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Wednesday, November 25, 2009


composition in gray #15

The weather today was sublime. 50 degrees all day, sun out, no wind, long sleeves comfortable. Beautiful day. Traffic in town the day before Thanksgiving Day was like on a Friday in the summer. Where'd they all come from? Turning onto Hwy21 by left or right turn was a serious wait, a city wait. Here, the waiting gets on our nerves, such that the wait at city traffic lights makes me want to turn the motor off. But I also wouldn't want it to be one of those freak moments when the motor wouldn't start and there I'd be in lane 3 of 5 unable to move. The cars in the lane behind me blowing their stacks about the idiot whose car won't go, giving me the finger as they go by in one of the moving lanes either side of me.

Sparta has become the image of change. More traffic every year. The business center has moved from the courthouse traffic light area to the 2 shopping centers with parking lots. It used to be a place where everybody knew everybody. Now you see a few people you know in Sparta, but not many. Nobody seems to mind but the old people who are disoriented by all the changes. At Food Lion they moved everything around in the store recently. One day I saw a woman I knew by sight, but not by name, and she looked as bewildered as I felt. I said, 'I was just starting to get used to the last change and now there's another one.' She said, 'Isn't it the truth,' and talked about it taking so long to get used to the last change, and now a new one.

Marketing technique. Make them search and they'll buy things they never saw before. When everything was being changed around, men in white shirts and ties, management, were there and everybody working in the store was on eggshells. Every time I passed somebody who worked there they'd welcome me to Food Lion. After the 5th time, I asked what's going on. They're supposed to greet people now. The white shirts were perusing everybody's behavior.

It was intensely artificial and lasted about 3 days after they were gone. I walked in the door and the woman working the nearest register said, 'Welcome to Food Lion,' without looking so I wasn't sure who she was talking to. The woman at the next register I passed said, 'Welcome to Food Lion.' A guy working in the produce section said, 'Welcome to Food Lion.' I was thinking I'd entered robot world. Everybody's name was Tron 000001, Tron 000002 and so on. It happened again, and again. That's when I asked what it's about. It seems odd for such artificial corporate behavior to penetrate Sparta. I'm glad it didn't take. But it will be back.

We still have Farmer's Hardware and Kermit's Barber Shop, The Jubilee, the gas stations and the liquor store up at the other end of town. It's a continual amazement how many banks we have in Sparta and how few lawyers, dentists and doctors. It's not amazing when you think about it. The young graduates of professional schools want the big urban money. There's no big money here. Only idealists will take up in a rural community. We haven't had any idealists since the 80s.

In the 60s and 70s when hippies were moving to the mountains to be authentic, they never took up in Alleghany. Grayson and Ashe had big hippie populations, but they bypassed Alleghany. I can make no conjectures as to why, just find it interesting it worked out that way. We have a few old hippies in the county, but not more than just a few. We have several that did the style but not the commitment to carry a youthful trend all the way through to the grave.

I never understood the cry for down with the establishment, when it was the establishment that created the records they listened to, the sound systems their parents bought them, the electricity that ran them and ran everything else in their lives. That was my argument with hipness. At a cocktail party in that time, the late 60s when revolution was the popular word and Che Guevara the pop image, the Beatles' song Revolution was new, I mentioned something about it and this woman in white satin blouse with long deco sleeves, gin and tonic in hand, let me have it for liking that sell-out song.

I couldn't help but look at her and think, 'sell-out?' I didn't know what to say. If you want to change the world, change your mind instead. I didn't see anything reactionary in that. The one way, you're beating your head against a wall, continually frustrated, and the other way you get someplace, and it gets better as it goes along. I didn't know that at the time about changing my mind instead, but it made sense to my intuition. Some years later I learned that to change your mind instead is to change where reality resides.

I've chosen to go the way of knowing the people around me, treating everyone with the respect I believe would make a better world if everyone did it; everyone isn't going to, but I can. I can make my world a better place, for one thing, just by paying attention to it. The world of the people we know and interact with is the world we live in. We need interactions with others, as does everything that's living, even cats. I look around at my world, the world I live in, the people I know, and I'm very happy.

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