Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Psychic Cowboy and The Many Wives Of Glenn Beck

After high school I went to work at a loading dock, because I had read a book about Gandhi and decided that my calling was that of secular saint rather than college graduate. While the experience would change my mind—it’s easier to be Gandhi when you have throngs of adoring followers—I did meet a few interesting characters, and learned the difference between a ‘skid’ and a ‘pallet’.

One of the characters I met was a guy we all called The Psychic Cowboy. He was compulsively clad in a big rimmed cowboy hat, was about fifty years old, 300+ pounds, and living on social security. Something was wrong with his legs.

He would come to visit his wife on lunch, and would talk to us occasionally about prophecies that had been revealed to him and fringe pseudo-science. He was really into a book called ‘psycho-cybernetics’, and talked a lot about a thing called biofeedback, and the mystical experience that can be had by those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. The Psychic Cowboy was good to talk to, because our job was so mind-numbing and physically strenuous. From time to time, the cowboy would snap into a creepy-growly voice and make a sudden proclamation: “The Jordan River, which I believe to be a holy place…it is! It is a holy place!” After doing this, he would rebuke his creepy voice in his normal voice, and continue on talking about whatever he was talking about.

Over the course of about a year, I started talking to his wife more often, and learned that her family had disowned her over her marriage to the Psychic Cowboy. They thought he was crazy and dangerous, and apparently some of his prophecies and revelations had led to financial and emotional hardship for their family. Her family urged her to leave him, but she stayed true to him, and believed that he was who he said he was. She was content to live in a little apartment stuffed with strange books and newspapers, and to drive a broken down old hooptie as long as she could be with her prophet.

After a while, I realized that I wasn’t Gandhi. I switched jobs, went to college, and got a degree. While I was at school, word got to me that The Psychic Cowboy had fallen down dead in the parking lot of a local grocery store. It turned out that he had a gigantic tumor in the middle of his brain. After realizing that this was no doubt the source of his strange beliefs and behavior, my thoughts immediately went to his wife, who had allowed her life to take a fairly radical path based on the delusions that her husband suffered from. I wondered if she connected the tumor to the prophecies and weird hobbies that the man had. God only knows what other strange things may have passed from him to her over the years. Did she understand that he was suffering from an illness, and not a divine gift?

I haven’t run into her since then, but I hope she’s okay. She popped into my head as I was driving to work today, listening to Glenn Beck’s radio show. The connection was hard not to draw. There’s no way that Beck will be able to keep his fans all revved up and full of horrible anticipation over a prolonged period of time. Eventually, when the revolution doesn’t come, when white Midwestern conservatives realize that a black president with a funny name needn’t be a fascistic dictator, or that a handful of progressive policies may actually do the country some good, Glenn Beck’s influence will greatly diminish. I have to wonder if the reckoning that the Psychic Cowboy’s wife experienced will be analogous in any way to the reckoning all of those tea-partying housewives across America are going to experience when they begin to get a hint of what really animates their talk-radio icon.

Maybe the experience will be analogous. I mean, it's not like their going to start listening to Laura Ingraham again, right?

cross posted at Kos

UPDATE: This is the first essay I've written at Daily Kos that has made the recommended list. Pretty awesome.


Bill Stevens, angry in Washington said...

The biggotry knows no bounds. No one cares that he's black, no cares he has a funny name. No one except the progressives who would rather scream racism when someone has legitimate concerns about policy. It's much easier to snipe at those who disagree than to actually explain a position. Please tell him that he doesn't have to be a fascist dictator, that seems to be what he wants to be. I'm tired of labeling socialism wrapped with arrogance as progressive. Especially when these horrid ideas are many steps backwards when comes to promoting freedom. Remember freedom, it was being able to choose not to have insurance without government punishment. Freedom is not being taxed into submission. Freedom is busineeses not having to shell out millions, remember BO saying businesses were going to save money? Remember him saying the people would have 5 days to review bills before he would sign them, remember the transparency that was suppose to be the most ethical congress, remember BO, the speaker and Reids anti war tirades accusing the troops of horrible crimes, wanting to give up and go home, remember closing Gitmo, remember the laser like focus on jobs? Those three are not progressive, they are dictator want-to-be. I say these things not because pelosi is black or reid is black, (oh, wait they aren't) I don't agree with Clarence Thomas and Walter Williams because they are white (oh, wait they are black). Obama is just the latest of big government control of people and that is why I stand against him and all he represents. In the 70's women proclaimed keep government out of the womb, today we should all be screaming don't let them touch my body. There are ways to help people who really want insurance and can't afford it with out this travisty. Helping someone does not require punishing others and to do that would truly be progressive.

Lodo Grdzak said...

Liked this one Spence. Funny.

Course (as I'm pretty sure you know) its not necessarily a fact that Psychic's tumor caused his strange beliefs/behavior. Perhaps his strange behavior is what caused him to avoid treatment or avoid the symptoms/signs.

I also enjoyed Bill Steven's comment. Might want to get that tumor checked. Or is he trying to give himself a stroke? Either way,sounds like a happy guy. A happy,...white guy (D'oh!--that did it!).

Spencer Troxell said...

Lodo: You're right about Mr. Stevens on one end. He does sound incredibly happy, stable, and not sexually frustrated at all.

But how dare you call him white! Why would you want to antagonize such a nice man that way?

Willie Y said...

Great piece Spencer.

I guess Bill didn't see all those signs at the tea party that painted the president as a Nazi or the N word. And there was nothing wrong with the health care system. Everyone was treated fairly. And why get on big businesses they all are looking out for the little people.

Bill needs to get real. Goverment has to protect the people from the bad guys, who would not think twice about droping our health insurance when we are reeally sick, or lose our life savings with crazy schemes, or pollute the enviorment for hugh profits.
Thank Jebus for our President.

Spencer Troxell said...

I agree with you, Willie. We're better off when we realize that government is a useful tool, rather than some kind of beast out of the book of revelations.

As long as we're all talking to each other, paying attention, and voting, I think things will be okay.

GbiZ said...

The Psychic Cowboy & the Many Wives Of Glenn Beck is the awesomest title eva! sounds like some tripped out horror movie.

Adrienne Troxell said...

Wow...Although I was unaware of his nickname, I'm pretty sure I know who you are talking about and knew his wife well. I find it very sad to know that he came off as crazy because of a medical condition. I'd rather think people come off as crazy just because the ARE crazy. I wonder how many other crazies have brain tumors or what other factors may play a role in their "craziness". The mind can be a powerful and scary thing.

Spencer Troxell said...

Adrienne: You're thinking about the right guy.

I agree with you. In some ways it's creepy to think that the things I feel and believe may be caused by some neural abnormality. On the other hand, knowing that gives me the opportunity to check out malfunctioning parts, and get them fixed.

The brain is an exciting thing.