There’s something icky in the following: Jeff Bezos bought the biggest house in Washington, DC, and, while reading the article, in my head I heard George Michael singing:
And most of us are not sure / If we have too much / But we’ll take our chances / ‘Cause God stopped keeping score / I guess somewhere along the way / He must have let us all out to play / Turned his back and all God’s children / crept out the back door…
I’ve known that this political and social moment was coming my whole life; there was never any evidence to the contrary. I guess I got caught up. I guess I thought I could bypass it or live a life parallel to it but not in it, a version of the old Protestant ‘in the world but not of it’.
Every time I think the thought I’m about to write, it’s so gross. When George Micheal, Leonard Cohen, and David Bowie died in 2016, I didn’t feel bad because in the years and months and weeks before their deaths, I’d spent, of my own volition, considerable time contemplating their work .When they died, I felt ok because I was conscious before their deaths of what they meant to me as musicians, as artists, and I could think of their deaths as simply the deaths of fellow human beings.1 George Micheal’s death is the most recent, and I haven’t felt the need to follow along with the media’s rehashing of his career because, at it’s peak and in the months before his death, I was deeply immersed in his work. That sense of self-satisfied above-it-all-ness is a thing I detest in myself, but, it is what it is.
I was 15 when this song was released. I remember watching this video and listening to the words with the greatest attention. It was radically different to anything else I was listening to back then. There’s a spirit in it. Even then, I knew he was telling a truth that implicated him and me and everyone who – with impunity – benefited from others’ suffering. I knew, even then, that only a remarkable change in our way of life could rectify the situation.
At 15, I knew that being aware was the best that I could do. That awareness is why, three years later, I left Florida and went to school in DC. DC in 1993 was a very different city to the one Bezos is moving into in 2017.
And now? When there is no hope to speak of? Awareness isn’t enough, and I have so much more to lose, so I’m praying for time.
But, what’s icky about any of this? What’s icky is the way that the media shaped the convergence. Both Bezos’ doings and George Michael’s death are reported with an alacrity that lacks care, nuance. Oh! It is so smarmy, such scum. Gah! And I can’t wash away the slime.
- This was not my experience with Prince, alas, and I mourn, mourn, mourn the artist and his work because, in recent years, I took him and my own history with his art for granted. ↩︎