By Andrew Andrews
In NEW TABOOS, you begin to wonder if the world hasn’t started to wear down on Shirley. I don’t mean in wear down as in, say, he becomes more exhausted. No. Just the opposite. There is a numbness going on. Too much anxiety. Too much irritation. Over time, it only makes you more numb. There are times when I think he has lost that edgy demeanor I grew to appreciate over the years.
His once-acerbic wit now seems the mild and mousey ramblings of an elder statesman lamenting errors of the past, with every sentence seemingly to end in dismay, akin to hearing a ghost whispering to you, “it’s a damned shame.”
In “New Taboos,” however, the essay contained therein, Shirley notes the only way we can forever end corporate greed and ill will toward the environment is to make those actions akin to pedophilia or incest – making fracking morally reprehensible. Make corporate greed a moral issue, akin to murder. Corrupt politicians? I say, why don’t we tar and feather them, eh?
Another essay in the same realm as “damned, if this goes on” – “Why We Need Forty Years of Hell.” It’s about the exploding gap between haves and have-nots, and how those with money and the ability to do something simply HAVE to develop a deeper social conscience – and as the world gets more crowded, come up with solutions to economic and environmental crises so there are NO apocalypses. We can avoid the end of days, Shirley indicates in these polemics, if we get the sympathy, the empathy, of those who CAN do something to stop economic and environmental catastrophe. Leaders need a moral and ethical compass.
A one-on-one, in-depth interview of the life and times of Shirley, “Pro is for Professional,” is included. Shirley’s state of mind is refreshing in this one, landing between a progressive liberal and a statesman who wants a pragmatic solution to our economic and environmental issues, a man who realizes we need a woman U.S. president, and a writer who looks for leadership in politics and art – but perhaps politics first.