American Tarot Archives

December 20, 2006

Jeff R.: Kings of Hearts

It isn't that America doesn't have Kings. It does. It just doesn't always let them run the government.

One of the Four Kings of America is always the Fisher King, the keeper of the Grail, afflicted with a Wound That Never Heals. We've had Fisher King Presidents twice in living memory- Roosevelt and Reagan- although neither of their Wounds were visible while they held office.

The next Fisher King of America has yet to be chosen. The Grail is securely stored in the Reagan Library. When the new King comes into his title, it will find it's way to him.

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February 27, 2007

Jeff R.: 0: The Fool

Ronald McDonald first appeared on television in 1963, the same year Alcatraz shut down and Kennedy was killed. This is not a coincidence.

Apart from the late unpleasantness in Kosovo, (a mere reflection of a higher-order conflict and thus shouldn't count) no two countries both containing a McDonalds have been to war. The pure fool does not battle himself.

Once the count was recorded, more or less accurately, on thousands of signs across the nation, incrementing by millions, then billions. Now they're all over vague, waiting for the halcyon day when the clown serves his trillionth hunk of dead cow.

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March 1, 2007

Jeff R.:VII: The Chariot

"If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you're right." -Henry Ford.

Before Ford created the American automobile culture, he built and drove race cars, with a major victory in 1901. The same year, oil first gushed in Texas and Czolgosz made Teddy Roosevelt president. This is no coincidence.

The impact of cars (ideally sleek, large, fast, loud) on the collective psyche is impossible to understate, from penis-substitute to aphrodesiac, from the tanks that win wars to the oil-thirst that starts them. Nobody says "He almost hit my car"; they say "He almost hit me."

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March 9, 2007

Jeff R.:XIII: Death

The moments that are universally remembered by a generation as a turning point are almost always drenched in blood and death: assassinations, attacks like Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger is the dominant such event, derailing America's manefest destiny in space.

This happened in 1986, the same year Mike Tyson first won a world title and Chernobyl spilled wormwood across Europe. What I tell you three times is true: This is no coincidence.

It is sometimes said that death is simply a metaphor for change. The truth is that it's exactly the other way around.

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April 5, 2007

Jeff R.: Kings of Clubs

Another of the Four American Kings is always dead. Or rather, not quite dead but sleeping, under a hill, like Arthur or Charlemange, ready to return to save the nation during its time of greatest need.

They are buried, secretly, with ceremonies more reverent and elaborate than any public funeral, and wait. Grant's Tomb was so questionably occupied because Ulysses slept, waiting to return to Ithica. Walt Disney, frozen, waited for a world in need of solace in a new depression.

The current King Beneath the Mountain is Andy Kaufman, still waiting for the right moment to deliver the punchline.

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April 12, 2007

Jeff R.:IX: The Hermit

The Marlboro Man was introduced in 1954, the same year that Americans nuked the Bikini Atoll, spawning Godzilla in film if not in reality, and the same year that "under God" was added to the pledge. The same year the Lone Ranger went off the air and Elvis Presley first went on it. This is no coincidence.

The Cowboy, somehow quintessentially American as if nooody in any other country ever herded cattle from horseback, is a walking contradiction: humble arrogance, vuglar eloqution, but most of all being a part of something much larger while at the same time utterly alone.

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