Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Fifty-four

Posted by ilbebe on June 4, 2010

I find the phrase editorial submission intriguing because it implies both what yr offering and the knowledge that what yr offering will be at the mercy of the judgement of an editor. Editorial policy varies, this much we know. Why would anyone willingly submit to any additional phantom force with the power to accept or deny them, when there are already so many shadows at work controlling the quality of our liberty? I suppose the freedom there lies in our willingness to submit…

In December of 2002, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Contra Costa Times in regards to the BART system, and my feeling that it needed to be expanded farther into the suburbs to meet the needs of the population it was supposed to be serving. My opinion was based on, eh, common sense!!, and also a little indignation about the fact that Brentwood, where I was currently interning for the Planning Department, had been paying the taxes and bonds that had built and maintained the BART system since its inception in the ‘60’s, even though the closest station was still fifteen miles away. My letter was printed, and a few weeks later, I took part in a community workshop about planning for a large undeveloped area that sat at the edge of Brentwood and two other cities.

We were split into small groups, and my working group included a serious bastard who was one of the richest people in town. His riches came from turning his agricultural holdings into shitty houses, houses that aren’t going to taste good after the money is gone. He talked at length about the seemingly unrelated issue of annexing more land east of downtown Brentwood, land which he coincidentally owned and wanted to pave under. Then we talked about the placement of the new transit stop in the middle of the area we were supposed to be discussing, and it was his opinion that it be placed in a de-centralized spot to allow for improved auto traffic. I groaned and leaned back in my chair, and that’s how my boss found me when he walked around, checking in on the groups. He didn’t seem amused at my non-participation, but when I jumped into the dialogue and offered my two cents on restricting auto access, he sighed and walked away.

He never mentioned my letter to the editor; maybe he saw, maybe he didn’t. Maybe he agreed, maybe he didn’t. I left my internship with the city a month after the workshop despite being offered a full time position. I was far more interested in going back to Arcata to party.

A few years later Arcata was having City Council elections, and a local eco-groovy activist gadfly named Fhyre Phoenix was running. This was a guy who attempted to start a community currency project modeled after the Ithaca Dollar, and ran a newspaper to advertise and support the project’s goals. In the first few editions, about twenty-five percent of the ads in the classified section were his. The included “Wanted: Free Office Space To Run Community Currency Project In”, “Wanted: Free Printing Services For Community Currency Project Newspaper”, “Wanted: Free Place To Live For Community Currency Project Director”, and “Offered: Freedom From Corrupt Capitalistic System. Do Community Currency!”

The best one, however, was “Wanted: Snugglebuddy. Contact Fhyre at Community Currency Project”.

So when he ran for city council, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Arcata Eye and didn’t bother getting specific about my feelings that the man was entirely unfit for public service in any universe numbering less than fourteen dimensions. I just said that given Arcata’s recent exposure in the national and international media surrounding the somewhat radical opinions of a current councilmember, it would be Arcata’s folly to elect a dude with such a ridiculous name. You could imagine the BBC report on that one- “We return to Arcata, California, where their newest city councilman is a bum named Fhyre.” That letter got printed, and for a while, that was the first result that came up when I googled myself.

Six years later I was living during wartime in Oakland, and read an interesting column in the East Bay Express about a radical economist living in Berkeley. It was an interesting article, but for whatever ridiculous reasons they put everyone whose name was mentioned in the article in boldface, and to me it made the whole feature look like a society gossip column. There was also a minor typo in a significant quote in the middle of the article, and towards the end, the article’s author stated “The media took its hit long ago” in regards to declining public faith in the institutions that are supposed to inform and govern our lives. I wrote a letter to the editor chastising what I felt were their misguided editorial functions, and the interesting parallels that could be drawn between the content of the article and it’s presentation. The East Bay Express has always had my respect for being fearless in printing letters from their detractors, and as of a few weeks ago, I now proudly number amongst them.

It now has me ruminating on the power of words. You can be pretty good with them, but they’ll never save your life. Or will they? The future remains unwritten, unspoken, and unfelt, but I, I-I, I-I, I’m hooked on a feeling. I’m high on believing that things are getting better. Younger and younger children are harnessing acute powers of language, and the I feel that this is a powerful representation of our ever-expanding powers of human cognition. Right behind, in front of and all around this ability to think is a capacity for love.

An image:

A single drop of rain jams the carbine and queers the executioner’s mission and allows the prisoner to say Please Don’t!

An opportunity for the executioner to listen, and understand, and stand down; beside; with

-2:42PM, 6-3-10, Oakland, home. Caffeinated and happy.

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