[I should have known when I spotted Pink Floyd on vinyl in a storefront and looked up expecting to see anything except Urban Outfitters.
(But really I should have known when I went to break into the music building and instead introduced my elbow to inch-thick glass.)
I should have known. This place wasn't real. I should have known better. This place was an oasis, up until I looked in the box.
I see: Hot Topic / American Apparel / Adidas / Bank of America / Wet Seal / Chipotle
Two tall collegiates in athletic shorts say "dude" eleven times (apiece) before I am finally out of earshot. (They sound like us. We sound like them. We are all part of one 'stream-waved generation, after all.)
Five Cal students (two young Asian men, an older caucasian male, and a pair of female Indian twins) debate between themselves which of the three head shops on the block they should patronize. They are stoned, and they laugh.
This is where I want to vomit.
And here! On my Telegraph!
Where are my flower-power septuagenarians? Where are my chess games made from corrugated cardboard? Where are my Vietnam vets deftly rolling joints atop mailboxes recently reappropriated as canvases? Where are my ranters, my accosters, my huddled masses downtrodden solely for rejecting the advertisied, adversified self-abandonment metaverse? Where is the promise they made to me? Where am I?
is gone, replaced by
THIS IS A DRUG FREE ZONE
The block where my bookstore should be is barricaded off, a sole police attendant standing dead center to ensure no one dares even think of reading. I almost walk toward him to ask what the fuck is going on but what the fuck is going on and I stare morosely onto the blackened street.
I haven't yet moved but already it diminishes.
I carry my backpack with me, stow inside it my lost expression and air of defeat. Mostly, though, I just want the six cops who have gathered in the main square (to laugh and chat and chat and laugh) to leave me alone. I hate them. Unwarranted, perhaps; but they are a symbol. They know. They should know better.
(But we empower them. I fuel them simply by sneering. We give them life. We create them.)
Am I pissed? Yeah, I'm pissed. If you live and breathe and you're not fucking pissed, you're not doing it right.
((I thought it was: "If you don't want to kill yourself every moment of every day, you're not doing it right."))
A store window is partially shattered with a brick lying at its base, but when I bend down to pick it up and finish the job, the brick is half-eaten pound cake and the cracks in the glass are part of a stick-on decal.
//this is the revelation//
In the distance, an air raid siren.