I’m meant to be writing, I’ve been meaning to write a wrap up of the year for the last couple of weeks. Then, like the rest of the world I get side tracked by things like how frustrated I am that U-verse is a “thing” and it fucked up my wireless connection and I can’t look things up at the same time as I write.
These are modern problems. In fact they are bourgeois problems. A lot of people all over the world including other writers don’t care if their internet access is next to a wall in a corner of a room on a cut down barstool. Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road” in a van full of junkies. Yet, I find myself letting my minor problems get in the way of what I claim I want to do.
Which has me thinking; I do this a lot. I just moved to a new community. It was a long distance move; at least for me. I had grown up in the community I left and really I was more than ready to move but it was going to be a huge undertaking. I knew this. I counted on all kinds of things. I even in the back of my head counted on the cats we were also relocating not being groovy with being in boxes with handles. In the back of my mind I knew not feeding or watering them for 12 hours probably wouldn’t do a lot towards keeping them…shall we say, dry; which is why I put them in the moving vehicle I wasn’t in. See, I planned.
What I didn’t plan for was how disconnected I would get from the ‘World at Large’ during this time. I found myself just not giving two shits about what was going on in the world, people’s troubles, Christmas woes or wars or whatever, news and all that. I really really liked being down and disconnected and not having to think. Does that make me one of the mindless masses? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
I am thinking that we all need some disconnect. A retreat, some time away, a Walden Pond, whatsoever you want to call it. I took it in the form of nesting in a new home. Almost like a ready to deliver pregnant woman I rushed about worrying not about Palestine but about the draft through the front door of my 100 year old house. I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I stopped several times to scan my thoughts. “Do I feel bad?” ….”Nope.”
Because here’s the thing; we are all of us living in different worlds and in different situations and yeah the crack in my door is an easy fix, Palestine less so, but I have to fix what is in front of me.
Please understand I get that my crack in the door is small, very small problems indeed. It is an example, I’m not going to ramble the bigger problems of my life, and they would either bore or enrage you anyway.
This year as I do look back at it has been filled with people spewing their own problems and thoughts that in a reasonable world would have nothing to do with anyone else all over the interwebs and news outlets. People are accordingly shocked, stunned, angered, disgusted, enraged and caught up in the group rage about things that really don’t matter.
I have mostly felt-Meh. This has been the year in Meh. I sit and wait for real things to bubble to the top. Items of interest that inspire or newsishness that invigorates the masses towards do-ing. But it hasn’t happened. Who the fuck cares that Miley Cyrus is acting like a normal American teen? Wait. This actually did invigorate me for a minute because of Pussy Riot. Let me just point out that Pussy Riot, the Punk Rock band from Russia that everyone who is anyone got behind for free publicity also participated in Miley-like behavior. One of the members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, fucked her fellow art class student at a public biology exhibit, (NSFW video) fully nude, fully fucking, fully pregnant. So shut the fuck up Sinead O’Connor. Really, it’s a matter of who looks cooler even for activists.
Are we surprised that Japan isn’t doing what’s best for the world at Fukushima? Why should they? They were bombed by the Allied (American) forces. Atheists and Christians are at each other’s throats? Snore fest! They always are. Who cares?
Let’s blame it on the increasing legalization of Marijuana. I do not care what anyone says, pot slows you down, mellows you out, which sure is likely a good thing sometimes but really you are going to find people caring more about keeping their drug of choice coming than most anything else.
But onwards here are some things that did stand out to me this year, in no particular order:
This has been on my mind all year. I recently moved from the Northern California college town of Chico. It’s a pretty nice place to live, raise a family have a life. It has been, probably since its inception. It’s located in the breadbasket of Northern California affording it access to good cheap produce, small farm raised meats and dairy products and olives and wine galore. Many, many people who come up for college end up staying or returning when they want to set in roots and this has been a good thing, mostly.
Until recently when somebody(s) without a soul decided there was a problem with homeless people and began instituting or trying to, inhumane and illegal laws around vagrancy and loitering.
Like everywhere the area has seen a rise in homelessness, it’s a sign of the times, a harvest of our investment in people in this country. The homeless you find in Chico will vary from admitted life-long homeless people by choice to returned veterans from every conflict since Vietnam, the mentally ill, the un and underemployed, children, families, single people, people who actually serve you at your local fast food trough, then have no home to go to afterwards.
The problem as I see it began when a very small minority of downtown business owners decided that they didn’t like hosing off their store fronts or waking people up and began a campaign to make people feel unsafe downtown. This came in the form of complaining to their own customers, family members, church congregations, newspapers, radio, etc. Fear, as we know works and it spread. Where never before had I heard anyone feeling afraid to shop downtown, nearly overnight it became a public blight, people couldn’t shop downtown and were “afraid” of shady people.
Let me clarify, there is really nothing scary about downtown Chico in the daytime certainly and I’m not afraid there at night either. But a letter writing campaign had begun, mothers were all of a sudden afraid to take their kids shopping.
This was compounded by new City management from out of the area and when I left laws were being made prohibiting people from sitting anywhere downtown that was not a park. The downtown business association was hiring out of the area security to enforce laws. It bears pointing out that this security while not having the authority to arrest did somehow have the authority to bear arms and threaten and was made up of mostly very young people who aren’t known for their experience with conflict management and patience. Things are bound to get scarier with eighteen year olds with guns pushing people sitting on sidewalks around.
Where I moved, on the northern California coast there is also a “homeless problem” this one has a slightly longer history and is not entirely due to recently economic displacement. There are homeless people everywhere here, in every sort of neighborhood and somehow there isn’t the level of fear that is being sold in areas like Chico where homelessness is newly blooming. Yes there are problems, people die from the elements, each other, themselves, but the fear mongering, I haven’t felt it yet. The hopelessness at being able to fix this problem I do feel and hear about and see. This is something the entire nation is feeling and a “move along” attitude is not going to fix it.
Unemployment Benefits End
Another thing that isn’t going to fix it is ending unemployment benefits for Millions of Americans. The emergency unemployment act that was keeping more than a Million Americans from joining the homeless ranks ended last Saturday (Dec 28, 2013). This no doubt will be the big fight at Capitol Hill that all lobbyist and politicians will use to further their own interests in the coming year. While they do more people will lose their homes and families and lives while those of us lucky enough become more afraid of people who until recently were our neighbors. As I write this I am seeing visions of John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ shanty towns in my head. They have already been popping up around the country and depending where you are, you may even notice them by the nice barbed wire that your town has voted to enclose them in.
It’s one thing to believe that we cannot support every human being that has no employment; it’s another all together to villianize people who cannot possibly make a working wage even if they do work. I’m looking at you Wal-Mart.
For those of you who have never been on unemployment or are outside of the U.S. unemployment generally pays 60% of what you made when you were let go, fired, downsized, etc. from your work. So in the example of an average person who worked above minimum wage at say, some manufacturing plant or another; this is about $1600/month. The average suburban one bedroom apartment rental in the U.S. in $800-1200/ month. That doesn’t leave a lot to cover all the rest. Don’t forget most of these people have children who cannot work dependant on them.
But, people don’t seem to care. In the case of the homeless problem in Chico above one business owner actually non-sarcastically (and likely accidentally) quoted Ebenezer Scrooge stating “There are programs for these people and they refuse to use them.”
What we are going to actually see is an already over-impacted social service system unable to meet the needs of millions more people and their families. School systems already going broke will be required by law to provide food and access to learning materials for the families and that my friends is going to impact you comfortable homeowners who are paying property taxes. I’m quite sure there will be gnashing of teeth and refusal to vote for higher property taxes to take care of that kindly mechanic who is now down on his luck. We don’t like looking future in the face after all.
New Diagnostic Measures
All this thought of homelessness and joblessness has me depressed so it’s a perfect time to bring up the fact that the Psychiatric community rolled out their new DSM volume #5 this year. It is full of supercilious, unnecessary diagnoses designed to make you feel like you have something other than generalized depression. Because let’s face it, in a land where we love designer drugs and designer jeans, of course we want designer mental health problems.
The Mental Health service community has gone to great lengths to train practitioners in the new manual and like to point out that it fills in the gaps where people were falling through the cracks of service. What this really means is now people who would have been told they need exercise and to talk to someone, maybe get a cat or a friend, make some goals; now has a medically billable number for their heartache. Thanks to Obamacare we have a mandatory national health care plan primed and ready to make some money using those new medical access codes! Yay for everyone! (Who is in the field of making money off of pain and suffering.)
It’s not that the DSM is all bad, it is simply that the changes are unnecessary; make it easier for untrained practioners to “diagnose” people with mental health disorders instead of spending time getting to know them and their backgrounds. Also let’s not forget the DSM was never, ever the only standard of practicing psychiatry. There are all sorts of other measures for diagnosis that fell by the wayside thanks to big money and financial backing for publication of the DSM. Many old school psychiatrists feel that some of the other early manuals were actually better, but now we’ll never know.
This year also seemed to be the year of Christians pulling the “angry white man” ploy and pointing fingers at everything and everybody in a bid to be the underdog. If we are looking at combined numbers of Christians everywhere this simply cannot be true. They still hold second place as the largest religion in the world, particularly if you group all the various sects together under the banner of Christ believers. (Which none of them like, they don’t actually play well together.)
Yet this year, somehow they became the bullied, the odd man out, and the fringe. This in turn began what might be the stupidest war of words between Christians and Atheists.
Where before, Atheists appealed to reason and failing that took a live and let live attitude, this year things got mean and somewhat crazy. Atheist churches started sprouting up which kinda defeats the purpose of Atheism. Christians fired back with the good old “you’re taking out rights away.” Which make zero sense and Atheists started culling their Christian friends for it, singling people out and outing them like they were in the closet. This actually happened on both sides of the fence.
Muhammad and his followers however are still enjoying the sanctity of privacy as nobody is going to touch his image any time soon.
This can all be blamed on Attempted Rapture
Is this theory based in fact? No more than any other theory put forth by people in their arguments. But if people can argue that there is a great cabal trying to get rid of Christianity because President Obama chose to say “Holiday Tree” rather than “Christmas Tree.” Then I can blame this all on the remastering and republishing of Attempted Rapture.
Indeed, I believe only demonic forces would attempt to rip apart a story of a young man’s struggle with growing up, loss of faith, loss of love, finding of love and losing it again and again and Oh God AGAIN!!!- into a cleverly camouflaged manual on tearing apart the fabric of American down home redundant fundamentalist values.
The story itself is so sweet and heartrending; a young man finds that running away from home to the big city was not all he thought it would be. As in the tale of the prodigal son, he returns home to find his father and mother receive him with open arms. Also as with the prodigal son he returns to find everyone else he knew treat him with a mixture of jealously, disdain, fear and a certain longing for what they cannot reach for themselves.
The demonic forces that surely got into the writer Mitchell Warren really work their magick on the “Saint” version which is marketed directly to the righteous. Cleverly it tells people, “Come, this is the safe version.” Kinda like those cleaned up Hollywood movies Mormons marketed in the 90’s. But, what it takes away is hope and feeling and any sort of redemptive spirit. But readers blithely do not notice because they feel safe in words that shun unspeakable acts.
And there are unspeakable acts aplenty in the “Sinner” version of this masterfully crafted monstrosity. It is in essence a how-to guide to corrupting innocence as well as a sex manual the like we have not seen since the Kama Sutra. The earnest anti-hero Hal is made to seem so sympathetic that of course those sinners reading this book will identify with him want to be him; but a better him and will of course fail.
The point being that like the bible, the release of these tomes into the world at this time surely portends…something. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if by chance anyone like say, Sarah Palin got a hold of this book, she would hold it up as an attack on Christianity. Atheists too would be extremely put out by it. Atheist mover and shaker Rodney Florence from Austin, TX would likely decry that this book is set in his state at all and that it is obviously an attack on all godless atheists in Texas designed to make Christians light up their torches and build fires under local usurping Atheists.
No, this divisive book is very definitely troublesome and should be dealt with before it distracts us in the coming year, furthering the ridiculous religious wars already distracting us from doing things like feeding people and helping them with their holiday spirits.
Let’s make 2014 a better year, a less Meh year by pro-actively banning Attempted Rapture in all its versions. The world will be a better place and perhaps we will stop all the in-fighting, craziness and get down to worrying about each other as people and not objects.
*The opinions expressed regarding Attempted Rapture cannot be validated, we have no statistics on its effects on the human condition and/or Demonic influences. There is no conclusive evidence that the author Mitchell Warren was in anyway possessed or demon influenced (although we have heard some compelling stories about him being spotted late night at crossroads across rural Texas).