Some thoughts on my political homelessness, Part III (Lockdown lunacy)

Another big reason I no longer have a political party to call home is because of my purported side’s views on this apparently permanent lockdown. Who are these people cheering on the end of normal life and snitching on anyone who hasn’t happily been locked at home for ten months and counting?

Yet again, this is an issue of class privilege and shining example of how the current public face of the Left is profoundly out of touch with our historic proletarian demographic. It’s easy for them to giggle about how it’s totes no big deal to work and go to school from home, only leave to buy essential groceries, and have no contact with anyone outside the house when they have lots of money in the bank, several computers, jobs with remote options, and huge McMansions with big yards.

How many poor and working-class people have regular, guaranteed access to computers or even smartphones? Some people have had to do college classes from their phones in parking lots, because they have no WiFi or computers. And forget about working remotely when your industry requires in-person work. How can people in mill towns or working retail perform those tasks from a damn computer?

Many of my K–12 classmates came from poor and working-class homes. Thus, their parents had far greater priorities than enriching educational experiences outside of school. When you live paycheck to paycheck and are exhausted by the weekend, you can’t take your kids to a museum or Ren Faire. Having a computer is a luxury. Many of my classmates went right into the working world after graduation, or attended local colleges with low tuition.

These weren’t people with the luxury of deciding between Harvard, Yale, NYU, and Bryn Mawr, or spending over a decade in academia studying Medieval French music. Being out of physical school for almost a year has taken such a toll on kids who aren’t from comfortably bourgeois families. How can we pretend Zoom school is exactly the same as bricks and mortar school?

Also, there’s a reason we rarely, if ever, see poor and working-class families homeschooling or unschooling their kids. That kind of requires at least one parent able to stay home all day, and that’s not possible when they need two salaries to stay afloat. Unlike bourgeois women, working-class women have always worked, even after marriage and kids.

My mother still regrets not working harder to find a way to afford to send me to a private girls’ school after sixth grade. I was certainly smart enough for a scholarship, and the worst of my Aspie issues were resolved by then. Instead I continued in the crappy public school system, which, despite some awesome teachers, wasn’t exactly the best place for intelligent students who wanted more out of school than the basics.

Anyway, so many self-identified U.S. leftists made no bones about supporting indefinite lockdown because “Hurr, durr, Orange Man bad!,” and thus they had to always do the exact opposite. If “Orange Man” was against total lockdown, then, by Jove!, they had to get busy promoting and instituting the most draconian of measures!

Anyone who dares object to such strict lockdown for any reason has been called spoilt, selfish, anti-science, a conspiracy theorist, a right-wing ideologue, and someone who wants to kill Granny. I’m none of those things, but I am deeply concerned about the effects, both short-term and longterm, this is having on the economy and people’s lives.

And how about the heartbreakingly higher rates of women and children being murdered by domestic abusers while in lockdown and unable to leave? Or mental health issues being exacerbated? People unable to pay basic living expenses? Loneliness and isolation, esp. among seniors? Necessary surgeries being postponed and sometimes leading to preventable deaths?

Scientific evidence is starting to come in proving the endless lockdowns in the U.S. and U.K. haven’t had the benefits they were touted as having. Indeed, it’s only made everything worse.

Normal life has to resume sometime. We can’t exist forever in an isolated virtual world, and lockdown hurts the poor and working-class most of all. Yet DNC and Labour Party brass have totally sold out this core demographic to look woke and appeal to blue-haired clowns.

Some thoughts on my political homelessness, Part I

Warning: Any nasty comments personally attacking me will be deleted and the commenters blacklisted.

This is roughly where I’ve consistently measured on the political spectrum since I was a teenager. Probably the only thing keeping me from being all the way to the Left is that I support the death penalty. However, despite my core political views remaining consistent, I’ve felt increasingly politically homeless over the last few years, and my alienation from my purported side of the aisle grows more and more each day. Many other lefties I know feel the same way.

I voted Libertarian in the 2020 presidential election, though I’ve always voted for the Democratic candidate my entire voting life, no matter how milquetoast and same as the old boss. I know a number of other alienated lefties who went Republican for the first time in their lives as a protest vote and/or because at least Republicans aren’t trying to legally replace biological sex with the nebulous concept of gender.

It happened on Biden’s first day, just as he promised for months. He signed an executive order allowing the disastrous, toxic self-identification policy several other countries now have, and which was thankfully soundly defeated in the U.K. recently. Goodbye to women’s sports, scholarships, homeless shelters, rape crisis centres, political shortlists, locker rooms, single-sex swimming pools, everything our foremothers fought so hard to secure.

No, this is absolutely NOT what real feminists ever fought for! We never wanted things like co-ed sports and changing rooms. And for those who, like clockwork, ask, “Hurr, durr, where are all the feminists?,” we’ve been fighting against this and raising awareness of these issues for YEARS! Many of us have been doxxed, no-platformed, fired, stalked, kicked off social media, threatened, you name it.

I’ll be getting into this issue in much greater detail when I resume my Gender-Industrial Complex series! So much has happened on that front since I did that 12-part series in 2016.

Because of the U.S. duopoly, many Americans, through no fault of their own, aren’t aware of the full political spectrum and all the various iterations of left-wing and right-wing beliefs. E.g., Bernie Sanders is considered a centrist in Europe, since things like universal healthcare and a living wage are just matter-of-fact social welfare policies which are proven to dramatically improve quality of life.

Some people are able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a success of themselves without free or cheap college education and at least $15 an hour, but that’s unfortunately not possible for most people. How can you pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you haven’t any boots?

The loons in Antifa also are NOT even remotely representative of what real leftists are all about, just as people who bomb abortion clinics don’t represent most conservatives. People on both sides need to quit painting one another with such broad brushstrokes and assuming the loudest, most fringe elements speak for everyone.

I wish more liberals and conservatives both would engage in good-faith dialogue with one another, and actually LISTEN when someone explains why s/he came to have such political values, instead of just hearing and immediately reacting. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with their views or convert to their way of thinking, but at least make an attempt to understand that POV.

I’d be more than happy to explain how growing up poor and working-class led me to my views. Were my life circumstances different, I may very well have ended up conservative, centrist, or only moderately left-wing.

I agree with the theory that there’s been a soft coup in the Democratic and Labour Parties over the last few years, and an overall sea change over the last few decades. The party brass now speaks with such disdain about the proletariat, who traditionally formed their core demographic. These blue-haired fools need to get out of their cushy little bourgeois suburbs and ivory towers and see how we truly live.

I dare them to go to a mill town and announce their pronouns, demand people check their privilege, say they’re lithromantic greysexual moongender, call everyone bigots for understanding biological sex is grounded in material reality, and defend prostitution as an exciting career choice no different than any other job.

This is no longer the party of FDR, Harry Truman, and JFK. It’s been hijacked by clowns who don’t live in the real world. Until they kick out the loud woke contingent, I’ll remain politically homeless.

Metropolis at 90, Part V (What it means to me)

I can’t remember exactly when I first saw Metropolis (at least that I was consciously aware of), but I’m pretty sure it was 1991 or 1992. My local PBS station frequently played it in those years, and I watched it on the small black and white TV my family had in the kitchen. Yes, I grew up before all TVs were in color! Our bigger TV in the living room was color, but we also had that smaller set. It also didn’t get all the channels the other TV did.

My entire life, I’d watched old films with my paternal grandma, or took my pick of the old films and historical dramas she had on VHS. I already loved history, so I never thought to dismiss these films as old and musty, unhip, boring. Even today, most of the contemporary films I watch are historical dramas, foreign, or indie.

So many years later, I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly when I learnt films used to be silent. I don’t recall ever watching any silents with my grandma, since she was born in 1927 and grew up with sound films. I don’t mean to stereotype, but let’s be honest, she wasn’t from a generation that tended to like and appreciate silent cinema. It was out with the old, in with the new. The reawakening of interest only really started in the 1950s.

So when I discovered Metropolis as a preteen, I was fascinated. Even with a much-truncated version, years before the near-complete restoration, I thought it was awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to see many silents until 2004, when I finally began actively pursuing my longtime passion.

The initial spark (for anything) is different for every person. While most silent fans recommend comedies as the ideal starting-place, this sci-fi film did it for me. A silent film was so different, new, fascinating. It also helped that I’ve always been different from the crowd, born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

I’ve never been interested in most things from modern pop culture. I love films from my great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ generations; I prefer music from my parents’ generation (along with my childhood decade the Eighties); and I just love history in general. It took years for my parents, esp. my father, to accept this is a genuine passion, not a phase to be mocked.

When I saw this film after my political awakening at age fifteen, in 1995, it took on a whole new personal meaning for me. I realised it was about class struggle and the exploitation of the proletariat by the ruling classes. My political views aren’t something I like to get into here, but this is the kind of post where they’re very pertinent.

I grew up poor and working-class, with deep proletarian roots on both sides of my family. I’ve honestly never aspired to be bourgeois, and would be very happy being respectably working-class for the rest of my life. I just can’t relate to the typical bourgeois lifestyle. I’m 100% NOT some spoilt limousine liberal.

My political views are shaped by my life experiences as a have-not. I’ve never forgotten how awful it was to grow up without a lot of money, denied certain toys my parents wanted to get me but couldn’t afford. My parents didn’t have $10,000 in the bank at one time until I was about fifteen, and we didn’t own our own home till I was a legal adult. At one point, we lived in the ghetto.

While I’m no longer as super-far-Left as I was in my teens and very early Twenties, I’m still much further Left than probably most of my readers (though there are some issues I take a more conservative view on, and my personal beliefs are rather old-fashioned). It’s too complicated to get into here, but I have nothing in common with modern-day neoliberals. I’m a real Leftist, not some regressive neoliberal.

Not only did Metropolis introduce me to silent cinema, but it also took on a whole new meaning, deeper and more personal, after I began coming of age and developing my political views. I doubt a simple comedy could’ve done that!

Modern Times at 80, Part III (What it means to me)

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Though I love each of the big four silent clowns (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Arbuckle) for different reasons, on different levels, I think Chaplin wins it for me on the personal level. Though I was never as poor as he was growing up, I have very deep working-class roots on both sides of my family, and am really proud to be a member of the proletariat. Honestly, I’ve never had any desire to be part of the bourgeoisie. To me, the bourgeois lifestyle and class represent things that are completely alien to my personality, interests, and background. That’s just not who I am. I’d be quite happy to spend my entire life in a respectably working-class existence, hopefully an upper-working-class existence.

The story of Modern Times resonates so very, very deeply with me because I remember all too well what it was like to grow up without a lot of money, with parents who weren’t always in the greatest or most steady jobs. My parents were on welfare when I was born, and two months later went on unemployment insurance. They didn’t have $10,000 in the bank at one time till I was about fifteen. They didn’t own their own house till I was perhaps 19 or 20. Until then, we’d rented apartments and houses.

I have never, ever forgotten how much it stung when my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a rocking horse, talking doll Cricket, or a beautiful redheaded baby doll I named Apricot. I enjoyed simple toys like marbles and toy cars, but I really would’ve liked those other toys. If I’m ever blessed with kids, I never want them to grow up lacking what I did. Samuel will have a rocking horse, no matter how much money I have to spend.

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I don’t like to discuss my political views on this blog, since I want to keep my posts focused on writing and topics related to history (silent and early sound film, people and places I’ve written about, classic rock and pop, antique cars, etc.). I also don’t want to risk alienating readers who may hold much differently, for the same reason I wouldn’t start a very political conversation at the dinner table and just assume everyone present shares my views exactly.

However, this is one of those times when the topic of my political views is pertinent to the discussion. Though I don’t like to put one label on my beliefs, and there’s a very long story behind my political awakening and evolution, the TLDR story is that I’m a very left-wing Democrat, a classical liberal (NOT to be confused with what’s been termed the regressive Left; i.e., SJWs whose minds are so open their brains fell out). I do have a couple of more conservative views, like my support of the death penalty, and I’m more old-fashioned in my personal life, but politically speaking, in most aspects, I’m a Socialist who registered Democrat.

Now that I’ve lived a little longer and am no longer as far Left as I was in my teens and very early twenties, I understand there are many different ways to hold politically. We all need to respect and understand one another. If I’d been born into more money, in a different geographical location, in a different era, as a man, etc., I might very well be much more conservative or middle of the road, or manifest my leftist views in a different way.

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Modern Times speaks to me because it’s the story of two exploited people from the underclass, living from hand to mouth, going through a series of menial jobs, not having a secure home, never knowing if they’ll have enough money to get through the week. As the opening image illustrates, they’re the black sheep among the indistinguishable flock mindlessly going along with the crowd. It’s not just a story of man vs. machine or trying to make a living during the Great Depression, but a story for all time. This is the story of the proletariat, a story I’ve been steeped in my entire life.

No matter how hard the Tramp and the Gamin try, it’s just not good enough in the harsh, cruel world they live in. They dream of having a respectable home, a modern kitchen, good food on the table, modern furniture, nice clothes, all the good things in life, but they just can’t grasp that carrot. They don’t enjoy being poor, living this itinerant existence, and being seen as impersonal cogs in a huge machine.

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The life of the proletariat in the machine age isn’t all gloom and doom, though. The Tramp and the Gamin determinedly pick back up and try again, instead of letting themselves be relegated to a degraded state. Eventually, they’ll find their big break, and be able to create a happy little home. It might not be the type of home or working life the bourgeoisie or upper-classes aspire to, but to people in their world, it’s a beautiful paradise.

Your opinions and passions shouldn’t be forced into your books

One of the past writing mistakes that makes it clear I didn’t hit the early days of my writing maturity, accomplishment, and professionalism until about 1997 is how I often forced in my own political and personal opinions, along with various passions du jour. That’s fine if such viewpoints and topics naturally fit with the pre-existing storyline or characters, but when they’re put in as little more than mental masturbation for the writer, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

The first and most obvious example is how I tried to force “the dawn of rock and roll” into books taking place in 1949 and 1950. Um, yeah, when rock didn’t even freaking exist yet, and when the music that did lead to early rockabilly would’ve been sold as “race records.” There are a number of pseudo-rock or pseudo-pop bands in my Atlantic City books during the Forties, as a spoof of modern bands and groups and how teenyboppers go ga-ga for them, but at least they’ve never been put forth as actual “rock bands” or “the dawn of rock and roll.” They’re just local bands (typical spoofy names include The Homicides, The Balls, The Guns, and The Abortions, names so over the top you know they’re supposed to be funny), playing music that might be a bit outside the establishment’s idea of respectable.

All these years later, I still don’t understand why I couldn’t have just written an all-new story set in the Sixties, since I was so into this music and excitedly discovering it all for the very first time. I also don’t get why I wanted to write about characters like Violet and Cherie going ga-ga for groups like The Beatles and The Four Seasons in their thirties. Even if a lot of these characters don’t exactly act their age as they get older, they still have limits. The average thirtysomething mother of the Sixties would never have become a huge fan of rock or pop bands! At most they would’ve approved of their kids listening to it, or even enjoyed some of their stuff on the radio. But not going to concerts, hanging up posters, and acting like a crazed teen teenybopper.

I was very happy to include a fair amount of Sixties and Seventies music in Little Ragdoll, and am looking forward to including Eighties music in Justine Grown Up. The penultimate chapter, “Sing Blue Silver Snowstorm,” is even going to be built around a real-life event that coincided with a real concert. But none of that music was/will be forced in there just for mental masturbation or to show off how cool I thought I was to be liking music of an earlier generation instead of stuff like New Kids or rap. It’s a natural part of the storyline, and fits with the cultural backdrop. (I wonder if, had YouTube existed in the early Nineties, I would’ve been one of those annoying kids making self-congratulatory comments like “I’m only 13 and I love [band/singer] and hate [current overexposed, untalented hack].” What do you want, a cookie? You’re not special or unique for liking old music. Once you get out of the superficial world of junior high and high school, you’ll find a lot more people your age are into older music and don’t all like current trends.)

I love silent films, and I’ve been able to work in mentions and discussions of silent actors and films in my first two Russian novels. But they’re set during the late Teens and Twenties. Of course it would seem natural to go to a current movie or talk about a popular actor. Chapter 23 of the sequel is even called “Death of Valentino” and includes the unfortunate three-ring circus his death and wake turned into. But none of this is focused on obsessively, and each time it comes up, it fits with the scene or dialogue. A number of real-life movies and actors are also mentioned and discussed in my Atlantic City books; Max, for example, adores all the classic comedians, and has some strong opinions about some of the knock0ffs, like The Ritz Brothers. His love of these comedians is a big part of his character, and it seems natural when he gushes about how much he admires Groucho Marx or lovingly hangs their posters all over his walls.

In July 1995, at age fifteen, I became a Marxist pretty much overnight. I’d read some unflattering things about Karl Marx’s personal life (such as an allegation he left his wife Jenny to give birth on a bare floor), and decided I hated him and he was evil. I also had been convinced for awhile that Communism was “evil,” in spite of not knowing a damn thing about what Communism actually was, or why the Russian Revolution really happened. I was as bad as my Tsarist characters, out of touch with how the majority of real Russians really lived and why so many people were so pissed at the Tsar. If you’re going to argue against any political or economic system, at least know what you’re talking about.

So for whatever reason, my eyes became opened to what Marxism, Socialism, and Communism were all about. I realized how the ruling classes had walked all over the poor and working-class for so much of human history, and was furious. Socialism was meant to help the common people and fight for social justice. It wasn’t a system of mass murder and oppression. (Obviously people like Stalin and Chairman Mao were perverting real Socialism, and National Socialism has nothing in common with Socialism, in spite of the oft-repeated straw man argument that Hitler, may his name be erased, was a Socialist.)  Well, I had to make Cinnimin have a similar overnight conversion too, and she got really, really loopy about it.

The older she got, the goofier she got, turning Marxism into a whole damn organized religion, complete with making letters over herself (like a Christian would make a cross), kneeling and praying before pictures of people like Marx and Engels, striking from babysitting for Mrs. Valli on May Day, looting a bunch of factories with her equally-loony friends from a Marxist club at college on Marx’s Jarhzeit, and taking some silly pilgrimage to Highgate Cemetery while she’s pregnant with her fourth child. Her favorite sister Babs gave Cinni her Christmas bonus, and instead of using it to move out of her mom’s house, take care of her kids, invest in some birth control (even though she’s still a technical virgin and conceived her first nine kids just short of going all the way), or finally marry Levon, she spends it to go jaunting off to visit Marx’s grave and continue indoctrinating her three young sons. Barf.

At least Cinni finally wakes up in the early Sixties and realizes what a scary loon she’s become, saying and doing stuff that’s so out of touch with reality and alienating so many people, even her own kids. And it all came out of left field and didn’t fit with Cinni’s pre-existing character or anything in the storyline. It was just as loopy when out of nowhere again, she suddenly had a weird Russian grandma who’d raised her as a staunch Tsarist and taught her to believe the Tsarevich Aleksey had survived, was in hiding somewhere, and would someday come back to rule Russia. I wish I could blame this on drugs. Tsarism and Marxism-Leninism (eventually Stalinism) are SO incompatible! You can’t just write your current interests and political opinions into a book and think it’ll work!

Cinni even had some oil painting of Stalin under her bed in the introductory series, which she secretly hung on her wall at night. During the second book, Samantha really pissed her off by finding it and throwing it out the window, requiring it to be taken for repairs. I rewrote it so that Elaine, in the first book, finds it while on a visit from Texas and is snooping. Cinni says a painter friend of her Russian grandma gave it to her, and she stuffed it under the bed for lack of anything else to do with it. She wasn’t about to hang it on the wall, and didn’t want to arouse suspicions by offering it for sale in the paper. That whole Tsarism-Marxism storyline was just way too weird and goofy. At least it had enough potential for recasting in a realistic light, and in a way that fits with the historical era and Cinni’s character.

You can always write about your political opinions and hobbies in a journal. Don’t force them into a work of fiction when they don’t flow with the plot or characters. I, like Cinni, eventually grew up and made my Socialist leanings just another part of who I am, not my defining characteristic or something I think, write, and talk about every day. I’m also no longer nearly so extremely left-wing as I was in my teens and very early twenties. I’m no moderate, but I’m no extremist leftist either. (And for the record, I’m a registered Democrat, because there are certain official positions the SPUSA has which I don’t agree with, such as wanting to repeal the death penalty and being very anti-Israel. Contrary to what many modern-day leftists insist, Zionism and Marxism-Socialism are not at all incompatible. Many of the great early Zionists were Marxist-Socialists.)

I discovered that real Socialism is about how you live your life and the convictions you have. Only embarrassing new converts, in the throes of convert’s zeal, think it’s all about shouting slogans and constantly saying catchphrases and buzzwords like “exploitation of the proletariat” and “bourgeoisie.” Cinni and her college friends were like the embarrassing newbies you want to hide in the back because they haven’t been Socialists long enough to know how real Socialists talk, act, and think. My Katrin is a real Socialist, and she doesn’t go around blathering catchphrases and buzzwords. She writes articles for leftist magazines and newspapers, hosts meetings in her penthouse, and is actively involved in many progressive causes of the Twenties (and later Thirties, Forties, and beyond). And her Socialism is an integral part of her character and fits with the historical era.