Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"McCartney at Starbucks"

by K.I.N.G. Wenclas

(Rough draft.)

McCartney at Starbucks
Harry Potter at Borders
Home Depot and Wal-Mart, Shrek at McDonald's
Monopoly junk culture
everywhere surrounds us
Incredible fantasies of plutocratic garbage,
riotous gargoyles of hypocritical nonsense
Green-zone gardens of orange plastic petunias
policed by soldiers on bikes,
concrete suburban bunkers guarded by halogen lights
(latest movies inside)
Mobs worshipping hyper-surreal billboards
of airbrushed celebrity faces,
empty gods;
Traffic jam flows into 21st century stadiums,
boozhie monsters with electronic lifestyles
desperate disturbing human-size puppets pretending
to be people
to be hip
to be writers
with unthinking unblinking obedient eyes
as the force of paranoia strengthens. . . .

Boy, haven't you learned yet about monopoly?
about Murdoch
about how to survive
in the fast running machine
of wheels and pulleys
looking like treadmills
those could be hamsters
but they're people
Haven't you learned yet how to get along with your betters,
haven't you learned how to play the game,
haven't you learned that you'd better behave like
everyone else,
haven't you learned to take the paper-pushing
lap-top clicking
cubicle-dwelling
bureaucratically self-important
manufactured-by-intellectual assembly line
drones as your model?
Haven't you learned that the apostles of sameness
the credentialed
rubber-stamped
mouthpieces of Officialdom
have the answers
your job is to listen
put your mind into a box
not to seek;
Haven't you learned that to live outside the system
is to be branded an outcast
you can't fight the sheep
you'll be crushed by steamrollers
infiltrated by moles
stabbed in the back
hung in the town square
in effigy
like a dummy
and for real
for the people to see
used as example
how not to conduct your life
your words blackballed
reputation slurred, smudged, and deleted
a walking nonperson;
haven't you learned this is the fate of the free-living person?
Haven't you learned anything?
Can't you see that Lennon is dead
but McCartney survives
as monopoly-produced icon
strumming across your TV screen
like a cartoon replica
a 3-d computer-generated simulation
He once was a Beatle
spur to revolution
500 years ago
even then it was a dream
subject of boring documentaries
now you find him
on the shelf at the local Starbucks
two dozen right down the street
every one exactly the same
the sunlight's daytime heat
boils bubbles of wetness
on an urban blacktop
accompanied by a celebrating band
twangy guitars, happy voices
'cause the rebel is dead
they got one
shot him down at the entrance to a building
surrounded by police
while the hyper-regulated assholes of Officialdom
click away on computer screens. . . .

and the colorful band on the sidewalk
plays predictably
religiously
night and day
as homage to the yuppies
marching like penguins
backed by the glories of
manufactured-in-China
infrastructure
investments in their careers
monitoring stock prices
served by their nannies
their gardeners their housekeepers their drivers
their brown-skinned less-than-minimum wage slaves
without papers

A dozen mad yellow tractors at
gentrified housing projects
running over protesting human beings
toy dolls crushed
as easily as Rachel Cory
it's about the money
the contracts
the greed
Baghdad is here in our cities--

Twenty cop triggers
two hundred gunshots
eighty-five bullets
through the body of the city's latest casualty
(the rest of them missed)
he was psychiatrically insane anyway
certifiably psychotically
you have to be to challenge a badge-wearing cop
stray bullets smashing bricks
bubbles of blood
welling on the summertime
black asphalted concrete of the street
flowing in rivulets,
and the red, white, and blue
band on the sidewalk
playing for pennies
hat on the ground
raise a chorus of "yeas"
they saw it in a movie
while the marching penguins thrill
to the soundtrack of their lives;

It's lonely at Starbucks
closing time at the big box malls
employees released from their schedules
their perky personas
serving lattes
lights turning off going out
McCartney on the stand
packaged in unbreakable sealed plastic
miles from Liverpool
untouched next to Albom
(in truth the music is horrible)
he's long since been homogenized
orange-red gunshots cascading across
carnival streets as
the civilization of greed cracks in half
but the glass door to the chain store is locked
security code set
no one robs a Starbucks
or a Wal-Mart
except the insane
no one robs a church
Capitalist temples
Harry Potter on sale
40% off
The unseen sky
grows late
time to get to sleep
if you can push the buzz
of this mad commercially-produced mini-series of reality
out of your head
in time for the alarm clock
to march you off again
to your robotic role
of conditioned reliability
in the morning.

4 comments:

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

Good one!

I'm just astounded that anyone is falling for all the junk out there.

Your poem hit it on the head what my experience is like these days going out into the minimall public.

And it's getting worse. I don't know what we'll do. As sociable, civil, civic-minded folk, we find ourselves wanting to run screaming in the street. We're not the crazy ones! It's not the misfits who are going nuts, it's those with taste, who use etiquette, who appreciate eye contact...it's the humans who are the casualties of this system!

Yesterday we got free-meal coupons for the kids for Outback Steakhouse as a prize after they read a dozen books at the library, so we went there for "dinner." That place is shocking! I was cringing and sinking lower in our booth every minute. Totally fake and plastic. Plastic teens running the place (all trying to look like Paris Hilton). The same plastic food that's in all of America these days. Plastic customers! It's a cookie-cutter place in every way ON PURPOSE. Totally insane, it seems to me.

But to them I suppose it's reliable, efficient, secure. Easy to install. It must have its own unique competitive angle that the franchise trade knows about: maybe it's the best use of the Xybex Inventory System the industry has yet seen! The yuppies pulling the strings are just drooling at the ratios.

...Drooling as they put on their own Paris Hilton eyeliner and get ready to go out to dinner at an upscale place...in a minimall...leaving the TV on while they're gone...

King said...

Great post.
I can't say i'm satisfied with this poem-- overreached myself a little. Some of the lines are pedestrian-- but it's the overall form I was after in this case.
I'm something of an apprentice at poetry still. This one I forced but it's better to wait for the muse to strike. . . .

Jeff Potter (of OutYourBackdoor.com) said...

Your poem may be rough but it has relevant ideas that flow.

I know that craftsmen want the details to be just-so but I can make allowances when the bigger flow is there.

Your poem reminded me of the minimall reality. The poem is better than that reality so it gives me hope. Otherwise we'd be left with nothing. Culture has pretty much been taken away for most of the nation. This can be quite a bummer! We take it back with creativity.

I'm reminded also of this painful Weird Al YouTube video, "Trapped in the Drive Thru"---an insightful and painful look at minimall reality and the way it infects human relations.

It seems that much of the popular stuff on YouTube is intentionally retarded---retardation as the new cleverness---what a weird value system. Sure, back in the zeen days we had detournement---turning the Flintstones into porn thru cut'n'paste, ha ha. But these vids take TONS of work. It's a weird sophomore stage, I guess. Sure, YouTube tricksters are appropriating the media---but to what end? To me, good art can spoof or expose pain but it also offers a way out. A tough standard, I know...

fdw said...

One of your best King.
This is another reason why "well rounded" can be applied to some one like yrself. More often than not competence in all the forms is more important than specialization and so called professionalism. To be able to write poetry based on apprehension of its importance in a social/critical context and more to the point because of being widely read and getting the "point" of the art-form. Like I've told you before-- with all the basics there-- "parts of speech" so to speak-- yr. stuff is better than a large part of the academics and the self- promoting so called outsiders/ performance posers.