The Further Adventures of gregamos (aka, this stuff really happens to me)
The other day I saw the movie Elysium.
Why are writers and other creative types fond of portraying dystopic societies? (Bladerunner; I Robot; The Hunger Games; The Lord of the Rings trilogy; the Terminator series; the Matrix trilogy; The Omega Man and its remake, I am Legend; even the star Wars franchise; Elysium; the list goes on.) Maybe because we live in one.
The dystopia in this movie is Los Angeles. The utopia is the eponymous satellite city. Elysium orbits in plain sight but remains out of reach. Citizens of hell on earth long for and die trying to reach heaven above, a 19-minute spaceship ride away.
Neill Blomkamp, the director, is quoted as saying the movie isn’t science fiction, it’s today. I agree. The only difference between Elysium the movie set in 2154 and real life in 2013 (besides the cool exoskeletons) is that Elysium – utopia – isn’t up in the sky.
Elysiums exist all over the country. We’ve seen them. Some of us have even been inside them. They’re cleverly disguised with normal names like Beverly Hills, The Hamptons, The White House, Trump Tower, Park Avenue. You just need a special key to get inside; it’s called seven-figures.
The movie ends with rogue citizens of hell making everybody – not just the privileged – citizens of utopia. Once everybody is a citizen, they are entitled to benefits. They can’t be arrested. Medical aid is dispatched to care for everybody in Los Angeles!
It’s just that simple. The resources existed. Nothing had to be appropriated. No one had to give an order. No one received less because thousands or millions were given some. A few new lines of computer code did the trick.
Again, this isn’t science fiction. This is real. This is now. This is today.
We put a man on the moon – a bunch of times. We landed an SUV on mars and the lack of gas stations doesn’t appear to be a concern.
We can care and feed for all our populace. We just don’t want to. Or rather, the few that hold the keys don’t want to.
Sooner or later those few will be forced to turn over the keys to the city. Just like in the movie, the political and social will to do the right thing will be forced upon them. It won’t come from the inside, from the body politik, or the establishment. The will, the impetus to provide functional, universal care for everybody will come from below, from hell, from the dystopias that exist next to the Elysiums, from the masses, from those who need it and die from its lack. Sooner or later these raged masses will become fed up and demand what already exists, what they see others enjoying everyday, what the elite take for granted. Warning: the later the demand comes, the uglier, bloodier, deadlier it will be. I think another word for that is revolution.
Stay tuned to Further Adventures.
Take yourself seriously, Greg. And don’t, never half-step.
Thanksgiving’s true purpose is holding back the commercial onslaught of Christmas. Without Thanksgiving, nothing would stop merchants from cranking up the Christmas carols and displaying decorations a week or two after Labor Day. Santa and the elves would love the extra work. (Spoiler, there is no Santa Claus; he’s neither fat, nor jolly. He’s a paid actor.)
Halloween isn’t strong enough to hold back the intense drive to sell (and buy!). Move some candy, a few polyester costumes, sure. But they want to sell X-boxes and Wiis and grills for next Memorial Day and winter coats and spring coats and boots and Crocs and fashionable heels and purses and murses and diamonds and gold and cubic zirconias and and and. That can only happen because of Christmas.
But first, we’ve got to eat turkey and cranberry sauce. We’ve got to thank the Indians for saving the Pilgrims. We’ve got to spend time with our families.
That’s why there’s Black Friday where everybody - legally - loses their minds in a shopping frenzy. Halloween’s sugar rush has worn off. The tryptophan postprandial dip has faded with a few good hours of sleep. We can be up and at ‘em for the at 5:00 am start of the collective commercial consumption compulsion.
I was surprised to see that Halloween is celebrated in Colombia. Over the weekend I stumbled across a bunch of pre-tweens coming out of a costume party. (Little Spidermen, Mermaids, Iron Men, Thors, Policemen, Miley Cyruses twerking, Margaret Thatchers (ok, I’m making that one up) Wonder Women, Rainbow Brites, My Little Ponies, Smurfs, any concept someone could make into a costume.) They were cute, though the parents looked tired. Manizales, and I suppose all of Colombia, is ramping for trick-or-treat (triqui-triqui, as they say in Spanish).
But because Halloween isn’t strong enough, and they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in South America, the stores also have their Christmas displays displayed.
Yep, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … in October. We are not amused. Neither are we psyched. Don’t forget, Latin America also celebrates Three Kings Day on January 6th. It’s gonna be looking a lot like Christmas well into January.
I’m tired already. Maybe I’ll take an extended vacation to … Tahiti? Bora Bora? What do they celebrate there? How strong is it?
Stay tuned to Further Adventures.
I lived in Barcelona from 1997 to 2001. The Bush v Gore election (remember the countless machine and manual vote recounts in Florida?) happened November-December 2000.
Now I live in Colombia. Once again the United States government has plunged headfirst into a blazing dysfunction. Republican extremists have refused to pass a budget as a tactic to defund the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare). Without a budget, the US government is nonfunctional. This affects countless government employees, as well as private-sector folk who rely on government agencies for services. The damage spreads to companies the government contracts with. The ripples will be felt worldwide if the US defaults on loan payments to debt holders. It’s quickly growing into a debacle far greater than any bad the ACA might (I repeat, might) create.
But those Republican legislators have their particular axe to grind and have become blind to any other damage their actions (or lack of actions) is creating (i.e not might create, but is creating and has been creating for a week now).
The expressions “biting one’s nose to spite one’s face,” and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” come to mind. I’m sure there are dozens more appropriate euphemisms.
Anyway, again I’m fielding questions from curious foreign nationals as to why my government doesn’t work. Frankly, I don’t have a satisfactory answer. I wish I could provide an intelligent response.
I’m reminded of other ironies (put mildly) uniquely American. Take Thanksgiving for example. Foreigners are curious about this one too. The conversations go like this:
“Thanksgiving is to thank the Indians for helping the pilgrims, right?”
“Uh huh,” says I, cringing because I know what’s coming next.
“Then why did the settlers kill the Indians after that?! What really are you celebrating at Thanksgiving?”
I shrug. How am I supposed to answer that? Well, they were thankful at the time, but then, once they weren’t hungry anymore and when more settlers arrived, the need for land trumped any gratitude toward the people who had helped them who also just happened to be living on that land.
Just another one in a long list of contradictions that is the United States of America, one of the greatest nations on earth.[I use italics because I’m being sarcastic.] Sometimes it takes getting out of the country, or growing up in a “minority group” to fully understand the complex dichotomy of the USA. It’s almost always too much to explain to anyone’s satisfaction over coffee.
That’s why I shrug.
Stay tuned to Further Adventures.
Life is a Further Adventure. Live it!
WOW.. love hearing about your adventure.. good luck!
Why should I read a book about bullying? I don’t have kids. I don’t work in a school or any other kind of institution. The expression, “got a message?, call Western Union,” comes to mind.
Fortunately, I didn’t discover The Offenders as an “important read.”
When I decide if I’m going to read something I ask, will I enjoy this? Will it entertain me? Concerning The Offenders, by Jerry Craft with his sons Jaylen and Aren, I already knew the answer. I know Craft from his comic strip Mama’s Boyz. I have always enjoyed his dry, sly wit commenting on the ridiculous things that happen to us every day. A book by clan Craft caught my attention. I was curious as to how father Craft’s sense of humor would play out over multiple pages of more words than pictures (as opposed to three or four panels of comic strip). And I wanted to see if the sons could hang with the dad.
So far, so cool.
First and foremost, The Offenders is fun. It’s an adventure story. Super heroes, aliens, an evil lunchroom hag, this gem has it all. The book is about bullying second.
Father and sons Craft have penned an exciting tale in an incredibly original voice (from the unique perspective of the bullies) for young adults (and old adults too!).
Read The Offenders, not because you should. This isn’t homework. Read it because you want to have fun. The Offenders will entertain you, crack you up even. Then before you know it, you’re in the middle of, yep, an important read, as the germane message of the evils of bullying slips in sotto voce.