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Middle-class potting soil in the land of art and Uncle Frankies

June 23, 2012

I was at a books-signing event where people can meet and greet the authors.

A bright guy who was a painter said, “I hear Obama talk about the middle-class and I say fuck the middle-class. They don’t pay attention to anything if they get what they want, and if they don’t, maybe. It’s a small percentage of brilliant people who change things: the artists, the poets, and the painters”

“Well, I see it this way,” I said. “My Dad got a GI Loan and went to college and we grew up in a suburban development and it’s all connected because I came from that, he read and I got that.”

“Your Dad was different, not like the others. But don’t have choice, you became something. They settle.”

“Well even the others in my neighborhood, when we had a crib death in our family they brought food over and took care of us. I just see connections. And after having cancer, a lot of people came and helped me. The neighborhood around me was potting soil. I just can’t see it anyway.”

After I walked away from him. I found from doing stand-up and performing in front of a variety of people, that the worst ones were the very rich, and the very poor. The middle respected achievement. The very rich or the spoiled entitled, looked at me through the dismissive status of their class, as if you demeaned yourself by actually becoming something. I thought the reason they felt this is you created life from the wild and uncertain ocean while they hugged the harbor and consumed the harvest of the sea. And the very poor were bitter, and people are raised with money and can become entitled because they expect to be taken care of, because other people have too much. Both groups have a contempt for an individual who has achieved. They always use what happened to them in life as an example, but the truth is: they are a bad example. And both groups when they’re young they justify being rude to the old by saying they have already lived their life and are being selfish, and if they are old, they are rude to the young and justify it by saying they don’t have much time left (And based on their behavior the outcome is probably true. they’re rude to old people by bThe exception to this rule is the spoiled youngest child who winds up living at home and is in his thirties and doesn’t amount to anything but becomes a caregiver to his parents and winds up being supported by them and expects them to leave him the house.

But I couldn’t agree with him about the middle class. I believe in following the inspiration and not being lost in the shadows. People say life is a dream and I agree with that in this way: the vision you see from your skull and the things you do is based on receiving a signal from an antenna that’s beyond your being, and if they antenna is gone, all the images in front of you turns to blackness, and you’re just a fading white dot in the middle. So get lost in the wonder of the mundane. I remember one time I didn’t want to go out with a girl because she was boring, and a friend said to me, “There’s an interesting reason why someone is boring.” So I guess the answer is what signal do you want to tune into and broadcast, so let the signal sound.

And I thought about aunts and uncles. My Uncle Frankie an overweight misshapen man who was balding had a moon-shaped head (a picked on as a kid and called “Moonie), and he never married, lived on the second floor of his mother;s house, and he worked some foundry job. I never saw an ugly man, a balding man, a fat man. I saw a man who loved me along with his other many nephews and nieces and knew all their birthdays and had envelopes stacked with their names and a five dollar bill inside each one with a birthday card. He was proud of being Polish. Maybe according to the artist he would be judge as being middle class who only thought of himself. But I remember my Uncle Frankie, sitting in a car by his pipe rack, a Daily News in his lap, watching the Yankees on TV, and giving me a box of Canadian Mints. Now how does that shape me just as much as reading a novel who knows. But his presence imparted  spirit to me. And where someone might have seen a misshaped man in a work jumpsuit with a lunch box, leaving a bus stop to heading to the blue-collar Polish world of Lyndhurst, New Jersey home.I see my Uncle Frankie and when I see someone who looks similar today, I don’t judge them because I hope they’re someone else’s Uncle Frankie.

I wouldn’t be me without the World of Uncle Frankie. Dust off your mind and find him within the spell of our dream. If we do it right, we never wake up because everything is an eye-opening experience that seals you mouth from passing judgment.

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