FAST

CAl{

Tracy Chapman
I want a ticket to anywhere deal; maybe together we can get somewhere Starting from zero got nothing to lose something, But me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car; Maybe we make a Anyplace is better; Maybe we'll make

You got a fast car, and I got a plan to get us out of here I been working at the convenience store, managed to save just a little bit of money We won't have to drive too far, Just 'cross the border and into the city You and I can both get jobs, and finally see what it means to be living You see myoid man's got a problem, He live with the bottle that's the way it is He says his body's too old for working, I say his body's too young to look like his My mama went off and left him, She wanted more from life than he could give I said somebody's got to take care of him, So I quit school and that's what I did You got a fast car, but is it fast enough so we can flyaway We gotta make a decision; we leave tonight or live and die this way I remember we were driving driving in your car The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk City lights layout before us And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder And I had a feeling that I belonged And I had feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone You got a fast car, and we go cruising to entertain ourselves You still ain't got a job, and I work in a market as a checkout girl I know things will get better, You'll find work and I'll get promoted We'll move out of the shelter, Buy a big house and live in the suburbs You got a fast car, and I got a job that pays all our bills You stay out drinking late at the bar, See more of your friends than you do of your kids I'd always hoped for better, Thought maybe together you and me would find it I got no plans I ain't going nowhere, So take your fast car and keep on driving You got a-fast car, but is it fast enough so you can flyaway You gotta make a decision; you leave tonight or live and die this way

The Turkey Back Meat Frozen Spinach Special by Treason Shreds of greasy cold meat hung from my fingertips. I sat perched at the kitchen table, scrounging dinner from a leftover Thanksgiving turkey, all its golden glaze stripped from it as the holiday feeling slouched forgotten into the background. Knobby bits of bone jutted out, stark white under the hanging lightbulb. Yuck. The meat was cold, practically frozen, and my fingertips ached from the cold and scrape of flesh against bone. Scraps of turkey meat were jammed under my fingers, and the scent of poultry fading fast hit me in the nose. Totally fucking gross. "What's for dinner," my oldest daughter chirped, weaseling her way under my arm. My youngest daughter closed in just as quick, echoing, "Yeah, what's for dinner?" I sighed. "Turkey Casserole." I paused, looking at the frozen green block dripping in a colander in the sink, bracing myself for the worst. "With Spinach." "EEEWWWW! !!" Both girls scrambled from my arms and ran shrieking into the living room. Typical. I heard the side door open. My husband struggled to get in past the veritable wall of small children and jumping dog blocking his way into the kitchen. He gave around hugs and kisses and made his way over to the kitchen table where I was sitting. "Hey sweetie, how was your day?" he asked, falling exhausted into the torn vinyl chair across from mine. "Well, you know," I paused to flip the turkey over so I could get to the back meat, "work, work, work, kids, kids, kids. The usual." I grimaced as 1 hit a pocket of oozing yellow' fat. The kids rode past on wooden stick horses, yelling something about having to get to the castle in time for the ball. "How was yours?" "Don't ask." He bent down, tugging impatiently at his shoelaces. "That good, huh?" 1 wiped my hands on the dishcloth nex to me. "Did you get a figure on the car repairs at the garage?" He rolled his eyes and reached into his pocket. He handec me a folded up piece of yellow receipt from the garage. I read the scrawled handwriting and started to feel faint. "Sixteen hundred dollars! You got/a be fucking kidding me?! It might as well be

sixteen million!" I tore baek into the turkey with a vengeance. "We're totally fucked!" He took the paper back. "I told you not to ask." My eldest popped her head into the kitchen doorway. "I heard you say a bad word," she sang sweetly. "Sorry," I said, as I plopped a handful of turkey carcass into a white tupperware bowl. My husband snickered. "Hah hah, you got in trouble." He slid his shoes off. "Hey, what's for dinner anyway?" he said, eyeing the turkey bones skeptically. "Turkey Casserole. With Spinach." He grimaced. "Don't even start," I admonished, "It'll be fine." Our eyes met over the table, and we busted out laughing. "Well, shit," I said, "there ain't nothing left in the house anyways, and the food stamps don't come in 'til next week. If you're too proud to eat turkey back meat, you can starve while we eat this delicious meal I have so generously prepared for you ingrates." He doubled over, cracking up. I swatted him with the dirty dishtowel. The girls danced into the room in pink tulle raided from the dress lip box. "When's dinner gonna be ready, we're hungry!" they chanted in unison. "In just a few minutes--jeez, didn't I just give you a snack?" I retorted impatiently as I began to mix the turkey and spinach together in a casserole dish. My husband pulled a pack of Camels out of his pocket. "You got time for a cigarette while that--er--magnificent meal cooks." I shot him a look. "Yeah, maybe if you were helpin' instead oftlapping your mouth, being all useless and shit." He came up behind me and kissed my neck, rubbing my shoulders with firm strokes. "What," he whispered, "I am being useful." He slipped his hands under my shirt, slid his fingers under my bra. I shooed him away and looked back at him, trying to be stem. "The children have to eat, mister man." I set the oven temperature to 325 and put the casserole dish inside. He came in close, and nibbled on r11Y ear. "I know something we can eat," he said, rubbing up against me like a cat with an empty food dish. I sniggered.

0

"But the little girl, she's gonna sail away without me, we were playing!" Alex turned her back on her mother and directed her attention back to the puddle. "Look there she is!" She pointed a grimy finger down to the mud puddle. The ripples of murky water bounced back Alex's wan face, stretched to carnival proportions, its reflection shaking with each angry plunk of a raindrop. She sighed. When the fuck is the bus going to get here, I don't have the patience for tantrums this morning. "Sweetheart,. that's just your own reflection. Why don't you stand here with mommy under the umbrella where's it's nice and dry? I'm sure the bus will be here any minute." "You're lying! She's real! I heard her talking!" Alex burst into tears, and stood there, weeping under the bus stop sign. Poor thing, she must be freezing. Ruby put an arm around Alex's shoulders. "Tt's okay sweetie, I believe you, I just don't want you to get any wetter-oh look honey, the bus is here, let's get your backpack ready-oh shit, where did I put my pass ... " She fumbled around in her coat pockets, pulling out pennies covered in mushy pocket lint as the bus screeched in front of them, the darkened windows flashing slower and slower past them until the bus came to a complete halt. Alex looked up at the bus, tears forgotten, her face . beaming up at the row of square windows. Ruby smiled down at her and gave her shoulder a squeeze. "See, I told you it would be here any minute, now come on, it's our turn to get on ... " "Look mommy!" Alex pointed her hand at the bus' huge glass windows, each casting dim grey reflections in the morning light. She bounced up and down in her little red boots. "Look at all the other little girls!" Ruby peered up at the dirty white bus and its rows of mud caked windows. The sun began to elbow its way through the dim sky, and rays of light glinted off of the few dean spots in the glass. She caught a glimpse of herself and Alex in one of them. They were unkempt, rain soaked, with Ruby's tall reflection wavering next to Alex's smaller one, the light bouncing off of her shiny yellow slicker. Alex was grinning and humming under her breath, and she looked up at her mom expectantly. "Do you see them do you see them!" she squealed. Ruby bent down and kissed Alex's forehead. "Yeah," she said, "I do." She smiled. "They're beautiful." She squeezed Alex's hand. "Now come on, let's get on the bus, we don't want to be late for school." She paused. "WeIL..later than we are already." They disappeared into the bus, taking their reflections with them.

coming up by ani difranco our father who art in a penthouse sits in his 37th floor suite and swivels to gaze down at the city he made me in he allows me to stand and solicit graffiti until he needs the land i stand on i in my darkened threshold am pawing through my pockets the receipts, the bus schedules the matchbook phone numbers the urgent napkin poems all of which laundering has rendered pulpy and strange loose change and a key askme go ahead, ask me if i care i got the answer here i wrote it down somewhere, i just gotta find it i just gotta find it somebody and their spray paint got too close somebody came on too heavy now look at me made ugly by the drooling letters i was better off alone ain't that the way it is they don't know the first thing but you don't know that until they take the first swing my fingers are red and swollen from the cold i'm getting bold in myoid age so go ahead, try the door it doesn't matter anymore i know the weakhearted are strongwilled and we are being kept alive until we're killed he's up there the ice is clinking in his glass he sends me little pieces of paper i don't ask i just empty my pockets and wait it's not fate it's just circumstance i don't fool myself with romance i just live phone number to phone number dusting them against my thighs in the warmth of my pockets which whisper history incessantly asking me where were you i lower my eyes' wishing i could cry more and care less, yes it's true, i was trying to love someone again, i was caught caring, bearing weight but i love this city, this state this country is too large and whoever's in charge up there had better take the elevator down and put more than change in our cup or else we are coming up

I

Working-Class •

Films and Literature

(a good place to start)

• •

The Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers has a site with links to their affiliate organizations and sample publications. http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/working_press/Fwwcp.htm On the Bottom Dog Press page, Larry Smith has. put together a good list of working-class literature and films. http://members.aol.comllsmithdog/bottomdog/ Struggle is a webzineof "proletarian revolutionary literature." http://home.flash.neU-comvoice/Struggle.html The Motion Picture and Television Reading Room of the Library of Congress has a filmography of labor-related films. After linking to the site, select "moving images collection" and then select the labor related option. http://www.loc.gov/rr/mopic/ wORking Press is an independent publisher run by volunteers. At their web site, you can read about their publishing project, browse the books, and even download selected chapters and the full text of pamphlets. http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/working_press/ Labor-Related Films in the Library of Congress Collection lists labor history documentaries in the collection of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress. http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mopic/labor.html Radical Novel Reconsidered Series is, "An exemplary bit of universitypress publishing .... The Radical Novel Reconsidered series restores a vital part of American Left history, and the novels are excellent reminders of what Alfred Kazin called, a half century ago, 'the greatest single fact about our modern American writing--our writers' absorption in every last detail of their American world together with their deep and subtle alienation from it." -- Voice Literary Supplement, Matt Weiland, October 1995. http://www.press.uillinois.edu/f96/rnr.html It's 1999, and the booming city of Austin, Texas keeps on growing thanks largely to men like Ramon and Juan, who work some of the hardest jobs in an America that doesn't want them. Through the lives of these two men and a battle over Austin's controversial day labor program, Los TrabajadoresfThe Workers brings to life the vivid contradictions that haunt America's dependence on and discrimination against immigrant labor. Will air on PBS in April 2003. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/theworkers/index.html www.bluelit.com

Questions? Comments? Bashes? Praise? Ideas? Threats of bodily harm? Submissions? wtchronicles@hotmail.com or PO Box 11583 Portland, ME 04104

"Some communities, you say, "Hey, American dream," and they go, "What does that mean?"
Source: FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Participates Hampshire Welcome," Oct. 5, 2002 in Manchester, New

~ "First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing ·to kill."
-President Bush, speaking about terrorism and poverty
Source: Public Papers of the Presidents, "The President's News Conference With President Macapaga.I-Arroyo of the Philippines," May 26, 2003

"We've got pockets of persistent poverty in our society, which I refuse to declare defeat-I mean, I refuse to allow them to continue on. And so one of the things that we're trying to do is to encourage a faith-based initiative to spread its wings all across America, to. be able to capture this great compassionate spirit."
Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush Re: Small Businesses Location," March 18, 2002

"The more money they have in their more pockets - in their pockets, the more likely it is that somebody will find work."
Source: Federal Document Clearing House, "George W. Bush Delivers Remarks to the GOP Resort from the Greenbriar Resort," Feb. 9, 2003