“A permanent fog of war is fanned by permanent fakes on Facebook. Already deregulated ideas of truth are destabilized even further. Emergency rules. Critique is a troll fest. Crisis commodified as entertainment. The age of neoliberal globalization seems exhausted and a period of contraction, fragmentation, and autocratic rule has set in.” Hito Steyerl
“Economics is in a state of creative ferment that is often invisible to outsiders. While the sociology of the profession—career incentives, norms, socialization patterns—often militates against engagement with the policy world, especially by younger academic economists, a sense of public responsibility is bringing people into the fray.” – Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik and Gabriel Zuchman
“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in who have no home, no family, no doctrine, nor firm place to call my own no known beginning or end, no ‘sacred and primordial site’. I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then ‘melt into air’. I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor can you know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.” Lebbeus Woods 1993
“It [the pyramids] seems to have been erected only in compliance with that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always appeased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity, and extend his plan to the utmost power of human performance, that he may not be soon reduced to form another wish.” Dr. Johnson
Before we start, please take out a sheet of paper and find something to write with. Once you’re ready, please explain how the above graphic relates to the arrival of The Terminator.
Moving along –
In polite society you’re supposed to say things like, “Pay me no mind.” Or “No offense intended.”
In the past six weeks, we have been snowed in, I came down with the flu not once but twice, and somehow I managed to get another year older. That last part I would have just skipped, but there is that nasty business of the Earth rotating around the Sun at a regular interval. Compounding that, there was the small matter that I spent 14 hours of my birthday working, only to come home to one lone item in the mail that was connected to the day of my birth. Our HMO sent me a cheery card wishing me a happy birthday and telling me to shag my ass down to the nearest clinic for a colonoscopy.
Awww, geee fellers …
And I didn’t get you nothin’!
While I take a microsecond or two to regain my composure after all that, you can take a deep breath because what follows is everything that’s been stuck in my craw since the start of the year.
A Well-Known Historical Fact
Along those lines – since I spent the entire calendar year of 2018 as a fully functioning member of the human race, that meant I seriously pissed off the Catholic Funeral Home Directors of Western Washington. To show their displeasure, they cut me off from receiving one of the their complementary bloody saints and martyrs calendars, which forced me to seek one out online. Pickings were slim but I did find one for four bucks featuring The Greatest Hits of The Crusades.
Oddly enough, none of the 12 illustrations shows the Knight Templars of Malta paying tribute to Charles V of Spain by sending him a golden falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels. Sadly, that falcon was seized as pirates raided the galley carrying this priceless token, and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day.
You know that, I know that, even small Catholic schoolchildren know that.
But is it in the calendar?
Guess you get what you pay for.
The Force … Stupid is strong with this one
About three weeks ago around a quarter to six in the morning, it was 15 whole degrees outside and I was having serious doubts that the heater was working (it was) while wondering how goddam long the coffee maker needed to kick out a cup. To distract myself I decided to look at Facebook. There in my morning stupor and without my glasses I saw – in large bold type – the words, “The Name of Your Vagina Is the Last Television Show You Watched. GO!”
My first thought was a sense of relief for women everywhere that Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Mannix, and The Ed Sullivan Show are no longer on the air. Also it occurred to me that if I had a vagina I might not be terribly pleased at seeing this. Therefore I decided to ask the nearest person who has one what she might think.
And that would be Mom.
“(Expletive) BOOKFACE AND (Expletive) MARK (Expletive) ZUCKERBERG FOR LETTING PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH THIS (Expletive) NO GOOD (EXPLETIVE).”
Which is what I thought she might say given that she once said that women who refer to their breasts as “The Girls” are “(Expletive) MORONS!”
Think of it this way – Mom isn’t so much a TERF, second-wave, or post-structuralist so much as a “I’VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU!” feminist.
You know –
The odd thing was that this all happened during the recent declaration of a national emergency. Given that my FB feed has people radically aligned with each end of the spectrum, I thought my FB page would be crawling with posts either resembling a loud New Year’s Eve gathering or people screaming hysterically like their heads were on fire. Instead it was mostly, as the kids say, ‘crickets’ augmented by a cascade of posts cataloging women’s viewing habits.
Currently the single most interesting item regarding FB is on Twitter. There’s a feed called We Wuz Boomers which collects memes intended on punking us people of a certain age.
This one’s the best.
Alaska Wolf Joe and I had a discussion as to whether or not I should post it, as several people I’m connected to are what Bugs Bunny once called the rugged outdoorsy type. The question of discretion comes along when you consider their cultural literacy and how they’d react. I really don’t want to do something that would upset them … well … I don’t, but it would be so much fun.
Kids, let that be a lesson to you. If you wholeheartedly believe in the markets, you have to remember that the big boys are in the market too. Chase moving into the biz could well … chase everybody else away.
And if you’re going into the Bitcoin biz, be sure to write your password down.
What little fun I’ve had came from a day trip to Portland. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a chance to catch up on my cultural anthropologist skills and our neighbors to the south always offer an opportunity to bring my credit up to speed.
In no particular order:
– Went to lunch and the poor bartender was acting as greeter, waiter, bus boy, and everything else that involved interacting with the public. Needless to say he was one harried guy so I didn’t say anything when he came around, put a bottle on the table, and said, “Sustainable ketchup.”
For those of you keeping score at home – there is no fluoride in Portland’s free-range water and the ketchup is earth-friendly.
– While walking along I was nearly hit by someone driving a Subaru Outback at twice the posted speed. If you’ve ever been to Portland you know that the last sentence was the most seriously redundant statement that can be made about the city.
– Speaking of Portland’s most popular car – while I was waiting at an intersection for the walk light to change, a guy roughly my age pulled up to the light. All the windows on his Outback were rolled down and he was singing along to this tune which he played at full volume.
For the first time since God knows when, the temperature managed to work its way up to 50 degrees and while it ain’t spring up here in The Big Damp Woods it’s close enough.
– Portland’s best breakfast can be had at Mother’s, which recently moved from Second to Third on the north end of downtown. Breakfast also came with a complementary copy of The Oregonian. Flipping through, I found the boilerplate in the masthead more interesting that the rest of the paper. The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, runs out a print edition on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. While their website is updated daily, you can only get the dead-tree version on selected days. Their overall content, which was always better than the Seattle Times, seems to still be strong, but I have to wonder how The Register-Guard in Eugene is doing. It too was a far, far better paper than anything we have in Seattle and the R-G’s legacy includes carrying Our Boarding House during its original run.
– Along the lines of cultural divides – when finished with the paper I didn’t know what to do with it. Standing next to a trash can was a 6’6″ bearded drag queen opening a fresh pack of 100mm smokes while adjusting a pair of magenta clam diggers that revealed the entire buttocks. Offered the paper only to get the response, “Thanks, but I’m waiting on my Uber.”
Some would be alarmed at the overall look, others would giggle, but lots of us just see it as another day in the big city.
– BTW – we went to Dutch Brothers twice because as Agent Cooper once said, “You should treat yourself to something every day, Harry.”
When it’s time to relax your standards
Our every decade or so major snowstorm arrived at about the same time this year’s Super Bowl started. Since there was no point in going out, we stayed in and watched.
What did we learn?
Some beer is made with wind power, a renewable source of energy, while another beer uses only USDA-certified organic grains. Beyond all that, there was Bud Lite (sic) telling anyone who would listen, “GET BEHIND ME HIGH-FRUCTOSE SATAN!”
When did beer become virtuous? When did we reach the point where mothers everywhere summoned the family by saying, “Hurry children! Gather near, for Father is about to crack one open for God and Country!”
Home. Base of operations. The more you invent your own life style, the more you realize that the categories that have been invented are ultimately, at best, imperfect devices for understanding the world, and, at worst, fake. Vitalik Buterin
“A friend of mine who is involved in a blockchain startup remarked that people keep trying to explain the underlying technology—the engine under the hood rather than the car on the road. ‘It’s like they’re trying to describe e-mail to people, and instead of saying, ‘You can send messages to people over the Internet,’ they’re saying, ‘There’s a protocol called S.M.T.P., which locates a set of rules for the movement of files from one to another.’ And yet he also complained about what he calls the incorrigibles, the Luddites who refuse even to try, whom he likened to the people in an office who profess not to know how to work the copy machine.” Nick Paumgarten (ibid above)
These days I tend to think of dystopias as being fashionable, perhaps lazy, maybe even complacent, because one pleasure of reading them is cozying into the feeling that however bad our present moment is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the ones these poor characters are suffering through. Vicarious thrill of comfort as we witness/imagine/experience the heroic struggles of our afflicted protagonists—rinse and repeat. Is this catharsis? Possibly more like indulgence, and creation of a sense of comparative safety. A kind of late-capitalist, advanced-nation schadenfreude about those unfortunate fictional citizens whose lives have been trashed by our own political inaction. If this is right, dystopia is part of our all-encompassing hopelessness.On the other hand, there is a real feeling being expressed in them, a real sense of fear. Some speak of a “crisis of representation” in the world today, having to do with governments—that no one anywhere feels properly represented by their government, no matter which style of government it is. Dystopia is surely one expression of that feeling of detachment and helplessness. Since nothing seems to work now, why not blow things up and start over? This would imply that dystopia is some kind of call for revolutionary change. There may be something to that. At the least dystopia is saying, even if repetitiously and unimaginatively, and perhaps salaciously, Something’s wrong.
“Platforms are defined not by what they permit but by what they disallow. Our public culture is, in important ways, a product of their design and oversight. Platforms do not just mediate public discourse: they constitute it. Platforms moderate (through removal, filtering, and suspension); they recommend (through news feeds, trending lists, and personalized suggestions); and they curate (through featured content and front-page offerings). Platforms use these three levers together to actively and dynamically tune the participation of users in order to generate the “right” feed for each user, the “right” social exchanges, and the “right” kind of community. “Right” in these contexts may mean ethical, legal, and healthy, but it also means whatever will promote engagement, increase ad revenue, and facilitate data collection. Too often, social media platforms discuss content moderation as a problem to be solved—and solved privately and reactively. In this customer service mindset, platform managers understand their responsibility primarily as protecting users from the offense or harm they are experiencing.” – Tarleton Gillespie
“Historians are certainly chargeable with the depravation of mankind, when they relate, without censure, those stratagems of war by which the virtues of an enemy are engaged to his destruction. A ship comes before a port, weather-beaten and shattered, and the crew implore the liberty of repairing their breaches, supplying themselves with necessaries, or burying their dead. The humanity of the inhabitants inclines them to consent, the strangers enter the town with weapons concealed, fall suddenly upon their benefactors, destroy those that make resistance, and become masters of the place; they return home rich with plunder, and their success is recorded to encourage imitation.” Dr. Johnson
Kinda goes without saying that things have kinda sucked over the past couple of weeks. (GHWB, stock market et al.) Not that anybody needed the addition stress during the holidays, but it’s not like you’re bereft of choices when it comes to navigating all this.
Either you can get all stressed out reading the 10+ pages the British Parliament published about Facebook’s wrongdoings here.
Or you can just read on.
Roll me, call me the Tumblr dice
Tumblr went through serious upheaval last week after Apple bounced them for having kiddie_p)rn on their site. Rather than deal with the problem directly Yahoo’s parent company, Verizon turned loose AI bots to clean up all manner of content that might be offensive and/or illegal. It turned out to be a more than a bit ham fisted as the wide net cast squashed such images that included The Statue of David and took down many, many of the retro images that I have … repurposed for … ummm my social media branding. (e.g. the Lucky Strike ads, Burma Shave signs, and various images to help tell the tale of The World’s Most Radioactive High School.) Most if it came from one guy’s site, but by the end of the week his page was strictly a farewell note, and Saturday morning it was gone. What I’l really miss about that page are the countless magazine covers from those uber-butch mens magazines. You’ve seen them – some guy’s wrestling an alligator with his bare hands while his date stands nearby screaming. Gents of a certain age remember such publications from when we went to the barber shop on a regular basis. You be waiting your turn in the barber chair so you looked for something to read. You’d pick up the last Bob Hope comic book in the stack and there it was, some shirtless Sgt. Rock type barely keeping a gorilla in a headlock and there at the bottom of the page was the breathless headline, “NAZIS BUILD SECRET A&W IN ARGENTINA!”
Oh, sure, you can say that’s a simpler publication from more innocent time, but as far as Verizon’s Prude Bots are concerned that’s out-and-out smut.
How did we get here?
Once Yahoo acquired Tumblr they got busy managing it The Yahoo Way which as we all know is not so much laissez faire nor benign neglect. It’s more like everybody in the executive suite stands around looking bewildered and asking each other, “Wait, we own what?”
Sure, they could have gone in and taken care of the problem in a more precise surgical way, but no.
The Tumblr kerfuffle was the first suck-awful thing of the week because it proved my point that the Internet is no longer fun. In fact the corporate masters who set the Prude Bots loose are part of a growing trend to turn the Internet into a junior-high dance at a Catholic School.
For those of you who’ve never had this pleasure this is how it works:
Ten nuns ride roughshod over about 100 kids. Four nuns have clipboards, two stand at the door taking attendance (as this is mandatory fun) and the other two wander the dance floor. On the dance floor one nun has a list of the boys’ names, and the other has the girls’. The point of this exercise is to make sure that no one get a chance to get in touch with their inner wallflower. The Clipboard Sisters job is to use some sort of nun-based calculus to make sure everyone dances in some sort of even rotation.
Think of it not so much as an old fashion dance card but dance assignments.
The balance of the nuns?
They spread out across the dance floor carrying an assortment of yardsticks and rulers. Their job is to make sure that no one’s personal space is intruded upon. (Please note, we’re not talking about how a given individual might define his or her own personal space, rather we’re talking about how Sister Jane Albert, Sister Perpetua, and Sister John Bosco defined it.) The personal space thing raised blisters on my ass as I had an inkling that I -might – just maybe – might – sorta – maybe- have a chance to test the limits of what constituted Patti McNamara’s personal space. (I had come up with several theories on the matter since the start of the school year.) I thought that maybe – OK – maybe – I would be assigned to her during a slow dance so I could come away with a good idea of how much Charlie perfume she was wearing before the rulers were deployed.
So much for that.
I got a fast dance with her and she got to slow dance with Alfonse Edward “Sonny” Paturzo.
At the end of the night we all thanked the principal – in unison – just like we practiced all week – for such a lovely evening. Then we were turned loose to our parents where we got to recite the other thing we memorized – telling them what a great time we had.
Moving along –
“Draw me your map of utopia and I’ll tell you your tragic flaw.” – or – Keeping a CIVIL tongue planted firmly in your cheek
“I was anticipating evenings spent listening to crypto-hippies describe the angel-faced space elves they met when they took DMT.” Laurie Penny
The CIVIL initiative’s ICO for the CVL token failed badly a few months back. What follows are a few thoughts that are neither autopsy nor obit. That would probably be OK with the CIVIL-ians at CIVIL as they’d probably prefer some Nick Carraway green-light themed essay on the matter.
For those of you just tuning in – the CIVIL initiative was at attempt to save journalism by offering a journalism specific cryptocurrency.
Per CIVIL the CVL token would free journalism from worrying about being pressured by advertisers or having to deal with something like Peter Thiel’s attack on Gawker. Beyond that the CVL would build a newsroom of the future that was inclusive and transparent. So CIVIL kept beating that drum for a half dozen months. Then in September when the tokens went on sale it barely brought in any money. In fact it brought in so little money that no one involved wants to talk about it other than to say it fell short of the $8 million it was supposed to raise.
CIVIL’s arguments were all inward facing. There’s no way you can get the general public to buy into much of that. First, the general public doesn’t really know much about cryptocurrency. In fact it’s only recently, now that Bitcoin has proven unstable, that the issue has managed to sneak onto the edges of the public’s radar. We only got interested in the matter about a week before the failed CVL sale when Forbes said it was interested in using CIVIL. Previously CIVIL only talked about associate site that are small or had niche topics.
That was another matter.
So Mom tasked me with learning about the blockchain and cryptocurrency. Alaska Wolf Joe got wind of his mother’s request and got to work. He sent this post-post modernist “Neo-Kantian take by some DeLeuze fanboy” on Bitcoin and the blockchain.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
– I still stand by the idea that Bitcoin et al. are still at the Commodore C64 stage – in other words – too early to tell. Lately I’ve been reading a series of essays about media infrastructure by Tarleton Gillespie, Lisa Parks, and Paul Dourish. All talk about how certain technologies start off one way only to yield a more practical result. One of their examples is how CDN’s came along because someone wanted faster access to video on the Internet(s).
– The blockchain is – for now- a darn secure way to send data. Once it gets in wider use it will attract monkeyshines.
– Crypto will not make you a better person and crypto cannot prevent people from acting like people. Right now its enthusiasts fail to acknowledge that humanity’s dark side will sooner or later intrude. Money comes with lots of emotional baggage, but you’d never know it reading about the crypto types. Their world has as much emotion as a NASA clean room has dust.
To that point Roger Ver was quoted in the article going around this morning,Four Days Trapped at Sea with Crypto’s Super Rich as saying, ““No amount of coercion can solve a math problem.” That’s true. But it’s also the case that no amount of mathematics can delete human prejudice, and no ledger can logic away human cruelty. If the crypto community hasn’t realized that yet, it soon will.”
Because money is inextricably entangled with questions of reciprocity, it is tied-up intimately with such provocations to outrage as injustice, cheating, exploitation, and unbounded inequality. Such sensitive moral trigger-zones pose a formidable inhibition to dispassionate analysis. Disciplined investigation of money threatens to arouse sentiments of social alienation, and even desecration. There is no theoretical conclusion about the nature of money so cold that it does not appear burdened with concrete socio-political implication.
CIVIL’s greatest sin?
When you ask people for money you absolutely have to answer the first question they always ask, “What’s in it for me?”
At no time did they make the case which was wrong in that sooner or later you’ve got the to get the general public involved because there’s more of them than there are of you.
BTW – it is a tad ironic that the crypto cruise got the a-fun-thing/David Foster Wallace treatment from a publication that says its blockchain powered.
Speaking of what the DMT space elves had to say – let’s finish up.
Punk’s Not Dead! It Just Smells That Way!
A variety of things have piled up recently. About a month ago we saw PiL and noted that Mr. Lydon now needs reading glasses to see the set list. This past week marked the 40th anniversary of several of us making a trek in the snow (uphill both ays) to see The Talking Heads. Then a couple of days ago Pete Shelley died. They were all of the same era.
For those of you who weren’t there it was a damn interesting time. Those bands killed the pomposity of the extended solo and relegated such profound statements as “All we are is dust in the wind” to people with 8-track decks. Around that time some people went all in on being totally punl, but many of us weren’t into zero-sum lifestyles. Many of us had to face facts as we’d look stupid in black motorcycle jackets. Never mind that we didn’t have the personality to pull off tattos and piercings. That’s why it was a relief to discover Australia’s Cosmic Psychos whose brand of loud and fast dates back to the late 70s.
Finally there’s a punk band whose couture now resembles mine and my current physique.
“Tom, don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don, my old man, The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That’s what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal. Like God. He knows every feather that falls from the tail of a sparrow or however the hell it goes. Right? And you know something? Accidents don’t happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult.” — Michael Corleone “I tell ya, I don’t get no respect. Last week my house was on fire. My wife told the kids, ‘Be quiet, you’ll wake up Daddy.'” Rodney “In the early 1880s New York’s social parvenus—the people who were the Sculls, Paleys, Engelhards, Holzers, of their day—were the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Huntingtons and Goulds. They built the Metropolitan Opera House for the simple reason that New York’s prevailing temple of Culture, the Academy of Music, built just 29 years before at 14th Street and Irving Place, had only 18 fashionable proscenium boxes, and they were monopolized by families like the Lorillards, Traverses, Belmonts, Stebbinses, Gandys and Barlows. The status of the Goulds and Vanderbilts was revealed in the sort of press coverage the Met’s opening (October 22, 1883) received: ‘The Goulds and the Vanderbilts and people of that ilk perfumed the air with the odor of crisp greenbacks.’ “By the 1960s yet another new industry had begun to dominate New York life, namely, communications—the media. At the same time the erstwhile “minorities” of the first quarter of the century had begun to come into their own. Jews, especially, but also many Catholics, were eminent in the media and in Culture. So, by 1965—as in 1935, as in 1926, as in 1883, as in 1866, as in 1820—New York had two Societies, “Old New York” and “New Society.” In every era, “Old New York” has taken a horrified look at “New Society” and expressed the devout conviction that a genuine aristocracy, good blood, good bone—themselves—was being defiled by a horde of rank climbers. This has been an all-time favorite number. In the 1960s this quaint belief was magnified by the fact that many members of “New Society,” for the first time, were not Protestant. The names and addresses of “Old New York” were to be found in the Social Register, which even 10 years ago was still confidently spoken of as the Stud Book and the Good Book. It was, and still is, almost exclusively a roster of Protestant families. Today, however, the Social Register’s annual shuffle, in which errant socialites, e.g., John Jacob Astor, are dropped from the Good Book, hardly even rates a yawn. The fact is that “Old New York”—except for those members who also figure in “New Society,” e.g., Nelson Rockefeller, John Hay Whitney, Mrs. Wyatt Cooper—is no longer good copy, and without publicity it has never been easy to rank as a fashionable person in New York City. “The press in New York has tended to favor New Society in every period, and to take it seriously, if only because it provides “news.” Tom Wolfe, ‘Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s‘ “Surely, it is much easier to respect a man who has always had respect, than to respect a man who we know was last year no better than ourselves, and will be no better next year. … In civilized society, personal merit will not serve you so much as money will. Sir, you may make the experiment. Go into the street, and give one man a lecture on morality, and another a shilling, and see which will respect you most.” Dr. Johnson
” I worked in a pet store and people kept asking how big I’d get. RD”
This weekend marks the 18th anniversary of this site. Here now are some things that have been coagulating for several months.
Shall we begin? In summary
Which is an odd place to start, granted.
Here’s Chapo Trap House’s 206th podcast. It takes up a position on the page today because – minus the stuff about being invited and/or being disinvited to Yale – it pretty much sums up my opinion of what’s really been going on.
For those of you have no interest in listening, let’s go back to this line from Gravity’s Rainbow, ” If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”
And do you know why you kept asking questions like, “Where oh where did that find that vulgar woman? Why did she say such awful things? Why did she have to pick on Sarah Sanders like that?”
Here’s a transcript of final minute of Michele Wolf’s speech –
There’s a ton of news right now, a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. Instead, we’re covering three topics. Every hour is Trump, Russia, Hillary, and a panel full of people that remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving. Milk comes from nuts now all because of the gays.
You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.
Trump is so broke he grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them. Like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn’t do anything wrong, I’ve got to get the fuck out of here. Good night.
Flint still doesn’t have clean water.
Politics is now a matter of which culture you belong to. There’s no viewpoints, philosophical under pinnings, or side of the aisle anymore. Once you’ve accepted your culture you’ve also accepted your way to get played.
And played badly. You know my doctor? Doctor Vinny Boom-Botz?
As you might have notice this space had been fallow for a good many months. Every time I think I have something to bring up it suddenly slips away.
For no damn good reason at all.
Over the past couple of weeks I didn’t really come up with some bright idea so much as I started to notice something – so many people think they are owed respect and they cry out as their much desired respect alludes them. Case in point – the Intellectual Dark Web – a gathering of folks who are seeking and failing to find respect and they don’t get it.
Didn’t 2016 change everything?
Wasn’t political correctness vanquished?
Where is the acknowledgment that they have lead us all to a bright new day?
And isn’t this nothing more than the same thing the A-list Bloggers were after c. 2005?
The solution here is simple. Pack all of ’em up and move ’em over to Pajamas Media. They’ll find a good home there. That way they won’t have to worry if the NY Times will publish what Mom calls their “butthurt” in the Sunday edition.
The only reason to mention any of this as it was concurrent with Tom Wolfe’s death. Almost 50 years ago he created the thumbnail history of how New York City had the ability to confer respect on people when Mr. W wrote about that evening when The Bersteins entertained The Black Panthers. It was an elegant take on how the monied flocked to one city in order to become respected because New York society was a pantheon.
Sure, other cities had something they called high society, but it was merely a codification of the existing petit bourgeois pecking order. Hell, even small towns had something they called society, but no matter how many luncheons your Aunt Agnes put on for the local auxiliary she was only known by the name she was born with. No one ever called her Babe, or Tex, or Slim and Truman Capote never thought of her as one of his “Swans.”
That sort of thing was reserved for New Yorkers.
Today it’s a bit harder to find that kind of respect. Make no mistake, NYC still has its social circles, but who seeks them out for respect?
Once -assuming you make a pile of it elsewhere – money would get you on the social register after moving to town.
Warren Buffett lives in Nebraska, Bill Gates still lives in his hometown, and Elon Musk has taken up residence inside a plasma conduit aboard the Starship Enterprise.
So long Mr. Wolfe and thanks. You a wellspring of wily observations and and firecracker prose. While Mailer wrote about his favorite subject, Mailer and Thompson hid behind his persona to bring forth amazing observations, you met it all head on. You documented the 60s and mad it look oh so effortless.
Vigilate Est, Canes (ed. note: Here now to spread some enlightenment around is a special guest contribution from our own Alaska Wolf Joe.) Abstract: The current decay of images is due to the revelation of their utter contingency, their failure to prove that our cultural narratives were necessary and permanent depictions. Now, a great reversal has taken place. We have learned that it was the other way around, and that our cultural narratives were put in place to encode these relations in the first place. When certain individuals realize this contingency, it drives them to attempt to exchange their contingent narrative for a new one which they truly believe is necessary. One of these most archetypical exchanges is the failure of a masculine narrative to prove itself as narrative, which replaces itself with violence. In the acceleration which we currently face, such exchanges are more likely to take place, and as such, the rate of violence will increase.
“Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove twenty-two miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were forty cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides–pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.
“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.
A long silence followed.
“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.” He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced at once by others. “We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”
There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.”Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”
Another silence ensued.
“They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said. He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.
“What was the barn like before it was photographed?” he said. “What did it look like, how was it different from other barns, how was it similar to other barns? We can’t answer these questions because we’ve read the signs, seen the people snapping the pictures. We can’t get outside the aura. We’re part of the aura. We’re here, we’re now.”
He seemed immensely pleased by this.”
–Don DeLillo, ‘White Noise’
The image is decaying. Images, themselves, are stable. But their meaning – the sum total of what any image means – is decaying at an exponential rate.
There is too much to see. Think of how many images you have seen in the past hour, how many things are engravings and not the object themselves. I would estimate at the minimum a hundred; possibly several hundred. How many of these did you pay attention to? Very few, likely, but they saturated: they do not go to the operations of the unconscious (it no longer exists, a fiction also drowned in a sea of truths), but they undoubtedly have saturated your memory, whether that memory retrieved or unretrieved.
Images encode. Given a sufficiently complicated enough series of images, it provides details for replication of its information in real life. Driving-school car-crash scare films, YouTube tutorials for petty household tasks or software manipulation, Stranger Danger PSAs played anywhere after the 1970s in American elementary school classrooms, the exercise video series you might see on a late night infomercial, the infomercial itself, the highly complicated world of television and cinema with its portrayals of life (at all class stratifications) ready to impel us to associate ourselves with those images. All of these function as depictions which intend to replicate lessons, morals, instructions in reality. They are a sequence designed to produce a behavior.
Complex enough images become complex cultural narratives.
The societal standards of romance and sexuality are prevalent in popular culture because popular culture is the method of societal conditioning. The cinematic image pervades as the standard which we judge our lives against, compare to, imitate, and associate. It is the last gold standard – the method of exchange for which our every life event can be traded to in some value. “It feels just like a movie.” Even for us sickening freaks who attempt to take a position of detached postmodern irony, the cinematic image invades us at some level – its fantasies still poison us. We know the cultural importance of the game that we play with culture, we take it seriously. We take it seriously enough to think that our absence of totalizing faith in it is in some way also a noteworthy cultural action. We are not free from its grip on our reality; its dialectical play is always in opposition to those of us who even proclaim it to not have an effect on our lives. We feel the shadow of the cinematic image. Just like Nietzsche’s proclamation that we have not taken the death of God seriously enough, we are not taking the death of film seriously enough. We endlessly compare ourselves to images, privately and publicly, even in our claim that we are atheists of the image. Disavowal is impossible. To complete dissociate oneself from the cultural grip of the image is either a sign of delusion, privilege, or a dysfunction of thinking sufficient enough to show one is incapable of taking in the hot medium of cultural instruction. If you are not mentally ill, you are susceptible to the wiles of the popular image. Inevitably then, the cultural depiction of romance and sexuality in the cinematic image (whether comedic, romantic, pornographic, childish, “adult”, in a theater, television, or the internet) is the standard from which we judge our relationships.
This is ten-cent knowledge. Even our most bourgeois and bland feminisms know the importance of cultural encoding from popular images. We wouldn’t fight over cultural representation if we think it didn’t reflect itself in some semiotic bliss. There are few who would contest that today, save for certain Darwinists who claim that the cultural mythology reflects an inherent biological drive which can never be destroyed. But they suffer from the same plight of images: is not this image of a bifurcated nature, a totalized image of man against the elements, clutching his junk and swinging his club to impress the savage women also a Hollywood fiction, an imbued cultural narrative from which we cannot even trace the origins of?
A point I will return to.
Our conflict now is a conflict over the remnants of the cinematic image, over its significations, its power, and it future. We fight over this image because we know that the threshold that any image has on our lives is decaying under the horrendous weight of over-saturation. We are hoping to fight against entropy; to create a position of cohesion. In the thermodynamics of culture, this is not likely.
The figure of the violent atrocity in America is inextricably bound up with the cinematic image. Harris and Klebold could, epistemically, separate their world from that of Stone’s ‘Natural Born Killers’ and Id Software’s DOOM (1993) but they could not narratologicly. And a similar resurgence seems to haunt itself under so many of the recent acts of violence: the difference between the perpetrators of violence being able to integrate the reality of their circumstances and the cultural images which they either fight within the confines of, or fight against the loss of. It isn’t a matter of culture corrupting the individual; it is a matter of the individual’s relation to culture itself becoming corrupted in the same sense a set of data becomes corrupted within a machine: the encoding itself is breaking down.
There is a process,I fear I cannot truly argue for its existence, but nonetheless have a gut feeling for: in the age of the decaying image, in the age of immense chaos and an accelerating glut of information, it is impossible for our realities to ever match that of the images we created to thread together a narrative of social reality.
Saul Kripke, philosopher of language, spoke of the concept of “necessary a posteriori truths.” These were things which were necessarily true, but their necessity could not be discovered without experience. This is in contrast to certain things which (debatably) hold true without empirical experience. The most traditional of these examples being mathematical truths, such as 2 + 2 = 4 being a fact which it seems no one can experience, but which is necessarily true. An example of one such of these necessary a posteriori truths is the concept that water is H2O. Without getting into the painstaking specifics of such a linguistic example, we have encountered water, but it took an experiential observation to have it revealed to us that it had the chemical structure H2O. But now knowing this, we can’t imagine an instance in which this is false: water is always H2O. As such, it becomes a necessary truth, but a necessary truth we only knew by experience.
We treat our relationship to the cultural narrative in some way. By our relentless comparison to images, we seek to discover their truth: to affirm it, to make it necessary in some way by our experience of it. We either look for the image to affirm our lived experience to make it appear necessary that we are living in such a way, and that the reflection reinstates this truth, or we look to see the image first and then live in such a way that our lives affirm the truth of that image. This is the image’s truth as a form of social encoding.
But the accelerating instability of culture in the information era has made it so that our relationship and knowledge of images has become contingent. We cannot process the social encoding as necessary, or in any way real, when our experiential sensibilities fail to prove them necessary. This failure to prove the necessity of cultural narratives as real drives those most affected by it to the point of madness.
The example par excellence: Sexual paranoia is in the air, and it is only increasing at the rate at which it spreads. This is the signification of some of these recent atrocities. I give especial light to the Toronto “Incel” attack. But in some ways I speak of the broad significance which this supposed crisis of the libidinal economy really signifies: the relation between the necessity of sexual and relational narratives and real life decays as those relations become irrelevant. The problem is when one learns of the contingency of such narratives.
From the NYT article on Jordan Peterson (who I will return to): “He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”
God died long ago in culture, and now, man and woman is dying as well. Gender is the fiction which we see most rapidly decay in culture because it is in no way a necessity of the neoliberal model. The political economy (if it can be trusted as a reality whatsoever) cares nothing of identity in consumption. Consumption is identityless, and frequently, unrelated to any biological necessity whatsoever. Not only have we seen the arbitration of gender as the violence of the patriarchy; we have seen its irrelevance in consumption. But do we know this? Do we have faith in it, or is it a theoretical understanding that gender has died – and like those men that Nietzsche’s madmen is attempting to convince, we have not truly taken the death of gender as a serious prospect, professing faith in it even though we claim to know it no longer exists?
I suspect that the Toronto killer shows us this relationship between experiential evidence and our dire psychological need for our cultural images to be true. Bombarded with enough media which sells a performed image of gender and sexuality, to face the violent reality that such things are not only false, but that their entire foundations are crumbling under an age in which Eros is quickly becoming as deterritorialized as possible, shows one the utter contingency of those narratives.
Violence takes the place, because it is the only other gendered cultural narrative we have. It fills the place, and forces certain of those most shook by the revelation of cultural contingency to act upon its demands. Violence can still be proved necessary: the “masculine”, when shook of its foundation and position within cultural narratives, can attempt to replace its decaying cultural narrative by proving a narrative of masculine dominance and death true. It is not that this spectacle is inherently masculine, rather, it is the other way around: the ‘acting-out’ of the masculine murder fantasy reaffirms the masculinity in its existence, makes it so that the image is necessarily masculine. It fills the narratological void brought upon by the encroaching decay of all images and associations of identity.
The power of the new psychological demagogues is their attempt to reverse this process, to reverse the entropic disordering of images and the destruction of what we previously thought were the necessary a posteriori truths of our lives and their relation to cultural representations and narratives. This is my interpretation of Jordan Peterson, the most key “intellectual” figure that exists at this moment.
It is no accident that he is a Jungian, and that his usage of a vague and unfalsifiable system (analytical psychology, as Jung termed it) is so good at creating cultural analogy. If a person can re-encode their entire life to resemble the images and analogies of archetypes, then the restoration of understanding and a sense of the necessity of the interpretation returns. New meta-images (femininity, masculinity, anima and animus, the rest of the narratives) can make sense of a world by attempting to retroactively jam the dissolving images into thinner boxes. How absurd it is for someone to tell young men to “slay the dragon” – we know the inherent falsity of fairy tales now, we have critiqued them, we know their relation to a fading patriarchal order. But if we can take our life experiences and rejam them into these images by making them necessary parts of the psyche, necessary parts of all things, if we can make these previous cultural constructions into hallucinations of the very atoms of social constituency, then there is at least a temporary metaphor which allows us to make sense of things. By creating a permanent semiotic chain of all events – “Oh, it’s just like this archetype, you just don’t realize it yet!” – then the fact that the image means nothing is solved. The semantic reference of images is fixed by circularity: with the presentation of an inherent psychology, of the necessary truths of cultural depictions by their ossification into permanent features of humanity, there is no reason to fear the truth which is the absolute bombardment of the senses.
But this process drives us to a point of blithering idiocy, towards the danger of actual fascism, towards the danger of needing to act upon it to prove its absolute necessity in a chaotic world.
The presentation of an inherent and cynical social Darwinism, the brand sold by hucksters such as Peterson, and affirmed politically by the rise of a neo-fascism is a grand retroactive lie to make sense of the decay. They do not realize that they too are the victims of consumer imagery, as Darwin’s legacy is little more than another image prepackaged for easy-made consumption in this time. Its foundation is a lie, and so is its analogical power. Eventually, the effect will wear off.
Every relation which can be described as biologically necessary, every single thing which can be crammed under the discourse of biological inevitability will also dissolve as identity becomes only more digitized, discrete, and torn apart from familiar relations. As the necessity of increasing consumption seeks to make all those in the first world more and more faceless, more and more alienated, more and more pieces of data, our very relation to that supposed and intrinsic human nature will decay. So too will the images of biological necessity which currently fuel the Jungian machine which hopes to make “order out of chaos.”
The violence committed will then undoubtedly increase, not because it has been repressed, but because the action reaffirms the necessity of the image which has been sold. As the images run out, and politically, people are forced to align to smaller and more tribal images (and yet paradoxically, more grand and sweeping images) they will force themselves to make those images a reality. Such is what waits for us on the other end of Peterson’s tirade: the actual threat of fascism, the actual threat of people needing to prove themselves racially superior, to prove masculinity and femininity necessary divides. While these actions themselves accelerate, so too will the remnants of political economy and the deconstruction of images and fiscal relations. Parallel forms of violence: the structural violence of social relations from the continual bombardment, processing, and maintenance of information (all that is solid melts into air) and the violent force of those attempting to literally react against this process which they know threatens their image with death.
There is no pithy way to end this. I can only hope that, like Malthus, the image which I have presented becomes another in our great repository of images. I do not know it to be a necessary or contingent truth. This is my myth.
“Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, ‘Do you think we’ll ever find them?’ He said, ‘I don’t know kid. There are so many places they can hide.'”Jacob Cohen 1921-2004
This summer I shall attempt to write more. (There’s much to be said now that we’ve retreated into different cultures.) It’s also the 50th anniversary of the Summer of ’68 and God knows we can’t let that slip by unnoticed. Heck, there might be some room to run off 1500 words on Aunt Lydia vs. Roseanne. Not that I’ve seen either show, but in good old fashion blogging tradition that shouldn’t stop me. DISCLAIMER: This place is not in Sedona, it’s in Seattle, we’ve had lunch there, and I have – at one time or another – photographed, interviewed, or personally know everybody in this video. So to celebrate the 19th anniversary of this page, let me leave you with my culture’s re-imagining of Toby Keith’s, ‘I Love This Bar.’
“Twitter’s a collective scrolling howl of bitterness, bile, animadversion and obloquy. It’s the social media place to tell people they’re wrong, express political despair about the coming nuclear apocalypse, and personal unhappiness about yet another rejection letter. Twitter’s a bubbling vat of dissatisfaction and dismay leavened with occasional harassment. Facebook is organized around wishing people happy birthday, sharing family photos, and announcing career successes. If Twitter is staring into a pit of sadly writhing maggots, Facebook is cartoon bunnies hopping about the screen and looking up at you, waiting for you to festoon them with medals for meritorious conduct. No wonder everybody’s on Facebook, while Twitter glumly sheds users as it begs old and potential tweeters to please stop backing away slowly. And yet, the bleakness of Twitter make it oddly cheering and comforting—while the relentless optimism of Facebook feels like all those billions of cute bunnies are sitting on your head, or using their oversize buck teeth to chew out your heart.” Noah Berlatsky “The wind carries the rhythm of drums through the birch trees. Long-haired and bearded people stand around fires, many with their eyes shut, appearing to be in a trance. The scent of burning wood, mead, and leather wafts through the air. The pagans have gathered at the burial mound to pay homage to the gods through music and dance. This isn’t a scene set a thousand years in the past. This happened few weeks ago at the pagan and metal festival Midgardsblot. The three-day event, which takes place on an ancient mound cemetery on the southern coast of Norway, combines heavy metal and folk music with Old Norse pagan culture. Among this year’s lineup were new big names in black metal such as Gaahls Wyrd and Oranssi Pazuzu, as well as old pagan metal legends like Moonsorrow and Týr, the Mongolian pagan horde Tengger Cavalry, and the Icelandic Sólstafir. And to top it all off, there was a recreated Viking village, plenty of historical knowledge, and the Blót—the sacrificial ritual for the old gods.” Ruby Morrigan “It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid shit we have to deal with in this country.” Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase “When there were periods of crisis, you stood beside him. When there were periods of happiness, you laughed with him. And when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him. I realize that as individuals we can’t just look back, that we must look forward. When I think of President Kennedy, I think of what Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet: ‘When he shall die take him and cut him out into stars and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.’ I realize that as individuals, and even more important, as a political party and as a country, we can’t just look to the past, we must look to the future. So I join with you in realizing that what started four years ago–what everyone here started four years ago–that is to be sustained; that is to be continued….If we do our duty, if we meet our responsibilities and our obligations, not just as Democrats, but as American citizens in our local cities and towns and farms and our states and in the country as a whole, then this generation of Americans is going to be the best generation in the history of mankind He often quoted from Robert Frost–and said it applied to himself–but we could apply it to the Democratic Party and to all of us as individuals: ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.'” Robert F. Kennedy 1964
Lately it seems we’re consumed with one side or the other’s harangue that we can barely hear ourselves think. For example – just this morning I was at our farmers market waiting for Mom to pick out something while I fumed and stewed on recent events. Then in the midst of my compulsory daily outrage I began to hear something. As I concentrated on the sound rather than my thoughts it came to me – I was hearing the Goldberg Variations. So lost in my thought I did not notice that right there – right next to me – a teenager had been furiously hammering away at one of my favorite Bach pieces.
On an accordion.
Rather than bring the kid up to speed on how the accordion is the essence of Satan set loose upon the world, I decided instead to think about those things that uplift both mind and soul and in that moment I thought it might be best to get away from the turbulence that has come with this year and look at the things that are getting swept to the side. So what follows is a collection of items that have been bookmarked with the intent of getting around to them sooner or later. Some touch on the relentlessly thorny issues at hand and some are merely things to note.
Do with them what you will, but take them in stride.
Remember that we are all not only a good people, but the good people who dared to think that we could send a Shemp to the Moon and return him safely to Earth.
With that in mind: 1. While the USAF admits that Lieutenant Colonel Eric Schultz died in a crash a couple of weeks ago, the same USAF doesn’t want to talk about what he was flying when he crashed. Luckily, the crack investigative journalists from Popular Mechanics are on the case. 2. Alaska Wolf Joe sent this with an email that only said, “Derrida weeps.”*
3. Under the heading, Florida Man vs. The Hurricane comes the story of the gent who suggested – as a joke- taking up arms and taking a shot at Hurricane Irma. He was quoted as saying:
”I’ve learned that about 50 percent of the world could not understand sarcasm to save their lives. … Seems the joke may have gone over many people’s heads. I’ve got people in my inbox mad as hell because they think this is actually happening. I don’t know whether to laugh or sigh.”
(Ed. Note: JEEPERS MISTER, SAY IT AIN’T SO! SAY IT AIN’T SO!)* 4. While everybody’s been hearing lots and lots about DACA, North Korea, and God knows what some ideas have crept back into style. If you listened to Bruce Sterling’s SXSW keynote this year you’d know that age-old McGovernite idea of a guaranteed income is making the rounds.
Yes, George McGovern, the man The American Conservative once called a better conservative than most of the conservatives who hold office today.
OK – except for the Kid Rock guy.
That speech was AWESOME!*
Sterling’s version was a bit more expanded than lifting people out of poverty. He’s anticipating a world where AI and The Internet of Things displaces workers. In that situation the guaranteed income would create new ways to keep people occupied. Retirement could start as early as 4 or the military could be expanded so that it not only prepared for combat, but would provide forrest rangers or youth counseling.
Once the gang at Davos got through having a good cry over why their home-girl Hilary didn’t get elected they moved on to talk about the guaranteed income. 5. I forgot if this is something I sent AWJ this or if AWJ sent it to me.
Bernard Stiegler in his unreadable scholarly postmodern account of the coming automation of society – Automatic Society 1: The Future of Work (Polity Press, 2016), “demonstrates once again (as he has done in virtually all his many previous books),” according to Bert Oliver, “that our technological era, like every distinctive technological epoch before this one, has generated novel technologies in such rapid succession that they have the effect of disrupting social life fundamentally, continually requiring new cultural practices and social adaptations – in this case the probable massive shrinking of employment because of digitalization”.
That is my favorite thing I have read in a long, long time because it begins with the words, “in his unreadable scholarly postmodern account.” 6.The Koi Division?
uhhhh … sure
In a semi-related matter we’re coming up on the one-year mark for getting genealogy updates in broken English from some sort of cousin who moved from Finland to Sweden in the past year. So far she’s pushed our history back to about 1350 CE. Along the way we’ve picked up some Swedish ancestors and, as we get into the 14th Century, there seems to be some Norwegians in the mix – ergo the mention of the Viking Blood Metal Gathering. (See above.) Bad enough I was having trouble keeping up with all the Finnish metal bands, now I have to keep track of the Swede and Norwegian ones as well. Along those lines – we do need to take a minute and see how a band performing the popular music of the day almost had a scrape with a Hegelian epoch defining moment.
First – a bit of background – most of us have long heard the phrase, “Everybody remembers where they were when (x) happened.” Pick one – JFK, the Challenger, 9/11 – they’re all memorable historic moments, but they’re not necessarily big-picture game changers. In Hegelian terms the fall of the Berlin Wall is an epoch event as such events come with realignments of power and social structures. One almost happened this weekend when the pro-Trump Mother of All Rallies (MOAR) march was scheduled for the same day as the Juggalo march on Washington.
From the UK Independent:
As the rally wound down, some participants said they were heading over to a protest nearby: a gathering of “horrorcore” rap fans who call themselves “juggalos”. The juggalos are super fans of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse, identifiable by their black-and-white, clown-like face makeup.The Juggalos gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to protest the FBI’s classification of their group as a “loosely organized hybrid gang”. The Justice Department has placed the Juggalos in the same group as overtly violent gangs like the Bloods and the Crips – a classification the fans dispute. According to the National Park Service, some 3,000 people were expected to attend the rally on Saturday – almost double the size of the MOAR.
(Tip o’ the tinfoil lined Bruins cap to Mr. Taylor for that one.)
Sadly, the gathering took place about a mile apart and nothing happened. This was disheartening to me as if both sides had clashed I expected the sun to be blotted out by all the think pieces flying through the Sunday morning sky.
So we’ll have to wait for another day.
Oh well –
Going out with two clips:
First, the uplifting one to stir your soul and encourage your better self to always step up when needed.
“Media theorists discuss the body primarily as the site of the senses, (see senses) however Descartes began his discussion of the body as an assertion from the mind. The Cartesian man establishes his existence and the limits of his physical being through the existence and limits of his senses. “I think therefore I am” most simply articulates the self identifying the senses of the self, to the self’s body. Lacan complicates this understanding of the body, though, with his discussion of the “mirror stage” of child psychological development. Lacan theorizes that man, sensing himself from within his own body, is only able to conceive of his body as an accumulation of pieces–or other bodies. This accumulation is only truly composed, when the whole is viewed in reflection, at a distance, alone. For Lacan, bodily integrity or wholeness is only achieved with the assistance of an ‘other’ seemingly detached object–the mirror. This differs from Descartes because the Cartesian man is an accumulation of parts sensed simultaneously as one whole body, whereas the Lacanian subject can not conceive of the whole body until the entire entity is visualized–a primitive media interaction. Maurice Merleau-Ponty engages these conflicting arguments, claiming that while the Lacanian man feels disembodied by this distanced image of his whole, the Cartesian man feels comfortable with his self-sensed self, and identifies the image as a model of himself, rather than his detached self. In Lacan’s model, selfhood may only be understood with the assistance of an outside object–i.e. one mirror. Lacan reflects on the destabilizing effect this discovery can have–realizing that identity is only definable with the aid of an outside object. This is the beginning of the new thoughts on embodiment.” – Maggie Hansen “Today at F8, Facebook revealed it has a team of 60 engineers working on building a brain-computer interface that will let you type with just your mind without invasive implants. The team plans to use optical imaging to scan your brain a hundred times per second to detect you speaking silently in your head, and translate it into text.Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, explained to conference attendees that the goal is to eventually allow people to type at 100 words per minute, 5X faster than typing on a phone, with just your mind.Eventually, brain-computer interfaces could let people control augmented reality and virtual reality experiences with their mind instead of a screen or controller. Facebook’s CEO and CTO teased these details of this “direct brain interface” technology over the last two days at F8. – Josh Constine “What was it he used to say (after the transformation when he was safe & invisible & the unbelievers couldn’t throw stones?) ‘Heh, heh, heh. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.'” – Amiri Baraka “She had a snake for a pet and an amulet and she was breeding a dwarf but she wasn’t done yet She had gray-green skin, n doll with a pin I told her she was awright but I couldn’t come in (actually, I was very busy then) She said she was A Magic Mama and she could throw a mean Tarot And carried on without a comma That she was someone I should know” – generally attributed to the Comedia Del”Arte “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” – Dr. Johnson
Every now and again you have to take a plunger to your zeitgeist.
Make yourself comfortable, we’re gonna be here for awhile. MEATY!
The sun finally came out which in turn brought people out of their homes and into our business district. Walking along with the rest I had to stop and wait for the light to change. Standing next to me was a tall thin man who was whistling. He caught the attention of everybody waiting on the corner as he was one darn fine whistler. He was whistling along with perfect pitch and feeling in a most entertaining way.
The Mighty Mouse theme.
On Whistler’s other side was a woman carrying an enormous purse. She was transfixed. She never took her eyes off of him. She was also the first to notice that his mood was changing. Even though he stopped she didn’t break her stare. When he started again he only whistled the refrain, “Here I come to save the day.” only in a lower key and at a much lower volume. The light stayed red and that’s when refrain grew darker and emerged like Whistler just tasted something nasty. Whistler stepped off the curb into the gutter then back up onto the sidewalk and at that moment the light changed.
Sure hope Mr. Trouble wasn’t hanging around as Whistler took off at what could only be called a trot taking with him that mighty sound. The woman with the outsized purse watched him for a second or two then looked at me and asked, “Wonder what’s going on in his head?”
An excellent question dear lady, but hardly a new one.
Wondering what’s in the other guy’s head is an ancient quest. Some anthropologists believe that somewhere in prehistory warriors ate the brains of their enemy believing it would give them complete insight into the other guy’s thinking. Today nobody believes you could derive such a benefit some such a thing. Making matters worse, last week The National Geographic Society said there’s no much nutrition to be had by eating your fellow human being.
So what does that leave us?
If the F8 Conference is any indication we’ll soon be able to twitch, shimmy, and spit our vacation photos directly onto our Facebook pages which will then lead to the slippery slope of creating the human-brain-to-computer interface. The outcome will most likely be some way to hook up some sort of electronics directly into your nervous system and that interface will be provided by some large corporation like FB or Samsung.
Or to use the indelicate term by hackers years and year ago,”One day there’ll be a way for somebody to jack into your meat.”
And what’s the payoff?
Now that The Guardian revealed Facebook’s policies on being no fun it’s not like we’re going to get to see what’s flying through the brains of the Patrick Batemans of the world. Hell, we might not even get to see your Uncle Ed’s constant dithering over Ginger vs. Mary Ann.
If there’s no entertainment value in seeing what going on in the other guy’s head then let the Scandinavians be chipped and we shall sit quietly and pretend to be enthused when we see the inner workings of their minds fly past us on social media.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Since the first of the year the industry’s go-to buzzword has been “collaborate.” Makes no difference where you look, which trade journal you read, or whatever pundit you set your watch to – it’s all collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. As winter wound down two groups coalesced around the word – those who use it all the time and the rest of us who have idea what they’re talking about.
Come early spring I got invited to one of those biz gatherings that everybody insists one of us attend and then regrets having extended the offer once I show up. (This will become apparent in a moment.) For an evening we were going to set aside our mutual anxiety over reporter slappings, the precursor to reporter tackling, along with the economic and physical threats to our continued work. We’d take a couple of hours,rid our minds of all the commotion and unite to be in the same place for one night as a greater whole united by the single fact that none of us understood one word coming out of the other guy’s mouth.
The evening’s hospitality consisted of being issued a can of Sierra Mist and a plastic cup full of ice. Once the hotel staff was reasonably sure you had a sufficient grip on both items you were hustled off into a side lobby for the social hour. No sooner had I proven that I was capable of using my opposable thumbs correctly I was approached by someone who works for a very, very, very large media conglomerate. She greeted me warmly, but you could see that she was gravely disappointed that Mom wasn’t coming. Nonetheless I was pulled over to a clutch of people who were also holding their still unopened cans of Sierra Mist as they listened to some guy saying collaborate, collaborate, collaborate over and over and over. In a hushed voice my acquaintance told me the man talking was the social media guru for a half dozen or so media groups in the US and Europe.
His larger point was, “We must find a way to easily communicate the need for collaboration in order to break through and break down the old cultures of boardrooms and newsrooms. We must find a way, a clear simple way. Maybe something simple, only a few words.”
So I said – you mean like, stop, collaborate and listen?
That made Social Media Man light up. “YES! Exactly!An excellent start! Was that something right off the top of your head?”
No, that’s not mine, a famous man said that long ago.
His eyes got wide as he asked, “WHO?”
Ten to 15 seconds of uncomfortable silence passed. You could see that he was waiting for me to say something like “GOTCHA!” or “Had you going there, didn’t I?” But I remained calm, expressionless, and silent until it became clear that I wasn’t joking.
When the silence hit the 20 second mark I wandered off.
“Neil dear, I think there’s something you should know. Listen: to be eccentric, you must first know your circle.” Miss Webster
Some of you have asked how the family reunion is coming along.
So far it demands that you become something like a Cold-War-Kremlin watcher.
The communication ranges from pitiful to alarmingly paltry. On the older end we are graced with family who doesn’t want that damn Internet in the house because it could start a fire. On the other end there’s several of those guys between the age of 45 and 60 who only use a computer at work and then only sparingly. At night they park themselves on the couch trying to develop a taste for Matlock so that they’ll more easily transition into their Golden Years. Somewhere in the middle is the cousin organizing the whole thing who seems to be the only other person besides myself who is not afraid to use a computer and who will admit to owning a smart phone.
His last email simply said,”Looks like your niece is coming.”
At this point most of you are asking, “Aren’t you, thank you Jesus, an only child?”
There was a dog . . . I remember that . . . we had a dog . . .
Meanwhile you’re asking, “Did you ask him what he meant by that?”
Did I mention that Cousin Other Smart Phone Owner’s favorite thing is going off the grid?
After sending that email he went straight to Billy Jack, Arizona after leaving his smart phone with his sister in Phoenix before he went walkabout.
Never mind that I’m riddled with anxiety over the whole thing. If we go then at some point I have to wade through all the mud that others created long before I was born. A few cousins think if we talk it through it will be like traveling back in time and healing a wound and once we’re done everything will be fine.
They mean well, but at some point I must square my shoulders and deal with the bad things that happened long before I was born. That means grief, sorrow, and many other things. Sure some of them try to explain it, but as Mom’s mom Granmmom once said, “You should be happy. Your friends are your family. You made a family for yourself. How about that?”
She was a wise woman.
To honor what she said you have my solemn promise that I will not use this page to bother you with all the anxious moments I’ve had and will probably continue to have over getting together with my relations.
Because that’s what Medium’s for.
One housekeeping note:
Recently the cat and this page turned 17.
Years ago the cat would spend the summer nights endlessly going from window to window all over the house to see what critters were going about in the night. Now he gets off the bed at first light, sticks his head between the vertical blinds on the sliding glass door, look around some, comes back to bed, and flops all over Mom.
The output of this page, minus the Mom flopping, has followed a similar trajectory.
But you knew that.
“In today’s all-farm-to-table-everything environment of “conscious consumerism”––where we’re willing to pay more for a steak if we’re told the cow was happy before somebody slaughtered it, clothing companies like Everlane use their dedication to “radical transparency” as a marketing tactic, and it is possible to purchase fair trade cocaine on the deep web––a product’s worth is often linked to the perceived ethics of those who produce it. When it comes to music, this means that artists are viewed as part and parcel with the work they create. If they seem like a decent person, we’re more apt to listen to their music with favorable ears; conversely, if we enjoy their work, there is part of us that automatically assumes that person embodies the values we assign to their music.” Drew Millard “But by the following year, in Age of Spin, Chappelle has figured out what he wants to say about Cosby, a man he says ‘has a legacy I can’t just throw away.’ He mourns the loss of Cosby as someone to be heralded as an entertainment pioneer and an icon who paved the way for black men to follow in his comedic footsteps (though Chappelle’s comedy is, uh, a little more explicit than Cosby’s ever was). He marvels at the sheer amount of time Cosby must have devoted to assaulting women, estimating that his ‘400 hours of rape’ makes the 65 hours you need to get a pilot’s license look like nothing. One of the best moments in either special comes when Chappelle dissects a confrontation that happened during one of his own shows, when a young white woman kept interrupting him as he tried to talk about Cosby. She apparently started shouting, ‘Women suffer!’ while Chappelle kept trying to say, ‘I know!’ But he describes drawing the line when she tried to insist that her suffering was the same as Chappelle’s. ‘She had no idea,’ he says, shaking his head. ‘Bill Cosby was a hero to me.’ What Chappelle wishes she would’ve understood — and what he keeps telling his audiences in Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, as he has throughout his career — is that a lot of this stuff is more complicated than many might want to admit.” Caroline Framke “All this while, Mailer has in clutch Why Are We in Vietnam? He had neglected to bring his own copy to Washington and so had borrowed the book from his hostess on the promise that he would inscribe it. (Later he would actually lose it – working apparently on the principle that if you cannot make a hostess happy, the next best thing is to be so evil that the hostess may dine out on tales of your misconduct.) But the copy of the book is now noted because Mailer, holding it one hand and the mug of whiskey in the other, was obliged to notice on entering the Ambassador Theater that he had an overwhelming urge to micturate. The impulse to pass urine, being for some reason more difficult to restrain when both hands are occupied, there was no thought in the Master of Ceremonies’ mind abut the alternatives – he would have to find The Room before he went on stage.” Norman Mailer from Armies of the Night
“A new age is upon us – and yet the some old qualities, love and admiration of them, still remain. These qualities are to exist and find their expression in new forms, comformable to modern life, usages, and tastes. Otherwise, we shall have but a nation of smirking persons, polite, dapper, genteel, and correct, following the established forms, their shrunken frames concealed in costumes, because, if they were stript, their meagerness and deformity would disgust the world.” Walt Whitman
“The art of the writer, like that of the player, is attained by slow degrees. The power of distinguishing and discriminating comick characters, or of filling tragedy with poetical images, must be the gift of nature, which no instruction nor labour can supply; but the art of dramatick disposition, the contexture of the scenes, the involution of the plot, the expedients of suspension, and the strategems of surprise, are to be learned by practice; and it is cruel to discourage a poet for ever, because he has not from genius what only experience can bestow.” Dr. Johnson
What follows is a disjointed mess that comes from a week of blogger’s block exacerbated by unexpected grief. My bad!
For those of you just tuning in, here’s how the division of labor works around here. Mom hears about a Rubber Chicken Dinner (RCD) and if it warrants attendance I go. Early in the week she got word that a “leading figure” in the community was retiring after 35 years ceaselessly toiling away at his no-show job so he could raise money for one of the two better known political parties. Our representation was required because he managed to scare up major cash for those who immediately represent us. Per Mom – not only would our local solons be stuffing their faces, they’d also be at the podium to dole out a few words which had a very close scrape with the heartfelt and sincere.
The treacherous portion of The RCD goes by a couple of names. Some call it “the pre-func” while others try to whitewash its sins by calling it “The Social Hour.” In either case only the most extroverted among us come away unscathed. Seeing as that I am not one of those outgoing lucky few I live in dread of the last 15 minutes before dinner is served as that’s the time when trouble seeks out the shy and reserved.
And this quarter hour was a doozy.
Looking across the room I saw two people charging right at me. Within seconds they were do close to me that the words “personal space” lost all meaning. HIM: Are you who we think you are? HER: (taking my chin and tilting my head up) Who looks after your sideburns, your dog? ME: We don’t have a … HER: Nonsense! HIM: Look for a mustache, I’m not seeing one! HER: Where is your mustache? ME: It and the girlfriend who insisted I grow one disappeared about ’81. HIM: No beard? HER: (Tilting my head the other way) No beard! HIM: Then you are not who we thought you were!
Glad we cleared that up?
Good thing those two weren’t amateur phrenologists or I’d still be there.
Wait, there’s more. Now on Medium: Visit the (sic) and bury the lede
Regardless of how March came in where you live it went out with two RCD’s here. A few days after receiving a critique of my facial hair (see above) I had to wander out for the retirement dinner of a local business exec. His company was giving him a big send off for his many, many years of having roughly the same DNA as the company’s founder. There were many stories and jokes about his endless golf trips which painted a much larger picture – a picture of dedicated employees who were relieved when he was in Palm Springs or Vegas or Phoenix because then they could get some work done.
Taking no chances I arrived 5 minutes before dinner was the be served to avoid any Imperial entanglements.
The entanglements waited until I was in the parking lot.
A guy I see around the neighborhood every so often comes up and says, “Hey – you know about th’ social media right?”
o…k… sure …
He gets between me and my driver’s side door, put a finger in my face and lets go with, “I went to this thing about business using Facebook and the other shit and it was all a bunch of damn kids. Ever heard of the Medium bloggers?”
Sadly … yes.
“They say you gotta get a Medium so you can be a thinker leader!”
I think the term is “thought leader.”
“Yeah, yeah! You gotta do that. You gotta do a Medium blog and it’ll be all about you and how you are the guy who’s working on all this social media blogging!”
Sorta like Armies of the Night.
“I guess you can write about 80s bands if you want. Use ‘em like those things, those metaphors and similarities! Isn’t that what you blogger guys do?”
The upshot here is that the guy paid good money to sit through six hours of metric-free anecdotes delivered in a peppy tone from a panel of Silicon Valley executives. For all that money he felt he had come away with knowledge that resembled nothing more than the All New, two-topping, Saltines and Mayo Special from Domino’s. I didn’t heave the heart to tell him that all FUTURE OF THE MEDIA conferences are like that.
In short – his solution was to get somebody who is twice the age of the average conference panelist (i.e me) who won’t so much inject perspective into the discussion as dump cold water all over it. He was looking for somebody who would smother the panel in pessimism and gloom.
And I’m just the man to do it!
Hey – it took me years to build my brand and I’m proud of it.
So BOO-YAH you high-sheriff panel talkin’ motherfuckers!
Truth is you don’t need me. What’s going on with the conventional media (papers, tv, cable, & radio) is obvious. Just this week Bloomberg turned lose something that can be called ESPN’s memorial service pre-func.
ESPN broke ground on this $175 million, 194,000-square-foot facility, called Digital Center 2, in 2011. It was billed by executives as “future-proof,” capable of adapting to any possible change in the way people watch sports. At the time, ESPN looked indestructible. Its namesake cable channel had just topped 100 million subscribers and was posting record profits for its parent company, Walt Disney Co., even as streaming apps such as Netflix were growing rapidly. Ratings for live sports, unlike almost everything else on TV, were soaring. And ESPN had big games year-round—Monday Night Football, college football bowl games, Major League Baseball’s opening day, and the NBA playoffs, to name a few. A cover story in this magazine in the fall of 2012 dubbed ESPN the “Everywhere Sports Profit Network.”
Five years later the network’s profits are shrinking, and the 10,000-square-foot SportsCenter studio has already begun to look like a relic. The show’s formula, in which well-fed men in suits present highlights from the day’s games with Middle-American charm, is less of a draw now that the same highlights are readily available on social media. Viewership for the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter, a bellwether for the franchise, fell almost 12 percent from 2015 to last year, according to Nielsen. Keith Olbermann, the SportsCenter-host-turned-political-commentator, put it bluntly on a podcast last year: “There’s just no future in it.”
Nobody needs a Medium page.
It’s all out there if you know where to look.
Besides – a Medium page?
You do have your dignity to consider. I do believe that these applauses are for some new honors that are heaped on Caesar.
The Paris Review ran out this memory of Chuck Berry a couple of days after he died.
“Bo Diddley had been backstage with him one time and was talking about magic and the radio. Back then a lot of people believed that the radio was magic, that sound waves traveled to different dimensions, maybe all the way to heaven. You ever get this little shiver in your spine, Bo Diddley asked him, like it’s hot and cold at the same time? That means someone’s been making love while a song of yours is on the radio. It goes right through the air and slips back into your soul. You know? And then, you ever get a sudden pain in your left foot, sharp, like a needle’s gone into it? That means somebody died while your song was on the radio. Somebody died.
“That was too much. It spooked him, and he’d gone to the library and checked out all the books they had on mysticism and magic. Madame Blavatsky and books on past lives and the occult. He read through most of them, but it made his head spin, and he stepped away from all of that.
“ ‘I don’t know,’ he said, and he shook his head. ‘I wouldn’t let any of them work on my car. Not one of them.’”
This list has been sitting on a legal pad for a few months.
Here’s the problem of how I can now come to a conclusion. The greater point I was after was the separation of creator and creation. Chuck Berry was proof that you can outlive your scandal(s) for a time, but the second you die your mistakes will come right on back. Berry’s death coincided with Dave Chappelle’s Netflix specials. Both were shot a couple of years ago, but the most recent ends with Chappelle trying to make sense of Bill Cosby.
Critics of the show – incorrectly- griped that Cosby did not lead to the comedy of Dave Chappelle. Cosby was one of the pioneers in a new form of comedy that did not rely on mother-in-law or women driver set-up and punch line jokes. Cosby brought forth a new form where comics talked about their lives. The material was based on life and the inadvertent discovery of humorous moments. At the end of the Cosby bit Chappelle runs out the many honorable things Cosby did while still acknowledging that 400 hours spent raping women is as heinous as it can get, but he still doesn’t know what to make of it and he ends with a look in his eye – the look you see older guys get – when they really don’t know if they’ll ever make sense of it.
That’s why my short list will most like remain on my shelf. I’m not sure what I’m to make of it either. I offer no defense of what the men on that list did nor do I condone their sins. In fact, the thought of Chuck Berry reading Madame Blvatsky stopped me in my tracks for an afternoon.
What are we to make of that?
In the meantime – please – let’s not get into political correctness.
Please save that paltry and threadbare out-of-the-box answer for another time.
Instead take a moment and wonder if the old Romans were right to wait for 100 years before they undertook the study of a famous life.
While you do that there’s a rumor that an evening of karaoke has been added to the family reunion so I must prepare something.
“In Vegas, if you make over a 100 big ones a week, your last name is never used: Frank plays Vegas, and Dean and Shecky; so does Jerry Vale.” John Gregory Dunne
“Meanwhile, I kept traveling the American countryside playing my songs, telling my jokes, and consciously infecting toilet seats practically everywhere I went. This included (in what was an unfortunate career move) Kenny Rogers brand-new 40-foot jade toiler seat. I vividly remember emerging from Rogers’s extremely ornate dumper into his sequined living room. The Southern California sun was ricocheting ferociously from the chandelier to the swimming pool to the tennis courts and back again into my right iris. ‘You ol’ storyteller, you’ I said humorously. ‘I can understand the chandelier, the swimming pool, the tennis courts – but Kenny, ‘ I asked shaking my head incredulously, ‘why in the world would you need a 40-foot jade toilet seat?’ “Well Kink,’ he said wistfully, ‘we never had one of those when I was growin’ up.’” Kinky Friedman “You’re my older brother, Fredo and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.” Michael Corleone
“By taking a second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by showing that she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second time.” Dr. Johnson “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” Groucho Marx
How did last week go?
Let’s take a peek.
– Managed to get some public realtions hotshot from Chicago off the phone by promising him all my business when my startup, InfantiGo gets off the ground.
– Told someone to her face that if she’s afraid of “cyberbullies” then she should either get used to being called a “snowflake” or a “libtard” or get off the Internet altogether. After she was a safe distance away Mom told me I had just been speaking to the person who ran the statewide Trump campaign.
– Someone phoned, yelled, “I KNOW YOU TOOK MY DOG!” and hung up. The same person called a minute or so later yelled, “AND DON’T BE FEEDING HIM THAT DRY SHIT YOU BOUGHT AT TARGET!” Haven’t heard anything further, but the cat has been tasked to let us know if he sees a dog running around the house.
– Got invited to a family reunion.
Ten or so years ago there was The Golden Age of The Bloggitysphere. Some of you will remember that it was much like the golden age of Ancient Greece only with cat pictures instead of statues of the gods. Back then from time to time I would talk about my relatives AKA The Neil Diamond Fan Club.(TNFDC) They’re the ones having this shindig which will center on finding more or less where our grandparents’ home used to be in one of the not-so-radioactive portions of unincorporated Rio Blanco County.
Of course this has lead people to ask, “Are you going?”
For those of you just tuning in it goes like this – I am the product of two second marriages. As such my time line is seriously out of synch with the balance of my generation. Some of TNDFC have some memory of seeing me in the 1970s whereas the majority see me as … how to put this?
Have you ever been on the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland and had some one nudge you to ask, “Is that new or has that always been here?”
It’s like that.
At least TNDF does speak to me which is more than I can say for the other side of my family. They shut me out of their lives entirely after I said one little thing at the reception following my grandfather’s funeral. Before the coffee and cake came out we were all gathered to listen to a second cousin tell some story about The Awfulest Awful Thing That Ever Happened Which Must Be Talked About at Each Family Gathering Because of the Awfulness.
The cousin got up on a dining room chair and started in using a loud amateur theatrical voice. Somewhere around 1930 my grandfather lost some property rights in a crooked game of Panguingue that was using a rigged card shoe. (At this point the hankies started to come out.) When it came time to flop or fold, or yell “Fizzbin” the other six players had 4 aces and a jack each and the property rights were gone. (Muffled sobs could be heard.) On and on it went about how this one tragic incident kept us from being invited to all the good ponzi schemes and if it hadn’t been for that game we could have been off and running stiffing one country club after another for the entry fees. Instead, and this is where the weeping got shot into high gear, we are left to our lowly station – a bunch of hicks without two nickels to rub together.
At this point – callow youth that I was – I got up in front of the room, thanked everybody for coming to the funeral and said, well that was 50 years ago and there’s not much we can do about it now. Back then did anybody think to call the sheriff or go find a lawyer?
Moments later I was offered neither cake nor coffee. Instead I was offered the use of the back door for my immediate exit. On the way to the car I was told that I should be ashamed of myself for asking questions about what makes a family a family.
At least I’m faring better with TNDFC and one relative in the old country. Thanks to the missionary efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its interest in genealogy I have been receiving email in broken English from Ainii Uppa, (No, really.) who is a member of a stake house not far from where my great-grandfather grew up. Per her – we’re related as we share a common ancestor named Olaf. She sent a copy of her big genealogy chart and right there at the top it says, “OLAF (b.? d.? 1420)
You got to talking and you forgot to ask? Or was Olaf some sort of 15th Century mega-celebrity who went by one name, you know, like Prince or Cher?
You know –
Right now we’re probably going to go, but we’re looking for Alaska Wolf Joe’s buy-in. We think he’s key to the whole shindig. First, he’d get to meet more family than he’s ever seen before. Next he’d get to collect more stories about our most colorful relative of all time, Uncle Jussi.
For those of you just tuning in – Uncle Yuse was the baby of the family and part of the liberation of Europe during WW2. Specifically he liberated anything that wasn’t nailed down or too heavy to carry. Years later he worked out his midlife crisis by striking a deal with either his second or third wife (no one is sure where she fits in his timeline) to vanish and then have her get him declared legally dead so she could collect his VA benefits. A few months after the ink was dry on the legally-dead papers Uncle Yuse rose from the grave only wandered about our local Grayhound station to find a payphone to call my father and speak in, I guess, what would have been Uncle Yuse’s newly acquired other-wordly voice.
Those of you who knew my father know that he was no stranger to dropping an angry son-of-a-bitch now and then. But the second he was off the phone with Uncle Yuse Daddy-o was using his angry son-of-a-bitch like it was his mantra.
Where were we?
I told AWJ the others could put a finer point on why Uncle Yuse couldn’t stay married and what happened when he broke it off with those women, although I suspect there was probably a custody fight over who’d get the bar tab.
That aside – some of you who have been subjected to one of the various blogs I’ve put up since 2000 might remember that the politics of TNDFC differs from how Mom ’n me see the world much less AWJ. I’m all for outsourcing any political discussions to him. He can introduce them to such terms as late-stage capitalism and anarcho-primitivism.
How will they react?
But hell, if you can get thrown out of your own grandfather’s funeral reception then it’s just a short hop, skip, and jump to getting thrown out of your family reunion, right?
If you’ll excuse me I gotta start building up a tolerance for this stuff.
“Do you remember a few years ago when people described absolutely everything as “Meh?” Everywhere you’d look on the Internet, there it was – “Meh!” A big bored shrug. We moaned that everything was sort of mediocre and bland. Not anymore. Now everything’s shit or brilliant and there’s no in-between and everyone is furious. Stick your head in the Internet now and and it’s like a fucking screaming convention. Black ants vs. red ants. It’s as if everyone’s been radicalized , and there fore in Brexit Britain, your either a knuckle dragging racist or a metropolitan elitist. Those are the only two roles available. Sorry! But we know these are caricatures, out here (IRL) most of us are bland and meh and reasonable.” – Charlton Brooker
The general fantasy of media criticism, especially public media criticism, is that the media has unlimited money available to it. In reality it has negative money available to it. Great accuracy is generally a luxury afforded to ‘quality’ publications and the product of much labor. How to share this with people so their fantasies of “fact checking” remain under control; i.e. it’s on us, collectively, caveat precursor. The media can at best dig its hole more slowly, not climb out. There are no ladders. – Paul Ford
“Enter the Unabomber and a new line is being drawn. This time the bohemian schiz-fluxers, Green yuppies, hobbyist anarcho-journalists, condescending organizers of the poor, hip nihilo-aesthetes and all the other “anarchists” who thought their pretentious pastimes would go on unchallenged indefinitely — well, it’s time to pick which side you’re on. It may be that here also is a Rubicon from which there will be no turning back.” John Zerzan
“As Mailer had come to recognize over the years, the modest everyday fellow of his daily round was servant to a wild man in himself.… He would have been admirable, except that he was an absolute egomaniac, a Beast—no recognition existed of the existence of anything beyond the range of his reach.” — Norman Mailer on Norman Mailer
“I wonder what pleasure men can take in making beasts of themselves.I wonder, Madam, that you have not penetration to see the strong inducement to this excess; for he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Dr. Johnson in response to his landlady
First, take a minute to watch this review of the year just past and then we’ll begin.
Clears your sinuses too!
The orgone box in the basement has been sitting largely unused for the past several years. Some of you who were subjected to one of the earlier incarnations of this page remember how I spent an afternoon gathering myself in the box prior to posting something. This week – as I had nothing better to do – I decided to see if the box was still in good working order. In fact, the experience went so well that I composed this very post in my mind as I sat in the accumulator!
Here come the conclusions gathered while sitting in the box. Two things:
1. Science tells us that the average human body is mostly water and a few trace elements. While this is generally true for most people it does not apply to the average Scandinavian-American males whose bodies are composed mostly of water with the balance being opinions. Setting aside the theological problems for a moment, the real reason reincarnation gets no traction among Lutheran men is that they have no interest in coming back as a bug or a lemur. They want to come back – as is – ‘cuase they ain’t done talkin’ yet!
As such it is the sole reason for this page to exist.
2. If you’re tired of everyone on social media having the emotional range and studied thought of spooked cattle then you’ve come to something almost but not quite like the right place. Not that we’re going to anything about the hysterics in your life, but you’ve arrived 2016 year-end desk cleaning post, which is my feeble attempt at grasping that concept the poo-ass types call, “Sense Making.”
One of my great fears is that I’m slowly becoming one of those old guys who constantly repeats himself. But it also dawned on my that if I call this post a year-ender, one of those 2016 wrap-up sort of things, then I am free to repeat myself without any risk of embarrassment befitting my advanced age. Lies, damned lies, and bots
Fake news and disinformation comes in many forms. This week I learned the meaning of the term, “honeypot bot” via “The Saga of @christianmom18.” The Mile High Swingin’ Daddyo Fred sends this list of fictitious academic sites.
So why mention this?
There are lies in your feeds. Makes no difference, left or right – you don’t notice them because you’ve seen enough of your feeds to pass judgement and move on. Put another way – it doesn’t make any difference which end you’re swimming in – somebody’s wee-wee’d in the pool and made you think it’s Chanel No. 5.
Needless to say this causes the little voice in your head to shout, “WHO WOULD DO SUCH A THING?!?!!??”
In the case of @christianmom18 there are those who think some people in this world need a good nose tweaking. There’s also sociopaths, narcissists, and the people who are in it for the money. Once you’re done hyperventilating
Oh lordy! I said “money” and not in a good way. Libs don’t like when that happens because they think the very idea of people who readily handle money is like watching a dyspeptic ox relieve himself in slow motion. The Right meanwhile likes the idea that the markets will provide in a Newtonian clockwork fashion, unless it provides something they don’t like such as porn, 4LOCO, or fake news intended to tweak their collective nose.
That’s why you should watch this video until you stop feeling dizzy. Charlton Brooker is a sly man. If you spend the next hour watching this you’ll see that he slags all sides equally. If you don’t see that then you’re still upset that I mentioned money and you should lie down before reading on.
“Boy, what a sound! How I love the sound of clinking money! That beautiful sound of cold hard cash!”
Here the part where I get to repeat myself without much impunity.
Recently The Proprietor AKA Berlin Wally wondered aloud (on another social media platform) as to whether or not a divided nation was in someone’s best interest. Put another way – does someone out there benefit from making sure that we are only known by our differences instead of our commonalities?
What brought this up was a small mention that every year Mom ’n me buy $150 worth of tickets for the Kiwanis Holiday Pancake Breakfast which raises money for college scholarships for Key Club members at our three high schools. Not that we sit down and eat as we give the tickets back and tell the Kiwanis to go resell them. Nevertheless we do stop by for coffee to see how things are going. Each year we get to meet the usual suspects who attend – the Legion guys who put on our big 4th of July parade, the half dozen Marines who do their Toys for Tots thing at the breakfast, various functionaries of the VFW, Santa, (who owns the local furnace and water heater repair company) and most of the local Masons as the breakfast is held in their basement’s multi-purpose room. Later we usually see all the same folks along with the Chamber of Commerce high sheriffs, a Girl Scout choir doing your caroling favorites backed by one of our high schools’ band, and several ministers from the neighborhood at the Christmas tree lighting that the local merchants put on. This year the jeweler who’s been in business for 45 years brought his two toddler grandkids up on on the stage and they all threw the switch to light the tree.
And how does this happen in a city where Mr. Trump only got 8% of the vote?
Simple – there’s big money in you not knowing things are not as doctrinaire as they seem.
To expand on something I said last summer – the political viewpoints of the left and the right have been commodified. Working forward from that you could say that once a viewpoint has become commodified it becomes a form of entertainment.
What probably divides us is anger and frustration borne out of glaring differences.
What we have in common is boring.
And that makes for bad tv.
Gut jiggling however is great tv. And if I may repeat myself – O’Relley and Maddow are Coke and Pepsi. It’s all which form of gut jiggling your prefer. There’s no real difference just so long as you have a nice bout of reflux when you’re done watching. Resolutions any one?
Where we do differ is dinner table conversation. Over Christmas dinner we played Six Degrees of the Unabomber and I won with three degrees left over! Alaska Wolf Joe asked what that UB believed as he’s heard him mentioned in something from John Zerzan that one of his pals read aloud at a party. (Millennials!) I said that when his papers were found the conservatives with thrilled at first as the UB tore the libs a new one. Their enthusiasm wore off quickly as they read on and found themselves at the center of a real butt kicking as well.
I only mention this as my new year’s resolution, aside from spending more time in the orgone box, is to swim back and forth going to both ends of the pool to figuring out who should have thought of that before they left the house and pointing it out in a sort of Ted Kaczynski way. Face facts – you can’t do it. You’re going to be busy enough spending each day on Facebook watching no end of people make the hard transition from losing their shit over a foreign-born president to losing their shit over having a president who might be a foreign agent.
Good luck with that.
While we’re all waiting for that to start let’s take a moment and get this one stuck in our heads.
“But archaeological description is precisely such an abandonment of the history of ideas, systematic rejections of its postulates and procedures, an attempt to practice a quite different history of what men have said. That some people do not recognize in this enterprise the history of their childhood, that they mourn for its passing, and continue to evoke, in an age that is no longer made for it, that great shade of former times, certainty proves their fidelity. But such conservative zeal confirms me in my purpose and gives me the confidence to do what I set out to do.” Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge
“Whatever job they’re doing, they appear to do it diligently. ‘In class, sometimes I say, ‘Is your identity a kind of knowledge?’ ‘ James O’Leary, an assistant professor of musicology at the Oberlin Conservatory, told me. ‘The answer, for forever, has been no.’ But his current students often vigorously disagree. In the post-Foucaultian tradition, it’s thought to be impossible to isolate accepted ‘knowledge’ from power structures, and sometimes that principle is turned backward, to link personal discomfort with larger abuses of power. ‘Students believe that their gender, their ethnicity, their race, whatever, gives them a sort of privileged knowledge—a community-based knowledge—that other groups don’t have,’ O’Leary went on. The trouble comes when their perspectives clash.'”Nathan Heller from The Big Uneasy
“Thus one generation is always the scorn and wonder of the other, and the notions of the old and young are like liquors of different gravity and texture which never can unite. The spirits of youth, sublimed by health and volatized by passion, soon leave behind them the phlegmatic sediment of weariness and deliberation, and burst out in temerity and enterprise. The tenderness, therefore, which nature infuses, and which long habits of beneficence confirm, is necessary to reconcile such opposition: and an old man must be a father to bear with patience those follies and absurdities which he will perpetually imagine himself to find in the schemes and expectations, the pleasures and sorrows of those who have not yet been hardened by time and chilled by frustration.” Dr. Johnson
There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.’ Eldrige Cleaver
And it’s the people who make you and if you’re not doin’ your proper work it’s the people who will break you – F. A. Sinatra
This was the week that people came forward to ask questions, burning questions, questions that were very much front and center in their minds.
The first one came early in the week. A bewildered gent asked, “How do you stay married?”
I looked him the eye and said, “Kinda like Coors Beer, you have to start with pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water!
Late in the week, at roughly the same time, there was a tug on my sleeve and a young gent breathlessly asked,”Would you say Slate over-thinked The Fartcopter?”
Sure, yeah, OK, around the edges … more than a little – but let’s give Slate some credit. Rarely has content better fit a medium than Facebook to giving Fartcopter the Cahier du Cinema treatment.
Moving along –
This post is here merely to note the 16th anniversary of this page. Rather than try to pull what follows into some sort of giant slumgullion that you can enjoy at the pace of a prison meal, I have instead decided to break this out into various sections.
Stop screaming. QUESTIONS ANSWERED WHILE-U-SLEEP! CALL FOR A QUOTE!
While 7:45am is a bit early to talk about the intricacies of a successful marriage, questions that difficult do not go without further thought. Later in the day I realized that the question may not have been specifically aimed at me, but was meant to be asked of The Universe in general. In either case, I have no better answer than the one I gave … on short notice.
The worst case scenario came when I was asked – at 6:15am – whether or not newspapers had a future. My answer was, of course, “No,not as we know them now.” which made an 86 year-old man cry.
Unlike marriage I at least can back that one up.
Here’s a couple of diagrams:
The papers suffer from a problem. They convey information in a familiar way that only appeals to the most rapidly aging among us. (Think of it as people being grumpy over Coke coming in a can rather than a bottle.)The simple fact is there are these people living among us called Millennials. (Some of them are living among us because we gave birth to them. e.g. Alaska Wolf Joe) As we age out they take over and – as I have said countless times before – they have no interest in consuming information the same way their elders did.
Complicating matters (Diagram 2)is something no one is paying any attention to at the moment. Large corporations, movie studios, book publishers, and others have discovered that they no longer need the convention media to get word out. Case in point – a large very, very well-know Seattle-based coffee company hired a photographer who has won several Pulitzers, a 20-year vet of producing long pieces for the local NBC-affil, and a very well known radio reporter to create content that will bypass the usual suspects and go directly to you.
The academics call this “disintermediation.”
Translated from the Latin – “We don’t need you any more!”
So go ahead. Pick up the paper off the porch. Give it a big hug and a kiss. Sooner or later you’re going to be too old to stoop over and pick it up unless it gets starved for content first. 2016 IT’S THE NEW 1968!
History sure is interesting until you have to live through it, isn’t it?
Most of what appears on this page is a rolling obit for the old media with an added thumbnail sketch here and there about the chaos that’s ensued in media since the economic collapse of 2009. Lately, or so it seems, it’s also a rolling obit for the Boomer’s weltanschauung as well as the generation’s overarching and unwarranted belief in its on self worth. Case in point – this week New Yorker article on Oberlin College.
Very near the end of the article there’s this –
But the Firebrands, beginning in the contexts of their campuses, are resetting that frame, much as the postwar generation did half a century ago. The historic bracket that opened in the sixties is starting to close; the boomers’ memoirs of becoming no longer lead up to the present. When that sort of thing happens—when experiential contradictions become acute—a window opens for people whom the legal theorist Cass R. Sunstein calls “norm entrepreneurs”: those promulgating new standards that others can adopt and defend, redefining bad behavior (say, from homosexuality to homophobia), rewriting social models, and shifting the default settings of political culture. Before long, another mural, displaying these new liberal virtues, will probably adorn the blank wall in the Cat in the Cream. Until then, the cracks in the American left are likely to grow—with more campaign arguments about who is the “true” progressive, more shouting past one another, and more feelings that, for at least one generation, everything is lost.
The underpinnings, the building blocks of a new conversation, if you will, are moving into place. Foucault has replaced Marx. (i.e. power structures are now perceived vertical rather than the 60s vie of a horizontal/hierarchical structure) The hand wringing and tut-tutting exemplified by the teacher in the article who says the kids are doing the Right’s work only prove Foucault’s point that some of us are going forward with ideas and paradigms that have shot clean past their expiration dates. At some point this must seem as foreign the the Boomers – who once claimed the whole world was watching – as it was to the college faculties of the 1960s.
Long, long ago a very wise man told me that the core of the 60s could best be explained by Rousseau. While the very public debate was about The Establishment, the real discussion was about the nature of the institutions that made up The Establishment. His example was what we now call Second Wave Feminism. As those women rethought what the institution of womanhood was all about they were in fact also creating a parallel discussion of what the institution of manhood was all about.
In its own way that examination was the intersectionality of its time.
Look, the discussion for the next 30-35 years is forming and most of us will either not be around to see how it comes out or be marginalized by age and as such be denied participation.
Long story short – some of us have no lived long enough to be on the wrong side of Eldrige Cleaver’s famous dictum and Pogo’s best know aphorism now applies to everybody over 50.
Whether we like it or not.
Moving along – WHERE’S THE FREE PEPSI AND BALLOONS FOR THE KIDS, YOU SUNUVABITCH?
Yes, this weekend is the 16th anniversary of this page. It would be nice to say something profound, but as you’re all well aware I have been profundity-challenged since birth. That of course lead to the many iterations of this page, irrational and erratic topic selection, and an endless repetition of content that could only be attributed a troubled soul.
Given all that – last week I think I hit on something that can correct the problem. Reading along about the ongoing legal battles concerning who will control 92 year-old Sumner Redstone’s fortune there was a line that struck me. At one point Redstone appeared in chambers to give a deposition. It got off to a a very rough start – no one could understand a word Redstone was saying. Finally the judge finally ordered a short recess so some one could adjust Sumner’s dentures so the everyone could understand what he was saying. Recess ensued, helpers got busy with Mr. Redstone’s uppers and lowers, and then all was well.
So it came to me – that’s the problem.
What I need is the digital equivalent of Fixodent and forget it.
Once that happens it’ll all make sense.
Hell, I might even take the blame for Trump.
Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
But in the meantime …
“I’m writing a kind of collection of essays about online relationships or about an online relationship and the way that that kind of affects your sense of identity and your sense of yourself in place because online tends to flatten things. Everything seems to be simultaneously available and you can skip between things. I guess that’s what we hear about the way people read now. They skip between lots of short things instead of progressing in a linear fashion through one long thing. I don’t know the creative possibilities of digital, because I don’t know if I’ve seen that successfully realized yet, but certainly I’m interested by the way that it interacts. It doesn’t necessarily make the way we think different, but it kind of links up with something which is already there: the non-linearity of our thought processes and of our perceptions and our identities.” – Joanna Walsh
“It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious, and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty rather than of knowledge.” – Dr. Johnson “Not like the rest of my family! Please! High-minded me and altogether superior, I’d read a book for a start!”- Anna Fierling
I’m starting to understand why old men are content to stick their hands in their back pockets and stare into infinite space.
This might take some time.
People claim F. Scott Fitzgerald once said something like, you don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. Anyone who’s ever seen any incarnation of this page knows that I’ve never let a trivial thing like that stop me which in turn doesn’t explain why the page has gone fallow for so long. Initially I was going to start off with a joke about how I was either suffering from writer’s block or early onset Alzheimer’s. The joke withered as I was talking to someone last week who will lose a very close family member in the next couple of years to early onset. The individual in question will probably be dead before reaching the age of 50. Having lost my father to a variant of the disease and having lived through the experience I found that throw-away line to be more of a spur than an amusing space filler.
As my father slipped away there were times where you could step away from the grief and pain and see how much of him was shaped by the times he lived through and how much of him was his core personality, i.e. that part of you which would make your mother say, “There you go again!” My various memories of all that came back to me last weekend as Alaska Wolf Joe insisted that there be a family outing to see Mother Courage and Her Children. After the performance AWJ, our resident Brecht scholar, was very curious to know what we thought.
I told him his grandfather would have loved it. In fact I could hear my father’s voice in my head. He would have walked out of that theater a happy man telling anyone who would listen, “She was makin’ a livin’! That’s what it’s all about makin’ a livin’!!”
AWJ, more than a tad stunned said, “Then he would have missed the point?”
OK so Brecht is about a subtle as a well thrown brick. That’s why high school English teachers don’t like him. He’s not like that yummy Henry James where what’s being said is all about what’s not being said. Brecht couldn’t be bothered with that sort of thing. That’s why no self-respecting high school English teacher wants stand in front of a classroom and say, “So when the angry young soldier tells Mother Courage, ‘Fuck you!’ what do you think he really means?” uhhhh … fuck you?
As odd as it might seem this was a parenting moment.
While we can make the case – and I saw this was where AWJ’s thoughts were heading – that the author loses control of the text that was not the case here. My father simply would have missed the point.
AWJ was a tad saddened by all that. He’d like to believe that he comes from some long line of thinkers and intellectuals, but he does not. He was particularly upset a few years ago when I told him his favorite relative of legend, my ne’er-do-well Uncle Jussi was not a great thinker, he was just a lout. Sure, he could read and write, or at least read and write as he could given the fact that he did little of either after leaving high school.
But hold a complex thought in his mind for longer that 10 seconds?
Which brings us around to the question, how did I, or more importantly, we get here?
It’s said that Alzheimer’s victims only experience a constant and bewildering present, unable to remember anything from the past even if it was a thing critical to dealing with the future. That’s why it was little wonder to me that my father was consumed in such a way. Like my other he was drug through the Depression only to have to deal with the war. They were people of the The Great Now, so burdened with basic needs that that thinking about the future was a waste of time and thinking about the past was unacceptable escapism. In that divide of self – the core personality and the persona shaped by events – it was easy to sort one from the other as he creeped every so slowly to the grave.
And my generation of the family?
Nothing of the kind applied to us. Despite that I am still without as my as a genetic fellow traveler much less a biological doppelgänger. The rest were content to manually sort reports to the home office or every so quietly do some bookkeeping.
So how did I get here?
As stated earlier – this might take some time. It also might take some space which is both good news and bad news. One the one hand it means this page might be updated more frequently, but it also means – sadly- that this page might be updated more frequently.
“So different are the colors of life, as we look forward to the future, or backward to the past; and so different the opinions and sentiments which this contrariety of appearance naturally produces, that the conversation of the old and young ends generally with contempt or pity on either side. To a young man entering the world, with fulness of hope, and ardour of pursuit, nothing is so unpleasing as the cold caution, the faint expectations, the scrupulous diffidence which experience and disappointments certainly infuse; and the old man wonders in his turn that the world never can grow wiser, that neither precepts nor testimonies can cure boys of their credulity and sufficiency; and that not once can be convinced that snares are laid for him, till he finds himself entangled. Thus one generation is always the scorn and wonder of the other, and the notions of the old and young are like liquors of different gravity and texture which never can unite. The spirits of youth, sublimed by health and volatized by passion, soon leave behind them the phlegmatic sediment of weariness and deliberation, and burst out in temerity and enterprise. The tenderness, therefore, which nature infuses, and which long habits of beneficence confirm, is necessary to reconcile such opposition: and an old man must be a father to bear with patience those follies and absurdities which he will perpetually imagine himself to find in the schemes and expectations, the pleasures and sorrows of those who have not yet been hardened by time and chilled by frustration.” – Dr. Johnson
“This is for all you new people. I have only one rule. Everybody fights, no one quits. If you don’t do your job, I’ll kill you myself!” – Honoré de Balzac
“None of those communist agitators better be coming around here! I’ll tell you that, JACK!” – F.A. Sinatra
This was the week where I ran into an old business associate I had not seen in several years. He left Seattle to take a job and over the course of our short conversation he talked about adjusting to life in Delaware – a state he had only known of previously from 6th-grade geography. Things have gone well for him, he met some one and they married three years ago. At that point he stopped and said, “How ’bout you? You still still up there clappin’? Absolutely!
With that he took off. I continued to smile and wave until I was sure he was out of sight. Then I drove like a bat out of hell to get home to check in with our resident young person, Alaska Wolf Joe to see what this “clapping” business is all about. Upon hearing my story Alaska Wolf Joe took on his best withering look, reached into his jacket for his phone, and said in a stage whisper, “Allow me to Google that.”
Per the Urban Dictionary:
“Clappin” 1. Is the act of having sexual relations with another person. This Word was originally used by metalheads from Berkeley California. See also, O.G. Bootyclap (usage) ‘Dude, Tyler’s Clappin’ on that fat chick.’; 2. Out of date or worn out, usually to describe attire or accessories. Also means tired out. (usage) As in ‘Man, my tracksuit is clappin’. Gotta get down JJB Sport and buy a new one.”
Putting the phone back in his jacket AWJ added, “And stop listening to Tame Impala. It’s unbecoming.”
His last statement was succinct. It completely took my mind off the clapping business and got me refocused on the problem at hand – it’s the 15th anniversary of this page and I got bupkis.
Well… not exactly.
I’ve had ideas, but they were either so succinct or so paltry and threadbare that I could only hope that they sell blog posts down at JBB Sport next to the track suits. Therefore I am left with no option but to celebrate 15 years of doing this by running out those ideas which could not find their way out of my zeitgeist’s cul-de-sac. Ink-a-dink-a-doo
Last month I decided to get a new electric razor. I have no idea if anything’s wrong with the one I got 15 years ago. It, like the stereo, disappeared into Alaska Wolf Joe’s lair years ago and I have no interest in going in to find it. If you can get past the smell, his lair is a dark and frightening place. Now and then the cat goes in only to run out like he saw a ghost.
Shopping for a new one was about equally frightening. There’s a bewildering array of electrics to chose from. As most of you remember, you used to go to drug store to get an electric razor. There were two kinds – the ones that came in rugged, dark industrial colors were for men and the pastel-shaded ones were for women. As my father, who owned a drug store for many years, liked to say, “Hell, they’re the same damn razor right down to the mark-up!”
With that in mind -I clicked on a few things here and there a box popped up that said, “Based on your browsing history.” Three razors appeared below the most memorable of which sported the tagline, “Gentle on tattoos.”
Because ink is like gin and you don’t want to bruise it?
Googling around on that subject it seems the young men of today routinely shave their body hair so that their tattoos can be more readily seen. One entry said that it’s a bit like a city maintenance crew trimming the bushes so the traffic signs could be clearly read. Allegedly the razor in question was good for such as well as shaving your head which like tattoos is something I’m not interested in, but we’ll save that for just a wee bit later. Dead Horse Beaten While-U-Wait
We didn’t intend to stay up for Letterman’s last show, but circumstance brought us home late so we watched the back half. OK – we kinda watched. Mom and I mostly talked to AWJ about how the show was get-out-of-town huge when it started back in the pre-cable tv days. Our contention was that – back then- there was so little on tv that spoke to our sense of humor and given the overall scarcity of programming we thought Letterman was the single most amazing thing we’d ever seen. As such Colbert cannot replicate that experience.
Also we used it as a teaching moment for Mr. Reinvent the Theater. Back then with the limits of content distribution people only knew what they were told repeatedly. (See the previous post about Time’s use of hyphen.) That’s why Andy Kaufman was a genius. People were told over and over he was a comedian and every time they didn’t get the joke. Back then not getting the joke angered and frustrated people. Andy and Letterman knew this and they rode it for all it was worth.
AWJ’s mission, should he decide to accept it, is to find that same soft white underbelly and wrench it open in the 250-channel, mobile Internet-driven world. YOU GET A PUNDIT! YOU GET A PUNDIT! LOOK UNDER YOUR SEAT!! YOU ALL GET A PUNNNNNNNDITTTTT!!
Recently Gawker Media ran out the headline, I Don’t Think David Brooks Is Okay, You Guys. While picking on Brooksie is nothing new, the article does get a little tl;dr to make the same old case. If you’re not inclined to really wade through that, then please accept this summary which was taken from every radio commercial that plays on every sports-talk station around the country, “After the age of 25 your body’s ability to produce testosterone decreases.”
Never mind the fact that with the decline of newspapers it’s real hard to be one of the snarling he-beasts of the media elite. Once upon a time if you were a Times columnist you lived far, far above us regular mortals. All well and good, but in the last 10 or so years punditry has become democratized. Anybody can be one now. Hell, there’s been so many for so long it’s a wonder Oprah didn’t give them out on her last show and it’s probably just as well. The charm of having a pundit around would undoubtedly wear off pretty fast. Can you imagine how sad it would be to drive down the street and see Thomas Friedman standing in somebody’s driveway with a little piece of masking tape that read, “$1” because he was a yard-sale item?
Where were we?
Oh yeah – Brooksie and The Allegory of the Low-T Informercials. Per the article he’s a little ticked off that the young people, especially the attractive young women, aren’t paying any attention to him.
What’s wrong with kids these days?
Why aren’t they giving him his due?
Time was kids knew who was important. All they had to do was look at People Magazine. If you flipped through the pages and found – as Tom Wolfe pointed out – some one sitting on a couch with the object which suggested how he or she exercised his or her libido – you knew that person had arrived. That meant the old media had crowned some one King and/or Queen Shit.
The Internet has democratized that process which leaves some one like Brooks to mutter under his breath about how the kids with their Tweetbook and their Snappy Chatter and their InState Grams lets anybody sit on the couch and be Karl Lagerfeld and his cat.
Even Tyler and his old lady.
Bless their hearts.
Oh and speaking of libido… Goodness me that’s a lot of Sudafed! Allergies?
Last week a woman came up to me, leaned into my face, and gushed about my hair. She started off with, “I’ve never really studied the back of your head before!”
Yeah, me neither.
“You have an amazing head of hair, so thick, so lush…”
This begs the question, “Did you tell Mom about this?
Didn’t have to.
She was sitting next to me.
Mind you, I’m not saying Mom’s sanguine about it. Instead she has a quiet understanding of how these sudden volcanic eruptions of the middle-aged female libido work. As she has said time and again, “If it wasn’t for the dog none of these women would know anybody who still has his own hair. With your hair now you could probably go back to your hometown and those women you grew up with would have to pay attention to you.” Ahhhh, the wily frontage-road vixens of unincorporated Rio Blanco County.
Now don’t for a second think they’ve gone to seed.
They still clean up real good.
Not a one of ’em goes down to the Eagles on Saturday night without first spending all Saturday afternoon at the beauty parlor making sure the color of her hair matches the color of her spray tan. Years and years of experience has taught her one thing – you can spend all night sitting at the end of the bar rotating shots of Fireball and Cuervo, but God forbid you should look you just fell off the back of a truck.
Hey – you never know- come the shank end of the evening when Art, the bartender sets the mood by shutting off half the fluorescents and the band starts to break out a few Foghat covers there might be some guy of a certain age who still has his hair. That might get her to get up and see if he wants to go back to her trailer.
Provided the ex ain’t blow’d it up making a fresh batch of meth. Now we come to the end of our broadcast day
What is the 15th anniversary?
God knows that over time most of what’s been posted here seems like IKEA shelves left in the box and God knows that’s all I see on NextDoor. OK, except for the couple who say they’re taking turns out on the front walk parading around with a shotgun to hold off the drug sealers.
The conventional wisdom says that couples who do things together stay together longer.
Whether or not that involves a 12-gauge pump-action Remington is anybody’s best guess.
Look, it’s not like their kids can help as those little bastards are all caught up trying to TweetFace and Bookgram, and SnappyPatter and …
Did I go there already?
Then it’s time to wind up – so here’s two thoughts. 1. After all this time if, in my own small way, I hope I’ve been able to never make you think of the terms, “golf clap” and “Those goddam happy-clappy people at 10 o’clock Mass” the same way again. 2. After 15 years it’s been as frustrating for me as it’s been frustrating for you. In all that time there’s been no end of platform and URL changes. There’s been an endless parade of half-finished thoughts, crap analogies, and posts which were – at best – only occasionally plausible, if I may borrow that term.
For that I apologize.
But please keep one thing in mind – for 15 years when I sit down to type these things this is all I can hear in my head.
“Of course, the fact that some of his ideas didn’t pan out wouldn’t have bothered McLuhan much. He was far more interested in playing with ideas than nailing them down. He intended his writings to be “probes” into the present and the future. He wanted his words to knock readers out of their intellectual comfort zones, to get them to entertain the possibility that their accepted patterns of perception might need reordering. Fortunately for him, he arrived on the scene at a rare moment in history when large numbers of people wanted nothing more than to have their minds messed with.” Nicholas Carr “The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.” – David Foster Wallace
Before we begin let’s do a little creative visualization.
Here’s how I see myself while blogging:
And here’s how all of you see it:
Moving along –
The hotshot newspaper columnists and pundit types sincerely believe that you’re supposed to have some insights in the past 12 months so you can shower ’em, in the words of my mother “Like cheap costume jewelry and big handfuls of penny candy” on the poor saps who read you. Such is not the case here, instead you’ll find that what follows are merely the ideas I had for posts which didn’t pan out.
A lack of concentration.
Case in point – and a valuable insight into the male brain for the women reading this – I was onto something that I thought would be a good post which slipped away in an instant. While trying to bring an idea out of the ooze I was in traffic and I managed to pull up behind a 1970s vintage boogie van. Beyond the faded Franzetta-ish painting on the side its most notable feature was a brand new hotel-style coat coat hanger wedged between the interior rim of the back bumper and the tail pipe. Now most men would look at that and say, “How does he get that to stay put?” when the better question is, “What the hell is that all about?” Bypassing the latter question some men will obsess all day on the mechanics of wedging a hotel style hanger between the exhaust and the bumper when the constructive thing to do is ask the van’s owner, “OK, let’s go slow and maybe you can remember. So you pulled into the Hilton, then what?” Beyond that you start to wonder if the parking valet was so imbued with customer service that he ran out to the van, resplendent in the light reflecting off the faded picture of Moon Maid with Ax, and chipperly said, “Checking in?”
Once the mental obsession sets in you forget whatever came before it.
Vaguely, ever so vaguely, I do remember something about the falling price of oil and how part of it can be attributed to speculation collapse. The per-barrel price rocketed up last year because Putin was going to have a tantrum, then the price went through the roof because ISIS/ISIL was getting rich off the stuff, and finally there was ebola. Not that ebola really had that much to do with the overall picture. Rather it seemed compulsory that speculators and trader of all type had to loose their shit over ebola in the same way that the Olympics have Greco-Roman wrestling.
Why does it exist? What the hell is it? Does anybody even understand how it works?
But you can’t have one without the other.
Having said that – Some one some us know decided to explore the idea of Boomer Cultural Hegemony (tm pend.) starting with the popular songs of the Christmas season. Her central thesis tries to follow the thread of logic set out by the WaPo article linked to in her piece. All well and good until you realize, and I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to those of you with delicate sensibilities, that the WaPo has no idea how the media works these days.
Boomer cultural hegemony is not the villain here. While it plays a part what really is at the heart of the matter is something that can only be called Scarcity Media. The central divider of old vs. new media is the economy of scale that was needed to maintain regular newspaper publication or daily broadcast transmissions prior to 1990. The media in the 20th Century is best summarized as what many were able to accomplish with what little the industrialization of American gave them to work with. Making due with what was on hand gave most of the country a single daily newspaper, a handful of radio stations, and a scant few tv outlets. That meant that things were amplified and re-amplified at an alarming rate for most of the Boomers’ early lives. Therefore it is not our iron-fisted hegemony that perpetuates what music is played at Christmas – instead the music of Christmas is more the living memory of an America with limited choices.
A different way of looking at this comes from an event I was involved with for several years. It found itself wrapped in faded glory when it became apparent in the 1990s that kids were no longer being raised with only four channels of tv. The kids were staying away – in droves – as they had never known a time when there wasn’t at least 30 channels of tv. They had not spent their time watching and re-watching Bugs Bunny, old Universal horror movies, or The Three Stooges. (To them Matt Dillon shooting some guy was not the opening of each week’s Gunsmoke – it was a potential Hollywood scandal involving a young actor.) So there might be new and popular Christmas tunes, but with a media of abundance, a media that can cater even to the smallest group, we’re never going to know what’s hot because there’s no longer a limited number of voices to tell us over and over what is or is not popular.
One caveat here from Mom – stuff still gets through and gets re-amplified. She says, “Look at Gangam Style which busted the meters at YouTube.”
Look – I’m not saying Boomers are blameless here.
Our blinds spots are numerous and our epiphanies can be unexpected and painful.
Epiphanies can really suck especially when you have them forced on you. A few days before I checked out of FB there was a melancholy and almost tearful post from a guy I’ve known on and off for many years. He had to hang up his entertainment column that ran in his hometown paper. Not that his columns were problematic, in fact he saw them as educational. All were cleanly and clearly written. At times his work was very lively, but it sinned by getting long in the tooth. His bosses said there’s lots of new and exciting nightlife featuring venues full of new, young bands from all over the country so he could either cover them or give up writing about musicians who were a big deal 30 or 40 years ago. The FB post was largely about his shock, which had nothing to do the publisher’s reason, but the fact that no one would want to read about the records which have – at least for us Baby Boomers – an eternal shelf life.
But enough of all that – let’s dance.
“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan “Not my monkeys, not my circus” (Polish proverb) “I called on Dr. Johnson one morning, when Mrs. Williams, the blind lady, was conversing with him. She was telling him where she had dined the day before. ‘There were several gentlemen there,’ said she, ‘and when some of them came to the tea-table, I found that there had been a good deal of hard drinking.’ She closed this observation with a common and trite moral reflection; which, indeed, is very ill-founded, and does great injustice to animals— ‘I wonder what pleasure men can take in making beasts of themselves.’ ‘I wonder, Madam,” replied the Doctor, ‘that you have not penetration to see the strong inducement to this excess; for he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.'” – James Boswell “Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea, mermaids are chanting the wild Lorelei; o’er the streamlet vapors are borne, waiting to fade at the bright coming morn. Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,e’en as the morn on the streamlet and sea; then will all clouds of sorrow depart, Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!” – Stephen Foster “Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape.” – George Taylor
For a couple of weeks I toyed with the idea of getting a Medium account because – and without going into details – a serious boob I know was getting traction with an essay that was largely hooey.* So I figured that they must let anybody use Medium these days so why not recycle and spray around some of my thoughts on the current state of the media?
Then I thought better of it and shitcanned that idea.
We had one of those short but intense summer heat spells at the end of last month. Needless to say the heat and humidity makes it hard to comfortably cry yourself to sleep as you would on any other night. On those restless nights I managed to finally drop off by counting the many things I intend to be bitter about when I am a bitter old man. This time around most of it fell into one category. Nietzsche said that he was the rope between the ape and the Übermensch, but in the past several years I have found myself – very publicly at times – being nothin’ but a monkey holding a rope.
Around 2008-2009 these people in Brooks Brothers and/or Ann Taylor suits would fly out to examine us. They’d circle us, they go “hmmm ” every so often, and then they’d finally slouch in expensive leather chairs to furiously steeple. There were times I expected one of them to at least poke me with a bony finger or even raise up one of my arms and sniff my hand. They were alarmed by the mystery of it all. Were we cybernetic? Were we another life form? Were we savants or were we some sort of accident?
That’s when the questions would begin and after I was done speaking most of these folks came to the conclusion that Mom was all the only thing that kept me from wandering off into oncoming traffic.
But you knew that already.
So they’d fly back to wherever having had their suspicions neither confirmed nor denied and they didn’t like that. What they had encountered was not so much a black, but pewter swan and that was going to be too much work to explain.
As was pointed out here – when it comes to foundation funded research, trade-journal analysis, or punditry you must adhere to a the conventional wisdom. Otherwise you send them back with nothing to report as whatever they found didn’t neatly fit into the existing frameworks. Not that my talking points were the opposite of anything you’d find in the current discussion, as simply opposing the given body of knowledge/going knee-jerk nihilist can only happen utilizing the conventional wisdom. Therefore since the body of knowledge and viewpoints I possess fall outside of the current industry groupthink no one wants to hear them.
But can that be changed?
I’ve long thought there might be a way, but there would have to be a way of slowly introducing the unfamiliar. While kicking it around this week one approach presented itself in the form of UCLA psych professor Matthew D. Lieberman’s interview with Edge. Near the end he said:
I’ll tell you about my new favorite idea, which like all new favorite ideas, is really an old idea. This one, from the 1960s, was used only in a couple of studies. It’s called “latitude of acceptance”. If I want to persuade you, what I need to do is pitch my arguments so that they’re in the range of a bubble around your current belief; it’s not too far from your current belief, but it’s within this bubble. If your belief is that you’re really, really anti-guns, let’s say, and I want to move you a bit, if I come along and say, “here’s the pro-gun position,” you’re actually going to move further away. Okay? It’s outside the bubble of things that I can consider as reasonable. We all have these latitudes around our beliefs, our values, our attitudes, which teams are ok to root for, and so on, and these bubbles move. They flex. When you’re drunk, or when you’ve had a good meal, or when you’re with people you care about versus strangers, these bubbles flex and move in different ways. Getting two groups to work together is about trying to get them to a place where their bubbles overlap, not their ideas, not their beliefs, but the bubbles that surround their ideas. Once you do that, you don’t try to get them to go to the other position, you try to get them to see there’s some common ground that you don’t share, but that you think would not be a crazy position to hold. There’s the old Carlin bit about when you drive on the road: anyone going faster than me is a maniac and anyone going slower than me is a jerk. That that’s the way we live our lives. We’re always going the right speed, and everybody else is missing the boat. We don’t take into account that I’m going fast today because I’ve got to get to the hospital, or I’m going slow today because I know I had something to drink, and I shouldn’t have, so I’m going to drive real slow. We don’t take those things into account. We just think whatever I’m doing is the right thing, and we have to recognize there’s this space around those, and if we can find that overlap we can get some movement. And so that’s not a nudge idea, per se. It’s really about finding when people are in a mental space where they’re more open to other ideas, and what is often going on there is you’re trying on identities.
Think of Venn diagrams. Imagine two circles that do not intersect, or better yet, think of two circles at a considerable distance from each other. Lieberman seems to suggest that you could put small bubbles around each independent bubble and perhaps eventually create an intersection.
Which leads you to ask, “So what’s this, The Bob Ross School of Media Theory? Let’s put in some happy bubbles?”
As a sort of bridge, or rather, a rope between them, yes.
I’d feel much better if I could visualize myself as a monkey holding a bubble.
Where were we?
Oh yeah, Medium.
Medium isn’t going to work out for a couple of reasons:
1. No matter what it is that I know – nobody wants to hear it. (Also believed to be true by someone who used to work here.)
2. I loves me the stupid.
Look at this mess. The only thing it’s missing is Magilla Goriila.
OK – so much for that.
Stupid is my comfort zone. What Medium requires is a certain amount of gravitas and self importance. To go there I’d have to get in touch with my inner J3ff Jarv1s and I don’t have an inner J3ff Jarv1s to get in touch with. Hell, for all I know there might be something in the Medium boilerplate that prevents quoting Yosemite Sam as a legitimate source of information. So I’ll stay here and we’ll have our own private little party and as Ollie told Stan, “They’ll be none the wiser”
*The essay in question was not about the media, but revolved around a subject I have had serious insight into for several years.
“From our perch, it’s easy to see that Kraftwerk should have more column inches than Lenny Kravitz, but from the offices of Rolling Stone in 1993 — hey, they probably hoped this electronica shit would just go away. Instead, it was them who went away. Rock critics and rock criticism have proliferated like roaches and roach eggs, of course — and a 2004 edition of the Rolling Stone guide itself is still available, according to the internets. But the dream of a single, massive, authoritative critical touchstone is gone. An infinite number of monkeys could write a more perspicacious record guide. And so they have.” from The Hooded Utilitarian
This page vanished off the Internet(s) for the better part of a week. The only inconvenience came to those people who relentless Google for discount food items. (ed. note: The domain name started as an aside in a Xmas newsletter and then grew out of control.) I was even unaware of its absence until the site host sent an automated email asking what they should do. As you can see the site has been restored to its original glory as the Digital Unmowed Lawn. (tm pend)
And why is that?
Early in the Fall one R2 unit after another started showing up on our doorstep. Each had plans vital to the success of The Rebellion and it seems I was the one person could be designated as their owners only hope. Suddenly I was swamped with emails, texts, DM’s and other messages. In trying to sort it all out I sought advice. Some one familiar with public service said, “Be a river to your people.”
Long story short – the future has arrived, but it didn’t come with an instruction book. Those Mechanics Illustrated promises of self printing newspapers and two-way tv turned out to be hollow. The crisis of print publications involved many people it didn’t need to involve and we’re still without jet packs. All of this is very frustrating and confusing and that’s why people told other people, “Talk to him. He’s Mr. Big Ideas. He can speak your language!”
Several months of such communications things are now, more or less, under control. There might be some time to create a space between constantly having to take part in the larger discussion about how people consume media and turn to actually trying to create something people can consume. Not that it means this page will be updated more frequently, but at least the roar has been dulled and I might be able to think about something else again.
We now resume our regularly scheduled program already in progress…
The past few weekends have not been kind therefore there has been no posting. Adding insult to injury – most of the topics I had intended to write about have gone to rot. Sadly, we live in a world where a good many things are subject to The 21-Minute News Cycle.
Perhaps this coming week will be kinder which will lead to a resumption of the content. Until then I shall keep and eye open for factoids of note while learning how to dance like this guy.