Thursday, December 07, 2006

Privilege

Did I tell you I was coming to Miami, Bush? I think I may have neglected to mention this earlier in the week as I had planned. Too many other things to talk about, I guess. But anyway, here we are, Ellie and I, in Florida. The sun is rising in the wrong place as I write--over the ocean, where it's supposed to set. The time is all wrong. Last night it was warm, even muggy, until midnight...

We came here for the international art fair, Art Basel/Miami Beach, and the place is jam-packed with art folks celebrating their own importance. I took good note of all my habitual judgments coming up, about the extravagant wealth of the privileged few on ultra-glamorous parade. And I was outraged, Bush, having called two months ago to arrange for it, to find myself bereft of the VIP pass I had been promised by the fair administration on the telephone. ME! Excluded! Can you believe it? I have my press credentials, of course, which will allow me almost universal access. But where shall I be without a VIP pass?

Absurd, right, Bush, to be so outraged? We managed to make our way around the fair without one--although we were denied access to the only area where there was food and drink, and we had eaten nothing since early morning at the airport in Los Angeles (and don't get me started on American Airlines food and service: at one point, when the dreadful croissant sandwich I had been sold for $5.00 by way of "lunch" began to leak all over me, the attendant told me sharply to use my newspaper when I asked for a napkin! The sandwich was inedible after the first bite.)

So no food, no drink until very late in the evening, after we had left the "vernissage"--that unnecessarily chi-chi art world word for an opening event--and we had to walk a ways before we found it. The food, I mean. Still, it was fun discovering Miami Beach--my first visit here, Bush, in brother Jeb's territory!--at night. A glimpse of all those famous deco facades. Fancy hotels. Music everywhere, most of it at head- and heart-pounding volume. A zillion people jostling, elbow to elbow, in the streets. A festival of life, and light... and noise. Unbelievable, Bush, the noise!

Anyway, I concluded this morning, on waking early, that my outrage had all to do with privilege. I was outraged that some people should be considered more important than my worthy self and treated accodingly. How dare they! Forgetting, of course, in the heat of the moment, just how much privilege I have in my own life, how much more I have had the grace or simply the good fortune to achieve and receive: as a pampered Brit, "old school tie" and ancient university, with a nice--though eroding--British accent; as a white male immigrant, admitted to the privileged American middle class; as a resident of sunny Southern California; as one privileged to live and work as he pleases, and to gripe about his exclusion from the ranks of the VIPs at the Miami Art Fair; as the owner of a King Charles Spaniel, for God's sake. So much...!

Ah, yes. I woke this morning to the sun rising over the wrong side of the ocean and had a good inner chuckle at the pettiness of my outrage, Bush. And I felt a lot of gratitude for the all privilege I have in life. I thought about Darfur. Baghdad. New Orleans. How about you? It's humbling, really, when you think about it. No?

1 comment:

Fred said...

Great entry, Peter.

If only Mr. Bush can find it in his heart to be grateful for the political cover the Iraq Study Group is trying so hard to give him and save a scrap of his sorry ass.