Quandary begins with Q

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Why?

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

No use taking chances.

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

It’s time to bring back the UFOs.

Why?

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

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

Oh to be a fly on that wall.

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

And so on and so forth.

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

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

Think about it.

Get back to me.

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

This popped up in the ol’ inbox this morning.

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

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

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

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

Maybe you’ve heard of it.

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

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

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

No.

And that is my solemn promise to all of you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why bring any of this up?

Because that’s content worth paying for.

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

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

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

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

Joe ‘n some dough

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Dispatch from an Anarchist Jurisdiction

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

A couple of weeks ago Bill Kristol said this

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s the key.

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

Now?

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

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

Along those lines –

Life in Joe Biden’s America

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

From Politico

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly –

… mmmmm …jellies!

Not all mask wearing is a political act.

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

That was until the donuts arrived.

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

Three dozen donuts vanished in 10 minutes.

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

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

Use your inside scream

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

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

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

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

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

‘Trigger’ meant something very different to Roy Rogers

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

Damn right I’m wearing a mask.

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

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

How did he achieve this lofty status?

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

From that newspaper you don’t like –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In one Mr. Hill writes –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They used all the correct words in perfect order.

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

Ice cream, Fountain Drinks, Sundries, and Notions

Some desk clearing –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My guess?

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

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

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

Join us then, won’t you?

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

Until then practice your silent scream

And time keeps draggin’ on

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

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

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

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

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


Are you talking about the guy I shot in Reno?

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

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

Why?

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

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

This came as quite a surprise.

I had no idea I was getting Social Security.

The reason why no check this month?

Not so much.

Since when have I been getting Social Security?

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

This is going to give me self-esteem issues.

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

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


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


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

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

AUDIO:

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

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:

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

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

Then they run like hell.

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

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

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

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

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

Asking for a friend.

Speaking of required viewing…

Does Macy tell Gimbel?

It’s 17 minutes, but well worth it.

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

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

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

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

Otherwise it’s time to synchronize out watches.

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

So some people cool with it.

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

So some people cool with it.

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

oh … wait … that’s not social distancing…

You are practicing social distancing, right?

Holding up OK?

Family OK?

Anybody trying to tunnel out?

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

I’ll wait here.



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

Our SIG Sauer-ing relations

“One critic said my show wove a narrative even Frank Zappa couldn’t understand. His review had an asterisk next to Frank Zappa’s name that went to a footnote explaining who Frank Zappa was. Those sure are some readers, I’ll say!” Bruce McCullogh

“’The rhetoric seems more revolutionary than ever,’ Winkler, the UCLA law professor, said. Also new, he said: the possibility of ‘a lot of people coming in from out of state’ to join protests against local Virginia gun laws. … Winkler, the gun law expert, said he believed responsibility would ultimately come back to the NRA if the tensions in Virginia did spark any violence. For decades, the NRA has been pushing ‘overheated rhetoric about the second amendment protecting your right to rise up against the government’, he said. ‘This is the natural result.’” The Guardian 1/10/2020

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. … Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95. In like manner, the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.” Karl Marx


“Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.” Dr. Johnson

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day, since we’re together, might as well say “Would you be my, could you be my, won’t you be my Boog Squad?”

What an odd week. As it came to an end many people took to social media to point out how the new Space Force logo looks like an old Star Trek insignia. Not that it really makes much difference as no one is going to see it against the background of those space camo uniforms the Space Force is expected to wear. But it does leave open the question as to whether or not The Grand Negus in his second term will pursue some sort of don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy for any Space Force applicants who might be Klingon.

That aside – the week got off to an auspicious start. Not only was Monday Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday, it was ostensibly the start of the Second Civil War. Not that I really know why we need a second one. The first one lasted five years, it spawned any number of historical studies, countless books have been written about it, and school children still learn that it was one of the most significant events in American history. Some 150+ years later it still works its way into our lives in ways we rarely notice. The Civil War is why your dopey cousin nobody likes never comes to the family gatherings as he’s usually off in some meadow pretending to be Col. Shad “Squirrel Stew” Armstrong, Defender of the Honor of Virginia.

A state he has never set foot in nor seen.

At last summer’s family picnic after Grandma said, “Eddy won’t be joining us. He’s at one of those things he goes to.” a little golf clap broke out and she rolled with it. Please don’t misunderstand, she loves all of her grandchildren, but Eddy is a bit of a hill to climb.

Moving along –

The whole gun thing is pretty foreign to me as I’ve never owned a gun nor put any thought into getting one. Which is why I think bills before the Virginia legislature don’t seem all that unreasonable (e.g. a limit on hand gun purchases per month) and while that would seem to lead to no end of arguments I’ve never been in one. The only gun related conversations I’ve had centered around my alleged rejection of my birthright as an American male to not only own a gun, but to pass down any firearms I might have to my male offspring.

The worst and lengthiest came when I had to sell of my father’s shotgun as part of the settlement of his “estate.” For those of you just tuning in, Father thought that all you needed to do business was a handshake. Sadly, the folks in charge of Medicare and Medicaid don’t work that way so I was left with a tangled financial mess to untangle during his last couple of years of life. So per the court order the shotgun was put on consignment at a well known locally owned sporting goods in my hometown. My arrival coincided with some sort of Glocktastic Weekend. A Glock rep was there with all manner of t-shirts, holsters, pins, buttons, and no end of Glock tchotchkes. The only thing that was missing were some doll clothes so you could dress your Glock up like Topo Gigio and kiss it good night. When he overheard me talking to the guy behind the gun counter he charged over and started berating me about abandoning my birthright and being a negligent parent for not keeping the gun to pass along to my progeny. He kept insisting, “Think of your sons, think of your sons!”

Told him it’s son – singular – who was all of a year old at the time.

That really riled up Mr. Glock. He then ran out some rant about how my kid’s peers would make fun of him, belittled him, and how he’d be shut out of any gun-related bonding experiences later in life. I told him we live in Seattle and the only real dad-n-lad hunting we had available was to go down to the beach and see how many seagulls we could take out before the cops arrived. He stormed off and the guy handling the transaction took a quieter approach asking, “Why sell the gun?” I showed him the legal paperwork and said I’m not all that interested in guns. He was then more curious as how I arrived at that and I said I had no answer. I’d been in these situations before – someone looking for a single motivator. For example, while I can say that we drive Japanese made automobiles because I had Ford and Mom had a Chevy, I have no similar explanation for why I don’t own a gun.

Sorry.

This also begs the question, “Where’s something about the impeachment in this post?”

Because while the impeachment will come and go the idea that American men has some sort of sacred obligation regarding firearms will go on. Compounding matters is that the gun issues we face in the cities is very different than the gun issues that pop up elsewhere. The Atlantic had a recent issue devoted to where or not we’d have another Civil War. The single outtake was that when people think they have no voice they will act out. The South saw that it had no allies in whatever would come from the westward expansion so they decided to hold their own turf.

Who’s to say the same won’t apply of all those people who showed up in Virginia?

Who is to say they won’t act out if they think the walls are closing in?

Last Monday went as well as could be expected.

No one was hurt.

But what about the next moment of Booglaoo?

The impeachment?

It’ll come and go. Nothing will change. But the moment it is complete then we can point to that very moment when the 1980s became triumphant. At that moment we will be the America that was build by junk-bond traders, downsizing artists, and the countless MBA’s who were certain that there was much money to be made in being just good enough. The moment the impeachment of the man, who can be considered the Hegalian figure of the 1980s, is over we will have fully transitioned from being America, The Shining City on a Hill to America, The House Brand Mayonnaise.

Hey there, it is or is not Yogi Bear!

Some of you have heard, others haven’t, but two weeks ago I was kicked off Facebook. While trying to log in a notification popped up saying my account was suspended and my access to the site was restricted as my page had been identified as an imposter site. There was some other boilerplate and a generous amount of BLAH BLAH BLAH involved. Per them – my email for the the log-in did not contain my real name.

Seriously.

As far as FB is concerned I am Texas Chuck.

Never mind that there’s some guy out there logging on with his parrothead1952@aol account who does nothing but put up anti-Hillary memes and recycle jokes from the August 1978 Playboy. Never mind that half of Parrothead1952’s FB friends are all named Cheyenne, Autumn, Breezie, and Pepsee. Never mind that all those young women are really Texas Chuck’s co-worker, Yuri. Parrothead1952 is gold as far as FB is concerned.

Some have asked if there’s a way to appeal.

Yes, you have to send them something from this approved list to prove that you’re you.

Passports? Blank checks? Utility bills?

Hell, why don’t I just spit on a fucking Q-Tip while I at it?

Thrown in a little DNA for good measure!

In reading up about this it’s easy to find no end of people who have willingly surrendered many if not most of the items on that list only to find nothing happened. When they asked why they only got an automated response that said, send it again. That left me with the impression that I could send all manner of ID along with a suspiciously damp Q-Tip and still be in the same boat. Never mind that I’d be giving all that sensitive information which might include credit card and bank routing numbers to an organization that’s flirted with having its own currency, its own retail credit market, pioneering work in face recognition while telling The Wall Street Journal they might need to come up with their own OS.

Really?

An OS that could have you wake up one morning and find out your computer didn’t work and there was no way to get it work?

Thank you, but that was called Windows Vista and no one wants to do that again.

Among the many things that can get out bounced off FB is having someone report you as a stranger. Sadly that didn’t happen to me, but it would have been far, far more amusing if that was the case. Think about it – getting reported because somewhere out there in the ether there’s some guy who thinks he’s King Shit Yogi Bear Fan #1 and he’s not putting up with any pretenders to the throne?

That would be glorious.

Better yet it would give some FB middle manager with a moral compass worthy of Martin Shkreli the opportunity to introduce me to the other guy. He could even set us up with some space in that shitty little cloud farm FB has stashed behind a trailer park in the Dakotas. He could lock us in and walk away not giving a rip about what happens next. Then he’d have every right in the world to walk straight up to the big boss and say, “Excuse me, Mr. Zuckerberg? I took the liberty of rounding up all the sad assholes and putting them somewhere where they can’t bother anyone.”

Don’t tell me that’s not the fast track to a corner office.

So for the time being I’m embracing my inner Texas Chuck which is not to say I won’t be returning to FB, but it sure is relaxing to be away from it. There’s no being greeted – at 6:30 in the morning – with a long post about someone who has been through a terrible night of panic attacks because the new meds aren’t working. While you’d like say something and it’s not that you’re unsympathetic to their plight, it’s just … well the poster is only a FB friend, not a real friend.

Also I’m not missing the people who have to post every few minutes about what Hannity/Maddow (pick one) just said. But I do miss all those people who shared what the Tammy Larren gal was guaran-damn-teeing. I can only hope that she’s still out there guaran-damn-teeing stuff which relieves the rest of us from the awful burden of having to guaran-damn-tee things.

But I do have one thing to say that you’re not going to like.

Too many of you keep running out FB post after FB post linking to articles most of us have already seen.

You’ve really gotta stop doing that.

Because that’s what Twitter’s for.

But am I an imposter?

The Twentieth Century produced two great mystics, Gurdjieff and Councelor Troi’s mother. Both said that we are many people and we bring different ones to different situations. Gurdjieff summed it up best when he said, you are one person when you are with your lover and another when you are with your mother.

And I don’t want to know what any of you are like when you’re around Councelor Troi’s mother.

So by that definition the person I appeared to be on FB is not really who I am so therefore I was an imposter.

Truth be told?

When it comes to platforms and methods of expression who is to say that this page isn’t my meadow and I its Col. Shad “Squirrel Stew” Armstrong?

Again – I’m not saying I’m going to walk away from FB, but blogging seems to come more naturally.

And one last thing thing – in this meadow do you know who the King Shit #1 Yogi Bear Fan is?

Damn right.

So shut up and sing along.

Hold High The Stapler of Revolution!

There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism. Alexander Hamilton

Howard, it’s Bateman, Patrick Bateman. You’re my lawyer so I think you should know: I’ve killed a lot of people. Some girls in the apartment uptown uh, some homeless people maybe 5 or 10 um an NYU girl I met in Central Park. I left her in a parking lot behind some donut shop. I killed Bethany, my old girlfriend, with a nail gun, and some man uh some old faggot with a dog last week. I killed another girl with a chainsaw, I had to, she almost got away and uh someone else there I can’t remember maybe a model, but she’s dead too. And Paul Allen. I killed Paul Allen with an axe in the face, his body is dissolving in a bathtub in Hell’s Kitchen. I don’t want to leave anything out here. I guess I’ve killed maybe 20 people, maybe 40. I have tapes of a lot of it, uh some of the girls have seen the tapes. I even, um… I ate some of their brains, and I tried to cook a little. Tonight I, uh, I just had to kill a LOT of people. And I’m not sure I’m gonna get away with it this time. I guess I’ll uh, I mean, ah, I guess I’m a pretty uh, I mean I guess I’m a pretty sick guy. So, if you get back tomorrow, I may show up at Harry’s Bar, so you know, keep your eyes open. Patrick Bateman


You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break. Harry Truman

Hey, I’m a child of divorce, gimme a break! Patrick Bateman

And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were merry, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire… Milton Waddams

“There no longer does seem to be any organic relationship between the American history we learn from schoolbooks and the lived experience of the current, multinational, high-rise, stagflation city of the newspapers and of our own everyday life”. Fredric Jameson

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Dr. Johnson

(ed. note: Sorry if this makes less sense than usual as it’s being done in a bit of a rush. There was a second longer segement to this post that’s pretty complicated, but it will have to wait until next weekend. Long story short -I have a limited amount to time this afternoon to knock this much out, shower, shave, and press some clothes so we can go sit politely and listen to several local pols extol the virtues of some guy we never met.)

This was the week where all the kids could talk about was a phone conversation between a one-time game show host and a former tv comic. As of last Friday that means we’ve gone from “What about her emails?” to “What about his phone calls?” while being told to keep the record player going for the sake of the children.

When did we start going backwards?

At this rate next year’s debates will center around the wheel and fire.

Bill Buckley used to say that he’d rather be governed by the first hundred people listed in the Cambridge phone book than the Harvard faculty. Any more I’d rather be governed by the first hundred Harvard kids walking across campus than the 100 Oldest People in North America. (tm pend.)

But that’s not why we’re here today.

We’re here because life has been out of control. While I said I’d blog more often it’s just been noblesse obilge-this and noblesse oblige-that. I’m pretty much at the end of my rope when it comes to pretending to be a respectable member of society as it takes me away from this platform and puts me weeks behind on the news cycle. Case in point – it’s been two weeks since Associate Bro of the United States Supreme Court, Brett Michael Kavanaugh wound up on the front page.

Again.

Did he do all those things he’s accused of?

Oh hell yes he did.

How do I know this?

Because I’m coming to it with a different perspective. First, let me say -at no time – will I claim to be all woke up and call myself a feminist. In fact, I can only stand aside and understand women’s stories of physical and emotional abuse in the abstract. Overall guys only have two opportunities to inadvertently come face to face with another guy’s junk – high school wrestling and college fraternity initiations. Since I took a flyer on all that character building/camaraderie the only thing I’m left with is my experience with the Go-Go 80s MBA psycho weasels.

Between 1985 and 1995 I worked for five different companies which no long exist. Each demise had many things in common. Some Patrick Bateman type would show up wearing a pink tie. He’d make a point of taking off his jacket so you could see his expensive suspenders and then he’d gather everybody together for a enthusiastic pep talk that featured no end of buzzwords and corporate weasel speak.

You know, corporate weasel speak.

For example – a few years ago when Chipoltle added botulism to the menu they wound up having to close for a week or so. The sign on the one in the neighborhood said, “This Experience Is Temporarily Unavailable.”

Experience?

Hang gliding off the bluffs above the Oregon coast is an experience.

Chipotlte is an excuse to see if those Rolaids in the glove box still work.

Early on in that 10-year span the weasel would talk about how we are all family and family looks out for each other. Near the end of that stretch “team’ replaced ‘family’ and we were told a team has each others’ back on game day. Either way you’d come to work the following Monday to find that everybody on the third floor was gone which left you with the distinct impression you were next. If you were lucky you survived the first or second wave of layoffs, but sooner or later you were gone. Kinda like the high powered MBA schools based their root philosophy on the neutron bomb instead of Ayn Rand.

And how does Kavanaugh fit into all this?

I have no doubt that under those robes he’s wearing a power tie and holding his pants up with Brooks Brothers suspenders just like the other weasels and that’s why I believe everything those women said is the God’s honest truth.

Is that rational way to look at this?

Hell no, but then who has a rational take on anything these days.

My only consolation is all this is that Kavanaugh represents Peak Weasel. While Alaska Wolf Joe calls what we’re passing through ‘Late Stage Capitalism’ I prefer to think of it as the approaching era of Assisted Living Patrick Bateman. Sooner of later one of these guys is going to look around and find there’s nobody to layoff but himself. My hope that in their retreat the Miltons of the world will rise up like the proto-mammals after the demise of the dinosaurs. The Miltons will take their grief over what became of their staplers and they will channel into something constructive and the scourge of the Go-Go 80s will be behind us.

Congressional impeachment hearings and a trial in the Senate?

Very Germanic.

The only denizen of the Go-Go 80s who could be called a Hegelian world historical figure will be at the center of it all as neoliberalism’s golden age will reach its Wagnerian third act.

While we’re on the subject of the 80s, let’s roll this one out one more time as it seems to be in vogue again.

Ye, olde town crier

“In their paper, titled Preference for realistic art predicts support for Brexit, Noah Carl, Lindsay Richards, and Anthony Heath conclude that respondents who picked all four realistic paintings ‘were a full 20 percentage points more likely to support (Brexit) leave” than those who preferred all four, or three-out-of-four abstract works. The result remained the same even when the team controlled the data for demographic variables, such as gender, age, education, ethnicity, or country of birth. Speaking to the Guardian, lead researcher Noah Carl said that he thinks the conclusion “largely reflects differences between social conservatives and social liberals. (Brexit)Leave voters were not much more economically right-wing than remain voters, but they were substantially more socially conservative,” he said. The paper suggests that social conservatives, who are more likely to have voted for Brexit, “display lower tolerance for ambiguity and greater need for closure than their liberal counterparts” and thus “experience more elevated psychological discomfort when looking at objects depicted in a non-representational way.” Henri Neuendorf

“While the story of the (extreme) Wings may be one of division and conflict, a very different story is found in the rest of America. In fact, the largest group that we uncovered in our research has so far been largely overlooked. It is a group of Americans we call the Exhausted Majority―our collective term for the four tribes, representing a two-thirds majority of Americans, who aren’t part of the Wings. Although they appear in the middle of our charts and graphs, most members of the Exhausted Majority aren’t political centrists or moderates. On specific issues, their views range across the spectrum. But while they hold a variety of views, the members of the Exhausted Majority are also united in important ways:

“They are fed up with the polarization plaguing American government and society.

“They are often forgotten in the public discourse, overlooked because their voices are seldom heard.

“They are flexible in their views, willing to endorse different policies according to the precise situation rather than sticking ideologically to a single set of beliefs.

“They believe we can find common ground.

“The distinction between the Wings and the Exhausted Majority takes us beyond a simple story of the left and the right. Based on their strong views and values, we believe both Traditional Conservatives and Devoted Conservatives belong in the Wings. On the other side, Progressive Activists belong in the Wings, but Traditional Liberals belong in the Exhausted Majority. They have clear liberal views, but unlike the three Wings tribes, they have a more diverse range of opinions, seem more concerned about the country’s divisions, and are more committed to compromise. While partisans argue and score political points, members of the Exhausted Majority are so frustrated with the bitter polarization of our politics that many have checked out completely, ceding the floor to more strident voices. This is especially true of Politically Disengaged and Passive Liberals, while Traditional Liberals and Moderates remain engaged. Members of the Exhausted Majority tend to be open to finding middle ground. Furthermore, they aren’t ideologues who dismiss as evil or ignorant the people who don’t share their exact political views. They want to talk and to find a path forward.” From Hidden Tribes

“There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shown so much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing.” Dr. Johnson

“Turns out that I’m nowhere near white enough to be outraged by this.” Savannah Man (link)

Many of us don’t inhabit this medium as frequently as we used to. (I am reluctant to use the word ‘blog’ as a verb here.) As such we get a little out of practice and – given the passage of time – we’re not quite as young as we used to be and our stamina has waned some. While we still think we can, as my father used to say, go bear hunting’ with a switch, the sad fact is that it’s difficult to sustain a long stream of content once you’ve fallen out of the daily habit.

Compounding matter is the daily distraction that surrounds us. Sometimes it’s social media and sometimes it’s something so odd that you can’t help yourself – you will be absorbed by it and you can’t break free. One of those things came along this week when word got out that someone had stuck google eyes on a statue commentating General Nathanael Greene who was part of The American Revolution.

Needless to say the Savannah, GA police reacted the same warm, jolly sense of humor you’d associate with a high-school gym teacher. At last report the police are still looking for Ossama bin Glue Gun and generally acting pissy about the whole thing.

Normally this would lead me to run out at least 2500 words on the subject, but you know what?

No can do.

I’m still keeping company with a hot water bottle and some Icy Hot because I over did it with the last entry. That’s why I’m turning today’s post over to Alaska Wolf Joe. (Pictured above)

No, it’s not about Kanye.

I have a whole post on a scratch pad about Ye, the gift who keeps giving. The central point of that draft revolved around the idea that the word ‘celebrity’ will eventually evolve into meaning someone who has an opinion. Think of it along the lines that when Shakespeare uses the word ‘villain’ it meant a genuinely bad guy whereas today a villain is acharacter in a movie.

That aside – it’s been quite a week for musicians in the news. Kid Rock went to the White House on Thursday got dumped by the side of the road when Ye went on his 10-minute oration in the Oval Office. Also while we were all busy reading about our relations with Turkey it seems The Iron Sheik is trying to broker a peace deal between Shaggy Too Dope and that motherfucker Fred Durst. This follows Mr. Too Dope’s attempt to kick Mr. Durst in the head while Mr. Durst was performing in New Jersey.

“SHAGGY TOO DOPE YOU ARE A GOOD MAN BUT YOUR DROPKICK IS FUCKING DRIZZLING SHITS … BUBBA I LOVE THE PEACE NOT THE WAR UNLESS THE SON OF A BITCH JABRONI DESERVE TO GET SUPLEXED. THIS WAY THE SHAGGY GOOD MEN. GOD BLESS YOI.” – The Iron Sheik

Here now – a word or two from Alaska Wolf Joe:

The Insane Clown Posse as a Project of Midwestern Utopianism

In a discussion with a colleague yesterday, we had come to a certain problem regarding the vulgar application of Marxist theory to the Midwest. I argued, in a naïve sense, that the reason that traditional morality regarding family and gender was still present in the Midwest was due to the fact that physical labor as the bulk of economic productivity had not disappeared; whereas the disappearance of traditional morality regarding family and gender was more erased in the cities due to the predominance of intellectual labor over physical labor. But they pointed out, correctly, that the major economic force even in deeply agrarian America (which Ohio isn’t completely) was that of a migrant worker economy. Given this, the workers being produced are not products of the family as such, but foreign imports. Why, then, does a traditional Christian family morality still exist in the Midwest and the agrarian parts of the country? If not the family unit as a social formation, what social structures are effects of the economically necessary steps of subjugating migrant workers in order to have productive labor?

This might be the sociological mystery of the Midwest, why tradition maintains an errant spectre and conservatism still is abound in the rustbelt, and why the post-industrial wasteland remains only a wasteland and hasn’t transitioned as efficiently as the cities have into places where information has processed. Nonetheless, some ideological structure pervades.

What, then, do we make of the Insane Clown Posse? It seems to have come out of the crucible of a post-industrial Midwest and represented … something … par excellence. I have been informed by my colleague that their film professor was very interested to know of our experience of going to this concert, and in fact, wants to meet with me at some point soon to discuss it. There have apparently been somewhere less than a dozen or so serious anthropological or sociological analyses which have attempted to analyze the Insane Clown Posse, despite their 31 year old career (started, reportedly, in 1989.)

Again, I can make no claims to any astute empirical knowledge of the current social formations in the Midwest, of its economic duress, or of its changing attitudes and demographics. Nonetheless, there are some facts that seem to pervade our entire discourse. Kanye West in his hallucinogenic speech to Trump two days ago touched on the same things: Why can’t a working man get a job in Chicago? Bring the jobs back to America. We produced steel! Beautiful, clean coal! And its flipside: The first thing I saw on my entrance to Oberlin was an advertisement saying “Heroin kills.”

The fantasy of the Midwest I have received is one of idleness in the wake of globalism. The invisible hand of the market does not fondle all parts of the globe equally, and the message seems to have been it has been a long time since that self-same hand gave the Midwest a tender caress. In its wake, consumption attempts to service the awful absence of industry. Post-industrial abandon is left with the dualities of productive-consumption: the consumption of spectacle, or the consumption of narcosis. In the latter, the opiate of the masses is itself opium. The former need, the consumption of spectacle, is perhaps what the Insane Clown Posse is born out of, and explains their curious apolitical dimension.

Habermas describes one of the features of late capital as “the exhaustion of Utopian energies.” This central thesis is that the idea of utopia centered around the notion of utopia as an ideal social structure which provided a form of just and unalienated social labor. The welfare state solved this up unto a point: it provided enough necessity and mediation of social labor that social labor was not a wholesale form of alienation, but it did not provide enough to fix the continual social crises and misery of capitalist social organizations. As such, the notion of utopia began to dissolve as a public way of thinking, and more notably, the central political focus on the notion of social labor began to disappear. With it came the welfare state’s forms of utopianism, which focus predominantly on fantasies of communicative harmony and communicative utopias. The dimension of utopia through resolving the forms of inequity and domination that subjugate people into productive labor have been left to various outsider groups or academics. In political discourse, it has all but disappeared. But I would suggest that it has found another outlet: the fantasy of a system of utopian labor fulfilled through aesthetic representation.

What could be a better model for a utopian fantasy of non-estranged social labor than a circus in which one both participates in delirious enjoyment and produces with the same movement? What better represents a certain heyday of a working class figure of spectacle than the figure of the carnie? The myth of Dionysian ecstasy, of the pure consumption and production of bliss, does not go far enough into producing a product. The circus goes further: not only does it enable the consumption and production of bliss in an ecstatic state by its participants, but it produces a commoditized experience which can be bought and sold. This is one dimension of the spectacle which ICP represents.

The other dimension is seen through the hallucination of the body as a productive force. Both members of the ICP, as early as six years before they started rapping, were amateur wrestlers in Michigan. A full analysis of professional wrestling here would be needless, but it is curious that professional wrestling has more of a cultural affinity with the Midwest than many other parts of the country. I would speculate that this is because it still allows to see man as fundamentally laboring, even if the actual spectacle of wrestling is one of profound artifice. Even in the disjointedness of performance, the body still appears as working, and as violent. Wrestling doesn’t represent a regress to the “human nature” of violence, but of the professionality of violence; of the pure domain of physical force and its exertion, but in such a way it can be consumed as spectacle. It is, I would say, a return to directly confronting a form of social labor. Even if wrestling does not feature in the ICP’s performance, it hangs as a backdrop and as a theme, as part of the mythos and aesthetic of the ICP – even if abstracted. There is some affinity between their artistic presentation and the aesthetic of professional wrestling and its implications and their music, but as to what I’m not fully capable of saying.
Through these two dimensions, the Insane Clown Posse accomplishes the aesthetic representation of a certain fantasy felt missing in the Midwest: Not only the return of productive social labor in the post-industrial wasteland, but the return of productive social labor in its unestranged form through consensual non-subjugated labor and ecstatic bliss.

And at the same time, it cannot abide by the same traditional structures of morality and socialization which otherwise are/were functional for the Midwest. The circus by itself presents a certain sight – if not its European incarnation of “the Other Victorians” then at least of us Other Americans. The circus is not only the sight of apexes of the human body, the subjugation of man over nature in the form of performing animals, but also that of the freak show. And this is the theme that is most stressed by the ICP: The notion of the ‘dark circus’, the continual presentation in their stage show of actors wearing disfigured clown masks, of a sense of horror lurking under the circus and the site of the circus as a location for those quantified as ‘other’ in America to live without judgment. It is at the same time a utopian space for the other as well as a place of subjugation. Only through presenting and performing as ‘Other’ does the freak show enable itself to be economically profitable. Yet, through its presentation of ‘Otherness’ it reifies the concept of otherness, the presentation of being Other means you are consumed as being Other in the spectacle, and hence really are Other.

This central theme is perhaps the purest theme of utopianism in the Insane Clown Posse: We are awash in our otherness. We are so awash that we do not care if you dignify us or do not. We are immersed in our ecstatic bliss and will never change. It is up to you if you want to pay for the circus or not, but we know if you pay, you will enjoy it to no end.

Yet, from this self-production of Otherness the ICP must needs necessarily exclude itself from the domain of politics. To concern itself with the political or with legitimate problems of social labor would be disingenuous. And if, for some strange reason, the ICP engaged with the modern liberal-democratic utopia of pure communicative engagement, it would fail to be Other whatsoever. The presence of the Other as a theme represents an anxiety of dis-communication. One can see this notion fairly intuitively in contemporary discourse: “The only reason the white supremacists are still racist is because they have never lived with a black person and experience the suffering of their community. If only they talked to one another, they would realize that we are all human.” The fantasy of utopian communication mirrors the inherent tendency in the digital age to connective immediacy. Through the reference of all to all, human differentiation disappears, and all differentiation only belongs to the proper domain of differences between “generalized human themes” – not the racial or class separation of “white and black” or “rich and poor” but the generalized experiences of man being differentiated, the difference and otherness of state between “the [human] experience of being in love” or “the [human] experience of suffering” or “the [human] experience of anxiety.” The liberal-democratic dream of reducing all American life to a vast commonality which is continually communicated and reciprocally understood by all to all dissolves the Other as a category of social experience, and reduces Otherness to the difference between one generalized experience of a mental state to another. But the presentation of the Insane Clown Posse, the presentation of the Juggalo in general, can only thrive of its association with the category of Other. The FBI classification of the ICP as a gang reflects this inherent trend – the ICP is not Other to the law, but it is Other to representational politics. Perhaps the most radical notion of the ICP is itself its wholesale rejection of representational politics as a theme in its works whatsoever, not because it has been “subjugated” into having no voice, but rather as an intentional choice and a necessity of its cultural sensibility. This is, some would argue, a political stance, but it is nonetheless antithetical towards an American political sensibility, and hence, “apolitical.”

Through these points, I hope to have pointed towards an ideological stance of the Insane Clown Posse, and its specific brand of American utopianism.

Two other themes, disconnected from the above also presented themselves to me:

The Pleasure of the Commodity

The trademark of the Insane Clown Posse is still Faygo soda. It is the local brand of Detroit, and extremely cheap. At their concerts, they have between 50-200 or so 2 liter bottles of Faygo, which they shake up, spray on the audience, and throw at the audience. The audience members do not feel effaced in any way, but revel in it. But I wonder if in some way this isn’t itself a form of animating the commodity. The animation of the bottle itself seems to suggest in some way its coming to life, its own ecstatic state. It’s a representation of the working class nature of Michigan, where the ICP hails from, and also a sort of faux representation of the Bacchanalia. It really appears as a product of uniform mass production, and it does not provide any form of intoxication. It would be very easy to do a tired Freudian reading: Oh, it’s just phallic ejaculation! But something seems unsatisfying to me. I can’t put any deeper finger onto it, but it feels like a certain jouissance of the item itself. It is as if the soda is alive and wants to be spread in the most perverse way possible, finding it another part of the pleasurable voluptuousness of the spectacle.

The Dream of Death

Like all vaguely metal or ‘horror’ themed musical acts, the hint of death remains heavily. But this is a very joyous death, the continual joy and ecstasy of murder or gothic themes. It is the ‘dark circus’, the carnival of death. Where this takes on a jubilant theme in other cultures representing a certain attitude towards death (compare Dia de los Muertos), it is very contrary to the American fear of death and the continual prolonging of life for the sake of further productivity. I wonder if in some way this is not because it is another form of utopian thinking, the ability to fantasize about death in an orgiastic was a sort of exit from the state of destitution and the forced will to live present in the disciplinary institutions from the 20th century to the 21st century which still haunt the post-industrial landscape. Death remains always opposed to the system of capitalism, and as Baudrillard points out, maybe the only point of resistance which really wholly and completely opposes the current state of things. It remains, however, only a fantasy.

(Ed. note: Alaska Wolf Joe’s previous essay on The ICP and the nature of performance can be found here.)

“When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”

“I think it’s rooted in who I am and my background and how I grew up. I was always a really political kid. I grew up on punk rock (and) very much into anti-establishment stuff.I had always loved this band called the Dead Kennedys. Their singer, Jello Biafra once said ‘Don’t hate the media, become the media.’ That’s always stuck with me. Over dinner after the Women’s March (in Washington, D.C.) I was talking to my good friend … and we were talking about how difficult it was to keep up with the news. And for us, we’re all affluent white people, we’re so privileged. One: That we have downtime, and two: that we’re able to spend it knowing what’s going on in the world. How would a normal person in the world that has a family, a job or two jobs ever keep up with this stuff? No one likes to follow politics unless they’re like a junkie, you know?” – Matt Kiser
“Without knights no chivalry, without court no courtliness, without salon no charm, without material support no deference will last indefinitely, not even as make-believe. In the same manner what shrinks in a world that cheats us out of leisure and other preconditions of our privacy, are the subtleties of our emotional private lives.” Günther Anders
“In questions diffuse and compounded, this similarity of determination is no longer to be expected. At our first sally into the intellectual world, we all march together along one straight and open road; but as we proceed further, and wider prospects open to our view, every eye fixes upon a different scene; we divide into various paths, and, as we move forward, are still at a greater distance from each other. As a question becomes more complicated and involved, and extends to a greater number of relations, disagreement of opinion will always be multiplied; not because we are irrational, but because we are finite beings, furnished with different kinds of knowledge, exerting different degrees of attention, one discovering consequences which escape another, none taking in the whole concatenation of causes and effects, and most comprehending but a very small part, each comparing what he observes with a different criterion, and each referring it to a different purpose.” Dr. Johnson
World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation. H. Marshall McLuhan 1970
Last Tuesday’s off-year elections mean that some time has been freed up in Mom’s and my respective schedules. For the past several months we’re been expected to go to campaign kickoff events held in small windowless basement, fund raisers held at some unspecified locations at some unspecified public park, and election night galas usually held at a bowling alley or Elks Club.
As you’ve probably gathered, these events are not tied to some high-powered campaign for a readily recognized local office. Most of the ones we’re asked to attend involve irrigation commissions, fire districts, and other public offices that no one had any idea that the people who held those offices were elected. One position was so small that someone asked, “Where’s that victory party, in a liquor store parking lot?”
Hey – don’t laugh.
I expect that invite will be coming along at any time.
In the meantime we all go back to doing what we were doing before the election started which in my case meant wrestling with a problem so complex that it cannot easily explained.
Not even if you even use puppets.
Have a look –

Here’s an illustration.

Using a neutral example – let’s say that there are those (Group A) who squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom while others (Group B) squeeze from the top.
So let’s say that in either case one group really doesn’t pay any mind to the other. In fact, they rarely if ever cross over to talk to the other. Therefore, following what the video showed, Group A will most likely never see what Group B is up to and vice versa. Moving even further into what the video shows, it is then possible for people in a given group to also be unaware of what the entire group is doing because the algorithm moves people further and further into the margins.
How far?
Let’s say that one day someone in Group B discovers this:

It is then possible that it would go unnoticed by some portion of Group B. So some poor guy in Group B who married a Group A individual could be unaware that there’s something out there that could bring peace and balance to his home medicine cabinet.
Rolled up together it means that the Net, which was supposed to be the greatest assemblage of information ever devised is largely becoming a narrow range of possible outcomes. So what’s changed is that it is no longer a democratic vessel for knowledge. The people who came forward to dump their vast knowledge of some obscure topic on Geocities have been replaced with problematic formulas which are only concerned with who you know and not what you know.
And as Master Yoda said, “Meditate on this I must!”
While I do that you can have a look at Pew’s numbers on cable news viewership. The single most important factoid shows viewership up 55% over this time last year which means cable news in prime time is now being watch by over 1.5% of the American population. Or you can take a few minutes to read about icky and creepy Facebook is getting.
And when you’re done we’re all gonna hold hands and sing along.

Gott weiß ich will kein engel sein (QED)

“Let historians not record that when America was the most powerful nation in the world we passed on the other side of the road and allowed the last hopes for peace and freedom of millions of people to be suffocated by the forces of totalitarianism. And so tonight-to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans-I ask for your support.” – Richard M. Nixon
“The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more… profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts.” – Klaatu
“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter. tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning … So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” – Dr. Johnson

One housekeeping note:
Welcome to The Cloud.
A couple of months ago the company that had this page and a couple of other of our projects on a shared server got sold to some mega-corp. Since then the service has gone to hell. Case in point – every time you filed a help ticket or made a phone call you had to deal with Oleg.
Oleg’s favorite word is “Dunno.”
Doesn’t make any difference what you asked, why can’t I get into my site, what’s with all the error warnings, what’s your hat size, given any thought to what you want for Christmas, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
“Dunno.” says Oleg.
The only full sentence he uttered over the last couple of months came in a phone call two weeks ago. He was brief and to the point, “You to go into terminal tonight and change DNS with instructions you will get in email.”
Why?
Pretty much knew the answer to that before I even asked, but I successfully fought off the urge to say, “Is your cousin who rigged our election there? Tell him it’ll only take a minute.”
So that evening I went into my terminal as instructed and moved this web site to somewhere in The Cloud where Oleg can’t find it. He’s still got a file with some images I need, but I should be able to extract those when I get a spare moment or two over the 4th of July weekend. Otherwise please enjoy your nice new fluffy cloud-like surroundings.
Did that gum you like come back in style only to lose its flavor on your bedpost overnight?
This post comes at an auspicious time. The new episode of Twin Peaks won’t be out until next week For those of you who haven’t seen any of the new ones Alaska Wolf Joe brings you up to speed on how it’s been going.
He writes:

In general, Twin Peaks 3, Twin Peaks 2017, etc. tends to have a sense of identity loss. It is, I believe, not particularly clear as to what identity is lost – Lynch’s, the soul of nostalgia, the characters, etc.
What little I can say is that in essence it follows from Lynch’s tradition in both Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive as opposed to early efforts such as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and the original two seasons of Twin Peaks.
Eraserhead might be the clearest explication of the world Lynch seems to continually hint at. The industrial process of the world has left behind something which is not only soulless, but which is ultimately completely alienating to the human subject. All relations are foreign, biology fails to predict the structures of its constituents, and even the duties of the Father fail in the face of near schizophrenic horror.
Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet attempt to offer something a bit more reassuring: the banality of life offers a guise to the horror that is lurking. Our subjects are normal, our predictions of them have not failed, yet something is deeply, deeply wrong at the fringes. What is this surplus we cannot account for? No longer in the machinic hellscape but the comfortable world of petit bourgeois homeliness, something evades ethic – avoids custom. There is always a cruel logic which structures these worlds underneath suburban or rural homeliness, perhaps not a machinic or capitalist schema, but something paranormal, or deeply sexual. There is a trauma which waits in accordance with the spirit and/or the psyche.
In Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, we exit even the realm of societal or filial relations and end in the wake of Los Angeles, where the city has eroded the few things which thread the subject together. Subjective knowledge, the manner in which any character (subject) gains knowledge that pertains to themselves alone, is abstracted into nothing but series of signs. The main character in Mulholland wakes up with no recollection of themselves, and finds that only through the world can they attempt to recollect themselves. The world is a vast place filled with signifiers that construct identity. In the end of Mulholland and the middle of Lost Highway, Lynch shows us as much: names change, events switch and become new referents, and no one but the audience notices – the audience alone wondering if from this new display of chaos they can even construct an identity for the film.
Twin Peaks is caught in this last stage of work, but it seems even more hopelessly lost as it situates itself in the vessel of ‘modern television’ – endless references to the series’ history, but also Lynch’s career, and the style of shows that took blatantly from Twin Peaks mystique. But it resembles something more like a disorganized manner of thought than a cohesive product of entertainment. Aesthetically, it’s poor, and the storytelling is so badly paced and vague so as to become tedious. Yet it is the furthest explanation of this hollowness of the subject in the final stage of Lynch’s work: what refers to us? Who are we, if not the signs outside of us, however they may be situated?


Therefore let’s remember what Mr. Lindemann meant when he sang “Erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn kann man uns am Himmel sehn wir haben Angst und sind allein, Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein!”

Right as Rain
I haven’t been watching the new Twin Peaks much less American Gods or whatever else you’re supposed to gorge yourself on these days. Instead I’ve been reading up on morality and ethics and will probably blog about that in the near future.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re saying, “Morality? You?”
So noted, but let’s not look past the possible entertainment value.
How I got down this path all started with a major Tweetstorm that went around on a Sunday morning in April. It centered about The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Earlier in the week NPR had mentioned the book as the fastest selling bookclub selection since the election. Left leaning groups were eager to get the book to see if could provide some insight into how the other side thinks. Supposedly there had been many substantial and lengthy discussion of the book both online and in person.
Half of the Tweetstorm was all for reading the book and starting conversations and the other half pretty much said, “STOP NORMALIZING REPUBLICANS!”
OK – that got me to thinking – how can you normalize a group of people when their whole brand has been built around being normal?
Ike and Mamie? A plain cloth coat? The Silent Majority featuring special guests The Johnny Mann Singers? Wasn’t it no less than Norman Mailer himself who said the GOP was the party of small town authority figures and shop owners?
How normal can you get?
Face facts – Republicans are the people who stayed all the way through the tv show so they could hear the PSA suggesting everybody attend the church of their choice on Sunday. (Not like they had to be urged much less reminded because that’s what they were going to do anyway.) Then, and only, then, once the PSA finished did they leave the couch to heed, what civilized people refer to as, the call of nature. Not like us dirty Leftists. The second we heard the words, “Book ’em, Dano!” we were off to give in to our base instincts, no better than the beasts of the field, and wiz like a racehorse. At least the neighbors were thankful that we used the indoor plumbing. They knew if it wasn’t for the public decency laws us rancid Bolsheviks would be out voiding our molotov cocktails on the front lawn. They knew darn well that if we tried that then it would only bring the law and the last thing we wanted was The Man sniffing around our suburban dens of iniquity where the weed smoke hung in the living room like it was pea-soup fog.
But that was then and this is now – the time when drug laws have become more relaxed. In some states we’ve lost all fear of law enforcement coming to the house because a neighbor believes hemp is being set alight. And there’s no telling where this will go. Maybe we’ll not only lose all fear, we’ll loose what little sense of decency we’ve been getting by with, maybe at the end of the Dancing with the Stars we’ll forgo the use of household porcelain and wander outside to commune with nature.
Then you’ll have a whole new reason to tell us to get off your lawn.
A reason you never thought possible.
Just you wait and see.
Just you wait and see.
But how easy is it to be normal these days?
Thankfully there are pundits out there like Kaeley Triller Haver who describes herself as a typical, normal mom who happens to do a column for an online publication. The short piece linked shows that, like all good pundits, she does her due diligence which in her case means that once dinner is finished and the kids are in bed she sits down at the computer and Googles about for people trying to freeze their limbs off, drink blood, or be so out of touch that they still twerk.
Look, I get it, it’s strictly research and if she’s driving over to pick the kids up from soccer and thinks to herself, “Wow, I’d better take a minute tonight and see if any elementary school principals are going around in drag!” then we should think nothing of it.
Again – this adroit participation in the public discourse has been going on for years. My father hired a guy who used to tell my grandmother, the Democratic machine operative, “With all Due respect Mrs. O’Malley, I am a Republican and always will be.” My father eventually fired him because Mr. Republican would lock the store up early so he could inspect the restrooms in the public parks. He’d come to the house, own up to it, and give my father a full accounting of he found on his rounds then use our phone to share his findings with the police. I remember the last time he pulled that stunt. My father was so outraged he actually shut off Gunsmoke (Something I believed to be impossible) and fired Mr. Republican right there in our living room. Flabbergasted that the tv was off and stayed off, I watched Mr. Republican pull away in his Chevy station wagon that had a “Nixon’s the One” bumpersticker placed on the driver’s side of the rear bumper. Thinking back it’s fitting that the bumpersticker was on the drier’s side. It said he was the man of the family, the decision maker, the one who wore the pants, the one took a flashlight every night into every crapper the city parks department had to offer.
Put another way – Kaeley Triller Haver and Mr. Republican are involved in what the Alinskites in my Rolodex would call, “civic engagement” and if it takes thinking about how some one-off weirdo exercises his and/or her libido all day so they could become engaged citizens then so be it. Tolerance is not without its protocols and while she might not be tolerant of me, I am very much tolerant of Mr. Republican, who is no longer with us and Kaeley Triller Haver. If an average American woman can raise a family while going out of her way to make sure she can find out as much about pregnant transsexual women and faithfully track down little boys wearing dresses then who are we to judge?
Am I outraged about what she said in her column?
No, far from it.
In fact, I see her column as her way to becoming a more fully actualized human being. As the elders of the American Left used to say long ago, “She’s getting her head in good place.” and she getting it there even if it means she stays up until 3am night after night scouring the Internet(s) for every last person who just might be a “nonbinary neutrois, gyneromantic, asexual demonkin.”
So to her let me say, in the tradition of our elder Leftists, “Hey righteous Momma, right on.”
Speaking of conservative women …
“One should never see sausage and nice-nice being made.”
Mark Zuckerberg says his long term goal is connect all the people in the world with one another whether we like it or not. So I guess it shouldn’t some as a surprise that I got a ‘MEMBER ME?!?!? note on FB a couple of weeks ago from the woman Alaska Wolf Joe calls, Debbie the Psychedelic Republican.
Remember her?
The midnight recitations of Gatsby? The constant updates on her three-week shopping trip for the perfect peyote button? The time she barged into my dorm room to give me a full accounting of all the orifices in her body only to run out as quickly as she barged in? Or all the trouble she went to when she offered to be a guide to a Grateful Dead concert only to blow it off at the last minute, and leave several us drowning in a sea of those nonbinary neutrois, gyneromantic, asexual, demonkins known as Dead Heads?
… yeah
… it’s starting to come back to me
At the end of her note she asked that I write and catch her up on what I’ve been doing for the last 35 to 40 years. I sent a pretty tight paragraph that covered the highlights, but I haven’t heard back.
There’s several reasons – the first would be that I left no room for doubt, I’m still pretty much what her friend Calista’s husband would call an Unrepentant McGovernik. Hot on the heels of that was the breezy tone of my note, similar to the prose you see here, which would probably lead her to say what she said to me me time and time again, “I was going to invite you to (function) but nobody wanted you to come. They’re afraid of what you’re going to say.”
I was never hurt by that as I realized at a very early age that I was completely nice-nice challenged.
And what is nice-nice?
Mom defines nice-nice by putting her hands under her chin, wiggling all her fingers, and in her tiny, sparkly, precious-princess voice says, “OHHHHHH let’s make nice-nice! We’ll go over to some one’s nice house with all the other nice people and we’ll have some nice tea and some nice little cookies and it will be so nice because we’re making nice-nice. (Expletive) nice-nice.”
You can look it up, but it’s a well known fact – couples who exhibit compatible antisocial behaviors stay together longer.
Where were we?
American suburban nice-nice usually begins with getting invited over to see some new patio furniture, a dinette set, maybe a large appliance, or any item an economist would define as a durable good. Think of nice-nice as the participation trophy for having shopped at Sears.
Debbie’s pals, like many people in my past, were afraid that if I came I’d bring with me a certain kind withering sarcasm that would curdle the nice-nice. (Never mind that it was the only hostess gift I could find on short notice.) The point of nice-nice is to celebrate the normal, and like cheese, most people just don’t want to ask the question, “Who moved my normal?” They like their normal right where it is. They don’t want some moonbat libtard coming around asking if the think their normal might look better over there.
But that’s all pretty much conjecture.
What I believe was the real reason I haven’t heard back is Mom and Alaska Wolf Joe.
Maybe Debbie thought I was in a trailer park somewhere overseeing the giant cloud of radioactive natural gas trapped a mile beneath unincorporated Rio Blanco County, Colorado. Instead I was out having a life and there’s these two very important people who’ve been at the very core of it.
In fact, until we open our mouths or if viewed for a distance, we look pretty normal too.
Now and then we could even be mistaken for Republicans.
In the meantime sit tight as I have some reading to do. After all this time it makes sense to try a different approach. Instead of reading the jacket blurb and flying off the handle like we did in the old days, I’m going to take a serious gander at Haidt’s book. But I’m not going to get crazy and run a highlighter through parts or even start an outline to create a cogent argument about what he said.
After all we do have to uphold a few of the old blogging traditions lest we get mired in digital apostocy.
In the next couple of weeks I’ll also be working my way through Davis Weigel’s The Show That Never Ends, the new book about the rise of and fall of prog rock. Here however you rest assured that if I go through Weigle’s index and find no mention of Can, Popol Vuh, Guru Guru or any of the other German bands I will come right back here immediately and go bat-shit ballistic without reading another word.
Join us then, won’t you?

You done with that copy of Mother Jones?

“The revolution will be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia, the revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal, the revolution will not get rid of the nubs the revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner … There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mays pushing that cart down the block on the dead run or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance NBC will not predict the winner at 8:32 or the count from 29 districts
“The revolution will not be televised, Brother!” – Gil Scott Heron
“ ’They Live’ from 1988 is definitely one of the – forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood left. It tells the story of John Nada. ‘Nada’ of course is Spanish means’nothing’. A pure subject, deprived of all substantial content. A homeless worker in L.A. who, drifting around – one day enters into an abandoned church – and finds there a strange box full of sunglasses. And when he put one of them on walking along the L.A. streets – he discovers something weird; That these glasses function like critique-of-ideology glasses. They allow you to see the real message beneath – all the propaganda, publicity glitz, posters and so on. You see a large publicity board telling you – have your holiday of a lifetime – and when you put the glasses on – you just see just on the white background a gray inscription. We live, so we are told, in a post-ideological society. We are interpolated, that is to say – addressed by social authority – not as subjects who should do their duty, sacrifice themselves – but subjects of pleasures. Realize your true potential. Be yourself. Lead a satisfying life. When you put the glasses on – you see dictatorship in democracy. It’s the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom. The explanation for the existence of these strange ideology glasses – is the standard story of the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. Humanity is already under the control of aliens. – Zizek

Miller:
A lot o’ people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch o’ unconnected incidents ‘n things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice o’ coincidence that lays on top o’ everything. Give you an example; show you what I mean: suppose you’re thinkin’ about a plate o’ shrimp. Suddenly someone’ll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o’ shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin’ for one, either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconciousness.
Otto: You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?
Miller: I’ll give you another instance: you know how everybody’s into weirdness right now?… – from the movie Repo Man
“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.” – Dr. Johnson


Here’s a couple of things and then I’ll move along.
“I COULD BE A SHAMAN! I’D BE REALLY GOOD AT IT TOO!”
This week I tried to go to my Happy Place only to find out I’m not welcome there any more. The old hippies who run my Happy Place said that they got too many complaints that I was always “putting a heavy thing down” and it was “getting everybody’s head in a bad place.”
Of course, that’s the problem when you’re of a certain age – the old hippies are part of the original equipment that came with your Happy Place. Truth be told – I’d rather have a Happy Place that looks new and shiny sorta like one of those hipster barbershops where everybody has lots of tattoos and you get a complimentary IPA when you walk in. Not that I know why they give you a beer as it would seem to be a chore to keep hair our of your drink not to mention that it might dull your wits to the point that you didn’t notice your haircut looks like it was done by a the guy who had to stay behind and clap the erasers after barber college let out.
But I digress.
The reason I wanted to go my Happy Place was wholly apolitical. For the better part of a week I suffered with the flu that’s been going around. The low part of the exercise came when I decided I’d spent enough time in bed and I might feel better if I lollygagged on the couch.
It didn’t go well.
First, after dropping the remote I discovered I didn’t have the physical and mental wherewithal to find it. Thus I was stuck watching The Chronicles of Riddick starring Vin Diesel in the title role and featuring Dame Judi Dench as an interdimensional composed of second-hand cigarette smoke. The movie is well over 5 hours long and at no time does it ever bother with the simple courtesy of making a damn bit of sense. So after being stuck on the couch with aches, pains, and a nagging cough with nothing to watch Vin Diesel in swim goggles I thought a trip to my Happy Place would be in order.
But, no.
And there was nothing new about it. For years and years I’ve heard how my bad attitude/negative statements/withering look either ruined everything for everybody/seriously advanced the expiration date on the cottage cheese. (Circle all that apply.) The attitude I can pretty much turn on and off, but the withering look is one of those things I’m not aware of until it’s well along. Case in point – Friday morning two people I marginally know came up to be and were all weepy, glassy-eyed, and choked up. One said, “The White House web site pulled everything on climate change and doesn’t say anything about LGBTQ rights!!!”
Calmly I asked, what did you expect?
(Insert withering look here.)
Look, it’s not like Trump called everybody in around the start of the month and said, “On New Year’s eve I was outside of Sante Fe doing peyote with a shaman and right at sunset a column of smoke appeared to me and spoke…”
In a voice that sounded remarkably like Judi Dench and in that moment everything changed?
Seriously, what do I have to do?
Do I have to come over there and beat you with your own copy of Mother Jones until you come to your senses?
Well?
It’s not like I won’t have the time as that brings me to the other half of this missive.
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO FIND IN THE COUCH.

I’m taking an extended FB hiatus and it’s all your fault.
Specifically:
1. You’re hysterical. Look, I wasn’t any more pleased with the election than you, but I really don’t want to stick around and see how you’re on FB every day talking about your new dedication to changing the world.
Why?
1a. You never shut about the tv shows you’re watching. First you’re all, “OMGS, OMGS OMGS I’M WATCHING THIS TV SHOW THAT’S SOOOO GOOD I WISH IT WAS BUTTER SO I COULD PUT IT ON TOAST AND EAT IT ALL UP!!” Then two weeks later all I see is, “OMGS OMGS OMGS I’M WATCHING THIS NEW TV SHOW THAT’S SOOOOO GOOD I HAVE TO TOUCH MYSELF EVERY TIME I THINK ABOUT IT!!”
After years of putting up with that I’m scared to think what your bake sale would look like.
And it goes without saying – I won’t be answering your FB bake-sale invite.
2. Glad you had a good time at Hamilton. You do realize that when it gets to be one of those live-tv Broadway events it’ll be shot through with pop culture references? So please don’t act surprised when Burr is played by that Urkel kid who will look right into the camera after the duel and say, “DID I DO THAT?!?!?
3. Dog pictures, every day my feed is nothing but dog pictures. I can’t put up any dog pictures as we don’t have one. We have a cat and even though he’s getting up there in years he has never learned to sit up or beg, and he certainly wasn’t going to fetch the remote for me as he likes Vin Diesel movies.
4. FB assumes you’re being your real self whereas blogging lets you become something like Norman Mailer’s quasi-fictional construct of himself that he rolled out in Armies of the Night. These are strange times and they call for a strange narrative and it occurs to be that I need to be somewhere strange enough to pull that off and for 17 years there’s been no place stranger than this one.
5. Lastly I’m sick of how FB infantilizes your musical taste. Currently there’s a thing going around about how you’re supposed to associate Abe Maslow like peak experiences to every record you bought before you were old enough to drive.
Like I can remember that far back?
OK, I can, but I kinda have to stretch and warm up first as it’s a long trip back there, but is it one I want to make? Even if I were to put the effort into I’m not sure I’d find any album that I truly believed changed my life.
OK, maybe one …

Non-Masons stay pretty much in the dark about “What Goes On”

“‘Personal density,’ Kurt Mondaugen in his Peenemünde office not too many steps away from here, enunciating the Law which will one day bear his name, ‘is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth. Temporal bandwidth is the width of your present, your now. It is the familiar ‘∆ t’ considered as a dependent variable. The more you dwell in the past and in the future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are.'” Thomas Pynchon from Gravity’s Rainbow
“Here’s the divide: The young and educated see the possibilities of life without borders and nationality, not necessarily so much as grand ideology but certainly for the convenience and opportunity. Older and perhaps less worldly people see borders as defining autonomy and identity. They are less sanguine about sharing their homes, cars, photos or their space with strangers and aliens. The former view, the premise on which so much new wealth is founded, is the high value opinion. The latter view obviously is the low value one because the people who espouse it are so much poorer. In that, there is a confusing zeitgeist issue. In the modern era, particularly since borders and regulations began to drop in the 1980s, the zeitgeist has slavishly followed the money. But culture, a sense of well-being and personal identity has, before this, in a more classic conservative sense of valuing bonds with the past, often superseded economic considerations. One of the truly bad words of classic conservatism in fact is ‘innovation.’ Edmund Burke refers to the ‘innovator’s lust for power.’ Curiously, much of the new, left, young, urban zeitgeist is, while theoretically anti-wealth, in full cultural alignment with those innovations that create such wealth.” – Michael Wolff
“The left says: ‘Look, it’s very simple. The political press ultimately serves the interests of the people who own it— the corporate capitalists, the ones with money and power and ‘access’ to politicians, the people who run things and always have. Those who are unwilling to make peace with this fact don’t make it very far in political journalism.’ The right says: ‘Look, it’s very simple. Press coverage reflects the bias of the people who produce it— and they’re liberals!’ Conservatives who are against abortion, suspicious of gay rights, skeptical about global warming, against the redistribution of wealth and instinctively wary of government regulation don’t make it very far in political journalism. ‘Look, it’s very simple,’ our journalists say. ‘The press isn’t on the side of the left or the right. Of course, journalists are human. They have passions, they have interests, they have opinions. But these are irrelevant to the way they define and do their job, which is to find out what’s happening and tell the world about it. Ideologues don’t make it very far in political journalism.’ In the puny camp that I’m a part of the first sentence is: This is complicated… Jay Rosen
“Kim Kardashian West’s boob is so soft it makes velvet feel like splinters. It makes the fur on a baby bunny’s tummy feel like a plastic bag of syringes. It is so soft that touching it is like scooping up the delicate pink dawn sky with your fingers, or holding a ball of lotion in your hand. It is softer than the thick, warm, all-enveloping smoothness that caresses a globule of wax as it travels up a lava lamp. I know this because Kim Kardashian West has just put down her passion-fruit iced tea and peeled back her sleeveless Adidas x Kanye West bodysuit so that I could place my hand on it (the boob) while we eat dinner under the furious early stars at the Beverly Hills Hotel.’Even though I’m an ass girl, Kanye always says my boobs don’t get as much credit as they deserve,’ Kim explained. At the time that she invited me to touch the upper-left quadrant of her left breast, I was merely an unkempt person Kim Kardashian West had met one time. And yet, on just our second short meeting, I felt comfortable enough to ask her to ‘please describe what your boobs feel like.’ That’s how we got here. ‘Really soft!’ exclaimed Kim, seated primly in an out-of-the-way patio booth. She was eating half a salad. I was eating a hot dog and fries on her enthusiastic recommendation. (‘I love the hot dog here.’ she said with a sparkle, neglecting to mention I would have to order this item from the kids’ menu.) (Real good hot dog.) ‘You wanna feel?’ she asked. ‘Yup.’ I said.” – Caity Weaver

“Our language, for almost a century, has, by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonic character, and deviating towards a Gallic structure and phraseology.” Dr. Johnson
“Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” Chairman Mao
01678l3s
One of the tidbits coughed up by institutional economics states that the division of labor, as we understand it, dates back to the Middle Ages. Closer to home Mom divvied up all the chores and the duty of attending that semi-regular civic function known as a Rubber Chicken Dinner (RCD) fell to me. Some of you might be familiar with such things, for those of you who have never had the pleasure it goes like this; in a large hotel banquet room at least 100 people gather to eat Monsanto’s chicken-like substance, but not before being served a “salad” composed of that sorry excuse for lettuce known as “greens.” Hiding beneath the “greens” are all manner of f’n sticky little walnuts. Oh sure, you can try scraping them off, you can even try to use the knife provided, but it only makes things worse. While you’re at it you can pretty much write off scraping the damn things off with a roll. Yes, there’s a bread basket. There’s even a decorative pat of butter on a little plate with a tiny butter knife, but the second you ask some one to pass the rolls they become hysterical deaf or instantly involved in someone else’s conversation.
While I am not required to attend any RCD which is strictly a fund-raising exercise I am under strict orders to attend those that award those about to retire for their many years of compulsive behavior. Such was the case last weekend when I went to a RCD honoring a man who had tirelessly attended to the drainage of low-lying areas under the aegis of some “sanction tax entity” that may or may not report to the governor. Our alleged host for the evening was some high sheriff from the legislature who was driving from the other side of the state to put on the feedbag, acknowledge roughly half the audience, take 45 minutes to “say a few words”, and hand out some sort of engraved clear acrylic lump which probably came from the came vat as tonight’s dinner.
Such was not the case.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like the night didn’t start off al swank ’n stuff. There was an open bar where you had your choice of COSTCO’s Kirkland label microbrew or wine out of a box. One box of wine had been drained by a couple of gents standing near me. Both were slightly older than me and while not consuming box wine Olsen and Johnson loudly took turns finding one another terribly amusing. This seemed to be moving along well enough until the master of ceremonies, a lesser functionary of the legislature, came in and announced that the high sheriff couldn’t make it. While we were repeatedly assured that he was on his way it turned out he never left his house for reasons unknown.
This did not go unnoticed by the slightly older comedians at the end of the “bar.” The Olsen hollered across the room, “If we were givin’ out an award to a one-legged Harley ridin’ Chinese transsexual he woulda been here yesterday!”
With that his Johnson doubled over in laughter. As he straighten up Olsen went about brushing off Johnson’s lapels and in an even louder voice said, “OH I AM SO SORRY! DID I GET MY P-C ALL OVER YOU! HERE, LET ME BRUSH THAT DARN P-C OFF!”
Before they could get all that out of their system our host returned to tell us that the honoree was a no show as well. Through clenched teeth he got out something about a hip replacement gone bad and to make his point he snatch the beer out of my hand, waved it at the dining room, and told everyone to go have a seat as dinner was being served.
Commotion broke out all around. That’s two entrees too many and you can’t just put those back in the ‘fridge. Monsanto has a whole cube farm full of Philadelphia layers who have nothing better to do than swoop down on the poor sap who would re-heat, re-serve, or chop up into salad. And it’s not like you can put it back in the 55-gallon drum it came in. There are procedures for these things, strict procedures, and if you don’t follow them to the letter then the Moon will turn blood red and across the land chickens, who at the molecular level somewhat resembled tonight’s entree, would cease to lay.
None of this mattered to me.
I was transfixed.
The Gnostics said that you can receive enlightenment by hearing only a few words. God knows, that moment had arrived for me. I had not lost 2/3rds of a warm bottle of COSTCO’s finest IPA, I had been given a passage, an opening, a gateway into the far reaches of the cosmos. My mind was racing through time and space and out there is some far reach of existence, a place that looked like it had been personally designed by Jack Kirby, there was a phone pole and on that phone pole there was a post that said, ‘TONIGHT ONLY! ONE-LEGGED HARLEY RIDIN’ CHINESE TRANSSEXUAL!”
No cover charge.
The salad came, the salad went, dinner arrived. Mostly it was a blur of motions around me. Now and then I would notice Olsen and Johnson across the table. They would erupt in a mild spasm and you could see them mouth the words,“…one legged… huff…. huff good one!” Not me, I could hear the whole thing. In fact I kept hearing the whole thing in my head over and over and over until it was almost mantra-like.
You see, at that moment, I’d been given a gift. Between now and November I didn’t have to have an opinion. If some one asked me about Trump and the Brexiteers all I had to do is look them in the eye and say, “So I was at this dinner the other night and do you know what I heard some guy say?”
The rest of the evening is pretty much a blur. By the time I got in the car I came around and started to wonder if the convenience that statement gave me outweighed the efficiency or the efficiency was greater than the convenience?
But as Mom likes to say, if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. Such was the case the next morning when I was overcome with the question of, “How did we get here?”
Stick around – I’m about to take the blame for Trump.
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Over the past few weeks a couple of things stood out, one concerns the large scale media and the other involves class structures.
Let’s start with the media.
When the Brexit vote was counted no one was as shocked at the British media. CSPAN picked up ITV’s feed which provided no end of dumbfounded looks. Save for one guy, the pundits could not clutch their pearls fast enough. None of them saw this coming.
How could this be?
How?
Let’s start with something Jürgen Habermas said:

The publicity effort, however, a carefully managed display of public relations, showed that the public sphere (deprived, for the most part, of its original functions) under the patronage of administrations, special-interest associations, and parties was now made to contribute in a different fashion to the process of integrating state and society.

Large scale media has internalized all that to the point that it’s a bit like knocking on wood or throwing salt over your shoulder – how that all got started is lost to the ages, it’s all internalized now. The daily function of reporting and informing becomes automatic and unconsciously worked through as if its all like breathing or blinking your eyes. Sure, there’s been financial turbulence, but when you look at the reaction to the financial drain there’s no indication that anybody wants to do anything differently. At least in this country a few of the Beltway types figured out they have no idea what the Average Joe thinks or does. No that it makes any difference. Reporting goes on and at this very second no one in the old large scale media has a clue about what’s happening – in an election year – but we do have a gloriously rendered 5000-word write up about the upper half of a Kardashian’s anatomy.
Yeah, I know – there he goes again.
But at some point the old large scale media itself has to move on from being numb to the scorn its received for years and get to a point where it understands that it serves no one when it talks to no one but the insiders and itself.
Which brings up a second point – media and class.
Last week Michael Wolff ran this out in The Hollywood Reporter:

Here’s the divide: The young and educated see the possibilities of life without borders and nationality, not necessarily so much as grand ideology but certainly for the convenience and opportunity. Older and perhaps less worldly people see borders as defining autonomy and identity. They are less sanguine about sharing their homes, cars, photos or their space with strangers and aliens. The former view, the premise on which so much new wealth is founded, is the high value opinion. The latter view obviously is the low value one because the people who espouse it are so much poorer. In that, there is a confusing zeitgeist issue. In the modern era, particularly since borders and regulations began to drop in the 1980s, the zeitgeist has slavishly followed the money. But culture, a sense of well-being and personal identity has, before this, in a more classic conservative sense of valuing bonds with the past, often superseded economic considerations. One of the truly bad words of classic conservatism in fact is ‘innovation.’ Edmund Burke refers to the ‘innovator’s lust for power.’ Curiously, much of the new, left, young, urban zeitgeist is, while theoretically anti-wealth, in full cultural alignment with those innovations that create such wealth.

For years we’ve been told that the Internet(s) would force us into idealogical silos, single-minded echo chambers that would turn us all into tribes. Interesting up to the point that it fails to take the global recession into account. Once you factor that in then you can make the case that we’re not moving into silos, we’re moving deeper into our respective social and economic classes.
And I’m as guilty as anybody. Back in 2007 we got rid of cable and started sourcing our news from places like the BBC. We’d heard enough yelling on the cable channels to know that it wasn’t journalism or even informative. (Unlike most of you – and you’re not going to like this – we didn’t think much of the yelling topical comedians either.) By cutting the cord we removed ourselves from what Wolff calls “a far more loyal audience and much better economic bet” – those who kept the cord.
Why?
Because our level of education and income allowed it.
Also along those lines – only thing that was even remotely surprising in all of this is that Olson and Johnson were not in my face about the demise of newspapers. What they said didn’t surprise me as most of the time when I encounter folks of a certain age their all bent out of shape about the fate of the newspapers, local tv, or NPR and some how that’s my fault.
But enough of all that.
Ready?
I’m in the media and I never saw Trump coming. Even worse, I’m one of those cord-cutting elitist libtards who’d rather get his news from some dirty foreigner because I think the American media’s product is no better than anything that came out of Detroit c. 1977.
Put it all together and I guess I must be to blame for Trump.
I’ll save some other thought on Britain and the US crossing paths for later. But I will leave you with this thought. Boris Johnson used to be some sort of automotive reviewer. The idea that some one who used to do that sort of thing is as ridiculous as thinking someone in this country writing for some innocuous publication like TV Guide could rise to proinence by being a cheerleader for some unnecessary military expedition in the Middle East.
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… oh … wait
Never mind.
In closing – Trump, my bad.
Sorry.

Just holdin' it for a friend, Officer!

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On Friday night, the country was treated to a visage of history, as thousands of demonstrators, a multiracial Coalition of the Offended, streamed out of the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion, where the Trump campaign had abruptly cancelled a rally, “for the safety of all the tens of thousands of people that had gathered in and around the arena,” the campaign said in a statement. On CNN, John King opined that many of the demonstrators had come “just to cause trouble,” and Neil Bush, brother to George W. and Jeb, pointed out the similarities between the images coming out of Chicago that evening and those of the chaotic 1968 Democratic Convention. This was a miscasting of history, and yet another demonstration of why the Republican establishment has been so inept in its attempts to contain the Trump phenomenon. It wasn’t the demonstrators who recalled the insurgent fury of Chicago in 1968, it was the masses of Trump supporters, fists clenched in a fervor to reroute the country’s trajectory, to seize it from those who’ve taken us down the path of national shame—to make America great again, even if they have to break a few eggs.The Chicago Democratic Convention protests were directed at a political establishment that was responsible for Vietnam, and more broadly for a sense that skewed national priorities had victimized ordinary citizens. Trump’s supporters are not animated by any literal war, but they are fully invested in a rhetorical one, and all the indignation, victimhood, and chaos-brokering of 1968 finds its reactionary equivalent in the current Republican front-runner. – Jelani Cobb
To know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody. – Quentin Crisp

It has always been the practice of those who are desirous to believe themselves made venerable by length of time to censure the new comers into life, for want of respect to gray hairs and sage experience, for heady confidence in their own understandings, for hasty conclusions upon partial views, for disregard of counsels which their fathers and grandfathers are ready to afford them, and a rebellious impatience of that subordination to which youth is condemned by nature, as necessary to its security from evils into which it would be otherwise precipitated by the rashness of passion and the blindness of ignorance. … Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility and reverence. – Dr. Johnson
This was a week of self examination that managed to get tangled up in much low-rent epistemology. It kicked off with the two of us waiting for our take-out order. As we had nothing else to do Mom picked up a small magazine in the lobby. She held it up and asked, “How long has Archie had a hashtag in his hair?”
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I said that Archie’s crosshatching predated Twitter by decades. As a kid I thought those were window panes reflected off this bright red hair.
That’s where that riveting discussion ended.
We were joined on the bench by a young couple who were flirting up a storm. They arrived just at the point where the young man undertook the compulsory male fluffed-up braggadocio. He began, “After I got out of college I wandered around, bartended, was a waiter, then two years ago I really found my calling. I’m the lead buyer for a a consortium of recreational marijuana stores.”
Oh brave new world, that has such people in’t.
In a magnificent example of circular breathing he went on excitedly about traveling here and there and getting to know every half-naked and barefoot Ma and Pa Kettle east of the Cascades. Then he deftly shifted into the need for stores to make sure the dab and oils at the front of the shop are always clear because it sends a message that quality counts!
All the while he was doing that a little voice in the back of my head kept shouting, “DUDE, SHUT UP! SOMEONE WILL HEAR YOU!!” In the car on the way home Mom said something similar, “I wanted to tell him, ‘NOT HERE! NOT HERE!’
The legality of it all is still very new for us and obviously it’s done nothing for our way of thinking. We’re still locked into thinking about marijuana the way we did 35+ years ago. Changing the law did not change the bits and pieces of shop-worn facts and half-wrong memories that float around at the bottom of our brains.
An rudimentary version of that last thought had occurred to me earlier in the day when I happened up a Newsweek article written by my favorite grouch, Slavoj Žižek. At long last Zizzy had gotten around to writing about Donald. Trump. Somewhere in the article he says –

The problem here is what Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel called Sittlichkeit: mores, the thick background of (unwritten) rules of social life, the thick and impenetrable ethical substance that tells us what we can and cannot do. These rules are disintegrating today: What was a couple of decades ago simply unsayable in a public debate can now be pronounced with impunity.
It may appear that this disintegration is counteracted by the growth of political correctness, which prescribes exactly what cannot be said; however, a closer look immediately makes it clear how the “politically correct” regulation participates in the same process of the disintegration of the ethical substance. To prove this point, it suffices to recall the deadlock of political correctness: The need for PC rules arises when unwritten mores are no longer able to regulate effectively everyday interactions—instead of spontaneous customs followed in a nonreflexive way, we get explicit rules, such as when “torture” becomes an “enhanced interrogation technique.”
The crucial point is that torture—brutal violence practiced by the state—was made publicly acceptable at the very moment when public language was rendered politically correct in order to protect victims from symbolic violence. These two phenomena are two sides of the same coin.

That took me back to something I’d seen a few years ago.

The article and the video have many valid points about what the kids call “late stage capitalism.”
Yes, late stage capitalism.
That’s how they say it.
You know, as in “23 skidoo, late-stage capitalism, Chicken Inspector!
Where were we?
Zizzy’s solution for all things that ail us is a neo-Stalinist state.
Which got me to thinking – where’s the hate for that?
Chomsky’s an old man now. He’s only got a few years of being the go-to for being the public intellectual the Right loves to hate. Never mind that the foundation of Chomsky’s entire critique of society was shaped by the Vietnam War. Never mind that the old hippies who still hang on Chomsky’s every word also have a worldview shaped by that war. More likely sooner rather than later Noam Chomsky won’t be around nor will most of the people who love and/or hate him. If one side or the other is looking for heroes and villains – then it’s time to start looking around and Zizzy is my new default value for “grumpy.”
More to the point- look at the pull quote from Jelani Cobb at the top of this post. We couldn’t even make it out of Friday night before somebody brought up 1968.
Why can’t we move on?
Is this something that comes with age?
Do we finally reach a point where the body of knowledge that we’ve been walking around with for years finally fails us?
Now, I’m not saying that the sum total of our experiences is bad. (e.g. hand on hot stove = BAD! NO! STOP!!) What I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of is how entropy fits into our memory. Do we unconsciously come to a point where – on any given topic – we say, “OK, stop there. That’s good enough.?” Or do we get distracted by time and daily routine so as to never re-visit a topic or a given certainty?
How else did we reach the point where Mom and I got nervous around a guy who very openly buys and sells – what was for us for many, many years – an illicit substance?
The kid wasn’t talking to us. He probably didn’t even notice us. We had no interaction, but our brains were on fire.
So what about the things we unconsciously take for granted as fact, but no longer have a place in navigating the world?
On the evening after encountering the kid at the take-out place I downloaded the first episode of Louis C.K.’s Horace and Pete. Like all good theatrical production, all the characters are completely unaware that what they know is no longer serving them well. Whether it’s Jessica Lange’s drunken shirttail relation proudly proclaiming her liberalism while calling Hillary Clinton a cunt or being very matter of fact as to how Cam Newton needs to learn his place, then it’s Allan Alda’s elderly Uncle Pete who says he’s not a racist as his family let all sorts of “coloreds” come in the bar the years. The entire first episode is nothing but people who have let ideas that no longer serve anybody rule their lives.
Again – I’m not saying all previously acquired knowledge is bad. this is more of a summary of how several things came together on a certain day which lead to a larger examination. Put another way – beyond the hot-stove example there are those things you remember that can be put to use. Sometimes those factoids can be used in casual conversation. Now and then I like to bring up how I became a fan of the band X after Exene called Stevie Nicks “The witch queen of Beverly Hills.”
Not to mention how this song becomes relevant every now and again.

Norman Owned Neutral Milk Hotel on Vinyl

“One did not go to the other (1960 GOP) convention. It was seen on television, and so too much cannot be said of that. It did however confirm one’s earlier bias that the Republican Party was still a party of church ushers, undertakers, choirboys, prison wardens, bank presidents, small-town police chiefs, state troopers, psychiatrists, beauty-parlor operators, corporation executives, Boy-Scout leaders, fraternity presidents, tax-board assessors, community leaders, surgeons, Pullman porters, head nurses and the fat sons of rich fathers. Its candidate (Richard Nixon) would be given the manufactured image of an ordinary man, and his campaign, so far as it was a psychological campaign (and this would be far indeed), would present him as a simple, honest, dependable, hard-working, ready-to-learn, modest, humble, decent, sober young man whose greatest qualification for President was his profound abasement before the glories of the Republic, the stability of the mediocre, and his own unworthiness. The apocalyptic hour of Uriah Heep.” – Norman Mailer from ‘Superman Comes to the Supermarket

“There is an old Vulcan proverb, ‘Only Nixon could go to China.’” – Mr. Spock

“We’re surrounded by people who, despite a narrow perspective, insist the music of their youth is superior to the sounds of any other period. Most people who prefer old music mean no harm and it’s often a pleasure to listen to them talk about their favorite artists of the distant past. But others are bullies who intend to harangue is into submission, as if their bluster can conceal their ignorance. They ignore what seems to me something that’s self-evident: rock and pop today is as good as it’s ever been.” – – Jim Fusilli
“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

“Won’t you please come to Chicago or else join the other side.” – Graham Nash

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Time to clear items off the desk and out of the reading list.
As such this post might have a part-2 at some later date.
Before we get started here’s a word or two about the use of ‘hubris’ in what follows. At no time am I trying to compare, much less say, that what Alaska Wolf Joe calls, Boomer Cultural Hegemony is more important or a greater problem than unacknowledged white privilege. Instead the point here is that both stem from the same root, in that hubris relies of a certain amount of self awareness. Put another way – someone who is guilty of Boomer Cultural Hegemony or unacknowledged white privilege isn’t so much falsely proud as unlikely to have drilled down far enough to really get at the bedrock of his or her thinking.
Hubris assumes that you’ve done some accounting of your thoughts.
Having said that.
One of the various wags I follow on Twitter ran out something that said – more or less – “Where’s this kind of political reporting these days?” The link lead to Esquire’s series on their classic articles, in this case Norman Mailer’s Superman Comes to the Supermarket. The upshot of the podcast is Mailer’s ability to see that Jack Kennedy’s nomination meant that Hollywood had entered politics. Things were changing and something called “charisma” was about to become one of the key elements of any candidate’s run for office. Mailer was holed up in LA typing as fast as he could trying to prove that the old guard, Ike’s generation, were moving from the main action, the center ring, if you will, to the margins. In that hotel room Norman summed up the generation that had run politics from before the war until 1960 and saw that their collective age was pushing them out of the limelight.
Election years are like that. Election years are supposed to imbue you with that kind of prophetic insight. All the more so if the election comes after you’ve established certain distance between major events and the present. After 9/11, two wars, and the most serious economic collapse in 80 years you’d think there should be at least one person out there with such insight. You’d think that after all that there’s gotta be at least one pundit-cum-loudmouth who’d burn with such fire that it would shame a whole room full of even the most ardent Pentecostals.
So what happened?
Boomer weltanschauung.
Boomer weltanschauung suffers from two main problems. The first is its constant drift towards zero-sum thinking. The second is our extreme faith that past is very much prologue and we have lived through the most critical historical epoch of all time. (This is not to say that monumental events did not happen at other times. It just that I’m not sure anyone who came of age the Napoleonic Wars and lived well into the next few decades would agree with the average Boomer.) The second was always manifest is the constant search for the next Beatles or the next Dylan. At no time was the immediate past any less than the key to the immediate future.
As Mr. Fusilli said in the article linked above –

You go down a dead end with some people, who say to you, Where’s the new Bob Dylan? Where’s the new Beatles? Well, there is no new Bob Dylan. There is no new Beatles. There is no new Thelonious Monk. There’s no new Duke Ellington. These people and their achievements are beyond the reach of anyone, so maybe it is interesting to empty the vaults and study how they got to be who they are. But for most artists, they had something to say in their own times, and that’s really where it belongs. … Maybe this is an unfair example. I don’t know the guy, so I’m not picking on him. But Don Henley put out that album last year, and it got a lot of buzz. Why did it get a lot of buzz? Because he used to be in the Eagles.* Anybody who follows Americana and traditional country can tell you that there are 50 better albums than “Cass County.” Totally accessible work, with traditional storytelling, great vocals, great arrangements, absolutely proving that the art of songwriting is still alive. But then there’s Don Henley everywhere. Maybe this is harsh, but maybe the industry thinks it should throw a bone to grown-ups. Rather than saying this is an excellent album by a new artist, they just say, Here’s the new Don Henley.

Again – a past so magnificent that it holds all the prologue any reasonable person would need.
At the heart of all that is the tendency towards zero-sum thinking which can be traced back to the times we grew up in. The 60s were no time for the middle ground. It was drilled into me, as early as the 6th grade, that not having an opinion was not acceptable. The rush to one side or the other was so great that it was hard to find the time to research an issue much less think it through. At some point ‘for-me or a’gin-me’ crept into everything no matter how small or how trivial.
At this point I was going to say something that pulled all that together. It started off with how I’ve come to like The Kinks more than The Beatles, but I forgot to write it down so it’s gone now. Mailer said he spent most of the 1950s “burning a hole in my brain” by smoking copious amount of marijuana while watching Mike Wallace’s Night Beat. My Kinks digression got lost because I too have burned a hole in my brain, but I did it by just by getting out of bed in the morning day after day after day after …
Aging is what got me started on all this flotsam in that – very soon- I’m about to become another year older.
Whether I like it or not.
Given that, you’d be well within your rights to ask, “So you’re saying that looking back and seeing how we’ve handled things all we’ve done is disappoint you?”
That’s not what I’m saying here.
I’m saving that for another post.
No, I think what I’m saying is, that despite our diminishing mental acuity, we are not excused from leading examined lives even at this late stage. We don’t have to come to great conclusions. (Hyperbole being another one of our sins.) But we should be able to see value in the present and not be nostalgia’s victims.
Speaking of that –
OMGS OMGS OMGS!!! Have you seen HBO’s Vinyl? Mom and I stumbled into it last weekend. Did the entertainment industry run out of old hippies to sucker in? Do they have to rely on us now? The police didn’t chase punk rockers down the street. The kids the punk rockers went to school with chased the punk rockers down the street. And Andrew Dice Clay as some sort of coked-up maniac? Is that method acting or did he just pull something out of memory? MY GOD! You can think of your youth as a perfectly made puttanesca, but after Vinyl gets its hands on your coming of age you’ll think you’re stuck with an expired can of Chef Boy-ar-Dee chunk-style Beef-ar-roni.
DON’T MAKE ME CALL THE CABLE COMPANY AND CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION!!
YEAH, I’M LOOKIN’ AT YOU **EXECUTIVE PRODUCER* SIR MICK!

Where were we?
Oh yeah – nostalgia. Despite Mr. Fusilli’s many fine points you can still appreciate a thing for itself as long as you’re willing to appreciate a thing for itself, which is not to say that same thing cannot evoke memories just so long as you understand that your brain is acting on more than one impulse. Your job is to find the balance.
And give up trying to figure out this election.
We’re not equipped to deal with it.
Instead let’s dance to this interpretation of The Ring Cycle.

* BTW – it’s Ok to hate The Eagles around here and tip o’ the tin-foil lined M’s cap to Mr. Sharp who sent this along.

More like Olde Engligh 800 Law if you ask me

“There is no pleasure which men of every age and sect have more generally agreed to mention with contempt than the gratifications of the palate, an entertainment so far removed from intellectual happiness that scarcely the most shameless of the sensual herd have dared to defend it: yet even to this, the lowest of our delights, to this, though neither quick nor lasting, is health with all its activity and sprightliness daily sacrificed; and for this are half the miseries endured which urge impatience to call on death.” Dr. Johnson
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After struggling with finding some material to put on this site, it struck me this week that a carefully worded, albeit lengthy, post revolving around how to deal with the waiters who are constantly asking the noxious question, “How is everything tasting?” might just be the ticket. But Mom put the kibosh on that idea saying that I’d need a whole ‘nother blog to recap the many times we’ve been kicked out of restaurants by waiters who found my responses to not be what they were expecting. The now quashed post began with such an incident. After the kid asked how everything was tasting I smiled and said, “Suspiciously like it came from the take-out place up the street.”
His manager supervised our trip to the curb.
Instead what follows are some observation which need to get rolled out before the subject matter becomes too stale.

Are You an Audience or an Oil Painting?


A very tardy elf finally dropped of my last Christmas present a couple of days ago, Kliph Nesterhoff’s The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy. Thanks to WFMU’s now defunct web site, Beware of the Blog, I’ve been able to keep up with the always fascinating Mr. Nesterhoff for years, but none of what he wrote prior before prepares you for his absolutely addictive page-turner, Comedians.
Two examples:
– The chapter on Vegas includes a page about Shecky Greene and Buddy Hackett getting into a fistfight in the middle of a Las Vegas street in the middle of the morning. The dispute had started over paying their mutual gardener to have his teeth fixed after a recent dispute over services rendered. Greene hauled Hackett into some off-Strip joint, willed three 7’s to pop on the craps table and handed the money to Hackett. Despite the quick resolution the fight ensued. Hackett was left in the street after beaten beaten by Greene.
Hackett called Green a few hours later and said, “Ya know, if anybody saw us they might think we don’t like each other.”
– Joan Rivers thought Johnny Carson was far smarter than Dick Cavett. She told Mr. Nesterhoff she loved Cavett, but anybody could talk to Orson Wells and come off looking great.
She added, Johnny Carson could talk to morons and make them look good.
Therefore Ms. Rivers conceded point, game, and match to Mr. Carson.
My That’s a Big Hat! Can I stand Under It if It Rains?
The militia/patriot/ol’ boys in big ol’ hats has been something of a constant in life for almost 40 years.
My first encounter with such folks, or at least the Australopithecine version of those folks, came shortly after I got my first job as a professional pain-in-the-ass. Back then my Monday mornings were spent chronicling the wit, wisdom, and unchallenged decisions of county commissioner, G. Harold Steffens.
G. Harold had been county commissioner for so long that we were – even then- rapidly reaching a point where no one could prove that anyone else had been commissioner. Ask most people that they’d tell you G. Harold had been commissioner since “Jesus was a buck private.” Talk to the Catholics and they’d go with the more classically themed, “Since Hector was a pup.”
Nuns.
What can I tell you?
Where were we?
G. Harold was a curious man. After seeing me in the back of the gallery for several weeks he approached me and introduced himself. Obviously he looked past the long hair and unruly sideburns to see that I probably wasn’t carrying fleas, ticks or mites, much less anything else us dirty hippies had to offer. I stood, shook his hand -firmly- and looked him the eye while he asked me a couple of questions about downstream water rights. I gave him what I thought was a reasonable, informed, and well thought-out opinion on the matter. That’s when he let go of my hand and said, “Nobody wants to hear about your book learnin’, son.”
From that moment forward I was on G. Howard’s shit list. Not that it bothered me because being on his shit list was much like being born with blue eyes- that’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s gonna be until you die.
Here’s the part where you have to deal with my ancient first-world problems.
Finding lunch at that job was a bitch. The only thing nearby was a lunch counter/newsstand operation which thankfully had pretty good food. For $1.98 you could get a chicken fried steak with coleslaw and mash potatoes. If you wanted fries instead they wouldn’t look at you funny and still you’d get just as much gravy. A biscuit to go all that was 25 cents more, but G. Howard always got a biscuit for free as a small thanks for his many years of public service. One afternoon I stopped in to get a large coffee to go and a pack of Marlboros. My purchase, as well as G. Howard’s swiss steak, was interrupted by a group of men who loudly told G. Howard that they had no intention of paying their property taxes for the following reasons:
– The dollar was not backed by gold.
– G. Howard’s meeting sported an American flag with gold fringe so no decision made with that kind of flag in the room was legal.
– There’s lots and lots of Old English law to back this up!!!
– Besides – they needed the money to buy weapons as the Black Panthers had raised an army and were – at that very moment – doing drills in the hills above Oakland.
At that point two things were immediately noticeable. The cash register clerk was so nervous she tried to give me a pack of those lemon-lime dainty dame smokes that were all the rage in the 70s. One of the protesters stood on the table of an empty booth and shouted, “A WISE MAN SAID,‘IF YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM! CAN ANYBODY TELL ME WHO THAT WISE MAN WAS?”
I spoke up and said, “Eldrige Cleaver, one of the founders of The Black Panther Party.”
What can I say?
Book learnin’.
G. Howard got up and walked over to the main standing on the table. In a very quiet voice he asked the gent, “Does a man take care of his family?”
A wobbly nod was seen.
G. Howard wiped his mouth, paused for a few beats and said, “One way a man takes care of his family is to do the right thing and pay his bills. Are you man enough to do that?”
The man on the table got down and slunk out with the rest of his pals.
G. Howard fixed me with a look and went back to his swiss steak.
As far as I know – to this day and throughout eternity I am still on his shit list.
But I’d like to believe I’m still on his shit list with an asterisk next to my name.

Goodbye David and thank you, thank you thank you, thank you.

Home entertainment systems are such interesting things. Mr. Sharp’s first one was a cassette player that came with TWO speakers. In what must have been an idle moment of no import, Mr. S was going through the bargain bin at the local Woolworth’s when he came upon The Man Who Sold the World, something that had no proved to be a local best seller. He phoned and said I had to hear this.
This week the tributes to David Bowie came in two types. First there were those who said he gave us the permission to understand that we are fluid selves that we cannot be bound by conventions. Others said he was their gateway into a world of adventuresome listening that has lasted a lifetime. Bowie leads to Roxy which leads to Eno, which leads to Robert Fripp getting out of ditch digging, which leads to…
I turned on the CBS morning news and when Charlie Rose said David was dead there were tears streaming down my face.
One of the first Bowie songs that got our attention was Andy Warhol. Mr. Sharp sent this a few days ago. It’s a video of Dana Gillespie, the singer who Bowie wrote the song for.

The Death of The Death of a Mauve Bat

“What is Time Magazine calling it this week? Drug-culture? Mini-culture? Micro-culture? They have a million hyphens over there at Time Incorporated. Throw them around! – George Carlin
“The mind is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity… The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.” – Dr. Johnson
“While gossip among women is universally ridiculed as low and trivial, gossip among men, especially if it is about women, is called theory, or idea, or fact.” – Andrea Dworkin

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Here’s something like 1300 words about how our family dinner-table conversations differs from yours.
Not that it’s ever been anything I really want to talk about, nor had it ever come up at dinner, but it does come up from time to time in general conversation. You see, when I was 15 I was possessed by a demon who claimed to be an imp named Bizmuth Rosea.
Steve to his friends.
How I got in that situation is still pretty murky. Other than a sudden infatuation with 12-tone music nothing much came of it nor did it last very long. One day during 10th-grade English we were paging through Jonathan Livingston Seagull as required reading when all of a sudden I began to sweat, my heart pounded, and my head was buzzing so badly I thought I was going to explode. That’s when I heard a clap of thunder. In the next instant there was Steve right in front of me. He looked like he was in tremendous pain as he was tried to crawl away as quickly as he could. Looking out I saw he made it as far as the curb before the dry heaves set in.
After class I went out to the sidewalk and helped him to get back up on hooves. We had a smoke in the parking lot and that’s when he asked, “What’s next? You have to analyze American Pie?”
No, we’re doing Mrs. Robinson first, then Don McClean’s Starry Night and then American Pie.
Looking way off into the distance he stamped out his cigarette and said he was done with me. He was just going to go back and face whatever his superiors dished out. Despite that he did keep in touch. Over the years he’d drop a line now and then. The last note came in around 1990. He was teaching trigonometry at a Catholic girls school near Des Moines which seemed more like Purgatory to me than Eternal Damnation.
But what do I know?
Where were we?
Oh yeah – Joe DiMaggio.
The 1970s started off so very sincere and earnest that by the end of the decade cynicism became its own art form. Starting on the front end of the decade, teachers really believed that song lyrics (e.g. Mrs.Robinson) could be used as a path to some sort of emotional enlightenment. In this case, we had to examine if people still had heroes and look at the people who were once held in high regard. In this case DiMaggio had a quantifiable record. His employment with the Yankees came with statistics, written records, and film of some of his better moments. Given that we could put pencil to paper and prove that he surpassed others in his line of work made him an acknowledged hero. If we were going to have a reference for who a hero might be then DiMaggio was just as good a place to start as anywhere else. But we forget in all this is that, even as kids, we weren’t very good at identifying the exceptional as that sort of thing had been outsourced to the media decades before we were born. DiMaggio is the exception to the rule in that the media didn’t have to work very hard to identify him as a hero – he did that for himself. This differed from how the media dealt with many people – appointing them to be the icon, or the face, of a given thing.
Which brings us to today’s topics at supper – Bruce Jenner and Andrea Dworkin.
It all began simply enough when Alaska Wolf Joe asked, “When are people going to shut up about Bruce Jenner and why does the media think this has absolutely everything to do with gender issues?”
As parents we had to step in and say- big media has no clue. This is strictly reflex – they are only doing what they’ve always done and done best. Right now that loud rattle you hear at Time magazine’s HQ is the pace maker of some rheumy-eyed old codger who serves as some sort of executive editor who is – right this second – working up a cover with Jenner’s picture on it with a bold-faced caption that reads, “THE NEW FACE OF TRANSGENDERED AMERICA.”
Not that there was an old face of transgendered America, but you know…
Work with me here.
Jenner got to be Jenner partially, like DiMaggio, by demonstrable ability and partially by media appointment. DiMaggio was a clean pick – everybody knows something about baseball. The Olympics are far more complicated and the media has always stepped into to anoint some one as America’s hero. Recently Jenner got elevated again as he is part of one of the last things the old media truly understands – reality tv. That’s kept his mojo going and that’s how he is now the centerpiece of what little the old media understands about transgendered people much less any gender issue. Not that they have to understand much – they just hit the highlights and make some one the face of the movement and move on to the next thing. At that point Andrea Dworkin came into the conversation, first as a side note and then as an example. Alaska Wolf Joe said that he and his ilk have moved on. They’re not waiting for a new Andrea Dworkin to be appointed by the media as the leader when it comes to coming up with thoughts and theories about gender issues. They’ll just run out their own thoughts and theories, thank you, and take their own chances.
That’s not real good news for either the old men at Time or the Baby Boomers. You know, us Boomers like nothing better than easily chewed concepts. We like it that some one stuck their neck out and did a tepid job of gathering up a few facts from the surface of an issue and then calling it good.
We don’t like getting our hands dirty with theory.
We like pictures on the cover of magazines with big bold headlines and cable tv know-it-alls.
Meanwhile at Time the nightmare scenario has happened. What was the artistic fringe is now the mainstream. We’ve gone from this video (WARNING:BAD WURDS!!) made in 1984 where a scant few say they are tired of the cultural hegemony the media. Instead of needing a 14-minute video starring taxidermy poodles and Cesar Romeo we now unconsciously hold a single thought.
We are fully aware that the old media has lost its ability to create cultural signifiers.
That’s not to say that Time is without utility. Last week at the 10-minute oil change place the guy sitting next to me found there was a hole in the bottom of his cup of coffee. He picked up a copy of Time that was lying around and used it as a coaster.
Anyway – the point is that us Boomers are on our own. We have to study trends and sort that kind of things out for oruselves. We are now our own best cultural anthropologists and post modern philosophers. Yes, this has come along late in life, but there is some good news. Us freelance theorists have an unofficial theme song and it’s a toe tapper!