Heaven Send Hell Away

A couple of weeks after Chris Cornell died, I stumbled upon a YouTube video of him covering Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U“. His performance was angelic, prophetic, haunting. I had heard it sung before by Sinéad O’Connor and by The Artist himself, but the emotions transmitted by Cornell’s raspy raunchy baritone voice, were visceral and raw. They denuded him, stripped away his rock star pretension, leaving behind his voice and guitar. He may have been a pop icon, he may have been a sex symbol, he may have been dead for under a month, but it wasn’t until I heard him sing “It’s been so lonely without you here, like a bird without a song, nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling,” that the weight of his absence truly made my heart and tear ducts heavy with blood and tears.

I don’t react to these kinds of things immediately. It took me months to process my grandparents’ passing. The only two people I have lost. I’m slow at feeling the feelings I’m supposed to feel. It’s not emotional numbness; it’s more like emotional dumbness. Sometimes I don’t know how to feel. I just sit there, through experiences, taking in the life-altering stimulus, not knowing what to do with it.

I first heard of the news via a Twitter hashtag (#ChrisCornell). As soon as I saw it, I feared the worst. My life started to flash before my eyes. At least the parts in which the music of Cornell played in the background. I thought of childhood summers in Tijuana, Mexico, running around in my grandmother’s asymmetrical lopsided house. My uncles, then angsty teenagers, blasted grunge music through loud speakers, whose sound made every window in the house shake to a point just below shattering.

I remembered the countless times I spent hanging out at my cousin Melly’s house, watching music videos on MTV. Melly and I were very close; she was like an older sister. I don’t know if it was because she debriefed me before I began my first year of middle school or because we used to make out with each other when we were younger. In any case, the week before school started, her kissing mentorship reached its point of culmination.

“If a girl asks you if you want to scam, you always say ‘Yes’,” she advised.

“What if I don’t like her?” I asked.

“You still want to do it. If you don’t, then people will think you’re gay.” That made sense. In the same way that I saw her as an older sibling, she saw me as her little brother, and at times, her little sister.

“Why are you putting make up on me?” I asked her as she applied eyeliner à la Brandon Lee circa “The Crow.”

“‘Cause it makes guys look really hot,” she answered emphatically. Her enthusiasm and intrepid application were good enough reasons for me. “Besides, Chris Cornell and Kurt Cobain both do it too.” I smiled with the unabashed smile of a blind man. I was obsessed with Cornell’s band, Soundgarden and their latest single at the time, “Black Hole Sun.” Both the song and the music video haunted me like nothing before. It felt emotionally heavy, yet it was as easy to listen to as a lullaby. It sounded familiar, like a Beatles or Led Zeppelin song and at the same time like nothing else I had ever heard.

I had a pretty refined ear when it came to rock music, having been raised by my mom’s brothers on a diet that consisted of classic rock. Soundgarden and Cornell’s voice fit in seamlessly into my frame of reference like my ass did into my cousin’s Levi’s 501 jeans.

Mourning Chris Cornell’s death was, in part, the mourning of a death that had taken place long before his. That of my relationship with Melly. Of a time when I used to look up to people, like Cornell, and not down at their most deplorable flaws. His death reminded me of Melly, how she was always there for me and how she didn’t care about my fucked up family situation. Partly because she was so cool and partly because hers was as fucked up as mine. Our mothers were sisters, after all.

I felt disappointed in myself because I let both of my friends slip away. I abandoned them. I never went to see Chris Cornell perform live when he toured LA. I didn’t even try. I took him for granted. It’s been a while since I’ve reached out to my cousin and her daughters, the oldest now the same age we were in the nineties, back when we were wearing eyeliner and trying to be cool. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

In my mind’s ear, nothing will ever compare to Chris Cornell’s powerful soulful singing, one that hooked me from the first listen. A voice that had been an invisible playmate in our sororal gatherings. The sun will wash away the rain, but never the raindrops falling from my eye. The tears for a man that took the sunshine with him and left behind a black hole.

Come and Get It

Portland is a very clean city. The streets have lesser amounts of grime and trash than do its counterparts in LA. Splotches of forest green painted the sidewalks like a Jackson Pollock painting, if ever the artist used Canadian geese droppings in his work. They were furnished with four-headed fountains meant for citizens to wash their hands and freshen up. To help promote municipal cleanliness. This notion was further supported by signs on the side of trash cans that read “Pitch in! Help Keep Portland Clean.”

Outside of Union Station I witnessed the true manifestation and epitome of what cleanliness means. The vision came to me in the form of a man who was washing his butt at one of those four-headed fountains. It wasn’t a superficial cheek treatment. It was a deep scrub. With the same vigor that Moses parted the Red Sea, this man parted his red butt cheeks and scoured furiously as passersby scowled frantically. I felt like he was being quite anal about the whole thing. It didn’t seem to matter how many times he scrubbed, it still wasn’t clean enough for him. The police officer overlooking the whole thing was busy texting and chatting with a concerned passerby.

“I just let them tire themselves out,” he laughed. The passerby turned away. But I just had to look.

I soon made my way to Downtown Portland and was greeted by a light gentle drizzle. The silence, the clouds and the gloom excited me. The amount of moisture in the air is what brings about the greenery that the city is famous for. It’s more than a nice backdrop made up of innumerable Douglas firs. It is a benevolent virus that takes over concrete in the form of moss and building facades in the form of ivy. Portland’s green was a presence. It was alive.

As I continued to walk in the heart of downtown, I felt like someone was following me. I turned around and caught a glimpse of a disheveled young man. We made eye contact. After I refused to give him a cigarette, his face began to contort in ways that made mine do so as well out of concern. He began to walk towards me. The way that he was shaking his wrist and closing his fingers told me that he either wanted me to jerk him off or that he thought I was a jerk off. His tongue was prodding hard against his cheek as he let out a droning moan. My lack of empathy towards his situation gave me a small taste of the underlying “fuck you” attitude the city was vested in. A simple request gave way to the unravelling of this man’s darkest demons. Complexity evolves from simplicity.

I needed to pull cash out of an ATM to catch a bus to my place of lodging, so I went into the nearest convenience store, the Plaid Pantry. A soft spoken old lady in front of me asked the clerk for a pack of cigarettes and the clerk turned around and placed two packs on the glass counter.

“No, I said two packs of Camel Regular 99s,” the old lady said sternly. “These are Light.” The clerk took the packs off the counter and let out an audible sigh. She turned around and placed the correct packs.

“Ok, that’s gonna be $10,” the clerk said. The old lady started to rummage through her purse looking for her wallet.

“Do you guys still buy back bottles and cans?”

“Yeah, we do. Every day except Tuesday.” The lady’s rummaging began to get louder.

“Well, this morning my two grandkids came in with some bags full of bottles a…”

“Alright, let me stop you right there,” the clerk butted in. “I turned them away because they were sneaking around in the back.” The old lady finally found her wallet and slammed it on the counter. “I don’t have to buy bottles from people I don’t trust.”

“If you didn’t want to buy them, then why didn’t you return the bottles?” The old lady pulled money out and shoved it into the clerk’s hand. The clerk took the money and threw the change at the old lady.

“Thank you and get the fuck out. You’re a piece of shit like your two grandkids.” She flicked a business card towards the old lady with the website where she could air her grievance. “Go ahead and complain about me. I don’t give a fuck. I’m the manager.”

“I will complain,” the old lady yelled as she exited the store.

“Whatever, go fuck yourself.” The store and everyone in it was momentarily hushed in awe. Other shoppers started to congratulate the clerk for standing her ground. She smiled at me letting me know it was now my turn.

“Hi, how may I help you?” she asked. Her tone had gone from barbaric to bubbly. This woman was either really good at hiding her emotions or had multiple personality disorder. Either way, now it was my turn to pretend that what had just happened hadn’t shocked me in the slightest way.

Portlanders truly embrace who they are. Embracing their inner weird. They strive to do so even if it comes as rude or indifferent. Together, they strive to “KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD.”

Repurposed Earth

A young woman walking along an elderly man, presumably her father, but in LA you never know, passes by a sprinkler nursing a newly dug flower bed. The sprinkler gently drip feeds the patch, giving the buried seeds a chance at life in the blistering California spring. The two stroll unfettered by time on the freshly laid honey comb shaped pavers. They stop for a moment, just long enough for the young woman to run her sandaled foot in front of the squirt of water. They both giggle. She by the tickling sensation of the water refreshing her foot. He by the joy she was deriving from it. The smell of disturbed earth, pungent manure and nothingness provided a peaceful setting for this Adam and Eve. They looked comfortable, as if they had found a place to just relax. To just be in.

Los Angeles State Historic Park reopened on the weekend of April 22, 2017 after a 17-year long battle between the city of Los Angeles and its residents. The land where the park was developed was originally planned to be warehouses, meant to bring more jobs to the city. Fortunately, a group by the name of Chinatown Yard Coalition wanted this land to be a park. It took a civil rights lawsuit, a state park bond and the discovery of historical artifacts to eventually coerce the city to reconsider its stance on its use of the land.

The park has piqued the interest of many LA residents from the adjacent neighborhoods. It is clean, well groomed and landscaped without a single piece of rubbish in sight. In a few words, it doesn’t feel like a true LA park yet. The park rangers were wearing smiles on their faces and guns holstered to their hips. They seemed optimistic, looking forward to shooting more smiles than bullets. However, the park is empty for a majority of the day. It is so new and unused that an old couple looking for plastic bottles and cans find it a futile endeavor. They move from trash can to trash can, coming away empty-handed.

The wood benches are decorated with a rich walnut stain to tie in the darker tones of the surrounding trees. In order to protect their immaculate state, brushed metal studs protrude from them like thorns on a rose to dissuade skaters from grinding their boards’ bodies or homeless people from resting theirs against their clean surfaces. The restrooms are clean and greet patrons with a scent devoid of any foul smells of urine or feces. The amount of asses that its toilet seats have come in contact with is still well within the hundreds.

The trees are young, barely surpassing the age of a sapling, providing just a little bit more shade than that obtained from a standing broom. Enough shade for a group of three or four people to huddle at close proximity under. Their appendages classify more accurately under the category of twigs than branches. Their trunks don’t have a wide enough surface on which to disfigure them with a sharp object, writing romantic sigils by lovers.

Commercialization has made its way into the park as well. After all, this is LA. “Coming Soon” banners advertise the imminent arrival of trendy restaurants. Movie screening companies fence off large portions of the park and charge a premium to watch old favorites accompanied by food truck cuisine. Music festivals like the Fuck Yeah Fest and Skyline have already booked the main body of the park, with tickets selling out in an instant, mostly to scalpers, and resold for a higher cost. A practice a little too common in LA. Beyond its unnerving legality, it’s a way of life.

The enthusiasm with which the locals were jogging on its swept gravel roads, lying on its primly cut grass and strolling on its gumless paved slabs served as evidence of the need that this community had for a widespread urban park. The joggers running on the plushy gravel track were not habitual joggers. They were not in shape or ever would be, but were exerting their bodies because it was something that the new park now allowed them to do. Most of them ran in pairs of significant others and others with insignificant ones. All running to the tune of their phones. Some wear their hearts on their sleeve, but in LA most would rather just wear their phone, mainly to keep track of how many steps they’ve taken. Lone walkers stared longingly at their phones, not making eye contact with anybody. I suppose that the “public” in public space is optional. This park is just another place in which to wear haute couture yoga pants and look at your phone.

The park’s fenced décor serves a purpose beyond that of staving off violent gangs and the homeless, it acts as a protection from the city’s hectic operations. It is corralled by train tracks, the LA River and a roaring Spring Street devoid of any traffic lights. In the evening, the sun hides itself behind the hills of Elysian Park–where Dodger Stadium is built–and casts a warm orange light that silhouettes the LA skyline and the small Chinatown pagodas.

People in LA like their public spaces to be vested in history, a little bit of something old. Something incorporated from what was there before. The park prides itself in its embrace of the city’s past lives, proudly displaying artifacts unearthed during construction in various nooks of the landscape. Relics to remind them that they themselves are not replaceable. That once they leave this Earth, some trace of theirs will remain, will be remembered and not simply scrapped and thrown away to make way for something new. So they walk on hand-chiseled cobbles to remember that they never want to be forgotten. This earth is a site for second chances.

Just Breathe

Every last molecule of air present in your body must be purged, a degree below asphyxiation, before giving your lungs a sense of cathartic release by letting new air into them.

When you let air in, you’re doing so to produce sound, not to live. You let the air rush back into your lungs, flooding them like a broken dam a town of unsuspecting people. You’re starved for the invisible life-giving stuff, so you let in a bit more, disregarding the risk of over-oxygenation. Light-headedness sets in and the adrenaline makes your extremities numb. You don’t need them. They don’t exist. It’s just you and the breath. You are one with the breath. You are the breath. Breathe.

Something so automatic and unconscious becomes an obsession. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.  Hyperawareness forces you to feel every excruciating detail in your breathing.

Singing is violence against your body. Like a martial art, it requires you to possess full control of your body, mind and emotions, fully aware of your surroundings while maintaining a relaxed and meditative state, focusing solely on interpreting the poetry in the melody and in the words.

You have to reengineer your body and repurpose its contents to produce a beautiful sound. Your body becomes an instrument. Not just the parts that form your vocal apparatus–the tongue, lips, throat, nose and voice box–but your whole being. It is a collaboration of your lungs, stomach and diaphragm’s manipulation of breath, passing through your vibrating vocal cords and resonating in every cavity, hard and soft tissue in your body. The song reverberates in your blood–raising the hairs on the back of your neck and the veins on its sides–as the sound is expelled from your mouth with the force and authority that a demon is cast out of the body of a faithful by the violent commands of a weary yet stubborn preacher.

A scurry of notes begin to dart out of the piano, filling your ears and the hall with a resonant ruckus as if the pianist’s hands were each a five-headed hydra. Your mind begins to play tricks on you: will the sound that comes out of my mouth this time be as good as the last time? Will any sound come out? If nothing comes out, will I be able to move and leave the stage or stay frozen in front of all those people? Like a fireman about to rush into a burning building, will my years of training and practice guide me to perform to the best of my ability?

Your stomach is hungry, but not for food. It alternates between states of tension and relaxation, uneasy as if a pack of stray cats inhabited it. Your neck has to be relaxed, your jawbone loose but not gaping wide open and your knees must remain unlocked, as doing otherwise may cause you to faint. Forget fear, fear forgetfulness itself.

When you let the first sound out of your mouth, it feels like it’s the first you’ve ever made. Your tongue begins to thrash erratically, like a person suffering from a bout of epilepsy. The air in your lungs begins to garner power and speed. The sound of your voice must pierce through the room like a Roman soldier impaling a Carthaginian foe with his sword on the battlefield.

The act of singing is like making love; you have to keep the energy going until it’s over, until it’s done. Even though you may be accompanied by a partner, you’re embarking on a journey that is uniquely experienced by you alone. It is emotionally driven and you can’t help but get lost in the beauty of it. It is to be completely engrossed in a moment that will never happen again, at least, not in the same way. It is exhilarating and terrifying, satisfying and depleting. You begin to miss it even before it is finished, even before a full memory of it has been created in your mind. Its pleasures haunt you and once your body is devoid of its wonders, the pain of its loss fills that void.

After the song is over, you can finally relax. Take a deep breath through your nose.

And simply breathe.

 

No, Woman, No Cry

Women are a vital part of society and humanity. The important women in my life are intelligent, compassionate, fearless and strong. Women are more valuable than men in a biological sense. When we think about the occurrence of a post-apocalyptic-proverbial-repopulating-the-earth scenario, we always think about one man and woman doing so Adam-and-Eve style. But the most efficient and productive situation would be for there to be more women than men. If you were to have a 3 to 1 ratio–three women for every one man–then three babies could be engendered at once. The inverse ratio would only produce one baby every 9 months and two dead men, leading us back to our familiar Edenic dead-end state, which by all accounts would fail if either person died.

When I was 6, I remember stealing a picture from my parents’s bedroom–meant for one of my mom’s single brothers–of one of my dad’s sisters in a bikini. This incestuous pre-Tinder match-up would have been foiled had my parents not found out that I had swiped it. At that age, it’s hard to keep a porn stash hidden. I remember taking it because I wanted to look at it. I don’t remember deriving any form of pleasure from it, I simply wanted to see what all the fuss was about. From a young age, men are expected to find these types of pictures attractive. I really didn’t see and still don’t see the appeal.

When it comes to dating, women tend to be more sincere and subtle, harder to read and to obtain in spite of the best laid plans of men looking to get laid. However, once enamored, they become loyal until the end, taking on the role of Bonnie to their man’s Clyde. Men are a different story. They are insincere and forthright, easy to read and obtain; one woman can have as many as she wants. Unlike some women who stay with their men even when they’re prisoners or at war or prisoners of war, most men already have a foot out the door. Guys are in perpetual starvation mode, constantly seeking for the next prey; a fresh kill to satiate their lustful appetite. They think that being this way is part of what being a man is all about. These type of men are like farmers trying to pitch their seeds into fertile soil, even if another farmer is currently plowing the field. Their pavonine promulgation of their virility via texts messages of tasteless cartoon eggplants dilute the timeless art of seduction and turn it into a desiccated mockery.

Blaming social media seems to be the most popular way of explaining why a social phenomenon has reached the lowest of the low; but when it comes to dating and the relationships between men and women, it seems perfectly appropriate to do so. Social media has brought out the worst in us and splayed it out on display for everyone to feast upon like a submissive dog spreading its loins in the middle of a living room full of guests, waiting for one of them to scratch its belly.

While most women will take and posts pictures of themselves in flattering poses and lighting, men proudly photograph their genitals in unflattering poses and lighting. To a woman, a penis only preoccupies one minute part of her life, but to men, it’s an all encompassing and all consuming preoccupation and past time. If it were socially permissible, some men would include their penis size on their Facebook account and résumé. A CV would take on a new meaning and stand for “Cock Vitae-lity”. Although they would never admit it, some straight guys prefer the idea of their penises inside of a woman more than the idea of being with a woman. Women, like underwear, are another place in which to place a penis that are both disposable and replaceable.

My affinity for the feminine gender is more than just a sweet infatuation. It’s sultry, full of desire and passion. It’s less like umami and more like “Uy, mami.” I explicitly remember seeing a commercial when I was 7 while visiting my maternal grandparents in Tijuana, Mexico. It was a public service announcement on breast cancer, in a foreboding black and white, which featured a nude body model giving her back to the camera exposing the line that ran from the bottom of her neck, in between her shoulder blades all the way down her slender back, fading right before reaching her back dimples. The camera kept panning to different “primetime-TV-safe” shots of her nude body, occasionally showing some “side-boob,” which to a second-grader was more than enough breast to get them hot and bothered. The image and sound of the woman narrating how she would “touch and explore” her breasts was the equivalent of a Danielle Steele novel. Those commercials were for me what seeing a shirtless man on TV must have been for my gay counterparts.

My infatuation with women goes beyond the confines of what right-wing Judeo-Christian society deems “straight.” From a young age, I have always analyzed a woman’s behavior and would ponder on the inner workings of their brains. On one occasion, I was watching a TV movie in which a woman was fighting off a group of men trying to sexually assault her. In my 8-year-old mind, I thought that it would be a terrific idea to pose that situation in the form of a question to my mom. Her answer didn’t quite take the form called for in a teachable moment but rather that of a slap square in the face. On another occasion, we were watching a movie where another woman undid the knot of her button-up sleeveless denim shirt tied at the waist, exposing the inner part of her dangling breasts, inviting an armed man to approach her, distracting him so that she could then disarm him. Having been slapped before on similar charges, I didn’t even turn to look at my mom. Slap me once, shame on you, slap me twice, shame on me. At that moment, I understood that most real women would not want to be in those types of situations.

You could say that part of my understanding of women came from movies, books and TV, but doesn’t most of our understanding of everything come from those sources? You could also say that my mom was horrible for letting me watch movies that portrayed sexual violence against women and you would be correct, but isn’t it more horrible that this type of violence is so prevalent in the media that we consume on a daily basis?

Women are lovable. Men, on the other hand, not so much. There’s a level of respect that all humans need to give to one another, regardless of gender, race, creed or wealth. In an ideal world without these categorizations, this respect would be woven into the fabric of our society. However, we don’t live in an ideal world. So in lieu, men need to go out of their natural way of doing things and be respectful to women, all women; strange women specially, not just their mothers, aunts and sisters. This bogus familial jurisdiction is just an excuse not to respect women at all. Try to remember the last time you were a jerk to your mom or any other woman in your family. Just because they put up with it, kiss-and-make-up with you, doesn’t mean that they like it. It’s not “messing around” it’s called guys being jerks and being too arrogant to see it. Gender inequality–along with any strain of it–will cease to be as divisive and damaging as it is when we realize that men and women don’t owe anything but one thing to one another. That one thing is respect.

Explosions Off in the Distance

Every time a new year comes along, I get a little stressed. There so much expectation in the air. People feel good about the culmination of another year as if it were truly a culmination and not merely a continuation. New Year’s Eve parties are among the most illustrious, in magnitude and elegance. They are so much so that not attending one makes you feel like a social pariah because you’re probably going to spend that night at home eating a pizza and on a movie and TV binge. Hardly something you would want to publish on your various social media outlets.

So, this is the new year and I don’t feel any different. Instead of feeling as satiated as I’m led to believe that I should be, I feel anything but. Not quite empty, but immensely hungry. I suppose that at the end of the year I feel unsatisfied and angry at myself for not having done all of the things I set out to do. In my mind, I want all of the phony “may-auld-acquaintance-be-forgot” celebratory nonsense to be over and for the regularly scheduled program to continue. Off with their heads and on with the show.

Even as a child, I never really understood why people got so excited over the coming of a new year. I always considered birthdays to be a superior marker of passage of time than new years. Birthdays provide us with an arena for deeper reflection. We celebrate but we acknowledge that we are older, hopefully smarter and wiser, and are concerned with making wiser and smarter choices and accommodations for our lives. New year celebrations are just that, celebrations. There’s barely any acknowledgment of age. Technically we are older, but then again we are older now than we were when we first started reading this paragraph. The only thing that really concerns us with the coming of a new year is that of not making the mistake of writing the date wrong using the old year instead of the new one.

Resolutions are another concern that people fill their heads with at the end and beginning of each year. I believe in resolutions. I believe that they are worthless. I believe that they are so because the people that make them stop believing in them and quit. Again, the expectation in the air is so high that it is rarefied. It is suffocating. I do believe in making goals, in small victories that open doors and opportunities; flexible plans that accommodate to your needs and that lead to real change. Our lives change throughout the year and we have to reevaluate them constantly. Resolutions have become synonymous with ending or “resolving” something and bringing it to a final state: resolve my weight problem, resolve my smoking, resolve my workaholism. However, if we look at the true meaning of the word, its origin, resolution means to loosen or release.

If we allow our resolutions to be conduits of freedom as opposed to directions to fixed places, then there would be no obstacle that could hold us back.

Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful

What is there left to be said? The news media has flooded us with reasons, analyses and sometimes excuses as to why Donald John Trump is now our President-elect. Even after having had a whole week to process this recent development I still don’t know what or how to feel. People around me keep pressuring me to decide and make up my mind as to whether I support or spurn the Assumption of Trump into the presidency. More than anything, I’m confused.

Who is Trump? Trump is a straight shooter that tells it like it is. But what exactly is “it”? Here is a man that is unpredictable, unpracticed in holding office and unapologetic, saying the first thing that crosses his mind, unperturbed by the idea that he’s riling up dangerous people. He uses lies to conceal his shame. He uses them to trick those of us that are more impressionable.

The truth is that we expect our presidents to take care of us. We pose them as role models and do as they say. I understand that the white working class (WWC) is upset because a large number of them don’t have jobs and I would be too if I didn’t have the means to feed and provide shelter for my family. It’s easy to blame the President, the Mexicans, gays, liberals and anything that is unknown. That which is unknown is scary. With Trump, we’re left in the dark and that darkness scares us. The rancor running through the hearts of liberals protesting the streets of LA, Chicago and New York is also fear rooted in the unknown. That’s is why it’s easy for liberals to blame the uneducated WWC reciprocally.

Trump’s presence in office is most likely a backlash to Obama’s relentless pressure on the Republican Party to pass liberal measures. The Good Old Party—in their desperation—procured a man that they did not fully support or understand like in “The Dark Knight”. On the topic of graphic novels, let’s think on what makes the world of the “Walking Dead” created by Robert Kirkman such a hostile and inhospitable place. It’s not the zombies, it’s the people. The zombies represent the things in life that can’t be changed and must somehow be dealt with before they get out of hand. We are the real Walking Dead. Trump’s devotees are gearing for the best case scenario–job security and the end to poverty–and his detractors for the worst–the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Both projections are grotesquely disproportionate, both in their hope and hopelessness.

The unemployment in the US, mainly within the WWC, has to do more with progress than policy. Americans are slowly becoming a country of city dwellers, leaving the farmlands behind. A sort of second Dust Bowl. So many people from the Midwest have made their way to LA—either for work or school—that it has now become a common saying that “No one in LA is from LA.” Neither Obama nor Trump nor the second coming of Christ himself can stop this worldwide trend. Companies–including Trump’s—export their labor to other countries and purchase raw materials from abroad to lessen their expenditures. The jobs that are still within American borders usually go to disenfranchised minorities due to the denigrating nature of the work.

The reality is that unless you are part of the elite, the 2%, consider yourself disenfranchised. Nobody cares about what you need. Not the corporations harvesting the sweat of your brow and not the ones reaping your hard earned money. Not your government—local, state or federal—who garners your wages in the form of taxes and especially not the President, the busiest person in the world.

The WWC is merely experiencing what other minorities have for the past century, in particular, the BBC (Broke Black Community): Disenfranchisement! They are facing neglect from the government they placed upon their trust, hopes and dreams. The country they pledge allegiance to while singing along to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” They are experiencing the “ghettoization” of their good Christian families and homes, where the men are unemployed and addicted to drugs, the women are birthing children as if trying to repopulate the Earth and the children are dropping out of school. Everyone has the irrational fear of the defenseless brown people who are in an even worse situation, fleeing war-torn violent countries.

People are worried that society will change now that a demagogue is our President. Whether it will or not remains to be seen. However, we have to remember one thing, societies are made up of individual people, so as long as we remain civil towards each other, it won’t matter who is in the executive office. Nazi Germany happened because regular German people of that time—whether out of fear or free will—bought into the whole idea of violence, bigotry and the systematic extermination of human beings. Trump becoming our President didn’t just happen like turning water to wine, the American people elected him to office. Willingly. Hitler was charismatic and appealed to a disenfranchised white working class. So did Trump. Der Führer fed lies to his constituents to foment their fear of minorities. So did Trump. The country of the United States of America is ours if we choose to take charge of it. A government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish. Unless we let it.

To those that are protesting the streets, with their hearts broken and their veins raging with indignity, I say, save your dissent and civil disobedience for a time when it will really matter and make a difference. Trump won the election fair and square. If we are to remain the democracy we want to be, we need to quietly accept that fact. Take as much time as you need to grieve. Take all four years, but do respect the laws of our country. The continuance of your disgruntlement will have an averse effect that will be twofold. First, you will be acting like the Trump supporters that said that they would revolt in the streets with gun in hand if Hillary won. Second, if the time comes in which Trump does indeed attempt to reverse Rowe v. Wade, your cries will be viewed merely as those of complainers who complain about everything. You will be like the boy who cried wolf.

Trump became President, it’s not the end of the world; at least not yet. The sun will continue to rise in the morning and set in the evening because it always has. The Beatles’ music will continue to have its clean harmonies because it always has. People will continue to be racist, sexist and violent. Men will continue to accost women and women will continue to fight for their rights because they always have.

Trump is just another President that will either be forgotten or be remembered for all the great he did or the mess he left the country in. If he actually does half the things that he has promised (all racism and sexism aside)—employ the unemployed WWC, rid the world of Al Qaeda and ISIS, improve the national economy—then by the end of his term, he would have been a pretty good President. But that remains to be seen.

Jamaican singer Mozez sings in “Morning Song” by Zero 7, “If today is all we see, then tomorrow seems to me is just an illusion we believe.” Tomorrow will be beautiful if we believe that it will. If we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Tomorrow will be beautiful.

Bilicko, C. (2017). Inauguration Day [Painting]. Acrylic on canvas, Long Beach, CA.