KARMAGUMENTThis is what happens when I get drunk. I mean direly and exquisitely drunk and I am walking home alone after the bars close, along Broadway, left turn at 8th Avenue, and across the long bridge that swoops over the railroad tracks and above the former offices of Sears. Most people don’t like that bridge, it’s too long, too deserted, and the bicyclists will kill you, it’s true, because no one expects someone to be walking, not in the middle of nowhere, not at 3a.m., but I love that bridge and it seems to me that it goes clear across the sky. What do I do when I am walking home drunk across the sky? I argue with karma. Not with a person, not with a god. I argue with the law, with the law to end all laws. Sure, it’s a mad thing to do. But, you know how it is. Must be the liquor gets my courage up. I really let the law of karma have it. Blam! I don’t stop until karma’s shaking in its boots. I announce to the air, to the moon, to the street, to the bridge, that I am entirely FED UP with anyone getting what they deserve. Whamo! Which, as you no doubt have noticed, is not even what happens. Who gets what they deserve? When did you last see a elementary school teacher ascend into Heaven? When did you see a PR man for Big Oil disappear in a flash into a fiery pit? At best you receive a voucher good for justice in the invisible world, or so we are told. Why are you getting your ass kicked now? Because you fucked up big-time in Mesopotamia. Like that lesson is going to do you any good. Like you’re going to learn anything from that. It’s all about as useful as kicking the cat for shitting in the fireplace last week. Ka-POW! I’ve got the shit scared out of karma now! I throw a few punches in the air, just for good measure. I am walking home after six drinks with the outlaws and I am ready to award the outlaws everything. For a lifetime of bad behavior, mister, for sexy drunken lawlessness, here is your home beside the golf course, radiant good health, and an insatiable poolboy. In every desperate moment of my life, who has been there for me? The outlaws, always the outlaws. Blessed be the outlaws. You will know that I have been put in charge of the universe when aged hustlers receive better benefits than former members of Congress. Make no mistake. I got a serious chip on my shoulder. I’m a man with a venomous grudge. (Don’t blame the liquor for this, please. I’m just as pissed when I’m sober. The liquor simply augments my dazzling eloquence.) I am opposed, officially and on principle, to Respectable People whom I have throughout my life found to be reliably reprehensible and, above all, useless. It has been one of the largest and most unexpected lessons of my life, the reliable awfulness of Respectable People. Blindness you can count on. If you define respectable as an adjective meaning useless in emergencies, you will never be disappointed. Oh but they give money! Yes, as a means of not dirtying their hands. Don’t ask me to kiss their asses for it. Respectable People are above all fastidious. They are fastidious and they are busy. They are so very busy. They are busy because they are tremendously important. Too busy to dirty their hands! Busy, busy, busy believing in a fair, clean, decent profitable world, the primary function of which is to keep them comfortable and to tell them, over and over again, what decent and upstanding, nice, nice, nice people they are. Do you imagine you could actually interfere with that? With the messy details of your actual life? Go ahead and try! Whereas your friend of a certain age, with bottle red hair, too many bad lovers and too many cheap drinks, will prove a hundred times more helpful when trouble shows up. She knows trouble, oh yes she does. As opposed to the well-to-do Protestants, who are busy all the time pretending there’s no shit and no fan. Karma quivering in terror, drops the calculator and flees, spreadsheets fluttering out behind. A stampede of Respectable People follows, muttering to themselves what nice nice people they are. The outlaws whistle cheerfully in their wake and go are collecting piles of luxury cosmetics and department store charge cards. The vast majority of what gets called virtue is actually a simple lack of opportunity, initiative and imagination. I hereby command that we stop calling good what is only habitual and safe. What are Respectable People actually doing? They are gnawing their way through everything. They ought not be rich Presbyterians and luxury Buddhists. If they really prize honesty above all, as they are forever saying they do, they ought to worship the termites and the locusts. It’s a wonder the bridge doesn’t fall down, I’m telling you! Because I am mighty impressive when I get going on karma. I’m in tip-top form. I’m downright inspired and with good reason: it’s been quite a night at the bar, a tip-top night, which doesn’t mean the liquor was top-shelf. It certainly wasn’t. Why do people go to respectable bars? Respectable is something I can do on my own, alone, at home. Swooping upon me and my dollar beer, here is Jim, father of four, five foot six but don’t mess with him. Jim delivers a high-speed lecture on race that culminates in a surprise invitation. Turning around, he drops his pants and shows me his round smooth black ass, which even non-mystics would recognize at once as divine. Here, too, is Brian, a day laborer: he's willing to love me but warns he will need 48 hours to get hard. Brian is very drunk but obviously grasps the current situation better than I do. To Jim he announces, “Baby, I would rob a bank for you.” Dana’s a lesbian skinhead and the first thing she does, when she finds me in the corner reading Chinese Zen scriptures from the 11th century, is buy me another cocktail. Then she buys herself one. Then she goes to the toilet to throw up. Was that cocktail tallied? The one she bought me? Will she receive full credit for it? I want that karma to ripen now. Lesbian angels and an Alka-Selzer for Dana and now, in this life. Out of nowhere, Tracy the aesthetician says, “If you keep this in your pocket, it will help your sadness go away.” And she hands me a stone she says was called an Apache’s tear. I’d never met her before. She said she worked in Hollywood but it was making her crazy. Tact seized me in the nick of time and I didn’t ask her if she’d been doing porn. I’m not making any of this up. I got the rock right here, you want to see it? Don’t wait up for some Lutheran to give you a rock! Respectable People spend their evenings tallying reason why they mustn’t become involved. Tracy sees the sadness and right away she’s got a rock for it. Tracy’s 34 and she looks 17. Listen up karma, I want that beauty to go right on. This woman gave me a rock. I know I’m not the first to mention this but, it’s not justice if you have to wait for it, like a bus at the curb or a check in the mail. Tomorrow I will be someone else and so will Tracy. Ever notice how the people giving to the homeless are almost always the people who know they could be homeless next week? The Respectable People don’t give, or they give but look away, or they say, Oh he will just spend it on liquor! Karmically speaking, shouldn’t every bottle of chardonnay in the Respectable People’s homes spontaneously explode at that moment? I demand those bottles explode. BOOM! Bang! Ka-POW! Karma do your goddamned job. Be inexorable already, like you’re all the time boasting you are. Here and now where we can see it. If not, we’ve got Grace waiting in the wings. Grace is ready to take over at any time. I hereby command the chardonnay of Respectable People to explode! If that doesn’t work, I'm happy to smash those bottles myself. More than happy.