Re: Alas, America...

Tony Hollick (
Thu, 30 Apr 98 21:27 BST-1

In the 'forteana' conference today, I found this contribution, which
makes me kinda sad. We fought the Cold War for this? The essay follows
on from an idyllic description of his home, about fifty miles outside New
York, where the rich drink Dom Perignon and the dogs have $10 000
jewelled collars..

I guess I could write the same story on life hereabouts. Idylls and
infernos in uncomfortably close proximity.

God help us all....


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>Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 09:28:17 -0700
>From: Joseph Sloan <>
>Subject: Re: Of dolphins and things (fwd)
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=|At 11:17 AM 4/29/98 -0000, you wrote:
>On 29-Apr-98, Alison Clayton wrote:
>>I saw a man taking half eaten food out of the bin last night and eating it.
>> I decided that he probably wasn't just begging on the streets for the hell
>>of it.
>Well, I saw a report on the news about how most supermarkets are sending
>perfectly good food to landfill sites as rubbish rather than giving it
>away to the needy.
>That disgusted me.
>Dave McMann

This, and the retrieval of cigarette butts to gather roll and smoke is
depressing but NOT new or "news", I say with some hesitation for fear of
sounding like some cynical hardass.

We can all clinically view the statistics with regards to the steady
shift of society's wealth to the already wealthy, while coolly ignoring the
encroaching results of the same on the working poor right outside our door
(or under our own roofs, truly), the low income elderly tenant whose rental
unit gets sold out from them in an exploding urban real estate market, the
immigrant laborer sharing the one-room apartment with 14 other adults while
working multiple jobs to share the fruits of this better new world with
their families in explosive nations to the south and overseas, the obscene
"War on Drugs" which makes it so that students and poor artists, the folks
who really need it, cannot even afford simple cannibis anymore.

I have had friends who worked in food service here in San Francisco at
the fanciest hotels and restaurants where the cast-off food is dumped into
secure dumpsters where the nearby starving are kept at bay. Of course there
are the occasional well-publicized redistribution efforts usually given a
great deal of lip service around the Xmas holiday season when people are
more easily moved(read:"manipulated") by guilt. At the other end of the
scale, some "hippier" restaurants and bakeries have set up their own free
boxes or redistribution efforts.

Even as the disparity becomes more obscene and shows no sign of
reversing (interms of the size and irrepairability of the gap between the
rich and poor) I still believe (while knowing full well the deep danger of
"belief") that the problem is one of distribution of goods and energy, that
there are enough resources and possible options available to solve a lot of
the gross iniquities that plague our clumsy dominion over this planet and
our neighboring species. But I am certainly not prepared or equipped to
make those grand changes, but the potential keeps me from giving up hope
while struggling amidst the squalor and disregard.

I am not naiive enough to suggest that this trite plague is only an
urban American problem; that aspect of the issue is just more obvious to
me (as is Nem's reflections on the lush divinity of the endangered
rainforest) and I am also blessed to have nearby my home in this congested
overpriced and depressed metropolis a protected piece of rare open space, a
grassy rocky hill to which I am pleasantly obligated to take my canine
companion at least twice a day, where she is allowed to run leash-free with
others of her species and socialize in ways that a lot of country dogs and
suburban dogs with big old yards to defend never get the opportunity to.

If rather than taking that short walk to the hilltop I was to turn right
and walk out my door, the street one block down has the late 20th century
version of Bunuel's "Land Without Bread" being reenacted by the occupants
of the Asylum of St. Francis , and the web of freeway overpasses that one
can see to the east of my little doggy hilltop provides a concrete roof for
a small shifting tribe of broken(mostly) men, walking the streets by night
and sleeping(dead?) wrapped in plastic and filthy blankets by day to lessen
the danger of assault by other homeless. Oh look, there's an emaciated
prostitute somebody beat the skull in of...third one this week... above us
the ribbon of steel and cement carries individuals on cellular phones, each
in their own Lexxus or BMW or sports utility vehicle putzing slowly but
safely in a cloud of skyborne (but lead-free!) toxins into the city of
banks restaurants and nightclubs.

To see someone broken, hopeless, with all their possessions in a cart is
an allegedly noteworthy observation? I don't think so. It might have been
novel when I was kid in the deficit free early 60's in the USA but I think
that was an exceptional time, from what I've seen of the struggles of my
progenitors and those of much older countries/societies than my own.

I saw this beautifully interesting little old man on the street the
other day, in these mismatched pants/coat with this crazy furry
burgermeister hat w/feather on it and thought to myself: " I want to have
that much eccentric character and style when I'm his age." I then watched
as he dug around in the trash for aluminum cans, I suppose, then poked his
finger into the coin slot on the payphone hoping for some change. Something
to look forward to I suppose.

Underneath the cold grey shadows of the modern crossroads, tenaciously
refusing to stop living, sitting on their filthy behinds holding their
poisoned heads in their broken hands...what bargain will they strike in
their daily prayer thinking it their last chance? And with which god?

cheerfully, Joe

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