Thursday, October 1, 2009

You've got to do what you should

I am not a big U2 fan.  Oh, sure, I'll sing along with their old songs if one happens to come on the radio, but I don't own their albums or hanker for their music. Despite my ambivalence, I went to a U2 concert on Tuesday night, because sometimes people get deported and can't go to concerts like they planned.  But I digress. 

The concert was good fun, and the stage resembled a giant, be-nippled space spider, which, of course, is always awesome. Now, I have a vague notion that Bono is a celebrity do-gooder, but I don't really know much about his work, so I'll refrain from expressing an opinion on the topic. (Look at me!  Being the change I'd like to see!)  Nonetheless, I was touched by the concert's emphasis on human rights - Aung San Suu Kyi and Desmond Tutu, both featured, always appeal to my nobler instincts, particularly when I overhear f*cktards confirming to one another that Desmond Tutu is, definitely, that Mandello guy from Africa or wherever. 

Sometimes I feel like a turd for not being involved in a cause.  I give money, I help no-longer-homeless Rick, I'm kind (believe it or not), and I try to teach these dependably lackluster teenagers something about the responsibility that comes with their privilege, but it often seems a piss-poor effort.  Perhaps I should be tireless and inspired - comforting the needy, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry...

Here's the problem.  I am not made of the prerequisite stern and noble stuff. I am, in fact, absolutely overcome by the even smallest glipses of the magnitude of the world's vast f*ckedness.   A couple illustrative examples:

1) There's a very old and toothless gentleman who sells succulents at the Sunday farmers' market. His are not your run-of-the-mill, plastic-potted, withered-at-the-tips succulents; they are works of art - plump, glistening plants nestled in gnarly tree trunks, raunchy old tires bedizened with lush, curling tendrils, fat cacti with leaves so perfect, I imagine that the wizened little man spent his Saturday night carefully polishing each one.  He brings his creations to the market in an old black truck, and then he sits on the tailgate and waits. Now, he's not cheap (I wanted one of his pieces but had neither the money nor the direct sunlight), but I've never seen anyone buy one of his designs.  Never.  Few people even stop to look.  He doesn't seem troubled by this, he just watches and works his gums, and then he carefully packs up his wares with his thin, weathered arms and prepares for the next market.  Something about this just kills me.  Seriously, I'm a little weepy just thinking about it. 

2) Benches all over Baltimore are emblazoned with the slogan, "Baltimore - The Greatest City in America!"  These benches are usually broken, occupied by homeless folk, surrounded by refuse, and/or in front of dilapidated rows of falling-down houses.  At first, I thought the benches might be ironic - perhaps the work of some politically minded artist or a group dedicated to raising public awareness. But, no. This slogan was coined by our current mayor in what I can only imagine was a fit of idiotic and delusional optimism.  What a f*cking numbnut. Baltimore may be many things - charming, gritty, dangerous, friendly, dirty, enduring, and maybe even resilient, but The Greatest City in America!?  I think not.  Now every time I see a bench, I seethe over the money some shit-for-brains spent on a wildly hyperbolic branding campaign instead of on, oh, I don't know, comforting the needy, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry...

So, I'm going to keep on in my own small way - writing checks, making sandwiches for Rick, teaching John Rawls, crying over the succulent man, shaking my fist at preposterous benches, and applauding those whose capabilities are more sturdy than mine. 

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