Quotes that Say Something

"Please, dad, get down and look. I think there's some kind of monster under my bed."

Life when seen in close-up often seems tragic, but in wide-angle it often seems comic. -- Charlie Chaplin

"And when the cloudbursts thunder in your ear, you shout, but no one's there to hear. And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon." -- Roger Waters, "Brain Damage"

Jul 13, 2011

Disagreement, But Not Disagreeable

Time has come today young hearts can go their way
   can't put it off another day
I don't care what others say they say
  We don't listen anyway
Time has come today, hey

The room has changed today I have no place to stay
I'm thinking about the subway
   my love has blown away
My tears have come and gone -- O, Lord I got to run
   I got no home no, I have no home

Now the time has come
  nowhere (place) to run
Might get burned up by the sun but
  I'll have my fun
I've been loved, pushed (put) aside
I've been crushed by tumbling tide
  and my soul has been psychedelicized
Now the time has come and there are things to realize
Time has come today
Time has come today

          "Time (Has Come Today)," The Chambers Brothers

Jul 5, 2011

The Ballad of Casey and Caylee: A Rough Cut for Justice

First Note:

Caylee Marie Anthony was born on August 9, 2005 in Orlando, Florida. Her mother was Casey Anthony. Caylee Marie disappeared during mid-June 2008. Her desperate situation and her family members attracted widespread mass-media attention, about one month later, when it became apparent that the mother, Casey, had not officially reported that her child was missing. . On December 11, 2008, Caylee's skeletal remains were found in a patch of swamp near the Anthony family's house in central Florida.

Later, Casey was charged with first degree murder, manslaughter, child neglect, and other legal counts. She maintained adamantly that she had nothing do with Caylee's death throughout her 2011 trial, which was held during Summer 2011.

                     The more I know, the less I understand, all the things I thought I'd figured out,
                          I have to learn again.
                     I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter, 'cuz flesh will get weak

                         and the ashes will scatter.
                     But I think it's about forgiveness, forgiveness, even if, even if

                         you don't love me anymore.

                                                                                   Don Henley, "Heart of the Matter"

This day of decision (July 5, 2011) -- unlike the outrageous and ugly wrap-up of the O.J. Simpson Trial on TV during the 1990s -- has brought a regrettable closure to an infamous, capital murder trial in the state of Florida, one that has become truly hot-commodity reality television porn for a hungry American public of voyeurs over recent weeks, and more. Now, today, this is where the lurid pages of the script, about the shrouded passing of Caylee Marie Anthony, the little daughter of one young adult female, named Casey, fails to screech to a clear stop. Actually, it guns its engines anew and veers down a suddenly wild and winding route, since the weeks of courtroom interactions have been unsatisfyingly summed up in tearful disbelieving cries, widespread anger for millions, and ambiguous confusions. The sickening script en medias res thus provides us with a an uncertain roadmap that may soon voraciously choose to plunge all travelers down, head-first, into a mystical rabbit-hole that is choked with still-unknown and tragic implications. To tell the truth, this seems like no other legal drama that I have ever experienced. (And I have totally had my share of odd, jurisprudence dramas throughout my lengthy life.) Put more simply, at the heart of this matter, this murder mystery -- now that the main courtroom drama has been darkly curtained and no person involved has been called to accountability -- is morphing speedily into a body of questions quite tantalizing for the thoughtful person, especially the great storytellers among us, that should not be disregarded before a deep search for the truth and focused critical reflection can take shape. 

Here is the springboard for the gruesome tale. An apparently physically hale but emotionally whacky and deeply deceitful family clan, the Anthonys of Florida -- a collection of practiced obfuscaters, cheats, and perjurers at best, each individual member wounded and bleeding in psychic depths way too deep down, in their darkened hearts to behold, manage somehow (when coupled together) to stamp out every actual particle of the  f-u-n  in some monstrous interpersonal/family dysfunction. So, how does one talk to others, meaningfully, about the painful and yet-undone Anthony morality-play?

Today, the glaring TV lights in the cramped criminal courtroom have been switched to darkness, and a portfolio of indelible memories, in even the casual trial observer's mind, picturing a two-year-old's needless suffering and death: these linger and gnaw. Casey Anthony -- the notoriously accused felon-mother, now at 25 years of age, irrevocably labeled by a jury of her peers as not guilty as of this day -- will decide to do what in response?  (What will Casey do now?) As the jury spoke words of consolation to her, her practiced and icy facade cracked in noticeable relief, and she laughed and, suddenly energized, hugged others and cried big wet tears. Over time, as the weeks of her not guilty identity slide into ambivalent months and long years, maybe Casey will slink out of sight, with cold suspicion and burning anger eternally dangling down from her head like a granite necklace, and trudge lonely and "misunderstood" back to her unremarkable life, either inside or outside (likely outside for good!) of her parents' prosaic suburban household. In this scenario, Casey would become the sadder but wiser earthly pilgrim, as Samuel Coleridge might claim);. Or Casey might remain unspeakably delusional, clearly not innocent, believed guilty as sin by all who encounter her, her inner landscape and daily ruminations replete with imaginary friends and staff co-workers -- like Zenny, who was Caylee's never-there, disappearing nanny, and Casey's purely fictional work colleagues at Universal  Studios in Orlando. Perhaps Casey tearfully will re-unite, on a sentimental Geraldo hour special on Fox News Network, greeting at long last again her stressed and shamed (and lying) parents and older brother. Maybe Casey will once more take up her party hearty tendencies, a forest of Smartphone cameras extended on upraised arms, flashing brightly, documenting every smiling gesture and spontaneous twist of the hips by this pop culture aberration. Or, maybe, she will one day assume the role of earnest and 'you don't know me' interviewee throughout soft daytime media appearances, talking away on non-serious and touchy-feely fests like The View, Tyra Banks, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In fact, it's possible that Casey might breathlessly 'write' her definitive and tell-all autobiography, promising the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth at last (to which she would not dare to testify during her court proceedings -- her book ultimately judged a phony, tear-inducing bestseller that was luridly designed to peak in sales revenue during the merry Holiday Season of 2012). Or perhaps, and this will be hard to handle for legions of child-lovers, the Former Tot Mom may choose to marry (or simply co-habitate with a starfucking string of admirers) and, possibly with that, gasp, could it be so?, Casey might choose to conceive an adorable, flawless Caylee Marie copy -- a precious doppelganger standing in for the little one who was, somehow, horrifically, lost -- and then hurled over the edge.

Just brushing up slightly against the razor sharp emotions, and the hot and simmering frustrations, engendered by this nightmare of a tragedy, seems to nudge the truly compassionate person towards the crazy state. Justice has been dished out cold -- live, as it actually happened, on Headline News and Tru Television on cable. It turns out this bit of justice tastes bitter and dry (as in un-swallowable) to almost everyone -- even the quartet of of Tru's biggest luminaries, the sinking Anthony clan -- and it has been purchased with your personal taxpayer dollars, just as long ago John Jay and Thomas Jefferson imagined it should be. Dished out, then hurled down -- onto the coldstone floor of freedom. Once again.

As the courtroom lights are doused, the now-empty seats are straightened up, and the big wooden doors to the chamber are bolted and chained, I suddenly think this. This tragic storyline of the Anthony clan and their forever lost fifth cog, Caylee Marie, had to take shape in the American South. Had to. Absolutely. One simply cannot imagine this lingering, unsolved mystery issuing from anywhere else (well, okay, possibly it could have come from Shakespeare or a great writer of 19th Century, Russian literature). The ballad of Casey and Caylee is a tale completely ruined by human toxins, like a dinner soup that has been poisoned with diseased milk and unclean water. When the ballad is crafted into fiction, eventually, the lyrical account of Caylee, the offspring lost, and Casey, the mom unsteady, will emerge only from the subconscious of a fearless Southern teller of human tales. This awful story's defiant twists and legendary backflips will rivet ususpecting readers (as the moment by moment trial on Tru-TV has done), and it should cause them to ruminate on what issues from the abuse others, lying to beat all, cruel indifferences toward others, narcissism, and other pathologies -- all conveniently tossed together, under one family roof, or as if in a kitchen baggie, like salad makings, to be garnished later with spicy, crunch and munch ethical ambiguities. It should remind the avid readers of miserable (but fictional) family assemblages such as the Sutpens and the Compsons, key Faulknerian tribes who, flawed grievously, populated old Mississippi.

The epic of Casey and Caylee will likely haunt those who dwell on the in-court chapters of the tale. Some day that gifted storyteller, writing within a lonely chamber somewhere in the U.S. South, will draft an opening chapter. It will present the broad sweep of the Anthony family's tragic circumstances. During suceeding elements of the book, all of the key particles buried in the gruesome details of this passion play will be disclosed, page by page. A beautiful and charming innocent child of two, Casey's offspring, father unknown, so full of loving promise and spirit, will figurativel stare back at us, from playtimes past, with her oversized and perfectly clear brown eyes, from inside the novel. Words will say that she, Caylee Marie, inexplicably went missing during June 15 or 16 of 2008, and then turned up dead in December, 'drowned' (in one manner way or another), forever breathless and still, victim of some faceless cruel fate. In the book, the child's body is monstrously concealed (by the little girl's scared-secretive and neurotic family members) within her own home, until its decaying mass begins to make silent demands and its unmistakable odors prove too much to bear. In time, the tiny and decomposing lump of  Caylee is furtively secured, by someone, in a crude canvas laundry bag, on the oil-smeared floor of an uncleaned garage. Eventually it is cast, heaved frightfully, into a haunting, lonely acre of wooded swamp. Disposed of, sunk down wetly into the black and smelly muck, the tell-tale corpse is seemingly hidden away forever, nothing to be scared of, last touched by the messy hands of some family member(s) -- perhaps her birth mother, or a grieving and wrinkled gray-haired grandparent.

But. Quite crazily, the unspeakable horror story does not draw to a quiet conclusion. Months later, as the sun rises on an unremarkable December morning, in the middle of that cloying and hushed patch of swampland, the oddly selected burial ground, the vulnerable infant's skull -- and then, amazingly, the whole fleshfree corpse -- claws it's way out of the brown canvas laundry sack into which it had been zippered (aided by the sharp-toothed labors of ravenous swamp creatures). The remainder of what was  Caylee surfaces in silence, a shocking but wordless testimony. It lies unmoving atop its horrific, but not final, resting place. The sad pieces of Caylee Marie's earthly self are soon discovered by accident, stumbled upon by a blue-collar meter reader, as the Winter sun strains for its apex in the sunny Southern sky. Once gathered, then newly and tenderly bagged and tagged by investigators, the precious remains begin to speak metaphorically, with righteous but silent claims, challenging authorities bitterly to find the one(s) who plunged her into that dark and creepy abyss and make them pay. Forever trapped in death, Caylee summons her killer(s) to a merciless and brutal reckoning.

Sad. That's what the state of modern, American jurisprudence is -- down in the simmering South and elsewhere, thanks to the virueses carried by "real-life" Tru-TV dramas. The shocking ending of the Anthony family passion play in that Orlando courtroom, after months of justice-applied destined to become justice denied, leads to this  lesson: no one is going to pay the price for the horrible snuffing out of young Caylee. That's the way it goes in this country. A hard to fathom and irrational verdict has issued forth, like a piercingly loud gunshot exploding and echoing throughout the hills, and valleys, and canyons of the tragic old South lands. Sadly, this mesmerizing and maddening outcome, with its breathtaking aura of anger, ambivalence, and ambiguities, was actually to be expected. So, as the ballad on the stage ends, and the curtains swing closed, the major characters leave hastily without anything to say, heads bowed and eyes nearly closed, soon out the reach of TV's klieg lights. The Anthonys and other cast members will disappear into the haze of cultural oblivion in due time. The black-robed judge retires, in utter disbelief, to his secret chambers; he makes no comment, but thinks thoughts that he will never share with anyone. The dutiful jury of 12 disperses frantically as the gavel strikes down for the last time. They choose to say no words into waiting microphones, for they (the now-former jurors) are greatly fearful of the angry heat and derision that the public will soon fasten firm, like sparking electrodes, to them.

So. It's over. Blind American justice and subjective morality demand that we all trudge on. Days and months will stretch quietly into decades. Memories will begin to deteriorate. Facts, names, opinions, and deceits will get mixed roughly together, as most good story elements seem to eventually do, like a collection of hastily penned recipe notes on how to concoct a lasting legend.  Books and songs will get composed. Perhaps some of them will be sung and read. Magazines will feature colorful, alluring cover pages that present Casey, Caylee, The Anthonys, the lawyers, some jurors -- all the the main players -- who have shuffled off of  center stage. Many tears will still be shed as the great new Southern novel comes to light. But all of this, unlike our timeless American judicial system, will fade away soon. Since inquiring minds in the USA will no longer crave to read about it, the sordid descent of Casey and the passing of Caylee, in People magazine or the pages of The National Enquirer. And because it's over, and something new will have jumped up to sit in its place of dishonor.

Finally, there is this. Families of the shameful lie endure somehow, some of them even prevail, in America's southern culture. There is no innocence (nor genuine recognition of guilt) in such family aggregates, like the secretive Anthony clan. They remain the busy fashioners of America's telltale tragedies, epics, and ballads -- and they live on with their diseased blood lines until the tribe as a whole meets some unforeseen demise. For the time being, today's notorious American epic is focused madly, ruefully, on such a clan of deceivers, headed by George Anthony. At its center are two dark-haried daughters whose given names each begin with a capital C -- they are Casey and Caylee. In one instance, a daughter's name starts with a hard C and it wraps quickly, in two breezy syllables, toward a twisty, last letter -- Y <<  Case-y >>   The name possesses at first a harshly hissing and sibilant sound, quite unlike the lilting, tender syllables of the name Cay-lee.  Like the mythical death of the Florida child, Casey ends with the hard sound of E! (as in: eeeee)  So, I say, 'that's a lonely and harsh conclusion, that dangling Y -- way out there on the bitter end of your name, Casey.' And it leads me to think about another kind of  Y.  As in: why, Casey, why? And also, dear girl, please, when you get around to explaining (if ever) your Why?, will you kindly (unburdened for all time by the need to defend your life) give us some insights on How it all came to pass with poor Caylee? Casey, please, don't make earnest storytellers grope about in the darkness forever.


Last Note:

Casey Anthony was found not guilty on July 5, 2011 of first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse by a jury of 12 men and women in Orlando, Florida. However, she was found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to the police. Later, Casey received a criminal punishment of four years in prison, yet she was credited with jail time (about 3 years) that she had already served. She is scheduled to be released from custody on before July 15, 2011.