Thursday, July 28, 2011
LIKE A BULLWHIP
As I sit here trying to write this I don't know whether to punch my computer or just break down. Today my mother, who is 92 years old, had to go and begin the process of signing up for SSI which in real terms is Federal Welfare. I, at 66, have no assets, no way to intervene financially and provide for her, other than to kick in the bulk of my own SSI check for rent, food, and etc, which I willingly do.
Somebody asked me the other day why my mother would have to sign up for SSI, "Doesn't she get Social Security?" Yes, but she was born in 1919 and falls into some odd group that gets nearly nothing, $304 a month. She had a small trust her father left her, but it has run out, so she has to go for SSI.
It is at times like these that I resent, in the deepest way possible, the realities that exist and have existed in my own life since I was a child. The endless financial strife and my inability to do anything about it. I have worked since I was 15 years old, that is a half a century, and have nothing to show for it other than a bunch of songs and recordings that have never provided any money at all.
I have endured, and still do, the endless nonsense of, "It's not the money, it's the music!" for 50 years now, as if being paid for my work is somehow out of the question. All I can say to that is, "Why don't you work for free for half a century and then let me know how you're doing?" The pompous nature of those who say this sort of thing, is like a slap across my face with a bullwhip.
I bring this up now, not for my own sake, but with bitter regard to the facts and realities I see unfolding for my mother. I cannot begin to tell you the respect I have for this women. Her strength of character and willingness to push on at 92, as if what she faces is yet but another day to do her best.
When I think of all the charlatans I have dealt with in the music business since 1963, and the abuse that has been dumped on me since I came to the internet in 2007, I wonder what in the hell I was thinking when I started all of this. As recently as the previous post, I have listened to an endless drone of criticism and garbage from people who have not, and could not survive what I lived through and continue to live with.
There are of course some who stand far above that crap, and for them I am eternally grateful, but to be here now, with no way to provide what is needed to make my mother's life comfortable and secure at 92, simply because I was systematically ripped off for every penny ever owed to me from any and all of my endeavors in this god-awful industry is more than I can stomach.
Even as I write these words, I already know that way too many will line up to tell me how lucky we are to get SSI, as if there were no other outcome we could wish for. There will be, as there always is, too many voices spewing pseudo positive rhetoric over the wound. But most of all, and branded into my flesh for eternity, will be the fact that nothing will change, and nothing I say will mean a goddamned thing in the long run.