Monday, November 5, 2012

things and people

There is something about being in an unfamiliar place that used to scare the daylights out of me, but now, with some degree of fiat, knowing that I have my car parked out front to take me away if it gets lame, knowing that I'm never stuck, it's made me more bold, and I take more things into consideration, if only for anthropological observing. The National Geographic narrator voice deep within my psyche kicks in as I observe the cultural habits and mating rituals of some tribe or another, be it in exurbia where there's a minivan in every driveway and chinos on ever male over thirty, or a swank condo with a glittering view of downtown where I am profoundly underdressed in the punk rock t-shirt in a sea of party dresses and sweaters, one drink (and one drink only as I designated-drove and I'm all Mary-Mary-Quite-Contrary somehow going on about how the garden grows is important as hell. 

 Don't get me wrong, I've got little patience for the local food cultists, but I do think that we need both the city and the country to exist. Cities where everyone moves tend to be awful and difficult places for the poor and middle-class who become poor by default: see almost any Real City anywhere: Mumbai, Shanghai, Dubai, Rio, London, NYC, DC shall I go on, or places like Paris where the city is a playground for the affluent and the tourists and the immigrants and other folk are stuck in the suburbs isolated from everything.  Hell, even when my burg was really populated, life was great for the Rockefellers and Hannas, but sucked pretty bad for most of the working schlubs crowded into slums and ethnic ghettos, getting poisoned by factory smokestacks and sick when the slaughterhouse reek blew downwind. No wonder people wanted to get the hell out.  THIS IS WHY PEOPLE MOVED TO PARMASTAN FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, this is why the suburbs existed even before white flight.  

I'll probably be a city kid til the day I die, but I understand why people live in the suburbs, or why people live in the country, and that even if we go back to a mythological "way things were" that things won't be any better. Sure, there were streetcars back then that ran all over the city, but my grandpa was picking up coal from the railroad tracks so they could be warm, my grandma came up here to work as a domestic and then quit to work in a factory after the man of the house tried to take advantage of her. This was the way it was, and neither of them ever talked about "the good old days."

 But I read too much, and I'm not very cool, and I'm not voting for Obama and even though I take the bus to work, I love driving my car because it helps me help out other people and gets me from my house to Parmastan to see the folks and shows that I go to by myself, and home from places after dark where the bus doesn't run. I had no social life before then, and it's made life much better now even as I know that this isn't necessarily good. 

And so then Saturday, I handed out candy to kids that came through the doors at church to play games and drink hot chocolate, despite the mayor cancelling the holiday for good, 600 people came through the doors and then back out. Tangerine joined me and we decamped to the Big Egg for late night diner breakfast food, for girl-talk and life-talk and wondering why people create dubstep remixes of "Sweet Child O' Mine," and my sister's life drama hit the fan even more thanks to the Internets, though it seems such slander was redacted, and I was full of thoughts and ponderings and decided to join my old Parmastani homies for foodage and laughter to end the night and restore the equilibrium. Politics was skirted and thankfully not discussed, one more day and all this crazy will be back to the stupid normal.

What I've concluded over the past election cycle is that ultimately we as a society consider things and concepts as more important than human life or even the life of the planet. We might "buy green" but we're still conspicuously consuming, and job creation involves consumption of unnecessaries, and I know I'm complicit due to my love of books and music and art. The blood of women and children in countries that worship Allah are considered a worthy price for the freedom that we're continuing to lose, to keep the money for our student loans flowing, to maintain the cars we drive. We're willing to prop up regimes that stone women for adultery and don't allow them to drive because there's a supposed "War on Women" going on here. I kind of feel sick sometimes if I think about it too much, the lack of love and compassion and seeing outside of one's own sphere and perceived needs and comfort is profoundly disconcerting. I wish I had more love and compassion than I did.

I read some apocalyptic stuff the other night out of Ezekiel where God goes on a big rant about religious people screwing others over, and people using power and usury to take advantage of society's vulnerable, and rulers enriching themselves and their friends at the expense of the people, and those who prey on the women, the children, and the immigrant, and I can't help but think "Oh jeez that's us completely," when I think about mourners being bombed at funerals, and the cruelty shown to those who have darker skin than me who live here and work our crap jobs and speak Spanish or Arabic or whatever. The powers that perpetuate such suffering, and those of us who get enough bones thrown our way to keep them doing what they do best.

1 comment:

  1. Was this the part of the OT before or after the Big Cheese demanded someone smite someone else? FIXIE FIXIE FIXIE!

    On a serious note, seriously, word and such. Except for the dubstep bit. Egads.