On The 100th Anniversary Of The Great IWW-led Lawrence Textile Strike Of 1912-Reflections In A Wobblie Wind
Every kid who has had wanderlust, even just a starry little, little bit on his or her way to the big, bad world. Meaning every half-starved, ill-clothed, hard-scrabble kid reduced to life in walking paces, footsore, time-lost sore, endless bus waiting sore, and not the speed, the “boss” hi-blown ’57 gilded cherry red Chevy speed of the 20th century go-go (and, hell, not even close in the 21st century speedo Audi super go-go) itching, itching like crazy, like feverish night sweats crazy, to bust out of the small, no, tiny, four-square wall project existence and have a room, a big room, of his or her own.
Meaning also every day-dream kid doodling his or her small-sized dream away looking out at forlorn white foam-flecked, grey-granite ocean expanses, flat brown-yellow, hell, beyond brown-yellow to some evil muck prairie home expanses, up ice cold, ice blue, beyond blue rocky mountain high expanses and stuck. Just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck in the 1950s (or name your very own generational signifier) red scare, cold war, maybe we won’t be here tomorrow, one size fits all, death to be-bop non-be-bop night. Ya, just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck. What other way is there to say it.
And every kid who dreamed the dream of the great jail break-out of dark, dank, deathic bourgeois family around the square, very square, table life and unnamed, maybe un-namable, teen hormonal craziness itching, just itching that’s all. Waiting, waiting infinity waiting, kid infinity waiting, for the echo rebound be-bop middle of the night sound of mad monk rock daddies from far away radio planets, and an occasional momma too, to ease the pain, to show the way, hell, to dance the way away. To break out of the large four-square wall suburban existence, complete with Spot dog, and have some breathe, some asphalt highway not traveled, some Jersey turnpike of the mind not traveled, of his or her own.
Meaning also, just in case it was not mentioned before, every day-dream kid, small roomed or large, doodling, silly doodling to tell the truth, his or her dream away looking out at fetid seashores next to ocean expanses, corn-fed fields next to prairie home expanses, blasted human-handed rocks up rocky mountain high expanses and stuck. Just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck in the 1950s (oh, ya, just name your generational signifier, okay) red scare, cold war, maybe we won’t be here tomorrow, one size fits all, death to be-bop non-be-bop night. Ya, just plain, ordinary, vanilla stuck. What other way is there to say it.
And every guy or gal who has been down on their luck a little. Like maybe he or she just couldn’t jump out of that project rut, couldn’t jump that hoop when somebody just a little higher up in the food chain laughed at those ill-fitted clothes, those stripped cuffed pants one size too large when black chinos, uncuffed, were called for. Or when stuffed bologna sandwiches, no mustard, had to serve to still some hunger, some ever present hunger. Or just got caught holding some wrong thing, some non-descript bauble really, or just had to sell their thing for their daily bread and got tired, no, weary, weary-tired weary, of looking at those next to ocean, prairie, rocky mountain expanses. Or, maybe, came across some wrong gee, some bad-ass drifter, grifter or midnight sifter and had to flee. Ya, crap like that happens, happens all the time in project time. And split, split in two, maybe more, split west I hope.
And every guy or gal who has slept, newspaper, crushed hat, or folded hands for a pillow, all worldly possessions in some ground found Safeway shopping bag along some torrent running river, under some hide-away bridge, off some arroyo spill, hell, anywhere not noticed and safe, minute safe, from prying, greedy evil hands. Worst, the law. Or, half-dazed smelling of public toilet soap and urinals, half-dozing on some hard shell plastic seat avoiding maddened human this way and that traffic noises and law prodding keep movings and you can’t stay heres in some wayward Winnemucca, Roseburg, Gilroy, Paseo, El Paso, Neola, the names are legion, Greyhound, Continental, Trailways bus station. Or sitting by campfires, chicken scratch firewood, flame-flecked, shadow canyon boomer, eating slop stews, olio really, in some track-side hobo jungle waiting, day and day waiting, bindle ready, for some Southern Pacific or Denver and Rio Grande bull-free freight train smoke to move on.
Hell, everybody, not just lonely hard- luck project boys, wrong, dead wrong girls, wronged, badly wronged, girls, wise guy guys who got catch short, wrong gees on the run, right gees on the run from some shadow past, drifters, grifters and midnight sifters, society boys on a spree, debutantes out for a thrill, and just plain ordinary vanilla day-dreamers who just wanted to be free from the chains of the nine to five white picket fence work forty years and get your gold watch (if that) retirement capitalist system was (and, maybe, secretly is) an old Wobblie at heart. Ya, just like Big Bill (Haywood), Jim Cannon, the Rebel Girl (Elizabeth Gurley Flynn), Joe Hill, Frank Little, Vincent Saint John (and me). Ya, all the one big union boys and girls from way back, just to name a few.
Except when you need to take on the big issues, the life and death struggle to keep our unions against the capitalist onslaught to reduce us to chattel, the anti-war wars giving the self-same imperialists not one penny nor one person for their infernal wars as they deface the world, the class wars where they take no prisoners, none, then you need something more. Something more that kiddish child’s dreams, hobo camp freedom fireside smoke, or Rio Grande train white flume smoke. That is when day dreaming gets you cut up. That is when you need to stay in one place and fight. That is when you need more than what our beloved old free-wheeling wobblie dream could provide. And that is a fact, a hard fact, sisters and brothers.