Mixed feelings on the 19

So the guy had gotten on while I was listening to music, and by the time I pulled off my headset he had found a seat and lowered himself in it, a little sheepishly.

It soon became apparent that – for unknown reason – the driver and the rest of the bus  did not agree with moving on with life as usual, not as long as the kid was on board.

I began to look around for clues as to what was going on, for someone more peeved than pissed who could gift me a quick summary of events in a single short phrase, not like the drunk next to me, who complained loudly and inaudibly at the same time, inviting  the new passenger to disembark because something to do with wasting everyone’s time and fucking idiot.

Then I saw the young ripped guy outside, wielding a baseball bat and jumping bouncing up and down to see the passenger through the window, to make sure he saw the bat and that he heard the case, the trial, the sentence.

The case had to do with either a stolen girlfriend or stolen goods (‘from an elderly you bastard’). The trial and the case seemed to be muddled together, but the sentence stood out in all of its complexity, and involved:

1 – either the bat guy or the bus driver having called the police,
2 – the passenger future inability, no matter how long into the future, to walk around the neighborhood unmolested,
3 – the bat’s mysterious power to achieve justice through “beating the black out of you”.


It was hard to tell if there was – other than that remark – racism involved. The guy, who seemed the most relaxed person on board, began changing his shirt, while being wagged a finger at by a raucous old man, who kept yelling him things like “you’re wasting our time” and “do you think we all want to stay here and wait”, you know the kind.

What if the guy really had robbed an elderly… but, beating the black out of him… that  turned the tables in my mind. Then everything looked like it was racist after that, even the old man’s exhortations to “get off the bus and face the music”…




Back Alley Man



I just realised yesterday the world is [also] divided between people who prefer the back alley, because of all the mysteries and ‘down to earth’ expressions they can find, and people who prefer the main road, because of all the compulsion-triggers they can find.
And I realised I’m a back alley man, and proud of it.

In the back alley I often find people scouring waste bins. Yesterday there was a guy who had scored a vacuum cleaner and was proudly testing out each attachment, but more often you meet people walking parallel to main street, often with backpacks on, people who don’t want to be mingling with ‘consumers’, ‘mainstreamers’, ‘gentrifiers’.

I’m most definitely a back alley man, until I really, really have to go to the main street to get to my main street destination.



Throw the first stone, you fool!

Back in the days of delusion, I would have pointed out the juxtaposition of a young addict and a poor man carrying his wallet in the form of a bag full of empties, sitting next to each other on the 19 trolley like they were doing tonight, as a blinding call to dignity.

Look! That young man is eating the smarties and nuts he dropped on the floor, staring at the rubble in his hand for whole minutes until he falls asleep, only to wake up at the next stop and pretend he knows where he’s going, but he, he is going nowhere.

Look! the poor worker, living off empties, seem to have it figured out, no matter how obviously non white he seems, with all the struggle that it entails in a colonial society, he’s going to see this through, and as a white colonialist I’m proud of his aspiration to join the privileged society, I would welcome him gladly in the club of hollow values I smile about and proudly share with my peers, provided he’d be another one of us good people, patting each other on the back.

I bet he’s got kids at home to whom he teaches the value of hard work, and a beautifully natural south American wife with a laugh as rippling as a forest creek, who he only snaps at every now and then, when she pines a little too much for a life of comfort.


But like the song says ain’t it like most people, we like to talk on things we don’t know about.

The assumption behind the judgment is that there’s a system worth fitting into in order to find the realization of human aspiration, and that such system can be expanded to welcome everyone who tries to ‘conform’ to it, according to their capacities.

It is said that the system is quite flexible. Provided you create something that can be sold, you can be an artist, even a vinyl record salesman. Every step, every lasting achievement, is ultimately successful if it transfer wealth from others onto you. Everything else is regarded with the affable sympathy of superiority.

Even a construction worker, with his theory that justifies what he does commercially, and therefore his very struggle, will look down on people who do not “earn a living”.

So that’s the system – and let’s leave its workings for another dreadful day.

Then there’s everything else, and it’s a lot. It’s most, no matter what they tell you. All of our life is the experience of emotions, with brief, satirically devolved  summaries of our income and expenditures.

Today, I would tend to say the man collecting empties is a fool, and the young addict, an abused soul.

But that would be wrong, too. Ultimately, whoever is going to be welcomed by loving arms once he gets home, is doing it right. My guess is neither.