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May 2010
Odysseus needs a job he calls pima community college art department chairperson sends her his resume she does not respond after a week he catches her on phone she says he lacks proper credentials laughs to himself his whole life never worked lucrative or reputable position gets job working at thrift store wacky group of coworkers customers store frequently smells like public latrine job expires after 7 weeks he gets better paying job working at record exchange Odysseus always loved music everyday he learns new artist or band his coworkers are at least half his age they pester him about being slow on keyboard he never learned to type neither he nor his generation could have foreseen future would revolve around keyboard he plods on register keys people smile politely kids he works with fly fast making many keyboard mistakes November 29 2001 george harrison dies of cancer he is 58 years old Odysseus recognizes he is from past world different era of contrasting standards ‘80’s behavior is totally unbefitting let alone ‘60’s beliefs it is 2002 and one badly chosen word is sure to send someone flying off the handle he watches his language carefully co-workers mostly born in 1980’s grew up in 1990’s they live indifferent to hopelessness he struggles to bear none of them believe in higher power music is their religion he wonders what their visions concerns for humanity are? they seem addicted to consumption as if it is end in itself he questions what is hidden at root of their absorption? loneliness? despair? apathy? absence of vision? where is their rage against social conversion current administration? he warns them about homeland security act privacy infringement increased government secrecy power they shrug their shoulders why aren’t they looking for answers? why don’t they dissent? do they care where world is going? he realizes they will have to learn for themselves few coworkers read literature or know painters philosophy their passions are video games marijuana “star wars” most of them are extremely bright more informed than he often Odysseus needs to ask questions they know answers to right off the bat he is like winsome uncle who puts up with their unremitting teasing “hey you old hippie punk rocker get you fiber in today? stools looking a little loose! peace out old man” in peculiar way he finds enough belonging he so desperately needs they tell him stories about their friends *** addictions eating disorders futile deaths he is bowled over by how young they are to know such stuff job includes health insurance which is something he has not had since Dad was alive having some cash flowing in he buys laptop computer with high-speed connection cell phone trades in toyota for truck opens crate of writings he abandoned in ‘80’s begins to rewrite story sits blurry eyed in front of computer screen his motivation has always been to tell truth as he knows it he wonders what ramifications his labor will bring positive or negative results? he guesses his story will sound like children’s fable in stark brutality of distant future october 2002 3 week ****** spree terrorizes maryland virginia  district of columbia 10 people killed 3 critically wounded police believe white van responsible october 24 man and 17-year-old boy arrested in blue chevy caprice juvenile is shooter assailants linked to string of random murders including unsolved shooting of man at golf course in tucson Odysseus mentions incident at work speaks of prevailing terror madness in america co-workers kid tell him he is crazy “did you see a white van parked outside the store Odys?” they seem desensitized to increasing national atmosphere of anger panic or perhaps they are overwhelmed by weight trauma of modern life lie after lie prevailing  havoc slaughter make for dull numbness in world they know suicide is compelling option december 22nd 2002 joe strummer dies from heart failure at age 50 Odysseus’s eyes wet he adored the clash everything they stood for loved joe strummer and mescaleros he plays “global a go-go” over and over listens sings along with first track “johnny appleseed” march 2003 president bush launches attack against iraq united states seems drunk with “shock and awe” zealous blind patriotism many people politicians countries around globe question unproven line of reasoning saddam hussein possesses “weapons of mass destruction” Odysseus gripes “not another **** vietnam” record company allows employees to check out take home used product Odysseus stopped watching movies in 1980’s he has lots of catching up to do particularly likes “natural born killers” “american history x” “american ******” “fight club” “way of the gun” “******” “king of new york” “basquiat” “frida” “*******” “before night falls” “quills” “requiem for a dream” “vanilla sky” “boys don’t cry” “being john malkovich” “adaptation” “kids” “lost in translation” “25th hour” “28 days later” “monster” “city of god” “gangs of new york” “**** bill” list goes on perfect circle becomes his favorite band followed by tool lacuna coil my morning jacket brian jonestown massacre flaming lips dredg drive-by truckers dropkick murphys flogging mollies nofx stereophonics eels weakerthans centro-matic califone godspeed you black emperor magnetic fields fiery furnaces dresden dolls smog granddaddy calexico howie gelb sufjan stevens warren haynes dax riggs john vanderslice alejandro escovedo sean paul elephant man bjork p. j. harvey ani difranco aimee mann cat power sophie b. hawkins kathleen edwards mia doi todd kimya dawson regina spektor carina round neko case fiona apple nina nastasia beth gibbons mirah rasputina dr. dre talib kweli immortal technique murs slug atmosphere trick daddy eazy-e tricky list goes on october 21 2003 elliott smith commits suicide stabbing 2 wounds into his chest Odysseus thinks about music when jimi hendrix stood up at woodstock deconstructing national anthem on guitar it took courage when punk emerged with ugly screechy sounds attempting to divorce itself from melodious harmonies of 1970s complacent crosby stills nash  the dead kennedys and *** pistol did not pander to conventional commercial success what they performed were desperate gutsy songs trying to reclaim music rock’n’roll is no longer about inventing instead it imitates its glorious past hip-hop and rap come nearest to risking rebellion but are caught in gangsterism infantile self-adulation no longer does music offer vision of what is or could be instead it conjures looping escapism from hopelessness of modern life he continues working at record shop for several years store contains every genre of music cinema he grows weary of retail sales weary of higher-ups constantly changing rules dictating what to do head manager is manipulative drama queen thrives on crisis once in private admits stealing from company Odysseus nods not knowing what to say head manager works Odysseus hard keeps him down atmosphere of conspiracy betrayal hang at start of each day assistant manager routinely taunts berates bullies teases regularly calls Odysseus “dumb-****” or “****-up” other times laughs after goading Odysseus to flinch eventually bully backs off and they become friends retail pushes Odysseus to brink of misanthropy corporation requires all employees to exercise overt courteousness while serving a public of disrespectful gang bangers demanding “show me black market brotha lynch mac dre why ya godda keep dat **** behind da counter? dat’s ****** up hey old man i ain’t got all day” it always amazes him when shoplifter is caught with product stuffed down his pants thief blatantly states “i didn’t do it i don’t know how that got there” thanksgiving through christmas to new years is most swarming stressful he feels like automaton greeting customer scanning product looking at screen to see if price agrees with product typing money amount counting money into drawer counting money out handing change to customer handing customer product receipt next customer cockroach capitalism packs of masses line up in endless stream of needs stupid remarks job also involves trade appraising condition value resale probability of cds dvds video games tapes vhs vinyl news of  iraq war gets dismal mounting civilian casualties suicide bombers hostages beheadings beginning of 2004 reports of torture ****** psychological abuse **** ****** ****** of prisoners at abu ghraib prison guantanamo bay white house cover-ups denials growing insurgency increasing u.s. body count other costs he thinks about men and women who are so much braver than him then comes re-election and lavish republican parties parades cheney rumsfeld tom delay and whole regime smirk portentously on tv none of it makes sense anymore “we the people of the united states” what does it mean? the dreams and aspirations of his generation have long since faded away he is citizen of forgotten past current world is barbaric place he barely recognizes there are real pirates with machetes rocket launchers on the seas big drug corporations hiding harmful findings kidnapped children abandoned children crooked politicians corruption at every level of society horrifying stories daily ******* priests slave markets extreme heinous cruelties abruptly everyone is acknowledging society is worsening life is not the same he does not understand people and certainly does not understand america or the world he remembers when all could be so good modern existence has turned everything into madness what happened to lessons of history? it is as if Odysseus fell asleep and when he woke everything is changed he is mistaken about what he thinks he knows feels pity for people america pity disgust sorrow he misses his dog
michael reid rubenstein
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   --- and arubybluebird
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