On Christmas I traveled to a get-together in Queens thrown by an outstanding local poet. Present were activist of all stripes, of various ethnic backgrounds. I received a good education about the state of New York City today, a point-of-view of the mass of people, instead of the select sliver of opinion one receives from the top-most layer on literary weblogs.
I heard about the power of landlords, the strength of their organization, their disdain of tenants-- neglect of tenants rights-- failure to do simple maintenance of the most necessary kind yet evicting on quickest notice the holding back of rent payment. I was told about the impact of so many illegal immigrants, whose situation leaves them unable to protest abuse in any way; weakening the influence of renters as a whole, as they also weaken the situation of working people. I listened to tales of the horrendous conditions of people living below the southern border, whose situation, contrary to all promises from the proponents of the global economy now being imposed on us, has, since NAFTA, deteriorated drastically.
In my turn I spoke about the Underground Literary Alliance, the measures we'd taken, the corruption we faced, and our plans for the future. Everyone there, people who live in New York City, and know the situation there better than I do, agreed with me strongly.
Curious that the ULA faces opposition from the top layer of the lit-world-- but our ideas and words find strong resonance among the 99.9% rest of the populace. This has been true everywhere we've gone; in cities like Detroit and Cleveland, as well as Queens. (I'll never forget the shouts of agreement to my opening remarks at our 2002 Detroit event.)
The future belongs to us, as soon as we get the word out.