Sunday, July 27, 2008

Public transportation in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Saint Charles Folly
There’s Nuthin’ Happening Here
To all my friends that haven’t seen me in a while: I’ve taken employment uptown. I know, I must be nuts, but it’s a good job and only has two drawbacks. 1. It takes me away from my beloved French Quarter many hours a day and (b) having given up private transportation; I must rely on public.
Rely probably isn’t the operative word here. One cannot rely on something as nebulous as a trolley schedule and, at the end of the day (and the beginning and middle), those rumbling sardine cans rarely keep a schedule that logic and reason can fathom. Also, I seem to posses the unique talent for getting to the corner just in time to see the darn thing leave without me. Perfect.
Waiting for the next car (that’s what they call trolleys) can be maddening, especially in inclement weather and after dark when there’s no light to read by. It’s an especial challenge when I see from three to eight of the beasts going in the opposite direction before one comes going my way. Sometimes the fifteen minutes between cars, that the company promises, turns into forty-five or more.
Try waiting thirty minutes, watching one uptown car after another go by, it’s raining, there’s no shelter, your not dressed properly for the sudden chill and the car that stops for you explains that he’s only going to Lee Circle. And another twenty minutes passes before you can catch one going your way and finally get out of the wet and the cold. It borders on cruel and unusual punishment.
It seems to me, in my pea-brained intelligence, that, if we can time the movement of heaven, earth and the very stars themselves, then running a Municipal Railway shouldn’t be rocket surgery. Needless to say, I have a lot of time to think as I undertake my daily odysseys.
I was thinking about how, in the old days, you could stick out your thumb and easily catch a ride; and how, that ride would be more often than not with a longhair like you. Not so today.
Well, what happened to those happy hippies in their flying Volkswagens, with peace and ecology stickers, playing loud Rock and Roll heralding the coming revolution and vows to save the world with nothing more than the love in our hearts? I’ll tell you. At least fifty-one percent of them went over to the dark side.
Think about it and humor an old fart. In the sixties and seventies we didn’t just disapprove of war, ecological suicide and greed: we marched against it! We didn’t just sit back and let the status quo get off with easy victories at the polls we protested!
Our music told us that we had “questions about hate and death and war”, and that the Times They Were A Changin’ because we knew that we were on the Eve Of Destruction and that “it’s been a long time comin’ but I know a change is gonna come”. Each group was musically subversive.
A lot of us sat in at lunch counters, refused to sit in the back of the bus, sang songs and carried signs. A lot of us got our asses kicked and some lost their lives; where are all those children now? I’ll tell you.
They work for special interest groups that rape and rip off our planet and people. They’ve formed religious coalitions that espouse an expeditious hastening to their heavenly home that can come only after the destruction of our planet and all of it’s resources. And some, having lost all the fight in them, sit by bathed in ennui and complacency and allow it to happen without using their hard won vote and voice to change things. They never dare speak a word aloud about any insanity.
How many of you know that this administration refuses to accept and comply with other governments that are concerned with global warning? How many know about human slavery still existing, both economically and physically?
How many of you read about genocide, hunger, ignorance, poverty, violence and hatred and sit by, not raising a voice? How many of you know that we are destroying the only planet we have in the name of ‘economic stability’?
We murder animals and eat them. We buy gas-guzzlers for the tax incentives while the government reaps huge profits on the tariffs that they impose on gasoline sales. We roll finely shredded vegetable matter in thin paper, place it in our mouths, light it on fire and die of cancer. CEOs reap millions while children go to sleep hungry…in America!
Another example: if you own a car (at least in my neighborhood) you pay out the wazoo for gas, insurance and upkeep. Furthermore, you run the risk of being given tickets by parking Nazis that don’t even work for your city. Towing, stealing, breaking and entering, keying, antenna damage and that jerk from out of state that uses it for a urinal or worse, some homeless or street person using your bumper for a latrine are also considerations. For what? So you can go to work and work and work; without health benefits, equal pay for equal work, a threat on your Social Security and the possibility of your kid coming home maimed or wounded as a reward for fighting in a war that we started? In my day, ‘Supporting The Troops’ meant ‘Bring Them Home!’
Chase the American Dream like a dog chases its tail and hope only that you live long enough to see your kids through college and your house paid for and, I’ll tell you what. You have violated everything that we fought for forty years and more ago: the responsibility of changing the world for the better.
I have no pension, no benefits, no 401K and I’ll probably pay rent for the rest of my life. Yet I still listen to the old music; and yes, I’m the guy waiting for the trolley in the rain. What’s more; if I ain’t got nuthin’ nice say… I’ll say it anyway!

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