Twisted Main Street
By David Glenn Cox
It is a sacrilegious Sunday in the Café of the poor, at the crossroads of America in the temple of clowns, hard plastics and refillable soft drinks. I have been sitting here for two days now and it is eleven degrees outside and colder still in the heart of America. I sit here with my computer and watch them all come and go.
I’m right across the street from a public library but for some reason the Internet connection there is poor. Probably, for the same reason the Internet connection is poor in the house where I’m staying, it is a technical issue called monopoly. A citywide contract guarantees revenue and poor service. In prime hours you can barely send an E-mail without being bumped off of the server, so here I sit in the Café of the poor.
Already, I’ve met some of the regulars. I have not yet become one of them, but I feel as if I will, that I must. There’s Stan, he’s in his early thirties and he buys and sells comic books online and he talks too much. He can’t help himself; he’s just trying to be friendly and trying to overcome his own loneliness. Last night, a man named Ross was making calls on his cell phone and striking up conversations. He finally made his way around to me and it was clear that he had been drinking when he explained that he was looking for a ride to an AA meeting.
The elderly come in to read the newspaper and drink coffee; the teenagers come just to hang out. It is a half way house for them, too old for happy meals and not yet ready for senior coffee. Young couple’s come in to rent mainstream movies from the Red Box machine, that homogenizer of American entertainment. The lowest common denominator, come to life as a big red vending machine. The sights and sounds of this place take on a surreal quality, as the alarms for French fries and hot apple pies ring out against the background noise of canned music and cell phone conversations.
There comes a constant stream of father’s with their small children in tow inhabiting these plastic pews. They are seeking communion with their own lost children. They share the sacrament of the happy meal while trying desperately to fill in the empty spaces and missing time.
You can tell a lot about folks by their clothes, especially in this Northern latititude. Some come wearing new designer North Face coats or even furs. Others come here in ragged clothes and carry bundles with bedrolls across their backs. Men and women who are fighting the cold and fighting for survival in the cold winter of a cold land. One man observing such an individual said, “It must be tough living your life out of three duffel bags, that’s a hell of a lifestyle.”
I answered, that a lifestyle is a choice, and no one chooses to live in poverty. The poor come here because the food is cheap and the air is warm, they find themselves here and they find each other here. A daughter asked her elderly mother in a loud voice so the elderly woman could hear her, “What have you been doing with yourself this week Mother?
I felt that it was somewhat of an absurd and detached question, I mean; to ask a frail and elderly woman. Remind me when I’m at that age to answer, “I’ve been playing handball and touch football.” An absurd question in the palace of Corporate America, a land of the absurd, this twisted main street in this twisted, bent crumbling and inverted land.
Above it all; in the center of this twisted Main Street of the absurd is Orwell’s big brother television and it chimes on and fucking on. Above the noise, above the fray and the fry pots, Fox News is aired around the clock. It is the most absurd of all of the absurdities here, because from my tiny time here, nobody is watching, yet it drones on almost completely un-noticed by anyone. Like Big Brother himself, it is not here to be judged but only to remind us that it is everywhere.
It is not without some effect however, yesterday an old man was discussing politics with his friend and feared, “that if Obama gets re-elected and gets a majority in the Senate he will become like a dictator.” If he gets to name another Supreme Court Justice he will pick another liberal and then all bets are off, it will be the end of America as we know it.”
It’s hard not to laugh, even though it is not funny, but where I wonder, do you suppose the old man got those ideas from?
It is also hard to remain quiet, you feel yourself compelled to ask, who are these mythical liberals of which you speak? Barney Frank? The man who did away with the government mortgage market as we know it? Barney Frank, the man who untied the final mooring of the Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and turned the American mortgage buyer over to the private hands of Mr. Potter’s monopoly. That liberal?
Or maybe, he means that liberal Barrack Obama, the Barrack Obama who continued George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s wars? That liberal Obama who sided with the Republicans against the labor unions and who sided with the oil companies against the environment? Or perhaps, he means that liberal Sonia Sotomayor? That liberal Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, who was also on John McCain’s short list for a Supreme Court appointment. The same liberal Sotomayor who decided 86 percent of her court decisions in favor of corporations against the public. God forbid that Obama should nominate any other such liberals; Sotomayor was so liberal, that Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal called her, “a fine choice.”
You can’t argue down this twenty four hour propaganda, especially in the palace of the corporate kings in the sepulcher of American dysfunction. Even though the sound is turned down it can still be heard, the programming is closed captioned for the intelligence impaired. A Fox news poll asks, “Who really creates jobs?” They set them up, just so they can knock them down. When Fox News promotes a poll question it is to enlighten the management and not the huskers in the hustings. It is their metric as to how well the propaganda drip is sinking in with the suckers.
Fox is making a lot of noise about civil unrest in Moscow and little news about civil unrest being broken up by police in this country. It is as it is, and what it is, is no different than the Völkischer Beobachter which loosely translated means The People’s Observer, but that was an Orwellian inversion of observing the people after applying the chloroform to the actual news.
It took me a while to figure it out, what exactly does it all mean? Then it came to me, this is the true Fourth Reich. This is where Ward Churchill’s,” little Eichmann’s” go for lunch, this where parents bring their children to indoctrinate them to the sound of a stick hitting the side of a tin swill bucket. These are the children of the New Order, these are Pavlov’s children. This place…this temple of corporate ugliness has become the living embodiment of America itself. It is phony and plastic, a triage unit, a trauma ward, a senior center and a benign corporate Hitler youth group. It is everything but it is nothing, like America herself; all of it; all of its promises, are promises made up for the express purpose of selling you crap and nothing but crap.