This from a review of a recent movie: “It takes place in the proud years of analog, when bands could still be discovered in the fetid clubs along Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip and people bought vinyl ‘records’ in things called ‘stores.’”
Who knew! Once upon a time people bought vinyl records in things called stores? Might they be the same people who said stuff like “Can you dig it?” and (closer to home) “Not noffing!?”
I imagine you’re chuckling, dear reader, if you’re over the age of fourteen and perchance still possess a sense of humor.
If you’re not, then a) you’re not reading this in the first place—too busy talking with your fingers to Facebook friends you’ll never get to know; b) you like read it but like didn’t get the joke; c) you get the joke but only in the sense that your grandma gets it when you tell her rice can be cooked in pots made of mud!
The cited Rock of Ages review reminded me of a recent roadside conversation at Rodney Bay. I had parked to indulge in some political jousting with a stubborn friend who now understands what I meant when, prior to November 11 (or was it September?) I kept referring to Fricke & Fracke and chimerical lesser evils.
In the middle of his admitting Obama and Romney can do no more about the American economy than can you-know-who about the local situation, his Nokia interrupted.
“Excuse me,” he said, “gotta take this.”
For the next two or three minutes I overheard him talk about his favorite shade of brown, his favorite designer, his favorite brand and his need to have “them by Tuesday,” three days away.
Finally he turned to me. “That was my new girlfriend,” he smiled. “She’s buying me some shoes on the Internet.” The way he said “the Internet,” he might’ve been talking a new store in William Peter Boulevard or about the corner shoe store on Bridge Street. Certainly not some unknown source in Beijing. Which of course opened up a whole new cask of political picong that may or may not have had anything to do with Mr Chou. Oh, but doubtless we’ll read about that soon enough!
But seriously: Do we have even the slightest idea how much the rest of the world has changed while we haggled over stuff no one else would consider haggle worthy? Do we ever stop to wonder how much longer before M&C and the Syrians and their shopping centers and their malls disappear in the Internet dust? Do we have any idea what our sweet little 12-year-olds girls are sending over the Internet to their friends, both real and Facebook?
Oh, I know we have the iPads and the iPhones and all the hottest apps. At any rate, the people who matter have them. And by people I do not refer to the honorable jerks in their air-conditioned honorable house who are so out to honorable lunch at taxpayer expense they dare to imagine they and their failed institutions still count for something!
As I say, I’m talking here about the people who matter; our ostensible leaders of tomorrow—whose rise will be that much the harder, thanks to the elevated layabouts who over the years blew away every opportunity that ever chanced their way, at incalculable cost to this and future generations.
I’m talking about our future mothers and fathers. I’m talking about a future already here. A future that abruptly rendered superfluous and passé, nearly everything our present crop of leaders and their predecessors considered clever and hip and, yes, progressive.
Hear our leaders without goals. They carry on and babble as if coprophagic pigs were the future, or that the future depended on their grunts. Will they ever understand why the people who matter—most of whom no longer trust the system that let Verlinda down and permits law makers to be unaccountable law breakers— tuned them out in favor of Halo, Call of Duty and a hundred other American videogames, nearly all violence themed? Our leaders know not the time. Otherwise, they’d have realized theirs was up years go and that today’s opportunities cannot be accessed by relative cavemen with their primordial tools.
They were not smart enough even to have learned from their past. Remember when some people actually made money selling bananas to the UK? (Who knows what they did with the money? Spent it on taxis, more than likely, on the advice of government economists. Or on absent kids who had studied abroad, then wised up to the fact that education and talent were hardly guarantees of employment on this Rock of Sages.
As I think about it, we never sold bananas to the UK. Geest did that. We sold bananas to Geest, an English businessman.
Back in the day he had entered into a deal with the government of Saint Lucia that allowed him to purchase land and set up local offices manned by local surrogates whose main interest in life was to help Geest profit from the sweat of Saint Lucian brows. Hey, the relationship was what it was. Lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it Britney Spears!
The older among us know where that baby went: Geest made a fortune. Enough to purchase the ships he once had leased. Three of them, as I recall. As for the government, well, they took to believing they owned the people that cut the bananas that made Geest rich.
Ah, yes, the people. They turned to a new breed of politician to do for them what they believed they couldn’t do for themselves. The new emperors assured them that Geest had taken them for a ride, aided and abetted by their government. All they had to do to reclaim control of their lives was dump that government and elect a new one. Before you know it, the people were rebelling, marching with banana leaves held high, burning their own and their brothers’ sheds, refusing to cut their own bananas, downing their tools in protest—suckers cutting off their noses to spite Geest. Promise after political promise proved hollow, until . . . well, that’s the heart of the story of how they killed the goose that laid green eggs.
So, what have we the people since learned? Not much, evidently. Half a century later their elected saviors still talk as did George Charles and John Compton before the Flood, not to say the Internet. Our present leaders talk about how much money our previous leaders borrowed from the banks, which is their way of explaining why they must now borrow more millions from the same lenders, albeit at higher cost.
Suddenly we’re hearing a lot about Greece, but only with reference to its mythical gods, not its world-threatening indebtedness. At every opportunity MPs drop on
broke farmers and marketless manufacturers the name Paul Krugman, whose economic assumptions have as much to do with Saint Lucia as Drones have to do with local tourism.
When they talk about vision, what they have in mind is who might be more easily suckered into throwing a handout at us. We can’t anymore get New Yorkers
and Canadians down here without their having to sell their recession-devalued
homes; our hard-pressed once-upon-a-time Mother Country is too busy handling refugees from stricken Greece and Italy to sit down and discuss our tourism woes. So what do we do? We talk about attracting tourists from Cuba (yes, Castro’s Cuba), Venezuela, China and Russia. How? By rebranding, what else?
We missed the banana boat. We turned on Sir Arthur Lewis and his development economics. And now we’re counting on miracles and voodoo: for one, the big banana resurrection. The return of tourism, made “buoyant” by Cubans. Rich Cubans! Oh, and we’re counting on a construction boom that the tea leaves say will in a year or so be
at least as big as the 2005 construction boom.
So what if everyone knows there never was a 2005 construction boom? Neither was there a Helen of Troy, but that never stopped our throne-speech writers, right?
Meanwhile, the people prepare for Ole Mas. To paraphrase Franz Fanon:
When the people can do nothing about their oppressors, the people turn
Doubtless, the result will end up on CNN iReport. Or on YouTube!