America The Broke
OP/ED By The Colonel
“And so, in your travels across the Las Vegas Valley, should you encounter a weary-looking man resting against a streetlight, one hand on a wooden cane, the other clutching a dog-eared paperback of a Georges Simenon Inspector Maigret novel — my escapist lit choice of the moment — you will be gazing into the face of one of the new homeless.” – Rodger Jacobs
Rodger Jacobs’ story, the story of a talented American writer on the verge of homelessness, is a painful portrait of life in the 21st century America, where your education doesn’t matter, your talent doesn’t matter, and your hard work and experience doesn’t matter. It’s horrifying to see how the right to live a decent, human life in this country is turning into a dream of the past, a reflection in the rearview mirror. Where do we go from here and how far before we hit the rock bottom?
Rodger Jacobs is a gifted writer and filmmaker, anybody who has seen his John Holmes documentary or read his articles and books knows that. My favorite Rodger Jacobs book is “Mr. Bukowski’s Wild Ride”, the story of a group of unorthodox cartoon characters including a disillusioned movie star, a demented producer of classic children’s movies, and yes, the ghost of Boris Karloff, wondering in Los Angeles underground clubs. A true page turner. It’s hard to imagine such a brilliant writer is now in trouble over his grocery money, something that 20 years ago or even 10 years ago would have been unthinkable. But today, it’s a grim reality, perhaps because Americans do not need writers and storytellers and reporters anymore. A generation of catatonic zombies who have learned to express themselves through their MySpace and FaceBook pages, decorated with whatever music and video and picture they can freely take, or should I say steal, from the internet hole; and as for the art of writing, they all got it. Who needs to pay for a book when they can tweet each other 24/7 and exchange verbal diarrhea about what they had for breakfast and how they’re having fun doing the laundry and how they telepathically communicate with their pet and whatever stupid crap they type in broken English and half-ass sentences. So of course a professional writer like Rodger Jacobs will have a hard time making a living. One day, people may wake up from their slumber and realize it’s too late, they’ve gone too far and the damage is done. But today, they have more important things to attend to, like for instance obsessing over drunken celebrities mug shots on TMZ.
After reading Rodger Jacobs’ article on LIB, I checked it out on Las Vegas Sun, where it was originally posted. As I scanned through the pile load of comments on the article, I was amazed to see the level of ignorance and the depth of apathy: Some people question the truthfulness of the story, some offer Rodger Jacobs advice on how to save money by cutting back on his cell phone and internet services and some speculate on what they would do if they were in this situation. Nobody talks about what’s truly wrong with this picture, nobody asks why in America a writer should succumb into such misfortune, and what does that say about what this country is turning into? After all, if a 20 something junkie with a nasty heroin habit and no education and social skills ends up on the streets that should not surprise anybody. But when that happens to a hard working, experienced, talented writer whose career spans over nearly a quarter of a century, that’s frightening and tragic, and speaks in volumes about the wrong direction this country has taken; America the broke.
Let’s have some decency. Let’s get off our high and mighty horses. Let’s put aside our speculative opinions and do what we can to support Rodger Jacobs, that’s the right thing to do. If you like to contact Rodger Jacobs, you can email Cindi and she will put you in touch with him. God bless you, and God bless America, whatever is left of it.