Occupation Street Pt. II
Gotta lot of topics to cover this week. I plan, in no particular order, to debunk the organic myth, dissect the anatomy of a good mixed tape, and delve into why NorCal soft bodies are so in love with yoga and pilates but seem morally offended when you covert your basement into a high-end health club/weight room. This will of course be in addition to the usual pimping of my short stories and poetry (because apparently some of that is coming out this week.)
But first up. Everyone wants me to talk about this Occupy Oakland shit that just went down. Not sure why anyone would think I'd want to write about that, or that I'd be a good ambassador to the cause. I guess because I live here. But have I ever given the illusion that I am big into sticking my neck on the line with incendiary, controversial remarks and/or willing to risk the ire and scorn of those who feel differently? I'm a goddamn Wonder Bread milquetoast when it comes to Internet fighting.
To get everyone up to speed re: what I am talking about: (Apologies to Duane, who I know isn't the biggest Jon Stewart fan.)
We had a surprise party for my wife, Justine, who just turned 30 (which is unfortunate, since it means I am going to have to go find a new wife, since I don't date women in their 30s. Kidding, honey. Sort of), this past Friday. Justine is a snoop, and very hard to surprise, so I was quite proud of myself that she was genuinely fooled into thinking we were spending the night just the two of us, on a boat or an island, with this woman.
Which made Justine cry. Not so much because of this woman, but because she thought no one cared about her anymore. I'd arranged months ago for this party and everyone was in on it. Hence, no one was asking Justine what she was doing for her birthday. Which made her cry. And you have to admit: this woman is kinda scary looking, beady little eyes, and tiny teeth for gnawing and gumming the flesh... (The woman in the above picture was part of an elaborate ruse of misleading clues I gave to Justine to get her off the scent of the surprise party. Which she had suspected all along. But after I got done with her, she didn't know which end was up. Which you could really apply to most of my failed relationships. [What? Haven't all yours ended too? Oh, except the one you're in now. Of course. No, no, I'm sure this one will last. I mean, all the...others.]) But then I got her to Jupiter, a bar 'n' grill up on Shattuck, where all her friends and family were waiting, and Surprise! Then I shipped all the girls off in a limo for a night on the town and to brawl with the limo driver, while I got to go to bed at 10 p.m. (sweet sweet sleep.)
But before that, we sat at a far back table outdoors, and of course the conversation turned to Occupy Oakland and the fracas from a couple days earlier.
Justine's two brothers, both of whom are politically active and progressive, were there. Like Justine, they are half Puerto Rican, and have had to deal with aspects of race my lily-white ass never has.
"So when we taking Holden [my 14-month-old son] to Occupy Oakland?" Justine's brother asked her.
"Maybe next Wednesday," Justine said.
Her other brother looked at me. "Gotta the little man out on the front lines," he said.
To which I probably winced a smile, or maybe said something like "power to the people." Hell, I might've even given a little fist pump.
Then the conversation turned elsewhere, which was fine with me. I was glad no one pressed the point further or tried to outline the logistics of an actually time and place. Because ain't no mutherfucking way in hell my son is going to Occupy Oakland. Are you out of your fucking mind? You see that shit? Tear gas. Rubber bullets. Police beating people with batons. Didn't they just shoot some unarmed vet up there? (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/26/iraq-vet-oakland-police-tear-gas_n_1033159.html). Yeah, I'm going to let Holden hang out in Oakland. Why the fuck would I subject my toddler son to that? You want to change the world? God bless you. Really. All of you who think you can make a difference, a change for the better, superterrificswell. I'm with ya. Me and my boy. We'll just be watching from a safe comfortable distance within the plush confines of our new home gym.
So, OK, I guess I do have to talk about this a bit. When I last touched upon the subject (http://tinyurl.com/3qghpau), I was teased, good-naturedly, by some friends back east about my return to the Republican Party. And I freely admit to latching onto some conservative linchpins, especially when it comes to my son (and things like bussing, etc.), in my later life. I have far less patience for the social causes I used to vehemently champion because they interfere with my morning latte. Still, I will explain why that (i.e., a return to GOP) can never happen (and I will do so without partisan ideology or politicking--watch this, Duane!).
I've seen too much.
In short, I got to know the same people I once upon a time so easily condemned. And I'm not even saying I was wrong in condemning them in the first place. Many of them are scumbags, bilking a systems and not doing their fair share. Unfortunately, judging right and wrong is more easily done in the abstract; once you become personally involved, that fucking empathy shit kicks in, and you tuck those stones somewhere safe inside your glass house. Let me give you an example. We all know, that lowlife junkies probably shouldn't have kids, because doing drugs and being a parent don't mix, and when those same lowlife junkies not only have kids but also accept government assistance, well, it's tough to find anyone willing to defend that. So until I knew some actual lowlife junkie parents living on the dole, I had no problem sitting back and shaking my fist. Because, let's face it, lowlife junkies shouldn't be having kids and then taking your tax dollars to buy the kids Pampers (but only after procuring a fix). Makes you mad, right? Damn straight. Problem was I fell in with a bad crowd. Who I soon learned weren't as much a bad crowd as they were lost and hurting and confused, and sure a lot of them were like me, white suburban punks who got carried away, and you don't need to feel sorry for them, or me, but a lot were the other kind, those who were seriously damaged through circumstance. Like the woman I met whose mother used to bury her in a hole in the backyard anytime she had a date, for fear the new boyfriend might find out she had a kid, and if that meant at 7 years old she was locked in a hole in the ground while mom and her new boyfriend went to Vegas for the weekend, so be it. I am not going to list all the horror stories. It doesn't make a difference. You didn't meet these people, even if there are tens, hundreds of thousands, and a million more. But I ate with them. I listened to them. I slept with them. Got to know their stories, their hurts and confusion, their skewered perspectives, which was both the result and direct cause of further persecution. Because that shit ain't a straight line, brother. Moreover, they became my friends, and some of them, flaws and all, were better fathers than I ever had. Go figure. I wish I could go back to seeing hobos and street urchins and drug addicts and criminals, and think they are there because of some moral shortcoming. It would make my life easier. Now all I do is see them and know it's more complicated than it appears; even though I still don't give them my fucking change, because that's my fucking change, and besides what is that going to accomplish? Oh, hell, sometimes I will. But rarely. This is a long-about way of saying, like Doc Holliday: my hypocrisy only goes so far.
So I'm sorry, Bill, I can't go back. But I think you'll agree I am still not your typical liberal. Probably because I am so fucking apathetic. And I prefer the term radical, anyway. Or maybe like my former professor Tom Hazuka, a Capitalist Socialist. Who cares? They're just words. Open-minded and inclusive when it comes to social causes, and stay the fuck away from my money when it comes to practical implementation of those causes. Like most. I just don't give a damn enough to argue with anyone about this shit. Just like I'll nod and say, Sure, take my little son to a protest. I don't want to rock the boat. I'm not going to let him go, obviously. But I'll deal with that, later, after the party ends.
Still, I'd hate to give the impression that in my apathy I am not incensed, which is what ties all of us, what is being called "the 99%," together. Even the people who are, like, "I have nothing in common with those protestors," or are calling them a bunch of middle-class troublemakers, whatever the dismissive blowoff may be, I still don't see the people who are actually writing letters like this.
Which is pretty goddamn funny.
There is no getting around one simply fact, left right, middle, yellow, blue, green, whatever: People are angry. And the number seems to be growing by the day. I am not saying this chart isn't accurate.
"You're pretty good with words, but words won't save your life...and they didn't, so he died." Which makes me think we should close here, with someone who can say what I mean a fucklot better than I can say it right now.
Maybe the revolution really will be televised. I hope so, and that it preempts the Fat Fucking Housewives of the Jersey Shore. Power to the people...