Friday, July 04, 2003

Fixed Xtina's email on class that I posted yesterday. Should now be a bit easier to read.


*Descent of Alette, Notley
*Selected Poems, Fanny Howe {Click for words on the essay Fanny read Sunday; the proverbial buck has now been passed from Aaron Tieger to me to Chris.}

Ordering from The Bookstore {Gloucester, MA}
*The American Poetry Wax Museum, Rasula

Currently out of the Sawyer Free Library {not overdue}
*Invisible Cities, Calvino {will begin today.}
*Justine, Durrell {finished}

Currently out of the Sawyer Free Library {overdue}
*White Blood Cells, The White Stripes

Missed in yuppified Gloucester for 3rd of July gathering {known locally for the Horribles Parade}
*Christopher Brandon Rizzo
*Jim Behrle
*Greg Cook & Kari Percival
*the Dunns
*the butterflyman
* you {unless you were there}

Beverages {in order of consumption}
*Eight O'clock Coffee (original)
*Ballantine Ale
*Twinings Irish Breakfast (Decaffeinated) {water is boiling now}


Thursday, July 03, 2003

Ach! I've been unable to get on blogger all day. {Problems w/ my local connection.} Then when I finally get on I lose a post.

It's late! Here a note from Christina Strong ( in response to the questions I posed concerning class. My mind is not working well enough to reconstruct what I wrote earlier. But I will say that I'm glad xtina tied the question of class to poetry in a few places, especially addressing the issue of leisure. More later {or earlier}.

{education & money (esp. issues of having one but not the other)}

My old college's tuition is now $29,000 plus. If I were going to school at all, I never would be able to, either a private or public, I would never be able to afford it. Education is for the rich, and so will libraries, soon, a la a discussion over dinner at Grendel's sunday evening. Debt is for the poor. Yet is education only colleges and universities, what about those that are self ­ taught? Motivation, a quest for knowledge, isn't money driven.

{education as learning & education as job training (this is perhaps one corollary of the first)}

tech and two year community colleges are for "job training", is learning valued in the family or community, depends on how wealthy the community is ­ compare towns of familiarity ­ south Boston vs. Newton (don't know anything about either town, but I'm guessing Newton has more money), expectations of the family, being the first one on my mother's side of the family to go to college at all, I was given a hard time, as in "why are you going to school when you should just find a job" yet everyone in the family recognized me as being smarter, creative, the "black sheep" phrase tossed around one too many times, spoken about in the third person as I am standing there, my father and mother and aunts and cousins, I was also told "you're so smart you should go to college but ha ha, don't know how you're getting there bc we don't have the money" like a like not even a carrot being dangled in front of me, more like straw reported to be a damaged melon.

I personally never had a career plan, all I knew was that I wanted to read and write.

{class & neighborhoods}

obvious less money in neighborhoods, more garbage, libraries close, businesses go under, economic depression, everyone¹s too busy finding a job don't have an time for LEISURE which is book reading and poetry writing to a large segment of the population, poetry in rap lyrics instead, easy immediate, preaching, "easy to understand" jumping ahead to cities, we can look at whole cities with different neighborhoods, Boston, Hartford, nyc, san Francisco, Cambridge, Somerville, Brooklyn, urban planning either conducive, is there a starbucks in your neighborhood, oh not yet oh why not, no sir all I have is this abandoned building?

my neighborhood was in a suburb of Hartford, Old Wethersfield actually. One of the oldest towns in CT, also snobbish, not money snobbish, but historical snobbish. We did not live in low-income housing, but my family did live in a not so great house, we did not own it. It was a duplex and as I think about it now, too small to house mom, my father, myself, my brother, a dog and two cats. I knew that bc we did not own our own house, we were "poor," my father's car was beat up, I got the reduced lunch program at school,
which backyard had a pool, which had toys, neighborhood as community, there's more here? but this for starters.

{class & whole cities/towns (i.e. when it is assumed you are of a class because of the neighborhood/street/ city/town/etc. in which you live)}

Rivalry, like sports games, football games bt high school teams on thanksgiving, also regional, generalizations and presumptions, the south vs. the north, what poets can we think of who are from Miami? Think race, think north end of Hartford vs. asylum hill Farmington ave more likely prospect ave towards and in west hartford, the latter which has much more money than Hartford in it's entirety, make assumptions about the other, speak in
accents, make fun of the boston accent, make fun of a queens accent, assume bc they talk funny to someone, less educated

{artists & experiences w/ class &/or money}

artists in the broad, general sense? Add artists, musicians, theatre folk, who is earning money from their "art?" selling out, instead of "language poet" how about "working class poet" how to and how not to feel ashamed of, less than, reactionary towards against, ask in some certain circles and not others, am I the only one without a master's degree? Don't
have the time to read enough books too busy working?

{class & class consciousness}

a matter of how you gain it, bc the question begs "what are you lacking?" and the answer is: "money" or "capital" these days. But how or when does one become aware of this? Early childhood, adolescense, never at all? Then afterwards, with this knowledge, what do you do about it, everything a measure of degree after ­ rebel or embrace.

I rebelled, I questioned, lacking, all verbs, to know, one of the first verbs taught when one is learning a foreign language?

{blurry lines of class}

done by statistics, or hierarchy, who's got more darker skin, who's got more lighter, when a black or these days, African-American moved in my neighborhood, when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I was told that her father was a doctor. I didn't doubt that, they looked like they had more money than we did. All I noticed was during recess when every girl would want to touch her hair to feel the texture. Isn't that rude? I mean, I'd never go up to anyone and start touching their hair, especially without asking?

Stupid people. That's what I grew up around, prejudice and stupidity.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Questions of Class
education & money (esp. issues of having one but not the other), education as learning & education as job training (this is perhaps one corollary of the first), class & neighborhoods, class & whole cities/towns (i.e. when it is assumed you are of a class because of the neighborhood/street/ city/town/etc. in which you live), artists & experiences w/ class &/or money, class & class consciousness, blurry lines of class, telling the story of one's class/economic situation, listening to stories about another's class/economic situation, what-has-monitary-value & class...

education & money {The tag for bold is now "strong"; hello Xtina}

Some Boston-area university did a sociological study a few years ago looking at families & individuals who lived below the poverty line but had different education levels & circumstances. They found {& this should surprise no one} that those w/ a college education & **access** to the middle class (i.e. through college ties, family members, etc.) lived more comfortably than did those w/ the same money but w/o such advantages.

Many recent college graduates live below the poverty line. Most people reading this post could tell stories of a time when s/he made 10K/year or less {depending upon the time--70s, 80s, 90s, etc.--of one's post-college poverty} & paid $6K/year or so on rent. {I focus on employment wages/rent because that particular statistic best illustrates the economic absurdity of my first two to three years up here in Gloucester; the absurdity of others' situations could perhaps best be illustrated by other statistics.} But despite {literally} most of my money going to rent, I worked w/ interesting people in a {mostly} respectful environment {though many of us made a quarter or half-dollar above minimum wage}, was able to navigate the bureaucracy of postponing the payment of student loans {in a way that I would not have been had I not had previous experience navigating bureaucracies}, had family members {my lovely, lovely grandmother} who paid for me to see a doctor the one time I really needed to. When I lived in a particulary heroine riddled house, Amanda's grandmother found us another place. Although the rent was higher, we were able to pay it {having no kids} & we were much, much safer. {At the new place I even had a study in which to write.} No more middle of the night smashed windows.

Why am I writing about all this? Just to show that though I lived for years below the poverty line, because of my access to middle class family members & a middle class education I was able to live fairly comfortably or at least w/o disaster. This gives people like me (but not me) a skewed perspective of what it means to be *working class* or, perhaps more accurately, the working poor. Such experiences of temporary ersatz poverty allow many of us to construct for ourselves a rags-to-riches story that while fitting the American archetype is essentially a lie. Such peronal narratives are the lifeblood of the particularly vampiric Republican party.

education & money part 2

The first day I visited Gloucester I came up on the train {it would be another five years before I'd have a driver's license} & except for catching a ride to Lanesville {the neighborhood in which Amanda grew up} walked all around, w/ Amanda as Virgil. I don't remember all that I saw that day; most of the places have long since become part of my mental furniture, the muebles that are shifted around nightly in dreams.

But I do remember walking into Amanda's house in Lanesville. The place was a bit dusty, or rather tiny bits of fabric hung in the air. Her mother and stepfather worked in the house making ties, scarves, etc. from her mother's beautifully rhythmic fabric art. Artistic & economic making. Art as necessity w/o the compromise of the Rockport art gallaries I'd later walk past too often.

Amanda's stepfather--a restaraunteur by training, though then {as now} out of the business-- had painted Amanda & others in the style of Picasso's synthetic cubism. These paintings were on the wall. The bookshelf, in front of me as I walked in, was packed & sagging. Folk art of New England next to _Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein_. Neither Amanda's mother nor stepfather had graduated from college. {And w/r/t the Stein & the many WCW books around the corner in the bookshelf by the stairs, neither Carrie nor Ralph were poets.} At the time this was all very comforting. Others outside the university were making a go of the kind of life I wanted to live; & even more comforting, Amanda was used to (& even expected) such a life.

What does any of this have to w/ class & education? There was very little money in Amanda's Lanesville household. A car w/ a hole in the bottom more or less shared w/ the family across the street. Etc. Is social class more than income level? Is social class also more than income level + level of formal education? Income too-low-to-pay-taxes + high school education would certainly do little to explain the social class of Amanda's Lanesville household. Or would it? Does cultcha factor into social class? One's parents may not have been able to send one to Big Time University, but WCW, fractals, sundried tomatoes, Ella Fitzgerald, & Botticelli may have been part of one's everyday life. How do we describe such a household in terms of social class? (Need we?)

There is no easy relationship between income & education (formal or otherwise) & certainly(!) no easy relationship between income & robust cultural practice. But as the lower middle class or working class parents (& grandparents before them, etc.) strive to make the lives of their children better--as mine did--it seems to me that income (& material possessions of various sorts) & formal education (especially--often exclusively--as a way of attaining income & material possessions) eclipsed participation in a living, active culture as an indicator of something that has been called one's standard-of-living. In other words when striving to make the lives of their children better culture was often ignored (necessarily so? excusably so?) along the way.
Does class--as a complex construct--indicate something about one's standard-of-living? {What the hell is social class if it's not some combination of income (& assets), education, & culture?} {I've neglected the type of work one does as an indicator of social class. Damn. I'll have to address that. Does social class also have to do w/ one's values? Or are values something that a social class often shares but doesn't necessarily share?}
More to come...

slan leat,