Re-reading Maureen McHugh’s excellent novel Nekropolis, I am reminded of the local corner gas station. In the book, technologies that are illegal everywhere else – bioengineered pseudo-humans, human slavery with aid of hormonal control – would all be legal and/or allowed anyway in a culture with the right combination of corruption, misogony, and misguided beliefs about a civil society. I am reminded of my corner gas station and convenience store. I have pumped gas there and pumped gas there and pumped gas there. There is no pressing need for gasoline anymore, except it is the way things are and the system is built around it and major multi-national corporations have so much invested in the technology of fossil fuels. There are alternatives that are viable but are deemed not viable because of the corruption of power to maintain a status quo slow disaster that burns up our world. The various products on the shelves are not what any dietician would call “food” with so much sugar, salt, and fat from gmo sources that it probably wouldn’t count as food with an appropriate agricultural system that destabilizes the giant agri-businesses that continue their destructive agricultural practices which destroy the very crops they purport to raise, strip-mine soil fertility, devastate native populations of insects and animals and plants, and operate under some myth that everyone should have all the crops in the world, all the time. There’s more chemistry there than agriculture. Soda pop, and energy drinks, and carefully-tested candies and snack products designed for maximum legal addiction without any verifiable health or wellness claims. This is your third world, America, right in front of our collective faces and we don’t see it as our bioengineered pseudo-life and we don’t see the wage slavery of the men and women who work for minimum wage here, and for low wages through all the networks and systems that fuel the store. We don’t see our own third world, because it is ours. We read excellent books by Maureen McHugh, and think that the slavery and bioengineering would never happen here in the misnamed 1st world. The book even says it wouldn’t happen here, that it is illegal places like here. And it does. Harder to see the systemic breakdowns of the cultures we label as an “other” before we see the systemic breakdowns of our own. Outside the gas station, young men come up to me because I have a beard and somewhat long-ish hair and jeans and rarely wear socks. They ask me if I know where they can get some “green”. There’s a massage parlor I’ve never, ever entered and never will with the front windows blacked out in that shopping complex. There’s other businesses there equally shady. It’s just down the street from me. I get gas there, sometimes. When my parents come down, I might grab a case of beer on the way home, for my mom who likes basic light beer. I am re-reading Maureen McHugh’s Nekropolis. It already happens here. It’s been this way for years and years.