Sunday, January 31, 2010

90s Nostalgia

I can’t believe it, said it could never happen, still don’t think it has in any traditional sense, but I can’t deny it: lately, I’ve been feeling some sort of half-assed 90s nostalgia.

I hated the 90s. Man, I just hated that decade. So many things went wrong that decade, especially in music. But also, political correctness fully-flowered, as did this shithead Democrat/Republican, black/white way of seeing the world. People surely felt that way before this, but the second term of the Clinton presidency, in which blow jobs and the meaning of word “is” became hazy in their definitions, was surely when all this kicked in, spurred on by the success of Rush Limbaugh and such on the conservative side.

The thing with nostalgia, though, is it disregards politics and the state of the world or nation at the time. The most nostalgic time of my life, my childhood in the 70s, had virtually nothing to do with “the tenor of the times.” I was a fucking kid; I didn’t care about Nixon or Watergate or the gas crisis or inflation or whatever. Since then, I’ve realized there is shit going on in every decade that inspires “end of the world” scenarios among intelligent people. Even something like the ’72 Olympics … I have great memories of emulating those games with other kids in the neighborhood, along with the birth of modern-day terrorism that occurred there. We all get by somehow.

The 90s started for me in my mid-20s and ended in my mid-30s. That was pretty much my first adult decade, nip to tip. It felt ragged in many senses. Getting adjusted to real adulthood is a mouthful of shit sandwich those first few years. When I moved to New York, I was living in the Bronx, which may as well have been Mars to most people I knew, and did have an isolating effect on my life in that sense. Opened me up in many other key ways, and taught me about the city in ways most white folks don’t get. And it took me awhile to acclimate to white-collar work – something that’s second nature to me now. But it’s still a way of life I can’t fully embrace with its meaningless rules and deranged money-based value system, despite making reasonably good money doing my thing. Being organized and calm has always served me well in NYC.

I don’t mean to paint the decade as wall-to-wall depression for me. In fact, I was happy most of the time. I learned how to keep my head on straight and recognize the best attitude was just to live life, not pass judgment on myself or sink into depressions based solely on negative self perceptions. Frankly, it was pretty easy as NYC is home to so many manically depressed people, and they set a bad example that’s obvious and preferable to avoid at all costs. Really no different from my childhood and teen life in Pennsylvania: never had much to begin with, never had much to lose, when they put me in a box (hopefully) many years from now, all I’ll have will be my body, and even that will go.

It was an awkward time, which is good for me to remember, as I look at photos of myself in top physical condition and wonder where in the hell that went! Still in good shape – honestly, better physical condition now than I was then – but built more like a wide receiver than a middle linebacker. So when I see those pictures of me smiling in the sun, I can also recall I had my nuts in a twist over some woman who was just as crazy and off as I was. People tend to forget the 20s are very much a learning decade, learning how to be an adult, and it seems like as time goes on, that age of adulthood keeps veering closer (and maybe even past) 30 as opposed to 25 or 26. I can see this now in twentysomethings, especially the more arrogant ones, thinking you can’t fool me, douchebags, I know how insecure and lost you really are … because I was the same way, only much less of a prick!

Musically? I can remember being just on the wrong side of Nirvana. Still recall seeing that album cover for the first time, in the now-defunct Record Warehouse (or something warehouse), this cheapy knock-off chain in Manhattan, their store on 42nd and 5th, where I bought the first Stax Volt box set even though I was unemployed and hurting financially (perhaps the dumbest thing I did in the 90s, albeit with the best consequences). But that Nirvana cover … the naked baby, underwater, going for a dollar bill. Very cool stuff.

So imagine the let-down when I finally heard the music and realized these guys weren’t all that different from the indie stuff I had worshipped through the 80s. Only that stuff was better – less pretentious, more real in its emotions, less directed at impressing depressed teenagers (although Cobain was roughly my age). That’s what I disliked most. Kids tend to get depressed enough without having it culturally validated like it was in the early 90s with Nirvana and the following wave of grunge. That whole scene felt bloated and deeply pretentious to me from day one, a put on, a marketing scheme, whether or not it was sincere, and I believe Cobain was serious as a heart attack. Just a lot less fun than The Pixies. A lot less honest than The Replacements. Not as good an indie choice to make it big as REM was.

I knew things were out of control when I went to visit my friend J in Delaware, and he was blasting Nirvana from the stereo of his rented jeep as we tooled around that weekend. It wore me out on Nirvana, fast! When “Lithium” came on, we’d both be shouting that prolonged “Yeahhhhhhhhh” … J seriously, me in jest. I knew he was locking in on this stuff because it was immediately trendy … and I don’t doubt he genuinely liked it, too. But he knew, and I knew, we were slightly long in the tooth to be listening to this stuff that was aimed at kids, by someone our age wandering around in Salvation Army sweaters while we became adults the hard way (i.e., getting up at 6:30 am and going to work every day, hi-ho, hi-ho).

He’d later do the same with the first Snoop Dog album. I recall at the time he was living at the Cavalier Apartments, a dumpy complex filled with younger folks like him. Every time we’d drive by and he was saying something, I’d respond, “You know, that’s a pretty cavalier point of view you’re espousing.” And he cracked up, knowing that I was making a reference to that crappy complex. He was blasting that god-damned album all weekend, the worst being at 8:30 on a Sunday morning when we got up. I’d go over and turn it down, he’d get pissed and turn it up, I’d ask don’t you worry about bothering your neighbors, he’d reply fuck the neighbors, and I’d just shake my head and give him the silent treatment until we drove off to Denny’s for a gut-busting breakfast.

I doubt he still has the pictures, but at the time, he had a black afro wig that was extremely weird. I put it on and laid on his floor with no shirt on, pretending I was passed out when he came back from the grocery store. It was good for some big laughs. He told me he and his nephew used to drive to convenience stores around that part of Delaware and wear the wig into the store – everyone in there completely freaked out and waiting to get robbed by the weirdo in the afro wig and shades – but he'd just buy a gigantic Diet Cokes and walk out, cracking up the whole time.

As I recall, J got smoked out of that apartment – can’t recall the exact circumstance, but there was a smoke condition in the apartment that ruined most of his clothes and furniture, that was luckily covered by apartment insurance.

But that’s indicative of the kind of weekends I’d have in my 20s. I visited friends in the northeast much more than I do know. Delaware, West Chester, PA, New Haven … in the first two cases, both guys moved away and in the third, that girl just got weird and wholesale dumped a few people from her life, me one of them, so what the hell. That was a big part of my 20s to me – figuring out novel ways to spend weekends. Whereas now I’m more than content to kick back, do some yard and sidewalk work for the landlord, hit the gym both days, make a big meal Sunday for the rest of the week … shit I never did in my 20s. When people ask me at work what I’m doing for the weekend, well, I don’t like answering simply because I’d rather not share that much with coworkers in general, but the truth is I’m rarely doing much but recovering from a crazy week of work and recharging my batteries in a good way.

But I think the 90s nostalgia I’m feeling now is much more tied into music, as I pretty much ignored anything that was popular at the time, which wasn’t hard, as most of it sucked. Hiphop should have died out by the early 90s, but it kept going, like a brain-eating zombie that still wanders the land today. Grunge was a pile of shit for the most part that turned rock into a morose “daddy doesn’t love me” pity-fest of the worst kind, a gob in the face of true rock and roll, which was a celebration of teenage fun once upon a time, starting with Chuck Berry and Elvis, and leading straight up through the Beatles and Stones, Springsteen, and Cheap Trick, and The Ramones, and well through the 80s. “Fun” became a bad word to these dipshits, which was a radical error in rock and roll.

Still … why is it that I’ve found myself lately downloading a lot of Soul Asylum, Lemonheads (who were actually a very good pop band I skipped on because of their popularity), Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Collective Soul, Sugar Ray, Alice in Chains … fuck’s sake, even Candlebox! I assure you, I HATED this shit at the time. But even that Candlebox song, I can hear now, it was just a reasonably good pop song, despite it’s heavier/dopey leanings. “Seasons in the Sun” was a pretty morose, dopey song, too, and I somehow wrapped my mind around that when I was a kid. I think the problem with the 90s was I was becoming an adult, with serious indie rock credentials from the 80s, and in some senses, I felt left behind by this newer stuff (but time has shown me that wasn’t true at all). It made sense for me to not like it at the time – it was out of my context and against my more broad taste of what rock and roll was meant to be (i.e., a range of emotions, as opposed to full-on angst and depression). I found a lot of that music offensive at the time in the previously-mentioned intent to make kids even more melodramatically morose than they already are naturally. Just seemed like a shit deal to me.

And it was. But within that shit deal, I can hear now, some good music, go figure! Jonathan Richman has a great line in his song “That Summer Feeling,” in which he puts forth about why that feeling will haunt you the rest of your days, as opposed to filling you with hope and joy. The line: “Do you long for her/Or the way you were?” That pretty much says it all about any kind of nostalgia. You don’t miss people and places, so much as who you were at that fixed point in time. Not realizing time keeps moving, and there is just as much to pine over about yourself now as there was then … and you probably will in your 60s and 70s! The weird thing about this 90s nostalgia is I don’t miss how I was then – maybe physically, but that’s about it. I don’t even miss the music. Maybe nostalgia isn’t the right word, but I don’t know what that word is in this case. As enigmatic as one’s first tattoo that looks like a meaningless blob of ink 20 years on.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Depression?

There’s been a lot of talk over the past year whether this financial quagmire we find ourselves in is a full-blown depression, or just a deep recession. For anyone out of work for awhile and having a hell of time finding a new job, it must seem like a depression. I know a few people in this boat, but can also add that one of them checked in last week to say she’s had three job offers in one week, so hers is about to end.

All other arrows point to a very bad recession. I’m not going to get into particulars because frankly I’m not qualified. I gather most qualified people on financial TV shows are the kind of folks who would stick it in and break it off, so I’m not sure who you should trust. But I can tell you that while I don’t know what this thing is, it is surely not a depression.

How do I know this? For one reason only: my parents lived through the Depression, were kids at the time, and the views they have on money and spending, as a result, are nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like anything that’s come before or since. I’m a pretty frugal person in general, thanks to their lectures and examples, but compared to them, I’m a spoiled brat who may as well be lighting cigars with $100 bills.

Dad would often tell the story of he and his brothers having one baked-bean sandwich in the morning for breakfast, and then no food until dinner that evening … which invariably was another baked-bean sandwich. Baked beans were cheap, and both that and bread tended to make them feel full. He wasn’t bullshitting – one day in my late teens, when I was at my thinnest, I found a pair of Dad’s army pants stored away in a closet in the attic. He had a 26-inch waist! I had a 32-inch waist at the time and couldn’t get those up past my thighs.

Apparently, his father, my grandfather who died before I was born (in his 50s, not unusual back then), worked in the coal mines (not “in” them but I think his job was right at the entrance, doing exactly what, I’m not sure), which during The Depression meant working two days a week like all the other workers – just enough to house and feed a family of seven with minimal amounts of food, but never save a dime. There was no work for the kids. Dad let me know, growing up, that mowing lawns for money was a luxury he didn’t have. So I was made to understand that busting my ass in the hot summer sun for a few hours, while hard work, was hard work for money, and something he and his brothers would have killed for in the 1930s. (We seemed like extravagant pansies to him in comparison. We were. Almost anyone, unless they lived in third-world poverty, would be. He always had that unbeatable trump card as a father.)

Mom’s stories are much the same, although she was born just after The Depression started and has her memories of that time rooted in early childhood, much like I have mine in the 60s. (I remember bits and pieces of the 1960s but very little. Most memories I do have of that time are elemental and not culture-related, i.e., I remember childhood experiences, but few things directly tied into the 1960s.) No matter, because Mom’s spending habits, to this day, are a constant reminder of The Depression and what it meant to people who lived through it.

It’s still quite an experience to go grocery shopping with her. My favorite occurred about a year ago when we were going down the candy aisle, and she gazed over the small bags of individual chocolates. I could see all the Hersheys stuff was on sale and said, “Ma, I know you like a bargain, why not get a bag of kisses.” She frowned at me, “After what they did to their workers when they moved their factories to Mexico? I’ll never eat another piece of chocolate from Hershey again, those bums.”

And she meant it! Beyond that, every item she bought was measured against the item next to it on the shelf. If it was a cent or two cheaper, get the cheaper item. Donuts? Get the stuff near or past expiration as it’s marked down. Ditto bread, or any perishable item on the shelves. Keep the coupons handy, because a lot of them will be doubled at the register.

It made me think of my own spending habits, which are pretty in control, but a good example of our differences would be in how we make chicken soup. Mom will buy the cheapest canned broth out there, because it’s the cheapest, buy whole carrots, the generic-brand string beans, corn, lima beans – all in cans – and find the cheapest chicken meat in that section. I’ll buy the good broth, in cartons, baby carrots that cost a little more, but mean less chopping, and the more expensive boneless chicken breasts as I like that meat better and don’t want to be bothered with bones. Don’t pay much mind to the difference in cost of canned vegetables either, save to say I avoid the generic store brands that Mom favors. I’ll buy the big white onions that cost a little more as opposed to the bags of smaller onions. I’m sure if you totaled up the bills of our preparations for chicken soup, mine would come out anywhere from $5 to $10 more. But you know what? That will feed me for a work week (with Friday off to relax and buy some local Chinese or Thai). Mom always buys with the concept of X number of mouths to feed (seven when I was growing up, three now) and will pinch pennies at every corner in terms of meal planning.

There’s one thing I would criticize my parents for, and there are damn few things I’m willing to do that on these days. But that would surely be buying the cheap shit in a supermarket when buying slightly more expensive, healthier stuff would have done us kids a world of good. I have a sweet tooth now that I can surely trace back to childhood, and the concept of making soda the official house drink. I can see the draw in the supermarket, especially with four kids. It’s cheaper than healthier drinks. When I go back to visit now, I have a hard time with how little there is to drink in the house as it’s soda or milk. The odd part about the 70s was my parents would cave in and buy the most sugary, most expensive cereals (Lucky Charms in particular) and ice cream, I guess because they knew in a small way that they were special treats they never had as kids. For once, I had wished they would have busted our asses and made us stick to fruits and vegetables … which were never as plentiful in our house as nearly every permutation of junk food, Little Debbie, be damned.

There’s a flintiness to people like my parents that’s noticeably absent in people now. A good word, flintiness. Hard people created from harder circumstances. So many people are spoiled now, mislead to believe their lives are gauged solely by status and wealth. When you come across people who, as a generation, didn’t have any of either – most people were in the financial shithouse in 1930s America – you get a broader sense of life. I try to be like them as much as possible. Not so much as a tribute to them – just because I know they have it right to see the world this way. Understand how hard it is from the get-go, as opposed to being raised in a cocoon. And spend the rest of your days knowing your value lies in things that can’t be bought. Of course, self-made millionaires are made of the same stuff, knowing they never want to go back to how hard things were. But many more people took that hard upbringing and nurtured it, as opposed to putting it in a rear-view mirror as something to be feared.

I’m not getting that “no bullshit” sense from most people these days. I gather what’s going on now is a speed bump in the grand scheme of things. That this system we built is so foul that the only way it could possibly change would be to have it come crashing down which, as we’ve seen, can come pretty close to happening, but never does. I’ve been reading lately of how the real estate market is recovering when the reality is we’ve just missed a golden opportunity to unwind decades of bullshit, go on having reduced property values and rents, and allow people to live halfway sane lives where they’re not killing themselves just to make their monthly nut. This industry recovering is good news only to people who want to sell their homes for a profit … a concept that always seemed unsavory to me, unless it was a cash-in near the end of one’s days to pay for the remaining few and leave a nice present for the kids. Most people I knew in 1970s Pennsylvania bought their house for one reason only: so they could die in it one day many years later and let their kids take it over afterwards. Not cash it in like a winning lottery ticket.

If you had explained that concept to millions of Americans in the 1930s, that one day it would be a common practice for people to buy houses just so they could sell them again, they’d have laughed at you. That sort of frivolity was hard to come by when so many people had lost their homes or were hanging onto one by their fingernails.

But I suspect a lot of what goes on today would strike your average American from that time as complete insanity. With Mom and Dad there is one issue that I can see they split on, possibly because Dad was the one making money while Mom ran the house. When Dad and I started talking more, in my 20s, when he’d come pick me up from the bus station and give me a ride back to the house on my PA visits, we’d talk about work. And he was always over-joyed when I told him I was making good money which I think he assumed was much more than it really was.

That may have been parental pride on one hand, but on the other, I could sense the he felt he had let his family down by not making more in his life. Or at least he’d occasionally drop comments to the effect that if he had more money, life would have been a lot easier. Not quite realizing that the concept of Dad with immense wealth was just as ill fitting as his size 26 army pants on me.

Unlike me, Dad has never spent serious time around people making bucket loads of money and never got to see how miserable and nuts so many of these people are. Because of their money, and the mental illness they have in terms of maintaining that status and pushing hard so that they get more. Don’t get me wrong – I think money surely serves a purpose in our lives, and having a lot of it, if you know how to make it last, must be a good thing. The problem is most of the people he perceived as being well off really weren’t all that well off. They had money, but they also had to work like fiends to get it and keep it. I’ve been around these people for decades now and can see they tend to bite off much more than they can chew, are constantly in debt, have self image issues because they can see so many people out there much more wealthy than they are (most of them simply born into it), and a vast majority of the time, have elemental “Daddy” issues that leave them seeking the approval of some miserable father figure incapable of offering approval. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that in NYC offices.

Meanwhile, Mom has always grasped the zen of being happy with what you got, not longing for someone else’s wealth. Sure, she played the lottery for years, and complains about utility bills now, but beneath that surface yearning is someone who has always seemed pretty comfortable and happy with her way of life. Dad was usually smart enough to see that, too, but as noted, every now and then he let on that he thought he missed out on something by not having more money. Maybe he did. Maybe I am now. But it’s not something I lose sleep over.

When you’ve known people like this who lived through The Depression – not so much in the things they say but more so in how they are – you get a sense of people who understand what it means to have nothing, and the ability to go on living with nothing. These days? I’m sensing the ability of people who pretend they have everything to go on bullshitting themselves that they do, even with warning shots that imply all the things they believe in are absolute bullshit. But to acknowledge this would be to stare into a huge void within themselves. And that might be the main reason why this sure as hell isn’t a Depression we’re living through right now. A lot of depressed people, but no Depression.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The "Angry" Lottery Loser

The first Saturday of the new year was one of those mangy sweep-up days on the sidewalk. Not as bad as the previous Sunday, the first sweep-up after a blizzard. I don’t know what it is about blizzards that brings out the wet, floppy pieces of cardboard. But every time we’ve had a major snowstorm, the following thaw always deposits huge chunks of blown cardboard on the sidewalk. On top of the rock salt and dogshit.

But the past few days had been a wind tunnel with sub-freezing temperatures. Any time we have high winds, forget it, there’s all kinds of stuff on the sidewalks. Living near a night club, a few blocks away, there was some of the usual stuff. I’m always seeing the remnants of cigars pulled apart so the user can stuff the inside with marijuana and smoke his big ganga stogy before, yo, goin’ to the club. Usually the cigar box, too. And the plastic bag that held the pot. But it’s always the torn-up cigar innards that get me. There’s the usual small empty zip-lock pouches that held designer drugs like X – not tons, but enough to let me know some Jersey Shore-style douchebags were out there last night getting tuned up in their car before, yo, goin’ to the club. (Sidenote to New Jersey readers: I recognize the irony of this show's title, that these people aren't from New Jersey at all and, in fact, tend to be NYC-based guidos renting beach houses. Just goin' with the flow, know what I'm sayin'?) And someone has to fill me in on this, as I found this, too: a clear surgical glove? Not the first time, and I live nowhere near any medical facility. I’m guessing a woman is getting funky with a guy’s ass and doesn’t want to get her fingers dirty? Sorry if my imagination is too vivid, but why am I occasionally finding clear surgical gloves on the sidewalk?! I’m assuming doctors aren’t getting stoned in their Mercedes out there.

And there was the usual junk: plastic bottles, shopping bags, fliers, cigarette butts, beer bottles, a lot of Dunkin’ Donuts detritus (cups, container tops, napkins, bags) … one opened up recently an avenue block south … and I’d say the most common form of junk now on the sidewalk is Dunkin’ Donuts dumpings. The Dumpin’ Douchebags. Which unfortunately underlines my theory that the more fast-food/generic the eating establishment, the bigger the slobs who consume there. You can see this if you pay attention near any urban fast-food establishment: their junk will be all over the sidewalks in the immediate vicinity, even if public garbage bins are plainly visible.

But something really caught my eye this time. It looked like a scrap of cardboard, some type of form, but there was a black magic-marker message scrawled on it: “fuck you god and your bastard child.” It was on the back of a Super 9 Lottery scratch-off card. Well, someone’s a sore loser, I thought as I deposited it into the garbage bin.

Fast-forward about half an hour. I’m in the middle of laundromat loads, hustling back from the supermarket to my place so I can dump off my groceries and catch the load coming out of the dryer. I’d just left the supermarket, in front of the marble-cutting factory up the block, ready to hit the small hill leading up to my place. When I notice something on the ground: a Super 9 Lottery scratch-off card. It can’t be, I think. But I kneel down and flip it over out of curiosity’s sake. Sure enough, the same message: “fuck you god and your bastard child.”

This changes everything. It wasn’t just some one-off angry lottery loser … it was a conspiracy. Someone had it in for God … and His “bastard child.” A few thing I could already establish. This person was a Christian, no matter how bitter. If you don’t believe in God, then you don’t curse Him – He’s a non-entity if you’re an atheist. And this person was a pretty dumb Christian. Christ wasn’t a bastard. Mary was married to Joseph. You could make the case the Joseph was cuckolded by the Almighty, and must have had the patience of a saint to roll along with a deep WTF situation. But I gather you’re not too steamed when you’re poor as dirt, wandering around with your knocked-up old lady on a jackass, the only place you can find to settle down for the night is a dirty manger (must have been convention week in Bethlehem for the “no room at the inn” treatment they got all over town), and out of nowhere, as your wife is giving birth, three kings show up and start laying out expensive gifts to the son you know isn’t your own. I think at that point, you just throw your hand up and say, well, I’m not happy that the old lady is having someone else’s child, but I don’t have a pot to piss in, and this is all getting very interesting in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

I’d like to picture some middle-aged guy, angry with the world, buys a handful of lotto tickets, scratches them all off, lost again, and in his anger, at the world, at himself, at his poverty, angrily scrawls out “fuck you god and your bastard child” on the lotto cards and throws them randomly on the sidewalk in hopes that other people out there will find his bitterness, like a message in a bottle, and perhaps take a moment, and think, “Yeah, fuck you god and your child.”

But I suspect the reality isn’t quite so romantic. For one thing, the handwriting wasn’t so angry. It was carefully crafted, as though someone took his time to write the words clearly and concisely, slowly working the magic marker over the slim piece of cardboard. The person put thought into it; he didn’t explode in a moment of rage. For another, that sort of shadow figure whom life has forgotten, skulking around in his shadow world of broken dreams and mild rage, gets harder to find in this neighborhood, replaced by the spunky girl with an iPhone who peppers “you know” and “like” and “totally” in her cellphone conversations while discussing boyfriends named Chase and Dylan.

No, I’d picture the darker side of the brat pack who’ve been moving here en masse. The aging wigger who just ditched the nose ring two years earlier because you don’t wear those kind of things in the office. Faded family pictures from Christmas 1999, Dad, Mom, little sis with a smiley face, in front of the gaily-lit Christmas tree, and Vanilla Ice, yo, in a size XXXL Atlanta Falcons football jersey and sideways baseball hat, arms folded, fingers held in gang signs, glaring at the camera as if he was America’s Most Wanted, vainly trying to grow the wisp of a peach-fuzz goatee. This picture, of course, no longer exists because he made sure to tear it up Thanksgiving 2006, a few years after he dumped the gangsta pose, and the evidence of his growing pains slightly pre-dates the digital age, thus there might be some negatives buried deep in a drawer back home, but they’ll stay there, hidden and gathering dust.

That’s the kind of guy I picture scrawling such a message on a lotto card. And not so much because he’s angry with the world. More because he’s angry with himself, feeling himself drifting further away from that culturally-fueled teenage rage that pushed him straight through his mid-20s, but seemed out of place and childish at his 10th high-school reunion. And now he’s an adult, for lack of a better word, and that anger has no place to go. It has to die, and hopefully come back as some similar form of adult rage, although never felt as strongly. Pissed off at the boss. This job sucks. How about those (insert political leaning here that somehow offends your sensibilities). It’s always something. But never the same as being 19 and pissed off at everything in sight.

God can take it. His bastard child can, too. Just dump it on them, they’ll absorb it. World’s big enough for you anger, and then some. They get it, too. Angry message scrawled on the back of a losing lottery card. Good one! Scrawl it again. Spread the word. Drop this wondrous message on the sidewalk at various points in the neighborhood. Viral marketing. Nothing personal, God. Don’t really care about You. You’re just a pawn in my game here. But somebody’s got to take the hit for me here.

Of course, if the real culprit of this infantile crusade was found, it would probably be a 13-year-old kid from the neighborhood who’s pissed at his Dad for making him go to Catholic school! Found worthless, scratched-off lotto cards in the garbage bin, and the lightbulb went off over his head. Who knows. But I find people sincerely angry, truly enraged with the world, generally aren’t this calculating. This felt more like a failed art school experiment by someone with a mediocre mind and just enough education to be stupid. The sort of folk who’ve been piling in here lately … pining for a Trader Joes to open up just like the one back home … missing those Pita Puffs with Sea Salt so much it fucking hurts … ah, Trader Joes, Walmart for the baccalaureate set. That’s how it works in the city these days. If you build it, they will come? Nah, if they come, you will build it. And I just saw two fliers the other day heralding the rapture.