Times Square|image by Eleanor Tomczyk 2012
Do you know what I’ve discovered? The first third of my life I was just trying to survive, the middle of my life I was simply trying to “get along” and almost lost my soul, and now that I’m entering the final phase of my life, I plan to kick some ass on behalf of truth and on behalf of those who don’t have a voice.
I went to New York City recently and returned with a new moniker: Dalai Mama. I was baptized with that name by a young man who is on his way to becoming my future son-in-law and I like it! (TRANSLATION: Dalai Mama—she tells you the searing truth whether you want to hear it or not.) It is from that perspective and newly-crowned status that I rolled into New York City as the conductor announced, “Welcome to Gotham City!” (I did not need that—NYC is scary enough without that added patina.) Although I used to live in the city over forty years ago, much has changed. If the Frank Sinatra song is true, I’m probably not going to make it anywhere, because I sure couldn’t make it there. In truth, NYC kicked my ass, and I have a love/hate relationship with it. I go back to soak up the latest gifts to the theater gods as I fantasize what might have been and, more recently, I go because it is the home of my grandson.
As I maneuvered my way through the teeming crowds in Times Square around the Naked Cowboy who is apparently suing the Naked Indian for trademark infringement (“I’ve been here 365 days, every day, for 13 years and change; he’s only been here 16 days and missed two already!”), I resisted the urge to pinch his buns (they really are tempting and I’m not that old!) as I learned that he has his own website and would gladly remarry WW and me in a ceremony starting at the low, low price of $499 because he is apparently an ordained minister. (I swear to God—only in New York City!)
Naked Cowboy/Times Square|image from articles.nydailynews.com
Naked Indian/Times Square|image from laughingsquid.com
That night as I watched the Broadway musical, Newsies, I couldn’t help but reflect on the true story (the Newsboys Strike of 1899) that Disney is making a freakin’ fortune tap-dancing its way all the way to the bank while they “cutesefied” the human misery of the poor of yesteryear. The titans of industry (Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst) were defeated in a two-week strike by thousands of homeless children as they campaigned to earn a penny or two more for delivering the papers owned and produced by the rich. As I watched the show, I wondered about the fact that the poor and disenfranchised are ever with us, while the rich and powerful either try to ignore them or exploit them. In reality, the poor are just not singing and dancing about it.
Real Newsies of the 1900’s/probably Albany, NY|image from noodletools.com
“In 1875 a popular writer of the period wrote, ‘There are 10,000 children living on the streets of New York….The newsboys constitute an important division of this army of homeless children. You see them everywhere…. They rend the air and deafen you with their shrill cries. They surround you on the sidewalk and almost force you to buy their papers. They are ragged and dirty. Some have no coats, no shoes, and no hat.’ However, the common ill-treatment of the newsboys was not a major concern of society.”—Wikipedia
Strolling to my hotel after the Broadway show while trying not to vomit from the proverbial sewer smell in Times Square (you can clean up Times Square a thousand times a day, but the age-old sewers will always smell the same—they smelled forty-two years ago and they smell even worse today—somehow that must be a metaphor about life), I wondered how my grandson would fare growing up in this city. Would he make it? Would he lose his soul to it? Or was he destined to become one of the leaders of it? In a city where the top 20% earn forty times what the bottom 20% earn, if my grandson were to be a future leader in Gotham City, contrary to current Repub belief (“cough—Romney’s take on the 47%”), he wouldn’t need to grow up to be a Wall Street wheeler dealer or a CEO powerbroker, he’d need to have a strong moral compass that gave him a heart for the poor and
disenfranchised, because they will always be with us along with the Gotham “makers” who will bow down to the god of mammon and sacrifice the “victims” to the altars of industry. (Come to think of it, we could use a Republican candidate for president with that moral compass. Maybe I’ll send Mittens a note on my new stationery, “Speaking Truth to Stupidity” and sign it “Dalai Mama.” Think he’ll read it?)
I am discovering that some people don’t have a clue what it is like to live as the lower part of the 47%:
Ann Romney Meme|Image from underthebunkermountain.com
A TRAIN OF QUOTES TO HELP BRING TRUTH TO STUPIDITY
Ann Romney: “We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days.”—Anne Romney (daughter of a wealthy industrialist married to Mitt Romney, son of an automobile company CEO and governor of Michigan illustrating how she used to be “poor.”)
Mitt Romney: “. . . there are 47 percent . . . who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement.”—Mitt Romney who wants to be our next president but only of the 53%.
Eleanor Tomczyk: “How about a perspective buster, Ann? At eight years old, my five-year-old sister and I ate every other day, if we managed to pull enough dandelion weeds and raid enough garbage cans of chicken bones and partially eaten food for our mother to heat up on a hot plate located on the board covering the bathtub which substituted as a kitchen counter. By the time The Cleve’s Family and Social Services rescued my sister and me, our stomachs were the size of basketballs from the distention of malnutrition and worms. Queen ANNtoinette, I’ll trump ‘your poor’ with ‘my poor’ any time of the day.” (NOTE HISTORICAL REFERENCE POINT: This was 1954—Ten years before the Food Stamp Act of 1964 was passed to ensure the poor would not starve to death in the richest country in the world.)
Dalai Mama: (Speaking truth to stupidity): “My Lady and my Lord, Jesus said (remember him—the Jesus in the ‘Latter Day Saints’ marque?), ‘. . . I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me . . . whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
Stephen Colbert—American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.