The Doctor Is In

in Poetry

Dr. Wes

NASNA Conference 2001


Lets deal with the elasticity of light.

Once again we at Adventures in Poetry have had the good fortune to bless a North American Street Newspaper Association conference with our presence. This one was at San Francisco. Fog City, USA.

Actually it didn't really fog while we were there, unless you count the conference. Something was dreadfully wrong. There was no infighting! What was up with that?! How could there have been seventy homeless and formerly homeless progressives in the same auditorium without any infighting?

Were they ill? Was it the flu making its rounds? Or was the food supplied by Food Not Bombs more satiating, owing to the added chicken? Was it something in the smoke, a Cheech and Chong effect? Or had the participants all learned their lesson from previous NASNA conferences that had been derailed by the disputations of the More-Progressive-Than-Thou?

No, they had not, I am here to tell you. Instead, they were distracted by a bigger enemy than each other. They were busy attacking the mainstream press, especially the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here's the deal. The Chronicle has been making an issue of the homeless, especially those who hang out on San Francisco's main drag, Market Street. It's mostly typical Sidranesque stuff, blaming the victim for bleeding on the nice clean sidewalk kind of stuff.

It's a bit more convoluted though. SF has expensive self-cleaning toilets, for instance, similar to the kind Seattle is planning to buy. So before complaining about homeless people urinating and defecating behind dumpsters, it's necessary to for them to explain that the self-cleaning toilets around Market Street are mostly broken. But that's blamed on the homeless too. It's all those "homeless AND prostitutes AND drug addicts". That's the phrase used over and over again, as if those three categories were equivalent.

San Francisco's television isn't too enlightened either. One television report of a demonstration on behalf of the homeless briefly showed demonstrators talking followed by a long sequence of archived shots of people breaking laws on the sidewalks, as if only homeless people use sidewalks, as if the demonstrators were supporting criminals, and as if weeks of archived shots were all showing crimes that happened yesterday. It's a crime wave! Run for your lives!

It's too bad we don't have anything as bad as the SF Chronicle here in Seattle. Think of the fun we could have verbally abusing them. Also it would make it that much harder for us to mistake ourselves for mainstream, a fate worse than oblivion.

Sometimes, reading the Weekly, I'm not so sure. Maybe we're mainstream and we don't know it? What if the rest of NASNA found out, in time for next year's conference? What if Perfesser Harris were really Mike Mailway? What if Anitra "too much" Freeman were really Nicole Brodeur? What if I was Jean Godden? No wait, that wouldn't be a bad thing. I meant, what if I were Erik Lacitus? The horror, the horror.

If this were a mainstream column, would there be any difference? Well, for one thing, there'd be a lot fewer questions, and a lot more answers, surely. The mainstream press in this country always has all the answers for everything. How to improve your marriage and still play more golf, Life and the Arts, D2!

This couldn't be Adventures in Poetry. There is no mainstream poetry, contrary to popular misconception. We would be Excursions in Prose. Or Strolls in Speech.

But I think the biggest difference would be the lack of reflection. You have to be able to stop before you can stop and reflect. They don't call it a stream for nothing.


© Dr. Wes Browning:
2129 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-3247

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