Journey into the heart of darkness
You fruits are gonna have to forgive me for this one.
I’m sure many of you spend your every waking hour in the ghetto, and hence could care less about my brief venture into your domain. There probably isn’t a whole lot I can tell you about your home, especially since I only spent the amount of time there it would take to have a brief conversation and then break the fuck out. (No, I wasn’t buying drugs.)
That is, unless you’re from some place like New York, where they don’t really have ghettos like they have here in the Midwest.
I’m not gonna sit here and claim to be an expert on New York, but I figure I’ve spent enough time there to know that the softness that’s set in there isn’t just limited to Manhattan or whatever. I spent some time in Queens last year, and also a couple of years ago, and I made it a point to look for the especially shitty areas, just for my own personal amusement. And the worst parts I saw there or anywhere else in New York look like the places where poor white people live here in the Midwest. I didn’t see any places that look like where poor black people live here in the Midwest.
Keep in mind, I could be mistaken. Also, I definitely don’t mean to brag or anything. If only the rest of the country could be like New York. (You know, minus the furriners.)
I’d been to the ghetto here in St. Louis before, but it’s been a long time. Like most black people, unless you’re part of one of those rare black families that’s been balling for generations, my entire family hails from the ghetto. And for all I know they might still live there, but who knows. We used to go down there to visit people when I was a kid, but the family has since grown much less close knit. A lot of the older people are dead, and a lot of the younger people could care less.
I’m not risking having my car stolen just to see some mofo I’m ostensibly related to. I’ll just watch 106 & Park. (I kid. I’m not watching 106 & Park.)
The thing that struck me driving through the ghetto today was how much more fucked the fuck up it is now than it was back then. I knew, because I’d read it in the paper or some shit, that the relative prosperity of the Clinton era, when unemployment had fallen to a supposedly negligible amount, and people weren’t sweating how much longer they’d be able to afford living indoors, had skipped over the ghetto, but I just figured that was motherfuckers complaining. Apparently, it did though. Who knew!
Oddly enough, the ghetto seemed like a much more vibrant place back during the height of the crack era. Now, I’m not even sure what’s wrong with the ghetto, other than… you know, poverty. There just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on there. I noticed a lot of the chain restaurants that were there even back when new homicide records were being set year in and year out have since been closed.
But of course, with this being the ghetto and all, there were still people out on the street. Even during a slight drizzle, there were people walking up and down the street, headed nowhere in particular, sitting on stoops, and what have you. That’s one thing you see in the ghetto you just don’t see other places. I mean, there’s people on this block who don’t work during the day, but they stay the fuck inside. What is it about the ghetto that drives so many people outdoors?
I guess, if I couldn’t afford the Internets, I’d spend more time standing around out front. Somebody might drive by in an interesting car.
Not to get too far off track in what’s already turning into a waste of a post, but there was an hilarious article in the New York Times a few weeks ago about these white chicks who had moved to Harlem, for the relatively cheap real estate, but decided to leave because they got tired of black dudes checking them out on the street. Not raping them, mind you. Just having a gander, and maybe whistling or some shit.
Anyhoo, if you’re into… erm, sociology or whatever, and you’re willing to take a certain degree of risk, you might want to consider visiting one of this country’s ghettos. I know some cracka-ass crackas have been going on poverty tourism expeditions to places like Brazil. But places like North St. Louis are way closer, and you’d be surprised how fucked the fuck up they are. Even in a time like this.
You might even be able to find a good deal on a blowski.