Word Count 494
Sympathy for the Devil You Knew
By Mike Cecconi
I went to the K-Mart going-out-of-business sale to mourn an America that has now passed away, no less grotesque in its consumerism but certainly less invasive. An America past where at least the oligarchs and plutocrats worried about making money off your kids in thirty years, not just this financial quarter, this dividend report, this threat of leveraged buyout by Bain Capital.
An America where at least the rich folk who owned everything lived in a mansion at the edge of town instead of some techno-bunker two thousand miles away in Silicon Valley or Bentonville, Arkansas. Mr. Potter from “It’s A Wonderful Life” would be small potatoes, positively quaint, in comparison to this vulture capitalist now, just as lost in the face of it all, teetering maybe on the same snowy bridge as George Bailey, contemplating the finer points of oblivion and hoping to be saved by a Kickstarter drive instead of a telegram from Sam Wainwright, hee-haw, but I doubt it.
It was an older kind of evil, K-Mart, that had at least some sense of time and place, could still co-exist with local small businesses instead of killing them and whole cities along the way to score one more point at the Stock Exchange. I got my first He-Man figures there, my GI Joes, my bicycle, my clothes, my sense of what the world was.
So, Godspeed Herkimer K-Mart. Godspeed stale lunch-counter popcorn dreams, Godspeed blue light specials miracle, Godspeed musty garden center smells, Godspeed to the world that I grew up in with no beginning and no end, that just simply was, but was not and now is simply gone.
Godspeed smaller monsters from a time where monsters at least knew when they were full,
when monsters knew that you could only eat so many villagers, if you wanted them to make more villagers so that you could eat again in eighteen years. Godspeed to monsters with some modicum of perspective, buried now beneath stained linoleum floors, in retrospect, there were spaces to escape the smaller monster then, there were joys to be had in the spaces in-between.
Godspeed Herkimer, once redolent with record shops and magazine stands, now just bad tattoo parlors, a War-Mart at the edge of town and a hulking concrete scar where K-Mart used to be.
I went to a K-Mart going out of business sale, to mourn a way of life I thought was always going to be then I drove home. Past the War-Mart supercenter selling smiles, semi-automatic rifles and plastic American flags all made in China, to prick my fingers and check my blood sugar because I am changing too. I’m diabetic, the doctor says, I have consumed too much too and now I am at risk of being destroyed as well because I could not help myself. I just ate, and I ate until I started destroying myself. I am America in my own way, I suppose, I was really just visiting myself.