U DA MAN, GARY! U DA MAN!

“In December 2021, Hard Rock International agreed to pay MGM a little over $1 billion for the right to operate the Mirage, including a three-year license to the name. For a little while longer, the hotel will continue to be marketed as a desert oasis, and its iconic volcano will still erupt. But Las Vegas is the least sentimental city on Earth, and Hard Rock has already announced plans to re-imagine the property, including by building a guitar-shaped hotel like the one it opened in Hollywood, Florida, in 2019. The Mirage—the hotel that changed Las Vegas—will vanish from the Strip around the time it turns 35 years old.” Chris Jones

“The splendor of the mall aside, the fictionalized Southern California town Ridgemont (from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) is unglamorous. All of the kids have jobs and it doesn’t feel like an option. They live in modest, unlavish houses—although, the Hamilton siblings’ backyard pool is the source of unending complications and shenanigans. These are the American suburbs of the early ’80s, before Reagan’s great upward-wealth redistribution would induce the investor class to bulldoze modest family homes and replace them with garish monuments to their endless vanity.” Elizabeth Nelson

“What frustrated critics of the right-wing press are reluctant to concede is the extent to which popular papers become popular by reflecting opinion rather than directing it. From Northcliffe and Hearst on, the press lords have succeeded by tapping into sentiment—often ugly enough—that was already there. The Daily Mail beat the drum for the Boer War and then the Great War, but it didn’t cause them. In Citizen Kane, a movie plainly inspired by Hearst, there is an episode supposedly taken from Hearst’s life, when Kane sends a correspondent to Cuba to foment the 1898 Spanish-American War. The correspondent cables, ‘Could send you prose poems about scenery…there is no war in Cuba,’ to which Kane replies, ‘You provide the prose poems—I’ll provide the war.’ As it happens, those last words were exactly the sense that Tony Blair conveyed to John Scarlett, chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, twenty years ago. Scarlett duly provided the prose poems in the form of distorted or exaggerated intelligence, and Blair provided the Iraq War, or the British contribution to it. But again, although the London press allowed itself to be manipulated by Blair, and although Murdoch warmly supported that disastrous enterprise, he didn’t start it.” Geoffrey Wheatcroft

“Mrs Simpson came on the newsreel there wasn’t a sound…It shows once more how futile the Hearst papers are when it comes to influencing the public. He roasted Roosevelt day after day for months, and look what he (FDR) done! What people buy the Hearst papers for is the comic strips.” P.G. Wodehouse


“Why, Sir, absolute princes seldom do any harm. But they who are governed by them are governed by chance. There is no security for good government.” Dr. Johnson

“I’m rubber, you’re glue!”

A word or two about the upcoming midterms and then we’re moving on.

– Having watched election ads in three different states over the past month they all come down to this, “Candidate A sucks! I’m Candidate B and I approved this ad.” This is follow by an ad that then says, “Candidate B sucks! I’m Candidate A and I approved this message.” Normally campaign talking points that looks like they came straight out of Pee Wee Herman’s mouth wouldn’t seem unusual, but the enormous number of tv ads has been unnerving.

– Prior to this election half of America had a great deal of antipathy for the other half and the other half always returned the favor. After Tuesday – regardless of the outcome- half of America will have antipathy towards and live in total fear of the other half. Reciprocity will still apply.

– If the Democrats do well then Trump will take it as a sign that he must return to save America from itself. If the GOP does well Trump will take it as a sign that America got a jones for him.

That said it’s time to move on.

Where is the sin in Sin City?

Once again to keep my cultural anthropologist credentials in order we visited Disneyland and Las Vegas.

As for The Happiest Place on Earth I was reminded of the time I found something in the inbox from someone I really can’t stand. I replied with a very simple note that began, “When I saw your name at the top of my inbox the poem in my heart began to scream!”

Never heard back from him again.

The use of a non sequitur should be thought of as a small silver dagger hidden up your sleeve – a weapon that is both adroit and precise.

Keep your pants on – this is going somewhere.

The first thing you learn while walking around Disneyland is that no one is wearing a shirt with a collar. The “guests” as they’re know walk around in an assortment of t-shirts. Many say something like, “(Fill in the blank) FAMILY REUNION” or “I”M THE BRIDESMAID WHO BROUGHT THE (fill in the blank).” But the t-shirt that existed in great numbers said, “A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES.”

w… t … f…

While we were seeking out a ridiculously overpriced meal in Downtown Disney that specific t-shirt kept coming at us in waves. Every 10 feet a huge flock of t-shirts would be coming right at us. A dream is a wish, a dream is a wish a dream is a wish

At this point the non sequitur is not a silver dagger.

A non sequitur with that velocity becomes what Regis Philbin meant when he talked about an out-of-control beer wagon rolling downhill.

Otherwise the only thing to report is the demise of Roger Rabbit. Last June was the 34th anniversary of Roger’s big screen appearance. Since there have been no subsequent Roger Rabbit ventures the staff and management are carefully removing all traces of Roger. If it was up to Mouse Management Roger would be stuffed in a 55 gallon drum and sent to the bottom of Lake Mead. Never mind that it’s easier said that done these days.

And what of the only American city mentioned in the opening of The Situationist Manifesto?

For years and years driving up from LA meant so-so radio reception. There used to be one FM station that could be heard for most of the trip that played all your Rat Pack favorites in heavy rotation along with commercials for the lesser hotels. (e.g. The Barbary Coast or Maxim) The march of time has replaced that station with several classic rock outlets. Landing on one while stopping for gas about 50 miles out from Vegas we heard a gruff but friendly voice say, “Guys, have you been diagnosed with A1C, high blood pressure, or are you over weight? Have you been denied term life insurance for any of those reasons? Well not any more, I’m Gary and I’ve got your back.”

How can you not dab a tear from your eye when you encounter someone with such a generous spirit?

Once I regained my composure we moved along until we found ourselves on The Strip.

Biggest change in the 20 or so years since we were last there?

Gluttony shot clean past avarice and lust to become The Number One Sin in Sin City.

The old come-ons of loose slots and twenty-five cent roulette have been replaced with colossal video screens featuring Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay offering you plates of food. The cheap buffet, once meant to provide the tourists with enough sustenance to be able to pump more quarters and nickels into the slots has been replaced with very high priced dinners featuring a selection of entrees prepared by famous chefs or chefs who are at least famous locally. The 99 cent shrimp cocktail is now something that only exists in the minds of us who have a living memory of it.

The clank and rattle of coins dropping into slot machine troughs, the click of The Wheel of Fortune, and light rumble of the roulette wheel are gone. The slots take prepaid plastic cards and most of the old school games have been replaced with video doppelgangers. The craps tables are largely empty as it’s a game of the past that lingered on for too long. Some of the newer hotels have shrunk the casinos to make way for what The Strip calls “dining options.” Many of the lesser hotels (e.g. Treasure Island) now offer walkways jammed with franchise food. Trader Vics and Don the Beachcomber were removed to make way for Popeye’s Fried Chicken and Taco Bell.

Even at 10pm the casino can be eerily quiet. A stroll through The Sahara at that hour only brought the sound of The Little Shop of Horrors themed slot machine. All you could hear was a tiny digitally recreated voice calling out, “Feed me Seymore! Feeeeed meeeeeee!

And that one small thing, that single voice, sums up modern Vegas.

OK minus the water problems.

Oddly enough the old tourist traps are still here. Among the giant hotels the tiny shops that sell souvenir dice and key chains stubbornly hang on. They sit on their shrinking lots as the last vestige of what Vegas used to be.

Oh, and the in-room coffee maker has been replaced with the Starbucks in the lobby.

Good to see that someone from up here in The Big Damp Woods is making good in the Mojave.

Time to listen to this and feel sorry for myself as I conjure up memories of the 99 cent shrimp cocktail.

Won’t you join me?

Everybody’s talkin’ at me

“I’m offering a descriptive observation, not a positive normative judgment. Truth exists. Truth matters. Even if Alex Jones’ broadcasts are dreamscapes of spleen, they have real-world effects. Some people take them literally and act accordingly, as we’ve seen as the parents of murdered children tell their harrowing stories of the harassment Jones encourages. And a society where words are unaccountable, where language is just us finger-painting with our own shit, is ungovernable and unlivable.The point is that courts are ill-equipped to deal with people like Alex Jones, and people like Alex Jones are ill-equipped to deal with courts. Jones’ catastrophic testimony in his own defense illustrates this. Jones struggled to fit his bombast within the framework of the law, within the distinction between fact and opinion. It’s a bad fit because that’s not how he uses words. If Jones had been honest — an utterly foreign concept to him — he might have said ‘I just go out there and say what I feel.’ The notion that Sandy Hook was a hoax is a word-painting, a way of conveying Jones’ bottomless rage at politics and media and modernity, and he can no more defend it factually than Magritte could defend the logical necessity of a particular brushstroke.” Mr. Pope Hat

“At a breakneck pace — and with lots of cable-news-y crosstalk — the pre-launch event unfolded at Gallup headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning. There was some interesting stuff said about trust, objectivity, profit models, and social media policies! But, inevitably, it was Carlson’s inflammatory comments that caught much of the attention. Why was Carlson invited? To those who said the invite was to build pre-launch buzz for Semafor … well, I’m writing about the fiasco now, so congratulations. But if Semafor and Knight’s stated reasons for inviting him — to have a conversation about the future of news and get answers to ‘hard questions’ — were the actual benchmark, Carlson’s presence was a miserable failure. Smith kicked off the conversation with Carlson — who was phoning in from a clothes closet decorated with Ringling Bros. Circus and ‘Roosevelt Dead!’ posters — by asking him whether he thought ‘white people were superior to other races.’” Sarah Scire

“There may be no more hilariously inspired character on television than ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Colin Robinson—a bald, bespectacled, blandly dressed dullard who’s actually an ‘energy vampire’ that drains his victims by literally boring them to death. Living in a Staten Island house with three traditional ancient bloodsuckers—Kayvan Novak’s Nandor the Relentless, Matt Berry’s Laszlo Cravensworth, and Natasia Demetriou’s Nadja of Antipaxos—Robinson is the odd man out, a new-world loser who’s the sort of tiresomely annoying drone that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever worked in an office. Monumentally lackluster, he’s a unique spin on the age-old vampiric archetype, a creature of consuming weariness whose every banal utterance is apt to put one to sleep, make one roll their eyes and groan, or flee in desperate search of alternate company.” Nick Schager

“The great consideration which ought to influence us in the use of the present moment is to arise from the effect which, as well or ill applied, it must have upon the time to come; for though its actual existence be inconceivably short, yet its effects are unlimited; and there is not the smallest point of time but may extend its consequences, either to our hurt or our advantage, through all eternity, and give us reason to remember it for ever, with anguish or exaltation.” Dr. Johnson

“If it doesn’t matter in 5 years it doesn’t matter.” – Cher

Let him rave on so that men will know him mad

Now that the news cycle had turned into an all new season of Storage Wars let’s take a minute and view a couple of things that happened recently that you might have missed.

The high and/or low point of the past 30 days (depending on where you stand) was the accidental discovery of how rhetoric works in modern American involving those who should know better. Case in point – The Knight Foundation’s funding of the Carlson Tucker fiasco listed above. For those of you not in the business it is a glaring example of what’s wrong with the business. Ask anybody who cranks out words for a living and they’ll tell you that what you call “bias” is your problem. The real and very serious problem is the Capital-J journalism types (CJJTs) who run the group think. Most of them work for newspapers and the rest are their NPR toadies. As far as they’re concerned newspapers are the only real source of information while all other forms of distributing the news are little more than ouija boards and Magic 8-Balls.

And how do you enter this elite?

In addition to working at a major daily paper you also have to be fully in touch with your inner mutton chops and frock coat which is how the whole Semafor fiasco rolled out. The august gents (yes gents) of the CJJTs, the editors, publishers, op-ed stalwarts, and media pundits had the bright idea that they could get to the bottom of this Carlson Tucker business. In this room the many compatriots, stout lads one and all, would once and for all suss out what this man had to say. Certainly a room full of such men, stout lads one and all, who have stood – man and boy- before the mast for lo these many years doing yeoman like work, would be able to find out once and for all if this fellow was half the bounder the wags say he is!

The highlight was when the guest of honor let this one go –

“100 percent of the people I’m mad at are well-educated white liberals. In my mind, the archetype of the person that I don’t like is a 38-year-old female white lawyer with a barren personal life.”

At this point you’re saying, “Somebody paid for that? Dude, the guy’s on tv five nights a week. You could have stayed home and watched.”

Saying the CJJTs brought, as the saying goes, a bag of marshmallows to a knife fight really doesn’t cover it, does it?

More like Carlson Tucker did a professional job – he showed up and did what he gets paid to do. What’s confusing is how the CJJTs, professionals one and all, seemed to miss that point.

What were they expecting?

Meanwhile a week or so later Judge Maya Guerra Gamble told Alex Jones, “This is not your show. Your beliefs do not make something true. You are under oath.”

In other words – don’t practice your profession in my courtroom, Mr. Jones.

The point?

Bluster has been the engine of American discourse for quite some time and in the past few weeks we’ve learned that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Like the assumed political beliefs of the voters of Kansas, bluster might not work as it’s supposed to these days. Earlier this week a study from Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania and Microsoft Research found this –

Finally, we found an imbalance between partisan TV news channels and the broader TV news environment. Our observations revealed that Americans are turning away from national TV news generally in substantial numbers — and crucially, this exodus is more from centrist news buckets than from left- or right-leaning ones. Within the remaining TV news audience, we found movement from broadcast news to cable news, trending toward MSNBC and Fox News. Together, these trends reveal a counterintuitive finding: Although the overall TV news audience is shrinking, the partisan TV news audience is growing. This means that the audience as a whole is in the process of being “distilled” — remaining TV viewers are growing increasingly partisan, and the partisan proportion of TV news consumers is on the rise.

So how you watch tv is like saying you are what your eat?

Hard to say, but bluster isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Rather bluster has shown up on a few doorsteps in unexpected ways as of late. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it has been interesting to see how bluster has played out in what’s normally the slow time for news.

Oh and one other point on the Jones trial regarding the texts – this from Wired:

(Legal) Screwups are so common that there is even a special federal rule for it. Recent years have seen everyone from Apple to Facebook to federal agencies screw up high-stakes discovery disputes. When a document is accidentally handed over, you can actually ask for it back, and the other side has to pretend they never saw it. But a screwup on the scale of Alex Jones’ lawyers is a whole other matter. The memes about his lawyers’ staggering ineptitude are richly warranted. It’s one thing to hand over a text message that should have been held back—it’s another thing to hand over two years’ worth. And when lawyers screw up, they have only a limited window to fix the error. With Jones the messages are so damning that it’s unclear whether they were ever legally protected to begin with, because no matter what you see on TV, lawyers aren’t allowed to help clients lie or commit crimes. If a lawyer sends over an email where they are giving a client advice, they can often get it back, but when the email shows the client is committing a crime, like perjury, that’s a different matter.”

If Apple and Facebook can’t handle a secure transmission of digital information then we’re all screwed.

BOY HOWDY!

Last week in the dead of the night, a fashionista on the BBC said this was the most dreadful summer for fashion. Per her people did little more than put on their clean bucket hat when the left the house and called it good. Oddly, the next day I got an offer for a bucket hat that would have the name of my high school and mascot so that I could wear it to the fall football games. Two problem are attached to that. First, I don’t live anywhere near my hometown anymore and secondly an Unincorporated Rio Blanco County School Distrct R-5 K-12 Cattlemen is gonna take one big-ass bucket hat.

Not long there after another fixture of my teen years reared its ugly head.

Ready?

Creem magazine is making a comeback.

Why?

God only knows.

I had no idea it went away and died a slow and undignified death similar to Penthouse and The National Lampoon. In my youth I avoided Creem as it always seemed to have a picture of KISS on the cover. By the time KISS arrived I found it to be little more than greasy kid stuff – Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal with training wheels. The Perfesser says I let my surface impressions guide me in the wrong direction as the best reason to read Creem was Lester Bangs.

Being unaware of what he wrote I decided to spend $5 at the used book store on Lester Bang’s Greatest Hits rather than subscribe to the all-new Creem for $5/month. The books includes the review that got Bangs fired from Rolling Stone as publisher Jann Wenner thought Bangs had treated Canned Heat in an unusually cruel manner and portrayed the band in a negative light.

All packed into six tight paragraphs.

Overall Bangs comes off like an iconoclastic provocateur who went after every big name of the day save for Wet Willie. (No, Really.) In the mid-70s his take down of The Beatles, who said were little more than dried out husks only a few short years after breaking up, Bangs said, “But it’s okay. Because I would not indulge in those kind of ten-year-cycle Frank Sintra-Elvis Presley-The Beatles who’s-next-now’s theories that have been so popular lately.”

Forgot about that one didn’t you?

The every-ten-years thing was about as stupid as the classified ads in the college paper looking for people to gather signatures on a petition asking The Beatles to reform. In my teens there were no end of people looking at every new thing coming down the pike to see if The Next Beatles had arrived. By 1980 – we can only hope – they gave up.

Having said that – in our next installment I will explain how Curtis Blow was The Next Beatles.

He’s makin’ a list & checkin’ it twice, Clarence Thomas is goin’ to town

“Twenty-five years ago, while in Tokyo directing an opera, the German filmmaker Werner Herzog turned down the offer of a private audience with the emperor of Japan. ‘It was a faux pas, so awful, so catastrophic that I wish to this day that the earth had swallowed me up,’ Herzog writes in the preface to his first novel, The Twilight World. Nonetheless, his hosts wondered whether he might like to meet some other Japanese celebrity. Without hesitation, he asked to visit Hiroo Onoda. Even if you don’t recognize the name, there’s a good chance that you are familiar with Onoda as a legend, a symbol—what we might nowadays call a meme. A lieutenant in the Imperial Army during World War II, stationed on the Philippine island of Lubang, he kept fighting long after the Allied victory, until he was finally relieved of his duties in 1974.” A.O. Scott

“When Elizabeth Anscombe gave her first lecture at the University of Oxford in 1948, on Protagoras’ doctrine of belief, the authorities worried that female students might be corrupted. Not by the thrust of her talk, but by her trousers. The clerk of schools wrote to her, insisting that she come to the university in a skirt.Every week he lay in wait, refusing to let her enter if she was improperly attired. Eventually a compromise was reached: they gave her a changing room containing a skirt (and a decanter of sherry as a bribe) and said she could arrive in trousers provided she appeared before students in the skirt. Anscombe agreed — and then wore both. Iris Murdoch, Dublin-born, later a famous novelist, won a scholarship to Badminton School (where she wept so copiously that a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Iris was formed), and another to Oxford, where she joined political campaigns and wrote a prizewinning essay on ‘If I were foreign secretary.'” John Walsh

“The wildest affairs happen at Fincadelica, a 300-year-old, 21-acre ‘magical, free-flowing concept estate inspired by nature and tranquility’ that Segev stumbled upon in 2019 and revived alongside the Israeli diamond dealer Mati Rachminov and businessman Shai Bencazir. The asking price is around $68,000 a week, a package that includes nine luxury suites, farm-to-table food, a soundproof cave club and a Lakota tepee complete with a resident shaman. ‘When it’s free, during low season,” Romano says, ‘they light up the cacti fields for parties, as well as fields of crystals. Then waiters serve San Pedro chocolate mousse on platters.’ The mousse is mixed with peyote, a cactus-based psychedelic.” Elena Clavarino

“Religious manias no longer feature in Norwegian life, unless you include the church burnings committed throughout the country by satanist death-metal cultists between 1992 and 1996. Poverty, which greatly factored into the (Norwegian) witch hunts (c.1500-1550) – not only in Norway but across Europe and colonial America as well; virtuallly no person of substantial wealth was ever burned as a witch – is likewise not a big Norwegian problem at the present time. Thanks to North Sea oil. Gary Hoisington

“P(reident Richard M. Nixon) was fascinated this morning to get a report on the Kennedy Center opening of the (Bernstein) Mass last night…he paused a minute, this was over the phone, and then said, ‘I just want to ask you one favor. If I’m assassinated I want you to have them play Dante’s Inferno and have Lawrence Welk produce it.'” H.R. Haldeman

“The liar, and only the liar, is invariably and universally despised, abandoned, and disowned: he has no domestick consolations, which he can oppose to the censure of mankind; he can retire to no fraternity, where his crimes may stand in the place of virtues; but is given up to the hisses of the multitude, without friend and without apologist. It is the peculiar condition of falsehood, to be equally detested by the good and bad: ‘The devils,’ says Sir Thomas Brown, ‘do not tell lies to one another’; for truth is necessary to all societies: nor can the society of hell subsist without it.” Dr. Johnson

Only landlords, bandits, revisionists, back sliders, and imperialist running lackey dogs go out in the noon day sun

You know, in light of everything that’s been going you’d think that it’s not a good time to be giddy.

Know what?

I’m so giddy I can barely contain myself.

Why?

Back in the 00’s during the time of peak Bloggitysphere I said that if America had anything like China’s Cultural Revolution it would come from the conservative movement.

Thank you Eric Greitens!

As the modern conservative’s role model once said, “By gar, the critter went and done it!”

Moving along – now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned let’s look at what did and did not happen.

– Per th’ Tweety angry women were going to take to the streets and burn down all the Catholic churches in their path. This didn’t happen and it would have been quite the undertaking given that we have as many locations as 7-11.

– The useless argument for court packing came up. It has never been a favorite of mine. If the guy Alaska Wolf Joe calls “President Joe Brandon” were to float the idea then half of America would go ballistic thinking he would appoint Cher, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, and Hillary. But if that didn’t come to pass until Trump came back or was so far down the line that a Trumpist president were in office you could wind up with even more fire breathers on the bench. So go ahead – pack away, but you have no guarantee you won’t be worse off than when you started.

– For years I thought that once Roe was turned back to the states it would be the end of the GOP as it would take away their lynch-issue. Lately it’s become too obvious that when the make-believe issues run out of steam there’s always the old standbys. Even if a state bans abortion it doesn’t mean the local pols won’t claim that the libs are ready to swarm over the border and use George Soros’ money to put an abortion clinic in every WalMart. If that starts to fade then there’s always somebody coming for your guns.

Dance-with-the-one-who-brung-ya politics.

Old school, but effective.

– States are trying to stop the sale of Plan B pills and limit the ability to seek an abortion in another state or country. The subtext is to criminalize as all the options.

Hard to say how all these things will be enforced.

You could try to put a National Guardsman on every street corner.

– For years the average conservative used to have this trope where if someone he or she didn’t like said something they found icky then you – as a lib- had to believe that same thing too. Sorta like, “Well, Al Sharpton said (whatever) so that must be a central tenet of your belief system as well since you’re both left of center.” Now no matter what Greg Abbot or Ron Desantis might say they – as Republicans – have to believe it.

Or else.

– Speaking of Hanoi Jane – she has no influence on how all of this plays out. For that matter Hilary is probably in the same position, but that didn’t stop either of them from taking up a new careers as Internet trolls.

– And while you weren’t looking Clarence Thomas assumed his new role as Supreme Ayatollah.

Shit’s getting shoved into high gear right this very second. He’s gonna hit the ground running. With the possible exception of Loving v. Virginia, Clarence is ready to revisit every decision going all the way back to when John Jay first warmed up a seat on the bench. If there’s ever been a time when one single man could remake America this is it.

Why?

Because unlike the other 2/3rd of our government he doesn’t have to deal with those pesky voter people. He doesn’t have to worry about them showing up on election day or even doing what he wants them to do.

If successful America’s Khmomeni runs the risk of making any future Trumpist president little more than the head of a caretaker government.

So in summary – Roe v. Wade was overturned and no matter what happens next the consequences could cut both ways. Neither side’s rock-solid weltanschauung is likely to change. The 50 years leading up to RvW being overturned proves that ideas are sticky things.

No matter where those ideas come from.

For he to-day that takes algebra with me shall be my brother.

Time to clean off the desk.

In no particular order –

– The next post should arrive much more quickly as I’ve been through a crash course on the intersectionality of policing, homelessness, and petty theft which also touches on Chesa Boudin’s outster.

– The guy from high school took a flier on dropping by to catch up. It seems he was more than a bit put off by my email response. The note wasn’t rude or curt, but it did come off very, “Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line for the next available representative.”

It’s a gift.

– The third season of The Boys has the fanboys’ unders in such a tight knot that blood no longer flows to their lower extremities.

Why?

It went and done caught the politics.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years it’s pretty damn obvious that Homelander is Trump while The Deep and Cassandra are the stand-ins for Jared and Ivanka. Starlight is Liz Cheney and Noir is most likely Pence.

But is Paul Reiser supposed to be Roger Stone?

And I really should take back what I said about living under a rock. This season it would be easy to get distracted thanks to the extreme violence, gore, flashback to Nicaragua in the 80s, what used to be called “softcore” porn, and a special appearance by the Solid Gold dancers.

– Normally I would post something around Memorial Day to observe the anniversary of this page. Couldn’t do that this year as we were in Ohio and after we got back the news cycle kept moving too fast to get an adequate take on things. Despite being in Ohio for a very short time I learned that I could never live there as I do not own the requisite riding mower nor do I have enough tattoos.

After 22 years of doing something like this page on and off it’s more of a hobby than anything else. Sorta like having a 1969 Mustang fastback in the garage only without having to worry about the dang thing rusting thanks to the moist climate up here in the Damp North Woods.

Back at the start the total readership wasn’t even the size of a college radio station’s listenership. During the TypePad years it grew to the point where the audience could be described as paltry. After all that it’s shrunk once again to its original size. Sure, you can grow an audience with things like Medium, Substack, or one of the other hosted services, but you also have to consider what those will do to your dignity.

As Deniro says at the end of Casino, “But in the end, I wound up right back where I started. And why mess up a good thing? And that’s that.”

Right?

Sending this one out to Joe Altio.

Listen along while I think some more about flying the flag upside down on the 4th.

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Ayn Rand-y

‘Bad Luck Banging‘, or ‘Loony Porn’, the Romanian director Radu Jude’s exuberantly rude and bawdy new film, is a movie about us. Or rather, it’s a comedy about our world: how we live under surveillance, with diminished boundaries, plagued by conspiratorial thinking and multiple pandemics—virtual as well as actual. As if tossed in a bottle, Jude’s message arrives from an obscure corner of Europe, albeit one that as of last November was suffering the world’s highest per capita death rate from Covid-19. Romania is another land where vaccine hesitancy has mutated into a political movement. The leader of the country’s vaccination effort told The New York Times that this is a result of widespread disinformation: ‘Fake news has a huge influence on our population.’ In the same article, Alina Bargaoanu, a Bucharest communications professor who studies Internet-driven conspiracy theories, explained that many of them originate in the United States and are given particular credence because ‘Romania is a very pro-American country.’” J. Hoberman

“Yet my team’s research at the Stanford Internet Observatory suggests that the conspiracy theories pervading conversations about COVID or politics typically originate with Americans, and they spread because enough Americans want them to. Although some foreign agitators do play on the fringe of some hashtags, they are seldom the primary drivers in the public conversation. If flooding social media with propaganda is an act of aggression, Americans are our own worst enemy.” Renée DiResta

“Fire’s sheer destructiveness and capacity for spectacle make it dear to censors, as exemplified by two of the most infamous cases of book burning in recent centuries. The first comes from the United States, where in 1873 Anthony Comstock persuaded Congress to enact laws making it illegal to send lascivious materials through the mail. As a postal inspector, and with the help of mobs associated with his New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, Comstock claimed to have burned 160 tons of obscene literary material in the forty-year period following passage of the so-called Comstock laws, as well as illustrated playing cards, sex toys, marriage guides, and abortion and birth control devices. The second example is the notorious Nazi bonfires in 1933 that turned to cinders and smoke hundreds of thousands of books, including “degenerate” works by Marx, Mann, Proust, and Einstein. Both at the time and subsequently, this was so widely condemned that it seemed no one would dare to repeat it, or at least would not film and display it to the world. And yet in Chile, forty years later, that is exactly what happened after the coup against the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Watching television in September 1973, I saw soldiers casting books on a smoldering pyre, among which was my own ‘How to Read Donald Duck’, an experience that helped convince me, as it has authors over the ages, that it was necessary to go into exile lest I endure the same mistreatment. Heinrich Heine expressed it best in 1823: ‘Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.’ Eight years later, he went into exile in Paris to escape German censorship.” Ariel Dorfman

“The danger of such unbounded liberty and the danger of bounding it have produced a problem in the science of Government, which human understanding seems hitherto unable to solve. If nothing may be published but what civil authority shall have previously approved, power must always be the standard of truth; if every dreamer of innovations may propagate his projects, there can be no settlement; if every murmurer at government may diffuse discontent, there can be no peace; and if every skeptick in theology may teach his follies, there can be no religion. The remedy against these evils is to punish the authours; for it is yet allowed that every society may punish, though not prevent, the publication of opinions, which that society shall think pernicious: but this punishment, though it may crush the authour, promotes the book; and it seems not more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained, because writers may be afterwards censured, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.” Dr. Johnson on Milton’s ‘Arepagitica’

“I think you should acquire a taste for opera, Robin, as one does for poetry and olives.” Batman

“Oh, woe is me, To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!”

As of last week our new cat, Blofeld has been living with us for six months. Over the course of that time he’s been communicating with us and he’s proven to have a pretty good grasp of human language. It’s been said that most dogs and cats can understand English as well as a five year-old. Given his conversations with Mom we’ve come to the conclusion that his vocabulary is about the same as a college freshman’s.

OK, from a state school, but still…

Last week I followed Blofeld at a distance to watch him carefully examine each and every door frame. Not that we have any idea what he was thinking, but at least we made a written note of it.

Yes, a written note lest I forget. You see, life has taken some turns not the least of which was learning that the place I’ve been getting my hair cut for the past 25 years is closing as the owner is retiring to Lake Havasu City, AZ where he will emit puffs of steam after his many, many years of living in Seattle. This leaves me with no choice but to eventually visit one of the countless hipster barber shops that have sprung up over the past 10 or so years. The day is coming where I will have to make small talk with Josh or Jeremy who command a variety of styles that range from Heinrich Himmler to Ross Perot.

Compounding matters was an email from someone I have not seen in almost 50 years. He’s now retired and ready to catch up. “Catching up” includes, from what can been gleaned from his emails, driving around the country in his new motor home to see family and find out what happened to the people he knew in the third grade. This creates the specter of a Winnebago pulling up in front of the house and finding him at the front door wanting to, in the parlance of my people, “Find a place to set and do some visitin’!”

You know, the curb is lovely at this time of year.

The next item from the inbox offered no relief. Sent by the relatives, it was a collection of memes that had been put together in America’s Bayreuth, The Villages. Alaska Wolf Joe found the note disappointing, given the note’s origin, as there were no political items. The whole thing was largely composed of the old lady in sunglasses from the Hallmark cards firing off one knee-slapper after another about constipation and high blood pressure.

There’s distraction we can all do without.

And BTW – if you’re wondering where the title of this post came from – originally this post was to examine The Right’s clueless obsession with popular culture especially the new attempt to try to come up with a parallel set of children’s programs to offset the programming shoved down our throats by that woke vermin, Mickey.

But that’s all out the window now for obvious reasons.


“NEVER CALL ME THE LEADER! I AM MERELY THE EMERGENT MANIFESTATION OF THE WILL OF OUR COLLECTIVE DISORDER!”
*
*

There are a couple of valid takes on history that never get mentioned much. The first says that the tenor of any given century does not begin on January 1st of any year ending in ’00.’ Secondly, Henry Kissinger once said that more history is made by the Bismarcks and not the Napoleons as the Bismarcks are the ones who put many things in motion which then lead to the Napoleons.

Or something like that.

Over the past several weeks the unlikely alliance of Vladimir Putin and Samuel Alito managed to bring forth the tenor of the 21st Century. Of the two it would seem that Alito is the Bismarck in question or at least he’s the one who has created the Archduke Ferdinand moment in our culture wars.

Several people have coughed up the idea that Alito wants us to have it out once and for all. It’s time for the electeds to get off their ass. If he really is agitating for America’s shit-or-get-off-the-pot/rip-the-bandaid-off-fast showdown he makes a good point. There’s no end of state reps who, in every election season – like clockwork- turn out press releases affirming the sanctity of life and marriage while making the rounds on the rubber-chicken circuit talking about they’re working like dogs to get the government off your backs. Then after being re-elected they return to their cozy two- or four-year naps on the floor of the legislature.

Think of it this way – for such a hot button issue why does abortion get treated like something we stashed in a far corner of the garage that only comes out when the season’s right?

Maybe it really is now or never.

Meanwhile such brinkmanship shoved the punditry into overdrive wondering, how did we get to this point?

well…

In a wholly separate matter – a couple of weeks ago AWJ sent this tiny passage from Rick Berman’s Tale of Two Utopias which lead me to consider how we got here.

the student uprisings, the building occupations, marches, strikes, battles with the police, the insurrections that were sexual, feminist, and gay, the bursts of ecological passion, the noisy entrance of the first mass of African-American students into the previously segregated American universities, the slightly crazy effort to raise insubordination into a culture, to eat, dress, smoke, dance differently . . .

The quote brings up 2.5 points that I’ve long been thinking about.

– Reagan’s election brought forth various affiliated folk intent on making it look like the 60s never happened. Such stalwarts (e.g. Falwell) were going to see to it that all the genies would be put back in their bottles. Over 40-some years that hasn’t happened so now it’s up to two branches of our government to make sure that all the libertines, hippies, and perverts are eradicated from the public square.

– Back when Dubya was president I wondered if the day was coming when we’d have our own Cultural Revolution. Sooner or later I thought the conservatives would reach a point where they were going to go around demanding fealty among the ranks.

Put another way – could The Right eventually try to rid itself of backsliders, revisionists, and lackey running dogs?

No?

Well here’s two words for you – Liz Chaney.

The .5 of an idea came at 6 am while finishing up an episode of Dragnet while waiting for the morning cartoons. The words “insubordination” and “culture” from that quote really pull together everything thing we’ve experienced since Jack Kennedy was elected. But I’ll save it for another time.

SPOILER ALERT: It pits Timothy Leary against Jack Webb as the Dionysian and Apollonian forces still at work in our society.

Right now I’m waiting for UPS to bring a package. I’ve order a piece of clothing to wear after the Republicans take control of the House and Senate. It will work much like Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility. Once I put it on I will be pass through large crowds without being noticed or creating any suspicion.

Let me know if you want one.

While we wait let’s all tap our toes to one.

* From Beta Testing the Ongoing Apocalypse by Tom Kaczynski

“Laugh while you can, Monkey Boy!”

“In 1964 the Lavongai people of the occupied Papua and New Guinea territory sabotaged the elections organized by their colonial masters by writing in the name of President Lyndon B. Johnson, electing him as their king and then refusing to pay taxes to their Australian oppressors. On similar grounds, midcentury Indian and African religious sects sometimes deployed avatars of Britain’s enemies—in India, Hitler was seen as the final coming of Vishnu, while Nigerians worshiped ‘Germany, Destroyer of Land’: My enemy’s enemy is my friend. … The salient point is not that such hopes were untethered from reality, but what they expressed. For what can the powerless do? To what can they appeal to restore the rightful order of things, in the face of endless loss? ‘Do you know that America kills all Negroes?’ a Papuan skeptic challenged one of LBJ’s apostles in 1964. ‘You’re clever,’ the apostle replied.’But you haven’t got a good way to save us.’” Fara Dabhoiwala

“So it’s probably safer to look at something we all but certainly know will happen: By Census Bureau projections, between 2022 and 2037, about 23 million baby boomers — almost exactly one-third of the total cohort — will die. The generation that has enjoyed smothering dominance over the culture and the economy since the mid-20th century is going to melt away like a warming glacier. What might disappear along with all those people? Television in general, and cable news in particular, assumes that viewers will always be there passively sucking down the medium, the way the postwar babies were habituated to do.By 2037, most Americans won’t have been alive for TV monoculture; fully fragmented video consumption will be the natural order of things. Across all media, the inertial weight of the last mass audience (and the grasping hands of the moguls who took control young and never let go) will suddenly lift. What direction will things fly off into? Don’t ask me. I was born in 1971; no one ever asks.” Tom Socca

“In ancient Athens, public speaking was understood primarily as a means of persuasion; learning to convince others was the duty of a democratic citizen. For Confucius, refined speech was the embodiment of refined ethics. In nineteenth-century America, popular lectures delivered in lyceums up and down the East Coast were seen as a form of moral uplift, raising the nation’s cultural standards and satisfying the middle class’s rapacious appetite for useful knowledge. The primary function of TED, by contrast, is to predict the future. … The story goes like this: there are problems in the world that make the future a scary prospect. Fortunately, though, there are solutions to each of these problems, and the solutions have been formulated by extremely smart, tech-adjacent people. For their ideas to become realities, they merely need to be articulated and spread as widely as possible. And the best way to spread ideas is through stories — hence Gates’s opening anecdote about the barrel. In other words, in the TED episteme, the function of a story isn’t to transform via metaphor or indirection, but to actually manifest a new world. Stories about the future create the future. Or as Chris Anderson, TED’s longtime curator, puts it, “We live in an era where the best way to make a dent on the world… may be simply to stand up and say something.” And yet, TED’s archive is a graveyard of ideas. It is a seemingly endless index of stories about the future — the future of science, the future of the environment, the future of work, the future of love and sex, the future of what it means to be human — that never materialized. By this measure alone, TED, and its attendant ways of thinking, should have been abandoned.” Oscar Schwartz


“When Florida is underwater we’ll still be listening to the greatest hits of the 80s.” Alaska Wolf Joe

“Of all the Griefs that harrass the Distrest, Sure the most bitter is a scornful Jest.” Dr. Johnson

S,T, F, and You!

Time for a little exercise in desk cleaning here in our waning days of happiness. No, I’m not going to go on and on about our slide into oligarchy. Instead I’m talking about the scant handful of days there are left before the New York Times fully takes control of Wordle. Very soon you’re going to sit down to Wordle only to find out that you have to watch a pharmaceutical ad between each guess. You’ll be bogged down with so many things you have to ask your doctor about that you won’t be able to remember where you left off.

Not that it makes any difference to me as I ain’t doin’ so hot (38% success rate) since I become easily distracted. Last week I gave up after two guesses because I was dumbfounded that Politifact discovered chemtrails just a couple of weeks ago.

Chemtrails?

I can’t remember how many years it’s been since one of my relatives sent me a forwarded email about that one.

Maybe it seems out of date simply because our household is hyper-informed, as the kids say, when it comes to conspiracy theories and woo-woo metaphysics. Not that we believe any of it. OK, we don’t believe any of it except for Mom’s theory that says cats are creatures from another dimension who are here to study us.

Those times you can’t find Mittens anywhere?

Per Mom – that’s when they transport back to that other dimension to file reports.

As some of you know we recently got a new cat who Mom thinks is the chief scientist in that other realm. For a creature who rarely lets out a peep he has remarkable communication skills. He can read us like a book which lead Mom to say, “If he’s not the big brain for another world then how do you explain it?”

Maybe he was Lex Luthor in his previous life?

But I have to agree with her, any day now the cat will probably be leaving us post-it notes.

Sarcasm in another mammal is so unbecoming.

Moving along –

I Am Joe’s Rogan

The hyper-informed among you are already aware that the punditry has been bending over backwards to give Joe a real left-handed Marc Anthony send off only to find he’s not going anywhere. What they failed to mention in that metric ton of verbiage is that if he were to go away there’d be another Rogan or Rogan-ish personality to take his place.

Why?

Because he’s a really unlikable asshole.

And he’s not the only one.

Being an unlikable ass-wipe is a skill set sort of like being really good at math. If you’re really good at math there’s all sorts of things you can do. Being a total asshole is much the same as you can take your unfortunate God-given gift and apply it to politics, the corporate world, or as in this case, show biz. Agree with him or not what’s going on here is that Joe Rogan most likely has termites in his smile and all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile and he makes it work for him.

And that has made him very rich.

Along those lines – while Rogan holds the number one spot for peoples’ reason to cancel Spotify hot on his heels is concern over what Spotify pays it’s artists. Interesting when you stop to think that the underlying assumption of the second reason is a general belief that the music biz exists on a level playing field.

Like it was ever a level playing field?

The whole history of pop music in the 20th Century is littered with shady managers, greedy record companies, and the mob. You don’t have to look very hard to find a one-time star who died a pauper because he or she never saw a penny out of all those records sold.

And more recently – what was that whole psychotic Freudian drama surrounding Britney Spears all about?

But I can see why people cancelled Spotify. Rogan is part of a larger issue and if you can’t get Uncle Ed, who recently quit watching NewsMax as he thinks they’re a little pinko, to shut up at Sunday dinner you can cancel Spotify. Last week someone on th’ Tweety said cancelling Spotify was performative and hollow and I find that a bit harsh. Cancellation is an act of helplessness along the lines of making Lyndon Johnson your king. (see the above) So much is out of your grasp that you go with what’s been left to you and take what little solace you can.

Meanwhile there was an outcry, “Where’s Dylan? Where’s the other rock icons? Why aren’t they leaving Spotify.”

David Crosby summed it up when he said he wanted to do what Neil Young did, but he doesn’t own his catalog anymore. Neither does Paul Simon, David Bowie and a raft of others.

Why?

As stated above:


“By Census Bureau projections, between 2022 and 2037, about 23 million baby boomers — almost exactly one-third of the total cohort — will die”

Dylan, like the others, saw an opportunity to cash in and perhaps have something to leave behind for the progeny. God knows, at this rate it’s now or never and the people who bought those catalogs knew that too. The new owners are not going to shut off any channel which might recoup their investment. Even if the graphic above is correct you still have to keep the catalog out there even if it’s on a platform the Boomers don’t understand.

This begs the question, “Did you cancel Spotify?”

No, and I don’t have any particular reason other than I have a whole lot of time and effort that I’ve put into it and I have no interest in duplicating my efforts elsewhere.

And where are you supposed to go?

Amazon has no end of professionally published and self-published titles that are no more than School of Rogan and Apple does business with dubious firm in China.

If you’re looking for idealogical purity you might want to avoid the moral cul-de-sac that is music streaming.

Speaking of pure thoughts – Alaska Wolf Joe gave me his copy of American Marxism by Mark Levin. It was assigned reading for some class he was taking on how to spit on everything your parents hold dear. A week or so ago he asked me to read the two pages about NYU media pundit Jay Rosen. I said that it was largely accurate save for about six words that flushed the rest of the section down the toilet. If Levin has avoided about half a sentence he was on to something, but to make a point with his end users he blew it.

AWJ says the ongoing message of American Marxism is that everybody left of center is a hard-core Marxist ideologue up to and including your Aunt Mille who went door-to-door for Bobby Kennedy. Levin would tell you she’s a Bolsheik at heart and that goes double for her “Wednesday bridge club” too.

Before I get around to Levin I have to finish up Ross Dreiblatt’s I am not Brad Pit. The book is three novellas which – allegedly – when combined form a meditation on fame. The first involves one of Brad Pitt’s clones who commits first-degree murder. The public is shocked as no one can believe a clone of Brad Pitt could do such a thing. I find it to be a reasonable assumption as some of us have a family history that include some one named “Junior” who no one ever accused of being a stellar Eagle Scout.

The second novella is a threadbare retelling of Faust which works forward from the premise that Keith Richards is a vampire.

At this point those of you are of a certain age are gently nodding your heads and saying to yourself, “Makes as much sense as anything.”

While I go read you can sing along.

You know the words.

THANK YOU, BUBBLES!

“At the moment, however, and for the foreseeable future, we are also living through an extended period of what can justly be called the Phantom Revolution, in which we rebel against threats to our liberty that don’t actually exist but that we create for ourselves. It is not a revolution of the mind. It’s a revolution of the gut. It is not a revolution of ideas. It’s a revolution of the id. We have so cheapened the idea of revolution that the emergence of this revolution manqué was inevitable. It has manifested itself in spasms over the past several decades, primarily through the development of the modern conservative mind, which has chosen a series of imaginary enemies against whom to stage a very real counterrevolutionary struggle. The Clinton Death List. The Birther Conspiracy. The Tea Party. Then four years of an administration* based on phantom policies, run by a president* who’d made his entire career out of phantom success and phantom wealth and who discharged his phantom duties with phantom competence. Donald Trump did not create the Phantom Revolution. But on his watch, the Phantom Revolution manifested itself in actual revolutionary activity, some of it violent. (…) For a revolutionary nation, we’ve become so bad at revolutions that we find it necessary to locate imaginary oppressors against whom to rebel, many of them the most powerless people around. We saw the beginnings of something real in the summer of 2020 following the killing of George Floyd, and the country is desperately in need of revolutionary change—to face the climate crisis, to rebuild itself, to address challenges undreamed of only a decade ago, to adjust its 18th-century government to the needs of the 21st, and, dammit, to run its elections in a sensible way. We should be better at all this than we are.” Charles Pierce

“An underlying issue has dogged our counterinsurgency efforts from Vietnam to Iraq for over a generation. When the United States risks the lives of its military, stakes its prestige and involves other countries, it must do so on the basis of a combination of strategic and political objectives. Strategic, to make clear the circumstances for which we fight; political, to define the governing framework to sustain the outcome both within the country concerned and internationally. The United States has torn itself apart in its counterinsurgent efforts because of its inability to define attainable goals and to link them in a way that is sustainable by the American political process. The military objectives have been too absolute and unattainable and the political ones too abstract and elusive. The failure to link them to each other has involved America in conflicts without definable terminal points and caused us internally to dissolve unified purpose in a swamp of domestic controversies.” Henry Kissinger

“Polariation has already damaged America’s global influence, well short of future tests like these. That influence depended on what Joseph Nye, a foreign-policy scholar, labelled ‘soft power’, that is, the attractiveness of American institutions and society to people around the world. That appeal has been greatly diminished: it is hard for anyone to say that American democratic institutions have been working well in recent years, or that any country should imitate America’s political tribalism and dysfunction. The hallmark of a mature democracy is the ability to carry out peaceful transfers of power following elections, a test the country failed spectacularly on January 6th. The biggest policy debacle by President Joe Biden’s administration in its seven months in office has been its failure to plan adequately for the rapid collapse of Afghanistan. However unseemly that was, it doesn’t speak to the wisdom of the underlying decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, which may in the end prove to be the right one. Mr Biden has suggested that withdrawal was necessary in order to focus on meeting the bigger challenges from Russia and China down the road. I hope he is serious about this. Barack Obama was never successful in making a ‘pivot’ to Asia because America remained focused on counterinsurgency in the Middle East. The current administration needs to redeploy both resources and the attention of policymakers from elsewhere in order to deter geopolitical rivals and to engage with allies. The United States is not likely to regain its earlier hegemonic status, nor should it aspire to. What it can hope for is to sustain, with like-minded countries, a world order friendly to democratic values. Whether it can do this will depend not on short-term actions in Kabul, but on recovering a sense of national identity and purpose at home.” Francis Fukuyama

“In January, I stumbled across a new thread there titled ‘Dead Internet Theory: Most of the Internet is Fake,’ shared by a user named IlluminatiPirate. Over the next few months, this would become the ur-text for those interested in the theory. The post is very long, and some of it is too confusing to bother with; the author claims to have pieced together the theory from ideas shared by anonymous users of 4chan’s paranormal section and another forum called Wizardchan, an online community premised on earning wisdom and magic through celibacy. (In an email, IlluminatiPirate, who is an operations supervisor for a logistics company in California, told me that he ‘truly believes’ in the theory. I agreed not to identify him by name because he said he fears harassment.)” Kaitlyn Tiffany


“Nothing is more despicable than the old age of a passionate man. When the vigour of youth fails him, and his amusements pall with frequent repetition, his occasional rage sinks by decay of strength into peevishness; that peevishness, for want of novelty and variety, becomes habitual; the world falls off from around him, and he is left, as Homer expresses it, to devour his own heart in solitude and contempt.” Dr. Johnson

“Looks like we’re two bananas short of a dog shit sundae.” Cliff Steele

Is there one diagram, chart or illustration that can sum up the average American voter regardless of party or political leanings?

Absolutely.

If you have a better idea I’d like to hear it.

Chew on that for awhile as we move along.

What’s 2022 going to bring?

Like most things it will be powered along by events that transpired in 2021. At some point in the next 12 months we’re going to find out the consequences of what happens when the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict merges with the military taking their tools home at the end of the day. Sooner or later protesters and counter-protesters will be armed and it will come down to who has the better fire power.

Boiling it down – in the short run don’t go out in Portland after dark.

That said – the verdict was the least interesting part of the trial. The real problem with where we are now came the second someone handed the judge an iPad.

OH the look on his face.

The central problem right now is neither capitalism nor socialism.

It’s Geritolism.

We’re run by a country of olds who are kept in place by other olds as only the olds vote. But it’s not like the olds in power pander to the olds who vote. The olds in power merely execute their worldview despite the fact that the world has changed far too much and far too fast in the past 10 years. Meanwhile the electorate olds vote for the olds in power because the olds in power think like they do.The whole thing is a closed loop. think of it this way – Zuckerberg isn’t exploiting division. He’s just traveling through the loopholes that no one can close because they have no idea how the world works now.

Will it lead to an authoritarian state?

No … well … you can call it that if you’d like.

It’s more like we’re going back to the 19th Century where most of the country was run – at least at the local level – by bosses and tight-knit cabals. (America’s original rule by the minority.) There will be no agenda but to hold power and idealism will be based on the prevalent group think of wherever the boss or bosses are located.

Will people notice?

Unless some moral outrage accompanies the return to fiefdoms no one will notice – no matter how facetious this may sound – until Porn Hub gets shut down.

Why?

If you’re looking at this page you’re probably attuned if not hyper attuned to current events as offered by the cable channels, web sites, and various publications. Which is why I would put it to you that Red State Blue State divide overlooks the real split – those who care about all the the things that happens in the public sphere vs. those who don’t care.

Need proof?

Two words – Britney Spears.

Again if you derive you daily intake of news from the sources previously mentioned you’re getting top-down information. What Ms. Spears proved is that there is news that comes from the bottom up and the people getting bottom-up info do not share your body of knowledge. They’re not stupid – it’s just how their wired up. Sure, some of the new bosses will recognize this and apply what they learned from our current state of manipulating the religious, but for the most part they, like Zukerberg, will skate along on the backs of the people who can’t or never did pay much attention.

So there you have it – the divisions in our society will lead to armed protesters as well as armed counter protesters while the Marines take their work home with them at night and all the while those in charge fail to keep up with a world that changed so long ago that – should they ever venture out of their bubbles – they’d find it to be a foreign land.

What could possibly go wrong?

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

“There were 4,254,784 live births in 1957, a number not reached again for 50 years.(…)The so called baby boom began (informally) in July 1946, 11 months after the Japanese surrender, when live births jumped to 286,000, and ended in December 1964, when 331,000 babies were born. That’s approximately 76 million people. Generalizations about this demographic are obviously meaningless. Birth rates for non-white people were significantly higher than for white people, but the baby boom narrative is almost entirely a middle-class white person’s narrative.” Louis Menand from The Free World:Art and Though in the Cold War

“Nostalgia is a dumb drug. Its major effects include melancholia, self-pity, inertia, selective remembering, and a willingness to spend money to see Iron Butterfly.” R.U. Sirius

“One artist often featured on the hyperpop playlist is a gangly, mop-headed sixteen-year-old named Ash Gutierrez, who performs as glaive, a name taken from the video game Dark Souls III. (It is technically inaccurate to say that he performs—Gutierrez has never performed live, nor has he ever even seen live music performed, as he said in a recent interview.) Gutierrez spent the early days of the pandemic in his bedroom, in a small rural town in North Carolina, acquainting himself with music-production software. Energized by artists like 100 gecs and a suite of emotional Internet rappers, Gutierrez began making beats and singing over them. Remote schooling had freed him from a fear of judgment by his classmates, and he gathered the courage to post some of his songs on SoundCloud. One of the first, called ‘sick,’ was clearly part of the hyperpop lineage. The one-minute-and-thirty-second track begins with a set of bleeps and bloops that recall a video-game soundtrack, and Gutierrez’s voice is distorted, to sound high-pitched and alien. In a rapid patter, he describes the state of his brain: ‘I’m sick and I’m overstimulated / Neurons in my brain filled with information.'” Carrie Battan

“I’m here to promote my album. It’s a hyperpop, EDM, disco fantasia. It’s called ‘Music.’ Yeah, it’s called ‘Music.’ Can we talk about my album? It’s 12 tracks, swear to God!” The Iceberg struck by the Titanic

“The Republican pollster Glen Bolger told me that he didn’t think the G.O.P.’s about-face stemmed from a sudden fear of electoral debacle so much as a reflection of the alarming trend lines in red America. Until now, ‘Republicans felt like we don’t necessarily need to push on vaccines and tick off a significant portion of our base, so we won’t talk about it,’ Bolger said. But, with cases increasing, that calculus changed. ‘It’s more of ‘Hey, guess who’s getting sick? Republicans,’ ‘ he said. Red America is facing a deadly fourth wave of the pandemic, and Republican politicians, or at least some, appear to have decided that they don’t want to take the blame for killing off their own voters.” Susan B. Glasser

“Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” Dr. Johnson

Nostalgia includes, but is not limited to Bachman-Turner Overdrive

This was the week that brought three close scrapes with the past. First, the mail brought LL Bean’s Snoopy and Woodstock Collection catalog. That means that somewhere out there someone is flipping through all that only to have a grandchild come up and say, “Who’s that Grammy?”

At that point Grammy becomes apoplectic, how could this precious and innocent child not know Snoopy, the Walter Mitty of the funny papers?

Try explaining that last sentence to anybody under 50.

I dare you.

That lets us conclude that Grammy is a good example of Roach Motel Epistemology – ideas go in, but they don’t come out. It’s similar to Abe Simpson’s old line where he said he used to be with “it” until they change “it” and he was never with “it” again. Life moves on and our assumptions stay put until such time that you’re rendered thunderstruck.

Second was a lengthy phone call that I marginally participated in. A guy called and told me how he’d gone to great lengths to track me down, he’d been looking for a couple of years, and he just had to call and tell me about the amazing thing that I said when I was on the student council. It took me some time to let part of about his efforts sink in as I was completely overcome at the fact that I was on the student council.

I had no idea.

Either it was so traumatic I blanked it our or I wasn’t on the student council. Either way I had no idea what he was enthusiastically talking about. Over the years I’ve developed a Count Basie approach to such calls. The Count used to let the others do their thing and he’d pop in now and then with a note or two on the piano. Fans have long observed that it was always the right note or two at just the right time. In my case – instead of the piano I drop an “…ok” or “uh…huh” here and there to let whomever get whatever it is out of their system.

There’s no reason to think he’ll call again as I didn’t seem to eager to burn rubber down Memory Lane. The steady Basie based approach comes off as polite yet disinterested. The call represents Cobbled Together Epistemology – contents may have settled during shipping. He’s still playing with a full deck, but it probably got shuffled a couple of times. No point in correcting him as he seems to be as fully functioning and as happy as anyone can be right now.

Lastly, there was last Sunday’s notice from Family Search that I had 162 read messages which is 161 more than I received in the past two years. A kerfuffle broke out over whether or not my maternal grandfather was related to Sir Francis Drake. Two sides had formed – one said the linage could be traced back to Sir Francis and the other said we go back to a guy named Francis Duke who was born in the mid-1700s and was some sort of yeoman prole. Given how all the people in the conversation have traced our collective lineage back to one flunky and/or middle manager or another the Francis Duke scenario seemed more likely.

I gave some thought to breaking it up by sending an email saying I am proud to be related to Frank Duke as Sir Francis Drake was a pioneer in the slave trade and thanks to the valiant efforts of The New York Times we now have The 1619 Project which sets the record straight about America’s sinful past. While it would have been amusing to send that note it would undoubted get me 162 responses, half of which would include that lynch pin of modern rhetoric – the death threat. In Ancient Greece the question, “Who is the virtuous man?” lead to a whole book. Ask that question today and the immediate response is, “ONE MORE WORD OUTTA YOU AND I’M COMIN’ OVER THERE TO FUCK YOU UP!”

The Duke/Drake thing is a sort of Ornamental Nostalgia – dressing up the past in the same way you’d bring the big box of Xmas stuff out of the basement.

There was at least one omen that said the past would come back to haunt me as this turned up on th’ Tweety a couple of weeks ago.

Bob, Mondo 2000 and cyberpunk – I had to find a kleenex to dab away the tear that formed at the far corner of my eye. Those were the things some of us embraced 30 or so years ago only to find out that, like the jet pack and the flying car, none of it came to be. Mondo 2000 could blow your zeitgeist’s skull open with each issue, but years on the cyber portion proved to be a dead end while the rest was an incredible introduction to people like the Krokers, Deleuze, and Kathy Acker.

So can you be nostalgic for a past that never worked out?

The guy who thought I was on the student council and the various may-times-removed relations dithering over Duke and Drake have one thing in common – something tangible. Those of us who wanted a digital space to wallow in junk culture and odd ideas got something tangible too, but it’s not what we wanted. Put another way – unlike student council guy and the second cousins we have nothing to show for the time we put into it.

Kyle Chayka writes:


In a Facebook earnings call last week, Mark Zuckerberg outlined the future of his company. The vision he put forth wasn’t based on advertising, which provides the bulk of Facebook’s current profits, or on an increase in the over-all size of the social network, which already has nearly three billion monthly active users. Instead, Zuckerberg said that his goal is for Facebook to help build the “metaverse,” a Silicon Valley buzzword that has become an obsession for anyone trying to predict, and thus profit from, the next decade of technology. “I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social-media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said. It was a remarkable pivot in messaging for the social-media giant, especially given the fact that the exact meaning of the metaverse, and what it portends for digital life, is far from clear. In the earnings call, Zuckerberg offered his own definition. The metaverse is “a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces,” he said. It’s “an embodied Internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at. We believe that this is going to be the successor to the mobile Internet.”

Like the term “cyberspace,” a coinage of the fiction writer William Gibson, the term “metaverse” has literary origins. In Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash,” from 1992, the protagonist, Hiro, a sometime programmer and pizza-delivery driver in a dystopian Los Angeles, immerses himself in the metaverse, “a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing onto his goggles and pumping into his earphones.” It’s an established part of the book’s fictional world, a familiar aspect of the characters’ lives, which move fluidly between physical and virtual realms. On a black ground, below a black sky, like eternal night in Las Vegas, Stephenson’s metaverse is made up of “the Street,” a sprawling avenue where the buildings and signs represent “different pieces of software that have been engineered by major corporations.” The corporations all pay an entity called the Global Multimedia Protocol Group for their slice of digital real estate. Users also pay for access; those who can only afford cheaper public terminals appear in the metaverse in grainy black-and-white.

Stephenson’s fictional metaverse may not be that far off from what today’s tech companies are now developing. Imagine, like Hiro, donning goggles (perhaps those produced by Oculus, which Facebook owns), controlling a three-dimensional virtual avatar, and browsing a series of virtual storefronts, the metaverse equivalents of different platforms like Instagram (which Facebook also owns), Netflix, or the video game Minecraft. You might gather with friends in the virtual landscape and all watch a movie in the same virtual theatre. “You’re basically going to be able to do everything that you can on the Internet today as well as some things that don’t make sense on the Internet today, like dancing,” Zuckerberg said. In the future we might walk through Facebook, wear clothes on Facebook, host virtual parties on Facebook, or own property in the digital territory of Facebook. Each activity in what we once thought of as the real world will develop a metaverse equivalent, with attendant opportunities to spend money doing that activity online. “Digital goods and creators are just going to be huge,” Zuckerberg said.

In an earnings call?

The future some of us hoped for went away in an earnings call?

Take me now Jesus.

Take me now.

The illustration for all this looks like those flash animations from 10 or so years ago where you could make little bears talk in a very synthetic voice.

If we take into consideration that FB has its own culture that means the metaverse will bring certain touchstones with it. Each day you’d be confronted by the AI Gladae Kravitz who will pepper you with with questions like, “Where was the first place you made out?” or “Name the first band you saw in concert and weren’t too stoned to forget?” Now and then you’ll see an AI small child. The image will haunt you. The Child will be a fixture in each and every one of your nightmares. In the old folks home The Child will replace the Boogie Man. You call for the nurse because The Child is under your bed.

And what does The Child do?

With a lilting playground lisp the child recites funny things children said in Sunday school.

Why?

Because your family will reside in the metaverse as well. FB has conditioned them and they will act accordingly.

Hard to say which way this is going. If we work forward from Fredric Jameson’s observation that we’re all now playing out the last scene in The Man Who Fell to Earth where David Bowie’s alien is watching dozens of tv sets simultaneously then the new metaverse is unlikely to make sense of it all so much as it will make people more annoying.

Don’t forget there will be those who will want to manufacture context in the metaverse in the same way that Q has provided a single thread to stitch through each and very part of the text we encounter each day. Never mind that IRL Apple is going to make sure that you’re guilty. until proven innocent each and every time you pick up the phone.

Some future this turned out to be.

Those damn DMT elves lied to us.


Quality Assurance Time

Prior to having my nostalgia stepped on like it was some kind of icky bug, I was poised to consider the question, “How fucking stupid do you have to be to rig the voting machines when the electorate was going to give you the outcome you wanted in the first place?

And where was The Stay Puft Pillow Man when there was real proof the machines had been tampered?

Oh …. never mind … shoulda known … makes perfect sense.

Not that I could have published that piece much of anywhere. It won’t fit on Medium as it really doesn’t let me blame my parents for this, that, and the other. It won’t get me on Bulletin nor would it bring in even loose change on Substack. So not only am I letting that one sink into the sunset I’m not going to ask you to pay the freight.

Which is not to say that there isn’t writing worth paying for.

As Constance Grady writes:

“The Mitfords were a family of very minor English aristocrats who nonetheless became the center of the so-called Mitford industry in England from the 1930s on. There are Mitford documentaries, Mitford biographies, even a Mitford musical. Their scandalous escapades seemed to function as the reality TV drama of their era, even as they made real political and artistic contributions to the world.When we talk about the Mitfords, we are principally interested in the six sisters who came of age on their parents’ country estate between the two world wars: Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah. (There was a brother, too, Thomas, but we need not concern ourselves with him. He was the Robert Kardashian of the family.)Of these six Mitford sisters, three became Nazis, one became a socialist journalist, one a liberal satirical novelist who informed on her Nazi sisters, and one a duchess. Considering the Mitfords now feels like one of those “tag yourself” memes: As global chaos rises and politics become polarized, which one are you?”

That’s a story that’s not only worth paying for, that’s a story that would make a Medium editor say, “Dial it back!”

The only upshot I could come up with is speculation that Tina Peters’ will be working towards a Twinkie defense claiming she was coming off a Chloroquine and Ivermectin binge.

That’s why this one’s on me.

The $4.86 I owe AWS each month?

My pleasure.

Let’s dance.

CBT – Cosmic Debris Theory

“Is the ‘fear of being an individual’. Let’s face it: being an individual is a lot of hard work, and these days I’m unsure human beings are cut out for the job. Individuality has become about as much fun as dental flossing; no wonder it’s easier just to subcontract your identity to QAnon or Antifa. You may not get a million hits for your own Instagram post, but your newly adopted fringe group will get them on your behalf. It’s going to be easier to feel utterly alone and also part of a planetary movement.” Douglas Coupland

“Stupidity is saying two plus two equals five. Elevated Stupidity is doing the same thing, except you invoke Pythagoras, decry cancel culture when someone corrects you, then get a seven-figure book deal and a speaking tour out of it. Elevated Stupidity has permeated all facets of life—reality TV, social media, Congress, your group chat, and your softball team. Elevated Stupidity stems from the idea that being good at arguing is the same thing as being correct. That rhetorical skill—or at least a degree of big debate-club energy sufficient to wear out one’s opponent—is the equivalent of intelligence. If being a good arguer is the same as being smart or correct, then do you know who is the smartest, correct-est person in history? Every Scientologist. (…) There are eight podcasts for every man woman and child on the planet and too many web publications to count.The machine needs fuel, and the cheapest option is consistently The Idea Nobody’s Heard Yet. Express a fresh idea for the first time and it might juice up your YouTube subscriber numbers or get you on Joe Rogan, put your name in people’s mouths. But cheap fuel is dirty fuel. Sometimes the reason an idea has not been expressed publicly before is that it’s bad. Dave Holmes

“One day in 1995, a large, heavy middle-aged man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. He didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. And he smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank. Later that night, police arrested a surprised McArthur Wheeler. When they showed him the surveillance tapes, Wheeler stared in disbelief. ‘But I wore the juice,’ he mumbled. Apparently, Wheeler thought that rubbing lemon juice on his skin would render him invisible to videotape cameras. After all, lemon juice is used as invisible ink so, as long as he didn’t come near a heat source, he should have been completely invisible. Police concluded that Wheeler was not crazy or on drugs—just incredibly mistaken.” Kate Fehlhaboer

“Cool, once narrowly delineated and foisted upon us by marketing cherry-picked from hip kids, has been blown apart for the new generation. In a world where everyone, not just the most interesting youths, is under a kind of constant surveillance — where our individual information is more valuable than any short-lived idea of collective cool — demographics give way to data. Gen Z might willfully defy categorization, but each disparate bit of their bizarre taste stew can still be marketed to. Cool — and by extension, taste — just isn’t all that useful anymore. It all feels like a case of Alice in Wonderland syndrome, like our shared experience of culture and our perception of it might be distorted. Many of the enthusiasms and affinities I once regarded as hip and cool are now nostalgia porn at best, and “cheugy” at worst. I feel like a trainspotter, noting the distinct edges and grooves that make the shared enthusiasms of Gen Z infinitely more interesting than whatever media and culture fueled my own aesthetic snobbery. Still, I can’t help but feel exhausted. Consumer identity is old news when everything is cheap and available, and everyone is buying.” Safy-Hallan Baran


“‘Green Acres’, ‘Beverly Hillbillies’, and ‘Hooterville Junction’ will no longer be so damn relevant and women will not care if Dick finally got down with Jane on ‘Search for Tomorrow’ because the revolution will not be televised.” Gil Scott Heron

“I hate mankind, for I think of myself as one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.” Dr. Johnson



Sure glad I didn’t say ‘motherfucker’

Boy howdy, did this week suck. Monday was the worst. It started with a phone call from some boiler room. Per the kid on the phone, many of the customers visiting our e-commerce site had registered complains with his boss because our site did not allow for voice search. Without hesitation I told him that he and I both know that was bullshit as I do not have an e-commerce site. Undaunted he started from the top and I once again told him that his pitch was bullshit.

That’s when the fun began.

SCAM BOY: This word, this word buhll…
ME: Bullshit
SB: Buh shu – I don’t know, could you spell it?
ME: b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t
SB: Would you say this word to my supervisor?
ME: No.

Scant seconds after I hung up even more grief arrived. A guy in Chicago working for a very well known p-r firm, that has offices across both North America and Europe, phoned because he needed my help. His latest client was a company that makes toothpaste for dogs (No, really.) and he was looking for “bloggers like you” to try out this miracle of the modern age and send him 2000 words on the results. When I told him we don’t have a dog he shot back with, “WELL FIND ONE!

The incentive in all this?

We get to keep the unused portion.

As Mom said at the time, “Be still, my heart.”

In all fairness it’s not a completely impossible task. While we don’t have a dog I could go a few doors up and borrow the neighbor’s rather amiable and laid-back Rottweiler, Snooks. Snooks has long been a patent soul who is more than happy to sit quietly in her yard and let very small dogs throw one coniption fit after another without every paying them one iota of attention.

But does Snooks want her teeth brushed?

I’m guessing that she’s no more interested in having her teeth brushed than I am in brushing her teeth.

But the whole idea brings up a couple of problems. First, there’s the small matter of writing a review. The only one in this situation with first-hand knowledge of what the stuff is like would be Snooks. It’s her review to write and I really don’t think the average keyboard can accommodate Snooks’ very large paws. Second, and more importantly, when was the last time you saw a dog eagerly sniff the front end of another dog?

Seems to me that whoever came up with the stuff is workin’ the wrong side of the street. Maybe they should some up with something bacon or tennis ball scented that comes in an aerosol can. Run a little of that around and Snook’s dance card would fill up in no time.

Not that any of this matters and it’s strictly out there as context for a week that you wouldn’t wish on well… a dog. And it wasn’t just limited to last week, there’s been no end of chaos that has kept me from coming to you with dread news. While America might have turned 245 years young this month, it has become obvious that something is very wrong. We’re about to go into uncharted territory and it seems very clear.

America is about to suffer from an Outrage Shortage.

For example?

For two solid weeks in June this small item dominated my Twitter and FB feeds.

Per Ray Flook:

“Speaking with Variety for a piece on how superhero shows are subverting the genre (yup, another one), Halpern and Schumacker explained how having a series populated by DC’s villains gives them a ton more leeway to take a deep dive into violence, cursing, sexual scenarios, etc. But if they were heroes? Well, let Halpern explain what happened when they were going to have Batman get up close and personal with Catwoman’s kitty from an oral perspective (we’re way more proud of that line than we have any right to be). “A perfect example of that is in this third season of ‘Harley’ [when] we had a moment where Batman was going down on Catwoman. And DC was like, ‘You can’t do that. You absolutely cannot do that.’ They’re like, ‘Heroes don’t do that.’ So, we said, ‘Are you saying heroes are just selfish lovers?’ They were like, ‘No, it’s that we sell consumer toys for heroes. It’s hard to sell a toy if Batman is also going down on someone.'”

First let me say, I’m no prude.

None of this should come as a surprise. You’ve got two people who’ve taken on outsized personas who wear tactical armor so they can perform no end of dangerous stunts in the dead of the night. We really shouldn’t be surprised that two people with so much in common might strike up a romance. Obviously, scratching her behind the ears wasn’t getting the job done so Bats went his Plan B. Besides whatever two people – who don’t really exist – do in a loving, committed, albeit more than a little weird, relationship in the privacy of their lair/cave/abandoned warehouse is their business.

So why all the commotion? What’s causing this?

Simple.

Critical race theory.

As Alaska Wolf Joe like to point out, 99.9% of the people who go on and on and on about CRT have no idea what they’re talking about. He has this inverse corollary that the more you talk about CRT the less likely it is that you’ve read Baldwin, West, or Kendi. That said it should be noted that the people who talk about it repeated most likely watch the Carlson Tucker guy every night.

Then there’s the small problem of The 1619 Project vs. The February 1971 Project.

As Gabe Bullard writes:

On February 23, 1971, America had a televised identity crisis. Just before 9:30 p.m., on CBS, Buck Owens and Roy Clark led the cast of “Hee Haw” in the same singalong that closed every episode — “May your days be bright, may your thoughts be light, ’til we meet again” — before signing off, “We’ll see you next week, right here on ‘Hee Haw’!”

Cue the banjo, the shots of the cast laughing, the women in gingham dresses, the men in plaid shirts and bib overalls, the cartoon donkey rolling its eyes around and around. Fade out. A few ads and . . .

Fade up on Archie and Edith Bunker sitting at their piano in Queens, singing in a new episode of “All in the Family.”

Boy, the way Glenn Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade,
Guys like us, we had it made,
Those were the days …

It had been like this all month. CBS went from its silliest show to its most satirical — “All in the Family” talked about race and sex, “Hee Haw” had rubber chickens. But this time, there would be no next week for “Hee Haw.” It was canceled, along with two shows that had aired earlier that night, “Green Acres” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.” By 1971, all the other rural-themed CBS shows were headed for cancellation or already off the air: “Mayberry RFD,” “The Jim Nabors Hour,” “The New Andy Griffith Show,” “Petticoat Junction” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” In their place, CBS would put more shows like “All in the Family,” and “Mary Tyler Moore.” The ’70s were to be a decade of realism and relevance on TV the same way the ’50s had been a decade of Cold War suburban idealism.

Last week there was all that stuff about the Carlson Tucker guy being the voice of white grievance, but people were aggrieved before he was born. (See the above.) What he and the various conservative movers and shakers don’t understand is that they’re putting all their eggs in one basket right now. For every minute they spend on CRT that’s time lost when it comes to oiling up the daily outage machine.

Soon CRT will suffer the same fate as flag burning. For the better part of 30 years flag burning was the go-to when there was a lull in the outrage. Whenever the outraged were at a loss you could always count on getting everybody stirred up to pass legislation to ban flag burning since there were so many burning flags that you’d think that a gender-reveal party had gone bad and caught the whole damn state of Oregon on fire. It was the evergreen standby. When the Piss Christ or something Andrea Dworkin said no longer brought outrage you could always rely on flag burning to run roughshod through America’s intestinal tract. But over the course of 30 years flag burning outlived its usefulness and went by the wayside. Right now CRT is white hot and likely to burn out at any second. The longer it hangs around the more likely that it won’t live out the year.

Don’t believe me?

Then tell me what happened to Cultural Marxism?

So go ahead – talk CRT for as long as you want – get as bent out of shape as need be, but mark my words – you’re gonna get out of bed one morning in the not too distant future and have nothing to be mad about. Or you’re going to have to live with outrage that bubbles up from the oddest places. The people who could gain from ginning up the hustings will have to thrash around looking for the Next Big Thing and those people will then find out they’ve lost control of the outrage. Sure, outrage will happen, but it will come from amateurs, people who have no idea what they’re doing because they’re mad at something that cannot economically or politically benefit even a single one among them.

You know, like Bats and Cats.

If I were you I’d look around for something else to get mad about. Leave CRT and cultural Marxism to us pointy-headed innnalechshuls who can’t even park a bicycle straight.

You’ll thank us for it.

Identifying as a cool kid

Much of what follows should be expanded on at a later time, but here’s something to get started.

Besides Bats and Cats my various social media feeds have also been overrun once again by people working like dogs (sorry Snooks) to make sure their musical taste also matches their consumer choices. Not that I understand any of it and God knows, that while Mom goes around the house in oversized sweats, it does not mean she owns Billie Ellish’s Greatest Hits. The subject even came up away from the computer while watching Alex Winter’s (Bill of Bill and Ted fame) outstanding documentary about Frank Zappa. Somewhere about 2/3rds of the way into the movie Frank says he has no used for kids whose musical taste is connected to what they wear. His gripe centered around the launch of MTV and pretty much summed up the griping in my current feeds.

Since my childhood coincided with the end of the Jurassic it would take a little thinking to scare up any memory of coordinating fashion and music. Growing up in a small town seriously limited the number of places to buy clothes so we all dressed more or less alike.

Put another way, to answer Frank’s old question, it’s a Sears poncho.

But you could still get The Mothers records through the mail!

Which pretty much negated any chance of being one of the popular kids.

I was young and more willing to take risks, what can I say?

Now go out there and promise me you’ll get mad about something new today.

k?

“You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?”

“Tested whether or not occupants of a public territory use their temporary ownership to retaliate against intruders. Three studies showed that drivers leaving a public parking space are territorial even when such behavior is contrary to their goal of leaving. In Study 1 200 departing cars were observed. Intruded-upon drivers took longer to leave than nonintruded-upon drivers. In Study 2, an experiment involving 240 drivers in which level of intrusion and status of intruder were manipulated, drivers took longer to leave when another car was present and when the intruder honked. Males left significantly sooner when intruded upon by a higher rather than lower status car, whereas females’ departure times did not differ as a function of the status of the car. In Study 3, 100 individuals who had parked at a mall were asked about how they would react to intruders. Compared to what they believed other people would do, respondents said they would leave faster if the car were just waiting for them to leave, but they would take longer to leave if the driver in the car honked at them.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved) Barry Ruback and Daniel Juleng

“In Elysburg, Pennsylvania, there is a Vatican-trained exorcist and professed expert on spiritual warfare, who lectures and tweets about the “demonic” forces of our times. It might surprise you to learn what these latter-day Regan MacNeils bedeviling our safe suburban homes are: Black Lives Matter, Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and wokeness. And this cleric is not the only exorcist very publicly conflating the Evil One with the left, real and imagined. Last fall, a Portland archbishop led a procession into a public park, where he conducted a Latin exorcism to dispel the evil spirits left by racial justice activists. The very same day, a San Francisco archbishop performed a similar rite at the site of a felled statue of Father Junipero Serra, an eighteenth-century Spanish friar whose missionaries forced Indigenous people to convert to Christianity, whipping and torturing many to death. Flanked by rosary-praying nuns, priests, and laity, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone asked God to “purify this place … purify the hearts of those who perpetrated this blasphemy.” He later called upon authorities to press felony and hate crime charges against the Native protesters who toppled the statue. Audrey Clare Farley

“There is a thick literature on how evidence of alien life would shake the world’s religions, but I think Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, is quite likely right when he suggests that many people would simply say, “of course.” The materialist worldview that positions humanity as an island of intelligence in a potentially empty cosmos — my worldview, in other words — is the aberration. Most people believe, and have always believed, that we share both the Earth and the cosmos with other beings — gods, spirits, angels, ghosts, ancestors. The norm throughout human history has been a crowded universe where other intelligences are interested in our comings and goings, and even shape them. The whole of human civilization is testament to the fact that we can believe we are not alone and still obsess over earthly concerns.” Ezra Klein

“For a good Fox News story you have to adopt the mentality of an Irish street cop. The world is a bad place. People are lazy morons. Minorities are criminals. Sex is sick, but interesting.” Jess Carr

“At eighty I believe I am a far more cheerful person than I was at twenty or thirty. I most definitely would not want to be a teenager again. Youth may be glorious, but it is also painful to endure… I was cursed or blessed with a prolonged adolescence; I arrived at some seeming maturity when I was past thirty. It was only in my forties that I really began to feel young. By then I was ready for it. (Picasso once said: “One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it’s too late.”) By this time I had lost many illusions, but fortunately not my enthusiasm, nor the joy of living, nor my unquenchable curiosity.” Henry Miller

“Thank you for your letter of 10th January. I would be useless at this debate primarily because I have been dead for 24 years now. Apart from that, I hate scientists and I hate artists. In fact, I hate everybody including you, do tell them that is why I’m not at the debate.” Spike Milligan

Puss Rock is what happens to rock & roll when you give it a bucket of ice cream, a few doses of teenage angst and make it watch the first three seasons of Friends Did you know, Train, poster children of puss rock, have more than one song? Me neither. Billy Sayer

“When the power of birth and station ceases, no hope remains but from the relevence of money. Power and wealth supply the place of each other. Power confers the ability of gratifying our desire without the consent of others. Wealth enables us to obtain the consent of others to our gratification. Power, simply considered, whatever it confers on one, must take from another. Wealth enables its owner to give to others, by taking only from himself. Power pleases the violent and proud: wealth delights the placid and the timorous. Youth therefore flies at power, and age grovels after riches.” Dr. Johnson


Chariots of the Clods

This was the week where mysteries arrived, but their conclusions left much to be desired. Early in the week a quandary arose when two pairs of pants coming from the same manufacturer,which were located in the same warehouse, had to come in two separate shipments, arriving on separate days from separate carriers, and eventually arriving in very different looking packages.

Security reasons?

Who knows?

Worse yet the highly anticipated government no-bullshit UFO report was released which concluded, ” Welllll maybe …maybe not… who’s to say?”

Like you, I would have loved to have been there to throw out the first, “Oh sure, that’s what they want you to believe!”

In all fairness the thoroughly …meh report was a big step up from blaming it all on swamp gas, pleurisy, and weather balloons. If nothing else we may have come far enough that we are no longer held hostage by that post-war committee of experts (Margaret Meade, David Foster Dulles, Arthur Godfrey et al.) who told Ike to keep his mouth shut because people would loose their spit if it got out that there’s life on other planets.

How much life?

From the New Yorker, 5/10/21:

Among the other speakers was Clifford Stone, a retired Army sergeant, who purported to have visited crash sites and seen aliens, both dead and alive. Stone said that he had catalogued fifty-seven species, many of them humanoid. “You have individuals that look very much like you and myself, that could walk among us and you wouldn’t even notice the difference,” he said.

Fifty-seven varieties of aliens?

That’s gotta give the marketing people at the Heinz Corporation pause for thought.

While the answer was disappointing it was hardly unexpected. As someone who has spent that last year asking our local department of transportation when the hell they were goning to be done tearing up our street I came to learn that all of their many, many answers fell into one of three categories – wishy-washy, noncommittal, and unnecessarily obtuse. You eventually give up asking as you swear you’re dealing with someone who got a masters in government obfuscation.

No, the real pests were the ones who wanted to rain on this parade. City workers I can deal with, but these morons raised blisters on my ass.

From The Daily Beast 5/25/2021:

“There’s no doubt that this mainstream UFO disclosure push is offering a convenient distraction for the Deep State to turn our attention away from important issues like the Scamdemic and the election fraud getting exposed,” Jordan Sather, a UFO and QAnon conspiracy theorist, complained on social media network Telegram on May 19.

Sather, who has griped that interest in UFOs has just become a way for left-wing “social justice warriors” to “virtue signal,” typifies the response. At a moment when longtime UFO promoters are soaking in the mainstreaming of UFO discussion, many conspiracy theorists on the right instead see the sinister hand of a global cabal at play.

Conspiracy theory hub InfoWars often posts articles about UFOs. But more recently, InfoWars has started to see the prospect of extraterrestrial revelations as a deep state plot. In an April video, InfoWars staffer Greg Reese posited that the UFOs were being faked using technology from inventor Nikola Tesla and the Nazis, with the ultimate goal of faking an alien invasion to enslave humanity in “the most dire false flag imaginable.”

Upset?

How could you not be?

This was our time, the geeks, the dweebs, the people who grew up with glasses, and braces, and far more acne that any one person deserved much less needed. Our long hours of sitting alone in our rooms in our younger years lead many of us to be self-educated UF-ologists. We’re the people you sat next to or in front when Close Encounters first hit theater. We were the ones who snorted, and guffawed and said, in something far louder than a whisper, “Oh not that one again!” Sure, you were annoyed, but what you didn’t realize at the time was that you knew us quite well in teen years.

How?

Because we were The People You Pants’d. (TPYP)

And you owe us this one.

Why?

Because TPYP are the very people who shape America’s leaders.

Think about it. There was always that kid in math class with an uncanny natural aptitude for the stuff. While he couldn’t do anything about being desperately near sighted he could do that (x-y) shit in his sleep. Through no fault of his own he’d begin a school day with a perfect score on the algebra pop quiz only to end the day by having his pants pulled down around his ankles just before being pushed into the girls’ locker room.

And who put him there?

America’s future leadership.

America doesn’t have The Playing Fields of Eaton to build its elite. Instead we have those who would rain down terror on band geeks, audio-visual aids, and the cast of the spring musical.

If you don’t believe me look at that Kavanaugh guy or maybe that Carlson Tucker character.

You can’t tell me those two didn’t cut their teeth by giving the first-chair clarinet a swirly.

That said – we all have to cut the Carlson Tucker guy some slack. He too wanted to know what was going on with the UFO report which brings up the point – that while Gruppenführer Sather can fuckin’ go to hell for trying to steal this moment – there are certain aspects of the current conservative POV that apply here, primarily their critique of the media. Much of the buzz around this topic came after the usually staid 60 Minutes devoted an entire segment to modern Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Looking back you’ll see that the report only examined sighting on both coasts thus reducing it to something – once again – that avoids what some call America’s “fly-over country.”

God knows, those of us who grew up in the middle time zones know all about UFOs and their mysterious attraction to cattle. No one in all of this even once mentioned what the locals call, “foolie bidness” with the cows. While 60 Minutes got all hopped up on Don Winslow and his pals they failed to mention the years and years of newspaper reports where some poor farmer or rancher found one or more cows dead with a substantial portion of their intestines and anus removed with surgical precision. That gave some us the idea to set up lawn chairs in some pasture. Then when the saucers came we’d wander over and very politely say, “So …uhh, Mork? Mork is it? Just a little advice – that’s not where the prime rib comes from, k?”

Thanks for stopping by.

Where were we?

The point is – this is (OK was) our moment. We endured your noogies and locker-room rat tails so just let let us have this one. More importantly – let us have this one when it comes back around again. The maybe/maybe not shit isn’t going to resolve anything. Right now everything is still in play as it was after alma mater put their stamp on the Blue Book project. We’re not going bother you while you look for Chinese bamboo fiber on Arizona ballots so just just leave us alone to contemplate the words of a wise man who once said, “Every one of you listening to my voice, tell the world, tell this to everybody wherever they are. Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”


“I have always tried to live in an ivory tower, but a tide of shit is beating at its walls, threatening to undermine it.” Gustave Flaubert

A couple of years before he died, Kurt Vonnegut said that when he was well into his 60s he came to the conclusion that he was never going to change, he was who he was, and that’s how he was going to stay until it was time for the grave. He said that he had made peace with understanding who he was and how he would go forward from there.

I came to the same conclusion when I was nine.

For example?

Over the years I learned that you don’t have to change, you just have to wait it out. Others dive head first into personal conflict and expect you to do the same. They jump into the fray in one of two ways. One is to be like Homer Simpson when he said that at the first sight of lightning to grab a piece of sheet metal and run under a tree. The other method is to act much like the Crocodile Hunter guy who used to get all excited and yell things like, “CRICKEY! That one of the world’s deadliest snakes RIGHT OVER THERE – I’m gonna go poke it with a stick!”

Me?

Stand under the eves and let the passing shower play itself out.

Sturm und drang is for other people. Several who took me to task came back around over the years for not getting involved in some reality-show worthy conflict later circled around to say they were sorry and they should have thought harder about the people around them and not the events that were unfolding. Invariably in each case I have heard them out and then smiled warmly and said, “Who’d you say you are again?”

Why the sudden reflection?

It’s the 20th anniversary of this page and the 18th of the Typepad beta test.

No, really.

While I have not blogged consistently over all that time I have done it for longer than one month. Anybody who gives up after that short a stretch is not going to get a “Take me to your leader!” when the aliens finally show themselves, he’s gonna get a “Puny human!”

Moving along-

If anything I’ve learned that there’s no reward in maintaining a personal blog other than to blow the cobwebs outta my brain. God knows, there’s no money in it and as I said in an earlier post – my past is nothing you can make a buck off. You need to some pretty interesting tales to tell if you expect a big payback.

Like this:

Deacon was born in France in 1881 to rich American parents, whose stormy relationship culminated in Edward Parker Deacon shooting his wife’s lover dead; Gladys was 11. Her mother, Florence, canceled her lunch the next day but was not noticeably inconvenienced by the scandal. It also seemed to have had very little impact on Gladys. From an early age, she was fiercely original and defiantly independent, not qualities that sat comfortably in the world of the useless rich in which she was forced to make her way.

And I don’t care how much revenue is involved, I’m sure as hell not going to deconstruct Naomi Wolf’s pelvis.

Rest assured that just because AWS raised my monthly fee to publish this nonsense to $4.86/month from $4.10 I will not be coming to you to make up the difference.

With that it’s time to sing along. If you don’t know the words just tap your foot to the sentiment.

Not all who Wanda are lost

“Consider the claims about a left ‘monoculture’ that have recently become fashionable in right-wing circles. Fancy new terminology aside, anyone who pays attention to discourse on the right should instantly be able to recognize this as a superficial variation on a line of criticism that has been in circulation for years: that Democrats, socialists, communists, liberals, progressives, and so on are basically all the same thing. This is not some groundbreaking new insight; it’s what your grandpa has been posting on freerepublic.com for decades. So we should not be surprised that the standard responses to criticism of the DemoCommies still apply to the new “monoculture” phrasing: liberalism and communism are in fact very different and oppositional ideologies and it is just a game of semantics to conflate them. More to the point: there are millions upon millions of people who would fall into this super-category, and it is both unfair and unreasonable to take all of these individuals with their idiosyncratic perspectives and ideas and shove all of them into the same box. If it’s wrong to say that everyone on the right is (for example) a fascist, then for the exact same reasons it’s also wrong to say that everyone on the left is guilty of fascist-jacketing.” Carl Beijer from Hippie Punching 2021

“If it was not clear already, one stinging lesson from 2020 is that our countrymen are not buying what the online activist class is trying to sell, no matter how morally righteous their doctrine may be. Whether this will somehow change, and the country can be governed like a graduate seminar on critical race theory, remains to be seen. What is apparent is that, should that profound shift come to pass, significant and growing numbers of nonwhite, non-straight, non-Christian people will ardently oppose it.” Thomas Chatterson Williams, Harpers Feb 2021

“For Trump and his allies were running their own campaign to spoil the election. The President spent months insisting that mail ballots were a Democratic plot and the election would be ‘rigged.’ His henchmen at the state level sought to block their use, while his lawyers brought dozens of spurious suits to make it more difficult to vote–an intensification of the GOP’s legacy of suppressive tactics. Before the election, Trump plotted to block a legitimate vote count. And he spent the months following Nov. 3 trying to steal the election he’d lost–with lawsuits and conspiracy theories, pressure on state and local officials, and finally summoning his army of supporters to the Jan. 6 rally that ended in deadly violence at the Capitol. The democracy campaigners watched with alarm. ‘Every week, we felt like we were in a struggle to try to pull off this election without the country going through a real dangerous moment of unraveling,’ says former GOP Representative Zach Wamp, a Trump supporter who helped coordinate a bipartisan election-protection council. ‘We can look back and say this thing went pretty well, but it was not at all clear in September and October that that was going to be the case.’ This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election, based on access to the group’s inner workings, never-before-seen documents and interviews with dozens of those involved from across the political spectrum. It is the story of an unprecedented, creative and determined campaign whose success also reveals how close the nation came to disaster. “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” says Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group. “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.’ That’s why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it. And they believe the public needs to understand the system’s fragility in order to ensure that democracy in America endures. “ The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election, Time Magazine Feb. 4, 2021

“What Trump recognized was that there are millions of Americans who do not oppose or even care about abortion or same-sex marriage, much less stem-cell research or any of the other causes that had animated traditional social conservatives. Instead he correctly intuited that the new culture war would be fought over very different (and more nebulous) issues: vague concerns about political correctness and ‘SJWs,’ opposition to the popularization of so-called critical race theory, sentimentality about the American flag and the military, the rights of male undergraduates to engage in fornication while intoxicated without fear of the Title IX mafia. Whatever their opinions might have been 20 years ago, in 2021 these are people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, accept pornography, homosexuality, drug use, legalized gambling, and whatever GamerGate was about. On economic questions their views are a curious and at times incoherent mixture of standard libertarian talking points and pseudo-populism, embracing lower taxes on the one hand and stimulus checks and stricter regulation of social media platforms on the other.”I have come to think of the people who answer to the above description as “Barstool conservatives,” in reference to the popular sports website, especially its founder and CEO, Dave Portnoy. For many years the political significance of Barstool was implicit at best, reflected mainly in its conflicts with Deadspin and other members of the tacitly liberal sports journalism establishment.” Matthew Walther, Rise of the Barstool Conservatives

Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?

Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.

Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?

Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charming motherfuckin’ pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?


“I have, indeed, not found among any part of mankind less real and rational complaisance than among those who have passed their time in paying and receiving visits, in frequenting public entertainments, in studying the exact measures of ceremony, and in watching all the variations of fashionable courtesy. They know, indeed, at what hour they may beat the door of an acquaintance, how many steps they must attend him towards the gate, and what interval should pass before his visit is returned; but seldom extend their care beyond the exterior and unessential parts of civility, nor refuse their own vanity for gratification, however expensive to the quiet of another.” Dr. Johnson

Can I keep ‘im, Pa?

This was the week that I got an email from a cousin who was born about a half dozen years before the arrival of the Boomers. His note read, “Pardon me for saying this, but I can’t help noticing that your wife doesn’t use our name professionally.”

Sent a short note back that said, “She doesn’t use it unprofessionally either. Truth be told she’s been using the name she came with for as long as I’ve known her.”

Befuddlement ensued.

Over the next few days and an exchange of 10 or so emails I had to give up and send this article as an explainer.

You might want to have a look at that last link as it will come in handy later because it’s time to talk about that Wanda show.

Did you see The Wanda Show?

I came to it late which meant I had to go into the basement and find Mom’s old laptop and the older iPad. Once those were rounded up I switched on her new laptop and this computer. I had six screens going all at once so I could bird watch it like the kids do.

Why come to it late?

Trepidation.

Growing up in the middle of nowhere meant that we got ONE whole channel of television. That channel was an affiliate of The Tiffany Network, CBS which meant a very steady diet of Lucy, Dick van Dyke, and Andy Griffith. Not that I had any expressed vehemence at the time, but it is true – familiarity breeds contempt. Not only were they on at night, they circled back around every morning starting right after Cap’n Kangaroo and winding up just as the soaps started. Before I was 10 I could watch as little as 30 seconds of any Lucy episode and say, “It’s the chocolates one.”

The one with Lucy in the football helmet?

We’d never seen Superman.

The classic sitcom aspect made me, as Mom says, hinckey about wandering into WandaVision. I had fears that sooner or later we’d have to see Ellie May fetching Ultron out of Miz Drysdale’s rose bushes or an Easter egg featuring Arnold Ziffle as The Herald of Galactus. Adding to that was my disgust at the last episode of Lost. After all those years the very special two hour finale turned out to be little more than Sister Perpetua’s first-grade pep talk about Limbo, a theological concept based on mid-20th Century dance craze.

Why put the time into these long form series if you’re only going to be pissed off at the end?

Why not spend the time taking a nap or watching something like the old Mission:Impossible or the original Hawaii 5-0, shows that had to good manners to finish up after only an hour?

What turned me around was Emily VanDerWerff’s review,

She writes:

We live in a world that is dominated by the belief that we can come up with one single theory that unifies everything so that we no longer have to worry about mystery or figure out some stuff for ourselves. From “the ending, explained” videos to QAnon, we are living amid a paucity of mythos and an overabundance of logos. Our culture is spiritually and morally empty, and one of the foremost ways to refill those reservoirs in our very core beings is through storytelling and art. We have increasingly lost sight of that, and I don’t know how we’re going to get it back.

That WandaVision was a sometimes-meandering journey through the ways art can help us heal has been held against it by too many viewers. But maybe that was the point. Art is so often a message in a bottle, something an artist or group of artists makes to say, “Hey, here’s how I’m feeling. Do you agree with that?” WandaVision rediscovered that quality in the sitcom reruns that made us feel joy and solace and community, then tried to pay it forward. After all, what is art but our spirits, persevering?

Here’s where clicking on the Generation Jones link will come in handy.

Being Generation Jones and growing up with only one tv channel created a great many problems in junior high. By at least the eighth grade you’d get parked in some airless room with a city slicker born on the front end of the Boom who knew what it was like to have so many tv stations that you couldn’t count ’em on only one hand. Having grown up with a front row seat on Hogan’s Heroes, Gilligan’s Island, and My Favorite Martian we were more than a little incredulous when the teacher said, all creative effort is art and all art has a message – art is here to teach us something about ourselves.

At first I was willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt because for all I knew they might be talking about the game shows. That all went out the window when they’d started passing around mimeographed sheets full of Simon and Garfunkle lyrics as we were about to go on a search to find out exactly where Joe DiMaggio went. That lead to the eventful moment a couple of days later when Colleen Callahan thought she’d jump ahead of us. She raised her hand and said, “My mom says he married Marilyn Monroe!”

Proving that Sister Charles Loretta was right when she said to never let your parents do your homework.

Where were we?

If we accept Ms.VanDerWerff’s premise that WandaVision is an examination of grief then WandaVision might be the most subversion piece of pop culture to date. Here the sacred Marvel continuity has been weaponized. The average Comic Book Guy winds up getting immersed in the works of Elizabeth Kuber-Ross. Either it blows right past him or he has to go deal with – what Mom calls – his butthurt.

That means WandaVision might be the most subversive piece of pop culture since Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Moving along –

Mommie Bloggest

Unlike many of my ilk I have no trouble surfing right-wing media because – unlike them – I do not fear that a mere glimpse of such things will turn me into a pillar of stone. About the only RWM I won’t look at is the NewsMax channel since those people look like they got their lighting gear off a clearance table at Best Buy.

There’s a difference between happy, shiny people and really shiny, shiny people.

You shouldn’t have to put on #5 welding googles to watch tv in your own living room.

From Jonah Goldberg’s Friday newsletter:

Let’s talk about blogging.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to take a seat on the porch next to my rocking chair as I regale you over mint tea about the Golden Age of Blogging. Suffice it to say it was a big deal for a short period of time. The first big disruptor of traditional media was probably Craigslist because it derailed the classified ad gravy train. But, on the content side, blogging was almost as significant.

I have a lot of fond memories about the blogging era. I’m very proud of the fact that The Corner over at National Review was my idea. But then, earlier this week, I had the opportunity to record an episode of Jay Nordlinger’s Q&A (coming out soon-ish, probably). It was a fun conversation, and it continued for a good while after we stopped recording. During the post-pod discussion, I had a small epiphany: Blogging deserves its fair share of blame for much of the craptacularity out there in the media space today.

For people of my generation, this is pretty counterintuitive. The debates of the blogging era feel like witty intellectual badinage around the Algonquin Roundtable compared to the poo-flinging, boorish brabble of the Twitter age. But if you think of “microblogging”—the dumb technical term for sharing your worthless thoughts on platforms like Twitter—as a natural evolution from blogging, its sins become apparent.

Not that I really want to sit and recall those days either since I was frequently mistaken for what was then known as a “mommie blogger.”

No, really.

Despite the many posts about politics, football betting, and the arrival of newer and more obtuse French postmodernists, what little readership I had was fixated on my time as Mr. Mom since I used to write about my ongoing battles with the student teachers back when Alaska Wolf Joe was only a puppy. Back then the student teachers were all childless, but they knew far more about parenting than I did since they had masters degrees.

Listening to Mom holler loud enough to bust all the windows in the maternity ward? Staying up with him all night with him when he was sick? Getting up hours before dawn to get to the mall to get that one present Santa just had to bring?

Piffle.

What did I know?

I only had a BA.

Fuck me.

Compounding this forced march down Memory Lane was not one, but two articles about mommie bloggers that surfaced in the past few weeks.

From the 2/8/21 edition of The New Yorker:

(Glennon) Doyle, who is forty-four, has always espoused experiencing vividly all that is beautiful and brutal in the world. “Life is brutiful,” she wrote in her first book, “Carry On, Warrior,” in 2013. At the time, she was married to a man, and “Christian mommy blogger”—her least favorite sobriquet—was a pretty accurate description of her job. Her blog, Momastery, offered readers a look at her life as a progressive Christian raising three children which was intimate, unguarded, self-revealing. “I found my thing: openness,” she wrote. “I decided that’s what God wanted me to do. . . . I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine.”

From Graydon Carter’s AirMail:

In the wake of her hit show Desperate Housewives, Felicity Huffman was making a name for herself off camera as a counter-intuitive D.G.A.F. (“Don’t Give a Fuck”) mom expert. Her vehicle was the Web site What the Flicka? (Flicka was Huffman’s nickname growing up), which she’d started in 2012, just after Desperate Housewives—for which she won an Emmy—went off the air. Huffman realized how many women out there sympathized with her character on the show, Lynette Scavo, a harried working mother. Why not cater to that crowd and give herself a new marketing platform, not to mention a place where she could vent and wax on about her own real-life parenting woes?

Everybody pretty much knows what became of Ms. Huffman. Ms. Doyle OTOH divorced her philandering husband, overcame a substance problem, became a hot topic in Oprah and Elizabeth Warren’s inner circles, while marrying the former forward for the US Womens National Team, Abby Wambach.

Nice to know one of us mommies is doing well.

Please don’t get me wrong – while being mistaken for a mommie blogger was annoying there was a great deal to be learned from the other mommie bloggers who followed my page.

They had lots of great skin care tips which came in handy.

Dragging your knuckles in the winter months can leave them all rough and sore.

But enough of all that.

Let us now stick our asses in the snow and dance in the way of my people.

Quandary begins with Q

“On October 19, 2017, a Canadian astronomer named Robert Weryk was reviewing images captured by a telescope known as Pan-starrs1 when he noticed something strange. The telescope is situated atop Haleakalā, a ten-thousand-foot volcanic peak on the island of Maui, and it scans the sky each night, recording the results with the world’s highest-definition camera. It’s designed to hunt for ‘near-Earth objects,’ which are mostly asteroids whose paths bring them into our planet’s astronomical neighborhood and which travel at an average velocity of some forty thousand miles an hour. The dot of light that caught Weryk’s attention was moving more than four times that speed, at almost two hundred thousand miles per hour. … By far the most spectacular account of 1I/2017 U1 came from Avi Loeb, a Harvard astrophysicist. ‘Oumuamua didn’t behave as an interstellar object would be expected to, Loeb argued, because it wasn’t one. It was the handiwork of an alien civilization.'” Elizabeth Kolbert

“I can’t believe TheAtlantic.com would hire a writer, presumably for his expertise in journalism who’s that off the mark, as well as an editor for his or her fact checking abilities who obviously lives within a reality separate from our own when it comes to defining who Juggalos truly are and what they’re about.The truth is it fuckin’ hurts and [it’s] scary seeing professional adults acting like savage bullies calling Juggalos ‘easy targets’ because they’re so misunderstood. Sad little bullshit like this makes me question the media in general and [lose] a little faith in just about [everything] I fuckin read!” Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse on having his fans compared to Trump supporters

“If you are in a large crowd and no one is named RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, or Masta Killa, you might be in danger. Also, unless Bill Belichick is there, I would be wary of any group of white people who refer to themselves as ‘patriots .’White people have very little to be concerned about and their ‘protests’ usually involve things they could fix by other means. They will crack open a cold Mountain Dew-flavored Bud Light while watching bodycam footage of a cop emptying a pistol into a Black motorist’s back but will furiously organize a demonstration to protect Santa-themed Starbucks cups. If there isn’t a slam poet explaining how ‘real eyes realize real lies,’ or a cipher of freestylers using the words ‘off the dome,’ start worrying. Mob shenanigans might be afoot.” Michael Harriot

“The world will little note, nor long remember, the 1776 Report. But before it passes entirely from memory, it is worth taking a moment to examine what it is and how it came to be, not because it is intellectually serious—in fact, it is a self-plagiarized mishmash of sanitized history, high school civics, right-wing gripes, and authoritarian gestures—but because of what it reveals about the rise of a certain strain of conservative ideology: fundamentalist ‘West Coast Straussianism.’” Joshua Tait

“The world should love lovers;but not theoreticians. Never theoreticians! Show them the door! Ladies, throw out these gloomy bastards!” From Saul Bellow’s Herzog

“None but a fool worries about things he cannot influence.” Dr. Johnson


“Where’s the KABOOM! There was supposed to be an Earth shattering KABOOM!”

This January has been nothing but a procession of odd facts and even odder events. Buried somewhere in all of it was not one, not two, but three invitations to seminars on how to stay safe while attending public events. All of which were aimed at people such as myself who have numerous public duties. While the invites came from three separate groups and all were run by the same fellow. I grabbed the first available and called it good.

Why?

Like all of you I hope to pass peacefully surrounded by loved ones and people who owe me money.

No use taking chances.

One thing that might help is to ratchet down our rhetoric and dabble in calmer topics. Now that the particle beam did not reveal Donald Trump to be a billion year-old being last week it’s time to set aside these johnny-come-lately delusions and go back to an elegant conspiracy from a more civilized time.

It’s time to bring back the UFOs.

Why?

Well for openers this guy claims the recent administration was more open to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Supposedly he’s obtained 10,000 pages of information gathered by the CIA on the subject and he’s a bit miffed that the CIA said they gave him everything they had as he’s convinced there’s more where that came from. Despite his claims of having his hands tied he did publish one interesting document regarding the search for Radovan Karadzic that took place while Karadzic was a fugitive in the early 00s.

The money shot appears on the second page of the report.

Oh to be a fly on that wall.

ALIEN1: Your zurgness, the humans are calling.
ALIEN2: Tell them to call the DMT elves, we’re busy.
A1: The humans say the DMT elves aren’t picking up, everything goes to voicemail.
A2: Whatever it is tell them we have no idea and then round up our crew heating the planet. Tell them to stop heating the planet and start working on a voicemail system as impenetrable as the ones the humans have concocted. Then maybe we can get some work done around here.
A1: At once your zurgness!

And so on and so forth.

Given the clunk-awful prose the report must have been written by a total Herbert. If you look closely you’ll find it’s hard to tell whether or not the aliens have such advanced technology that they can understand every form of human communication or we’re merely besties who tell each other everything. That said it does bring up the question, where’s the harm in restoring UFO lore to its place as the king of conspiracy theories?

Think about it – nobody, who went around telling people how he got swept up by a beam of light only to come face to face some bug-eyed critter who wanted to stick something up his ass, ever got elected to Congress. But you run around telling people Hil ‘n Bill are doing unspeakable things in the basement of a pizza parlor you’re halfway to franking privileges.

Think about it.

Get back to me.

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

This popped up in the ol’ inbox this morning.

Second, social media monopolies must be broken through more effective antitrust legislation. Imagine if every 18th-century coffee house had been a Starbucks! If social media spaces are the only place a public sphere can form in the 21st century, then they must be meaningfully diverse. The old blogosphere had many attributes of a public sphere, just as the earliest days of social media did. But blogs died as the big names became digital magazine columns, and as competition from social media drew more users in.

One thing I meant to touch on in the past post was Anna Wiener’s article about the rise of Substack. Wiener is a great writer and the author of Uncanny Valley which was sofa side-table reading at the start of the quarantine. Her dive into Substack comes as Substack is supposed to be the future and savior of sustainable journalism.* In short – Substack maintains website for a variety of writers who were once called A-Listers who have become disenchanted with the projects they moved onto having capitalized on their time as early 00 A-Listers.

All the Substacker has to do is write and Substack takes care of the rest.

Once upon a time – if memory serves – this was called “hosted blogging.”

Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Substack’s competitive advantage is in it’s business model which seems to be based on Ann Landers’ old quandary, “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?”

While Substack’s stable included people like Andrew Sullivan and Matthew Yglesias you can only have a supermarket sample-size taste of their wisdom. If you want the whole meal you have to pay anywhere from $5 to $25 month.

One person did ask if I’d be joining Substack.

No.

And that is my solemn promise to all of you.

I will not come to you can ask for help to pay the $4.10/month to AWS to keep this page going.

Instead I will walk around all smug and self satisfied that my AWS account is in good standing while Parler was shown the AWS door.

While it might very well be quality drivel it’s not drivel worth paying for. This point was driven home as I’ve been slowly working through Martin Amis’s Inside Story which he says is neither essay nor novel. Unlike the American auteur, Jack Webb no names have been changed to protect the innocent. Kinglsey, Hitch, the children, the wives, and most importantly of all, the old girlfriend are designated by their real names.

The old girlfriend, Phoebe Phelps is the most interesting as she keeps turning up at the oddest times. Having not heard from her in years and years she calls Amis up on September 12,2001 to say his dad had made a pass at her while they were still involved. Never mind that they lived together for a lenghty stretch in the late 1970s she just then at that moment had to let him know.

Please don’t get the wrong impression. Their cohabitation was not so much romantic as necessity. Phobes, as he calls her, had a gambling problem. In the past she’d paid off off her markers by working as an escort and posing for Oui magazine. (Some of you gents out there will remember Oui as the also-ran Penthouse of the 1970s.) Sadly, her bet that Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t last six months turned out to be financially ruinous. Amis said she couldn’t turn to her family for help as they were perpetually broke despite the fact that her dad was a hereditary peer. Per her – one of her great-greats also had a gambling problem and was forced to mortgage the manor house. While subsequent generations learned the importance of fairness on the playing fields of Eaton, none seemed to be equipped with any business sense thus keeping everyone in arrears. Given all that he never portrays her as the crazy ex-girlfriend. Rather she comes across as a mixed bag, someone who is propelled through life by her eccentricities.

His last mention of her is a story about the time they went to Paris in the 1970s. Amis had an assignment to interview Roman Polanski who had recently arrived in Paris from America in order to avoid any legal entanglements regarding the evening he spent with a 13 year-old girl. Phobes said that while Amis was in the gents Polanski ran his hand up and down her leg and said she should ditch the newspaper loser and come with him up to his room. She declined and added this tale to the others she came forth with on September 12, 2001.

Why bring any of this up?

Because that’s content worth paying for.

And no one wants to put down good money to hear about the time the guidance counselor thought I should consider being an irrigation district supervisor if I expected to get anywhere in this life.

Lastly – I have no interest in talking about the election just past. If election fraud is the hot bur under your saddle that helps you sleep at night then God bless all who sail in you. I will be monitoring what comes of the 1/6 Capitol mess as I’m dead certain someone from my junior high years will eventually be outed as one of the mob. Those people back there didn’t elect The Redneck Rosa Klebb out of the goodness of their hearts. She got elected as she truly represents the people of her district because she’s just like them.

And with that thought and a mixed metaphor we’ve come to the point where it’s time to dance.

* Our current sustainable business model also includes Mom buying $10 in PowerBall tickets every Tuesday.

For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree or Washington crossing the Delaware!

“People fib. Most keep it at exaggeration—a hardscrabble childhood, an illustrious ancestor, a perfect S.A.T. score, a close call in a war zone. It’s more problematic—or pathological—when they make things up entirely. I had a high-school classmate who bragged about having a handsome, aristocratic English boyfriend, and when it came time to produce him, claimed he was killed in a double-decker bus crash in London. (When she grew up, she worked for the C.I.A. Or said she did.) Where is Hillary/Hilaria on that spectrum? Hard to tell, but there doesn’t seem to be a venal motive behind the imposture. She wasn’t pretending to be from Spain to disguise a low-class background, get a job as a bilingual teacher, or qualify for an E.U. passport. She wasn’t taking anything away from anyone; presumably, she just wanted to make herself seem more interesting and exotic. It’s bizarre, and maybe a little borderline, but nobody got hurt. So, how do you say in English, mucho ado about nada?” Alessandra Stanley

“In its variety, the Substack corpus resembles the blogosphere. It is produced by a mix of career journalists, bloggers, specialists, novelists, hobbyists, dabblers, and white-collar professionals looking to plump up their personal brands. … A Substack newsletter is both a product and a portfolio: a way to make money, but also a venue for displaying personality, intelligence, and taste. Read enough of them and certain patterns begin to emerge. Newsletters in the business and tech categories tend to adopt para-LinkedIn tics. They are often studded with Twitter screenshots and lists of links. Single-sentence paragraphs appear frequently, as do uplifting rhetorical devices. (‘Imagine a world where you had a personal board of advisors—the people you most admire and respect—and you gave them upside in your future earnings in exchange for helping you. . . . Imagine if you could diversify by pooling 1% of your future income with your ten smartest friends.’) Just as there is ‘podcast voice’ —that inquisitive, staccato bedtime-story cadence—there is Substack tone, a semi-professional quality suited to mass e-mail. Some newsletters convey intimacy, in the language of psychotherapy and self-help, but their style is more polished and structured than that of the looser, rangier blogs of the early two-thousands. ‘Maybe Baby,’ for all its vulnerability, is also aware of itself as a commodity, dialled in to its audience. Still, it’s nice, from time to time, to receive a chatty, engaging, personable e-mail from someone who doesn’t expect a response.”
Anna Wiener

“It’s the work of a true supervillain—the most Andy Kaufman–esque move any musician has made over the past few decades, and certainly one of the most entertaining stories to emerge from rap’s subterranean. But in Doom’s telling of the events, fans weren’t being cheated out of the true Metal Face experience. Rather, they were seeing what that experience was all about. ‘I’m a director as well as a writer,’ the rapper/producer told HipHopDx in 2009. ‘I choose different characters, I choose their direction and where I want to put them. So who I choose to put as the character is up to me. The character that I hired, he got paid for it. There’s no impostor.’ Doom found the outrage funny, and mused about sending out a white guy or the Blue Man Group to take his place. A decade later, he would still occasionally dispatch fugazis, including Hannibal Burress at Adult Swim Festival in 2019. Others may have viewed the mask as a crown, but for its owner, there was little precious about it.” Justin Sayles

“Today my possible Historical Reconstruction Associate is Mr. Haberstrom, founder of Burn ‘n Learn. Burn ‘n Learn is national. Their gimmick is a fully stocked library on the premises and as you tan you call out the name of any book you want to these high-school girls on roller skates who will fetch them for you.” from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders

“It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.” Dr. Johnson

Lydia, oh Lydia, oh have you seen Lydia?

Various thoughts on last week in no particular order.

– This was the week the midway caught fire.

How so?

For years I’ve been saying that you’ll completely understand American life once you accept the fact that the major corporations are to America what the church was to Medieval Europe.

Got that?

The endless outrage, the culture wars, the cable channels are nothing by sideshow attractions. While everybody is busy guffawing at a picture of Michelle Obama morphed into The Dog Faced Boy the real action is in the big tent.

Like what?

Oh, I dunno … maybe how the Chinese are offering negative interest rates in Europe to attract them away from our lending markets or maybe how Brazil because the world’s largest supplier of soy after Mr. Tariffs Fan got busy. Or maybe everybody should have taken the hint when the big corps told Arizona THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO to recognize MLK Day or they’d bring no investment to the state.

How did The Right lose the battle against gay marriage?

Because there’s a market in that.

Granted, it’s a small data point, but the concession-ish video came out after the National Manufacturers condemnation and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial calling for resignation. Those might have gone unnoticed in all the commotion and it’s probably just a quirk of mine that I even brought it up.

– Normally you’re supposed to say, “At the risk of repeating myself…” but at my age it’s expected.

Slothrop’s Proverbs for Paranoids. (From Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon)

1. You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.

2. The innocence of the creature is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the Master.

3. If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.

4.You hide, They seek.

5. Paranoids are not paranoids because they’re paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, fucking idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.

This week was about about number three and number five. Next week will be all about number four.

– The Right should be less concerned with its online platforms and more concerned about their methods.

Why?

Seen this guy?

From The Arizona Republic:

For the past two years, Angeli had become a fixture at political rallies, marches and protests. Besides his attention-getting outfit, Angeli has a booming voice that, without need of amplification, could be easily heard among a crowd.

The Republic interviewed Angeli during 2020 as part of a series of stories and a mini-documentary on the Patriot movement in Arizona, the increasingly powerful right-wing of the Republican Party. Some adherents, including Angeli, promoted conspiracy theories including the baseless idea known as QAnon.

Angeli, 33, lived in Phoenix, but it was not clear what he did for a living.

He was listed on a webpage as available to hire as a voice-over actor. He also conducted online courses in shamanism. He also said he volunteered for an arts organization in Phoenix that worked with at-risk youth.

While working with at-risk youth is admirable, the larger issue here is that Mr. Angeli has brought an end to several of the tropes that powered the conservative movement. Thanks to him you can’t really point at old hippies at some sort of protest and have a good giggle nor can you make fun of Burners, Dead Heads, New Age suckers, yoga fanatics, or anyone else you consider a left-wing loonie without that same left-wing loonie looking you in the eye and saying, “Like your guy is better?”

– And that’s the problem isn’t it? There’s no cohesive conservative philosophy or generally agreed to policy points, is there? Who is your Burke? Where is your Mill?

Previously “owning the libs” didn’t matter because 95% of the time us libs had no idea what you were talking about. The rest of the time you’d go hatin’ on Hilary or get bent out of shape about some Hollywood celebrity and we’d just quietly shake our heads and under our breath repeat the words of one of your favorite ex-president, “Well, there you go again!”

Now?

Own away.

Pardon us if our only reaction is, “Cool story Bro, can you get me Antler Guy’s autograph?”

– This isn’t so much about last week as last year. It rambles, it wanders, but by the end you understand what’s happened in our isolation and how some of us should not be left alone for too long as we start to think for ourselves.

From Burning the Furniture by Elua Biss:

In the furniture stores we visit, I’m filled with a strange unspecific desire. I want everything and nothing. The soft colours of the rugs, the warm wood grains, the brass and glass of the lamps all seem to suggest that the stores are filled with beautiful things, but when I look at any one thing I don’t find it beautiful. “The desire to consume is a kind of lust,” Lewis Hyde wrote. “But consumer goods merely bait this lust, they do not satisfy it. The consumer of commodities is invited to a meal without passion, a consumption that leads to neither satiation nor fire.”

There but for grace of God…

Around the start of last month someone recommended CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders. the book starts off with a series of short stories about people who work for rundown amusement parks and beat-up tourist attractions concluding with a post-apocalyptic novella. The signature piece revolves around the man who has to make sure CivilWArLand is historically accurate. Most of his time is taken up trying to keep the park’s two main attractions – a diorama describing how the Eerie Canal was built and propping up an attraction showing Chinese immigrants building the cross country railroad. Sure, there’s Civil War re-enactments every weekend, but accuracy is out the window as the park is constantly at the mercy of marauding raccoons and drunken teenagers. Nothing can be done because in this story – as well as the others – calamity and tragedy arrive in the same number and velocity as German artillery shells in the Ardennes. No help comes from the top. Throughout the whole collection the bosses are described as violent, drunk, on the brink of nervous collapse, or someone to be avoided because of his stints in prison.

But in each and every case the boss is always referred to as either a beloved or influential member of the local Rotary.

That got a double snort and a hearty guffaw out of me as the local chapter has been after me for the better part of 20 years. I can always spot a Rotary noob – he’s going to land a big fish to impress the others and that big fish is me.

As Bugs Bunny once said, “Poor little maroon.”

But I digress.

Saunders is a worth successor to Nathaniel West. Saunders breakneck speed and dark humor are something to behold. His end piece, the novella, Bounty was interesting reading given not only last week, but last year. The story revolves around a Flawed and his sister. Both are in an amusement park that keeps The Flawed, i.e. genetic mutations, on display for the ultra-wealthy to enjoy. In this America very little is left. The land and water are so toxic that the population is riddled with The Flawed. Waves of death have reduced the Northeast to an empty wasteland and the government exists in name only.

Slavery is once again legal. The central character’s sister is sold off to an well-off undertaker and carted away from the amusement park. He escapes to go looking for her only to discover that America is now populated with nothing but middle managers, self-help gurus, and parenting experts all of whom live in squalor. Nothing gets done because no one has the skills to make anything better. Even the remaining entrepreneurs outside the enclaves of the rich are helpless as their endeavors are similar listed to the one above – girls on roller skates fetching books. Their businesses don’t really help anyone and the only people who are sold on the businesses being a good idea are the entrepreneurs themselves.

CivilWarLand is a series of vignettes where we see what it’s like to have the inept, the overwrought, and the none-too-terribly-bright in charge.

Watching things unfold last Wednesday you have to wonder if this is where we’re headed.

Strictly as an aside –

On New Year’s Eve the family of Daniel Dumile, 49 released a statement saying he had passed away at the end of October. He was better known to the world as MF Doom.

A few years back Alaska Wolf Joe was going to a summer seminar on the other side of town. MF Doom was our car tunes for a good portion of the summer. Doom has a remarkable grasp of pop culture. While other rappers sampled famous songs he sampled the incidental music from Charlie’s Angels and pulled audio from Hanna-Babera’s 1960s version of The Fantastic Four. One tribute talked about his early years and his deconstruction of minstrel shows and similar pop culture racial stereotypes.

So there you go – deconstruction of forms and acknowledgement of The Spectacle.

I didn’t expect to be a Situationist in my old age.

Oh well.

The Kraken drinks and goes home

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” Dwight Eisenhower 1953

“There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics (notably from the clergy) for the beenfit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are many times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures, and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility. And it occasionally happens that this underworld becomes a political power and changes the course of history.” Norman Cohn Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy And the Protocols of the Elders Of Zion 1967


“Apart from the extremely lazy way the film shorthands its characters through regional and class stereotypes, Hillbilly Elegy is an incoherent, meandering, misogynistic tangle of vanishing subplots and vague ideas. I hesitate to even call them subplots since that suggests a plot arc to begin with. For example, I honestly spent the whole movie wondering why the opening leaned so heavily on the narrator’s childhood summers in Kentucky — his seminal time spent with “my people,” a phrase he said over and over again like Moses freeing the Israelites — even though we never returned to Kentucky or his extended family again. Our hero, real-life memoirist J.D. Vance, spent most of the film treating ‘his people’ like shit.J.D. is easily the most loathsome protagonist since Holden Caulfield.” Aja Romano

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Dr. Johnson

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings

Since 2016 all of us here in the blue cities we’ve been unable to dodge the question, “Who are the Trump voters?”

The question comes with the underlying assumption that they’re some sort of monolithic bloc that lives somewhere in the middle of the country where many are busy producing something we could call in the aggregate, food. The average city Bolshevik finds them a curious lot who makes – at the very least – my cadre shake their collective heads and ask, “Who are these people?”

To which I answer, what would you like to know?

I grew up in a town with a population of roughly 7000 people in rural Colorado. While we were considered the big city in the area it was possible to drive a little over an hour to find hamlets and villages which had populations of less than 500 people, one of which was the town where my grandfather lived. While he was retired from the grocery business his siblings all lived nearby and were cattle ranchers, i.e. The Future Cheeseburgers of America. His brother-in-law had been a functionary of one kind or another in the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association until finally in the early 1950s when he became “President of the whole shootin’ match.”

In addition to having box seats at The Western Stock Show Rodeo, he and my great-aunt were considered the local aristocracy.

James Buchanan Watkins spent 86 years on the planet and in all the time he was known to friends and family as Jimmy. After I was old enough to drive I would go see my grandfather and take him on errands, chief among which was a stop at the post office. We’d go in to get the mail and buy stamps. More often than not Uncle Jimmy was there as well. We were usually the last to greet him as the other locals had to stop, tip their Stetsons, and pay respects.

Think of it as the local cow-tow.

Granddad didn’t have much for use for the ceremony. He thought it made Uncle Jimmy “A stuffed shirt, all that goin’ to his head, you can trust him to vote a straight Democratic ticket anymore.”

And my grandmother’s opinion?

Funny you should ask.

Simulacrum and its Discontents

For the past couple of days I watched and re-watched a few sections of Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, a film that carries the onerous burden of explaining the Trump voter once and for all. The movie got that honor due to its source material, the book of the same name by J.D. Vance. Book reviewers believed it was the single best view as to who those people are who didn’t vote for Hillary. What followed, according to the conventional wisdom, was to turn it into a motion picture that would eventually be advertised in Variety under the heading, “For Your Consideration.”

Seemed simple enough – get a couple of brand-name stars (Glen Close and Amy Adams) and a major director. (Ron Howard)

And who knows more about what it’s like to grow up in a small town than Opie?

And this is where it went off the rails for the movie reviewers who called Elegy little more than Hollywood’s idea of how poor people live. Several sites gathered up reviewers like Aja Romano (see above) who had come from small towns and who were aghast at how the movie was in no way related to their own first-hand experience of growing up in the middle of nowhere. Like them I have some problems with the film in that there’s no there there. As Richard Brody said in his New Yorker review

Yet, paradoxically, this cultural blankness, this reductiveness, isn’t just an error of omission on Howard’s part; it plays like a calculated aspect of the drama—and, even more strangely, like a positive trait, a mark of authenticity. The film’s stagings, images, and tones are as formless and as vague as its characters’ mental lives, and that vagueness replaces elements of Vance’s book which are politically and ideologically quite explicit—and which have been criticized for the simplistic lessons that they extract from his experience.

Long story short – of all the movies every made Hillbilly Elegy certainly is one of them.

Oscar bait it’s not.

In no way is the Vance character in the movie is as loathsome as Holden Caulfield or Anakin Skywalker because the character is devoid of a personality. He has all the likability of a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder combo deal. The only character worth watching is Glen Close who plays the family matriarch, Mawmaw. In Mawmaw I saw much of my own grandmother. When Vance brings home the top grade in algebra he doesn’t get a big hug and a kiss on the forehead from his grandmother. Instead he gets a stern look and a talking to that this is just the start, the opening skirmish, the real battle to do make something of yourself and get out of this place is just beginning.

That cold and calculated tone, that resolve, that lack of warm and fuzzies also described my grandmother. She was an iron-willed lace-curtain Irish Catholic. There was no way her daughter and her only child was going to grow up in a cow town. She walked out on my grandfather and forged a new life and drove it into my mother, who then drive it into me, that we’re no cow punchers. At no time were we going to ever have to get up before dark and wade through cow shit to make a living. We were not going to break our backs and be beat down by life with nothing more to show for it but box seats at the rodeo. In small towns it’s the grandparents who step up. (In my case due to the sudden unexpected death of my mother from previously undiagnosed cancer when I was 14.) The previous generation more often than not finds that once again they’re the ones driving the bus. When that comes along they double down. Mawmaw’s confession that she could have done better job raising Vance’s mother is a telling moment, but different that the ones that followed my mother’s death. Back then my grandmother squared her shoulders and once again drove the message home that we were always on the razor-thin edge of falling back into the abyss – the entropy that can hold you to a place – a place that’s no damn good for you.

As a sort of bookend I kept thinking back to American Graffiti. Granted, it’s a highly romanticized version of small town life. (George Lucas’s Amaracord) AG takes place in 1962. Jack Kennedy is still alive, the WW2 generation is firmly in control of everyday life, and the front end of the Baby Boom is starting to pass through high school. Piketty said that at the end of WW2 less that one-third of the American population had graduated from high school. Here we see that life is full of high school kids so the idea that the next generation will do better than the previous one is still valid.

Most of the movie revolves around the tension between old friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) and Steve (OPIE!) as to stay or go. The movie serves as the original template for end credits which answer the question, “Where are they now?” The end titles lets us know that Curt left and Steve stayed and married his high school sweetheart. (Cindy Williams) Grafffiti speaks more to my experience which I think applies to Elegy as well.

There’s them that stays and them that goes.

Like Mawmaw my grandmother was all too aware of the entropy – the way small town life can lull you into never leaving.

It also helps if you don’t fit in.

Not that I’d know anything about that.

Small towns assign you an identity, e.g. “You Smiths are all alike. Ain’t none of you any damn good!”, but if you leave and return to visit sooner or later you will get, “You think you’re better than us, don’t you?”

No.

Working from the idea of who stays or goes you can see in retrospect that the people you grew up with all had many different trajectories. In this case some of us started off in different directions as early as age 14 or 15. We had already been growing apart by the time we reached age 18 so it was little wonder that some of us scattered and some stayed. I managed to internalize my grandmother’s will to get off the bottom rung of cities and to make sure the offspring would live in a better place.

In short Elegy is worth a look, but don’t get your hopes up. It doesn’t offer any answers or revealed truths. It is kinda what it is which isn’t saying much.

ASIDES:

Tip of the tin foil lined M’s cap to Mr. Sharp who sent this – a Chevy ad featuring 1970s Krautprog phenoms Popol Vuh.

Setting aside for a moment the strong resemblance between this ad and those awful cloying Coke commercials that run before the feature film, you gotta wonder what’s going on here?

If you’re going for wide appeal shouldn’t you be using Billie Ellish?

How many cars are you gonna sell if nobody but antiquarian prog-rock geezers pay close attention to you commercial?

Speaking of movies – Borat 2 is also worth a look. The movie is greatly reminiscent of the Cheech and Chong movies – you see the joke coming from a long way off, but you laugh at it anyway and feel a bit sheepish that you did.

Indecision married to a lack of vision

“In 1922, the sociologist William Fielding Ogburn, interested in how technology and society interact, coined the term ‘cultural lag.’ The concept is straightforward for our 21st century sensibilities, where things change fairly rapidly. As Ogburn wrote: ‘The thesis is that the various parts of modern culture are not changing at the same rate, some parts are changing much more rapidly than others; and that since there is a correlation and interdependence of parts, a rapid change in one part of our culture requires readjustments through other changes in the various correlated parts of culture.’

“What happens when different parts of society change at unequal rates and fail to adapt to each other? Ogburn’s example in his seminal book resonates easily with today’s issues. He argued that industry and education correlate. If one changes, the other has to change commensurately. If one changes rapidly, but the other does not—if industry changes rapidly due to technological advances, but education does not—we get cultural lag. In Ogburn’s view, that leads to Ogburn called maladjustment and instability, the gears of society fitting poorly together.” Zeynep Tufekci

“That aspect of the modern crisis which is bemoaned as a ‘wave of materialism’ is related to what is called the ‘crisis of authority.’ If the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e. is no longer “leading” but only “dominant,” exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies, and no longer believe what they used to believe previously, etc. The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” — Antonio Gramsci, 1930

“There once lived a man named Oedipus Rex, you may have heard about his odd complex, his name appears in Freud’s index,’cause he loved his mother.” Tom Leher


“(Lord Alfred Douglas’s) who held the title of the Marquess of Queensberry, for a start, were cartoonish in their grotesquerie. The Douglases were mad, and flying into ‘fits of rage, gibbering and snarling’ was an inherited trait. Cannibalism (one ancestor in 1707 impaled a cook’s boy on a spit and roasted him), dramatic shooting accidents, suicides, explosions and mountaineering mishaps beset the clan. Incest was not unknown. Bosie’s uncle was ‘deeply attached to his twin sister’ and was heartbroken when she married Sir Alexander Beaumont Churchill Dixie, known as Sir ABCD. He drank himself into a deep depression. One of Bosie’s (Lord Alfred Douglas) aunts kept a pet jaguar, obtained in Patagonia, which annoyed Queen Victoria by killing deer in Windsor Great Park.” Douglas Murray

Unmoved though Witlings sneer and Rivals rail,
Studious to please, yet not ashamed to fail.
He scorns the meek address, the suppliant strain.
With merit needless, and without it vain.
In Reason, Nature, Truth, he dares to trust:
Ye Fops, be silent: and ye Wits, be just. – Dr. Johnson


Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line for the next available Bolshevik.

On the Friday before the election the phone rang. On the other end was a gent who said he was from the far eastern end of the state and he was certain I was responsible for “turning your town into a shit hole.” (Such flattery!) For good measure he followed that up with, “Liberalism is a mental disease!” To which I said, I’m not a psychiatrist so I can’t speak to that.

Well that did it.

He hung up only to call back a couple of minutes later. This time he was shouting, “Liberalism is a mental disease!” This time I said, yes, got that. As I said before, I can’t speak to that as I am not a psychiatrist. Is there anything else I can help you with?

He hung up again and shifted his strategy. He texted, all in caps, “LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISEASE.” which begs the question, “Why me, God?”

When you come right down to Mom ‘n me aren’t just lovable, we’re all wrinkly and cute like Sharpei puppies.

Why would anybody want to do a thing like that?

… oh … wait …

It’s about how we vote, isn’t it?

Look, on the most recent pass I didn’t really make a choice based on policy or some lofty set of ideals. I voted the way I did because I just can’t take any more winning. At my age I have to think about my health and all this winning was getting to be too much of a strain. The day after day of excitement of winning got to be too much. I’m not as young as I used to be. I can’t put in all the hours necessary to make this town a shit hole only to come home, turn on the tv, and be overwhelmed by more winning.

Some of us need to move on.

The War on Christmas will be here any minute.

The silver lining in this comes from Jared’s public-private partnership which will let me pick up some Geritol while I’m at CVS getting tested for the bug.

Now looking back at all that conservatives can say, “I don’t think you’re taking us seriously.”

How can I when you run around acting like the dumbest pack of motherfuckers on the planet?

Face facts – the last thing any of you need to do is challenge the outcome of this election. The second Biden takes over you’ll be ass deep in ridiculously complacent liberals who think the sun shines out their collective ass because they beat back the hordes. Once the 2022 and 2024 elections smack ’em side the head they’ll just wander around dazed wondering what just happened. Shortly thereafter they’ll come up for air and start with all that, “We need to educate people.” bullshit.

Alaska Wolf Joe and I have been talking about this since the dust settled on Pennsylvania. He points to the guy who runs the barber shop he frequented prior to the pandemic. The owner/operator is a Second Amendment fanboy. In listening to him talk AWJ says he has no interested in being “educated” since his definition of “educated” is having some libtard go full metal schoolmarm on his ass. Put another way, as far as these folks are concerned such “education” runs along a spectrum that’s patronizing on one end and damned annoying on the other.

Not that it stops there as there’s plenty of stupid to go around.

Once the GOP had people like Howard Baker, Everett McKinley Dirksen, Jerry Ford, Jake Javits, and Barry Goldwater who knew when to shut up and sit on their hands and let all good things come to he who waits.

Today?

Lessee- there’s Gohmert Pyle, and incoming freshman senator Tommy Tuberville who this week identified the three branches of government as “The House, The Senate, and the executive.” (Oxford comma courtesy of the New York Times)

That’s two outta three and as the old saying goes, close enough for horseshoes and gummint work.

If anybody on the Right had any sense they’d play the string out and let him go down to Florida to achieve martyrdom. He can claim to be the government in exile. Supposedly the family will start their own cable news channel which is as interesting as it is elderly.

Start a media venture on a medium that’s flailing since the medium is only popular with people over 60?

It will be unique because it will be the first time someone claiming to be the government in exile used something other than shortwave broadcasts to get their message out. Each missive will keep the faithful wound up and breathlessly waiting another transmission.

And while we’re on the subject consider this – in 10 years it will as hard to explain Rush Limbaugh’s popularity to young people as it was for my parents to explain Arthur Godfrey’s appeal to me.


No contact curbside pick up

In no particular order here’s a variety of items that need to come off the desk.

– Zeynep Tufekci is one of those every-so-often eggheads who captures the public’s attention. Think of her as the new Malcom Gladwell or rather the new Alvin Toffler. In mentioning William Fielding Ogburn (above) she rolls the clock back past Future Shock to the place Toffler got his ideas. You know, that book that certain people of a certain age read when they were teenagers because it was either that or The Greening of America which was a lengthy tome cribbed from Marcuse.

It was the 70s.

You had to be there.

– Thanks to a series of freebies we have now sampled all the major streaming services. My favorite by far is Hulu.

Why Hulu?

Besides being the only service which features my people’s Christmas movie, a heartwarming tale of a widower and his young son who take Santa hostage?

Hulu is trashy. If Hulu were an actual human being Hulu would be warming up a stool at the far end of the bar. Netflix is a starched Elizabethan collar and Disney+ suffers from Disney trying to put put too much synergy into each and every undertaking.

Did you see their version of Hamilton?

However Disney+’s vast store of old cartoons proves that Roger Rabbit was right when he said, “That Goofy’s a genius!”

That said I have spent a good deal of time on Amazon Prime which doesn’t do Amazon’s internal research any good. I just watch and re-watch The Boys and old episodes of What’s My Line? from the 1950s. Thanks to WML? I came up with a name for the alter ego I’ll be using on Parler – Lady Remington.

Both Jacobin magazine and Alaska Wolf Joe have explored the idea that the DSA should all become registered Republicans in order to steer the working classes towards socialism. Jacobin laid out the case while AWJ thinks it’s fever dream that’s not going anywhere.

But Lady Remington thinks it’s a great idea!

BTW – the new Jacobin examines the idea of America being a failed state. I’ll be taking that up in a couple of weeks.

Between now and then let’s join hands and sing along.

Joe ‘n some dough

“It’s one louder, isn’t it? These go to eleven.” Nigel Tufnel

“Well, look, I mean, I don’t think society should look at the total gestalt of the political system and say, ‘You know, the people I really admire are consultants.’” Stuart Stevens

“Earlier this month, while speaking via Zoom to a promising group of politically inclined high school students, I was met with an abrupt line of inquiry. ‘I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand,’ said one young man (age 17), his pitch a blend of curiosity and exasperation. ‘What do Republicans believe? What does it mean to be a Republican?’


“I decided to call Frank Luntz. Perhaps no person alive has spent more time polling Republican voters and counseling Republican politicians than Luntz, the 58-year-old focus group guru. His research on policy and messaging has informed a generation of GOP lawmakers. His ability to translate between D.C. and the provinces—connecting the concerns of everyday people to their representatives in power—has been unsurpassed. If anyone had an answer, it would be Luntz.

“’You know, I don’t have a history of dodging questions. But I don’t know how to answer that. There is no consistent philosophy,’Luntz responded. ‘You can’t say it’s about making America great again at a time of Covid and economic distress and social unrest. It’s just not credible.’

“Luntz thought for a moment. ‘I think it’s about promoting—’ he stopped suddenly. ‘But I can’t, I don’t—’ he took a pause. ‘That’s the best I can do.’

“When I pressed, Luntz sounded as exasperated as the student whose question I was relaying. ‘Look, I’m the one guy who’s going to give you a straight answer. I don’t give a shit—I had a stroke in January, so there’s nothing anyone can do to me to make my life suck,’ he said. ‘I’ve tried to give you an answer and I can’t do it. You can ask it any different way. But I don’t know the answer. For the first time in my life, I don’t know the answer.’” Tim Alberta

“The (Grand Junction) Chamber (of Commerce) has endorsed criminals for city council, they’ve endorsed people who can’t write a coherent sentence for school board, and they even endorsed a dental hygienist for Drainage Board who’d lived here 2 years, moved here from San Diego and couldn’t tell a drainage ditch from an irrigation ditch over a candidate who’d served on Palisade Town Council for 8 years, been mayor pro-tem, sat on the 5-2-1 Drainage Authority Board, sat on the Colorado Municipal League’s Executive Board for 6 years, had attended seminars on wastewater management and subscribed to periodicals about drainage just for fun. Why? Because the lady from San Diego opposed a fee the drainage district sought to fund much-needed updating of the valley’s troubled, outdated drainage system.The Grand Junction Chamber (of Commerce) is a gatekeeper for Mesa County’s Old Guard Republican Establishment (OGREs). The only thing that matters to the Grand Junction Chamber is that candidates they endorse have an “R” after their names and oppose every single tax or fee ever proposed, unless it’s for one of their bonehead projects like the North Avenue name change, the Downtown Events Center, the Riverside Parkway Zig Zag Project, the Brady Trucking Rezone, large-scale gambling in Mesa County or other losing ideas they’ve floated.The Chamber would endorse a 2 day-old pile of dog doo for elected office if it had an “R” after its name. And if someone stepped up to run for local office who was a descendant of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa combined, had six advanced degrees and decades of public service under their belt but was a Democrat, the Chamber wouldn’t touch them with a 50 foot pole.But the Chamber decided NOT to endorse whip-snortin’, gun-totin’, right-wing slogan-spewing, small business owner Lauren Boebert. That’s Pretty. Damn. Bad. (Or should we say ‘good’?)” Anne Landman

“I have no more pleasure in hearing a man attempting wit and failing, than in seeing a man trying to leap over a ditch and tumbling into it.” Dr. Johnson

A Dispatch from an Anarchist Jurisdiction

Australia has a geological quirk – rivers that flow in from the sea. While conventional rivers begin as dew on a rock that leads to a rivlet and eventually into creeks and streams, the inbound Australian river rushes onto land full blown only to give out after a few miles. The river’s rough equivalent in American politics is the idea that certain ideologies can only go so far over a few decades and then, like those rivers the movement either evaporates into the air or is able to do little more than muddy the ground. Given that it’s been 40 years since Ronald Reagan was elected it seems as good a time as any to test that theory.

A couple of weeks ago Bill Kristol said this

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan by 9.7 percentage points. And Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in a quarter century, picking up 12 Senate seats, along with 34 House seats.

The 1980 election marked a clear rejection of the Carter presidency. And the rejection lingered: Reagan and Bush would go on to win the next two presidential elections, easily. Some of the policy changes put in place during the 1980s had a lasting effect, and Bill Clinton didn’t campaign on reversing many of them.

So the 1980 election had consequences, with some structural political changes: It created a class of party-switching Reagan-Democrats, who became a permanent part of the Republican coalition. And it marked the modern conservative movement’s conquest of the GOP and its first time in power.

All of that is important. But 1980 wasn’t, in the grand scheme of things, either a realigning election or a transformative one. Its after-effects—which were significant—were measured in decades, rather than generations.

I’ve long thought that the election wasn’t strictly about Carter as that overlooks the long held idea that Reagan’s election was the end of The New Deal and its associated Keynesian approach to governing. Since 40 is a nice round number it made sense that 2020 might be a harbinger of what is to become of neoliberalism and a single minded monetarist approach to governing. While its taken days to determine the outcome of the 2020 election we’re probably going to enter a period closer to Nixon’s first term than Reagan’s, but for whoilly different reasons.

My first introduction to the idea of political swings came from former Attorney General John Mitchell a man, who like his boss, knew what he was doing.

And that’s the key.

Nixon and his people were competent. They knew damn good and well what they were doing in constructing The Southern Strategy and carefully deploying the term, ‘law and order.’ They managed to work quietly and chip away at the New Deal coalitions. Setting aside China, Nixon’s greatest accomplishment was to turn the Boomers’ parents, who grew up under FDR, away from the politics they had become familiar with in their youth.

Now?

Love ’em or hate ’em 45 ‘n Friends (tm pend) have no clue. By being either asleep at the wheel or seriously out to lunch they’ve lost control of their own people and ancillary media. While the people and their alternative platforms are loyal and enthusiastic they represent no cohesive movement to change the course of political thinking in the same way Nixon et al. did in their early going. If anything the current bunch will never get credit for delivering their version of a Reagan Democrat. The boat parades, the endless owning of the libs, the rallies are not game changers.

That’s not change – that’s turning the stans up to 11.

Along those lines –

Life in Joe Biden’s America

Let us now consider the curious case of Pistol Packin’ Mamma. (R-CO)

From Politico

CORTEZ, Colo. — A Glock on her hip and stilettos on her feet, Lauren Boebert stood behind a grocery store and waved as pickups, Harleys and Subarus flying “Trump 2020” banners and “thin blue line” American flags drove by. The procession calls itself the Montezuma County Patriots, a group of locals — fence menders, firefighters, retirees, unemployed dispatchers and others — that parades through town every weekend. This week, they steered their vehicles into a cracked asphalt parking lot and climbed out. They were here to see Boebert, a 33-year-old first-time candidate for Congress. In June, Boebert pulled off a stunning upset of a five-term incumbent in the Republican primary — the first time an incumbent member of Congress had lost a primary in Colorado in almost a half-century. The owner of a gun-themed restaurant called Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle, Boebert went into the race with scant experience, money and national support. The Republican incumbent, Scott Tipton, was endorsed by President Donald Trump and had been embraced by constituents as a down-the-line conservative.

As one my ilk who resides in America’s least geometrically challenged state said last week, “She’s got big boobs too!”

Armed, busty, and adequately inarticulate – she’s a Republican operative’s dream.

I first became aware of her as I received a flurry of emails about her ’round about Labor Day since I’m more of a CO ex-pat that a former resident. While we have no intention of ever living there again (QED) my family history is so intertwined with the damn place that it even got my mother a Wikipedia mention. We’re like some old New England family who’s lived along the shore since Ahab took his first boat ride. Not a month goes by without an email about somebody in CO doing something stupid which always includes the question, “Know this troglodyte?”

Nine times out of ten the answer is- no, but I went to school with his brother/sister/cousin. (circle all that apply)

But I digress.

Ms. Boebert’s success was only surprising in that she didn’t win by a landslide.

Why?

Because – and this is what 99% of the left leaning among us can never get through their heads – the 60s flew right over the place in the very same away commercial aircraft go over and never touch down.The counterculture did little more than stop for gas on its way to the coast. Now and there were things you could point to, but it was strictly cosmetic or ephemeral.

The guy across the street, the one with the real long hair who was always working on his car? The guy who bought weed from the guy who washed dishes at the Chinese restaurant?

That was the pupa phase. In later life he broke out of that chrysalis and arrived full blown beneath a MAGA hat.

He put Lauren Boebert in office. He has no problem with Boog Squads. You can holler ‘socialism’ and he’ll vote the way you need him to vote.

In the coming months he will be the American version of a Peronista.

Lastly –

… mmmmm …jellies!

Not all mask wearing is a political act.

In my capacity as a civic booster I was invited to -thankfully- an outdoor retirement party for a couple who had been community activists for 30-some years. There was quite a turnout as his extended family showed up in droves. Most of them were young men between 18 and somewhere in the mid-20s. They were a jovial bunch and while they came masked in no time at all were they unmasked as Dude Bro A needed to talk to Dude Bro B and the mask was in the way. Now and then someone would tell them to mask up and they’d oblige.

That was until the donuts arrived.

At that moment all the dude bros pulled their masks off like they were made of hot lava.

Three dozen donuts vanished in 10 minutes.

So if there’s anything to take away from all that let’s remember this; people who don’t wear masks are not always making a political statement and donuts are a great social leveler.

In a troubled and divided nation maybe we should start with some baked goods and work our way along from there.