God is Irony…
These three days that we are currently in the midst of (yesterday, today, and tomorrow), will be the three coldest days of the year (-10, -13, -15C).
They are like a lecture you once got from a snarky teacher for not paying attention in class. For, despite ourselves, despite knowing winter wasn’t over, we couldn’t help ourselves, and we had started talking poetry with Spring; only to discover that we had in fact been day dreaming and the lesson in Home Economics wasn’t yet finished.
Our cats, who had been happily roaming the back yard again, lolling in the spring sun, are back to sulking on the couch, watching the snow fall outside the window, with that look of disgust that only cats have.
The wild geese, who came early, too early, riding on the promises of last week’s warm air, looking for first dibs on habitat space (ever shrinking space), now scrambling to survive the next couple of nights and temperatures that will be dropping to near -30C in some places.
Irony: reading a letter in this month’s Harper’s Magazine that was sent from Donald Trump’s grandfather to the Prince of Bavaria in 1905 pleading with the Prince not to exile his family from their homeland.
The Prince refused to listen and so they came to New York as refugees.
Donald Trump is the grandson of a refugee fleeing persecution.
On the day after we watched Donald Trump address his nation, and declare, as the Nazis once did to the Jews, that his government was now going to publish a list of crimes committed by illegal immigrants – that he was creating a new program for the Victims of Immigrant Crime (VOICE), we were in Toronto and we went see the beautiful and powerful documentary I Am Not Your Negro.
Trump, it is reported, is especially interested in publishing crime lists from those cities who have declared themselves sanctuary cities – cities that refuse to go along with his anti-immigrant rhetoric (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles).
But as we saw in I Am Not Your Negro, lists are not new in America. James Baldwin, the brilliant African-American writer whom the doc centers around, was also on a FBI security list. Along with Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King who were, in various ways, friends of Baldwin.
White America has never stopped being paranoid of the Other.
The fact is, is that the world of the ’50’s and ’60’s has now been mostly forgotten.
More people have been born since their demise than who are hear to remind us of those times.
And those that are still here, their memories have clouded, lost context, are out of order, have been mythologized at the Altar of the Individual, are remembered in words no longer used, and exist only as black and white photographs piled in a box at the back of the closet, or worse, moldering in a storage locker somewhere in an old industrial part of town, or out in the suburbs somewhere.
How great our forgotten feats! How outraged we now are at the downtown traffic jams caused by the angry generations behind us who demand their moment in the sun, who claim that their lives still matter.
We’d prefer to sit around and drink our lattes and discuss our colonoscopies, resigned to the nihilism that it all has to end someday anyhow. So why not now.
How easy to pass judgement on the planet, and the young, for none of us have sinned; reconciled to our narratives of what could have been, if only someone had noticed our greatness.