The US attack on Syrian chemical weapons facilities last Saturday garnered little viewership from the American public. Certainly the Stormy Daniels interview had better ratings; television in general has lost its centrality in our lives. I couldn't help thinking back to the Desert Storm airstrikes we watched from our sofas with a bit of nervousness and yet the detachment you feel watching someone else's video game.
It was a small maybe calculated distraction from the smeary smutty onslaught of the latest Trumpery-- an executive wielding of power from our clown-at-the-helm who spent the earlier part of the day bashing James Comey in characteristic unpresidential excrement-slinging-- his usual weapon-of-choice. Comey... with a quasi-presidential-scale faux-pas on his permanent conscience, or whatever the political version of poor judgement might be called... will have the last laugh in massive book-sales; there will surely be a seven-figure job for him out there...
Then there was the Zuckerberg testimony... the wide-eyed, studious false sincerity of a billionaire who sold out our privacy, claiming his innocence with every sycophantic reply, sugared over with
an overdose of courtesy and those huge, bloodshot deer-eyes dripping with candor, watery from his contact lenses. It rivaled the Steve Cohen testimony... he didn't remember, he didn't know... who was actually less culpable than these Facebook thieves. Nothing in this world can be undone. The sins of the billionaires have shifted the axis of our political and social morality. Nothing is free; everything is bait... and we like fish have hook-holes in our palates. Nothing will ever be the same. The end of the innocence, what little there was in the well-trod sites and pages of New York before the 70's, the 90's my friends visit frequently... anything but this.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the vast majority of medical and drug trials are not reproducible... that data is manipulated, cooked... so we are given medications and treatments to benefit manufacturers, and do little for our health which is nothing but a vague platform for massive financial gain. We are the poor guinea pigs, obediently swallowing things, following instructions like schoolchildren... led down useless paths in our quest to cope with pain and the sicknesses that are byproducts of our culture. There will be a small slap on the wrist.. and then we will go on... Zuckerberg's net worth will dip and then re-surge, as he promises vigilance, having thrown us all under the bus irrevocably.
An eight-year-old this week brought a knife to school and slashed his fellow students. Sort of a flip-side to the story of the pre-school teacher who threatened a toddler with a slashing. As I read the online version of the eight-year-old article, a huge pop-up ad accompanied the text-- some new state-of-the-art men's underwear in my face, eclipsing the news... like some kind of obscene big-brother shout-out-- the incongruities of this life-- the disconnects and random juxtapositions, the senseless acts of violence which seem to stem from some underlying emotional seismic rumbling-- the discontent, the warped and confusing version of democracy that is America. How does anyone process, prioritize these disproportionate images, the flash-like brainwashing of Instagram-style imagery... pop Goddesses and queens with very little content but huge coverage-- Beyonce and her untouchable Coachella moment... the new Statue of Liberty? And it is as though she believes her own legend. The Midas ass.
Where is compassion, where is humanity when the great God of money seems to have cast a golden shadow over us all, like the looming sky-touching penthouses which shadow and obscure our values and connections? What is truth when lies dominate.. and win? No longer does the tortoise come out on top.... they are choking on bad meds... while the hares are full-speed ahead with Ritalin and fat purses. I see fewer and fewer real faces--- features altered and tweaked, bodies re-shaped-- even our most beautiful actors and actresses are compelled to make themselves more beautiful... Television ads baffle me-- everyone is being urged to change their emotional state, their skin, their hair... Some days I feel as though I'm conducting a social experiment... trying to maintain a truthful commitment to my values, my modest goal to leave something behind in this world-- not a giant monument or a building facade, but a few songs or lines or poetry that might somehow find their way into a heart and sit there, like a tired passenger-- like company. I am left behind... no seat for me on this bullet train of the culture which lies to me, which poses and manipulates and convinces... we must all be beautiful, we must all be young.. we must all watch this and that and have this and that... and those that cannot are angry and bitter and desperate. All of us unhealthy... and there is contagion.
Yesterday on Lenox Avenue I collected 41 pennies between 110th and 126th... lying there on sidewalks like a trail left by some lost angel, like tiny sentries of some lost currency-- little copper discs that somehow made sense although very little cents... in 2018 terms... no one else wanted them... and I collected them.. from the damp street.. like tiny rescues... I tried to make some meaning of the small weight they became, of the cumulative purchase power... of the fact that they were free, they were gifts.. outside the Dollar store where people were hoarding bargains they mostly don't need-- piling packages of cookies and chips and frozen dinners into huge sacks... I wanted to stop them... to tell them something... but no one is going to listen to an aging woman who seems poor and powerless and maybe a bit mad. I am mad.... I am angry-- not slasher-angry but beating-heart upset. A penny for my thoughts here? No, actually, not even that.