I walk outside and I see stories on the street every single day. Children living homeless. Every time I walk out the door, there are more and more people who look freshly unhoused, dazed and devastated, sitting on corners, wondering what to do next. It has gone past a crisis into a growing shanty town of an underclass which is threatening to outnumber the housed and comfortable. This is end stage capitalism in action – the rich will end up eating themselves, money is everything, success is more important than people, shelter is not for sheltering but for making more money. The nadirs of drug addiction dragging down everyone from the young to the very old. I see sex slavery (look if a woman has a pimp she is a sex slave. The end. You think that woman can just up and leave? Don’t be naïve) and women forced into sex work by their addictions, yet it is still the same old sick story of blame the sex worker, protect the john; sex work is not always empowerment, but we had better choke down that old lie along with the dicks or else get cancelled. There is racial inequality and injustice of all kinds, combined with brutality against elders, innocents and vulnerable people. You hold your breath every time you walk past a cop, yet when there is real trouble, actual need of the law, there is not a police unit to be seen. There is shit on the streets, rotting garbage so foul it is a health hazard, piss stinking gutters, walls and parks.
Last night the Boy and I were watching a movie. It was about ten at night, and the street seemed quiet, at least quiet for the terror that is the TL after dark, when we heard a loud bang. Like all good city kids, he looked at me, barely raised an eyebrow and said ‘firework’. Before we could settle back to the movie, there was another loud bang. “Firework?” I asked him raising an eyebrow. Those fireworks seemed awful close. By the rapid fourth and fifth loud bang, he jumped off the bed, grabbed me by the hand and dragged me towards the corridor that leads to the cupboard, and gently pushed me in there in front of him. “I am NOT gonna catch a damn stray!” he said with a look of anger, not fear in his eyes, “and neither are you!” We waited for the flurry of explosive sounds to stop, and waited for the siren that only came about fifteen minutes later. Just long enough for everyone to disperse after scaring the whole damn street.
San Francisco is a mess. We have homeless people that were safely housed in hotels during the pandemic, now thrown back out onto the street, and exist in this Kafkaesque nightmare where the powers-that-be don’t want them sleeping on sidewalks, don’t want them camping in tents, but also offer no alternative to either of those things. When I was homeless I found myself yelling ‘we can’t just disappear, we have to be somewhere, we need to sleep, rest, eat, stop somewhere!’…but that is the thing, those in charge don’t think about the practicalities for the unhoused, only the absolutes of not here, not then, not there, no how, no way. I actually believe we are not so far off ‘euthanasia’ being posited as a solution, trying to pass off eugenics and fascism as mercy.
In Canada the situation is dire, reportedly people are seeking assisted suicide due to poverty, and being granted it for conditions as benign as being deaf.
Dr. Naheed Dosani, of the University of Toronto, a palliative care specialist, told The Daily Mail that the Canadian government has “literally made it easier for people with disabilities to die with dignity through MAID than live with dignity through access to housing, income support, food security, and medication coverage.” Are we so far off San Francisco’s liberal permissiveness swinging so far to the extreme, that death is going to be allowed as a solution for destitution? Are we going to go so far as to say it might well be encouraged? In March 2024 in Canada, MAID assisted suicide program will allow people whose sole illness is mental illness to be granted assisted suicide. This is clearly an ethical nightmare. People should be helped to live not assisted to die. The alarm has to be sounded that we are headed down the same sick track. There is a huge difference between aiding those about to die into a comfortable end, and offering suicide to the mentally unwell.
A professor at Yale, the Japanese economist Yusuke Narita, 37 years old and highly respected, made comments recently about how he thought the elderly in Japan should commit mass suicide. He even used the word seppuku (hari kiri), which means ritual disembowelment, literally falling on ones own sword, cutting the stomach, usually while a ‘second’ dispensed mercy by chopping off your head. It was the last resort of the samurai overlords when faced with dishonor or defeat. It was never meant to ease the economy, taking out poor auntie Ryoko, handing her a tanto and telling her to get on with it so pigs like Narita could make a few more bucks for Japan Inc. Elders in Japan are revered. It is rule by the senpai (no, the word does not mean crush, it means older therefore superior), with the young kohai taking orders from those who have lived longer, and therefore know better. How did killing those who need compassion, assistance and understanding become the ‘left wing’ permissive, thing to do? Such behavior, devoid of all compassion, humanity and decency is usually the preserve of the far right. Perhaps the circle has come around so far that left and right are now kissing cousins, but I digress…
There are huge social problems created as a direct result of inhumanity and money coming before people. Rich and powerful is good, their voices amplified, while the underground, the cutting edge, the new, the poor are dismissed, disenfranchised and denuded of their voice. There was a time when it was possible for artists and musicians to go to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and use those centers to create their art. This art made the places it was created in very desirable. It benefitted humanity.
For a while in the 1960s and early 70s the world looked as if it might just change for the better. Blame Altamont. Blame the artists getting rich and becoming the Status Quo. I mean look at the likes of Neil Young and Bob Dylan now. They are so far out of touch with the people on the streets, the real issues, the actual suffering that they are devoid of any meaning and purpose. Protest songs? No. We have Ed Sheering bleating on about his grandpa for the upteenth time, and the dull Harry whatshisname wearing Mick Jaggers 1970 cast off onsies and crying incessantly. Instead of Joni Mitchell, we have the dull vanilla scented Taylor Swift who is so devoid of actual talent she makes being dull and inoffensive into an art form: art it is not. It is all about showing off the wealth, being a tycoon, being rich, being powerful, making it big…and once people do…they forget where they came from in the first place, and what made them so marketable. Dylan made his name out of his endorsement of the fight for civil rights. Now he sings about country pies, and other such meaningless guff in an outpouring of nostalgia for a time when he was actually great.
People can’t get a foothold in order to create. There is no scene, no buzz because people are priced out of such pursuits by $2000 dollar rent, $11 eggs, and $10 loaves of bread. All the talent is wasted on the streets, dying out of lack of compassion and the fact that the Powers That Be have solutions which would work, like Hotels for the Homeless, and Safe Supply programs, and public bathrooms but instead choose to bleat about the impossibility of even putting one frigging bathroom in a rich part of town for a huge cost, hand out foil for smoking fent instead of safe supply RX’s for people’s drugs of choice, and we sit here in a town with hotels empty and houses empty and vast numbers of unoccupied units of housing…and people on the streets dying from the brutality of it all. Isn’t it enough now?
I was looking at possible ways of promoting my writing, and came across the Rolling Stone Exclusive Culture Council. It is being sold as ‘the cutting edge of what’s new in culture’. In order to qualify the applicant needs to have
To be considered for membership, candidates must hold at least one of the following titles at a company that generates at least $500K in annual revenue or has obtained at least $1M in total institutional funding:Rolling Stone Magazine
500k annual revenue! Are they fucking joking? Rolling Stone are promoting the voices of the Powers That Be, the Status Quo, the successful and powerful. It used to be underground, actually cutting edge, and now is a mouthpiece for the rich and already famous. There is nothing about the rules that actually promotes voices from the places that matter, unless you count the places that matter to be the Upper East Side of New York, Calabasas California, Malibu (but not the beach where the unhoused live) or some other rich and detached-from-reality enclave where what really matters is absolutely meaningless. Organic food. Non toxic beauty. Lip palettes and foundation garment underwear in ugly colors. I see nothing there of any actual worth, just plenty to sell. Even the cannabis articles are pitched not at the punter buying an 8th at the pot shop wondering which strains are good right now, but instead the entrepreneur looking to make the most money they can from their multi-acreage cannabis fucking farms. It is out of touch – so out of touch it hurts. The kids but their clothes from Ali Express, not Balenciaga. It is the rich, writing for the rich, the status quo and establishment writing for the same. Boomer city with a capital B.
I long for success, and tell myself that if I ever make it as a culture writer, a poet, an artist, I will never let myself become removed from the streets and the suffering that created me. I doubt I will ever get to find out if I can pull off such a rare act. Lou Reed did it. Laurie Anderson remains connected. Hunter S Thompson, Bukowski, and the Beats managed. Even The Grateful Dead scene stayed true to themselves.
There is too much that needs fixing to sit and stare at one’s navel wondering about stuff that has no impact on those out there that are truly suffering, or even those normal people who are being pushed to the brink of poverty. Art is dead – only the rich have the luxury of making it and they rarely have a good idea. No good art was ever made out of being comfortable and happy. Look at the state of modern music. It is dull, bland and uninspiring.
Still, at least we have the prospect of being gently herded into assisted suicide if we don’t like the way the rich’s cookie crumbles. They can all kiss my ass. I will live and breathe and fight it all just to spite the world. I will piss on their streets and shout at their windows, and scream at their cars if I have to. Perhaps the apocalypse, the great reset, is not such a terrible thing. Perhaps a world where anarchy reigns and people can just take an empty houses to live in, grow fields of poppies and weed without reprisal, and live free of the system that destroys all happiness, crushes all creativity and targets anyone who does not fit into their vanilla cookie cutter world would be a better place.