Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living in upside down times


"I had to escape, the city was sticky and cruel
Maybe I should have called you first, but I was dying to get to you."
                      --Roy Orbison, "I Drove All Night"

Ah, the venerable Roy Orbison.  Such yearning.  Such longing.  Such desire.  Wanting to fill a vast emptiness inside.  Yeah.  I get ya.  Maybe not in the romantic sense, but the premise can be extended.
I am dark and moody today.  The sun burns hot overhead, looking like smooth peach out of a can.  All around is bright, save for my onboard software.  It's been spotty.  I feel like someone took one of those multiple-scoops-on-a-conveyor-belt excavators and hollowed me out.  The breeze runs cool over the jagged edges of the hollow while the blood and pus coagulate down the sides.  I am heavy with sadness.
Why for all this visceral outcry?  What could be so wrong?  Compounding errors formed into a cascade failure.  
Summer is when the state fiscal year begins here in Illinois.  In case you haven't seen today's news, the state of Illinois has the largest budget deficit in the nation.  Yes, we've even surpassed California.  Hell, we might've even outdone Greece at this point.
 To plug this hemorrhaging hole, politicians have resorted to their last line of defense: raise taxes and cut services, with the cuts going first of course because no one would dare suggest a tax raise anywhere in these great free United States.  
My day job is state-funded to a large degree.  We were cut.  We lost three employees.  One of them was my friend.  
This happens.  I get it.  Cuts happen to many state budgets and there's really nowhere good to cut (more on that in a bit.)  If social services are spared, that just paints a target on schools, hospitals, roads, police, and fire services.  Can't really go without those, can we?  No, my gradually growing resentment over losing my friend has both micro and macro facets.
On the job level, the reasons for choosing to dismiss him were most Kafka-like, specifically Kafka's The Trial.  Someone was accused of something and in the end it was really a most nebulous charge, complete with Orwellian cover stories and doublespeak (could I have crammed any more literary references into that sentence?)  When truly scrutinized, the logic for the decision falls apart and therefore the only conclusion that can be made is that it was a personal strike.
That is not where my objections stop.  It's this whole system that is out of order.  We in this state are facing this crisis due to dirty politics and greed.  Period.  No need to pick sides or party affiliations to blame.  They all are responsible.  Republicans.  Democrats.  Each of them to the person.  The budget is in the toilet, they can't find any money, but God forbid the plug gets yanked on a black hole, pork project that's keeping an incumbent in office while the "serfs" lose their jobs.  Too bad we all can't be like bank executives who are "too big to fail" and are granted Federal subsidies.  Too bad we all can't be Tony Hayward and insufferably screw up our jobs, step down, and rake in a $1 million severance and a $600K/year pension plus stocks.  Must be nice.  These greedy corporate schmucks are just about enough to get me to believe David Icke's "lizard people" theory.
"We live in upside down times."  That's what my neighbor, a recently laid off auto mechanic told me.  Couldn't agree more.  I've got the hole in my gut to prove it, courtesy of the state of Illinois.
Oh but you've had enough of me being such a gloomy gus.  Best I stop now before I go on to further topics that sadden me to no end, such as my PhD rejections, my unpublished writing, endless routines of laundry and lawn watering, and maybe even the death of Gary Coleman.  So, in the words of Lou Reed, "what's good?"  I've compiled a short list:
Lattes.  Duran Duran.  U2.  REM.  Neil Gaiman.  Portishead.  Snoopy.  Neo-Dada art.  
My collection of science fiction books.  Olive Garden.
And of course, Roy Orbison.


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