Category Archives: iraq

on tax, my desi family, and class

Dear Readers,

I don’t watch much tv now, but I used to be on it 8 hours a day, from 3pm, when I got home from school, to 12am, SNL, Jay Leno, David Lettermen time, with Ricki, Maury, Donahue, Jerry, and Oprah keeping me company while the day turned to grey. After I left home for college, I stopped the tv habit. Life had more in store.

But I still have some ways and means leftover from back then. 4 the past few days, I’ve been opening up the New York Times like, “there’s nothing good on.” Iraq, economy, no one taking responsibility, presidential primaries, a distant people tryna get free, sports leagues, elite gadgetry, institutions and people guilty and not guilty. I’m not feelin it. None of it. Fuck the whole thing.

Damn, that sounds so American.

But Indian-American is what I be. Educated and in my body. Questioning underneath the answers fed to me. Searching for something uncomfortable in the addictive comforts tv/i.v. fed to me.

https://i0.wp.com/news.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42640000/jpg/_42640957_holi_paint2_afp.jpg

Top Question Area Today: IRS Rebate Checks aka Economic Stimulus Payment aka Blood Money?

I can’t even lie. I will be using my lil rebate real pretty. Have you heard about it? At least $300 back to you clean, so long as you file your 1040/ez and you as an individual made above $3,000 and under $75, 000. Now I know you know about it.

But, what I wonder is, have you wondered about it?

Class Truths and Lies: All in the (Desi) Family

I grew up in a pukka Desi family. Class was at once a rigid and fluid thing. My mom is Brahmin, father Rajput. Their marriage was like an interracial marriage in America circa 1955. The rigidity of class seeped out of their renegade wedding pictures, no family in the room around the fire, thick frames on beehived faces, only fellow students from their graduate program their to bear witness to that seven times around the earth, wind, and fire, supreme ceremonial rites of passage.

The fluidity of class flew in a spray of salty wave as my parents went from stand clear, head first and only ones in their generation to immigrate, to graduate student housing and government cheese, to their first home and garden in their early 30’s, to three cars, to dissolve scene, atrophy dream, coping mechanisms broke and overused like fossil fuel.

It’s like they used all their life energy just to get here, and the momentum lasted them from 30 to 50, but now that their 60 its like their 80, and I wonder if they’ll be here when I have my first baby. Physically here, I mean. Mentally they are already heaven meet hell, free.

As the only girl child, I was brought up to think that we were struggling for money. But somehow, my older brother always had the impression that we were rich. At least that’s what it seemed like as he asked for and received a mahogany baby grand, a BMW motorcycle, expensive music schools and lessons, a truck. I took that truck though. Drove the shit out of it too.

Many people, and I, at the very least, have experienced class as a multi-layered affair. Changing in the aging of our families. Hierarchical internally, resulting in various economic class positions within the home itself. Education added in as a floating variable, we go working class to rich in small talk rooms when they ask you where you went to school. Class is always an intersection.

This Tax Rebate Feels Kinda Half-Baked

The Tax Rebate aka Economic Stimulus Payment reminds me of that feeling I used to feel in my dope house on 8324 Teresa Drive, back in the day when I was young I’m not a kid anymore, but sometimes, I sit and wish I was a kid again, feeling like we were always broke, but yet and still, watching money steady coming from some source to fund the war to keep my brother happy, despite and because of it all.

No money, the country is broke, but as the sun sets one of our most blatant dynasties, there is a prize, a lottery win without the red tape debt addiction ties, at least 300 bones, a night at the bar if you buy drinks for your friends. A pair of shoes. Three months of subway rides. 45 days in a beautiful hotel in McLeod Ganj, set against the Himalayas, a type writer tapping in the distance, mist over monkeys you watch because they watch you, it is too, blood money.

And I know we deserve it, I’m not hating, thought you knew.

I’m just telling, giving free what’s true.

Back in the day people from India to America used to protest by not paying taxes unfairly laid on them by oppressive governments. Which makes sense, cause it’s not always we have and hold something they want.

Was it all a dream? See, cuz the last story I read about American’s withholding taxes in protest of the war said something about 50 cents a month folks wasn’t payin off their phone bills. To be fair, the amount probably adds up, eventually.

What is there to protest? How about the awkward reality that we pay taxes in an every man for himself system. Forget a flat tax, or a proportional tax, here, now, poor generally pay proportionally more than rich. Just because rich can hire an advocate, a genie in a bottle, a fourth wish. It’s just like the criminal justice system. In the modern day, American form of capitalism, these basic state functions become unnecessarily abrasive to the working class.

Why should these basic state functions lubricate the stability of the wealthy and drag fingers on chalkboard down the spines of the poor and working people?

Why is justice tied to money?

Why are tax burdens less burdensome for the wealthy?

When did capitalism equal democracy?

When life could be so sweet, spring buds on trees?

White swan looks my way through the breeze?

West Indian food steeped in Flatbush Avenue grease?

Water necklace on a Oshun throat of honey?

Why is justice tied to money?

What aint the news teaching me?

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Stay tuned for more and more, from your favorite political poet with All the News That’s Fit to Flip, NaXaL.

Peace,

rs/N

obama: a more perfect speech

Dear Readers,

So I go back to Oakland, CA, where I once lived, and dropped by my old apartment building, to see who I could see.  My boy Erick is at work, but he left me a key under the mat.  Gloria, the nice and nosy building manager is home, I ring her bell, she says what she always says when she open the door and its me, her voice high and weathered, a warm cackle, “I always know its you because I look through the door window and I can never see who it is, I can never see you!”  

That’s because I still ring her doorbell like how I used to when I lived next door to her, ring, then get my lean on the stucco wall between our doors, waiting patiently.  I do it the same way now because I love knowing that there’s this apartment building on a little slope in Oakland, where a white woman in her 60’s is going to greet me how she always greets me. 

I ring her bell and move out her field of vision now just because its such a gift to have pushed down roots on Montecito Ave, just up from the gum splattered 7-11, which is just across from the new Whole Foods, my old apartment building where I organized a traveling Christmas party and told all the tenants a heartwarming holiday tale from off the dome, that building is less than one block away from the most perfect cherry tree, its blooming right now in hushed violets and lip parting pinks, a vision of spring, and all you have to do it cross the street to get to Children’s Fairyland, where parents clasp hands with children, little ones leaping and chirping like birds, this is Lake Merritt, where trees cry sap down wood tongues back to me, I came back to see, how home one of my homes can still be. 

I walk into Gloria’s spot, she hands me a sherry and we start talking about Obama’s state of race in the nation speech.  She was taken.  I was listening. 

The speech was called: A More Perfect Union.

This is my take on Obama’s speech, with quotes from him (in italics), and quotables from yours truly, Naxal, political prophet with All the News That’s Fit to Flip. 

March 26, 2008: A More Perfect Speech

words like kindle

start the fire 

citizen, we the people, america, an improbable expiriment in democracy

i grew up indian on california land, neighbors filipino and mexican 

si se puede means yes we can

fix lowrider classics, cook pansit, and light diwali candles on the same block

improbable expiriment in democracy

family tree, half america, half mockery

in no other country on earth is my story even possible

cept for all of europe and those places refugees run to

uk, sweden, spain, france

come on people

obama lets dance

it was the india trip of 1999 that i realized i was proud to be born and raised

cut, chopped, and braised

american

for better and worse

lilke my parents, like my education, like not being black or white, like beauty, like this verse is

seared into my genetic makeup, the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts, that out of many we are truly one

cliche’s are hella fun

but don’t elevate

just keep sedate, children’s fingers, triggers, guns

too black or not black enough

obama i like this beat

i gots to put it on ya

her name was sonia

foster kid, mixed black and white

annouced real loud

we fighting after school

im the

bitch you think you black

ho you act too white

im the

muslim when i wear a headwrap

latina when my mouths dark red

indian when i remember

you can see me

because its the american democracy

im waiting by the door

to social citizenship

granted daily, individually 

by we are america

white and black people

a few of whom

open

a view that elevates what is wrong with america above all that we know is right with america

a view that sees all that sees the conflict in the middle east as rooted primarly in the actions of stalwart allies like isreal

instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideaologies of radical islam

open 

obama

this can of words

open

obama

a more perfect speech

would not have just dropped an anti-war sound bite to applause

which is political

it would have big upped the muslim people to the narrowing of black and white eyes

which is personal

human we are

the afghani people

the iraqi people

the indian people 

the malaysian people

the palestinian people

the pakistani people

if we are, at all, anywhere

we are also, american

let me take us there

obama is in philadelphia, pa, at constitution center

a u.s. senator explaining himself, his relationships

a jaded citizenry, loving their new suitor already

they finding reasons, tensions, asking him for assurance

instead of just listening to our gut we pepper him with questions

a black u.s. senator

explaining himself

talking about his first days in reverend jeremiah wright’s flock with

the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang banger

listen to obama break black america down

the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence, and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and biases that make up the black experience in america

from the blood soaked flag 

obama wrung out nuanced tales of white america

his white grandmother, grandfather, a white campaign organizer named ashley, the micheal moore factory worker, watching his job go oversees

opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, your dreams come at my expense

these people are part of me

am i a part of you too?   

do unto others as we would have them do unto us, brothers keeper, sisters keeper

we must combat the synicism that those kids who dont look like us are some one elses problem

the children of america are not those kids, they are our kids

those kids who do not look like us are wearing clothes we have been taught to fear

clothes you got “caught” wearing

the gladiator crowd raises their eyes from the tv war

goes wild 

look at obama wearing muslim clothes

look at obama distancing himself from any muslim connection

a more perfect speech

we havent heard in decades

a more perfect speech

would have embraced all the browns

between black and white

*

Stay tuned for more.

Peace,

N/rs

headlines: april’s last day remixes on the same old song

Dear Readers,


You can do it, I know you can.  Another deep and yet not deep enough day in the news. Keep reading for today’s Hip Hop based commentary on the New York Times headlines by Political Poet Naxal.  That’s me.  I flips the news like you never seen.  Enjoy.

Short Riffs: Headlines Remixed

Note: The following poems are found art, based on gleaning words from April 30, 2007, Section A headlines and Ad banners, which are news in their own way (ie. because they paid).

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4.30.07 #1

All the News/That’s Fit to Print/Rule Out a/Quiet/Search for Faith

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4.30.07 #2

Expensive/Open Secret/Iraq Violence/U.S./Seeks to Persuade/Avoid/Collapses/Flowing/Loss

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4.30.07 #3 (ads)

I Need Your Diamonds/Cultured Pearls/Golden Fleece/Dare To Wear/Custom Clothing/What Are You Made Of?/Make Bids/Own the Room/Matter

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4.30.07 #4 (ads and headlines)

In/War/New York’s Premier/Classes/Search/Seek/Turn to/Creating a/Chanel-Cartier-Gucci-Louis Vutton-Brooks Brothers/Stir

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4.30.07 #4

P.E. Classes Turn to Video Game/Reliable/Fake/Health Plan/That Works Legs, Not Thumbs

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 4.30.07 #5

Quiet/Candidate/Learns/Talks/Common/Conversations Like These Sell Out Fast/Democrats/An Unlikely/Institution/Obama Keeps His Faith Close/Audacity and Hope/Test Drive/America’s/Rule

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Stay tuned for more up to date news from political poet Naxal.

Peace,

N