Thursday, 7 May 2009

A Horse or a Pub?

No one can be certain when the US will emerge from this recession but we will do so a different country.
We will rally much faster than the nations of the EC for there is little other choice – lacking their social safety net we will change careers, work at jobs “beneath us,” invent new ways of making a living, even create industries; in fact do anything to survive.
Anyone familiar with Ireland of the 70’s will not need to be reminded of the mass stasis and depression that blighted the country; remember the saying – “last one out, lock the door and turn out the lights!”
It’s a toss of the coin, though, whether the US or China will recover first. Both sets of people are industrious: they are more frugal and thrifty; we tend to be more inventive. They need us to purchase their products, while we cannot fund our lifestyle without their credit.
It’s amazing that two such disparate systems are so interdependent. At the moment they have the more dynamic government, willing and eager to spend on capital projects so that when this crisis passes their county will have benefited – they are currently building or are have plans for a dozen new subway systems in order to lessen their dependence on foreign oil. With a bit of luck we’ll have the 2nd Avenue line in operation around the time the Mets next win the World Series. Hey, you gotta believe!
So far, however, we have always trumped Mao’s children when it comes to putting original ideas into operation - especially, in the midst of recessions. Witness the groundbreaking advances in computer technology during the recession of the 70’s and the boom in related industries soon after.
Now that the junk bond dreams and credit default schemes of the financial industry are behind us, expect a surge in entrepreneurship and the creation of new industries. That’s the American way.
Like it or not, though, we’re entering an age of the self-employment, part-time work and internships. Because we didn’t reform the health insurance system in flusher times most of the onus still remains on employers to provide that service; this puts American business at a disadvantage with most of the industrialized world where private citizens tend to pay into government backed schemes. Hopefully, the situation will be remedied in the coming four years, but the world will be a very different place by then with new challenges – and challengers.
Where will we be socially when the dust clears? I’ve always felt that the 60’s actually ended around 1983 - along with the preceding recession. Yuppies swept away the final vestiges of the counter-culture and it became cooler to work rather than party all night.
Tell me about it – I’m writing this at six in the bloody morning! Either we need another 60’s or more hours in the day. Come to think of it - where are my bell-bottoms?
And yet, tough times beget opportunities. During the recession of the early 90’s Black 47 got its start in the Bainbridge Avenue/204th Street area of the Bronx – then the center of Irish immigrant life.
It’s said that every Irishman would like to either own a pub or a racehorse. I don’t know about the ponies, but during the construction boom of the mid-80’s it seemed as though a pub opened weekly around Bainbridge where live music was deemed essential to the success of saloon or shebeen.
And so Black 47 headed up the Major Deegan three or four times a week all through 1990-91. We worked our way up and down Braindamage (as it was affectionately known), getting fired more often than not, but there was always a new pub with need of a band.
By the time the recession ended in 1993 we had moved on to Letterman and the rest of the country. I never found out exactly what happened up on the street of dreams, but by the time we returned some years later, the Bainbridge we all knew and loved had disappeared.
This current recession will change us all and the way we look at life – the question is, how?

1 comment:

  1. Larry,

    that is one of the most insightful pieces of writing I've read in a LONG, LONG time. As someone who's affected (read: unemployed!) by this recession, this piece moved me almost to tears. Thank you for your deep thinking.

    Rock on. Hope to see Black 47 up this way soon!

    Jim (from Providence)


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