Come doused in mud, soaked in bleach

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


But enough about me

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

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

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

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

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



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

Feel free to tweak as need be.


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

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

Absolutely nothin’.

OK, two things –

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

2. Frames sucked.

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

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

Flipped through Time lately?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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

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

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

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

– You cannot get more Seattle AF than this obit.

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

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

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

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

Notable reading:

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

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

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

And what about the children?

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

What will the people at The Bath and Tennis say?

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

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

They can’t be trusted!

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

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

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

Which probably brings us to this:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And The Great Society?

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

Which leads to a discussion of the current Democratic field.

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

Can we say the same for economics?

Probably.

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

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

See also, US History 1860-1865.

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

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

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

The latter being more entertaining to watch than the former.

OK – so there it is.

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

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