"Depletion of the senses" The other night One-Tooth and I went to a downtown bar to have a drink. One-Tooth was wearing a loden wide-wale corduroy jumpsuit made for him by his ladyfriend, Ruby. I was dressed shabbily genteel, as usual. We took our places at the bar. The bartender smiled at us, his mouth a glowing orifice. "Depleted uranium dentures!" he said proudly. "Government issue!" Two cigarette-smoking fellows wearing football caps at a table near us were arguing. "I"m more patriotic than you are!" one coughed at the other. The other wheezed, "Well let me ask you this: What"s a more patriotic way to die in a war, getting shot or ingesting chemical weapons?" The two violently argued the relative value of each mode of death as an expression of patriotism. The barroom philosopher, a common fixture in such establishments, opined that it is the amount of time spent consciously suffering before one actually dies that determines the amount of patriotism expressed through wartime death. The three then coughed in unison, creating a cacophony of lung-disease. One-Tooth interjected a dissenting view, questioning the idea of a linkage between mode of death and level of patriotism. His comments were met by catcalls of pansy and dickhead. We decided to leave the increasingly hostile bar. As we exited, one of the fellows wearing a football cap opened his mouth for one last insult aimed at One-Tooth, but began coughing instead. Out in the street we found an atmosphere both carnival-like and sinister. Drunken revelers laughed, and screamed "Fuck Iraq!" and "Fuck Saddam!"; a Hummer drove by with the words "Baghdad or Bust" painted on the side windows; in the window of an electronics store, all 24 televisions displayed a news show"s colorful map of Iraq, which made the country look like a sweet Christmas candy; a marauding gang of Ashcroft Youth sang a fascistic anthem with hoarse voices and tears in their eyes. Government agents and citizen snitches monitored the crowd. "Oh well," One-Tooth said, "I see the frenzy leading to our ritualized bloodletting has begun."

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