Condo Billboard Stand-Up Song Poem Helpmate Manifesto
don't need you to keep up with it
Coz today I spoke of Eritrea by the lake
And Mao in the garage
With neighbors whose names I forget now
But it's like the love dart, no skin wound
Even though the rents are goin' up
And I lost too much money on Continuous Peasant this year
So I'll have to leave, downsize and leave
on the way to the Y, I see the first billboard
For the Grand & Broadway Condo
And while I can't presume to know the back story
And am trying to remember who I was, and am
Before I seemed to gladly let the fashion of witty cynicism
Invade me for the sake of a ready-made social scene
That seduced me with its promises
Of mopping up the loneliness once and for all
As long as I promised to let it bring out only the second best
But where else can I fit?
am trying to respond to the billboard sincerely
Thoughtfully, openly, passionately—as a work of art
Like the this sidewalk is private proverty plaque between my
billboard presents the condo as a utopia
(is this statement cynical? And humorless to boot?
Oh, you should see me at parties when I'm healthy!)
course, it's not going to say
"HIGHER RENTS! YIPPEE!"
(though nowadays with more entertaining ironic advertising
it's not entirely out of the question)
THOSE WHO'VE LIVED HERE ALL YOUR LIFE,
BECAUSE OF US, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE
No, it holds out hope—
Condo living! More comfortable—and more status—
The beautiful couple, laughing by the electric fire
You know you want it!
You know you deserve it!
And, now, it's in the realm of possibility
either this or leave—
What may have been natural, sunny, even sparkling to you
Is urban blight to us
"the luxuries you demanded have now become
(what kind of house does Jello Biafra live in anyway?)
cocoon, a nest, a stable
The stability of a mortgage, payment plan
(still life with faultline—to steal from an album title)
suppose the focus groups would say
it appeals to desires more than needs,
but I don't really want it even
much less need it.
I'd take it
If the price dropped—
If I won the lottery…
the lottery, Chris,
The commercials for the lottery…
fact the previous billboard at this very spot
Was for the lottery….
So, the dots are easy to connect…
"Now that you won the lotto, you must buy the condo"
great lotto—truly, it thinks globally
yet acts locally—life's a gamble
"ever fold your hands till they deal you an ace"
But, now I start thinking about how telekinesis
And this gets me thinking about Oakland homeboy Boots Riley's
"I'm anti uppin' your dollars with telekinesis"
and his message, "we need more cash"
(would he move into that condo?)
the billboard's not evil—but offers a vision of hope
As if Martin was right, that blacks can be a part of the
And Curtis was right—keep on pushin'
Even The Jeffersons (if not the Cosby Show)—1974—
A Gospel "we're movin' on up" would've caused a
In the black churches at least as much as Ray Charles 20 years
And 30 years later, well, it might just be a little too
sweaty-assed for most
race don't matter beyond that we are everywhere there's war
I & I Marley O'Conner Dylan "I Believe In You"
more than Pope does
God's stranger than a bus unless you only go by way of car
the billboard could just be a brilliant PR move
"we're not the enemy; the (mostly white) young hipsters
yes, they (not us) are the worst aspect of gentrification
as Marcel Diallo (of Oakland's black dot collective) puts it
(playing in to David Down's fatalist, self-loathing-white
sure enough, a similar self-loathing fatalist attitude
Was evidenced in the "Starbucks" installation piece
By the proprietors of Ego Park
And, no, I ain't knockin' Ego Park; they have damn good
& I've met some really good people there, an want to see
(and it don't have to unite with the condo over the ghetto not
to go away…)
I'd be guilty of "reverse" racism
But if I can't do away with the condos,
I'd rather have buppies living there than yuppies—
Surely, it's okay to want more money
(even if you have to be more of a wage-slave….?)
I hear tell that some of the Oakland Raiders have wild parties
with E-40 and other local rap celebrities on the top floors of
The Essex by the lake
and it'd be cool to be invited there—even if I 'look so bleak
in the sun')
for me, personally, well,
I've been around enough that I just don't see myself
'making' a lot of money
and even if, by chance, I did,
I can't see myself wanting to perpetuate the myth
That poor necessarily means FAILURE
Or that "cheap entertainment"
Like talking up on the roof or under the boardwalk—oh that's
Is worse, or a thing of the past…
ask what gets lost because of the condo
What's the alternative utopia dream?
I'm not gonna expound in an essay right now
wonder if the blacks who blame the proletarian hipsters
(the young who think they're just young—rather than poor)
more than the corporate gentriefers
might have more in common (precisely in their separation)
with the whites who feel more comfortable
around the 'token' suburban 'dark complected' friend
than they do around the locals from the 'hood'—
the fear is the fear of homelessness,
of growing old in poverty
with no social safety net
reflected in each other
one could cry—as Nick did—
What's so funny bout peace love and understanding?
Or lament the temp economy in nomad nation (by Viagra falls)
am not asking anybody to forsake their worldly ambition
(even if the condo home reality is truly your urban ideal
and I ain't sayin' I can resolve the contradictions of
and do away with "tops and bottoms"
(without being deathfully un-sexy and anti-literian)
can look at Boots Riley as more heroic than most of my
in his knowledge that personal ambition cannot be fulfilled by
the hush-money of hope…
or just because the system is corrupt and should be overthrown
doesn't mean you can't, and maybe even have to, work within
in the mean time
even if there's no way for most to get healthcare
without getting rich (which I still don't want to believe),
or no way to get rich without hurting the poor,
and not letting them in on "the secret,"
Boots has the courage to put his conscience out there,
On the line, like a vow
And challenge himself
As well as others
To walk it
Like he talks it
"take the people with you—that's the protocol"
And yeah it's no more of a cross
To follow him (as he walks behind, beside)
Than it would be to shut myself up
In the telekinesis (or "sayings of Jesus")
Of awesome surrealism
Or fatalist, self-loathing, wit or swagger of KWL
That goes over so-well at hipster parties
I'm going to try not to worry about whether this is too much
of a manifesto
for the music or poet-people and too much of a song or poem
for the manifesto people…
just hopin' we can be each other's helpmates,
oh, & "each according to their abilities; each
according to their needs"