“The Symphony of Futility”
Desde las entrañas de un desolador Nueva Orleans Post-Katrina y a doble turno defendiendo a condenados a muerte, el escritor neoyorkino Jason Flores-Williams arroja la desgarradora novela “The Symphony of futility” sobre la faz de la tierra. Publicamos aquí un extracto en exclusiva para Centro América gracias al autor.
I wasn’t shocked when I saw the planes hit the towers. I didn’t freak out and start crying oh my god how could this ever happen to us. Read a book, we’ve fucked with people. Hard. It’s like my old pal Timmy Martinez in the Bronx. He was always fuckin with people, so I wasn’t blown away when I heard he got stabbed on the 6 train next to Yankee stadium.
So I guess that makes me a terrorist-sympathizer, right? A culturally deviated unchristian homo from the lower east side. Well, as long I’m making out with Emma Goldman, let me be real honest - part of me was a little bummed that a plane didn’t hit the White House. Really, if you haven’t walked by the White House- as close as you can get in that armed military camp called our nation’s capital anyway – and thought Fuck The White House, then you are a different person than I. Think of the people who have lived there… In what circumstances besides the government, do you pay for people you frickin can’t stand to live in a huge mansion that you’re never going to be invited to, that you can’t get within a mile off lest you get shot and killed by the secret service who’s salaries you’re also paying – to have fancy dinners on your dime and make decisions that impact your life with no input from you whatsoever.
Ya know, I am sick of apathetic cowards pointing their plastic fingers at people like me you and us. I am never going to “massage my message” for people who never stood for anything, who never twitched one ass muscle for their “beloved country”, who could never fathom getting up at 5 am on a Saturday to go teach poor kids to read or organize a protest - pointing at me and saying I’M TOO RADICAL. Bourgeois liberals and Conservative republicans, ordering Dominos and watching Fox or ordering Thai and watching CNN – at the end of the day I’ve learned to watch out for em both. Asses getting bigger, minds getting smaller – all afraid of any real change.
So I will not check my heart at the door so as not to offend dead America, because I write for the fighters. I write for the people who wake up at 5 am to make protest. AND so there many of us were several years ago protesting the Bush machine cranking up the war machine or the war machine cranking up the Bush machine, I can’t never tell which. I was at a protest on Feb. 11, 2003? It was fucking cold. Some upper east side lawyer douchebag leans out of the crowd and says to me in the most condescending way: “Good effort, but you’re really not helping us get rid of Bush.” And then first day of the war I’m protesting in the rain in Times Square…. This tourist family is walking by on their way to ESPN Zone. Dad’s got on, zero bullshit, an LSU sweatshirt. His little daughter looks up at me with my sign, then up at her dad and asks him, What are they doing, daddy? He says: Don’t look at them, baby. They’re bad people. They make me sick. Then a couple weeks after that I was working on a construction site with my artist buddy. We were busting out sheet rock, yacking lefty politics as was our way. Says I to him: “Bush is a total piece of shit. If I got anywhere near him I’d probably end up in prison for the rest of my life.”
Steroided out prick building manager from Jersey overhears, comes in from the hall and gets in my face: “If you ever say anything like that again, I’ll kick your fucking ass!”
Oh, okay: “Bush is a total piece of shit. If I got anywhere near him I’d probably end up in prison for the rest of my life.”
Do you know what the best thing in the world is? I mean right up there with sex or that first morning you wake up in Mexico City ready to get your coffee and get out there into the mix. The best thing in the world is being in a room full of brave, smart people so that the fear burns off. The best thing in the world is being part of a movement. The Beginning of 2004: the Republicans are coming to New York city and people were on the move. Holding meetings in churches, drinking pints in bars. Huddling at corner tables talking about how to crack the code of the corporate mass media complex, how to retake the myths, forge a real democracy, freedom, civil liberties, human rights and a good solid fucking of the death penalty. Man, I’m learning from people, getting inspired so organize a little protest in front of Rockefeller Center. Just called it NO. No to the tightening of the vice around our hopes and dreams. No to this stupid war. No to the lies and destruction of the American soul and ideal, which I always saw as some big egalitarian commune where nobody was getting over on anybody, a helacious free for all where the assholes are tarred and feathered, a kick ass circus where life was palpable and every second of every moment was gonna be this wild ass Kerouac road trip. More a loose association of freaky bizness than an actual country. A land of experiment and community, not a soulless grinder of war and profit that would make William S Burroughs shit his pants.
Those Rockefeller Center businessmen stood there in their Brookes Brothers suits, mocking us like we were lower than shit. Laughing, pointing, making derogatory frat boy comments. I remember there was a latino one and I just kept looking at him like what the fuck happened to you, man. Then the cops showed up, shut it down and arrested us. A young pig (yeah I said it), called me a fucking idiot. I was sitting in my cell with handcuffs on and he said: You’re a fucking idiot. (Real brave guy.) You don’t count for shit all you do is ruin people’s days. And because this protest made the news, I got out of jail and came home to more than 150 emails calling me an uneducated loser (that’s the liberals) and a terrorist sympathizer (that’s the conservatives.)
For what? For organizing a protest in front of buildings that were built by the Rockefellers, the family who invented the world oil industry, who ripped out Diego Rivera’s mural because it showed the struggle of the lower class, who are responsible for the deaths and oppression of everyone from the labor movement in this country to the slaughter of prisoners at Attica, whose buildings are now the black beating heart of Corporate media. For what? For organizing a protest in front of NBC - mass media source of disinformation, owned by General Electric one of the world’s most powerful defense contractors, DOWN the street from the Carlyle Group – the most vile government revolving door war profiteer - UP the Street from consumer capitalist brainwashing Madison Avenue, ACROSS the street from St. Patricks Cathedral the heart of Catholicism hiding pedophile priests still telling people in AIDS-infested Africa not to use condoms, IN THE CENTER of one the greatest concentrations of wealth in the world when 30 percent of our children in America are born into poverty and I, WE, are the uneducated fucking idiot traitors.
Brothers and sister, sometimes I see it so clearly. This country needs an uprising. A system check. I won’t use the word violent, because despite the fact that our tax dollars just went to kill another 700 people out there somewhere – that word freaks people out. So I’ll just leave it there – an uprising. Something generated by people like us that scares the shit out of people like them.
Nothing I believe is all that radical. I just took my 6th grade civics class VERY seriously. No taxation without real representation. Everybody gets a fair shake at having a decent life. The people should not fear their government, the government should fear their people, a revolution every 14 years is a good idea, etc. When the criminal justice system is a plantation slave parade of blacks and browns, and there’s a military recruiter on the corner of every street corner in the inner-city – then you don’t gotta be Noam Chomsky to know that things ain’t right and that somethings got to be done. When most of us in this room are on the verge of getting evicted, one ankle sprain away from falling into a permanent financial tail spin, getting laid off every other month, psychologically beat down by the constant lies and nervously checking our emails for anything that might get us investigated before we hit the send button– then you don’t need to a degree in media ecology from NYU to know that things ain’t right and something needs to get done.
But this country is so silent, so apathetic and uninvolved in anything but trying to make a buck, go shopping and get on tv, that I’ve been, at times, driven to think that maybe I just ain’t seeing it right. Maybe its US. Maybe all us fucking idiots are just way too hopped up on “eyes on the prize” documentaries and should shut up and all become stock brokers. EXCEPT for one thing: Everything that we’ve been thinking and fighting for, the country is now starting to understand. The War, The Republicans, The democrats, the system, the constitutional violations, global warming. (Not that they’ll do anything about it, but they say that they’re seeing it.) TURNS OUT that we fucking idiots don’t need to be smashed in the face with it to know that it’s wrong. I don’t have to wait for 30 or 40 thousand people to die in Iraq, for our economy to be drained and for the world to get taken to the brink, to know that the war is bullshit. I don’t need it to be 200 degrees outside with polar bears floating by my window on garbage bags, to do something about the environment. Same as I don’t need to get my ass beat by cops to fight for civil rights, get thrown in a dark cell and deported to work for immigrant rights, get told that I can’t vote to fight against the disenfranchisement of millions of poor people and would come up with more stuff that ain’t right like the drug war, 4th amendment violations, life crushing student debt, strategic marginalization of dissent, economic disempowerment, fundamental voicelessness in decisions that shape my life, the shitass two party system that’s really a shitass one party system, 1st amendment violations, capitalistic control of art and expression that condemns us to a sanitized homogenized culture that makes you want to die – but all these things ACTUALLY APPLY to me so don’t work here.
So Okay, I got a question - in a country that prides itself on a kind of down home, open eyed, we’re-good, optimistic, people where never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day hospitality - I want to know one thing: WHERE’S MY THANK YOU CARD??? Where’s MY APOLOGY LETTER???? To the fucking idiots, from 87 percent of America that was glued to the TV raring to give up their constitutional rights in the name of national security, thinking the republicans were visionary geniuses A BUNCH OF Albert Einsteins and Leonardo Da Vincis, from those who where salivating to bomb Iraq admiring W.s balls and package on that aircraft carrier - where’s that good old fashioned American hospitality in the form of a nice little letter. Well wait, here be some now.
Dear Buddy J:
Hey man, Me and my old lady Trish just want to thank you for fighting for the Stars and Stripes while we were watching Junior Git her Done at Daytona. You know how it is, buddy. Work and all that gunk. We barely got time to vote for American Idol.
And here’s a letter from another part of the country:
Sorry for not making it out to your against the war THING. But the Williamsburg Kickball tournament was that day, then that night there was a South Korean anime festival at that new space in Bushwick.
I SHALL not be holding my breath. The one thing that goes deeper than apathy in this country, is selective memory, revisionist history and now coming up strong on the outside: psychotic delusion. That a superrich pussy frat boy from Connecticut is thought of as a tough guy from Texas just rocks me every day. That the shriveled dicks who run this country, who have lied to us, spied on us, bombed people, alienated the entire planet, treated the earth like a garbage dump and cut funding for education are thought of as real Americans while we’re thought of as freaks….We are living in a twisted fucking nightmare! And it’s been going on for way too long. Look at Vietnam, the government systematically lied to us sending nearly 70 thousand of our youth to its death, hundreds of thousands permanently wounded, mentally scarred a generation and nearly destroyed an entire country by killing 5.1 million Vietnamese – and what is it that we keep getting reminded of….that the protestors were bad people. That we were the unpatriotic ones. The government exposed its own people to chemical experiments in the name of corporate profit, left the inner cities broken and impoverished, left our warriors lying in their own shit and vomit in underfunded hospitals, but boy oh boy it’s the protestors that we have to worry about. How the fuck did this happen? How the fuck did we go from the righteous passionate land of Gloria Steinem, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Lenny Bruce and Peaches from Peaches and Herb to this dumbshit, sold out, mindless death machine of George W Bush. Now I am asking, who will raise this city up in the fierce and proud spirit our underground. Who is going to flip from the gut and burn down the walls that exist between us. Who is going to carry the standard of our wounded revolution and remind this fractured beat down soul of why I still fight for America. Who is going to give ME hope. Because when the tribunal of history rears its head on this dark period, it ain’t gonna be about who made the most money or had the coolest job, it ain’t gonna be about who had the best tattoo, hung at the grooviest cafe, or went to the hippest barbecue, it ain’t gonna be about who was in the band, who did a reading or who got their name in the paper, no, it ain’t gonna be about any of that at all….It’s gonna be about one thing and one thing only: WHO STOOD UP AND FOUGHT IN THE DARKNESS OF THE AMERICAN NIGHT!