Category Archives: civic commentary

city life; local color;

The Sidewalk.

If you passed Laurie Garrett, on the sidewalk, would you look twice?

She’s not tall. Her hair is a warm, curly brown. Her features are small and even and, when she smiles, she’s pretty. Carrying a bit of excess weight around the midsection, common among women of her age who spend most of their time indoors or outside in their own yard, in terms of type she’d qualify as a pleasant looking matron – perhaps given to knitting or reading, possibly employed part time as a cashier in a craft store.

Laurie Garrett isn’t a cashier in a craft store.

In 1996, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for her series of works published in Newsday, chronicling the Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire. Laurie Garrett wrote “The Coming Plague”, predicting the viral scourges we’ve endured since the publication of its first edition in 1994. During the coronavirus pandemic she has been sought out, to both remind of her visionary predictions and foresee outcomes, across all media.

Day was, people did fit into type. On or about the 1950s, you could tell most everything about anyone, just by looking at them. A woman in a pillbox hat and a box knit suit, carrying a pocketbook in her gloved hands, walking on a downtown sidewalk in a pair of pointed pumps was probably a housewife out shopping. If she were unmarried, and respected, she would not be walking alone – shopping or not. Not downtown.

By way of contrast, a man in a fedora and brown single breasted suit, narrow tie, white shirt, and dark Oxfords walking on the same sidewalk would be on his way back to work after lunch at a downtown cafe restaurant. He’d likely own his business, perhaps as a merchant or insurance salesman, and keep regular hours from about 8 am til 5pm. He could be single, or married, but that status would matter little to his perceived image.

Point is, unless you were either of these characters, you’d likely not spend any time on that sidewalk.

If a man, you’d be at the shop, in overalls, grease on your forearms, sleeves rolled to the elbow, oil on your hands, shoes drip stained from it, standing at your station running your semi-automatic until the horn blew for lunch. After 3 or 4pm, you might be seen heading up a side street to the bus stop, tin lunchbox in hand or, if you earned enough, driving home in your Buick sedan.

A woman, working in the same shop, would be there part time. Hair wrapped to cover pincurls, flat shoes, shirtwaist cotton dress, homemade apron, hands slathered with Pro-Tec to make washing the oil off easier at home, she’d be working because there wasn’t enough money coming in from her husband – or, her father, if she lived at home.

These would be they whom you would have been. There would have been nobody else – because you would have been white. If you had not been white, you would never have been on that sidewalk or in that shop. Your absence would have been its own type.

Now, Laurie Garrett can stay at home and write and publish her wisened, warning prophecies, then make dinner in the small kitchen, spend her evenings doing whatever she pleases, and take her interviews for a fee.

Society has evolved. Type is becoming self-deleting. Now, any character can be summoned, at any given, arbitrary moment, to fulfill any fancy, or not. A perfectly presented person, dressed as a man but wishing he were a woman, could walk the sidewalk of the day, return to his or her dwelling, take a poison, and be done, and not a single expectation would be realized.

And, Laurie Garrett might have already written the story.

.

.

.

.

© 10/23/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permitted by posting the blog link, exclusively; no reproduction by copying in whole or part, including translation, permitted without written permission of the author. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Vested.

*Author’s Note: Having just completed a final edit on what I thought was [my] definitive piece on tonight’s event, herewith another. It must be the Klondike bar and the two Snicker’s ice creams, still coursing through each synapse. Notwithstanding the caffeinated drive, it’s time.

Who are these people?

They, who turn out in droves – unmasked, roaring, nearly hysterical in their devotion to the man who rails right back in their faces, spewing half or fully fleshed lies never fact checked by any of them, declaring himself their saviour, glory hallelujah, his version of the truth still marching on?

The people. Yes. Who are they?

To my eyes, having either been or worked among every class and station – from floor mopper to dishwasher to short order cook; to server, to clerk, to merchant; machinist, to shop owner, to skilled craftsman; engineer, to architect, to executive; instructor, to clinician, to professor; researcher, to documentarian, to published reviewer; performer, to producer, to artist and visionary…Donald Trump’s people are found to populate three, distinct yet not unrelated groups: a.) the indefatigable Evangelical Christian Right; b.) those of largely deferred intellect who have devoted their lives to the assembly line, and b.) those of incredible, accumulated wealth – who hire them.

Of these groups, taken together, the latter two are inextricably bound; one cannot exist without the other. And, unlike the former ECR, neither is exclusive to any particular race or creed.

What of the military-industrial complex imagined by, who was it, Harry Truman? The birth of the assembly line bred more than endlessly produced mass quantity; it evolved an entire mentality, committed to vapid, repetitive motion for hours at a time, five days per week, every week of every year, minus earned vacation time the breadth of one of them. Only the rare creative had a mind capable of escaping the task into the realm of imagination, perhaps to reserve what scant energy remained at day’s end to apply such pursuits.

The moment, if one can be isolated, is pivotal; every American who covets their job on that line, in that factory, at that counter, and every elite from upper management who seeks to protect a glorious lifestyle comparatively unburdened by the weight of taxation – whether earned honorably, or bestowed – has an interest. A vested interest, heavily invested, that shall not be moved.

No movement, no progression – toward evolving away from assembly line drudgery to supplanting artificial intelligence – engenders anything but abject fear. Fear, of utter loss – their only productive identity melded to and branded by the very work to which they have sacrificed their lives.

The notion that total upheaval of the internal structure of that military-industrial complex, to: a.) accommodate solar and wind power; b.) displace fossil fuels, and c.) replace product materials with the biodegradable and non-toxic can be realized through re-training and upgrading is met with ferocious resistance. Why?

Mentality is entrenched. Re-structuring systems does not a new mentality make. That which is unfamiliar is a perceived threat. Add to that equation the aging of the relevant population and you have a flank of refusal. The door is barred. Rather than endure the rigors of metamorphosis, the shop would rather shut.

The path, therefore, of least resistance is provided for them all. His name is Donald J Trump. No matter that his primary motive is self serving; in a twist of unavoidable irony, his megalomania serves the need of a massive throng, a culture of stubbornness borne of the security of familiarity and acute absence of vision. They who stand at the conveyor from sun up to the horn at day’s end, and those who own them, get to keep that to which they have become accustomed. Any revelation pertaining to the degree to which their actions poison or otherwise destroy the very earth under their feet or the water which sustains them is summarily dismissed, if only because it doesn’t fit their narrative of honorable employment and income.

If leadership for the people by the people shall not perish from the Earth, hadn’t it better be immersed in creating an awakening toward possibility rather than the sting of fright? How people feel, even to those whose emotional response, whose inner life, has been dulled to the point of distant memory, is still a vital aspect on the road toward human health and sustainability.

But, such a leader had better recognize the magnitude and importance of the task at hand, because Donald Trump has captured how the entrenched define their personal worth and provided an apparent path for its continued realization. No matter that he is a dishonest businessman, a shrewd manipulator of systems, and an arrogant ass; he validates those who lack the intellectual reach to imagine a life beyond the one they hold as close to their vests as the next shallow breath they take.

.

Click on the link below, to hear best selling author, Thomas Friedman, declare the names of the states already IN TRANSITION to alternative fuels and address whether there are jobs for the “thick-fingered” worker:

https://youtu.be/1xetRCiIOPU

© 10/21/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Dropping The Mask.

Momentum is a force all its own. You can’t be a force greater; momentum will take you and you will move with it. This is where everybody in attendance at Erie International Airport found themselves, Tuesday night.

From the moment the late plane finally coasted into position, through ’til the slicked back, veneered, top coated figure scored by his trademark red tie emerged and strode down toward the crowd, every person present was caught in his torque and draft. The presence of Donald J. Trump carried itself, and everybody on site with it.

He’d been rambling off script for longer than usual; people had been roaring and cheering and carrying on; but, about thirty four minutes in, something happened – a moment so pivotal so as to decompress the entire space. When his truth came out.

He’d made several references to Erie, near the beginning – to uproarious cheers. But, this time, in the blink of his twinkling eye, in a context that rendered thousands stone silent, he dropped the facade.

“Because”, he said, “everything was so good [before “the plague”]. Why would I ever have to come to Erie?”

“Erie..!” , he sneered.

Wait.

What?

Suddenly, we were stripped naked. We were Dreary Erie, the Mistake On The Lake, the “old relic” of recent date. We were profoundly beneath him, likely rating nothing but a mere phone call (and, he’d brought his hand to his ear, to mime it.) The place.went.dead. And dead silence, outside in the fall night air, is the coldest kind.

He contextualized the question, dripping with condescension, as if: “What would [ever ] have brought him to Erie”? Nobody. moved. You could feel no air, at all. But, he kept talking, internally frantic, gripping the lectern just a little harder, leaning down just a bit further. In a blur, “but, now I’m here”, something about “needing us”, and would we “please vote for him”? It was backpedaling. And, it was terrible.

Momentum: dead. It took him a good ten minutes to build back. He’d lost his crowd. Suddenly, Donald Trump was alone, at a microphone, flailing, in front of several thousand freezing people standing outside, exposed and humiliated, reminded that they weren’t anything to him. Not really. Not at all. Only insofar as they were prepared to vote him into a four year reprieve from criminal indictment.

Oh, yes. For just a few, crystal clear, fully revealed minutes, President Trump showed the people of Erie who he really was. I just hope most of them brought that home with them. I hope they quietly remember how he made them feel. Because, friends, that is the man. That is how he regards anyone who isn’t in service to him.

Build on that silence.

.

.

.

.

.

© 10/20/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, born and raised in Erie PA, whose direct observations are contained herein, and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part, whole, or fragment, including translations, permitted without direct, written permission requested of the author. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

3William Schubert, Lana Rinehardt and 1 other3 Comments1 Share