November 28, 2013

Do you like this?

 …and for people like Lou Reed who point out it’s still a dream for too many

THE LATE LOU REED IS LIKELY BEST KNOWN FOR PUSHING the envelope musically and for songs about heroin and drag queens. But Lou, he saw the world, and he cared about people it was easy to see no one else seemed to care about. Take these lyrics from “Dirty Blvd.”:

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ‘em

that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says

Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ‘em to death

and get it over with and just dump ‘em on the boulevard…  

…And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming

he’s found a book on magic in a garbage can

He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling

“At the count of 3” he says, “I hope I can disappear”

It’s Thanksgiving week, and many of us are lucky to be feasting with family and friends. Yet once again, in the richest country in the world, a story buried on page 5 of the local daily on Nov. 7 told us, “Census says 49 million in U.S. live in poverty.”

Forty-nine million people. It’s hard to conceive of that, isn’t it? The AP report goes on to say that the poor include working-age adults who are underemployed in low-wage jobs because that’s all they can find. Seniors 65 and older accounted for the biggest increase. Sixteen percent of our country lives in poverty. How shameful is that?

I’m just not going to listen to the old “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” crap. Lou Reed could tell you about little kids selling flowers on the street who not only don’t have bootstraps, they don’t even have shoes. Seniors who worked all their lives…their bootstraps have worn out. But never mind. Cut food stamps, do away with Social Security and Medicare. It’s your own fault you’re poor.

He’s going down to the dirty boulevard…

No need to raise the minimum wage. Never mind that it’s actually not mostly young kids in their first jobs making that pay, but people trying to support a family. Tell them striking Walmart workers that this here’s a right-to-work state, and if you don’t want that job, we’ll find someone desperate enough to take it. 

But it’s Thanksgiving. So now, I’m going to talk about things and people I am thankful for today.

I am thankful that I worked in the fields the summer before college so that I got a taste of what it’s like to work like that your whole life: 50-hour work weeks at below minimum wage.

I am thankful I was in college at a time I could get scholarships to pay my way…otherwise, I would not be a college graduate today.

I am thankful I have a strong, supportive, loving mother who worked as an elementary teacher for 40 years and supported three little kids on a teacher’s salary.

I am thankful that during the Great Recession, I found agencies and good people to help me fight the big bank that was doing its best to take my house. 

I am thankful that all these things, and many more, have made me more understanding and compassionate toward other people and the soul-crushing journeys many of them bear with such grace.

I am thankful I have a voice and can use it to call attention to injustice.

I am thankful for Lou Reed and all the artists like him who speak out for those 49 million people.

And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard

I want to fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from the dirty boulevard

Someday maybe we can all fly away. I will be thankful we can still dream of that day.


November 28, 2013


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