Thursday, April 16, 2009

The New York Problem

YES, I've heard the working class anthem "Shutting Detroit Down," by John Rich. (One of my sisters caught it last night.) Here's a line from it:

"While they're living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town, here in the real world they're shutting Detroit down."

As commentators have noted, the song appears to come from both the Right AND the Left. Anyway, the lyrics have strong resonance for me. (I recently moved back to Philly FROM Detroit.) As in the song, I watched my old man work himself into a grave in an auto plant, and I worked in one of those monsters myself. Detroit was once the fourth largest city in the U.S. I can't describe what it's like to see the world you grew up in collapse around you. For much of working class America, the collapse of Detroit came in tandem with the destruction of the American dream.

Anyone who wants to know what I'm about can start with the John Rich song.
The song brings up the problem of New York. The literary problem with New York City is the centralization of so many literary institutions and businesses in one spot. (This explains the tight relationship between PEN and the book conglomerates.)

When I've brought this matter up before, troll demi-puppets have pointed out the centralization of the auto industry in Detroit. But how did that work out? It produced insularity; bureaucratic stagnation; slowness in picking up new ideas-- exactly what the literary machine suffers from now.

Opening up PEN American center is akin to opening up North Korea-- a difficult task. However, if we could get a few undergrounders onto PEN's board, one of the first things to lobby for would be to move PEN out of New York. I'd suggest it move to Detroit. There's a lot of empty office space in Detroit right now (half of downtown!) which could be had cheap-- with resulting savings in expenses for PEN.

Think of it: PEN located in the city of hardship, center of economic depression. What could be more in keeping with the spirit of the PEN organization?

1 comment:

crazy carl said...

hey king karl...i've been reading your blog and i'm starting to think that you're not Of-The-Body....who among us would dare to like a song by a (republican) country singer?....who among us would dare to suggest that global warming could be partisan?...who among us would dare to suggest that sarah palin could be of-the-poor?...detroit bless king karl for thinking for himself