Sunday, August 31, 2014

hot air on Labor Day

Missing as yet from the Labor Day Weekend skies are the hot-air balloons that take off from a jam-packed fairgrounds perhaps half a mile away and then float, hissing and silent, over my neighborhood.

Wikipedia describes the Labor Day holiday in the United States as:
Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
Given the economy, the definition has a kind of icy ridiculousness -- a holiday to keep the peasants happy since honoring its accomplishments ... well, those with hot-air balloons know the value of hot air.

Many people get Monday off by way of celebration. A long weekend is probably welcome to those whose "productivity" inflates the pocketbooks of others, if not their own.

Yesterday, two immaculate automobiles from the 1920's puttered by my house on the back road that leads to the fairgrounds. Boxy, buffed and utterly nifty. The fixed horse races that once marked to fairground celebrations have been done away with (gambling is so déclassé, dontcha know) so there are fewer drunks driving by my house: The fair these days is top-heavy with music and kiddie rides and farm animals... a small venue that resembles gatherings in Hollywood and Versailles -- a place to see and be seen.

But where are the balloons? The weather is good -- clear, with small breezes -- but the balloons have not yet appeared. In years past, they dotted the skies and there was something delightful and uplifting in it. Who knows -- maybe there is another new and improved rule that disallows them.

Or maybe it's like owning horses -- another mark of casual wealth: Ballooning is a fairly expensive hobby and in 'productive' times, even the wealthy feel the pinch: What would the peasants do with a balloon if they saw one? It's more pricey than it's worth ... as, for example, to the Chinese middle class that is currently buying up Manhattan. Let's skip the balloons and add another bathroom. Wealth trickles down, right? Fried dough and Pepsi are enough.

The hot air has gone out of the hot air that once inspired the 'productive.' Or anyway, that's how it currently seems. Whatever the case, I do miss the balloons: They have no concrete meaning and from that perspective take on a meaning of some delightful kind.

Hot air and colorful floating. Hot air and labor gets a pat on the back. Hot air ....

1 comment:

  1. It seems appropriate to celebrate the gains of yore that we've since lost to time and the eroding effort of those we fought for those gains.

    Armistice day celebrated the end of the war to end all wars. But when that didn't pan out it became Veterans Day, a celebration of all those ever sent to war with some anticipation of the honored dead of future wars.

    Labor day might someday be renamed to Remember When We had a Middle class Day, but not while some believe they still share that warm and comfortable position in the strata of society. As long as they can tout the honor of deserving credit card debt they won't do the math that might discourage them. Maybe by then we'll have given up holidays that honor human achievement.

    I remember coming into life with optimism that survived from childhood through the 60's. We never doubted we were going to make the world a better place. But somewhere along the way a cynical doubt and apathy arose with an awareness of not winning that battle.

    This saddens me, but seems inevitable in hindsight. You can only blow so much smoke up my ass before i catch on. I knew samsara before i knew what it was called. And so i turned to zen to cope with it. And zen has taught me that everybody's ass has a different smoke tolerance, and minding my own is the better course of action.

    Balloons, youth, hope... everything blows away. Still have a sky though, and i'm fond of the sky, with or without clouds, i can still see movement.