter by having one, two, or three extra letters.
    And lotsof people write there for their and new for knew, sow for sew, bail for bale, hale for hail, sale for sail, etc.
    Especially when chewing the gum and walking at the same time. And of typing and thinking at the same time not even to talk.
    But when u hate aliens, one slip and the alien is confused, illogical, crazy. One woman even accused me of bloviating.
    But when u’r made in america or one is ‘jewish’ or muslim, one exspects from them lotsof namecalling.
    But i am still here. Still not reading many posts. tnx

  19. Don Hawkins said on June 26th, 2010 at 2:10am #

    Sea surface temperatures in the region of the tropical Atlantic, where most storms develop, are at record-high levels for the 60-year period during which reliable data has been kept. From the look’s of the track Alex is taking just maybe the people of Earth speech in say October. Of course consumer confidence will be considered and as we know to much truth kind of levels the playing field how does that go knowledge is power then to a heart made of straw and a brain made of stone should be considered along with our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost and any thoughts on our survive and other life forms on the third planet from the Sun this could just come into play if advanced spacefaring aliens exploit resources like humans we’d better hope they don’t find us anytime soon and last but not least when considering any thinking from so called leaders is concerned we must take into account illusion of knowledge on a grand scale better known as bullshit.