Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pick of the Week Archive - August 2010

Bayside: April 25

DEP permits ring the lot; dozers push sand mountains and breakwater boulders to the Bay. 'Take that!', said holiday homeowners thru legal channels. Must Have August Beach. Asphalt crumbs remind the waves how good Billingsgate Island was; they lick their chops at the new food being plated on shore.

--Teresa Martin, Eastham, MA


City Dog

Farmers adopted the city dog and took him to the country in the back of a pick-up truck. Whenever he got the chance he stood on top of the cab to get as far away from the muddy ground as possible. He barked at his new owners: Take a shower, take a shower. He bared his teeth.

--Christopher H., San Francisco, CA


(Sorry, no story this week: I had to visit in-laws...)


A Dentist’s Dream

I hold slides up to light: still-lifes of yellow syringes, gums, and sharp, shiny metal. Tooth dust plumes. Machines moan. A young man looks in horror at a picture of my family in the country: white polos, white teeth, khakis, my kids, my wife. I make a joke about falling in love.

--Will Vincent, Los Olivos, CA

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Day Laborer Love" - the author responds...

ONE: I wrote "Day Laborer Love" because relationships, all of them, have become almost totally subjected to and/or vassals of the systemic drive to accumulate wealth and power. How do you tell this story in 300 characters or less? A recent New York Times review of "AFTERSHOCK The Next Economy and America’s Future" by Robert B. Reich, provided rich examples that I would proffer to explain what I was trying to get at in my Matchbook short story. How do we survive living under different forms of neoliberal capitalism? Calling them "coping mechanisms, Reich wrote, "First, women joined the workforce, giving families a second income. Then husbands and wives put in longer shifts, creating a species of family called DINS — 'double income, no sex.'" Although I was not imagining "Americans" in general, I was writing of families who aren't even considered DINS because of the color of their skin and their income levels. The break up of the working class, the outsourcing of jobs and the lack of living wage employment, has transformed everyone into day laborers. Some may object to being labelled "day laborers" because they don't stand on street corners waiting or asking for work. Day laborers may work a few hours a day, maybe a week or two and even a whole month if they're lucky and survive on that. But they work two or even three jobs to survive. A day laborer is another name for a contingent worker, a contracted laborer, and a "consultant" that gets paid maybe more but still piecemeal and still maybe only for a few hours a day. A consultant, a contract employee is a day laborer regardless of the gilded concept or label you may prefer. And the soul is drained at work or work that barely pays for survival and all our relations suffer for it. The NYT review went on to remind us that as a result of DINS and other unfreedoms, we are sleeping 2-3 hours less per night than our parents in the 1960s. As a result new dependencies have emerged: sleeping pills, anti-depression meds. Americans spent an incredble $23.9 billion on sleep aids So we work more, make love less, sleep less, earn less, have less "free" time. How do we get out of this?