28 March, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 7: tread bare and fancy free

Anger cannot be dishonest. - Marcus Aurelius

My truck has been at the garage for a few weeks now.  I had it towed to a place nearby -- not my first choice of mechanics, but the place I like to take the truck was too busy to look at it soon, and I needed it soon -- because one of three things is wrong with it. If it's the more costly of the three things and it needs a new fuel pump, taking it somewhere with a lift seemed like a good idea. Now, I'm not a mechanic. I know enough about cars to be able to figure out what the problem most likely is, and I can do simple maintenance -- plugs, tires, oil, battery. But it's been a few weeks and one of the reasons I sent it to where I did was because I wanted it looked at quickly.

Well, my initial calls there were not promising. The voice on the other end of the phone told me they needed to order another diagnostic scanner. The truck is a 1995 Dodge Ram. That's not old, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, it has power windows and power locks. One of th e things I like about it is that the engine is sufficiently more engine than computer parts, so I understand how it works a little better. I also like that it's a big truck -- big back when they made vehicles to be repaired and kept, not tossed away in a few years.

I also like that it has a metal bumper. They don't use metal in bumpers much anymore, even in pick-up trucks. Lots of plastic and foamy fill.

Now, the truck had been sitting for about a month and half. It stopped turning over shortly after the first of the year. Since I started out 2017 self-employed and we live on a bus line, getting it fixed got bumped down on the list in preference to other things. But I decided to start substitute teaching in the public school system here, just a few days a week, to help bridge the gap between now and summer and while I built up my freelance client base.

Well, I ended up starting to sub before my truck was fixed. This is an issue as the county is a big one and getting to most of them on public transit is complicated at best. It's hard to accept positions when I can't just pick up and go when they call -- and they have a tendency to call at the last minute, like an hour into the day they're call me about. And yes, I can pick through some of the sub offerings on the website, but I'm more or less limited by geography. I've been trying to stick to the schools in my neighborhood or on a reasonable bus ride. It's not easy.

Well, on Sunday after Amanda and I  helped with homeless outreach, I decided to swing by and get a few things out of my truck. When we got to it, the cab was unlocked the middle console had been rifled through, and my papers were strewn everywhere. I had a tarp folded up under the seat that was pulled out. The truck had been rifled through, probably because someone at the garage left it unlocked.

Now, because it's an older truck, it's also got an older radio. It still has the factory radio, as a matter
fact. And, what's worse for any would be opportunist thief, it plays CASSETTES.* My socket wrench set was missing. It's not especially valuable, money-wise, but still.

Amanda thought I should have called the cops, but cops in Division 4 are useless unless it involves a drug bust** or there's a dead body, or they're just bored  and out to profile people because they look suspicious.

It being Sunday evening, there was no one there. And of course, the phone doesn't have an answering machine. When I talked to the manager on Monday, he told me his assistant manager quit while he, the manager, was on vacation. The scanner had not been ordered.

So, I'm still waiting. It doesn't change the fact that substitute teaching is an even bigger pain in the ass because I either take the metro or I inconvenience my wife. And, then there's my absent socket set. I'm not fool enough to think the garage will take any responsibility, and I know they are not technically legally liable.

But that doesn't change the fact that I'd just love to run into that jerk at the bar. I was so pissed that night we went for drinks during the UK/UNC game and I cheered for UNC just to maybe get the chance to hit somebody. As we were sitting at the bar, surrounded by rabid UK fans***, I told Amanda that I wanted yell out that I really thought Christian Laettner was nice guy.

"No," she said. "Stand up and say Christian Laettner was your lover."

I didn't. But it's nice to know that my wife understands me.

There's no great lesson here. I really just want my truck back. If for no other reason than that I stretch out and drive along SR 42, up and down the river.
_____________________________________________________________________
*Suck it, ye who want to pawn my shit!
**  Please save me your "I know one good cop" anecdotes. Also, I saw the PR picture of the cop giving that homeless lady new shoes. I get it. Doesn't change the fact that Division 4 LMPD is more interested in asset forfeiture than they are in serving the public. And you can quote me.
***There's no other kind. They set couches on fire when they win. They set couches on fire when they lose. Basically, they're opposed to furniture.
 
If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page: 
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24 March, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 6: Clockwork Eternity and Daylight Savings Time (Delayed)

 Certainly, it seems true enough that there's a good deal of irony in the world... I mean, if you live in a world full of politicians and advertising, there's obviously a lot of deception. -- Kenneth Koch

Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians. -- Muhammad Iqbal



Digital watches were all the rage when I was in second grade.  They were new. They were Clunky. And they were completely modern. However, in order to get one, I had to learn to tell time.

In spite of my clear articulation of the argument that old fashioned watches were going the way of the dinosaur, The Old Man insisted that I learn to read a clock.

"But someday no one will know what they are!"

"You will," he said. And there was no arguing.

I don't know if my obsession with time pieces started there. But I still know what a clock is, even as each generation forgets how to read them just like they're forgetting cursive writing.Clocks are funny extensions of an abstraction. Man's attempt to not only own the world but to control how it moves through the universe, and by extension, how we move through the world.

The thing about writing is there's always something that needs doing that will inevitably take you away from your desk. In these, the dark days of Babylon under the mighty Trumplandian flag, there is more so.

There are days to be lived and ways to go about it, and always ... and always... there is something to distract you from the things you really ought to be doing. When they are things we embrace and decide they're worthwhile, we call them obligations. When they are things we'd rather not be doing, we call them duty.

When they are things that are forced upon us under the guess of personal choice, we call it a career.

And it is always this career business that ends up defining us -- by how we choose it, or by it how it chooses us , or by how we choose not to choose it.

Daylight savings time is another one of those fake ideas that we give credence to out of habit. There are places in the world -- in the country, as a matter of fact -- that live without having to turn the clock forward one hour in the spring, only to have to turn it back one hour in fall. Arizona, with everything it does wrong (and there is an epic list) does that one thing right. Not changing the clock twice a year has absolutely no impact on daily life except the absence of jet lag.

Yes, yes. The story goes that the government instituted Daylight Savings Time to help farmers. It's supposed to help because it gives them more daylight in the winter. Never mind the fact that the sun is still in the same spot in relation to the Earth, the days get shorter until Winter Solstice and then begin to get longer as the the Earth spins and the sun is, as a result, in a different position in relation to equator.  Never mind that the length or lack or available sunlight doesn't really change what a farmer has to get done.

As a matter of fact, I haven't met a farmer yet who gave a good gawd damn about the length of daylight in relation to the chores that have to get done. Those people are some of the most rock-hard people I've ever met, precisely because they work regardless of the season, regardless of the weather, and regardless of what time the clock says in relation to where the sun in in the sky.

Daylight savings time is nothing more than an absurd delusion that we can control the time. We can't. Time is the current that carries us. The only difference is that we can choose whether we're going to sink or swim.

If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
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20 March, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 5: The doghead comes to town (with apologies to all dogs, great and small)

A man can be in two different places and he will be two different men. Maybe if you think of more places he will be more men, but two is enough for now. ― Elmore Leonard, Valdez Is Coming

You don't fight fascism because you're going to win. You fight fascism because it is fascist. - Jean-Paul Sartre 


River City is all a twitter because the WWE is coming to town. Trump is going to be at Freedom Hall this evening, giving his supporters, followers, worshipers, and the underbelly of bigots, racists, white power inbreeds, and generally all around delusional people a chance to catch a glimpse of the Mighty Orange Man himself.

There will also be protesters, I'm sure. Trump attracts a lot of attention, and he has done a lot to stir the pot in the last week. In releasing his budget proposal, he has done pretty much what he said he would do. He's proposing to eliminate funding for PBS, NPR, the NEA, Amtrak, and Meals on Wheels. The first three he talked about copiously on the campaign trail. That anyone is surprised now is only proof that
  1. they didn't REALLY pay attention, and
  2. they lulled themselves into complacency because that's what most liberals do.
And of course, the calls to call our congress people -- most of whom are Republicans who have had a grudge against PBS, NPR, the NEA, and Amtrak for years --  have been put forth like mighty beacons. Now, they say, is the time to act. Now, we can save democracy. Now we can protect the arts and the cultural soul of America.

Please.

If those hatchet men and warmongers want to put cultural institutions under the ax, they will. They have been for years.  The only difference is, now we have a president who, for all of the oozing evil he's unleashed, is an honest representation of who we are as country. There's no more delusion. As Plato pointed out in the mouth of his state-murdered teacher, Socrates, democracy most often falls back into dictatorship. In our case, we've got a festering form of fascism that's been part of the American psyche since the Puritans came here believing God gave them this land -- in spite of the fact that there were well established cultures living here already.  This same fascism bubbled to the surface in the mid 1800's (See also: The Know-Nothings). It's bubbled up other times, too.

We've allowed the oligarchs to hold power by turning a blind eye to the exploitation that has made them wealthy and let them control the language and the narrative by which we could condemn them. Those in the best position to truly articulate what is wrong with all this -- artists -- have always been the cross hairs. This too, is nothing new. The moneyed elite always seek to control the arts, whether it's by making it commodity, or by controlling purse strings.

If you're angry about these things, please consider the words of poet Robinson Jeffers , written in 1941:

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.


Our hope -- the only hope really -- is knowing and having faith in the fact that art lasts longer than culture as long as we keep making art and keep passing it on. Art will outlast the dictators as long we pass on the knowledge to make art. Art will outlast because art always does... because someday, art eventually becomes the true historical record of a culture... not manufactured propaganda.

Just remember: your art is more than just a hobby. It is more than a weapon against fascism (which it absolutely is). Your art is part of the long memory. It is bigger than all of us, bigger than the institutions that were supposed to safe guard, and bigger than the engorged ego of one orange fascist and his fans. 

Get to it.



If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
www.amazon.com/author/mickparsons