"Can we, as a country, all
: May 2003: War
singer of 1970's #1 protest anthem "War," is dead.
By contrast, war remains alive, in Iraq and around
So an undeniably
correct answer to Starr's famous musical question,
"War--what is it good for?" would be, "It's good
for outliving Edwin Starr."
the front page by ongoing stories of bombs snowing
on Baghdad, Edwin "War" Starr passed quietly into
the Giant K-Hole in the Sky on April 3, 2003, at
his home in Nottingham, England. He hadn't recorded
a major hit since "War," although there have been
several major wars since then.
In the final
analysis, even Edwin Starr, bless his freshly interred
heart, would admit that war is good for at least
one platinum record.
of his trademark song...every throat-shredding vocal
inflection, every lung-bursting horn solo, every
brain-bashing drumbeat...is delivered with a rare
level of intestinal fury, making it one of the all-time
greatest songs to facilitate a bowel movement. WAR!
HUNH! GOOD GOD, Y'AWL...[sound of feces plopping
those overwrought, horse-flappin'-his-gums vocals,
I always pictured Edwin Starr as a hairy white hippie
trying to sound black. Turns out he was a black
gent with a fairly impressive soul-music pedigree.
But he still sounded like a white guy trying to
be black, rather than what he really was, which
was a black guy who sounded like a white guy trying
to be black.
surprisingly market-friendly appeal helped usher
in a paisley flood of 70s antiwar chic, culminating
in horrible TV shows such as M*A*S*H, shameful
fashion trends such as peace-sign necklaces carved
from hamster bones, and expensive black-velvet posters
that said, in pathetic scribbled lower-case letters,
"war is not good for children and other living things."
M*A*S*H was canceled long ago. And, like
I told you, Edwin Starr is dead. And, lest I be
forced to remind you, war lives on.
MUSTY SMELL of rotted yams and intestinal
bacteria rises from the humble, worker-owned coffee
shop where I used to get my twelve-times-daily coffee
fix. The scruffy, dreadlocked Caucasians who work
here are dead-set against the current war in Iraq.
They help organize "peace marches" downtown where
American flags are burned, where shrieks of anarchist
outrage ring through the streets, and where, if
you're halfway savvy and say the right things, it's
easy to bag a hippie chick or two. For the past
two months, as they've sat in circles, rubber-cementing
peace slogans to colored construction paper, their
thoughts have been consumed by this war and how
"evil" it supposedly is. Therefore, I must conclude
that war is good for people who hate war. It gives
them a firm sense of purpose and helps fill the
endless void that exists where a personality should
Yet as I stand
in line waiting for my cup o' commie coffee, I grow
weary of their tempeh-tinged smarminess. As the
clerk yabbers endlessly with a likeminded Peace
Worm about some community-building earth-friendly
pottery workshop they're planning to attend, my
patience reaches its end. I've waited five minutes
for service, and yet these pro-worker workers are
some of the laziest workers I've ever encountered!
Karl Marx would be ashamed at the idea of uplifting
these walking flea circuses. I firmly believe that
you can judge a person's morality by how well they
serve you coffee. If they can't run a simple coffee
shop, what do they know about world affairs? What
qualifies them to judge?
White Rastas, running scared from the trust funds
dangled before them their whole lives, forever lost
the support of REAL working-class people when their
antiwar protests fucked up the bus schedules. Coffeeless,
I leave the coffeeshop, having learned that war
is good for people who hate people who hate war,
because I am temporarily able to alleviate my considerable
inner turmoil by feeling superior to someone else.
AS THE RIOT
POLICE form a solid black wall and sweep the protesters
off Burnside, an all-girl band from Japan called
Megababe launches into "Communication Breakdown"
in an almost-empty club. I
the open doorway, one eye on the cops, one eye
on the band, and during this moment of funky synchronicity,
I realize that war is good for people who can't
communicate. And then I wonder to myself why it
is that we, as human beings, can't live together
and solve our problems without resorting to savagery.
Why can't we all introduce ourselves, hug the
person to our left, and work on building a better,
more beautiful planet? And after a brief pause,
I remember that most people are stupid fucking
bricks controlled by blunt rodent instincts. Most
people ENJOY war. They dig it, at least if they're
As the sixty-one-year-old
war veteran kicks my ass up and down the block
because I said bad things about our president,
it occurs to me that war is good for violent people,
because it provides them with a righteous excuse
to express their otherwise unrighteous drives
to kill, maim, and destroy. As the crusty (but
surprisingly muscular) bastard grinds my cheeks
into the pavement and calls me a series of questionably
accurate names, he enjoys the lusty gusto of being
a living, breathing, violent human being. He knows
that since he's a good person, he hurts other
people for good causes, unlike the bad people,
who hurt people in the name of bad causes.
pile up, up, and further up, picked at by crows
under the withering desert sun. It seems that
every time you go to war, you wind up with dead
bodies all over the place. War is good for killin.'
It's GREAT for killin'. Nothin' better for killin'
than some war. If Edwin Starr had personally asked
me, "Hey, Jim--what is war good for?" I would
have rolled my eyes and said, "It's good for killin',
ya jackasaurus! Duh!"
one considers the fact that fertility rates skyrocket
when a country is victorious in war, or the documented
evidence that women enjoy masturbating to the
sound of marching troops, it would be hard to
deny that war is good for the sex drive. During
wartime, everyone's a creamy martial milkshake
frothing over with lust. All the guys want to
shoot bullets, and I don't mean blanks. All the
gals are horny like polecats, their genital regions
pink, moist and inviting.
I have to
tell you--when I first saw the bombs dropping
on Baghdad, it was like watching a rape I was
powerless to stop. I felt disgusted. The government
never asked me whether I thought we should invade
Iraq. I had no say in it. Historically, war has
been bloodshed-for-profit, mainly perpetrated
for the benefit of a few and at the expense of
many. War is not moral. It is rarely noble. But
it seems inevitable. Trying to end war is like
trying to eradicate natural human emotions such
as hatred--stamp it out here, it pops up over
there. We will always have war, just as we will
always have assholes.
So my suggestion
is to kick back, swallow a handful of chill pills,
and learn to enjoy the war as much as I do. You
don't want to get all upset and wind up like Edwin
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