Memphis, Tennessee lives way outside any law. Black, Hispanic, and neo-Nazi street gangs control neighborhoods throughout the city with no cops allowed in, not that most people would want them around. The downtown area has a higher concentration of deranged homeless than yuppie condo dwellers, crack pipes are sold next to the cash register in gas stations and nobody flinched earlier this year when a car bomb went off across the river.
Last January, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, one of America’s leading vampires, flapped into town and roosted on a house in a very gated, old-colonial neighborhood within the Memphis city limits. Despite a lifestyle sometimes closer to Kinshasa than Kansas, there are still a few pockets of neighborhoods around the city where rich folks aren’t afraid to say they’re from, with a few qualifications and explanations of course. These are largely people who, for whatever reason, didn’t bail to the sprawling suburbs during white flight and who now mostly employ 24/7 security staffs. These neighborhoods have always reminded me of the Frenchmen in Apocalypse Now, REDUX still claiming their land and wanting their colonies back. Hey, at least there’s a certain pride in that.
But, that seems to be the only prideful action anywhere here or in the rest of the States from what I can tell. The sickly Jobs owned that house long enough for him to become a Tennessee resident where the waiting list for a liver transplant is 48 days compared to over 300 on average in the rest of the country. He needed that liver, and he needed it now; and there just aren’t enough organs available in the promised land of California where he made his billions. He had to cross over into the land of the desperate, delusional and impoverished – the South, a land so poor that it now gets manufacturing jobs that used to be outsourced to Mexico and the Pacific rim of Asia.
Need a liver? Buy this house. Steve Jobs did
For me, the first thought that came to mind was the marginally popular play Harvest by Manjula Padmanabhan that any post-colonial student from the past few years probably has read. In that play, rich Westerners exploit the hopeless, option-less existences of below-the-equator brown people to exchange a few months of relative, subaltern comfort for the promise to give all their body parts away to the living dead rich of the first world who need them to ensure the continued survival of their species, as they have forsaken sex and reproduction for fear of having to share their wealth with subsequent generations (sound familiar?). It seems Ms. Padmanabhan got the concept right but her geography and pathetically susceptive cultures wrong as no one around here even batted an eye at an oligarch sweeping into Tennessee like a vampire and sucking up an organ he didn’t earn and didn’t deserve anymore than the next, hopefully still insured, schmuck in line.
Consider the Memphis area reader responses to when the news first broke in the local newspaper. The majority of readers comments either criticize the newspaper for publishing the address of the house Jobs was squatting in (and had long since abandoned) or discuss how great it is for something “positive” about Memphis to finally receive play in the media. Yes, really. Don’t get pissed about the oligarch stealing the liver that your next door neighborhood has been rightfully waiting for and needed just as badly as Jobs, get pissed because we now know the location of the cave where the vampire was hanging upside-down from in-between blood sucking sessions.
Memphis slave shack
As if there was any doubt about this sick, corporate, customer-service peasant mentality permeating all matters of public and private discourse, it was confirmed a few days later by what passes for a provincial intelligentsia. As this just-happy-to-be-here columnist tells us, Memphis should be proud for “saving (a life)” and for a story that “had a happy ending.” Yea, happy for everyone except the lifelong Tennessee residents and tax payers who had to wait just a little bit longer for that new liver. He even has the gall to say the Jobs transplant “highlights one of the best things about our city — its exceptional health care.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great medical facilities in Memphis, and there are even options for the uninsured (though I doubt a liver transplant would be one of them). But at the same hospital where Jobs got his transplant, I spent six hours waiting in the emergency room for a neck X-ray after a football injury last fall. Maybe if I was an oligarch I could have just bought an X-ray machine or, better yet, the non-herniated disks out of some plebe’s neck. He probably would have thanked me for the honor and apologized for the inconvenience.
Sure, Jobs had a great time in Memphis, but what about everyone else who lives in this “city filled with poverty, illiteracy and despair . . . where violent crime is rampant”?
It’s clear now that Americans have reached a level of willful brainwashing that would embarrass North Koreans. Your average Red State’r has more in common with homo sovieticus than he does with the image he imagines in the mirror every morning of a ready-and-willing gun wielder and beneficiary of the capitalist freedom that only America could possibly enjoy.
In Harvest, the despondent natives at least raise the moral issues and even make a token resistance to the blood suckers. Middle America, on the other hand, is happy to give its organs away to the wealthy elite who “deserve it” just like the oligarchs who “deserve” bailouts, multi-million dollar bonuses and the strings to the American economy and government.
In the U.S.A.’s sick, wanna-be Soviet, corporate culture, the plebes are just happy to help out and do their part in keeping the vampires healthy enough to keep sucking blood until there’s no blood left.
Got something to say to us? Then send us a letter.
Want us to stick around? Donate to The eXiled.
Twitter twerps can follow us at twitter.com/exiledonline