I don't know if Woody Allen did it. I'd like to think the four-eyed filmmaker didn't sexually assault the girl, Dylan, but only he knows the truth, and she does, too – and maybe also the fly that was on the wall that fateful day in 1992. But you can't subpoena flies, or dogs and cats for that matter, which is a cruel twist of fate, because dogs and cats and flies can't lie. It's not in their genetic makeup. They're the epitome of a perfect witness. You don't have to be a dog person or cat person or fly person to admit that their hearts are pure, and that ours are not. And that's why, to this day, I won't kill a fly. I hear, though, Mr. Allen can't kill enough. That cur.
But we're not talking Woody today. He's knee deep in the maw of his own quicksand, and, lately, the man is sinking fast; we can’t even see his feet anymore. No. Here, we’re talking fat bowlers who grunt like gorillas as they do their thing. I am, after all, an expert in American Savagery, so I take a keen professional interest in any man who grunts in public to establish power and status, and this is why I love politics. You’ll never see more silverbacks grunting, pounding their chests and claiming mates like you do on Capitol Hill. But when a man hasn’t got the spine or stomach for politics, he takes up bowling. This is why there’s a record number of bowling alleys across the U.S. So, on any given Monday night, you can find me hunkered down in the parking lot of a nearby alley with binoculars and a tranquilizer gun. You never know when these chubbies, who openly tote their balls, will spot and chase you down like prey. They startle easily, yet I’m smaller and quite swift on my feet. Still, you never want to find yourself surrounded by a hoard of bowlers, and especially politicians, with a taste for blood.
Well, anyway, this madness, of which I type from a communal table in an Upper West Side restaurant, is all to say that a bowler is a bona fide member, whereas I am a bona fide citizen. To wit: time and again I’m introduced as “Simon Moya-Smith, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation …” by a producer of a show who has, for a bit of twisted fun, pitted me against a Redskins fan because they love it when I refer to my enemy on the air as “a buffoon and a bigot!” and a “shit-witted nitwit!” It’s good TV or radio for them, I suppose, but then, when the show ends and the angry water has calmed, I get a call from an elder in the west: “Simon, boy, let cooler heads prevail. You can’t let it register on an emotional level. Save some for the next battle.”
Which is true. I should – save some, I mean. But where’s the fun in that? Damn right. I’m all about fun. Otherwise, this work would be too much to bear. My eyes would sink into skull and my brain would devour them raw, and then die from the noxious sights these retinas have consumed over the span of 30 years.
But enough of that viciousness. To the business: What is the meaning of “member”? Let’s get to the point here. I’m not a member. I don’t even bowl! I’m a citizen of a nation, for godsakes. Gym rats are members. Narrow-minded Knights of Columbus cretins are members. A citizen of a nation should never be demoted to the status of a bowler, a gym rat or a knight of the bastard Columbus. So, here, let me reiterate for the record that I am not a member, but a citizen of a sovereign nation. If I am a member of anything I’m a member of Church Street Boxing in the Lower East Side of New York where big guys name Biff swallow me whole with their fists. I don’t mind the beating. It humbles me, and it reminds me that some things are best left in the ring. Ding, ding, folks.
I’m also not a lawyer (though I do share in their taste for mayhem). But I do know that, legally speaking, Native Americans are not even considered a race in the United States. We’re considered a “political group.” This is due to our guardian-ward relationship with the U.S. government. And this acrimonious hate affair was justified by the powdered-wigged powers when they believed indigenous peoples of this continent were inferior, weak, non-Christian and savage. Lo, if you know your U.S. history, then you know there were very few people in this world who were as savage as the early-American Christian who desired gold and scalps to sell to the wiggy British who would admire the glisten of the bullion and the blood and hair over tea and discussions of Benjamin Franklin’s compromised crotch. He was quite the libertine, which is why many in England today still talk about how whenever he took a bath his tub was given a serious scrubbing immediately after his leathered ass got out of it, if not completely discarded.
Right. And to hell with Benjy. We’re discussing citizenship here, which is a heavy discussion to have in Indian country at any time of the day, because it touches on blood quantum and disenrollment. Yet, there are very few topics in this, our country, that aren’t serious – like molestation and mind-altering sexual offenses on children. Which is where we started when we took on this screed. Think about it: Woody Allen is more in the news today than the propane shortage in Indian country. You can’t look at media for a lesson in priorities. But this isn’t a new lesson for the seasoned newspaper reader. “Drama first, then the facts!” a former editor blurted at me years ago. And that’s still the rule in every newsroom in this land, which is why so many journalists have unfinished movie scripts tucked away in their desks. It’s an easy transition from journalist to screenwriter. Drama first, then the facts. The only difference is one pays significantly better than the other. “Nice work if you can get it. …”
Okay, then. Onward. Back to the debates: Citizenship vs. Membership. The day beckons. Enjoy it, chum. But for godsakes, man, don’t bowl. And hail to the flies. Signed – a citizen. Ta-ta.
Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in New York City.