Art of Selling Junk

Original Title: Starting Over, Subsidized Cars, The Art of Selling Junk

The weather broke this week in Germania. It’s an enjoyable time when the weather does this. Not so much because of the sunshine, the bier gardens, the easy women, but instead because I always feel that the sky of winter is finally off my back. Seriously. During the nine month winter season (there are only two season here, the other is summer) I always feel as though I can walk out into the misery and touch the f’n gray, dark, gloomy sky. Yeah, a thing Das Volk owns.

So let’s blog today about the sun coming out and what that can do to (a) human psyche (mine?) and show that, at least for a short time, why the national symbol for most Germans should be Sour Puss.

Wow.

Before we continue let’s tangent into the world of those who think optimistically and believe in nature and all that tree-hugging krapp. It’s been a particularly difficult winter for the overly passive and falsely Green Das Volk. I think that some Germanins are starting to face the reality that building and subsidising all the massive and resource hugging automobiles for Das Volk might actually be adding to some of this global warming stuff. No. Seriously. I mean it. I’m almost serious.

So that there’s no confusion. Here’s my take on global warming in a few sentences. With this I make no political claim or affiliation – in that sense, I’m quite agnostic.

IMHO Al Gore and others are on the wrong path regarding the mess the planet is in. To me it’s not about emissions or fossil fuel, waste and greed. I believe that the whole ”green” discussion should be about responsibility either. It should be about western corporatism that is redefining things such as fascism, imperialism and, goodness forbid, feminism. The discussion/debate should be about the fact that Man, if left to so-called unchecked free-will, will do anything he can do and he will never do what he should do. See my post on Macbeth – and, if you haven’t, read that play right now. I am not advocating ”government” and all that that entails here. If anything, I’m advocating humanity and all that that should entail.

Digress 1.

Over 60 % of all company cars sold in Germany are corporate right-offs. That means a very large portion of Audi A4, A6, A8, the VW Passat and that stupid Phaeton, BMW 3, 5 and 7 series, all Mercedes in the E, C and above classes, etc., etc., are state subsidized. They are cars leased by the employers of Das Volk and then provided to employees – who have to pay extra tax on them. Indeed, Das Volk, if not Eurowastelanders in general, love paying taxes. Keep in mind that a huge portion of Das Volk and their well-made vehicles would never be on z’Autobahn if it weren’t for z’government intervention because no Kraut under the age of fifty that didn’t inherit more than, I don’t know, let’s say, two-hundred thousand euros by the time he/she was thirty, can actually work for a living and then afford these cars. (I won’t even get into the taxes for owning and operating an Auto.) We should all be thanking those really brilliant and over educated PhD dudes that run Das Volk auto-industry and z’country for creating such a beautifully marginalized life of driving.

Digress 2.

Today when the sun was shinning my girlfriend asked me before she left for work in the wee hours if I would spring clean her car. Sure, I said. When I finally got out of bed, had some breakfast, drank my share of coffee, wrote about three thousand words, I jumped in her little sports car (it’s a Chinese made MG!) and drove off to the wash-n-go place. It’s best to wash this type of car with those spray guns – you know, avoid anything that could potentially be abrasive. Call me a stickler for poorly made, albeit cool branded cars – although this car was ”designed” by the Brits, it’s made in China – I try to look after it and see to it that it will actually last a few years. I know. Wishful thinking.

When I was finished washing the MG I proceeded to wipe it down, clean the windows, vacuum the interior. Luckily it is a small car so it doesn’t take long – I had to get back to writing another two thousand words, you know. Just as I was about to wrap up everything and head home to a typwriter, a guy pulled along side me at the car wash and stuck his head out the window.

-Ciao. Parlate Italiano?, he said.

-Sorry there, bud, but my Italian is real bad.

He gestured to my beard that has been growing for the past two weeks and has taken on a really cool grayness. I think he said something like he thought I looked Italian. Which is not far from the truth at all. Especially when I have a tan.

-Desidero dare qualcosa voi, he said.

He reached into the back of his car (a fairly new – and subsidized? – VW Passat?) and showed me a fine leather coat that was perfectly packaged. I stared at him as he tried to hand me the leather coat.

-Che formato Ë voi?

-Dude, what the fuck is the matter with you. I only look Italian, I said.

-Watt iz you zize, huh?

-Do you mean size? You want my ”size”? Let’s just say extra large.

-Prago. I must get to It-ali. You hep me? Come. I giff you Georgio Armani.

I told him I wasn’t interested but he pressed on. I thought for a moment that what he showed me looks like a pretty good cheap copy of an Armani leather coat and would never cramp the style of worst-writer. Then I told him that I’m a ”writer” and that I can’t get published and I have no money to offer him in exchange. I also told him that I’m fatter than XL and he seemed to agree. But then again. I thought. I can’t fit into the last leather coat that I was able to afford – when I actually made a living. I wondered if I should have told him that I live off a well-earning German girlfriend who has an MG and an A6 (subsidized company car, aghast).

I thought: what’s the best way to get a lunatic It-alien salesman off my back.

-Dude, scuzi, do you want to know what I do for a living? I’m a writer. Autore. This is not even my car. I’m washing it for someone to get a few Euros. Capi-shee? I’m a failed writer. I write every day and can’t earn one fucking cent in this world. And you want to con me out of money for a fake Armani coat and then convince me to give you a gift of, let’s say, a hundred Euros for giving it to me? Get the hell out of here before I head butt your ass like Zidane. Fuck off.

In a way I felt bad for the guy. He might have needed the money to actually get back to It-ali as he was running away from the German counterfeiter where he stole the coats.

As I drove home in the clean MG I thought about the story that I started a few weeks ago which became a story I thought I lost. I realized a few days after thinking that I lost the story that I still wanted to write it. But how? I talked to myself about it for a while and then just said: fuck it. Start over. And so I did. I started re-writing it. Been typing like crazy since. It’s coming along now. I hope to have a version of it finished in a few weeks. It’s still called Gloria. I don’t plan on having any It-aliens in it but there is a Romanian.

Rant on.

-tgs-

Lincoln In Tuscany

Lincoln by Gore Vidal

Subtitle: Cute Elitist Disguised As Former Teacher, Red States vs. Help, And A Few Thoughts on Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln”.

But first some nonsense.

Character X: The world is starving for variety and things dynamic. The world requires nothing from humanity and yet things static and universal seem to rule all – simply because that’s what thrills humanity? 

Character Q: Why? 

Character X: I’m guessing that the opposite of things static and universal might be the variation and dynamic. I come to this lackadaisical conclusion because life wouldn’t be where or what it is if things were variable and dynamic. (Short pause, deep breath, exhausted from the banality.) 

Character Q: Oh goodness. Your brain is hemmoraging again. Let me get a tissue and some sewing thread. There. There. (Pause. Threads the needle he found under the couch and proceeds.) Now. If you must push on. I must, as well. There’s so little time left. (Shorter pause but proud of the banality.) So. Sorry for that. Go on.

Character X as Q: At the least, variety and things dynamic are worth fighting for. Or? Let me move on to the subject at hand.

 

While visiting Tuscany in 2005, beyond the astonishment of the beautiful landscapes, rolling vineyards with perfectly manicured vines, I had to face the onslaught of American’ts who could still afford the weak dollar abroad to sight-see and, of course, drink extremely overpriced wine. In contrast, I wasn’t a tourist and for the past so-many years I consider myself a class fighter warring against the Disney-fied evils of complacent, superficial, malignant but bat-outta-hell fun American’ts. (Actually it’s a war of attrition and I’m my own enemy.) You see, I too am an American’t – in the form of an expat that can’t get far enough away. With that in mind, my American’t is different than the American’t of those cruising to Italy and bathing in tannin tastes. Indeed. It’s even more different to those I was facing because I was on a mission from Flying Spaghetti Monster to fill a German cellar with Montepulciano.

Being judgmental is a very rude thing to do but I do it all the same. Don’t we all? What I don’t do is put it out there for everyone to see (present company excluded). Unless you want to know how it came to be that the image of children playing in a sandbox symbolizes the(ir) future. The only thing I ask when pushing (as I am now doing) my thoughts and ramblings as (worst)writer is that you do not assume, like other judges, that I’m being hypocritical. My Tuscany visit was not of my own doing and the criticisims I hold toward (former?) compatriots was also not mine. I am not the elitist nor do I strive to become such. To be clear: I am nothing more than baggage and I really do prefer to be left alone to waddle around in this society of baggage carriers. Wishful thinking, eh.

Why is it then that I get so perturbed by American’ts that can afford in this economy to spend two weeks in Tuscany drinking wine and not reading a damn thing to help better the lives of what in reality they are all running away from? The reason is simple and reveals itself in the form of a question: how many more generations of American’ts will be able to ride on these laurels?

While waiting in the lobby of a hotel in Tuscany for my girlfriend (she was getting ready for dinner) I ran into three New York women fresh from a long day of wine-tasting. Two of the woman were retired public school teachers and the other was the assistant to the director of New York City public schools. They heard me using American’t English on my handy (that’s Eurowasteland language for mobile phone) and when I was done the assistant to the director of New York City public schools mentioned from across the way:

“Oh, how is he,” she said in an endearing but somewhat smoked-out voice. She was referring to the book in my lap.

“He’s fine,” I uttered. I was reading Lincoln by Gore Vidal.

“It’s not good,” she either asked or demanded assuming that my previous response was a form of skepticism.

“No. No. Of course it’s good. It was written by a brilliant man,” I said with a bit more confidence.

“I’ve never understood where Vidal is coming from, you know what I mean,” she asked, her tone changing, pacifying.

“Well,” I said, wanting to be more provocative. “What does that matter? I think he’s brilliant at using fiction to depict truth.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re right. But I just don’t get him,” she said.

“Well, you should give this a read then,” I said and tried to get back to my book.

She remained standing and massaged a look into her face that couldn’t relieve the want of a question to coincide with an answer that she thought she already had devised. When the two other women left for their rooms I assumed that the one who stayed wanted to spend a bit more time weakening the effects of a day of sun, landscapes and tasting. Instead she sat down in the chair across from me. I understood it as a gesture of combat.

“I’m curious, she said, he eyes glazed. “What do you think of him? Tell me more.”

Stop signs went off in my head. How many times have I beemn coerced into conversations with people who wish they would read more? Years of travel, years of lifting my eyes from the pages of a book only to see if her ass was round enough for my tastes have all come back to haunt me. And I hadn’t even checked out this school teachers other parts. But there are just some mannerisms that stick after being reared in the breadbasket between a north and a south.

“I can understand that people consider Vidal a bit wordy or perhaps a bit anti-American. But honestly, if you want to read about the mind of a president and how he made some very difficult decisions and was eventually annihilated for it, this is the book. Lincoln was truly the last great president because he is the only one that stood the true test of what this country is supposed to be about.”

“Slavery,” she interjected at my pause.

“N0. A union,” I said. “Besides, all other presidents that followed him you could wipe the floor with.”

Oh!” she said. “I really don’t understand him.”

It turns out that she tried reading one of his books once, but she couldn’t recall which one, and since then had only followed the press and TV that he appeared in.  Then she gave it one more try.

“But he’s so… How can I put this without sounding… I mean… He’s so… Elitist,” she said.

I was a bit taken-aback with someone who lives and works in New York City claiming someone else is elitist. I thought and/or judged (her): New York City; perfectly manicured hair and finger nails; she still sits with a straight, stiff back as though her lost girl-ness was poured into her spine and hardened like the concrete used in the Berlin wall.

I decided to stear clear from the internal conflict of my heritage on that side of the Atlantic.

“So. Because you think he’s elitist you don’t read him? Seriously, especially now, after what’s been going in the world, this book is more valid than ever before. The way Vidal describes Lincoln’s decision-making and the interaction among his cabinet members… In a way you get a picture with this book about what it means to vote and have your vote heard. It’s utterly brilliant the way Vidal portrays the whole thing.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about voting, too. I mean, what is wrong with our country? It’s such a relief to get out. There’s no talk radio in Europe is there? When I’m here I see different things. Hear different people. Do you have any idea why the red states have become so powerful?”

She sat back in her seat and crossed her legs. I was dealing with an American’t democrat, a liberal, someone who thinks that being nice is a way of life. Oh my!

Luckily my girl came down stairs all freshly showered with her thick dark hair in a bun, subtle eye makeup and no lipstick. Our magical dinner of red wine, Italian ham, antipasti and fresh bread was just around the corner. But I’ve been trapped before by “liberal” American’ts traveling around Europe. They all think that American’t is screwed up and getting out for a two week vacation is gonna answer any of the existential questions they have about the corrupted soil they walk on. When they meet Europeans who can see through the idiotic foreign policies that are only feeding war mongers and profiteers I’m probably somewhat of a relief to chat-up. I reckon it’s the twang, slang, draw of my fake accent. I can actually understand the politics that are governing the US post cold war. I can even understand how my home country has become overly self-conscious regarding its odd status in the world (and perhaps even in history). And I can disagree with Americant’s antics in a way that isn’t just US-bashing. Also, due to my effort(s) in becoming an ex-pat, it’s not that easy for the traveling show-case of elitist tourists to see that my heritage is the trailer trash that is now occupying their lives and making what little spec of American’t culture there was prior to Ronald Reagan a gaseous cloud of methane rising out of the soil and mental trailer park that has become their United Mistakes of American’t.

I gestured to the New York City woman that it was time for me to go. She acquiesced and the conversation ended with one last question.

“What is it that you think we can do to make things better? America can’t go on like this. You live abroad, you live in a place where people think. You don’t know what it’s like back home.”

“Then go home and change it. Either that or read Vidal. In fact, since you’re a teacher n’all. You should seriously start thinking about instead of teaching American’ts history the way you guys do it, just make all kids from middle school to high school read Vidal’s history series. Seriously.”

After that little elitist epitaph of mine, I told her that I had no clue and that she might want to just give in to the red states. Which was a lie. I actually have the answers to everything but didn’t have enough time to get into the whole thing about the world, especially conservative American’t, needing more variety and dynamic. I just wished her a nice remaining stay and recommended a vintage bottle of Montepulciano.

Rant on.

-tgs-