Monday, May 3, 2010

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

Illegal border crossings are on my mind today, the day after May Day (OK, now it's the day after the day after). May Day is the international day of celebration for labor. It got its start in the United States, but at some point it made us nervous. We tamed the day and moved it to coincide with the start of school each fall.

I celebrated with a house-busting crowd at Subversive Theatre last night. Funny. There is a ton of parking at this former factory facility, but last night it was over-full. Turns out there was a fashion show of some kind at the same venue. I had to park on the grass.

What a day! I caught the Kentucky Derby. They opened the Small Boat Harbor. Someone planted a carbomb and got Times Square evacuated. Subversive Theatre gets a full house! I learned about Mother Jones, who was, I believe, channeled more than she was acted out. It was as though a ghost was present, as we all sang songs of labor; defiance of the capitalist Man.

I missed the real protest march, some small echo of the big one I heard they had in L.A. But I was there in spirit, asleep on my couch, blacked out somehow from too much excitement the day before, although I can't remember exactly what I'd been doing. Oh yeah! Reading my ghost story. Staying out late afterward to have dinner with a friend.

Then last night my phone rang three times before I figured out that someone really needed to get in touch with me. I didn't recognize the area code. It was my daughter on a borrowed phone, distraught because her own had been stolen. M'aidez papa!

Three dots three dashes and three more dots, the universal call for help at sea. Well, I'm at sea. I told them at the reading, trying to locate the story I was about to read, that I'd translated it some 30 years ago while living aboard my old wooden sailboat. The one I just now gave away. It was my molted cocoon somehow, and I'd thought I'd emerged from it that many years ago, but in fact I am only recently shed of it.

And now I'm stuck in some sort of limbo. No income, no clear sense of where I'll be living come labor day. No sense of any further energy to endure more labor pains for myself aborning. I never could fall back to sleep last night. My heart had taken on a kind of ringing beat. My mind would not let go of the day.

No question for me that the labor movement, proper, must itself now move offshore. These goods and services we pay so little for are created on the backs of workers in some Chinese or Indian sweatshop. We have exported all the misery we once fought so hard against. And now even those on the left seem all too eager to regain control of our borders, as though that will ever work.

The osmotic pressure at our limits goes both ways. Capitalists have always craved desperate workers to put alongside the ones who have become too comfortable. That's what the union movement was all about. Now unions have been rendered not just irrelevant but somehow deserving of the contempt of working folks. It's all very very confusing.

This will be a lazy post I should have posted yesterday, but I was too busy taking a bike ride to check out the city. Stay tuned . . .

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