Borba100 at Borba100 at
Sat Nov 27 23:30:24 MST 1999

by Jared Israel (posted at, 11-27-99)

I was talking to economist/teacher Michel Chossudovsky the other evening and
he made the point that by scrapping all the regulations installed to limit
financial speculation after the great crash of 1929 the US government has set
the stage for a depression of immense proportions. Indeed, Mr. Chossudovsky
said, for much of the world that depression has already arrived, courtesy of
the New World Order. And, he added, with globalization, when the US economic
bubble bursts, the effect on countries caught in the IMF/World Bank/World
Trade Organization trap will be greater than anyone can imagine.

My father was a poet and a rebel, but conflicted. His father, an immigrant
tin smith who built the roofs of sky scrapers in New York, did not believe in
imagination. He had left Poland after beating back an attack by murderous
anti-Semites. He used a tree limb for a weapon. He believed in mastering a
trade and carrying a big stick.

He loved my father. He beat him when he caught him writing poetry. You see,
he had taken a look at America, the shrewd look of a peasant-artisan, and he
had concluded that only a fool would try to tell the truth in this Brave New
World. And all the worse for a Jewish fool. A Jew could not afford the luxury
of foolishness; hence the beatings. A Jew would be well advised to learn to
do something practical, something that made him too valuable to be killed,
save his money and be ready to protect his family when the bigots came, which
was inevitable.

I was in the midst of writing a play about my father and my grandfather when
the Serb-hating propaganda got too strident; I couldn't hear myself think
anymore, so I figured it was time to do something about the bigots.

My father wrote the following poem after the unstoppable economic boom of the
1920s stopped in 1929. He was 24 at the time.


by Leo Israel, written in 1930

Now in the world
the funeral is over. The boys in the hired Packards
step on it to get back in time for dinner
and the relatives begin the long trip home to Hoboken.

And when you think of it, to forget a man is easy:
the rich get monuments with their names engraved,
and you can read in religious languages,
Catholic or Hebrew,
"Here's so-and-so who died."
Lodge brothers buy plots in the Bronx or Brooklyn
It comforts them to think that after death
Their friends can come and see them all together,
and big branches have filled whole cemeteries.

But the city paved the dent
in the sidewalk outside the Chrysler building where Slussman,
age 45, crashed from the 60th story;
and who will bid for the seat where he sat thinking
sub-title thoughts and all the while forgetting
the rent at a double feature matinee?

Sometimes bankers are guilty when banks fail:
the auditor comes, the proof is there in writing,
yet always there's a question, "Is it justice?"
and the newspapers ask for a special investigation.

Then what of the small man, what of his speculation,
what of the shortage in the petty cash?
guilty when the broker called up at the office,
he must have known before then he would crash.
Then what was he thinking of, how was he figuring,
or was he asleep before that, and maybe dreaming?
Even when he sent the boy to camp last summer,
or when he moved to the Brighton apartment,
he needn't have done it; if he had any pride,
he wouldn't have lived so, and he needn't have died!

It goes to show, though: Slussman was one of the boys,
and when he died, the boys remembered Slussman.
We took up a collection when we read
Slussman was dead;
the boss began it,
we all chipped in and bought a stone that said,
"Here is Slussman."
And we went to his grave, and we put flowers on it.

(C) Jared Israel 1999

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