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Archive for April 3rd, 2009

photoessay in aggregate: crisis visible

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A really good collection of reader-generated images of the “recession” available here at the NYT.

What’s nice about these images is that amidst a flood of mediatrope – the smashed window of the RBS, the laid off junior exec with his golf club, etc – a lot of these images reach out to show a different side, a more everyday side of the situation. One that is a lot more chilling than the dystopian cliche-mongering of the image I’ve clipped in at the top.

The deprivation or cancellation of public utilities and services, whether that means having the water shut off to an individual family home for non-payment of bills or the disruption of mass-transit routes due to “budget cuts,” renders the crisis in small scale, becomes a matter of the residential street rather than the Grand Avenue or Financial District. The socialization of banks coincides with the cancellation of the small scale socialism of the city or town.

busstop

The pictures render all of this very clear. What is happening (and what, I’m starting to guess, is about to reinflate the bubble for yet another last ditch run at two or three years of less than total collapse, leading to an all the more total collapse a little bit later on – you start to get a feeling for the rhythm of these things, the way you developed a feeling about the weather an the changing seasons in the place where you grew up) and is going to continue to happen is the transfer of wealth from the local and national public sphere and public infrastructure to  formerly or currently private enterprises. It’s like global Yeltsinism, this… Just watch…

carabbas

For the reference of my non-USA readership, Carabba’s is a fucking chain of bad Italian restaurants. Everyone’s talking about what to do to turn the nascent, confused, blocked, aspirational protest movements into something more. I think quick but hard meditation on the simplification of slogans, the ellision of 68er double-entendrism and in-humor, and the adoption of something along the lines of No 4th Grade Teachers Working Second Jobs at Fucking Carabbas, Ever would be a first step on a path towards something.

And the very best part about all this is that it prompts us to take up another axiom, perhaps not as a slogan but as a rule for our work and thinking about all of this. That would be: Nothing new about this crisis. Because, of course, it didn’t take the bursting of the bubble to have 4th grade teachers waiting tables at shitty roadside restaurants, for utilities to get turned off, for perfectly good houses to be abandoned, or for mass-transit budgets to be cut, now did it?

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April 3, 2009 at 9:12 am