Ain't no sunshine when you're gone...

There is a cover of that song by a Jamaican Reggae singer named Al Brown and for three days straight all I have done is listen to it repeatedly, while drinking violently strong Gin and Tonics and crying like a child.

Despite the best efforts of the radiant sun -- and they were indeed good and constant efforts -- it is dark down here in South West Florida. Dark and cold. I have caught a chill and it will take the fine spirits of Toronto in December to warm me again. Oh Canada, I will be home again soon.

Part I: The Horror that I had Expected

Much of the gathering shadows were as I expected. The television news in this country is a maniacal inversion of truth. There is no attempt to disguise the lies. The truth is also readily available, but by some sleight of hand or curious double-speak, it is made invisible in broad daylight. It is shadowed within a beam of sun.

An example, the television echoes with constant criticism of the United Nations. An organization which is highly respected the world over, would be ranked much lower than the XFL in the bizzarro-world that is Southern Florida. Presumably educated, and decidedly elected members of government display their torsos in the glowing electric window and cry out for the resignation of Kofi Annan.

Why? Because he failed to prevent the corruption in the Oil-for-food program. A program which was not under his control, but under the control of the Security Council, of which the United States is arguably the most powerful member. It's like a witch hunt down here, Annan is damned by the frequency of the accusations rather than their content.

Kofi Annan's son was deeply involved in the scandal and for this, the Republicans cry, "he must pay!"

I am no leftist idealogue and I see that there are many problems which need to be remedied in the United Nations, but to these Republican senators I say "take the log out of your own eye, and you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Somehow, these amorphous pseudo-accusations get much more play in the media than the fact that the Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is about to be accused of a real crime -- bribery in the House of Congress. How do the Republicans respond? They vote to change the Congressional Ethics Standards, which inconveniently state that any member of congress must resign his position while he is being investigated for a federal crime.

So Kofi Annan should resign of his own freewill because his son has perhaps committed a crime, but Tom Delay should not only not resign, but his entire party should support him by eradicating a law which would take his power away from him. This is on the news. It is not hidden away. It's just that no one seems to care. People here are set on a very simple set of beliefs and plans of action and they somehow seem to whether any assault. The U.N. is bad, the Republicans are good. These truths can not be changed even by volley after volley of facts. Facts have lost all power here in Southwest Florida.

Part II: The Horror that I could NEVER have Expected

All that is as I expected. I have been tracking the apocalypse since before most of you were born. But there is a different deeper, more horrific darkness down here in the glorious sunshine of Naples Florida. Perhaps, my gentle readers will not be able to follow me on the personal journey I am about to describe, it is dark and tortuous and ... words fail me.

After dinner, an unpleasant dinner in an expensive restaurant, where old women were gussied up like harlots -- mutton dressed as lamb, is I believe the appropriate expression -- after dinner, after a dinner where the waitresses refused to serve alchohol to my young editor, who is 24 and who has, in my company, travelled more of the world than this waitress could even name, because he did not have any identication, and why, even were he a boy, why should a boy not have wine? But no, I am picking at this minor wound to distract myself from the gaping gash in my chest where my heart once was...

I have delayed enough, I must say it, I must drag the truth kicking and screaming into the light of day...

On Wednesday night, after dinner, I went window-shopping in Naples Florida.

I am a broken man. I will never be the same again.

The clothes. The sculptures. The paintings. Good lord, the paintings. They were so fantastically ugly. At once as tasteless as a porcelain collector's plate of the Dukes of Hazzard and as brash and ostentatious as Las Vegas. My eyes, how I long to pluck them out. These were not chintzy inexpensive instances of tackiness. They were $5000 paintings with no sense of colour or composition. Huge china models of Heroic Fireman which failed to capture even human anatomy, let alone human bravery. And the Christmas Sweaters, Oh mother Mary, have mercy upon us and smother us unto sweet death in your soft and ample bossoms.

But I digress, I feel ill, I must cut to the chase, so that I can retreat to the shadows.

I already knew that reason had deserted America and America had deserted reason. Propoganda is powerful and I knew we could not engage these people in argument, but I still had faith in the human heart and soul. I thought, I dreamed, I hoped, that an answer could be found, a beautiful idea, a joyous, irresistible beautiful vision of the future, could be launched like a white-sailed ship into the media and that it would save us all. A beautiful future, I still had hope that people would recognize a beautiful future when they saw it. Listen to me ramble, I've lost my mind. What I mean to say is this:

Until Wednesday Night I Believed in Beauty, My First and Only Love.

But now, even she is lost to me.

Reason can be subverted, the intellect can be duped, but I had believed that the human soul could not fail to discern the ugly from the beautiful. But in Southwest Florida, the people have no such souls. Now I know that Everything is relative and it will be the death of us all.

Oh Sweet Beauty, why have you deserted me, here on this lush and tropical beach?

There ain't no sunshine when you're gone...


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