Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cataracts

Tonight I went to see an eye doctor I haven’t seen in 12 years. He doesn’t take my pathetic overpriced insurance, but I remembered he was a thorough and reasonable professional and it turns out his fee for a consult is exactly the same as my overpriced insurance co-pay. Never in my 25-year health-insurance past have I spent more quality time in a doctor’s office. He prescribed 1 (that’s right) contact lens, so I don’t waste money on the other which I don’t need… and told me not to bother changing my eyeglasses because my eyes are in flux and I’d be throwing money away. Then he told me he’d mail a paper bill--- he doesn’t take plastic. I thought I was in a time-warp.

The bad news, on the other hand, is that I’m developing a cataract. Apparently I have what amounts to a yellow filter over my eyes, which affects my perception of color. Not only am I becoming the oldest rock musician in New York City, but all those years of spots and blue lights have taken a toll. When he used the word, I thought about Niagara Falls— that kind of cataract. The only meaning when I was young and invincible. Before spellcheck. I thought of the cataract-tears that fell this morning for Ted Kennedy, the ones I cried for the lost and missing children in my life, the tragic suicides of all the pained artistic souls I worshipped over the years. They couldn’t take the harsh light, couldn’t afford the prescription shades. Blink, Lou Reed.

I wonder if Ted Kennedy with all his health issues had cataracts because it seemed that he saw things with a bit too much clarity over the years. It bothers me, in some way, that his presidential timing was never quite right, and I wonder why the Powers-That-Be decided it was prudent to let the right Democrat in this time round. I watched archival footage of Ted giving that speech, way back in the Carter era, acknowledging that the average American family would have been bankrupted in a few months if faced with the Kennedy family medical bills. I watched him pledging to uphold the Democratic platform which guaranteed every American decent health care. Because when it comes down to it, what good are Constitutional rights if you’re too ill to exercise them?

That speech was filmed in an era when words were spoken live—- then televised. Not twittered, emailed, texted. Grammar mattered. Rhetoric, delivery. He suffered plenty of press and political crucifixions—- maybe more than his brothers, because he lived so much longer— and perhaps wore his tragic flaws more honestly.

Not that I have abandoned Obama. But I cannot fathom his doing business with the Bernankes and Geithners and Goldman crooks any more than I could stomach a presidential golf game with Ahmadinejad. No spellcheck there.

What annoys me tonight… people on TV who say ‘this is a whole nother level’… who are maybe the same people who say ‘how good of a pitch was that?’ What’s with the ‘of’? The careless misspellings posted in bold typeface on our Breaking-News TV caption-headlines. For a brief minute, Senator Kennedy was daed. Walter Cronkite would not have made such a typo.

But back to the Democratic ‘platform’ promise from 30 years ago. What has happened to blur the vision of Americans? Among other things, what happened was Reagan et. al. Then Bush et. al. The fact that the Dow moved up some 10,000 points and clouded our judgment. The fact that biotech and health insurance stocks were putting such enormous profits in the pockets of the Loudmouths that healthcare and every thing else for the increasing rich was affordable and deductible and the poor…well, let them eat cake anyway because their teeth will fall out before they reach Medicare eligibility.

Ted might have had a brain tumor, but he had a memory, also. His parting policy statement was a reminder about universal health care. Will this shine through his death? Or will the message be lost in the media?

Do you think he was too ill to know that Annie Liebovitz who photographed his family is now bankrupt? That her catalogue, like that of the living Michael Jackson, is in jeopardy and Goldman Sachs is now offering to bail her out of her uncompromising financial obligation? They will buy this ‘toxic’ loan like an anteater lickety splits his pray. And they will turn this around, make a huge profit, humiliate her. The whole situation sucks, but did she not see that the words ‘Art’ and ‘Capital’ do not belong together except in a world where ‘US Treasury’ and ‘Goldman Sachs’ cannot go for more than a page of text without being linked?

Cataracts. Annie wears designer glasses. I’ll bet her doctors will exchange a photo or even a Polaroid for a life-saving surgery. But don’t give in, Annie. They have your negatives but they don’t have you. I always thought you were a sell-out and I actually had your huge old coffee-table book on a pile of library-donations. I just might keep it now. In a few months I might only see in black and white anyway. My insurance won’t pay for the surgery, and no vision correction will let us see, when we pull the voting booth lever, which candidate is running on the G-S ticket.

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