Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Heart of America

"Smell that?"

There were 9 of us waiting for a guy taking a shit at a gas station bathroom. That bowel movement probably cost the company $150 but there was nothing that could be done. It just happened that we surpassed 40 hours for the week on Thursday Morning as the guy was in the bathroom and I had nothing to do but reflect on the insanity of that situation since not long ago I was sitting at an outdoor street ministry where kindly Texan seniors and teenagers with big acne grins forked potato salad onto styrofoam plates for the homeless and destitute of Flour Bluff. I had less than no money since I had actually spent everything to stay alive and was buying yoghurt and bananas with my credit card at 12% interest. My breakfast was financed by my bank....cereal on layaway. Each job I looked at seemed like death to me with a dead end and gray hair with no future and no past. I may as well smuggle illegal immigrants or become a pimp than change oil in a dirty cellar. Instead I got a job at a trailer park that paid enough for me to throw every penny at my credit card debt. I'd stare at my $60 cowboy hat and dusty bongo drums and really curse my bad choice in  cars and jobs and purchases. My priorities might make for entertaining reading before returning to your casual existence but let me tell you that my life has been completely out of touch with reality for a long time and my mailbox hasn't exactly been overflowing with support. Two roads were diverged in a wood and while I was deciding which path to take a mule train hauling toxic waste ran my skinny ass over.

Each night the police would shine their flashlights in my sweating, haggard face, patting down my bony hips for weapons. My crime was poverty. The one devout Christian I met, a woman who had a television playing fire and brimstone, Jesus is coming soon, daytime ministry all day long, was offended when I used the break room refrigerator to store my food for the next 5 days of she fired me from the trailer park gig. My policy of wandering the country with long hair and sandals preaching peace and simplicity whenever two were gathered in my name was abhorrent to her and she was equally blind to the blatant contradiction. The lady with multiple personalities never called me back to ask me what I did with her rotten toilet scrubber.

So, I sat with a pair of men who lived in an abandoned car wash enclosure with their small dog named Gizmo and we ate potato salad and listened to a truly meandering and uninspiring sermon about Joseph being the favorite son of Jacob and his brothers plotting to kill him but then Joseph working his way up to an adviser to the Pharaoh. If you're a fan of Anderw Lloyd Weber than you already know how the story ends. But the minister managed to tell the tale of Joseph without landing any punches or passing on any moral.

"There was this guy and his brothers sold him into slavery and he eventually put them in their place and even forgave them and fed them. The End. Amen. Let's eat."

I guess we all can't be Tammy Fae Baker.

(We could consider this blog a long sermon of Oggy that future street ministers will fail to summarize before a free meal. I already see that the debate over my change of worldview has been mostly distraught and puzzled and disappointed. I represented the incorrigible and indomitable spirit of the gypsy who would manage to skirt responsibility and convention and live to tell about it. I've let you down and a part of me doesn't care at all because I'm within reach of a guitar I've wanted for 6 years. If you had just pooled your money together, maybe $100 from each person who reads this blog daily and bought me that guitar then this hydro-fracturing job never would've come into play. But you expected me to forever covet what I could not afford...and when the stars aligned I've chosen convention, destruction, wolf slaughter, abandonment of values and altering my precious worldview. But I feel I was already a hypocrite so now at least I'm not in denial...and furthermore this is a new zeitgeist to study. Someone once asked me to Change and I told her I would but then didn't change fact, that conversation ignited my most boisterous adventure ever, a trans-continental journey to save the arctic wolf, just to spite her request. But now I've changed and the carrot she dangled in front of me at the time is, alas, withered) and now back to our story....

I was destitute but I also realized the extent of wealth disparity in America so I justified my condition by embracing the zeitgeist and studying those in a similar situation, bearing witness to a paradigm shift among the masses...which is many many people. I was one of 50 meek toothless men and women  in a small town who ate eggs from a shelter and I told myself that I had my finger on the pulse of a dying era.

Now that I'm seeing how the other half live (oblivious to the despair of the other half) I can see the roots of disparity. When you seek the Heart of America then you are traveling a lonely road that is also going to be ass to elbow with those seeking a quick buck or a quick fuck or a steak dinner or easy prey. You'll be in the way, I promise you. (I know it's hard to believe but I don't exactly blend in with a crew of Spanish speaking construction roughnecks.) Your job as a philosopher is to assimilate all of the details, ignore the plodding course of industry and the reckless abandon of cold-hearted calculations because the Heart of America is fickle and wounded and shrouded in propaganda and lies and mystery and deceit. The Heart is an amalgamation of all the lost artifacts and raw sewage and landfills and broken bodies in stream beds as well as copper statues polished to a high shine on Wall Street. The Lord reward industry. My advice is to abandon any attempt to find the core of a people because it will make you question your own sanity and it will exile your own personality into an outsider's realm. There is a Heart but once you find it you'll be broken and no one will care what you'll be alone on a mountaintop with a beautiful, dynamic final view before your oxygen tank runs out. Xanadu is Xanadu because you can only reach it by sacrificing everything that you would like to take to Xanadu in the first place. It's a story that can't be told because when poets retire they don't tell any more stories and philosophers always drink hemlock in the end.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.