“He said this: ‘When you get to be our age, you all of a sudden realize that you are being ruled by people you went to high school with.’
He was uncomfortably silent for a moment, then he said, ‘You all of a sudden catch on that life is nothing but high school. You make a fool of yourself in high school, then you go to college and learn how you should have acted in high school, and then you get out into real life, and that turns out to be high school all over again—class officers, cheerleaders, and all.’”
-Kurt Vonnegut from the essay, “Good Missiles, Good Manners, Good Night”
I wrote the following a couple years ago upon hearing through the grapevine that a peer from high school was running for a NY state senate seat. I like to think he didn’t win the election because of my inspired word work, but that is probably true like I actually have a chance at becoming a U.S. congressman. All of the crazy that gets passed off as politics today is just the dumb bullies of yesterday’s high school picking on the more vulnerable kids protecting their lunch money until the inevitable.
Joe Dyer is running for State Senate in the 37th district of New York State. My friend Pat called me up yesterday to say so. He read Joe’s biography while I sat in a brown chair, my mind spinning into overdrive, contacting memory, learning, and philosophy to process the new, personally pertinent information. Joe was our peer all through elementary and high school. He was a dandy, and a mean one at that. I believe the word “preppie” came into use during eighth grade. A “preppie” would be likened to a “soc” from the book The Outsiders, still assigned reading for kids today, as if there are no contemporary teen fiction authors worth their salt, and S.E. Hinton is some kind of generation leaping teen guru of eternal wisdom.
Though tall and long-armed, Joe was no physical in-your-face bully. But he was mean. Disdainful. “Stuck-up” was the term to designate elitist young people back then. Joe was an effeminate young boy, which confused many of the other kids, but at that tender age, not enough to turn their confusion into cruelty. We all had more or less an equal amount of disposable income, so other, more finesse, status lines needed to be drawn. The preppie click started young, fourth grade in my school. It was all due mainly to geography and dress. Joe hung around with the girls of the same development. There was money in these houses, not a great deal more than the rest of town, but enough to improve upon the wardrobes of the children. Joe and his girl friends had the latest from Izod, Levi’s, and the ever-cool sounding OshKosh B’gosh. They sported a high fashion that all the kids coveted but most were unable to acquire by the fifth grade.
Salvatore was a friend of mine, who had recently moved into a big house in Joe’s development. For a stretch of several months I went over to his house every day after school. We practiced disco in Sal’s living room and walked around the development pretending to be fifth grade cool. Often Joe would be out with his gaggle of well-dressed girls. He and they would taunt Sal repeating the mean kid slang of the time like, “Why are you hangin’ out with gay-boy Throop? He’s a fag… Tell him to go home.” To Sal’s credit, he always defended me. Sal didn’t think I was gay. Neither did I. Who knew what “homosexual” was anyway? I may not have been gay, but I was a romantic. In school I sent Lisa, one of Joe’s girl friends, a carnation on Valentine’s Day. She wasn’t ready to be loved, at least by me, and so defensively called me a “gayboy” in reaction to the flower gift, which was unfortunate because of her position as trend-setter at our elementary school. Joe, Lisa, and the girl friends carried over their prejudice to other preppie boys and girls, and together they fashioned quite a scary hell out of my elementary school experience.
Joe Dyer remained a condescending preppie throughout the rest of our hometown school years. As I recall, by graduation, beyond being an impeccable dresser, he never stood out in any way but average. According to his biography he went to Georgetown University for his bachelor’s, and received a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
Here is some Joe Dyer professional life story straight from his senate campaign Facebook:
As Senior Vice President of Global Policy for Visa, Inc., Joe launched the strategy to open the China market for American financial companies, which became a landmark case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the U.S. won. For over a decade at AIG, he served as a Director of Corporate & International Affairs where he worked hard to open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services. This helped create good jobs back in America.
Joe was then appointed to serve as a Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff to the Under-Secretary for Domestic Finance in the U.S. Department of Treasury from 2003 to 2005. He returned to AIG in 2007 and planned to spend the rest of his career there focused on expanding business in international markets. But, like many regular employees, he lost his job during the financial crisis and was left with only his personal integrity, resolve and entrepreneurial spirit to provide for his family in the highest taxed county in the nation. He learned how losing nearly everything can sometimes provide you with even more, if one is willing to work hard and pursue the American Dream.
And finally, the reason why Joe is running for office, according to the little satan perched on his left shoulder:
Joe Dyer is running for New York State Senate to bring the voice of regular, hard-working families back to Westchester. He knows what it means to balance a budget, hold the line on spending and create jobs by opening new markets for American products.
A veritable saint of a man, Joe Dyer.
That should be enough about Joe for me to leave his memory the heck alone. But I am feeling a bit feral today. Wild in many ways not akin to Joe, but in the sense of unbelievable “why” and mega-stupendous “how”. How can Americans be so politically and philosophically drained of even a drop of reactionary dignity? Why is Joe, the stuck-up nothing special preppie of my memory poised to have influential power in state politics as well as the wealth and status of Croesus? The people of Joe’s über taxed county have a choice between two candidates to represent them this November, and one of them was high up in a company that took nearly a tenth of a trillion dollars of tax payer money in a bailout. A couple weeks later the candidate may have been spotted at The St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California enjoying a half a million dollar spa vacation with other jolly, upbeat executives. And if he wasn’t there in person, in spirit he was more responsible than anyone else in his district for the financial crisis of 2008.
So many darting reactions to Joe’s social success. I need to take hold of one and fly with it.
In my artistic, fatherly, husbandly, morally, joyfully non-humble opinion, I believe Joe Dyer to be the scourge of the earth, the antithesis of good, a representative of King Beelzebub if anyone anywhere still actually believed in the kingdom of Hell. Joe is my spiritual enemy because to a sensitive painter and poor man he can be nothing else. What he sees as accomplishment, I have spent a lifetime countering, for I sincerely believe that his achievements stand up as the earth’s only evil. Joe Dyer is avarice incarnate. In my little world of control, the means always justify the ends; one reaps what one sows, etc., etc. Privately, Joe will get his just desserts someday, but in the mean time… Oh, in the mean time…
I am working on an exhibition of my paintings for next spring protesting the probable arrival of the natural gas industry to upstate New York. I am not getting paid. My wife and I are investing in all the materials and time necessary to express my deep concern for the future of our water supply. Joe Dyer, if insanely elected, and if ready to tow his parties’ line, could be the deciding vote to lift the present moratorium and clear a path to the monster nature-haters. This fracking hoard will make their millions, of course laundering a piece of profit back to Joe and his cronies, under the guise of improving the economy for simpleton Jack the corn farmer. And then when the fissures crack, and all the gas has risen, and the pools have brought childhood leukemia to the gay boys and girls of his grandchildren’s childhood, Joe Dyer will have been long since dead, laid to rest some time ago with the rich man’s understanding that there is no retributive justice for the people ever. Joe Dyer must envy me much more than I want his money. He knows he makes nothing but trickle-down sorrow for so many people of the earth. He must know too, privately, that his money and power is not self-made. For Joe Dyer it was all luck, placement, and yes, hard work, but toward nothing, nothing, nothing of eternal merit. There are only so many hours in a week, and for Joe Dyer to resumé such a life as he has “made” means he neglected all the life wonders that I hold dear to my heart. If he is as good a father as I, a better husband, a gentler soul, then let the earth ram its pin-hole into the sun, for I must be a crazed lunatic.
We suffer from a live and let live psychosis. It must be evolutionary, from a time way back when we had to subsist in small clans for survival, and we trusted, intuitively, all characters of the tribe. If Joe Dyer was to gain business respect in 8,000 B.C.E., he would have to be one of the best wampum stringers, for he certainly could not come of age as a warrior or wise man. And, since wealth was shared by all, the chief would have ordered his banishment the moment Joe wove his first Izod alligator moccasins. Individual status was achieved with reason and consent of the tribe, not acquired through billion dollar bureaucratic contracts or their equivalent, which at that time of course, did not exist.
That constituents of the 37th district of New York will even step out of their cars to vote for anyone besides Joe Dyer, and not blow up the polling station for the fascist insult made to their children and their children’s children by the initial placement of Joe, is how I can tell that this crackpot civilization is finally kaput.
When executives of British Petroleum, via Halliburton negligence, kill eleven people on an oil rig, while choking the life of the gulf of Mexico and beyond for millennia to come, and yet not one Joe Dyer dandy among them spends an overnight in a Mississippi county jail cell, then the race has finally achieved an evolutionary reverse-jump. It is on a moral leap back to monkeydom.
Just a couple years before that tragedy, powerful friends helped their monetary equals at A.I.G. to the American till for 85 billion dollars, a sum that distributed responsibly could do a positive good for the nation, perhaps end homelessness or supply health care to all grandparents in need. Yet no storming of the Bastille ensued. Not a peep from the masses. Not one moral stoning of any Joe Dyer involved.
Today my moral adversary runs for state office on the Republican ticket claiming the desire to represent hard working Westchester County families, even after public knowledge that his darling institutions are directly responsible for the high taxes they pay. It is such a tall irony that it has broke my mind into the realm of the silly-absurd.
Joe Dyer is not a good man. He is a bad man. Not because he is rich but because he is rich. He is a liar. He does not wish to represent working families. He wants to enslave working families on his international financial plantation of woe because it means a purchase of a yacht for him. I hate Joe Dyer and despise his society because it has become a topsy-turvy world of anti-justice for the many, and manipulation of all wealth and power toward the central class. You are all gay boys and girls to Joe Dyer. You are below him. He believes success is directly proportional to wealth acquisition. Fortunately, this belief can only evolve into a parasite infecting the entire culture if we believe it too.
Unfortunately, we do.
Yes, like Jimmy Cliff, even the poor poet-painter wants his share of what’s his. But he will never get it, and justly so, if he thinks good of what Joe Dyer’s got. After over twenty years privately observing the human comedy, Ron Throop has come to the conclusion that great wealth can only come to the average, the predictable, the steady and of course, the corrupt. Joe represents a new species classified by Linnaean Taxonomy, and will pass on its characteristics to his unlucky progeny. Let me see if I can get this right. Joe is progenitor to homo smiling scumbagus, an up and coming species of Armageddon.
Dear Joe Dyer, contemporary public figure of my condemned youth, I wish you continued success on your neo-con psychopath of the über-rich. My only regret in this memory of you is that I did not split your lip when we were small.