Showing posts with label class. Show all posts
Showing posts with label class. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sometime near the zenith of American culture

Do you know how awful a feeling it is to be pretty sure you were born a generation too late?

To be enthralled by a time and a popular culture you were born into -- barely -- but which exists no more?

To know there was a time when the grown-ups were in charge of it all, more or less, but to have lived all your life amid the Detereorata and see the barbarians not at the gate, but running the whole show? Today, we have Gaga and Nicki Minaj  -- not to mention Madonna and her pathetic and desperate attempts to remain relevant -- and we think that's entertainment.

Well, it is if you've just sacked and burned the Eternal City, but otherwise not so much.

TO ME, a fossil born 20 years shy of being fossilized enough for my own taste, this is entertainment -- Keely Smith on the Frank Sinatra Show in 1958. Sure, I love my rock 'n' roll, but if there's no room in your soul for something as beautiful and classy as Keely Smith casting a magic spell over a well-written popular song, you'd just as well go pillage, burn, loot and rape with the barbarians, busting a rhyme with Ms. I'm Gonna Cap Yo' Ass, Mariah Carey.

In my humble opinion.

By the way, no 3 Chords & the Truth this week. One, I'm pretty shot -- no sleep will do that to you -- and, two, I'm trying to make a dent in digitizing the 31 LPs and nine CDs I grabbed at The Antiquarium before its sad passing from Omaha's Old Market scene. And then there's the other bunch of LPs and CDs I have in the "Put Onto the Hard Drive" stack.

Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of jazz and classic pop in that number. Ring-a-ding-ding, pally!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

America today

In case you had any doubt there's a class war going on, and that the middle class and below have giant targets on their backs, read on.

What the
Stamford (Conn.) Advocate doesn't mention is that you at least get fed regularly in prison, which also serves as a permanent address. Look for Norwalk officials to spin their arrest of a homeless woman for sending her kid to one of their schools as actually being a compassionate act:
A homeless woman from Bridgeport who enrolled her 6-year-old son at a Norwalk elementary school has become the first in the city to be charged with stealing more than $15,000 for the cost of her child's education.

Tonya McDowell, 33, whose last known address was 66 Priscilla St., Bridgeport, was charged Thursday with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 from Norwalk schools. She was released after posting a $25,000 bond.

McDowell's babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marques, was also evicted from her Roodner Court public housing apartment for providing documents to enroll the child at Brookside Elementary School.

The police investigation into the residency began in January after Norwalk Housing Authority attorney Donna Lattarulo filed a complaint alleging McDowell registered her son at Brookside, but actually lived in an apartment on Priscilla Street in Bridgeport.

As part of the evidence presented in the complaint, police received an affidavit of residency signed by McDowell and dated last September attesting that she lived in the Roodner Court public housing complex on Ely Ave.

When she was interviewed by police in the case, McDowell admitted to living in Bridgeport at the time she registered her son in Norwalk schools.

She said she knew a man who owned a home on Priscilla Street and he allowed her to sleep at the home at night, but she had to leave the home during the day until he returned from work.

She also acknowledged that she stays from time to time at the Norwalk Emergency Shelter when she has nowhere else to stay.

McDowell also admitted that Marques was her son's babysitter from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. after the boy got out of school.

JUSTICE without mercy is no justice at all.

Maybe ol' Jeremiah Wright was right, after all. Maybe God will damn -- indeed, is damning
-- America.

Even God's mercy has its limits -- eventually -- and sooner or later the unrepentant sinner (or country) finds out exactly what dangerous a thing we do when we mindlessly pray "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rich Man, Poor Man . . . invisible man

Channel 7 went to the videotape, and its story about Big Mama's was as I expected.

Which means they got about half the story -- the North Omaha half.

KETV didn't notice was the South O half of the story -- a half that may be even more illustrative. Because in South Omaha, it wasn't that the area was ignored completely -- it wasn't -- but what restaurants there were ignored, amigo.

HERE'S WHAT the TV folk reported -- or some of it, at least:
She said her restaurant wasn't the only one in the area left out of the Berkshire Hathaway guide.

"North Omaha is here," she said. "We're on the map. We've been here. Why were we left out?"

Her daughter contacted Warren Buffett's office directly, twice in the last two years, but she wasn't able to get an answer.

After KETV NewsWatch 7 got involved on Wednesday, Barron received a surprising voice mail from the head of Berkshire Hathaway himself.

"Hi, this is Warren Buffett. I was calling Patricia Barron," the message went. "I'd appreciate if you'd give me a call. Thanks."

"I'm just thrilled," she said. "He called me."

She said she plans to ask Buffett to get north Omaha in the loop.

"That I'd like to be included on his list, this year and next year, and that I want him to come down and have a meal at Big Mama's," Barron said.
ALAS, this is a story older than ol' Jim Crow. It, in fact, is as old as the Good Book.

It's as old as Lazarus begging for crumbs from the rich man's table and getting none. And in what might be a nice visual hook for television audiences, it also features the fantastic spectacle of rich people and trying to squeeze camels through the eye of a needle.

Stuff rich white people like

The Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha is the epitome of "Stuff White People Like."

Specifically, stuff rich white people like.

And judging by the annual shareholder's meeting visitor's guide, rich folk got no use for soul food restaurants in North Omaha, or for Mexican restaurants owned by actual Mexicans who set up shop in Omaha's Latino quarter. "White" restaurants in South Omaha, on the other hand, are recommended to the Berkshire stockholders and Warren Buffett fanboys. Latino joints are not.

One in "deepest, darkest South O," Piccolo Pete's is among Buffett's faves.

But no El Aguila. No El Alamo. No Maria Bonita. No Taqueria Tijuana, or any of the other authentic-as-you-can-get Mexican eateries up and down S. 24th Street and, indeed, all over South O.

THE SAME goes for an acclaimed soul-food joint in North Omaha -- Big Mama's Kitchen. It's notable enough to be featured on the Food Network, but not notable enough that the Berkshire meeting organizers might think it worthy of wealthy, largely white palates.

Neither was another beloved Omaha joint featured on
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives -- California Tacos. And what might be the connection between two eateries featured on national TV but not featured in the Berkshire visitor's guide?

Could it be proximity to the near north side, otherwise known as "the 'hood"?

In fact, there's not one North Omaha restaurant on the list. Not even a couple of good joints in the affluent Ponca Hills area of town -- nothing, in fact, that you can reach from downtown only by traversing the 'hood.

I'm just sayin'.

Channel 7 has been promoting a story on their late edition about just this tonight. Apparently, Patricia “Big Mama” Barron is not, shall we say, pleased about her eatery's omission from the Berkshire Hathaway guide. Film at 10.

IF ALL THIS turns out to be what my gut tells me it is, you have to wonder about some things.

When I was growing up in the Deep South decades ago, I remember how everybody spent inordinate amounts of time obsessing about "those people." Black people. The N-words.

Obsessing about what they were doing, what they might do to us white folk, and whether they were interested in somebody's white daughter. The rest of the time, white folks obsessed on the best means of maintaining the status quo, which meant keeping the black man -- and the black woman -- down.

But this is a different place more than four decades down the American timeline. We've got more minorities to consider and, besides, the whole George Wallace act is so passé.

Still, it looks pretty segregated to me in Omaha, by God, Nebraska. Very polite, very nice, very civilized . . . and very separate.

And very unequal.

You have to wonder. Wonder what's worse, the Southern obsessions of my youth, or the genteel, upper-class racism of not having to --
or even feeling the need to -- take notice of some people at all.