Sometimes you just have to sit back and marvel at the inner workings of the bureaucracy – at so much time and effort allocated to generating so little tangible result; at so much collective ability to dodge and weave responsibility; at so much agreement in the moment and then barge-fulls of disagreement over the same issues later in the day.
On days like today, I’m reminded of one of my very favorite lyrics penned long ago by Don Henley. In his song, the Devil weeps over Los Angeles becoming more hell than Hell. I can assure you, it’s a sentiment that applies far outside southern California.
I am an expert witness, because I say I am
And I said, gentleman, and I use that word loosely
I will testify for you
I’m a gun for hire, I’m a saint, I’m a liar
Because there are no facts, there is no truth
Just a data to be manipulated
I can get any result you like
What’s it worth to ya?
Because there is no wrong, there is no right
And I sleep very well at night
No shame, no solution
No remorse, no retribution
Just people selling T-shirts
Just opportunity to participate in the pathetic little circus
And winning, winning, winning
If ever a song filed itself right into the “how I feel about it” category, this would be the one. Well, maybe except the winning bit at the end, because I’m mostly living in a world where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.
Don Henley released the song In the Garden of Allah in 1995. That would have made me a high school junior or senior depending on the date. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it before. I’m willing to bet that most people haven’t. I spent a lot of time driving around – because that’s what you do when you grow up in the sticks – and there was almost always music on the radio. It was a catchy tune back then and mostly I forgot about it until about two years ago when it started popping up when I told iTunes to shuffle. I must have been listening to a lot of Eagles tunes then, because it kept coming around. It’s one of the very few seven minute songs I don’t get bored with halfway through. After a few times through, it really got stuck in my head… and that’s about the time I started writing.
It wasn’t anything coherent at first. Maybe a few scribbled notes, a sentence here or there, but nothing with substance. Then a funny thing happened. It evolved and coalesced into the nucleus of an idea. I started off with the idea of writing something political and ended up with something clearly more religious. Blatantly so as it turns out.
So there’s the inspiration behind the short story I’m heroically trying to edit. It’s all there on paper now not because I wanted to explore than nature of good and evil, but because a really liked a quirky Don Henley song back in high school. Clearly the muse works in strange ways.