Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pinochet Passes By

June, 1975: Santiago de Chile

Your Ned, the son af an American diplomat, is a sophomore at an international school at the farthest edge of town, in the Andean foothills. His anti-authoritarian teenaged years in their fullest pimply bloom, he insists, despite his parents' entreaties (or, who knows, perhaps because of them) on affecting the uniform of the Pissed-Off 1975 Teen: the long, ratty hair, jeans worn through at the knee, the general surliness.

In a fascist dictatorship -- gun emplacements on the public thoroughfare, DINA agents prowling the streets in unmarked cars ready to pounce and "disappear" you to torture chambers on Dawson Island, itchy-trigger-fingered Carabineros on street corners stopping any random passerby who looked vaguely "socialist" -- the Pissed-Off 1975 Teen look is the sort of thing that the Authorities lick their chops at. It's utterly impossible to understand, in a cosmopolitan democracy, the raw, adrenaline-pumping fear that can gnaw at your vitals when you can be hauled off the street at any instant for the way you dress. I'm sorry, punk rockers and Disaffected Victims of the Man: you can't know. There is no comparison. I came to dread with a sickly nausea those knee-trembling moments when a machine-gun-wielding cop would pick me out of a crowded sidewalk, step in front of me, and accost me for my ID: "A ver, joven..."

And I was safe! I was untouchable! I had Diplomatic Immunity! I had a diplomatic carnet de identidad that rendered me literally untouchable! Most of my friends were theoretically untouchable, too -- but try explaining that to my pal Joe, son of the Bolivian chargé d' affaires, who got his knee broken in just such an encounter. He'd forgotten his wallet. Boom. Rifle butt to the patella. Don't forget, punk.

The trip to school that year was a bouncy, uncomfortable ride with several other kids in the back of a covered pickup truck. A few families had banded together, hired a driver for the duty. Our outbound trip wound its way through Santiago's fashionable districts, picking up kids, then out to Calle Las Condes for the drive to the beautiful foothills.

One morning, we were going down a one-way street on our usual route. Minding our own business. Obeying the speed limit. Being good citizens. Out of nowhere, coming directly at us, came two motorcyle cops, gesticulating wildly -- get out of the way! Get out of the way!

On a one-way street. Going the wrong way.

Directly into oncoming traffic.

The motorcycles were followed by several police cars, Carabineros leaning out the windows, also waving their arms. One of the cars slowed momentarily, and a particularly vehement cop shouted directly into our drivers' face; apparently the rather deft dive the driver had made onto a spare patch of sidewalk hadn't been fast enough to please him.

Then a Mercedes limousine passed imperiously by, oblivious to the strewn traffic on either side of the quiet city street. A profile in an ornate military peaked cap, distinctive brush moustache clearly visible, adorned the opened back window. Generál Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, Presidente de la República de Chile.

It's a good thing those Carabineros were so preoccupied ahead, clearing the way for the Great Man. I'm not sure they would have taken kindly to the Pissed-Off 1975 Teen Neddie's upraised middle finger that extended from the back of the truck.

I hope dying hurt a whole lot, you rat-faced son of a bitch. I hope you suffered the tortures of the damned. I hope no one wiped your brow or comforted you while you suffered and died. I hope you died alone.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I cracked open a bottle of fine wine the night Pinochet died and wished him a torrid afterlife myself.

Never been to Chile, but when we were in Paraguay doing our second adoption, I was walking down the street pushing #2 son in a stroller when a Paraguayan soldier thought it would be humorous to shatter the silence by cocking his machine gun....

Pinko Punko said...

I love how total choads make Pinochet love a requisite in their straw world black and white decision between Stalinism and a constant orgasm of sweet sweet Capitalism, even if it is a Fascist nightmare in reality.

I hate these assholes.

Neddie said...

I hate these assholes.

I think the lesson I took away from Pinochet's Chile, Pinko, is that the feeling's mutual.

I don't mean that facetiously; I mean that at the deepest and ugliest recesses of their Ids, they hate you, and want to kill you. And by you, I mean anything that bears even the tiniest, most passing whiff of danger to their power.

In my most careful self-analysis, this is, I believe, why I can't bring myself to even look at their blogs; the emotional scar I bear from having the crap scared out of me by powermad assholes with machine guns -- even when I had Diplomatic Immunity! -- is still so painful that I can't read a Malkin or a Coulter or a NRO post without remembering those Carabineros latching onto me, singling me out because of who I am, and stepping forward -- A ver, joven...

Andrew said...

Can we have some more tales from the Adventures of Our Ned?

Need not be confined to those that shine a light into the shadowy netherworld of dictatorial cockroaches.

Neddie said...

Andrew:

Can we have some more tales from the Adventures of Our Ned?

I live to serve: Perhaps you might enjoy the time I peed on Pinochet's garden wall?

I have quite a collection; let Mnemosyne dredge up a few more...

Andrew said...

Whenever the Goddess gets to it. No need to impose upon her.

I'd also like to commend you on your blog. I've been reading it since I saw a link--probably from James Wolcott--to your series on John Mobberly, sometime in '05.

Kevin Wolf said...

I hated him, too, Neddie, but it tended toward the abstract: I hated him "and all he stood for" or some such. (If serving yourself at the expense of the rest of society constitutes standing for something.)

An average American like myself has no idea what dealing with this sort of thing would be like.

Great story, though.

jamesfinngarner said...

Thanks for the link to the Garden Wall Moisturizing Adventure, Nedward. I have been sniffing around (bad choice of words) to rediscover that essay.

Anonymous said...

It can't happen here. No it can't happen here. I'm telling you my dear. That it caaaan't happen here.

pi said...

fuckin' A, Teen Neddie. Thanks for that finger.

And you're so right about the mutuality of contempt, except that theirs goes so much farther. We want them to Not Do Bad Things. They want us to Be Dead And Gone Now.

I wouldna believed it -- suffering the invisible backpack of my own middle-class economic immunity -- until I had a Reglar Joe in Roseburg, Oregon tell me I wasn't a human being.

This 'cause I was holding a sign urging restraint in the practices of industrial deforestation, no less.

Mr.Neiwert's on a tear about this eliminationism just below the surface of our culture. (Though I do wish he'd slip in a little Slotkin for fun).

Always nice to stop by. Hope the new mansion market is crashing in Loudoun as hard as it is in the Bay Area.

Neddie said...

James F. G. -- All you need to do is ask: neddiejingo at aol dot com...

pi:

Hope the new mansion market is crashing in Loudoun as hard as it is in the Bay Area.

And how! Hilarious part is, today I got an email newsletter from our local rep on the County Board of Supervisors (one of two Slow-Growth Good Guys on the Board): the developers are still trying to slam through approvals on landraper projects that can only be characterized as completely fucking insane.

And you're so right about the mutuality of contempt, except that theirs goes so much farther. We want them to Not Do Bad Things. They want us to Be Dead And Gone Now.

I've got a post brewing about this. The problem is, They can point to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot... For the nonce, let's just say, the election of 2004, which felt so apocalyptic, was a very illustrative moment.

David said...

A spellbinding tale, well told.

Lordy, I don't want to start a flame war, but I am reminded of nothing so much as how our troops have been said to drive through Iraq. I know there are exigencies and expediencies, but how that must feel to the Iraqis...

I'm sure they felt the same way about Saddam.

Tom said...

Neddie: Excellent post, and well worth recommending to people that just don't get it.

The flip side of that is when people insist that It Couldn't Happen Here, ignoring recent reports of cops and security guards insisting on arbitrary "security" measures--forbidding photographers to take pictures of buildings that have already been photographed thousands of times, or making nursing mothers drink their own bottled breast milk in airports to prove that it's not some sort of liquid explosive--and getting furious and even more punitive when they're challenged. That's the most infuriating and scary thing about post-9/11 America for me: the idea that cops can and should be allowed to impose whatever rules they come up with off the tops of their heads, no matter how restrictive or ridiculous, in the name of "security". Remember: terrorists are the new commies. (Terries?)

David: I agree.

XTCfan said...

Kevin said:
An average American like myself has no idea what dealing with this sort of thing would be like.

Hence the wide-eyed "why do they hate us so much?" question about terra-ists and furreners in general (not from you, Kev, but from most 'muricans). In so many people's minds in this country, we're the Good Guys. What they don't know about (or refuse to learn about, or acknowledge -- the "willfully ignorant," I call them) is all the hypocrisy we've been involved in around the world, as we talk about freedom and democracy, and walk all over people's rights, supporting whomever (no matter how repugnant or repressive they are) furthers our (mostly) economic interests.

And now, as David says, look at what we're doing in Iraq -- creating enemies that will be with us for generations. Generations.

No wonder they hate us. *I* hate us sometimes. Or, more properly -- to paraphrase Charles Shultz -- I love America. It's Americans I can't stand.

Kevin Hayden said...

Can you add some passion to that, Neddie? C'mon, don't hold back.

;-)

One of your best posts ever.

Chileno said...

Finally found this post, found it amazing. I was in Santiago when Pinochet died last December.

Here's some perspective. The US is the scariest country in the world. I love reading news reports like this because it's so strange that the US could be seen like Iran or N. Korea. It's funny because I don't feel like a terrorist like every last one of those Iranians must be ;-)