Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

John the Baptist in Red Wing Shoes

by DANIEL CHURCH

Fairbanks.

Shift work can be a dangerous, nauseating experience. Working 12 hours straight in a control panel at a power plant for 84 hours I often have entertained myself by adjusting the junked out radio with an antenna that wraps around the wall like a bizarre labyrinth. I was able to receive transmissions from one static local radio station “Magic 101.1 FM”: specializing in hits from the past and present”. During mid-week on a night shift schedule I had to check myself for auditory hallucinations (another result of shift work) as I heard an advertisement that was ludicrous and had me laughing to myself uncontrollably. The advertisement was for Red Wing shoes and here is the initial auditory onslaught:

What is work? Is work talking about working? Is work telling others to work? No, work is actually working with your hands and your brains. Work is building skyscrapers and drilling for oil. Work is loading ships and building submarines. Work is craft. Work is complex. Work is family. Work is pride, and if you’re serious about it, work is a pair of read winged boots on your feet. Red Winged work boots are purpose built for the exact work you do. Red wing shoes, work is our work.

The advertisement insanely rambles on to describe how wearing Red Wing shoes makes you an American. I sat and looked at my footwear and thankfully I wasn’t wearing any Red Wing shoes. After all what is a corporation to instruct me what work is or how somehow certain jobs are more meaningful than others? For a company that prides itself in being “American” and “For the working man” they certainly have been busy. Recently a plant was closed in Kentucky and a second shift eliminated in Minnesota; 200 jobs eliminated in all. Apparently their work wasn’t “worth talking about” and the employees’ families weren’t a consideration. The type of America envisioned by Red Wing shoes plays on the stereotypical beer-chugging construction worker who musters up enough energy for domestic abuse at the end of the day.

I visited my local refuge site the next day; a neat local phenomenon where people can leave items for others to use and recycle. There are all sorts of characters and miscreants that scavenge the trash heaps for something salvageable. A bizarre subculture has emerged with people poking the trash mounds for their hoarding at home. There are also needy individuals that find salvation and otherwise goods that would go to waste.

I saw one of the familiars, an individual who has been termed “John the Baptist” because he spends his days preaching to anyone who will listen and has subjected himself to a life of poverty. When he isn’t at the refuge site he’s at the local jail. His primary crime is “criminal trespass” because he has been banned from many local businesses for loitering. His most recent foray into jail was a result of singing to children. The police showed up after an enraged parent called. He was subsequently tackled to the ground because he refused to get on his knees for the police. His reasoning was that he bowed before no one but God. He received brutal treatment for being mentally ill and confusing the public. He has never assaulted or hurt anyone.

I donated John the one pair of Red Wing shoes I had and he was very much appreciative. He had previously been wearing worn-out shoes made out of dilapidated cardboard. His work is “worth talking about” and he said a little prayer for me as I exited the refuge site. This is the America I warmly embrace. This is a diverse country where people like John should be treated fairly and just. This is life at the edge of the empire in interior Alaska.

Daniel Church is an activist writer residing in Fairbanks, Alaska and can be reached at lfsdan@hotmail.com

 


More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail