middle brow | citizen how \ 29 june 18 /

bathing in the city aqueduct. 


SCENE I. minutes before the moment.

blaring blog rock. curtain lifts on early-20s poser.

you: oh shit! i was planning all fucking week to wear that t-shirt this weekend. and now where the fuck is it?!?!?!?! jesus h. it's my favorite fucking shirt. where the fuck?! where?! errrrgghghhggg. ...

mom, from backstage: did you look in the hamper???"

you: yes i looked in the fucking hamper but it ain't there. i haven't worn it for months cuz i always like to save it for special occasions. and that's what the f lollapalooza is!!!! mother fucker! i can't believe i didn't look for it last wee.... wait a fucking tic! did i leave it at brian's house? last winter?! after his big kegger? shit i think i did. i think i fucking left it at br... wait no. no no no. i also wore it when my friends were tryin' to set me up with that babe. and i just stumbled home and passed out that night. so it's gotta be here somewhere. where in the fuck! ok shit. i guess i gotta make a clever shirt. for today. quick. i need some ideas. black lives matter?


upstairs in the family home. enter mom and you. mom hears rustling from behind your bedroom door. clothes all over your bedroom floor, spilling into the hallway. you're frantically crawling on your floor, wisping handfuls of balled up pants and shirts around your room. mom clears her throat and you pause. on your knees. and look up. and slouch your shoulders into your torso.  

mom: did you find it? 

you: no! i can't fucking find that thing anywhere. how the fuck did i lose my favorite shirt?!

mom: stop swearing so much, it's just a shirt

you: but it's my favorite shirt! no other shirt fits me that way. it makes me look tan. how the fuck am i ever gonna get a girlfriend if i'm stuck wearing these stupid, clever urban outfitters shirts? i hate all my clothes. ereraggghhhhgereh. WHERE IS IT??????

mom: mijo! basta! it's just a shirt. get some perspective. ... remember when those US border agents pretended we were less-than-human and whisked you away from me and detained you indefinitely in a camp?

......... went no play, ever.


remember that guy from your high school class who loooooved to party. like, he'd party on a monday and on a tuesday and then maybe take wednesday off but talk about what was going on thursday night. when he'd inevitably be drinking alone in some forest or cemetery or behind some backstop somewhere. and then by the time you were seniors he started getting really dark and moody at parties. and threatening to do dumb shit for attention. like, he was gonna get in his car and drive right home right then cuz nobody loved him. ... clearly this ain't no laughing matter. that guy was likely either an alcoholic or depressed or both. but, you know, he's doing fine now. he's an insurance salesman in your old des moines suburb. and has a nice family. and has a handle on his depression. (and shit, we should joke more often and speak more readily about depression and alcoholism anyway. they're sicknesses. and we sure as shit don't speak in hushed tones about our stomach flus.)

and yeah. things are ok now. but for awhile there in high school and into college they stayed dark for him. he got a DUI when you were freshmen. and then another one when you were juniors. and he was close to losing his license when he got that third one when you were 24, but the judge was fairly lenient. and somehow he picked himself up and got himself together.

there's something really fucking creepy about trump's amoral mouthpiece, sarah huckabee sanders. and DHS secretary kirstjen neilsen. and attorney general jefferson beauregard sessions. and their insistence that by separating families they're simply enforcing the law. 

yeah. and a first time DUI in illinois can be punished with 1 year of imprisonment. but do you know anyone who's ever gone to jail for a year for a DUI? not if you're white you don't. 

there's something in law called discretion. prosecutors and judges both use it constantly. for instance, state prosecutors do no prosecute every single crime to the fullest extent possible. we couldn't afford that. there's be way too many felons in the state. and way more humans than available jail cells. and way too many lives would be ruined for offenses that are ultimately of very little moral turpitude.

judges also use it in sentencing guilty parties. remember that time you got pulled over for going 58 in a 40 and the cop merely gave you a ticket for having no proof of insurance. but you had insurance. you just didn't have the insurance card in the glove box. or maybe you simply couldn't find it. (the cop was also exercising discretion, by the way.) ... so on your first big court day you got all dressed up in your nicest pants and your new birkenstock bostons and your favorite shirt (this was before brian's kegger) and went down to the courthouse all nervous about what the judge would say to you. proof of insurance in hand. and the judge called you to his bench and asked to see such proof. and you gave it to her and then wiped your palm on your pants. and she quickly and without emotion dismissed the case and said some other shit and you looked at the young state's attorney standing next to you and she told you "you're all set. go talk to the clerque. he'll tell you what to do next".

things could have gone so much worse for you. (and they likely would have if you were black, by the way.) but the cop and the judge used discretion. because maximum enforcement of the law is extremely foolish and inefficient.

yet we pretend like we're obligated to enforce the laws to their max when it comes to migrants fleeing from violence in their own countries and seeking asylum in this religious nation of ours. ... religious?! ha! we'll take your tired, your poor, your scarred and bloody and separate them from their babies just to fuck with their heads a little. make them regret the hundreds of miles they traveled. make them wish they were back home. in their old neighborhood. on their old street. where murderous gangs ran the show. because at least they'd be with their children. the humans who they birthed and fed and raised and to whom they taught hard lessons about work and sacrifice and deprivation.

i mean, what good could they do us? only bad, right? i mean, some insecure german immigrant fathered amoral fred trump. who then fathered insecure-baby-boy donald trump. so we know how dangerous immigrants can be.


just 'cuz your attention has been diverted from this monstrous policy. by world cup soccer. or the retirement of a vapid supreme court justice. or the 4th of july in pilsen (DON'T MISS IT!). doesn't mean it isn't monstrous. doesn't mean our president and his henchwomen and men didn't authorize and execute on it. doesn't mean there aren't hundreds, even thousands of children who have no idea where their parents are or when they'll see them again. doesn't mean their aren't hundreds, even thousand of parents who have no idea where their babies are or when they'll see them again. or whether they'll in fact grow up to be doctors or lawyers or engineers, like they dreamed on the long journey here. as they gave their babies the last of the clean water. and the only remaining blanket. 

celebrate a different united states of america this coming wednesday. one that you may have heard about in history class. and not the immensely selfish one you've come to know these past few decades.