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This Content From 2003 (or earlier) see index

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Class

Much like the rest of America, I'm a little screwy when it comes to the Root Of All Evil. Unlike most, it's not a thirst for the green or paranoia about it that perverts me, but a deep loathing. I've come to realize that I'm a pretty classist person. Not a class-warrior, but someone with definite hangups about dough. It comes down to a sense of missing opportunities and powerlessness because there are certain barriers I see holding me back that require money to pass.

I'm just a clown at heart
I'm not after money and dominion, nor am I a bonafide blue-collar hero... just a clown, really.

I've come to realize, and am working on accepting, that I'm an ambitious power-hungry person. I'm wary of the corrupting nature of unchecked power, but that doesn't mean I don't crave it. I look around me and I see innumerable things that I would like to change, and the chief thing that stops me from being able to do so is a lack of power. In this society, money/capital is a necessary component to power, and it's one that I clearly lack. Thus my ambition, and the frustration thereof due to a lack of disposable income, leads me to feel contempt and envy towards people who come from affluent backgrounds.

Beyond the personal, on a macro-level I to see the concentration of financial might as producing little of value. What the wealthy do together is usually boring at best, but often wasteful and destructive. If you remove the element of eccentricity that can filter in when wealth is personal and enter into the franchised world of corporate wealth the picture becomes even more bleak, a long, hotel hallway designed to project affluence from the threat of originality, from change, a world rife with completely non-threatening displays of consumption. Wealth is conservative by nature, and that ain't me.

So I'm doubly fucked in the head by this: on the one hand I thirst for the power and influence that money can garner -- a seat at the board room table, so to speak -- and at the same time I'm repulsed by what goes on in these institutions. This ideological conflict is further compounded by the personal spite I feel towards people who (to my mind) have it easy. I'm pretty good at mitigating this when it comes to my friends, but with strangers I often make snap judgments based on perceived class without sparing a conscious thought. This colors my everyday actions to a huge degree. Living in a city which contains some of the greatest concentrations of wealth in the world, nary a day goes by without me contemptuously snorting, laughing, sighing, spitting or just mentally giving someone the finger over some perception of class.

The trouble is, being classist doesn't help resolve any class problems. My desires are about power more than money. Money itself is shit. I have little interest in or tolerance for the leisure/luxury class. To some degree they prop up the great pyramid scheme that is modern mass consumer capitalism, but they don't add a lot to the game. I resent their look-down-their-nose attitude, but I'm sure they resent my bristling faux-blue-collar pride.

There's the rub. For the most part, rich kids are ok. They're not like the brats in middle school who mocked me for having discount sneakers, and I'm not all that working-class either: eventually my dad got me some Air Jordans for christmas. Negativity breeds itself. It's contagious, so when I stare down some poncy trust-funded W-burg hipster from my bicycle, that's just reinforcing (or worse, planting the seeds) of his distaste for bike-riding plebeians. Next time around he'll make some jackass comment at a pedaling messenger and the cycle will continue. Because we don't see each other as people, we increase the discontent.

In the end, I really like some of the trappings of class. I enjoy good food and fine art. I appreciate expert-engineered technology and quality craftsmanship. I like stylish, comfortable clothing and expensive education. I just don't dig the snobby elitist attitude that comes along with a lot of it. That and I don't dig the competitive nature of the bourgeois, keeping up appearances, who's got the best car, etc etc etc. It all seems so beside the point.

These days I'm aware of my class prejudice, and though it's based on some of my core beliefs, I don't think I need to cling to it to hang on to my own identity. That doesn't mean I'm over it. Because fuck anyone who thinks they're better than me just because they can afford to buy shit. You're worse! Much much worse! But I'll still try to love you, because you probably need it pretty badly. And hey, maybe you give a little in return and we all get well.

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Trips

Trips in Space and Time 8/02/03

Big Wheels in Berkeley
I scored a set of west-coast wheels today at the Ashby BART station flea market. It's a very tall schwinn road bike, black, deceptively heavy but smooth-riding. Thirty-five dollars to boot. I oiled and cleaned the works, dialed in the bakes and took it out for a shake-down cruise immediately. Nice riding on a beautiful saturday, realizing how out of shape I am as I wheezed my way though the hilly area behind the Berkeley campus.

After about an hour I started to get the swing of it. Made some minor mechanical adjustments (including a free wheel truing at the bike collective on Shattuck), drank a few liters of water and started finding my groove, cruising up and around and ending up with a beautiful view of the whole bay. The roads here are not kind to the speed inclined -- too many stop signs and crosswalks and lights -- but it was good to get out and proj for a while. This changes my summer dramatically.

...older trips...

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