Can’t You Get Along With Anyone?
A writer’s memoir and a tale of a lost surfer’s paradise.
by Allan Weisbecker
This shit’s complicated.
Weisbecker is a man who has seen too much.
This book has strong parallels with Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago regarding the tremendous detail and unstinting use of very numerous examples of things that might seem unnecessarily obscure/redundant/trivial to continue to make points and explicate other parts of the book. Also a fearless willingness to break various rules of the writing business to ensure that the reader SEES what’s actually going on.
They eat better than the people in The Gulag Archipelago, but this is misleading if you take it to mean that they are somehow doing better than the people in Gulag. Although the depths of monstrous evil that get plumbed in places like Norilsk and Magadan are never reached by the subjects in CYGAWA, there is a signal lack of moral compass in nearly every last person who moves through this book, author included at times. This inability to navigate in morals-space causes no end of metaphorical car crashes, train wrecks, boat sinkings, and societal castaways wandering in the wilderness until the wolves hunt them down and finish them off. The inmates of the Gulag oftentimes reach saintly heights of human purity, even as they continue to get ravaged by the inhuman forces that shove them through the fetid pipes of Stalin’s sewage system. No such thing ever happens to the denizens of CYGAWA. No lessons get learned. Nothing ever seems to touch anyone’s soul, winners and losers alike.
Solzhenitsyn speaks of morals, and so does Weisbecker. Both address this, the most central of human themes, in a no-nonsense headlong attempt to get to the bottom of matters. Solzhenitsyn was blessedly fortunate in that his relentless digging deep into the foulness of Things People Do To Other People actually seems to have had some salutary effect on things, at least temporarily. Weisbecker may not be so fortunate, and the demons that torment him, and his cries about the injustice of it all may all wind up only being some kind of private dystopia. I very strongly hope I’m wrong on this, but rely on people to sink to the bottom and you’ll do well as a seer for the most part.
Weisbecker has journeyed extensively through the nether reaches of both the physical world around us, and also the spiritual world within us. He appears to have begun his journey early in life for short-sighted personal motives, and seems not to have had the slightest idea of where he was ultimately going, what he might encounter there, nor what any of it might ultimately wind up wreaking upon his person.
Solzhenitsyn admits to his moral failures and is upfront about them. The same applies to Weisbecker. Solzhenitsyn took a personal journey through the darkest parts of hell, and seems to have drawn the right conclusions from it. The same applies to Weisbecker.
After all, what could you possibly say bad about somebody who includes an H.L. Mencken quote as a chapter header?
Weisbecker is obviously getting his share of karmic paybacks, from a long time ago.
Alan Weisbecker is a fuckup, in the exact same sense that Alexandr Solzhenitsyn is a fuckup. Both of them paid mightily for wagging their tongues at the wrong time, to the wrong people, and in an even more uncanny similarity, the tongue-wagging in question was in regards to the incompetence of those in power, around them. And I’m convinced that neither one of them was constitutionally equipped to refrain from their self-catastrophic behavior. They simply could not sit idly by as the bullshit accumulated around them, and fail to attempt to warn their fellow humans about the bullshit that only they could see. Call it “canary in a coal mine” syndrome, and you won’t be far wrong. These sorts of people are one of the human race’s early warning systems. They are allergic to bullshit, and this makes them break out in metaphorical hives in the presence of concentrations of bullshit that other humans aren’t even aware of. Unfortunately, as with other severe allergic reactions, this is usually worse for the reactor than it is for the surrounding mindless herd of bipeds.
Solzhenitsyn was just as much a part of the problem as Allan Weisbecker. Weisbecker was a drug runner, and god only knows what sorts of shithole things he did while he was plying his self-interested trade. I’ve unfortunately known more than my share of these people in my life (I dabbled in this kind of thing for a while as a young man, but never fully entered this dark world, for reasons I still do not quite understand myself.) and every last one of them have got some heavy infractions going, and I’m most very definitely not just speaking in a strictly legalistic sense of “dope’s illegal” and since you bucked the system, you’re a crook. Solzhenitsyn was an officer in the Red Army, and even though it was the Red Army that eventually kept Hitler’s heels from clicking on the parquet floors of St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square, the Red Army was also one of the main props (the other being the secret police) that kept a horrifically evil political regime in place for decades. So the both of them, Allan and Alexandr, have some pretty heavy karma to pay back. Solzhenitsyn seems to have descended lower, and therefore subsequently ascended higher, than Weisbecker, but in truth the jury’s still out on that one. Furthermore, neither one of these guys really gets fully to the nub of their own personal infractions. Yes indeed, they speak of being in the wrong, and go so far as to trot out various and sundry examples in an effort to own up to their personal wrongdoings, but it’s never done with the same vigor and relish as it’s done when trotting out various and sundry examples of the wrongdoing they see around themselves. And, in yet another twist, I’m pretty sure that if they DID get to the nub of their own wrongdoings, it would detract from their work to the point of making their writing unreadable. Nobody wants to read a hundred-thousand words of self-flagellation.
Oftentimes, seeing too much can only occur when the viewer is fully engaged in doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
Weisbecker does a lot of looping. I’m not sure exactly what looping is, but Wendy Hubbert thinks it’s a very bad thing. My own personal opinion on the matter is that Wendy Hubbert is full of shit, and Weisbecker’s looping, whatever it may be, adds an element of depth to his work, without which, said work would be a much thinner gruel indeed.
This is a writer’s book about writing. And when I say writer, I mean Writer. I’ve already compared Weisbecker’s writing with Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s, and now I’m going to compare it to Mark Twain’s. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn got a Nobel Prize for The Gulag Archipelago. Twain, I’m sure, would have knocked down his own Nobel Prize, had they been a going thing during those years in which he was producing his best work. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s is a Writer. Mark Twain is a Writer. And Allan Weisbecker is a Writer.
Writing is not just writing. Superb writing only happens when the person who’s doing the writing has actually lived. We all know people who aren’t alive, just as we all know people who are very alive. It’s the ones who are very alive who are actually living. If this makes no sense to you, or you need to have it further explained to properly understand it, then I submit to you that you’re not really living and will always miss the point of paragraphs such as this one. Weisbecker has lived and continues to live. Which means that there’s going to be more where the like of Can’t You Get Along With Anyone comes from. Which may or may not be such a good thing for Allan Weisbecker, who must endure the living of it prior to doing any Writing about it.
Weisbecker wants not only to know the truth, he also wants very much to pass the truth along to his fellow humans. This motivation, in people like Allan Weisbecker, is atavistic, cannot be smothered even if the person doing so wishes to smother it, and leads directly to a whole world of grief when those for whom the truth is inconvenient get even with the truth-teller. The supreme irony consists in the fact that those whom the truth teller is trying to alert to the truth are themselves completely unworthy of knowing the truth, and will in fact discard the truth like used toilet paper even when it’s handed to them on a silver platter. Most people hate the truth, because it interferes with their personal, self-aggrandizing, agendas.
Everything above that was said about the truth notwithstanding, if the truth is ever extinguished we all die. For that reason alone, it is absolutely vital that truth-tellers continue to dwell amongst us with their inconvenient rantings and ravings. Cherish those truth-tellers that you have come in contact with. They are trying to save your sorry ass, despite your best efforts to the contrary.
Did I mention before that “This shit’s complicated”?
I’m not sure I like the idea that fair-sized excerpts taken directly out of this book can be found on Weisbecker’s web page. Running along through the book, hitting a section that I’ve already read kind of interrupts the uptake flow. Might just be a personal thing with me, and then again it might not. Everything else on the website is spot fucking on.
The documentation on the website is yet another parallel with Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn put EVERYTHING in his book itself, whereas Weisbecker has left a fair bit out of the book, but makes it available on his webpage. It’s a matter of personal choice I suppose, coupled with the fact that when Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was putting The Gulag Archipelago together, and leaking it to the world via samizdat, there was no such thing as a webpage and so the whole works had to go between the covers or not show up at all. The word count in all three volumes of The Gulag Archipelago is enormous, and I’m guessing the same is going to be true for Can’t You Get Along With Anyone once all the exterior supporting material and all the rest of it is taken into proper account. Both authors believe strongly in documenting their tales. A lot of what both of them write is the kind of stuff that it’s far far easier to simply not believe. It’s just all too much. WAY too much. No way could all this shit have ever happened in the real world. And, more parallels here, both authors seem to know this sort of thing instinctively, and since they know that there’s a lot of vested interests and cooperative fools out there who will seek to sweep away all that they have been through and all they have written about it, they both lay down an overwhelming amount of supporting material and backup documentation. Thanks guys. The extra effort shows, and it’s well worth it to be able to go through it all. Adds to one’s understanding in a way that nothing else can.
One way in which Weisbecker’s and Solzhenitsyn’s books differ, signally, is that The Gulag Archipelago is this great, thundering, grave thing, that in no way can be made light of or trivialized. Not so with Can’t You Get Along With Anyone. Far from it, in fact. And I suspect that Allan’s enemies are going to attack the man and the book from this very angle. It’s a fucking story about some whack guy who ran off to the end of the road and threw himself wholesale into all manner of self-indulging things, and what happened, more or less, as a result of all this. A guy, I might add, who has already owned up in a previous book to a whale of a lot of unsavory goings on. All of the foregoing is both an Achilles’ heel, and a secret strength to Can’t You Get Along With Anyone. It’s going to cause an awful lot of people to just brush the whole thing off as the whinings of an aging hedonist. These people can be relied upon to do their ad hominem worst to smother this baby in its crib, and for a lot of the less than fully critical people out there, their smothering will work. But. And a big but it is… Alan has plumbed the depths of the human soul, his own included, in a way, and in places, that no one else has had the opportunity to do. And, miracle of miracles, Allan is up to the task and has done a miraculously worthy job of seeing those things that needed most to be seen, and then even more miraculously, has done an even worthier job of telling the tale, shining a brilliant beam of light on some very very dark corners of the human soul. It’s this seeing and telling that sets books like Gulag and Can’t You Get Along With Anyone apart from ordinary fare. Solzhenitsyn personally crossed paths with an awful lot more murderers than Allan Weisbecker has, but Weisbecker does not come off any the worse for it. He takes the lesson and takes it well. And, as Joseph Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic.” Solzhenitsyn’s genius was to be able to retrieve the tragedy from the statistic and Weisbecker’s is to let the tragedy more or less speak for itself, on more than one level. The symmetries, broken and preserved, in this neck of the woods are nothing short of uncanny.
Lying and liars.
Self-serving behavior without regard to the consequences that the self-serving behavior has on those around you.
Even this book’s publication is testimony to the all the fucking crap that Weisbecker’s had to endure. Weisbecker called bullshit on the publisher of In Search Of Captain Zero, and in response did the publisher see to it that the bullshit was identified and rooted out, the better to promote, and therefore increase profits, on Zero? Hell fucking no, they didn’t. Instead, they closed ranks against him, and took the loss rather than tolerate someone amongst them with the temerity to question themselves or their motives. This is Good Old Boy-ism taken to an absurd level, with vicious intent, just to cover the lying stealing good old boys, and girls, in question.
This is actually several books, and they’re all sort of snarled up together in a way that can cause the unwary to miss the significance of all sorts of noteworthy things, large and small. We’re basically dealing with the excruciating details of a fatally flawed relationship (more on that in a bit), a real-world murder mystery and the consequences that come with the unraveling of it, and an engine-room level tour of the filth, greed and mendacity that constitutes the core “values” of the entertainment industry in general, and the book publishing and movie subsets of that industry in particular.
We’re going to be taking a little ride here, and our tour guide knows the ins and outs of rides in a way that very few people on earth do. Weisbecker has taken rides, and been taken for a ride, in ways that can only astound you once you immerse yourself within Can’t You Get Along With Anyone.
CYGAWA is one of those deceptive things that has the power to let you believe that it’s not particularly deep or considerable, and is written well enough that it succeeds admirably on just the ‘Oprah’ level alone.
Lotta goddamned drama.
One HELL of a lot of goddamned drama.
Which is right up the alley of those types who just sort of skim through life, voyeuristically diverting themselves from their own worthless lot with the kinds of gossipy, through-the-keyhole amusements that shallow people just can’t seem to get enough of.
This book stands as an indictment against us all. We are, all of us, less than we believe ourselves to be.
We are venal.
We cloak ourselves in a mantle of respectability, righteousness, or some other well-crafted warp and weft of justification, and we go about our daily affairs indignant that those around us so signally fail to measure up to our own lofty standards.
But it’s all a bunch of bullshit.
It’s fucking bullshit from top to bottom, and anybody who claims otherwise is pushing an agenda, and that agenda has their own goddamned motherfucking self-interest as its foundation and core, and nothing else.
This is probably the hardest book review that I’ve ever written, for two reasons. One: This is an amazingly deep and complicated book that addresses a wealth of bedrock issues lying at the heart of the human condition. Two: Every time I picked it back up and started reading the damn thing, I found myself stopping and dashing off fragments of this review, the better to keep from losing yet another salient point in the review. The fucking review was attempting to run longer than the book! This second reason speaks back toward the first in that it’s a pretty strong indication of just exactly how much important, nay unignorable, information is compacted within the pages of CYGAWA. The fucking thing just oozes insightful takes on What It Means To Be Human, out of the pores of its skin, without even trying to. Again, for the umpteenth time, in a similar fashion to Solzhenitsyn’s better works.
I’m trying to somehow cut the length of this review (easily the longest book review that’s ever run off the ends of my fingers). But as of writing these very words, I’ve only managed to make it to just a little past the halfway point to page 318 in a 538-page book and what I’ve committed to disk is way past the three-thousand word mark and is showing no signs of abating. (Note to those of you with mathematical inclinations: If this review winds up coming in under five thousand words, it does NOT mean that things did in fact abate. Instead, it means that I took one look at the mass of words I had, realized that nobody is going to wade through something like that just to learn what’s in some book or other, and I cut things to bring it down to a more manageable size. That said, me being me, I might just say fuckit, and let the thing run wild and let the problem become the reader’s. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what winds up happening, eh?)
Of all the illustrated groups of people that Allan crosses paths with in this book, and then suffers at the hands of their duplicity and selfishness, it seems clear that the most honorable pair in the whole parade are the drug runners (government drug runners like William Casey and Oliver North excepted of course) and the thieves (again, government or other organizational thieves excepted). Blue collar drug runners. Blue collar thieves. With these guys, you at least already know where you stand with them from the start. Not so the more “sophisticated” (And did I really need to put those quotation marks around sophisticated? No, probably not, now that I think about it.) members of the genus homo. This is yet another deceptively simple aspect to this book that, upon closer examination, yields a trove of insight to those with the wit to see what’s down there beneath the surface of things, and one that could easily be missed by those without the time to properly masticate this sonofabitch: In life, it’s the crooks who oftentimes turn out to be the straightest shooters of the lot.
Treacherously unfaithful lover. Implications. Building tension as the situation escalates, you the reader knowing all too well what’s really going on, but hoping against hope that things will somehow work out, even as you become more and more impatient for the goddamned final scene to arrive and release you from your tension.
But we’re reading Weisbecker here, remember? And Weisbecker, just like Solzhenitsyn, knows that unless he documents the living shit out of every last little thing, you might come away with a shadow of a doubt in your mind. No way, baby! You’re getting ALL of it. And it’s not like ALL of it is in any way superfluous, or unnecessary. ALL of it speaks and speaks well to the subject at hand. But goddamned can it ever wear down on you! One can only imagine how living it wore down on the author.
Narrated from the INSIDE. A new and very unsettling perspective.
The only way to deal with liars is to lie to them. This then presents its own moral problems. It seems as if the liars amongst us have tainted us one and all.
When lying to defend against liars, or even worse, to ascertain the truth, one begins to dance through a minefield, or perhaps some hot zone overflowing with contagion that will surely infect you with the very thing you seek to cleanse from your life unless you are very careful. Liars know this, and the ruinously short-sighted motherfuckers gleefully seek to spread their own fatal disease to all those who attempt to catch them out.
There are a LOT of people out there who are going to do their best to see to it that this book sinks like a stone. And our job, as readers, and as understanders is to fight back against the selfish destructive cocksuckers by doing whatever it takes to ensure that this book rises all the way to the top. Buy a copy for yourself. Buy a copy for your friends. Spread the word. Help those who have read all of it or only part of it with their FULL understanding of what’s really going on with this book. There’s a war on, and the Bad Guys are winning right now. This awful situation has got to change, or we’re all going down the drain together, Good Guys, Bad Guys, All Guys.
Even crooked dogs! That also still get loved, even though they’re crooked.
Denial. Denial about denial. Denial about denial about… well, you get the idea.
Weisbecker mentions people like Bush, Rumsfeld, Hussein, and other lesser lights as reasons why the world is so fucked up. For myself, I’m not so sure about this. Yes, they’re all a bunch of lying shitballs. Yes, they’re VERY fucked up. But… I wonder how people like this can so consistently and saliently get their hands on the levers of power, be it globally or be it in our bedrooms, and I get the creepy feeling that it’s us that’s causing it. WE are the problem, down at the very rootest level. WE need these fucks, or other fucks, to effect our own agendas with. Liars lie and when it serves the interest of those being lied to, then Let The Lying Times Roll. Somewhere, there’s a flaw in the human makeup that is so fundamental, so basic, that liars are ALWAYS going to be around for us to put up with. Or is it even a flaw? Is evolution just mindlessly selecting for this shit without asking anybody’s opinion as it does so? If so, WHY? And right about here, the lights go out for me. I do not fucking know. But what I do know is that when somebody lies and the lie serves our collective self interest, we’re happy to not only let it go, hell, we’ll help the sonofabitch. It’s only when the lies conflict with our self interest that we howl in protest. Not a very cheerful thought, when you get right down to it.
This is a book to read for those who would Know the Truth. Which is ultimately impossible of course, but the sense of the thing stands, regardless. This is also a book to read for those who would Peek Through the Keyhole. Which is ultimately a despicable act of course, but the sense of the thing stands, regardless. And who knows? Maybe a little Truth (impossible to know, though it is) could possibly rub off on the keyhole peerers whilst engaged in their nasty little pastime. It could happen. And if it happened, it would be a Good Thing. This is also a book to read for those who like their books on the rich, ramified, and even recondite side. Books that reward rereading. This thing has got so many layers, so many differing levels of understanding, that it will satisfy anyone who seeks the sort of written material that engages the reader in a dialogue. People who don’t get this, don’t get this, and I advise them not to let it worry them. Go read the thing for your own reasons and don’t worry about weirdnesses like some guy in a room somewhere having a fucking dialogue with a goddamned book, ok?
Did you notice all the motherfucking cuss words in this review? Well the book has a similar seasoning, too. Nice-nasties, and those who would Bowdlerize the world around them, probably shouldn’t read this book. Too much truth. Might cause ’em to pop a blood vessel or something. Can’t be having any of that, now can we? The truth swears like a sailor, in case you were wondering.