Toil-and-Trouble Cauldron Full of Irony
It is a beautiful day here in Manhattan in terms of its pastoral-like splendor in the concrete grass of this old city called New York. Why am I gloomy then? Dammit, I woke up gloomy. I'm in great health and have great potential energies at the ready, so why the hell am I gloomy? Could it be this rent increase notice I have in my hand? The world is standing at the brink of Chaos--the stock market dropped yesterday 799 points--yet, I still got a rent increase today. In my case it's chicken feed, amounting to an increase of $17.00-a-month in my low rent, but that's not the point. The point is, shouldn't rents be frozen at a time like this? Shouldn't prices be frozen? Why can't Congress freeze gasoline and heating oil prices? They are currently debating whether to give an openly crooked bunch of Wall Street losers 700 billion dollars in bailout money...! Jesus, it's all so revolting! Our New York City billionaire mayor says he's raising property taxes! You see what I mean about the ironies in all of this? I have to start thinking in the blues idiom again (see Albert Murray's writings on the blues idiom--and train whistle guitars and harmonicas). I grew up thinking in the Beat, the Bop, and the Blues idioms! I grew up a contrarian. I grew up a nonconformist. Paying this rent increase at a time like this seems like cowardly conformity to me.
So Paul Newman died, so what? Paul was rich beyond his needs and he was 83 years old--what a life! So, fuck pining for Paul--I never thought he was that great an actor anyway--nice guy maybe--at least he was nice to Martha Stewart, the ex-con felon who's career has never been better since she served a little jail time. Newman was one of those James-Dean replacements of the mid-1950s, after Dean spent the excess monies he made on the movie Giant on a new silver Porshe Spider, the car in which he was killed a few days later--and I never thought James Dean was a great actor either. I watched Giant the other night and laughed my ass off at the bad acting in that sorry movie. I mean there was Rock "Bad Meat in the Can" Hudson butchering his attempt at a Texian accent and at playing anything but his Rock persona. And there was Elizabeth Taylor doing her made-up "honeychile" Old South accent--looking good, though--Liz at that time--looking really good. And there was James Dean squealing and whining his phony Richard-Widmark best--from whence, too, came Marlon Brando! The only great actor in Giant was Chill Wills, from Seagoville, Texas; at least his Texian accent is real! And I love the Mexicans in that movie! Hat-in-hand Hollywood type Messkins! Again, the movie's worth watching to laugh at Rock Hudson and the overall bad acting and to check out little grown-up Liz Taylor's well-developing twentiesish body. I did hear Paul Newman talking about acting one time and he was cool about it--he said most actors were guilty of overacting--then saying the most successful actors were the more natural actors like Hank Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, those stage-trained acting dudes. I think Joanne Woodward was a better actor than Paul--hey, gigolos, Joanne's a rich widow now.
I can't mourn for Paul Newman while I'm sitting here gloomy on this ironically beautiful fall day holding a rent increase notice in my hand and the rent's due tomorrow!
The Wall Street bailout didn't pass the House. Is that good? Probably not. Probably it will still pass. Ironically, while Congress was withholding the 700 billion dollars from the Wall Street hustlers, they unanimously gave the Pentagon (through the defense budget) 1 trillion dollars--without batting an eye--without any debate!
"Hypocrites!" I yell, yet here I am a hypocrite sitting here gloomy holding a rent increase notice, a hypocrite, a sheep wearing wolves's clothing, a nonconformist conforming. "But my government is waterboarding my ass," I protest!
If I don't pay this rent increase--and according to the Rent Guidelines Board of New York City this rent increase shouldn't apply to me--what will happen? And that's where my Cowardly Lion fear comes in--and it's where fear always comes in in we mortal animals's lives--and already I'm getting tired of this fear shit. My landlord, a foreigner, is, I am sure, two-faced! Fuck me, I am sure, is his basic attitude toward me and all "renters," though on the elevator or in the office he's a friendly-as-hell son of a bitch--'cause, you see, no matter how friendly he is, he's still the landlord, and all New York City landlords are anti-Renter now--they are anti-Rent-control--they are free market traders! They are speculators! Fuck tenants! Fuck even condo-owners! Fuck the poor for sure! But all these Wall Street pups are losing their jobs--so whose gonna be able to afford these constant rent increases or even condo-maintenance increases! I remember when the condo-coop craze hit New York City. Everyone scrambled to buy their own apartments--then they found out that what buying a condo meant was that you were not only paying what you used to pay for rent but now on top of that you had to pay a maintenance fee equal to your rent to the management company chosen by your condo-board to run the condo (provide supers, maintenance crew, doormen, etc.)! That never made sense to me--plus you had to pay your mortgage off, too!
The economy is falling. Foreclosures are piling up into the multimillions. Tent cities are popping up in public parks and parking lots all over the country. The stock market is crashing. China's now not going to negotiate with US banks anymore. And, by the way, with all these banks buying each other and merging and shit, Wachovia got saved yesterday by CitiCorp (CitiBank was on the verge of bankrupcy months ago but you don't hear about that anymore), and WaMu was bailed out by JPMorgan-Chase (two great Wall Street crooks, Morgan, the ugliest man ever it was said, and Samuel Chase who was legally insane), leaving us now with three huge banks, the Bank of America, Morgan-Chase, and Citicorp! But MY RENT IS STILL GOING UP!
I'm the one who brags how he desires to experience the eye of a Chaos storm--like the chaotic mess that is swirling in a mad whirlpool sucking up itself like a black hole sucks up galaxies in the USA today. The wealthy are NOT jumping out of high-floor windows yet--Rockefeller Center still has high-floor office windows that OPEN! Construction in Manhattan is still going on roaringly and in stereophonic noises--throwing tons of asbestoes dust into the already sordid Manhattan air--and then here suddenly there ironically is a most refreshing little breeze whipping in through my ocean-facing windows--though I can't see the Atlantic from my windows, I am certainly getting a face full of its breezes--sweet breezes--cool breezes--"She floats along like a soft summer breeze...." [from Chuck Berry's classic "Nadine"]--and these breezes are leaving me balmy! Barmy! Smarmy!
And it's a sorry feeling for a New York City renter to be sitting gloomy on a beautiful fall day holding a rent increase notice in his hand.
for The Daily Growler