City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

How Soon We Forget


To recoup, the capitalist class unleashed an attack against working people. Real wages, especially for the unorganized majority, have been cut; speed-up, lack of safety and other declining conditions have become a fact of life at work. In addition, the quality of life: of social services, of the cities, of the natural envi­ronment has decayed….The all-too-evident flight of capital only hammers this point home. Working class people feel powerless, hostage to the needs of capital accumulation and profit.

In this situation it is understandable, though not defen­sible, that sections of the working class should try to protect themselves at the expense of the weaker sections. This is the main source of the drift to the right in the work­ing class. The process is not always conscious. But insofar as people are really unable to act as a class and are not tak­ing on the capitalists, they are unlikely to adopt a class struggle world view to solve their problems. There is then every temptation to see society as made up not of two classes in opposition but of individuals competing on the market. This outlook does correspond to one aspect of capitalist reality: for workers are not only collective pro­ducers with a common interest in taking collective control over social production. They are also individual sellers of labor power in conflict with each other over jobs, promo­tions. etc. This individualistic point of view has a critical advantage in the current period: in the absence of class against class organization, it seems to provide an alterna­tive strategy for effective action—a sectionalist strategy which pits one layer of workers against another.

It appears possible for the stronger sections of the work­ing class to defend their positions by organizing on the basis of already existing ties against weaker, less-organized sections. They can take advantage of their posi­tion as Americans over and against foreigners, as whites over and against blacks, as men over and against women, as employed over and against unemployed, etc. In so do­ing, working people may act initially only out of what they perceive to be their most immediate self-interest. But over time they inevitably feel the pressure to make sense of these actions and they adopt ideas which can make their actions reasonable and coherent. These ideas are, of course, the ideas of the right.
–from Johanna and Robert Brenner, “Reagan, the Right and the Working Class,” Against the Current, 1981 (H/T Verso Books)


I was checking out at Pep Boys and gave the cashier my phone number so he could look up my discount card.

Him: “Maurice?”

Me: “Uh, no.”

I gave him an alternate number, which worked.

Me: ” ….some people call me Maurice.”

Him: “Really?”

Me: “Uh, no, I, uh–not really.”

And I realized he was in fact young enough that I would need to explain the Steve Miller Band.

Full Employment

we wanted

we got
William Darity


Scenes from a Fluffya, September 2016


Crazy looking guy on Market Street to random passersby: “Do you speak Spanish?”

Me walking by: “No sé.”

Him yelling: “Al España!!” (or something like that)

“I cot my right hand because I had the mark of the beast!”
-Latino man missing his right hand, walking through City Hall shouting while waving his stump in the air.
(In other words, like the hungry freak in the 1968 classic (Dick Clark-produced) Psych-Out, he thought it was possessed, so he cut it off.)


South Philly coworker re: Dunkin Donuts coffee: “It tastes like dishwooder.”


Two Latinas talking to a gringa friend on 17th Street: “There’s a saying in Spanish, don’t try to shit above your asshole.”


Schizophrenic black woman walking down Market Street: “BLEH BLEH BLEH BLEH!”

White European male to other white European male: “Welcome to the US!”

(I think they were Dutch. In other words, descendants of the peoples who invented the word “apartheid,” encountering a traumatized person of color rendered completely incoherent, interpreting this accordingly as an American phenomenon. Hey, Johannes, it’s called een spiegel!)


A white-bearded man wearing a baseball cap that says JESUS is handing out pamphlets about JESUS on the corner of Broad and Walnut.

Me walking up to him: (eagerly) “Is it drugs?” (glancing down at his handful of pamphlets, with disappointment) “Oh–sorry.”


Tattooed Wawa cashier to really pregnant blonde: “Ay, almost showtime!! Your first, your second, or what -?!”


Most bizarre hustle ever: man sitting on Abbott’s crate on street corner, to random woman walking by: “Hey, my Pop just died this mornin’, Baby Girl!”


Bonus: awesome hip hop version of a BABY ON BOARD sign spotted in the Walmart Cherry Hill parking lot (see photo).

Hippie Ghost


Timothy Leary’s dead
no I mean he’s
really dead
the way you turn
from me
when you
light up

Timothy Leary’s Dead poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Karl Marx’s 23rd Dream

when Dayton became
too expensive
it went
to Chennai
& when
Chennai became
too expensive
it went
to Manila
& when
Manila became
too expensive
it went
to prison
& when
prison became
too expensive
we gave it away
for free

The Sixties

if you went to a
Zed Leprosy concert
you weren’t really

far out

do you remember the
moon children
with poppies in the
tanks of their

was I you
were you me
were we what we were

who owns this past
if it wasn’t ever



Blessed are those with visions!
said Sandhu Sundar Singh,
for they walk out of darkness into heaven
the light of the Lord
the inconceivable real!

Blessed are those without visions!
said Baba Yaga,
for they sleep at night where there are no stars
& wake where there are no dreams

Baba Yaga as depicted by Ivan Bilibin (1902) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


we bury our differences
in the beat
until we’re

the world is a mask
a drug

we dance until the
moon comes

Words of Love

Words of Love.jpg

Raza told me
I could seduce any woman
with the words
there will be two moments in my life:
when you walked into my life
& when you walked out of it
two moments
a beginning and an end
only why must everything

Cass Elliot told me
if you love her then you must send her
somewhere where she’s never
been before
two ways to the Buddha
words of love
& the open road

every beginning has an end

what Raza meant was,
eventually she won’t
come back