Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Class Warrior

I never thought I would be a class warrior. At least, I never thought I would be on this side of the class war.

I was running, furious. I yelled at a police man in his cruiser. "I don't think this man should be doing this," while I pointed him out. He pulled over and yelled at the man. I ran down the basement of my apartment building, searching for management.

I was so angry. How could this ass hole who doesn't live here attack our building? This is OUR neighborhood and OUR building. The Grey Stone is a historic building for Christ's sake. He is being so disrespectful!

I yelled "Is anyone here?"

An old man, the owner, responds "yes, can I help you?"

"There is a homeless man outside cutting and pulling down the ivy off of our building. You didn't hire him, did you?"

"Hell no! I'll meet you out front in just a second," the landlord yelled as he ran toward the front of the building.

I walked back the way I had come, Casey had come to check on the matter.

"I stopped a police man, and the landlord is on the way," I told him, proud of myself for stopping this grave offense.

It had happened before. Anonymous people cut down sections of the ivy on our beautiful, century-old building. When the roots of ivy are cut, of course the rest of it dies. It took years to grow these vines on this building. The last time it happened, management put up notices on our doors.

"If you see someone cutting down the ivy, call the police!" they plead.

And that's what I did this time. What a good citizen I am. A good bourgeois citizen fighting the degenerates of this city.

I stood at the front of my building as I watched the police man whom I had alerted arrest the homeless man. My neighbor arrived home from work, and asked what's the matter. I related the story. "Good job for doing the right thing," he praised.

I had done the right thing. I had caught that bastard. I stopped another section of gorgeous ivy from being cut down. How dare he encroach upon my space. This is my space, after all... I pay rent here. I live here. He disrespected my home. He disrespected history. He disrespected....

I realized it then. As the land lord started accusing the man, now in handcuffs, of previous ivy-cutting incidents, I knew I had been mistaken. What he had really disrespected was capital. He hadn't followed the rules of the system. He disrespected my own selfish aesthetic desire... that I come home everyday to a beautiful, ivy-covered courtyard. The historic part was an elitist, racist ruse for my own petty demand.

Never mind that this man would now be going to prison. Never mind that he might be mentally ill.

Or maybe he thought he was doing us a favor by cutting down the weeds off of our building. Or maybe, just maybe, he was fed up with being treated like scum for not being successful, for being homeless. Maybe he was tired of people like the owner of Mahan Gallery suggesting he is a problem -- that he has no right to exist near her shop-- her grandmother could shop in the Short North without feeling "uncomfortable" (she means, guilty) if he weren't asking her for change.

Maybe he knew he wasn't being a good citizen, and that was the whole point. Fuck these bourgeois assholes. For not selling himself, for not handing over his labor for exploitation to the system; for not owning his failure, because it is his own fault that he is homeless, (not the fault of the efficient machinery that systematically produces homelessness in this country,) for those reasons, he was entered into a system of incarceration from which he may not escape.

And all because of me. In that moment, I felt so self-righteous that I had to alert the police... I couldn't let this beautiful building be defaced.

I always hoped I would be a class warrior, a champion of social justice, and indeed a class warrior is what I became today... but I somehow ended up on the wrong side of the war.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bruno and Ich

Does anyone else see the resemblance?

A few weeks ago I went to see Bruno with Casey and my friend whom I'll refer to as T. We had all been looking forward to the film since we'd heard about it. The previews made the film look hilarious. And it was. But a lot of the time I felt extremely uncomfortable... even though I was with two other close gay males.

That could have been because despite our small island of queer in the theatre, we were surrounded by a sea of breeders who seemed to be laughing at, instead of with, Bruno. The things we laughed at were different. I laughed at the miming of the blow job out of familiarity, they laughed at what Bruno was wearing. Granted, some of those outfits were outrageous, but many of the pieces were designer pieces, as indicated by Casey. I feel like the audience would have laughed at my image on screen just easily-- not that I wear designer, like Casey, but that I have a flamboyant air about me.

But Bruno breaks so many taboos and makes fun of so many different groups, the public's reaction to the film has been more nuanced than the gay/straight divide. For instance, one prominent gay activist called on Sacha Baron Cohen to explicitly state his support for gay rights. One San Fransisco Chronicle film critic found the comedy in the film tantamount to "gay blackface." Casey, T, and I disagreed.

I've heard some straight people feel confused by the film. A coworker of mine said she would have reacted as did the TV talk show audience to the apparent child abuse of baby OJ, whom Bruno adopted and dressed in a GAYBY t-shirt. I think she missed the idea that Bruno was embodying the sick consumer/celebrity culture of the US.

I've read and heard some intellectual film critics bash the film for using cheap methods, especially shock value, to draw crowds. Certainly the shock factor does do the foot work for getting people into the theatre, but I think there is something more profound in Bruno. It is derived from Cohen's sense of humor that uses outlandish characters to poke fun at bigotry. But in Bruno, he was able to call out the insanity of American celebrity culture, homophobia, machismo and religious zealotry all at once. As someone who is completely disgusted with all of the above, I say bravo.

Columbus Jazz and Ribs 2009

Casey and I made it to the Jazz and Ribs festival this weekend. You might ask yourself, why would two gay white vegetarians choose to go to a Jazz and Ribs festival. The answer lies in the jazz more than the ribs. Casey is a jazz enthusiast, and we even found a band playing more complex stuff than the regular jam band that is the Columbus norm. The ribs part of the festival only reinforced my vegetarianism. The belches of smoke billowing from the pork covered grills made me ill, but I must admit, I probably would have bought a barbecue covered tofu steak :)

The cool thing for me at the jazz fest was seeing the diverse groups intermingle in leisure. There were many working class people (from places like my home town) mixing with inner city professionals and poor people. Every minority group was found there too. It wouldn't have been Columbus if someone hadn't yelled "fags!" at us, but other than that there seemed to be harmony. Of course, few people were actually intermingling with people different themselves, but at least they were enjoying music together in the same space.

The space itself was interesting. I had only been to the westernmost part of the Arena district once for Red, White, and Boom. It's sort of a liminal space that is flanked by undeveloped land and downtown. It is aesthetically pleasing, but as a new development, it feels fabricated and mall-like. Perhaps in ten years it will feel more authentic, but as a business improvement district, it will likely remain sterile.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Triumvirate of Doom: Cars, Healthcare, and Food

So, contrary to the note of my previous post, here is another rant. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Case and I were enjoying dinner together at Easton this evening. I opted for Chipotle because I'll eat it any chance I get. Casey needed something coffee-esque, so he got Potbelly, where he got a mocha shake. We sat at a picnic table outside, each consuming our respective fast food.

The picnic table was situated next to a parking lot, where cars would screech by at top speed, upsetting the pleasantness of the moment. Sitting there, with these noisy cars for whom this place, Easton, was made, stuffing our faces with cheap food lacking nutritional value and loaded with calories and chemicals, our asses getting fatter by the second and likely forming the free radicals in our organs that will later become cancer, it dawned on me. All of these unhealthy and destructive systems, our car nation and suburbanization, the food-like substances system, and the miserly health care (or should I say sick care) industry are weaved together into a quilt of doom. This quilt is not one that you would receive from your bored grandmother, or one that Vera Bradley would shred to create an ugly purse. This quilt is used to strangle you and carry your remains.

It really started with the cars, didn't it? Well the marriage of the car and the suburb. All of those war vets coming home for WWII needed a place to live, the old government story goes. So the Fed began insuring loans for people to buy houses. But they only guaranteed them for white people... and instead of doing something logical, like encouraging homeownership or renters to dwell in the inner city, where they had traditionally, the government only insured home loans in the suburbs. The result was a nation of cookie cutter houses spread so far apart that the car industry made a windfall providing every single last homeowner with a car or two. To get all of these people into the city with their cars in an efficient way, we had to bulldoze vibrant urban neighborhoods, most of them belonging to African Americans, to make way for highways. And to feed all of these people quickly, we had to create the fast food industry, which was the catalyst for the disgusting food system we are stricken with today. (Note that most everything you buy at the supermarket is produced a la fast food, even the vegetable produce, which means that your spinach might be contaminated with e. coli... so eat organic!!)

Now, no one is walking to work anymore because there is nowhere to walk, and it's too far away. We are slaves to the vehicles. And because the quality of our food is sacrificed to speed and quantity, we are getting sick on a massive scale. (Go see Food, Inc... I won't even visit how angry I was after watching that film, except to say that if any corporation can be called nefarious, it's Monsanto.) So we are getting fatter and we are getting sick because of this lifestyle.

Enter the HMO to make another windfall on our fat asses. Most civilized countries realized a long time ago that a single payer system is the only way to provide health care to everyone in an efficient and humane way. And health care is a right!!! It is also a responsibility, but it is a fundamental right.

But in the US, where profits are always put before people, the government left the responsibility of our health as a nation in the hands of these HMOs. Like any for profit company, the goal is to cut costs. That means, denying you coverage and benefits that you paid for; that is, if you can afford the outrageous costs in the first place.

It is absolutely no wonder that we are fat, sick and broke. The system on a macro level seems almost designed to keep us that way. Very few people have the means to escape the slavery that is the automobile and fast food. And no one goes unaffected by our pitiful health care system. Fortunately, Obama has begun to address health care... let's hope he succeeds. In the mean time, eat smart, ditch the car, and move into the city, where you are often forced to walk. It's a happier place :)

My blog posts are nothing but a bunch of bitching

As many of posts begin, so does this one. It has been a long time since I've written. I've been super busy so far this summer with two jobs, so that is my excuse.

A dear friend of mine, SW, pointed out to me the last time I saw her that my blogging amounts to ranting. And she's right. The main things that inspire me to write/blog are things that piss me off. And living in conservative Ohio gives me plenty of inspiration. For me, this blog serves as a healthy outlet for me to express deep seated rage and emotion that I feel toward the system in which we live.

But I am trying to imagine what my audience (whoever and however few people that may encompass) must think. Perhaps it's not that interesting or maybe depressing to read someone bitch and complain constantly. Perhaps I should broaden my style to include topics that can be profound but not so anger-ridden.

Conclusion: I'll work on it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Chagrin of a Fallen Billionaire

The Feds caught billionaire fraudster Allen Stanford in VA Thursday night. His wealth is reported to be the creation of an international Ponzi scheme, taking new investors money to pay the profits of existing clients. CNN has the story here.

The poor sap complained a couple a months ago that he had to fly commercial airlines after the federal government confiscated his six private jets.

"They make you take your shoes off and everything," he said. "It's terrible."

Wow what a poor soul. Having to take your shoes off at security. That's definitely the worse part of being poor.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I wouldn't mind a view of the East River :)

Would the UN building in Manhattan be better used as housing?

David Rothkopf thinks so. He thinks the member states would get more out of the funds raised by the condo project than any of the results we've seen with the UN's "negotiations" with N. Korea.

"Seriously, I can hardly understand how in a city in which every cab driver is prepared to get all up in your grille about the most casual comment, these UN folks can manage to negotiate the basics of daily life. It takes more gumption than they have ever displayed to get a waiter to bring you a menu at most Manhattan coffee shops."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kidney Stones, you are the bane of my life!

I have not been writing very much lately. I realize many of posts start off with a phrase like the previous sentence. But this time I have an excuse. Aside from a somewhat intense week of final exams, which I thankfully passed with A's, I have been suffering from kidney stones for a little less than a week. And holy fuck do they hurt.

I awoke Thursday night after several glasses of wine to a massive pain in my lower right back side. I was howling for a long time (Casey thought I was either having an orgasm or a baby) before I started crying. Then the vomit came. The pain was so intense that I spent a great deal of the night in front of the toilet. I wondered if I had alcohol poisoning for a while, but I hadn't drunk that much.

After a 5th puke session, my pain subsided enough for me to fall asleep. The next morning, I still felt some aftershock pain in my back, but it was a fraction of what I had experienced the night before. This was good, because I had to go into WOSU for training on new protocol that had been adopted since I left in December.

On my way home, I called my mom to tell her about this bizarrely intense pain. Right away, she said "You have a kidney stone." She had had one herself a couple years ago, and funnily enough, she said that it was the closest thing to a labor pain she had suffered through outside of labor. I no longer felt like a big wussy for crying and writhing around in pain.

Casey and I went out for dinner that night, and I was still quite tender. To his chagrin, I refused to stop at Bodega on the way home for a beer... I just needed to lie down for a while. A sharp pain returned, but it was momentary and I was able to fall asleep. The next day, I felt completely fine. Story over... or so I thought.

But then, Monday morning, I awoke to the most tortuous of pains. I realized that I could not go through this process again. I woke Casey up and told him I needed to go to the hospital. When we finally got to a hospital that was open, (we made a detour to an urgent care that was near to us that refused to let me in because they did not open until 9am) I ran in. The pain slowly increased in intensity, to the point that I was bawling and yelling for pain meds by the time they were trying to get my medical info. It was like the labor scene in Nine Months, except not nearly as cute or endearing.

They finally gave me some really amazing pain meds that made me feel happy. I was able to relax and watch CNN with Casey for a bit. They conducted a CT scan which confirmed I had a stone that is small enough to pass. The doc prescribed me some pain meds (he almost gave me a prescription for Flomax, that medecine that helps old men who can't pee because of prostate enlargement, further contributing to my comlex that I am an old man...)

They finally released me around 1, and I just yesterday got over the pain. I am not sure if I have passed it, or if it is just in a position where it does not hurt. But I can't even describe how much of a hell this has been. After being home for a couple of hours, it became difficult to keep any food or liquids down, which meant that I couldn't keep pain meds down, which meant I was still experiencing a great deal of pain. With the aid of soda crackers and 7up, I was finally able to keep food, liquid (ungodly amounts of water) and meds down.

I wish I could feel relief at this point. I do in that I have no pain right now, and this is without the aid of pain meds (none since 4:30 am.) However, I felt this way a week ago when I originally thought I had passed the stone. And then Monday happened. I fear having to go through this again.

If the fear of having to relive this were not bad enough, I don't even want to think about the hospital bill we will be getting. My mom has insurance, but she doubts they will cover anything. I have written before about how shitty GM insurance has become. I have been trying to figure out an estimate for the bill, with a CT scan, an IV, those shots of that happy drug, the blood test, and the urine test, etc., and I hope that it is less than $3000. My family has promised to pay for it (thank god, I had to miss this whole week of work), but we are all struggling right now. It just doesn't seem fair that the insurance should be able to get away with not paying... they have the means. I will let you know when I get the bill the final total.

If we had a single payer system like in Europe or Canada, all of us could live with a peace of mind that no matter our income, we will always have the right to healthcare.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Valentine Wish for (gay) Love and Financial Equality

I have no analysis for you, but this is just fabulous, albeit late (Suze's Valentine's Day wish.)

I keep waiting for her to say: "What is going on my little honies?" or "As much as this pains me, I have to deny all straight people the right to marriage, you simply cannot afford it and don't deserve it."

Just another facet of the logical argument for gay marriage. NPR featured a story on the gay tax, making a similar argument. Gays are paying taxes, but are being cheated of the financial rewards of marriage straight people enjoy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

GM Bankruptcy... thank god Mama T's plant isn't closing

Great relief today after the announcement of the list of closing plants that accompanies GM's bankruptcy. Mama T's plant is not one of them!! Sorry for those who lost out on this one.

I was frightened over the weekend when I heard that there would be plant closings, and that dental insurance was being cut. Fortunately, neither affect our family. The UAW conceded dental insurance for retirees only. But according to Mama T, it is only a matter of time before her dental insurance will be cut. We already have a shitty deal for health insurance -- our family is afforded only 3 doctor visits a year, which is wholly inadequate for a family of two kids, a mom, and a 20 something.

NPR details the loss here