Not all who Wanda are lost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Can I keep ‘im, Pa?

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

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

Befuddlement ensued.

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

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

Did you see The Wanda Show?

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

Why come to it late?

Trepidation.

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

The one with Lucy in the football helmet?

We’d never seen Superman.

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

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

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

What turned me around was Emily VanDerWerff’s review,

She writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where were we?

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

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

Moving along –

Mommie Bloggest

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

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

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

From Jonah Goldberg’s Friday newsletter:

Let’s talk about blogging.

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

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

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

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

No, really.

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

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

Piffle.

What did I know?

I only had a BA.

Fuck me.

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

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

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

From Graydon Carter’s AirMail:

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

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

Nice to know one of us mommies is doing well.

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

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

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

But enough of all that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lydia, oh Lydia, oh have you seen Lydia?

Various thoughts on last week in no particular order.

– This was the week the midway caught fire.

How so?

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

Got that?

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

Like what?

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

How did The Right lose the battle against gay marriage?

Because there’s a market in that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.You hide, They seek.

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

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

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

Why?

Seen this guy?

From The Arizona Republic:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now?

Own away.

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

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

From Burning the Furniture by Elua Biss:

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

There but for grace of God…

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

Strictly as an aside –

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

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

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

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

Oh well.

Fearless Freep: A Pindaric Dithyrambus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did George Floyd cause such commotion?

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

We were all home to see it.

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

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

Moving along –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gosh darn that newsroom culture!

So who are we really talking about here?

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

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

People asked if I got upset.

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

Where were we?

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

Need an example?

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

Now?

Not so much.

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

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

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

Some Father’s Day this turned out to be!

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

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

CONELRAD Cuisine

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

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

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

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

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

Was it something I said?

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

OK – other than being named Enid.

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

Perhaps.

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

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

And Now a Virus Free Musical Interlude



MISC.

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

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

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

2. Riddle me this, Batman.

WTF is this?

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

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

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

Did somebody lose a bet?

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

YMMV because NextDoor.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving along –

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

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

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

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

In closing may I just say, Prine?

You fucking useless sickness!

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

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

The last verse goes like this here:

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

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

CDC – Central Dad Control

“Rudy was known for doing things his own way. In the pre-cellphone era, he used carrier pigeons to send messages between hunting camps. When Jake and Steph were little, Rudy and Deb bought an African lion cub; they kept it chained in the horse corral and fed it a diet of roadkill. Neighbors complained that it frightened the livestock; eventually somebody shot and killed it from the highway—the Gunnison County (CO) equivalent of a drive-by shooting.” Rachel Monroe from The Killing of a Colorado Rancher

Travis Coates: No, Mama!
Katie Coates: There’s no hope for him now, Travis. He’s suffering. You know we’ve got to do it.
Travis Coates: Yes, Mama. But he was my dog. I’ll do it. from Ol’ Yeller

“What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with thine ears. See how yon justice rails upon yon simple thief. Hark in thine ear: change places and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar? Lear Act 4 scene 6

“We really want people to understand it’s about preparation but not panic and that you can’t build a toilet paper fortress that’s going to keep coronavirus out.” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, USN

“Punk ain’t no religious cult. Punk means thinkin’ for yourself. You ain’t hardcore ’cause you spike your hair when a jock still lives inside your head.” Jello Biarfra

“I can’t used to this lifestyle.” David Byrne

“Pleasure and terrour are indeed the genuine sources of poetry; but poetical pleasure must be such as human imagination can at least conceive, and poetical terrour such as human strength and fortitude may combat.” Dr. Johnson

See some ID? Part 1

The first-run movie house in our neighborhood runs the darndest ads. Instead of the talking M&M’s we get these lavishly produced spots for spas in Thailand, Italian motorcycles, or treks in Patagonia. The ad block always ends with an ad for some clothing store that’s only found in Monoco, Paris, and New York. The conclusion is a sultry-voiced woman saying, “Immerse yourself in a total shopping experience.”

Thanks, but the only shopping experience I immerse myself in is the Safeway up the street from the theater.

Last week Safeway announced that they’ll only cater to the 60+ crowd from 6am to 9am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That meant we had to get over our usual aversion to anything senior-centric given how people our age are supposed to deal with the bug. It also means we have to get more organized than we’re used to. Normally any trip to the grocery begins with one of us looking in the ‘fridge and saying, “Gawddammit!” This can happen once maybe twice a day, but now that we’re supposed our trips out of the house to a minimum we’re forced to think ahead and that comes a little too close to acting like grownups for comfort.

So far it’s working out pretty well. The woman who runs the customer service desk where the store sells lottery tickets, smokes, disposable lighters, and small bottles of liquor (She calls it The Bad-for-You Aisle.) waved and said, “You can’t be shopping now. You don’t look at day over 59!”

Flirt!

And right in front of Mom no less!

But when you stop to think about it the only thing shame and Safeway have in common is that both start with the letter ‘s.” Mom has long shrugged off such things saysing, I still have my hair and if it wasn’t for the dog most women our age wouldn’t know any guy who still has his hair.

Meanwhile in Gunnison, CO they banned people over 60 from the bars. Not that I plan to see Gunnison anytime soon, but it made me think of something my mother said – you can buy beer if you have a draft card. Not that it would work today as you’d probably have to spend 15 minutes explaining what a draft card was to the 30 year-old kid working the door which in turn would probably give you away.

The upshot?

I never thought I would live long enough to need another fake ID.

Also you’ll have to pardon me for what follows because all this getting organized and thinking about grocery shopping days in advance is not my strong suit. The overarching task of semi-sheltering in place is really too much for my teensy pea brain to deal with.

TOTAL BULLSHIT INTERLUDE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE VIRUS

Let’s take a break and watch something that has nothing to do with what’s going on.

You know, like Ol’ Yeller

As a public service, may we remind you that there’s still an election going on?

An article I saw a couple years back said we’d have definite proof of global warming when things that had been trapped under sheets of ice for millennia once again saw the light of day.

You know, like Joe Biden’s campaign.

Also bubbling up to the surface was the concept of the Yellow Dog Democrat, once described as a voter who’d rather vote for an old yellow dog than vote for a Republican. We can probably thank the Super Tuesday voters for this archeological find as it seems no one is interested in systemic change, but a return to a little peace and quiet. Thinking back, this has been floating around since Doug Jones got elected to the senate from Alabama. Buried somewhere near the bottom of the NYT’s coverage were some exit-polling results which contained the phrase, “People want their weekends back.” Put another way – voters were looking for people who would go to Washington and make the news cycle sit down and shut up on Sunday afternoon. Instead of Morning Again in America the voters were looking for Afternoon Nap Time Again in America.

Systemic change comes with too much noise so that lets Bernie and Warren out. Mayor Petey Bourgeoisie trips too many alarms when it comes to The Culture Wars so all that’s left is Uncle Joe.

He’ll never ruin our weekends by going on and on about Colin Kaepernick since the only quarterback he can name off the top of his head is George Blanda.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE

See some ID? Part 2

To pass the time indoors, which we’re kinda used to up here in The Big Damp Woods, I’ve been watching a serial documentary called Punk. The four-part series works forward from the conventional wisdom that punk traces it roots back to Iggy, who acts as executive producer, and how The New York Dolls were the bridge between glam and punk. David Johansen took a flyer on appearing, but the other living member of the Band, Sylvain Sylvain takes up a good portion of the first installment. Most of his talk centers around what The Dolls had to do and how they had to dress to get a rise out of people in New York City. He catalogs the endless hours they needed to walk the streets of NYC looking for clothes that would lead to shock and outrage.

Sounds like it was pretty labor intensive.

Not that you had to do much to get a rise out of somebody in rural Colorado in the early 70s. (OK except for owning a lion – see above.) Back then the bar was set awfully damn low. All I had to do was stop going to the barber shop and develop and interest in Herman Hesse novels. Rolled up together all it got me was one of the English teachers calling me “intellectually precocious” and an invite to the counselor’s office. The counselor was a very short woman who had worked at the school since the early 1950s. She was very direct – no one who looked like me could in any way represent the school. Therefore I could write off being involved with any kind of student-of-the-month voodoo, sit on the student council, and I was banned from any group hellbent on decorating the lunchroom with crepe paper.

She was somewhat alarmed when all I said was, “OK.” and walked off.

She was still laboring under the notion that such a move would isolate me and I would then have to conform. Little did she know that my immediate social circle was composed of people who would routinely ask, ” Did you see that, they’re at it with the crepe paper again? Heyyyy – let’s hide their crepe paper and see what happens!

But that was high school, college was another matter.

Boulder, CO in the 70s was so strange that you might think somebody like Timothy Leary or Jerry Rubin would phone and tell everybody to take it down a notch. Instead of being “that kid” with all the hair and a copy of Das Glasperlenspiel I was one of countless people walking around with unkempt looks reading something that could be called European transcendentalist literature. Suddenly whatever your major malfunction was it was just one of many, many countless major malfunctions. You were no longer singled out as the square peg as you were sorta/kinda conforming in a very twisted sense of the word.

Around the edges you’d encounter people for a fleeting moment or two. One was a kid named Eric who used to stand in the front of the stage at the student union shows so he could mercilessly heckle the opening acts. Several years later he changed his name to Jello Biafra. Not that I ever formally met him, but I did meet a friend of his who said The Kennedy’s song, Stealing People’s Mail was based on what they liked to do during their junior-high years. I also met a graduate student in the art department who told me she had sex with both Jello and his then fiancée.

Simultaneously.

So you can imagine the shock that comes with watching Punk only to see some jowl-y guy with thinning salt-and-pepper hair in the center of the screen as the words JELLO BIAFRA” appear on the left side of the screen.

At least he dresses appropriately for someone our age.

John Lydon’s appearance wasn’t all that shocking as we’d seen Public Image about a year or so ago. He still puts on a great show even if he needs to use his reading glass to see the set list. Never mind that he walks on stage looking like someone just got your dad out of bed, he still can run out 90 minutes without a break. The second episode of Punk shows us that he has just as bad an attitude as ever, which is a glorious moment for all of us who’ve ever been accused of having one, but he did get wistful talking about Syd, admitting that he still regrets introducing Syd to Nancy.

“Human beings screaming vocal javelins, signs of a local pundit’s mind unravellin'” Chuck D (slightly restated)

So what’s the point of all this?

I have no idea.

Over the past couple of weeks updating this page is a bit like putting notes in a bottle and setting them loose on the sea. The only thing that comes close is the old article from The Onion which was headlined,”Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake.”

From that article –

TOPEKA, KS—Feeling helpless in the wake of the horrible Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands, Christine Pearson baked a cake and decorated it like an American flag Monday. “I had to do something to force myself away from the TV,” said Pearson, 33, carefully laying rows of strawberry slices on the white-fudge-frosting-covered cake.

Or not given that I just don’t know what to do. I guess what’s happened this week is that I got a good hard look at the march of time and a pretty good idea of how long ago it was when I was young while cooped up in the house hiding from a disease. It’s all so confusing and there’s no real place other than this page to express some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

You see, you’re lucky.

You have Facebook and I don’t.

I don’t get to see cool stuff like this.

But you do.

Now go wash your hands while I feel sorry for myself.

Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach

“Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progressives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.” Chairman Mao c. 1968

“I’m increasingly frustrated with the elites. Look, you can’t run a modern society without some sort of hierarchy. Let’s get real. It can’t happen. So that means that you cannot run a modern society without some sort of elite class. So whatever the public is doing, it’s never going to end up in a perfectly flat society in which we all rule ourselves in some protesting way.So we need structure, we need institutions, we need elites. But I’ve been astounded by how clueless so many of these elites are. Because of what I do, I’ve interacted with lots of important people, and they simply don’t get it.The 20th century was so comfortable for them. They stood at the top. They talked down and nobody talked back. They want to return to that world and it can’t happen. So the elites are in a reactionary mode. They feel like the internet is this horrible thing. It has to be regulated back into the 20th century. But that’s pure fantasy.” Martin Gurri


“Eventually it was discovered, that God did not want us to be all the same. This was Bad News for the Governments of The World, as it seemed contrary to the doctrine of Portion Controlled Servings. Mankind must be made more uniformly if The Future was going to work. Various ways were sought to bind us all together, but, alas, same-ness was unenforceable. It was about this time, that someone came up with the idea of Total Criminalization. Based on the principle, that if we were all crooks, we could at last be uniform to some degree in the eyes of The Law. […] Total Criminalization was the greatest idea of its time and was vastly popular except with those people, who didn’t want to be crooks or outlaws, so, of course, they had to be Tricked Into It… which is one of the reasons, why music was eventually made Illegal.” – liner notes from Joe’s Garage

“The mid-’60s to the mid-’70s—that was Thompson’s lean and scowling journalistic prime. ‘This fucking polarization,’ he laments to one correspondent, ‘has made it impossible to sell anything except hired bullshit or savage propaganda.’ But he was unstoppable. While researching his book about the Hells Angels, he rode with his subjects for about a year, getting a quasi-ritualistic stomping from them at the end of it; he was assaulted by Chicago cops at the Democratic National Convention in 1968; under wild duress, he composed the immortal hallucination that is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; he covered the Watergate hearings. And while he didn’t perfectly or lucidly see the future—didn’t see us, didn’t see now—he didn’t exactly need to, because in his head he was already here. … So the fissures ran deep, in his time as in ours. From the core, from the White House, disruption emanated. My hack brain keeps wanting to write ‘the parallels are uncanny”’—but that’s not it. These are not parallels; this is the same story. Thompson’s letters impart the lesson: Decades later, this is the same America—the America of the raised nightstick, the shuddering convention hall, the booming bike engine, the canceled credit card, and the impossible dream. – James Parker

Many a man thinks he is making something when he’s only changing things around. – Zora Neale Hurston


If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. – A. Lincoln


“My congratulations to you, sir. Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. ” Dr. Johnson


But enough about me

There’s a certain quiet that comes over the nights which fall late in the year. In that time it’s possible to still your mind and reflect on many things. In the past day or two I’ve managed to shut out the rest of the world and concentrate on a central idea – finding the marketing genius who wants all retail and service workers ask, “Anything fun planned today?” so I can chase him or her with a stick. Sure, it’s one thing if you go to Dutch Brothers (a regional espresso chain) because bantering with the barista and counter folks is part of the overall experience. You place your order and then the banter begins while metal band guitar solos go off all around you. If you don’t have anything fun planned then the Dutch Bros folks step up and tell you about “the awesome smokin’ hot” things they’ll be doing when they get off work.

Again – it’s fine because it’s part of a greater whole.

The last straw came when we were getting the carpet cleaned a few weeks back. Just as I was settling up the Stanley Steamer guy asks, “Anything fun planned today?”

Besides standing on one foot or the other for four solid hours waiting for you to drag your sorry ass over?

Therefore as a defense I have developed an all-purpose answer.



Well… my brother-in-law’s funeral is at two and there’s a reception in the parish hall afterwards. Not that we’re expecting much of a turnout. He outlived both of his wives and even if they were alive they wouldn’t show. We’re not sure if his daughter is coming. He never saw her again after she got that restraining order. Got a sheet cake at COSTCO, but we’ll probably wind up taking most of it home. Father Mike said he’d come make coffee. I’ll tell you something – that man is a saint, but for the whole world he thinks Folgers are the only people who make coffee. … I’m sorry what were we talking about?

Feel free to tweak as need be.


“I anticipate the terminus of ‘Gravity’s Rainbow.’ That’s from a book called Gravity’s Rainbow. No one has ever read ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’.” Benoit Blanc

The original incarnation of this page appeared on Memorial Day 2000. At that time the site was built with something Adobe called Pages which relied on the antediluvian digital architecture known as frames. Doing some math that means that this page – in all its various forms- had been around for two decades which leads to the question, “What have you learned in all that time.

Absolutely nothin’.

OK, two things –

1. It was this or wandering up and down the aisles at Safeway muttering to myself. In the long run I’ve found pestering all of you more satisfying as you mutter back less often than many of the other people going up and down the aisles at Safeway.

2. Frames sucked.

What follows can be thought of as the “honorable mentions” in what I’ve learned after all this time.

– Never lose sight of the fact that how people perceive media is based solely on how they consume media. I only mention this as a couple of weeks ago someone dredged up Mom’s appearance in Time Magazine. The article appeared almost 10 years ago, but we still hear about it now and then. The interview took place via an email exchange which lead to the finished product misrepresenting everything she sent. (We’ll set aside how she was misquoted FROM AN EMAIL EXCHANGE for another time.) Not that it’s ever concerned her as all but one person who brought it up is well over 70. The sole exception was a woman I know who saw the article while waiting to get her hair done.

Flipped through Time lately?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

One thing that has changed is that you can no longer expect a traffic spike if you get mentioned by a national or international news source. The folks who have mentioned the Time piece are shocked that it didn’t catapult Mom to stardom. But that can be easily explained as most of the people who read Time get the analog copy which is surprising devoid of hyperlinks.

– The whole participation trophy thing has gotten seriously long in the tooth. While packing up various items from my father’s house I found a series of medallions about the size of a quarter. I got some of those for showing up on time to tennis tournaments. The rest were awarded for not falling down or wetting my pants. All were awarded during Nixon’s first term.

Which brings me to a quick thought on political endorsements at the local level. Unless the people endorsing you can pass the hat, ring doorbells, or drive people to vote then what you’ve got is a participation trophy. Also we should note that we have some many amateurs running for local election that they never ask those endorsing for money. Instead these folks run around waving some letterhead around and thinking they have the world by the tail.

To them I say – thank you for not wetting your pants during this long and difficult campaign.

– You cannot get more Seattle AF than this obit.

Wes’ claim to fame was that he was a passenger on the airplane hijacked by D.B. Cooper in 1971. The best part of that story, for him, was that he was pretty much oblivious to the drama while it was happening and afterward resented all the fuss made over it. But such was Wes, unflappable and selfless.

– Speaking of dead people, Scorsese’s Irishman brought back one of my favorite questions – what happened to Jimmy Hoffa?

Now the step-son of Jimmy’s step-son has weighed into the debate. The cremation theory makes sense. My uncle who was in the funeral home biz for over 50 years said cremation takes between 10 and 20 minutes and only varies by the size of the body. (You might not have found dinner conversations with my extended family to be your cup of tea.) What’s left is ash and the metal from any dental fillings all of which could have been put out in the trash for all we know.

Again, this is all speculation and there’s no disrespect intended for all of you think Jimmy is part of that odd bulge in the Meadowlands’ astroturf.

Notable reading:

We lost Clive James a few weeks back. In 2008 he published a series of his old essays under the title of Cultural Amnesia. At no time does he come right out and say it, but taken as a whole he build the case the intellectual history of Europe was shaped in Germany during the 1930s. Running a finger through it after the news of his death came I found it’s a subtle and elegant piece of work.

– Finally got around to finishing Gods of the Upper Air (GotUA) while simultaneously finishing up Watchmen. (strictly coincidence.) GotUA traces the history of American anthropology back to its beginning in the late 19th Century. Back then many things passed off as scientific were merely pumped up versions of prejudice – immutable facts based on prevailing social currents of the time. Over 100+ years the patina of scientific fact has fallen away and now serve as the foundation of various stereotypes. The book centers around the ongoing fight of Franz Boas, a German immigrant, who wanted to rise up beyond all that and how his prize students (e.g. Margaret Meade) managed to try to engage the people they studied.

The middle of the book deals with the problem of immigration c. 1895-1905. Americans were terrified that people from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean were overrunning our country and soon we’d be knee deep in people who spoke using no vowels or who smelled of spicy food. But the true horror came in finding out how many of these people were Roman Catholics. You’d couldn’t swing a dead cat at Ellis Island without hitting a papist.

And what about the children?

God forbid Kenworth “Petey” Peterbilt III should run off with Anna Maria Alberghetti.

What will the people at The Bath and Tennis say?

And heaven help us if one of those mackerel snappers gets elected to something!

Those people only swear allegiance to that pope of theirs and not the United States of America!

They can’t be trusted!

Which is why I decided many years ago after serving for two full years as Monsignor O’Malley’s assistant head altar boy that I would never run for office as a public service.

No need to thank me, the hot tears of joy running down you face at this moment are thanks enough.

So long story short – as a history of racial attitudes in America GotUA shows that over the course of the 20th Century white people finally came around to being OK with a simple majority of other white people. Otherwise us white folks have a ways to go. Personally I think we need to see how the legality of disgust applies to our various relations ships and work forward to see how that in turn applies to each side of the culture wars. In summary – Martha Nussbaum works from the position that many things that have been illegal do not share the same basis as most crimes. For example – if a man marries another man or if the person sitting next to you in a movie theater does not share your exact same skin tone then there is no property loss, no act of violence, nor physical injury involved. Therefore you cant’ equate gay marriage or any of the Jim Crow laws with manslaughter or bank robbery.

Which probably brings us to this:


Ain’t nothin’ a couple ol’ cowboys couldn’t fix up inna whip stitch

Early this morning Mom said there’d been widespread pearl clutching across Twitter over the Trumpstock article in today’s NYT. For those of you who missed it – the article centered around an Arizona gathering of the president’s most ardent fans which ended with a couple of them threatening violence in the name of a second Civil War. As she told me article it took a minute or two before I realized I had read it shortly after I got up. There was no pearl clutching on my part as the article came off like a recap of a slow Saturday afternoon in the town where I grew up.

For those of you just tuning in – I was born (and sadly) raised in unincorporated Rio Blanco County, CO. Over the course of my first 18 years of life I failed to succumb to the will of the local elders and was thus banished to a blue state. While I am no longer there I am more than familiar with what the people in the article are like and how they think. Also I still have some relatives in that general vicinity who keep me apprised of their current think is memes and/or their constant assurance that they always eat what they shoot. In fact, one of them was very proud to be serving prime rib for Christmas dinner.

I guess you’d be proud too if you spent an entire day tracking down the wily and elusive cow.

Having not only grown up in fly-over country but also having flown over the fly-over I grew up a few times leaves me without much desire to read the various articles on what makes those folks tick. I know what makes them tick. They’ve told me what makes them tick. In fact the line above about two ol’ cowpokes was taken directly from a conversation about how to solve the Iranian hostage situation of the late 70s. The folka in question have always had fixed notions and unwavering ideas on how things should be done. Not that they’ve ever seen much of their ideas in action save for a few things here and there during the Reagan years. As such they really don’t difference much in ideological scope than the elites they despise.

Alaska Wolf Joe snorts loudly at what I’m about to say, but I’m going to say it anyway.

American politics is still bogged down by two events from long ago – the establishment of The Great Society and the night Nixon resigned.

I believe that much of the culture wars can be traced back to the resentment many people felt at the loss of Richard M. Nixon. They held onto that wound while everybody on the Left took off all their clothes and did a victory lap that lasted from August 1974 right through to election night 1980. The Left took the resignation as total victory for the counter culture when in fact it was merely a one-off historical event tied to the action of a few men, one of whom happened to be president of the United States.

And The Great Society?

Yuval Noah Harari is the author of Sapiens, a multi-volume look at what transpired between the time our distant ancestors touched that monolith and the present day. One of his key points is that science is an area of study where it’s OK to be proven wrong. In fact some scientists eagerly want to see if they can be proven wrong as it might lead to an advancement in knowledge. Harari says the opposite is true of the social sciences and he’s very insistent that economics is the most likely of the social sciences to double down if any of its tenants are challenged. Whether fiscal or monetary Harari believes that the average economist treats his or her respective tilt as no less than something found on golden tablets hand delivered by archangels.

Which leads to a discussion of the current Democratic field.

The central problem with everybody running for president is that they come off like they’re part of some old family feud. If we work forward from the idea that the social sciences have a basis in regular science then we always wind up using the Newton’s clockwork physics as the dominant analogy for what passes for current liberal/neoliberal economics. Each side has a clockwork and they believe that the way their clockwork has all the gear teeth meshing, springs winding and unwinding with pinions always perfectly placed. Twenty-some years ago a physics professor told me that Newton’s clockwork was OK for Newton, but he didn’t think Stephen Hawking was working forward from a clockwork analogy.

Can we say the same for economics?

Probably.

At this point it’s really hard to say what changes if a Democrat is elected other than Twitter tantrum-free weekends. The ol’ boys are will still scrape to get by and the tariffs cannot save them because the industries that left will be too hard to bring back. We’re not going to see anything like the economic and technical boost we got out of NASA in the 60s as we’re being ruled by a gerontocracy that has amassed enough clout to see to it that their underlings can fiddle around with that Internet(s) nonsense. But in the run up we’ll see much noise and violence of some kind.

God knows if people think they are being denied a voice or if they think they’re outnumbered then they will resort to violence.

See also, US History 1860-1865.

No, the only guy talking about what we really need to do is Andrew Yang. At the last debate he said the gummint needs to start thinking about a plan to relocate towns that will be underwater in a few years. That means he’s the only one on that stage willing to admit that the building is on fire while the rest of America argues over whether or not we smell something burning.

And now that we’re getting a binding Democratic primary for the first time in what Spongebob called “the whole history of forever” I will be casting my ballot for Mr. Yang.

Don’t get me wrong – I still loves me Th’ Bern. God knows if he gets the nomination he’s the only one in the pack that came shame his opponent into a debate. Even if he’s impeached and removed that means Pence would have to debate Bernie and I have no doubt that Bernie would send Pence running back to Falwell’s pool boy for comfort.

The latter being more entertaining to watch than the former.

OK – so there it is.

As we approach 20 years of blogging please know that if nothing in the past 19 hasn’t made any sense please remember one very important thing.

For 19 years every time I wrote something this is all I could hear in my head.

Safety Dance

“That’s for damned sure! Barbed wire is barbed wire! I know what I’m up against! No rose without a thorn and the last thing I’ll stand for is ideas to get the better of me! I know that rubbish fraternity, equality, freedom,beauty and dignity! You gotta use the right bait to hook ’em nd then, you’re right in the middle of a parley and they say, “Hands up!” You’re disarmed! you republican voting swine! No, let ’em keep their good distance with their whole ideological kettle of fish, I shoot with live ammunition! When I hear the word culture, I release the safety on my Browning!” from Hanns Johst’s play Schlageter

We have what may be a first this month—the first example of one ’93er firing another. Tom Weber, who worked as an assistant sales manager for Gilbert & Parsons One-Coat Paint, was axed by Gilbert & Parsons C.E.O. Pam Hawkinson, who writes that she should have known better than to hire the man who, at the “Not the Class Day” high jinks on the evening before our actual Class Day, was given the award for graduating with the most pages of assigned reading left unread. (“He has the get-up-and-go of a tree stump.”) Tom, who is considering a wrongful-termination suit under the Civil Rights Act (“She has an unreasoned hatred of Dekes”), writes that the working conditions at Gilbert & Parsons “compared unfavorably with those of the Gulag” and included the mandatory singing each morning of the Gilbert & Parsons song (“More than just a single coat is what we ain’t / ’Cause we’re Gilbert & Parsons One-Coat Paint”)—a requirement that he calls “demeaning, not to mention consistently off-key.” from Calvin Trillin’s Class Notes

“Human rights, dissidence, antiracism, SOS-this, SOS-that: these are soft, easy, post coitum historicum ideologies, ‘after-the-orgy’ ideologies for an easy-going generation which has known neither hard ideologies nor radical philosophies. The ideology of a generation which is neo-sentimental in its politics too, which has rediscovered altruism, conviviality, international charity and the individual bleeding heart. Emotional outpourings, solidarity, cosmopolitan emotiveness, multi-media pathos: all soft values harshly condemned by the Nietzschean, Marxo-Freudian age… A new generation, that of the spoilt children of the crisis, whereas the preceding one was that of the accursed children of history.” Baudrilliard

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

Mom says blogging’s back so maybe I should do this more often now that’s all like cool ‘n stuff again. Therefore I shall, as the elderly among us say, do a blog about whatever comes into my tiny little mind. Along those lines I would like to thank the people who said I should be using Medium I think it’s only fair to ask them, have you actually looked at Medium? Do you have any idea what’s there? OK, so maybe I didn’t have a perfect childhood and maybe my parents weren’t exactly Ward and June, but have you seen how many Medium posts are nothing but “OMG OMG OMG I HATE MY MOTHER!!!!?”

Tolstoy would probably be amazed that Medium has proven his old adage, happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and you can get the details on Medium for the low monthly price of only $5.

And while we’re on the subject of late-stage capitalism on the installment plan.

O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare?

Future blogging will include on-again, off-again updates about the Bronze Age Pervert.(BAP) While the book is about a year old it made news again this week when Politico raised the alarm that the kids today are more willing to listen to BAP than the DC conservative hierarchy.

Voici –

The reason this book is important is because it speaks directly to a youthful dissatisfaction (especially among white males) with equality as propagandized and imposed in our day: a hectoring, vindictive, resentful, levelling, hypocritical equality that punishes excellence and publicly denies all difference while at the same time elevating and enriching a decadent, incompetent, and corrupt elite. … And I have more bad news for my fellow conservatives: the talented kids who’ve found this book aren’t listening to us. It doesn’t matter whether they aren’t listening because they found the book, or they found the book because they aren’t listening. The fact remains that all our earnest explanations of the true meaning of equality, how it comports with nature, how it can answer their dissatisfactions, and how it’s been corrupted—none of that has made a dent. Michael Anton

God knows you need to raise an alarm if you’ve lost the coveted 18-24 demographic. God knows it’s a good time to panic when you wake up only to find the kids are more concerned about getting all buffed up so they can walk around naked as jaybirds when they should be studying the wisdom of Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, or Mitchell Addisonovich McConnell.

At least the punditry is going ahead with damage control.

All the attention has turned BAP into something of a cottage industry. In addition to his book you can now catch his podcast. The beatuty of that is the efficiency he brings to the current administration. As his thoughts are making the round those who wish to learn more need not solely seek out his book. Instead they can hear his words should they be short on time or reached a position in life that is far, far higher than their reading comprehension.

So why have BAP updates?

Because we need to see that America’s transition into a fascist state is not without it’s amusing asides.

Hallmark Cards and Russell Stover Candies

Thanks to the miracle of social media I spent my entire lunch hour on Thursday watching people from my high school days try to scratch each others’ eyes out on Facebook.

Why?

Because one of them posted this graphic.

I haven’t seen this much commotion since the time someone asked the captain of the football team if his girlfriend was packing on some pounds or did he get her knocked up?

No, it wasn’t me.

Although I did suggest something along those lines to a fellow who though himself to be quite clever because he would repeat things others said and claim them as his own. So when he took my roughed out phrase and ran with it, what can I say?

Old Jedi mind trick?

For those of you wondering – the gent in question survived his injuries.

So why bring it up?

Because when we retire we’re going back to The Point of Origin.

Why?

From earlier this year:

Jefferson County and Grand Junction are seeking to become free-trade zones in an effort to attract more business, add jobs and help local companies offset some of the rising cost of international trade. Their applications would provide the regions with a spot for companies to store imported goods and defer or bypass tariff-duty payments. There’s growing interest in these zones, also called Foreign Trade Zones, but the process is complicated, heavily regulated and, so far, little used in the only Colorado zones already approved along the Front Range. The ongoing U.S. trade war with China has Colorado manufacturers searching for any sort of reprieve from tariffs. … Foreign Trade Zones were a response to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930, which raised import taxes on products that already had tariffs. After retaliation from U.S. trade partners like Canada, Foreign Trade Zones were created four years later to offer some relief.

Going back to our formative years you will remember that some us had a serious interesting and even a passion for learning about civics and history, but you’ll also remember how we had to keep that to ourselves lest we wake the others. Granted, we were sorely tested to snooze whenever the subject of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act came up. In short it was a series of tariffs imposed in the 1920s which many historians say was the leading cause of the Great Depression.

Not like anything even remotely similar would happen today.

No sir!

Anyway – the idea here is that we move back and find an empty storefront. From there we need to find a cash register and someone who does calligraphy so we can sell suitable-for-framing letters of marque and reprisal. We’ll also be offering a full line of Liechtensteinian-ish passports, realistic looking cruise-ship registries, and other hard to come by quasi-legal documents.

Got an uncle who’s hard to shop for?

Have him declared a hazard to navigation.

We’ll also have a bank of computers in the break room so the employees can mine for BitCoin while they take lunch.

Not to get ahead of myself – and only if we find a place large enough – we might have a couple of concessions, You know something simple like shoe repair or someone who makes keys.

And the moral of this story?

Sometimes executive orders are executive orders, but if you have too many then all you have is an executive work-around.

A great big beautiful tomorrow waiting at the end of every day!

So my goal is to post like every other week. Today was a little housekeeping to get something off the desk, but – to use a phrase I despise – going forward it’s my intention to talk about culture, the immigration debates of 1905, Scopes, and all the other things that are still bothering people every since the word ‘culture’ went into common use. Then there’s the small matter of the Epstein-Brockman- Cabal which has forced me to wear rubber gloves and use tongs just to take certain books of the shelf. I’ll also be dropping BAP a line to ask why those he calls ‘bugmen’* aren’t walking around in ALABAMA STRONG t-shirts. Then if time permits there needs to be an examination of never ending or beginning spinning like the circles that you find in the windmills of what’s left of David Brooks’ mind.

Did you see this?

I am one of those fanatics on the alt-right and the alt-left, the ones who make online forums so vicious, the ones who cancel and call out, the minority of online posters who fill the air with hate. I’m one of those radicals whose rage is intertwined with psychological fragility, whose anger at real wrongs is corrupted by my existential panic about myself. To know anything about me you have to understand the chaos at the core of my innermost being. I was raised without coherent moral frameworks. I was raised amid social fragmentation and division, the permanent flux of liquid modernity. Adults in my life have not been trustworthy. Friends have not been trustworthy. Women reject me. I passed through school unseen. You have no idea how ill equipped I am to deal with my pain. I was raised in that coddling way that protects you from every risk except real life. When I was younger my eyes pleaded: Tell me what adulthood and manhood are supposed to look like! All you said was, “You can be anything you want to be!” How does that help? You told me I was special, but the world goes on as if I don’t exist.

No wonder the kids stopped owning the libs and went off to lift weights and pop their clothes off.

Otherwise – see you in two weeks even if I have nothing to say.

Promise.



* Bugmen, what the Subgenius calls Pinks or those Alaska Wolf Joe refers to as normcore individuals.

The Lindisfarne of The Snark Ages

“As I said before, the April 19 debate between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek is a great waste of time. Žižek, the philosopher, exists on a planet that has a pretty close relationship with reality. Jordan Peterson, a self-help guru, exists on a planet that glows only with the fantastic and sheer power of willing things to be so no matter what the reality. But the debate is going to happen. Žižek, who used to be one of the great philosophers of our times (if Alain Badiou is our Plato, then Žižek is certainly our Socrates), has decided that something or other will be achieved by this Toronto encounter with the self-help guru. And so, what I have to say in this post is much like the transformation of matumbu to maguru. In Shona, the former is the guts of an animal (in this case, that of a cow), and the latter is how you cook them into something edible. To get from one to the other, you pull and wash the crap out of the matumbu. The whole kitchen smells during the process.” Charles Mudede

“This isn’t to say there wasn’t something sinister in the air. As I was entering, a group of beefy dudes started wondering if there were going to be any agitators. One of them kept taking quick glances to see what I was writing in my notebook. While a fair chunk of the audience was there due to intellectual or, at least, ironic curiosity, the Peterson fans began to stand out. A huge tell, a friend noticed, was of course posture: ramrod straight as if they had just been rapped across the knuckles by a grumpy nun. A strange phenomenon is how many dressed like him; tie and a blazer, skinny dress pants or dark-washed jeans ending in nice, pointy shoes. Peterson and his flock all dressed like I did the first time I went to a wedding after making a little bit of money, like, ‘Look at me, I can dress nice now, look at my pointy shoes.’” Jordan Foisey

“It’s just marketing, but it’s worked astonishingly well. It lets a company like Disney, nearing monopolistic status in the film industry, pretend to be victimized by minor dissent. And their fans are such obsessives that they weaponize themselves in its defense. Disney doesn’t need to pay critics to give their films good reviews. Critics will do it for free, because who wants to be the one guy who isn’t on board? Who wants to be the bully? Certainly no one wants to be inundated with cruel and vindictive comments. I’m not saying that every critic who writes a positive review of an Avengers movie isn’t being genuine. But the culture Disney has built for us makes it harder to write a negative review than a positive one.” Ester Rosenfield

“Before social media, people watched the TV shows they liked. If you tuned-in and didn’t find it amusing seeing Hillbillies in Beverly Hills, you changed the channel. If you didn’t like watching a soap opera with pretty people in a hospital E.R., you didn’t watch it. But today, there is the phenomenon of hate-watching–– willfully viewing something you don’t like just so you can bitch about it and be snarky in social media. What’s up with this? I confess, I’ve engaged in this practice. I hate-watched my way through the second half of the second season of True Detective, then posted my sly criticisms on the Facebook playground where other hate-watchers joined the feeding frenzy. We chased this show like it was our white whale, throwing harpoons and riding it to the horizon until it died. What did this say about us? Nothing good. It said we were cultural bullies, trying to win favor with others with our clever, snide barbs. What does it tell marketers about doing business in the social media age? It says now everyone has a voice and a megaphone to broadcast it, and you better be prepared to take on all opinions–– even those of the comic book store guy in the weeds. It’s not pretty. And the worst thing you can do is try and control the conversation. People are going to say what they’re going to say. Oh, and going back to TV viewing habits, some of us were amused by Jethro Bodine with his rope belt and impressive fifth grade education who knew his guzintas. ‘One guzinta two, two times. Two guzinta four, two times…’” ** The Empathetic Ad Man

“The center was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four-letter words they scrawled. It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers. Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that had held the society together. People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those who were left behind filed desultory missing-persons reports, then moved on themselves. It was not a country in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the year 1967, and the market was steady and the GNP high, and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose, and it might have been a year of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.” Joan Didion

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

The Memorial Day Weekend is upon us which means this page has been around for 20 years or rather I’ve had one page or another similar to this for about 20 years. A writer given to more luxurious and romantic prose would go on and on about grand travels only to return to one’s roots in the same way Luke went back to the original temple or how Superman went back to that North Pole timeshare he splits with Santa. Truth is, and you’ve been witness to it, such comparisons would be like putting lipstick on the lead singer of a German heavy metal band. Therefore, for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll stick to a rudimentary and straightforward posting.

For those of you just tuning in – the word “blog” is a manufactured contraction of the term “blurb log.” The original blogs fell into a category of what could be called “LOOKIT what I found!” pages. Those pages were an offshoot of a bookmarking program which Netscape abandoned in the late 90s. If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Harper’s and seen their Index page then you have a pretty good idea of what the original blogs looked like. A couple of the LOOKIT! pages still exist (e.g. MeFi and Boing Boing) but for the most part blogs moved on to being long winded textual affairs.

To honor that spirit and note this page’s 20th year we’re going to get a little blurb-ish for a minute.

“A man named Stephen Blackwood, a philosopher, defender of the private sphere, and potentially an aristocratic werewolf came out to introduce the pair.”

Alaska Wolf Joe watched all 2 hours and 40 minutes of the incredibly well hydrated Zizek-Peterson debate. (Above) He said the following was a very accurate description:

Jordan Peterson sat in front of an open laptop and a field of San Pellegrino bottles, his legs crossed and fingers splayed across his chin, in a pose that seemed to say, “I’m thinking so hard right now.” When he spoke, he paced and bounded around his podium, his fingers constantly poking at and prodding at the air, or he would hunch over, his face pained with torment as if the marvels of his ideas were just too much for a man to bear.

AWJ’s takeaway – “We’re doomed. They both agreed on that.”

But “a self-help guru?”

Damn, that’s cold.

Going Forward –

1. I’m all done talking about cryptocurrency. Soon the folks keeping track of such things at MIT will be done too. Around the start of this year their daily crypto news letter became weekly and recently it’s dropped to twice a month.

Why?

Because the newsletter started to read like a summary of teen drama played out in the crowded high school lunchroom. This one can’t get along with that one, somebody else felt slighted and/or snubbed and now half of them aren’t talking to the other half while the crypto prom (featuring 50 Cent and Snoop) is right around the corner.

Until or unless it becomes less painful to read the crypto stuff is going in the crypt.

2. There will be no lengthy examination of Modern Monetary Theory. (MMT)

Because it is crap.

Most of the people who encounter MMT get all bent out of shape over its central thesis that government deficits and surpluses don’t matter. At best it’s a knee-jerk reaction which misses the much larger problem with the theory.

MMT’s prima facie argument cannot be wished away. Starting with the premise that all currencies are fiat currencies (I.e. Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1971) then governments can spend as they please and print more money and everything will be fine.

OK, but if that’s the case then what is the point of taxes?

Unless there’s some secret Hooterville Rothchilds out there, the average city, county, and state governments can’t just print their own money to spend as they see fit. Also there’s the strange case made by the original MMT theorist Warren Mosler. Mosler says – flat out – taxes are only needed to create incentives for businesses to operate. If it weren’t for taxes we wouldn’t have the industrial bounty we have to day. If it weren’t for taxes Og would never have discovered fire, the Romans wouldn’t have conquered half the then known world, and we’d all still be living in caves.

Sure must be nice to be you Mr. M.

“How’s the wife? Is she home enjoying capitalism?” Zippy

(Above: Somebody Alaska Wolf Joe calls, “Dragon Hillary Clinton.”)

Spent time talking to a couple of business associates this past week, one said, “Did you know last week’s MacGyver had more viewers than Game of Thrones?” To which the other gent said, “I haven’t see GoT or any of the Avengers movies, I’m so out of touch with the monoculture.”

The Monoculture, that is a phrase I have no heard in a long, long time.

Years ago you could go backpacking in a cave for a month or spend the summer lallygagging in a swamp. Upon your return all you had to do was pick up a copy of People and you’d know what was in and what was out, who got married, who got divorced, and what the next big thing was. While I can’t find any proof that Mac outdid the Thrones people it proves one point my associate made – there’s no social media hype machine built up around MacGyver. Certainly the question, “OH MAN, DID YOU SEE MACGYVER LAST NIGHT?” used to be heard frequently among fifth graders c. 1988.

Today?

Not so much.

As GoT wound down there was much talk about how it was the last hurrah for the monoculture as the finally allegedly gripped the public’s attention.

Which brings us to:

DISCLOSURE: Alaska Wolf Joe has watched one episode of GoT which is one more than his parents have watched. Per him – calling her Dragon Hillary Clinton is something that’s been running around Millennial circles for months – a larger metaphor for drone strikes in the Obama years followed by her failed election attempt. Other than that we don’t know anything about the show as it did not interested us.

Why?

Speaking solely for myself it’s all about the time I spent watching Lost only to have the final episode cough up a rendering of Sister Eugenia’s first-grade catechism lecture on Limbo. Yes, Limbo because I am so goddam old that I was in the target demo for Sister E’s talk which was firmly rooted in the old school Vatican-I -Baltimore-Catechism teachings. Limbo, or Purgatory as it is now known, is a mid-range existence that is neither Heaven nor Hell. You could get stuck there for all Eternity or you could get out with some karma/dharma kinda effort which would get you a cheap nosebleed seat in Heaven. But you have to really, really watch your step in Limbo because the place is just overrun with unbaptized babies.

You see, your soul is just like a bottle of milk that has just been left on your porch by the milkman, pure and white with the sun sparkling off the lovely clean glass of the bottle that holds it. But when you sin it’s like putting a drop of ink in that milk.

Right about there Alfonse Edward ‘Sonny’ Paturzo blurted out, “Ink in milk? That’s dumb!”

I’d like to think that what followed didn’t leave him with a physical scar. (Granted, he did walk with a limp for a couple of days, but then who hasn’t?) His monumental mistake in interrupting Sister Eugenia while she was passing along the very core of Church teachings was so great that his other two offenses, not raising his hand to be called on and failing to stand by his desk while speaking, were set aside.

Sister E’s follow up was the old one about making room at your desk so your guardian angel could sit with you and that’s about all the last episode of Lost had going for it – it never asked me to sit on the couch so my guardian angel could have the Lazy Boy. Otherwise it was a two-hour recap of The Wit and Wisdom of Sister Eugenia minus Sonny’s theological effrontery.

Therefore rather than watch and bitch we have chosen not to watch anything with zombies, stranger things, or thrones. Instead I do the dishes or screw around with the laundry which are pretty much my version of monastic devotions. Mom will the first to tell you that if were on my death bed it would come as no surprise if I said, “I can’t go now, I have stuff in the dryer!”

Speaking of getting older –

The Adventures of an Elderly Contrarian: Please Children, Enjoy the Vast Expanse of My Lawn

Setting aside Sonny’s limp nothing says he escaped having any emotion or psychological scars. (Who knows?) After all these years he could have grown a figurative callous over his wound and wound up being what AWJ calls “emotionally constipated.”

Or maybe it comes with age.

All I know if everybody my age or thereabouts is constantly running their respective yaps about how the kids are on their phones all the time listening to that damn rap hop music. Look at ’em, no matter where they are they’re on their phones listening to that rap hop music. Now where they get that rap hop noise? From their phone, you can bet on that.

I’ll save my lecture on the effect disruptive technologies on the physically and emotionally constipated for another time.

You’re welcome.

When I was a kid I took no end of shit off my elders for my hair, my clothes’ and the music listened to. Back then I swore when I got old I would not repeat their constant nagging unless some kid did something that might bring me physical harm. So if the kids are constantly on their phone listening to th’ rap hop then it’s no skin off our respective pock marked, wrinkled, varicose-vein streaked noses.

Know what?

That’s not important now.

For the rest of the summer the rest of the family will be undertaking an long term project which will result in the right jaunty hat I should wear now that I’ve lived long enough to be an old guy going about town in a jaunty hat or cap.

Newsboy cap? Greek fisherman’s hat? Bowler? Straw boater? LBJ Stetson? Or maybe one of those big-ass Billy Jack motherfuckers?

So many possibilities.

Or maybe I’ll settle for a haircut like Till Lindemann’s.

Mr. L is the gent behind the microphone in this throughly NSFW video which highlights the tension between letting people enjoy things vs. those who would differ.

** NB: Mr. Bodine went on to finish the sixth grade and was also capable of doing what his uncle called cypherin’. (i.e. “Naught goes into naught naught times.”)

Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent(s): A List

“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.”

Fuck that.

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.

Oh well.

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.

Will keep you posted – film at 11.

Adult swim – kids get out of the pool

In a previous post there was a mention that the cryptocurrency crowd’s think is as devoid of possible consequences as a NASA clean room is devoid of dust. That came into sharper focus recently when JP Morgan Chase said they were getting into the alt-money biz.

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.

Just in case.

A Kiss from a Rose (City)

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!”

… ok

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!”

We are talking abut beer, aren’t we?

You know – beer.

Mandatory Fun

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.

    Things are bad

Kim Stanley Robinson

“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.

Goddamit.

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.

No, really.

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.

Why?

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.

But Forbes?

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.”

Or as Nick Land said in the article AWJ sent

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.

" An international chorus of horse laughs or nausea, depending on one’s Weltanschauung"

“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.

That’s why.
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.
Now?
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.’

Ain't that America? We're something to see, baby!*

“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.
Crazy?
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.
It begins:

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.

And the other to celebrate ourselves.*

*Denotes sarcastic remark.

mmmmm … meaty

“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.
His selection?
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?”
Vanilla Ice.
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.”
Niece?
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.

Messy

“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.
Silly me!
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.
(long pause)
“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.
Voici!

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.
Fatty Arbuckle
Woody Allen
Bill Cosby
Chuck Berry
Gauguin
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.

Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies

“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?”
Well…
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.
Ready?
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.
Oh well.
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)
That’s it?
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?
Who knows?
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.