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"Olive Drab & Shocking Pink" or "Chess-Players & Globaliz (standard:other, 1924 words)
Author: Paddy65Added: Apr 25 2004Views/Reads: 1843/1099Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A personal essay about coffee shops, students groups, and how I am becoming a curmudgeon.

A chess playing duo, one pony-tailed, the other innocently adorned with
a collared shirt, thick glasses (thick, not in ironic black frames, but 
in magnified lenses) spoke with a duo of globalization-conscious girls 
a table over.  They conversed the finer points of social action and how 
it manifests itself into student groups.  In fact, the shorthaired 
chess player insisted that his group emphasized equally “one part 
action, one part education.”  He mentioned various teach-ins and 
invited the globalization girls to one upcoming.  He mentioned that he 
had just read 1984 and that it was “awesome.” 

A part of me (I was simultaneously eavesdropping and reading, reading a
textbook on the USSR, no less) mentally dismissed A) a perceived, naive 
radical leftism for the sake of leftism on his part and B) his apparent 
(and seemingly successful, I might add) integration of pontificating 
and flirting. 

The parties involved seemed to agree on the issues; in this case, the
dangers of globalization, repression of Muslim women and the 
exploitative practices of the Taco Bell Company.  One of the girls 
spoke of her student groups - what they were about and the manner in 
which they put their plans into action - and reciprocated with an 
invitation to one of their own meetings.  In the course of her 
explanations, looking through his thick lenses, the guy would reply 
“right on” and “that's tight” in practical spots in the sense that they 
were inserted into her natural pauses at the end of her sentences. 

These days, I have been becoming something of a curmudgeon when
eavesdropping on socially conscious, reform types.  I would often 
think, “get over your self-righteous selves” and deduct that these 
people espoused these views for the sake of the elevation of their own 
images as nonconformist radicals rather than for the sake of the world 
at large. 

These very thoughts emerged in this case as well, but after a while (I
had scarcely been able to actually read anymore), I realized that 
perhaps I was being too disdainful and dismissive.  The further I 
thought about it, I began to understand the dangerous implications of 
this line of thought in regards to my own outlook and demeanor as a 

A part of my initial judgments of these people stemmed from the fact
that in previously periods of my life I had “been there, done that.”  
For a brief period, I purported to be some sort of leftist idealist who 
often decried the corruption of our Motherland.  I was completely 
reactionary and unobjectively perceived everything, and I mean 
everything, done by our leaders, especially those of right-wing, WASP 
persuasion, was done exclusively for their personal gain.  I even 
fashioned myself a Marxist, calling for the eradication of money and 
the greed and corruption that accompanies it. 

The thing was, I really didn't know very much about socialism or the
differences between it and communism.  I had once bought a book 
entitled “The Marxists” by C. Wright Mills for three dollars at this 
dusty and hip second-hand book/ clothing store.  It had this cool 
drawing of Marx on the front, complete with cool-looking long hair and 
beard.  I leafed through it, pretty much only paying attention to 
excerpts of Marx's more dogmatic exhortations of worker revolution and 
overcoming the greedy bourgeois owner-exploiters, but didn't really 
digest any analysis of specific, complex Marxian tenets the book 
offered.  In this manner, I didn't even get half way.  I also read 
about Abby Hoffman and read “Steal This Book,” but he and his cleverly 
titled book offered nothing more than fuck-the-system theatrics. 

The point is I claimed to be this big leftist, but really didn't have
any real knowledge of the issues accept what can be derived from the 
David Crosby song, “Almost Cut My Hair.”  I was ignorant of any 
prevailing trends in the way of social action or any of the day's 
prominent figures.  I just had long hair, smoked weed and played a 
guitar, just like Crosby.  I remember with embarrassment, on certain 
occasions, where, in the course of discussions with people, I had 
passionately denounced or championed certain things, without really 
knowing much about them.  Time and edification have revealed to me, 
that my facts were not always straight.  And, now it is apparent to me, 
that I was pretty much faking it.  I mean I generally believed what I 
was saying, but said it more for the sake of appearing to be like Abbey 

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