by Linh Dinh
Outside the Gallery, Philadelphia’s low-class shopping mall, Jimbo sits in a wheelchair and begs behind a large sign, “I AM A CANCER VICTIM. I CANNOT WORK. CAN YOU HELP ME.” Under a leather cowboy hat, his eyes are still alert, though a pinch of his lower lip has turned purple. A reader and thinker, Jimbo will talk your ears off about FDR’s foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor, the FBI’s infiltration of all protest movements and, especially, how the IMF has enslaved the world,
Seventy-seven-years-old, Jimbo had a vending business selling pretzels, among other stuff, and worked at a factory making vent windows for Ford trucks. Like me, he has also washed windows, making a few bucks per job. In winter, water would sometimes freeze nearly as soon as it’s splashed on the pane, but thanks to global warming, this is becoming less of a problem.
A Chicago bus stop billboard: “I’m all for global warming if it will keep the city from being so damn cold.” Across the street is the Greenway Self Park garage, with a green VW bug emitting green leaves instead of ozone-killing exhaust on its very cool, I guess, sign.
Born and raised in Kensington, Jimbo still lives there. He gets $780 a month in Social Security, but his rent eats up $760. So much for piece-of-shit Kensington?! What in the fuckin’ UN is this world coming to? If I want to be chased around by goons toting submachine guns, then body slammed onto the ground, I’ll go to Chicago during the NATO summit.
With only 20 bucks a month to diddle with, Jimbo must beg, though he can also move to a cheaper neighborhood, such as the exburbs of Kabul or Baghdad, for example, but since he’s already well into his post-Cialis years, I don’t think Blackwater would hire him.
“Jimbo,” I said, “I keep hearing that black women are the most generous at giving money on the streets. Is that true?”
“Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know, but I think it’s because they’re more used to taking care of people.”
“Hummm. What about guys in suits? Do they give you money?”
“Those guys are the worst! Most of them won’t come near me, because they think I might give them a disease or something.”
“The regular people, the working class people, are the ones who give me money. Black people give me money.”
“All black people, or just black women?”
“All black people, but, like you said, black women are the best. When I grew up in Kensington, I was told that black are this and that, that they’re no good, but now that I have to beg, I can tell you that black people treat me very nice.”
For over a century, Kensington had dozens of factories cranking out machine parts, carpets, textiles and glass. Now, it is an unholy mess, like all former industrial enclaves across America. Jimbo, “Many of my neighbors in Kensington get a government check at the beginning of each month, then a week later, they’re broke. You should go up there and see how it is.”
“I’ve been up there, many times.”
“You’ll see how how bad it is, the drug dealing.”
“And the prostitution.”
“Yes, that too. When people are broke, they’ll do anything. There used to be so many factories up there, but they’re all gone.”
In Kensington, a flyer is taped to a pillar of the elevated train, “HEALTH ALERT!!! THERE IS A prostitute By the name of SHERI Pitts that is HIV Positive. If you know her where abouts please contact the Health Department. Description: 5’4” 95 lbs Blk Female. Tatoo on left Arm “Chocolate Sheri.” Tattoo on Right (Butt) Cheek “Sexy.” #173-60-6501. She NEEDS to be Stopped. She is spreading this Desease!!!”
The next time you’re in Kensington to help out the local economy, shine a flash light on her left cheek, and if you can make out “Sexy” in tribal, shaman, precious, voodoo or gothic script, just calmly smile and say, “I’m sorry, Chocolate, but it doesn’t look like our loving union can be gracefully consummated this night, or the next, or ever, though as a member of NATO, that master alliance of pale and well-armed people, I will try and try again. Oh, fuck it, let’s just fuck! Since it was me who made you sick in the first place! We’re destined for this death embrace, you maroon terrorist seductress!”
I’m sorry to use intercourse as an analogy for aggression, but I was railroaded into it by English itself, for what other language is so promiscuous with such couplings, as in I will fuck you up, fuck you over or fuck with you? In English, to fuck is to hate, if not kill, as in fuck Libya, Syria and Iran, or, if you prefer, fuck Israel, Wall Street, the CIA and the Pentagon!
In Chicago, white masters are plotting on how to fuck with us all, including the lower whites. As expected, they’ve framed a few white youths and locked them up on bogus charge of terrorism. This is to condition the public to see poor whites, especially those with tattoos, nose rings or dread locks, as also the enemy. Like brown foreigners and native blacks, young disaffected whites will be branded as indiscriminate mass murderers who just want to blow things up because they hate “our way of life.” Thanks to the FBI, they have been prevented from collapsing a bridge in Cleveland and torching Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, but they might go after your local strip mall or International House of Pancakes next. If not dealt with most severely, they’ll splatter corn-syrup all over your transfat-padded faces! Instead of getting a job giving blow jobs, for example, these confused whiners would rather enlist in Occupy, which, the gobblement will soon tell you, is actually an offshoot of Al Qaeda supported by Iran and a trust fund left behind by Bin Laden.
Meanwhile, Jimbo begs because he can’t pay his bills otherwise. He also admits that he likes to sit in a cheapo restaurant every now and then to enjoy a $7 hoagie or cheesesteak, some fried chicken or a plate of pork lo mein, “So I can live like a real white man!”
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.