Freaks and Shock

Whilst driving my young son to school last week, I had to stop at a rail crossing. As the freight train trundled past I had time to marvel at the psychedelic ‘art’ works that had been painted on to every freight car. I suppose these cars are left in rail sidings where young people, mostly males I assume, get to work with cans of spray paint. It is vandalism, of course, but the freight cars are no worse for the experience and I doubt the owners care much. Several things struck me as I sat there with my son. The ’artwork’ is all of a kind. No pictures, no scenes, no people, just repetitive patterns and letters! Clearly a lot of concentrated energy goes into this stuff and a lot of paint. Is the work done by frustrated artists who do not have the means or knowledge to get into art schools? The colors employed, as well as the symbolism, suggest to me that the ‘artists’ are nihilists even if they have no understanding of that word. The over-riding impression that this painting leaves is that of shock, for the ‘art work’ can best be described as visually shocking. It is also unconsciously revolutionary. Something about it took me back to my childhood.

When I was a boy around 10 years old I lived in a town in England that had suffered greatly from German bombing. There was little town center worth speaking of, just rubble and one remaining High Street with rundown shops and a couple of cinemas. In an old industrial part of the town there was an empty area where every so often a travelling Fair would arrive, assemble itself and provide public entertainment for about two weeks. It would then disappear almost overnight, leaving behind the empty and depressing little wasteland. The Fair was, by today’s standards of entertainment, a small event, but with its own generators, it was able to create an oasis of spectacular light in a gloomy world. The shows consisted of bumper cars, a jungle ride, a rocket to the moon, the waltzers and lots of sideshows where you could shoot toy ducks, knock down skittles and other tests of skills that might be rewarded with a prize. Four things made all this seem hugely exciting to a small boy and indeed to many adults too.

First, there were all the bright lights which, after 5 years of imposed black-outs and now, in the postwar era a chronic shortage of electricity, attracted people like moths to a flame. Then there were the people who owned or worked on the Fair. Many townspeople assumed that they were gypsies, though I think this was unlikely. More probably they were small business people whose business involved travelling and living in caravans. Still the lifestyle certainly made them outsiders and the anonymity they enjoyed attracted some strange and feckless workers to carry out the semi-skilled work that the assembling and dismantling involved. These employed workers lived rough in the trucks that were used for transportation and I am certain that there were a number of child molesters in their ranks. The owners had giant, chrome-encrusted caravans that were spotlessly maintained. Owners and workers alike were sunburned and dressed differently than the general population, often in cowboy-style clothes.

All of the rides and sideshows were painted in shocking colors and amazingly similar to the stuff painted on the sides of the rail wagons. It was this that I recalled as I sat at the rail crossing here in California. Clearly there is nothing new under the sun! Finally, the Fair had the music and it was loud. Popular music in England at that time was rationed unless you had a gramophone and could afford to buy the latest records. The tax-funded BBC, in those days a highbrow media with a virtual monopoly of broadcasting, allowed only the most limited opportunities for anything considered low-brow. It was just possible to get Radio Luxemburg (a commercial station) on a good radio but reception was poor and patchy. At the Fair it was possible to hear, at full blast, all of the latest American singers, including Tennessee Ernie Ford, Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell and the forbidden Johnnie Ray, as well as British musicians like boogie woogie piano player Winifred Atwell. What joy and what excitement!

One year the Fair arrived and besides the usual rides and stalls there were a couple of sideshows that normally never made it to my town. One was a boxing booth and the other was a freak show. Like many children of that time I was able to go out at night with friends and walk along dark streets to the Fairground. I managed to scrounge enough money from my poor mother to get into both of the new side shows. Since I boxed at school I enjoyed the boxing show where local lads won a five pound note if they could last three rounds with the Fair’s own boxer (none did!) The freak show was something else. I can still remember the music that the showman used to drum up interest. It was the opening bars, at maximum volume, of Ernie Ford singing ‘Stack-o-lee’.

Inside a darkened tent, the first entertainment was a Hall of Mirrors which turned the viewer into all sorts of grotesque shapes, some funny and some horrifying. Next was the world’s fattest lady, who sat in a chair. I have to say that I have now seen many fatter ladies in the US and in Germany, but at that time, in an England where food was still rationed, she did appear to be record-breaking. I can remember feeling both fearful and embarrassed as I passed along the roped gangway under her malignant gaze. I hardly dared to look at her. Next was the world’s biggest rat, which a sign claimed had been caught in London’s docks. It was a giant creature in a small cage and looked dangerous and I remember I hurried past it. I now think it was probably a coypu, muskrat or mink, none of which were familiar to Brits. The next exhibit was a dwarf, followed by a bearded lady. This poor lady, who was nearly as fat as the Fattest Lady in the World, had a heavy moustache and light beard. I am sure that many Middle Eastern women deprived of treatment or burqas would have run her close. Still I was at that time profoundly shocked and found it hard to stare in order to get my money’s worth. Last was the world’s smallest man, who was billed as Tom Thumb. He sat in a little toy house and was smoking a cigarette.

When I came outside into the bright lights I was pretty churned up emotionally and had difficulty sleeping that night. The images have stayed with me to this day. I think that besides the horror aspect, I felt some shame at having stared at those unfortunate people. Perhaps they were not bothered at being displayed and saw it as a very easy way to earn a living, but I think not. I expect they were driven to being exhibited by desperation. All were victims of bad luck and had once been someone’s child. They probably had few choices in a world where medical science could do nothing for them. Times are different now and in many ways the world, at least in the West, is a kinder place.

Perhaps we have gone much too far in our ability not to be shocked or perhaps we are not realizing that children, at least, still are capable of being emotionally affected by the bizarre and grotesque. Last week a friend emailed me some pictures of an elderly man walking naked through streets amongst crowds of people. He had many tattoos, mostly around and on his testicles and across his rectum. I am pretty sure that these pictures were taken at the Fulsom Street annual homosexual sado/masochist event in San Francisco. It may be that the poor man is mentally ill but more likely he is part of a growing movement of people who seek a sexual thrill by being shocking in public. I am not sure if my shock at seeing the photos is because he is grotesque even without the tattoos, or because the crowds are enjoying his display or because the cops or mental health people don’t remove him from a very public place. In the same week we have seen figure skater Johnnie Weir at the Winter Olympics doing his sexualized act whilst trying to look like a female prostitute. Are all these skaters homosexual? Weir, I am sure, is prancing and mincing mainly for the benefit of the TV cameras. Not long ago, another young ‘man’ similarly dressed but without the skates, was doing the same movements in a TV dance contest. In interviews both have claimed that they enjoy flaunting their cross-gender portrayals and shocking the world.

We should not be surprised at this degeneracy, for the Media Class, which is populated with such people, aims to swamp us with this stuff until we surrender. By doing so, and having their politicians pass laws that will prevent us all from protesting, the ruling Media Class perverts intend to create a new world morality in which they will feel comfortable. Last week a British Conservative Party MP addressed the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) by invitation. Nick Herbert is a homosexual activist and a great admirer of his Tory Party leader Dave Hug-a-Hoodie Cameron. According to one US magazine, Herbert is a “super-intelligent gay man”. He told the CPAC audience that the UK’s Tory Party intends to pass legislation that will require every school, both private and public, to teach positively about homosexuality. The present Labour Party Government has beaten the Tories to it for there is now legislation going through Parliament which will mandate all schools, including religious schools, to do so. They will also be required to teach contraception and positive stuff about abortion. It looks as though in the UK the culture war is over. One reporter pointed out that all the UK Parties are in agreement. This is not actually true, for the BNP is out of step. One of the main reasons that that Party is being officially hounded out of existence is because it has not signed on to the moral revolution. Perhaps the new generations will not be shocked by anything sexual. The education system and the TV/Hollywood propaganda will have made them un-shockable. Meanwhile the leaders of the US Christian Churches are mostly looking the other way or sticking their collective head in the sand. The Pastor of the Church I attend only gets incensed about those judgmental ‘rightwing’ Christians and I have yet to hear him say anything negative about abortion, same-sex marriage and homosexual adoption and fostering.

Here in central California, the cold, wet weather continues with no sign of warming – either man-made or natural.

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