“It is What it is,” They Said Vacantly.

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

found on facebook

A lot of rapes happening lately, in our fair city.

Not what you expected under this lovely picture, is it? It was starting to feel so safe in New York! It was as if the city was kind—in itself, I mean, in its razzmatazz soul. It’s not, though. The metro beat is hard on people, even if you don’t get raped. Everyone—okay, a significant proportion—have a dangerously overgrown nervous systems; you can see those extra nerves whipping under people’s skin like angry snakes. You can see it in 12-year-olds.

I’m attuned to the dark side—you know that by now. Somebody has to do it. I’m casting about, figuring out how to write about the savage birds inside me without letting them eat my liver. Words are not my servants. They can be gifts; they can be wounds. I hover, wanting to do things prudently, and thinking maybe I can’t.

Charles is thinking about looking for work. He’s talented and resourceful, blessed with a quick and eclectic mind, a wide range of skills, and an utter lack of assholic tendencies. But he’s not quite as young as he used to be. Worse than that, it’s 2012, which is not as bad as 2009, but not as good as any other year before 2008. I recently saw 50 resumes (sifted by HR out of many 100s) of people with multiple degrees & solid experience for what was a modest-salaried entry-level job. This isn’t news, but it’s different when you read the resumes for yourself, feel the desperation with which people present themselves, following in lockstep the advice of the experts about how to do it—which got them all tossed into the reject pile. The ones who got interviewed were those who sounded like actual people. The one who got the job had the least experience. She’s doing great.

You wonder about all these degrees. There’s so much that can be learned for free; I could spend the next hundred years in bed with my laptop and not be done with it. So much depends (or not) on that very expensive, risky investment in a credential. When young people I know take on debt to go to graduate school, I fear for them. New York is rolling in people with graduate degrees. And a good proportion of the new college graduates who couldn’t get jobs in 2009/2010 are now hiding out in law school (thought safer than B school, for some reason having to do with the fear of ending up in jail: alas, delusional).

The Orphans of the Crash now make up a sovereign entity with more residents than New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas combined.

One day these kids will be pushed out of the higher education hive. If they don’t find jobs, what will become of them? Will they offer their warm bodies and overeducated minds to new incarnations of Occupy Wall Street? Become the climate change soldier corps we need for round-the-clock protest, vigils, volunteer work?

I imagine, in the near dystopian future, that they auction off their childhood bedrooms. Actual orphans, victims of foreign wars, having amassed savings by driving cabs 24 hours a day, become able to lounge in suburban enclaves on long vacations, enjoying the bewildered attentions of parents forced to honor their children’s debts by treating these strangers as kin. It’s good for America. It’s just like a movie. The savvier parents negotiate TV deals. One day, you’ll be able to sell your faith, your sense of humor, perfect pitch, ability to get any member of the opposite sex in bed. Caveat Emptor.

Charles is playing his guitar on the street, making a few dollars. He refuses to try it with a cat on his head.

New York Notes

1.Caught on a side street in heavy traffic, I said to the cabbie, I should have walked. He replied, I should have been a doctor. 2. When can I get on the 11:33, I ask the guy in the information booth at the Atlantic Avenue Station. When they open the doors, he says. I am home among my people.

Harvey Shapiro

Old Coat

Dressed in an old coat I lumber
Down a street in the East Village, time itself

Whistling up my ass and looking to punish me
For all the undone business I have walked away from,

And I think I might have stayed
In that last tower by the ocean,

The one I built with my hands and furnished
Using funds which came to me at nightfall, in a windfall….

Just ahead of me, under the telephone wires
On this long lane of troubles, I notice a gathering

Of viciously insane criminals I’ll have to pass
Getting to the end of this long block in eternity.

There’s nothing between us. Good
I look so dangerous in this coat.

Liam Rector


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