cool hand luke & the system

Cool Hand Luke & the System

The System will crush you. The System will smash you like a bug.

Wipe that smirk off your face, I’m not talking to you, pruning roses in your well-kept garden and living off your stock options. And not to the poseurs who play out a bogus rebellion with the help of toys the System affords them, smoke-screens for the System’s soul-dead brutality. I’m talking to Cool Hand Luke and his myriad incarnations, mostly the young who play out their defiance on intuition and then vanish, either smashed or dead.

The System has a washed-out substitute for everything that’s beautiful. The System is a virus in the blood stream of the primal force of life, and the Cool Hand Lukes are the healthiest cells in that blood stream, attacking the virus.

The other night, reeling from a particularly hard day in the System’s ongoing assault, I put a System DVD into a System DVD player and watched as Leonard Cohen and a troupe of Cool-Hand-Luke musicians unfurled their magic on a London stage–Cohen himself, Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters, Neil Larsen on organ, Dino Soldo on instruments of wind, a drummer, a bassist, a guitar player, and Javier Mas, seasoned Spanish Gypsy, leaning into his bandurria, his face a chiseled map of pain and beauty as he pushed back the all-consuming System with the beauty of his music and ignited a packed stadium, thousands of souls roaring to their feet in primal recognition, while I sat transfixed in my darkened cottage, my eyes, even after all these years, capable of tears.

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