Category Archives: slum culture

The Late Boomer.

Duct cleaning was the real world equivalent of a colonoscopy.

Beyond fundamental purging of the crud adhered to household infrastructure, what mattered in the end (npi) was all the unfinished business unearthed in the process.

I’d purchased the old farmhouse in ’89, at the ripening age of 32. Among my phase of the Boomer generation, this was considered respectably progressive; most single girls were renting in townhouse complexes held up by select, emerging studs. I was the girl with other things to do.

Like, build a creative life.

And, toward that particular endeavor, such construction yielded the acquisition of: things.

It only took three decades. In that time, I’d managed to retain eighteen throw pillows, four keyboards, seven hundred ninety eight gig check stubs, one Koehler beer bottle, George Foreman mini grill, Jack Lalane Juicer, Oster food processor, Skinny bullet, Cuisinart countertop, two rotary phones, seventeen curio boxes, six hat carriers, five unmatched end tables (from Sundance), ten lamps, three sofas, fourteen area rugs(half off, shipped direct), and each piece of clothing ever handmade by Mum or purchased from Newport News catalog. Everything was a potential theater prop. Every issue of The International Musician, Suzuki journal, CD sample, 8.5 x 11 page of sheet music, and idea scrawled empty envelope ever hewn, molded, collated, or conceived. Hard copy was the hallmark of my people; we had history, because we made history.

But, post-pandemic, it was time to get this hoard in order.

Duct cleaning services only ask for the simplest compliance: make every warm air vent and cold air return accessible. Large expanding hoses, I dimly remembered from well over a decade past, needed to be attached to each and then run outside through a noisy compressor the size of a pediatric hot air balloon in the shape of a human stomach. A couple hours hence, and the digestive system of the old Saraceno homestead would be purged.

Well, not so fast.

The constipation of thirty plus years was compacted. Furthermore, like most artists, I’d re-designed the floor layout as many times as the visual landscape warranted, which was frequently, and with no regard for anything as life sustaining as air flow. And the cellar, become the catch all for 25 years in K-12 vocal /general /instrumental and dramatic music, held enough foamboard, posterboard, cardboard, laminate, and plastic binned handhelds to start a very smelly bonfire at a summer camp.

Speaking of fire, I’d spent the two full hours and nineteen minutes ensconced in the attic loft contemplating how many minutes it might take to evacuate my four most precious treasures in the event of such an alarm. From there, I could hear the two cleaning guys at the back mud room doorway as they wrapped up their afternoon.

Then, it happened. That moment, in every Woody Allen film, where the frame falls away and the viewer – exposed – becomes the central character. From my perch on the landing of the loft, I heard one say to the other:

“This place is a mess.”

Down the back stairway I pummeled, ready for confrontation. Had they finished, and was I not so sorry about the cluttered entryway and the prohibiting things. What was the condition of the ducts. Genuinely surprised, I stared as the one who denied making any judgment declared that neither the ducts nor the vents were caked in soot. What, then, had caused the overwhelming dust bunny convention in virtually every room of the house?

My collection of, you guessed it: things.

Paper and cardboard, to be exact. The stuff of all conflagration. The cause of the problem was the problem. Shit, effectively begetting shit.

In spite of the questionable integrity of the first floor wiring, the Nutone heat lamp timer on the bathroom wall still worked. If I set it to its maximum 15 minutes, I could start at the south end of the kitchen and work my way north. The white washed Pier I country house bench, wedding gift from Lisa in ’93, would be the first suffocation rescue; what remained would take the rest of my life.

Faintly, in the distance of my inevitable future, I could almost feel it:

Boom.

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© 6/10/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting the transparencies of original writers.

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.

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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

The United State of Disgrace.

The predictable effect of the synergy of intensive cacao and sumatriptan had driven her to the mud room. Clock said 7:30 (8:30 in real time/why change it, now?). With resolute intent, she tore up the east corner of its push broom, straight broom, inherited outsized jean jacket, step ladder, white garden picket fencing panels, branch pole cutter, basket of citronella, bag of broken glass, sack for Goodwill, tin sprinkling can, wire hangers, stained sofa cushion slipcover, feral cat infested throw rug, broken plastic trash can filled with aluminum freezer wraps, old DNK winter boots, flat, treadless Red Dogs – and, faded American flag, torn by the wind.

Sweeping and shaking out the grit, soil, and bug residue from the carpet rems beneath provided plenty of meditative reflection. That flag. Offered every year by a veterans’ support group, this one had seen its day, slapping and billowing to the Southwesterlies’ tune through all four seasons. Caught once too many times on the thorns of the climbing yellow blush cabbage rosebush, its edges were split and frayed. She never had obtained the proper anchor and, wrapping and taping it around the porch post had worked for the most part until, embodying its symbolic role, the weight of just everything bent the pole and the flag with it forward in a dejected, resignated bow to audience.

She’d left it like that, for several days. Something had to herald to the world that they were in trouble – led down a path of disease and death by a demagogue with dictatorial designs on their democracy. Might as well be Old Glory, from the southeast corner of West 22nd on the street where the Saraceno family had raised its generations, the Kilmers thereafter and her, barren of offspring, to occupy space for who would have known to be thirty years.

Not one to toss much, being the child of a Keeper of Functional Things ( daughter of the Great Depression), she was discriminating with the pile. Once actually clean, repositioning most of it made for a more settled layout for that corner of her world. She stood, gazing for a few moments, mentally calculating that just as much time might be spent in phase two – actually selecting out the no longer useful. Yet, best that the actual dirt was mostly gone; all malingering superficials would survive the frost for a spring purge.

That spring purge was always the goal. Except just enough sorting and stacking had a lulling, entropic effect. Even knowing, after all these years, that she’d likely never get to the second phase at all carried no power; what mattered was that she had addressed the problem. Appearances were kept. This was the way of the English, founders of their great republic. Things had to look right, even if they were entirely, inherently, wrong. A semblance of order in the midst of utter chaos was foundational, after all. How the world regarded what it saw carried pre-eminent weight in the social and domestic consciousness.

Fast forwarding with a lurch out of her pre-Revolutionary reverie, she shook the last of the dustpan’s collection into the overfilled trashcan and eyed the clock. 8:30, almost on the nose. Can ye not watch with me, one hour? Jesus had said. In that episode of 60 minutes, she’d completed just enough to convince her mother from the bed in her grave that her intentions were good and her effort realized. One corner of the mud room, down; the rest of the national disgrace, in the hands of God.

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© 10/10/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole – including translation – permitted. Thank you for being the good person.

littlebarefeetblog.com Originally published in My Notes at Facebook/Ruth Ann Scanzillo.