Remember to Remember   by   Philip Lewis

Remember to Remember by Philip Lewis


An open letter to media moguls

“The mission of man on earth is to remember….”

(for Henry Miller)

You wish we’d remember nothing,

you wish to have a world of dogs that jump

When you say jump, roll when you say roll, play

Dead when you say so, or else you

Threaten with death, or endless terrorist

Attacks. You wish we’d remember nothing,

Feel nothing, say nothing, do nothing—just like

your pet Chihuahuas. You stuff us with your

political conceits, flood our heads with digital

junk, and tell us things are getting better every day.

Now and then you toss us a few doggie biscuits

in the hope that your cities won’t burn.

Sir, calm down: you have nothing to fear.

You have done your job well.

The mangy dogs in the streets won’t bark;

They’ve been silenced or muzzled for good, they’ve

Given up, for the most part. The dogs

are content to flop along, sniffing up Snooki’s

or Brad Pitt’s ass, getting their kicks from tube

sites, and thinking that something else, like

towelheads, niggers and spics are going to kill

them. They’re easy to distract, and easy to

satisfy; the piss-ant crumbs they get in dish-

washing jobs, cheap handouts and empty

promises for “health care,” “clean neighborhoods”

and “better education” are something to be grateful for.

But some of us remember the bigger

crumbs tossed our way years ago—by you,

who made the same empty promises. We remember

you insisting you weren’t crooked: not that it mattered,

anyway. We remember young men with legs severed

to the thigh, cousins coming home from Da Nang strung

out, bombed-out inner cities no one thought to

refurbish (there weren’t any hipsters then, only

Hippies on their way to Wall Street). We remember

The gas lines, runaway inflation, the horrible poll-

ution, the fat clunky cars, the dumb TV shows,

the shitty factory jobs that wore us out,

the dishwashing jobs that paid 3.35, the dumb Mc-

Donalds shifts staffing druggies, cutthroats,

and ne’er-do-wells who hated us for having

bigger crumbs than their own. We remem-

ber the “housing,” the three-bedroom flats

swarming with bedbugs and superintendents who

wouldn’t fix a thing, the niggers fighting the

spics fighting the chinks fighting the dagos fighting

the micks, and so on and so forth; we remember install-

ment plans we used to pay for television sets which

were useless by the time we finished paying for them,

the cars which were out-of-date by the time the last

bill was paid, the washing machines whose repairs

cost more than what we paid for them, the music

on the radio which was almost as bad as the shit

one hears today—maybe even worse, because

time put a distance between “disco fever” and “thug

rap,” just as time put a distance between Glenn

Miller and Gary Glitter. Just the same, sir,

time put a distance between bosses who

screamed in our face and waiting forever

in an unemployment line, between buying junk

and buying nothing, between Vietnam and

Iraq, between Korea and Vietnam, between

cops who wore Afros and cops who wear

tattoos, between “whites only!” and neo-Nazis,

between the lynch rope and UZIs, between

rednecks who shot you then for not saying

sir and thugs who shoot you now for stepping

on their sneakers. You want us to believe

what Henry Ford pretended to believe: that “History

is Bunk.” But in a sense, Henry Ford was right: if

this is what makes up our history, then it really

begs the question: what is “History,” anyway?


We’ve had enough of your Good Old

Illusions about “those days,” days which got

Worse, so much worse that what seemed bad in

‘75 seems like a picnic today. We don’t need to

See “It’s A Wonderful Life” again: we know it’s been

A wonderful life—for you. We don’t need to

Follow the yellow brick road or ease on down the

Motherfucker, we all know we’re not allowed

Inside. We don’t want to go to the Top of the World

Because, being at the bottom, we know damn well

It’s not ours. No point in treating us like kids, for

Even kids have memories: I, for one, can remember

What picnics were like (for us) in 1975: it wasn’t the

Ants that ruined them for people like us.

Remember, sir:

Not all of us are dogs,

Not all of us want to live in Jersey Shore,

Not all of us want to hear Fiddy’s new rap CD,

Not all of us want Miss Kardashian’s soiled panties,

Not all of us give a shit whether Ludacris really is a faggot

    Or not,

Not all of us give a shit whether Lady Gaga really is a faggot

    Or not,

Not all of us think Barack Obama is a Muslim witch doctor from

    Kenya, or that towelheads are hiding behind every

    blade of grass with a sackful of anthrax:

We don’t believe you,

We refuse to believe you, even if you weren’t lying.

We don’t believe that the 70s were the “wonder years”,

    Let alone the 60s, the 50s, or the 20s, or 1820, or 1620:

We have the scars to prove it,

We have the mortgages to prove it,

We have the receipts from all your bills,

We have the stubs from all your checks,

We still have your clothes hanging in our closets

And your junk sitting in our basements

And they are as ugly and useless

as the day we bought them.

Remember this:

We have forgotten nothing


(c) Philip Lewis, 6.5.14

Berlin, February 13, 2012