Sunday, December 01, 2019

You’re Still Wrong Mykel's Blog December 2019 or My Equality Ain’t Equal to Your Equality!


You’re STILL Wrong
or
Mykel's
December 2019 Blog/Column
My Equality Ain’t Equal to Your Equality

by Mykel Board


PART ONE: Why don’t they just get a job?

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. -Anatole France


Columbus Circle… almost in Central Park… splendid view… overlooking the magnificent greenery of the park. A glass of wine sits on the table in front of me. It was poured from a bottle with a label picture of a very long house… etched in red… with a flag on top at one end of the house and the word: POMMARD underneath. I don’t know that word in French… maybe it’s a name… or a place… or has something to do with an apple.

The waiter… a thin white guy… mid twenties with a perfectly trimmed beard… brings a plate of something and sets it in front of me. I’m not sure what it is. It looks like a baby lobster tail covering a pea which is in turn covered with a sauce carefully dripped over the legume… puddling slightly on the right side of the plate. No, there’s something yellow-brown in there. It looks like a grape. A spiral of onion sits on top.

The dish is one course of a prix fixe dinner offered by Per Se, a fabulous French restaurant with a different fixed menu every day. A full course meal… including desert… is a flat fee... Just $225 a person… plus another hundred and a quarter for wine… plus tax and a tip... of course.

That’s for ten courses, including nice homey comfort food: macaroni and cheese… French style. Oh it’s just too droll.

After wining and dining my way through the dinner, I have just enough room left for a couple dollar slices of pizza and a mug of Yuengling. I’ll grab them on the way to the subway.

I’ll take the D train to Broadway-Bleecker St. I can stop at the Bleecker Street bar between the station and home.

Notice: The NY Transit system is downsizing. Trains run slow. Finding a working escalator or elevator is as likely as finding a Social Justice Warrior who doesn’t find me offensive.

Yet they’re downsizing the repair and most other transit departments. Fewer people to do EVERYTHING except one job. And in that one job, the plan is to increase the workforce by 500 people. Did you guess it? TRANSIT COPS!

Instead of building restrooms in stations, they can arrest people who piss off the platform. That’s something I’ve done myself... more times than I’ve farted in a Mexican restaurant. But wait! There’s more: instead of giving poor people free transit passes like I’ve heard they do in Chicago, they can arrest people who jump over the turnstiles. Instead of building public housing… they can use jails to house the blanketed homeless who live underground.

“They could just get a job,” say those who are annoyed that cardboard box houses on the platforms are offending their visual space, “but they don’t.”

Yo asshole! They could just have a crowbar up their sleeve and smash your head with it. These people are hurting no one. They are causing no pain, destroying no resources. That’s certainly more than can be said about the bank-working keyboard tappers in the skyscrapers next to them. Or the scummy Real Estate Agents who do nothing but work for companies that raise rents and throw people out on the street… or the useless IT developers who bank thousands from moving electrons around to make it easier for your cellphone to collect information to sell to advertisers so they can market more directly to you.

Street begging is the highest form of work-- and the least destructive. They ask for money and you give it because you want to... the purest of transactions…. In return you get a smile, or maybe a god bless you. The perfect vendor-customer relationship. Why penalize these vendors? In the meantime, you have quarter-pounder tossing minimum-wage burger flippers… who (barely) earn their living by destroying people’s health. What’s in it for them?

Meanwhile people spend $300 on minuscule dishes with some god-awful French wine.

Look, buckaroos, you don’t end poverty by making it illegal. You end poverty by taking money away from those who have too much and giving it to those who don’t have enough. You don’t blame the police for mishandling the mentally ill. You train people to handle the mentally ill so you don’t have to rely on the cops in the first place.

Last month, I wrote about my time in Punxsutawney PA (see part two) with the working poor of a small town famous for one day a year. The roofer who just likes being under the blue sky. The former college professor who is fed up with students who don’t want to learn how to think and schools that don’t want to teach how to think.

There may be homelessness in Punxy, but I didn’t see it. Yes I saw poor people. Yes, I felt people hanging out at the library who were somehow… I donno… off. But there were no cops throwing them out. There were two restrooms, available to all.
There were things I didn’t see… and my friend Vincent seems to think I’m romanticizing a bit. He’s the one who sent me the email in PART TWO.

PART TWO: Department of Corrections

It’s rare that people I write about answer what I write. It’s rare that they even read it, I’m afraid.

One of the many things I’ve learned in my 60 years of shit-slinging is that if I write about anyone (except my pal Sid Yiddish), that person will not like it.

I could write: She was beautiful… like a Roman statue.. alabaster… if it weren’t for the tiny birthmark on her chin, you wouldn’t believe she was real.

The next day I’d hear. “What’s the matter with you? Why did you write about that birthmark? You’re making me look ugly to people who’ve never met me. You’re an asshole and I hate you.”

Writers lose friends by writing about them. So it was with much trepidation that I opened the email from my Punxsutawney friend that I called Vincent, the former college prof.

Instead of hating me, he was correcting me. Something I usually pay for from ladies in tight black dresses… with riding crops.

VINCENT: Your revelations about " Vincent" are not accurate. I left academia after 9 Universities given their idiocracy failure to teach students how to think critically; that is, none of the liberal arts/philosophy/scientific methodology is taught in these middle-tier institutions. Most of these students have no interest in curious learning and WE should not encourage most of them to pursue a liberal arts education. Instead, two year vocational training is much more practical, and would save them money and professors a great deal of misery.

Indeed, most of the small town citizens are friendlier than those of large cities. Nevertheless, you were not here with sufficient time to encounter their abject dismissal of the benefit and, perhaps, their disdain of the intellectual life. My friend MB hates lawyers, politicians, and other professionals who have invested years of study to achieve their status. While I understand his animus, he and the others despise book learning as a waste of time. Why? Because they had difficulty in abstract thinking in school. I have begun to understand that sentiment, I have realized that cognitive ability varies a great deal; and a person can earn a good living engaged in hard physical labor. Hence, I advocate schools that direct most students to consider vocational training and faster employment; we as Americans must not claim that everyone should pursue a liberal arts education.

MYKEL: Good reason to quit academia. If there is anything lacking in the American people it is the ability to think critically… or think at all. There is too much teaching what to think… especially enforced by narrow-minded students and greedy administrations… and not enough HOW to think.

But I disagree on the solution. Vocational training is the PROBLEM… not the answer. Students use their educational training for an occupation. They’ve invested in an “education” as job training. They have no interest in “curious learning” but they should. Higher education should not be a kind of air-conditioning repair school on a $100,000 budget. The purpose of higher education --and the purpose of education in general-- should be to encourage thought... exploration... wonder... logic.. in the students. Let them do with it as they will. We put too much emphasis in getting a job, earning money. There is no dignity in picking up garbage for the city… or shuffling electrons for a bank. There IS dignity in being able to use logic, compassion, innovation, in every day life.

VINCENT: The notion of "Trump country" for these people is that such LGBQT and illegal alien rights do not deserve special treatment. Alternatively, you might be surprised by the number of Lesbians in this town. I am not; many of them have experienced difficult relations with men and decide to raise their children alone. That is a cultural aberration.

MYKEL: I don’t doubt that most people oppose “special treatment” for people different than they are. (Though I don’t expect they would mind special treatment (under a different name: politeness, consideration, fair compensation) for themselves. In most cases, though, it is not the “special treatment” that is the problem. It’s defining what special treatment is. For example, gender-neutral restrooms are not “special treatment.” Everyone has access to them equally and can use them in the same way.

I’ve written a lot on the subject of gay marriage, but the unequal treatment is not in the gay part, but in the marriage part. Why are certain rights: extended health insurance benefits, alimony, hospital visitation, in some cases even sexual contact… given to married people, but not to singles. The “special rights” are to those who are married regardless of gender. Marriage is a religious institution and should be treated as such. The government has no business in encouraging it with special privileges.

VINCENT: "Earnest" was misunderstood. He has been a "roofer" for over 12 years, long before Trump had any influence.

With respect to gun ownership, this is "hunting" country. I do not understand the shooting of a stationary animal and how it is in any way "sporting." Yet, even those with significant education love it.

MYKEL: Thanks for the correction about Earnest. I’m sorry for the error. There is also another good point here. City or country… not all the people are the same. The fact that there’s a hunting show on in a bar, doesn’t mean everyone in that bar likes hunting.

VINCENT: This town has fallen economically because the coal industry deteriorated over time, including the factories and supporting industries. Those individuals having reasonable intellectual ability have left, e.g. my class in 1975. The result is that most of the residual residents can earn only marginal incomes, at least for a number of years or until they can secure a better paying job; and the latter often depends on nepotism or otherwise knowing someone having some power.

I have to conclude that your years of experience have not exposed you to the struggling masses. Most of the women I know are working 2 or 3 jobs just to survive. However, in the history of labor in this and other nations is this unusual? NO! We cannot guarantee a perfect life with each person receiving a fantastic income.

MYKEL: I don’t know anyone who wants a “perfect life”… or wants one guaranteed. Life itself is not perfect… we all die. But the society CAN guarantee a DECENT life for each person. That is a home, enough food, heat in the winter, cooling in the summer. Some untorn clothes (except for the punk rockers who like TORN clothes). We don’t all need $300 prix fixe meals, but we all need food and drink.

VINCENT: You are correct that these plebeians--including myself, I guess--will continue to attempt to survive. Se la vie! Yet as you have implied, they are the salt of the earth--if they instill in their children the traditional values of Americans.

I don’t think the “traditional values” of Americans have much value. I’ve already mentioned the fallacy of the “dignity of work.” I also dislike the idea of self-reliance. My Japanese students don’t get it when I explain that Americans think it’s better to do something yourself than to ask others for help. They see the society as SOCIAL. And that if they can offer help, they should… and if they need help, someone else should offer it. I agree with them.

VINCENT: I am not saying or implying that you are denigrating these rural folks. However, I do believe that your analysis was a bit skewed in some ways. I guess mine would be too if I tried to assess New York City denizens.

MYKEL: Again, you’re right. I was only in Punxsy a month. When I was in Mongolia one of the professors at the university told me, “You’d better write that book in the year you’re here. After that time, you’ll realize how much you don’t understand.”

-end-

ENDNOTES: [You can contact me on facebook or by email at god@mykelboard.com. Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available. Subscribe to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group readmboard-subscribe@yahoogroups.com]

Nice Try dept: Mashable reports that Droogie, the handle of a California hacker, figured he could outsmart the DMV by choosing a license plate that would throw off the computers. He chose NULL, figuring that when the computers read the plate number, they’d toss it out. He figured wrong. What happened is that all the tickets on cars with plates that couldn’t be read went to Droogie. He was the null one, and he got all the NULL tickets-- $12,000 worth. I don’t know that this proves or disproves anything, but it’s fun to read about.

Sucker dept: True Activist website posted a story that McDonalds has adopted a policy that bans buying food for homeless people. Since I was in the middle of writing this blog. I had homeless on the mind, and thus was perfect sucker-bait. The story is false. Evidently some employees of a McD’s in Manchester UK told customers that, so that they could get some odoriferous people out of the building. They made it up on the spot. I need to be more careful.

Whoops dept: The government of South Dakota had started a campaign to inform people that they were working to reduce methamphetamine use in the state.



This follows on the… er… heels of another South Dakota campaign, this one aimed at teaching drivers not to jerk the wheel to correct an ice skid:




LINK TRADE DEPARTMENT:

I read that the search engines like lots of links... and it's also nice to support my friends --and enemies-- in their blogs. So facebook me or email me if you have a blog, webpage or something else to connect to. I add you. You add me.


Here's a start:
  • David Goldberg's Busy Microbes Blog
  • And another Goldberg: goldberg.wordpress.com
  • Poetry and humor fans will like Justin Martin in The Latency
  • And my friend Mike R has a nice site with recipe hits from the past! (He cooked for me once... great stuff.) Check out Yesterday's Recipes.
  • And here's one by a member of ANTI-SEEN... a tour diary of sorts.
  • Andy Shelton has an interesting blog here.
  • Savage Hippie is a guy who has been YouTubing for a long time. Our opinions largely overlap... but he complains that I'm a Communist. I'm not! I'm a communist.
  • Chris Stecher publishes a zine called PRECIS. You can see the back issue links there... and he promises a new issue soon.
  • George Fertakis has a very nice graphics-heavy blog... with music and books featured prominently. If there’s no link here (I can’t find it temporarily), then Google… er… Duckduckgo him for information.
  • And my long-term pal Sid Yiddish contributes with his Mishegas Master Blog.

Let me know if you have a blog… or a PRINT zine and want to be added to the list. You show me yours… you’ve already seen mine. god@mykelboard.com




Saturday, November 02, 2019

You’re Still Wrong Mykel's Blog November 2019 or Life With Phil!



You’re STILL Wrong
or
Mykel's
November 2019 Blog/Column
Life With Nothing But A Groundhog

by Mykel Board

Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.
--James Carville




I sit at the Midway, a rundown bar in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. On one side of the sign outside it says: OPEN E ERY DAY, on the other side is WED. NITE WINGS. They haven’t had food of any kind for over a year.

Yeungling on tap is usually $1.75 a pint. Today it’s $2.25.

What’s up with that?” I ask Marcy, the bartendress. [NOTE: I’ve been here a couple of weeks now, and have yet to see a MALE bartender… at any bar.]

It’s an Octoberfest beer, Mykel,” she says, “costs more.”

$2.25 a beer is EXPENSIVE around here. [NOTE TO READERS WHO DO NOT LIVE IN MASSIVE GENTRIFIED CITIES: average cost of a beer in a Manhattan bar? $8]

I sit next to my pal Vincent. He has a doctorate in economics… used to teach business before the local college decided to become exclusively a culinary school.

Behind the bar, there are two huge TV screens. Bigger than you’d see at any sports bar in New York. On one screen is a hunting show. The bearded millennial compares rifles and crossbows… showing this and that dead deer… picking them up by the antlers and making their dead heads look right, then left.

Before we get to the meat of my bar visit, let’s zoom out… helicopter view…

Punxsutawney PA... famous one day a year, it sinks into depression for the other 364 days. The entire spirit of the town is the groundhog. There are groundhog statues everywhere… in all sizes. There’s groundhog beer, groundhog pizza, and the Weather Museum. The city motto is Weather Capital of The World. Maybe, but surely for only one day a year.

I’m here learning about small town America. What it’s like… what the people are like… how they think… how they live.



I thought I knew. I thought I grew up in a small town. Hicksville... yeah, that’s really the name of my hometown... has a population of 36,000. One Catholic high school, and one high school for normal people. It’s changed since I lived there… but when I did it was all white. For foreign food, we had Frank’s Alibi (Italian) and Long’s Chinese (later closed down for serving cat meat).

It took 45 minutes to take the train into THE CITY and another 45 minutes to take it back. My father did it every day… I did it on weekends. Some of my friends had cars and girlfriends and rarely left the county. We had a house with three bedrooms, an attic, and a basement.

I used to tell people I grew up in a small town on Long Island. A month in Punxsutawny has taught me there is a difference between a small town on Long Island and A SMALL TOWN IN AMERICA.

Take Jews. (I won’t say it.) In Hicksville, about ten percent of the population was Jewish. There was one synagogue in town… and half a dozen within ten miles. Hicksville High had the track system. Smart kids in Track One. Normal kids in Track Two. Dumb kids in Track Three. Most of the Jews were in Track One. The Poles and Italians in Track Two. The Irish in Track Three.

Up until Punxy, Hicksville was the SMALL TOWN I grew up in. Now I know I didn’t know jack shit about what that is. Hicksville is not a small town. It’s a suburb. A NEW YORK CITY suburb. It’s about as small town as East and West Egg… though much less opulent.

In Punxsutawney in 2019, there is one Jewish family. The nearest synagogue is 20 miles away… and on Yom Kippur there are fewer than 20 people in attendance.

Punxsutawney is all bars and churches,” my landlady tells me.

I haven’t visited any churches, although some are beautiful… but the bars… that’s where I go to find out about the locals in any non-Muslim location. And believe me, Punxsutawney Pennsylvania is as non-Muslim as The Vatican.

What else can I tell you?

Well, people here are fat. I don’t mean overweight. I don’t mean obese by government standards. I mean HUUUUGE… MONSTER-SIZE… Three airplane seats width… asses from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia… especially the women. There are almost as many motorized wheelchairs as there are cars. It’s hard to know if people need them because

A. They’re too fat for their legs to support.

or

B. They’re so fat because they use the wheelchairs and never walk.

It doesn’t matter. People here are also kind… amazingly kind. My landlady drives me from one end of town to the other… and to several towns nearby... so I can explore the nooks and crannies of the local culture. Her husband walks with me through the back roads that lead to the train tracks that lead to trails that lead to grown over coke ovens… reclaimed by the woods after decades of non-use… overgrown remnants of richer coal-mining days.






Guys at the bars buy me a drink just to start a conversation. A woman at the historical society drives me to the nearest T-mobile facility… at least 90 miles away… so I can replace my recently deceased cellphone. Why did she drive me? BECAUSE SHE’S NICE… and people here are nice.



They smile and say hi to strangers on the street. Waitresses ask how I am. At the local beer, blues, and BBQ fest, a matronly woman warns me against the sour beer making a sour face. A writers’ group at the library asks me to join them for their monthly meeting. (Note: The quality of the writing among the group members is spectacular.)



FLASH BACK TO THE MIDWAY:

Mykel,” says Vincent, “I got my bank statement in the mail yesterday. I have ten dollars in the bank. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

I’ll buy you a beer,” I tell him.

That’s not it,” he says. “Marcy knows me… I have credit here...”

One of the things you need,” I answer, “credit at the bar and a friend in the police force.”

There are maybe half a dozen cops in Punxsutawney,” he says,. “They pick up drunks. Who needs ‘em as friends? I need a job.”

You’re a PhD!” I say. “You can’t find a job? Why don’t you tutor?”

The school here is a small school,” he answers. “The department heads don’t like me. And there’s nowhere else to go.”

The door to the bar opens and a man in his mid-forties comes in. Ruffled blond hair, an unintentional beard, dirty t-shirt, jeans and work boots. People say “Hi Ernest,” as he passes them to sit at the bar.

Hi Ernest,” I say as he passes me.

He looks at me… squints… “Do I know you?”

I’m in town for a month… doing some research… I’m going to be writing about the town… or at least using the town as a setting for something I’m writing.”

Oh,” he says, shaking my hand. “You’re that guy.”

I smile.

You have an unfair advantage,” I say. “Tell me about yourself.

He sits down on a barstool on the other side of me from Vincent. Marcy brings him a Bud Lite.

I used to work in the coal mines,” he says. “I had an accident… cracked my spine… was in the hospital for a month… then almost a year in a wheelchair. After I got through with physical therapy, I got a new job.”

What do you do now?” I ask.

I’m a roofer,” he answers.

You like danger, huh?”

He laughs.

I like working with my hands… being outside now… looking up at the beautiful blue sky… ”

I know,” I tell him, “I LOVE the blue sky here. Any direction, as long as it’s up… blue… blue… blue. In New York, we’re lucky if we get ten minutes of blue sky a week.”

He shakes his head.

I just like standing on the roof, looking up… the sun, the sky, nothing between me and them.”

I get it,” I say, “and I love it. New Yorkers would never notice a blue sky. They all walk with their heads down, nose to their iPhones… blocking anyone who really has a place to go… If, by some miracle of awareness, they realized the sky was blue, they wouldn’t look at it. They’d just hold their iPhones up to take a picture.”

He laughs again.

Watcha been doing in town?” he asks me.

Taking in the sights,” I tell him. “I walked along the back trails and saw the coke ovens… or what’s left of them”

Obama did that,” says Ernest. “He just shut ‘em all down.”

That’s not fair,” answers Vincent. “That started a long time before Obama… he was just the latest in the move.”

Let me tell you, Mykel,” says Ernest. “Before Trump I didn’t have a job. After Trump I do have a job. That’s what you’ve got to know. We all thank him for that.”

Yes, this is Trump country. And it’s white… Fox TV-watching… gun-owning America. And the people here are great. Here, like in bars everywhere, they gossip and talk politics. And boy, do I have a fuck of a lot to learn from them.

BANG!

Can you tell me what the fuck a constitutional crisis means if you have ten dollars in the bank? Can you explain what collusion is if the coal mines… where you and your father and his father worked for years… have gone out of business?

Can you clarify obstruction of justice when the stores on Mahoning St. (the main drag) are empty, and jobs (low-paying, long hours) have started to come back to the city just after the last presidential election?

It should be a requirement… every city slicker should be forced to sit down with the locals in a small town in Pennsylvania… or Wisconsin… or Indiana. And they should be forced to SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

The locals are not interested in conspiracy theories... on how some Russian Putin agent is hiding under every bed… remote controlling every voting machine… beaming secret signals directly into a receiver embedded in Donald Trump’s hair. They don’t care if Trump paid off a whore… or if his skin looks orange under LED lights. They have closer --more important-- things to worry about.

Back in New York:

Ah, looks like we’re finally going to get rid of that orange guy… impeach… he’s trampling on the Constitution… of course he does… Putin told him to… all roads lead to Putin.

I sigh and shake my head. “You’ll never get it,” I don’t say.

ENDNOTES: [You can contact me on facebook or by email at god@mykelboard.com. Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available. Back blogs and columns are at https://mykelsblog.blogspot.com. Subscribe to the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group readmboard-subscribe@yahoogroups.com]

-→A shit solution is a good solution dept: Springfield, Missouri authorities have come up with an effective shame campaign to reduce dogshit in the downtown area. Turd piles are being tagged with recycled paper flags saying Is this your turd? 'Cuz that's absurd, and This is a nudge to pick up the fudge. The city says it spends $7,500 a year to pick up 25 pounds of shit per week from downtown parks and parking lots. My question: who weighs that shit?


-->Open your wallet for God dept: CBS news reports that if you have enough bucks, you can buy a pair of Nike Air Max 97s Jesus Shoes from a Brooklyn company called MSCHF. Introduced Oct. 8, the shoes have 60ccs of holy water from the Jordan River injected into the soles so you can literally walk on water.” The shoes also have a crucifix in the laces, red insoles related to “Vatican traditions,” and a Matthew 14:25 inscription. They are also scented with frankincense and are a god-like white and light blue color. The Jesus Shoes originally sold for $1,425, but are now fetching anywhere from $2,000 to upwards of $11,000. No need to buy me a pair. I’m waiting for the Satan Shoes with blood from a virgin in the soles.


LINK TRADE DEPARTMENT:

I read that the search engines like lots of links... and it's also nice to support my friends and enemies in their blogs. So facebook me or email me if you have a blog, webpage or something else to connect to. I add you. You add me.


Here's a start:
  • David Goldberg's Busy Microbes Blog
  • And another Goldberg: goldberg.wordpress.com
  • Poetry and humor fans will like Justin Martin in The Latency
  • And my friend Mike R has a nice site with recipe hits from the past! (He cooked for me once... great stuff.) Check out Yesterday's Recipes.
  • And here's one by a member of ANTI-SEEN... a tour diary of sorts.
  • Andy Shelton has an interesting blog here.
  • Savage Hippie is a guy who has been YouTubing for a long time. Our opinions largely overlap... but he complains that I'm a Communist. I'm not! I'm a communist.
  • Chris Stecher publishes a zine called PRECIS. You can see the back issue links there... and he promises a new issue soon.
  • George Fertakis has a very nice graphics-heavy blog... with music and books featured prominently. If there’s no link here (I can’t find it temporarily), then Google… er… Duckduckgo him for information.
  • And my long-term pal Sid Yiddish contributes with his Mishegas Master Blog.
  • Carol Bergman has a blog about writing that features one of my favorite people: Me.

Let me know if you have a blog… or a PRINT zine and want to be added to the list. You show me yours… you’ve already seen mine. god@mykelboard.com

MYKEL'S APRIL 2021 BLOG or Side Effects

  You’re STILL Wrong or Mykel's April 2021 Blog/Column Side Effects by Mykel Board With some things we are try...