The above image was made by @amberjyang using Midjourney with the prompt 'a mystical hatchet in an earth tone urban backdrop in Uptown Minneapolis.'
Something disturbing happened in my Minneapolis neighborhood recently. Just after sunset a few days ago, my friend Patrick was walking near his apartment when he passed a masked man on the sidewalk. As he passed, the man hit him in the back of the head with the blunt side of a hatchet. The force of the blow threw Patrick into a nearby fence. Turning around, he recognized the attacker and pulled down his mask. "Fuck off, Richie," said Patrick, whereupon Richie left the scene quickly.
Patrick is fortunately alright. He filed a police report and his head injury wasn't serious enough to warrant a hospital stay. Even so, the situation is concerning. I consider it evidence of society's deterioration.
I've known Richie for many years, but we haven't talked since the pandemic turned our city upside down. He's an educated man who struggled as a writer. When Richie got into trouble with the law, I wrote a character reference letter for him. When he was struggling to find work, I got him a job with a landscaping company, which he quit after one day. When he was trying to be a writer, I gifted him a functional laptop, which immediately vanished, presumably sold for beer money. And throughout our acquaintance, I bummed him cigarettes and loaned him small amounts of cash when I could afford it.
Richie isn't a young man. He's at least a decade older than me. Now he's apparently out trying to mug people with a hatchet. The whole thing is troubling. Is the once respectable Richie just a mugger now, roaming the neighborhood with a hatchet? Or was his attack of Patrick an isolated incident? Both options are very dystopian.
I worry that deteriorating socioeconomic conditions drove Richie to violent crime. He didn't steal any money from Patrick, yet I assume a financial motive for the attack. How many others like him are slipping through our economy's cracks? Maybe some. Maybe many.
Desperate people make terrible decisions. And we're in an era that manufactures desperation. Tent cities are proliferating in urban areas. Street crime is commonplace. All of this is only going to get worse until we fix poverty.
It's easier to fall into poverty than to climb out of it. Rents are high and wages are low. Competition is fierce for desirable jobs. Plus, if the economy was a game of musical chairs, the music would've stopped in 2020. Not everyone found a spot in the new order when the dust settled.
And now my old friend Richie has become a public safety hazard. There may be many others like him out there, willing to do violence to passersby. They're symptomatic of systemic problems we've so far chosen not to address. We could relieve the economic pressure squeezing the underclass by overhauling the tax code and establishing a Universal Basic Income, but instead we squeeze the underclass more and more tightly. I doubt we'll like the result.
Read my novels:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is available as a web book on IPFS and as a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt.
- The Paradise Anomaly is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Psychic Avalanche is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- One Man Embassy is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Flying Saucer Shenanigans is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Rainbow Lullaby is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- The Ostermann Method is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
- Blue Dragon Mississippi is available in print via Blurb and for Kindle on Amazon.
See my NFTs:
- Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
- History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
- Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.