Monday, July 25, 2011

When did America develop such a pity for the rich?

You know - in every television show, movie, book or cartoon I've ever seen/read... there was never a poor villain.  There were vagrants and thugs, murderers and thieves - sure they were poor.  But never was there a true villain that I can remember being of desolate means.  So I ask you... if, for generations, we have commonly held that money tied to power creates absolute evil... why now, in these times of historic financial recession, do we have such a deep empathy for the "plight" of the wealthy?

I fail to understand America.  Why are you so headstrong about the rights of the top 2%?  If it weren't as scary as it is - I would say it was comical.  The top tier actually have the hardest working American's convinced of three outrageously false lies.  It's as though they slapped the word beef on a living chicken and convinced 98% of America that it was walking filet mignon.

1. When the rich are rich - they provide jobs.  Well... maybe.... in 1950.  You know... when they still hired Americans to do the work American Companies go ahead and take their income off of.  But, why hire Americans to do jobs that benefit American companies when there's billions of folks in India and China whole will do it for a fraction of the cost??   The Right calls this "good business" - and for the owners you can bet your ass that they're right.  So, while 800 line workers in Detroit sit idly by and watch the bank foreclose on the home they grew up in, their parents grew up in, their grandparents... well you get the idea..... some other meagerly paid Chinese man is working 15 hours a day to buy shoes for his kids.  What's funny about that? What's ironic? While these Americans are losing their jobs, they still go to the voting booth and throw their vote towards a man or woman who will do nothing but give more tax breaks to the bastards that just laid them off.  Sad.

2. Liberals want to tax everyone.  Well, that's what Fox would have you believe anyway.  We're just a bunch of crafty old tax hounds looking to take all your money so that we can throw lavish parties like Medicare and Public Education.  "We want America to be like it used to be... the good old days."  Ah, reminder folks - the "good old days" that the Right Wing refer to on a somewhat daily basis was during a time in our Country's history where the rich paid increases based on MARGINAL tax structure.  Here's the definition of that term taken from "So in 1955, for example, when the top marginal tax rate was 91 percent, that was the tax rate owed on a person's income over $300,000." This is nearly EXACTLY what is being proposed today - only now it's un-American to ask the wealthy to do this.... but somehow... back during those good old days... it was status quo.

3. Here's my favorite.... The Rich man understands you and has empathy for you.  He believes in you. Supports you. Backs you. And if you work hard enough.... you too can be a millionaire.  But he can't be there for you if you take him money to pay for things that you need to earn on your own...  I ask you though... how does a child earn an education in a poor neighborhood? How does a sick man earn his medication if he struggles to make rent.  How did America get so fooled into thinking that the poor are lazy - and this is why they are poor.  Look here folks..... I've lived in some fairly affluent areas in my time... I'm here to tell you that all those rich folks out there - well they aren't all rich because they work hard.  Some are. Some worked their asses off.... just like some poor people.  But there is a great deal of lazy wealth out there too.  They are smart though... otherwise how else would you they convince you they aren't really there?....which reminds me of a great quote from The Usual Suspects..."The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

Money is the root of all evil.  I'm tired of hearing excuses for the greedy. I'm tired of seeing the working class stand there like pillars holding up their empty rhetoric of A Lost America as thought it was some sort of religious epitaph. I'm sick of seeing trickle down idiocy and I'm waiting for the sleeping giant to open its eyes and literally bitch-slap stupid back down to the gutter.  Hey, if the NFL can find compromise, there still has to be some reasonable thought left in the world right? One would hope.  One can only hope.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New York, New York : 2

Today was one of those days they write songs about.  In fact, I believe that they did write a song about today - it was called "New York State of Mind" and the brilliant Mr. Billy Joel sings it - at least he did prior to the financial collapse... not sure if he does anymore.  At any rate, the streets were buzzing, the sun was shining - all the good things that come with being in a very busy city were charming the life back into living. It was like God's version of a Fred Astaire number - done with practice to perfection yet never lost on even the most devoted fan.

And now here I am - sitting in an airport bar drinking a drastically overpriced beverage and only slightly annoyed at the dirt and grime surrounding me.  The day draws to close and I'm alive with the recent memory of my grandfather's arms around my shoulders, his laugh and smile lighting up the room and a warm "looking forward to seeing you again" echoing in my ears. At 92 years old and the living legend of strokes and heart malfunctions - he is a miracle... even if he doesn't feel that way.  Yet... I know that each visit is potentially the last - and that's a particularly morbid accent to the flight.  He was never a character of gentlemanly traits the way Mr. Cary Grant was.... but he was and continues to be a character in his own right.  He sits outside of his upper west side apartment, barely able to remember the ten minutes he just lived through but, still - ogling the women as they pass by.  At one point he whistles at a woman who is roughly 22 years old (or so I guess.)  And when I turn to him to smile he says, "What? I'm still alive!" - Yes Opa... you are. 

For those that do not know me or my history - my Opa is my hero.  I have written once about my Grandmother- my father's mother... and told you of her history.... so it seems only right that I should share with you my Opa.  My Opa, his 3 wives, his 3 children, his 3 grandchildren.... my Opa who does everything in a series of threes apparently.  I guess I just realized that... an epiphany mid-blog... go figure.

At any rate, Opa is a musician who ages without the blessing of his ears.... they've been gone for several years now... and it is only through the use of some very powerful hearing aids that he is able to only slightly get into a verbal exchange.  And only then after you say things very slowly and very clearly... oh yes... and very loudly. But a musician who cannot hear music can still hear music.  And so he does.  As he gets hungry, he begins to hum.... a tune (I'm told) is a from an Opera and from a scene during which a man awaits his food from the servers. An Opera? Yes. An Opera - because what else would you expect a master of the English Horn who played with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for thirty years to know? His wife, still practicing Cellist with the Company, knows all the shows and in this very sweet way, this is how they communicate. He hums a show - she knows why.  Of course the meaning of Biere Hier isn't quite as difficult to decipher.... it may be German but to understand that the man wants a Beer Here... not very complex.... yet still pretty damn adorable.

My Opa... I'm not sure how you can even begin to describe him.  But I can explain that since he's aged... he is different.  Sometimes I miss the man I knew - the man who would scold me, scare me... teach me some incredibly valuable lessons about life... but this man that he is now... well a five year old girl came to visit with her parents - the nephew of Opa's wife, Marian.  In no way related to my grandfather by blood you would never believe that this group wasn't the most pure form of family you can find.  There is an understanding, a knowing... and common bond that they all share.... and that I share - or so I like to believe. And here is this man visiting... a man who was only a boy when he first met Opa... who now has a wonderful wife and a little girl of his own. He's family in a way I guess I don't even understand myself.  The three of them are - even though I've only just met the daughter and have only ever met the parents a handful of time... still - family.... inexplicably.   Besides the small one bedroom apartment buzzing with Hebrew sounds (I did learn how to say Chicken during my visit) there is this energy that only a little girl who has no inhibitions can produce.  At any rate, the effect she has on my grandfather is nothing short of amazing.  He watches her and he smiles. It's the smile of a man who knows he doesn't have a lot of time left - like somehow this innocence and purity is the only thing left in the world that he cares to see. The adults - we're done. We've been molded and cooked - and as we age we're getting stale.  But not Alma... Alma is just a child who - I suspect - thinks of things much like my grandfather does now... as simply as possible.

To walk away from someone who you love as much as I love my Opa is beyond difficult.  I have to do it quickly - like pulling off a band-aid. If I linger, I won't go.  I'll sit and want to know more, hear more, understand more.  I feel a very real sadness that my cousins are so young - that they never really knew the man Richard Werner Stein Nass was.  I envy my mother that she's had a lifetime with him and my uncle for how much he has become him.  Born in Germany my Opa is the American Success story that should serve to inspire a generation.  I wish - more than you know - that I could share him with you.  What I can say is this - if you believe that I am opinionated, stubborn or independent... then know this... I don't have anything on him.  If I could live to be one tenth the human being that he has been and continues to be 92 years in.... then I will be a great success in life.  That is a fact.

Opa - until Thanksgiving.  I love you.

- Kat

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New York, New York : 1

I absolutely cannot help it - despite the solid knock on my ass that this city handed to me just over five years ago - I am still in love.  New York is an energy.  New York is a city of complete assh*les.  New York is an unforgiving patron of cynicism and neglect.  I do find myself in love here.

As I drink the 6th, perhaps 7th?, glass of red wine and an apartment humming with window air-conditioners and occasional African Grey squawks, I am shamelessly admitting my long lost admiration for metropolitan life.  The McDonald's down the street serves McVeggies - a vegetarian alternative.  The local department stores sell 80.00 tops at a 30.00 price-tag.  The dogs bark with an accent.  The pizza guy says have a nice night the same way someone in Indy says "f*ck you!" Table after table is buzzing with political discussion and cerebral intellect. I, myself, had an argument today about who was TOO liberal!Sometimes I get here... and I'm home.

Other times, like now... I'm so far away.  I think about my friends and family back home - and as one friend puts it... I get mushy.  But I cannot help it.  In the last year I have built this network of people that are unlike any network I've ever had.  Instead of having 1 or 2 people understand me - I have 10 - 20... and of those I have 4 - 5 who I really find myself missing on a daily basis.  You ask my family here and they want to dive into some psychoanalytical debate about why I feel that way...  but the bottom line is that I do.  I miss my friends. I miss my pseudo-family.  I know that a lot of people "find their other half" in a husband or a wife.... but - for the present - I find the best part of me reflected in the people I'm around.  And to that end, I hope to someday have the chance to show off my city... lol - listen to me.... "my city..."  .... THIS city.  I hope to someday show them this magical city of dirt, grime, creative energy, hope, despair, great f*cking pizza/coffee/bagels/art, hate, love, etc...... I miss them - I bring them here in my heart.  That's how I roll.

- Kat