Foto by tgw, New York City 2011
Edges and Ledges
Awoke to a lot of cheering this morning. Cheering over Occupation Oakland and the Longshoremen shutting down the Port of Oakland--A STRIKE! These general assemblies of these Occupation efforts are getting smart. If workers don't show up for work, then what's the only alternative of the Power Elite (the owners of our corporations--their stockholders for whom their overpaid and overbonused CEOs are stooges--stooges to the Power Elite that is the true 1%--the 99% including some lower-class millionaires) is to use the force of the New York "Corporate Protecting" Police Department to quell these "childish" revolts, as our billionaire mayor considers these intruders into his dust? The working class and the unions waking up to see that Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland and Occupy Chicago and Occupy Louisville, wherever that these modern-day hippies are everywhere and throwing new monkey wrenches into the traditional Capitalist works and the lowering of wages as the cause for all our woes--inspired further now by the marvelous Greek people who have forced their banker-ass-kissing politicians to have a referendum on the issue [now the pompous Greek prime minister is back-peddling on that deal], which is whether or not the Greeks sacrifice their salaries being lowered, their pensions being robbed, their taxes being raised while the wealthiest Greeks (including Greek bankers) pay no taxes at all, their being forced to buy military equipment--like submarines--they don't need, their being forced to sell their public lands, which includes being forced to privatize those beautiful and sacred Greek Islands and sacrifice them to a plethora of same-looking deluxe hi-rising same-old-same-old hotel chains that mock the Greek culture and plasterize and plasticize Greek history--like say how about a Trump City on Corfu? The Greek people are telling the Euro banks and the US banks (Goldman-Sachs is once again the pirating culprit in bringing down the Greek economy--they go about the world destroying economies with impunity) to go fuck themselves.
And how exciting it was this morning to hear that Jim Corzine, the former head of GOLDMAN-SACHS, the former New Jersey Senator, the former New Jersey Governor, has gone belly up in his new financial pirating enterprise! BANKRUPT! These big shot assholes privileged to pull off Bernie Madow schemes "legitimately," with We the People of the USA's blessing through our Congress and Executive branch, supported by the Supreme(ly dumb) Court, always excusing these "too big to fail" corruptions and giving them impunity from any kind of serious punishment, like a whole lot of prison time for a whole list of pirates like Jimmy Corzine. I'll bet you a mountain to a mole hill old rich-boy Jimmy didn't lose his private island retreats or his many mansions and condo apartments around the world; and I damn sure guarantee you Jimmy didn't lose any of his offshore bank accounts or his Swiss bank accounts; nor all those stocks and bonds in his wife's name and in the name of the Corzine Foundation.
I listened to some Occupy Wall Streeters ( a lot of whom are women--young women) rallying around themselves and I shivered with delight--these people realize we are now in a state of Chaos--Chaos which breeds anarchy--Chaos which has no respect for order of any kind--Chaos perhaps leading to a true Libertarian society--an anarchic society--the world in transition and out of immediate control.
It's not easy to live on a constant edge these days here in the largest city in the USA. I'm fortunate to being able to hang on to my sanity here and to so far being able to support myself, though I'm really living right on the poverty line--right in the middle of the thinnest of ices. Living in this metropolis that as Norman Mailer said isn't really a US city but rather a true international city, a city state, an Empire State unto itself.
I live in a building that has a mixed-bag population trying to survive in it: Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Indians, Pakis, Afghanis, Africans (especially Nigerians and Guineans), Uruguayans (my new next-door neighbor is a beautiful young Uruguayan lady), Ukrainians, Moscovites, Georgians (the nation not the state), Australians (I met a new tenant on my floor the other morning who is from Australia--married to a Chinese woman, or so he let me know uninvitedly), French, and Spanish (including Puerto Ricans, Caribbean Islanders (West Indians they were once tagged), and South Americans)--I'm sure I could go on through another dozen nations given the time. Even my landlord is a Persian (Iranian) Jew with a thick Middle-Eastern accent. White people like me are a minority in this united nations building, though there are more and more of US piling into the joint on a daily basis.
Momentarily stable, any change in any of the many winds blowing through this city could change all our situations on the spur of a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, to be biblically poetic.
Individually, at my age, I'm becoming aware of possible attacks on my body I used to never worry about. Like a sore that doesn't heal. Like a sudden pain in my neck when I bend it a certain way. Like a chest pain hitting me from out of nowhere--a gas attack like I have never had in my life happening while I am simply walking up the street like I have done a thousand times before with no problem. Or in the just every-day necessity of hustling about the town, you just never know what will happen. I've been hit twice crossing New York streets, once downtown by a guy in a Cadillac and once recently in the neighborhood by a Korean gentleman in a pick-up truck. I've also almost been hit several other times. Or there's also the possibility of a police stop-and-search action--700,000 citizens, mostly Black and Spanish, were stopped and searched by the New York City-State Police Department this past year none of which led to any significant arrests. Or I could perhaps look at a crazy too long on a subway and the crazy see me as a demon and come at me with a butcher knife. I was riding the subway one time when a crazy sitting there in his pee-soaked clothes letting his eyes roll all over place, drooling, smelling, suddenly opened a paper sack and pulled out a brand new meat-clever-looking knife, all shiny and stainless steely bright, and this crazy began admiring the sharpness of the blade by running his fingers delicately over it. Or, you never know--like say you went down to give support to the Occupy Wall Streeters and some cop doesn't like your looks and next thing you know you've been tassered and arrested and due processed. Your life ruined with conjured up accusations and court appearances and your mug shot put on a police file along with a record of your misbehavior and you're fingerprinted and there go your fingerprints into the Universal Cop File. You see how on the edge We the People of the USA are all over the USA?
I was once walking in Midtown Manhattan and in front of me I heard a sudden quaking sound and then screams of all kinds, and dust roiling up in a little whirly kind of cloud. And when I got close enough to ask what was going on, I found out a young man, an actor on his way to a rehearsal, had been beaned by a beam--a small steel beam that had fallen off a skyscraper construction site--this before these sites were required to use netting under the floors they are working on. During that same period I read of an old lady who got beaned and knocked off the mortal coil by a hammer dropping from one of those skyscraper construction sites. And that reminds me of the scene in Only the Dead Know Brooklyn where Thomas Wolfe (the original Thomas Wolfe from North Carolina and not the white-suit-wearing fop from Richmond) is walking down Fifth Avenue and a jumper nearly falls on him--splats before him on that Fifth Avenue sidewalk. And workers in New York City skyscraper office buildings see jumpers all the time. My ex-wife who worked in a Park Avenue office building once while looking out her 24th-floor office window was shocked to suddenly see a jumper fly by, so close and alluring, she followed the rest of his flight on down until he crashed and splatted naked, his clothes blown clean off him, on a projecting out second-floor roof. I myself while working in Rockefeller Center was called to the front windows of the office one day by the company secretary to be shown where a jumper had jumped out a 30th-floor window of the old Time-Life Building (on Rockefeller Plaza, a privately owned street) and had landed on the roof of a parked car--and we could see the poor bastard (turned out he was a stock broker) laying there splatted to death in the cradle of the indented roof of that car.
Several of my friends watched horrified during the evolution of 9/11 as people were jumping out of those burning straight-down-falling towers--some from the highest floors--the 100s--above the flames, going to their deaths being consumed by the very flames they were trying to sail over and somehow suddenly take to flight in order to miraculously save themselves.
I live on the eleventh floor. When I first started taking photographs out one of my windows, I found that by a certain manipulation of my body, I could hang off that window's ledge safely braced by hooking my shoe on to an iron bar device jutting out from the brick surrounding this window and locking my free hand into a large hook-like hardware that the old window washers used to hook their safety belts onto. By this precarious hanging, I got some of my perfect cloudy sky shots--like the photograph that is at the head of this post. Just the other day, I contemplated trying that act once again when I just happened to notice that iron bar I used to depend on for my life is really just hanging on itself by the bare threads of its rusting bolts in that decaying brick. I reached out and touched it and it was loose as hell. No more window-ledge aerial photos from me. Eleven floors down is a scary sight when you contemplate it seriously and not defy it just for a good photograph.
And this afternoon as I sat here doing some work on my Lester Young stage play, I heard a loud buzzing, and then an explosion, and I turned around just in time to see sparks flying out of one of wall electrical outlets. FIRE! The always unholiest of threats against tenants in NYC apartments. I rushed down and reported it to the office and they said they'd sent someone up. But no one showed up and now the day is passing into tomorrow so I'm apprehensive about going to bed--FIRE! Fire scares me more than anything. I've had members of my family burn to death--two especially whose fiery deaths have haunted my imagination since I was a child and heard the stories of their burning to death.
I try to watch commercial television to take my mind off my fears but television is so corrupt, so predictable, so inane, so lower than I, which is an elitist attitude, but then I accept the role as the Elitist--though I'm not a Power Elitist.
According to the Marxists, the problem is wages--wages being lowered--too large a work force for the fewer and fewer jobs--jobs that once existed in abundance in this great land of the free and home of the brave. Today's wages don't go anywhere--whatever wages we can earn are soon eaten up by taxes and cell-phone bills and credit card bills and medical bills and insurance costs and mortgage payments and automobile upkeep bills and higher and higher fuel prices--with the banks and financial institutions sucking our money out of us while fixing it so our industries can be shipped off locks, stocks, and barrels to countries like China or Indonesia or South Vietnam where people are happy to have a 14-hour-a-day job paying 50-cents an hour--and they can live high on their style of hog on $7.00-a-day--or in China men, women, and children are supposedly eager to work for like $3.00-a-day.
"It's'a hard...it's'a hard...it's'a hard rain's gonna fall." And the rain is already falling pretty damn hard. A Chaotic hail storm. The cosmos predicting a storm of an even more disastrous threat coming possibly any day now, a solar flare storm, a solar plasma storm, a storm that can come bowling down one of the universal alleys and knock down all ten pens of the world's energy sources--shutting down electrical grids--shutting down satellite transmissions and mirrorings--shutting down the nuclear power plants--shutting off the water to them that cools them down and keeps them from blowing sky high. And here in New York City, we are privileged to live only 25 miles down river from one of the most dangerous nuclear plants in the world, the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant built by Con-Edison back in the 70s, the same kind of plant like the plant in Fukashima, Japan, that is still blowing sky high as I type this though you'd never know a damn thing about it if you depended on our Power Elite-owned news and information services and certainly no help from our government in terms of recognizing the possible consequences of such a solar display of power! Afterall, the Sun is our true God and Savior all rolled into one ball of star fire.
From the Wisdom of Thorstein Veblen
"The life of man in society, just like the life of other species, is a struggle for existence, and therefore it is a process of selective adaptation [written at the height of the debate going on over Darwin's recently published theories of natural selection, those misinterpreted as meaning life goes mostly to the "survival of the fittest"]. The evolution of social structure has been a process of natural selection of institutions. The progress which has been and is being made in human institutions and in human character may be set down, broadly, to a natural selection of the fittest habits of thought and to a process of enforced adaptation of individuals to an environment which has progressively changed with the growth of the community and with the changing institutions under which men have lived."
These institutions becoming humans themselves--built out of the "fittest habits of thought"--traditions or "noble experiments," as Ortega y Gasset might put it. Veblen writing at the same time the Supreme(ly dumb) Court was making corporations citizens of the USA--this at the time of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil was evolving into an oligarchy--making the Rockefellers the most Plutocratic family America has so far produced, a family that is still at the core of this bad apple this country has rotted into thanks to this one family's greed and self-important continuance--the original Plutocrat's stolen monies still supporting the survival of this otherwise totally unfit family whose weakling great grand-sons-and-daughters--like JFK and tacky Jackie's worthless daughter still having power enough to be active in political thought and direction and in the controlling of our largest corporations thanks to their stockholding presence in the Chase Manhattan Bank empire put together by that sad old worthless Rockefeller named David, an empire whose dabbling in this crooked derivatives market bankrupted it as We the Stupid People of the USA came to its rescue with trillions of taxpayer monies (of debt to the Communist Chinese actually) and allowed it to merge with that other family of ruthless pirates, that of J.P. Morgan (and whatever happened to Morgan Stanley?)--but still on the edge of bankruptcy.
Back to Veblen: "It is to be noted then, although it may be a tedious truism that the institutions of today--the present accepted scheme of life--do not entirely fit the situation of today. At the same time, man's present habits of thought tend to persist indefinitely, except as circumstances enforce a change. These institutions which have thus been handed down, these habits of thought, points of view, mental attitudes and aptitudes, or what not, are therefore themselves a conservative factor. This is the factor of social inertia, psychological inertia, conservatism.
"Social structure changes, develops, adapts itself to an altered situation, only through a change in the habits of thought of the several classes of the community; or in the last analysis, through a change in the habits of thought of the individuals which make up the community. The evolution of society is substantially a process of mental adaptation on the part of individuals under the stress of circumstances which will no longer tolerate habits of thought formed under and conforming to a different set of circumstances in the past."
From chapter 8 of Thorstein Veblen's great AMERICAN classic: The Theory of the Leisure Class. Leisure class another term for unproductive human beings.
for The Daily Growler