Thursday, September 22, 2011

re: Troy Davis

I woke up this morning to an America that just got that much uglier. the execution of Troy Davis should not have happened. not while Obama is in office, not while there was an international outcry that even the former slave state of Georgia could hear. not while American influence around the world is on a decline, not while American political stability is in question, and not while there was barely any evidence linking Davis to the murder.

riding home last night i contemplated what it would mean if the execution went through despite the groundswell of support against it. it would mean that the 2008 election of an African American to the highest office of the world's most powerful nation did not usher in a post-racial America as so many people believed. on the contrary, the vitriolic and disrespectful backlash against Obama coupled with the execution of an innocent black man signals a system as racist as it has ever been. it means that we remain a nation incapable of listening to anyone lower on the socio-economic-racial totem pole, a nation almost completely devoid of compassion.

this is the America i woke up to this morning, and it's not pretty.

to say Troy Davis' state-sanctioned murder occurred outside the context of other major shifts in the United States would be absurd. like the indefinite detention and torture of Bradley Manning, Davis will remain a symbol of just how much we've devolved since 9/11. after 10 years of perpetual war and hidden gulags that would make Joseph Stalin smile, the united states today looks that much more like a dictatorial and intolerant society. it is a society that stands alongside only 4 other countries that execute people: iran, saudia arabia, pakistan, and china. this is not a good list to be on.

this morning, America feels that much closer to a corporate version of the Soviet Union. one where those who dare to express opposition to the state are not only ignored but also silenced. take the protesters who got arrested outside of wall street earlier this week for simply chalking on the sidewalks. most people around me are completely unaware that there is even a protest happening at wall street but then again most people are only informed by corporate juggernaut media outlets, if they bother to read, listen or watch a news story at all.

the america i live in moves like a staggering redneck - willfully ignorant of justice, heavily armed, and drunk off its own power. and there is nothing more dangerous than a drunken heavily armed redneck. for the hatred that drives him to kill overseas can easily be redirected domestically and the execution of an innocent black man is only one more indication that this is already happening.

this is only my take on things of course, as an activist - still, as a lifelong activist, this morning feels like a horrible dark storm that shows no sign of letting up. and like the Soviet Union, and all empires, i know it will eventually collapse onto itself, for me, that moment cannot come soon enough...but for now, i can only wait.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bike to Work...Duh...

Launching out of the driveway Thursday morning, my body lacking coffee, I immediately notice something askew. Lots of bicyclists. Not the spandex kind either, but regular, jeans and jacket folks riding around, presumably to school, work, the unemployment office, or other popular destinations. Moms, kids, teens, all on bikes. Woo-hoo! I think, "there's hope yet!" It isn't until I hit bike traffic going over the San Lorenzo Train Trestle and have to wedge past other riders that it finally dawns on me - oh yeah, today's Bike To Work Day, duh! Did I mention I hadn't had any coffee?

Years ago I used to make an effort, to, you know, promote ridership. I put up posters, and tried to spread the word in conversations with co-workers barely able to conceal their indifference. But somewhere along the way, between this nation's perpetual wars for oil in IraqAfghaniPakiYemestan, and the Gulf Oil Spill on Earth Day, I got, how would I put it? Jaded.

Yeah, jaded cuz' the public discourse over the need to be more sustainable in terms of energy policy remains an absurd duality between "Drill Baby Drill" and "Hybrid/electric cars are going to save us all." *Yawn* How nice it would be to hear some politician come out publicly and say, "Candles are underrated, let's make more," or "Ice boxes don't take any electricity and hey, a lot of the crap in your fridge doesn't need to be refrigerated in the first place." At least it would be something different...

I change my usual route, head towards Pacific Ave and get my free cup of coffee.

Lying on my back, staring up at lovely Maple trees, a Bike to Work Day volunteer gives me a massages. It is nice, the endorphins almost drown out the sound of cars and buses rolling past not more than 50 feet away. I've often tried to picture what the volume levels of small town life were like in the early 19th century, and draw a blank. I muse to the masseuse how it would be sweet if the powers that be could organize a bike to work day every month - if only this were Sweden, or Denmark, or some place with some semblance of social democracy.

Massage over, I get up and mingle with the fellow riders. It's the usual crowd though I don't see any anarchistas. Bummer. I like them. They're the only ardent bicyclists who don't harbor any illusions that their actions are going to save the planet from Industrial Capitalism and usher in a liberated tomorrow. Riding a bike is enjoyable, and that's enough for them.

The day passes uneventfully. 5pm rolls around. The bicycles that were so prevalent in the morning seem to be eclipsed by the throngs of cars, bumper to bumper, heading south on Soquel, or Murray St. It's a sobering reminder. Of what? You already know.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stuck In Traffic

Sitting on a bus, bike on rack, the traffic from Water to Soquel going south on a Tuesday afternoon is a disaster. They call it rush hour, cuz' everyone's rushing to get the fuck away from their horrible jobs, so they can get home, nuke dinner, and watch TV till' sleepy time, but poetically enough, no one's going anywhere. At least I get to read a book rather than worry about putting my foot on the gas every few seconds to move a few inches forward. It's times like these I recall the perpetual nightmare that is the Los Angeles freeway system and the blood pressure squeezing AM talk radio shows my dad used to subject me to.

All the route 71s are running late today. It's always this way the bus driver says to someone who inquires what the fuck is the holdup all about. The bus driver then adds, "Single driver in a single car makes traffic."

How ugly and true. It's something I don't witness in its totality too often as I'm usually zipping past cars on Soquel or Murray St. But on a bus, it's painful to watch. The lines of rectangular metal objects, inside: little humanoids, outside: concrete - all of it stretching into the horizon. It's even more painful if you recognize that with exception to the few hybrids on the road, every engine is just running idly, spewing toxic particulates into the air for no reason other than there are simply too many other particulate spewing combustible engines on the road.

Even as we pass over the freeway on Soquel Ave, near Dominican Hospital, Highway 1 going South is as hopeless as the side streets we're stuck on. I glance at my watch and then glance again - I could just get off and ride to my destination in Aptos, and bypass all this bullshit but it would take a lot out of me, and heavy riding = heavy eating and unfortunately, I don't have a lot of food.

I weigh my options, I look outside at all the bloody cars. Endgame. That's what I think - we've reached the logical conclusion of individualism. The technophile society thinks there are no limits to the natural world, but they are completely wrong. The problem is, the system refuses to acknowledge they're wrong and have made a colossal mistake. Is there a way out? I don't know. I decide to stay on the bus for the rest of the ride, and read my book.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And Again!


As far as I'm concerned, this is getting weird.

It's true, I don't get out of dodge very much and I also don't order pizza so maybe this is common in other places or universes outside Santa Cruz but...

I've just never noticed this many "luxury" cars in town moonlighting as pizza delivery vehicles. Seriously. It's unnerving...and funny. Yesterday, I'm riding down Bay towards the Boardwalk, I hang a left and I shit you not, a blue BMW zooms by with a Pizza My Heart sign on top.


Okay, true, this doesn't really compare with the Mercedes' I've seen around town with Dominoes and Woodstock Pizza signs, and true, the drivers have all been young men obviously borrowing mom n' dad's vehicle...or more likely, it was a hand me down car (for what it's worth, I got the family 87' Honda when I turned 22 and quickly run it into the ground). But still, with 1 in 6 people out of work in this country, and expensive ass cars being used as pizza delivery vehicles, I'm just saying, we could very well be on the brink of apocalypse. : |

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It Happened Again

Last Friday, walking through the parking lot of the downtown Trader Joe's/CVS/FedEx Kinkos, I saw a white Mercedes Benz with a Woodstock Pizza delivery sign on top. Whoah. It was only about a month ago that I saw a black Mercedes with a Dominoes sign on top - I actually saw this car twice in Capitola. The last time, the kid driving it was blasting Gun n' Roses. It was kinda surreal...

But a Woodstock Pizza sign on a white Mercedes. Wow. It all sounds like a bad joke, "you know we're in a Depression when..."

For some reason, I can't help but picture one of the opening scenes in Borat, where his car is being towed by a donkey. Now, that'll be a sure sign of the apolacypse in America: donkey delivered pizza. mmmmm.....delicious.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Economic Downturn, Rotten Eggs

When it comes to reporting on the so-called Economic Downturn, a.k.a. Great Depression "The Sequel", the papers will often post stories citing a bunch of statistics about unemployment percentages and whatnot, and then quote some economic analyst in a big city who'll talk about what was predicted and what actually happened. yada yada yada. But the real story comes through when you hear it as experienced by people close to you.

Such is the case this past weekend, as related by a friend who calls me up with the following story: Uncle So n' So lives the American Dream - suburban home with a mortgage, 2 kids, dog, cat, pool, smokin' hot wife. Problem is, Uncle So n' So doesn't know how to live within his means. Went through some financial trouble about a decade ago, lost the house, but got back up on his feet - Alas, with the help of his retired father. Thing is, Uncle So n' So got in deep this year, and unbeknownst to retired father, ran up retired father's credit card bill into the thousands. How much? Let's just say it's a little less than what I make in a year.

Retired father finds out and goes ballistic but Uncle So n' So refuses to field Retired Father's calls. Nothing nastier than a family fighting over money. The situation is compounded by the fact that my friend has limited sympathy for her uncle as on one hand, yeah, the industry he works for is directly related to the housing market, which we all know has imploded, so work is slow and sporadic, but on the other hand, the dude drives a high end sports car, also owns a truck, wife owns a convertible, and a big ass luxury SUV.

You know, isht like that could never happen in my family cuz' a) my dad would never put me on his credit card; and b) you could be damn sure if I ever owned a luxury car, I'd trade it in for a less expensive model in a heartbeat and use the money for you know, shit of actual value rather than, food.

But that's the issue before Americans now - We're so used to living like rock stars, and have such a grandiose sense of entitlement, it's hard to accept the fact that we're broke. Though I don't watch TV, I occasionally get a glimpse of it and the crap corporate America is feeding us vis a vis advertising doesn't reflect our economic reality in any shape or form. Which is all to say, the cognitive dissonance we're experiencing has the potential to create some very violent outcomes. Just look at the fascist-larva that is the Tea Party and all the brouhaha over an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan.

Back at home, the salmonella tainted egg scandal couldn't have come at a better time for me. You see, the chickens I brought home via bike in March have recently started laying eggs. They've also been quite loud, and the thought of my neighbors snitching to the pigs every time they hear a "BUCKAW!" makes me cringe. Cuz' you know how suburban middle class Americans tend to think - they'll accept the sound of a leaf blower or gas powered lawn mower on a Sunday morning, but chickens are just a reminder of a life they thought they'd left back in 1934.

Needless to say, I've taken to showing up at my neighbor's doorsteps with a half dozen "Salmonella free" eggs. They smile and sometimes give me tomatoes or squash from their back yards.

"Hi! Yes, I'm that dude who doesn't own a car in the neighborhood. Yes, I got chickens, here are some eggs. No salmonella I assure you. Anti-captialist? I don't know what you're talking about. Lost your job? Damn, times are rough. We definitely gotta stick together these days. Peak Oil, Global Warming activist? Nah, I'm just uh, not big on cars...self reliance is a good thing, que no? We gotta learn to live within our means, right? By the way, I don't suppose you got an expensive sports car we could sell for some food? Just kidding. Yeah, no worries. I'll ask again next year..."

Friday, July 23, 2010

You know the economy is doing bad when...

...You ride past a black Mercedes Benz sporting a Dominoes Pizza delivery sign on top. So help me, but this really happened. Heading south on Soquel Dr past Frederick St a few days ago - did you see it too? I even tried to chase it down and take a pic but it got away. From what I could tell, it was a kid driving, so I'm assuming the car was a hand me down from the parentals. But still, damn, the middle class in this country is going down faster than an offshore oil rig - and practically for the same reasons. This encounter goes right up there with the homeless guy I brought breakfast to a few weeks ago, who then, told me to put it in his Volvo. Whatever the future holds, no one can say these don't make for interesting times...