Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Class Battles


Somewhere between the capricious demand for status and the contradictory demands for self lies the world we live in.

Between getting a letter in my file for an event I wholeheartedly believe I was in the right, being booted out of a forum for expressing my opinion too sarcastically, and hearing of the impending yet inevitable demise of a close coworker, on top of the ever-present media blitzkrieg over whether my political point of view isn’t just in the minority but might just be a pariah of all of Americanism (it isn’t, you teabagger FUCKS) I wonder why I get worked up over it.

Mostly, I know it’s because my life is very rarely in my hands. Well, in the sense that my career and my day-to-day activities are rarely dictated by me, but given a short enough time-line it seems (and hopefully only seems) like each trial and tribulation is a microcosm of the narrative my life is supposed to take: My boss (who is omnipotent) is completely ignorant to the specifics of my job. This may not in itself be a bad thing, as after all I’m hired for expertise that other staff members do not have, except my boss is completely ignorant in the sorts of management and administrative things her own job entails as well, leading to laughably impossible demands on a regular basis (and a yearly staff turnover of 25 percent).

This is important because I have no clue as to my own status on the job, due mainly to lack of feedback, and the job is my lifeline to some form of “normality” as it entails with the middle class lifestyle. In order to get a Masters in the field I wanted to be in ten years ago I need to resurrect my credit rating and in order to do so I need to be employable and in order for that to remain I need to stop getting letters in my file for speaking my mind to thin-skinned consultants, which makes me beholden to an ignorant and punitive boss.

Common story, I know.

But when it gets down to it, I know that even if I were to be in my dream position, all of what I produced with either be shelved indefinitely or subject to the whims of the politics of the day, which have not historically been on the side of planners or, indeed, anybody with an idea whose fruition takes longer than one election cycle.

So why worry? If I get fired (for the second time), laid off (for the second time) or otherwise stillborn in my career (yet again), life goes on. I go back to freelancing, getting paid under the table, and otherwise busking for my daily bread, knowing full well that most everybody in the world save for the dozen or so on TV is in just as bad a pickle as I am. When all is said and done, honor and dignity are silly things to hang onto – not because they’re meaningless, but because I’ve lost that battle before I was born.


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I love movement.

I love the simultaneous bob and duck of a hundred heads in concert as the train trundles along over pipes and under cars.

I love the weave, the crab walk, the trot, the two-step dance move as fifty people pathfind through a bottleneck, each move bringing each closer to their goal without stopping or touching one another.

I love the anticipation – heads craned to the fire exit, waiting for the one person with a stroller to open it only to have it take its own gravitational pull with the remaining commuters looking for this, that, any way out.

I love the metro in polis, where nothing is ever truly at rest: Even snoring, the body counts the stops, the heart records the time elapsed. The feet march before the doors open, and the eyes never look at – always above and around and beyond and through, but at is static and static is anathema.

I want to bottle it: Break it down, analyze its pieces, assign it formulae and simulate it over ever-increasingly complex systems. I want to add layers, to merge, to modulate and fuel.

I want modal harmonies, not parallel play. Separation is wrong, segregation an atrocity. Dodge, jostle, rend! Lanes are a suggestion, order a conceit. What matters only is movement, and flow is sacrosanct. Like a diesel engine, work is hardest when at rest.

I love tracking: Parallel is boring, parallax is keen. Intersection is fun; the syncopated merging of two or more pathways at points at once random and ephemeral, requiring active participation in collision avoidance at all times. Avenues are rivers of the most basic, simplified, natural sort: All space is consumed, all drive is forward – whichever direction that may be – all obstacles overcome in real-time, constantly, without interruption.

The workings of many minds making many decisions at all times leaves an electric aura in the air. It is self-feeding. It is exhilarating. I love it.


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The Times has a bunch of folks talking about the word as related to its being whitewashed clear out of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, as published by a company ironically (and erroneously) named NewSouth . Some people fairly eloquently explain why that’s wrong, others are rather muddled, and still yet one more has his head up his ass (and is from Texas, no less).

It’s really quite simple to me why ‘slave’ cannot replace ‘nigger.’ ‘Slave’ is an occupation. ‘Nigger’ is a mode of being. I can be a carpenter right up until I quit, at which point I am no longer a carpenter. I will always be male.

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