Tom Robbins taught me to love outlaws. If you haven’t read Still Life With Woodpecker you should now. It might be painfully dated, since I last read it in the 80’s, but there’s only one way to find out. Outlaws are very American.

A year or two ago while I was hopped up on post-surgical pain killers I read American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin, “The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.” I remember seeing the grainy, iconic bank security-footage photo of her with the giant gun that shocked everybody, including my mother, on tv. Patty’s kidnappers were outlaws and temporarily turned her into one too. The early 1970’s were nuts! Counterculture outlaws were routinely making bombs in their bathrooms and detonating them in places that would either disable or at least disturb The Man. Even though Patty’s experience with the Symbionese Liberation Army was a lot darker than a Tom Robbins novel, some of the 70’s-ish motives were the same.

This morning I figured out Donald’s appeal and the reason for our confusion. He’s just another outlaw! He’s all about sticking it to The Man, no matter who the man is. (That’s where his amorality comes in handy.) Some of his supporters are like Patty joining the Symbionese Liberation Army. She wasn’t exactly happy before they kidnapped her, and definitely not in control of her own life. She didn’t know exactly what the problem was but they told her. They told her over and over and over what reality was (well, with some rape and starvation and LSD) until she was convinced it was in her best interest to be a soldier for their cause.

So we’ve got an outlaw (Donald, in case you aren’t paying attention), who by definition does not operate within normal boundaries, and he’s hell-bent on destroying the way things normally work around here. The confusing thing is that we, the lefties who used to be the counterculture, are now The Man, deserving of all the homemade bombs (ummm, NRA, guns and more guns, domestic terrorism etc.) he can get his soldiers to stockpile and detonate.

I’m at a loss for advice on this so you’ll have to just digest the insight raw.

5 thoughts on “Outlaws

  1. I was expecting a different direction, because you are right, outlaws are heroes round here.

    And you’re right, that’s what’s made The Don so dangerous. People think he’s a counter-culture hero.

    I’m a BIG fan of Utah Philips. I’ve listened to his collaboration with Ani DiFranco “The Past DIdn’t Go Anywhere” about a zillion times. There’s a section where he talk about his mom, in the 1920’s, collecting news clipping from the paper of “working class heroes”. She kept a scrapbook of people who flipped the bird at authority and caused great chaos to elicit change. But there’s a difference between rabble-rousing or iconoclasty (my favorite clasty) when it’s preying upon people’s fears and weaknesses to advance yourself. That’s just a Dictator.


      • Oh I wasn’t trying to argue with the title, or your point. I think your premise is spot-on, and I wish I could find a better word than Dictator, but I’d hate to see Trump and Pence turn into the Cassidy and Sundance of our time. And I have a feeling no matter what they will end as martyrs to some obscene and unjust crusade.

        Always love your writing. A good outlaw is hard to find nowdays, eh?



      • I take no offense and thank you for your engagement. – I’m worried about what looks like Don’s intention to take everyone down with him, assuming he goes. Even if he is fired he can be dangerously dastardly. I’ve been reading a lot about the Civil War lately and history all feels very close :{


      • Right! I spent some time reading up on post-civil war politics and what a scuzz-ball Andrew Johnson. What a disaster our Reunification was! I think we almost created MORE racism with all that stuff than fixing issues. Really horrible terrible things the Dixie-crats of that time did to all of us.

        And shocking how little of it I knew.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s