UTOPIA RULES: a few simple suggestions for fixing this shit

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ONE: SEX

Let’s end A) teen pregnancy B) the violence-triggering sexual frustration of male teens C) ignorance regarding the clitoris (and the unfortunate knock-on effects of this ignorance, later in life) among female teens and D) America’s Puritanical attitudes and sex laws… by popularizing Pragmatic Homosexuality among people under 18.

Anyone ready and/or willing to transition to Het Sex after the age of 18 may well be a tad more ready for it than their immediate forebearers were, after c. ten years of safe, gentle, pressure-free experimentation and practise with humans of their own gender and age-group. And, again: fewer pregnant kids and more chill young dudes will result. Let the randy young football players casually relieve one another in the locker room (after the game, not before it); let curious, diary-keeping girls teach each other about the delicate mechanisms of the vaginal mysteries. It was almost unfair to expect me to address all that, with my first girlfriend, when I was a clever-clever buffoon of 18.

I ejaculated about two thirds of the way into her vagina, within twenty seconds of kicking my shoes off, the first time I ever had sex (the super-exciting idea that I was actually finally doing it was running through my head instead of the film clip of a fish-hook accident I now use to pace sex by retarding orgasm when my Wife is squirming too sexily); I didn’t qualify as a pretty-good Lover until my fifth or sixth Girlfriend. I’m straight as nine inches of laser beam in a vacuum, now, but at the age of 16 I probably would have been better off trying out the equipment with my best friend Bill. We would have laughed hysterically before, during and after. This would have been better than what really happened my first time.

Do we teach kids to ride bicycles by putting them on motorcycles first…?

TWO: POVERTY

Few calls for Change are more disingenuous than the universal call to “End Poverty”. A Planet of Rich People is not a possibility. We can end Hunger and Homelessness by ending Greed, but we can’t end Poverty because it’s a relative term: even in the Scandinavian Social Democracies, there is “Poverty”, which refers to those (drug addicts? Hippies? Poets? School teachers?) at the bottom of the economic heap. You can be well-fed and dry and warm and happily comfy every day of the year while being Poor… and that’s the kind of Poverty we should strive to replace the old (Greed-driven, Misery-causing) form with.

Somehow, “We” (Americans/The West) have gotten it into our heads that it’s degrading and unhealthy to fail to own a car (or cars), a wide-screen TV (or TVs), a kitchen island and a pedigreed pet. People shrivel and die without food and shelter and privacy but no one dies from Not Being Envy-Inducingly Fancy and this Western Status Addiction has got to stop; Material Status is not a necessity; it isn’t a Human Right. In fact, Envy-Inducing Material Status (and its pursuit) are fucking up everything. Hundreds of millions of Westerners are Facebook Rich/ Credit Card Poor and their levels of consumption (with money they will never have) are absurd… though I’m loath to reference the usual sets of cooked-up statistics and ratios of 1/100 to support that obvious claim. The gist of my point is Psychophilosophical, in any case, and not statistical: Consumption is driven by Status Hunger; Crime and Pollution are driven by Consumption. Cut these pernicious drivers from the Causality Chain of Looming Doom by introducing the Noble New Cult of Comfortable Poverty.

Buy low-status sneakers and jeans; buy secondhand books and a basically functional phone. Cook with basic and healthy ingredients (like your great-grandparents did) and use lots of cold pressed Virgin olive oil (I’m 58, walk 2-3 hours every day, avidly fuck my delicious 40-year-old Wife three times a week without pharmaceutical props and can run up two flights of stairs to catch a train without getting winded)… only eat in a restaurant once every couple of years. Find a source for inexpensive high-quality chocolate and a Farmer’s market for decent meat. Embrace Inconvenience: hand-wash the dishes, write letters instead of Facebook comments, scrub the kitchen floor on your knees. Don’t waste your money on any convenience-pimping device with a name containing “Smart” as a prefix. If you can (as we can): no car. Let your Intellect, your Taste, your Personal Connections and your Basic (yet intense) Pleasures be your Wealth. Let your hours be your Riches.

Cut up your credit cards. Delete your Amazon account. See if you can limit your material acquisitions, in most cases, to whatever you can locate and then carry home from within a mile or two’s radius of your bedroom (after having acquired your sturdy old secondhand furniture, of course). Buy a secondhand juicer and kiss those criminally exorbitant smoothies goodbye: you can add the dried spinach, to the strawberry/ orange concoction, yourself, for next to nothing. You will save enough on smoothies, alone, to buy a secondhand hammock in two months.

No Designer anything. Vacation in your Neighborhood… or a few Neighborhoods over. Never spend more than the cost of three cups of coffee on an ink pen or a watch. Collect cheap or free things (eg: club fliers, snapshots of street art, nude pictures of your husband/wife, pre-1980s copies of the New Yorker or 1960s copies of Esquire Magazine). No TV (only, of course, if you want to remain clear-minded and keep a few hours open, every day, to do something grand/ randomly/ real/ fun). Fuck/ cuddle/kiss often (if you have kids, do it right under their noses and behind their backs, just as you had to when you were living with your parents). Walk everywhere. Learn to bake.

If you actually live in a Ghetto: meet your immediate neighbors. Organize. Sweep your own streets, organize enormous communal dinner parties. Get the neighborhood kids involved in building a tree house or cleaning up the playground. Being Poor doesn’t automatically entail acting Poor. I was raised in a Ghetto; we were flat broke; I never even had (I was just telling this story to a friend, the other day) my own bicycle until I was 25. Our apartment in the Ghetto was immaculate and full of books.

Out of work in the First World? Do something cool/heroic/radical with the Time on your hands. Time on your hands is a non-renewable Luxury.

The practical suggestions in this passage are not aimed at the genuinely-starving (who can only be helped when Greed is thrown in prison); but if you are of the Well-Fed-Poor of The West, living from dream to dream while accumulating credit card debts, loathing yourself and all of your near and your dear for not living in mansions or vacationing on the slopes or hobnobbbing with the vacuously-aglitter whores of all genders who shine from your screens and mock you: wise up.

Instead of pretending at trying to eradicate Poverty we should be learning to perfect it. The goal should not be ‘sustainable growth’ but sustainable Poverty. Wherever poverty means starvation, humiliation and ignorance the definition of the word ‘poverty’ has gone wrong. Not being able to afford a Ferrari should not equal death: quite the opposite. Poverty should mean the time and freedom to think, play, live. Birds exist in Poverty but they sing and they fly. Nature is Poverty; the pursuit of the accumulation of wealth is a neurosis.

Live Better Than the Rich.

 

THREE: BLACK MORTALITY

The Police are not the Primary Killers of Black Males in North America; American Hyper-Masculinity is. When I returned to the US, in 1995, after 5 years of living abroad, I brought my First Wife (slightly insane, but that’s another rant) back with me. In order to get her a Green Card, I had to get a job, any job, despite the savings I had. So I found myself working in a shoe store. One day I was serving a Lady From the Hood and as I was offering her a variety of styles for her toddler to try on, she ruled out one particular style as not macho enough, I guess: “Naw, he ain’t no Punk.” The kid was four. I thought to myself: you’ll probably be wearing exactly the same sneer at his High School funeral, bragging about how he died.

I’m Black and I’m saying that all those Police-Shooting Deaths (and all the other Shootings in the Hood, too, the latter being far more numerous than the former) are down to the (paramilitary) Cult of Toxic Machismo, of which Racism is a subset. Boy-Men are playing “Cowboys & Indians” with Real Guns.  When male teens are busy trying to out-Badass each other, and only the middle class (and higher) outgrows this competition by moving into careers in which Macho Codes are enacted on paper (and deaths result at a great distance, via pollution or substandard housing or military invasion), blood will flow on the local streets.

If you want Black men to Live, allow them to stop being “Scary”: the average 25-year-old White Male is allowed to be ten times less Macho than the average 25-year-old Black Male who, if he doesn’t project an aura of (“hip”) Danger… if he doesn’t seem a little Rapey and Hair-Trigger and in a perpetual state of being Surly and Aggrieved… will be mocked as a “Tom”. Yes, face your Hypocrisy, my Liberal White Friends: you think of an Angry, Brooding, Mono-Syllabic Black Male as being as Natural, Beautiful and Authentic as a Jungle Cat… until you’re alone in an elevator with one. At which point you clutch your purse and get off the elevator a floor or two early: amirite?  You’ve made it quite clear to several generations of Black Men that their only hope of earning a measure of Respect or Attention from the Dominant Culture is to be Primitive As Fuck. The Propaganda is so effective and powerful that there are White Cops, armed to the teeth, afraid of Black School Boys. Think about it.

Either stop valorizing the “Badass” in song and film, from cradle to grave, or learn to live with the blood on the streets.  Just don’t be hypocrites. One or the other.

Choose.

FOUR: SEX & HEART ATTACKS

The death of Carrie Fisher, recently, made me think of a factoid I’d read: older men have a higher incidence of having heart-attacks while sleeping with younger girlfriends than while sleeping with their wives. Fucking, I mean. The article I was reading inferred that the heart-attacks were caused by stress, but that struck me as flimsy reasoning. What do older men with new, younger girlfriends often make the fatal mistake of doing? They get in “better shape”. They crash diet. Just like Carrie Fisher, who crash-dieted for her comeback role in a Star Wars production and immediately after had her fatal heart attack. The heart is not a free-standing pump with an external power-source, folks: drastic changes to your body chemistry can screw with the motor. And healthy Fats (like olive oil) are very, very good for you; going Fat-Free will kill you. The most illness-prone people I know are Vegans.

I know a long-married, 40-something drummer who lost a lot of weight, recently, by crash-dieting and working out like a fiend. He’s acquired a proud new swagger but he looks about 20 years older and he is most probably either embarking on an extra-marital affair or hoping to. Well, I never liked this particular drummer anyway.

 

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