Kelly and I have been in three major American cities in this last week, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Then we have been in literally dozens of smaller towns. We have put up poetry posters as we travelled and we have just tried to keep up with the giant American landscape of never ending Donut Shops, blocked and jammed highways and interstates, and the ongoing non essential babble of a country trying to come to terms with itself and trying to sell all and sundry commercially manufactured goods ex China, imperialistic aims and desires that make no sense whatsoever, reality television shows that are so far from reality that one wonders about moving to the moon, a drug war that threatens to tear everything apart in one final big bang, and a headline every second day about someone ‘going postal’ and shooting a dozen or more innocent bystanders.
No psychiatric medicine will cure this.
To add to the complications, the new Salinger book has only been out two or three weeks, there is a new Thomas Pynchon, Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Volume 2 is due to ‘drop’ anytime soon and people all around you will stop you dead cold in the street by their capacity to wear clothing that set them back several thousand dollars and the cars cost more than Ecuador.
In these last few days we have met taxi drivers from Venezuela, Ghana, and Mexico and a waitress from Kenya. The Venezuelan guy was about 45 and swore wildly that he’d never get married again, the dude from Ghana wanted to go home but couldn’t afford too (“I have been here 25 years and I am still waiting on my American dream”), and the Mexican guy complained bitterly that his cable connection was down. The Kenyan woman stood astounded whilst watching a news report about a lonely setting in a mall in far off Nairobi that she couldn’t do anything about.
I have been down to Lake Michigan this morning for a bit of a run. I am still trying to get my energy back after two treatments of interferon for Hepatitis C and every day is a battle of sorts. I try not to complain about it too much because I realize that most of the world is in pain of one sort or another and it’s only a select few who think that one more donut will make it better.
In learning how to move and to run, I find it’s better to not read any of the magazines which offer advice and nor do I watch any television shows about health and fitness. All these things (advice, advice, and advice), I find will make you sicker and more stuck than you were when you first started off. I know for a fact that someone will pop up soon and pronounce broccoli as poisonous and the reason why we are all getting fat and sluggish. It is all just part of the ongoing and unnecessary babble about how a life is to be lived. There are 57 channels and there is nothing on.
However, just outside my front door in Chicago this morning there is an incredible amount of greenery in a park of several hundred acres just over the road. And I always feel better when I get moving and I get out amongst some green, green grass and trees. Henry Thoreau I am not, but I am not Joey Ramone either.
America is a country involved in a very sophisticated war with itself. The war to me seems to be between ‘beauty’ as a concept and the nasty excitability of many people who would push over every barricade and break down all social order until we get to a ‘true’ and ‘fair’ state. People above them are putting in drones to make sure it doesn’t get too nasty and the donut shops are thriving as people use fat as a natural barrier against everything that would threaten us. The dude from Ghana said that he had heard there were now more fast food joints in Lagos than there were in Hoboken. So, there is no escape.
The only way to participate in all of this is to not participate. Yesterday me and Kelly went to see the ‘Salinger’ movie and this reinforced to me the idea to cut myself loose from the dominant culture. This notion, of course, is not easy because we are surrounded by phoniness and bullshit at every turn. One knows a real person when one comes down the pike because they are usually absolutely barking mad and more often than not homeless and inordinately soft and gentle….like we all used to be before we had to armour ourselves against the very foul winds of modern life.
My problem is that I feel like J.D. Salinger did but I’m not famous and I’ve done nothing. Still, it is a feat for me to go outside the front door every day knowing that I will be met with disappointment after disappointment and if I want anything real then I have to go and find someone who is homeless to talk too….usually they are great poets and Ed (photo attached) was one. Ed is soft and gentle and wouldn’t hurt a fly. That’s how I like them.
The battle against obesity will never be won until the last donut has been consumed.
Thank you for reading my blog Kemo Sabe.
Chicago, September 27th
A Tinker’s Cuss started life on the Phantom Billstickers Facebook page – it’s a new feature here at Off The Tracks and we’re repeating the earliest posts before carrying on with new words from Jim Wilson.