I Want To Wake Up

Just back after a week in New York. I wouldn’t live there if you paid me. No siree. But then again, I appear to be living in Ireland for free, so I can’t complain too much. I don’t have much to say about the place that hasn’t already been said many times before, but some superficial remarks shall follow nonetheless. I managed to go a week without hearing the word ‘fuck’ spoken in the street, which ended almost as soon as I stepped onto Irish asphalt again. I saw a couple of rats. One was in Macy’s main store. Another one was on the platform at Madison Square Garden. I think they were visiting McDonalds and waiting on a subway train respectively. I was surprised but not particularly bothered at the lack of an animated countenance on people working in shops and restaurants. A lot of people working there had the face of someone who was being treated like crap. I saw queues of people waiting to get into Abercrombie and Fitch on Fifth Avenue who would not have looked out of place on a fascist propaganda video: muscular, what Veblen refers to as ‘dolicho-blond’ families. I had never paid any attention to this brand before. It is marketed as a ‘the highest quality, casual, All-American lifestyle clothing for aspirational men and women’. I found out today they just lost a case for wrongful dismissal against a worker in London whom they hid in a stockroom because she had a prosthetic arm. That figures. Then there were the many families who proceeded down the streets wearing an I Love NY uniform. I was not loving this. The I Love New York logo, as David Harvey points out in A Brief History of Neoliberalism, was an invention of the city’s elite institutions in order to sell the image of a city as a cultural centre and tourist destination, subsequent to what Harvey describes as a ‘coup by the financial institutions against the democraticaly elected government of New York City’. This coup had consisted, among other things, of wage freezes, cutbacks in education, public health, and transport services, as well as user fees, including the introduction of university tuition fees. Nor was I loving the general picture of a city owned by rich white people being served by people of color, though one should not be especially scandalised simply because these relations are visible. I have seen people pick through rubbish bins before, but I had never seen anyone reach into a bin and start eating a discarded meal. Perhaps destitute Europeans have more compunction about being seen eating rubbish. The museums were packed with people intent on getting photos of themselves beside famous artworks. This happens in Europe too, of course, but this does not make it any easier to figure out someone who plans to say to their friends and relatives that ‘this is me standing beside Warhol’s Mao’. A strange sensation standing outside the New York Stock Exchange. The massive stars and stripes draped out the front is quite a statement: America=Capitalism. But it felt like there was nothing there. If Wall Street is considered a centre of global power, the belly of the beast, it is a oddly empty centre. Boots Riley says the new Street Sweeper Social club album is ‘something for the working class to listen to on their iPods while storming Wall Street’. But suppose they did. At the moment, they couldn’t, because it would be cordoned off in advance. But suppose they could. What would happen? Traders would work from home for the duration. The taped recording on the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty talked about how the statue was a symbol of liberty, opportunity and security, but ‘security’ sounded like a recent urgent insertion.


1 Response to “I Want To Wake Up”

  1. 1 tieng nhat Trackback on June 3, 2014 at 8:24 am

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August 2009
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