The philosophy of trash

by Lorin Michel Saturday, January 4, 2014 8:47 PM

I’ve mentioned before about my fascination with the discarded items often seen on the roadways, sidewalks and parking lots of the southwest. I have no doubt that these items, or their brethren, are also in the northeast and Midwest. We’ve seen countless shoes, which we refer to as lost soles, and gloves, know to us as idle hands; hats. There are often children’s toys, dolls, stuffed animals, matchbox cars, tiny army men.  Couches, chairs, tables and pillows. Ladders and tools. We’ve even found cell phones. Rarely do I see books, but today on our morning walk with Cooper there were three pages to a book lying in the parking lot we walk through on our way to another sidewalk. Kevin picked them up because it was paper; trash. He often picks up errant and obvious trash as we walk, depositing it into the various dumpsters we encounter in parking lots. I asked to see the pages and he handed them to me.

As Cooper picked his way through the bushes and along the gravel, stopping to sniff first and then to pee, I looked at the three pages, numbering 313 and 314, 317 and 318, 319 and 320. It was the beginning of a chapter called Issues: A very brief overview. Based on the page numbers, it was obviously at the back or end of the book. At the top of left or even pages, was the author’s name: M. L. Rossi. At the top of the right, odd numbered pages was The Big Picture.

A quick glance at the content showed some information about the world and defense and cars and oil and dirty politics. Sounded interesting.

“Do you want me to throw those out?” Kevin asked. I shook my head. “What are you going to do with them?”

“I think there’s a blog post in here somewhere,” I said as I tucked the pages into my pocket.

Here’s a little secret: I am constantly looking for a blog post topic. Sometimes they present themselves easily; sometimes I have to truly dig deep for something, anything to write about. And then there are the mornings when we’re out walking and I find something on the ground.

These pages, it turns out, are from a book entitled “What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World: Your guide to today’s hot spots, hot shots and incendiary issues. It’s written by Melissa L. Rossi. According to the American Library Association Booklist: This may be the perfect book for paranoiacs, conspiracy buffs, fans of Michael Moore, and just anyone who thinks the people running the world don't have our best interests at heart. … Rossi's premise is simple: there are people and organizations running the world from behind the scenes of government and commerce, and us ordinary folks would be wise to know who they are. Rossi is an award-winning journalist who has written for Newsweek, Newsday, Esquire, George, MSNBC and the New York Observer. She has also written a number of incendiary books, evidently.

When we got home, I pulled the pages out of my pocket and smoothed them out on the kitchen bar. I found such nuggets as “Water Waster: Nearly three-quarters of water in the U.S. is used in the bathroom” and this: “Here Comes Santa Claus: The top three recipients of free U.S. military aid: Israel, Egypt and Colombia – together they receive more than $6 billion in giveaways.”

Note: The book was published in 2003.

I wondered who had been reading the book and why only these three pages were on the ground. What had happened to the other 397? I was also intrigued by the words The Big Picture. Rossi was obviously referring to an overview of everything that happens in the world in regards to weapons and arms and why it is such big business for almost all countries.

But The Big Picture could just as easily been about how we all fit together in this vast puzzle called Earth; how each piece has to have the exact ingress and egress so that the next piece can snap into place, making room for the one after that. People, animals, plants, buildings, cities, cars, states, provinces, countries; oceans, rivers, fish, reefs, ships and boats. Trash. The big picture is how we interact, how we react; how we fight, how we makeup. How we see art, how we make art. How we love.

In the first line of these three pages I found, the text reads: “Love doesn’t make the world go round, arms sales do.” Cynical and true. Whoever had these pages before I did, perhaps when they were still bound in a book, had crossed out “arms sales do” and written in pencil “music does.” I like that philosophy.

I think I’ll call it the philosophy of trash, and on this first Saturday of 2014, it’s one worth celebrating. 

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