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Tuesday, February 24, 2015



30-years-old, Stephanie was a waitress in Delran, Palmyra and Cinnaminson. Just across the river from Philadelphia, these are working class, mostly white towns in New Jersey. Stephanie only came to Philly when she became homeless six months ago. Since the shelter doesn't let her in until 10PM and kicks her out at 5 in the morning, Stephanie must spend most of her day outside. Her teeth were chattering from the cold.



Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: In depicting the gal in front of the sacred recycling sign, WE are blessed with your gifted Norman Rockwell eye (in reverse). Remarkable how the Media works people up about stray dogs and cats, and citizens pour money into T.V. commercial campaigns while listening to sentimental music by Sarah McClachlan. Thank you.

X said...

This is very heart-breaking, unbelievable, and just plain insane. I was in an asian country not so long ago, a major city. I met with a friend in this outdoor food court area, a place frequented only by locals. My friend and I sat at a table, and we were discussing political and social issues. It was around 9pm.

At some point, there was a pause in our conversation and we both unconsciously decided to focus our attention on this old man. In his hands, we had a used plastic water bottle and he was chopsticks or something equally long to get a crumpled napkin from inside the water bottle. Given his appearance, and the bag of used bottles/cans beside him, it was clear that he's trying to make some money by selling the bottles/cans others discard to recyclers, and presumably, the recyclers do not accept bottles with trash inside them.

I turned to my friend, "How is this right?" "No, it isn't. You know, this country prides itself for following confucian ethics. Confucius also said that one can judge a country by how the country treats its elders."

Given the rah-rah over equality and freedom here, it turns out this country prefers treating *both* the elders and the young ones equally.

I am living in a bubble.

X said...

That sentence should read:

"In his hands, he had a used plastic water bottle and he was using chopsticks or something equally long to get a crumpled napkin from inside the water bottle."

Dan Kelly said...

X, your reference to Confucius' words on how one can judge a country remind me of Thomas Paine:

When it can be said by any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend because I am the friend of happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and government.

Thank you, and take care.


x larry said...

thanks for comments, and for the photos of this day too. i too was sickened looking at them. in response to the tom paine quote, it is great. unfortunately, ignorance is the key to how 'we' treat 'our' poor. but 'we' means 'they'. i read a great article the other day in which the author said that for thousands of years they have created, cultivated and perfected a mass society of imbeciles. but with television etc for the past few generations imbecility has reached great new lows. it is a very interesting exercise, to see the world through this filter--go around, observing people as imbeciles. this is a staggering thing to do, and at least for me it has brought home this truth with fullest force! i live in england, by the way, but am american.
i am obsessed with one thing only--how we are controlled. ignorance in the masses is absolutely necessary for control. but we are far beyond ignorance, living as we do in this brilliant scheme they've perfected over many centuries. we are truly imbeciles. if we believe a word they say, we're not there yet--we're stupid. i still catch myself doing this sometimes, though less and less (believing anything they say). but how to organize and eventually destroy them? there are so many who want to make the world a beautiful place--they are not allowed to!
we live in an insane asylum, quite literally.

Linh Dinh said...

Speaking of imbecility as policy, here's my "Idiocy as WMD" and "Deranging America".

Linh Dinh said...

And here's a Postcard about Riverside, a New Jersey town just across the river from Philly and not far from where Stephanie once waitressed.

x larry said...

what can i say, linh? just when i try in earnest to get my wife to move back to america--i'm so bored and appalled here, there's so much love there, etc etc--you have reminded me, for the how many dozenth time, about the reality of the situation there. yes, i've re read those previous posts. devastating stuff. i too remember life pre this insanity. i too remember... i too...
where can it all be leading (other than to even greater total control)? i mean this life we spend, watching their screens, listening to their fucking shitty garbage music, all voluntarily, and calling it life. just a minute or two in front of some screaming fuck, some bill maher or worse, it can take me hours or perhaps days to regain sanity and equilibrium--till the next jolt, just around the corner, so easy to find it finds you.
you write with devastating effect. i, on the other hand, can just impotently rage on inside, as a father of two small children. what in the fucking goddamn fuck is wrong with our species?
i will say there's a very interesting article on israel shamir's website with interesting things to say on chomsky, as well as on malthus and darwin and their absolutely devastating effect. i am not religious, and this article is by a catholic and from that slant, but i agree about the above mentioned in his article. i have always had a problem with darwinism, but now i am beginning to see its horrific effect. essentially, hordes of dumb fucks believe it, so they see only life as survival. gone is intelligence, gone is subtlety of thought and feeling, gone is empathy. gone, gone, gone! this article shows the above three's common link with the old testament (reading it heavily in childhood) and their corresponding bleak outlook on humanity and 'god'.
also, linh, i got a blast from the past with your reference to the last drop in philly, an old haunt.
here's that link for anyone interested.

CC said...

Hey, X:

I see the elderly picking through the trash or salvaging scrap material to sell and make a few bucks in Hong Kong.

Apparently, that practice migrated to New York, where I used to live, a couple of years ago.

To x larry: I'm like your wife in that I've resisted calls by some relatives to move back to the U.S. By no means am I affluent. (In fact, I'm probably just one step above Stephanie on the social ladder.) But I can afford the poverty here better than in the U.S.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi X and CC,

I've seen Chinese women collecting plastic bottles and aluminum cans from trash cans in San Francisco and Oakland. Here's one photo.

CC said...

Thanks. Shopping carts are bigger in the U.S., though. The elderly in Hong Kong usually salvage what they could carry.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam, where I live in remote Ea Kly. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.