Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bitter clingers should be herd, not scene

One of the less than obvious costs of having spent a life-time travelling around the world is that, in my case anyway, it has been a life of homelessness. It doesn't mean I sleep under a bridge. I have a nice apartment, filled with some pretty nice things, some fairly expensive. But I don't own this place, and I don't even really live in this country. It's a foreign place where I happen to reside for a while. As it turns out, I'll be leaving this country soon for some other foreign place to stay. I don't have a home. I just live in places. Prior to Obama winning the last election, I was looking seriously at buying a house in Arkansas. It was a beautiful place with lots of land and a lakefront. Maybe it was an abandoned farm and had a falling down house on acres of wilderness. It suited me just right. It could have been my place, my home. I watched that dream burn to the ground when Obama got elected. If that's what we have, then I found I wouldn't go home at all. I prefer staying homeless, wandering the world with no place to be.

[Graphics from A Clockwork Orange.]

But being restless is a far cry from nomadism. I go to a place and often enough I stay there and live. I like being settled. I like the idea of a house of my own. I would love to have a place all of my own that no one else owns, that's mine and only mine. I could go outside and look at it and tell you a lot about how it's made-- because I know some about carpentry, having built many dwellings over the years with others-- and about architecture-- yeah, I studied the history of architecture at university! I love buildings. I want to own one of my own and I want to call it home. I don't care what it's like, I can make it my own in my own fashion. If it's just a little box like any of a thousand others all around it in the suburbs, that would thrill me. It would be my home. I don't care if Al Gore has a mansion for his home. I don't care if politicians have houses they can't even remember how many. I don't care about that at all: I want a home of my own. Tiny? I don't care. A little box and silly to look at? Cheap? Who gives a damn. It'd be my home.

But that doesn't suit some people, they despising me for wanting such a place. They, some folks, don't want me to have a little box of a place. What should I have instead, according to them? I guess I should live in a workers' hostel or on a commune so I can live "authentically" like a peasant, eating organic food, if the worms don't get it all first, and if it's in season, and if it grows close enough for me to walk over to try to find it, and so on. They want me to live like a farm animal. I can live in a barn and they can feed me. They?

"Little Boxes" is a song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962, which became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963. The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban tract housing as "little boxes" of different colors "all made out of ticky-tacky", and which "all look just the same." "Ticky-tacky" is a reference to the shoddy material used in the construction of housing of that time.[1]

Malvina Reynolds is a ticky-tacky little Communist who sneers at me having a home of my own. I want to choke that shit-head. I want to kick Pete Seeger down a flight of stairs. I hate these people. I don't need a $7.million yacht. I want a home of my own. If I had one like those little ones in the suburbs, I think I'd be pretty damned happy with it. But Communists like Reynolds and Seeger don't want me to live like that. Why? Because a peasant with his own home is a free man. They really hate that. A free man with a beautiful home of his own? They'd have me shot for upsetting their aesthetic experience of the landscape, dotted with colourful farm folks waving as the lords pass by in their carriages. Neo-feudalism, I call it.

1. Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

2. And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
I truly do want to hang these people who insult me like that. Who do they think they are?

I'll be on the road in a few months, moving around, looking for a home somewhere. I hope to find one with a nice old tree for hanging Communists from. I'll sit in the rocking chair and smoke a corn-cob pipe and blow smoke rings and watch a creepy, sneering Communist dangle and stretch and twist, slowly, slowly in the wind. Lemonade, the neighbours leaning on the fence, kids throwing apples at the hanging fool on the branch. ...It looks in my mind's eye like home.

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