Archive for January, 2014

The “class” thing

January 25, 2014

I am an American, a southerner, college-educated working fellow, married with three grown, and reasonably happy. I love my wife and I love my life. I am a follower of Jesus. Although I do a 40-hour gig as a maintenance guy for 92  apartments, I am not a member of the working “class.”

All this talk these days, arising from the Democrats and sociologists and talking media heads, about “class” this and “class” that, the “working class,” the “privileged” class, the so-called “disappearing middle class”–I wouldn’t give you a nickel for all of it.

As far as I’m concerned, I am an individual, my own man, and beyond classification. God made me just the way I am, thank you, and I thank Him for that. So you can call me middle-class if you want to. You can classify me in the disappearing middle because my working wage is 2/3 of what I was bringing in at my peak, a dozen or so years ago when I was fifty years old. You can call me middle class, working class, dumb-ass, or whatever you wanna call me, you can call me ray, you can call me jay, or ray jay, or  you can call me “hey” or “hey you,” but ya doesn’t have to call me anything at all.

The only identity that matters is what my wife, my grownup young-uns, loved ones and friends call me–Carey. And btw I’ll soon be publishing the third novel, which is named Smoke. So put that in your literary pipe and smoke it.

This little class rant came up this morning because I have been hearing more and more about these designated class distinctions lately, ever since, oh, couple years ago when the Occupy thing started and they were out in the streets–I watched them for two days in Vancouver and Seattle–with their signs about the 1% and the 99% and all that redistributionist and income disparity hype.

Maybe I’m in the 99%, maybe I’m way down in the 50% or even below that. I don’t care. If I had a chance to join the 1%, I would jump at it. This great country was built on upward mobility.

We used to call it the American Dream. I still do. I’m not subscribing to this neo-marxian class stuff. No thank you. It’s just for political manipulation, and I am no political hack’s lackey. Therefore am I not pleased to accept some sociologist’s semi-permanent societal place assignment. Well, maybe “first class”. I would settle for that, but I’m not buying the proletarian, nor the bourgeois label.

Speaking of “not buying”. . .

This morning I began reading David Horowitz’ excellent autobiography, Radical Son.

Here is a passage from page 39 that got my attention, then became, it seems, the impetus for the little bloggish rumination you are now reading. From Radical Son:

“At the time my parents moved into the (Sunnyside) Gardens in 1940, they could have purchased the house on Bliss Street for $4000–less than its original price. But as radicals, they had scorned the opportunity to own property and moved in as renters. Seven years later, the Gardens were acquired by new owners, who decided to sell of the individual units, including our house. A Sunnyside Tenants’ Association was organized to resist the sales.”

Why did David’s parents not buy their house when they had the chance to do it? Weren’t they Americans? Well not yet, apparently.

They were second generation Americans, from Russian immigrants, and they identified themselves as communists. I understand that angst; its where they came from, how they were brought up and so forth. They did not subscribe to the American dream, but to the Russian communist dream that they had brought with them, and then dragged it as excess baggage off the boat at Ellis Island.

Son David later learned, in the school of hard knocks, what it means to be an American, to be an opportunist for yourself and your family, instead of letting yourself be limited by an imposed class identity. If his parents had been willing to learn that lesson in 1940 when they bought their home in Sunnyside Gardens, maybe they would have acceded a little more successfully to the American Dream motivator. But hey, they were immigrants; what can you expect? It takes a generation or two off the boat to acquire a taste for this melting pot porridge. David Horowitz’ life is testimony to that, and that is what his book is about.

Now I’m a southerner, and very different from all those immigrants and their Old World forebears who got off the boat at New York Harbor. (My wife, Pat, is however from an Irish family from New Jersey.) And although my life experience is very different from that of Mr. Horowitz, I sure enjoy reading a good book, which is btw, the key (reading and education) to overcoming all this classist entrapment that’s going around now.

Try it some time, you’ll learn a thing or two from reading a book, even if its on your Kindle.

Smoke

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Angela and David: Tale of Two Citizens

January 18, 2014

I was reading David’s book on

why he switched sides in

the war between Left and Right,

and I was very moved by his life-changing event,

when the Panthers killed his coworker

in Oakland in 1974.

But then I took a Netflix break like

so many citizens do these days and so there was I

hearing Angela’s soulful lament to a Swedish reporter

about growing up in

violence

in Birmingham, contending with KKK and Bull Connor

and for me it was like tale of two cities:

Brooklyn and Birmingham.

David grew up communist household in Brooklyn;

Angela grew up black neighborhood in Birmingham.

But then in their diverging odysseys

they both gravitated to other far-ranging places like

(tale of two cities) San Francisco and Oakland,

left and right, black and white, male and female,

gut and theory, feel and think, stare and blink.

One switched sides and the other

didn’t.

Now I’m a white guy in sixties who grew up in the sixties and

I can understand why David switched from radical left to

conservative right

cuz I be little bit like that myself but not nearly as extreme as

his sitiation,

since i grew up in baton rouge, upriver from n’orleans.

That be the deep south you know where magnolias grow

and de moss hang low and de thinkin is slow

lit bit like over in Birmingham where Angela was raised up

‘xcept she be black and i be white so I don’t know

bout her sitiation, but she did get to study in Paris

at the Sorbonne so what does that tell you bout black folks in

Birmingham or Oakland?

Tale of two cities I guess:

theory and gut

heal and cut

oh shut

my mouth.

Glass half-Full

Left Right might fight.

January 14, 2014

Right will fight,

while Left is deft

with dialectic theory;

But Left is bereft

of any reasonable query

when theoretical might

turns to gulag fright.

Left is cleft,

when Right makes Might

with military surging;

but Right is quite

insensitive to diplomatic urging

when armed might

explodes in war-torn blight.

Fascist pigs will fly

when Communist hogs do die;

Lefty cadres then wail

as Right-wing gangs prevail.

But Fascist hogs do die

when Commie pigs espy

Right-wingers as they fail.

Collateral damages turn pale as hail.

Meanwhile back at the tranche:

Jihadi cells collaborate

while Western minds elaborate

on Left, on Right, what’s wrong, what’s right,

and what will happen with the terror’d fright

when keffiyah’d thugs finds Might:

Probably a fight.

Smoke  

Dinosaur Ozzymandius

January 1, 2014

Dinosaur, oh dinosaur, what happened to you?

Did you get stuck in the mud?

Did you fall with a thud?

Did you get bogged in a bog?

Did you get lost in the fog?

Dinosaur, oh dinosaur, what now will you do?

 

Boomer, oh baby boomer, what’s happening to you?

Are you mired in routine?

Are you caught in between

being  red, blue, or green?

Did you get old while caught up in the dream?

Boomer, oh baby boomer, what now will you do?

 

Worker, oh worker, what has happened to you?

Are you still working, are you doing full-time?

Or are you in that frumpy unemployment line?

Have you lost your top dollar, waiting on a dime?

Did you do some retraining to buy you some time?

Worker, oh worker, oh what now will you do?

 

Yuppie, oh yuppie, what’s up with you?

Did you hook up with prosperity?

Did you pair up with some parity?

Did you give some to charity?

Or Is your generosity a rarity?

Yuppie, oh yuppie, you know what to do.

 

Person, oh person, now what will you do?

now that the many has fizzled to few,

now that the few has dwindled to you,

now that the turning has turned round to you,

do you know what to do, do you see what is true?

Maybe it’s not, after all,  all about you.

Smoke