If there’s one place The City is not – it’s Cleveland.
Cleveland’s become a joke, a cultural punch line. And while some of the depictions of Transmetropolitan’s City are funny, the jab it hits you with is its edge.
Instead of New York, where I’d find myself a few months later in life, I was in Cleveland when I started reading Transmet last January. Holed up in an apartment, not going out into the snow because anything I wanted to see in Cleveland I’d already seen. There I read the first four installments, and worked hard to track down the rest in libraries across the country in moths to follow.
Today I’ve finished the series, and want to reflect on protagonist journalist Spider Jerusalem, whose outlaw methods bring down corruption and make Presidents shit themselves. I want to reflect particularly because it has been said a decent number of times – first in Cleveland – that if I did drugs I’d basically be him.
Some may remember my old article on here about teetotaler life. Part of this lifestyle is because I don’t want to be Spider Jerusalem – yet.
Hero’s journeys are painful. There is loss. There is personal suffering, the abyss, the trials. People who take on these journeys and don’t survive them aren’t heroes, nor are they often tragic. They are merely forgotten.
Jerusalem’s fearlessness, as is reiterated repeatedly, is only a front. It’s true of all modern heroes, and perhaps why Achilles comes off as such an asshole. Patroclus withstanding. Jerusalem is defiant – he can stare down the barrel of a gun, provoke the man about to beat him to a pulp. Defiance is good. Defiance is necessary. Societies need defiance.
I’ve written, recently at uncustomary length, about how much society needs to change, and how distrustful I am of nearly everyone in it. (E.g. when 92% of you lost your goddamn minds and thought George W. Bush was a good President after 9/11 – Aaron McGruder and I will track you down and shoot you with bowel disruption guns.) Non-thinkers who say ‘America – love it or leave it’ don’t understand there’s a third option, the most important one: change it.
Spider Jerusalem is at times a hopped-up lunatic in the streets, dressed as Pharaoh, waving a saber. But he’s also a serious journalist who is respected because he does research and finds out facts for himself. His purpose isn’t just to have fun – to be pharaoh, defiantly posed on top of a taxi. His goal is to change the country.
All of this may be written off as pre-election rambling. I have an answer for that, but one of my greatest peeves is that Jerusalem frequently says ‘fuck you’ to his audience to keep them away, when he should be fully aware that’s what’ll drive them to him fastest. I don’t want to be a hero – yet. I don’t want to change the world just now. Someone else can take it up and deal. Right now I’m busy, though, on the more than off-chance no one will step up to the plate. I’m safely ensconced in a job that doesn’t pay enough, in a suburban white community, with kids who are as defiant as Jerusalem ever was. One of them yesterday flipped and then dismantled a picnic table. Two weeks ago another threw a chair through a window. I’ve lost weight, sleep less, and am more productive and mentally sharper than I was six months ago. Drugs? I don’t need them.
For now what I am doing with these kids is building up Resilience. Stamina. Endurance. Strength. Taking on the constant stress of 60 and 100 hour weeks, and devouring them.
How will I use this Strength?
It should be obvious by now.
I'm going to destroy Cleveland.