I slept on a couch last night. The damnthing had a spring digging into my back all night, however the room was cold enough that my layers took most of the pressure off, mostly my blue sweatshirt and my black pea coat. That said, I had a bruise the size of one of those small oranges on my back when I checked. I’ve slept on some derelict couches in my time and i should have considered myself lucky that it was inside and that the rest of the couch was plush and soft. If you can believe my indignity, somehow I wasn’t feeling to lucky.
Only the night before, my business associate and I had the back window of our car shot out and nearly run off the road by some god-damned maniac in a big red truck. Nothing like the outskirts of lower Seattle to get your blood up.
The couch I slept on was a result of my apparent alcoholism. I haven’t been to a doctor in over five years but the woman said that I wouldn’t live to be forty if I didn’t quit drinking. I’m thirty nine.
Anyways, that couch was located in an old spot called the Philosopher’s Lounge. It was like a club for people that liked to sit around and drink. Real distraction free type space to stretch out your mind. In actuality it was little more than a locked room with a code on the back end of an alleyway. But I knew the number and somehow my drunk ass put it in right.
Not many people know about the old P.L. which is good. There would be a hell of a lot more bums there. Then there would have been no luck for this bum when he’s nearly killed for the umpteenth time and drinks away the stresses of life afterward. I guess I do feel lucky for that god-damned couch.
I came to around twelve thirty in the PM. The sun from outside the two slits of window at the top third of the far wall showed the dingy bases of buildings that rise up above the highway systems. The light was dim by the time it made it to the windows. It showed the dinge of lower Seattle for what it was. In the grey shades you feel the dirty drugs and desperate minds all grappling beneath what matters. A world that ever tries to reach higher: to Middle Seattle where things are a little better, but really all that is in everyone’s mind is Upper Seattle. That place where nothing stops you from seeing the sky and the light isn’t second hand.
[cue the reporter voice] Yes upper Seattle, that magical place where air speeders, hover cars, and sleek monorails zoom between polished chrome bridges and glass skyways. Where all is well !
Down here in the dirt and ashes. It’s like a fuckin shitty night to that ideal day.
I stumbled out of the old P.L. and turned up the hood beneath that black pea coat. The dingy cold I was accustomed to did not wait to introduce itself to me. The fabric of the couch was all over me as I contemplated smoking my last cigarette. Sometimes I feel like people try to kill me so often, and know my address so easily, that I really am homeless. I’ve slept on the street a few times to shake goons.
I passed under the concrete sky, past old broken signs of abandoned or chained up storefronts. The wind was stagnant, wet, cold. Drips pounded down from the cracked highways above boring holes into the cracked sidewalks and streets. Their consent ritual falling everywhere.
This is how the sixties started.
We’ve been told to trust Big Brother, that the government and the corporations know more. That the rich are smart. That we should be thankful we’ve got flat screens.
They’ve scared you. Frightened you into believing your life is at risk from external forces only they can protect you from. If the government doesn’t scan your phone calls and your e-mails, doesn’t break every law in the Constitution, our whole nation will go under and you with it. The truth is it has. We’ve lost our country and we’ve got to take it back.
There’s a fiction that musicians will lead the way. But they’re usually last. It’s the abused, those unjustly affected by the system, who revolt first. That’s right, the sixties began with civil rights demonstrations. Which is why high-paid NFL players protest the chokehold but no musician with millions of Twitter followers has written a song about it. Oh, you wannabes, don’t forward me your Ferguson song. You’re doing it for you, to get noticed. That’s what’s wrong with this nation, all the individuality, we’re only powerful when we come together.
Like with unions. Imperfect organizations, sure. But now the corporations have scared workers to the point where they refuse to organize. They’re just gonna move the plant elsewhere. To some state that will bend over backwards with tax incentives.
And I don’t want to hear any of this right wing Republican b.s. about downsizing the government, it was under your watch, under Bush and Cheney, that this torture took place. You’ll pay zillions for “safety,” for military equipment that ends up in your hometown, all the while bitching that somehow the government must be stopped from providing a safety net, I mean which way do you want it?
As for how long it’s taken…
One can argue strongly the sixties didn’t begin until 1966, when the antiwar movement took hold. It’s six years after the recession. How’s your job? How’s your lifestyle? Things improving for you?
And I’m gonna get tons of hate e-mail. But this too is no different from the sixties. When those drinking the kool-aid just couldn’t believe we were involved in an unwinnable war, that state governments were institutionalizing racism. Those who scream loudest wake up last, never forget that.
Artists have been marginalized in an economy that’s all about money. But those in Ferguson had no money, they were protesting based on what they felt, what they perceived. Why is it that only those with nothing to lose will stand up for what’s right?
Something is happening here and it’s sure not exactly clear.
But the truth is we haven’t seen protests like this since the sixties. Police abuse in Ferguson and NYC is emblematic of a police state wherein there’s a camera on every corner and you’re guilty until proven innocent. Just ask a black man, he’ll tell you.
And you’ll tell the black man that he’s not working hard enough, that he doesn’t have family values. But you’re clueless as to his plight.
As is the Supreme Court, which dismantles voting rights laws saying racism is dead. Rings a bit hollow now, doesn’t it?
As for Snowden… Someone’s got to break the law. Because sometimes the law protects the guilty. Because life is gray and when the institutions trump emotions you’re screwed.
So we’re fighting around the world to bring our lifestyle to them. It’s time we look in the mirror.
Oh wait. We are!
Just not anybody with a dime.
And the sixties taught us you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. If your wealth is based on shipping jobs overseas, you’re part of the problem.
Right now the internet is driving the generation gap. Oldsters are all on Facebook when their progeny have moved on to Snapchat. As it always was. They were listening to Perry Como while we were listening to the Four Seasons.
And then the Four Seasons were trumped, overnight, by the Beatles.
And then the San Francisco bands raised money for causes as opposed to putting it in their coffers. Believing what’s right is most important. Knowing that music comes before money. And that personal expression is everything.
So while you’re sitting there in your cubicle, or at home dreaming up your app, ask yourself, what are you doing to improve our country, what are you doing to help your brother, what are you doing to make tomorrow better than today?
We asked those questions every day in the sixties.
People are starting to ask them now.
You know how dogs will keep fetching or chase things around until they are worn out, or how cats can’t help themselves from swatting at fast moving tiny things, even though it’s clearly a jangly ball on a stick…I wonder if humans have one of those futile instincts we can’t stop ourselves from doing….
It’s probably just vices, sex, or violence.
But that does not mean we don’t have fun things we cant help ourselves with! (besides the Vice and Sex part). I mean there is music and art and good food. We find infinite ways to be creative. And maybe that is humanity’s futile instinct, to be creative and try new things until we’ve done it all.
But, It’s probably just vices, sex, or violence.
I mean I MEAN, we have all these thoughts spinning in our heads that we need to drown out or let go just to live without going mad. What do we do with our time? What does it all mean? Who are we as individuals? Is it worth it? Maybe our futile instinct is questioning! We cant help but question things, even if we know the answer. Looking up at the stars and feeling that wistful humility of knowing how much more is possible. Or maybe it’s like…like…
It’s probably just vices, sex, or violence.