“George Bush is a liar AND a loose gun for hire.” I found it so refreshing to read these affirmations of truth on the cover of Mike Palecek's latest novel, Looking for Bigfoot. Palecek's "irreverent" novel is a potent attack on almost everything which is perverse, depraved, immoral, and malevolent about the US government and the society which it creates and perpetuates (through the public education system and its subservient corporate media). The search for Bigfoot, which the novel's protagonist Jack Robert King undertakes, is a metaphorical quest for the truth behind the deteriorating facade of the United States as a benevolent superpower which spreads freedom and liberty around the globe.
Mike Palecek knows a bit about dissent and, to his credit, is an "enemy of the (corrupt and tyrannical) state." He has been crusading to find and expose the truth for years as a journalist, editor and writer. At one point, the rulers of the "land of the free" held him as a prisoner of conscience at seven different federal prisons for the non-violent civil disobedience he carried out against their sacrosanct military industrial complex. Yes, Mike Palecek is an enemy to that soulless coalition of the wealthy elite, corporate interests, pro-Israeli forces, powerful lobbyists, and conservative Christians who hold most of the power in the United States. They despise gadflies like Palecek, who challenge their perpetual lies and obscene immoral abuses of the public trust, domestic law, international law, and human rights.
Flag Wavers and "True Patriots" will not enjoy this read.
I would venture to say that many of those who tend toward the deeply conservative end of the political or social spectrum would find Looking for Bigfoot to be highly offensive and perhaps "treasonous". More is the pity that their closed minds render them incapable of seeking or seeing the truth. The individuals to whom I refer are content to wear rose-colored glasses while continuing to believe that the United States of America is a paragon of virtue and that might does indeed make right.
Looking for Bigfoot is fillled with powerful quotes from numerous individuals with a more liberal viewpoint, like the following from Bill Moyers:
The more compelling our journalism, the angrier became the radical right of the Republican Party.
That's because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth.
The Quest and the Quester
While Looking for Bigfoot is a chronicle of Jack Robert King's tragic search for the truth, it is also a portrait of a man tormented by the knowledge that he is living in a nation governed by shamelessly immoral, avaricious individuals living comfortably behind a carefully crafted illusion of their virtue. An unemployed, unpublished writer who served prison time for civil disobedience and who broadcasts an Internet radio show espousing his "radical" political views, Jack and his family live in Dyersville, Iowa in a home sitting on the movie site of the ball field portrayed in Field of Dreams. How ironic that a man cursed with the knowledge that the "American Dream" is actually a nightmare (except for a select few patricians) would live in the Heart of America on the location where the corporate media created an extremely popular film which glorified "America's Pastime." Baseball is as American as Mom, apple pie, and murdering millions of innocent civilians in the interest of imperial expansion.
After receiving a copy of a magazine with a cover story profiling his beloved high school baseball coach's search for Bigfoot in Oregon, Jack decides that it is his destiny to follow his former coach to the Great Northwest. Literally taking his show on the road, Jack begins his physical quest for truth on a bus bound for Oregon, broadcasting his radio show via his laptop at various stops along the way.
As one might expect of a bus trip, Jack encounters a wide variety of personalities, beliefs, races, and religions in the people he sees and meets.
In one of the more poignant moments in the book, Jack has an exchange with an Air Force retiree who overheard him recording his next show. The military man confronted Jack: "I disagree with everything you've been saying. They ought to place you in prison, son. I served so punks like you could be free."
Jack responded with an interesting counter to the widely believed "truth" that Americans who have not served in the military owe the "privilege of their existence" to those who have:
So...I'm free to do what I'm doing, thanks dude. By the way, next time, don't do me any favors, okay?
Unless I specifically ask you, don't kill anyone for me, okay? Don't bomb anyone; don't nuke anyone; don't napalm anyone; don't murder any men, women or children for me, okay?
I went to prison so that fucks like you wouldn't run the world!
Don't give me that military service patriotism crap. All it means is you were too lazy to think for yourself and too afraid to do what was right.
And don't come around and tell me you kept me free, moron! I'm free because I will stand up in a crowded bus and look you in the eye.
You did not do shit----you idiot!
Eugene Debs, Michael Moore, Martin King, not you. Not you.
Grappling with a wide range of emotions, torment and insecurities throughout the novel, Jack is, to an extent, a tortured soul. Cursed by his knowledge of the "Great American Lie" and his feelings of inadequacy which stem from the natural human desire to "fit in," he lapses in and out of seeing himself as a social pariah. Driven by a powerful motivation to discover more truth (i.e., who was actually behind the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King), he abandoned his family to find Bigfoot. As he progresses on his journey, Jack experiences guilt and regret, both for leaving his family, and for endangering them by expressing his dissident viewpoint via Internet radio.
Once Jack arrives in Oregon and finds Larry Moore, his former coach, he makes some surprising discoveries about Moore, Bigfoot, and the truths which he has been desperately seeking. Guided by Moore, Jack concludes he needs to return to his family in Iowa. Jack's quest for truth ends where it began, on the Field of Dreams with his family. Be prepared for a shocking finale to this intriguing indictment of the US government and the society which it has carefully honed to ensure a complacent populace to support and endorse its horrendous crimes against humanity.
The truth hurts
Briefly summarizing the thrust of his view of America, Jack wrote these words in a letter to Cherry, his wife:
We thought we lived in the best country in the world and it turned out to be the worst.
Marine Generals talking about how fun it is to kill. Americans abusing Iraqi citizens in every form imaginable. Hummer. A sex term adopted by the military turned into a vehicle on our streets and a commercial on our TVs. Little kids talking about wanting to get a hummer. All in the name of good ol' American patriotism and gettin' behind the team.
Does anyone at Rotary realize that we killed more Native Americans in our seizure of the American landscape than the six million killed by Hitler in the death camps?"
If you are looking for another testament to the greatness of America, don't read this book. It does not contain the tissue of lies necessary to compose such an illusion. However, I highly recommend Looking for Bigfoot for veteran truth seekers who already realize how morally bankrupt our nation is. I also strongly encourage fledgling malcontents (who are just beginning to realize that "something's rotten in Denmark") read this book as a primer on the ills of American government and society. Aside from the intrigue of the story, the quotes and truth woven into the fiction make Looking for Bigfoot a very worthwhile read for those who are not afraid to discern the ugly reality beneath the comely veneer of America portrayed in Norman Rockwell's art.
Awareness that there is a problem is the first and essential step in eradicating the problem. Let's hope that many read Looking for Bigfoot, expand their awareness, and attack the problem through non-violent means.
Jason Miller is a 38-year-old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He works as a loan counselor in the transportation industry and is a husband with three sons. His affiliations include Amnesty International and the ACLU. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on his blog Thomas Paine's Corn.
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