Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Copper in the Rough -- Terri Shiavo's Journal

I am perplexed by my contradictory suite of emotional and intellectual responses to this increasingly odd mock Terry Schiavo LiveJournal. Best I can tell, it started out as an opportunity to provide some levity in the midst of the fiasco, and I'm pretty sure I linked it in an aside then.

It started, it appears, on March 1, with a series of aimless posts entering Terry Schiavo in various online quizzes. Nothing of note to report; I don't think its steward had really decided what to do, except perhaps to lasso a certain amount of incidental traffic in virtue of the name. But then something changed, with this post:

[ mood | loved by Congress ]

I had a law made for me today!

Wow! I bet you haven't!

I spent the rest of day just lying around the room, mostly. I twitched a couple of times, but that was involuntary.

I sure would like a cheeseburger.

Then this:

[ mood | comatose ]

So far, so good.

If all goes according to plan, the Pope and I will both shed this mortal coil (which, for me, is a metaphor for feeding tube, the Pope's "mortal coil" is the tube that goes in his tracheotomy) on Easter. We will then stroll into heaven, hand-in-hand. It's a good thing we're both Catholic. Michael says he has already made T-shirts to sell, and has signed a deal for the Franklin Mint commemorative plates of us.

Michael has been wonderful, and has executed my requests perfectly: I told him that if I ever ended up on life support or as a vegetable, that I would want to linger as a grotesque joke and be at the center of a political circus, and then give up life for Lent in the fifteenth year. I wish my stupid parents would just knock it off already. Geez.

Here, there's a hint of something more than frivolity. It's not quite commentary, but it's playful and pointed and not lacking in content. A subsequent post also combines a weird irreverence with something more.

One of the Hospice nurses told me this morning that I was going to be at the back of the line at the Celebrity Entrance to Heaven. Apparently some guy named Johnny Cockring or something died yesterday. I never heard of him. Sounds like the name of a porn star. She also said that Jerry Falwell is very sick and may die, but she whispered to me that she doubts he'll actually go to Heaven. And then there is me and the Pope.

I was unable to acknowledge her comments, though I did randomly tremble and grunt a couple of times, causing my dad to think I was quoting Shakespeare or something.

Looks like another boring day ahead, unless I go ahead and die or something.

It's easy to write this stuff off as totally tasteless and shameless controversy mongering, but I don't think that's fair. It's satire, the real stuff, even if occasionally hackneyed (for every post I excerpt here to illustrate content, there are two more I ignore where the tasteleness overwhelms any intrinsic merit). Then on March 31 it started to get, um, interesting:

[ mood | dead ]



I'll report from Heaven soon.

You'll also notice that by now, instead of the few comments early posts received, each post was earning hundreds of comments. Needless to say, many were not complimentary.

What follows, is a series of posts from heaven, and to my thinking this is where the writer actually shows off his or her best stuff, comically and satirically. There's still a thread of Terry in there, but there's also some general, smirking commentary on what heaven might be like that provides an interesting counterpoint to Tony's recent replaying of his trip through heaven and hell, escorted by Kurt Cobain no less (I link only one post; there are many many more and they're easy to find -- just browse around). For example, this is from Terry's first post in heaven:

[ mood | heavenly ]

OK, I'm in Heaven now, finally. It's not at all what I thought.

First off, you need to buy a ticket to get in. Most people pay installments on the TITHE plan (Ticket In To Heaven Expense). If you have not fronted the money, they don't let you in. And since I never gave enough money to the church to earn salvation (I spent it on hairspray, food to barf up, and then later on the bills for being kept as a vegetable for 15 fucking years... thanks a lot Mom and Dad, you assholes), Heaven did not let me in right away. I tried to explain my plight to St. Peter, but he did that annoying "world's smallest violin" thing where people rub their fingers together. It's appropriate that a dick like him is named Peter.

I was able to borrow enough money from Johnny Cochran, who was still in line. Seems that Heaven has a 3-day waiting period for admitting black people. Who knew? It sucks to be black even in Heaven! Racism is everywhere!

Plus, there is a lot going on in Heaven right now. They are busting their butts trying to get ready for the Pope, who is due any time. There's lots of banners and stuff everywhere, mostly in Polish, so it looks like all of Heaven needs to buy a vowel.

And this, which I must say I'd love to believe is true:

* Not all bad people go to Hell. Some of them come here and have restricted lives or exist in servitude. I already mentioned that the folks who have to pick up dog shit are former clergy; specifically, they are the clergy who did awful things like lived extravagant lifestyles, injected religion into politics, or buggered little boys. They are essentially "untouchables" here.

* Poetic justice is alive and well in Heaven. For instance, TV preachers who spewed lies from the "idiot box" on Earth live in plexiglass boxes in Heaven and can never leave. They can look out and see Heaven, but can never participate in the splendor and glory. It is tortuous for them, and sometimes people go by and mock them.

Since Terri's death, "she" has posted less frequently, but she hasn't stopped, and when she does post occasionally something really weird and interesting comes out. And that's actually what prompted this discussion, this as-of-now most recent post:

I mentioned before that halo color is an indicator of circumstances of a person's death.

There's one group of people with halos the color of...ummm... oxidized copper, I think.
Like the Statue of Liberty, but a bit brighter.

They are the most loud mouthed, profane, obnoxious, rudest, and PUSHY group of people in all of heaven.
They act like they own the blessed place, which is pretty fucked up since I hear they've only been here since September 2001.

One amusing respondent commented, "prepare for a whole other breed of trolls." I'm not really sure what to make of this, though I agree that this probably solicited a whole new brand of flames (I don't intend to read all of the comments to find out, especially since the commenters are predictably (it is a LiveJournal, after all) adolescent). Numerically, this post earned as many comments as those posts right around the time of Terri's death, reversing a trend of slowly diminishing activity.

I'm not really sure what I'm getting at here -- there's no punchline, no witty rejoinder, and I no more despise this site than I strongly recommend it. I do find interesting, however, the odd combination of juvenilia, fearlessness, and occasional wit. And I'll probably be pondering the underlying intent of the 9/11 post for the rest of the day, which usually only a good poem or a vexing legal question can accomplish. So there's something to it. Anyone have any thoughts? Anyone still reading?

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