World Cupture and Breakfast

Go ahead and cry, Argentina! Shoulda beat Germany today, but home field advantage and a noticeable collapse of energy led to a sad defeat on penalty kicks. Soccer at its best and worst”¦ great play, concluded by the stupidest way imaginable of ending a game, penalty kicks. Sheesh. Then Italy looked better than any previous game against Ukraine and had an easy win”¦ they looked really good, maybe they’ll knock out Germany? I still think the home team will sneak through to the championship.

The World Cup has absorbed a ridiculous number of my hours lately. It is weirdly fascinating, similarly to other championship series, but uniquely structured. And though the best players are commercially employed in Europe (mostly), there is some extra hook to having national teams “sort of” representing a national style of soccer. And of course, futbol is, more than any other sport, the solvent that lets the endless streams of migrants connect with each other and “˜natives’ wherever they are. Passing by several bars on Saturday while that wonderful Argentina-Mexico game was going on I found people hanging on every kick, cheering one side or the other, independent of their own origins. It’s quite a party with broad appeal.

Whichever bar I visited, a huge percentage of the crowd seemed to be from somewhere else. San Francisco has always been a city of immigrants. But with the past spring’s huge demonstrations in such unlikely places as Dallas, something new was finally up, or so it seemed. I’ve been wondering lately what will come next, after those big immigrant marches. Things seem oddly quiescent now, even though most of the political attacks on migrants are still in the pipeline.

My pal George Caffentzis has written the best analytical overview of what happened, called the “”˜Si Se Puede’ Insurrection: A Class Analysis.” I urge you to read it because it is the only thing I’ve seen that captures the complicated nuances on both sides of the class divide in this particular moment. The predicament for capital: “how to make the condition of immigrant workers both as slave-like as possible (i.e. to have workers without rights) and as flexible (i.e., to have no expenses of reproduction) as possible.” George does a good job of going through some of the (always suspect) statistics regarding wage levels and immigrant workers, debunking the commonly held notion that as more workers enter a given job market, the wages flatten or fall. He finds a much stronger correlation between wage levels and degrees of unionization, and points out that a lot of the political energy of the recent demos comes from people who have arrived in the U.S. with a strong class interest in self-organizing. (How that interfaces with the stodgy AFL-CIO unions is a separate problem.)

I’m working on the Fall/Winter Talks at CounterPULSE now, and one of the topics we came up with is to do a bilingual Talk on Immigration and Agriculture, since so many people are being displaced from traditional agricultural lives by the ever-expanding world market. That leads to in-migration to the mega cities and in turn pushes more and more people to migrate northward, whether to the U.S. and Canada, or Europe. And then once here, many end up employed in near slave-conditions as heavily exploited farmworkers. But there’s a glimmer of something different in the fact that we have a growing movement trying to advance urban agriculture and a permacultural transformation of city life. Who better to help make this a reality than those who have arrived with recent experience of working the land? So if you’re interested in this, and/or have any ideas on who should speak, please contact me. I think we’d want to have this one next April or May to coincide with next year’s probable mobilizations.

Amidst my summer blues there are some real pleasures. This is my everyday breakfast (much to the amusement of those who have shared mornings with me over the past few years), but it’s at its most tantalizing in late June, when I can heap raspberries, blueberries, organic peaches, bananas, raisins, and the last kiwi of the season on my oat bran flake cereal”¦ yum! I actually look forward to having this every morning!

Another great pleasure is my Wednesday visit to the Central City Farmers’ Market where I’ve been shopping since 1990. This time of year is a fun time to buy exotic flowers that I never see”¦ maybe a reader can tell me what I got this week?

Last Sunday I made it out to the Stern Grove music festival, a fantastic free series that’s been running in San Francisco’s west-side fog belt since 1938. Much to my delight this past Sunday’s headliner was Amadou and Mariam, a blind couple originally from Mali who gained fame in Paris. They are amazing, some of my favorite musicians these days. I’ve been listening to them nonstop for the past few years so getting to see them live for free was a treat. Here’s a couple of shots of the concert.

I’ve been getting some writing done on the book, but it’s really a struggle these days. I do have a couple of essays popping up, one in the SPUR newsletter and another in the SF Bay Guardian‘s 40th anniversary issue dedicated to a look at the future, coming out at the end of July. I can feel my next novel taking shape in the background these days, so when I finally get this one done, it’ll be right on to that. I’ve already agreed to speak publicly about this unfinished book, at Bluestockings in NYC on Sept. 1, so if you’re around there, pop in on that Friday night”¦

Another good friend just told me he and his wife are breaking up after 7 or 8 years, which added to my general despair about relationships and love. I am aware that these things go in cycles and what seems so bleak now can turn to ecstasy at a future moment. Hard to hold on to that though”¦ Low morale and depression really block the creative juices, the easy pleasures”¦at least I have my bowl of cereal and fruit every day!

1 comment to World Cupture and Breakfast

  • russell

    Hang in there cereal comrade! Bleakness, deapair, struggle, summer blues, etc. are all part of being human. Just finished reading “Grapes of Wrath” and, as you well know, we all walk together in our miseries.

    Speaking of breakfast, I’m off to eat my organic muselix with organic mango, peaches, strawberries, apples, and rice milk. I’ve opted out of smoothies here on the road and am now in cereal solidarity with brothers and sisters like you.

    Strength in humaness,

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