Friday, October 17, 2008



(Oct. 17, Hunts Point, The Bronx, NYC) Just as the nation became acutely aware of the contributions made to society by cops and fireman after witnessing their bravery on September 11, 2001, this rancorous presidential battle has shed light on other segments of our work force that have been long denied proper recognition and respect. The men and women of the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD performed no differently on 9 11 01 then they did everyday before and every day since. It was the prominence of their efforts that illustrated precisely the character and skills required to do what they have always done, largely unnoticed. Generations of cops and fireman have toiled anonymously protecting and saving lives. It came as a shock to most of them that it took a calamity such as the fall of the World Trade Center Towers for the public to appreciate their role in our society.

Similarly, other vital services provided by working class, blue collar workers are now being appreciated as the mortar that holds our country and civil society together. Thanks to the introduction of “Joe the Plumber” by Senator McCain during his debate with Barak Obama earlier this week, the Joes and Joannes among us, performing the unglamorous, dirty, often hazardous jobs are now getting their due.

Those Americans fortunate to make over $250,000 annually have probably never taken time to consider all the components of our workforce that serve as the cogs and wheels, the nuts and bolts of our economy. These men and women, most of whom are lucky to gross $70,000 per household make it possible for the rest of society to live as they do.

Every item in our homes, offices, grocery, appliance and stores of every type spent time on a truck. America’s needs move by truck; if you’ve got it, it was trucked. How many American’s realize this and appreciate the truck drivers? Why has it taken so long to celebrate the tireless efforts of mechanics, janitors, loading dock guys, bartenders, bookies, bouncers and diner waitresses? How about taxi drivers, mills hands, framers, dry wallers, roofers, cesspool divers, garbage collectors, meat packers, fishermen and port-a-potty cleaner outters? Who ever thanks the delivery people, asphalt layers, tree trimmers, utility workers, grocery checkers, muffler installers, bank tellers, sewer cleaners, boilermakers, manure handlers, chimney sweepers, cowpokes, cow milkers, and cupcake icers? On a daily basis, the pizza makers, Chinese take-out delivery guys, the dry cleaners ladies, the barbers, the shelf stockers, clerks and assistants, pickers and packers, laborers of all kinds make it possible for the rest of us to be housed, clothed, fed, entertained and pampered.

It is about time that the average Joe and Joanne we have, for far too long, looked down upon or ignored, felt superior to or sorry for, under tipped or berated, was disgusted by or avoided, come out of the shadows, and are celebrated as the true heroes they are.

Here, at the Hunts Point Market, thousands of men and women work around the clock to provide the uninterrupted supply of meat and produce to the residents of New York City. Some load and unload trucks manually. Some trim fat from sides of beef. Some separate chicken legs from thighs. Some wash lettuce, others put rubber bands around celery. The point is that without these folks the Waldorf Astoria could not make a meal.

The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” has been widening for years. The past 10 to 15 years as seen that widening increase rapidly. There is a vast, ocean sized gulf that keeps the lower class out of view of the upper class. Treading water in that expansive ocean are all the Als and Hals, Hanks and Franks, Dottys, and Dollys, Neds, Freds and Eds, Marys, Nancys, and Lucys of the middle class.

It is easy and simplistic, and oh so convenient, to frame every domestic issue as contrasts of ideology. Our two party system has mutated into one dysfunctional swamp surrounding two distinct islands; two polarized camps each armed with their own distinct arsenal of code words, prejudices, biases, perceptions and stereotypes ready, in the blink of an eye, to blame the other for our collective ills and failures. So cemented have these stances become, that no reasonable discourse seems possible. Agreement will remain elusive because of resentment and anger even though agreement, in correcting some of our most intractable problems would be beneficial to all.

Democrats are not raving, liberal lunatics burning torches at the gates demanding a redistribution of wealth. Republicans are not conservative, right wing zealots determined to enrich the rich. However, if each continues to perceive the other as such, we will remain a house divided, a nation drifting towards a bastard offshoot of Feudalism, of a caste system from a bygone era.

The Left can look at the Right as greedy, oppressive, heartless takers. The Right can look at the Left as whining, freeloaded, and demanding wanters. Where has this gotten us?

Human beings share 99.4% of our genetic structure with Apes; a mere 0.6 % of our species DNA permits us to speak and think ahead, to calculate and invent, to live in houses, in an organized civil society while apes live, fuck and shit in the wilds? Okay. If that meager amount of molecular material defines the tremendous chasm between man and beast, why can’t men of differing persuasions and beliefs, ideas and ideals, incomes and opportunities, interact exercising the unique and distinct neurological capacities we have in common.

We are all the same when it comes down to physiology and the harsh truths of life and death. We all put our pants on the same. We all experience the same physical strengths, weaknesses and maladies. We have similar but relative hopes, dreams and fears. We have all been hungry: some, hungry between meals, some hungry for a meal. We all sweat: some while at work, some while at play. Why do we continue to behave as Stone Age men nearing the end of the first decade of the Third Millennium?

Our Nation and the World are riddled with challenges that will require all to find the valley between the mountains – The Middle Ground; the place of negotiation and compromise. “United We Stand, Divide We Fall” Clichés’ are cliché because they are true.


Copyright TBC 2008 © All Rights Reserved

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