The tales and journeys of Maxwell Woodger Esq
Monday – November 14 – 2005
Just the other day I was re-living that great scene from A Bronx Tale- you know, that film where DeNiro is trying to keep his son on the straight and narrow during the Mob/Race hate era of the 50’s…Yeah, so I’m sitting in the backseat with my New Era pulled low, black camoed down, eyes focusing on an uncertain future. My camarades are more relaxed and joking around me. One of them mock sings a verse from some hip-hop song about “Still not caring…” I don’t remember who the rapper is.
My sweaty hands are trying to get a grip on the bottle between my legs. I couldn’t care less if the cops pulled us over and found a few empty jars of booze in the vehicle. We’re carrying scarier things than 32% alcohol with us tonight: 4 lengths of wood, three jerry cans, an array of sharp implements and a whole lot of determination… Plus a possible biscuit, but what I don’t know can’t hurt me, eh?
Anyway, the tension has got too deep for my entourage and actions speak louder than words.
When I scan the screens and pick up the airwaves, witnessing the tear of social fabric in France somehow none of it surprises me. When I moved to France, the coffee and croissant charade was soon squashed and replaced by the stale baguette and odd flavoured milk. I didn’t run the Champs Elysées with a beret and string of onions like many a tourist, I walked the back alleys with an army of Lacoste shellsuits and stolen scooters. Despite their garish outfits (peaked hats, bright coloured tracksuits and dazzling white Stan Smiths), my co-hosts were ignored and avoided by the rest of French society.
“Je m’embats les couilles de tous ces gouèrrons! Ils n’ont jamais rien fait pour mes parents, ni mes grandparents, alors pourquoi est ce qu’ils se bougeraient le cul pour nous? Le monde est a nous alors ce soir moi et mes srabes on va se server!”
I knew what he was saying, but I had better translate for those of us that don’t recognize the lingo: He didn’t give a shit about the whiteys. They hadn’t done a thing for his parents or his grandparents before that, so why would they bother moving ass for him today? As the iconoclastic Tony ‘Scarface’ Montana pointed out to the disillusioned youth: The world is Yours. Tonight him and his boys were taking their share.
Fighting words in a volatile situation usually ends in hostilities. The only problem here is that nobody’s listening. The kids don’t understand the political rhetoric and the politicians can’t get to grips with the back-slang. Add to that the fact that a lot of the estates are no-go areas for social services, and an immigrant’s son can’t take two steps out of his ghetto without being stopped and searched by the fuzz, and there is definite communication breakdown.
These are dark days and the lines are drawn. Like the poor roaming the streets in 1789, these revolutionaries aren’t hungry for bread- they want work! But nothing is going to happen until people step up and take responsibility for themselves. Right-wing crusader Sarkozy needs to step down from his battle horse, whilst the young rioters need to step up to the challenge and try harder.
As we turned a sharp corner and crawled through a parking lot of neatly parked cars destined to be torched, thoughts ran through my head. Did my cohorts even remember how all this started? Does it really matter?
This generation had been pissed on by society with flammable liquids, and the electrocution of two of their own was the spark needed to light a fire that burned within.There was talk of curfews being installed across the land, and distant communities taking up the cause elsewhere… We didn’t care.
We left the motor running and stepped out onto our dark playground. Each of us passed round the wood and implements, whilst someone took care of the jerry cans filed with fuel.
After a little organization and set-up, one of us fired up the generators and a session was underway.
The radio cheered us on in the background: Candi Statons ‘Young hearts run free’.
Maxwell Woodger Esq