11 February, 2016

The cold settles in: more on activism, Quixotism, and the drive for a better life

and I ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and I ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang..it’s ringing

ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal. 

- Gregory Alan Iskov, "The Stable Song"




Every place I've lived, regardless of the general climate, is home to the same joke:

"If you want the weather to change, wait five minutes."

Given that River City was enjoying some comfortable daytime temperatures last week, the re-emergence of winter-like weather this week is yet another reminder that Ohio River Valley Weather will find a way to refuse a more optimistic seasonal categorization.  

Now, before you think I'm complaining, Dear Friends and Readers, please know that my memories of #ZOMBIESNOWPOCALYPSE2015 are still fresh.The truth is this winter has been, so far, a fairly typical winter. It would be easy to call it too cold (because right now, it sure as hell feels like it), but given Metro Louisville's inability to handle any kind of inclement weather with any aplomb it is difficult to see the winter as anything but a catastrophe waiting to happen.

I love it for all it's follies and foibles, though. Louisville has embraced me as much as any place can embrace an itchy-footed, semi-domesticated, rarely-do-well with a better than average vocabulary.

Wherever home happens to be, it's perfectly normal to find attributes about the place that make it special to you. For example, I call Louisville home. It helps that my wife lives here, and that I'm close to family. The thing I love about Louisville besides that is that it's still basically a small town... or, at least, it behaves like one. For the most part, people here do too, though anyone who hasn't been to a city that knows its a city and behaves like one would maintain that a large population and a few tall buildings are all that is required to make a city.

This is untrue.

A city has a different heart and a different soul. Not better. Different. Cities move fast and leave the past buried in dust -- at least, until it can be resurrected to turn a greasy buck for some carpetbagging capitalist. *

Louisville still has that small town heart. It's true that the carpetbaggers are at the door -- Omni Hotel, Google Fiber -- but it's difficult to not let them in after you've already invited them in and allowed them to shit all over the furniture.** I love it hear because in spite of the efforts of people to polish it, the underbelly of the city is still -- well, a turd. River towns are always a little grimy, and they need to be. All manner of things come up and down river and are deposited here. People. Goods. Art. Pollution. A sacred connection to something older, deeper, more meaningful, and fundamentally human*** that you simply don't find in other places. Yes, there is humanity in other places. Yes, there is a way to the sacred and the divine in other places.

But a river is an ancient artery that records every age. As a matter of fact, where I sit right now is nothing more than a long dry riverbed. Waters move and cut and focus the geography, leave behind something for people to use and live and take care of. The riverbed is a living thing, recording and remembering the history we don't take time to notice.

It will be this history that sits in judgement over us long after we have become the very fossils we ignore in the name of profit.

Lately I've been trying to figure out ways to leave a positive mark on the rocks instead of a negative one. Some plans have fallen through -- working to organize local adjuncts to demand better from their masters has lost serious momentum^. Working to maintain a radical labor union has also proven nearly impossible, as I am apparently too caustic and hurt people's feels^^. This has caused me to have rethink my relationships with people and remember that most relationships are transitory. But as long  as my marriage is good and my close family still embraces me, life is good.


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*Read: locally, the "Democratic" mayor and metro council's clear disregard for working people by allowing Omni Hotel developers to not hire union carpenters. Read also the vote in metro council tonight that, if it goes through will go against a standing union contract to bring Google Fiber to town. Yes, this town still has a small town heart and a small town soul... but Mayor Fischer and his "economic development team" are trying really hard to murder it.
**Read: 4th Street Live
*** To be human is to be of the dirt. We are a grimy bunch. And there's something sacred in that, too.
^Everyone agrees that change is necessary, but they're waiting for someone else to do the lifting... which never works. It's all of us or none of us.
^^It's true. As eloquent as I can be, I'm also an asshole sometimes. But don't mistake that admission for an apology. Having a difficult personality and being wrong are two different things. And I'm not wrong.

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