post consumer man


Because You Never Asked

by Jerome Grapel

Although I have not lived there for almost 50 years, I was born and raised in New York City and almost all my extended family still lives there. Anyone hearing the way I speak English can attest to the fact I still carry some of this place around with me — and always will.

Bill De Blasio is the Mayor of New York City. People like him used to be considered a fairly normal strain of center-left Democrat, but since the appearance of my favorite “axis of evil,” Ronald Reagan and Rupert Murdoch, the “center” in American politics has been pushed so far to the right, he is now considered the “far left” bordering on “radical.” A few other American politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders could also be lumped in this dwindling group of true progressive office holders.

De Blasio came out of nowhere to easily win the mayoral election. He won because he truly does represent the city’s open minded, progressive, forward thinking spirit. You don’t get to be New York City without being in the vanguard of what the future can be, and De Blasio lives in that space. But, surprisingly, the marriage between the great metropolis and its new Mayor has been a stormy one. One could even say there was never a honeymoon. Why?

The answer is simple: De Blasio is not to the liking of the plutocrats who have the most hegemony over our culture. They are using the apparatus of the “Military-Industrial- Media-Complex,” which they have great sway over, to bring him down. He was not “their” candidate, but his message resonated with a city in tune with it. He slipped through the cracks. Shit happens. “We’ll have to fix it.”

What is it about De Blasio that gets under the skin of the plutocrats? Didn’t he make his success in real estate? What could be more plutocratic than that? Sure, he married a black woman and engendered some mulatto offspring, but this is the 21st century, this is New York City, we can live with that. So what is it?

De Blasio is a native New Yorker whose emotional attachment to his place runs deep. Before he ran for Mayor, I’m sure he looked out at his city and saw, like the rest of us, the sheer wonder of it all. He saw one of the most successful places on the face of the Earth. He saw this immense hive of creativity, innovation, and, above all else, life and energy. He saw a place where people “want to be a part of it,” a place where the entire rainbow of human variation flocked to. He saw that sierra-like skyline of skylines that still amazes the first time viewer. He saw a view of Manhattan from Hoboken or the Queensborough Bridge that generational New Yorkers have never grown bored with. He saw a 24 hour pulsation of the human heartbeat, where a Broadway baby said good night “early in the morning.” That’s right, New York, New York, “it’s a wonderful town,” and whatever was up and whatever was down, Bill De Blasio saw the ambition of human expression in its maximum form, a place where “dreams are made of, now you’re in New York, New York, New Yooorrkk —.” And he could not help but see what could be considered, at this juncture in human evolution, the most coveted item for sale in the Macy’s of our dreams — wealth! New York, the financial capitol of the world churning out wealth in almost obscene amounts. A wealth creation uber machine of abstract immensity, an ATM of behemoth proportions grinding it out from hour to hour, day to day, year to year, in an unconscionable display of material excess. K-ching!!

But De Blasio also saw something else. In the midst of all this victorious success and ostentatious luxury, a large segment of the city’s inhabitants — not a small, out-of-sight-out-of-mind sampling of anomalous “losers,” but a substantial part of the city — were living in sub-standard conditions, both materially and intellectually. This not only gnawed at his sensitivities as a human being, he also understood this was not, in the long run, a healthy model for the future success of society in general. He wanted to do something about this “tale of 2 cities.”

At the heart of his plan was to provide free pre-school to any child in the city that wanted it. For this writer, that is a spot on place to start in the Herculean task of improving conditions at the lowest laminations of our society. I say this because the children most in need of this service — for reasons lost in the countless generations of their historical DNA — are not getting what they need at home. To give these children an early start in a structured, educational environment, when their emotional makeup has still not been trashed by the mean streets they live in, is a gambit well worth the investment.

Did somebody say “investment?” Like dude, who’s going to pay for this?

De Blasio had a plan. He saw all this wealth and success piling up in his city and thought, gee, it’s time to get some of this back. It’s time to use some of this wealth overflow to improve the conditions of the millions who provide the most tedious, obnoxious, mind numbing mass of labor that is the foundation of any wealth making machine. And we can pay for it. All we have to do is marginally raise some taxes on the most wealthy amongst us —

“Hold it!! Get real. No, no, we do not want —“

“But we are only talking about a marginal increase; you’d hardly know it was gone.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say. Sorry, that’s a bad precedent, don’t come to me —“

“But it is good for all of us —“

“Not me —“

“But we can’t go on having fewer and fewer people controlling more and more wealth, it’s bad for our society in general —“

“It’s good for me.”

“We need to do something about this.”

“No we don’t.”

And now you know why Bill De Blasio has become a target for plutocratic vengeance. And that is why they are trying to jab-jab-jab him to death with the huge informational arsenal they are possessed of.

All that has just been said above cannot be proven with a slide rule or an algebraic equation. If I claim “they” are out to get Bill De Blasio, I am only doing so with the use of the ambiguous data that bombards me every day of my life. If the reader needs further convincing, let’s move on to how the previous Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was treated.

We can all agree that Michael Bloomberg, after 8 years as Mayor, is considered an iconic success in New York politics. Sure, there were some scrapes and bruises along the way, but I can never remember him being maligned or denigrated in any kind of sustained frontal attack by anyone’s means of communication. He was always portrayed as a dignified, competent leader herding his flock with confidence. Was it because he was such a better Mayor than Bill De Blasio?

Bloomberg found his traction in New York City politics by goose stepping in synchronization with the city’s open minded tolerance on social issues. He has never been the usual conservative troglodyte against gay marriage or a woman’s right to choose. Quite laudably, he’s been a leader in the fight to bring some sanity into the realm of gun proliferation. He is not a climate change denier. He has even insinuated his influence into the idea of healthy eating, cigarette control and noise pollution. All this has helped to ingratiate him in the general mindset of the “Big Apple.” But is all this just his sheep’s clothing? Isn’t he really a wolf with regard to what really matters most in our society?

All of the issues enunciated above have one thing in common: none of them are directly related to wealth, finance, business, Wall Street, and the economic games and subterfuges that have the most impact on how a society functions. None of the above is directly related to social mobility and opportunity. None of the above is directly related to where the pitcher toes the rubber in our society, that is, who makes the money, who’s got the money, who keeps the money. With regard to these issues — the ones most relevant to one’s ability to be fulfilled in our society — Michael Bloomberg is a prototypical supply side, neo-liberal capitalist. He does not want to be taxed fairly, he does not want to be regulated, and he looks upon the idea of a citizen’s Social Contract with the same fondness he’d have for an outbreak of hemorrhoids. Bloomberg is that rare politician who has not had to endear himself to the plutocrats because he is a plutocrat — and he’s been loyal to his family. He has used his liberality on social issues to protect his own interests.

As a result, he’s gotten a free ride from the media moguls who adore him.

Bill De Blasio, on the other hand, has had the gall to voice some empathy for those most humble amongst us, not just because of his “bleeding heart,” but because he realizes improving the conditions in our society’s most desperate places is good for us all. How dare he propagate such an incendiary idea!

And just like the most famous of all the crucified, his mission will probably be defeated.


To purchase a copy of Jerome Grapel’s book, Because You Never Asked click here.

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  1. Great analysis of the differing treatment of Bloomberg and DiBlasio and our political slip-slid to the extreme right…Reagan certainly did move the proverbial goal posts to suit his right wing agenda. As Chris Hedges put it, “The left is now right and the right is just plain crazy.” Keep up the good work.

  2. Alex, As always, thanks so much for your attention and comments. Chris Hedges puts it correctly. This annihilation of the left in today’s form of democracy (which pretty much castrates democracy itself) will be discussed further in my next contribution to this publication, something that will deal with a new political party in Spain called “Podemos” (we can). It has become a serious challenge to status quo politics in Spain, and is being avoided like the clap by our mainstream info sources. The name of the essay will be “The True Left”. Thanks again

  3. Jerome, did I read somewhere that he changed his name to try to make himself more appealing to the voters he was courting? I liked how he tried to deal with the cops strangle case.

    1. Sloan, I don’t know about his name, but I won’t hold it against him. He looked bad with regard to the police cases because nobody in the media came to his defense, but I agree, his attitude towards policing in general is the correct one. Thanks for your comment

      1. On name change, I pulled this from Wikepedia, which, for me, renders to political propaganda the attack over his name change:

        De Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr. in Manhattan, the son of Warren Wilhelm and Maria (née de Blasio).[1] His father was of German ancestry, and his maternal grandparents were Italian immigrants:[9][10] his grandfather, Giovanni, was from the city of Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Benevento, and his grandmother, Anna (née Briganti), was from Grassano, Matera.[11] (The family’s surname was originally capitalized as “De Blasio.”)
        De Blasio was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[12] His mother graduated from Smith College in 1938, and his father graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University. His mother was 44 years old when he was born, and he has two older brothers, Steven and Donald.[13] His paternal grandfather, author Donald Wilhelm, graduated from Harvard University.[13] Although he was baptized Catholic, de Blasio is non-practicing. He speaks Italian.[13]
        De Blasio stated that when he was 7 years old, his father left home; his parents divorced shortly after that.[14] In a 2012 interview, de Blasio described his upbringing: “[My dad] was an officer in the Pacific in the army, [and fought] in an extraordinary number of very, very difficult, horrible battles, including Okinawa…. And I think honestly, as we now know about veterans who return, [he] was going through physically and mentally a lot…. He was an alcoholic, and my mother and father broke up very early on in the time I came along, and I was brought up by my mother’s family—that’s the bottom line—the de Blasio family.”[15] In September 2013, de Blasio revealed that his father had committed suicide in 1979 while suffering from incurable lung cancer.[16]
        He eventually adopted his mother’s family name of de Blasio because his father was “largely absent,” and he wanted to embrace his Italian heritage.[17] In 1983, he changed his legal name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm, which he described in April 2012: “I started by putting the name into my diploma, and then I hyphenated it legally when I finished NYU, and then, more and more, I realized that was the right identity.” By the time he appeared on the public stage in 1990, he was using the name Bill de Blasio, as he is called “Bill” or “Billy” in his personal life.[15] He petitioned to officially change his name to Bill de Blasio in December 2001, after the discrepancy was noted during an election.[17]

        1. Sloan, Outstanding compilation. Thanks for the info. Obviously, he is a very interesting man, and until I am definitively proven wrong, he has always struck me as a positive force in our society. In short, like Elizabeth Warren, he impresses me. Whether he is ever given the chance to be a positive force, and whether he has the stuff to do just that, is still an open question. Thanks again.

  4. let’s see, he was backed by goerge soros, ranked no. 26 on the Bloomberg top billionaires list (wouldn’t that qualify him as a plutocrat?), and of course is tied to the hip to the Clintons, two of America’s greatest criminals, and Bush family bootlickers. yep, a real man of the people…..

  5. Keysbum, Being George Soros does not make one an intellectual troglodyte, no matter how rich he is. Is he my cup of tea? No, but you have to do the best you can. The same goes for DiBlasio. Just because he has been very successful financially, does not mean he cannot have enlightened ideas. Is he my perfect cup of tea? No, but he comes far closer than most American politicians do. We’ve been here before; I’ll take better if I can’t have perfection, which seems to be the only standard you adhere to. Now, can DiBlasio be a complete fraud? Yes, but at this point I do not think so. And hey, thanks for the comment, always appreciated.

  6. Mr. Grapel:
    my point in mentioning soros and the Clintons was merely a refutation of your contention that de Blasio is free of plutocratic and “insider” relationships and earned his election as a man of the people. I know very little of de Blasio, and my interest in New York politics is minimal( I myself am from Los Angeles). but what I do know is that no one accedes to an office such as mayor of New York without the permission of the powerbrokers in that city and the nation. and to get that permission, one has to play by the powerbrokers rules, and de Blasio is no different. just as you would not let a houseguest come into your home and start ordering you around, the owners of New York, the country, the world, would not let a bunch of “voters” come in and tell them how to run their business. de Blasio is a politician, and that automatically defines him as a puppet, bought and paid for, whose strings are pulled by those that own him. you will not find redress from any of these people.
    they do not care about you.
    they do not care about your vote.
    they do not need your vote.
    they do not need you.

  7. Keysbum, Please, you grossly underestimate me with such a harangue. To suggest I do not understand everything you just said is to not know who I am. I’m truly remiss to say this, but I suggest you read my book, which can be purchased directly from the pages of this publication. However, a culture is a living, breathing organism, and like all entities of this type, it is in a constant state of flux. It could be devolving or evolving, but it is not standing still and the history of mankind is evidence of this. I’ll agree with you only to this extent: the people at the top of the food chain who you are always referring to, make it very difficult to make (if I must use this word) progress, but they are not omnipotent. As for DiBlasio, he was definitely NOT the choice of the Democratic machine in the state and city. His problems with Mario Cuomo is living proof of this. As always Keysbum, I appreciate our dialog. Thanks.

  8. harangue has several different meanings, none of which are applicable to my comment, but so be it.

    ever hear the phrase ‘history repeating?’ the human animal, for all our arrogance and hubris, is really a very simple creature. we are a herd animal, with a herd mentality, and unlike any other in nature we stand alone as the only organism that consciously destroys its own habitat. our culture, is not in flux as you say, and is not ever changing; it is however akin to a broken record doomed to repeat itself over and over and over again. the only cultural paradigm shift we are capable of experiencing is moving from the iPhone5 to the iPhone6.

    the history of the world is that of empires, such as the one we are the proud owners of presently. the history of the world is that of the inevitable collapse of those empires, that of which we are witnessing presently. and the reasons for said collapse are always the same. the same reasons for the decline of the roman empire are the same reasons for our decline and inevitable collapse. hence, history repeating.

    and the people responsible for all this? the people at the top. you are correct in your analysis that they are not omnipotent, but you are incorrect that they impede progress. they embrace progress to the point of corruption, which leads to implosion, which leads to ultimate self destruction. the only problem is, that when they destroy themselves, they destroy us.

    there are no saviors. this is the human condition. it is a cycle that has repeated itself throughout history, and will no doubt play out into the future. history repeating.

  9. Keysbum, You add nothing new to the debate here. What you say is somewhat obvious. Perhaps we are just splitting hairs, with myself being a bit more optimistic than you even though my outlook is more pessimistic than the opposite. I’ll base my shread of optimisim on this: when the Roman Empire went down the human condition was a vastly different thing than it is now, and I’d say for the worse. When the consumer society goes down (I phrase it like that because that is what America and its relatives are basing their actions upon, the seperate nations being less relevant) unless there is a complete ecological-social meltdown leaving it all destroyed, we will be starting from a different place. Or how about this — mankind moves forward in a non-linear way; 5 steps forward, then 4 and 3/4 steps back, stuttering backwards and forwards as our lowly intelligence allows us. But in the end, humanity has moved forward. Thanks for the vibe Keysbum,

  10. please forgive me for being obvious; my limited reasoning abilities must have failed me. on the other hand, my comment does seem to be a counter to your comment, so i fail to see what’s obvious about it to you.
    to begin, when i said human condition, i did not mean standard of living. in simple terms, i was saying people are people; despite time period, location, and whatever else, the essence of people is unchanged.

    i will take exception to your comment that mankind has moved forward though. yes, we have wonderful technology, medicine, and a wealth of new knowledge. and yet these wondrous things we have created have still left millions without jobs; people are still dying of disease that would cost pennies to treat, kids are still being taught that we walked side by side with dinosaurs. so we can argue whether or not we have moved forward.

    it is the essence of people that I am speaking of, the behavior that despite whatever else is going on, remains the same. ‘history repeating’ was coined for a reason.

  11. Keysbum, Once again, I cannot help but repeat the obvious personality of your remarks. In spite of the essence of people being somewhat similar, we are living in a space in history where more people have more decent housing, decent nutrition, and, most importantly, a decent chance to develop their intellects as well. In short, life has become more stimulating for more people and the ability to enjoy the fruits of life has been extended to more people. The failures you speak about are exactly what need to be addressed in an attempt to expand this mandate. This is the challenge of the modern world and nobody ever said it would be easy. But the fight goes on with the belief that yes, we can be better. Good stuff Keysbum, ciao

  12. Keysbum, One more thing: really, when you talk about the “essence” of humans, you are talkng about human nature, which I believe really does not exist. We all begin with a blank slate and an enlightened environment will produce more enlightened people. And the beat goes on …

  13. i guess we can debate the progress of human kind; I myself, perhaps stuck in my myopia, fail to see progress as simply a standard of living issue. i might argue that we have taken a step backward in that we are surely a weaker more fragile animal than our ancestors. I am surprised that you, a PCM, would extoll the virtues of “stimulation” which I can only surmise you to mean to be the product of the consumer society you despise. and again, this discussion is a matter of degree; I would go along with you more if the “fruits of life” were more inclusive. about half the planet lives on less than $2.50/day. we have the ability to feed everybody; we have the ability to provide medical care to everybody; we have the ability to house everybody; we have the ability to educate everybody. but we don’t, and we wont. human nature will not allow it. just like a dog wont share its bone, we are governed by the rules of nature. even when we think we are enlightened and transcendent, we will still return to the basic proposition of survival and reproduction. and because we are a herd animal, we will always succumb to the tyranny of the few, and simply follow along. the organized minority will always prevail against the disorganized majority.

  14. Keysbum, Ahh, I think we are getting somewhere. The contradiction you see in PCM does not exist. The consumer society is simply a step along the way, one that has contributed its advancements, mainly in the form of technology. But it has outlived its usefulness and has now become the enemy that must be beaten back. The next step is to learn how to use this technology in a more rational way, not just to produce and sell superfluous things. The next step forward will be to leave the adolescent incentives of the consumer society behind, to find more spiritual (and by that I don’t mean religious) ways to engage ourselves, without leaving behind the comforts of life we’ve developed (and yes, these comforts can be made available to all if we evolve higher). This will mean the development of a different economic system, a not impossible task. We might be ready for this step because “survival and reproduction” have become easy for our species, and really, survival has always been the genesis of violence and savagery. Keysbum, I can’t say I am optimistic but I refuse to live without an “idea”, without possibilities. Easy? Of course not. Possible? I’d say it is. Any species that can invent an I-phone also has possibilities emotionally. ciao, good stuff.

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