This week I saw an amazing live stage production of the cult classic rock & roll musical THE LITTLE HOUSE OF HORRORS. It is about a weird hybrid plant from China that almost dies until they find it flourishes on human blood. On this diet it grows into a huge monster of a plant that eats people live. Cuttings of the plant are sold around the world and the resulting monster plants end up consuming whole societies – and the world.
Years ago I saw Frank OZ’s movie version with my young daughter, and, with our advanced sense of the ridiculous, we loved it. But we loved it on a superficial level as a showbizzie rock musical, with great music, and a monster that really rocked – and some delicious horror trimmings. Now older, sadder and hopefully wiser – while my daughter and I still sat there with huge silly grins on our faces at the Doo Wop shrillness of the Harpies Chorus (The Supremes they are not), and rocked to the monster’s Rock & Roll – I realized that it is allegorical.
Just under the surface it is about how FAME (remember that musical and its tag “I’m gonna live forever”), and celebrity, sucks the blood out of people, consumes them, and destroys families and cultures. And going deeper again, it is an allegory for America, cynically using Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll to debauch youth worldwide in order to push their free-market laissez faire capitalism agenda under the false banners of freedom and democracy in order to rule the world.
And if you think that my paranoia is showing, then read EVERY MAN IN THIS VILLAGE IS A LIAR, by Megan Stack. She is a well-educated American journalist who at 23 was sent to cover the wars in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq, and she reached the conclusion that at best American Foreign Policy is delusional, and at worst it is a cynical ploy to try and dominate the world. And she believes that the War on Terror is fake, and has failed.
One chapter in her book has particular resonance. Superficially she enjoyed Israel; and modern, bright and safe Tel Aviv in particular. But she could not shake off the knowledge that all the youngsters prancing in the discos had had weapons training, had done compulsory military service – and she had seen them as teenage soldiers taunting and humiliating elderly Palestians at check points, refusing to give them priority for urgent medical treatment. And pregnant women frequently gave birth in taxis waiting in endless gridlocks to get to hospital, and not allowed on fast roads reserved for West Bank settlers. And she knew that sweating in the restaurant kitchens were illegal Eritrean refugees, and that most of the strikingly pretty single girls dancing in the discos were East European whores. Now matter how hard she tried she could not ignore the dark underbelly of Israel.
And nor could she ignore the fact that it was American taxpayers money that funded the mighty Israeli military machine that enables them to keep the Palestinians in subjugation. She makes the point “You can recover from what people do to you: you cannot recover from what you do to others.”
It resonates for me because she is like Mick, the protaganist in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. He too is a young journalist sent to the Middle East in the early 60s, and he is shocked by the Feudal barbarity of the region, and by the corruption and cynical exploitation of those feudal societies by slick Western governments desperate for cheap oil.
Just like Megan, Mick cannot pass through and enjoy the airconditioned and gleaming marble citidels of modern shopping malls and international airport terminals that oil wealth brought – with their shops full of the finest duty free luxury goods the world can offer, staffed by lovely young maidens with dazzling smiles – without noticing the tired old Amahs mopping the urinals, and the coolies sweating in 100 degree heat and 100 per cent humidity of the baggage halls.
And beyond that, modern cities that have the latest motorways and satellite communications, and no sewerage systems. And refugee camps where the sewers run open in the road and kids play there. Kids without hope, and without a future.
I am not, not ever have been a journalist, but I did keep journals throughout my 40 years in and out of The Arabain/Persian Gulf, and Mick is a construct, an alter ego designed to tell the stories of events that I witnessed, or were reported to me by reliable sources, expatriates like me, washed up there in the oil patch from 1960 to 2001.
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