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May 22, 2013

Palimpsest

Everybody knows that times are tough. Nobody has any money, and the cost of living is climbing. The unions are getting busted, and the middle class is disappearing. This creates a significant problem on the municipal level. Our elected officials face a real challenge, trying to bring jobs to the city. I keep hearing about how Louisville should get an NBA team and how that would put a lot of money in our coffers.

That’s why we built the KFC Yum! Center, right? To bring money to the city. It was supposed to make a bucketful (heh heh), but then I heard it was coming up short on its projections. Makes me think somebody was optimistically cooking the books when they pitched the deal, but it’s all good, you know? If it don’t look like a dream come true from where you’re standing, maybe you just gotta change your perspective.

Last week, when I was standing in line to see the Dalai Lama, I started to think about how we could make some money by bringing some other activities to Louisville. I saw all those people standing out in the street and on the Clark Memorial Bridge, and I remembered a movie I saw when I was a kid that involved a cross-country road race where the drivers got points for wiping out pedestrians. There was a range of points given for different classes of people. I think old people with walkers were the most valuable or something.

That made me think about how people are always walking into intersections in downtown Louisville without looking up to see whether they have the light or not, and I got to thinking, we should get that race to come through Louisville and take out some of the disenfranchised losers who can’t follow traffic rules. Everybody knows that auto racing is big business with sponsorship and advertising; we could really clean up! Heck, the taxes generated by the funeral home business alone could cover a couple city employees’ salaries for a year, at least. It’s a no-brainer.

Later, as I was listening to the Dalai Lama, I started to feel ashamed for the way I was thinking. He was all about how world peace begins with the self, and how we share compassion one person at a time. I thought that was pretty ironic considering the size of the audience in the arena, but I wasn’t going to let that kill my buzz. I was all blissed out, thinking about how all the people were just doing their best and dealing with their pain any way they could and getting along, and maybe they had a good reason for walking out in front of a car against the light, and maybe they didn’t deserve to be mowed down for entertainment or corporate profit. Maybe I shouldn’t be driving a car! You know the carbon monoxide levels recently reached global extinction levels? We’ve really screwed the pooch with the burning of fossil fuels, you know? We should probably just start doing global hospice.

We’re all on our own terminal journey, and the Dalai Lama helped me recognize that everybody deserves compassion. That made me wonder who the worst people on earth might be and whether I could have compassion for them. Then, I remembered a story I saw on the Internet last week about how a group of men with Kalashnikov rifles broke into a wild animal sanctuary in Central African Republic and slaughtered 26 elephants (including four calves) and hacked their faces off so they could harvest the ivory in their tusks.

I try to present a light attitude and make a joke now and then; I like to laugh about stuff, even inappropriately at times, but this just blows my mind, and I couldn’t find anyway to feel compassionate about these … human beings. The photos of the dead elephants were absolutely disgusting, heartbreaking, demoralizing. My immediate feeling was that I didn’t want to be associated with a species that could include the perpetrators of such a horror, but what can I do? It’s not like I can wave my hand and turn myself into a more noble beast, and, honestly, if I were to do so, I’d just put myself on the list for more immediate extinction.

Ah, well, it’s a beautiful day. Anybody want to go for a walk?

For further consideration: Daniel Johnston’s “Hi, How Are You” and, of course, that second Neutral Milk Hotel album, the one about resurrection.