Friday, December 21, 2007

Column: Oh Shit! I'm Poor

Huffington Post

By Allison Kilkenny

EDITOR'S NOTE: Allison Kilkenny is a cartoonist and political humorist, a fancy way of saying writer, who makes shitty world news funny. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, The Beast, and McSweeney's. A vegan AND an atheist, she is hated by more than 50% of America...yeah! Before moving to New York City, she toured North America for a year and a half with crazed comic, Jamie Kilstein as half of The Modern Beats.

I got nauseous every time the three words clumped together and something white and hot flashed before my eyes. Short-circuit. Then I usually refreshed my Yahoo mailbox to see if that little asshole editor forwarded me my pay yet. No, he hadn't.

A few weeks ago, when I snuck into an investors' meeting in Manhattan and witnessed the biggest rats in the Game talk about "interesting opportunities" arising from poor people losing their homes because of unscrupulous banks offering them loans with outrageous interest rates, it happened again. "Homes" broke the levy and "Military" and "Railroads" came tumbling forth.

I thought about little boxes on the hillside (as Malvina Reynolds would say). I thought about neat grids and high walls - "sound barriers" - separating poor from rich. I saw the sons and daughters of poor farmers, waitresses, truckers, marching in unison again in perfect, little lines.

As so frequently happens during my nightmares, Howard Zinn's face would then fill my wide, horrified gaze. It used to be Kurt Vonnegut, but lately Kurt's been very chill in my dreams. He's always drinking a Brandy Alexander and wearing a big, straw hat. Not Howard, though. Lately, Howard looks possessed, his big bushy eyebrows twitching on his forehead like live caterpillars. He keeps angrily spitting in my face as he shouts: "GUNS ARE POWERLESS IF SOLDIERS REFUSE TO USE THEM!"

It had to mean something, but I didn't have time to think about it. I had to get to a meeting in New York. It was crowded on the N train and the whole car rocked on the way into Manhattan. Pressed between the arms of strangers, we all together plummeted through the ocean's tunnel. Over the tracks. Railroads. Homes, military, railroads...

When a short, fat Latina elbowed me in the tit (totally fucking unapologetically, I might add,) everything clicked into place. At first chance, I ran back to my apartment and grabbed A People's History of the United States and turned to the chapter named The Other Civil War. Page 244 if you're a stickler for details.

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