What kind of country do we now inhabit? Where I live, a small city of 60,000, there is absolutely nothing reminiscent of the world I once knew. This town is one of boxstores, strip malls, third rate mass transit (duh, like hardly any), and subdivisions where few even know one another, let alone socialize that much. Even the suburbia of my youth offered more than this… yet they tell us we have evolved in this 21st century whereupon Wal-Mart has become the new city market!
I’m a dinosaur from the village of Avenue U in the city of Brooklyn (called borough despite its population of nearly three million). Got that? Now I realize this doesn’t make sense to anyone who never lived in such a place. A village in such an urban environment? What gives? You see, we dinosaurs roamed around in a much more viable and practical place than you do now in this Amerika in the Age of Empire. Avenue U, circa 1960s, was in fact just like a village. I could walk around the corner and shop for almost everything my family needed. We had the produce store, butcher shop, German deli (with those great wood barrel sour dill pickles ), Italian bakery ( where they referred to loaves of bread as fish: “Let me have two large fish with no”), luncheonette (where you could get a Lime Rickey or Egg Cream – that’s for another column), pizza parlor (as they were called then), pharmacy (they delivered till closing at 9 p.m.), dry cleaner, shoe repair (yeah, they had one in every village), men’s tailor and ladies dress shops, leather goods shop… need I go on? We had it all, right there within the radius of a few blocks. You wanted Chinese food, right in walking distance. Ditto for Italian food, or a Jewish deli (with hot dogs on par with Nathans from Coney Island). Here’s the nostalgic irony: Travel less than 10 minutes by car or bus and you would be in another village just like mine! They were all over Brooklyn!
A mere 50 years ago you could go to a dentist and actually have him spend all his time on your teeth. No overbooking of patients with shuttling back and forth from one to the other! A dentist was a practitioner and not a businessman. He and his hygienist did not try to sell you on all kinds of work. As far as doctors, my doctor, Dr. Alicandri, actually made house calls into the mid 60s! I can recall when we had a vicious snow storm one winter. I was sick in bed with a high fever and the bell rang. It was good old Dr. Alicandri trudging through a foot of snow to treat me. He, the doctor who delivered me at birth, was a practitioner and not a businessman! Such a dinosaur! Tell me, where did our America turn 180 degrees into this mess we call progress?
When the Bush/Cheney gang illegally and immorally attacked and invaded Iraq, there was little or no real national protest movement against them. We had small pockets nationwide of protestors like yours truly, but no real movement to push back this insane empire. Oh sure, for one day in February 2003, the world saw the greatest protest against that upcoming pre-emptive attack. Millions literally marched and rallied in a myriad of cities worldwide. Sadly, it but was for one day and when the smoke of Shock and Awe cleared, there was not much in the way of outrage. In the late 60s this was not the case. As the Vietnam War limped on and on, more and more Americans took to the streets in protest. We closed my campus at Brooklyn College in May of 1970 to protest the illegal bombing of Cambodia. Hundreds of colleges nationwide did the same. There was a motivated and well run national movement to end that war and bring our troops home. Civil disobedience was prevalent throughout our great nation. For every act of violent demonstration by protestors, there were literally hundreds of instances of peaceful dissent. Guess what? The Military Industrial Empire had to finally alter its agenda and back off a bit.
I turn on the radio or boob tube for honest and diverse commentary and debate and all I get is orchestrated hype. The empire will not allow true and diverse dissent or progressive ideas brought forth through their channels. It only offers a steady Republican vs. Democrat claptrap of phony adversity that cannot and will not threaten the empire’s plans for control or expansion. You will never see fellow dinosaurs like Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, William Blum, Paul Craig Roberts, Robert Fisk, John Pilger and Chris Hedges (to name but a few) on the mainstream media. If for some reason they do get on, it will be for a 20 second sound bite. As far as sports talk, it has regressed into **** about contracts or scandal… hardly ever about strategy. Why should it? The media cares little for that. All they want is ratings to sell their inane beer commercials for the 20 and 30 somethings they focus on. Dinosaurs like me are not as important anymore.
So, there you have it. I am literally a ‘stranger in a strange land.’ The only hope one is that more dinosaurs like me get together and make our voices heard… in tandem! Perhaps then we can influence the younger generations to wake up and be in the forefront of real change.