Saturday, January 13, 2007

We Can't Make It Here Anymore....

I haven't been around very much today and this will be a short entry. It's been a long, cold day.

However, I did get the chance to read a few blogs, one of which struck me in particular. We are experiencing a cold spell here in California. I hear it snowed in Los Angeles. That happened once when I was a kid, too, although I couldn't tell you exactly when.

Anyway, the blog.

The author of One Plus Two wrote about her work with the homeless and how the shelters are overcrowded during this weather event. It's not an uncommon phenomenon. We're experiencing it in this city also. It happens each summer as well. When the weather becomes too extreme for life outside, those who care have to scramble to find shelter for people whose lives would otherwise be at risk.

There's only just so much "compassion exhaustion" any of us can experience before it is time to stand up and point the finger directly where it belongs. I sat here in the den and remembered a song from a few years ago by James McMurtry. Instead of yakking on about it, saying what's already been said a million times, I offer the lyrics. They say it all.


Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's stretched so thin
And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war

We can't make it here anymore

That big ol' building was the textile mill
It fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors

We can't make it here anymore

See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna set there till they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here 'less you're looking to score

We can't make it here anymore

The bar's still open but man it's slow
The tip jar's light and the register's low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far 5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one of your stores
Bet you can't make it here anymore

High school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it's way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
'Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in the damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore

Will work for food
Will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why

In Dayton, Ohio
Or Portland, Maine

Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door

We can't make it here anymore.




jen said...

I thought of you today, and sincerely wished you lived closer..there were some things I wanted to show you - you came to mind several times.

And yes, you are right. It's enough, already. I am pointing but no one is listening. In fact, I was astounded at some of the people I've met in the last couple of days - I mean, it's been re-energizing in a whole other how can we get around this screwed up system and do what needs to be DONE.

And I've sent J on a search to find the song you wrote. I can't wait to hear such powerful words put to music.

Thank you, wise Chani.

Laurie said...

Very powerful post, the song fits perfectly. Sometimes the condition of our country (and the world) seems so bleak and hopeless, the problems seem insurmountable. Hearing about the work Jen and others like her are doing brings hope.

Keep up the fight Chani, you are making a difference.

QT said...

When times are like this, Chani, even one voice makes a difference. Remember that.

Anonymous said...
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meno said...

That song is very angry and powerful. Thank you for putting it up.

Linda said...

What great lyrics. Here in Winnipeg, it's deathly cold. It is hard for homeless people right now. I can't judge the choices they make but I know that they cannot spend a whole night outside. They will die, it's that cold.

Pam said...

Yes, the song says it perfectly, now we just have to get them to hear.