[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 7 most recent journal entries recorded in
Poverty Magazine's LiveJournal:
|Friday, May 12th, 2006|
In the mornings, before I head out and join the world at large, I, like most people, like to stop and caffeinate myself. This practice, aside from directly contributing to a caffeine addiction, usually leads me first into a 7-11 for a cheap and particularly damn fine cup of coffee, then to a Starbucks, who’s products I can’t stand, having worked for them, but their outdoor furniture is there for a reason, right? In full view of the Green and Black, similar in spirit and fierce devotion to Mussolini’s Brown shirts, I prominently display my cheap Styrofoam cup and drink that same vicious black brew that my dad drank in the mornings on his way to work. This is not a new routine for me. I’ve done this up and down the east coast, and the only place where I’ve had anyone say a word to me about the appropriateness of it is here, in dear ol’ Virginnie. Carry me home, carry me back…
One particular morning, as I was sitting under the balcony, I had noticed to my immediate right a group of young people. Nicely dressed, all of them smelling vaguely of designer scents, they chatted brightly. After a moment, another joined them, and for the first time that morning, I found myself being spoken to.
“Mind if take this chair?”
I went back to my reading, minus one chair at my table, which didn’t bother me in the least bit, as I wasn’t using it, and wasn’t expecting company. Just sitting near them made me feel beautiful-I hadn’t recovered from the lack of sleep the night before, and in my holey T-shirt and dirty chinos, I was next to beautiful people, who, as far as I could tell, weren’t making snide comments based on how I was dressed, or casting dark stares in my direction. It was only after a minute or two of strained peripheral hearing that I knew why I couldn’t understand them: they were speaking German, fluently at that, and very quickly. All of this told me that they were visiting here, maybe exchange students or particularly well mannered exchange students. Having them near me (and the smile of the girl who borrowed the chair from me) made the sun feel a little warmer, and the day a little more pleasant.
After I finished my vicarious Teutonic basking, I turned to the left, wondering what other wonders the patio held in store for me today. A lone woman was sitting at the table. From the markings on her cup, I could tell she was drinking a designer coffee beverage. The esoteric markings up and down the side told me that she knew what she wanted, and more importantly, that she had the money to back it up. She watched the traffic with a somewhat annoyed, expectant look about her. I decided to mind my own business for a little while, and went inside to get a copy of the Washington Post.
When I had come back outside, the singular woman had company. They were dressed similarly, that is to say, flimsy warm up jackets, t-shirts, and Spandex pants. I wondered how the one woman had so quickly and asexually reproduced into an almost-clone of her, when I noticed that they were talking considerably loud. The only other group out there, the Germans, had to raise their own voices to be heard amongst themselves at their own table. I opened the Style section to read my horoscope:
PICECS: Don’t look now, they’re multiplying. Ignore the soccer moms; they don’t know any better.
I looked up, and over to the left: they had, indeed, multiplied. How are they doing this? They had grown into a group of nine, humming and clucking away. One of them apparently made a sexual joke, to which they all snickered deviously. I wasn’t quite sure of the context, but I heard the phrase “rode like a horse!” This caused loud, smug laughter. The formerly empty outside space and my own pre-work reflective space had been taken over by this group of Spandex wearing, 100% Caucasian upper class females. The sound of their voices alone made the place feel crowded and uncomfortable. When two more showed up, they started diving inside and grabbing the wooden chairs.
The Germans, apparently, had enough at that point. The pretty German girl (I’ve always been a sucker for a blonde) went over to the group and asked, in heavily accented (but grammatically perfect) English, to please quiet down a little. The ladies stared; amazed that someone had the utter audacity to interrupt their own conversation. After several moments passed, and no response, one of the other Germans yelled in his own native tongue (which I admit I asked to be translated for me) to SHUT THE HELL UP! What followed nearly floored me:
“We have more of a right to be here than you do. If you don’t like it, why don’t you get out of America?”
The Germans, instead of pressing the point, took themselves inside. The ladies resumed their pointless chatter. Occasionally, one of them would pop out, light themselves a cigarette, and make a conscious effort to blow smoke at their table, causing protests and loud bouts of coughing. After this happened three or four times, something truly frightful happened. On an unspoken cue, they all stood up, butts flapping like flags under their casual workout clothes, and moved the metal table four feet out, now instead of being under the awning, they were sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. When they sat back down, they started right back in again, with relish and poison.
“Well, I don’t let Marta speak Spanish around Cody.”
“Oh, tell me about it. They come to this country, and don’t even bother to learn the language.”
“It’s amazing, the lack of respect they have. Do you think they blow smoke at other people in Germany?”
“Their foreigners. They don’t know how to act here.”
“My au pair speaks French around the house. At least it’s not Mexican they’re speaking. It just sounds so dirty.”
“My husband speaks dirty to me in Spanish. I don’t understand what he’s saying, but it’s sexy when he does it. When I hear…you know…them speak it, though, it sounds horrible.”
These ladies are the wives, sisters, and daughters of the men I’ve worked for in the past…I recognized the mannerisms-snide, self serving, the expectancy that comes from soft living. I would say that I’ve worked for them, except for the fact that they would either:
• Be working at this very moment, or;
• Have rough hands, not the shiny, smooth palms that speak of pampering.
They were still yammering when I got up and went inside. The Germans were gathered around a large table. When I approached, one of them nodded silently in my direction. I smiled and opened my own pack of cigarettes, offering one to the girl who had smiled at me before the zombie soccer moms had taken over. She looked at me, puzzled, until I nodded through the sliding glass doors at the gathered crowd outside, audible even through the thick glass:
She hit me with that smile again, and I walked out of the building to my car. I pulled around, and looked at them as I drove off, until I lost sight of them, due to the fleet of shining, spotless luxury S.U.V.’s parked on the side of the road.
|Saturday, May 6th, 2006|
Parents, Kids, and Education
It's a fact that you can't buy intelligence. It's just not possible. You can drug your hyperactive kid so they'll sit still in class and you can shell out thousands of dollars for private tutors so that your kid can spend even more time sitting on their ass after school instead of running around outside in the fresh air like children are supposed to. But you just can't pay anyone any amount of money to put brains in your kid's head. ( Read more...Collapse )
|Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006|
Have your cake and eat it!
culled from todays Washington Post Metro section:(click for artical)
"Tax the developers. Tax the companies that are moving out here. Why should the citizens carry the burden of the tax when they're just trying to raise their families and have a good, moderate lifestyle?"
The person behind this quote, Tara K. McKenna, was refering to her families adjusted home value for fiscal year '05. Seems that she's quite upset
about having to pay taxes on her new home she and her husband moved into from Arlington.
A citizen has every right to complain about how much taxes they pay on their personal property. I'll agree with most anyone, that taxing the populace is a unfortunate nesessity concerning the welfare and abilities of the state. However, what should be further mentioned, is that her family moved into a housing development in Lansdowne, just inside the Ashburn area. This womans attitude underscores for me the following:
- The sense of entitlement that the baby boomer babies (read: former early Gen X) carry with them, especially when it comes to financial matters.
- Lack of personal accountability "Let (someone else) pay the tax." It reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons in which a bear comes into town, and the citizens panic. As a result, there is an established "Bear Patrol", complete with Stealth Bombers. Citizens are outraged at the five cent tax they pay for their own DEMANDED peace of mind. "Let bears pay the bear tax! I pay the Homer tax!" Incidently,the bears are ultimately blamed on immigrants.
- ¿Amenece, lo veis?, a la luz de la aurora? What do these people think happens to their tax money? It doesn't sit in someones pocket. It does not buy someone else lattes in the morning. It goes to pay for public services, supposedly. When people move into a newly developed area, which is based around a LUXURY RESORT of all things, it is not a unreasonable assumption that property values, and taxes on said property are going to hit the glass ceiling. To think that you can buy a massive house in a new, burgeoning community and not pay for it through the nose via taxes, based simply on the Pollyannic assumption that said community will welcome you with open arms, hip stores and groundbreaking schools is downright stupid. Add to that the resentment that is almost guarenteed to arise from people who have lived there for most of their lives, it resembles something of an invasion, or at least a hostile corporate takeover of land. Any wonder why I deliberately spit on anything larger than a Ford Explorer when I'm driving down the road? It only I could hone my cigarette flicking skills to get high enough to land it in the driver window. Not that I have anything against a large automobile, I ♥ my old F150, but when it takes a Brontosauras to get you from your driveway to the kids private school and your Yogaerobics class, something is seriously wrong.
- Now, for the token class warrior moment: In the accompanying photo with the WP artical, Tara and her husband are standing in the background, while their three spawn, er, children run amok through their nearly million dollar yard. The grass is bright green, everyone is smiling, and the young boys (they look about six or seven) are wearing loafers. I am twenty-eight years old, and I have never, ever,in my life worn a loafer. Not to a formal event, not as social commentary, never once. It is, perhaps, the most impractical shoe known to the existance of mankind, and proof that Darwin failed to take many, many factors into account into his theorizing, the largest of which being human beings. Perhaps I'm a tad bitter, but in my defense, I'll say this before I'm labled a pinko Commie by the G.O.P. (may they rot and burn)-painting houses as my first job at Eleven beat a whipsong into me that I'll not be likely to forget. Those immigrants, the ones who built that house and house people like Tara, the ones who are facing deportation at the hands of Big Brother Elephant, would urinate in the corner, laughing and chattering in Spanish. At the end of a long, hot summer day, you couldn't escape the smell of it through all levels of the house, especially under the microwave heat of the Northern Virginia high sun. At first I thought it was them just being dirty, but as I got older, I began to think about it from a different angle-the envy, the wrong headed nature of building a house for someone else, another family, that from the looks of them would call the police if you knocked on their front door and ask for directions. .
As for me, I don't condone public urination, fiscal racism, or bitchy, irresponsiable citizenry. I just says it like I sees it.
|Sunday, April 30th, 2006|
Hello, My name is Nick and I will be writing in this blog, probably more on political and economic issues of being poor in Northern Virginia. I had the opportunity Thursday night to watch the Leesburg town council candidates promise affordable housing I had the opportunity to watch the Leesburg Town Council candidates promise affordable housing in town. They promised housing so cops and teachers didn't have to live outside the county, where median income is 95k. Then the point was raised that not everyone who works in town is teachers and cops. Our service economy relies on being able to provide for
retail and food service and even fixed income residents, especially if Leesburg wants to be able to convincingly say that it is something more than a bedroom community for the inner suburbs or (gasp) Washington. If developers will get away with "creating jobs" as it builds houses and strip malls, they can't be told that no one working in that strip mall can afford to live in those houses (average price in Loudoun over 750K) or even rent those apartments. Rent prices are high enough that only teachers and cops can afford apartments. There are a lot of police cars parked in our rent control communities. There are no longer any rent controlled or government subsidized neighborhoods on Leesburg. That leads to the question of what the last affordable housing alternative is: the trailer park.
In Fairfax, Loudoun and PW counties there are 18 trailer parks (bet you didn't know there were that many), but only two are in Loudoun. In fact, trailer parks are illegal in Loudoun, and the Leesburg and Lucketts parks were grandfathered in. There is no reason they should be illegal here except that the county doesn't want poor people living here. Last year a developer bought the Leesburg mobile park and the neighboring auto salvage yard. The plan is to build a walkable mixed use area along the bike trail, just the kind of development I like, but they would have to raze the trailer park. Since many of the trailer parks residents are on fixed income, they can't afford to pay more than the $500 per month they pay. There is no other park in the county they can move into. Many of them have older trailers that would be difficult to move if they had somewhere to move them. The developer agreed last year to wait before moving in, but there is no timetable as to how long they'll wait. There has been no mention of paying residents to buy up the trailers or pay to move them. Since the trailer park is the last affordable place to live in these counties, we must try to keep them, at least until another affordable alternative comes.
One other issue these races has been Herndon's day labor site. The minutemen have taken up residence here and now there is almost a full slate of council candidates they back (DeBenedetis, Tirrell, Waddell, Kirby, Husch), so for the sake of the people who need to stand outside to find a place to work each day, lets support the council members who supported the site (O'Reilly, Mitchell, Bruce, Reece) and Jorge Rochac who would be the first Latino to serve on the Council.
|Tuesday, April 25th, 2006|
Delinquency meets disgust.
Not like anyone reads this damn place.
I picked up a widely available publication from a newspaper stand in front of a Starbucks the other day. With a half an idea, I went inside, ordered a medium ice water, and went to work.
I selected five random properties in the vicinity of Ashburn, an area that ten years ago was largely undeveloped farm land and trees, now is choked by upscale living, the vary yuppies who are intent on destroying the middle class. If I had told someone to buy cheap farm land in Ashburn ten years ago, and that they would be able to sell it for a ridiculous amount of money in five, they would have looked at me as though I was on drugs.
Putting on my best W.A.S.P. voice, I called each of my five selections, asked about the average price of a one bedroom apartment in their community, and asked about available amenities, security, what have you. Although I didn't as much as say it, I let money pratically drip from my voice. On the other end of the line, though, each place had a woman answering the phone, very kind, very attentive, the kind of woman my mom wants me to make her grandchildren with, and the kind who would if given the opportunity, would have nothing to do with me whatsoever.
It only got worse from there. Some excerpts from the ads:
"Located in Scenic Ashburn!"
"Ashburns only affordable Luxary community"
The only thing scenic about Ashburn, supposedly,are the people living there. Blonde hair, blue eyes, all driving German cars. All paying their taxes and all having their small rebellions (smoking pot in the basement, watching porn, wearing naughty underware underneath jogging clothing) which the government/machine/big brother knows all about, but lets us get away with, so long as it keeps us quiet
. But thongs, THC, and Skinimax will be the first things to go when it comes times to pay your dues, shortly before the draft is reinstated. As for those of us who rejected that, for those of us who can't afford it or are kept out at the gates, though, we can see that the emperor has no morals, nevermind clothes. As alw ays, the evidence is in the money. After all, how many people are on a first name basis with their rental association?
The average figure that I came to for renting a single bedroom apartment in Ashburn, including not one, but TWO tax credited communities, is one thousand, one hundred and twenty four dollars, at the base amount. This ranks as one of the ten most expensive communities to live in this country today. It also should be stated that the average salary earned by a recent college grad in a entry level position in many industries is thirty two thousand dollars a year.
Certainly lets you know who's in charge.
You do the math. To me, it's akin to the fact that ExxonMobil reported record income after merging. This isn't the first time that they had worked together. Both were branches of the Standard Oil Family, Standard Oil New Jersey and Standard Oil New York respectively. When the Standard Oil trust was split in 1892, they went into 34 different fragments, each with its own separate board of Directors. As these smaller companies get bought up in mergers, they eventually reassemble into corporations that resemble the original trust, i.e. ExxonMobil. It's only a matter of time. Last year, the oil companies reported record earnings, with a high spike during the summer. Remember last summer? This summer is expected to be worse.
Who the hell am I supposed to talk to about this? This is the legendary America, land of the free, home of democracy, and yet we can't see clearly whos pocket we're being forced to put our hard earned money into. There are publicity firms and legons of spokespersons, Human Resource departments, and tons of paperwork, e-forms, and phone calls for us to come up against to get at least a name, never mind a reason. But the reason is simple enough, and no matter how many words you attatch to it, and how deep the vault is, the fact that GREED
and LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
is the largest motivative force in the course of human history is not a fucking secret.
This isn't just the private sector, either. Ever try filling out and FOIA form?
This goes beyond dollars and cents. To me, the ranting, drug and self-righteous fueled hack writer, this speaks of a larger problem: the monsters in charge of the system, and thier lack of desire to let anyone else on the inside unless their views are 100% compatable with theirs, thus cementing their place long after retirement. Before you entirely write me off, it bears noting that Cheney received a reitrement package from Haliburton worth over $33.7 million* Under public pressure, he was forced to sell company stock worth 30 million dollars on the open market at the time. When I relayed this to a member of the housekeeping staff in the course of writing this, he sneered. "Sheeeeit. What fuck they need that much money for?"
In 1789 , the National Constituent Assembly of Fransh abolished the rights of the feudial Manor Lords. They had a pretty easy solution-they went about cutting heads. If the naughty masses of Ashburn started having their lifestyle actively policed and prevented, I am without a doubt that the guillotine would come back into vouge along with bell bottom hip huggers and peasent blouses.
To the rest of us, we know we have a problem. Just like my old friend Captain Murphy said-A throat needs slitting, and we don't know where to lay the blade.
Next episode-public transit and arson.
*Robert Bryce, The Candidate from Brown and Root, in: The Texas Observer, October 6, 2000
|Sunday, April 16th, 2006|
This seems like a good enough place to start.
If you were to ask the typcal person whether or not bums should be kept out of the public view, chances are they will say no, that they should be helped, et cetera. More numb individuals, the typical New York City resident for example, has no opinion of the homeless as long as they don't crowd their space (NYC has a notorious living space problem, and every square inch is fiercely protected) or present any kind of threat.
This is Poverty Magazine. Well, not a magazine, but a web space, nonetheless, about the rest of us who are barely making ends meet in Northern Virginia. While most of the writers (so far, both of them) are restricted to NoVA, this is a universally felt problem. Many people move to avoid the high cost of living in certain places. Others strive to find new jobs, or continue on in education if they can in hopes of landing something more lucretive. Simply put, you can't make ends meet here financially unless you're a ways above the poverty line, read: the upmost ten percent in this country. The whole idea of the surviving and semi-prosperous middle class in this country, and especially in this area is a complete myth. It's dying around us. Every luxery S.U.V. Every foodstuff that is sacrificed for a couple more gallons of gas. To thrive here is certain possible, but hardly plausable. And maybe this is a case of my being a class warrior, but I am determined to not let this go undocumented, or unresisted, or to let those in a similar position as I go without some sort of voice or aide.
So...while this will vascillate between being a poor man's Martha Stewart to a scurrilous liberal rag, our aim will (hopefully) remain the same throughout.
-CAppeals Court Bars arrest of homeless in Los Angeles (New York Times Artical)
|Friday, April 7th, 2006|
This space deliberately left blank.
Not for sale, not for rent.