A Brief History of Weasels

By Stephen J. Hawkings

I must admit that I was quite surprised when I was asked to write a brief introduction to the Weasel Box Set.

“What,” I croaked through my voice box, “does a gnarled wheelchair-bound super-genius like myself know about the carefree and hedonistic life and times of a rock-and-rollers like youse guys?”

You can imagine my consternation when no one answered. At first I considered the possibility that someone had actually answered and that somehow I hadn't heard it, but since I'm pretty sure at this point that although I'm gnarled and hideous there's nothing wrong with my ears -- at least not yet -- I discounted that possibility. It was also possible, although extremely unlikely, that somehow the immutable laws of physics had changed, and that the sound had traveled at the speed of light. I decided to test that theory by attempting a little show-jumping; I figured that if sound could travel at the speed of light then I could probably climb up on a horse, gallop around a ring, and fly through the air like Superman. (And if that worked out, who knew? Maybe I'd even be able to get an erection.) Well, needless to say, the whole thing was a catastrophe. I barely made it out of the chair before I was flopping around on the floor like the preverbial perch out of water. And you'd think all that flopping maybe produced a hard-on? Not on your life.

And as to the non-answer? Well, maybe the hum from my turbo-charged wheelchair drowned it out. Maybe I hallucinated the whole thing. How the fuck should I know? Who the fuck am I, Kreskin? All I know is that maybe Einstien was right; maybe God doesn't play dice with our souls. But I'll tell you what: he sure as hell played Twister with my legs.

But I digress.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, weasels. Filthy little blood-sucking monsters they are, and I've nothing good to say about them. And frankly, since the last Brief History of Weasels I wrote was deemed "inappropriate" by certain members of the band (who shall remain nameless -- its funny, isnt it, that a bunch of folk who run around screaming about killing people all the time and like to write songs about places where whole groups of people were baked in ovens like Pop Tarts have such delicate sensibilities) I'm saying screw the Weasels, and hereby present:

A Brief History of Lemmings

By Stephen J. Hawkings

Lemming, n: any of various small arctic rodents resembling mice but having short tails and fur covered feet. The common lemming is very prolific, and vast hordes periodically migrate from the mountains to the sea, destroying vegetation in their path.

Scandinavians generally are not a gay people, so it should come as no surprise that the Norse have invented a rodent that for one reason or another has developed a habit of throwing itself off of cliffs and into the ocean. Although man is certainly socially and biologically akin to the rodent -- both are omnivorous, breed in all seasons, develop prejudices and go to war to enforce them, adapt to all conditions, and are generally parasitic -- one would think that as the only creature imbued by their creator with free will man would be the only creature with the ability and wherewithal to shed this mortal coil. It is odd then that there is another species that willingly ends its own life, but the lemming seems to, although whether it does so knowingly is a matter of conjecture: to claim that lemmings decide to die imparts to them a degree of self-awareness that is unlikely, otherwise not evident, and to some unthinkable. Some people who study them (lemmingologists) believe that the lemming is merely responding to environmental pressures -- reducing the number of individuals in response to a shortage of food and space; others prefer a dumber explanation -- that lemmings like sheep are merely stupid and that when one starts running hysterically they all do, and end up like Wiley Coyote, peddling their legs haplessly in the air over the North Sea, cursing their fate, the Acme Company, and the damned road runner. The problem with the former explanation is that there is always something to eat, rodents like man not being above snacking on their own kin when conditions warrant, and with the latter that there are not other species that behave in such a manner, stupidity not being a trait confined to lemmings, sheep and humans.

My own feeling is that perhaps the lemming is merely a melancholy Dane like Hamlet or Soren Kierrkegaard (1813-1855), the father of existential philosophy, who was silent on the question of lemmings, but little else. Deformed at birth (another example of His benificence) and physically frail in his youth, he applied himself vigorously to philosophical studies, writing voluminously on the matter of choice and responsibility in the human condition. Kierkegaard was by all accounts an unhappy man, partly no doubt a result of imperfect genetics and partly, to hoist him on his own petard, as a result of his own choices. For example, despite his abnormalities he won the love of the beautiful Regina Olsen (great grandmother of Mrs. Olsen the coffee magnate) yet like Hamlet with Ophelia ended their relationship despite his great love for her. What is this other than choosing to be unhappy?

In his philosophical system Kierkegaard divided man into three groups, the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious; the first seeking the greatest sum of pleasure, the second, sensing the obligations imposed by free will, seeking what is moral (choosing, for example a wife over a mistress) and the third seeking God above all else. This latter stage is approached with "fear and trembling" -- the title of the centerpiece of Kierkegaard's work -- and requires faith, which Kierkegaard called "the great leap into the absurd," requiring, as it does, the suspension of the ethical. (Kierkegaard cites Abraham, willing to disregard what is moral and kill his son at his God's command as an example of this conflict.) These three levels are a hierarchy, and it was Kierkegaard's position that intellectual life is an evolution from the first to the second to the third. Man being venal -- that is, given the opportunity most men will choose pleasure without responsibility over pleasure with it -- the psychological conflicts produced Kierkegaard referred to as "angst," a term no more clearly defined than by his death: impoverished and alone, Kierkegaard collapsed in the street, dying with the words, "The bomb explodes, and the conflagration will follow." I am not sure what it means, and I doubt Kierkegaard did either, but it is certainly "gloomy, neurotic, anxiety-ridden and depressing" which is the spin the OED puts on the term "angst."

Sigmund Freud claimed that angst produced humor, which according to at least some authorities explains the great success of the Jewish people in the comedy industry, the Jews having been persecuted everywhere -- save Ireland and only not there because, as James Joyce put it, "The Irish never let them in in the first place" -- and this persecution leading to Sid Caesar. But Freud, for all his erudition, was unfamiliar with Kierkegaard in particular and the bleak Scandinavian outlook in general, and his explanation of human motivation centered around his religion, his Western European background, and his unrequited unnatural attachment to his mother. Freud of course spawned the "science" of psychoanalysis -- which is a science in the same sense that road kill frying on the side of a highway is haute cuisine -- the basic tenet of which can be explained by paraphrasing an angst-ridden Gentile, British humorist Graham Chapman: There's nothing wrong with you that an expensive course of psychoanalysis won't prolong. As silly as it is for a being who uses 10% of his brain to attempt to figure out what is going on in the unused 90% of another being's brain, there are those individuals who swear by it; but then there are those who follow the Democratic party line their entire lives, and woe it is what they have wrought.

All of which brings us to another psychologist, Benjamin Spock the baby doc, who developed the lunatic notion that children are rational beings whose thoughts, actions and desires are of some import. Before Spock parents rightly assumed that children were greedy impetuous beings and that it was their job to rid their children of these tendencies, this process being referred to as "growing up." Under Spock's tutelage parents came to the conclusion that it was okay for children to be seen and heard, and not only heard, but paid attention to. The result of this ridiculous concept was hippies, on one level merely silly -- long hair, bad music, and funny clothes eventually evolving into Hillary Clinton -- but on another level deadly: AIDS and illegitimacy, for example, are the children of free love; and the genocide in in the wake of Vietnam (a full third of the population, some 3 million people, were "re-educated" by the madman Pol Pot), was the by-product of a nation cowed to failure by a motley collection of silly long hairs (Abbie Hoffman), spoiled rich kids (Jane Fonda), sociopaths (William Kunstler), traitorous dog-faced boys (Tom Hayden) and stock brokers in waiting (Jerry Rubin) prancing around a pyre burning American flags, brassieres and draft cards in a drug addled bacchanal, whose opinion, God only knows why, their parents decided to take seriously. These kinds of things had been going on forever: the twenties had flappers and "23 Skidoo," and the fifties ducktails and "Daddio" and Maynard G Krebs. (In the thirties people were too busy starving, and the forties too busy dying, to pay much attention to whether what they were wearing was appropriate for the apocalypse). The sole difference between the sixties and earlier generations was that in the former (chronologically the latter) no one told the kiddies to shut up and sit down (although to his credit Frank Zappa cautioned them to eat their vegetables), and in fact, many members of the generation why -- Ben Spock, Tim Leary, Hugh Hefner and Earl Warren among them -- actually aided and abetted the children, creating a situation from which this nation will likely never recover.

Of course not everything that came out of the sixties was bad. There was some good music -- Miles Davis and John Coltrane and the Beatles and Frank Zappa -- just as there were conscientious objectors who were actually conscientious -- Muhammad Ali gave up the heavyweight championship of the world and faced prison for his beliefs, as opposed to William Jefferson Clinton, who weaseled his way out of Vietnam only when he was sure that it would not affect his future political viability -- but for every Lenny Bruce or Malcolm X there were ten Susan Sontags and William Sloane Coffins. And that's why the real symbol of the summer of love is not flower children prancing around in idyllic splendor at Woodstock but Manson family member Susan Atkins jabbing a fork into Sharon Tate's pregnant belly and declaiming "I don't care about your baby, bitch" -- because the real lesson of the sixties is how things turn out when children are taught neither manners nor respect, and the moral is: badly.

During the summer before the summer of love the Democratic convention was held in the city of Chicago, and every freak and weirdo and yippie in the country turned up there to participate in the democratic process and smoke dope and chant "Fuck Mayor Daly" and maybe get laid, and as the drama unfolded live television coverage showed America exactly what happens when the inmates are allowed to run the asylum. It is curious that on the first day of the convention when the National Guardsmen met the protestors at Halstead Street and started firing tear gas grenades into the unruly mob K-ABC TV cameras showed a then 18 year old College of DuPage freshman named John Belushi get hit with a blast of tear gas and go down in a heap. Mr. Belushi, who by all accounts was what Kierkegaard would categorize as an aesthetic type, recovered, and went on to a career in show business. He got his start in a National Lampoon stage show called Lemmings, and went on, before he did one too many speedballs -- an intravenous martini of heroin and cocaine -- to become the second most famous Albanian (although a comedian he was not Jewish) in the world -- behind Mother Theresa -- as the star of Saturday Night Live. Whether or not Belushi's death was willingly or knowingly is a matter of conjecture, but as is the case with the lemming it matters not: the bomb explodes and the conflagration follows. Belushi was a product of his age. It was his misfortune to be raised in a generation sorely lacking in discipline, and, as the saying goes, "He who lives without discipline dies without dignity."

The show Lemmings, produced by the National Lampoon, was so named according to WASP Doug Kenney, one of the writers and perhaps the funniest man who ever lived, after the people he saw himself surrounded by in college, faddists all, rushing this way and that, carefully adjusting their dewrags and tie-dyes for just the right affect to show their solidarity with the oppressed people of the world, people they assiduously avoided by being at places like Harvard and Columbia and Berkeley, and who they helped unoppress not at all. One can only wonder where the world would be had they followed the trail blazed by their fur bearing cousins.

Oh, yeah. And the Weasels? They all lived happily ever after. And who gives a fuck if they didn't.