Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sweatshops and Cold Sweat and Sweaters

Time still dogging me. Spent too long with the paper as usual, but read a lead like this one, on the story of WaMu's downfall, and you can't put it down. Meth-sniffing loan officers, kickbacks to Realtors, creative documentation, inflated appraisals...

What gets me is that people who were used to normal, simple bank employment were pushed to sell home loans to anyone, anytime they could. If they didn't make their quota from their places behind the teller's cage, they were bused to a boiler room after working hours to pitch home equity loans. The workload, of course, came down on them as well: One office with 108 people and "several hundred" new loan files a day.

"I'd typically spend a maximum of 35 minutes per file," she said. "It was just disheartening. Just spit it out and get it done. That's what they wanted us to do. Garbage in, garbage out."

Now, of course, even the shareholders, who pushed this process with their own greed, are screwed. I wonder if the CEO fears bodily harm, she asks, purely abstractedly and with the kindest concern? I can't stand the thought of how the ad industry contributed to all this, as well.

Elsewhere in medialand, I check out the top songs and etc. of 2008 to see what I've missed. I really miss not seeing theater because of lacking babysitting and money. That I miss. But I do hear songs on the radio. OK, I love M.I.A.'s Paper Planes, in fact it's been on my mental rotation for more than a year (I don't have an iPod, not safe to run with one, can't deal with the tech, can't afford the toys, so I play songs in my brain to myself as I run through my days). But it didn't need to get tricked up with literally sh**ty lyrics from the sufferin' Kanye like "how it feel wake up be the sh*t AND the urine" and from poor Lil Wayne, who must have been overworked in the sweatshop of his own making to come up with lyrics like "swagger tighter than a yeast infection." (BTW, I don't agree with all her lyrical assessments in that link, but some are pretty funny.) With my diet and lifestyle and luck, that's not an experience I've dealt with for a good long time, but when I cast back in my memory, I seem to remember that swagger would have been the last word I'd apply to that situation.

Another pick is Beyonce's infectious "Single Ladies," whose message makes me a little sick. It sent me scurrying to the bookcase for Adrienne Rich's A Wild Patience to see if I could find something better that would possibly scan. Not quite, but follow the bouncing ball:

In a world where
property is everything
You belong to
your daddy then the man who chooses
If you fail to marry
You are without recourse
If you're married you are
leeee-gally de-eead

My used copy of this book has "no rights" written in a sweet, rounded cursive in the margins, a helpful message from the last student who owned it.

I have a bad memory. I can remember the precise moment a three-year depression lifted--on an airplane en route to Tampa, smoking a cigarette, wearing a mint-green pastel jersey suit, listening to Thomas Dolby (ironically, "Flying North") on a Walkman (!), but I can't remember the year without looking things up and counting backward and even then it's a challenge--it was sometime in the early 80s is all I know. I remember dancing on a chair at BA's house after the mushroom dip; I remember the exact way a lover described a costume worn by a comic book villianess that gave him a hardon, I remember what a stranger said to me sitting around a fire in October, I remember my daughter's first word.

But I cannot remember birthdays, ages, dates, names, phone numbers, addresses, whether I made that appointment, or the combination to the community garden shed. I am in grave danger of losing my plot, because all the family health problems meant I didn't do enough fall weeding and cleaning. So I was out there today, weeding and filling old shopping bags full of wood chips and compost and walking them back to my plot, two at a time, because I couldn't open the shed and get a wheelbarrow. I was the human wheelbarrow. And on a climate-changarama day like this, near 70, I was sweating.

I got two particularly warm Solstice presents: My sister-in-law filled an old 1800 Tequila bottle with malt vinegar, scotch bonnet peppers and spices to make me island hot sauce; my mother gave me a cashmere hoodie to replace the one that accidently got put in the dryer and now fits my daughter.

Right now, I have put my daughter to work, perhaps in violation of child labor laws. She is to sort an entire drawer of hair accessories. She's grown her hair long once, cut it off and donated it, and is going into second-growth stage now, about shoulder-length. In the process of her work, she has covered herself with hair clips. Her only pay is going out for Chinese chicken tonight. Can you spare ten cents a day for this child? You already are, if you're a DC taxpayer, cause that's about what the schools end up getting.

Love and Sweat to you as the countdown continues.


David said...

Saw that WAMU article in the Times--what creeps, sort of a real estate version of Madoff--only worse. Wonder what an acre of rubble is going for along the Gaza shore line. Forgot, Israel controls that line; I'll stay away from that:
3,000 people per square mile
No Water
No Food
No Exit
Now Bombs
New Holocausts
--would fit a mott the hoople song; history hops back around; all the young dudes carry rockets.
70 in DC
only 55 here in Tennessee
sunny and foggy as the bears
run from high powered rifles.

Maria Padhila said...

With you on a lot of that, but it's my practice not to call anything but the Holocaust a holocaust. Atrocities and acts of genocide need individual recognition, to me, in respect to those affected--too bad they have so much in common among all of us. PS luuuuvvvv the photo.