Sunday, November 6, 2022

ESOP or Restaurant Rethink

 

Po Boy views

By

Phil LaMancusa

ESOP

Or

Restaurant Re-think

        You DID know that some of the more successful companies in America are owned by the workers themselves (investopedia.com)? Some of these companies have multiple locations, with many employees, raking in beaucoup dollars and not hurting for staff that is willing and able to work for themselves for themselves. Some are food service and restaurant companies. What would it take for New Orleans local restaurants and businesses to think outside the box and applying this strategy for success and survival? Perhaps no one has thought of it? Not necessarily; multiple examples were set here over a half century ago, nowadays it could be chalked up to intransigence that keeps our economy and industries near comatose. Or maybe it’s the ‘I-Me-Me-Mine’ mentality that dissuades a company owned business from realizing that without workers that are dedicated selfishly to success, they have to ride herd on less than enthusiastic workers every day that they are operational.

        There are companies (including restaurant companies) that have given workers a say cooperatively in the running of THEIR business; giving them a pony in the race, you might say. There are a couple of places in New Orleans that are trying this philosophy out using a couple of different methods from the twentieth century that seemed radical then by simply realizing that it IS the Twenty-first century and it’s worth it to give it a shot. Let’s face it, at times survival depends on innovation; the willingness to take an existing strategy and bump it up. Why not try?

        Let’s put some lipstick on this pig. Say you have a small business, your staff adores you and your democratic/empathetic attitude toward them and their welfare; you don’t have staff, you have disciples. How many companies can say that? They see your vision and have made it a priority in their life for you to succeed; they have strived with you in hard times and now the light at the end of the tunnel is stability and not an oncoming train. You really want them to share in what you (with their help) have achieved. Do you give them a raise? Health benefits? A gym membership? A picture of Ben Franklin on a three by six piece of green paper? A big old sloppy kiss?

        Nah, you gather them together, maybe over dinner and drinks, and you say: “You know what kids? I could not have done this without you; without your dedication and loyalty! Would any of you mind if we formed an LLC in all of our names and went into business together? Yay, team!!

        Seem farfetched? Hard to imagine? It is, and no one in their right mind would dare think of doing something as crazy stupid as that, right? Heard of Bob’s Red Mill products? King Arthur flour products? It’s called ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). There’s Publix Super Markets; Brookshire Brothers Grocery Stores; Acadian Ambulance; examples from poultry processing to manufacturing to engineering firms; healthcare; supermarkets and construction companies all employee owned. Didn’t register on your radar? There are hundreds and hundreds, from who you buy your beer from (craftbeer.com) to where you dine out (jamesbeard.org), the numbers are rising. Obviously their workers believe that it’s better than just punching a heartless clock.

        Okay, look, you don’t just GIVE your company away; in some cases a worker has to show up a certain number of shifts a month to qualify; also a period of employment (say six months to a year) might be a requirement. It’s not like some Yayhoo can walk in off the street and become a stockholder, plus peer pressure would insure that only the right person would fit your/their owner attitude image. The Democracy At Work Institute defines a worker owned co-op as a “value driven business that puts worker and community at the core of its purpose”.

        Listen, I once had a restaurant with a partner that wasn’t compatible and sold my half to him. He ran the place into the ground, before he could manage to pay me and I stepped back in, to retrieve my money and found that his mismanagement of staff was at the core of up and coming failure. The staff and I worked our asses off to right the sinking venture and we did; to make a long story short, after six months we bought my partner’s share (for me) and I was so moved that I GAVE the restaurant to THEM. In fact, we had grown, through our collective efforts, to value and appreciate each other so much that we rented a big enough space so that we could all move in together. Had it not been for the landlord burning down the building we might still be together. And that was here in New Orleans! (albeit 50 years ago)

         Should you do it? I don’t recommend it. It takes a lot of work to be altruistic and self-effacing to that degree; it’s much easier to be a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ owner. You get to boss people around; hire and fire; give workers weird schedules that may conflict with their life and do it with aplomb. Drink up the profits if you want to; flirt with the staff; have someone else clean up after you; suspect everyone of stealing and give favors to whoever is best at kissing your ass and living up to YOUR standards and decisions no matter how inane they may be. It’s rough to be called to task by someone that is washing dishes, waiting on tables or writing checks to purveyors just because you reserved the right to “change plans at any time you deem appropriate” (Elon Musk). It’s difficult to be told by the janitor that your attitude and actions are counterproductive.

        Better to be a boss, I say. Why share? You’re no messiah; besides, who likes you that much anyway?  

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Hope fiend

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Hope Fiend

Or

I Don’t Get It

        “Breaking away to the other side, I wanna make sense of why we live and die; I don’t get it: I don’t get it; I don’t get it.” wails Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies. When I hear that, my mind also wails, twenty-two percent of the time or 4.5%.

        We’ve become a society of facts, figures and statistics adrift and seeking to find a foothold in our collective semi-conscious mental states of ennui: 45 million people affected by a cold front; 50% chance of an earthquake; Senator Fancy pants has an approval rating of 42% and the interest rate goes up again ¾ of a point. Aaron Judge (Jersey #99) hits home run number 62 this season (making 220 career) and makes history but Barry Bonds (#s 24, 25) still holds the record of 762. The Dow Jones has slipped and the S&P has fallen; “and the race is on and here comes pride on the outside…”

        Somalia car bomb kills 100, wounds 400; Seoul, Korea stampede kills 150 injures hundreds; a bridge collapses in India kills 141; the Palestinians fighting the Jews, 16 dead; Ukraine staving off another invasion and people are dying by the thousands; a gunman opens fire in an elementary school and slaughters in double digits; millions are starving in Africa; hurricane Ian is the hardest to hit Florida since 1935. And we head into 2023 with the same hope as 2022: “Dear Lord, please make this a better year”; the Devil chuckles and I get to use another semicolon.

        The Book of Revelations lists the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Conquest, War, Famine and Death; it seems that there is a Fifth Horseman and it is us, and for no apparent reason, we still hope for better times. Sometimes it makes me want to throw up. The odds are against us eight to five and climbing.

        Buddha’s Brain wants us to practice the science of happiness, peace and wisdom and still we raise animals to slaughter; we poison our bodies, minds and environment; we send our children into harm’s way and for no apparent reason we hope for the best in our lives and for our loved ones. I don’t get it. We believe and follow leaders that only serve themselves and the highest bidder keeping them in office by voting for the loudest voice or someone who talks as smooth as cream cheese on a bagel. We know the names of the players on our local football team better that those of our representatives in congress. Our attention span and reading levels are…. what was I gonna say? Oh, just this: we’re acting like we’re stupid and we know it.

        Renouncing ego seems the way to go; however, in this dog eat dog rat race where we work like beavers just to keep our head above water when we’re up to our asses in alligators; it’s hard to remember that our goal was to join in the Peace River Freedom Swim.

        Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, what’s to keep us from going emotionally comatose when it all seem to be an uphill battle; how are we to maintain a positive outlook on life? Hope. Hope and the way we view life, the Universe and everything; not taking our quality for life for granted and uniquely subjective. Realizing that everything is relative like the sun and the moon and the stars; and how we react to a beautiful sunset or the tiniest of flowers could possibly bring about world peace.

        Some wise guy said “I will tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” implying that the way that we’re living should not be our default PDF state. Chew on that a moment.  

        Here’s the point; in the quest to relieve the adverse effects that bring about disappointment, disillusionment, heartache, misery and soul sucking pain in our lives because of greed and ego, we collectively are advised to follow these three simple steps to achieve a happy and forever existence: Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action (a practical guideline for ethical and mental development designed to free us from attachments and delusions).

        Think about it. If you don’t have anything good to say, shut the pie hole; swallow that negativity and eventually you’ll begin to stop your negative thoughts (not as simple as it sounds, and it takes a lot of practice). Once you’ve gone beyond the keeping your mouth shut and follow up with thinking pleasanter thoughts, you’ll find your outlook on life changing and indeed, your very life and actions.

        Listen, you don’t wake up with a hangover, in a strange bed with a three legged dog, an empty bourbon bottle and a mouth that tastes like a garbage truck has emptied itself on you; tongue asleep, itchy teeth and you remember not only are you still living with your mother, but you vaguely recall calling up your employer last night and telling them to stick your job and salary where the sun don’t shine. When that happens to you…again, you may want to consider the concept of cause and effect.

        You don’t just happen to wake up naked across the hood of your car with the ignition key stuck in your butt without it (situations) starting somewhere with the exact wrong decision that you’ve made before but refused to learn because you didn’t think, thought that it was gonna be fun or this time you hoped the outcome would be different. You don’t get it, do you? Hope is not enough.

        It’s 2023 folks; time to wake ourselves and the world up and get our act together because this world, with you in it, is going to hell in a hand basket and no one can save it but you (and you, and you and me) Get it? Got it? Good.

          

 

Dead Restaurants in New Orleans

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

I Restauranti Morti

Or

Dead Cafés

        March 11th 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic. March 15, 2020 states begin to implement shutdowns in order to prevent the spread. The shutdowns included schools, commerce, the service industry, trade and other retail businesses considered ‘inessential’; about two years later, one million Americans were dead and so was food and beverage (‘from farm to tombstone’, as they say). In the country in general and in New Orleans specifically, the thin line between effort and reward was quickly erased.

        Immediately if not sooner, the government began a program called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, The American Rescue Plan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act which put money into the pockets of workers affected by not having any work to go to. 43 agencies took part in giving nearly $4,000,000,000,000.00 to keep folks in food, clothing and shelter. The Paycheck Protection Program gave away no cost loans to “essential” businesses that needed to remain open so that folks could spend that gravy from the government train; unfortunately with the pandemic worldwide the supply chain came off the rails and “essential” goods and services came to a standstill along with wholesale household, food, electronic and repair supplies. Rent, mortgage, insurance and utility bills DID keep coming and restaurants in New Orleans fell like circus clowns in a mud pool rope pulling contest.

        Just when light appeared at the end of a long dark tunnel along came hurricane Ida and every eatery ate dirt; multiple closings (and re-openings) during erratic/sporadic COVID lockdown periods took a financial toll everywhere. Some restaurants never got back to their knees, let alone feet; as one owner put it “I’ve reopened, shut down, reopened and shut down again and lost entire inventories and staff four times and (sigh) I just can’t do it anymore; I’m throwing in the towel.”

        Some managed to hang on for six or eight months; however, many eateries are not many payrolls away from bankruptcy. Many an entrepreneur will tell you that the best way to go broke is to open a restaurant; the mortality rate is one of the highest of endeavors. For large and (especially) small eateries the prognosis was obvious: if the supply chain, labor shortages, pandemic restrictions, electrical outages and spotty trash pickups didn’t get you, the hurricane (Ida) will take the grim and ironic humor (the usual attitude of a New Orleanian if there ever was one) out of desperate and hopeless situations. We watched some of our favorite restaurant’s tail lights gleam and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house; some just walked and others ran away. One owner said it was like watching your childhood dreams die. Yes, it was that bad.

        People that did not experience Katrina do not get visceral feelings when that subject comes up; likewise Newer Orleanians will not wax nostalgic when someone plays that ‘Ain’t dere no more’ game: Rosedale,  Cake Café, Meauxbar, Emeril’s Delmonico, Upperline, Arrow Café or Saint Charles Tavern’.

         Some stalwarts tried comebacks; L’il Dizzy’s Café on Esplanade died and was reborn, as was Couvant; Kebab on Saint Claude made a go with new ownership; Mimi’s in the Marigny is still MIA; the last Semolina finally bit the dust; Nine Roses in the Quarter called it quits on the East bank. Nacho Mama’s; Seed; Sammy’s; Polly’s; The Bordeaux; The Standard and you know more than I do which isn’t where it was and ought to be. Kingfish is just gaining ground after its hiatus; is Mahoney’s open yet? It’s a shame, sad and downright unfair for this to happen to us. As they say: “It ain’t ought to be like this; it’s like being erased.”

        I’ve been in New Orleans on and off over forty years and I can count on all the fingers of the Saints Cheer Krewe how many businesses that served my soul, spirit and appetite have shut down, closed, but still remain a topic of conversation when likeminded friends gather over a glass and recount the food that made us fall in love again and again (and again) with New Orleans.

        The good news is that eateries like Phoenixes rise from ashes, newly transformed for the new days here and ahead; wide eyed innocents and business savvy veterans will take that FOR RENT sign down add a coat of fresh paint and open a new venture that will face all of the time worn challenges of their predecessors; with the same faith and optimism: Bisutoro; Pomelo; Queen Trini-Lis; Cru; Jamaican Jerk House: Leo’s Bakery; Zee’s Pizzeria; Margot’s all vying for a place in your favor, attention and love. And what’s not to love?  

        The sad news is that there will never be another K-Paul’s Restaurant and sadder still is that any of our most welcome newbies will look at us as if we are some kind of weird to be obsessed with recalling flavors and foods that have passed into the otherworld of gestation and olfactory memory; someday, someone will open a restaurant called Orpheus that will bring back those memorable dishes. Do you remember Buster Holmes’ Red Beans; Kolb’s Sauerbraten; Morrison’s Deluxe Cornbread Pecan Dressing; the stuffed pepper and potato salad that came with the Chicken Platter at Chez Helene, the Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at the Bon Ton Café or what was the name of that little place in the French Quarter that served a fried oyster and roast beef with gravy combo po-boy and called it a Bear Sandwich or what was that joint on Broad Street that deep fried (breaded) their dressed Po-Boy? You see what I started?

        Three things I’ve learned: cherish (and support) your favorite eateries for they also may fade someday; try new places to add more favorites to your memories and The Wu Tang Clan ain’t nuthin’ to @#$%&!* with!

         

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

New Orleans Cemeteries

  

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Dead End

Or

Six Feet Above

        For sure, there are forty-two cemeteries in the New Orleans area, and daily, people are dying to get into them; but, as you can imagine it’s still first come first served. Even considering the fact that death is such an inconvenience and, in my thoughts, a grave mistake, folks keep doin’ it and we keep burying them. Or we burn them into ashes and send them home in an urn or a box to be shelved with the canned tomatoes.

        Some will say: “In New Orleans we don’t just bury our dead, we send them off with a party, music, and dancing in the streets.” That’s kinda true. In a traditional Jazz Funeral here, the dearly departed are accompanied to their final rest with a brass band, the family in the front line and the well wishers in the second line; the music is at a slow cadence until the body is laid to rest and then the band breaks into celebratory music as the soul is set free of its earthly bonds and the party moves on to the proper ‘wake’. There’s dancing and drinking and so much carrying on that folks here almost look forward to Old Aunt Rose kicking the bucket. Or not.

        Cemeteries here are class conscious to be sure. The higher classes go to Metairie where there’s higher ground and they can be buried under it. The notorious and the famous prefer St. Louis Cemetery #1 where although they’re buried above ground at least they are among their peers. The indigent get kicked to the curb in another place and make due as they can; I have one friend that says that she’d rather be buried “in Holt cemetery with them hookers and homeless than there with them muckity-mucks in town!”

        Even with the fact that some people only rent tombs and some single burial plots can have upwards of twenty or more family members interred, it’s a tradition to dress someone in their finest so they can be laid out to rot. I can’t figure that one out. The rental plots are those iconic two level affairs where the casket is allowed to repose for a year and a day; after that time, a worker with a long pole pushes that which has not disintegrated with time and the tropic climate down a hole in the back of the second floor into the space below, giving rise to the adage of derision: “I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole” (or so the story goes).

        You can’t swing a cat here without hitting a cemetery and all the best folk are spread around like gossip: Marie Laveau (the Voodoo Queen) and Doctor John are night trippin’ in Saint Louis Cemetery #1 outside the French Quarter along with Homer Plessy, Etienne de Bore (the sugar king)  and The-not-yet-dead–but-has-a–tomb Nicholas Cage. Saint Louis #2 has Ernie K. Doe (but not his mother in law) and Paul Prudhomme is buried largely in Saint Louis #3.

        Mount Olivet near Dillard University is swingin’ with Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and rapper Soulja Slim; while Pete Fountain and Al Hirt are backing up Mahalia Jackson and Gram Parsons’ charred remains in Metairie along with the ‘Queen of the Storyville Madams’ Josie Arlington looking fondly on. If you’re into rather large prosthetic limbs, crutches, and eye glasses displayed visit the gothic revival chapel at Saint Roch Cemetery #1.

        Unlike at the more ornate ‘Cities of the Dead’, Holt Cemetery has most of their inhabitants buried underground; filled to capacity with New Orleans indigent, homeless and fringe society one-time denizens, it can be depressing and haunting until you consider the probable Devil-may-care lives led by those that wind up there; and among the wooden crosses, hand lettered planks and even unmarked mounds of earth Babe Stovall, Buddy Bolden, Jack Working, Jessie Hill, Robert Charles and countless Ladies of the Evening are cavorting with, at last count, at least 1,400 military veterans and don’t really give a rat’s whisker what you think of them. As a side note: Huey P. Long is buried in Baton Rouge and New Orleans favorite son Louis Armstrong decided he’d rather go underground in Queens, New York.

        We take an almost morbid fascination here with our cemeteries, films are shot in them, tours are given of them, rituals and macabre rites are performed in them and not one person I know doesn’t believe that spirits will rise in them at any given moment; when I read Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place, I considered it not so much as a piece of fiction but as a documentary.

        Dying isn’t enough for a person here; it’s never the end. Anyone that has ever ‘gotten’ New Orleans will believe that when it’s time to shuffle off this mortal coil their last thoughts will be “I ain’t goin’ nowhere!” and will find themselves as another of the myriad of ghosts, spirits and phantasmagoria here that share the spaces of those still weighed down with human flesh. Don’t believe it if you don’t want to, but come sit a spell in one of our ‘Cities of the Dead’ and bring a lunch; I guarantee that you’ll feel a tap on your shoulder, an unlikely bit of breeze or get the feeling of being watched, especially if that meal is some Brother’s fried chicken, and you can leave the bones for the myriad of felines that cohabitate with our dearly not so departed.

        I read the obituaries daily to see if I’m in them; it would just be like my friends not to let me know that I’ve gone over my own Rainbow Bridge; will I be united with all the people from my past? Maybe not. Could I possibly reconnect with all the critters that I’ve shared my life with? I’m counting on it.

Kleine-Levin Syndrome

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Disambiguation

Or

Unfulfilled Closure

        “Long you live and high you fly; smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry; and all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.” (Pink Floyd: Breathe)      

        There was a film in 1993 starring Bill Murray titled “Groundhog Day”, in which he relived the same day over and over and over again; this article is not about that. This is more about platitudes and the Kleine-Levin Syndrome.

        Is it telling that we cremate loved ones and put them up on shelves instead of burying them? Consider: “So, there’s good old whatshisname (in the box/jar/urn), up there next to the San Marzano canned tomatoes” or: “over by the window (the better for them to enjoy the sunrise/set) atop their copy of Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet” or perhaps they have their own shelf, an altar if you will, with maybe a battery operated perpetual candle, a bell, a book, maybe some plastic flowers, seashells, a chance for us to grieve in little increments as we get on with our busy life. A chance to look back and then a chance to back away… what’s done is done.

        The alternative, of course, would have been a hole in the ground or an upper berth in a corner mausoleum where we could’ve wailed, tore our hair, rent our clothing and maybe thrown ourselves (despondent) on top of the casket before it was lowered (or raised). A visit now and then would be in order. A chat, perhaps some freshening of the site, throw pillows, more flowers. “Boohoo, I miss you” and time marches on.

        “and then one day, you find… ten years have got behind you; no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun” (Pink Floyd: Time)

        Face it, nobody’s perfect, we’re somnambulating through most of our lives and are roused by reminders of what we missed, times we had and situations we have left unresolved and…. some that we have buried (or left unburied). And then we hellishly try to catch up. We wake to find that time has passed, years maybe; the kids have grown; we’re no longer young; it was just there the other day and suddenly “it ain’t dere no more”; who knows where the time goes? The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon; little boy blue and the man in the moon. We can only do what we can do.

        Gurus tell you: ‘Be Here Now’; an ex-alcoholic: ‘One day at a time’; Yogis recommend: ‘meditation and repetition of your mantra’; your bartender will tell you to ‘go sleep it off’; your shrink asks ‘how you feel about it’ and your family will pose: ‘what the hell is wrong with you?’ Grandma offers cookies. Your BFF takes you to lunch. Meher Baba says: “Don’t worry, be happy”.

        We were so ahead of ourselves that we we’re the ones that were left behind. We sometimes meet ourselves coming back from where we’re going and may become momentarily discombobulated: impulse full power; boomeranged and deranged. I’m so confused. “There’s someone in my head but it’s not me” (Brain Damage 1973)

        Asleep at the wheel as life passes us by? Not quite; it’s more like we’re paying so much attention to the bumps; potholes; road debris; reckless drivers; stop signs; school zones; detours on our life’s highways. So much to do, so little of it getting done and there it all is in the rear view mirror and I’m coming up on things I need to do now and I’m on overload and I need a nap!

        Okay, so now let’s examine the Kleine-Levin Syndrome, sometimes called Sleeping Beauty Sickness; it’s not common enough to be in our faces except that it can appear in a varying functional degrees. Sleeping 20-22 hours a day, sometimes for weeks, months and in some cases up to a year; getting up to gorge, exercise bodily functions (such as bowel movements)  and/or increased sexual impulses; confusion, befuddlement, anxiousness, sometimes exhibiting violent behavior and then back to sleep. At times having to be told what went on in the world and life while unconscious. I posit that there is a distinct possibility that we all have it to some extent. You close your eyes for a moment, perhaps you feel like napping in the afternoon, you fall asleep on a bus, in a car, at a movie: time marches on; where did you go when the world went on without you? Away? Where is ‘Away’ anyway?

        When one door closes… I often think that if I wasn’t reminded by environment and familiarity of people present when I woke in the morning that I wouldn’t know who I am and where I am and what the hell I was doing in this place; then I awake, recognize some stuff and I’m back to being who I am in this reality, “if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why can’t I?” (Dorothy). Where do I go in my daydreams, in my nightmares? And there I am remembering that I’m late with a bill or birthday card. “Curiouser and curiouser” (Alice); why?

        Because. The fact that you don’t get to use the limitless potential of your brain and intelligence doesn’t mean that it doesn’t strive to be used; that goes for your emotions, feelings and spiritual development. Your brain goes into overdrive and for no apparent reason you’re drained of energy. It’s a call to step back, like it or not; but you say: “there’s so much I have to do!”

                I say “don’t take the rap!” Sometimes you just have to “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together” (Elizabeth Taylor)  or: “Drink some coffee, put on some gangster rap and handle it.” (Martina Simonova) or just sit back and let things work out. Remember, this ain’t a contest; you’re doing the best that you can. Do what you do; you got this.

       

 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Emperor's Naked

 

It seems that these days are some of the darkest that we’ve seen; that wherever we turn, things are not turning out righteous and still we hope. We pray that “Whenever one person stands up and says ‘wait a minute, this is wrong’ it will help other people to do the same” (Anon). And yet no one will admit the Emperor has no clothes.

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Dreamer

Or

What’s Goin’ On?

        How old am I? I was old when groups like the Raspberries, Strawberry Alarm Clock and The 1910 Fruitgum Company were making money with bad beats and childish lyrics. I was old when The Doors, Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin) made my head explode; and, I was still older when Industrial, Heavy Metal, Electronic, Hip Hop, Rap and Woke music snuck their way into my aural aura. I digested folk music at an early age; I swooned over progressive jazz in my formative years and I get misty on classical and symphonic music. I am at peace with that Eastern Raga; and I jump up and kiss Reggae tunes. Country and Western music and Rhythm and Blues really can get me going and I can sing along with Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke ‘til the train rolls in. All of which makes me a well rounded and dedicated revolutionary; who better equipped to rail against the machine?

        Add to that that I am an insatiable reader of just as many genres as the music that I listen to; I disappeared into books when I was young like someone running into the woods and have not returned yet. I was born old and have only gotten younger and more energetic with each trip around the sun and my getting younger does not mean that I’ve gotten naive (quite the opposite). I have seen and have an aversion to cruelty, injustice and the self serving hypocrisy, misogyny and the mendacity of people who, through no consent of mine, believe themselves fit and in charge of the health and well being of more than themselves; bastards all.

        You see, basically you cannot have all that stuff running around in your veins and gray cells without thinking that there should be something done to end this madness and insanity in the day to day living on this planet that only gets weirder and more hurtful as months and years pass. I can give you so many examples; however, good taste has my avoiding topics in my rants that include sex, politics and religion. You, as astute as you are, can read between the lines and put context with my content to your hearts delight.

        The average age of our readership is well below my half lifetime and I wonder if not experience and exposure hath not made my little outlook less rosy and/or sanguine. Youngsters might consider that I, as well as other geezers have been witness to events and condition that are possibly unimaginable to a younger generation: abject racism, sexism, fires, floods, storms, wars, assassinations, civil liberties fought for and won (or lost), earthquakes, devastations and defeats of all stripes; and that that might tend to drizzle a bit on an oldster’s current outlook, but know that under it all, I maintain a Quixotic sense that good will triumph over evil no matter the scars that we must carry forth for our efforts, no matter how many times “heaven calls in sick on me and let hell’s claws bust through these doors. Love still lives here” (Robert J. Sherrah). Amen.

        So, this month will be full of storms and as I live and breathe I can assure you that at times it will seem like “cheer up things could be worse” is only an assurance that even when you cheer up, things get worse. If you’ve been paying attention at all and not so busy trying to keep your life from falling apart physically, mentally and emotionally you’ll have seen the clouds on the horizon looking like the storm of your existence is about to blow this house to the Kingdom of L. Frank Baum where your spirit will be risked at great expense. There will be times when someone will tell you “you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet” and have it sound like an omen; and, of course it is, but they only say that because their memory has not let go of their experiences, good or not good.

        The only challenge with that is they are not you; you are the warrior, no matter your age. In essence we’re all living with our own battle of good versus evil and it’s up to us to keep up the fight; the powers that have taken it upon themselves to make decisions about our health and welfare need to be kept challenged on a constant basis no matter how tiring and frustrating it may be. The bastards need that power taken away from them.

        I say, pay attention to that person behind the curtain; would you have tea, buy a car, take a pill, or vote with confidence for them? Would you invite them into your house, share a meal or a bed with them; trust your children or your money with them; trust and let them tell you what’s best for you and not what they can benefit from?

        Listen, there’s a story going around about a small country that has been invaded by and is at war with a power far superior in assets and weaponry than they and yet they fight for their land, freedom and dignity. The world watches and tries to support their efforts and still they’re getting their asses kicked royally. And still they fight. How could you let complacency allow you to be less than them in your personal life? And yes, I said that this piece would avoid discourse on sex, politics and religion; I lied, he is naked.

       

               

 

 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Old and in The Way

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

The Silenced Minority

Or

Who Needs Me?

Look at the poor Sad Sack on the corner standing in traffic with a cardboard sign:

Old And In The Way”.

Help Feed Me, I Fed You”.

“God Bless”.

See that guy? He used to be a famous chef, now nobody wants him; I guess they think he’s too old to cut the mustard. Give him a buck.

In 2016, 23% of adults in this country were older than 60; that percentage is estimated to grow by 28% by next year (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published in 2018).  From 2006-2016 the percentage went up 36%. That means today there are over 68,700,000 geezers lurking about; almost one in four American citizens and the numbers are going up. I am in that number and sooner or later (Lord willing and if the virus don’t gitcha) you will be too. Note: this age group is growing because we’re taking better care of ourselves, being healthy equals a longer life. There are almost 50,000,000 officially ‘retired’ Americans out there (dgydj.com)  taking up valuable oxygen, real estate and bathroom facilities and giving back bupkis.

One in three Americans are under 19 years old, which figures out, if you’ve follow my math, that 45% of Americans are doing 100% of the work not done by migrants, and the rest of us are dead weight.  We could round up all the kids and geezers send them to a third world country, build a wall… (wait, didn’t somebody already think of that?) Until that time you’re stuck with us, so why not put us to work? I’m not advocating child labor (although it wouldn’t hurt some of these miscreants), but I’m sure for seeing more gray hair in the work force.

One of the things most retirees have in common is that we feel we’re relegated out to pasture, unemployed, underutilized, retired, and wasted. Most of us miss having a job, we’d like to work, get that paycheck and spend disposable income contributing to our sense of self worth, dignity and the economy; however --- and here’s a big however --- there is age discrimination when it comes to hiring processes, and even though we have more experience and wisdom (hopefully), we’re passed over without pause for someone young, dumb and full of flowing body fluids. Do employers think we’re gonna stroke out on their watch?

Perhaps subconsciously they realize that us older folks know from experience how much of a screwing inexperienced younger employees are apt to get when it comes to making a fair wage, working a reasonable schedule.  Also we know the value that comes when the person that you answer to relates to you from logic and not from their ego/libido; ergo: when it comes to laboring in wacko circumstances we’re more likely to leave than suck it up or stick it out. We’ve been there and done that, know that there’s no future in abuse and, as opposed to our younger counterparts, we don’t come cheap or easy.

Well, sure you might say that unemployment is the lowest it’s been in decades and there just might not be room for older folks to take jobs that the young need to get a jump start on the future as they see it; yet, the majority of jobs out there being filled are for low wage poor or no benefit temporary or part time positions and a person having two or three jobs does not mean three jobs, it means one person working three times as hard. The amount of people that have stopped looking for jobs and are off the rolls of the unemployed also brings down the unemployment statistics. I’ve researched and it appears to me that wages have not increased in the last couple of decades to match the rising cost of living and neither has workers equality or benefits. Yes, unemployment is down; but, the same numbers of people are working. Get it? 45%? We have created a culture of massive amounts of underpaid overworked bees and a few rich bitch queens.

 In America, food service and drinking place jobs were up over two and a half times in 2019. Louisiana has the third highest unemployment rate in the country at 4.9% (USA Today), yet there is a shortage of skilled labor jobs being filled; we’re busy taking that second job slinging hash and beer.

 5,600,000 people are either working part time jobs or are just marginally attached to employment, average weekly hours is 34.4 hours (U.S. Department of Labor 11/19).

In Louisiana we have only an 82% high school graduation rate and 20% illiteracy rate (worldatlas.com).  I suspect there are many skilled workers that have retired or been sent to pasture who are needed in our work force, heaven knows, we’re not skilling our children, we’re graduating dishwashers. I want to re-enter the job market as a retired skilled worker, I’ll leave the unskilled job market alone, god knows there are people desperate enough to take those jobs; And if I’m as old as the person who’ll be your President (and you elect them for four years), I should be more than viable!

So, the answer to my dilemma is simple: raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, insure income equality and freeze housing prices. From the bottom in this country Louisiana is third in poverty, fourth in income inequality and seventh in medium household income; blacks average half the income whites earn (labudget.org).

By doing those things more people will quit their second jobs, moms will stay home with the kids, the economy will realistically boom. Greedy bosses will have to live with a fair profit and I’ll get back to work; believe me, finding a lucrative corner to work is not as easy as you might think, although with the current health crisis it might be the only safe place to be.