Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Third Occupation & Cabbie Reading Corner: One "Otiose" Too Many!

Reading through various taxi commission documents shouts out to me that this is a full time job, taxi politics that is, and I don't have the minutes and hours required to adequately fulfill the required obligations.  Knowing that many are depending upon my ability to interpret and navigate the maze gives me pause, adding to my conviction that anything partially or poorly done cannot be worth doing.  Not that anyone would truly notice as taxi is a world composed of loose ends, of perpetually unfinished business, of non-conjoined half-circles. Maybe that is the real reason it seems nearly impossible to get anything done, or why nothing is ever truly resolved.  Or perhaps that is the reason each individual problem presenting itself takes years to reach conclusion.  "She-who-cannot-be-named" says I should resign immediately.  Given that my father yearly sneaked out of whatever town we resided in tells me running away  is not a proper nor honorable response.  Being more organized would certainly help, itemizing and prioritizing all that is facing me.  This upcoming Friday myself and others will begin discussing internal issues plaguing my favorite taxi association.  My current weekend forays certainly on some level justifies the effort, the past two working days illustrating again what I have mentioned more than once so why repeat myself?  I did have eight airport runs on Saturday, including a start of five in a row so I suppose I should celebrate the small victories.  Sunday I had one solitary excursion to Sea-Tac but especially enjoyed tutoring the departing student upon sentence structure and basic grammatical rules for the fledgling speaker of American English.  Write, read, then speak the sentence was my advice.  I was duly unimpressed with the instruction the young Taiwanese gentleman had received from the University of Washington downtown center, to them obviously just another faceless, trusting Chinese student paying full tuition.  There are many reasons why I dislike Middle-Class America, exploitation of the innocent just one glaring example. Bob Dylan sang that after all that schooling you are put on "the day shift" but it also leads to privileged punks thinking they know more than they do, caring little about the attentive students seeking knowledge and advancement.  I met many of this ilk back in 1984-87.  That I wish I hadn't is my final comment upon the subject this evening. "A bouche ouverte!"

Post-Script: December Taxi Commission Meeting

Any green card holder in the United States should take notice of the information that the taxi advisory commission received yesterday.  For the past year I have personally wondered if a driver's (taxi, limo, for-hire) immigration status could be jeopardized, even for a simple misdemeanor conviction.  This became a issue as the City of Seattle is in the planning stages on increasing the penalties for picking up passengers illegally upon the city streets.  I have mentioned this to various drivers I have talked to, only to have them scream and call me names.  Yesterday we had a presentation form the City Attorney's Office.  The subject: Issue and Change: SMC 4.18.015 Inquiries Into Immigration Status.  As it turns out I was correct to alert everyone to potential deportation.

This is how the Federal law works.  Even if an individual is now naturalized, meaning  now officially a US citizen,  he/she can still be deported for an offense occurring before naturalization, and yes, even for a simple misdemeanor.  Currently in the news is the pending deportation of President Obama's uncle after being cited for drunk driving.  If they are going after the brother of the president's father, what do you think will happen to the average taxi or limo or for-hire driver?  As I have more information I will pass it on.  Obviously then I advise two courses of action.  First and foremost, do everything you can to finalize your citizenship applications.  And while you are doing that, don't even think about breaking any laws.  I found out about all of this listening to a news report about someone brought to the USA from El Salvador as an infant.  Breaking local drug laws got him a one-way ticket back to that Central American country.  And making it worst, he couldn't speak Spanish.  Your children born in the USA are citizens.  That is not the problem. But the most important question is, are you?  The Federal agencies involved in immigration issues are not playing games.  They will lock you up and send you away.  If have any questions regarding your status, please immediately consult an immigration lawyer.  Protect yourself and your family!

Cabbie Reading Corner (the last edition?): One "Otiose" Too Many!

Unless you out there request otherwise, this will be last self-indulgent entry into my very personal book club.  Clearly I want to write about something else but I know that all of you are logging in to enjoy or not the thrills and spills and chills of a typical taxi weekend, not the musings of a disgruntled soul.  I do think that the our collective nation needs (even if it doesn't know it) a weekly literary column upon all subjects reading and writing.  At least one that doesn't emanate from Ivory (or  Ivy) Towers.  As NPR daily displays there are no shortage of educated talking heads more than willing to gravely expound upon their field of "amateurish" expertise.  "Book-learning" can just be that when it doesn't include real and actual, flesh and blood experience.  "Baptisms of Fire", that is if you survive, is always the best teacher, the religiosity of sweat and tears.

Since my last entry I have finished (finally) that book I started this summer about Obama's use of political power, "Confront and Conceal" by David Sanger.  I also finished those 349 pages of that poetry anthology published in 1904.  While trying to find out more about the editor, Mary E. Burt I came across the same book published free and on-line under the title "Poems (or poetry) That Every Child Should Know."  Especially for those readers unfamiliar with 18th and 19th British and American poetry you will find this to be a delightful volume. Very intriguing to me were her at least four or five references to John Burroughs, including one of his poems.  Burroughs in 1904 was an incredibly influential writer.  I have just begun his "Literary Values."

 Another book I  finished reading is by that author famous for that very good novel, "Hotel Du Lac", Anita Brookner, this time her book from 1998 "Falling Slowly" a tale of upper-middle class malaise.  I recommend this mostly for Brookner's effort toward deconstructing her character's thought processes.  It isn't something easily done, a task illustrated by Poe and Doetoyevsky or on  a more minor scale (in terms of psychic examination) by that great favorite of mine, Sinclair Lewis (though it is hard to beat "The Man Who Knew Coolidge" as the perfect character study).  I think women readers could really relate to Anita Brookner's books, sharing a similar aim with Virgina Wolff.   Another recent writer British writer I can recommend is Barbara Pym and her novel "Some Tame Gazelles."   If you want to read a similar American writer, go back in the literary time-machine a hundred years and read that pride of New England, Edith Wharton. You will be glad you took the journey.  And before I forget, my only real compliant with Brookner was her use of the word "otiose" three times, which for me was twice more than required. The best definition (especially relating to her usage) is located in the "Random House Dictionary of the English Language" variously meaning  "leisured; idle; indolent" or "ineffective or futile" or superfluous or useless."  One of my unwritten rules is never to use an unusual or uncommon word more than once, even if the book contains a thousand pages.  Once is definitely enough.  To me Brookners' repetition is a kind of self-plagiarism, if such a thing exists.  Though I do agree it is sometimes useful to send your reader to the dictionary, word usage should and must be purposeful.  The late Christoper Hitchens could have been rightfully accused of flaunting his voluminous vocabulary.  My few days acquaintance gave me the impression of a very smart but insecure man.  Nothing like an ocean voyage however short to provide quick and intense introductions to soul and psyche. 

Another American writer I am currently reading is William Saroyan.  His little essay "Why I Write" is a jewel.  One of his gifts  is that he didn't take himself too seriously, reminding of perhaps that greatest American writer of a generation, Willie Smith from Yazoo City, Mississippi.  That guy could write, having little time for bragging. 

Thus ending this literary detour, I bid you adieu with a poem generated from Brookner's novel.  Take it for what I intended, a serious effort toward a meaningful poem.  Told you I was being indulgent.

                                                        Brookner's Miriam

                     Similar to (Barbara) Pym,
                                                              (Anita) Brookner's characters
                     languish comfortably upon
                                                               post-Empire sofas
                     financially secure and educated   
                                                                      and fed

                     yet remaining discontent, Miriam
                                                                        (the star of "Falling Slowly")

                    daily translating novels from the French
                                                                                 into English but cannot transpose
                    herself beyond I truly have nothing
                                                                          to live for when of course ambitions
                    reached (plus flats in both London
                                                                         and Paris)

                    isn't enough making her completely modern British sharing an arrogance
                    with those dentally-burdened birds pushing prams past jars of Lemon

                    Curd and canned Yorkshire pudding in Preistley's Bradford, complaining
                    about the dole and their Pakistani neighbors and just why won't they return

                    home because who invited them? they and Mariam not noticing the blood-
                    stained footprints tracing back to Africa and Asia and the hurricane-swept

                    Caribbean asking Queen Victoria for a fair and just recompense.

J. B. Priestley, one of my favorite writers, is from Bradford, England. As you can see, I at times have more than taxi on my mind.  Not only am I tired of driving taxi, I am tired of writing and talking about it.  Oh poor me!

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