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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 6th, 2007 - 10:53:33

If you saw something, and said something, thanks!
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Aug 6, 2007, 00:43

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In my article, If you see something, say something, which is the theme line for the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority�s advertising to get subway riders to keep a steady eye out for "terrorists" and lonely black bags with bombs in them, I gave you a rundown of what I saw, not just in New York, but around the world with the Bush gang. But there�s more.

Now the Transit Authority�s running a follow-up ad that�s even quainter: �Last year, 1,944 people said something when then saw something.� And MTA just wanted to thank them. The kicker is 7 million people a day ride the city�s trains and buses, so this miniscule response is nothing to brag about. Thank god, most of the people have better things to do than get trapped in the homemade paranoia. But me, I saw a few more things I had to say something about.

In fact, this article is dedicated to the numb-nuts who wrote in to say, �If you don�t like America, why the fuck don�t you leave it?� So it won�t be in your hands, pal, that�s why. Additionally, a boatload of people wrote in to say thanks, what courage to tell it like it is, god bless you, and such. One other nerd wrote in to say, I needed my head checked.

Well, I think anybody living in New York or America needs their head checked, maybe like their teeth (at least every six months) and their body (at least once a year). We live in a consciously-created super-stressful environment that hurts mind, body and soul. But I see millions of families and individuals in this country without any healthcare to have their heads or bodies or teeth, let alone their spirits, checked. That includes millions of kids (despite the new legislation), broke and broken war vets, and an ignored population of the homeless and those living in their cars.

And just so the MTA and George Bush know, I see thousands of people living in the New York City of America�s subway tunnels, sharing the space with rats that merrily bounce along station tracks, over the ample garbage tossed by unthinking riders. I see others sleeping on station benches, lost to the world, while the more talented sing, play instruments, or perform for a handout from generous working people, day after day.

I see Pakistanis, all kinds of Middle Eastern people (who could easily be terrorists, I suppose) running newsstands, taking the A train to the American Dream, working 10-12 hours a day, often risking their lives to work in lonely locations. On the streets, I see a jihad of cabbies working six, seven days a week, up to 14 hours a day, to make ends meet, put food on the table and send their kids to school to have a better life. I even see Sikhs, whose religion is based on love and peace, with their high wound turbans and their long full beards. They are patient, quiet people, who usually listen to music or speak in their earphone/mouthpieces to fellow drivers or family members.

I remember the time when three girls jumped in a Sikh's cab right after I hailed him. I got so angry I ran over and kicked his fender like some escaped Billy Martin or Lou Pinella, raging at the umpire after a bad call, spoiling for trouble. My wife and kid thought I was nuts. So did the Sikh, whom I hollered at through his window. He said, "Why are you kicking my taxi?" I responded, "These girls jumped in my cab." He asked, " What am I to do, ask them to leave?" The guy was a foot taller than me and 20 years younger. And here he was, apologizing. That�s what I see. Decent Easterners, nutty Westerners. And don�t tell me you don�t have road rage, buddy, on or off the road. I see so much of it that it scares me.

And yet I see these 7 million people pack themselves in the subways to go to work and back every day, and for all the overcrowding, tension and sheer discomfort that produces, I rarely see a physical fight. Maybe some words, occasionally, but that�s it. In fact, I also see the many people who approach cars to beg for money, food, or your eyeteeth, and flash credentials from poverty organizations. I also see performers who come in semi-crowded cars to rap dance, moon walk, or actually do multi-cartwheels or other acrobatic feats to boom box music, and then pass the hat, just as you thought it was safe to leave the house. And you say nothing.

You say nothing because you know these people are trying. Trying to make a few bucks to get through the day or have someone say, "Kid, I wanta make a record of your conga drumming, or how would you like to be in my club playing your free-form jazz saxophone solo?" And so on. And what do you say when you see some truly young rapster make your head spin with his wit. Or when he gets zero response and bucks, and tells the riders, "have a heart, especially you black folks. I am just trying to stay out of trouble. Give a guy some support." Yeah, ah well, that�s life, says the rider to himself.

I see that. And I see my hand going in my pocket like others, black, white, yellow, brown or purple, and slap a buck in the person�s hand, and get that thank you that makes you want to cry. Why?

Because every time I turn on the television or see the newspaper, I see the news today, oh boy. Even about the two black transit workers who got hit by trains while working on the tracks, because their supervisors either never bothered to inform them trains were still running on those tracks or the workers didn�t have working radios to get messages, shades of 9/11�s firemen. I see those human tears of their fellow workers. And I see the Metropolitan Transit Authority always with a huge budget hole, despite the hundreds of millions in fares, the fare hikes, the nearly $80 million the MTA pulls down from advertising in buses, subway and commuter trains.

And so I see the infrastructure underserved like its masses once again, that is the buses and subways. The commuter trains to Long Island and north of the city seem significantly more spacious, up-to-date, better air-conditioned, with more comfortable seats, enough to handle their more suburban crowds. Once again a little class conflict, which Bush says doesn�t exist, but he keeps generating. I invite him to ride the subway like Mayor Mike Bloomberg does, a man with whom I don�t always agree, as with congestion pricing for traffic entering New York City, which is elitist. Yet I respect him for putting his billions where his mouth is, saying bye-bye to the neocons and becoming an independent. Who wants to touch those lepers anyhow?

As to infrastructure, I see it ain�t just New York City, what with our legendary pot-holed streets, exploding steam/asbestos energy pipes, choked traffic, overstressed bridges, highways, etc. I see a bridge that crumpled in Minnesota over the Mississippi River, imagine, sending 70 cars plunging into the current. I see the Washington Post say, �experts and engineers said federal funds aren�t enough to save the interstate system�s half-century old bridges and 47,000 miles of highway from further decays, as a network designed to connect the nation teeters under a crush of commuter traffic.� Go head, read about it. See for yourself.

At the same time, I see the gas and oil companies getting richer, the car companies behind them, and the Bush-man trying to put our national railway, Amtrak, up for privatizing, i.e. out of business.

Also, I see some Republicans trying to intimate the bridge-fall was due to �terrorists� and the left saying the CIA did it. I say the bridge was too damn old, like the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City. They literally had to build another bridge around it to keep it standing as subways, cars, trucks, buses and pedestrians crossed it every day from Manhattan�s Lower East Side to my old neighborhood, Williamsburg, and deeper into Brooklyn. This only after repeated warnings from engineers that the WB could crap out at any time with thousands of people and cars on it.

Yet I see trillions going for war, for tax-cuts for the rich, for corporate welfare for campaign contributions. Trillions that could be replenishing that infrastructure, providing universal health care, taking care of veterans, senior citizens, children, and everybody else who needs it. I see our manufacturing sector in similar collapse, what with millions of jobs shipped overseas to fatten the bottom line, for stockholders, CEOs, the boys in the back room of major corporations. And screw the little people, right, screw them, the less we have of them the better. They eat too much. And yeah, I see too many fat people, too, who are out of control stuffing their faces with super-sized hits of MacDonald fries, double-patty burgers on jumbo rolls.

I see a whole nation of fatties, including the well-heeled, slapping the steaks, the heroes, the pizza and the Food Network specials in their faces. I see a nation eating itself sick, into oblivion. Why? What�s the problem, when people are scraping for leftovers in garbage cans (believe it) and others can�t stop piling it on in over-the-top priced restaurants? I see the rich getting richer, the fat getting fatter, the poor getting poorer. I also see the Republicans getting more arrogant and non-responsive to the calls and needs of the people. I even see the White House once again pressuring Congress until the House Approves Changes in Eavesdropping.

The NY Times, August 5, article above said, �Under pressure from President Bush, the House gave final approval Saturday to changes in a terrorism surveillance program, despite serious objections from many Democrats about the scope of the executive branch�s new eavesdropping power.� In fact, �Racing to complete a final rush of legislation before a scheduled monthlong break, the House voted 227 to 183 to endorse a measure the Bush administration said was needed to keep pace with communications technology in the effort to track terrorists overseas.� Hey, did I forget it was vacation time? Screw duking it out with Spy-Man and the Bug-Boys. Even though speaker Nancy Pelosi said �the measure �does violence to the Constitution of the United States.�� Screw that, too, I guess �It�s just a goddamn piece of paper,� like Junior said.

But now I see the NSA looking into everybody�s emails, listening to phone calls, spying without any ethical compunction at all. While I�m at it, I see the Times several days before telling us Rumsfeld Defends Himself in Tillman Case. I see the former secretary of defense trying to cover his butt for the murder (fratricide) of Army Ranger (could have been football millionaire) Pat Tillman�s death by �friendly fire� and the massive army cover-up of same. Read all about that and see what you say.

I see our New York Post publisher, Rupert Murdoch, buying the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Company for $5 billion to add to his worldwide publishing and broadcasting empire. Today the Journal, tomorrow the world. Now he can get his filthy hands on even more ways to control financial markets. In fact, I see Murdoch and the world skidding so far to the right that we�re going to have a head-on crash with reality, as in the subprime lending collide.

How could all these savvy market guys buy into mortgage companies that were so dumb as to lend Other People�s Money to people without the proper stats to get those loans? Well hey, they got their commissions. What was the problem with that? Yet when the debt hit the fan, BOOM, markets tumbled all over the world. Maybe one day they won�t stop tumbling and you got the D-word for Depression. Also, I see guys like Senator Charles Schumer defending hedge funds against proper taxation and transparency. Schumer, who claims to be a liberal do-gooder, in bed with the biggest market scammers imaginable.

I see the FDA turning to the tobacco companies to set the standards for what are �reduced-risk� tobacco products. That�s like asking the local drug dealer which is the good heroin, not the kind that makes you hopefully addictive and can wreck your life. Jesus. Speaking of that, I see my good old Roman Catholic Church peeling off $60 million bucks in LA to stifle still another massive pedophilia scam. Lucky me, I escaped the horny priest who tried to bag me when I was just 15. I see me backing out of the rectory and running home like Bugs Bunny. My old man wanted to plant Father�s head in the cement, but my mother (bless her believing soul) talked him out of it. Me, I see JM never going back.

So what is this all about? All this seeing, saying, corruption, boogey man paranoia? Is it just life or is it just us? Well, I recommend you see Mike Moore�s Sicko. I saw it with my teenage son. And it�s not just about our lousy HMO benefit-gouging, life-strangling health system. It�s really, I see, about how corporate USA has eaten into our lives to bloat itself with our blood money. I see how it�s run our quality of life into the ground. I see how our lives are being shortened with inadequate health scare, with overwork, too much tension, no relief, not enough time for a woman to have a baby, enjoy it, without having to hire a nanny and run back to work. I see we�re working without a net in the USA. And whatever protections are there, are being taken away.

I see we�re all in this alone. Until we get together. Until we all go to Washington on 9/11/2007 and protest that awful day�s events and who was behind them and all the other crap we�ve had to swallow for the past six years. I see if we don�t get off our butts and go tackle these guys, we�ll sink deeper into the mess. The president and vice president�s arrogance will increase. They will listen to no one, do anything they want to do, imprison people, declare some homemade tragedy a national emergency and cancel elections. And then where will be? In Hitler�s Germany. In Orwell�s 1984. And Big Brother will be sitting next to you on the subways, looking in your window at home, checking you at the stoplights to see if you�re naughty or nice. So let�s get moving, folks. And speaking of naughty and nice, thanks for saying something after you saw my see/say article.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at

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