FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Oh, USA

by MISSY BEATTIE

Beat-up little seagull
On a marble stair
Tryin’ to find the ocean
Lookin’ everywhere

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain’t nowhere to run to
There ain’t nothin’ here for free

Hooker on the corner
Waitin’ for a train
Drunk lyin’ on the sidewalk
Sleepin’ in the rain

And they hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
‘Cause the city’s dyin’
And they don’t know why

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live

Get my sister Sandy
And my little brother Ray
Buy a big old wagon
Gonna haul us all away

Livin’ in the country
Where the mountain’s high
Never comin’ back here
‘Til the day I die

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live

~~“Oh, Baltimore” by Randy Newman

As my friend Steve and I headed to Occupy Baltimore, I could hear Nina Simone, singing this mournful song.  I’ve listened to her unique presentation over the years and have lived in this city during two different periods of my life, once for 13 years and, now, since 2007. But I became acquainted with the lyrics prior to meeting Baltimore and before I knew that there are many Baltimores throughout this country, so many cities and towns, diseased and dying, places where “Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live.”

Baltimore’s occupation site, McKeldin Square, is at the Inner Harbor, a tourist area, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has threatened to end the live-in. Like many mayors, she’s equivocated.  Cunning, they. And in a quandary. Because if they issue an order to shut down, the people will gather in greater numbers.

Rising from the ground not unlike sailboats dotting the Chesapeake, the encampment tents are colorful, assuming an energetic vitality.  The space is clean.

Steve and I walked through, stopping to read signs and talk with people who represent a cross-section of society—from the young to the elderly.

I spoke with a twenty-something-ish man who said an agenda is discussed and changed nightly.  He talked about “local concerns.” For example, a top priority at this site is education inequality.  That there’s money for a huge prison complex but not for the public school system. And another problem, the many empty houses in a city known for homelessness.

When I expressed my aversion to co-opting, he said that a “representative” from MoveOn came but that the group wasn’t interested. Then, I asked if he’d been involved with the antiwar movement.  He replied that his life is a testimony to peace.

An older man and former veteran engaged in a thoughtful dialogue with Steve and me, even inking in his notebook what we agree are the most pressing issues—that the greedy Wall Street bankers (bailed out by tax dollars) who perpetrated the crimes resulting in foreclosures, homelessness, loss of health insurance, and a collapsing economy have not been arrested and charged with fraud, but instead have continued to profit financially with lavish salaries, bonuses, and lifestyles, and the second: corporate personhood. We explained that huge corporations and their donations to political candidates have rendered the voice of individuals meaningless, creating a political dysfunction benefiting only the 1%.

And there’s this:  I’ve said previously and still believe that the protests would be more effective at Wall Street, realizing though that most people can’t afford to travel to New York City.  But donations to the Zuccotti Park group exceed $450,000.  If some of this money were used to bus people (those who’ve lost their livelihoods as well as all the college graduates who can’t secure jobs) from encampment locations to Manhattan, the impact on Wall Street would be enormous. Plus, the contribution shouldn’t be deposited in a bank, where it could be seized by the security state in the post-9/11 reality, one in which those who organize to oppose the ruling class might be labeled anarchists.

Because,“Man, it’s hard just to live, just to live.”

Cities are dyin’.

And we do know why.

Missy Beattie can be reached at missybeat@gmail.com

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail