“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.

Use your inside scream

“Visitors to Japan’s amusement parks are being asked not to scream when riding roller coasters so as to help prevent spreading the coronavirus, while the limited numbers of football fans allowed into stadiums this weekend will have to support their teams without singing, clapping or waving scarves. When the Fuji-Q Highland theme park reopened on 1 June after a three-month closure due to the pandemic, it asked visitors to follow the recommendations of the amusement park association and not to shout or scream. Some customers complained it was impossible to stay quiet on rides, particularly the two-kilometre-long Fujiyama roller coaster, which reaches speeds of 130km/h and drops 70 metres at one point. Named after nearby Mount Fuji, the roller coaster was the fastest and tallest in the world when it opened in 1996. In response, the park released a video of two stony-faced senior executives riding Fujiyama without uttering a peep, urging visitors to imitate them and ‘Keep your screams inside.'” The Guardian

“The biggest change to American society over the past 50 years has been the death of the middle class. This used to be the middle-class country. It is not anymore. Most of the population has become poorer in real terms while a shrinking number of people controlling the ever expanding percentage of the wealth. That means that fewer Americans overall have a meaningful stake in society. And more are dependent. That makes the country much more volatile than it once was.These riots really shouldn’t surprise you. It is hard to know exactly who is responsible for these sad changes to America, but it is easy to see who is benefiting from them. They are the same people lecturing you about white privilege and systemic racism.This isn’t accidental. CitiBank is happy to put Black Lives Matter logos on their Instagram page precisely so you won’t ask what interest rates they are charging black people. If you really cared about the poor, you wouldn’t crush them with debt they can’t afford to. Of course if you really cared about black lives, you wouldn’t put abortion clinics in black neighborhoods but they do.” Tucker Carlson

“The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories, rather than economic equity and real justice.” Malcolm X

“It was always a given that 2020 would be a year to remember. Even so, it continues to surprise. It seems likely that June will go down as one of the pivotal months of our political era, a period when our streets, our press, and some of our major institutions were rocked by the force of progressive identity politics. Conversations over the implications of all that’s happened in recent weeks will continue for some time. One of the more active debates is whether our recent social controversies should be seen as further evidence for the advent of what the writer Wesley Yang has called a “successor ideology” that might supplant liberalism altogether.This was the conclusion of an essay on upheaval in the media from journalist Matt Taibbi. ‘The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation,’ he wrote. ‘They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.’ In another recent essay, New York’s Andrew Sullivan charged that progressives now believe ‘the liberal system is itself a form of white supremacy’ and that ‘liberalism’s core values and institutions cannot be reformed and can only be dismantled.’ Versions of this argument have been circulating for over half a decade now. In a 2015 piece, New York’s Jonathan Chait warned readers to take a series of then-recent campus controversies seriously. ‘The upsurge of political correctness is not just greasy-kid stuff, and it’s not just a bunch of weird, unfortunate events that somehow keep happening over and over,’ he wrote. ‘It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. ‘Now, it really would be quite remarkable if American students and activists had, within the space of five or so years, constructed or wandered into a real and novel alternative to the dominant political ideology of the last few centuries. But they haven’t. The tensions we’ve seen lately have been internal to liberalism for ages: between those who take the associative nature of liberal society seriously and those who are determined not to. It is the former group, the defenders of progressive identity politics, who in fact are protecting—indeed expanding—the bounds of liberalism. And it is the latter group, the reactionaries, who are most guilty of the illiberalism they claim has overtaken the American Left.” Osita Nwanevu

“In every change there will be many that suffer real or imaginary grievances, and therefore many will be disillusioned.” Dr. Johnson

‘Trigger’ meant something very different to Roy Rogers

This was the week where it became obvious that if you wear your mask or neck scarf for any length of time it will always smell like yestreday’s lunch.

Damn right I’m wearing a mask.

Real or not real I’m not taking any chances because the clouds have parted and down from high Olympus came Alan Jeffs who helped prove something I said years ago and I need to carry on to soak up all this I-told-you-so.

Even though Sasha Baron Cohen stopped by the Big Damp Woods recently his performance did not do much for me. Don’t get me wrong – I find him funny, but funny in a slapstick way – as if he hit your cherished values in the face with a pie. The difference here is that Jeffs is a sly motherfucker, sly to the point that he flirts with being a Jungian trickster.

How did he achieve this lofty status?

Last weekend he got the boog squad’s in a wad by relentless posting to social media a claim that there was going to be a massive flag burning ceremony at the Gettysburg National Military Park on the Fourth of July.

From that newspaper you don’t like –

For weeks, a mysterious figure on social media talked up plans for antifa protesters to converge on this historical site on Independence Day to burn American flags, an event that seemed at times to border on the farcical.

“Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,” the anonymous person behind a Facebook page called Left Behind USA wrote in mid-June. There would be antifa face paint, the person wrote, and organizers would “be giving away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire.”

As word spread, self-proclaimed militias, bikers, skinheads and far-right groups from outside the state issued a call to action, pledging in online videos and posts to come to Gettysburg to protect the Civil War monuments and the nation’s flag from desecration. Some said they would bring firearms and use force if necessary.

On Saturday afternoon, in the hours before the flag burning was to start, they flooded in by the hundreds — heavily armed and unaware, it seemed, that the mysterious Internet poster was not who the person claimed to be.

Biographical details — some from the person’s Facebook page and others provided to The Washington Post in a series of messages — did not match official records. An image the person once posted on a profile page was a picture of a man taken by a German photographer for a stock photo service.

The episode at Gettysburg is a stark illustration of how shadowy figures on social media have stoked fears about the protests against racial injustice and excessive police force that have swept across the nation since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.

And you really gotta give it up for Jeffs’ posters.

A few years back I made the point that what most people commonly refer to as “divisiveness” stems from the fact that we all prefer pre-fab points of view. At the time I said it was like getting an app for your phone – which app depends on which phone you have. You didn’t have to really come up with anything on your own, you just run your greasy finger around a few times and, as Mr. Vonnegut would say, “HEY Presto!” it’s all taken care of.

Got to thinking about this as the Laird of the Orange Grove sent two articles by Jason D. Hill.

In one Mr. Hill writes –

In the calls to “decolonize” course syllabi on campus colleges we see a perversion of any fight against legitimate racism. There is now momentum on college campuses to decolonize the syllabi of courses populated with canonical texts written by white (usually) male scholars, writers and thinkers. If one can indiscriminately attack and vandalize the statues of slave abolitionists, cultural heroes and fighters for racial equality like Winston Churchill, David Farragut, Matthias Baldwin, and Abraham Lincoln, then one can equally imagine the deranged amoral imagination of educators calling for course syllabi to be expunged of male white canonical figures. Nowhere can it be imagined that the moral and emancipatory vocabularies for oppression could ever have arisen from some of these canonical figures such as John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Thomas Paine, Hugo Grotius, Charles Dickens, and even Aristotle.

I myself was shocked when I received an email from my home institution apprising me of a workshop that had as one of many programs on its agenda the business of “decolonize that syllabus.” The reasoning is predicated on misguided social engineering. This is not a matter of diversifying the syllabus. It means literally divesting it of all white canonical figures who are presumed to be racist because they are white and who wrote during particular historical epochs that did not celebrate black agency. I leave aside the obvious malarkey of such reasoning which is putatively obvious and emphasize a point I have made in previous essays: our universities have ceased to be bastions of learning and have become national security threats, purveyors themselves not just of inverse racism, but educational tropes of cultural Marxism where hatred of America and the most ameliorative aspects of America’s civilization are presented as part of the systemic and endemic problem.

What we are witnessing in the ascendancy of the culture wars whether in certain segments in the streets, or, in virtually all domains of our educational systems is virulent nihilism predicated on an axis of moral and cultural relativism.

While I don’t doubt Mr. Hill’s sincerity it’s hard to miss the simple fact that he’s using the right vocabulary for someone wanting to establish his credentials as a publishable pundit. It’s less what he said than how he said it. His articles brought back a point made in 2013 about tech writers which I believe very much applies to Mr. Hill.

(Jeff) Jarvis’s two books, in contrast, are branding exercises, ritual objects of exchange, not meant to introduce new insights so much as certify that the author occupies the role of the published guru. In Public Parts, Jarvis thanks entrepreneur Seth Godin for having encouraged him to become an author, recounting how Godin told him that he would be “a fool” not to write a book, and a bigger fool if he “thought the book was the goal.” Instead, the book should “build [Jarvis’s] public reputation, which would lead to other business.” And it has done just that. While Jarvis’s first book sold reasonably well, its royalties were almost certainly dwarfed by other sources of income—he claims that he requires up to $45,000 for a speaking engagement.

Unsurprisingly, the books are neither interesting nor good. Jarvis is a technology intellectual only in the sense that he fills a particular sociological niche. Overly provocative ideas would tarnish his brand. His books repackage the technology industry’s intellectual prejudices and sell them back, all the while highlighting the author’s many influential friends and the multitudes of important people who take him seriously. Like Randall Jarrell’s President Robbins, Jarvis is so well attuned to his environment that sometimes you cannot tell which is the environment and which is Jarvis.

Supposedly Jeff Jarvis is a respected media pundit for reasons I cannot explain.

Despite expecting different outcomes, both Hill and Jeffs performed the same task.

They used all the correct words in perfect order.

If there’s anything to take away from this it really has nothing to do with the Boogers who showed up at Gettysburg. Rather it should be a cautionary tale for those people who are always trying to “own the libs.” If we are moving to not only having different points of view and radically different words to describe them then it’s going be damn near impossible to do much owning if we fail to have a shared vocabulary.

Ice cream, Fountain Drinks, Sundries, and Notions

Some desk clearing –

– At Christmas dinner Alaska Wolf said Tucker Carlson is as concerned with class as a French Marxist and the NYT has become an isolated form of information that appeals to a smaller and smaller group of people. I was going to make the point that it still serves as the conservative movement’s major irritant until I caught my self and remembered that the title of ‘Major Irritant’ has moved on to the WaPo. So, like this elders, he’s taking a victory lap for seeing that one coming. As we speak what’s been called the entertainment wing of the GOP is victorious, but how long can you coast on the various tropes, agit-prop slogans, and outrage that powers that worldview?

– A whole mess of double domes and pointy heads signed onto a letter published in Harper’s this week. Not sure what to make of it other than the elders are trying to tell the kids to get off their respective lawns.

– Also worth noting from the article by Osita Nwanevu linked above.

As such, leftists are the very last people who need to be reminded that corporate P.R. is just P.R.; press releases are not actually going to satisfy those intent on fully remaking the economy, and socialists who take the concerns motivating Black Lives Matter seriously have been among the strongest critics of what some have called the “anti-racism industry” that suggests inequality can be remedied primarily by self-help—the nicer side of the same small coin as grin-and-bear-it individualism. That realm of discourse ⁠can be challenged without belittling underrepresentation and personal indignities or denying that they can have material consequences.

As we work through what to make of the successes of progressive identity politics, we shouldn’t forget that progressive identity politics were not supposed to succeed. Not long ago, critics predicted that as legitimate as the core grievances motivating activists were, dust-ups on campus, rhetoric condemning “white supremacy,” and property destruction accompanying protests against police violence would ultimately alienate the broader public and prevent ordinary people from joining identity political causes. It is empirically plain now that these arguments were wrong and that the past several years of activism have produced a large and rapid positive shift in American public opinion. We will spend many years working through how it happened, but one factor already seems crucial: The critics of progressive identity politics were not only unpersuasive but fundamentally uninterested in persuasion. Even now, white liberals sympathetic to Black Lives Matter are disdained and mocked, and those most committed to denouncing the zealous rhetoric of progressive activists have never paused to assess the effectiveness of their own histrionics.

The failure of these critics has only deepened their sense of themselves as martyrs⁠—the last disciples of the one, true liberalism, who will be vindicated once a grand backlash against progressives finally arrives. There are good reasons to believe it won’t: Cultural antagonism on the right will continue to drive middle-of-the road Americans away, and progressive millennials and Gen-Zers will continue aging into the center of American politics and American life. But for all the positive changes we’ve seen and will continue to see in the consciousness of the American people, progressives are still far from being able to declare victory. The material work of creating a just society has barely begun.

That might explain the letter to Harper’s better than I ever could.

– The last post mentioned Matt Taibbi’s sputtering, ill-edited piece from a couple of weeks ago. This week he started a Twitter kerfuffle by coughing up his hairball once more for the Chapo Trap House podcast. In true blogging style I have not listened to the podcast which means I should be able to run out six to eight paragraphs on something about which I have no idea.

My guess?

Even spoken out loud – his thoughts come off like a tangle of wires and can be readily seized upon by any number of people.

Not that it’s been a good week for the Chapo boys as Reddit tossed ’em off the site. I tried listening to their podcast a couple of years ago, but each time I fired it up the podcast played for a few minutes and then restarted. If they said anything of note after three minutes there was no way to find out.

– This post means that I still haven’t been able to bring your PDF (Paranoid Delusion Fantasy) up to the current version nor has there been any prose on the every few decade swings in American politics. Never mind that I’m still chewing on some ideas about community and identity politics after a different email exchange with the Laird of the Orange Grove. One of these days I swear I’ll get around to all that.

Join us then, won’t you?

Gotta stop here to work on something. Our neighbor who has no end of nervous energy is attempting to set some sort of record for how many power tools one man can use in an afternoon. We’ll be returning the favor around dinner time when we point the speakers in his direction so he might be better able to hear a generous selection of Scandinavian death metal and selections from the five hours of Rammstein remixes Spotify sent out last week.

Until then practice your silent scream

Fearless Freep: A Pindaric Dithyrambus

“Their (Ivy League schools) benefit comes from artificial scarcity.Instead of making unexceptional teenagers into exceptional adults, they focus their energy on the teenagers who were able to prove themselves exceptional to an admissions committee.They brag that they turn away 90 percent of applicants, which is tantamount to a head of a housing shelter bragging that he turned away 90 percent of applicants last night. They are no longer in the business of public service. They are a finishing school for rich people and some incredibly remarkable lower- and middle-income people. They will most likely maintain their pricing power and double down on their exclusivity.” Scott Galloway

“It is one of the most melancholy features in the social state of this country that while there was a decrease in the consuming powers of the people, and while there was an increase in the privations and distress of the labouring class and operatives, there was at the same time a constant accumulation of wealth in the upper classes, and a constant increase of capital.” Gladtone c. 1843-44

“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” Marx

“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilisation.” Dr. Johnson

Goldurn idjit galloot! Now look what ya gone and done!

This was the week where we stopped waiting for the 101st Airborne to drop from the skies, invade our autonomous zone, and set our hippy asses straight. While waiting there was time to explore HBO’s new streaming service which features brand new Looney Tunes shorts. To my great surprise one of the shorts finally confirmed my belief Yosemite Sam is a Republican. While at Sam’s amusement park (billed as the third or fourth happiest place “give or take a few”) Sam pulls Bugs off the roller coaster as no rabbits are allowed. Sam points to a sign which ends with “NO RABBITS” but starts with the following.

The adventure in full, roughly five minutes in length, can be seen here.

Speaking of Yosemite Sam – it’s been a delightful two weeks for The Outraged. Never have they had so many reasons to be all angry ‘n stuff. The new Warner cartoons took away Sam and Elmer Fudd’s guns which many of us, the gruntled, have said is a good idea since neither was responsible gun owner. Setting aside the fact that they never hit anything they shot at, there is the small sticking point that Elmer never hunted out of need. In fact, by his own admission Elmer was a “veggatawian.” Never mind that The Outraged failed to notice that both, as well as Wile E. Coyote, are still equipped with dynamite.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it?

Damn nanny-state bureaucrats want you to cover your face, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben have been put out to pasture, and somebody forgot to activate the activist judges just right.

Right now it must be glorious to be easily and readily offended.

And let me be the first to extend to The Outraged my best wishes and hope that in the years to come you will always cherish this moment.

“Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars.” Charles Foster Kane

Originally, this post was to put out some thoughts on how the political pendulum swings back and forth over 40 or so years and the social upheaval that ensues. Before it gets too stale there’s one item from that scratchpad that will get mentioned.

Why did George Floyd cause such commotion?

I don’t have a definite answer, but one thing that’s been overlooked in all this.

We were all home to see it.

There were no distractions. You couldn’t say you were out having dinner with friends. You couldn’t run to the stores because the stores all closed early. You weren’t at the mall and you sure as hell weren’t at the movies. As Dave Chappelle observed in his recent special, the news of the five Dallas police officers killed in 2016 moved slowly on the front end because it happened at the same time as Kobe Bryant’s last game.

No matter how you consume information – there was George Floyd.

Moving along –

Today’s edition of The Sunday Long Reads contained this article from Matt Taibbi.

Under the heading, “The American Press is Destroying Itself”, he writes:

On the other side of the political aisle, among self-described liberals, we’re watching an intellectual revolution. It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.

Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.

All that after I spent an hour Zooming along with a couple of extra super powered Brainiac media pundits (HINT: their initials are JR and JJ) who came down from high Olympus last Wednesday to explain it all to us mere newsroomless mortals. (More on that in a minute.) Long story short – right now no one knows how to manage a newsroom. It’s taken almost 15 years to get newsroom management to join the rest of us living in the 21st Century and while they were being drug, kicking and screaming all the way, stuff happened. Trump was elected, the staff got younger, and management was in denial. If you spend any time reading the trade publications and newsletters you’ll find the words “newsroom culture” used ad nauseam. If you’re looking for a grant the first thing you have to do is append the word “reform” to “newsroom culture” if you want to get even a smidgen of cash.

And the double-dome pundits, what did they have to say?

Gosh darn that newsroom culture!

So who are we really talking about here?

The people who write these things only care about people who work for print publications. As far as they are concerned only print matters. Per them TV is only OK at best unless they invite you on to yell at other print people. Otherwise broadcasting is for people who like to spend time combing their hair and sucking in their cheeks. Also you can only be considered part of the media if you work in one of the 30 or so major cities in America and your outlet covers an entire city.

Given that definition you might now be surprised that at about this time last year a panel of the ink-stained elite, who ostensibly represented online publications as well, roundly poo-poo’d Mom.

People asked if I got upset.

Sure, if they’d said something original, but they didn’t so I gave it a pass. Mom doesn’t give a rip and at least it was an out-and-out poo-poo’ing. It’s not like the patronizing way the capital-J Journalists treat the local NPR people. In this world The True Keepers of the Flame make, what Mom calls, “Nice Nice” with the NPR folks. When they interact the print people treat the radio people as if they were children giving flowers to visiting dignitaries. It comes with all the graciousness you would associate with Prince Phillip if he were to receive a tote bag and a coffee mug left over from the last pledge drive.

Where were we?

Looking back – if I were Taibbi’s editor I would have flipped it around. The article could have been improved with running the last half at the top and saving his many h-r-deprtment-themed grievances for the end. Additionally, I would have found a substitute for the word “narrative” as it has become weaponized. His use of Lee Fang’s question posed to Maximum Fr needs work as it comes off as more of an indictment of Fang’s “newsroom culture” which would render Taibbi’s lengthy defense of Fang as something of an aside which could then be shortened. Overall Taibbi sputters, but that’s understandable. Things are moving so fast that it’s hard to get a handle on anything so you might as well just cough it all up.

Need an example?

During our last City Council election – just a scant few months ago – each and every candidates fell all over his or herself saying the police need more money.

Now?

Not so much.

While this might be a Golden Age for the The Outraged they must be exhausted by now.

Lastly – the phrase Taibbi used that bothered me the most was, “bullying campus Marxism that passes for leftist thought these days.”

First, Mom’s readily poo-pooable and now Alaska Wolf Joe is a bully.

Some Father’s Day this turned out to be!

To recap – you can avoid trouble if you always act like you’re being watched all the time. Don’t forget – everybody has a phone to document your every stupid and poorly thought-out move and as a wise man once told me, “No one notices anything you do on social media until you do something stupid on social media.”

With that – let’s all take a moment and relive a moment from print’s happier past.

I want to put on my my my my my Boog-ie shoes just to Boog-ie with you!

“Every decade or so, it seems, the econ­omy seizes up, central bankers go into overdrive, and commentators temporarily converge on the view that the neoliberal era is over. Then everything goes back to normal, only worse. The recurring crisis of neolib­eralism has proven to be a central feature of neoliberalism itself.Of course, this time could very well be different. But if we want to assess neoliberalism’s prospects for sur­vival, we shouldn’t yet go looking for clues in, say, the fluctuations of the junk bond market or Eurogroup communiqués. It’s too early to know what the long-run effects of those machinations will be once the acute phase of the pandemic is behind us. Instead, we should start with a more basic question: If neoliberalism were to end, how would we know?” – Seth Ackerman

“People still read Marcus’s private writings on stoicism, published thereafter in a collection known as The Meditations, in search of the solace and guidance his work sought to bring to honourable souls troubled by the impossible task of living nobly in a world of madness and stupidity. ‘I learned to be religious, and liberal,’ he wrote, ‘and to guard, not only against evil actions, but even against any evil intentions entering my thoughts.’ He advocated (and personally adhered to) living with only simple comforts, a strong work ethic, manly integrity, and other such calmcore (sic) macho beard-strokery befitting of a Good Dad who thinks the world revolves around him. At least in the emperor’s case the world did revolve around him, which is perhaps why the Meditations are so popular among entrepreneurs, politicians, and business bloggers who are surely gonna make it big any day now. Pompous white men who creep on women and believe that they are anointed for great things worship the guy: Bill Clinton claimed to have read the Meditations twice on the campaign trail. Eric Trump quoted the movie version (Gladiator released by Dream Works 2000) of Marcus thinking he was just a fictional character, because that’s American meritocracy for you. – Laurie Charles

Tradinistas: These unusual Catholics, to put it politely, combine the aesthetic sensibilities of a French royalist with the political instincts of a Cuban apparatchik. Originally used to refer to a small band of committed Latin-Mass Marxists, the term now refers to anyone attempting to reconcile theological orthodoxy with Leftist politics, such as Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig. Tradinistas hold liberalism responsible for the collapse of Christendom and see capitalism as incompatible with Catholic social teaching. On the grotesque failures of socialism, and its condemnation by successive popes, they prefer to observe the monastic tradition of ‘the Great Silence.’ Tradinistas have a sense of humour, but it fails them when fellow Catholics giggle at their intellectual contortions.” – Michael Warren Davis and Damian Thompson

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” Loose translation, commonly attributed to (Antonio) Gramsci by Slavoj Žižek, presumably formulation by Žižek

“If we make the praise or blame of others the rule of our conduct, we shall be distracted by a boundless variety of irreconcilable judgments, be held in perpetual suspense between contrary impulses, and consult forever without determination.” Dr. Johnson


(ABOVE: Tip o’ the tinfoil lined M’s cap to Hizzoner Emeritus, The Prop for making a newsstand run for us.)

“Bolshevism! Sheer Bolshevism! Ripe for the quashing!” C. Montgomery Burns

This was the week that began placidly enough. Special Old Coot Shopping Time at the grocery store was particularly leisurely as many of our fellow shoppers stopped to consider the canned goods as if they were hanging in The Louvre. As the fluorescent la light fell across the many colors of the fruit cocktail label they became transfixed and very stationary. While it added an additional 20 minutes to our shopping trip it was worth knowing that these people had come away with both their bodies and their souls equally nourished. That’s why it was a damn shame that the governor got everybody all pixelated a few days later when he went on tv to say we could leave this house next week. So as not to be upstaged, our mayor ordered a curfew last night with only 15 minutes notice which was fine as we probably could do with spending some time at home.

With such little notice the streets still had normal traffic or at last what passes for normal traffic these days. On my way home – as I am nothing if not a law abiding libtard – while stopped at the light at one of our larger intersections there were was a delivery struck in front of me and another delivery struck in front of that. So while downtown was on fire and the National Guard was called out no tanks rolled through the streets.

But the Amazon delivery trucks did.

And that’s probably all any of us need to know about where America is at right now.

The mayor had a press conference and while she did a miserable job of explaining why she gave everybody 15 minutes notice, but she was adept enough to not blame outside agitators. Up here in the Big Damp Woods nothing will get you un-elected faster than blaming outside agitators. Make no mistake, several pols tried that one and most found that the words “one term” are always applied to whatever office they used to hold. Sure, you can get a little cheeky and say the agitators came from “nearby” just so long as you make it sound like a 20 minute drive. Even if there’s incontrovertible proof that these nogoodniks came from the South Pole you just sit on it because Seattle and the South Pole are both on the same planet and that – as they say – is good enough for horseshoes and gummint work.

Long story short – the local electorate doesn’t care who did it or where they came from – they want their electeds to make sure nobody makes a dog’s dinner out of downtown.


“For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” Polonius from Hamlet Scene 1 Act 3

Speaking of outside agitators it pains me to have to do this.

Friday night on libtard Twitter some guy in Minneapolis put of a picture of a truck parked across the street from his house. He said he’d never see it nor the driver before, but he was curious as to what the big decal on the back of the truck was.

It looked like this:

The conservatives among you can now go get more coffee as I must talk to my fellow libtards, especially the ones whose information diet is made up of so much pre-chewed food from NPR.

Over the past weeks you’ve seen demonstrators demanding to be let out of the house. (We’ll deal with the sticky issue of how they got out of the house to protest at another time.) Many of these folks believe that there’s going to be another civil war any day. They refer to this upcoming conflict as The Boogaloo and somehow Booglaoo as morphed into the use of the word “igloo” for reasons unknown. While they were at it they have also decided that they shall be known by the colorful Hawaiian shirts they wear in public.

Voici.

I find this deeply disturbing as they’ve appropriated clothing meant for short, fat, middle-age men. If I were to wear my purple one that’s covered with plumerias, which looks amazing under a black light, I wouldn’t look snappy – I’d look like one more pistol packin’ old spoot with an agenda.

And I will never be able to forgive the Boog-ie Men or whatever they call themselves for co-opting my wardrobe.

Now that we’ve established that –

The truck suggests that there might be a Booger in the midst of the Minneapolis riots. That differs from those who believe Antifa is involved. In either case it denies that the people who are in the streets are there as a matter of active consideration. Despite three months of near isolation, massive job losses at the minimum-wage level, and across the service industries, despite the fact that using public transportation is a serious health risk, and despite adequate access to health care should they need it – these people are not out in the streets of their own volition.

Somebody put ’em up to it.

After all they’re merely innocents. God knows, the lady who cleans the house would never riot. She’s always so punctual and has such nice manners and the Junior League goes that community center in her neighborhood to put on a little something for the children at Christmas. The place is as drafty as an old barn, but you do it for the kids.

Those people wouldn’t repay us by rioting would they?

Of course not.

It’s all the work of some naughty white kids who want to stir things up and organize unions.

Which leads to the question – if you blame outsiders are you merely taking The White Man’s Burden into the 21st Century?

Wanna know why we want to blame outsiders?

Too many us no longer own our own hot buttons. Sure, we have the personal ones, (e.g. Who left the cap off the toothpaste?) but at the more macro level what self control do we have left after years of cable news and social media?

Here’s a little exercise.

Please watch these videos in the order presented.

How much of the second video did you discount because of what you saw in the first one?

Could you determine that there was anything of worth in the second video after watching the first one?

You can take your time with that.

If there’s one thing to take away from this week it’s how quickly we want to blame the match while never acknowledging the gasoline.

You can work on that one at your leisure as well.

Me?

Hey – we get to leave the house in less than 48 hours.

Not that we have anywhere to go, but we get to leave the house.

The governor said so!

And time keeps draggin’ on

“The world that we tremblingly stepped out into in that decade was a bitter, gray one. But San Francisco was a special place. Rexroth said it was to the arts what Barcelona was to Spanish Anarchism. Still, there was no way, even in San Francisco to escape the pressure of the war culture. we were locked in the pressure of the Cold War and the first Asian debacle — the Korean War. My self image in those years was of finding myself — young, high, a little crazed, needing a haircut, in an elevator with burly crew-cutted, square jawed eminences, staring at me like I was misplaced cannon fodder. … We saw that the art of poetry was essentially dead — killed by war, buy academies, by neglect, by lack of love, and by disinterest. We knew we could bring it back to life.” Michael McCLure

“The Seventh-day Adventists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are thriving religious movements indigenous to America. Do not be surprised if QAnon becomes another. It already has more adherents by far than either of those two denominations had in the first decades of their existence. People are expressing their faith through devoted study of Q drops as installments of a foundational text, through the development of Q-worshipping groups, and through sweeping expressions of gratitude for what Q has brought to their lives. Does it matter that we do not know who Q is? The divine is always a mystery. Does it matter that basic aspects of Q’s teachings cannot be confirmed? The basic tenets of Christianity cannot be confirmed. Among the people of QAnon, faith remains absolute. True believers describe a feeling of rebirth, an irreversible arousal to existential knowledge. They are certain that a Great Awakening is coming. They’ll wait as long as they must for deliverance. Trust the plan. Enjoy the show. Nothing can stop what is coming.” Adrienne LaFrance

“Recently, I read that Charlie Brooker, the creator of the ‘Black Mirror” series, is holding off on a sixth season. The plot of every Black Mirror episode, of course, is that same one about How Innovation Goes Wrong that I and my colleagues keep telling again and again. Brooker told ‘Radio Times’ that he didn’t think people could stomach the story any more, and he’s shifting to lighter fare. Here’s to happy endings.” Steven Levy

“The whole huge bounty of the past, every dinosaur fight and asteroid blast and flood and war and ice age and invention and mistake, has led to this particular second — to me sitting here at my desk eating a peanut butter chocolate protein bar, worrying that my pants are too tight, writing these words about the nature of existence. No bush has ever rustled precisely the way the bush is rustling outside my window right now. No one has ever inhaled exactly the bouquet of fresh molecules that you just inhaled, this very moment, into your unique wet lungs. And yet our moments are also constantly dying. We pass through time like someone walking through a swarm of mayflies: The moments come so thick that we hardly notice them dropping around us, and we can’t imagine they will ever be gone.” Sam Anderson

“To-morrow’s action! Can that hoary wisdom, borne down with years, still doat upon tomorrow! That fatal mistress of the young, the lazy, The coward, and the fool, condemn’d to lose, a useless life in waiting for to-morrow, to gaze with longing eyes upon to-morrow, till interposing death destroys the prospect. Strange! that this general fraud from day to day should fill the world with wretches undetected. The soldier, labouring through a winter’s march, still sees to-morrow drest in robes of triumph; still to the lover’s long-expecting arms to-morrow brings the visionary bride, but thou, too old to hear another cheat.” Dr. Johnson


Are you talking about the guy I shot in Reno?

This was the week that went downhill fast. Give or take a few days it’s been about six months since my last haircut given the quarantine. Last Wednesday some guy at the grocery store hollered, “COOL HAIR, BUT YOU NEED A BEARD TO GO WITH IT! YOU’D BE AWESOME!”

I waved politely while growling under my washable mask. Of all the over-used bonsai’d adjectives “awesome” is at the top of my shit list. It makes no difference how “awesome” something is and it makes no difference how much awesome sauce you smother it with – the word makes you sound like a moron. Thanks to social distancing I didn’t have to get close to the guy to explain my objection to the use of the word nor did I have to tell him that there’s not going to be a beard.

Why?

Because now that color of the hair on the face matches the color of the hair on the head I’d look like the f’n Bumble.

While that was going on my stature in the community came falling back to Earth. In the last installment you might remember that some one thought I was the founder of some professional group and some sort of non-profit guru. This week it was one phone call after another for the better part of three days informing me that I would not be getting my Social Security check this month because of my criminal record.

This came as quite a surprise.

I had no idea I was getting Social Security.

The reason why no check this month?

Not so much.

Since when have I been getting Social Security?

How much am I getting and what did I do with the money?

This is going to give me self-esteem issues.

OK – new ones – the old ones are right where I left them.

Cripessake – I don’t need this right now. We have to get going with the formalities.


PLEASE RISE AND REMOVE YOUR HATS FOR THE PLAYING OF OUR NATIONAL QUARANTINE ANTHEM*


“You’re a full grown cat still watching cartoons!” Ren Höek

Over the past couple of months you’ve been deluged with all sorts of what-to-watch or what-to-listen-to lists. All well and good, but as a public service I will now tell you what to avoid.

AUDIO:

I love a good critical take down especially when it’s about a band I loathe.

Nevertheless, the culture couldn’t get enough of “Kokomo.” The song hit radio in the summer of 1988, and in early November, it reached No. 1, the first time a Beach Boys track had topped the charts since “Good Vibrations.” Suddenly, the band (Beach Boys sans Brian Wilson) was back in demand. They played “Kokomo” at halftime shows. It was central to the plot of a Full House episode. Hell, even the Muppets did a version of “Kokomo.”

But simultaneously, there were a growing number of brave souls who absolutely despised that song. When the now-defunct music magazine Blender (in conjunction with VH1) put together a list of the 50 Worst Songs of All Time for its May 2004 issue, “Kokomo” placed at No. 12, decried as a “gloopy mess of faux-Caribbean musical stylings” filled with “anodyne harmonizing and forced rhymes.” In July 2015, pop-culture writer Molly Lambert went after “Kokomo” even more aggressively, complaining in Grantland that songs like that and “Margaritaville” were inherently racist:

“As sung by white dudes Buffett and the Beach Boys, ‘Kokomo’ and ‘Margaritaville’ always make me think first of colonialism, because of the complex and harsh colonial histories of the tropical countries in which white vacationers Buffett and the Beach Boys suggest you take a totally carefree vacation free of any cultural context. There’s a clip in the ‘Kokomo’ video where you see white women splashing in the ocean and then a black woman walks across the frame carrying a tray of tropical drinks. Kokomo is not relaxing when you have to work there.”

But even if most people ignored the song’s uglier implications, it was fairly easy to just “OK Boomer” the track’s glib pursuit of brainless fun. (It was a little too perfect, really, that “Kokomo” appeared on the same soundtrack as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Bobby McFerrin’s similar ode to guilt-free docility.) Pretty soon, “Kokomo” became a cliché of Corona-on-the-beach escapism — the epitome of slick, empty yacht-rock hedonism. – from The Worst Summer Song Ever

VIDEO:

Here at The Dude Ranch Above the Sea Hulu is our preferred streaming service. Not only does it have a better selection of trash viewing than the others it also has The Handmaid’s Tale. Mom’s a fan of the show and it’s must-see tv for us libtards as we never know when Barbara Streisand might phone and quiz us about the most recent episode. Hulu also gets the short shrift on most of these lists or at least it did until this week when some of the list creators were gushing about Solar Opposites.

While many of the people associated with Rick and Morty, sadly much of Solar Opposites comes off like lo-cal, lo-carb plant-based Rick and Morty. The show was intended for Fox as I’m sure there was some Fox v-p who was looking for something ‘edgy’ and as well all know network vp’s want something edgy until they finally get something edgy.

Then they run like hell.

Solar Opposites was retooled for Hulu, assuming your definition of retooled means seeing how many f-bombs you can pack into 25 minutes. The real root of the problem comes from Solar Opposites being pitched to a network instead of Adult Swim. For almost 20 years the superior animated adult fare has come from Adult Swim. Freed from prime time Adult Swim managed to get away with the wonderfully subversive Boondocks (the Bob Ross as urban art guerilla being the best one) and The Venture Brothers who managed to do the one and only complex parody of the movie Magnolia. Given that background it was little wonder that Rick and Morty, an Adult Swim original took off.

For those of you who have never seen R&M you might want to look around for The Rickshank Redemption. It’s the quintessential episode as it not only offers you unvarnished Rick, it also kicked off the McDonalds Szechuan sauce commotion.

If you want a sample of R&M here’s 95 seconds of The Rickshank Redemption.

And the damn sauce riot was why I never took the Gamergate people seriously.

Who wants to read something scrawled all over the Internet by some nerd who’ll trample anybody who gets in his way just so he can get something he saw in a cartoon?

Asking for a friend.

Speaking of required viewing…

Does Macy tell Gimbel?

It’s 17 minutes, but well worth it.

Tom Nichols taught at the Navy War College and was an advisor to both of the Bushes. He was a regular contributor to The Federalist, a website devoted to lifting up the God-fearing, churching-going folk who made America what it is today. The only hitch in this is that he hates Trump which – I think – makes him a RiNo and a RiNO – I think – is defined as a registered Republican who puts on a fake beard and sunglasses before shopping at the health food store.

Kinda wanted to get that out there before Obamagate takes over the news. So far all I’ve learned is that Obama tried to help Hillary every step of the way in 2016. Supposedly he pressured people, tried to rig the primaries, and he even let her copy off his algebra homework at lunchtime. All of this overlooks the party’s own Super Delegate apparatus which was the fail safe in case Bernie got too close to being nominated. The SD’s have been around for quite sometime. The original intention was to make sure someone like Jimmy Carter never got the nomination. (Hey, can’t be too careful Jimmy’s still alive and he still has one more term coming.) While many see this as undemocratic, the SD’s are really a more subtle and highly weaponized version of my grandmother’s natural habitat, the smoke filled room.

The only way any of us can put an end to Obamagate is to never vote for him again.

We have to make sure he’ll never hold public office for the rest of his life.

Otherwise it’s time to synchronize out watches.

1. Tara Reid was allegedly attacked in the Senate Office Building, a cold a drafty building made possible by the good people of America’s taxes. So whatever happened – given the location – must have been in the public interest.

So some people cool with it.

2. E. Jean Carroll was attacked in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan. So that makes it all classy ‘n shit.

So some people cool with it.

Now that we have our respective hypocrisies aligned let us all link arms and march forward to November!

oh … wait … that’s not social distancing…

You are practicing social distancing, right?

Holding up OK?

Family OK?

Anybody trying to tunnel out?

Just to be safe – why don’t you go out to the kitchen and count the spoons.

I’ll wait here.



*Tip o’ the tinfoil lined M’s cap to KEXP’s Don Slack who ran out a set of songs about staring at the walls on this week’s show.

Bleachy keen!

“As Jonathan Morris documents in his recent book, ‘Coffee: A Global History’, epicurean coffeehouses in the United States numbered in the hundreds in 1989, and in the tens of thousands by 2013. A lot of that is Starbucks, but not all. Roasters in Italy went from exporting twelve million kilograms of espresso in 1988 to more than a hundred and seventy million in 2015. Not surprisingly, the growth of a coffee culture has been trailed, and sometimes advanced, by a coffee literature, which arrived in predictable waves, each reflecting a thriving genre. First, we got a fan’s literature—“the little bean that changed the world”—with histories of coffee consumption and appreciations of coffee preparations. (The language of wine appreciation was adapted to coffee, especially a fixation on terroir—single origins, single estates, even micro lots.) Then came the gonzo, adventurer approach: the obsessive who gives up normal life to pursue coffee’s mysteries. And, finally, a moralizing literature that rehearsed a familiar lecture on the hidden cost of the addiction.” Adam Gopnik

“What better way to toy, below the surface, with the cultural tensions of the late ’60s and early ’70s? Juxtapose two borderline misfits in Velma and Shaggy—who are perhaps experimenting a little with sexuality and drugs—with two grown-up stand-ins for the more conventional sort in Fred and Daphne, and then let the offbeat characters consistently (yet all in good fun) one-up the establishment types. Even the show’s signature line, ‘And I would’ve gotten away with it if not for you meddling kids,’ sounds like it could have been uttered by Richard Nixon.” Christopher Orr

“Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I’ve seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug. He used… sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire. He was vicious.” Luigi Vercotti

“We are going through a crucial historical crisis in which each year poses more acutely the global problem of rationally mastering the new productive forces and creating a new civilization. Yet the international working-class movement, on which depends the prerequisite overthrow of the economic infrastructure of exploitation, has registered only a few partial local successes. Capitalism has invented new forms of struggle (state intervention in the economy, expansion of the consumer sector, fascist governments) while camouflaging class oppositions through various reformist tactics and exploiting the degenerations of working-class leaderships. In this way it has succeeded in maintaining the old social relations in the great majority of the highly industrialized countries, thereby depriving a socialist society of its indispensable material base. In contrast, the underdeveloped or colonized countries, which over the last decade have engaged in the most direct and massive battles against imperialism, have begun to win some very significant victories. These victories are aggravating the contradictions of the capitalist economy and (particularly in the case of the Chinese revolution) could be a contributing factor toward a renewal of the whole revolutionary movement. Such a renewal cannot limit itself to reforms within the capitalist or anti-capitalist countries, but must develop conflicts posing the question of power everywhere.” Guy DeBord c. 1957


“It is much more common for the solitary and thoughtful to amuse themselves with schemes of the future, than reviews of the past. For the future is pliant and ductile, and will be easily moulded by a strong fancy into any form. But the images which memory presents are of a stubborn and untractable nature, the objects of remembrance have already existed, and left their signature behind them impressed upon the mind, so as to defy all attempts of erasure or of change. As the satisfactions, therefore, arising from memory are less arbitrary, they are more solid, and are, indeed, the only joys which we can call our own.” Dr. Johnson

Wahll sir, there I was standin’ shoulder to shoulder with Alvin York hizzelf and he had Kaiser Bill trapped in the root cellar!

This was the week that brought an email asking if I could set aside some time for a telephone interview. The sender said he wanted to talk to me about what it was like to be one of the founders of an organization I’ve never belonged to. Figuring he had mistaken me for someone else I ignored the note, but a day later there was another. This time he said he wanted me to focus on what it was like in the early going of this illustrious body which I’ve never been associated with. To move him along I threw together some notes based on the only movie I’ve ever seen about high finance and some alleged captain of industry. (In short – I made myself sound like the comic relief which is sorta true in that I now look like Gabby Hayes given the ready availability of hair cuts these days.) The email was similar to a phone call from 10 or 12 years ago. A very nervous guy asked me if I’d like to be on the board of some non-profit. He said it has taken a lot of courage to call as he knew I was already sitting on the board of several non-profits.

So once again this week, like all those years ago, I had to wonder if I was leading some sort of secret life that was so secret that it was even a secret to me.

Think about it – founding professional organizations and being a mover and shaker behind several charitable groups?

If I didn’t know me any better I’d have to say I sure sound like a swell guy.

The hitch/plausible denial in all this is my tenure as The Slouch on the Couch. (tm pend.)

If I’m so busy doing all this stuff why do I know so much about all those Law and Order reruns?

Frankly, I don’t really want to know if I really have a secret life since it’s better if I am a mystery to myself.

Unravelling me gives me something to do while we’re all stuck in the house.

Speaking of something to do –

Exile on your street

Did you see The Stones new video?

We were watching it around lunchtime the day it came out. When done Mom asked, “Aren’t they all their own at-risk group for the virus?”

Well…

And this is where you come in.

Get up off your sorry quarantined ass and find a clean sheet of paper and something to write with because we’re having a pop quiz.

Ready?

Please answer the following question: What happens to the COVID-19 virus when it comes into contact with Keith Richards?

Be specific.

Use examples.

Show your work.

You have 20 minutes.

That’s MISTER Walker to you, Junior!

Once again it’s time to explore the cottage industry that’s grown up around punking people of a certain age.

1. The image at the top of the page gets an honorable mention. The Q-Anon images are set against the 50 year-old poster-image of Huey P. Newton. As most of you can recall, Mr. Newton founded The Black Panther Party with Bobby Seale. While Mr. Newton died a little over 30 years ago he still seems to be a powerful attractant to the far right. For at least 40 years the far right has never been able to escape his gravitational pull. First they quoted him without knowing they were quoting him and now his image has been appropriated.

Terribly Situationist if you ask me.

Before we move on – and as a reminder – here’s the Boomer-punker meme that retired the trophy.

2. As a public service I read the funnies every morning so you don’t have to. Earlier in the week we learned that there was a wealthy American roaming the African veld shooting animals for sport. He had no intention of using them for food and he ignored the warnings of the locals that such an action flew in the face of their most cherished values. That left them with with no choice but to summon The Phantom to track down this moneyed ne’er-do-well’s ass and set him straight.

On Wednesday we got our first good look at The Great White Hunter.

He looks oddly familiar, don’t you think?

Some of you are asking, “What’s a hapless libtard like you doing reading colonialist trash like The Phantom?”

Because all the other libtards think the only thing in the funny papers is Doonesbury and all the conservatives I know have no idea what “colonialist” means. Oh sure, they could call one of their kids or the niece/nephew who goes to one of those expensive small liberal-arts joints, but we all know that’s not going to happen. Between the two it’s a shame that my ilk, the fifth-columnists, dupes, and useful idiots, don’t take more time to explore the funnies. Not only is it one of the great American art forms, it serves as an excellent insight into how many Americans see life. For instance I find that by spending just a minute every day I can effortlessly keep with up with the what the average Trump supporter thinks at any given moment.

Because I read Snuffy Smith every day.

If you’re goin’ to Detroit City be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

Michigan was in the news this week as their legislature was overrun with protestors, some of whom were armed. If you live a couple of time zones to the left Michigan you had to Google up some news results for all that the next morning, but your probably found that this result was at the top of Google News:

For Michiganders looking to practice safe sex, Lansing and the mailman have you covered.

The state is accepting orders for free condoms which will be delivered directly to lucky users, during this unprecedented “public health crisis,” officials said Friday.

Free condoms are normally given to local health departments and clinics to distribute within their communities. But now that virtually everyone has been ordered to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, condoms are being made available via email at at MDHHS-FreeCondoms@Michigan.gov.

I, for one, welcome the State of Michigan’s stance on making love vs. making war. God knows, Judge Judy could be a rerun and on second thought the old man doesn’t really look all that bad going around the house in that Red Wings hoodie he’s worn almost daily for for the past 15 years.

And it’s not like you had anywhere to go.

The trouble here is twofold. First, there’s the cultural problem of a government entity publicly acknowledging the small fact that people might be dabbling in what Mom calls “nookie.” Every time the subject comes up our Republican contingent starts screaming in a mannner which proves that Wilhelm Reich was right when he talked about sexual repression. The second problem hits closer to home as I need to find a way to make Mom, a bona-fide second-wave feminist, stop laughing hysterically every time she sees some large hairy man carrying multiple firearms while waving a sign that says, “MY BODY MY CHOICE.”

Alaska Wolf Joe believes that happened in Michigan is just a dry run for what we can expect over the next 10 years. That pretty much piggybacks onto many of the articles that have popped up over the past few weeks which make the case for America being a failed state.

Rather than delve into either of those perhaps a thought experiment is in order.

Ready?

Let’s say we could travel back in time to the summer of 1969, say a week or two after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. We’d stop random people and show them pictures of the Michigan Legislature from last week or some open-carry folks, armed to the teeth, pushing a grocery basket across the parking lot.

How would the people of 1969 react?

Very likely they would ask when WW3 started and wonder if the United States government was nothing more than a few general sitting around a table buried deep in Cheyenne Mountain. They also might wonder if the people with the groceries were fending off marauders, bandits, or scavengers from the radioactive wastelands.

Now imagine the looks you’d get if you told them, “Oh, there wasn’t a war. You see, we did this to ourselves.”

Going even further back in time we’d find that Thomas Jefferson said the president would set the moral tone of the nation. But no one was there when he said it, so we’ll never know whether or not he was just being sarcastic.

Very hard to tell.

But if you told the people in 1969 that the people of the future were drinking bleach and swallowing fish-tank cleaner they’d probably take it in stride given the context of their times.

CONELRAD Cuisine

“Ten days later I am at a Forever 21 in the worst city in the world trying to figure out what sunglasses most closely resemble Matthew Lillard’s in 1995’s Hackers when I get the email: I, a dumb slut, have been admitted to Mensa, a virginal organization created by English barristers for people who only want to hang out with other virgins. I make the decision immediately before purchasing my seven dollar spoils: I am going to ruin the Los Angeles Mensa chapter by dragging my dumb little ass around on their boring, elitist carpet if it’s the last thing I do. And so, to quote Lillard in that same frosty-tipped film, “I’m in. Whoa. I’m in.” Mensa has been hacked by an idiot, and now it is my cursed duty to investigate what goes on in the remains of what was once maybe possibly a trendy organization but currently stands in stunningly low membership and, as many fully erect commenters on message boards have postulated, ever-lowering standards for admission (hi, bitch). So what do you actually do once you’ve hacked into the mainframe of Mensa?” Jamie Loftus from “Good News, They Let Dumb Sluts into Mensa Now”

“Joel Miller, the friend who defended (Weird Al)Yankovic from college bullies, said the relationship between Weird Al and his hard-core fans is deeply personal. ‘He’s giving them validation,’ he told me. ‘They feel a kindred spirit. When they’re at his concerts, they are in a safe space. They are able to be stupid or outlandish or whatever, exactly as they want. And nobody judges them. In fact, it’s the opposite. People appreciate them for what they are, not for what they aren’t.’ The connection is so deep that it is more like a merging, and after a while it struck me that Weird Al has spent basically his whole life making his music for exactly these people, which is to say for his childhood self. For many decades, he has been trying to delight Alfred Yankovic, the bright, painfully shy kid who grew up alone in his tiny bedroom. For the benefit of that lonely boy, he reshaped the whole world of pop culture. His ridiculous music sent out a pulse, a signal, and these were the people it drew: the odd, the left out. A crowd of friends for that lonely kid. As I watched him with his fans, sometimes I felt as if Weird Al was multiplying all around me, multiplying inside of me. We were one crowd, united in isolation, together in a great collective loneliness that — once you recognized it, once you accepted it — felt right on the brink of being healed.” from “The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic” by Sam Anderson

“So while the grownups owned the night (prime time was for folks who bought things), the kids divvied up the rest: third-string musicals, dumb comedies, creaky melodramas and back-lot jungle flicks. The western was especially well represented in this B swarm. The moguls of discount Hollywood had been turning out hundreds of oat operas, most of them running five or six reels—an hour-ten each, give or take. These films had served in World War II, entertaining the troops in barracks and aboard ships all over the world. Westerns were perfect diversions: guy-friendly morality plays, easy on the cerebrum but full of fightin’, ridin’, and shootin’, with just a threat of chicken-fried humor. Good guys and bad guys were clearly marked: the guys in the white hats, like the USA, always won. After the war, the well-traveled reels found new homes Stateside, just in time for the you-know-what boom. My little pals and I parked it in front of the home screen and absorbed many kid-hours of chases, showdowns and punch-ups. It was largely boy-stuff, but my sister and her friends were fans as well. (We’ll cover the “a six-gun for Billy, a dolly for Sue” social model at another time, or never). ” Michael McKean

“Babies do not want to hear about babies; they like to be told of giants and castles, and of somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little minds. When in answer I would urge the numerous editions and quick sale of Tommy Prudent or Goody Two Shoes: Remember always that the parents buy the books, and that the children never read them.” Dr. Johnson

There’s no rhyme nor reason to what follows because sometimes you just gotta get rid of stuff that’s been sitting around.

Was it something I said?

My younger years had a distinct break. Before I was 15 or so people used to tell me, “You weren’t invited because you’re a loser.” After that someone would invariably say, “You weren’t invited because people were afraid you’d say something.” Usually I’d ask, like what? To which they’d say, “You know very well what!” That left me no choice but to say, hey, it’s your paranoia not mine, how the hell would I know?

Which leads us to the email I received from someone named Enid, who lives in Provo, Utah. Enid said she’s been passing time in quarantine brushing up on her genealogy. She thought she’d reach out to let me know she’s my 41st cousin. Per her – our mutual ancestry goes back to some guy who was once a guard at The Tower of London.

For the sake of argument and to save time we’ll call him Norman Piltdown.

Years ago I would have said something along the lines of, “Did he do anything interesting like supervise Cromwell’s conjugal visits?”

Instead I sent Cousin E a brief email thanking her and hoping she was well.

Why?

Looking E’s profile it seems she’s just a little over a year older than I am which makes her one of only a scant handful of women born after WW2 who were named Enid. Looking at her original note I was overcome with the thought that I hope she goes by her middle name or a nickname like ‘Tammy” or ‘Suzie’ which was assigned to her for no damn good reason at all.

OK – other than being named Enid.

Some of you might ask, “Are you mellowing with age?”

Perhaps.

My personal theory revolves around having been caught up in some emotionally and physically traumatic event that I have no memory of which sounds a whole lot cooler than just getting old.

Enid comes from my mother’s side of the family, who were all very, very tight lipped about their pasts. By the age of 20 I decided that if they didn’t want to talk I had no choice but to give them all a backstory. In this case I have decided that Grampy Piltdown did supervise Cromwell’s conjugal visits. In his later years he was something of a dirty old man who endless pelted his coworkers and the passersby with vulgar jokes about “inspecting the crown jewels.”

And Now a Virus Free Musical Interlude



MISC.

1. For those of you just tuning in, Alaska Wolf Joe’s institution of corrosive nihilism, which is hellbent on turning against us while being a wellspring of cultural Marxism, disbanded due to the bug. That means he’s taken to fomenting revolution from his room. In turn, he’s also subject to our once-a-week quarantine grocery runs which can be hit-or-miss.

The house brand? Shitty paper towels? A size larger or smaller than what we usually get? Frozen vs fresh?

I’ve come to think of making due as Fallout Shelter Cooking.

2. Riddle me this, Batman.

WTF is this?

Since I think that “gun” is nothing more than a word in the dictionary maybe one of you well-armed folks can help me out here.

Is this some sort of COSTCO thing I wouldn’t understand? Meant for someone whose hand shakes? Necessary for someone who loves to hunt but has all the deadly aim of Elmer Fudd?

3. Every time I look at IFC they’re running a Hogan’s Heroes marathon.

Did somebody lose a bet?

4. Interesting item from the shank end of last week – “Is the Virus on My Clothes?” As pointed out in the article – it’s a mini-lesson in aerodynamics. It was all the more interesting as someone on NextDoor related the tale of how her daughter goes through an rigorous, personal decontamination process every time she comes home from Target.

YMMV because NextDoor.

If you’re not familiar with NextDoor here’s a short video primer.

5. Yesterday there was a worldwide concert featuring no end of famous names. This morning Seattle’s NBC affiliate ran a story which mentioned many of the performers, but neglected to mention the local kid.


“Boy the way Glen Miller played, songs that made The Hit Parade”

As a public service we’d like to remind you that there’s an election going on.

Buried in this article is a link to an old Onion story which ends –

In a follow-up study, citizens were exposed to a variety of things—celebrities, snacks, movie franchises, corporate logos, cultural attitudes, and more—only one of which they were familiar with. The study found that 100 percent of those surveyed immediately smiled, pointed at the only thing in the group they recognized, and said, “That one.”

“I don’t like new things unless the new thing is a lot like an old thing,” said Phoenix resident Jennifer Alvarez, 54, explaining that she likes it when someone takes a thing she already enjoys and makes a newer version of it that is almost identical to the original thing. “When a new thing isn’t like any old things, I don’t like it at all.”

“If a few old things are put together to make a new thing, that’s good, though,” Alvarez added. “I like things like that.”

At press time, Americans appeared pleased when told that everyone would continue to make and do things they were already familiar with for the foreseeable future.

If that doesn’t explain Joe Biden I don’t know what does.

Moving along –

The original Pitchfork article revolves around the neuroscience as to why your brain doesn’t want to seek out new music. Supposedly, what you like is what you hear first and that’s what sticks with you which I supposed is fine unless you came of age in the 1970s. If you had achieved some level of awareness by 1970 or so you were then subjected to Gilbert O’Sullivan, disco, fern-bar Boz Skaggs, dumbed-down Fleetwood Mac, or the many hours of listening to the once interesting Steve Miller phone it in. It created a body of music that was not only hardwired to our brains, but to our lower intestinal tract as well. Any given song was less likely to invoke a warm and fuzzy feeling than it was to spark a major bout of acid indigestion.

Make no mistake, if rock and pop had a discount factory-outlet phase it was the 1970s.

This leads to something I failed to mention in the last post.

Somewhere around 1980 there was an opinion piece in Melody Maker c. 1980-81 which put forth the idea that The Eagles were the progenitors of punk. The author of the piece moved forward from the idea that at some point around 1973 or 1974 we’d experienced one too many peaceful easy feelings and it was time for an allergic reaction. While a novel idea it didn’t take into account the larger view which would include Warren Zevon and Tom Waits. Over the course of the decade they wrote songs about warm beer, cold women, lawyers, guns, money, and coming home to a refrigerator full of science experiments. That would lead one to believe that they were the decade’s first insensitive singer-songwriters who followed many who were dubbed as “mellow” and in touch with their feelings like this Nosy Nate.

In closing may I just say, Prine?

You fucking useless sickness!

Steve Goodman’s biographer lives in the neighborhood. Per him, this addition to “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” by David Allan Coe is pure bullshit.

Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song and he told me it was the perfect country & western song. I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not the perfect country & western song because he hadn’t said anything at all about mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin’ drunk. Well he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me
and after reading it I realized that my friend had written the perfect country & western song and I felt obliged to include it on this album

The last verse goes like this here:

Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison, and I went to pick her up in the rain, But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck, She got run over by a damned old train!

Interestingly enough, Mr. Prine departs the planet leaving even more questions as to the real lyrics of that song.