The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, June 22, 2018

South of the Border

I don’t have much to say at the moment, but I thought I’d say it anyway. We are much confused these days between legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants, whom the press often refer to as undocumented workers, and I thought I might be able to do something to explain the difference.  The first category in the previous sentence is an actual category of people living here in this our Great Republic. Those people are individuals who obeyed American immigration law, applied to come to the United States, and jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops the collective Kafkaesque mind of the immigration bureaucracy could devise to come out on the other side with a legal resident card, the legendary Green Card, which I understand is actually a sort of off-peach color these days. They are, by virtue of their obeying the law and acquiring the off-peach green card, allowed to live and work in our country with all the rights and privileges of citizens of the land. The only privilege not extended to these good folks is that of suffrage, the franchise being limited to actual citizens and those who like KFC’s chicken. This is one of the great mysteries of the modern world to me; I cannot eat more than a few pieces of the Colonel’s cuisine without started to belch uncontrollably. I think I am allergic to at least one of the eleven secret spices in the original recipe. 

On the other hand, the category of undocumented immigrant (or worker) is a euphemism and I think I can say without too much controversy that the point of a euphemism is to not call something by its right name because its right name accurately describes the person or thing described and that accurate description is, for one reason or another, uncomfortable or inconvenient or politically incorrect. In this case, the politically incorrect phrase we are looking for is illegal alien. This is a short phrase, but it clearly shows that the person who bears the name is one, currently living and working in the United States of America in violation of the laws governing immigration to the United States of America, and two, a citizen of a country that is not the United States of America.  Hence, illegal alien. That does not seem so hard to figure out, I think, and when I am confused with the concept, a confusion progressives and capitalists alike choose to foster for reasons both political and mercenary, I simply remember that my mother and her brothers and their wives are legal immigrants to the United States and that the guys who are mowing my neighbor’s lawn as I write this probably are not.  Now, I am sure that the guys mowing the lawn next door are very nice people who want what’s best for their families, but so were my paternal grandparents and my mom and her brothers and their wives and they didn’t see the need to come into the country illegally. What the guys next door mowing the lawn are, in short, line jumpers, people who make the thousands patiently going through the process feel as though they are idiots for showing up for interviews and filling out questionnaires and doing the right thing when all they have to do is cut out the middleman and get across the border one way or another. So why bother doing the right thing? 

The purpose of immigration law, as I understand it, is to give the federal government a chance to look over the people who want to move here and determine whether those people should move here.  This is not controversial: every country in the world, with the possible exception of Germany these days, does the same thing.  There is no inherent right to enter and reside in the United States, unless, of course, you are an American citizen or a legal resident.  For all others, entry to this country is not a human right, it is not a civil right, it is not a constitutional right, it is not a natural right. Entry to this country is a privilege that the government grants and that the government can withdraw at any time the government feels necessary.  A temporary visa is just that: temporary. You get to come in, maybe study at an overpriced college that will be more than happy to charge you twice what they are charging Americans, or go take a look at the Empire State Building and the Grand Canyon, maybe catch a bus tour of the stars’ homes in Hollywood, or hang out in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras and grab some beads and flash your tits to the crowd down on Bourbon Street. And then you go home. I fail to understand what is so complicated about that, but then, I do not need cheap labor to line my pockets—I can mow my own lawn, thank you very much—nor do I feel the need, in Brecht’s catchy phrase, to dissolve the people and elect another in order to make sure I can win elections.  Asking that people obey the law didn’t used to be a matter of such contention; that it is now tells me that people want the law changed but know that such change is not possible; the people who already live here, you see, get to have a say in such matters, which seems to annoy a great many Masters of the Universe no end.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Anthony Bourdain

I had a dream on Saturday night, yes I did, but first, a little background.  When I am not writing for this blog, which, let’s face it, is most of the time, I am either working diligently in a sideways sort of fashion at the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my daily bread or I am going to bars and photographing the musicians playing at those bars.  Saturday was an exceptionally productive night; people were out and about, some of them were drinking heavily, and in the presence of a 1980’s cover band, a good many of them started dancing like there was no tomorrow. I am very partial to this sort of photograph. The trouble with photographing musicians in bars is that there is nothing inherently dramatic about what musicians do up on the stage. It is very much like trying to capture effect without also capturing the cause of the effect. After all, the person looking at the photograph of the musician after the fact cannot hear the music.  So what I do to compensate for this is that I try to capture the looks on the musicians’ faces as they play in order to convey the emotional intensity of people doing something they love. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t—some musicians are extravagant with their expressions, while others just look down at their instruments trying to make sure that they don’t drop notes or play in the wrong key; it is pretty hit or miss, as is almost anything so dependent on a person’s personality— but what does work on a pretty consistent basis are photographs of people dancing. Dancing means the music is hot and people are having a good time, and who doesn’t like seeing people have a good time? I know I do and I suspect you do as well. Anhedonia, like Marxism, cheese and squirrel sandwiches, and the designated hitter rule have no place in any civilized society. 

As I said, it was a productive night photographically and I got home much at a much later hour than a man my age should be getting home at. I was still wound up; watching other people have fun takes a lot out of a person, you know; and so I watched the news for an hour, which, at that time, was all about Anthony Bourdain dying in France. I finally got to bed at about five and promptly skipped all the preliminary stages of sleep and went directly to deep sleep and stayed there for a while, enjoying the ambiance of the place and the free pistachios with an equally free wine cooler, compliments of the house. Several hours later, I was sitting in my spot at the end of the bar in my favorite watering hole, drinking a Diet Coke and doing what everyone does in such a social setting: I was looking at something on my cellphone. Consequently, I paid no attention to who was coming and going; it’s a bar, after all—someone is always coming and going. A customer came in and sat at the corner and asked Corinne, the pride of Melbin, South Australia, an actual place or so Corinne tells me, for a Corona and a lemon. I looked up to ask Corinne for the bill and stopped. Anthony Bourdain was sitting at the corner of the bar looking at Corinne as she pulled the Corona out of the fridge. As I am never at a loss for words in any social situation I said, “You’re dead! What are you doing here?”  Bourdain twisted the top off of the Corona and looked at me. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “Bad decision there. What’s your excuse?”

And then I woke up.  That was three days ago and I am still wondering what my excuse is. I must have one, right?

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