Friday, November 30, 2012

Secrets & Lies

Secrets and lies, same thing really.  Your own will weigh you down sure enough, but even another person's... you can sense it from way off and feel the weight of it, or like an undertow.  You wade in too deep and you're done, just as sure as if you owned them.  And a person with a secret has a smell about them.  Dogs smell fear and you can too if you pay attention. ~ Anonymous

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More ghosts

The ghosts appear more often lately, as the days are getting shorter, and the weather colder.  I can be awake or asleep but I can always make them out amidst anything else that's happening.  They appear like old, warped, VHS tapes, slipping on the playback head, and when they speak it warbles that same way, like an old home video recording left on a window ledge.

I don't know why they insist on coming back around.  Sometimes it seems like they have something to say, or some unfinished business.  It's entirely possible that they do, but I'm not really sure I want to hear it.  

Some do, in fact, deliver short succinct messages.  No translation or interpretation necessary.  That is rarely less than jarring, and I stop in my tracks, or sit bolt upright in bed unable to go back to sleep.  I think I know how Ebenezer Scrooge felt.

Some seem nostalgic.

Some are apparently just coming around to remind me that they are still angry, or profoundly disappointed.

And some have their own soundtracks, and this song was delivered to my bedside like a gift, wrapped in old black & white newsprint and remorse.  I haven't figured out what the message is, but I haven't slept since it arrived. 

I want no more of these visitations, at least not for the moment.  Or at least they might be more spaced out, allowing time for processing. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pot calling the kettle... um... not quite black, really.

This story and photo originally posted at The Gothamist.

Okay, I admit that it's kind of cute.  A graphic designer in the somewhat ambiguously located East Williamsburg, in the post electoral frenzy of secession petitions, has written a petition for the secession of "East Williamsburg" from the now stodgy, toasty and often ridiculed Williamsburg. 

BUT, there is a certain cringe-worthy thing happening here too.  I don't know how to phrase it delicately so I'm going to come out and say it.  At what point during the transition of a neighborhood do white people moving into predominantly non-white neighborhoods acquire the license to point out newer white people as... gentrification?  What makes the first several thousand more "cool" and less "guilty" than the next several thousand? 

I bought a house on the south end of the Park Slope area in 1996.  I wasn't really thinking of it as what the realtors may call a 'neighborhood in transition.'  It was what we could afford at the time.   I didn't think of myself as a pioneer or an investor, let alone an interloper or a yuppie, but there was little question in the minds of my new neighbors that this is exactly what I was.  The real estate trends that followed for that block and those surrounding bore out all their worst suspicions.

I could tell you how disgusted I was when the agent who first showed us the house brought around other potential buyers (all white) to introduce us as "a family that has kids and feels safe enough to buy here"... but it's not about my perception of myself, is it?  People followed because I bought.  The entire character of the area changed, and I was part of it.

I am the face of gentrification, like it or not.  Just trying to keep it honest. 

You'll not meet a hipster that admits to being a hipster (not that the label means much anymore).  Twenty years ago you never met a yuppie who copped to being a yuppie.  It was always the other guy.   So these articles make me uneasy in their dishonesty.

 I have had three homes, by the way, in the last 10 years, all within blocks of each other.  What neighborhood they are all in changes every few months depending on the whims of the market.  Park Slope, South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights, etc. 

Of gratitude

It seems I've lived long enough to find that it's true.  We are a culture ruled by our purchasing power, and addicted to credit in no less a way than some are addicted to alcohol or nicotine.

The compulsion to buy. 

To own.

To have.

I have less now than at any point in my life, and it's true that while during the recent hurricane this was in many ways an asset, but it doesn't change things.  I am financially in dire straits and it would be dishonest to say that gratitude isn't a greased pig.  It's really easy to overlook things not yet lost or lacking.  It's true that money cant buy happiness, but equally true that poverty can't pay rent.    As of today, rent is once again three months in arrears. 

I can say this though.  I will not go down without my dignity.  You will not find me on the Black Friday lines grappling for garbage I have no use for.  It's not just a lack of money either.  It's not something I ever wanted a part in.

I simply won't. 

At my lowest, it's not where you would find me.  Pride isn't always a bad thing. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Of Class & Classism...

Can 5 minutes of concession speech compensate for 12 months of generally bad manners, public anger and obnoxious condescension?

I'm glad that I'm not the only person who finds the very idea distasteful (click here).

I've always hated the word "classy."   It connotes that only people of means are capable of good manners and comportment and if the last four years of right-wing bile and politicking doesn't disprove that, then nothing will.  It's a horrible word and I've cringed as I've witnessed it creeping into common usage.