The View from the Rock

The View From The Rock in NYC

The sign said that you could
‘Travel anywhere free in Manhattan for ten dollars’,
The best example of Marcusian unification of opposites,
Marxian false consciousness, and oxymoronic logic
I’ve seen anywhere;
But those advertisements help soften your mind
As a sort of hors d’oeuvre to Times Square,
The Rockefeller Centre, Rockefeller Plaza
And the Rockefeller world synecdoche,
Where the present tense meets Fritz Lang’s Metropolis,
Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984,
Where a cathedral of capitalism,
A tribute to consumption
And a monument to hedonism
Transport and process the market,
Beneath the giant biblical homily:
‘Wisdom and Knowledge are the Stability of thy Times’.

Nature and the world are playgrounds here,
Playgrounds to be conquered:
An ice skating rink, the flags of the world,
Grinning shoppers clutching their bags …
Queues for the Top of the Rock,
Queue for a view,
Where you pay for a view:
A panorama for 30 dollars,
360 degrees for 30 dollars,
The Empire State Building and towering icon upon icon
(But no biblical reference to the Tower of Babel),
Air conditioning – such a term – working everywhere overtime,
Oh look! There’s Central Park,
But too high to see the wood for the trees;
Point of view,
As long as you pay for it,
As long as it’s filtered
Through the Rockefeller propaganda machine:
You wouldn’t know from your visit
That he was a Social Darwinist,
That his firm Standard Oil,
Was assailed in the courts with anti-trust suits –
Even capitalist ethics questioned his monopolistic practices,
Who would know that Standard Oil
Waged war on trade unions and the Wobblies,
For when you enter the building,
Having been assailed by Disneyfication
Meet and greet performers,
A giant information panel tells us how grateful
A trade union leader was in 1932
For the construction of the building,
It brought work to the poverty stricken victims
Of the Wall Street Crash:
Rockefeller as beneficent philanthropist:
If it wasn’t for the rich, then the poor wouldn’t have any jobs,
This is what my gran used to tell me …
Outside St Patrick’s Cathedral,
Beggars on the streets and on the subway,
An incontinent young man in a wheel chair,
Head bent down,
Travelling God knows where
And for how long past Grand Central –
If you need private health care
Here for your physical health,
What of mental health?
How many mentally ill people did we see in the streets?
Shouting at no one in particular and nothing that made sense,
At crossing ways and subway entrances;
How many did we see aimlessly pushing trolleys,
Laden with black bin bags of clothing looking for a doorway,
Or some warm shelter for the night;
How many homeless did we see queuing for a bed for the night?
Sometimes you have to be in the gutter
To see the wood for the trees,
Rather than on top of the world,
You get false consciousness up there,
It’s a Fairy Tale of New York.