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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Postcard from the End of America: Callowhill, Philadelphia

As published at Unz Review, TruthSeeker, OpEd News, Smirking Chimp and Burning Platform, 6/3/18:






I’m sitting in a spacious bar, Love City, that was once a factory. Too slicked up, it’s not quite a ruin bar, of the kind you find in Budapest. The patrons are mostly hipsters and yuppies, but with a handful of Joe Sixpacks thrown in. Looking like contractors, they’re probably fixing properties in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

On the way here, I spotted a few homeless lurking in the underpasses, beneath the Reading Railroad train trestle. Long disused, it’s being turned into a beautiful park, so soon enough, you’ll find the haves walking their dogs, jogging or sunning themselves above, with the have nots sleeping on dirty mattresses, or going to the toilet, below. They’ll probably all be shooed away. Problem solved.

After talking to three black men, a once-pretty white woman scrambled up an embankment. Reeking of urine, a groggy black dude asked me for change, as did a black lady waiting at a bus stop. A handful of tourists tittered outside the Edgar Allan Poe house.

Since a 20 oz. Love City Lager is a reasonable $5, I have one in front of me as I upload three photos, just taken in the neighborhood.

One is of a sign on a corner grocer’s door, “No Weapons Allowed / Detection Devices On Premise / Upon Detection/ Police Will Be Notified Immediately!” Beneath it is an ad for Newport, aimed at a black clientele, obviously, though you’re not supposed to notice that, since we’re all the same, remember? This is the kind of store that sells cigarettes, soft drinks, candies, potato chips, beef jerky, canned food and the only symbol of hope left for many Americans, lottery tickets.

The second photo is of a billboard, “OPIOID DETOX / GET CLEAN. / LEAVE PROTECTED,” with five white faces, and one black, all happy. Just three miles away, there are around 40 tents on sidewalks, occupied by homeless junkies, mostly white and under 35. I didn’t think Kensington could get worse, but it has.

The last is of graffiti on a long-abandoned factory, “FUCK A NAZI!”

Though it didn’t say, “FUCK A NAZI UP!” it still sounds hostile, but that’s English for you, for in this language, making love is constantly used to convey hate or calamity, as in, “I will fuck you up,” “He’s fucking with us” or “We’re fucked.”

With Trump installed, liberal, progressive Americans see Nazis everywhere, by which they mean all those who oppose having an open border, or who might identify as, God forbid, a nationalist, but a nation, by definition, can’t exist without borders or nationalists.

Believing in America shouldn’t equate to cheerleading her wars, however, and that’s where too many Joe Sixpacks have erred. In their bars, you’ll find all kinds of signs thanking soldiers and veterans, and the American flag everywhere.

A Joe Sixpack tavern accrues history organically, honors it and is grounded, like its patrons. A hipster/yuppie bar, on the other hand, is always divorced from its surroundings, and serves an anchorless crowd. Designed to make you feel au courant, it also leaves you restless, for you know that way cooler bars will appear soon, nearby. According to hipsters, the future, too, is always right around the corner, and history is just a hazy series of crimes and mistakes, to be condemned and flee from.

So hep, they identify themselves with a term from more than a century ago.

Me, I would rather get stupid in Friendly, Nickels’ or Fatsos, places where they joke about erections and blow jobs, but I’m at Love City because I’ll have to give a paid talk a few blocks away, in an hour.

At Friendly, a short, philosophical Honduran said to me, “My wife, she gives me pussy, right? But my mother,” he stared at me hard, “she gave me life!” Smiling triumphantly, Manuel gave me a fist bump, shook my hand.

After 30 years in the US, this former illegal immigrant’s English is still somewhat shaky, but you must give him much credit for doing his best to blend in. Manuel believes in a common culture.

At Fatsos, 65-year-old Rick yelled at another old head across the bar, “Would you like a blow job, Steve?”

“Sure.”

Turning to the slim, blonde, 35-year-old bartender with thick, stuck-on eyelashes, Rick petitioned, “Erin, will you take care of Steve for me? My mouth is full,” then he went back to scratching lottery tickets, on which he spends between 40 to 50 bucks a day. Each time Rick lost, he’d curse and toss the ticket onto the floor, behind the bar, for Erin to dispose of.

Nodding at me, Rick grinningly asked Erin, “Have you ever blown a Chinese guy?”

Flattering her, he then said, “Will you wipe your ass with this dollar and give it back to me?”

That kind of bantering, you won’t find at Love City, that’s for sure.

The title of my slide talk is “The Future is Asia.” Its main point, I have discussed in various essays, and it’s basically this: Nations that stress linguistic, cultural and/or ethnic unity will outlast those that don’t. Further, nations that shun their own heritage are as good as dead. For years, I have also stressed that the United States is ruled by a rootless, criminal cabal, and for pointing out something so obvious, I have had countless slurs hurled at me.

Whatever, man, I’m tired. As this ship sinks, wave that flag and snipe away!

Mellowed, I walk to my talk venue. A progressive institution, it no longer has men’s and women’s rooms, but two “All Gender” bathrooms, with only individual stalls, so that a 13-year-old girl, say, may find herself right next to me. As we do our business, we’d only be separated by a partition a good foot off the floor.

In Vietnam, they would find such an arrangement insane and felonious, but then it’s not as advanced as the US of A. The transgender spiel is a part of the campaign against masculinity. Castration is in.

As a toxic model, this criminal, decadent and deeply-confused nation can’t collapse soon enough. Americans, too, need a fresh start, though they may have to cease calling themselves American. It won’t matter much. It already doesn’t.






.

2 comments:

Rudy said...

“As a toxic model, this criminal, decadent and deeply-confused nation can’t collapse soon enough. Americans, too, need a fresh start, though they may have to cease calling themselves American. It won’t matter much. It already doesn’t.”

Americans are getting help with that:
“America is a Golden Calf and we will suck it dry, chop it up, and sell it off piece by piece until there is nothing left but the World’s biggest welfare state that we will create and control. Why? Because it’s God’s will and America is big enough to take the hit so we can do it again, again and again. This is what we do to countries that we hate. We destroy them very slowly and make them suffer for refusing to be our slaves.” — PM Benjamin Netanyahu (http://stateofthenation2012.com/?p=12953)

destroytheuniverse said...

Thanks for the Netanyahu quote. To even mention such things to our fellow citizens in 'Murky' is risking not just rage but violence. It's literally getting worse with each day. It's astonishing to witness how rapid our descent has been. Nemesis is rushing towards us screaming, hair blowing in the whirlwind we have reaped.

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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). 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 Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.