Friday, February 27, 2009

My Cousin Gregory and Me....

Like most self-styled White Ethnics (Urban, Catholic, Southern and Eastern European immigrants Descendants) my family abandoned the Democratic Party in the late 1960's. It was a combination of factors that lead to this change; for my family it was white flight, changing neighborhoods, defeat in Vietnam and taxes. The result was for for most of the 1970's and 80's we all bought into the Reagan Revolution.
For people of my age, I am 41, Reagan will in many ways always be the image of "The President" I was 13 when he was elected and 21 when he left office. The tomes and tropes of the Reagan Revolution resonated with my age bracket and my social group. To this day people my age are more Republican than any other group.
Something happened however over the past 20 years since the end of Reagan and this is embodied by the development of me and my cousin Gregory. Greg and I are the same age and almost everyday I get from him Facebook Posts about how stupid President Obama is and how he is destroying our nation. Greg still thinks that Reaganism is the way things should be.
The difference between Greg and I is that he went to work at the beginning of his career on Wall Street and I went to work in Business Publishing. On Wall Street the mentality is focused on making as much money as possible and not really caring about anything else. Greg is a good guy but he believes fully that government is the problem . Unions, Regulation, Poor People, and others are basically tax eaters who are lazy and shiftless and that if you fail or even if you are having a rough time your medicine is your medicine.
Because I went to work in Events and Business Publishing, where the money is not so plentiful I saw what this mentality meant to companies. My first company was Miller Freeman Inc. A great place to work which still had some of the old school ethos of the 1950's. It was a place that really rewarded hard work and valued its employees. In 2000 however MFI was purchased by Nielsen and that Ethos was ended forever.
I then worked at a series of companies and dot.coms that were owned by various private equity companies. What I learned is that unbridled capitalism means that if you are not in a position of power you are powerless.
While Greg was paid handsomely for creating paper and faux products on Wall Street I created Trade Shows and Media Publications but what I created that was real and did not measure up to the paper traded on Wall Street.
In the world created by Ronald Reagan and his Disciples created things are bad and assets are virtual. Flint, Michigan or Kanapolis, NC, are examples of waste and fat unions, not the destruction of good jobs and families and industries.
For my cousin Greg what President Obama is trying to do is Socialism. The free market like natural selection needs to be allowed to work and the strong need to be left alone to prosper.
After my 11 years in business I have come to a different conclusion. The only way that the American middle class person will be able to survive in the future is if our government advocates for us. In a global economy no company or employer will really sacrifice for his or her employees and will give as little as possible for those employees unless our government says what they need to do.
This fact has consequences. When and American loses her job or has a health care crisis the odds of them losing everything they own is very high. For most middle class Americans paying for college is a pipe dream.
The only advocate that we have in these things is the government.
President Obama has said that Gordon Gekko is not our ideal. He has challenged the mentality that making as much money for yourself regardless of the cost is the right judgement. He has said that Education and Healthcare need to be affordable. These are not what Wall Street and people conditioned like my Cousin Greg are used to hearing.
For 20 years morality has meant personal morality. President Obama has said to this mentality
enough and has said no we as a people will make choices and they will be decided on what benefits the most people.
For President Obama Morality is Public and not Pelvic- this is alien to Wall Street.
People on Wall Street are not happy but you know it is about time that people who live in Peoria, Flint, Kanapolis and other places had a president.
Ronald Reagan R.I.P.

Monday, February 16, 2009

AWP: An Empty Feeling

So AWP 2009 is over and the event graced our Chicago with all its good and bad things. Some of the positives;

1) Off Site Readings: It makes one wonder why the AWP organizers don't just use the off sites as their main readings because they blow away anything they organize on site. I read in two that were fabulous one from Mandorla Magazine and one from The Poetry Center of Chicago both on Friday night that were excellent. There was also the Norton reading organized by our Kim Lojek and Cole Swenson that was great an well attended.

2) A few sessions. I went to one curated by Kass Fleischer with Kristen Prevallet and others that was great.

Apart from the normal AWP goodness of seeing friends et cetera there was much to criticize about this event and I think that the community of writers needs to tell AWP that these things are really not acceptable;

1) Panels: Most of the other panels I attended were intellectually weak and not well prepared. The rooms were too small and in the end they were not worth the money we paid.
2) Lack of Local Focus: The event was in Chicago but there was no Tribute to Studs Terkel? The Poetry Center of Chicago had to do their reading off site? There were no Chicago area poets or writers on the planning board? Why?
3) The over emphasis on Writing Programs. I know that that is what AWP is but the fact is no one cares about Pedagogy conferences on how to teach young narcissists how to write poems.
4) Costs: It is outrageous that it costs and exhibitor $175 dollars to add another person to their tables- this should be free- it is also outrageous that it costs $175 for an exhibitor to have an author at their table. Most of the presses at AWP are non- profit small presses why fuck them?

In the end AWP needs to re-evaluate what they are doing. They need to realize that they have a good thing but they cannot continue to do the things above if they want the show to thrive. Also, if I had purchased a booth I would have been very angry- there was no traffic. In the end it was great to see everyone but again AWP needs to rethink its mission. If they want to be a writing teacher event fine but if they want to be a literary event they need to think differently especially in this economy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What you Should Do at AWP In Chicago

Ok my Poetic friends we are just a week away
from that great poetic love fest called AWP.
I realize that most of our time will be spent
attending the literally thousands of readings that
are scheduled but if you can get a free moment let
me give you some advice about what to do in the city.

Most of the poetic tourists will be downtown. But whatever you do dont eat downtown- here are some suggestions with L Stops


Chinese- Lao Szu Chuan, China Town Mall (which is in Chinatown) take the Red Line L South (It is a subway under State Street), leave the train at the Chinatown Stop and look for the restaurant or eat at one of the others but dont eat Downtown.

Mexican-Cafe Perez, Perez is in Fulton Market only a few blocks from downtown it is right next to Oprah's studio and it is cheap and the Mexican food is great. Take a cab.

BEEF- Mr BEEF which is on Orleans they are only open for Lunch if you want to see a MR Beef come by the Cracked Slab Books table and I will be eating one around noon.

HOT DOG- Hot Dougs is the best encased Meat store in Chicago. The fries are fried in Duck fat from ducks used for duck liver google them and GO.

Anyone who comes by my Table at the Bookfair can get advice on restaurants for free from Me