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Birthday Party (belated entry) July 5, 2006

Posted by Matt Hurst in Cultural Portraits, Politics.
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It was the people’s birthday, and like any good work day the kids called in sick.  The kids had been keeping strange hours the weekend before, slinging back beer bottles like they were a bottle of water after a long run.  They made a boisterous sound where others would here them, proud of themselves and a day of release and abandon.  That is only after they made there way out of the house, if they would at all.

I made my way out of the compound, where every other kind of store that could turn a profit would be open.  Profit was the only motive involved in a gas station or grocery store, where we spotted men and women proudly swaggering towards their cars with bottles of tequilla and rum in each hand – celebration would take some mental lubrication in order for at least themselves to get off today.
  (i am speaking of The Fourth of July, a national holiday at one time).  We had barely worked our way out of the paid prison block to the grocery before we found ourselves stumbling back in to the plausible deniability that could be called privacy.  The compulsion of american social society pushed me out the door, though i could do without it.  Greater comfort of relative seclusion seemed a priviledge takrn for granted these days, even as we journeyed for coffee and drink in successive trips.   In the end, it was together that we had reason to celebrate, though not necessarily the holiday at hand.

It wasn’t so much that a shortage of things to be done could be found as much as that they were too afraid to go out.  The past year had seemed as cruel as ever, except there was even less to celebrate.  A holdiay to celebrate freedom found its last refuge in the home, where over phone lines and spending records tied to their address people could question just as well.  Any pair of homosexual couples, gleeming the week before in pride, could feel the pinch of constitutional meassures contrary to the very spirit of equality.  And the very idea of waving flags sickened ordinary men and women with the failed amendments against how the flag might to used, especially as fire kindle; although those using it as the backdrop to open genocide and general madness abroad had no sense of its descration.  So if we stood as good patriots whilst the national anthem played over loud speakers and television sets, it was only in fear that big brother were watching us all the while (even at home).


the all-american art of the hustle June 20, 2006

Posted by Matt Hurst in Cultural Portraits, Philsophy, Politics.
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Any red-blooded American understands the art of the hustle.  In the tradition of our gypsy forebears, any impovershed group of people (even Americans) will try to make a deal to get themselves ahead – even when it is at the expense of another.  The not so secret art of the hustle can be as much as selling a fake rolex on the street corner or just getting the seat you really want on the airplane.  The hustle is predicated on the belief that anticipates that anyone else would just as soon put one over on you.  No misrepresentation of self is out of bounds, after all the basis of the hustle – the con – is that the other person think they’re conning you.

To better explain the art of the hustle I should first <A href=”http://hustle.urbanup.com/1239803&#8243; mce_href=”http://hustle.urbanup.com/1239803″>define my terms</A>.  Using the definition linked to, it is fair to say that a hustle is based around two major components – the increasing demands on the individual in society of a frenzied tempo of living, coupled together with the desperation of being impovershed.  Even these two components can be further deconstructed to that Anglo-American notion of “time is money”, wherein the demands of living are reduced to the cost of living versus income.  If time is just an artificial construction with which to organize society (ie labor, services) as money is a system of reducing market forces in a competitive system, it would be fair to say that the hustle is a way of living in the American Dream.
Now then, it can be understood the hustle is something we experience on a daily basis.  The art of salesmanship is the very essence of a hustle.  The seller makes a representation of a product or service, presents it in such a way to make it seem like you are getting the better end of their deal, and you both leave the exchange of money feeling you have earned the upper hand.  Of course the hustle is designed to make you feel that you have gotten a fair deal, and in this alone it would seem fair for the hustling party to take their own profits from the matter.  However it is always the hustler that recieves the bounty of the agreement.
The Hustle should not be confused with <A href=”http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=haggle&#8221; mce_href=”http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=haggle”>the haggle</A>.  The Haggle consists of two parties knowlingly misrepresenting themselves.  The seller can either suggest a price or ask for one from the buyer before suggesting their own price.  The Buyer will then try to talk the seller into a lower price in this understanding of the situation, working their way towards the deal.  The seller makes suggestions that are artificially inflated in hopes of gathering a larger profit from the items real cost, whereas the buyer expresses false disinterest in buying at the higher price.  Both parties in a haggle usually come otu satisfied, otherwise the exchange would never have taken place.

The hustle is centered around a misrepresentation, a tempting illusion meant to draw upon the target’s insecurities.  In a world where is it presumed that everyone is competing for the same resources, it makes sense to further yourself at the expense of another.  The idea is that the target would screw you over in any other situation, which is probably true if only because they can afford the hustle.  The hustler plays up the value of their resource, so that the target (a victim by any other definition) believes they are actually getting a deal.  The problem is that the cost, the effort is really being made on the part of the target, whereas the hustler is the only one who profits for the endavor.  The hustler pays almost nothing, but the target must pay using the earned proceeds from their own work (or hustle in it’s own right).

The entirety of American society is dependant on a hustle sometimes called “the American Dream”.  The hustle is an effort that if you work hard enough you can earn a handsome way of living.  We have taken our own products away from the markets in the streets, and put them into hustling environments where the appearance of a good deal fixates the target into buying the hustle.  You walk into a Wal-Mart, where you are lured into the artificially “low-price” scenario that tempts you to buy cheap products at a considerable mark-up.  The employees at any retail outlet might meet before the hustling day (as Wal-Mart does) to present the specials of the day – products that people will want at said cost with a considerable mark-up.  China has now legitimzed their cheap knock-off products once hustled on the streets by putting them on a store shelf.  The only difference is advertising through a bombardment of subversive outlets, such as television, instead of simply having an individual personally target you.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that advertised products are targetting you too.
The main difference of this hustle is that a street level hustle is an immediate money transaction (based in printed currency), whereas the hustle in a consumer society has the additional qualifier of leaving you in debt.  The advent of credit cards makes the hustle even easier to do, because the deferment of burden puts the immediate gratification of the target within an artificial reach.  In other words, a deal seems better when it’s easier.  This fundamentally changes the hustle by making the offer more appealing; consequences defered, the deal seems better.  What is left behind is a hustler making considerable profit at the point of sale, and the buyer eventually crippled by debt.

In a way it is a con – the con is predicated on the idea that someone thinks they are really conning you, that they think they got the upper hand in the deal.  But as hustling has become more advanced, it is true that everyone is out to hustle you.  The victims turn to prey on each other, furthering an impovershed situation that elicits the desperate hustler.  Of course the best hustlers always are the top, but they in turn are hustled by the illusion they create.  The rich man spends his riches on goods and services that are targetted to him, no more valueable than the artificial price set for him by other hustlers.  Indeed, the calvin kline t-shirt is no more useful or valueable than the fruit-of-the-loom Tee, because it offers no more use than the other.  Indeed brand names themselves are nothing more than a hustle, based on selling something made for minimal cost and sold for what is acceptable in profit from the perspective of the unknowing target.  
It is the American Dream at its finest point – a thoroughly constructed illusion designed to target and profit, who believes they are going to get the deal out of the hustle.  To get their they must work hard, by climbing on the backs of the others working hard, and try to earn the upper hand.  In the bottom of this ladder there is a mass of bodies climbing a human construction, continuously pushing each other down by their own weight.  It gives the illusion of movement when you are actually going nowhere at great effort – a hustle.