I am reading a column about traffic. Doesn’t matter which one. Most cities which still have newspapers have columns in them about traffic, with clever names like Street Smarts. This one leads with handicap parking. I think there is something here for me. I think there is something lots of places for me.
I identify it as a synecdoche because I like the word. A piece of the act reps for the whole of it.
A big strapping athletic-looking guy is harassed, he says, for parking in the blue zone. You’re not crippled, they taunt. I’m gonna call the cops. Please do, he responds, and he tells us he has severe genetical or accident troubles that make walking even a short distance a pain.
I see them, the sharks, cruising the lots for fresh meat, an open space. They are irritated and sullen, and suspicious. I do it, too, although I laugh at it. I say to Lady Kale, shoot, were it not for protecting the undeserving, I’d be able to park right up there by the door! Why coddle the unaccomplished with a welfare parking space, like they’re executives or sumpin’?
A friend once said to me while we were pedestrians pausing at a red light, you see the button there? I did. It’s for alerting the big machine there are humans waiting to cross. `It’s a safety valve which has historically drawn off revolutionary vigor by lending the proletariat the synthetic symblance of control of their destiny and the people’s capital.’
The greatest force in US political history is resentment. It is overwhelming down south and up into the plains. It feeds on the inability of the underclass to look up beyond its own sorry state and abject pettiness, and the gleeful leisure class plays on that loathing. "Look here, you are living in that trailor and just lost your job (when I shipped it to Saipan) and your kids are all sick but it ain’t pollution from J J and Asso Chemical, it’s them (minorities) on welfare!"
And so an unreasoning populace unused to either numbers or the thinking that requires nods, glowers, fumes, fumbles, fouls the air with: "It’s them, all right. Ridin’ in Cadillacs on gumint gimmes while I can’t git my old Ford started …"
It’s a natural human phenomena. Tolstoy tells us of the mayor of Moscow, confronted by a fearful and thus fierce mob threatened by Napoleon. The only job of politicians anywhere is to shift blame. "There’s your traitor!" roared this one, pointing out a harmless street vagrant. The crowd gleefully tore him to shreds. Any polity is by nature and practice utterly mindless.
Like me, in my faux-fulmination. I am supposed to believe that two parking spaces in a lot crowded with other sharks would remain open to me were it not painted blue for the Handicapped. It’s a conspiracy then. It is altogether fitting and proper I do this, because the sheep invariably follow the Judas goat.
Were this ingredient, this redirected resentment, this redeployment of the just rage of the abused towards the even more damaged as a torero works the bull with his cloth, to suddenly dry up in the sudden sunshine of general logic, then the Repugnant Party would not last a day further.
(Originally appeared in Yucca Flats)