Trashing our liberties: A street-level view

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 1, 2009

By Clyde Overcash
For the Salisbury Post
Racism, zip codes and glittering lights. It all boils down to one thing: Who owns the streets? We have to pay double taxes to maintain the streets on the land we inherited. We only call it ours. Commissioners and council members are elected to be our watchdogs. The little dog must beg for a bone or eat off the streets. The city owns the trashy overgrown curbs and streets. The stoplights control the streets. Crackheads and prostitutes don’t pay taxes but are users ó of the streets, that is.
The post office delivers mail on our streets, and we must use zip codes. We buy stamps. We can protest the possible closing of the downtown office, but revenue seems more important than service and convenience; which we pay for. We can’t vote on that, and we can’t afford to move to another zip code with pretty and safe lights, because we “own” land at the end of our street. We buy imported gas to drive down the street to see light displays made in China and sold at Walmart, neither of which has ever heard of you or your street, or cares whether they close your street.
Ever since the Civil War, Yankees have “come down” our streets to teach us stupid white boys how to make unsweetened tea and drink beer in the rose garden. Before that, the colonial minutemen didn’t want help from the mother country. We resent being told what to do with our streets ó zoning changes, historic districts and forced annexation.
Driving down the street, we have too many choices for fast food in Styrofoam boxes, which we buy using coupons that come in the mail (zip codes again). We try it; if we don’t like it, we throw it in the street. Some drink, smoke or use painkillers to forget what we don’t like. Where is law enforcement or punishment in the courts?
We overhear dirty street talk that is also accepted on TV, and at school. Not even Obama can help those who don’t want help, and he grew up “on the streets.”
All we want is a mosquito-free back yard with a creek to fish in, a few yard children and plain, ol’ white bread ó maybe a free-range opossum or two, carefully crossing the street out front.
We may soon have to pay to use the street over the Yadkin River Bridge. Do not cross the center line.
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Clyde Overcash is an artist and longtime observer of the streets of Salisbury.