Sunday, April 30, 2017

Alarmed, Annoyed and Perplexed


By Der Kosmonaut
Burlington, VT USA
30 April 2017

The only way that I'm going to be able to function in this country is to become an extreme anti-social. It's impossible to have a social life in this country unless you're ignorant and infantile

  It just took a month before I remembered why I hate this country and to why I fucked off in the first place. I have no place to stay in Vermont and have had to settle for tenting in a homeless encampment. I really want nothing to do with the people there. I've become quite adept at judging people's character and intelligence level. For most of the a week and half that I set up camp there, I keep away as far as possible. Sure enough one of the men told me that he thought that I was Middle Eastern. Actually he thought I was an European of Middle Eastern background. He thought that I "was lucky to have been born and raised in Europe rather than the Middle East." He was shocked when I told him that I was Black. Since 2011 I have been repeatedly misidentified as Middle Eastern or North African. It began in Austria but I dismissed it as Austrian ignorance. I remember exactly when people first doubted that I was in fact an American New Yorker. It was on a bus journey from London to Vienna September 1999. At Brussels a young woman from Slovakia sat next to me. After conversing she gave me a most skeptical look and asked: "Are you sure that you're from New York? You are Black!" At least in her defense she properly identified me as Black. 25 years ago I would occasionally be misidentified as Dominican. Fine. I do have Cuban ancestry as well as from Barbados. So yes I do that the Afro-Caribbean Hispanic bloodline. At least the geographical region was correctly guessed if the exact islands were off.



Then starting in the early to mid 2000s I was receiving more false identifications. In Montreal I was told by a few people that I wasn't an American because I'm Black. Ten in 2006 I was told that I was Somali. In Berlin at 2007 a German insisted that I was Brasilian. He completely ignored my explanations that I was a New Yorker. He accused me of lying and not really being who I really am. In 2012 at a squat in Vienna an Italian swore that I was Tunisian. I explained that neither I nor anyone in my family as far as I knew dating back more than a century came from Tunisia. Again, I was ignored and told that I was Tunisian. Naturally this pissed me off in the extreme. He then insulted me making the accusation that I was "lying to my blood." He had lived in Tunisia and everybody "looked like" me. The German in Berlin said something to similar effect. He too had been to Brazil and then for a fact that I was Brazilian.
I actually know what my ancestry is. The fact that strangers who know fuck all about me insist that they "know for a fact" who and what I am is greatly offensive. 
Then there's the ridiculous notion that Americans have that I'm French. I reputedly speak with a "French accent". First off, it's obvious that none of these uneducated, uni-lingual Americans have never heard a proper French accent in the first place. Obviously they've never met anyone from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Quebec or New Brunswick. Moreover, they've never met any Africans from Senegal, Cameroon or Congo. I have neither a European French, a Quebecois, an Acadian nor a African French accent. I barely speak the bloody language in the first place. I speak French with an appalling English accent trying to sound like someone from Toronto imitating a Quebecois accent. There's not a native French speaker on this planet that would ever detect any accent from my tongue remotely native to theirs. But then what does one expect from a country in which less tan 20% of the population possesses a passport. Nonetheless, I am most uncomfortable being mistaken for Middle Easterner in the USA with Trump as president. Already many Indians, especially Sikhs, are assaulted and murdered being mistaken as Middle Eastern Arabs. Being in the United States is already scary and stressful being Black but being perceived as an Arab is alarming because it means that I can be murdered at the drop of a hat all because of ignorant and stupid Americans!
  After that lengthy foreword rant I come to the point of this essay. Yesterday was a shit day through and through. I decided to treat myself to a night out. Because of my abject poverty over the past year during my travels across Canada, I haven't been able to go out to bars and clubs. My alcohol consumption has plummeted since I departed Montreal to The Maritimes  exactly a year ago today. Just down the road from the campsite is a arts venue. Last night they featured funk music. I had a couple of drinks, let loose and started to dance. One woman started dancing with me. I asked her if she wanted a drink. First she wanted a Mojito but since the bar was out of mint, I got her a rum and coke. We were dancing on stage when a bouncer came up to us and told us to step off. I looked down and saw a sign that read "no drinks on stage". I thought he just wanted to remove us off the stage. We were instructed to follow him towards the entrance. It turns out that I "broke the law" because I bought an "underage" woman a drink.
I couldn't believe it. First of all they allow people as young as 18 into the club. Second of all, I've been in Canada and abroad for so long I forgot the stupidity of American moralistic law. We were both ejected from the club. I tried to talk to the bouncer. I told him that I didn't know that the woman was under 21.
"You should've checked! She had an X written on her hand. You wore a wristband. Se had an X because she's underage."
What absurd stupidity! First of all why are they allowing people into clubs where drinks are served if they can't have any? Second, how the hell am I supposed to know what X,Y,Z Wristband is about? People have all sorts of jewelry and tattoos these days. Third, normally the reason why I'll ask a female's age is to make sure that she's old enough to have sex with. It's perfectly ok that I can have sex with the woman but it's not ok that I buy her a drink. It's so stupid. The fact that they take it so seriously is also asinine! I could never work as a bouncer in a bar and club in this country. I can't be that petty. My shock is not only that I've been out of the country for so long but 25 years ago in NYC this wasn't even an issue.
  The very first show I ever went to was They Might Be Giants at the Bottom Line in NYC on Thanksgiving Day 1989. Though the ad said 21+ only, we decided to try to get in anyway. I was 17 and my buddy was 18. Our ID wasn't even checked. Though the drinking age in New York State has been 21 since 1985, it was never enforced in NYC. I started going to bars regularly at 19. At the age of 20 I was drinking 3 times per week at the clubs. It was only after Rudy Giuliani became mayor that the law was enforced. Fortunately I was already 21 when he was elected.
  I realized that I was lucky that this occurred in Vermont. Had it happened in Georgia or some other provincial shithole, I might've been arrested. I tried to tell the bouncer that I was from Canada. He then said that he knew and that he used to go to Montreal when he was 17 to drink. What a piece of shit! The motherfucker himself knew the deal but still had to be a prick and "do his job".
  I really really HATE  the USA. This country isn't sane. Canada and Europe is the sane world. I really can't deal with the mentality here. It doesn't occur to anyone how childish and silly this society is organized. I am in disgust. You can have sex with a woman at 18 but you can't give her a drink. You can vote at 18 but you can't take a sip of beer. Puritanism is wretched. It's nothing less than Calvinist extremism. In many ways Sunni Islamic extremism is the mirror reflection of Protestant Christian extremism.
  The lesson learnt is this: I'm never ever going out to another bar or club in this country again, unless I'm doing a performance for which I'm getting paid. I'll never darken the doorway of Arts Riot, the venue from last night, with my presence again. The only way that I'm going to be able to function in this country is to become an extreme anti-social. It's impossible to have a social life in this country unless you're ignorant and infantile. This leads back to the man at the camp site who had thought that I was Middle Eastern. He continued to reveal more of his ignorance. There are many Bosnian Croat refugees in Vermont. This man believed himself to be an expert on Bosnia and Russia just because he knew a few in Burlington. I wonder what my facial expressions were when he blared in ignorance considering that I spent 4 years in Ex-Yugoslavia (mostly Serbia) and spent 3 weeks in Sarajevo. Then other people in the camp vocalized their ignorance. One buddy was convinced that there was a war on Christians. All this simply verified my earlier sentiment about not wanting to have anything to do with that community.
  Ha! So far the only humans that I've met since I crossed the border from Canada were those at the mental crisis clinic. Of course. All the sane and intelligent people in this country are the ones that crack mentally. The ignorant, psycho and sociopaths are out free running the society. Those of us that who've managed to retain our humanity are the ones that have breakdowns.
  I really don't know how I'm going to endure this fucking country for the next years. I can't articulate my disdain for this country. I look around me and see nothing but 1/2 dimensional figures. I have yet to hear one brilliant, witty or insightful remark on the streets or in public places around me. I just sense that my social isolation is going to be very severe. I can't deal with Americans. They're boring, plain, ignorant, conformist and superficial.
Oh well. As long as I avoid arrest and prison, I'm not going to worry about having friends or a social life. I'll have to reconcile that all of my friends are free outside the concentration camp. I really feel that I'm in a juvenile reform school concentration camp. It's really fucking wretched.

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