I recently sold some books to Half-Price Books and realized when I got home that way back in the early 1990s when I first started on by B.A., I had the bizarre habit of writing my name, address, phone number and, most odd, my social security number in the front of my textbooks. It must have been a different time because these days I would never do something like that for fear of having my "identity" stolen (My identity, in a purely metaphysical sense, has nothing to do with numbers on a piece of paper or in a computer, but I'm just smart that way...) Anyway, it got me thinking how even I have been duped by the "information age" and post 9-11 world into being a paranoid idiot.
Everything is safe now. It makes me sick. Children and adults wear helmets when they ride bicycles. When I was a kid I would have thrown my bicycle away if someone had ever demanded I wear a helmet. My friends and I used to ride in the most dangerous, life-threatening manner, jumping on and off the street in heavy traffic, no doubt scaring the shit out of the adults. That's what kids are supposed to do, goddammit, they are supposed to test the boundaries of mortality.
These days, we can't go anywhere without being followed by a camera. Orwell warned us about it and we just let it happen without any protest. The status quo has got such an iron grip on our thinking that they've managed to turn Orwell into the villain and anyone who mentions his prophesies is suspect of being some sort of militant wacko who lives in the hills of Idaho collecting guns and old typewriters... I know better. Hopefully you do too.
Myself, I have a heart condition that forced me to sober up sooner than I wanted. Now my tests of mortality are generic, like my annual visit to Kings Island to ride The Beast. Recently, however, I noticed police are "cracking down" on people who don't wear their seatbelts. I find this amazing. With all the crime and violence caused by the prohibition of narcotics, seatbelts are their most pressing issue??? Thus, I have decided I am not going to wear my seatbelt when I drive. I have to say, it is liberating to get in the car, just like when I was a teenager, start it up and drive. That extra move to put on the seatbelt is entirely programmed by the state. Getting rid of it feels like getting rid of a tiny, tiny amount of the weight and pressure that has been put on all of us to be good little consumer robot citizens. I love it. It's like breathing near a clean beach.
I know it's not smoking pot in the city-county building bathroom, something I once allegedly did, but it's as good as a rebel rapidly approaching middle age can do at the moment. That, and writing about the good old days, when having no moral center was mandatory and following stupid little rules that are only designed to chip away at your ability to make your own decisions was absolutely out of the question.
Favorite Crime Fiction of 2018, Part II: Kevin Burton Smith - *Kevin Burton Smith is the Montreal-born founder and editor of that essential 20-year-old resource, The (New) Thrilling Detective Web Site, as well as the ...
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