Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In City Lights Books, 21st Century

In City Lights Books, 21st century, one young
cashier, trans-gendered, wears a gold silk turban.
There are tattooed Asian characters on each
finger. It is a regal performance of difference
and what's hip. A sign reads,

"Abandon despair, all ye who enter here."
Cute--and isn't that more or less Disney's
message, too?  The old Beat bookstore's
a wee profit-center now--"like a library,
where books are sold," but not lended
or given away.  Debit, credit, cash.

Truth is, there was as much counter-cultural
spirit in a Willie Mays basket-catch, a Navajo
steel-worker's shift, a Chinese laundry-worker's
laughter, and a Mexican's quick apple-picking
fingers as in On the Road or Howl. 

Ferlinghetti's an entrepreneur,
Jack and Allen earned canonical turf,
berets off to them, well done.

In the U.S., youth and capital absorb all cultural
revolutions that can be commodified. Which
ones can't be commodified? The turbaned
cashier asks her co-worker, "Will you try
to keep this job part-time, or just take the
higher paying one?" The latter says,
"Receipt with you or in the bag?"

The best minds of any generation are
widely dispersed, hard to identify,
impossible for any one to claim, and
often not known until much later.

Some minds in bodies pass by the
bookstore in sunlight. The space once
occupied by Jazz at Pearl's is up for lease,
estate commercial, estate real.

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom
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