Monday, February 22, 2010

Brother Can You

Impossible to speak of the present economy without Depression-era photo of long dreary line... 

The New York Times calls them "the new poor." I predict the fashion industry will soon reflect our so-called impoverished. And will they, sitting around at home for a couple of years or more, start to think and vote differently?
Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.
Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.
Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.
Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains.
This next quote strikes me as especially sad. It describes how a woman's life has taken a sharpish turn because of over two years of unemployment.
She has learned to live without the prescription medications she is supposed to take for high blood pressure and cholesterol. She has become effusively religious — an unexpected turn for this onetime standup comic with X-rated material — finding in Christianity her only form of health insurance.
“I pray for healing,” says Ms. Eisen, 57. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got to go with what you know.”
It's sad that the Times reporter chose this — the foul-mouthed standup material returns to the LORD! is  a cliche, I feel — to indicate the woman battening down hatches as it were, for a long and uncertain span of her life to come. But setting aside my effete literary pretensions and embracing my naive political ideals: this past year we have watched that urgent, that alarmingly overdue, that essential political reform on health care, kicked to death in public by the paid thugs of the Republican Party, abetted by the (at best) ineffectual Democratic Party (some of whom kicked health care reform just as vigorously as the GOP killers), all of them paid off by the HMOs. 

Oh, and then they dress it up — for whom to believe, I wonder? — as Americans being artful sceptics, eying up the Obama reforms and bein' not-keen-on-government-run-things... (you can almost hear beans being eaten round a camp fire with a farting chorus). 

In the nation that turned shopping into a faith, an art form, a therapy, please, Mr. Republican Party, show me an American who longs to go on paying MORE FOR LESS.

Somewhere Becoming Rain

Above: what do you see? It's a mountain. OK... read on.

Everyone involved in this seems to have acted excessively, perhaps mother included: Police officers in the Bronx burst in on a man who was beating his 61-year-old mother with a frying pan Sunday night and fatally shot him, the police said (-- New York Times).

Sighted on: 14th Street across from the Apple Store, the hand of the mysterious Godbuns.

Confused by: I walked past a building in Harlem, on which a sign stated: "Little Sisters of the Assumption." Not being Catholic, I am frequently confused by that Catholic meaning of assumption, which is to be whisked into Heaven. Primary definition for me has always been: a taking to or upon oneself of an opinion, position So for a moment I thought of a roomful of old nuns chattering away: "Well, I used rat poison instead of yeast but I assume it's not going to kill us." "Oooh, yes, I figured since the horizon looks flat, that the Earth can't be round." "Of course Mary was assumed into Heaven... at least we always assumed she was assumed..."

The above image is of a part of the Alps, the Bernina Range. I was trying to find a different photograph, one of a series by Swiss photographer Balthasar Burkhardt, who has a reputation for his aerial photography of immense things both natural and man-made. I used this one instead, because I could not find the Burkhardt image I liked online.

What you see is a vast layering of snow and ice draped like a bed sheet over the knees, elbows, of the Alps. Millions of tons of snow simply hang there at steep angles, reminding us that somewhere, everywhere, in our world and universe there are enormous forces of pent-up energy that right now are simply motionless, standing perfectly still