Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Katrina, Katrina

Everyone in Buffalo must have been rooting for The Saints. And everyone in Buffalo must have felt cheated when New Orleans got to win its Super Bowl. We couldn't ever do it even with four chances almost in a row. We saw our projection; the underdog. But the one who played us up on the big screen was so much better looking. Which might be flattering, except that you have to live with yourself in real life.

Our politics are just as corrupt! Our schools are just as bad! We suffer natural disasters too, except that ours are laughable. Something to make contemptuous jokes about. And although we don't generally show our tits, we get just as drunk in public on St. Patrick's day, say, or at the Bills games.

What we lack is cool, and so, although we were once as big, and came on our falling short the old fashioned way - we earned it over time - we don't even deserve anything other than contempt for our bombed out condition. Hell, we never got it together enough to put a roof over our stadium in the first place, and it would make a lot more sense here than there. And our roofs hardly ever blow off, although they might from the blasting of our crowds.

Everyone knows the story of the frog in the kettle who never knows enough to jump out until it's just too late. Until it's too late, it just feels nice, and sunny, and like a hot-tub, maybe, and then somewhere along the line your energy's been robbed, and still it gets hotter and hotter, and somewhere in there you lose all sense at all.

I guess, looking at that frog, you can just feel contempt that he didn't have the sense to jump out when he could, just like most of the talented people who grew up in Buffalo have always done. And then you just wanna say something like die, sucka, die. So you can eat the frog's legs? Shouldn't you have killed him off ahead of time? Or is Buffalo like a lobster, without an advanced enough nervous system to register pain. Yeah, that's it. We're just too stupid.

And everybody down in Haiti now is looking for that silver lining, like all those people had to die before the centuries-long tragedy could be turned about. As though it will be now? As though somehow if you get the chance to know what being made an object feels like, then at least you will never do it to some other? Or never do it again? Or will you just write a check and be on your way?

If you are raped, you have been made an object. If you are a slave. If you are taken for your beauty only. Or for your intelligence. Or your money. If your life is not worth paying any attention, then you have been made an object. And if you live, then all that you have left is your humanity. And right there, as David Foster Wallace reminds us that Victor Frankel reminded us, is the only choice you've ever had in your life. To be human or not to be. It's a choice and not a grant.

But so much of the time we only know how to do back unto others as they have done to us. Not because we're mean, but because we never really did understand that we were being made into an object ourselves. So, we celebrate getting ours back even before the Mardi Gras, even to something more extreme than the party that will happen the day before we must begin our pretense of mourning. Because today we are alive, even though tomorrow that asteroid might hit, as they made such good fun of in those SuperBowl ads.

Well, we're still here in Buffalo. We're still human, what's left of us. We're not looking forward to some disaster larger than the laughable ones, which still kill lots of people if you want to really know. Walking around in circles snowblind, or maybe dropping from the sky because we won't stand for unions, or just on the streets from guns since all the money has skittered out to the suburbs where they eat each others' children just to get their own into the most Ivys.

Grim? Even the Bills are probably not about to stay around these parts. Our stadium looks like the WalMart edition, and Toronto has one with a flip top right around the corner. In the same dense market, only cooler. Way cooler.

The real test is what you do for the one who's losing consciousness slowly. The real test is what you do to your neighbor, even though he stinks. The real test is how much looting you're already doing, in slow motion, from the wide open stores of the once great now dying cities, happy that you can win by airconditioned wild west absence of civic anything, and nevermind virtue, bringing in the outsourced quality, and paying something under half of the wages of dignity. Because people are willing, at least, to have something rather than nothing.

Well, shame on you America, shame on you. You never pay attention until it can make you look good. And you know, I do feel a bit of pity for the ones who are loved only for their wealth and beauty and intelligence. But more sorry that you have to take it out on the rest of the world, as if there were no other choice.

No comments: