We used to think of the moon as our national treasure, until
the treaty allowing tourism restructured everything. Then guard-rails went
in, and viewing platforms, and special accommodations to achieve what is
now one of the most financially lucrative tourist economies in the history
of the universe. They travel from every part of the globe, and they leave
their trampled footprints, and their graffiti tags, all in the effort to
obtain what is considered the most breathtaking sight one from earth can
have, that of mother Earth, its blazing blue and glittering surface that
can still inspire awe, if not a more general complacency, up there.
At first, multiple, all-purpose viewing platforms seemed to engender
all of the promise of our own “small step, giant leap” rhetoric that propelled
us to find more remunerative channels after Earth’s resources had become
constrained. After installation of the Russian Federation’s platform —
off limits to citizens, it is rumored to have the only steam bath on the
moon, among other, possibly illicit functions — there came multi-national
advertising tie-ins, of course. Some found the use of advertising the cheapening
to an already compromised resource; others questioned the wisdom of calling
it a resource, referring to the Satellite (the official term) as “dumber
than a box of rocks,” even preferring to call it by the older, often derogatory,
When President Ciccone signed the agreement to allow for all peoples
of the world to have their opportunity to visit the Satellite, it seems
more thought should have gone into implementing the plan. However, intervention
from WWWTO and other entities interested in putting us to shame after the
Iran containment, opened wide the doors of unstoppable commerce.
For so long it suggested a mystery we all dreamed of, and imagined,
from those words of the early astronauts who first set foot there. The
awe and incomprehension — really, the loneliness — of being from here,
Earth, cast adrift out there, on the dusty rock that we’ve all come to
regard with a bland satisfaction for its utility, though if we look any
closer, we disdain it — are even disgusted by it. It’s a mere trash heap
invisibly tethered to the still spectacular Earth.
Belgium has what is purported to be the only smoking area — that, due
to fire hazards is really only a kind of shrine to smoking. France followed
suit, going so far as to install cafe seating and a simulated sidewalk.
These efforts, generally well-intentioned, led to hand-wringing and brinksmanship
by the leaders of smaller nations for the optimal use of their allotted
acreage, attempting to outdo their competitors. Corporate sponsorships
were becoming de rigueur within the first decade; most of the postage stamp
nations could hardly afford to establish legitimate posts, and were only
relieved to finagle a corporate sponsorship from, for example, Wheet-Chuckies
(Cameroon), or Slobbaflow (Poland). Switzerland, of course, was brought
to you by Swiss cheese.
Nearly a decade after our initial goodwill gesture, China and Russia
were at odds over disputed territory until the unprecedented Quadrant Agreement.
For a heated few weeks we believed these two former superpowers might go
to war, though there was little doubt among the international community
that this was half-cocked P.R., an attempt to dominate the United States
and our unspoken supremacy. Though again, many must have wondered, could
we go to war over this, now, too? There have been nation-wide calls for
action, of reasserting once again our authority for having first conquered
Every child in America, if not the world, must now recognize the familiar
song that brings the cartoon likeness of Laika brands on those three or
four days of the month, clearly visible as a benevolent animated puppy
smiling down from the Russian quadrant.
Imagine my surprise when one night at bedtime, my little one began humming
the all too familiar, mind-numbingly catchy and considerably irritating
tune of the Laika brands. I’d thought we had shielded her from advertising
with our Teevho, but who knows where kids are getting their information
from when a parent is not there to watch them maintain physiological and
psychological regression factors below .08 on their oversight monitors
“Daddy,” she asked, “has Laika always lived on the Satellite?”
Of course, I’d taken it for granted for so long, the Laika brands had
become synonymous with the Satellite, that the projected image delivered
one more blow in this already tragic commercialization. But my child was
walking around singing this apparently harmless tune, and not long after
we found her searching the freeweb for the best deals on a Laika 8AM8UNG
7T phone. And as we learned later, one of her classmates had brought in
the latest version and was showing it to everyone, thus ensuring the simple
notes of the Laika brands’ subversive tune would be forever associated
with the monthly reappearance.
How I dread those nights when, through a plenum of all too useless clouds
I look up and realize it’s Laika time again, a term that has so effortlessly
infiltrated the lexicon that if you refer to it in the old nomenclature,
as a “full moon,” you are accused of being old, or worse, a Luddite.
This benign toy makes children believe they have a direct line to Laika.
The fairytale lives on, resurrected in Russia’s capitalizing on cold war
nostalgia that is more talked about now than it was at the height of speculative
space travel. In a joint partnership with the 8AM8UNG Corporation, whose
global dominance of bio-tech devices has reigned since the last millennium,
the Laika brands have developed their own series of instructional e-books
and tutorials generating the voice of the cuddly and ubiquitous cartoon
dog to promote good will and foster understanding of the health benefits
and prosperity achievable by the Laika brands. But there’s more. When opting
for the premium package, parents receive bonus nightly subliminal podcasts
from which their child can learn effortless Russian in no less than six
dialects. That would not be terrible, except for how this commercialization
entraps children into becoming life-long devotees of the Laika brands,
at the mercy of the 8AM8UNG Corporation.
Probably as comforting in their time, the personification of the Satellite
made it a companionable, less mysterious rock agleam above the horizon
with its faintest trace of a figure, a face, looking down on us, benevolently,
coyly. I have the suspicion the Laika brands campaign is simply cashing
in on the debasement of this mythology.
There must be a moment every visitor has when they behold where they
came from. It is so inspiring to see Earth from the Satellite that you
might wish you had never left. For those who have gone to the Satellite,
and the estimates are that seventy-seven percent of the world’s populace
will have before the end of the decade, it’s difficult now to look upon
its face without feeling the shameless tug of disgust. You remember the
platform, the sending wall where you are supposed to transmit your personal
message home, a little memento — that’s why it’s called the sending wall
— and not leave your flashy tag behind like some ancient teenage gangbanger.
You recall the smeary glass of the American tower scoured by years of futile
graffiti removal solvents. You remember seeing her, aglow, the earth, and
how you would rather be there. Home. Its blue almost incomprehensible and
painful to look upon.
When you are finally, safely, happily, home, you look back up at the
Satellite’s hoary face following you on your ride home from work, its irritating
brightness, a useless node, and it’s as if you’ve glanced upon an alley
where a stranger has dropped their pants in front of you. You think, How
can I erase this from my memory?
Perhaps we were wrong to turn stewardship of the Satellite over to the
world at large. This is when the “moon” became little more than the world’s
chew toy, a ball many nations try to possess, though with no one taking
responsibility for its upkeep. As if the Satellite is simply ours to do
anything with. There was once a time — as I’ve read about in the history
books — where commercial uses were strictly verboten, a time we could all
look to when, clearly, cooler heads prevailed. Then, people had nothing
to gain by its presence, but merely to bask in its glow on clear nights,
the essence of its presence, itself. There are songs, films, dedicated
to its charm. Paeans composed to its beauty. But these had been produced
by our less knowledgeable, perhaps even naive, sentimental forbears, when
the Satellite functioned as a kind of perfect, even picturesque — if one
can believe it — repository of all the hopes and wishes of the souls bound
by the Earth’s gravity and atmosphere.