…as in: perceived zeitgeist, ambiance, and…everyday experience?
A week or two ago I was reminded of this song, and as happens from to time, I’ve found it impossible to dislodge from my mind and heart. Dement uses her stellar voice to bring an understated pathos to her simple and tender narrative of the tragic demise of her town: ‘goodnight’. Yes, it’s Americana nostalgia, but it did cause my mind to cartwheel with imagery of reports concerning what’s been going on in towns and cities all over the nation, and simply put: degradation, manifesting in A Thousand Points of Dark: Goodnight America.
In my town there have been a lot of changes since the banks were bailed out, and The People were sacrificed to feed the Plutocracy. ‘House for Sale’ signs are ubiquitous; so many are unemployed that the resultant anxiety is almost palpable. People are leaving, and their replacements, if any, have largely been the ‘comfortable class’, demanding services that have raised our land taxes higher and higher. New businesses open, close X months later, and others open in their place. Local residents, and to an extent, the town council, are fighting to keep a frigging Dollar Store from moving in.
Recently a gold milling operation on the edge of town was shut down, the EPA says not to worry about the contamination (good-o, then!), and to Stay Tuned; yes, the outrageous saga continues.
Twenty miles west, the county seat’s Main Street businesses, so many of which were driven out of business by two Big Box stores are now second-hand stores, or just boarded up. Mr. wendydavis reports that the building supply stores are almost always empty of customers; food prices continue to rise.
Bees and butterflies have become scarce, the weather as warm and dry as I’ve ever seen it: we didn’t have what would be called ‘winter’.
But what’s going on in your town lately?
Have you, for instance, noticed public schools closings, and corporate charter ones taking their places as in Chicago and elsewhere? Are staffs being downsized, and class sizes growing? Are there strip malls boarded up as in so many cities, with ‘Vacancy’ signs so old they’re tattered? Have Foreclosure notices become the norm? Are soup kitchens too busy, or local food banks stressed, often sporting bare shelves? Have yard sales decreased, with folks holding onto items they may once have replaced casually?
Perhaps you live in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Youngstown, or other cities where “officials are tearing down tens of thousands of vacant buildings, many perfectly habitable”, especially in formerly industrial cities that have been losing population hand over fist (some of the figures are staggering). Yes, shreds of urban agriculture might ensue, but still, this sort of alleged ‘Creative Destruction’ Gentrification’ and waste rankles mightily. Eminent domain afoot? Who can say?
Perhaps ‘your town’ is Detroit, declared ‘bankrupt’ in mid-2013, ravaged in a ‘Capitalist Conspiracy’ (‘criminal’ anatomy here). Or in Jackson, MI, screwed by Elitists of Both Colors’ ‘Gentrification’ (BAR).
Do you live near Eden, NC, where 80,000 tons of Duke Energy’s coal ash broke through the bottom of an ash waste pond and poured into the Dan River? Do you have safe drinking water yet, and do you know what will happen to the river and lake bottoms affected or the soil you garden and farm in? Or in the Cape Fear watershed where North Carolina regulators, days later, cited Duke Energy for illegally and deliberately dumping 61 million gallons of toxic coal ash waste into a tributary of the Cape Fear River, which provides drinking water for several cities and towns in the state? Oh, pity you, if so!
Or worse, you might just live in West Virginia or Kentucky, having been flooded with toxins and carcinogens resulting from Mountaintop coal explosions filling the air and waterways (sing it, Willie).
Have judges in your town criminalized poverty as is happening with increasing frequency? Meet just a few of the victims of the modern day Debtor Prisons; see the 2014 Poverty Map! What condition is your local infrastructure in: bridges, roads, any of The Commons?
Has your town been rapidly losing population due to: i) jobs moving to ‘right to work’ states, ii) massive deportations courtesy of the Obama administration, or an increase in HI-B visas, iii) massive foreclosures and family ‘relocations’ to friends and relatives’ houses? By the way, have I mentioned: ‘Fuck you, Obama, and your secret admiration for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’ lately? Or is your town near the Mexican border, and are you being buzzed by drones?
Some of you might live downstream from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and its leaking pools, or on the Gulf Coast where BP was just given the Green Light to plunder the ocean again, while the Deepwater Disaster (and ‘despite 11 counts of manslaughter and ongoing devastation of coastal communities) is still unfolding. It seems that the EPA offered them a Deal They Just Couldn’t Refuse (small wonder: because Capitalism).
Is your town experiencing angst and fear from recent spates of police brutality during protests and vigils? More may surface soon, but this video is from a 50-person protest in solidarity with folks in Albuquerque who’ve been protesting trigger-happy cops there, and especially the straw-breaking, ruthless extermination of James Boyd (video here). Along with having apparently goofed around with the APD’s website, Anonymous had called for solidarity protests. In Denver, it looked like this: ghastly and brutal:
You might want to read further reportage and watch the archived Livestream here. Will the Occupiers in your town participate in ‘the Re-Occupy Wave over the next several months, or have some reservations? Surely there will be plans for dealing with the cops, including photographing everything.
We’ve been discussing Oppression Art and Resistance art here recently, and although many of you may have already seen it since it’s gone viral, this poster installation art by an arts collective in Pakistan thrilled the socks off me, even as it tore my heart apart.
Stay safe always, but don’t give up the fight: “You must jam the gears of the Machine”, as has been counseled from as far back as Mario Salvo. “Don’t be the Machine’s raw material!” Resist and create alternatives as you’re able.
(cross-posted at My.Firedoglake.com)