Sometimes I just don't know anymore, this life, this crazy existence is taking its toll on me. I just don't know how to explain it, a month ago, I was sitting in a McDonald's restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota making friends with the homeless and today, I am in paradise and it makes me feel a bit antsy inside.
I am in Astoria Oregon sitting in a house overlooking the bay and it is a beautiful site to see. The town is picturesque, like a postcard and here at least, I've yet to see anyone dumpster diving or hand lettering signs to beg for food. I saw them all yesterday on the way up here, but it's as if I have passed into another dimension and I know that it is me and not the place. I'm like the soldier who feels guilty for being away from the front, and I don't know if I can have fun anymore.
It's hard to explain, but at the same time I feel so fortunate, I have meet so many truly wonderful people. People I never would have ever gotten to meet any other way. Yesterday, I stood before the massive Mt. Hood and laughed out loud at myself. I once thought that Stone Mountain in Georgia was something to see, but standing before the mighty snow covered Hood, Stone Mountain looks like something from a child's sandbox.
Life is compressed into a small space, what I can carry in my pockets and in my computer bag. The immense relief I felt by being able to transfer from train to bus without having to shell out another $2.40. I put $3.00 in the fare machine and it gave me sixty cents change, in nickels! I look forward to a new toothbrush or a bottle of conditioner for my hair like Christmas. How do I want my sandwich? However it comes, what do I want on my hamburger? It doesn't matter. Is the bed too hard or too soft? It doesn't matter; these things no longer matter to me.
Oregon is every bit as beautiful as they say it is and yet, I have barely scratched the surface. Portland is cool, funky and bohemian, nestled in the hills, nourished by the rivers. Streets lined with non-chain store small businesses and coffee shops. Harassed by an incorrigible and drizzling rain to which the locals pay little attention. Not unlike the Minnesotan's I've encountered who respond to three foot of snow smiling, "some snow, eh?"
The one thing I have learned for certain in my journey across these United States is that no matter where you go, the government is fucked up! Suzanne Bonamichi is running for Congress here in Oregon and in her TV ads she promises if elected, she will get Washington's priorities straight. She will help Oregon's struggling small business and she will create jobs! Who needs a comedy channel? And she is the Democrat! Why sure, that's all we need, Washington just needs to rearrange its priorities. Kind of like the Captain of the Titanic saying, we just need to watch were we're going; it's true but insanely simplistic.
In Minneapolis, the city cut $24 million dollars from the school budget after state funding was cut. Meanwhile, the Governor wants to call a special session of the legislature to discuss building a billion dollar football stadium for a football team owned by a billionaire. A football team which didn't win enough games this year to fill one hand. Priorities? So Mitt Romney doesn't care about the poor? I'm shocked; does Barrack Obama care about the poor? If so, he sure doesn't let it show much. Politicians are like holding a bag of snakes, you don't need to look inside the bag to see what kind of snakes they are, you won't learn much. It costs millions of dollars to run for Congress and an estimated one billion to run for the Presidency. No bucks, no Buck Rodgers, you get the government that you can afford. Don't have any money, well then, that's the government you're going to get, none.
In the end, your choices will be Mitt the investment banker and corporate raider who doesn't care about the poor or Barack Obama, the candidate from Goldman Sachs, who feels your pain. Barrack with the huge heart, who just nine months before election day proposes mortgage reductions for everybody and free ice cream on Sundays. If only, Washington could get its priorities straight.
It was three AM, when the bus stopped outside of Bismarck North Dakota at a combination bowling alley, bar and all night cafe'. It was a strange experience to drop into a town at such an early hour. As I drank my coffee I read the bulletin board. "Three bedroom trailer $1,400 per month, first and last months rent plus one month deposit, in cash!" Yes, the oil boom is on, "slightly used, size 11 work boots $75.00" and well, the oil fields aren't for everyone. It's strange what hangs in our memory like an old coat, a Bismarck bowling alley at three AM, on a dark night as white snow blows across an empty street past the pulsating red light.
I guess I'm in flux, not lost but not found either, miserably poor and yet fabulously wealthy. Halcyon days, before the storm comes next November, which is the break point. The time when the mask will drop, the Federal Reserve recently announced that it would keep interest rates artificially low for the next three years, and in response, the stock market dropped. Low interest rates mean that banks cannot make any money by lending money. It also means as older loans at the higher interest rates are paid off the banks will have nothing left to replace the revenue with.
Astoria in the night reminded me of my native Atlanta. In Atlanta, at night, you can see the aircraft backed up in the black sky equally spaced, waiting their turn to land. In Astoria, I saw the great cargo ships backed up in the Columbia River waiting to land. Each equally spaced with their lights shimmering proudly, waiting to offload new Honda's from Japan or containers from China or Korea while other empty ships were waiting to be loaded with grain, coal or logs. Each day finished goods arriving while raw materials are shipping out, a recipe for a weak economy and a recipe for disaster. Free Trade is not only not free, it is toxic.
Yet, this is Super Bowl Sunday, Capitalist Christmas combining professional sport, professional media and professional salesmanship. An orgy of Capitalism and nationalism, remember what George W. Bush told us after 9-11, go shopping! A spectacle, a spectacular and a sales opportunity, as one by one the occupy movements are smothered and snuffed out. Football, flag waving and flagellation, one more round for the house complete with a designated distraction, but first a moment of silence for our troops defending our freedom oh, so far away, yeah right.
Sometimes I just don't know anymore, but this much I do know. I saw a play yesterday described as, "futuristic" about a declared national emergency. In the final scene of the play the unlikely heroine shoots dead two agents of the Department of Homeland Security and then declares as she stands on a desk in the police station firing off her pistols into the air, "the revolution starts right f*cking here!" And the crowd gave her a standing ovation" priorities?