Talking Heads Roll


Submitted by ludd on March 1, 2010

Still gagging from this summer's star-spangled, corporate-sponsored, sanitized salute to American Liberty"? Well, throw out your Pepto Bismol and plunge right into PROCESSED WORLD 17, the special Termination Issue. And remember: Lady Liberty does not have to work for a living.

The issue begins with a special section devoted to the subject of termination—for our purpose, getting fired. Here, Bill Dollar, Lucius Cabins, Florence Burns, Lucille Brown and Zoe Noe recount their sometimes hilarious but more often infuriating experiences of what is euphemistically called "being let go."

We also offer behind-the-scenes closeups of two contrasting job situations. Dennis Hayes' WHERE'S THE DIRT? analyzes the frighteningly invisible toxic menace to microchip assemblers in Silicon Valley and their even more frightening passivity in the face of corporate prerogative. In FLEXING MUSCLES AT FLAX we see the ups and downs of a grass-roots unionization drive at San Francisco's biggest art supplies store, via Maxine Holt's interview with two of the participants.

Also included are a riveting piece of fiction by D.S. Black, NAKED AGENDA, a review by klipschutz of the poet Antler's magnum opus FACTORY, and Lucius Cabins's and Dennis Hayes's review of the stage play THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Poetry and readers' letters (now found at the end of the magazine) round out the issue.

But back to the subject of termination. The PW staff is painfully aware that job loss Is a complex and serious issue, several dimensions of which are not covered In the "Tales of Termination" Our stories express the viewpoint of young, single white people for whom Bring poses a political indignity, but not an irrevocable threat to their livelihood. There is no mention of the mass layoffs resulting from de-industrialization, or of the plight of its displaced victims, for whom the notorious "bad attitude" is probably nothing more than a frustrated fantasy. For these unfortunates, termination represents a frightening tumble into a pit of unemployment or underemployment from which there is little hope of escape.
Coincidentally, in a recent review of PROCESSED WORLD in UNSOUND magazine, writer George Scialabba comments on PW's restricted point of view. He writes that the magazine has "given a voice to the poets, misfits and rebels," and also shown that "there's a good deal of the poet, misfit and rebel in ordinary people as well." But he very astutely points out that "the reverse is also true: even in poets, misfits and rebels there are 'ordinary' aspirations, e.g. for stability, rootedness, and yes, for comfort and convenience." Would PW be able to address the issue of "how to grow up and stay radical"? One PWer decided to tackle the dip side of flippancy by recounting the paradox of her search for security.