Thursday, June 12, 2014

First blood is black ink

June 21, 1980

I guess it feels good getting a news story published.
It is not how I pictured my writing career – even though I published stories in the college newspaper earlier, and stories and poems in little magazines before that.
News is not something I envisioned doing when I went back to college. I’m not like Glenn Kenny, who became the voice of reason at college.
I don’t even know why I sent the story into my hometown weekly. I was just feeling lost, having made so little progress in making a mark on the world.
They even printed my cover letter with a special notice to check out the story elsewhere in the paper.
I guess I also liked the idea of being printed in my hometown where all previous mentions had involved my more notorious side, even as a teen when I made the police blotter as the underage kid who got pulling this or that prank in this or that place.
I live in Passaic, and I guess I’m starving for recognition.
And it came at a good time since last night two previously separate parts of my artistic world collided with me in the middle, forced to choose which side I was on.
For a number of years – even before I gave up driving a truck – I took up with a group of poets in Passaic, who held a monthly reading at the library – a very stuffy little social group of upright and yes uptight citizens types, who are fond of tea parties and planting flowers.
At college, I met another kind of poet, in particular Michael, who got inspiration from the punk movement.
He’s wild, very nearly insane, and I love his energy. But I knew as soon as I invited him to participate with the library poets, I had made a mistake.
When he got up on stage and started to read, an old lady, the mother of the founder of the group, started making awful faces at him, that prune-like prudishness that all such conservative-liberal ladies make when they disapprove of something or someone.
It pissed Michael off so much that he stopped his reading and stuck his tongue out at her.
“She stuck her face at me so I stuck out my tongue,” he told me later – after the shouting, after he was asked to leave, and he and his following left, giving the regulars the finger, after I left with them because I could do nothing else.
Perhaps it was a childish gesture, but Michael – the son of a privileged liberals in a privileged town – has ached to be a rebel for years, taking pride in being the rebel in the schools he attended, struggling to attain that same status in college where only some of the more conservative professors too offense.
To me, he’s always struck me as a bomb waiting for something to light the fuse.
And he’s no longer satisfied with word-expression; he must also act it out.
I’m writing a review of this as if it was the Leonard-Duran fight. But I already know who wins: Society always does, and Poe found out a century ago. When rebels do rarely triumph, society changes them until they become agents for society’s wishes. Those who don’t change, society destroys.
Michael won’t ever compromise, and if he does, it won’t be for long.
His goal is to change society, even if he has to stick his tongue out at it.
But the kind of change he has in mind rarely comes free of violence, or by random acts of revolution.
Such change as I have already seen transpire in my life, came after riots and blood shed, accompanied by a responsible media willing to report what they see and pass judgment on it.
Perhaps, I will become part of that greater revolution, someone who sees and then reports it, telling the world what I see, what has been done, and what we ought to do better, helping to document the past in order to change the future.

Maybe just one story in my old hometown is a start in that direction. Who knows?

No comments:

Post a Comment